Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Public Service Rant

One of my readers has adware/spyware installed on their computer. Spyware by the name of "FunWebProducts." The purpose of this little program is to hijack your home page and search results, and to show you pop-up advertisements. Fun, eh?

One of my readers, accessing the page from a Rogers Cable connection near Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, to be precise.

To find out if you have the FunWebProducts spyware, copy and paste the following text into your address bar of your web browser and hit Enter:
If you see "FunWebProducts" anywhere in the text box that pops up, you're infected, for example:
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; FunWebProducts)
You can read more about it here, here and here.

Oh, there's also someone in New Delhi, and someone in New York with the same malware installed, but the person in Ontario has been to my blog more than once in the past month, in fact they took a look at my photos from BSF, Rattlesnake Ledge, and Swing Dancing, so odds are they know me (or have some sick fascination with me, take your pick), so I'm betting they'll return.

Yes, that's right, I am Big Brother, I'm watching you, and it's for your own good.

People, please don't install cute little programs downloaded from the Internet onto your computer, no matter how many of your MySpace friends say it's "TOTALY AWESUM LOL!!!"

A good adware/spyware detector is LavaSoft's Ad-Aware. It's free for personal use. If you're worried about spyware, and adware slowing down your computer and showing you ads, you should install it. Yes, I did just tell you to download and install a program from the Internet, but remember, I'm Big Brother, and I know best.

You must comply.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Lindy Hop

Six weeks ago I signed up for an introductory Lindy Hop class. Lindy Hop is similar to Swing Dancing. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I've been dancing in Seattle on Sunday nights and occasionally on Wednesdays. The next session is starting, and I'm thinking of signing up for the next level. I would like to continue learning, and my repertoire of moves could certainly do well to expand, but I'm going to be gone for the second and third lessons in a series of five. I missed two non-consecutive lessons in Lindy 1, and I was able to catch up, but it was difficult.

Lindy 2 is more about learning new moves than learning the basic steps, which was the focus of Lindy 1, so I won't be "behind" in the same sense as I was then, but there's still a 3 week gap between the lessons. I guess i'm just going to have to get over my fear of being out of practice and looking like an idoit: I might as well, since I'm sure the latter will happen no matter what I do. I can always re-take Lindy 2 a couple of times, which is the way the class was designed to be taken, so says the website. The moves they cover must vary from class to class, and the focus is on becoming a better lead/follow, which takes lots of practice.

I'll just have to lower my expectations from "being instantly perfect at everything I do" to "getting in some good practice."

Friday, June 23, 2006

Laziness Is the Mother of Efficiency

Yesterday I was reminded of why I never go into work before 9:00 unless I have to. There was an 8:00 meeting, and I was first on the roster. I left my apartment at 7:30, got out on the road, and sat there in my car, staring at tail lights for 10 minutes straight. I think I had moved 100 yards. I could see that it would be a while before I could get on the freeway, so I decided to take an alternate route, and weaseled my way onto another street. This street had some traffic, but at least it was moving, and in no time I was ready to turn back towards the freeway. Predictably, I hit another queue of cars, and this time had no choice but to sit there and wait it out.

While I waited, I called my boss and left him a message telling him I would be late, and pondered the nature of time in one's day. I decided that I liked sleeping much better than sitting in traffic. When I got to the meeting, they had just finished connecting up with the remote attendees, so I didn't actually keep anybody waiting. Next time I'll have to remember to leave much earlier. Why does everyone think they have to get to work at exactly the same time everyone else gets to work? That's such an inefficient assumption in our society, and it's straining the freeway system.

My normal commute to work is 15 minutes. This commute lasted 45. By sleeping in one hour, I add 30 minutes of time to my day.

It's a win-win situation.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Birth of a Movement


The United States of America now has its very own Pirate Party.

Before you laugh, or perhaps after (but certainly not during), take a look at what they stand for. Basically, what they're all about is weakening some of the mechanisms that certain corporate conglamorates have used to hold intellectual property hostage for undue amounts of time.

The Congress shall have Power... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; ~United States Constitution Article 1 Section 8

It's not that protecting intellectual property is a bad thing, it's just that every time the copyright on Steamboat Willie is about to expire, Congress seems to extend the copyright period a little bit longer. At some point, the benefit of granting a monopoly on every little piece of our culture to the company that bought the rights from the artist is outweighed by the people's constitutional right for that work to enter the public domain for them to use as they please.

Does it really encourage the making of movies for the movie companies to know they have exclusive rights for 95 years from the date of publication? Would fewer movies be made if that period of time was 50 years? I don't think so, in fact, I think it would have the opposite effect. I think the optimal amount of time for a copyright is somewhere between thirty and fifty years from the date of creation/publication.

The copyright to "Happy Birthday to You" won't expire until 2030.

The Pirate Party also has a similar argument about pharmaceutical patents, they take issue with the powers given to law enforcement in the PATRIOT Acts, and they want better protection for personal private information, such as patient records.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were more public domain works (old music, old movies/TV shows, old books, old photos)? Would that not foster an environment of cultural enjoyment, extension, and creativity (the whole point of having copyright and patent systems in the first place)? Given the recent breakthroughs in peer-to-peer file sharing and proliferation of Internet access, the benefit to society of having works enter the public domain is greater than ever.

I think copyright should last somewhere between thirty and fifty years, maximum.

This is not about making it legal to download the latest Britney Spears album over Bittorrent, or to sell "pirated" copies on the street. It's about constitutional rights that the Congress has taken away from the people in the interest of corporate greed.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The End Of A Matter

A good name is better than a good ointment, And the day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth.

It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart.

Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.

It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man
Than for one to listen to the song of fools.


The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.

Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,
For anger resides in the bosom of fools.

Do not say, "Why is it that the former days were better than these?"
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.

Wisdom along with an inheritance is good
And an advantage to those who see the sun.

For wisdom is protection just as money is protection,
But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors.

Consider the work of God,
For who is able to straighten what He has bent?

In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider--
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover anything that will be after him.

~Ecclesiastes 7:1-5,8-14 NASB

And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.

And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?
~Jonah 4:6-9
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
~Job 1:20-22
For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.
~Psalm 84:11-12
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
~James 1:17
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son...
~Romans 8:28-29
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
~1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Monday, June 05, 2006

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Beck's Interview

You have probably seen this on other sites; now it's on mine. Here's how it works.
1. Leave me a comment saying, "interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to those questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the post.

The following interview questions were given to me as a result of a comment on this post on Beck's blog:

1. What family traditions did you enjoy most during your childhood (and/or later on)?

I would have to say that the family tradition I enjoyed most as a child, and also value most looking back on my childhood was an open Bible. My father would read to us stories from the Bible all the time growing up. He used to read to us at the dinner table, whenever he was home for dinner: sometimes he would just read, sometimes he would read and comment on each verse, and sometimes he would read, and we would talk about it afterwards (or sometimes during). It was always okay for us to ask questions, or to share what we enjoyed, or to disagree with or clarify something that he had said. We would have these scavenger hunts where he would hide pieces of paper with a reference on them throughout the house and yard. He would read us the first verse, and it would be a clue as to where the next one was hidden.

2. How do you calm yourself down when you're upset/angry about something (situational/relational/etc.)?

I think about it logically. Seriously: I'm like a Vulcan. Sometimes it is logical to be angry about something: being upset is a different matter ("upset", to me, means that you have lost control of your actions to your emotions; hence your personal balance has been overturned). There is nothing wrong, however, with acting on your emotions when they are warranted: it is the right thing to do. To think about something logically is to reflect on it from a wider point of view: emotions are one informational input to this logical question. Sometimes my emotional responses are more perceptive to the reality of the situation than my conscious observation: therefore it is of great benefit to think about what it is that has caused my emotions, and then determine the proper action to take in response. The most difficult times to calm myself down are when I feel truly vulnerable. The best and most complete point of view is the way God sees things.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. ~Psalm 127:2
It is an inexpressable comfort to know that no matter what happens to me, no matter how bad I just screwed things up in my own self-will, I have a Father who loves me and he will bend the past, present and future of the universe around me in order to lead me in the path of maximum blessing from where I am at that very moment. Sometimes it means I need to be humbled: perhaps I must suffer the consequences of my actions, perhaps He will grow me through sharing in the sufferings of Christ for righteousness. Whatever comes my way, I know this from scripture and experience: it passed through His hands first, and there is One who I can go to who has gone before me and overcome it all.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. ~1 John 4:18
3. When is the most mentally productive window of your day and do you make the most of this time?

The most mentally productive window of the day for me is from 11:30PM to whenever it is I finally convince myself that I really do need to get some sleep to be conscious the next day. I'm what's known as a "night owl." Some of my deepest discussions; my best writing; most enjoyable times spent with friends discussing about the universe, theology, and love; my most intimate times with God; have taken place in the wee hours of the morning after staying up past a reasonable person's bedtime. I don't really have a routine for making the most of my time, in any sense of the expression. Mostly, I just have to get on a roll: build enough momentum without distractions. The evening is a good time for this, because it doesn't have a set end time, so you don't have a clock ticking down (except the next morning's alarm clock, but that's why God invented the snooze button). If I don't have a time limit, I feel more free to become completely absorbed in whatever it is I happen to be doing. Most of my longer and deeper blog posts have been published after midnight.

4. Where do you see yourself in 6 months? (answer any way you like)

Oh, the places I could go with this question. Read on.

In six months, if it is what the Lord has for me, I will be in the beginning stages of the construction of my first house. The reason it will probably take so long to start is that King County's bureaucracy is notoriously slow at getting building plans approved. There is hope of an earlier start, however: my builder told me that since this is simply an undeveloped plat in a developed neighborhood, things are a lot simpler and should move more quickly.

In six months, I see myself dating someone. Someone very particular. Why do I think this, you might ask? Because we are dating now, and if I did not see myself with her in six months, then we would not be dating. Do you remember this post? Read the last paragraph. That was written on April 19th. On the 24th, after BSF, I asked her for her number, and we went out for the first time on the 29th. The Lord has blessed the two of us so much in this past month! It's been amazing to reflect back on our pasts and see the Lord preserving and protecting us in the same ways. I knew God had women like this because I know my mother and my sisters. I also know that I don't deserve one: but it's not going to freak me out if God gives her to me: he is after all in the business of giving me blessings I don't deserve. This might all be very distressing if I didn't also know that along with every gift He gives, He also supplies the power to live up to what I have been given.

No, I'm not yet sure that she's "the one," though I do believe that God has one picked out for me. He'll let us both know of his plan in time. Meanwhile, I will treat her with honor and purity, and wait on the Lord to show us what comes next. If in the end we are not meant for each other, God's plans are hardly going to be frustrated by such a course of action.

So, why wasn't this plastered all over my blog from the very beginning? Hey, it's me! Don't you know I'm the soul of discretion?

Why am I posting this now? Well, it was bound to come out sooner or later, and that was such a leading question: I figure if you read this far into my posts then you deserve to be thrown a bone every now and then.

I don't believe anyone should ever think they need to read my blog in order to find out how I feel about them: they should know that already, and if I mention them on my blog, what I say should reinforce it. I also don't feel comfortable announcing things that I'm still processing, or things that affect someone else's privacy, though I have been known to slip from time to time.

5. Why did you move to WA?

There was this guy, and he called me up and said that he would pay me to write software. How cool is that! The job offer was the main reason, but I don't know if I would have been willing to come up here with all the wetness and darkness had the Lord not taken steps to prepare me for the journey. You know those times in your life when you think, "I have no clue what God is doing in my life." Yeah, those are the times you look back on later, and say "I can see exactly what God was doing with me then." because those are the times he causes you to grow.

California is a really nice place to live. The weather is awesome, and my family is all there. Need I say more?

So, if you're God and you have to get Tim away from the beach, and his friends and family, and all the nice things in Southern California, what do you do? Well, you start by removing some of these things from him, but not in a mean way; don't yank them out of his hands at once: just tug them far enough away that he is willing to let go. Then make sure that he is amply supported in the place where you're taking him. Give him something worthwhile to do that he can use later: he doesn't have to understand why: remember, he needs to learn to trust you more.

You know that job he has in Long Beach? Yeah, that's going to have to move out to the Mojave Desert. It's close enough that he can come back to all these things every other weekend or so, but far enough away that he can't depend on them. He'll need a bit of stability and lots of love, so let's get his empty-nester parents up there to Tehachapi. Keep in mind that we're preparing him for a specific place tailored to his growth in Washington, so we need to get him used to a small assembly, but make it a spiritually dynamic one: remember how you moved the Peter and Elizabeth up to Tehachapi earlier? They're your ace in the hole at this assembly, really show them off. Now we have to set the stage in Washington:

Tim knows a lot of people from the area, but as far as close friends, he's a bit short. The Tonns and the Klassens are your key assets here, along with each of the other families in the Newcastle and Tacoma assemblies. In fact, why don't we throw in the Kerrs just for good measure. Really work in all their hearts to produce love and care for him. Also, a good trick with Tim to really get him to feel at home is to get him to interact with the kids: that won't take too much work, though. Of course, he'll need a ministry while he's up there: but then you've had that in mind for quite some time: the singing up there is in pretty bad shape too, why don't you see what we can do to work something out. Keep him in the word, and keep him challenged and stimulated to growth: you've got just the recipe for that: BSF and a roommate on a much different, though by your infinite wisdom and design, convergent path to Christ-likeness.

That's not even the half of it, though.

it would be nice if you answered before tuesday, which is when we leave for israel, so i can read your answers before i forget about it.... =)

This didn't happen, but hopefully you'll find my responses worth the wait.

one more question about myers briggs. what personality type is your father? if i recall correctly, your mom and i are the same: INTJ. when sarah was here for the wedding, she observed something in josh and my relationship that reminded her of your parents so i was just curious. as near as we can tell, josh is usually an ENTP but on some characteristics he's pretty borderline.

My mom and you do not have the same type, but you and Sarah do. My mom and dad are ISTJ and ESFP respectively. The following is highly speculative in nature: Sarah may have been referring to the fact that my parents' types are perfect compliments: both concrete, but opposite in other respects, whereas (and here is where I'm really speculating) she may have noticed that Josh is an ENFP, which would be the compliment type to an INTJ. Josh doesn't strike me as an NT, though I readily admit to not knowing him as well as you would, you being married to him and all.

To think of the difference between NT and NF, think of the difference between me and Josh (my brother) (INTP/INFP) or Anna and Sarah (ENFJ/INTJ). Not that all differences in personality can be accounted for using types, but they can be a useful tool. For a good reference ENTP, one need look no further than Caleb.

Sarah seems to have dropped off the face of the blogosphere. Perhaps if enough of us prod and poke at her, she'll return and address this pressing matter in a comment or some such.

It's too bad about his borderline personality disorder, though. That must be tough.

CONGRATULATIONS on the property. when does escrow close and/or you start mortgage payments? were you able to do it in one loan (buy and build) or did you have to get another one to build? i really hope all goes well and i really hope it doesn't rain while they frame your house. that can set things back so much. when will it be all completed? 2007? 2008? i'm a fan of the bumped out window on the first floor; is it a window seat? are their vaulted ceilings? and so on and so forth.

Thank you. Escrow is set to close on July 28th. (Barbecue, anyone?) I'm going for a single construction loan including land, which will convert to a mortgage when the house is complete. While under construction, I will pay interest-only (it's a higher rate than the final loan) on what has been drawn from the loan account. At this point, I'm looking at getting an interest-only loan, because I intend to sell the house after a few years (like, say, 2). I plan on renting out the rest of the rooms while I'm living there, because otherwise I have no idea what I would do with all that space, and rent money is a nice way to pay a house payment. I can pretty much count on it raining during construction: that's just the way things are up here. The builder said it would take about 6 months from start to finish to build the house.

As for the architectural details: the builder told me when we went to visit the lot that it would work quite well to put in a daylight basement. It would be unfinished, but I could take care of that. The only question is, would it add significantly to the resale value? I'm not here to build my dream home, at least not yet. I'm looking at putting 9ft ceilings on the bottom floor with 10ft in the living and dining rooms, and a vaulted ceiling in the master bedroom upstairs. I'm also told that I simply "must" put in a secret passage that opens behind a bookcase.

A very well-written, insightful, and helpful article

I think this article should be read by every serious Christian who attends a Plymouth bretheren assembly (and is highly recommended even for those who don't): certainly every elder. It was written by a missionary to Columbia and Armenia. It's a long article: printed out it comes to 42 pages, but if you think of it as a very short book, or a moderately-sized pamphlet, I'm sure it won't be a burden.

The author, one Phillip Nunn, quite evidently knows how to "rightly divide (cut in a straight line) the Word of Truth." I will let him explain his own reasons for writing. Here are some of my reasons for the recommendation:

The article brings out the New Testament model for chruch discipline in contrast to all of the "algorithms" that man has come up with over the years.

I attend a Plymouth bretheren assembly, and we recently (1991) had a division which seems to have been caused by the same phenomenon as the division he experienced that prompted him to write.

I have recently been told essentially, "Don't come here to visit, we have no basis for fellowship with you." by Christians whom I love, with the same doctrinal beliefs as I, but who felt I would be a contamination because of my association with a certain other group of Christians. I believe that Christians' fellowship with one another is in Christ, not in any particular "non-denomination." I believe that the Lord's table is His own, and like the soldier who met Joshua, He is not on anyone's side: it is on us to join Him and get with His program: then look around and see who's fighting alongside us under His command, and recognize them as such.

Since the 1991 division, it has been difficult, though certainly not impossible, to openly discuss the issues involved. This is no doubt due to the deep scars that were left in many hearts, assemblies and families, but it is also unfortunate. Those (particularly in my generation or younger) who do not actively seek out the issue are largely ignorant, and a mass of people ignorant of their history is not learning from its mistakes, and very likely doomed to repeat them. This article can be a catalyst to discussion, not of the particulars of the division, but of the underlying issues and what the Bible has to say about them.

Here is the article:

The Re-dividing of the Reunited Bretheren

Here's a snippet, which I think touches on the essence of his point:

ARE WE PROMOTING “OPEN” PRINCIPLES? Historically, whenever a saint questioned an assembly judgement, he was labelled open or independent. ... Whenever we Brethren disagree and divide, one side is labelled open, loose, independent or something worse. By doing this, we put these saints in a box, we label them. By doing this, we protect ourselves from having to rethink and perhaps change. Does the Spiritual Principle of Recognition, as presented in this paper, promote lose open principles?

IF... If by open we mean that practising homosexuals, adulterers, fornicators, Satanists and their supporters may participate at the Lord's table with us, the answer is NO. Godly consciences within assemblies everywhere would be able to recognise false Christianity.

If by open we mean that we must receive in our assembly every Christian who wants to break bread with us (because he is a Christian), the answer is NO. Being a Christian is a necessary but not a sufficient condition. The receiving assembly must recognise if the believer is in the right condition to be received.

If by open we mean that an assembly may “stand alone” and need not take other saints and assemblies into account, then again it is NO. We must recognise and sometimes contribute towards what the Lord is doing elsewhere.

If by open we mean that we do not act in the light of the One Body of Christ (in principle and practice), again I say NO. We must recognise and love every true member of the One Body of Christ. We need every member. We try to encourage and work with each member, as far as a godly conscience allows.

If by open we mean that we should treat all gatherings of saints as “the same thing”, clearly it is NO. It is evident that some assemblies are more spiritual than others. If we are to visit we must seek to recognise its true spiritual condition.

If by open we mean that we ignore decisions (and letters of commendation) made by other assemblies, again I say NO. Godly saints in any assembly will recognise godly decisions arrived at by others. These may be made by individuals, families or assemblies. Godly decisions are as binding as God's will, because they are the same in essence.

If by open we mean that we seek to be open to the Lord's guidance personally and collectively, the answer is a big YES. To live the Spiritual Principle of Recognition we must choose to let the Lord really be LORD, in principle and in practice.

If by open we mean that we reject the concept of international collective responsibility, the answer is YES. We are only responsible where we are in a position to really practice spiritual recognition. Suppose you have never been to Managua. When you travel to Managua, and you are in fellowship with the Lord, He will guide you to true Christian fellowship there. You will recognise it when you live it. If a person comes from Managua to your assembly, it is for you locally to recognise if there is evidence of saving faith and consistent Christian walk. A letter from a trusted assembly may help this process, but still local recognition is necessary. Our responsibility before the Lord is personal and collective within our home assembly. This includes the responsibility for where we visit and who we receive. Proper spiritual recognition can never lead to looseness or anarchy.

The Spiritual Principle of Recognition allows us to live, move and work in harmony with Christ. The Brethren during the 1820´s and 1830´s displayed this degree of collective spirituality because history shows that they practised this principle of spiritual recognition. But as the years went by, some among them tried to formalise things. The dynamics of God given life can be suffocated by formality. Slowly the spiritual principle was replaced by mechanics and procedures. What I have tried to do here is present for your prayerful consideration (and action) a Biblical principle. If some call it open, or romantic or charismatic or mystic, so what! The question is: Is it a Scriptural principle? Under the Spirit’s guidance, judge for yourself.