“energy dependence”

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Another day, another NRO column to comment on. Today it’s Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren arguing on the “myths” of energy independence. They have some interesting views on the subject, noting that:

1) it’s a global marketplace, so the amount of oil we import vs the amount of oil we produce doesn’t affect the price – only the global quantity on the market affects the price


2) it wouldn’t be wise to totally cut ourselves off from the foriegn oil market, because a limited domestic production is easier for terrorists to strike than a distributed (global) production.

Now, they’re good libertarians from the Cato Institute, so their answer is to quit subsidizing the fuel situation, and just let the free market play itself out. I’m not so sure I agree with this; part of me would like to see a “Manhattan Project”-style effort to develop a usable alternative fuel system. But their comments about the global oil market make the article worth a read.


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My latest quest on the technology front is the purchase of a LCD projector for my church. We’ve been using the typical grade-school-style overhead projector and transparencies for years, and it’s way past time to upgrade. We’ve had this project in mind for about the last 4 years at church, but for one reason or another (budget, other projects coming up, opposition from internal sources) it’s always gotten pushed to the back burner. This year it’s in the budget, everybody’s on board, and so it’s finally going to get done.

I initially (last year) got a useful bid from a guy at National Projector,but of course this year when I went back to them to get an updated bid, the guy has left the company. The new guy I talked to excitedly took my information and sent me the generic marketing material, but has yet to get back to me with a simple bid for the equipment I need. Come on, dude, your job is sales… and you can’t get a bid for a projector and lens out in a week?

My next experience is with a guy from Shepherd Multimedia. In contrast with the guy at National, a nice guy there at Shepherd completed and sent me two bids the same day I requested them. Not only that, but I can get the projecter and lens I want for just less than I budgeted. That means no hassles with setting up special giving or getting more budget money approved… woohoo!

I’ll be checking for competitive pricing for the next few days, but unless I find a tremendously better deal I’ll likely be ordering next week, and then installing shortly after that. I find myself just a little bit excited. 🙂

softball starts tonight!

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Our first softball game of the season is tonight. I’m soooo much looking forward to it. It’ll be nasty conditions for playing – probably 50 degrees and a 20 mph wind. But that’s not the point – it’s just great to be out playing.

I’ll have the additional fun of getting to umpire the early game – in our league it’s recreational enough that we don’t have paid umps, instead each team that plays the early game supplies somebody to ump for the late game, and vice versa. I enjoy the umping at least as much as the playing…. weird.

Hopefully Laura doesn’t freeze tonight out with us; if she’s getting cold, it’ll be up to me to keep track of her so Becky can keep playing. The joys of spring softball in Iowa – we had flurries here this morning! 🙂


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OK, not too much to report from the weekend; still didn’t get any of the projects done – it was too cold. On Sunday we had an ordination service for a friend from church; it’s fun to see somebody pointed in the direction of full-time service, wondering where they’ll end up. Godspeed, Sam.

My only other purpose for this post was to share a couple pictures snapped over the weekend. They are (admittedly) on the goofy side – but then I guess, so am I… at least I was this weekend. The cute little girl is my daughter Laura, and the guy with the goofy look on his face is me… I don’t always look that stupid, I promise… 🙂 I wasn’t really mugging for the camera; I was mugging for Laura, trying to get her to laugh, and Becky managed to snap the shutter at just the wrong moment. 🙂

Laura\'s blank stare

Laura and me - not my most intelligent pose


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OK, so it’s Friday afternoon, and I’m bored. I’ve hit the end of the task list for work today, and nobody else has updated their blogs to give me something to read… so I post this whiny entry with the knowledge that in 30 minutes my weekend will begin. I guess I’ll make it. 🙂

Tonight we’re going to our favorite coffeehouse, Brewed Awakenings to hear a friend perform. He’s a heck of a singer, doesn’t do any originals, but covers everybody from Dylan and the Beatles to John Denver to James Taylor to Crash Test Dummies… good times.

Then Saturday will be a work day at home, maybe I’ll get done last weekend’s projects… then Sunday is typical church stuff, and the Monday starts the softball season! I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks. Sounds like it’ll be chilly for the first game (in the 50’s) but that just makes it more fun.

Well that’s all for now… have a great weekend!

a worthwhile life

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I was reading this story this morning in the Cedar Rapids Gazette (my local newspaper). The story is about the rediscovery, in northern Arkansas, of the thought-to-be-extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker. This woodpecker sounds like a truly magnificent bird; it has a three-foot wingspan, and stands nearly 2 feet tall. But the thing that astonished me was the quote in the second sentence of the story. Here’s the lead:

Iowa conservationists and bird enthusiasts, like their counterparts worldwide, beamed with joy Thursday at the news that the magnificent ivory-billed woodpecker, long believed to be extinct, has been rediscovered in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas.

‘‘This makes me think my life has been worthwhile,’’ said Leslee Spraggins, director of the Nature Conservancy in Iowa, who helped preserve portions of the Big Woods as director of the Nature Conservancy in Arkansas from 1993 to 2000.

The realization that her efforts likely contributed to the survival of a species thought to have vanished brought tears to her eyes, said Spraggins, 50, of Dubuque.

“This makes me think my life has been worthwhile.” Because they found a bird? In the woods? In Arkansas? I have nothing against said bird (see paragraph 1 of this post), or said woods, or said state, but a 50-year-old woman who find her life suddenly worthwhile because it has been found? This saddens me. Birds are magnificent creatures. And there is much to be said for nature conservancy; we need to be good stewards of the earth that we’re entrusted with. But they’re just birds.

It seems to me that rather than having some event suddenly make my life worthwhile when I’m 50 (some 22 years hence), I’d like to think through right now the things that would make my life worthwhile, so that I can pursue those things in the upcoming years. And as I make that list, I want them to be things of eternal significance, not just things that are going to burn at the end of time. So what would make my life “worthwhile”? Let me rephrase that. My life is already “worthwhile” because I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Even if none of the thing I list happen, life has been worth living. But what are the things that will cause me to look back from age 50, or 60, or 70, with gratitude and say “Ahhh, it’s been a long road, but that makes it worth it all…”? Here’s just a few.

  • Seeing my child(ren) become mature believers who will in turn raise up godly children of their own.
  • Experiencing the joys of a marriage that has lasted 30, 40, 50 years.
  • Seeing new believers in the church because of my ministry; and seeing believers encouraged and challenged by my life.
  • Seeing leadership raised up in the Church to carry on ministry long after I’m gone.

This is just a short list, and I’m finding it challenging even as I’m writing it. These are goals that are long in the making… but they are achieved only one day at a time.

The war by? on? Christians in America…

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Stanley Kurtz has an excellent (if a bit long) column today discussing the current edition of Harper’s Magazine – cover story: “The Christian Right’s War on America”.

He argues that by accusing the “Christian Right” of being hateful and “at war with America”, Harper’s (as just one participant in a trend by the media) is themselves promoting “hatred” of a group… the Christian Right. He writes:

According to Harper’s, conservative Christians are making “war on America.” Can you imagine the reaction to a cover story about a “war on America” by blacks, gays, Hispanics, or Jews?

It’s worth reading the whole article.

bleary eyed

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I know I owe everybody a blog post (it’s been a couple days… time to keep writing) but it’s been pretty slow around here lately. My latest task at work has been to manually compare two 200-ish-page documents and mark all the changes. (At this point, the geeks reading this are asking “why manually diff it when you could use a tool?” The answer is, I’m looking for functional differences, not trivial wording differences. Ugh.) I finally finished that up this morning but my eyes are a little bleary now and I know more about this next new airplane than I really wanted to.

I did some fun website stuff last night for my RecMinUsa site… my pastor (who runs RecMinUsa) wants to be able to update the “upcoming events” page without having to look at HTML. So, I created a formatted text file that he can update, and then a perl script to post-process the text file and merge it with an HTML template to create the page. It seems to work OK… hopefully I kept it simple enough. 🙂

I read some more of Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places last night. I’m to the point in the book where he’s talking about how Christ “plays” in community. I’m still organizing my thoughts on the topic, but it’s good stuff. I’ll have to devote a post to it when I get the time to think.

Well that’s the 8:45 news from Iowa… kind of boring, huh? Sorry. Come back again, it’ll be more interesting next time. I promise.

sticking to our guns

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Ned Rice has a great column today on NRO where he makes a strong argument that the folks whining about the lack of liberalism in the new pope should suck it up, think about what they’re saying, take their beliefs (and the church’s beliefs) seriously, and then pack it up and leave if they’re really that unhappy. The column deals specifically with the Roman Catholic church, but I think the ideas are applicable to any person complaining about their church’s beliefs.

The whole column is worth reading, but I’ll copy a few of the choice lines here.

…a truly liberal Holy Father might have moved the Church towards the proverbial, doctrinal hat trick: allowing actively gay men to be Catholics, then ordaining them as priests, and then allowing them to marry their male partners. There’s a name for churches that condone that sort of thing, and that name is “Episcopalian.”

…if you believe that your church was literally founded by the Son of God, based on principles he personally handed down to His followers (as Catholics do), why would you make your church’s doctrine conveniently open to revision by its flock? It’s like deliberately designing a bucket with holes in it, then wondering why it won’t hold any water.

So if you think this or any other pope is just plain wrong on celibacy or homosexuality or anything else big, and this upsets you so much it interferes with your spiritual life, you’d be well advised to find yourself another church. Otherwise you’re like the orthodox Jew who, in light of recent developments, has taken it upon himself to decide that it’s all right for him to eat pork. You can be an orthodox Jew, and you can eat pork. You’re free to do either one. But folks, you just can’t do both. There are names for Catholics who don’t accept that they can’t do certain things and still receive the sacraments, and one of those names is Senator John Kerry.

And last but not least…

Warning of the “tyranny of relativism” that’s become so pervasive, Cardinal Ratzinger argued that it’s better to be guided by time-honored principles of morality than to be endlessly buffeted about by the myriad whims of conventional wisdom in the name of “freedom.” With the clear implication being, if you don’t like these principles the rest of us here have agreed to live by, maybe this isn’t the Church for you. Or as my Dad used to say during dinner, if you don’t like what we’re serving here, try next door.

Good stuff.

slowly getting more out of touch…

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I have this “movies I’ve watched recently” link section on the side of the blog. I intended to list movies that I saw in the theater or on DVD. If you’re a regular reader, you will have noted that it hasn’t changed in quite some time.

I noted a progression yesterday while talking with Becky. We were thinking of renting Meet The Fockers, but decided to just watch something recorded on the Tivo instead. The progression goes something like this:

  • Back before we had Laura we’d go watch movies in the theater.
  • Once Laura was born, we’d wait until they came out on DVD.
  • Now that we got our Tivo, we’ll end up waiting until the movie gets shown on TV. 🙂

I will have to break this chain for some movies; obviously when the new Star Wars movie comes out I’ll be watching it in the theater. But as a whole, I feel myself slipping more and more into behind-the-times oblivion, at least as far as pop culture goes. Oh well. It’s not always bad to be out of touch. 🙂