Thursday, December 24, 2009


There is hope.

There is hope for those wounded by the loss of loved ones.
There is hope for those who have been hurt by loved ones.
There is hope for those frightened for their loved ones.
There is hope for those worried about their livelihoods.
There is hope for those struggling with their health.
There is hope for those facing their own death.
There is hope for those sent into harm's way.

There is hope that is greater than other hopes.

The greatest hope is not in weapons of war, nor in the valiant soldiers who wield them.
The greatest hope is not in persuasion, nor in politicians who attempt to persuade.
The greatest hope is not in science, nor in scientists who examine and reason.

Military might has defended the innocent, but it has also tortured and executed them.
Political fight has produced the heights of freedom, but has also sunk to the depths of genocide.
Scientific sight may master the subatomic and interstellar How, but by definition ignores the Why.

Thousands of years of war, and peace is still fragile or missing.
Thousands of years of laws, and inalienable rights are still questioned.
Hundreds of years of science, and the world still groans.

But we can still hope.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed, and so became the father of many nations.

Abraham hoped in a God who created us, who loves us, and who is faithful to us, even when we are unfaithful.

Like Abraham, we can hope, even when everything seems hopeless.

And our greatest hope is that God is a God who condescended to humanity, covered our sins, and invites us to fellowship with Him.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining, 'til he appeared and the soul felt His worth...

A thrill of hope...

A weary world rejoices...

Oh holy night...

It is the eve of the dear Savior’s birth.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Who Pays For Our Freedom?

It is the soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the organizer,
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag.

-- Father Dennis Edward O'Brian, USMC

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We, the Religious People...

President Obama said in a speech in Turkey, "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

Well, I don't know of any recent studies, but for most of our nation's history, the majority have definitely considered our nation a Christian nation. And, I wonder, what "ideals" and "set of values" does the President think bind us together? I haven't found any statements by him to clarify that, but then, as long as he's vague enough, he can offend the fewest possible people who might disagree. In hope that he is ignorant on our country's religious character, rather than deceitful, perhaps some history lessons are in order. Here's one:

Neither our Constitution, nor the Declaration of Independance, nor any of our national laws say that we must have the famously alleged separation of Church and State. What the Constitution says in the First Amendment is, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That doesn't even prohibit the individual States from establishing religions, although none have. In fact, no American is forced by Federal, State, or local government to worship God.

However, there's nothing in the Constitution that prevents religious people in general or Christians in particular from being involved in the creation or management of our laws, or prohibits their religious beliefs from affecting their political views or the laws we create, with the sole exception of the prohibition against establishing a national religion.

One of the prime examples of the influence of Christianity in this country is in our Declaration of Independence, which openly acknowledges God in these quotes: which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them...

...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

...We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world...

And lest anyone think the open acknowledgement of God by our body politic has been limited to the Federal government, here are quotes from the Constitutions of the 50 United States: (Passing this along with thanks to Lianne.)

Alabama 1901, Preamble: We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution...
Alaska 1956, Preamble: We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land...
Arizona 1911, Preamble: We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...
Arkansas 1874, Preamble: We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...
California 1879, Preamble: We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom...
Colorado 1876, Preamble: We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe...
Connecticut 1818, Preamble: The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy...
Delaware 1897, Preamble: Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences...
Florida 1885, Preamble: We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, establish this Constitution...
Georgia 1777, Preamble: We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...
Hawaii 1959, Preamble: We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance .... Establish this Constitution...
Idaho 1889, Preamble: We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings...
Illinois 1870, Preamble: We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors...
Indiana 1851, Preamble: We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to choose our form of government...
Iowa 1857, Preamble: We, the People of the St ate of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings, establish this Constitution...
Kansas 1859, Preamble: We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges establish this Constitution...
Kentucky 1891, Preamble: We, the people of the Commonwealth are grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties...
Louisiana 1921, Preamble: We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy...
Maine 1820, Preamble: We the People of Maine acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity... And imploring His aid and direction...
Maryland 1776, Preamble: We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty...
Massachusetts 1780, Preamble: We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe, In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction...
Michigan 1908, Preamble: We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom, establish this Constitution...
Minnesota, 1857, Preamble: We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings...
Mississippi 1890, Preamble: We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work...
Missouri 1845, Preamble: We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness, Establish this Constitution...
Montana 1889, Preamble: We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty establish this Constitution...
Nebraska 1875, Preamble: We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, Establish this Constitution...
Nevada 1864, Preamble: We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, establish this Constitution...
New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V: Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience...
New Jersey 1844, Preamble: We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors...
New Mexico 1911, Preamble: We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty...
New York 1846, Preamble: We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings...
North Carolina 1868, Preamble: We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those...
North Dakota 1889, Preamble: We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...
Ohio 1852, Preamble: We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common...
Oklahoma 1907, Preamble: Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty, establish this...
Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I Section 2: All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences...
Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble: We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance......
Rhode Island 1842, Preamble: We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing...
South Carolina, 1778, Preamble: We, the people of he State of South Carolina grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution...
South Dakota 1889, Preamble: We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties...
Tennessee 1796, Art. XI..III: That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...
Texas 1845, Preamble: We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God...
Utah 1896, Preamble: Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution...
Vermont 1777, Preamble: Whereas all government ought to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man...
Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI: Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other...
Washington 1889, Preamble: We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...
West Virginia 1872, Preamble: Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God...
Wisconsin 1848, Preamble: We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility...
Wyoming 1890, Preamble: We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties, establish this Constitution...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Placebo Effect in the Bible?

"A cheerful heart is good medicine..." [Proverbs 17:22]

Thousands of years before modern medical science began, the placebo effect was recognized in the Bible. When it compounds the benefits of effective medications, good things happen. So to Susan, Terry, Brian, and anyone else with serious physical problems, keep on lifting your spirit in praise, and take courage!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Plea for Rational, Responsible Economic Environmentalism

There is, in fact, no scientific consensus on the existence of global warming, let alone the alleged extent or most likely causes. And the recent exposure of emails by the CRU cabal may have mortally wounded the efforts of the crisis-mongers pushing the human-caused-global-warming scenario.

(Kim Strassel: Their correspondence show a claque of scientists massaging data to make it fit their theories, squelching scientists who disagreed, punishing academic journals that didn't toe the apocalyptic line, and hiding their work from public view. "It's no use pretending that this isn't a major blow," glumly wrote George Monbiot, a U.K. writer who has been among the fiercest warming alarmists. The documents "could scarcely be more damaging." And that's from a believer.)

But the diminishing stature of this faked crisis is actually a cause for some concern. Just because these latest crisis profiteers have tainted their crisis-of-the-decade, that doesn't mean we need the pendulum of public concern for the environment to swing too far back in the other direction. Why? Because we'll always need clean air and clean water.

Clean air, clean water, and the broadest possible bio-diversity are good things, and economic activities (and government policies that impact economic activities) should take them into account.

For those who tend to think that unrestrained free-enterprise is perfect, let me remind you that people making decisions for profit only, without regard to the environmental impact of their decisions, have caused some horrendous pollution and damaged the health of many millions of people world-wide.

On the other extreme, for those who act like the environment is their god, let me remind you that moderated free-enterprise has led to many scientific achievements that allow us to measure and quantify our environment while providing livelihoods for billions of people.

So, let's be rational. Let's encourage economic growth that takes the environment into account and work to improve both our economic engines and our environment.

Monday, November 23, 2009

United Nations Inquiry

Okay, it's not quite Thanksgiving yet, but if someone's wondering what to get me as a Christmas present, here's something I'd like:

Please list all the good things the United Nations has accomplished, excluding all the good things where the United States alone was responsible for 90% or more of the good thing (by dollars or people), and total up all the United Nations has cost, adjusting for inflation and breaking out the costs borne by the United States as a separate number.

I'm not someone who thinks the U.N. has never accomplished anything good, but I also don't think we should keep it if it's not producing more value than it consumes.

Here's my analogy #2,357: If you have a car that gets you to work sometimes, that's a good thing. But if it fails to get you to work most of the time and if repairs and maintenance cost more than a new car, how long would you keep the old car?

I just want to be honest about the U.N. and determine it's real worth.

Any takers?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Global Warming FAIL

For all my non-Twittering friends, "FAIL" is shorthand for disapproving or disavowing something. No, I don't Twitter either, but I'm familiar with some of it.

So, Global Warming. It's common knowledge that real scientists have formed a solid, near-universal consensus that global warming is fast approaching irreversible, catastrophic damage to Earth's climate due primarily to human activity and we should do everything and anything we can to reverse our activities, even if it ruins national economies, for the sake of human survival. Wow. And it's common knowledge because most reporters and commentators in the mass media believe that, and keep repeating it in articles and on TV. Movie writers and producers reinforce it by weaving it in as an underlying assumption or outright plot-points. And they usually have lots of quotes from "scientists" who earn their livings from the grants they get, and the more dire their predictions, the more funding they're given.

Too bad the consensus isn't true. It's not even close to true. Follow this link to an article citing a petition signed by over 32,000 scientists, including over 9,000 Ph.D.'s and scores of Nobel laureates, all of whom are not part of the alleged consensus.

So if your elected representatives support the idiotic Cap & Trade legislation, you might want to point this out to them. If they have functioning intellects.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Whatever You Need, We'll Give It To You"

I've been listening to the pontificating on C-SPAN as the House prepares to vote on Pelosi's health insurance (not health care) reform bill, and must conclude that some of our national politicians are ignoramuses themselves or they're intentionally pandering to an ignorant constituency.

Do the ignorant ones think that an insurance company is a stingy rich uncle with unlimited money and everyone can have anything they want if they can just convince the uncle to be more generous or if they can take the uncle's money by force of law?

Modern insurance works on one fundamental principal: Each insurance program must take in more money in premiums than it pays out in benefits. This is true regardless of whether the organization behind it is for-profit or non-profit, and certainly includes civil governments. Insurance is a means of allowing a group of people to share financial risk, not a magically infinite source of money.

Some have said, "We're making health care a right." Oh, really? You're going to make something with a price tag a civil right? You're going to put it on the same level as the right to life and the right to liberty? And what will you do when the well runs dry? And when the group of patients need two dollars worth of health care for every dollar paid in insurance premiums, what will you tell those who complain that their rights are being denied?

The truth is they're not talking about improving health care. They're talking about changing health insurance in a manner by which the civil government will control how health care is rationed, rather than allowing freedom of choice.

And some of these folks are claiming, with a straight face, that the Federal bureaucracy is going to cover hundreds of billions of dollars worth of the increased costs by making things more efficient and reducing fraud? Oh? Like they have with Veteran's health care, Medicaid, and Medicare?

Here's my two cents' worth of opinion: make the VA, Medicaid, and Medicare effective, efficient, and fraud-free, and then I'll have a basis to believe the Federal government can do a better job with public health insurance than the free market and non-profits are doing now.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Imprecision and Bogus Econ

Just read a couple of different articles. One about evolution and one about how many jobs the most recent U.S. Federal stimulus program has created. They both annoyed me a lot, and for the same reason. What do these topics have in common?

Confusing or misleading imprecision by the authors.

Evolution: The author used the term repeatedly, but never specified when he was talking about evolution within species or among species. They aren't the same thing, but this author, and many others, seem to think they are.

Jobs: The author of the article I read, the interview subjects, and the reports cited estimate how many jobs have been created by the Federal government passing out tax money. In this article and in others, there's little or no talk about what kind of jobs.

For one thing, there's a big difference between creating a minimum-wage job and a job for a highly-skilled person. For another, there's an even bigger difference between a temporary job and a permanent job.

So, the Federal government takes $15,000 in taxes from you and I, then passes $12,000 to a company that will create jobs. (I don't really think the Federal government would have such a low administrative overhead, but I don't want to get into that issue here.) That company hires 12 people for one month each. Some reports were initially claiming that the Federal government's actions had created 12 jobs, but then people started catching on, so some folks started adjusting the counts to equal full-time employees for one year, making the example above equal one job created. Except that those were temporary jobs. When the handout money ran out, the jobs ran out. That might not be so bad if the Federal government could keep taking enough money from taxpayers to keep shoveling money at companies and organizations to keep people employed, but they can't. So, the Feds have "created or saved" X number of jobs. Please. They created or saved X number of temporary jobs. Does anyone think a very short-term temporary job is as good for the economy as a permanent job? Of course not.

But, a temporary job is better than nothing, right? Well, what was the cost of that short-term job? Money taken from taxpayers, both individuals and companies. What might that money have been used for, if it hadn't been taken as taxes and redistributed? Most individuals would have used their extra money to buy things. Which would have... wait for it... stimulated the economy! Except that this is longer-term stimulation. Most companies would invest their extra money. In what? Primarily raw goods, services, and payroll. Which would have... you got it: stimulated the economy! And again, with much longer-term repercussions.

These ignorant folks waxing eloquent about the success of the Federal stimulus package may have been some of the same folks who claimed that the cash-for-clunkers program was a great success. Well, if success was subsidizing car purchases for a month or two, then it was successful, alright. However, many of those purchasers were enticed to purchase a new car to replace their old car sooner than they otherwise would have. The secondary impacts include this: For each one of those people who would have otherwise purchased a car next year, now they won't. All the cash-for-clunkers did in these cases was to shift a small number of future purchases to current purchases, weakening the future economy.

Sigh. Sometimes I wonder if any of our bone-headed politicians have even read an economics textbook?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Political Global Warming

Many of our glorious politicians declare repeatedly that global warming is a crisis, and they must do something to save us all. Even if it means spending all our money and all our children's money. But that's okay, because they base their rhetoric and fear-mongering on cold, hard science, right?

Thanks to their intrepid fund-raising, uh, I mean campaigning to educate we ignorant masses, everyone now knows the truth that global warming is caused primarily by rising levels of atmospheric carbon gas. And the rises in atmospheric carbon gas have been measured very carefully, and have indeed been going up and up, for the last 20 years and beyond.

So, then, what do you think is the warmest year in modern recorded history? Last year? This year? If atmospheric carbon gas causes global warming, and it has been going up every single year the last 2 decades, then you would reasonably expect...


1998 was the warmest year in modern recorded history. Despite that nasty continuous growth in gaseous carbon. Huh. What could possibly account for that incredible anomaly?

Could there be some other factor at work? Could carbon gas be a non-decisive factor after all? Of course not, that would mean the impossible, that our politicians weren't basing their agitation on scientifically established facts.

I guess we'll just have to wait another century or so, and let our great-grandkids figure it out.

In the meantime, does anyone know where I left my sunglasses?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Well, chalk up one more malady in my medical chart, add a problem I didn't even realize was a problem, and then cross that problem off the list.

During my annual physical a few weeks back, my doc asked me some questions no one ever asked before. My answers prompted more questions, and she began to suspect I might have exercise-induced asthma. I didn't know there was such a thing. I figured the trouble I've had breathing after running for a few minutes was normal. Those who know my history well know that there was a period of 20 years or so when my health was too poor to run, but I can clearly remember the same breathing problems while running in my twenties.

Well, Doctor Drew gave me an Advair sampler disk, which is an inhaler-gizmo with long-term anti-asthma drugs. She urged me to try it, and I did. Wow! What a difference!

Breathing is no longer my weak link while running... now it's my muscles, as it's probably supposed to be. So, despite my lungs not being fully recovered from the flu yet (it's dragging out a really long time), I'm running again and enjoying it even more than usual. What a blessing! Maybe I can finally start working on increasing speed or distance.

Breathing... I can personally recommend it!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Cutest PC in the World!

In case you haven't see it, here is the cutest PC you will ever see:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Do You Trust Your Doctor?

Do you trust your doctor completely? When they're prescribing medication, you shouldn't. It's a lot of extra trouble, but if you want to do your best to make sure you're pursuing the best health you can, you should research everything you can about medications they prescribe. This article gives some good background on how marketing drives much of pharmacology industry, to the detriment of our health.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Being God's Pockets

From an article in the NY Times: The paramount moral challenge... in this century, is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape.

Regardless of whether you like the NY Times or not, regardless of whether you can think of other serious issues to give your attention, this is certainly an area where the Body of Christ can and should make a difference in the world. We're familiar with the idea of being God's hands and feet by being missionaries and personally going overseas to preach the Gospel. But you can also stay home and give money to support other people who work as missionaries. And you can also provide very small no-interest loans to desperate people around the world, through organizations like Kiva. You don't have to do this instead of contributing to missions, you can do it in addition. As little as $25 can make a huge difference in people's lives.

That's why I've tagged this NY Times article. Read the first page and you'll see how a mere $65 changed the life of a Pakistani woman named Saima, who was in a very nasty situation. And you'll see how the effect of that loan grew to help other families through Saima.

Typically, multiple people each put up a small portion of a loan, sharing the risk. Note making zero-interest loans is not a way to plan for your retirement. But it is a way to help improve lives and make poor societies more stable, and therefore likely to produce fewer terroristic maniacs.

The more financially stable families there are in a country like Afghanistan, for instance, the less power groups like the Taliban have. So please consider making a loan to a hard working, but poor person, just because you like helping people, or to make the world a little safer place for you, your family, or for the missionaries in those countries.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An Old, Unknown Empidemic

Your family probably has a very serious health problem that you've never heard of. The latest flu? No, this has probably been an epidemic since people started working in factories and office buildings, but has gone unnoticed and unheralded until very recently. So I'm writing this little note to add a little heralding.

From WebMD: "Seven out of 10 U.S. children have too-low vitamin D levels, putting them at risk of heart disease, rickets, and weak bones... Vitamin D deficiency is a serious health threat..."

70%! Every family is probably affected. Your family is probably affected!

While the linked article is about children (of all ages), do a little more research and you'll find that vitamin D inadequacy and deficiency is also prevalent among adults.

Doctors have been increasingly aware of the seriousness of vitamin D inadequacy and deficiency, not only for physical health, but also for mental heath. And they've been increasingly aware that they have not been adequately monitoring the problem, which prompted the study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine behind the article linked above. "We expected the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency would be high, but the magnitude of the problem nationwide was shocking."

So, read the linked article, read other articles, then get everyone in your family tested to find out what your vitamin D levels are, and if they're low, start getting more. If you take vitamin D supplements, make sure they're vitamin D3. Get it locally to start with, and while you're taking those, you can save money by ordering online. This is where I get my vitamins, and no, that's not an affiliate link so I'll get a little commission if you buy something there. It's just a link directly to a reliable source of inexpensive vitamin D3, from a large vitamin manufacturer.

By the way, my doctor found my vitamin D inadequacy a few years ago, and I started taking supplements, and it makes a big difference to my energy levels and helps me keep a positive attitude toward life. I'm sure, because I have a compartmentalized pill box with a box for each day of the week. That let's me see when I've forgotten to take my vitamin D, B-complex, fish oil, thyroid pill, and blood pressure med. When I forget them for a day, I can see a real difference. When I forget them for 2 days in a row, I see a much bigger difference. And a few times I've run out of D when I had the other things, so I learned what it was like to take everything except D, and wow, does D make a big difference!

Remember, 70% of U.S. kids have inadequate vitamin D, and 10% have full-on vitamin D deficiency, and it causes a wide variety of mild to very serious health problems. And since it's easy to test for, and cheap to take supplements, don't ignore it!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Famous Disease...

Hey, if you're gonna have a rare disease, especially if you're a guy and 85% of the people who get this disease are female, at least make it a famous disease! And Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD) just made the front page of the Wall Street Journal! Dr. Olin, my specialist for this particular problem, is quoted. Cool, huh? I go to New York to see him again in a few weeks... and I've thought of some new possible treatments: an arterial transplant, a whole-body arterialectomy, and if those don't work, Teflon-coated chain-linked carbon nanotubes artery liners!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Beautiful Music: Hang Drum

A beautiful song on a variation of steel drum:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rules for a Gunfight

I stole this pic from Greg Long:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Need a Gift Idea?

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Check out Take Courage Designs.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Installing Windows Storage Server 2008

The Administrator password when installing Windows Storage Server 2008 is wSS2008!.

No, I don't blab confidential Microsoft information. No, I don't give away keys. And no, I don't give away any real passwords. However, this is the default install password, and it's not a secret or confidential, it's just too hard to find. You have to download the Tools CD from MSDN and then read the release notes. So, I'm putting the WSS08 default admin password here in case it makes a little easier to find for people who search the Internet before they read all the docs. (And who's going to read the Tools docs before they install the basic software?)

So, with "wSS2008!" you can now log in to your fresh install of the fantastic new Windows Storage Server 2008. Ta-da!!

Now what's the first thing you're going to do after you log in...? CHANGE THE DEFAULT PASSWORD, if you're smart.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Paradise isn't a tropical island. Especially when the island in question has traffic problems, employment problems, housing problems...

I'll say this for Hawai'i, nowhere else have I seen rainbows so frequently, so complete, so large (very wide from red to violet and the ends miles apart), or glowing so vibrantly.

Paradise, however, is in our hearts and minds. It doesn't matter whether we're in a mansion, a cozy home, or a tent. What matters is who we're with, and how much we appreciate each other. It doesn't matter where.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ok, so I finally did the 25 random things about me...

I've been tagged for this by multiple friends, but nothing's truly random, so I'll jot down 25 miscellaneous things about me:

1. I'm an adventurer.
2. I was born 5 miles north of Booger Hollow, Georgia. (Booger Hollow is unincorporated) (very unincorporated).
3. I have Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD) (which has cost me about 5% of my right kidney so far), hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, peripheral neuropathy, an enlarged prostate gland, back problems, blood pressures problems, lots of chronic muscular tightness/sore spots sometimes labeled as fibromyalgia, but as long as I can run, I consider myself healthy.
4. I earned my bachelor's degree in my 30's for less than $1200. Got it so I could check the box on job applications.
5. I have degrees in Economics, Education, Electronics Engineering Technology, History, Literature in English, Psychology, and Sociology, but I've never used them for an occupation.
6. I've had jobs as "high" as a corporate President and as a Chief Technology Officer.
7. I've passed more than 60 I.T. certification exams by at least 6 different companies.
8. I had poor grades in high school, but I had a lot of great friends.
9. I've read many college level textbooks just for fun.
10. I have a lot of books. Many, many, books. Hundreds and hundreds of books.
11. I wish they would put vitamins in chocolate-chip cookies.
12. I ruined a car engine by running it with the oil drained out. On purpose. As part of an experiment.
13. A good friend and I rode bicycles over 1200 miles on a trip from Georgia to Virginia, where my bicycle was stolen.
14. I owned a Kawasaki 440 LTD motorcycle (belt-drive!), and enjoyed giving rides to friends on it.
15. My Scoutmaster, Bill Ergle, saved my life. He rescued me from downing.
16. A good friend, James Stanley, saved my life when I had been bench-pressing alone, had passed out with the weights on my chest, and had stopped breathing.
17. I know that it is possible that there is a realm of existence that may be unmeasurable (and possibly undetectable) by scientific means, commonly referred to as a spiritual or supernatural realm.
18. I believe that a realm does exist that is currently beyond scientific scrutiny.
19. I believe that God exists, and I believe that he loves us.
20. I believe God is a loving God despite the pain and suffering in the world, and that his long-term, universal perspective allows him to weigh our short-term emotions and physical difficulties differently than we usually do.
21. I've witnessed a few things that I haven't been able to develop an explanatory hypothesis for based on science alone. And I'm really good at developing at least somewhat plausible scientific hypotheses.
22. I believe people have spiritual aspects to our existence, but I have no idea of how the physics of that facet of existence could work. I keep pondering it, though, and am currently toying with an interesting quantum theory.
23. I talk to God a lot. But I don't listen very well.
24. I believe God has silently communicated directly with me a few times, and I believe God has communicated to me a few times through other people regarding future events which those people could not have predicted. Subsequent relevant events were consistent with the possibility that those ideas originated from a benevolent, omniscient God.
25. I have uncountable wealth. The love of my wife Carla makes me the richest man I know. Add to that my children, the parents I had for too short a time, my brother, my relatives-in-law, and my friends... it's no wonder I smile so much.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

MSSU, Day One

Sunday, 1Mar20098, SQL PFE day 77, MSSU day 1.

Woke up about 6 AM local time, 9 AM Eastern. About 5 hours sleep. The high heat last night melted my foot pads. I had to sit on the edge of the tub and scrape the goo off my feet under the hot water.

I ate a stale pretzel and some left-over peanut M&M's, then checked out the list of apartment-complex amenities. There's a fitness room. I got dressed for a run, took my keys and headed out to find it. There are no signs. Anywhere. There was no one else about at that hour to ask. I remembered the motto of the Virginia Commonwealth and persevered. I mean, there are a limited number of floors and hallways, and it's got to be off one of them right? Finally found it in the South Tower and ran 1.5 miles in 13m3s.

Got back, showered, and dressed. Roommate woke up, we talked and headed out for breakfast. Couldn't find a restaurant open so we went to a Safeway grocery store. We can actually get to it from our apartment without going outside.

Class started at 1 PM local time, at the Lincoln Center a few blocks away. There was free-lance meet and greet with drinks and snacks, then get-to-know-one-another exercises, then a break, then a team-building exercise. We wrapped up around 4 PM local time. Didn't take my umbrella because it wasn't raining when I left the apartment. I won't make that mistake again.

Ran back in a steady light rain and couldn't get my shoes & socks off fast enough. Feet are hurting and I'm getting very sleepy. I need to get a report finished for a customer back home, but I'm not sure how long I can stay awake. Doing it in the morning before class probably won't work, because I have to catch the shuttle to the Microsoft campus at 7:00 AM. Guess I'll put my shoes back on, get something from Safeway, eat, and crash.

MSSU, Day Zero

Saturday, 28Feb20098, SQL PFE day 76, MSSU day 0: Travel to Seattle

MSSU is Microsoft Services University, and I'm to attend 9 days of training in Bellevue, WA, starting March 1st.

Got up early and worked on describing a procedure to track deadlocks to send to a customer before getting bogged down in travel. Finished and sent it.

Packed, with Carla's help, and finished a few minutes ahead of schedule. Family prayer and then Carla dropped me off at the Vienna/Fairfax Metro station. Short ride to Reagan National Airport and caught a commuter flight to US Airways Philadelphia hub. Up, down... short flight. The plane had 2 seats on one side of the aisle and one on the other side. I was on the single seat side, so I had a window seat and an aisle seat at the same time. Three hour layover in Philly, then a big jet non-stop to Seattle. Against prevailing winds, as usual when flying West, so it was 6 hours in the air. Was afraid my back would not be happy, but it was okay. The seat beside me was empty, so I got to stretch a little more than normal.

Then things started going wrong. I did a pretty good job of not pigging out on sugar all day so my blood sugar was okay, but I'm used to going to bed around 9 PM, or 8 PM if I'm tired. I got into Sea-Tac about midnight Eastern time, and I was really tired. I couldn't run in the airports, but I had walked a lot, pulling my laptop behind me. What could go wrong at this point?

No, not my checked luggage. It took a half hour, but I got my suitcase okay. But I was TIRED. I remembered I was supposed to take a taxi to the apartment I'll be staying at and was told to expect to pay $40. I struggled to find the taxi stand, then spent a few minutes trying to find a cab that would agree to a flat rate. Apparently they're not allowed to do flat rates, but I'm still skeptical. So I finally plop in a cab and haul out my Tom-Tom GPS to make sure he doesn't drive me out of the way to artificially hike the fare. We get to the right street, but the street number doesn't appear to exist. There's supposed to be a North Tower building and a South Tower building owned by the same management company, and I spot the other address, so I get the driver to let me out there since it's only supposed to be a block from the other building. I figure the front desk will get me straightened out. The cab fare is $50 and I waste a moment fretting about it being more than I was told to expect.

There is no front desk. It's an apartment building and the office is closed for the weekend. I'm standing outside getting cold fast, and my bladder is uncomfortably full. It's a downtown area and nearby every store is closed. There are no cabs in sight. The building directory is no help. A young woman enters the building and takes pity on me, letting me drag my bags into the tiny lobby to get in out of the cold. I get my laptop out and start opening email to look up phone numbers and other housing instructions. I start calling numbers and listen to a lot of hold-music. I figure out a housing document listed the wrong street address and I'm actually in my building. I go up to my room and knock on the door. My roommate, who was supposed to arrive this past Wednesday, does not answer the door.

I go back down to the lobby. I finally get through to an emergency number for the company that sublets the apartment to Microsoft. They don't know if my roommate ever checked in or not. If I knew he had, I could camp outside the door in the hallway, but if he didn't show up, that wasn't the best solution. (My TechReady roommate never did show up, so that was a recent precedent I had in mind.) The housing guy says I should have received instructions that told me I was supposed to go to Ken's Baggage at the Sea-Tac airport to pick up my apartment keys. Hmm. I had received a flood of email about MSSU and housing and I missed that item. The housing people have no process to help out ignorants losers like me, so I have to go back to the airport. Oh, and I have to get back there before midnight local time, because that's when Ken's Baggage closes. My bladder situation is getting bad. I pack up my laptop and prop a suitcase in the building's front door (hearing Lucy Pevensie's voice in my head) and look up and down for a cab. No cabs. Very few cars. I call Carla and ask her look up a cab company and have them send a cab while I stay outside in case I can flag down a miracle cab.

I spot a Westin sign on top of a sky-scratcher a couple of blocks away. I call Carla back and tell her to wait about calling a cab. I grab my bags and drag them uphill to the Westin. I go inside and take about 2 hours to empty my bladder. Possibly it was less time than that. What a relief. And I didn't get arrested for indecent exposure! And there was a cab right outside. He takes me back to the airport. I tell him I need to go to the baggage claim area. He says he's not allowed to go there, he's required to go to ticketing. What?! I point out that the place I need to go is baggage claim, not ticketing. I talk him into taking me straight to the baggage claim area. He doesn't even get parked and a police car swoops in and stops him. Another officer approaches on foot. The cabbie was right. For whatever reason, they seriously do not want cabs in that area. (Which explains why I had so much trouble finding a cab the first time after picking up my bag in baggage claim.) They're about to give the cabbie a $100 fine. The cabbie does not look like a wealthy man. I get out and try to explain to the cops, while worrying about Ken's Baggage about to close. They tell me Ken's Baggage is right inside the door to the left and tell me to go. I run. I got to Ken's, showed an ID, signed, and got the keys. The cops let the cabbie off with a warning. The cabbie takes me back to the building. After going a few blocks out of the way. I think he was just a little confused about how to get to my building instead of back to the Westin hotel.

The fare is $93.25. I tell him to add a $10 tip and hand him my AmEx. My boss won't fuss, but I worry that some bean-counter will think I was trying to cheat Microsoft out of a hundred bucks. Beep. Declined. What?! It worked just fine in the previous cab. He tries again. Declined again. I call the 24 hr customer service number on the back of the card. It takes awhile to get a person on the line. They check, and there have been no declines. The cabbie tries again. I look at him machine. The message is "Declined. General System Error." This isn't a credit card problem, this is his credit processing machine with a problem. He deserves the money, I want to pay him. I don't have that much cash. He calls his office. Their credit processing system is down and that's why his is. The only person in the office doesn't know how to fix it. The cabbie takes me a block away to an ATM. I try to get $100 from it with the AmEx. It won't work. I finally get the money with a different credit card. He drops me off and I go inside. My roommate is in town, and appears to have already gone to bed.

I go into my bedroom. It would make a decent tiny home office. It would make a decent nursery. It might make a decent bedroom for a small child with a single bed. This room has a full size bed, a tall chest of drawers, an end table with a large but dim lamp, and a walk-in closet. That's all. There's one foot between the corner of the bed and the chest of drawers. The closet door won't open all the way because it hits the bed. I can't plug in my laptop and put it on the end table without unplugging the lamp (the only light) or the clock. I plug my laptop and phone in to recharge in the only other outlet and leave them on the floor by the door. I bruise my hip trying to get past the chest of drawers with my suitcase. I put the suitcase on the floor so I can open it and get my foot pads out and then crash into bed.

My foot pads have Lidocaine to reduce the burning sensation in my feet due to nerve damage. I usually can't sleep without them. I get them on, turn off the light, and flop into bed. It's too cold. I get up and turn on the light. My bedroom has an individual temperature control. It's not a normal thermostat. I turn the dial until I hear a click. I turn out the light, flop into bed, get up and turn the light back on. It's deathly quiet except I hear someone in the outside hallway. I power up my laptop and launch my flowing-stream audio clip to provide some white noise. I turn off the light again and lay down again. I realize I didn't set it repeat. I get up again. Wrong, it was already set to repeat. I lay back down. The screen-blanker doesn't kick in. I get up and throw a shirt over it. I think it's about 4 AM Eastern time. I lay down and pass out.

I wake up and I can hardly breathe it's so hot. I struggle up, bang into the chest of drawers, crank down the temperature control and crawl back into bed.