Thursday, June 28, 2007

So, after using the Google(tm) search engine....

I've discovered why I'm getting the "&nbsp" in the posts I make using "Scribefire".

Apparently, it goes back to my English instructions in school. Back then, it was taught that two spaces come after a period, exclamation point, and colon when typing. According to the websites I just looked out, that's common convention now. However, what's going on is, my blogging software interprets the first space fine, but then puts in the code for a space for the second. That's a little irritating. I *like* the double-space rule (though I've been informed that with computers and fonts and all sorts of other things I didn't necessarily understand (or care about), the double-space is no longer needed at the end of a sentence. But, to me, having that there makes the page easier to read.

I've learned typing in the seventh grade, back in '87/'88. That's ~20 years of unlearning I'd have to do to go to a single-space convention. I like Scribefire a lot, but to me, not being able to properly interpret double-spaces takes a lot away from it. Maybe I can find a solution to it.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Yeah, on another posting spree

Yes, occasionally I get the bug to just post random things. I guess today happens to be one of those. Anyway, something I've thought of that is completely out of thin air (well, ok, maybe not did stem from my watching all my The X-Files DVDs) is that I've figured out why The X-Files went off the air when it did....

Two words: Camera Phones. Around the time the show ended, camera phones were introduced.

Think about it: Fox Mulder has spent his life searching for "the truth". Time and time again he's come in contact with it, but has had no evidence to support his claims. He finds a warehouse where experimentation on human/alien hybrids was going on, brings the FBI there the next morning to expose the conspiracy, and voila, it's all been packed up and moved.

Now, forgetting for a moment that, as a man desperate to find "the truth", he should've had a camera of some sort on him, let's look at what would've happened if he had a cell phone (which he most definitely would've) with a camera.

Mulder would go to the warehouse where the experimentation was going on, and from the window he's peering in, would be able to take pictures of the men involved and the E.B.E (extra-terrestrial biological entity) they're working with. He'd be able to document everything he'd need to go back and show that yes, there is a vast government conspiracy to bring alien colonization to Earth and protect themselves by inducing alien DNA into the human populace.

So, you see, if the show'd continued, it wouldn't have for long. Because then Mulder would have no excuse for not having a camera for documentation, he could show his superiors at the FBI his proof, they would move in on the conspirators, who would rather swallow cyanide pills and die than share their knowledge of the "project", and the should wouldn't have lasted past the 3rd part of the 3 part season-ending cliffhanger bridging seasons 10 and 11.

I think it's the Diet Mountain Dew that's talking. However, along similar lines, apparently the CIA has opened their dirty laundry to the public. Check it out here. It's definitely an interesting read....

Late-Night Ruminations

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Edit: Sigh....I really wish Google Docs would do the right thing and use the name of your document as the title of your post.....

It's really strange....I can walk around for hours and hours and think about all the things I want to write about. But, when it comes time to putting thoughts to pap, er, keyboard, they seem to escape me.

This evening, after work, I went with a co-worker to dinner. It's odd that when I think about it, getting out for the evening seems out of the ordinary. But, then as I think on it more, I don't spend much time at home. Tuesdays I'm doing things at the house, Wednesday is church night, Fridays I'm doing things at the house. Saturdays, I guess, are spent at home. Sundays are up at the church. Every other Thursday I spend in Raleigh, and when I'm not in Raleigh, I'm theoretically at small group Bible study. Though, admittedly, since the end of February I've been once. I don't necessarily feel good about that.

But anyway, tonight I went to Ruby Tuesday with my co-worker tonight. While he and I do quite a bit of hanging out, tonight was not so much pleasure as the fact that we'd decided to stay at work and work on code that has to be ready to go by the end of July. We'd decided that we'd grab something around 5 and come back and work on the code. Which we did.

We ended up leaving the office around nine. Since, in theory, I'd sat and looked at code for the better part of 3 hours (and therefore been held captive by my laptop during that time), you'd think I'd be done with it. But after we parted ways, I decided that I didn't want to go straight home. Instead, I wanted to go to the library at University.

Why the library at University? While walking from my car to the library, it dawned on me. University is familiar. My mother worked at University for 30 years. During that time, I've spent countless hours going to appointments, going to her office, so much time here. In high school, when we didn't have the money to do anything else, we'd often just come over here and hang out.

Walking around tonight reminded me of those times. It also reminded me of my first days in college. I remember going to my school at the end of August. It was still warm (even for the mountains of TN). I remember the evenings being warm and humid.

Heh. Not only is it familiar, but it's comforting as well. Because, walking on this campus, it reminds me of much simpler days.

I've done so much thinking this week (and yes, it is only Wednesday....a couple of hours shy of Thursday, granted, but still Wednesday). I honestly feel like I should be starring in some channel-formerly-known-as-the-WB drama (a la Dawson's Creek), where the main character is walking along and has all these revelations about himself. Sad to say, 1) none of them are great and 2) none of them are new to me, as I've had several tell me the same things. The difference is, I guess I've come to accept them.

Walking around tonight, I remembered something that Wife said to me recently. She told me that I've never had to take care of myself. I went from being taken care of my Mom and Dad to being taken care of by her. And sadly, she's right. While I've not necessarily gotten everything I've wanted, I've gotten a lot, and certainly everything I've needed. I had a car when I was 16, my parents covered my 4 years in college (I was responsible for one summer session), had braces as a kid, clothes, books, corrective lenses, even rent my first year married while I was in college, was covered by my parents. And after school, sadly, I let Wife take care of me. Without giving her the same in return.

Ugh. Should I really post this? I would actually consider deleting it all, except I have a feeling that, what I'm just coming to terms with, others have probably noticed for some time now. So there's no point to hide it.

Yes. University is familiar and comforting. Sadly, I'm not called to stay where it's familiar and comfortable....

Enjoying the outdoors

For some time now I've been wanting to bring one of those nice, cloth, fold out chairs that you see people at the beach with. We had some at the house, but for some reason I'm unable to find any. So, this morning I, um, borrowed one from my parents and brought it with me to work. I've gotten the chance to sit in the shade of the water cooler, down by the river, and write. So relaxing.

And sadly, so short. The indoors call....

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The proper response to tragedy

15 After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. 16 David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. 17 The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.

 18 Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. “He wouldn’t listen to reason while the child was ill,” they said. “What drastic thing will he do when we tell him the child is dead?”

 19 When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

   “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

 20 Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions,[b] and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.

 21 His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.”

 22 David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”  (2 Samuel 12:15-23, NLT)

During our spring revival services, our guest speaker shared a story of someone he'd been counseling.  The man was about to be divorced, and our speaker told him he should fast and pray over his situation.  At their next session, our speaker asked the man if he had heeded his advice.  The man answered, "No.  I guess I just don't want it bad enough."

It's been a little while since I last read this account in 2 Samuel -- I'm currently working through 1 Chronicles now.  But, since re-reading it, it's been....haunting me.  It's Scripture that I seem to continually find my thoughts going back to.

I know why.

Because it's in this Scripture that I believe we see what our proper response to tragedy should be.  In King David we see complete brokenness, manifested through prayer and fasting.

The Scripture above references what happened after David's sin with Bathsheba.  He had committed adultery with the wife of one of his officers.  When he found out she was pregnant with his child, he tried to get Uriah (Bathsheba's husband) to sleep with her so he would believe the child was his.  However, Uriah did not want to have such luxury while his men were on the battlefield fighting.  And so David had him killed.  Nathan the prophet then came and confronted the king with his sin and told him  that because of his sin, the child of David and Bathsheba would die.

The key to this is recognizing that David is dealing with the consequence of his actions.  His child fell ill because of what he'd done.  But, instead of moping around, feeling sorry for himself, verse 16 tells us that he "begged God to spare the child" and "[h]e went without food".  He would continue to do this until 1) God decided to spare the child's life or 2) God carried out His plan.  As we see in the following verses, God did not spare the child, and on the seventh day of its illness, the child died.

What happened next amazed his advisors.  They figured he was acting unreasonably while the child was alive, he would act even more so after finding out the child was dead.  However, upon the grim news, David got up, bathed, WORSHIPED THE LORD, and essentially went back to business as usual.

In the time of a great tragedy in his life, David worshiped the Lord.  What a response.  When he may have found it easy to be angry and bitter and turn from God, he did the opposite.  He worshiped Him.  There's something to chew on!

As mentioned, when David's child died, he went back to business as usual.  When asked by his advisors about his 180, he told him that he fasted and wept when there was a chance that God may have mercy on him and let the child live.  But, now that the child was dead, there was nothing more that he could do.  There was no point in continuing to mourn or dwell in self-pity.  God had done what He said He would.  Nothing would change that.

I guess there's not much more I can add to that....

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Gaming like the old days....

For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed playing video games.  It started back in the early 80's with computer games and my "Intellivision II".  Since those days, I've (or my family, rather) has had a Nintendo, Super Nintendo, GameBoy, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 64, and finally, a Game Cube.

I am a Nintendo loyalist -- no Playstation or XBox for me, pure Nintendo.  Just an aside.

Anyway, over the last 20+ years, I've owned several game systems made by Nintendo.  I bought my Super Nintendo in High School and have gotten more than my money's worth out of it.  It had a great library of games, and the controls were simple enough that I could actually play the game, but still offered more game play than what the original Nintendo offered.  I don't know how to explain it, other than the fact that I'm old.

I don't know how much time happened between the release of the Super Nintendo and the next gen, Nintendo 64.  However, I do know that it wasn't until I was well-married that I got a 64 for Christmas from my parents.  I wanted it because, in my opinion, there are 2 "must have" video game franchises for me -- Zelda, and Castelvania.  The 64 offered new experiences in both of these franchises -- "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" and "Castlevania 64".  To me, those made having the 64 a "must have"....or so I thought.

I got the 64, and got Ocarina's sequel, "Majora's Mask" with it.  I also got Castlevania.  Immediately took to and enjoyed playing Castlevania (though I believe the critics panned it), but never got into "Majora".  My complaint with Castlevania was, it was now 3D, which wasn't what I was used to.  The controller was more complex, there were angles I wasn't familiar with, and it was harder for me coming from the "old school" games where Mario was in 2 dimensions, and his options for movement were "forward" and "backward".  Zelda: Majora's Mask suffered from these as well, plus one more thing -- the puzzles it offered were way harder than previous.  While the previous Zelda games had their share of puzzles, they added to the game without being so difficult/time consuming as to...well, tick off the players.  I felt like I had to do too much thinking for Majora's Mask.  While thinking, in general, is a good thing, and I do enjoy puzzles in my games, spending too much time/effort on side-puzzles can detract from a game.

Time is especially a factor.  My time was stretched, so if I got to play, I wanted to make sure I felt some sense of accomplishment in the time I spent playing, versus spending 3 hours just trying to get a special flower from one side of Hyrule to the other, so that I could get the next piece of the trade game in order to get a 4th of a piece of a heart container, that, in the end, didn't really add much.  In fairness to the makers, it wasn't a necessity to go off on the side quests/missions, but heart containers = life, so the more you have of them, the more life you have, which, in the end, helps you defeat Ganon.  If we don't defeat Ganon, he shrouds the world in darkness and rules with is Triforce of Power and an iron fist.  And we can't have THAT.

The purpose of this post actually wasn't to offer a history of my love affair with video games.  It seems to have turned into that,, continuing, after not doing much with my 64, I begged for a GameCube shortly after it came out (I remember that there seemed to be a shortage of them at the time, so I assume it wasn't long after they came out).  It ended up being a Christmas present and came with a disk of past Zelda games (The original, the second, Ocarina, and Majora's mask.  I don't understand why they didn't include "Link to the Past", which, in my very humble and limited opinion, is the best of the series). I was very excited about this and began playing Ocarina, but didn't get very far because of, ironically, time (get it...."Ocarina of Time", and it was time that preven...oh, ne'ermind....).  And so, long story short, it sat there, not getting much use....

Until recently.  I've dusted off the GameCube, bought a 27" TV from an "everything must go" sale at the University Surplus store, and discovered 2 games that remind me of the things that I used to love about video games in the beginning....

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Resident Evil 4

And on that note, I have to say...."to be continued"

The one where I start out with some verses and don't say much about them :)

 17 Then Solomon said, “My father, David, wanted to build this Temple to honor the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 18 But the Lord told him, ‘You wanted to build the Temple to honor my name. Your intention is good, 19 but you are not the one to do it. One of your own sons will build the Temple to honor me.' (1 Kings 8:17-19, NLT)

I've probably written on the above verses before.  I love going back and reading 1,2 Samuel, 1,2 Kings, and 1,2 Chronicles, and I find myself enjoying them more and more each time I read them.

Oddly enough, I love reading of the accounts of the kings of Isreal (and later Judah).  I've never been much of a history buff, but I really do enjoy reading Biblical history.  Part of it is, I really do feel that to truly understand and enjoy the New Testament, one should be well-versed in the Old.  Obviously, we are sinners saved by Grace, and the New Testament plays such an important role in understanding what it means to be a Christian, part of the Church, and how to grow in our faith.  However, I feel that the Old Testament is quickly dismissed as nothing more than "stories" that make up the "Children's Bibles" you see in many waiting rooms (pet peeve:  People who call them "stories" instead of "accounts".  Stories make them sound like myths or fables, or just plain made up.  They're historical accounts and records, true in every way, inspired by the Holy Spirit.  And yes, I do realize I'm preaching to the choir :) Still, it irks me when people refer to anything in the Bible as a "story".  Unless, of course, it's a Parable that Jesus taught.  And I'm sure calling those stories irk me as well.  Now I'm just rambling).


At any rate, I love the accounts written in the Old Testament, especially the ones recorded in those 6 Books.  More specifically, I enjoy the accounts of David and Solomon.  David, because he made some major blunders in his life, yet God still called him a man after His own Heart.  Despite his seemingly large failures, he loved God and God loved him.  He had a real passion for God and a zeal that was unmatched by any other king in those days (any of the good kings of Judah that followed would often be described as "walking in the way of David their father").  To read about David is always a pleasure, from the time he put on the king's armor to battle Goliath to passing the kingdom to his son Solomon.

I also love to read the accounts of Solomon.  He did many noble things in his life.  His two greatest accomplishments were praying for wisdom when God offered anything he wanted and building the Temple for God.  Sadly, while Solomon started out strong, he became entangled in pagan worship and allowed himself to be swayed by his many heathen wives.  Towards the end of his life, however, he wrote my favorite book of the Bible, Ecclesiastes, and came to realize that there is truly nothing worth living for outside complete and total devotion to God.  Ecclesiastes 12:13 doesn't get any plainer: 
Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 

And so, not addressing the Scripture at the top, that is why I love reading about David and Solomon!

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Friday, June 08, 2007

The world's gone mad!

OK, when going through my news feeds this morning, I'm greeted with:

Teen Drowns In Cellphone Fetch

and, shortly afterward, this:

Fond du Lac Reporter - Sheboygan man drowns after getting stuck in storm sewer

...trying to get his cell phone!

Two SEPARATE incidents.....ON THE SAME DAY!