Friday, March 30, 2007

Before The Month Ends...

I'd be remiss without at least mentioning Bre-X. It was ten years ago this month that one of the greatest scams of all time was perpetrated. I remember it well, because I was actually trading Canadian stocks for a living.

Because I have so many thoughts running around in my head, I'm not going make the deadline of actually writing the post before the end of the month. And though it's probably pointless to mention it without saying anything about it, I feel obligated to at least mention it, lest the opportunity slip away.

Plus, this way one of my faithful Canadian readers can bug me in a month or so if I haven't made good on my pledge.

In the meantime, to wet your appetite, here is the Wikipedia entry on Bre-X.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Even a Book Is Known By the Company It Keeps

Do you know the Secret? Yeah, me either. It came to me in an ad from Barnes & Noble online.

But when I clicked through the link they sent, I didn't need to see very much more. I was hoping for the next big adventure, and instead I was met with the latest iteration of The Power of Positive Thinking.

It never ceases to amaze me that the "whatever you believe can happen" message can be repackaged over and over and sold for millions. Maybe that is the true power of positive thinking--if you think you can steal other people's money with mindless platitudes, you can!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Pruned Life

This is where I'm at right now...

I keep notebooks. Many of the pages are filled with random sort of stuff. But occasionally, as I re-read them, I stumble upon something out of the ordinary, and possibly even special. (Lots of times it happens to be quotes from other people's work, but there you go.)

Here's an entry from September '04. At the time, I was struck by a quote from a study we were doing at church about elders, and their need to live simple, "pruned" lives. The fact is that this idea applies to all believers, not just elders, and much could be written about why this is difficult for those living in an affluent society.

For me, though, I think the quote returns to my thoughts so often because although I know it, I haven't yet learned it.

In his excellent book Biblical Eldership, Alexander Strauch makes this statement: "The real problem, then, lies not in men's limited time and energy but in false ideas about work, Christian living, life's priorities, and -especially- Christian ministry."

He continues further along with this quote from R. Paul Stephens: "And for tentmakers to survive three full-time jobs (work, family, ministry), they must adopt a sacrificial lifestyle. Tentmakers must live a pruned life and literally find leisure and rest in the rhythm of serving Christ (Matt 11:28). They must be willing to forego a measure of career acheivement and private leisure for the privilege of gaining the prize (Phil 3:14). Many would like to be tentmakers if they could be wealthy and live a leisurely and cultured lifestyle. But the truth is that significant ministry in the church and the community can only come by sacrifice."

Quoted from pages 28-29 of Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch

Monday, March 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad

I'll try to post a picture later, but in the meantime, Happy Birthday.

Hope you're having a great day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

For My Dad

Dad patiently endured the Blogswap over the last few weeks, with all of its inside jokes and commentary. And for that I am grateful.

Well, Dad, it's your turn. No one but you, me, and family will get this. More to the point, I think you'll appreciate it. So here goes.

Saturday is St. Patrick's Day. It's also Mr. Hafer's birthday. So go find his number. No, go right now (I'll wait)...

Now, put it on the fridge, or the micro, or the TV, or (well, you know, that other place)--somewhere that will remind you to call him on Saturday.

Your #1 Son.

P.S. In doing research for this post, I came across this link. If you get ahold of Mr. Hafer, please tell him to let you (or me) know the next time he plans to be in Arkansas, but especially when he's going to be a featured chapel speaker at my alma mater.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

We Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Program...

by Gummby

I'm back.

Just want to say "thanks" to Neil for minding the blog while I've been visiting over there. And to those of you out there (and you know who you are) who have been somewhat confused by all this blogswapping, my apologies.

We'll try to do better next time.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hog Heaven

I transcribed a piano accompaniment for one of the Princess' favourite songs from sheet music into electronic notation, with a vague notion that we could get the sucker playing and sounding half decently. She liked it and asked me to burn it onto a CD so she can use it as a backup plan if she ever has to sing in church on short notice.

These proprietary electronic files aren't terribly useful unless you have something to render them, and unless you can trust the sound man to know what he's doing... So I formulated a systems integration plan.
  1. Save the proprietary file as a MIDI.
  2. Save the MIDI to USB flash memory.
  3. Install custom flash memory drivers on our antique computer, which is the only one with a 3.5 inch floppy drive. By the way, this machine is powered by coal.
  4. Insert the now-supported USB flash into the never-used USB port on the antique and cross my fingers that it will work.
  5. Search out my old box of 3.5 inch floppies, and discover that the first four I try are so old that they are unusable. The labels on them indicate they were last used in 1995.
  6. Successfully reformat the fifth old diskette that I try.
  7. Copy the MIDI file from the USB flash to the 3.5 inch floppy
  8. Take the floppy upstairs to the little room of horrors (#1 Son's bedroom).
  9. Insert the diskette into the aging Yamaha PSR-740 Keyboard.
  10. Use the Yamaha to play the MIDI and render it with a full and wonderful concertish wall of sound. It was a thing of beauty.
  11. Plug an output cord from the Yamaha to my laptop.
  12. Play the MIDI again, but this time record the beautiful Yamaha output to an MP3 file.
  13. Save the MP3 on a CD.
  14. Mission accomplished.
But along the way, #1 and I discovered that we can manipulate the MIDI voices to our hearts' content. We were giggling and delighting in our newfound creative outlet. I rushed downstairs and repeated the file transfer process for several of my own sad compositions. We played them on the Yamaha, changed the voices around, and #1 got out his guitar and started improvising accompaniment riffs to my songs. We were jamming!

Hog heaven. It's been a very nice evening.