Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri

This week went by waaay too fast:

  • I remember when I was 15 wondering why they didn't let 15 year olds drive and why I had to wait to be 16. When I was 17 I wondered why in the world they would let 16 year olds drive.
  • A local radio station has a programming feature every weekday at 10, called "Ten at ten." Ten songs from one year are played (sometimes there is a special theme other than year.) Each of the five weekday plays are repeated Saturday morning in succession. Great music and fun every day. For a peek at the most recent song lists, click here.
  • Yet more rain. The letups in rain we've had have lasted only a few days at most, and rain seems to the be norm this winter. Our five year old has baseball practice in an hour, but it's been raining all night, and is right now.
  • The hills all around us are green, due to the rain. Unlike much of the rest of the country, grass doesn't die here in California during the winter; it grows. Summer is when grass dies because there's no rain. That's why it's called the Golden State.
  • Sock oddity: My feet are shaped such that the first time I wear new socks, they are permanently right- and left-footed socks. I can never mix them up, otherwise the stretched out toe will end up scrunched up under my smaller toes, making wearing them uncomfortable. So I code them with a Sharpie, left or right. I fold my own socks, too.
  • Last week's Potpourri song was inspired by Mrs. Scott's attendance at the Los Lonely Boys concert while I was writing the post.
  • Another well played radio hit from the 70's. I never learned what the song was about, but do you really need to know?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Crappy User Agreement

[Disclaimer: Fundamentalists and ultra-conservative Baptist types read at your own risk. This post and its links discuss human functionality using several slangfully descriptive terms considered taboo by many. You have been warned. If you can get past the lingo, it might serve well in understanding how the world works with respect to your personal infirmities.]

Leave it to Vache Folle to opine about usability of public commodes. Although some might consider such a topic to be left to the locker room, the locker room itself is the source here. Since I have considerable professional experience - a twenty year career in the building industry to be exact - with the root causes of VF's dilemma, I will expound upon that experience with authority. Although I gave a content disclaimer at the head of this post, it is nonetheless something that affects each one of us as we try to live life on this planet.

He directs user comments toward the designers of toilets. But these comments will fall upon deaf ears and here's why: You, or any other user, is not part of the equation. The crappiest user agreement of all is the one where the user is not part of the agreement. And that's how quite a bit of our lives are lived in modernity.

You see, architects place potties in their designs based upon which toilet models will fit into a stall size with the required space left over according to the building code. If space is tight, it's almost guaranteed the toilet will be functionally truncated. Also, design parameters in public restroom layouts have everything to do with accessibility and nothing to do with usability. It doesn't matter if somebody in a wheelchair can use the dang thing, just as long as they can wheel into the stall and transfer from the wheelchair to the throne using the grab bars provided.

Builders buy hoppers in bulk and look for the best deal. Nevermind if the can can be used as long as it meets the architect's design, meets code and can save money. It needs to be shipped on time and the construction crew needs ease of installation, and it needs to satisfy the examination of building inspectors. Toilet manufacturers tailor their products to how well they do on the showroom floor of builder's conventions, and to environmental regulations that target water use.

Now for another major concept. The majority of potties are designed, produced, shipped and installed without the user being the direct customer. Everybody in the toilet chain is not a direct end user of the product they handle. Pretty much a private homeowner who needs to replace a toilet is the only direct customer. Maybe somebody who designs and builds their own custom home as well. When is the last time you took your significant other out to look at new home models and were asked, "What kind of toilet to you want?" Or in your office orientation on the first day of a new job?

And last, but not least by any means, is the lack of being able to test drive the product. I can test drive a new car, play with a new computer, order the appetizer sampler plate, try on new clothes. How does one find the toity that's right for them? Vache Folle, the only advice I can give is to say, "jiggle the handle." Other than that, have a crappy day. :(

Exams Trump Blogging, I Guess

This week has been one of study and taking of exams and general life decision making. Blogging has been on the back burner or attempted at times while too tired. Hopefully I'll be able to write a bit more than usual in the next several days, and see what I come up with.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Individualism Both Allowed and Condemned - Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 33)

In a recent post, Chaplain Mike Mercer (filling in for ailing Michael Spencer at the Internet Monk) asks some questions after reading evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren's article at the Christian Post, titled Following Jesus Means Belonging to a Local Congregation. After identifying Warren's thesis, "When we're called to follow Christ; we're also called to belong to the body of Christ," Mercer notes his idea that pastors today have as one of their biggest hurdles, "it is hard to convince people who attend church to commit themselves to the church family and become members."

Mercer then moves to Warren's placing of blame: '“today’s culture of independent individualism.” As a result, we have many “spiritual orphans who move from one church to another without any identity, accountability or commitment.”' Warren concludes his article with an exhortation:
We must remind those who fill our buildings each Sunday that joining the membership of a local church is the natural next step once they become a child of God. You become a Christian by committing yourself to Christ, but you become a church member by committing yourself to a specific group of believers. The first decision brings salvation; the second brings fellowship.
But then Mercer asks the following questions of Warren's argument:
■It seems, right from the start, that Warren is conceding the point that one can belong to Christ without being a member of the church. Membership in the church
is a second “step” in the Christian life—important but ultimately a matter of choice on the part of the individual Christian. Is this disjunction between belonging to Christ and being a member of the church biblically and theologically sound?
■To what extent is “independent individualism” not just a cultural problem, but also an outgrowth of the kind of gospel we preach and the kind of churches we create in evangelicalism?
■Couldn’t one logically conclude from this approach that, in the final analysis, for evangelicals the church, though important, is ultimately optional?

Mercer's last statement here has been a point of mine all along in this series. The "formal membership" systems that many churches construct ultimately place the duty of becoming members in the hands of the sheep. The two class system both allows the so-called individualistic non-member status to exist, and condemns it at the same time. If a house divided against itself cannot stand, what does this say about the membership system that many churches construct? I think it creates the very thing it is designed to prevent.

There is also the assumption that fully committed Christians who obey all the commands of God with regard to church and yet who have not signed on some dotted line somewhere are somehow deficient and neglectful of God's commands. Warren contradicts himself in his last statement. Committing yourself to a group of believers and joining the membership are two different things. One can do the former without doing the latter. But since membership is something that God does, and not we ourselves, members in God's eyes can be wrongly labeled non-members in man's eyes. This is the problem with the membership that so many men have created. Telling people that they're wrong by simply obeying God isn't going to get everybody to sign on the dotted line, and isn't a very good tactic.

Read the entire series here.

Part 32 ... Part 34

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri

It was painful to think this week, so here's the result of my pain: :)

  • A Scantron 882-E has 100 questions to fill in. I bought a box of #2 pencils, too. And some good erasers. Now I are a kollege studint.
  • We had a few days of weather that was sunny and in the 60's. We haven't had that for months, so I took advantage and wore shorts, a t-shirt and sandals. This only lasted until late afternoon each day before the chill came with dusk.
  • Okay, I eat right (mostly), jog every day and generally stay in good shape. But a half hour of soccer in the back yard with my kids is murder.
  • "No" has become the favorite word for our current 2 1/2 year old. This extends the streak to three consecutive 2 1/2 year olds.
  • Last weekend I changed the oil for the first time on my present car. It was easy. When I looked at the drain plug I thought, "that looks like about a 14mm bolt." Then, I looked at it again and thought, "that looks too big for a 13mm bolt," then again, "that looks too small for a 15mm bolt." Putting those three observations together I deduced that it was a 14mm drain bolt. It was a 14mm drain bolt. I'm available for hire.
  • I recall a very elderly driver from out a work window back in the late 80's. White knuckles and blue hair. Every day. She drove an oxidized green '66 Opel wagon with a stick shift. She'd rev that thing up to about 3000 rpm before popping the clutch into 1st gear. She had really bad judgment of oncoming traffic, but not bad enough to pull right out in front of somebody. She gave them just enough time to swerve out of the way and hit a telephone pole or something. She probably caused more accidents than anybody ever, yet had a "perfect" driving record. I don't know why I thought of this, but I did. Moral of the story? I don't have a clue.
  • Not at all from my childhood, but this song has a few personal and immediate reasons for making the potpourri.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pitchers And Catchers

Today, pitchers and catchers report for duty down at Spring Training. I'm a big baseball fan, so for me this marks the soon coming of baseball on the radio. I'm looking forward to seven good months of listening.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri Song List

Here's a running list of Friday Night Potpourri YouTube songs:

July 31, 2009 - ABBA; Take A Chance On Me
August 8, 2009 - Three Dog Night; Joy To The World
August 14, 2009 - Mungo Jerry; In The Summertime
August 21, 2009 - David Dundas; Jeans On
August 28, 2009 - A-ha; Take On Me
September 4, 2009 - Surfaris; Wipe Out
September 11, 2009 - Katrina & The Waves; Walking On Sunshine
September 18, 2009 - Alice Cooper; School's Out
September 26, 2009 - Deep Purple; Smoke On The Water
October 10, 2009 - Three Dog Night; Eli's Coming
October 16, 2009 - Quiet Riot; Cum On Feel The Noize
October 23, 2009 - Brownsville Station; Smoking In The Boys' Room
November 6, 2009 - Three Dog Night; The Show Must Go On
November 13, 2009 - Roger Daltrey; Free Me
November 23, 2009 - Rolling Stones; Neighbours
November 27, 2009 - Grand Funk Railroad; The Loco-Motion
December 5, 2009 - "Weird Al" Yankovic; I Lost On Jeopardy
December 11, 2009 - Led Zeppelin; Hats Off To (Roy) Harper
December 19, 2009 - "Weird Al" Yankovic; Christmas At Ground Zero
December 25, 2009 - Peanuts Christmas; Linus Christmas Monologue
January 1, 2010 - U2; New Year's Day
January 8, 2010 - Yes; Mood For A Day
January 15, 2010 - Looking Glass; Brandy
January 22, 2010 - Journey; Don't Stop Believin'
January 30, 2010 - Leo Sayer; When I Need You
February 5, 2010 - Gary Wright; Dream Weaver
February 12, 2010 - Gerry Rafferty; Baker Street
February 19, 2010 - Los Lonely Boys; Heaven
February 27, 2010 - Boz Scaggs; Lido Shuffle
March 5, 2010 - Commodores; Easy
March 12, 2010 - Foreigner; Blue Morning, Blue Day
March 20, 2010 - James Brown; Night Train
March 26, 2010 - REM; It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
April 2, 2010 - The Who; The Kids Are Alright
April 10, 2010 - John Fogerty; Centerfield
April 16, 2010 - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; I Need To Know
April 25, 2010 - Lisa Hannigan; Lille
May 17, 2010 - Dire Straits; Walk of Life
May 21, 2010 - Van Halen; Dance The Night Away
May 31, 2010 - Dick Dale; Misirlou
June 4, 2010 - Blue Cheer; Summertime Blues
June 13, 2010 - Johnny Paycheck; Take This Job And Shove It
June 18, 2010 - The Rivieras; California Sun
June 25, 2010 - Sammy Hagar; I Can't Drive 55
July 3, 2010 - The Proclaimers; 500 Miles
July 9, 2010 - Electric Light Orchestra; Telephone Line
July 16, 2010 - Rolling Stones; Far Away Eyes
July 23, 2010 - Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds; Don't Pull Your Love
July 30, 2010 - The Beatles - Birthday
August 6, 2010 - Janis Joplin - Summertime
August 13, 2010 - JB Robin performing - JS Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor BVW565
August 20, 2010 - Twisted Sister - We're Not Gonna Take It
August 27, 2010 - Atlanta Rhythm Section - So Into You
September 3, 2010 - Ten Years After - Slow Blues In "C"
September 10, 2010 - Soft Cell - Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go
September 17, 2010 - The Beatles - And Your Bird Can Sing
September 24, 2010 - Rodrigo y Gabriela - Diablo Rojo
October 2, 2010 - Wings - With A Little Luck
October 8, 2010 - Baha Men - Who Let The Dogs Out?
October 15, 2010 - 10CC - The Things We Do For Love
October 22, 2010 - Booker T & the MG's - Green Onions
October 29, 2010 - Journey - Don't Stop Believin'
November 5, 2010 - Queen - We Are The Champions (San Francisco Giants!)
November 12, 2010 - Peter Gabriel - In Your Eyes
November 19, 2010 - Rainbow - Since You Been Gone
November 26, 2010 - U2 - Where The Streets Have No Name
December 3, 2010 - Tommy Tucker - Hi Heel Sneakers
December 10, 2010 - Jefferson Airplane - Good Shepherd
December 17, 2010 - Cheech and Chong - Santa Claus and His Old Lady
December 24, 2010 - Bing Crosby - Silent Night
December 31, 2010 - Kool & The Gang - Celebration
January 7, 2011 - The Eagles - Already Gone
January 15, 2011 - Beach Boys - Fun, Fun, Fun
January 21, 2011 - Modern English - I Melt With You
January 29, 2011 - Jimi Hendrix - Red House
February 5, 2011 - Electric Light Orchestra - Do Ya
February 11, 2011 - B-52's - Love Shack
February 18, 2011 - The Beatles - You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
February 25, 2011 - Santana - Treat
March 4, 2011 - Coldplay - Life In Technicolor ii
March 11, 2011 - The Rolling Stones - You Gotta Move
March 18, 2011 - Alan Parsons Project - The Tell Tale Heart
March 25, 2011 - AC/DC - It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll)
April 1, 2011 - Marilyn Manson - The Beautiful People
April 8, 2011 - Van Morrison - Into The Mystic
April 15, 2011 - The Beatles - Taxman
April 22, 2011 - The Doobie Brothers - Jesus Is Just Alright
April 29, 2011 - The Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop
May 6, 2011 - Boston - Peace of Mind
May 13, 2011 - Zager and Evans - In The Year 2525
May 20, 2011 - The Doors - The End
May 27, 2011 - The Temptations - Papa Was A Rolling Stone
June 4, 2011 - Huey Lewis and The News - Workin' For A Livin'
June 10, 2011 - Gipsy Kings - Montana
June 17, 2011 - George Strait - She Knows When You're On My Mind
June 24, 2011 - Bob Seger - Old Time Rock and Roll
July 2, 2011 - Poison - Fallen Angel
July 9, 2011 - Tower of Power - You're Still A Young Man
July 16, 2011 - John Mellencamp - Small Town
July 30, 2011 - Frank Sinatra - I've Got The World On A String
August 5, 2011 - A Flock of Seagulls - Space Age Love Song
August 26, 2011 - Beach Boys - Catch A Wave
September 10, 2011 - Adele - Rumour Has It
September 24, 2011 - Average White Band - Pick Up The Pieces
November 6, 2011 - The Beatles - Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri

A week full of thoughts:

  • The opening ceremonies of the winter Olympics were spectacular. Way to go Vancouver.
  • I saw an ad that was very masculine in nature for the new Dodge Challenger, yet most of them I've seen on the road have been driven by women.
  • I plan to change the oil in my current car for the first time tomorrow. I've had it for a while now, but had it done at an oil changing place. I've been changing my own oil since I was about sixteen.
  • It's been a very gray winter here, with little sunshine and much rain. I think I've gotten used to it, but sometimes a little sun might help the lack of a tan.
  • Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints and The Who; neither of you looked too bad.
  • The grocery store my mom shopped at during my youth was turned into a Staples just a few years ago. Now that we're back in the same neighborhood, I visited that store for the first time. It was weird trying to imagine a grocery store in that space, one that I had visited many hundreds of times before.
  • And who could forget this radio staple from 1978?

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 32) - Alan Knox on Scriptural Language of Membership

Alan Knox contends in a recent post that the biblical passages on membership can be misunderstood due to connotations carried by the English word "membership" that don't occur with the Greek word:

The Greek term translated “member” is closer to the English terms “limb” or “part”.
What’s the danger? Well, someone can become a “member” of a group by decision of either the individual or the group. However, a “limb” (i.e., arm or leg) does not decide to become part of a body, nor does a body decide that a “limb” is now part of it. The “limb” is part of the body by definition… identity.

In fact, this is exactly what Paul is teaching in the passages above. If you read the context, you’ll find that [we] are “members” of one another – we do not have to choose to become “members” of one another. We find that God through his Spirit makes us “members” of one another, the group does not decide that someone may become a “member”. While this language of choosing and deciding is applicable for the English term “member”, it is not applicable in the Pauline usage of this concept.

Thus, we cannot translate the scriptural language of “members of one another” into an organizational concept of membership, in which either party can choose or decide to become a member of a group.
I have reached the same conclusion without going to the Greek. It is understood by Paul's words that the "members" he has in mind when describing the church are limbs and organs and not paying country club participants whose membership can be revoked by the board or by themselves. I am my brother's brother whether we have dinner together at my house or his in-laws' house. Membership in Christ's body doesn't change based on our location on this planet. When we gather, we are members of one another.

Read the entire series here.

Part 31 . . . . . . . . Part 33

Back To The Drawing Board

Okay, not really. Different drawing board, with pun intended. My twenty year career in residential architecture was indefinitely put in jeopardy last year when my firm of fourteen years laid me off. I specialized in upscale subdivision homes for large developers. With the housing crisis and all the foreclosure fire sales, builders simply cannot compete by building new homes. So, they (if they still exist) aren't hiring architects (if they still exist). After a year of looking, I finally found the first job that came close to my job description. Three thousand miles away and several requirements beyond my credentials, I didn't qualify for the job. My former boss would, but not me.

In the mean time, I'm taking night classes with an eye to career change. My wife and three kids think it might be a good idea. I've still been looking for day jobs (I left days open by taking night classes), but there just seems to be a dead end everywhere. So, I are a kollege studint agin. I'll be trying to break in to the petrochemical industry through a local community college program to get a job operating some huge oil refinery (or similar) somewhere. I'm three semesters away, and we'll see what the results are.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Artificial Panic Demand For Jobs

We are in a period right now of an artificial panic demand for jobs. I read an article in the newspaper yesterday telling how people are starting to solve their job crisis situations by not looking for jobs anymore. They've spent so much time and money looking for jobs that don't exist that they're realizing no return on their investment.

The article claimed that the applicants per available job ratio is quadruple what it was during the last three recessions. People are sending their resumes out everywhere in a frantic drive for a job, and employers are being flooded with applicants. This is an artificial supply of applicants, which does nothing more than drive low wages further downward. In addition, businesses are not creating new jobs. Even though there are signs of the economy improving slightly, why would anybody in this economy hire somebody when they can take care of the extra work load by working overtime for more money? The refusal to create new jobs I think is helping to drive the panic.

The artificial panic demand for jobs is similar to the artificial panic demand for homes just a few years ago. As lenders were becoming more loose with lending standards, more people qualified for home loans. So many people were making offers on homes that were rising in price due to the demand that people started making more multiple offers on homes in order to score one acceptance. If an area had 1200 people looking for 1000 homes, it would be one thing if people were making one offer on the home they liked. It would be another for 1200 people to make 10,000 offers on 1000 homes. Each individual home seller would see a flood of offers on his home, and can the price accordingly.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri

Brainwaves for the week:

  • When it rains here, or rain is a threat, Oakland airport changes its flight paths for approach. Planes fly over my town for hours sometimes. The engines are cut back during approach, so it's not very noisy, but there are low flying planes to watch every couple of minutes. Very cool - if you like planes.
  • I think we're having what's called a wet winter here. Rain, rain and more rain. We need it after several years of drought. A rain a day keeps the water rationing bureaucrats away.
  • The sole of my boot just separated from the boot at the toes. I wear those "hiking type" walking boots. You know, they look like hiking boots, but not quite as tailored to hiking as serious hikers like. Anyway, these are my second pair since 1995. The first pair lasted eight years, these seven. I'd call that quality.
  • Another brief update from ailing Michael Spencer, aka the InternetMonk. May he be granted full recovery.
  • I want the Saints to win the Superbowl on Sunday simply because of their team from their city. Makes for a good story, too. Hurricane Katrina is still on people's minds, as is decades of bad football turned around. Nothing against Manning or the Colts other than they've been there recently. I just hope it's a good game with a close finish.
  • I'm taking a couple of night classes at a local community college, along with a lot of nineteen year olds. I can't decide whether I feel old or older.
  • This song from my youth was totally cool, and had some awesome space age affects that made it seem like a dream.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Christian Divorce Rate?

This last week was one in which the reminders that the divorce rate among Christians is the same or greater than non-Christians came more frequently and from an extra number of sources. I've wondered about this many times, but only today am I moved to post about it. The divorce rate is supposed to be about 50% for both Christians and non-Christians. But I have a question. Where is this divorce rate happening among Christians?

It's not happening very often in the churches that I have attended. Here's a quick figgerin': I've been attending church for over 15 years. The sizes of my churches added together are at least a thousand people, maybe two, counting people that have come and gone. I've known four divorces. One was between a Christian and an non-Christian with the divorce as a result of the non-Christian deserting the marriage. The other three fall into a category of divorce for cause - causes that fall into the "accepted" divorce debate amongst conservative evangelicals. Not a single divorce for "we just don't get along" or "God is leading us into marrying somebody else" or things like that.

I've attended many weddings over the years, and the divorce rate is zero there. I've also known church-attending Christians in other areas of life, like work and sports activities for kids, etc. I can't think of any there, either.

Contrast this with extended family and other non-church attending people or non-Christians I've known. Divorces everywhere. So, the rates are the same? Maybe they are, but I haven't experienced it, or maybe the way I figure statistics is skewed. Just curious. Any thoughts?