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Kudos to the CPH Bookstores

In college I hated dealing with the bookstore at Seward (not owned by the university, but by our foodservice company). The only thing decently priced their was CUNE gear (T-Shirts, gifts, etc). Their prices on textbooks were outrageous. They also regularly put out flyers that claimed that it was cheapper to buy and sell books in the bookstore.

That of course, was an outright lie. If you’ve ever priced textbooks, the bookstore is normally the last place you want to go. For my last two years at Seward I bought a total of three books from the bookstore. Everything else was purchased from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and I even sold books online. In some cases, due to the market, I was actually able to make money on textbook sales. I made detailed spreadsheets and showed them to the bookstore manager but she continued in her lies. Oh well… I didn’t have to shop there.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got to the seminary with the bookstore being run by CPH. I’d always had positive experiences in dealing with bookstore personel (at the Seward CPH warehouse sale). In fact, I really enjoyed getting to know the manager who came up from St. Louis. We still greet each other on a first name basis to this day. But what about the prices? I started pricing books and realized that whether I was buying a CPH book or a book from another publisher I was going to get a good price from the Sem bookstore. In most cases book prices were right at the online price or maybe a buck or two more. In that case the higher cost was worth it for convienence sake.

Another plus of working with the sem bookstore was their helpfulness. They always were willing to order books for me and were always friendly. In fact, I had a great conversation yesterday with one of the bookstore employees I’ve known for a while when I called to order something.

Overall… great job CPH. You have fine bookstores and fine employees.

Book Confessions Meme

Book Confessions

1. To mark your page you: use a bookmark, bend the page corner, leave the book open face down?
It depends on the situation. I leave lots open face down, but I have developed quite the stash of bookmarks that I have begun to use.
2. Do you lend your books?

3. You find an interesting passage: you write in your book or NO WRITING IN BOOKS!
What??? You write in books? Sinner!

4. Dust jackets – leave it on or take it off.
I take them off most of the time.

5. Hard cover, paperback, skip it and get the audio book?
I prefer hard cover because they are more durable.

6. Do you shelve your books by subject, author, or size and color of the book spines?
Subject, then size, then color. I am currently working on getting all of my books entered in a program to enter in the Library of Congress call number. I will then proceed with printing spine labels and really getting into organizing my books.

7. Buy it or borrow it from the library later?
I prefer to buy, but see my previous post.

8. Do you put your name on your books – scribble your name in the cover, fancy bookplate, or stamp?
I used to use a stamp but I’ve actually begun using LSB Book Plates on some of my books.

9. Most of the books you own are rare and out of print books or recent publications?
I have lots of different kinds of books in my collect. I do have some rare books on my wishlist right now.

10. Page edges – deckled or straight?
Eh… doesn’t matter.

11. How many books do you read at one time?
Maybe three at most.

12. Be honest, ever tear a page from a book?

Immersion Baptism

Because I enjoy pain and suffering… I occasionally read LutherQuest. While some discussions are profitable, most of the discussions turn into personal attacks based on assumptions (you know what they say about assumptions…).

One discussion thread caught my eye recently and it was in regards in baptism by immersion. Apparently an LCMS church had installed a baptismal pool (the link doesn’t work anymore). Some came out firmly against baptism by immersion and others offered a more tempered response. One of the most interesting comments was “when have Lutherans ever done baptism by immersion?” What a denial of history. Pastor Weedon pointed at that Luther spoke about baptism by immersion and that for a good chunk of history baptism by immersion was the norm. I can understand those who are hesitant because they live in an area where baptism by immersion is required by denominations such as the Baptists). However, to completely deny history is just plain wrong. They are also all focusing on the baptism of adults. Why is it wrong to immerse a child? It isn’t! Why do you think the baptismal font at the seminary (CSL) is so big? Because it fits the space and so that we could immerse a child if we wanted!!

In a paper written this past summer I advocated a return (but not a requirement) of this practice. What a beautiful way to show the drowning of the Old Adam!! What a beautiful way to tie together the history of the church where baptism by immersion has been clearly practiced.

I will admit there are times when baptism by immersion is a bad thing. I could see a new convert insisting on baptism by immersion so that their family (who is Baptist) will recognize it. They need to understand that it is not the method that makes the baptism valid, but that the water and the Word are present. I could also see how baptizing by immersion in an area dominted by those who only baptize by immersion could be taken wrongly. It might be better at that point to make a bold confession of our faith and only baptize by pouring or sprinkling. Why? Because our fellow Christians need to be instructed in their error. We need to boldly confess that no matter what practice (immersion, sprinkling, pouring), God himself is present in the Water and the Word.

Library Philistine

I’ve been a library philistine most of my life. While I would check out books from our school library in elementary and middle school, in high school I barely checked out any books. Why? Because my family generally has the attitude, “If it is good enough to read it is good enough to buy.” We didn’t have many luxury items in our family (including Grandma and Grandpa). We never had cable or satalite TV, never had a big TV, and I only had a game boy with a few games. But what we did have was books. They were the most common gift in our family. I am so thankful that all my family instilled in me a love of reading and of books in general.

In college my library usage wasn’t the best either, although in a more academic setting it did become necessary. Pleasure reading took a big hit during my college years so I didn’t accumulate many more books to read in that area.

When I hit the seminary I started working in the library. One advantage of working in the back of the library was that I was exposed to nearly all of the new books that were added to our library’s collection. I have a list of well over 50 books that I would like to read just from our CSL Library. One downside to working in an academic library is that you turn into a bit of a library snob. I would go with my wife to the local public library branch and would practically have a fit trying to find stuff. Haven’t these people heard of shelf reading?? And don’t even get me started on the dewey decimal system.

Now on vicarage things have taken a turn. I have plenty of theology books to read. My pile is ever growing. At the same time, the number of “Pleasure Reading” books that I have to read has dwindled. What to do? Buy more? Soon after we arrived we ventured out to the Mead Public Library in Sheboygan to check things out. What a great library! This library has a very large collection and is well organized. We’ve started checking out movies from there and Lisa and I have both started checking out books. I’ve found some great history books to read. I’ve actually got another list started of books from the Mead library to read.

In short, I’m trying to amend my philistine ways. I’m checking out more books and only buying books that I’d like to add to our permanent collection in the Powell household. Hopefully my progress will continue.

All You Have To Do Is Ask

When I graduated from high school I had a member of my church who also wrote for the local weekly paper come up to me and tell me that a number of people in the community were upset with me. I was surprised and asked, “Why?” Apparently they were upset about the amount of scholarships and grants that I received at my high school’s awards assembly.

After my trip to the carrier last summer, a number of people (a little grumpily) asked, “How?” 

Check out this brief blurb in a newspaper from Jefferson City (close to my hometown), especially note the comments. In the comments you have an anonymous individual bashing the subject of the article and claiming that he shouldn’t be working for the Sheriff’s department because he’s sure there is a younger person who needs the job more.

What a load of bunk. This is exactly the same crap that I had to deal with. How did I get to go on the carrier? My mom and I asked the right questions at the right time. If we wouldn’t have asked I never would have got to go. How did I get so many scholarships and grants? I applied for every single scholarship and grant that I was eligible for and even applied on some that I wasn’t even sure I was eligible for. I let the committees decide. How did that guy get the job? He applied and went to school. Just because there are people who might want to get into law enforcement, doesn’t mean they should get the job on a “want.” They actually have to do something. The guy, while older, jumped at the opportunity and went for it. Cry me a river if you think he’s “too old” and cry me a river if you complain about what other people get when you didn’t try for it.

First Icon: Christ the Just Judge


As a gift for my vicarage I received my first icon (actually a gift certificate that allowed me to purchase my first icon). I purchased the “Christ the Just Judge” icon that is pictured with this post. It hangs on my office wall.

It truly is beautiful and full of symbolism. Of course Christ is depicted at the center. Mark is in the bottom left depicted as a Lion. In the upper left corner a “living creature with the face of a man.” In the upper right is John as an eagle. In the bottom right is Luke as an ox. It is quite common in Christian tradition to connect the four evangelists to the four living creatures spoke of in the book of Revelation, “And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight” (4:7). 

This gift has now got me hooked on icons. Go to Archangel Books in Maplewood (south of the Sem) to find a wonderful sampling of icons (and even more on the web).

Tech/Computer Resolutions

Okay… so it is a little past the 1st of the year… but here are some tech resolutions from that are worthy of consideration. Some are mac specific, but most should have an alternative that works in the windows world.

  1. I resolve to back up my data. Regularly. Thoroughly.
    Done… I have at least two forms of backup for each computer including multiple externals and CD/DVD backups, plus online backup/storage. 
  2. I resolve to purchase a copy of Alsoft’s Disk Warrior if I haven’t already, because I understand that it will save my bacon should my Mac experience the worst sort of low-level corruption.
    Not done yet. 
  3. I resolve to seriously consider purchasing AppleCare for my new Mac because Macs, like anything, break, and some of those breaks can cost a small fortune. Much as I view extended warranties with suspicion, AppleCare is often a good investment.
  4. I resolve that if I’m going to open up an expensive hunk of hardware with the notion of improving it in some way, I’ll have the proper tools at hand (and this means more than a Swiss Army Knife) and a clear enough appreciation of my true skills that, if necessary, I can back out before I do The Bad Thing.
    Learned this after not having the right screwdrivers. Now I am equipped.  
  5. I resolve to be polite when speaking with any tech support person because I understand that my problems were not caused by the person I’m speaking with.
    I’m trying… I’m trying… Seriously… how is it that newegg can lose my package before it even left the warehouse. I want that RAM!!! 
  6. I resolve to sit in a healthy position when working at my computer and get up and walk around every so often because I don’t want to be mistaken for Quasimodo when I’m 42.
    Yeah… I’m trying… 
  7. I resolve to responsibly panic when my Mac’s hard drive begins to squeak and take immediate action along the lines of backing up my data and obtaining another drive from which I can boot my Mac.
  8. I resolve to not repair permissions on each day with a Y in its name because I mistakenly believe that it’s like giving your Mac a daily vitamin.
    Thankfully I never got into this habit. In fact, I’ve only rebuilt permissions one time for both my macs combined. 
  9. I resolve to tag and rate my media—photos and music—when I first import it with the idea that two years from now I might want to find it.
    Yeah… need to do that. Music I really don’t care about… but I’m still working on better photo organization. 
  10. I resolve to rein in any condescension and smugness when talking computers with a PC user, understanding that not only do I not want to be one of those people, but also that my attitude may prevent a fellow human being from moving to a Mac for fear that they’d become one ofthose people.
    I try to reign in my comments whenever possible… but after trying to get our secretary’s computer to behave… it is quite difficult.

Nuclear Power Options

I’ve commented before on nuclear power. I think it absolutely the best option for long-term power needs in the United States. We have safe technology, we should use it. As much as it pains me to say it, look at France where nearly 80% of their power comes from nuclear plants.

Yes, there is a high cost for each nuclear plant that is built. However, a rise in costs is due to the fact that we haven’t built any plans in twenty years. The more plants that are built, the lower the cost. Also, a great deal of money has to be allocated to fight incessant  lawsuits from groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace who ignore scientists around the world who know and have stated that nuclear power is a safe option for power generation.

I’ve always been an advocate for new plants. Central MO might end up with a second reactor at the Callaway Nuclear Power Station outside of Fulton, Missouri. 

However, there is another option being discussed. Part of the problem in the United States is our power grid. It is a vast system of stations, substations, and power lines. Another part of the problem is that there are areas in which it is difficult to get power too. In those cases, very dirty forms of energy generation are used. The new option is “nuclear batteries.” Think small, self-contained nuclear reactors that could be buried and used for 5-10 years. When the fuel runs out, the new reactor is buried and the old one is recycled. The ones currently being design can produce enough electricity to power 20,000 homes. This isn’t enough for most major cities but it certainly can provide the needs of less accessible lands, especially ones that normally rely on dirty power sources. I can see how many companies are examining this. The upfront cost might be high, but imagine not having to worry about your power source for 5-10 years with zero pollution. 

I’m just going to say it again. Nuclear power is safe. I would much rather have a nuclear plant in my backyard than a coal plant. Why? Because a coal plant emits more radiation than a nuclear plant. If you want, I’ll dig up the paper I wrote on this in college. By living in a brick home or living in Colorado, you actually receive more radiation per year than if you life within 50 miles of a nuclear plant. Also, we have solutions for nuclear waste. We can bury it in Nevada which is a completely legitimate and safe solution or we can even enclose it in glass blocks and drop it into the sea (believe me, it actually would work. Glass is extremely resistant to pressure and if put in the right spot, it would be impossible for anyone to retrieve off the ocean floor). Also, when people think about nuclear waste they think of it as being these massive piles of rubble outside a plant. This is not the case. All of the nuclear waste in the United States that comes from both power generation and defense related activities amounts to approximately 75,000 tons. The amount generated by these small plants that have bee proposed amount to something the size of a football. 

You ask why I care so much about this? Because I grew up around nuclear “stuff.” My grandfather worked at the Naval Research Labs in Washington, D.C. My mom worked for ten years at the University of Missouri’s Research Reactor (MURR) which is the largest university owned nuclear reactor in the nation. I got to know nuclear scientists from many different backgrounds including the military and civilian worlds. I got to stand “on the bridge” over the reactor a number of times. The only thing that scared me about going into the containment building was my ears popping in the airlock.

Bring it on baby… build in my backyard.

New Heaven and Dogs

During two summers in college I worked for the University of Missouri as a maintenance tech for the college of engineering. I did jobs ranging from helping at auctions, driving big trucks, demolition, and painting, with numerous other jobs thrown in there. During one job I was interacting with a young guy who grew up in Columbia. We were chatting and it turns out he was at one point a Lutheran, but had converted to the Episcopal Church. I inquired as to why he converted. His answer: my pastor told me my dog wouldn’t be in heaven.

Silence. That’s all I could muster at that point. I love my two dogs that are living with my family back in MO. I loved my dogs that have died (a number of beagles and black labs). They were wonderful companions for our whole family. However, they are dogs. I was certainly sad about their death and always felt bad when they were in pain. However, I state again, they are dogs. They are not humans. I talked more with the kid, but couldn’t get anywhere with him. I think his concerns were far more complex than just his “dog not getting into heaven.”

I never gave this much more thought until I had a class with Dr. Louis Brighton, author of the Concordia Commentary on Revelation available from CPH. We were discussing the “things to come,” specifically the new heaven and new earth spoken of in Revelation 21:1. He proposed that in fact we might find animals in the new earth. He comments on what is to come in his commentary on Revelation by referencing Isaiah 65:25, “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox.” Brighton points out that, “by way of the messianic reign here on earth, (this) is a typological picture of life in the new heaven and new earth after the judgment and resurrection at this present world’s end” (Brighton, 591). 

Undoubtedly there is still grief over loosing one’s pet. However, I think examining what has been described to us in the book of Revelation, we find comfort knowing that God will provide for a new creation, more peaceful than one can ever imagine and with more provisions than can ever be understood.

Cool Site: Google Sightseeing

I highly recommend a really cool site: Google Sightseeing

Every week (or a little more) you’ll get to see cool things that can be found on google maps or google earth.

Recent highlights include a neat bridge in the Netherlands, huge mazes, a plane wash in Japan, a ghost town in the middle of the desert. 

Check it out!

What does a seminarian/vicar listen to?

Ever wonder what a seminarian listens to on his iPod?

Here is your chance to find out!

I actually use my iPod for a number of things. I do watch movies and tv shows on it occasionally, especially on trips. I wasn’t sure if I would like the small screen, but I’m sold on it now. I also listen to my CDs that I’ve put on it over the years: rock, alternative, rap, classical, comedy, R&B, movie soundtracks, to name a few of the genres. The only thing not represented: country. Sorry… I can’t listen to it. My wife can, but I can’t handle it.

The other big use for my iPod is for podcasts. Here are the podcasts that I currently listen to (by category) with a few notes:



  • Car Talk. My mom and I would often listen to NPR’s Car Talk while driving home from church. When it came out as a podcast… who could resist? Lisa and I normally save up episodes and listen to them on trips. Yes… we have listened to five straight hours of Click and Clack.
  • USGS Corecast. This is a rather new edition that was added to my podcast feeds after the small earthquake that happened last spring in St. Louis. While surfing the USGS website I found the podcast. Very understandable and reasonably short.
  • PotterCast
  • MuggleCast.


Now please don’t think that I listen to every episode of all of these podcasts. Many sit in my iTunes directory for a while only to have me delete them…. that is especially true for the Harry Potter and the technology podcasts.

Death Sucks

Dr. Jeff Gibbs, professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis is famous for a phrase (and I might be paraphrasing here a bit), but it essentially is, “Death Sucks.” We should never minimize the evil that is death by trivializing it and making it seem like a joyous event. Yes, the death of one suffering means an end to their suffering. However, it is still evil. Death is the culmination if sin in this world. There is nothing glorious or happy about that.

I write this after a long five months. Five months ago my grandfather passed away. He was followed shortly by two more friends from my home congregation. More funerals in the fall at my home church. Before Christmas we found out a close cousin of ours (an older man) died. What is sad about this is that we didn’t find out about it until almost a month after his death. From the last December 29, 2008 to January 8, 2009 my home congregation had six deaths including the death of an infant. Last night I got a phone call saying that my grandfather’s younger brother, our Uncle Leroy died suddenly while driving home from eating dinner. This happened five months to the day after my grandfather’s death. That leaves my grandma and one in-law left out of that generation.

Death Sucks. 

However, in all of this, in all the evil and despair I have  a hymn in my mind thanks to Pr. Weedon and a post on his blog (and the subsequent comments):

Then why should men on earth be so sad, Since our Redeemer made us glad, Then why should men on earth be so sad, Since our Redeemer made us glad, When from our sin He set us free, All for to gain our liberty?
“On Christmas Night All Christians Sing” (LSB 377)

Death sucks. However, Christians have comfort in the knowledge that Christ, who came to earth, born of the Virgin Mary, to be crucified for our transgressions, will again come to judge both the living and the dead. Amen. Come Lord Jesus.


CNN named being a lifeguard in their “top ten summer jobs“. They say, “The best refuge from the sun is a day at the pool or water park. If you don’t mind dealing with hyper children and relish the chance to soak in the rays while getting paid to monitor swimmers, look into being a lifeguard.”

What they fail to mention is the level of training that most lifeguards receive. I speak from experience. I have been a Red Cross certified lifeguard since 1999. I’ve been a Red Cross instructor since 2003. Today’s lifeguards are trained to provide CPR at a professional level. In fact, this might be scary for you… but lifeguards are better trained than many health care professionals (Doctors and nurses). Med students receive CPR training at the beginning of their schooling, but may never be re-certified or practice it, unless they are in trauma services or in cardio related areas. 

Today’s lifeguards are trained to pull a person who has suffered a suspected spinal injury off the bottom of the deep end of a pool with no assistance (no rescue tube), maintain in-line stabilization (keeping their spine and neck straight) and work in tandem with other guards to put them on a backboard. A well-trained and well-practiced guard team can have a person out of the water in approximately five-minutes, then is trained to administer first aid, and use an AED and administer supplemental oxygen if necessary.

The lesson… lifeguards do get good tans. We enjoy our jobs. However, lifeguards are very well trained… but are often treated by parents as nothing but babysitters… very low-paid babysitters. If you have the opportunity, thank a lifeguard, and also push for better pay. There is a lifeguard shortage all around the country, with much of the blame being put on groups who refuse to pay much above minimum wage.

Other World Computing Recommendation

Some time ago I was in the market for a computer program and I happened upon Small Dog Electronics out of Vermont. They had a great deal on what I was looking for and I went ahead and placed my order. In conversation with one of the full-time library staff members I was told to check out Small Dog’s “Charity Page” on their website. Absolutely Horrible! They support planned parenthood which instantly knocks them off my shopping list. Needless to say that I canceled my order that afternoon.

It was then that I found an excellent mac accessories and parts dealer out of Illinois… Other World Computing. The best deals you can find there are probably in the memory section. As Pr. McCain wisely points out you can never have too much memory. The prices at OWC are always competative and they have a great return/warrenty policy. I’ve purchased two memory upgrades from them, one external HD enclosure, and one hard drive.

If you want to purchase some quality products this is the place to go!

Last Stop Before Heaven

I love my home church, St. Paul Lutheran Church, California, Missouri. They are a faithful congregation with faithful members who hunger for God’s Word and don’t shy away from studying it. They also have a great sense of humor.

The older adult Bible class humorously refers to themselves as the “Last Stop Before Heaven” Bible class. That is the group I study with whenever I return home with Lisa. They took the following picture and sent it to me yesterday. What a hoot!

Organizing Photos

With the advent of digital cameras came the big issue of photo management. I currently use iPhoto 08 to organize my photos (between two libraries I have around 13,000 photos). It does an awesome job of organizing by date and by event. However, I’m currently looking for a way to organize family photographs. I’m thinking Aperture from Apple might help. My need is something to allow me to “tag” photos with different family members’ names. 

Anybody out there use aperture?


BTW… those 13,000 photos… probably 3,000-4,000 are from a band trip where I collected everyone’s pictures after we returned.

My Views on Gun Control

Treasury of Daily Prayer

Are you jealous… I got my copy of the Treasury of Daily Prayer today?

Only problem… I left it on my desk at work today. Bah.


It is official. I have my vicarage assignment!

Lisa and I are heading to Trinity Lutheran Church, Howards Grove, Wisconsin. More later. We are incredibly excited about what awaits us when we move next month.