Tech/Computer Resolutions

Okay… so it is a little past the 1st of the year… but here are some tech resolutions from Macworld.com 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.
    Done.
  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.
    Gotcha.
  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.
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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:

Theology:

Educational:

  • 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.

Technology

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.

Lifeguarding

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.