Sunday, February 25, 2007

Warp 9, Mr. Sulu!

The computer tech was here before 7:00 this morning, and five hours later the Enterprise is up and running at full speed. Turns out that the entire operating system was corrupted by what appears to be one e-mail that I had received at some point. Amazing what one file can do!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mr. Scott Really Didn't Overexaggerate

I've been watching episodes of "Star Trek" for much of my life, and I always found it amazing that Mr. Scott could become so bent out of shape when telling Kirk about the engines not being able to take much more, that they only had impulse power, and that only basic systems on board the Enterprise were functioning. Truthfully, I always found him to be a bit melodramatic.

That was until this week. Now that's all changed, because my own home Enterprise has crashed.

About four days ago, my four-month-old Dell computer developed a problem with the operating system, and after finding that Dell customer support focused more on the "customer" side of things rather than the "support," I hired a local firm to do the repairs. I was told that it would consist of backing up everything on my hard drive (which I found out later took three hours), reimaging the hard drive, and reinstalling all of the data, all of the programs, and all of my other files/pictures/music. Here I am, several days into the process, and my computer is operating on impulse power only; my main hard drive (the warp engine) with all of my data is somewhere in Northern Virginia, en route to my house for what should be a rapid re-installation. Right now, I only have a basic drive (impulse engines) -- which, as Kirk can attest, will only get you so far when you're trying to explore the final frontier (in this case, the internet). We'll see.....

Needless to say, this has been a very traumatic time for me: no blogging, no uploading of photos, no downloading of music, no reading other folks blogs, and e-mail availability limited to my drives to Starbucks where (for $3.99 for a two-hour period) I have been able to check e-mails on my small and somewhat dependable PDA. If I was a true internet addict, I would be losing sleep and weight; somewhat fortuitously, I've also been somewhat under the weather for a few days, so I can blame the sleep- and weight-loss on that.

Further updates to come.....

Update 1: So.....the computer guy was supposed to bring my hard drive back between 9:30 and 10:00 this morning; of course, I wasn't surprised (based on the past few days) when he didn't show up and I got no call as to his whereabouts. When, by 7:30 this evening, he still hadn't showed, I called the help line -- and when they teleconferenced him in, I was stunned that his first words were, "Sorry I wasn't able to make it today."

Yes, I flipped and laid into him. This process has been going on four days, I only have half a computer (and it's not the half that's most important to me), I'm getting no communication on anything from anyone, and no one seems to care. It's impossible for me to send out resumes and follow-up on job postings with no computer; he offered to go home to get the drive (he didn't even have it in his car!!) and then come back, but it sounded like it was going to be too much effort. I demanded that he be here at 7:00 tomorrow morning, and he said he would be -- and continued to insist he would be here after I confronted him over numerous no-shows the past two days.

All this from a company that has been in business 21 years and claims in their yellow pages advertisement that support would be at your house within one hour of your call -- yeah, right. I waited a whole day at the outset.....

Monday, February 19, 2007

Another Catholic Controversy

One of the (few) advantages to not having to go to work every morning is that I can catch up on a lot of the overdue reading that I have at home, over and above the books that I have sitting by the bed. My magazines and dailies have been stacking up of late, and if I haven't read them on the metro going to and from D.C., I really haven't had much of a chance to read them at all.

Today, I had the opportunity to go through several issues of Time magazine, and I ran across this story on the latest crisis facing the Catholic Church: "When Priests Pilfer." While the article does a fairly good job of exploring (briefly) some of the reasons the priests are stealing from their church coffers, I couldn't help but be struck with how -- in some respects -- it's reminiscent of priests from the medieval church who lived high on the hog at the expense of the common man. By no means is this problem limited to the Catholic Church; I can remember that in the early 1990s, there was an issue where a staff member at the national Episcopal Church headquarters in New York had embezzeled tens of thousands of dollars right under the nose of the then-presiding bishop.

Sadly, the only news that we seem to be getting about organized religion lately is when something controversial has taken place. What in the world does a church or denomination have to do to draw some positive coverage by the mainstream press? Part of me feels that if Jesus were to return tomorrow, the headlines in the next day's papers would be, "Jesus returns; no reason given for delay."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Transfiguring Visit from the Governor

As a member of Christ Episcopal Church, I am proud that my parish has during its storied history played host to numerous dignitaries from state and national government (click here for a brief history of the presidents who have worshipped here over the years) and religious leaders from around the world (nothing is quite as thrilling as sitting down in our pew one Sunday and discovering that Archbishop Tutu -- whose daughter was one of our clergy residents for two years -- was sitting two rows in front of us).

Today, that tradition was continued as we welcomed Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as our guest preacher. When I first heard that the governor would be attending, I was naturally skeptical; he and I don't agree on nearly all political issues, and I wasn't knowledgeable enough about his background to fully understand how he could be an effective preacher. However, I did make the decision to attend the service where he was visiting, and I'm glad I did.

The two lessons appointed for the day -- the transfiguration of Moses as he descended from the mountain following receipt of the commandments, and Jesus' transfiguration in front of Peter, James, and John -- were the central part of the governor's talk: experiencing the moments which transfigure our lives. His is indeed a remarkable story, a story of someone who, during his first year at Harvard Law, when he was surrounded by so many men and women who knew exactly what they were going to be doing with their lives, took a year off to live and work as a volunteer among the people of Honduras. He discussed many of the lessons he learned during his time there, the advice he was given, and the humility that he witnessed each day.

One story in particular touched the entire congregation; on the Christmas morning during his year in Honduras, he accompanied a priest as he visited some of the more remote areas of his parish to conduct services and visit old friends. In one house, where the children were so obviously victims of malnutrition, the priest accepted a gift of fruit and vegetables from the father -- food that the family most certainly could have used for itself. When the governor became angry at the priest for accepting the food from the family who had so little, the priest said, "You must be very humble to accept a gift like that from a family like that." In reflecting on that in the years since, the governor said, he derived a great lesson from that statement: had the priest refused the gift, he would have deprived the family of experiencing one of the greatest things that binds humanity together -- the ability to give. That Christmas Day, which the governor said has remained the most powerful he has ever experienced, also provide him with a major transfiguring moment in his own life and helped to propel him down the path as Civil Rights attorney, mayor of Richmond, and into his current job.

It was an amazing homily (given entirley without the benefit of prepared text or notes) and made a very strong impact on everyone in attendance. In fact, it was a packed house; whoever came up with the old saying that churches are only packed on Easter Sunday and at Christmas failed to include Sundays when the governor shows up!

So my question to you is this: have you considered the moments that have transfigured your life?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Some Interesting Reading

I really don't have much to blog about today -- another group of job interviews and some more fun with the ever-growing family took up much of the day. However, I did find some interesting articles that I ran across while catching up on my reading today (both at home and on the metro back and forth from D.C.), and I thought them worthwhile enough to commend to you.
The first is an article written by Dr. Peter Lillback, the author of the recently-released George Washington's Sacred Fire, a thorough and highly-detailed exploration of whether the first president was a deist (as has been the prevalent conclusion among historians during the past several decades) or was in fact a Christian (which is the conclusion Lillback sets forth in his book). I was privileged to hear him preach at my church last night and was quick to purchase a copy of his book at the reception which followed. This article is a great summary of his thesis and what he discovered during the course of his research.

"Why Have Scholars Underplayed George Washington's Faith?"
I ran across this second article in a recent edition of The Christian Science Monitor. It's an interesting exploration of how iPods, computers, and the internet have significantly reduced the number of books Americans have been reading. I come from a family of voracious readers, so this thankfully will not be a problem for my children; however, it makes you think.....

"Where have all the readers gone?"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Amateur Filmmaker

Well, sort of -- I discovered this great new movie maker that came installed on my computer (shows how much I know about my computer), and I've spent several hours experimenting with it. Here's one of my first efforts.....

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Flip-Floppy Day

The day started off well enough -- MB's ballet class, a quiet lunch at home with A, my mother-in-law, and both daughters, and a good basketball game on television (go Tarheels!).

And then came the meltdown: A's post-delivery blues, MB's frustration with potty training, and a household plumbing system that suddenly decided to back up and flood part of our den. Since I have to use every free minute to think, I used the time where I was steaming the carpet to think about the two-month vacation I've had, and fumed over that until I realized I had to call a plumber to fix a problem that I thought I should have been able to handle myself.

$400 later, I realized I couldn't take care of that myself -- and now while I'm typing this, I realize I can't do it all, nor should I try. Now if I could only learn to recognize these things while they're happening, rather than after emotions have run wild and tempers have flared.....

Thursday, February 08, 2007

One for the Psychologist?

Try this on for size:

"It's not what you don't know that you miss; it's the friends that are being found."

Does this sound pretty bizarre? If the answer is yes, I won't be surprised -- it's bizarre to me as well. I had a dream last night where tornadoes were the central imagery, but rather than past tornado dreams where I spend all of my time running and hiding, in this dream I was armed with a camera and was intentionally trying to find and photograph them. Just before I woke up, I was walking into the door of a white building, and I heard a voice say that line above. For some reason, it has stuck; I've had dreams for years where I can't remember a single thing about them, but this line stuck.

I haven't a clue what it means, or whether it means anything at all (I'm horrid with dream interpretation). So if you have any thoughts or ideas on this quote, feel free to share them; I'm still trying to figure it out.....

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Congrats to the Colts!

I'm glad that Peyton has finally cleared that last hurdle -- the Colts definitely earned this title, and Peyton has earned the right to get the naysayers off his back. I think this photo says it all (and the signed photo my wife got me for Christmas will be saying a little something as well).....

Friday, February 02, 2007

By My Side

I had one of those episodes this morning where, for no understandable reason, a song that I haven't thought of in months suddenly popped into my head. Today, it was "By My Side," from Godspell -- my favorite song from the entire musical. I thought posting the song (taken here from the movie version of the musical) seemed somehow appropriate for today, for the week, for the month.....

(Later editorial comment: the video has been removed from YouTube, so this will no longer work. It was a really nice video.....)