Never Enough

I'm not sure what makes guys want to make vehicles with obscene amounts of power. I do know it's great fun to stand around and grunt over some major horse power. Ron Patrick knows how to do it right. First he built a jet-powered VW. Why? Who knows, but I'd sure like to ride in it just once.
Now he is working on a jet-powered scooter. Yup, that's right. A jet-powered scooter. Obscene! But, wow, that would be so cool. I hope he gets it working.



I hate plumbing!

I hate plumbing. It is evil. It knows the most inopportune time to break. It breaks in the worst places (i.e., unreachable). Any threaded fitting will be bonded together with some substance that is the strongest bond in the universe. Pipe wrenches do nothing but break pipes, usually inside of walls (as opposed to loosening stuck fittings that are outside the walls). And any trip to the hardware store for a plumbing repair will take 15 more trips back to the store to exchange or purchase another part. I don’t know if plumbing has the mark of the beast (666), but I bet it’s either 665 or 667.

Our toilet broke the Friday before my parents were coming down for a week. Fortunately, we have 3 toilets available. Two inside the house, plus we have a nice bathroom outside that is primarily used for the pool, but it’s a full functioning bathroom. So even though the toilet in the master bath broke, there were two others to use. Normally when a toilet breaks, you run over the local home improvement store and purchase a part or two and your back in business. Oh no, it’s never that easy.

Apparently we have the Cadillac of all toilets ever made. It’s a Case toilet. It’s pretty nice, I guess, as far as toilets go. It’s designed so that it can never overflow and bunch of other nifty toilet technology that most normal people never consider in their entire lives. The problem is, they quit making Case toilets in the late 70’s or early 80’s. Apparently, there’s not much of a market for Cadillac toilets. Since, I couldn’t just run to the local hardware store, I hit the internet. Sure enough, some place in New Jersey has parts. Cool! Elation! And they well ship them directly to my door for only $200. Ouch!

Now some of the Do-It-Yourself types are screaming that the monitor right now, “Just replace the entire toilet! They are only $100.” Remember, plumbing lives next to the beast. Apparently, when you are designing the Cadillac of all toilets, you don’t worry about what everyone else in the industry is doing – you know better. After all, you are building a better toilet. So what we have is a wall mount (yes, that’s correct Virginia), a wall mount, residential, tank type toilet. Yea, let me see you get one of those at Home Depot. There are a few companies that make such a beast. But remember, with plumbing it’s never quite that easy. It seems that our Cadillac toilet has a different bolt pattern then the currently available wall mount toilets. So you can’t just unbolt the old one and bolt on a new one. Now this can be fixed by simply tearing a whole in the wall, replacing the header mount with a new one, patching the wall and hanging the new toilet. Yea, like I believe that.

Yesterday evening, I was very happy when the man in brown showed up and delievered us from our we-only-have-two-working-toilets-hell that we had been living in for 1 week, 4 days and 15 hours. I managed to get out all all the old parts and install the new parts in about an hour and I didn't even break anything else or need 15 trips to the hardware store. Woohoo! I think the planets must have been in aligment or something.

Seriously, sometimes we get so caught up in the little things. We could have let the problem toilet ruin our vacation, but we didn't. We could have let the $200 foul our mood, but we didn't. We have much to be thankful for. This is just a minor inconvience. The more I remember that, the more I am less concerned with that evil plumbing.

Life_, Fun_, Pondering_,

Building Deconstruction Update

Remember, they blew up the old building next to us two weeks ago. The demolition crew said they would have it cleaned up in two weeks. I was skeptical. I watched the clean up for the first week. The crew made excellent progress. Then I was out of the office last week making a cabinet with Dad for my wife's classroom. So I didn’t get to watch the progress the crew made.

When I came back to the office, the building is almost completely gone. There’s some foundation parts left and a huge pile of concrete. But by in large all the steel is gone and they are getting rid of the concrete. Maybe by the end of this week it will be all gone.

It’s been interesting to watch, but I sure am tired of that backing up beeper on the front end loader. I'm guessing that I will get to see construction on the new building beginning in a couple of weeks.

More stuff to ponder about...



Replacing Old with New

This past week has been fun AND a lot of hard work. I know that fun and hard work don’t often go together. Before that will make sense, I need to fill in you on some background details.

My wife, Linda, is a school teacher a small Christian school in Bellflower. There’s not a lot of money for upgrades in this school. In Linda’s classroom was an old cabinet that someone built years ago. It had big pull out drawers that she could use to hold posters and other large items that are needed for bulletin boards in the classroom. But the drawers didn’t work very well and the sliding doors in front of the drawers were always a hassle. Basically the cabinet was so hard to use that Linda didn’t use it.

Enter my father, the master craftsmen. He wanted to make a new cabinet for her that would be easier to use and maybe even look a little better too. The problem is my Dad lives in Tennessee. Yup, that means his shop and all his cool woodworking tools are in Tennessee too. My limited tools certainly were not up to the task of making a quality piece of furniture. That didn’t stop my dad. He had me take some measurements and then he cut the parts for the drawers at home in his shop and sent them to me. The plan was he could cut the parts that I didn’t have to tools to do and that we could assemble the drawers here and build the carcass of the cabinet. It was a good plan, but it has some risks to it. If anything goes wrong, I wouldn’t have the tools to fix it or make a new part.

This past week my parents flew out and my Dad constructed the cabinet – with my awesome help. We were able to build the cabinet with no issues that we couldn’t overcome. So this past week was fun, my parents were out and my brother and his son were able to stop by for a few days. It was fun. But it was also a bunch of hard work to rip out the old cabinet and build a new one. We managed to do a few other small projects around the school too, but the cabinet was the main one.

I never fully developed all the woodworking skills my father has. But I’ve helped him on enough projects to know a little bit. I know what we need to do next, I am able to anticipate what tools will be needed next. It was fun to do that again. I love the way the wood smells when it’s cut and sanded. But one of the most rewarding things about building cabinets and furniture is the sense of completion. To be able to take out something old and used up and replace it with something new, functional and beautiful. There’s a real sense of accomplishment. One of the things I’ve learned while helping my dad on the various projects through the years, most people cannot visualize what the finished project will look like. Sure they know it will be nice, but they don’t truly understand what they are getting until it’s done. That was reinforced this week at the school. Most of the teachers stopped by to check out the cabinet and they all said it looked nice. But not until it was done did they really understand how the cabinet would look and function.

I wonder how many times in our lives there is something used up and worn out that the Lord is just waiting to get rid of. He’s got something better that he wants to make and replace that old piece of junk. But we just can’t let go of the old thing. We can’t visualize how this new thing the Lord wants to do could possibly be better than the old thing we know and love. Even though it’s old and worn out, we love it. It’s familiar. We know what to expect. We know how to deal with it. We don’t want new things. We don’t understand how it could be better. Basically we don’t trust the Master Craftsmen. That’s a dangerous place to be.



Sing Like the King

Today is the 29th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. In honor of this day, the world's first training video for Elvis impersonators will be released on DVD. Learn to dance and sing just like the King. If you are really serious about this, be sure to download the 10 Commandments for Elvis impersonators - they are free.

I wonder why so many people want to "sing like the King" instead of "singing to the King" at church/worship. If the worship leader wore a white jumper with glittery stuff on it, would that help? I doubt it. There must be something that we can learn from this - I'm just not sure what it is yet.

Thanks to MMI (Monday Morning Insight) for pointing out this treasure.



AirTap de Erik Mongrain

Very cool guitar player. Search on Google video for Erik Mongrain for more videos.



It was 20 years ago today...

Remember the song from the Beatles, "It was 20 years ago today, that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play..."? Well, Sergeant Pepper wasn't involved and it's actually been 21 years ago today that my wife, Linda, and I were married.

Doesn't seem like it could have possibly have been that long. I guess the old adage of "time flies when you're having fun" is true. It's been 21 great years.

I love you, Linda.


Driving Darth Vader

Interesting story about a Christian tow truck driver who gave a lengthy tow to Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker).

What a great opportunity for the driver to share his faith. Read the whole story here.



What a mess!

If you have been following this blog, you know they blew up the old Logicon building next to us this past weekend. (read about it few posts down if you missed it.) Anyway, now they have a big mess of scrap to clean up. The newspaper reported that they would have it cleaned up in two weeks. Well, looking out my window on day two, I have to wonder if that will really happen. I guess we will know in 12 more days.

Right now there is a big pile of broken building laying on it’s side. Surprisingly, large sections of the building are still relatively in tact. (see picture taken from our parking structure) So the crew needs to dismantle the remaining pieces and haul it away. Conceptually, this is easy to understand – to watch the process in work is completely different. They don’t just use a big machine to grab junks of building and dump into trucks and haul it away. The building is carefully taken part and separated into different types of materials, presumably for recycling. All the concrete is broken up and the massive pieces of rebar are separated into another pile. Then there are different types of steel and metal that each go into their own piles. The big pieces need to be broken and cut into small pieces. It’s really quite an operation to watch, the big machinery working in concert with guys with torches to reduce the mighty building into bite size pieces. It actually makes an impossible looking task look – well, possible.

How many times in our lives to do we have something that looks impossible? We’d like to lose weight, or quit some habit, or whatever. You usually can’t get rid of it in one fell swoop. You can’t loose 50 lbs in one week. It’s difficult to stop smoking (or some other habit) cold turkey. Usually small changes that are sustainable and doable, make an impossible task look possible. Kind of like cutting up the big building into small pieces.

If we want to get rid of something in our lives, start getting rid of it piece by piece. I read once that if you do something 11 times in a row (I have no idea why 11 is the magic number), that you are well on your way to making that a habit. This is pretty good news for us. If you are trying to cut down on your coffee intake, for example. If you could limit yourself to 1 cup a morning, instead of 2 or 3, for 11 days in a row, you’d be well on your way to making that change. 11 times only. That seems doable.

Hey, maybe you can have something in your life changed about the same time the guys next door have old Logicon building all cleared away.



Follow up on building demolition

photo by: Suzanne Mapes/ Press-Telegram

The old building in San Pedro was successfully brought down Sunday (8/6/06).

Video here.

Ponderings_, Fun_,


A nation of wimps?

The folks over at Addison Road had a link to this article. It's kind of long, but there's a lot of truth in this.

Read the article here.



Speaking of changes...

The building next to the one where I work will be demolished this weekend. If you live in Los Angeles, watch the news on Sunday, it will probably be on. Actually, the building has been in the process of being demolished for quite a while. It's been an interesting process to watch.

The building awaiting the executioner is actually my company’s old building. Turns out it had asbestos in it, so we got a new building. (Fortunately, I never worked in that building, but in one of the other smaller buildings.) This building has been vacant for quite a while (years). Obviously it needed major work to remove the asbestos and remodel it for new tenants. It appears nobody wanted to do that. Now the plan is the building comes down and they will build some high-end condos on the site.

To take down the old building, they had to remove all the asbestos. So they covered the whole building in plastic. Now this is an eleven story office building, so that effort was something else. Then the workers began. I expected them to remove the asbestos from inside the building and when the plastic came off, the building would look basically unchanged from the outside. Wrong! When the plastic came off, EVERYTHING was gone. Only the cement pillars and steel beams that make the floors were left. The carpet, the drywall, the plumbing, the wires, the tile, the outer walls and everything else was gone. It was amazing. Recently the workers have been weakening the building and getting ready to blow up the remaining structure. It is fascinating to watch what they are doing. And sometimes the noise of the deconstruction has made it difficult to work.

The old building is not too far away from our new building. Actually, it’s one alley away from us. I am sure the crew knows what they are doing and they will be able to collapse this building and leave ours intact. But everyone at the offices wonders if we will have offices on Monday when we get back to work. I’m not sure if it would be good news to have no office or bad news. No work would be cool, no pay would not be so cool.

All this work to get rid of some old junk that no one wanted. Why? To make room for something newer, better, more desirable. I guess that’s progress. Certainly our old building was no landmark, or even that particularly good looking. So I doubt too many people will miss it. But there’s risk in getting rid of the old building. There’s risk in handling the asbestos. There’s risk that the building won’t fall correctly and it will damage other buildings. I’m sure it’s expensive. I know the new building will cost a lot of money to build and then there’s risk people might not buy the condos. (There’s a different condo complex going in on the other side of our building too.)

Change and Risk. Our lives are often full of both. Usually we don’t like change and risk. We view them as trouble, difficult, unwanted. I think they are a necessary part of life. Not just a necessary evil, but something that is necessary for a good, balanced life. We endured risk when we learned to walk and talk. Things changed when we went to school. Our lives are full of change and risk. Sometimes we are unwilling to take a risk to remove the old things from our lives that need to go and make room for something new that God wants to do. It's hard to take the risk and let God bring about the change.

Unfortunately, we are also often unwilling to risk very much to tell our friends about God. We could bring about a great change in their lives – and their eternal lives. But we think the risk is too great.

How much are you willing to risk, to bring about a great change?


Small changes

I spent most of my free time yesterday applying some tweaks to the layout of this blog and making my new banner (isn't it pretty?). Funny, I've been here two whole days and I am already tweaking and finding the limits of what this free system can do. I understand with "free" come limitations. I'll wait a bit and see how this all works out, but maybe someday I'll move to a real site where I can have some serious fun with laying everything out.

Life_, Tech_,


AOL is going Freebie

AOL has been losing members at an alarming rate. AOL has lost nine million customers in almost four years, slumping from a high of 26.7 million in September 2002 to 17.7 million at the end of June this year. And the rate of people leaving AOL is increasing.

So what does AOL do? They turn their backs on their well established subscription model. AOL will offer its distinctive services such as email and web security free to anyone with broadband, relying on the revenues generated by online advertising. Google, Yahoo! and MSN are already playing in this market, which was worth an estimated $8.3bn in the US last year and is outgrowing all other media. More info on AOL's switch here.

The good news is - No more AOL disks stuffing your mail box! Whoo Hoo! Man I hate those things.

But this change in AOL's approach got me to thinking. AOL is going with the "if you can't beat them, join them" approach. And I guess sometimes that's ok, maybe even called for. But I wonder if the church does this too. Instead of offering something distinctive and unique, we look at the world and say, "Hey look what they are doing, we should do that too." Now sometimes this could be ok. For example, if we look at Coca-Cola and say they are advertising, maybe the church should advertise too. That's reasonable and this is not a moral issue. But there are times when we shouldn't do this. We need to stay true to our beliefs, the things that make us followers of Jesus, the things that make us unique. We don't need to make excuses, or water down our ideals in an attempt to reach others.

The trick is to keep the main thing the main thing. (adapted from Stephen R. Covey)


Creation Museum

MSNBC had a link today regarding a high-tech creationism museum. You can read about it here.

This could be interesting. This museum has the potential to show creationism has some valid theories and might be possible. This museum also has the potential to be a problem for creationism. Sometimes in our desire to prove that the Bible and our view point is right, we can take shortcuts, which hurts our ultimate goal.

I hope this museum does us all proud. And while I am not sure they can "prove" creationism, I am glad someone is making an effort to show the other side of the debate, since we usually only get to hear about evolution.

I guess time will tell. If someone lives close enough to go when it opens, I'd love to hear about your experience.


This is it

This is something I've been debating for a while, should I start a blog or not? I'd hate to get started on this and not keep it going. However, I think there's enough interesting items happening in the world and how they relate to Christians to keep us busy.

Welcome aboard!