Sunday, July 31, 2005

More Christians in China than Communists?

See this article in a UK MSM.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Finally had a normal Saturday here in Austin. It was a wonderful day! Slept late (7am) because Aidan did. Had a leisurely breakfast, matching Aidan spoonful for spoonfull, him baby-yogurt, me oatmeal. Kells, Mary & Aidan went for a morning walk while I spent a productive morning paying bills. We all sat around the dining room table and ate lunch together, enjoying each other's company, and then decided that an excellent hot summer afternoon activity was to walk down to Amy's Ice Cream on South Congress. So we did, and then followed that up with some antiquing in the vicinity. Back home, Kellsey, Mary & Aidan napped while I worked up the latest version of the family budget. After naps, we all sat in the den and while Mary and I played on our guitars. (She learning, me coaching, Kellsey & Aidan singing along.) Then I went back to the budget, Kellsey played with Aidan, and Mary cooked dinner. Kells fed the boy, I scrubbed him down and put him to sleep. We all sat down at the table again for Mary's marvelous meal. Kells and I had a "family meeting" to go over/fine tune the budget, Mary baked scones. Budgeting for 2005 accomplished, we all had tea/milk & scones. Followed up with some brief channel surfing, and now I'm headed towards bed with a book in my hand. I do not think the day could be improved: accomplished some good work (budgeting had been way overdue!), good conversation with beautiful women, played with my son, ate great food, saw some Austin Wierdness, all in a relaxed way. Well, maybe if you had joined us, that would have improved it, but that's all I can think to add.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Families don't sit down to eat together anymore. Something has been lost. Editorial from today's WSJ. Some notable quotes/comments:

"These days, fewer than one-third of all children sit down to eat dinner with both parents on any given night. The statistics are worse if both parents are working and the family is Caucasian (Latino families have the highest rate of sharing a meal). The decline in the family dinner has been blamed for the rise in obesity, drug abuse, behavioral problems, promiscuity, poor school performance, illegal file sharing and a host of other ills."

"And that's a shame [that the family dinner is disappearing]. Because dinner is like a formal poem, with a fixed meter and time. It can't be hastened by new technology or emailed as an attachment to our kitchens. Instead, it's one of the few opportunities for conversation in a noisy world, a place to take a slower measure of our frenzied days. By missing mealtime, we are missing a substantial part of our children's lives. Sooner than we realize, they will not be at our table. Sooner than that, they will not want to have anything to do with us."

Family dinners won't solve all of our social ills, but this article highlights the mis-prioritization of society's basic social unit, the family.

I'm curious to hear stories of K&K reader's own family dinners. Did you have them? Generally, were they a time of connection for your family or merely perfunctory?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Barnabas Center Golf Classic
Dear K&K readers, I humbly request your support in the 2005 Barnabas Center Golf Classic. What is the Barnabas Center, let alone this Golf Classic? Click here.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.
Time to Wake up and Smell the Iraqi Ragweed.

Check this article out by High Fitzgerald on Jihad Watch's website.

I do note, however, that the lead story in today's WSJ is that we are seriously and substantially getting out of Dodge early next year.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Aidan's Pulling Up!
Here's the latest Aidan video. In this one Aidan learns the valuable lesson of mutual exclusivity. It's your typical story of boy loves holding his shoes, boy wants to climb gate, boy can't hold shoes and climb gate and has to make a heart wrenching decision between them, only to walk away from it all in the end. I apologize for being so cliche, but hey, sometimes things are cliche because they're just so true.
Someday, it will be Aidan's turn
You may wonder what possessed my father to post this. Well, as I see it, there are two complementary impulses driving it.

The first impulse is the one that also drove this kind of behavior:
SCENE: Dad driving Macon back home from school/soccer practice/friend's house.
Macon: (with teen angst) "Oh no, Dad, don't!"
Paul: (rolling down window) "Hi, I'm Macon's dad!" "Hey there, I'm Macon's dad!" "Macon Stokes' Dad, right here!"
Macon: "Auuuugggh! Dad! Stop it!"
(To be fair, there never really was anyone around when he did it. This only slightly mitigated the torture.)

The second impulse, I suspect, is that this is really a plea to us all to start posting more, and not leave the sole posting responsibilities to him. Clearly, he's running out of content. So let's all heed the call and start posting more! (Although, from a psychological standpoint, perhaps rewarding this kind of behavior isn't the best idea?)
Amory Lovins. See the interview of Lovins in yesterday's WSJ. It appears in "The Journal Report" section, yesterday's dealing with the automotive industry. He discusses the matter of boosting fuel efficiency with lighter cars, and says that the debate about whether the world is running out of oil is beside the point, the point being that we can radically reduce our dependency on oil by building more efficient cars.

Lovins has a think-tank in Colorado known as the Rocky Mountain Institute. Its website shows some original thinking going on in that place.

One quote from the Lovins interview:

"One Detroit expert told me in 10 years you'll probably be able to drive home your efficient Chinese car from Wal-Mart."

Here is a link to a full blown article by Lovins on lighter cars.

Elsewhere in this section of the WSJ there is an article on how China, with its under-developed automobile energy delivery system, is in position to leap frog the US with fuel cell technology. Reminds me of how Eastern Europe, when the Soviet Union fell and those countries were open to a free market, decided to ditch their antiquated wire-bound telephone systems and go straight to cellular technology, effectively leap-frogging the US, which has so much invested in our poles, analog switches, and copper wire.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Where've you been? On the rig tonight, I had a QSO with Jim in Tule Lake, CA, which is a farm community in Northern California near the boarder with Oregon. Jim is a retired farmer, 63 years old and has been a ham for 49 years.

Just after that I had a QSO with Sabil in Lugansk, Ukraine.

"Rig" means "my radio station" or "my radio equipment".

A "QSO" is a conversation. These 2 QSOs were on CW, as opposed to AM, FM or SSB. CW means "continuous wave" and is the mode where we use the Morse Code. AM, FM or SSB are radiotelephone modes or "phone" modes. When one is on CW, one uses "Q signals", because Q signals are abbreviations. They are also a sort of universal language.

For example, "QTH Miami Springs" means "My location is Miami Springs". If you put a question mark behind it, as in "QTH?" you are asking, "What is your location?"

Monday, July 25, 2005

Women in the Early Church. Van, our pastor, is taking us through the Book of Acts during his Sunday morning sermons. Yesterday we were in Acts 8: 1-7. The first part of that passage deals with the persecution of the church in Jerusalem. During the sermon, Van took note of the following in verse 3:

But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.

He drew our attention to the fact that women were being dragged off as well as men. He commented that if these women had kept to their traditional place, they may have avoided persecution. But they seem to have been as outspoken as the men, because they generated the same reaction. This does not conclusively point to formal leadership in the early church by women, nor to informal leadership by women that extended beyond other women to men. But it does seem to point to vigorous, front-line participation by women from the beginning, and its worth noting.
Google Maps and the Holy Land. Sean has been watching the Google maps phenomenon over on Interact, and, courtesy of Brad, points to this link to a Google map of Palestine with references to scripture embedded therein. Fascinating.

The link to the map led me to the homepage of the people who put up the link. Those folks apparently publish the English Standard Version or "ESV" and have a complete website. The site includes the blog where the Palestine map was posted. The map post on the blog explains how to do what they did with the map. The blog, has other posts that look interesting too.

Thanks, Sean.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Stop me, if you've heard it.

The Old West.

Three legged dog comes into the bar and shouts.

"I'm lookin' for the man who shot my paw!"
New Antenna at the House. This weekend I am putting up a new vertical antenna. This one will be at the NE corner of the house, screened from the front and east side by some trees. We don't want to upset the neighbors. Bought it second-hand from Joe.

This is not the beam antenna that I was working on last weekend. Still working on that one. The new vertical will give us three ham antennas up and functioning on or about the roof of the house: (1) inverted vee dipoles, center fed with a single coax transmission line, one dipole for 40m and one for 20m, (2) a uhf/vhf vertical for 2m and the 440 band, and (3) the new vertical, which covers 40m, 20m, 15m, 10m, 6m, and 2m (so many bands on one antenna, so cool).

As you can see, there is some duplication, especially between the dipoles and the new vertical. The dipoles tend to horizontal polarity and have a higher angle of radiation. The vertical is vertically polarized and has a lower angle of radiation. I don't know that polarity makes much difference after the RF refracts off the ionosphere. The lower the angle of radiation, however, the further the skip. (For example, if the angle of radiation were straight up, the refraction would send the RF right back to our location.) Because I can switch antennas from inside the shack, I should be able to see if there is any difference and under which conditions the difference occurs.

Exciting stuff, no?

Friday, July 22, 2005

How the Rest of the World Knows Us. Yesterday I met a most interesting gentleman, a man whose business is inside Russia and that he runs from his home in Miami two days a week. About four times a year he flies to the site of the business for a few days. The site is in the far east of Russia, 10 miles north of the Chinese border and closer to Tokyo than to Moscow. It takes him 24 hours to travel there, one way.

He told me that the business practices in Russia are so different from those of the US that they are incomprehensible to most Americans. He also told me this story.

On one visit, early in the development of this business, he and his Russian counterparts were having a long dinner in a restaurant and enjoying their vodkas, of which there were many. One of his Russian dinner partners said that he, the Russian, knows all about business, and my client asked how he came to that knowledge. The reply, "Why, watching US television shows!"

"US television shows? What shows?"

"Dallas, my friend, and Santa Barbara".

"That's not how Americans do business, Ivan!"

"It isn't?"

This leads me to a consideration of Scott's post, just below. How does the world see us? Through the broken prism of Hollywood, whether in movies or TV shows, and through the internet. What a picture they must have. What stumbling blocks, we in our liberality and license, have placed in the way of the sound development of the rest of the world.
Now Playing on Apple's iTunes:Adult-Oriented Podcasts
Link is to WSJ article (for subscribers). Essentially, because Podcasts are over the Internet, they do not fall under the FCC's indecency rules. Hence, a growing number of pornography is now available via Podcasts.

I was reluctant to create a post on this topic for fear of promoting this feature. However, I feel it more important to make K&K readers aware so as to beware!

Another slippery slope indeed.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Live Strong?
My interest in the Lance Armstrong Foundation has recently heightened, primarily because Lance is set to win a record 7th Tour "day" France, which is remarkable in and of itself, but also because of Lance's story and my new "connection" with it.

My question is, does LAF do good work or is it just cool to wear yellow? I'm not questioning LAF's or anyone's sincerity. In fact, Lance's story is quite inspiring, and I've read the content on LAF's website. But I'm curious if anyone has any experience with or opinions about what LAF actually does (besides being a part of Amplifier's success :) ).

For the record, I just ordered 2 packs of wristbands.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Battlestar Gallactica. I ordered the four-hour initial miniseries from Netflix, and started watching it last night. Its all about relationships and, incidentally, about a war with robots who have gotten 'way out of hand. (What an idea for a story!) I guess this is very post-modern - the relationships. The relationships, with one exception, are exceedingly dumb.

The exception and, by far, the most interesting relationship is that between a degenerate but brilliant scientist/thinker and the latest revison of enemy robot, a blonde bombshell. The place lights up when they are on the screen. Otherwise, the relationships are contrived, the characters over-drawn, and mostly unbelievable. (I believe the relationship between the degenerate scientist and the robot; I don't believe the other relationships. Go figure.)

We have all the usual suspect relationshps. The failed father and bitter son. The male noncom and the female officer. We have several semi-out of relationship people but sure to get one soon: the bad girl fighter pilot, about whom more below, the commander definitely not Captain Kirk, the former Secretary of Education now the President fighting breast cancer.

A lot of people act pretty badly, and not just my two favorites. If the carrying on between genders on the Battlestar Gallactica is any indication of where we are going with both genders in the armed forces, then I am taking a second look at Islam. We have one female, cigar smoking, fighter pilot actually bait a middle aged colonel and then slug him in one scene. Moments later, the commanding officer brushes it off, and a few moments later we learn that she was his dead son's girl friend at one point. Please.

We have a monumentally stupid interworld government that has put everything everywhere, traffic lights, space ships, defense forces, down to its space fighters, on one gigantic network, which the robots penetrate of course. Fortunately, the commander of the Battlestar Gallactica is a Luddite and refused to network.

Having watched a couple of hours of this laugher, the big question is whether I will watch the rest. The answer is, I will. I want to see that blond forever.
It Takes a Family
Good reads of excerpts from Senator Rick Santorum's book (links from National Review Online).

Moral Capital and the Courts
The Constitutional Wrecking Ball
The Government wasn't always neutral on religion.
What does the First Amendment really protect?
Marriage has lost it's place in the law

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Modeling & Kettlebells
Finally! All that kettlebelling pays off as Walter gets his break in the modeling biz. Here he's modeling bike shorts. For real! That's him! I'm surprised, actually, that they asked Walt to do this, as his massive thighs almost distort the print going down the legs of the shorts.
GTD anyone?
David Allen is putting on a one day seminar in a number of cities this Fall. Where shall we go? Chicago (9/14), Minneapolis (9/22), Boston (9/30), DC (10/26), Seattle (11/11) are some of the options. If we get at least ten people, we'll each get $200 off the cost. I can think of a few folks who might be interested: me, Paul, Walt, Mary?, Jud?, Joel?, Morgan?, Lindsay?, Carol?, Scott? that's ten, but surely there are more Kith&Kin who've been absolutely riveted and fascinated by all the GTD talk around here. (Any IV staff?) We could register as the "Kith & Kin Community"! (Sean, you've declared your GTD opposition/obsession, maybe meeting David Allen Himself will clear things up for you.)
Cancer Watch II. I was a little hesitant to go public with our health problems. I hope everyone understands that these reports are simply to keep us all in touch and to help us talk about a disease that, for some people, is very difficult to discuss, and for others is the subject of outright denial. I have seen the latter case in client situations, and it is very sad indeed for the entire family and it makes it difficult to plan appropriately. I appreciated Scott opening the door to this sort of discussion, and keeping us advised of his situation.

As I reported earlier, my mother and I had tests last week for our respective cancers, her's active, mine dormant. She had a bone scan and X-ray series on Thursday, as she has bone cancer, secondary to breast cancer, and both of us had PET scans on Friday. Today we got the results.

At first our doctor's secretary called to tell us that they had received the results of the PET scan for both of us, that mine was negative and that Nita's showed "improvement". I asked about Nita's bone scans and X-rays, but they had not received those yet.

Then Dr. Feinberg called me about an hour later. He had all the results. He said that your's truly is "fine".

As to Nita, he said that that the PET scan was to detemine whether the bone cancer had spread to her viscera, that is to her liver, lungs, etc. He said that the PET scan was negative for that. The PET scan showed the bone cancer as well, which he expected, but that the PET scan showed "improvement".

He said that the X-ray series was to see whether there were any broken bones, because bone cancer can lead to that and Nita has some sharp pain if you touch her on certain places. No breaks.

The bone scan was to assess the progress of the disease in Nita's skeleton. It shows the treatment is working. Not only that, it shows that the abnormalities to be "blastic" rather than "lytic". Blastic shows up as white on the scan, indicating a lesion that is denser than the bone itself. Lytic shows up as a lesion darker than the bone; it shows actual bone loss. What is interesting is that some of the blastic indications may indicate not the cancer but the healing of the cancer as a result of the treatment. The medicine mother takes each day by way of a pill is to kill the cancer. When the cancer lesion, which has bored into the bone, dies, it leaves a little hole. The treatment mother gets each month is to recalcify the bone, that is, to fill up those holes.

If what showed were lytic lesions, then I understood Dr. Feinberg to mean that we are dealing with bone damage that is far more serious than what the scans show. No osteolytic lesions showed up.

As Dr. Feinberg rang off, he said he was very happy to telephone us with good news. He says that he doesn't get to do that very often. I was glad to receive the good news, of course, but I am sorry that he does not make those calls so often.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

For all those who have waited with bated breath, i thought I should tell you that I have just received an email from Amazon telling me that they are now offering Alias Season 4 for pre-ordering. It will be available October 25, 2005.

What a relief....=)

Also, I just finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. (Don't worry, no spoilers here.) Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I devoured it. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and overall I think it felt less dark than the previous installment, the Order of the Phoenix. When some of you have likewise finished it, let's talk.
Settling In
here in Austin, Tejas. It took almost 3 weeks for us to get our broadband connected. We decided to go with the TimeWarner Cable All-In-One (phone/cable/broadband). Seems like a good deal to us: local/long distance, digital cable & dvr, cable internet -- one flat fee. Now that it's here, it's very nice. The problem is that TWC holds the monopoly on such a bundled service, and their customer service left a great deal to be desired. (The actual "cable guy", though, once he got here, was super nice.)

The Digital Video Recorder (which will hereafter be referred to as the TIVO, even though it's not a "TIVO", because TIVO has already been verbed and I like it better than verbing DVR) is already getting a work out. We've set it to record this new season of Battlestar Galactica (a superfantastic show!) on SciFi Channel, the seasons of Batman and Justice League Unlimited on Cartoon Network, and the rest of the Tour de France, which I'm watching right now. Mary, who is spending the month with us, tivoed True Grit for watching later. And last night, Walter came over and we tried out the Video On Demand by "renting" House of Flying Daggers (a movie in the company of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero). It was $3.95 for 24 hours. That's what we would have paid for a Blockbuster rental, even though we would have gotten the Blockbuster rental for a week. But we didn't want to watch it over a week, we wanted to watch it once, on Saturday night. And, we didn't want to leave the house, so the VOD was the way to go!

We've really enjoyed all the family time we've gotten with the Stokes & Sewell sides of the familiy. Soon I'll post about the drive from Charlotte to Austin.
And How was your Weekend?

Went to Dillard's to buy some shoes last night (Saturday). They have a big selection of men's shoes, and I needed some new dress types, so as to assure people that, yes, I am a lawyer. (Chacos, to which Mary recently introduced me and which I have been wearing ever since, won't do.) Dillard's had a big Johnston and Murphy display - all made in China! As we looked inside other shoes on display, we saw India, Vietnam, and Slovakia. I finally bought some Eccos, made in Portugal.

I have had a particular interest in shoes since high school, during which I had my first "real" job (not counting delivering newspapers) at Sears selling shoes. Got to know shoes pretty well. Sears sold good shoes, all made in the US, mostly by the Brown Shoe Company (remember "Buster Brown"? No? Hmmm), based in Massachusetts but with factories around the country, the nearest somewhere in Georgia. Now and then we saw English shoes, but rarely. As the years went by, English shoes became more popular, then Italian. So now, China. I read where the Italians are mad at the Chinese for "dumping" its shoes all over the world and hurting the Italian shoe industry.

We had a covered dish luncheon after church today, to welcome the pastor and his family back from their vacation, a vacation that took them to two mission sites, one in Albania and the other in Scotland. (The pastor had worked in Scotland for two years as an associate pastor and had done short term mission work in Albania.) We were glad to have them back.

During that luncheon we sat with Bill and Mary Reed. Bill's elderly father has had some neurological problems. Bill said a speech therapist was sent to work with him, that the therapist was a Latin and had one of the worst accents Bill said he had ever heard. (That's saying something, because in Miami one hears a lot of interesting accents.) The speech therapist asked Bill's father a question. Bill's father just looked at him blankly. The speech therapist said, "Yust tell me jess or no!"

Spent some time on the roof this weekend. Several months ago my friend Joe sold me a used "beam". A beam is a type of antenna that is "directional" (that is, it will direct the RF one is sending in the direction at which one "points" it and it will tend not to receive signals except from the direction to which it is pointed) and has "gain" (that is, the signal strength will be increased simply by the fact that the power is radiated in a direction that is somewhat confined rather than 360 degrees.) I didn't finish putting the thing up. This is at least a two weekend project. But the tinker/enjoyment ratio was quite favorable.

Observed several copies of the new Harry Potter book in the congregation during the worship service this morning, mostly up in the balcony where the teens sit. It was quiet up there. Heard you could get the book at Wal-Mart for $15.

Oh, and it was my birthday yesterday. 59 years old. Nita gave me a big check when we went to Denny's yesterday morning for our weekly dose of cholesteral. It pays to be nice to your mother, folks.

Macon got his broadband up and working, so Aidan and I teleconferenced until his dad put him to bed.

The whole weekend we had Walter and Morgan in our prayers, more than usual.
"Department of Righteous Killings." Those of you who look askance at my Second Amendment proclivities will not be encouraged by this blog. Those of you who think I might have something there, might find it interesting. There is some R rated language, and a lot of references to Texans. WWJD?

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Islamization of Europe. This article, written in December by the British historian, David Pryce-Jones, is timely, given the events in London last week.

Also see Pryce-Jones' review of Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis by BatYe'or.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Boy Troy. Saw the movie Troy on DVD a few days ago. So much money spent for so little value.

What I thought most interesting was the effort to wring the mythological (i.e. religious) aspects out of it. But if you had no idea who Achilles parents were or why Paris "won" Helen, you would be a bit puzzled. For example, does anyone really think that Paris could have attracted the most beautiful woman in the world without the divine intervention that the Illiad describes? The kid's clearly a wimp

And what's the problem with the heel, Brad? How do you know the problem without knowing about "the gods" and how they played into this.

There are references to "the gods", especially Apollo, but they are mainly references of contempt. (You get only a tiny clue that Achilles mom is Thetis, a sea nymph. but you would have had to read the book.) You have the rationalists, on the one hand, that is the Greeks, and you have the believers on the other, the Trojans. The Greeks win. King Priam looks pretty silly, even if it is Peter O'Toole (what a waste!). The Greek leaders are worldly and tough. The Trojans lose.

I don't know how you would film the Iliad with the religious/mythological aspect properly in place, although that didn't stop Peter Jackson with the Lord of the Rings. It probably wasn't impossible to do it right, provided you had some respect for the transcendent.

Then there is the anti-family aspect. Achilles is the solo pretty boy. No beard, blonde hair. Not a nice person. But clearly the best body on the screen, male or female. Then there is Hector, family man, big brother, has a beard. Achilles kills Hector.

There's not much more really to say about this huge disappointment, except what's this leaping up in the air thing that Achilles does? I haven't seen anything that strange since the Chariots of Fire hero running around the track looking straight up in the air with his mouth open.
Cancer Watch. Carol is taking Juanita for a bone scan today. Tomorrow both Mother and I are going for PET scans, one for each of us.

We know Nita has bone cancer, secondary to the breast cancer she had years ago and presently being managed fairly well. The bone scan determines the status of that cancer. The PET scan will determine whether it has spread to other organs. That would not, of course, be a good thing.

I have NHL somewhere in my system, but it has been dormant, for which I give God thanks. The oncologist, Dr. Feinberg, the same physician who treats Nita, worries about it, though, and every every couple of years orders a PET.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Back from Vacation. Hello, All! Carol, Mary and I packed a lot into just a week or so of vacation. We visited Carol's Aunt Evelyn in Spindale, NC, on July 2, then later that day went to Montreat for the Christian Life Conference, which carried through until noon on Tuesday. Then from there we journeyed to the Mt. Pisgah Campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 17 miles west of Asheville, and stayed there until Friday morning. From there Carol and Mary started out to Austin, arriving Saturday night, and I set off for Miami, stopping along the way for a day in Eastman, GA, with Ann and Don Dobbs, my aunt and uncle. I arrived home Sunday afternoon.

The camping experience was "eventful", but I will just mention here one of those events. On Thursday, we came down to Asheville and toured the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. This was a fascinating visit, and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Asheville. Yesterday, back home in Miami, I went to the public library and checked out Look Homeward, Angel. I read it years ago, and its time to read it again.

More to report on later posts.

(Macon is supposed to get his DSL line hooked up today, so I hope to see him appear again soon and tell us about his new life in Austin.)