Monday, April 23, 2007

One Year on Blogger

So I've been blogging for a year. Huzzah! It's still fun even if it can be a hassle getting stuff up. Still I've managed to average one post/3 days which seems weird since I've also gone nearly a month at time with nothing. I don't know if I've learned or grown much by doing it but I enjoy blogging so I'll probably keep it up.

Sunday was a good day. We heard a sermon on Ephesians 1:11 and God's sovereignty. After church we all scattered to various places for food procurement but then came back together for a picnic at Adler Park in Libertyville. We sat around and enjoyed the gorgeous weather, some frisbee, and in my case, a brat and a dog from Slott's Hots in Libertyville. Good brat. Later we played a round of disc golf, I didn't do so hot, but it was fun.

Sunday evening we opened our softball season with a barbecue at Tom's followed by a victory in our first game. I played catcher for most of the game and had a few hits and rbi's and scored a couple of times. It was fun. I wan't too sore this morning either, though my right big toe is very unhappy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What Else Has Been Happening

April's an interesting month. It's often short at work due to a couple of conferences and sometimes Easter. Sometimes it also involves pushing to finish up schoolwork or degrees. It comes after June and is the fabled home of the commemoration of the ancient and noble Non-Sequitur. Speaking of groundhogs and other small mammals, my friend Carlos has gophers in his yard.

I had a great time visiting Kentucky last weekend. It was much good to see the family and I enjoyed being part of Laurel and Michael's wedding. I'm happy to have a new cousin. It was fun playing with Cora, travelling with Mom and Dad, and blowing big bubbles with D.C. I also enjoyed the drives down and back. I listened to most of Neil Gaiman's book American Gods which was fun.
I had two encounters with police in less than 168 hours. I was pulled over just outside Walton Kentucky at about 10 p.m. (edt) on Thursday. I had entered an intersection when the light was yellow and left when it was red. The friendly Kenton County Sheriff's deputy warned me not to do that. At about 8:15 p.m. (cdt) on the following Thursday was assisted entering my car after softball practice by a friendly Mundelein Police officer. I had very securely locked my backpack in the car. Before going to practice I had put my car keys in the backpack so they wouldn't fall out while I was practicing. Fortunately I had my spare key with me, in the backpack. You can imagine the difficulty. It was also good to know that my driver's side door is apparently impenetrable to someone using the kinds of tools currently employed by the Mundelein PD. If it hadn't been so crucial to my own access I would have been a little disappointed that the passenger door wasn't equally secure.
I did some other stuff. I cataloged some books. I had gyros at Bo-Bo's. I had one of the best long disc golf putts I'll ever have in scoring an unofficial three on my nemesis hole at Adler park. It didn't matter that I finished 8 over, I birdied holes 2 and 3 on my practice throws. I went to a meeting at Aurora University to discuss technical services workflows. I started reading The Children of Hurin. I practiced some softball in preparation for our first game this Sunday. Yesterday I learned that BD's Mongolian Barbecue in Vernon Hills, one of my favorite restaurants, had gone out of business. I went with Cindee to Famous Dave's Barbecue, also a good VH restaurant, and had ribs that weren't burnt, and then went to see Pathfinder. I liked the movie and the meal. I led a Bible study on the call of Abraham in Genesis 12 on Monday and watched the youth try to make sense of the laws in Deuteronomy 14-16 on Tuesday. I talked to Jim for nearly an hour and a half on Wednesday. As a week, it will do.

100th Post and Interesting/Frustrating Dream

It just snuck up on me. I happened to glance at the Dashboard before starting this post and saw that I had 99 posts to my blog. So that makes this one "Old hundredth". Indeed, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow...." It's also the 363rd day of my blogging adventure. If I remember, I might mention something related to that on Monday.

Anyway now the folderol is out of the way I can get on to posting. I didn't sleep well last night and had an interesting dream just before I woke up. This is one of those dreams that are interesting to the dreamer but not necessarily to anyone else so I'll understand if you don't care to read about it.

In my dream I was living in a new frame house in a nice neighborhood, like a Cambridge Homes development for them that know them. I had just written a research paper on the theology of cataloging. The theological focus was on the Word unlike the paper I wrote last year in real life that focused on creation as organization and on humans as imaging God by being subcreators and orderers. In the dream it was a nice warm day and I went outside and read the paper to Anthony, the guy who was living with us for a while, while we sat on the curb. I read the whole paper and it was good except for a few typos I noted. Then the scene shifted and I was downstairs in the old student center at St. Olaf preparing to defend my paper before a group of students, faculty and regents. They were calling us up by topic. When they called for "Theology of Library Cataloging" I headed into the room and realized that there was someone else going in carrying a paper. Some girl had also written on the same general topic and would be defending her paper as well. She was better prepared than me and had brought copies for the examination committee. We decided that she would go first. She had just read her title and begun to engage another student who was arguing tangentially that the idea that cataloging was unnecessary thanks to Google was silly and I woke up.

It's really frustrating to have written and read an interesting paper on a subject in a dream and to wake up and the only details you remember are irrelevant ones about the defense and the other student, and then not even the point of her paper. Oh well. I've been wanting to expand my paper from last year and maybe this dream will give me some impetus. I had planned to do more research on the cataloging side due to major developments over the last year but the theological side can probably bear more work as well especially along the lines of the canonical order of the books and collections like Proverbs, but maybe there's something in the Word as well. There was this morning anyway.

Friday, April 13, 2007

San Antonio Trip pt.4

After a very long Monday we slept in on Tuesday (I did anyway). We puttered around a bit and then Jenn, Jamie, and I headed to Cracker Barrel for a consolation breakfast for the CB meal we'd missed the night before. While we were waiting around for service Jamie discovered a very amusing toy parrot that would repeat back whatever it heard. He derived great joy by calling a silly rabbit (I think) and having it "parrot" him. It also repeated my coughs. I had a very good breakfast of country ham, eggs, and various fixin's. I even ate the grits.

From Cracker Barrel we progressed to the Witte Museum. This appears to be something of a natural history museum. It included exhibits on the wildlife and archaeology/anthropology of South Texas including some very interesting displays of various digs and archaeological technique. It also had a mummy and an Ancient Egypt exhibit, a "Science Treehouse" which had several cool demonstrations of various scientific facts, both of which Jamie enjoyed, and an exhibition of photography dedicated to the vaqueros (Mexican cowboys) of southern Texas, that I enjoyed. Overall I enjoyed the museum but was not very impressed. I've been to the Field Museum and the Smithsonian and the Science Treehouse exhibits didn't seem as impressive as those I remember from the Indianapolis Children's Museum or CoSI in Columbus, Ohio. Of course, time and rain kept us from seeing other parts of the museum. Still there was some neat stuff and Jamie had fun except when I made us leave the treehouse so we could see a little more of the museum before heading to the airport.

We tried to find a parking place so Jenn and Jamie could come in with me at least as far as the security check but had no luck. There didn't seem to be a single space in the San Antonio Airport. I hope someone who had to park didn't miss their flight because of it. We said our goodbye's outside the terminal. Jenn headed home to discover her phone had disappeared and I jetted back to Chicago after a little while.

The flight home was uneventful but I can't say the same for the drive home from the airport. In a continuation of Monday's misadventures, Steve missed the on-ramp for I-55 off of Harlem Avenue. It appeared to be a two lane ramp. We took the right lane behind a white van. Very quickly we discovered that the right lane was separated from the on-ramp by a curb and did not, in fact, allow one access to the Stevenson Expressway. In fact it led down below Harlem to what appeared to be a frontage road. Frustrated we followed the van under Harlem and beyond, seeing no return access. Hoping to connect with Cicero further East we kept going. Eventually we came to a recycling plant where the road curved around and ran along the Chicago River. The van turned into the plant and we headed on. Logically since we had seen no turn or exit from our access road there had to be something ahead. The road, if I may call it that, kept going. Steve, who had planned to spend the evening after getting home playing video games, instead got to hone his driving skills by slaloming between potholes that could have footprints left some local Godzilla beast. The road got darker and rougher. It seemed to be narrowing and becoming less paved. It looked the kind of place where you saw wise guys dump bodies or do clandestine deals. Soon we were convinced that if we went just a little further there would be no road at all. That van we followed down surely wouldn't have come down if there were no way back up. So we turned around, figuring that if worst came to worst (from a driving, not a wise guys, perspective) we could risk going up the one way ramp we had taken down from Harlem. It didn't appear that there was any kind of traffic rush to where we were. Following the road back we saw a sign directing us back to Harlem just before we would have gone under it again. Cleverly, the sign was completely obscured from the other side by bushes so we had missed it and thus won a chance at adventure. We turned up the ramp and successfully accessed the Stevenson from the other side. In an hour or so we were home and my St. Antoine errantry was at an end. It was a good trip and I'm glad Jenn brought me down.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holy Week

Holy Week and Lent are coming to an end as we look forward to Easter tomorrow. I think it's my favorite week of the year. We begin with Palm Sunday and Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and progress through Maundy Thursday and the Last Supper into Good Friday and the Crucifixion into Holy Saturday as Jesus lies in the grave and the disciples hide in fear. In his essay on fairy stories, Tolkien described the gospel story as the ultimate fairy story. Jesus enters the city to the acclaim and praise of the crowds. All turns on Thursday night. After sharing the Passover with his disciples and commanding them to love one another as he loved them (hence "Maundy" Thursday derived from the Latin "mandatum" or "command") he is betrayed in the garden and given over to his enemies. The powers of darkness grow from strength to strength as they try, torture, and eventually kill Jesus and the light of the world goes out. The shepherd is stricken and the sheep scatter. On Saturday darkness and silence reign. All is lost. On Sunday morning Jesus animated with the new life to come bursts from the tomb and the end of the powers won on Friday in the midst of blood and death is proclaimed. It is the great eucatastrophe, the sudden turn from evil to good. In a classical play it is the deus ex machina, the god from the machine, only this is deus in homini, the God in man, and he shall reign forever more. But today it's still Saturday, darkness reigns, "low in the grave he lay."

On Monday in my lifegroup we studied Isaiah 52:13-53:12 which sums up the whole week from Palm Sunday to Easter and beyond. The arm of God has been revealed, the instrument of Israel's deliverance is at hand. It is a man of sorrows who will die for their iniquities, who will be cut off, who will be buried. But who will yet see light and be apportioned the victor's spoil. Who can believe this message?

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

13Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
14As many were astonished at you--
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind--
15so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.

1Who has believed what they heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors. (ESV)

San Antonio Trip pt.3

Our plans to wake and get on the road early to head for Corpus Cristi where somewhat scuttled by the joy of sleep. The weather that morning was perfect for a trip to the beach. It was clear and sunny in the low 70' Chicago. In South Texas it was cool, rainy, windy, cloudy and in the 60's to low 70's. That wasn't going to stop us from heading to the beach, though. Jenn and Jamie hadn't been since they'd moved to Texas and everybody else wanted to go as well. Eventually we made it out. Jenn, Jamie and I were in one car and James, Rachel, and Destiny were in the other. We were going to the beach on Mustang Island which is just north of Padre Island and across the Intercoastal Waterway from Corpus Cristi. Jenn and Rachel had also planned a surprise for the kids, we were going to take a ferry to Mustang Island. It was a peaceful and pleasant drive down. We even saw some sunshine a little northwest of Corpus. Our car was following since Rachel was driving way faster than we were and James claimed to know the way to where we were going.

All went well until we started getting close to the ferry. The exit we needed to take was closed, according to several signs we saw about a detour. Unfortunately the lead car didn't see the signs. So we had to turn around and go back to the detour, except we needed to be aware that though the exit was closed from one direction, the corresponding exit might not be closed from the other. This thought was not communicated forcefully enough to the lead car and so the exit was missed again. We were able to turn around and make the detour exit from the other side but the lead car had to go a long way back before they could turn. Now we were the lead car. Some Texas road signage is neither as clear nor as helpful as I'm sure the department of transportation must have hoped it would be. Still, we were able to get on the right road finally after just a little more backtracking and angst. At last we were headed toward the ferry. We notified Rachel and James where we were and gave them directions to get there and planned to meet at the ferry. We proceeded confidently for several miles until Jenn began to worry that we had not yet come to the ferry and didn't seem to be getting any closer to the coast. As it happens, a compass might have told us we were heading north-northwest, and therefore inland, but compass had we none. Eventually we stopped for directions and a map. Maps are wonderful. The map, doing what the compass might have had it been there, demonstrated that we were going away from our destination. Further examination showed that the turn we had originally missed was the wrong turn anyway. Had we continued straight, as we had initially, we would eventually have come to the ferry. Had we gone right instead of left, as we did, we would have eventually come to the ferry. Had we turned back, as we did, we would have eventually come to the ferry if we turned around again, as we did, and taken the correct road, as we did not. Had we turned left, as we did, we might have eventually made it to Canada, as we did not. Anyway, once we got that all straightened out and communicated to Rachel and James sans pluperfects or conditionals, we proceeded to the Port Aransas ferry. Jamie was suitable impressed and I enjoyed it as well. It was probably the second largest ferry I'd been on after the one I took from Athens to Aegina on the Saronic Gulf. It was definitely bigger than the ones I'd taken across the Ohio, Kentucky and Green rivers.

While all the turning around was going on we caught a pretty heavy but short downpour. The sky was cloudy and grey and the winds they were a'blowin'. Once on the beach we set up a blanket and had a nice picnic lunch. Jenn had gotten Jamie and Destiny sand buckets and shovels so they set to work digging and building while the adults talked or waded in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite the air temperature the water wasn't very cold at all. It was pleasant. On a hot day it would have been almost ideal, like Lake Michigan in late summer. After a while we got the kids in and everybody except James got wet, some of us more than others. I'm incapable of traveling a long way to large body of water without going under, so I did. Jenn and Jamie did as well when she stumbled and dropped him in. He and I also went out a ways and played in the waves. We had a good time. If we had left when we planned that morning and not gotten lost, it would have been raining when we were on the beach. As it was it was just windy, grey, and cold.

After a couple of hours of playing around we left the beach. James and Rachel headed back to Port Aransas to get her a tattoo while we took Jamie and Destiny into Corpus Cristi for a while. We drove up the Corpus Cristi Bay into the city and saw lots of very expensive houses. We stopped at a public park on the shore to go to the bathroom and to play on the most impressive playground set I've been on (probably a sign of my limited use of playgrounds in the last 20 years). It was a big wooden structure with lots of things to climb, hang from, slide down, crawl through, etc. I couldn't help but think of the amazing game of monkey tag you could play on it if you had a hundred people or so. Jamie and Destiny really seemed to enjoy it. While were there it was very nice and sunny, which figures. We walked out on the pier and watched people fish. We even saw a couple of fish caught. Then we went back to the car and attempted to go the Texas Aquarium or the U.S.S. Lexington. As it was almost 7 p.m. on a Monday both were already closed. We went to a surf shop that you entered by walking into a mock shark's mouth to try to get Jenn a sweatshirt but there was nothing really affordable. We got back into the car and drove around the city some more looking for someplace to eat. Oddly enough, it seemed that someone had come through Corpus Cristi while we were on the beach or in the park and hidden all the restaurants. I was sure I'd seen some earlier. James and Rachel let us know that they were done getting tattooed and were about half an hour behind us. We decided to head up the Interstate, stop at a restaurant, and let them meet us. We headed. The kids were tired and hungry. Jenn and I were tired and hungry. South Texas was conspiring to keep us that way. There was nothing but McDonald'ses and Jenn had ruled those out in hopes of finding a Cracker Barrel. No luck. In desperation we stopped at a Burger King at about ten to nine. It closed at nine but the staff were very gracious. We ate and after a while Rachel and James caught up to us. They took Destiny and we all headed back to San Antonio. I drove Jenn's car. I was surprised how good it felt to drive after riding all weekend. There's really just about nothing between San Antonio and Corpus Cristi. We talked about maybe going to see a movie or something when we got back but decided we were too tired when the time. We watched Star Trek: Voyager (my first time) and then went to bed.

.'s to Interview ?'s

1. If you could temporarily phase into one person during the Battle of the Alamo, who would it be and why that particular historical figure?

When I first read this I read it as if you could be any person at the Battle of the Alamo and I thought Santa Anna or one of the Mexicans, that way I could see the whole battle and probably survive. In conversation I added Juan Seguin. I wouldn't see the whole battle but I would survive and have been a "good guy". If I could just be there for a while though I'd probably want to be Davey Crockett for an hour or two and shoot "Old Betsy" and lead the boys defending that part of the wall.

2. A ravenous horde of giant termites are attacking your home. By your estimation, you only have enough time to grab five books out of your personal collection before everything you own is devoured. What books do you choose and why?

That's tough. Most of my books shouldn't be too hard to replace and usually the sentimental value is tied to the contents not the actual volume. Also, I suppose if I've only got time to save 5 then it would have to be stuff that I'd know pretty quickly where it is. For instance saving Desiring God by Piper would be tough because I don't know which bookcase it's on and it's not physically distinctive enough to pick out at a glance. I'd save my Grandpa's mythology textbook and the copy of the NIV Ryrie Study Bible that Mom and Dad gave to me when I graduated from college. I might be able to find other copies of those, certainly the Ryrie, but those copies would have the personal or family connection. I'd save my copy of the Lord of the Rings illustrated by Alan Lee (technically three volumes but in one box), as it's the coolest of my LotR books and maybe the Ace paperback copy of The Return of the King since it would hardest of my LotR books to replace. For a fifth I'd probably save whichever of my books I was reading at the time so I wouldn't have to wait until I replaced it to finish it. That should cover five specific volumes, or four and a boxed set that I could locate quickly and would have some personal value.

3. What do you think is the greatest invention ever made?

Unsurprisingly I'll vote for the printing press.

4. What is your favorite and least-favorite thing about your job?

My favorite thing is the chance to see and examine so many of the new books coming into our library. It's not as cool as when I did the final check after books were processed and before they went to the shelves since then I got to see all the new books where now I only see a small percentage, but it's still mighty cool. My least favorite part is probably the pressure caused by a backlog. When I come in and I've got a shelf and a half on my office cart and at least a shelf outside of the office full of books to be cataloged in addition to all the media items and problems that fill my office. The bigger those backlogs get the more intimidating they are and the more intimidating they are, the more I'd rather surf the web, and so the bigger they get. Another thing which I'm concerned about once my job changes this summer is dealing with ambiguous projects. Right now it's fairly easy to look at the problem and backlog shelves and know what I need to do and have a very tangible measure of whether I'm doing it or making progress. There is less than a full shelf of DVD's on my cart so I know things are better than when there were two. When I move away from book cataloging toward database maintenance and authority control it will be harder to have those tangible reminders both of what needs to be done and of what is getting done.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world at any time, where/when would it be?

The New Jerusalem after Jesus' return.