All Sorts of Random Stuff


Lots of things going on right now. Have a million post ideas in my head, but all sorts of other, more diminutive, thoughts keep prattling about in my mind. Perhaps if I get them down in writing, I can actually sleep at night.

If you like hodge-podges, this is it!

  • Read through Shaunti & Jeff Feldhaun’s two books, For Women Only and (shockingly) For Men Only. Pitched at married couples trying to understand each other, rather than going down the same, tired pop-psych route, they veered into Barna’s territory and polled men and women about what they thought the other sex was thinking. Nothing proved earth-shattering for me, but the accuracy of the comments really hit home. It’s nice to hear you’re not nuts. Given that these two books have quite a following, I suppose they smack of a revelation to some. My wife and I have had good discussions based on the books, and I plan on recommending them to the couples group we’re a part of. The books aren’t filled with tons of Scripture, but they make no pretenses toward that and would even feel a bit forced if they did. Call it common sense. Nice length, taut writing, and easy skim-ability make for two essential reads.

  • Date-Dabitur has nothing to do with the sexes and everything to do with a Christian agrarian lifestyle. My attempts to live the agrarian way look feeble compared with this blogger. Check out this compelling post, Garrison Keillor On Our Amish Future, then stick around and read some of the controversial, yet compelling, posts on this blog.

  • Julie R. Neidlinger’s Lone Blog contains the kind of writing that I can only aspire to here at Cerulean Sanctum. In her own Keillor-esque way, Julie captures life as an artist in North Dakota, meditating on a wide range of subjects—always with uncommon insight and wisdom. She deserves a following.

  • Just down the road to the west, someone drove a car through a house. A through and through. That’s the kind of thing that happens in the country. At the T-intersection just east of me, drunks think the road continues, but it dead ends in a soybean field. Meanwhile, the local newspaper ran yet another story on a crystal meth bust. I never saw so many burned out homes until I moved here. Between the meth labs and three-pack-a-day smokers falling asleep with a lit butt in their hands, it’s a wonder every other house isn’t a charred ruin. People think the country’s idyllic, but with all the work moving overseas, many people here lead lives of quiet desperation. Tim Keller says we should all move to the city in order to minister, but the city’s got nothing on the problems of the country.

  • On one of those days when it was run, run , run, my son and I ducked into the area Chik-Fil-A for lunch. To our surprise, in one corner of the restaurant, a pretty, young woman soloed on her violin. My son immediately bounded over to her and stood awestruck. A small sign near her case noted she’d been selected to play in an elite orchestra gathering in Beijing and was trying to raise money for her trip. I surveyed her receipts lying strewn in the case and topped the largest bill I saw there, not wishing to repeat the tragedy of a particular social experiment. We sat nearby and enjoyed her playing. At one point, I asked her about the Bell experiment and she expressed similar shock to mine. Over the course of time she played, we enjoyed every note, particularly her rendition of “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific. Thank you, Emma.

  • The Wall Street Journal ran a horrifying story about the chaos roiling those who took out sub-prime home loans. With the sub-prime mortgage industry collapsing, it’s taking down thousands upon thousands of homeowners with it. The chart the Journal ran of the increases in bankruptcies associated with sub-prime loans looked like the exhaust trail left by a Saturn V rocket. And I have to ask yet again, what are the churches these folks attend doing about it?

  • Now that I will actually have some time come fall to work on my novel without distractions, I read today that one of the elements of that novel, the search by particle physicists for the elusive Higgs Boson, has been rendered moot because those darned physicists may have found the dad-blamed thing. Supposedly, scientists claimed current accelerator technology didn’t have the horsepower to uncover the boson, but sadly for me, I guess it did. Tip for future novelists: write faster.

  • Over at the BHT, Bill MacKinnon wonders how his church can go beyond programs and actually witness to the lost. My suggestion? Love them. Be there for them when no one else is. Be their friends, but with no other expectations than friendship. Find out what they need and meet that need. Cry with them. Laugh with them. Invite them into our homes. Show them Jesus by being Jesus in their lives. That’s how you bring people jaded by talk into the Kingdom today.

  • Yes, I’m still waiting for updates to the WordPress widgets that power the sidebar of Cerulean Sanctum. I’ve dropped numerous hints to the guy who created them, but so far nothing. And thus we see the Achilles heel of open source software.

  • My satellite Internet provider decided that broadband is a nasty word and has instituted draconian bandwidth limitations. Considering that just one backup of this blog is a 120MB download, I’m hurtin’. I used to stream Internet radio for hours a couple years ago, so I don’t get this sudden policy shift. Let’s be honest: it’s a YouTube, VOIP, tabbed-browsing, iTunes world. I’ve been with them six years now, burned through four modems (*cough* JUNK *cough*), and paid countless thousands of dollars for their pricey service, and now comes a bandwidth limit. Right now, I’m throttled, so it takes about five minutes to open a page (if it opens at all). Note to StarBand: this is not how you please veteran customers.

  • Meanwhile, the Chinese government continues to imprison believers. What a spoiled brat that makes me when I beef about my ISP, huh?

  • Not that kind of prophet: looks like I missed on my oracle that gas would be $4 a gallon over the Memorial Day weekend. That’s one of those times when it’s good to be wrong. Still, we need to stop all futures speculation on energy. It makes a few people rich at the expense of the rest of us.

  • A reader noted my mood’s been all over the map this week. Actually, it’s been generally good lately, but we could always use more prayer. Prayers for prosperity and blessing are especially appreciated now.

Thanks for being a reader. As always, the comments are open.

25 thoughts on “All Sorts of Random Stuff

  1. The Wall Street Journal ran a horrifying story about the chaos roiling those who took out sub-prime home loans. With the sub-prime mortgage industry collapsing, it’s taking down thousands upon thousands of homeowners with it….what are the churches these folks attend doing about it?

    Ummm, doesn’t taking out a sub-prime loan indicate that the borrower might not be the most responsible person around when it comes to finances? I can understand helping them out if the lenders were shady and very misleading when outlining the terms of the loan, but if the borrowers knew what they were getting into, then how is expecting the church to bail them out any different than expecting the government to bail out people who are clearly morons when it comes to managing their finances?

    God charges us to be good stewards. It we end up burying the talent given to us instead of using it wisely, shouldn’t we own up to it and face the consequences, whatever it may be?

    • Lincoln,

      I wouldn’t be so quick to judge people who took out sub-prime loans. The Journal article painted most of those people as responsible. We have to remember, too, that if someone messed up in the past, that doesn’t mean they’re messing up now. As Christians, we should know that grace prevails and that lives can be changed.

      In California, very few middle class people can afford to buy a house yet they can’t live in a tiny apartment forever. Nor are there enough apartments, raising demand and the price along with it. So even smart people take crazy loans because there’s no other option. This puts people at risk that an illness or long-term job loss will wreak havoc with their ability to pay for a mortgage.

      This is a serious problem facing our country. I know because we lived in an area where even the simplest home cost more than a half million dollars.

      • Sounds like most of the UK, at least in the South East. Where I live (Cambridge) very few people in my circumstances (young professionals) can afford to buy, so we’re all renting, while landlords with multiple buy-to-let properties make money out of us and out-bid us for the few reasonable properties that come up.

  2. I think the jury’s still out on the Higgs. There are some experiments that point to it but no-one’s yet completely convinced everyone. Wait ’til the LHC gets going properly, supposed to be later this year but it’s bound to run late. Of course the most interesting thing would be if the new data ruled out the Higgs and pointed to something else entirely. Wouldn’t that be exciting?! (I’m an ex-physicist, really. Once had a job that was tangentially connected to LHC and although I’m about to become an Arts student, there’s still a bit of the physics geek in me).

    • Pigwotflies,

      The Higgs is the linch pin. Find it and there are no other options, at least under current theories.

      It may be that current theories are wrong. If they are, that still poses problems for my book!

  3. The Higgs is the linch pin. Find it and there are no other options, at least under current theories.

    Exactly. So if the data pointed to something else, there’d be all sorts of new physics needed. It’s not that likely, just a what if…

  4. @Dan: I’ve also been priced out of the housing market, and as it stands now, I’ll never be able to own a home, unless I’m willing to take on at least a $400,000 mortgage that is. But that’s insane. I think the real estate market has been overvalued for too long now, and is headed for a severe correction some time in the future. It doesn’t make sense to buy a home with a crazy mortgage when we have experts saying that it may be devalued in the near future. The rule of thumb I’ve read is that no one should pay more than 3 times their gross income for a home. If people NEED a house then they should rent one, not buy it, at least until the housing market stabilizes and approaches some measure of reality again.

    Here’s a good article on the issue:

    I suspect of the sub prime borrowers we have today, only a small fraction of them are truly responsible people who literally had NO choice but to get a subprime loan so they could provide a dwelling for their 30 plus kids. But for the most part I do think people always have a choice, and if they’re Christians then they DEFINITELY have a choice.

    • Lincoln,

      When we lived in Silicon Valley, our modest two-bedroom apartment cost nearly $2000 a month to rent. When we moved back to Ohio, we got a brand new three-bedroom apartment for half that. When we bought our house with all this acreage and such, it wasn’t much more than the three bedroom apartment.

      In other words, your renting logic makes no sense long term. You can’t leverage any principle built up by renting. That’s the foolish way to go.

      The answer is to move to a part of the country where the housing makes sense. I don’t believe a correction will help in those places where a modest home costs half a million. If the market corrects by twenty percent, you’re still looking at a $400,000 home—and most people still can’t afford a standard 30 yr fixed mortgage at that price.

      This is an economic justice issue—and the Church in America is utterly clueless when it comes to economic justice issues. Elsewhere in the world, especially the Third World, Christians are clued in to this problem and they band together. Here, it’s every man for himself. But that’s not the Gospel.

  5. I subscribed to Date-Dabitur.

    The city has problems. The country has problems. Suburbia has problems. We all have problems. I doubt the meth dealers are dealing all their drugs to country folks.

    The Chinese Church’s persecution leads to blessing and tragedy. Emma’s tour there doubtlessly will be exploited by the Communist propaganda machine. But God can use her for higher purposes.

    We should love, befriend, and meet needs without expectations. But why should we feel responsible for subprime mortgages that never should have been issued?

    I have heard rumblings in the industry about the strain broadband is putting on the Internet as a whole. You need not look far for complaints from industry insiders. The problem will worsen as more music, video, and entire movies stream online. Broadband is not too much of a problem if most of the Internet is text-based with graphic highlights. Web sites, though, even text-centric ones like blogs, like yours, are bloated with scripts, add-ons, widgets, template code, all of which require ever more and ever more bandwidth. You did a good thing by cutting out free riders mooching your blog’s pics and bandwidth. If all webmasters could show more competency, then bandwidth issues would not be as much of a problem.

    • Michael,

      You’re absolutely right about everyone having problems. It’s just that the problems vary in type from place to place, plus they vary for different reasons. I’m just trying to show that the country isn’t always idyllic, nor is it immune to the need for ministry. Poverty here is a big issue, as much or more than the country. I know a family so poor, they moved into an abandoned trailer they FOUND in the woods with no utilities because it was better than where they were living.

      The Church is responsible to people…period. Stupid people, crazy people, disabled people, unfortunate people. Christ didn’t handpick His favorites. Neither should we.

      South Korea kills the US in access to high-speed Internet and they seem to be doing fine. Ten years after it came out, I still can’t get DSL where I live even though I’m only three miles from the center of my town. Same for cable. The cable ends 800 feet from my house. How sad is that! When we moved in here, the cable company said they serviced our house. I asked them that three times and asked to have a supervisor confirm it because we were buying this house only if we had broadband access. Imagine my surprise when we moved in and I called to get us hooked up! Talk about scrambling to come up with a solution—my wife worked from home and needed broadband all day. Needless to say, Time Warner Cable won no prizes. Even today, though they signed an agreement to service my town out to the ends of its utilities, my house doesn’t get it though we’re the last house on the line.

      • I think the point is that few of us feel we should be obligated to take over others’ mortgage, car, rent, or credit card payments, even if those in need will default out of no fault of their own. We ought to welcome the poor and stranger into our homes, yes, but that is different from taking on the expenses of separate housing, which are redundant if we can welcome an individual or family into our own houses. I look at it more as an issue of needless expense when other options, though not savory, are available. Certainly, we all want a feeling of freedom, privacy, and independence…no one personally second-guessing our spending habits. That is why cash-payment welfare is so seductive when offered by the government.

        If you had to choose eating three square meals a day at a church-kitchen outreach, where you cannot independently decide when or what to eat, and where you have little privacy, surrounded by others; or food stamps, which allow you to buy what you want to eat when you want to eat it, which would you choose? Most people would choose food stamps. The church-kitchen outreach, though, is less expensive because food can be purchased and prepared on an economy of scale.

  6. Diane Roberts

    Is there anything you can do for us poor AOL folks? For some reason your blog has become super-sized bloated, and I think the font is like at point 100. It just is a pain to have to open up IE to see it. But your blog is so good I will go through the IE pain if necessary…LOL.

    • Diane,

      I absolutely cannot reproduce your problem. I’ve looked at it on IE and Firefox, plus from outside computers and it always looks fine. I suspect something ain’t right with your browser setting.

      Why not switch to Firefox. It’s significantly better than IE and offers all sorts of great plugins that do a million little tasks. It works with AOL, too, from what I understand.

  7. Gaddabout

    My random responses:

    – Lincoln, move to Phoenix and call me. I can hook you up with a new home, free landscaping, and a 30-minute or less commute to downtown Phoenix for less than $220,000. In some cases I can get you up to 2,000 square feet. There’s a mini-ranch in Queen Creek asking 165,000 for their 1.3 acres, 1,700 square foot home, and they’ll throw in a horse if you buy now. There are other affordable metro communities around the country, like Dallas. I think when more people realize quality of life can be found elsewhere in the country, a lot of these cities (save for the glamor sites like LA, SF, NY, Miami, etc.) will come back to earth.

    – Sub-prime lending fallout is not something the church can address until the fallout happens. Our churches shouldn’t be throwing money into already failed business deals. But they should be prepared to help people through rocky times. I’m a property manager, and I’m more than willing to deal with bankruptcy/foreclosure. If you don’t have a felony, give me a call and I’ll lease you a home for about 2/3rds less than your mortgage payment. Love helping fellow Christians get back on their feet that way!

    – If there was ever an economic model that proves the damaging effects of Reaganomics, California is it. The rich have won. They’ve even defeated the upper middle class. If you didn’t buy before 2004 and you don’t make a healthy six figures, you might as well move eastward now. Salaries are competitive in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Arizona, but the price of land is dramatically less expensive.

    – If you think China is tough on believers, imagine life as a believer in Turkey. Or Lebanon. Or the Gaza Strip. That’s faith, bro. That’s unbelievable faith.

    – Gas was over $4 in San Francisco. What I don’t get is SF is not only a port of entry for oil, but there are dozens of refineries within 150 miles. Clearly, supply is no longer a major factor in local price settings, but demand and the ability to pay is. SF has one of the best public transportation systems in the world, but they are experiencing difficulties because demand has exponentially increased the last 2 years. This country would be so much better if there were a federal transportation infrastructure like the post-Depression days. Let’s rebuild the train network like we built public roads and highways. Let’s commit to communal transportation. Let’s commit to rejoining the human race instead of the alienation that is private automotive commuting. Who knows? People might actually read a newspaper again and discover a world beyond their own suburban fence.

    – What are physicist attempting to prove with observing the Higgs boson? At the heart of matter is matter? Ahhhh … but the Higgs field in empty space always takes on a non-zero value that permeates the entire universe. So … it seems to me at the heart of matter is an idea, one which we are not capable of imagining or recreating ourselves even if we can observe it.

    • Gaddabout,

      We had some friends looking for houses about fifty miles outside Houston and I could not believe how much house $100K bought. The same house would cost $800K or more in the Bay Area.

      We joked with friends in Silicon Valley that we bought a $4.5 million house. Not much of a joke, though. The land alone would have cost that much in the Valley. Here, it’s literally pennies on the dollar in comparison.

      I hear you on public transportation. However, as one who lives outside a city that has been flirting with a local, regional, and statewide light/medium rail system for the last twenty years, all the graft and me-too’ism tacked onto these projects makes them impossible to build. When the proponents start talking in billions of dollars, people’s eyes glaze over. If we had a Carnegie or Mellon involved like they were long ago, that same system would be done in half the time and a quarter the cost or else the funders would have someone’s head. Today, this laissez-faire attitude toward the public’s money just slays me.

  8. @Dan: I agree that part of the solution is the get the HECK out of Dodge. But I also think it’s obvious that if you have the choice between paying $1200 for a decent apartment and $3000 for a mortgage, I think I’ll go with the renting. It would be patently silly to rent for $1200 when you can buy a home for say, a $1500 mortgage (at a FIXED rate), but in markets like Californicate, that’s a little hard to come by. 🙂

    @Gaddabout: Ooooooo, sounds tempting! But I’ve always been more of a Rock Mountain man. At least I THINK I am. Ironically enough, even within states that have unusually high real estate prices, there are pocket areas where the housing is actually borderline reasonable. I just had the misfortune of being born and stuck in a area that’s like a veritable blackhole. Yuck.

    • Lincoln,

      The taxes alone kill you in CA. You at least have some shelter with a home. We paid more in CA state taxes than we did Federal. That’s insane.

      Glad we got out of CA. Even gladder we got out before the electrical power nonsense.

  9. @Dan: BTW, are you referring to the Kings Widgets plugin? I’ve been using that as well because it allowed me to place PHP and javascript code within widgets without having to edit the sidebar template. If this is the issue you’re having, maybe using the PHPExec plugin could provide a temporary solution since it’s designed to execute any php string it finds in a page, even I presume those found in plain text widgets.

    Sad thing though, by the time the plugin developer gets around to updating, the WP boys will have already released 2.3, and this vicious cycle starts up all over again.

    MT4 looks promising however…. 😀

    • Lincoln,


      What kills me is that I had a lot of hand-tweaked code in those Kings Widgets and now I have no way to extract it since I can’t even load the widgets.

      I don’t understand why the author of those Widgets hasn’t done anything to fix them. He commented several weeks ago about WordPress 2.2 as if nothing had changed and that everything still worked. But his widgets require being loaded from the same directory as the widget.php file, which has now been moved. WP 2.2 broke into a million pieces until I disabled all my Kings widgets, funny since the WP folks wrote 2.2 so it supposedly wouldn’t die a horrible death if a plugin went awry.

      I would think this would be a simple fix, so I don’t know what the issue is. He’s always been on top of things in the past. He’s still blogging, so I don’t know what’s up. He seemed to be truly proud of his Widget collection—and impressive one, for sure. In fact, I went with powering my blog with those widget because he seemed to be truly on top of changes and updates.

      Oh well.

    • Lincoln,

      As to your MT 4 comment, the licensing plan is just dumb. You run something as small as Google AdSense and that makes your site commercial, subject to commercial licensing. Cerulean Sanctum isn’t a commercial site, but my other ones are. I can’t see paying SixApart for all those sites, nor do I want to have some sites running WP and some MT. I don’t have all day to Webmaster my sites.

      Let’s face it: all the blogging software out there stinks. Most software stinks. And though I may have worked there at one point, I still must say that one company gets it. They know how to write intuitive software for humans, while packing in capabilities.

      That’s Apple.

      I keep hoping they’ll come out with cross-platform blogging software. Now THAT’S software I’ll spring for. Apple would do it right. Everyone else is just posing.

  10. @Dan: I’ve hand coded the theme as well as some of the plugins myself, though I was set on upgrading to 2.1 once the developer of the theme I was using released an update to remove any incompatibility issues, just in time to see WP release 2.2 of course. That’s when I gave up.

    During the brief time I upgraded to 2.1 I noticed no speed difference or improvement, so I’m not convinced at all for the need to upgrade. Yes there are some plugins that won’t work unless you’re using 2.1, but either I really didn’t need them, or I found alternative plugins that work just as well. I have over 75 plugins installed and they all play together nicely using my current version. That’s a flipping miracle, and as long as WP continues to maintain security updates (like they promised) for 2.0.X, I’ll be happy.

    I COMPLETELY forgot about MT’s commercial licensing though. Lame. Guess it’s out with them.

    Your comment about Apple reminded me of a desktop blogging software that made blogging fun all over again. It was cross platform, user friendly, fast, powerful, and included a plugin system where the sky’s the limit. Made by Microsoft. :-O I never would have thought it possible either.

    It does seem like we need a new face that knows how to develop a blogging platform the RIGHT way. 😀

  11. Dan, isn’t it obvious what’s going on?

    I think George Orwell said something like “The hardest thing to see is what’s right before your eyes.”

    The signs are everywhere and accumulating: This country is getting divinely whacked, harder and harder with each passing year.

    For example, how does one explain the buffoonery in Washington? Its pretentious careerist phonies? Dan, read the prophets: one of the ways that God starts to bring judgement on a nation is first to reduce that country’s leadership to being fools.

    Another example: How can a nation have the most powerful military ever to have existed in human history but yet cannot defeat a ragtag bunch of disorganized goat herders who are stuck in the 7th Century?

    Dan, it’s going to finally reach a cataclysmic meltdown of some kind here. And I’m not even guaranteed that I will be alive to survive it.

    As you know, the evangelical church in America is in “deep kimchee”, and it won’t know what hit it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *