Old News

Archived news items from April 2000
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Sunday, 23 Apr 2000 [21:41 CDT]

It's Easter Sunday. Things went excellently. We had a record attendance of 55, 131 and 114 in our three services, making for a total of 300 adults. The music went very well, and God was glorified. Plus I think there were a lot of people that were caught off guard since they didn't come expecting to find a church quite like ours. As Pastor Brian put it, they came expecting to hear some hymns and a sermon and didn't get either one.

Three services turned out to be especially grueling, since we were busy basically from 6:30 until after noon. Afterward, some folks from the church were throwing a barbecue, and I went to that and sat in the shade and rested. I went home several hours later and finished up The Purpose-Driven Church by Rick Warren, which is full of hints on how to build a church like Lakeline.

After more resting and reading for a couple of hours, I was inspired to clean up a bit, so I vacuumed and straightened. The place hasn't looked this tidy in months, I think.

Yesterday was also quite productive, as I was able to fix my car window, which had been stuck down for about a week. After getting the paneling off I saw immediately why it had been getting stuck down (there was a wheel out of its track in the rolling mechanism) but it took the help of a friend from church and his tools to figure out how to get the problem fixed.

And now I plan to read a little bit of I Corinthians and make a start on Mind Renewal In A Mindless Age by James Montgomery Boice, which was recommended to me by my grandfather. And then more blessed sleep. We all had Friday off from school and Monday too.

Tuesday, 18 Apr 2000 [22:43 CDT]

Well, preparations for Easter have kept me busy. It's turning into another one of those have-to-check-my-daytimer-to-see-if-I-can-go-to-the-restroom weeks.

Of course, I'm back from San Antonio. AcaDec nationals was cool. In the Speech Showcase I got to see twelve of the best high-school speakers in the nation. Some very good stuff, and it was reassuring to see that their speeches weren't much different than something our kids would do (though perhaps a bit more well-delivered...).

My computer science students have begun their End-Of-The-Year projects, which is the last big thing I have to grade. Another year is almost down the hatch.

Well, I'm going to get to bed early while I still can.

Thursday, 13 Apr 2000 [21:12 CDT]

It's palindrome time! It's yours and mine....

Today has been fiscally very interesting. I got my electric bill in the mail. I opened and was surprised to see that the bill was for -$46. That's right, a credit for $46. Now my electric bill is typically around sixty to sixty-five dollars a month, but my previous bill was for a month where I'd run my air conditioner a little more than usual. So I expected it to be higher but was fairly surprised when it was well over $100. I paid it, figuring that maybe I'd run the air conditioner more than I thought, and turned it off, relying almost solely on opening the windows at night to get the house to cool down and keeping the blinds closed during the day. It turns out this is really quite effective in maintaining a reasonable temperature in the house at this time of year.

Anyway, I called about the credit on my account, and with some effort the lady on the other end was able to determine that the meter-reader had made a subtraction error and had put down "1742" instead of "742" KWH. It was noticed apparently when my reading for this month was presumably lower than last month's, so they credited my account with $76. Which also means that this month's electric bill was merely slightly over $30, further proof that my open-air strategy has done some good.

Also, I finally got the last of my Musician's Friend return stuff handled. I'd purchased a wireless headset microphone back in November. It didn't work in our location, so they sent me a replacement. That one still didn't work, so I got my money back. That finally all fell into place today. Five months ain't bad, I guess....

With grades out of the way and no more grading to speak of until my kids' end-of-the-year projects are due on May 2, I finally had a chance to clean off my desk in here. It's not that I don't appreciate a clean house, it's just that something's got to give. I think I'll tackle the living room this weekend, as well as some of the things on my todo list.

Finally, I'm off to San Antonio tomorrow afternoon to watch the Academic Decathlon National competition. It's being held this year at Trinity University, so we are taking a few kids to watch Super Quiz and hear some speeches and such. Should be fun. I'm skipping out on the last two periods at school and doing the driving myself. Should be back well before midnight, assuming the old car holds up.

Had another power outage here Tuesday night, but I turned off the computer so there was no problem. Of course, my linux box at school bit the dust because we still don't have any backup power for it. Coming soon, I'm sure.

Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 [22:31 CDT]

Ha! The end of the six weeks takes its toll again. Several things of note since I last updated. I had friends in town this weekend. We got together Saturday afternoon for a barbecue and we had more meat than should be legal. There was excellent barbecue chicken, thick hamburgers, Earl Campbell's Hot Link (yes, I know, but the package says "Hot Link", too) and some deer sausage. Not to mention ranch-style beans and some fairly stout pico de gallo. I ate about two of everything and I think my body went into protein shock, because I felt pretty cruddy later that night and most of the next day.

While there we watched the first two-thirds of The Matrix, which I hadn't seen since it was in theaters, and the first half of Varsity Blues on mute. (It was muted because we were listening to music at the time, plus I was fixing one of my friend's computers for him. So I'm a bit sketchy on the plot of the movie, though those who had seen it before explained basically what was going on.)

Also, we rented Hands On A Hard Body, a documentary about a radio station contest originally out of Longview, Texas (very near my home town) where twenty contestants must keep one hand on a hard-body pickup truck at all times. The last contestant standing keeps the truck. It was quite funny, and the contestants were pretty much a cross-section of East Texas people, including a scary toothless redneck. I recommend seeing it if you can find it in at your local video store.

Of course, last week was the last of the six weeks, so I spent all Wednesday evening writing a six weeks exam. Of course, Thursday and Friday the students took the exam, and Saturday I was at the barbecue all day.

I was supposed to grade the exams Sunday evening, but spent a long time at school without getting much done. So last night I spent about five hours coding a utility to grade the exams for me (my previous grading utility can't handle a test where there is partial credit). And then another hour and a half actually grading the things.

And tonight was worship team practice as usual, but this was our first week with the two singers that came from the most recent group of auditions. They're good, but neither knew any of the songs we were going, so things took a little longer. Plus we were also looking at some of the Easter music. So I'm finally home with nothing more pressing on my calendar. Now it's about time to get some sleep for a change.

Sunday, 2 Apr 2000 [22:23 CDT]

Well, my machine is back down to less than one hour of uptime through no fault of its own. It had been up continuously for more than fifteen days. Of course, half an hour ago it was raining like crazy outside and we had a brief power outage. Funny, because that's the only thing that brings down my linux box at school, either.

I went to a lock-in with the youth from Lakeline, Friday night from 11pm until 7am. All the video games were on free play, and so played through several of the shooters that allow two-player cooperative and have real gun-shaped things you point at the screen. They were all pretty fun, but I have some complaints. Keep in mind that I'm used to playing first-person shooters on the computer like Unreal Tournament, Half Life, etc.

First, the games were short. Playing all the way through took only a scant ten minutes on a couple, up to thirty minutes for the longest (Lost World). Secondly, the aim was not extremely good. Especially in Lost World, where the aim was often wrong by as much as ten degrees. Thirdly, all the games had unlimited ammo. Though I understand this is a reasonable gameplay decision for a coin-based game, it tends to encourage a machine-gun approach. Especially in Area 51 , where you never even had to reload. So I played one brief game of Area 51 with a thirteen-year-old. Mostly he just pointed his gun generally at the screen and pulled the trigger as fast as he could, sweeping the barrel around semi-randomly. I guess such a plan was effective, because at the end of the rounds he'd have killed more than twice as many enemies as I had. Of course, my accuracy was 50-75% and his was 10-20%.

I guess from a paranoid media standpoint, if you're going to train kids to shoot replica weapons you might as well encourage a strategy that would expend all their ammunition in the first ten seconds and result in perhaps one wound.

Today we had our first Ministry 301 class at Lakeline, which combines spiritual gifts analysis with a personality profile and a look at your passions and experiences. The result is a pretty good picture of how God has wired you to serve. What we covered today is just the groundwork, with the real detail stuff getting covered in one-on-one counseling sessions, but it was good. My highest-ranking spiritual gifts: Faith, Wisdom, Discernment and Giving. My weakest non-gift areas: Evangelism and Hospitality. Also we decided that music is probably not really a spiritual gift but merely a God-given talent used to edify the church. It doesn't seem to onset at the moment of salvation.

The drama went well this morning, and now I can get some peaceful rest without worrying about it.

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