Archived news items from January 2001
Since this is old news, some links may be broken.
news from February 2001
My car's still not inspected because I hadn't had a chance to ever fix the running light that was stopping the inspection before. So today I decided to leave school five minutes early so you can beat the traffic and get down to Bluebonnet Auto Repair (in south Austin, over 25 miles away) before they close.
So, on my way out on the road in front of the school, I was pulled over by a motorcycle cop for "speeding" and then was also cited for having an expired inspection sticker.
The word irony comes to mind.
The bright side is that after the cop let me go I did make it to Bluebonnet in time. They're going to get the light fixed and may also fix whatever's causing the leaking oil. I've got a loaner car, a red two-door 1987 Toyota Celica GT automatic. It has cruise control and a tape deck. :)
The cop said that if I told the judge my inspection story I might get that taken off. I'm actually considering contesting the speeding as well. I didn't look at my speedometer at any point, so I don't know how fast I was going, but it didn't seem that fast and I was the only car on the road, so it's not like there was any other traffic to judge my speed against.
So we'll see. Now I'm going to sit down and try to read The Little Prince, which a student let me borrow.
I've had some throat crud all this past week. It's not been a bad as the allergies and such some are dealing with, but I still drank (literally) gallons of fluids and tried to sleep as much as possible. (Which unfortunately wasn't very much.) I've feeling a lot better now, though still not 100%.
Tuesday I got to have early dinner with a prayer "guru" friend of mine and bend his ear about starting a prayer ministry. I don't think I'd talked to him in person since college, and hadn't hardly seen him at all since Rez Week a few years ago. He had some good suggestions, and so I think I'm beginning to formulate a plan of attack. I'm stopping the early morning prayer times at the church for the time being, though I hope to bring them back when the church is more ready.
Friday I got to see LHS's musical this year, Brigadoon. It was excellent and quite a production. Between the actors, the singing "extras", the crew and the pit orchestra, I have over a third of the kids in it. The lead actress was battling laryngitis, but sang beautifully anyway.
My brother Paul and his sometimes-fiancèe spent the weekend in Austin. Paul stayed with me, though we didn't get a chance to do much, since he didn't make it to my apartment until 10:30 Saturday night. We did get to eat at Chuy's and make a late-night Krispy Kreme run. It was good to see him.
Sunday night was interesting. A friend of our drummer invited the Lakeline worship band to play at a "singspiration" at his church. He'd asked us months ago, and worship-leader Bob agreed, but with some misgivings since our band's never played "on the road". Then about a month ago, Bob learned he'd be out of town this weekend and so couldn't do it. So the drummer's friend asked me if I could lead the band. I misunderstood and agreed, though I thought I was agreeing to something else. He reported to Bob that I would handle it, so Bob forgot about it. A week ago, I found out I was expected to lead, right about the time I found out my brother was going to be in town.
I really wanted to back out, since it was effectively only a week's notice, but they had already advertised the event and were expecting a band. So since I'd sort-of agreed anyway, I decided I'd do it and get Paul to sing with us.
The next day, we realize that the service (from 6-7:30) is going to conflict with the Super Bowl party at Lakeline. Of course, they knew that now, but hadn't when they'd set the date months ago, and it was too late to move it to a better date.
To top it off, I worried that the whole event wasn't incredibly organized. I began to wonder if more than five people would show up. But I'd agreed, and God wasn't letting me weasel out of it. At this point, it was just an obedience thing.
So, we couldn't schedule a rehearsal on such short notice, so I just picked out two sets of songs (ten total) and gave the lists to everybody after church Sunday. We met at Lakeline at 4:30 to gather up our equipment and carpool down there. We got to the church and got set up, though by the time we had everything hooked up it was ten 'til six. We got a sound check of one song and played one verse and chorus of another.
To make a long story less long, about fifty people showed up. We played our first set pretty well for not having practiced at all. Of course, our luck continued in that their computer was having trouble, so our Power Point presentation with the lyrics on it wasn't available.
After we played, maybe ten different people got up to sing various songs to background tapes, read poetry, give their testimony and what have you. It was fairly typical fare from such things, but not bad stuff. And glorifying to God even if it was a bit "old school", which is the important part. God certainly doesn't want every church to be like Lakeline any more than humans want all their body parts to be ears.
Then we got back up to do our second set. After some exhortation from the pastor and now with a working lyrics display, the crowd got into it a little more. This set went better, and by this time Bob had showed up to lend moral support (and incidentally fix a loose microphone clip that was plaguing me).
After all was said and done, it was a fun time. We'd brought some CDs and sold about eight of those, and got many compliments from all present. And of course, we got back to Lakeline to return the equipment we'd borrowed to watch the last five minutes of the game and discover that it'd been a bad superbowl to boot. And I got to take home leftovers!
Just goes to show you that God honors obedience.
For those keeping score at home, I got my hair cut on Saturday. If my calculations are correct, that was the first time since mid-November, which explains why it was so shaggy.
Okay, now that I'm caught up on sleep, laundry, and groceries (in that order), the weekend's events can be recounted.
We left for Aubrey at about 7:30 Friday morning. Rode in the bus for a while and arrived at our hotel (in Denton) just after 1. The rooms weren't ready yet, so we went to eat a late lunch and then checked in. We had about ten minutes after checking in to change into our nice speech clothes and leave for the high school (which was about 45 minutes away).
Got checked in at the school, got name tags, and we had a big meeting to welcome everyone. Then students went off to write the essay. An hour later, speeches and interviews began. We spent a few hours waiting for our turn, and then the kids were done with those about nine-thirty. Back to the hotel, where we crashed.
In the morning we were on the bus, having packed and checked out, by 7:30. Back to the high school. Another morning meeting and then the testing began at 8:30. Math, then science. A half hour break. Economics, then music. An hour for lunch. Then language and literature, art, and finally social science (the written super-quiz topic). Then another half-hour break and the public super-quiz relay. An hour to clean up our team rooms at the high school, and then the awards ceremony. Our team's score was lowest of the five schools in our region. However, we were missing a person. Even a mediocre score from one more person would have put us in second place. The kids did get several medals (about twenty, if I remember correctly) in every event except speech and interview.
We left for home about 8:30, stopped in Fort Worth to eat at Golden Corral, and then drove back. The bus ride back (though everyone was tired) was a lot more fun than the more nervous ride up. In a moment of weakness I managed to convince three of my students to come to Lakeline the following morning for the 11:00 service.
We got back to our own high school just before 2am to find that one of my former students, a former AcaDec-er and former foster sibling of one of our current AcaDec-ers had been killed in a car wreck just hours before. He was a senior, and in ROTC. He will be missed.
I finally got home and to bed around 3.
The alarm went off at 6:15 the next morning. I got up around 6:30, showered but didn't eat (I was still full from Golden Corral, actually), and got to church around 7:45. We were kicking off a new series - Reconstructing Your Self-Worth. It was, quite possibly, the best service I've ever attended in any church my whole life. Goodness, it was INCREDIBLE. God presence was strongly there.
My students did make it to the second service, as they'd promised. Two of them hadn't been to church in at least five years. They were amazed by how relevant everything was and are planning to come back next week. One of them wasn't even planning to stay. He'd come up just to tell the others that since he'd forgotten his work clothes he wouldn't be there. But the service started before he could leave and within five minutes he was hooked. He stayed the whole time even though we went ten minutes over.
So afterward I gave the remaining two students the grand tour of the place, and then went home. I still didn't eat anything and lied down for what turned into a five-hour nap. It was nice. It was still with some effort, though, that I got up at 7, and tried to do some laundry. Of course, the laundry room in the apartment complex was "closed for repairs" though it looks like it's really only the coke machine in there that's being repaired. So I threw my clothes in my car and took off to look for a laundromat.
It would seem that in affluent northwest Austin, laundromats are few and far between. I drove through every little shopping center all the way north to the high school to no avail. I stopped off at the high school to see how the sub had left things, and then went a little father north and then all the way back down to my apartment. Still no luck.
So, I ventured south, and jaunted off the highway on Pond Springs road, a few miles down which I finally found a Kwik Wash. Of course, it was nearly 9 o'clock at this point, so I just checked their hours (8-11) and prices ($1.00 each to wash and dry) and headed for home.
At this point, I ate a little dinner, changed out the litter in the cats' litter box, and did a little reading. I went to bed (again) at about 11:30, where I, as they say, slept until the next morning.
Today was a pretty typical day at school, and I felt fairly caught up on sleep. The "unchurched" students who'd gone to Lakeline were still fairly glowing about how good everything had been. That's a sign you're doing something right as a church, I guess.
So this evening I actually did my laundry at the laundromat my reconnaissance uncovered last night and read several chapters in Partners In Prayer, which I'm almost done with. Then I came home and put everything away and was off again to get a week's worth of groceries. Came home and put those away, and decided it was about time to catch up on the web page. Which I have.
Well, the winter weather advisory has been lifted, so it looks like we'll be off to Aubrey, TX (near Denton) to compete in the regional competition for Academic Decathlon. We leave in about two hours and it'll be at least a five-hour drive in the yellow school bus. We compete this evening and all day tomorrow, and should be getting back to Austin around 3:00 early Sunday morning.
It looks like our kids will be giving their speeches at almost exactly the same time the new president is giving his.
In other sleep-loss news, yesterday I was groggy enough to accidentally pour orange juice into my cereal bowl instead of milk.
It's amazing how a day can start off badly but improve so much. Since today is MLK day, we were off from school. I slept in (until 8:15). Just as I was making breakfast, I suddenly remembered we had an AcaDec study session planned at school from 9 to noon. Of course, if I'd intended on having to be at school at 9, I'd have woken up an hour earlier, but of course it was too late for that. So I finished breakfast, took a quick shower, and sped off. The good news was that traffic was sparse and I hit mostly green lights, so I ended up getting to school about 9:15, far less than an hour late.
The study session went well; we mostly learned about economics.
Of course, before I left for school, I also remembered (while in the shower, I think) that I'm supposed to be up at the church to pray at 6:30 on Monday mornings. Meaning I really overslept not just an hour but more than three. I pretty consistently forget to get up for that when I'm not in my normal routine, so it wasn't surprising but a bummer nonetheless.
I came home and cleaned my kitchen and bathroom. I also opened up my machine and finally put in the new 20G hard drive I'd gotten for Christmas. I pulled out the drive that had been acting flaky and also took out the floppy drive, which apparently hasn't worked for months.
I also make a backup CD of my important files about twice a year. So the past several days I've been downloading well over a hundred megabytes of patches and such so I have the latest copies of everything to burn on the CD. I recently registered my copy of TextPad again, since they have gone to version 4 and my license was no longer valid (only a $10 upgrade, though, and well worth it for an excellent text editor). Once they mail me my updated license, then I'll burn the CD and feel safe for another six months or so.
I'm feeling in normal health again; things cleared up the beginning of last week.
I also had the opportunity this weekend to lead worship at North Hills Community Church. They are a new church, and are about where Lakeline was three years ago. Their worship leader wanted a week off, so the pastor asked me if I would fill in. It was fun. About thirty adults in the service and they were still meeting in an elementary school. The message was good and the people were friendly. If you live in the area I'd recommend checking it out.
Not much else to report from the last week. Classes went pretty much as normal, though we did have some problems with the network Wednesday morning which turned out to be just a bad cable in my room. Also, the powers that be upgraded the classroom server for the high school, but decided to start on Thursday evening, so it wasn't even working by the end of the day on Friday. Of course, things rarely get working as quickly as they think, so the teachers that depend on it had made alternate plans.
Looks like the changes made to the "jukebox" were successful; we didn't heard the same song twice all week.
I've been slowly getting better over the past several days. I've still got some throat crud bothering me, but I took a nice, long nap this afternoon and plan to get to bed early, so hopefully that will help.
I led worship this morning because Bob has been out of town this week visiting family and such (since he didn't get to take any of Christmas off). Things went quite well, and it's always fun to be able to pick out my favorite songs.
It's still too early to tell if the "don't play the same song twice" system is working perfectly, but things seem okay. Thursday morning (the first period it was deployed) I was explaining everything to my Computer Science II students, and they spotted an error! I had used ( 5 * 60 * 60 ) to represent the number of seconds in five days, and several of them quickly pointed out that it should have been ( 5 * 24 * 60 * 60 ). So I edited the source and recompiled. I sure would have had a tough time figuring out why the songs were playing the next class day (since they'd only been blacklisted for five hours rather than five days) if they hadn't caught that. Consider this an plug for open-source software; it certainly reinforces the mantra "Given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow."
Yesterday was quite busy, socially. I had brunch with one friend and dinner with another, then went immediately from dinner to the wedding of another friend, and then left the reception early to get to a party for fellowship group leaders. I finally got home around 11:00. Of course, staying out late on Saturday night is something I try not to do if I'm going to be coherent to lead worship, but it didn't seem to affect me this morning. Of course, I was quite exhausted when I finally got home this afternoon, which explains the nap.
The wedding was awesome. Instead of an organist they had a live band, composed of their friends, playing all the music during the wedding. This included the bridal processional, where the groom stood in the front with a microphone, singing to her a song he'd written as she walked down. There was another song which was part of the prelude music/worship time at the beginning which had been co-written by the bride and groom. He is the lead singer/songwriter/front man for a band called Big Noise in America, and they play around Austin from time to time.
They wrote their own vows, which were incredible, personal, and reflected a commitment to put their relationship with God first and their relationship with each other second. I'm going to email the groom and see if I can get a copy of them because they were that good. All in all, it was quite glorifying to God (how many weddings have a worship time?) and generally a cool wedding. They passed out candles to the audience to hold for the first half or so and had the lights way down low.
At home I've been trying to put together the first photo album of my life. I've got some photos ranging back all the way to 1986 or so, when I bought a Polaroid Instant Camera, which cost me $20 and came with a package of 10 pictures. Replacement 10-packs of film were $10. Anyway, I've still had most of the photos in the little envelopes you get from the developers, so I'm trying to remember when they were taken, the names of people, and get them in roughly chronological order. I bought a photo album today, so now I've got something to put them in.
Today at school was much better. The kids were back today. We took it easy in class, gently returning to programming.
I took advantage of today being a rare weekday evening with no outside commitments, so I stayed after school until almost 8:30 programming. The good news is I think the whole "don't play the same song twice" system is finished and working. Of course, I won't know for sure until I've tested it for a week or so under a normal class load, but everything looks nice.
Now I just want to get a few more improvements to the playlist maker, and I can leave that alone for a little while. Of course, since I've now gotten my feet wet on using a real database and accessing it via C/C++ (and soon perl as well), I can start moving the kids' gradebook over to a real database, too.
I was pretty miserable at school today. Had a few meetings, and I just sat there sniffling and feeling cruddy. I got a fair amount of sleep last night, but it was in little 90-minute chunks, with ten minute rehydrating sessions between.
I did get more programming done, though. I finally read enough of the documentation and tutorials for mySQL and moved around library files to where the system expected them to be. So now I've actually got a little baby C++ program that can interface with a mySQL database. I'm about half an hour away from it being a finished daemon that monitors the "now playing" song and adds it to the database, together with a period and timestamp when a new song is played. Then I figure it'll take me about another hour or two to get the playlist-maker program to check the database first and not queue up a song if it's been played during that period recently. Of course, there are a few other things I'd like to fix about the playlist maker while I'm at it as well. So it looks like it won't be ready to go for class tomorrow, but probably by the beginning of next week.
Practice went well, considering I couldn't really sing. Now I'm going to not take Sudafed and try to get some sleep.
I did watch one more movie yesterday before I headed home: Lake Placid, which was much better than I expected it to be. A simple plot, but it was well-acted and had great dialogue.
I went to bed early last night because I'm feeling under the weather. Spent this morning doing errands and all day at school programming. Some students were there for a bit finishing late work and otherwise avoiding being at home. Big new thing for today is a little utility to display which song is currently playing. That ability will be useful combined with the what-period-it-is program to prevent repeats. I was going to actually get that functionality in the player today, but it didn't happen.
Probably will get to bed within the hour tonight. Tomorrow is a teacher workday at school.
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