(another communion meditation)

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s a new year.  This is the first Sunday of the new year, the third day into the year, and all of two thousand sixteen is bright and shiny.

So what?  Isn’t this the same way we saw last year, and the same way we’ll see next year?  In Ecclesiastes 1:9, Solomon says

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.

But that isn’t the end of everything.  Lamentations 3:22-23 says

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

So is everything changing every day?  Yes and no. James 1:17 says

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

So things do change – we get gifts, perfect ones, from God, and He doesn’t change.  And what is the best gift?  Something new, of course.  1 Corinthians 11:23-26 says

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper He also took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Let’s pray.

Lord, in Your wisdom you made the earth to rotate around the sun, marking days and seasons and years. In Your wisdom, You made a way for us to change from darkness to light, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  And in Revelation, the One who sits on the throne says “Behold, I am making everything new.”  Thank You for Jesus’ perfect life and atoning death.  Thank You for our new life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I didn’t do this because it’s a new year – they just happen to coincide.

I won’t mention names, but several of my parents donated some liquid funds to my account at Christmas.  Thank you, unnamed parents!

That, and a little bit of recognition money from work allowed me to browse the SSD recommendation page of my never-met friend and technical adviser Dave Farquhar.  I ordered through his links, splashing him a bit of the money that Amazon collected.

The drive came in on the last day of the year.  I let it warm up overnight (winter finally arrived – we’re in for a swing of freezing nights) and dropped it in today.

I had downloaded the Windows 10 disk image and installed it straight to the new drive.  You will need the old license key (I got mine in Cleveland) to activate it.

It went smooth.  I had worked on my church’s new Win10 computers, and I use Classic Shell, and I turned off a lot of Microsoft’s telemetry.

Downloaded a lot of programs fresh, and I know I still have some setup to do.  Overall, a nice way to spend a few hours – and get Microsoft to quit bugging me about upgrading.  That wasn’t the only reason, but now I don’t have to deal with the nags anymore.  Caving in?  Practicality?  You decide.

My communion meditation for November 22, 2015.

I was in a city I hadn’t been to in a long time, walking along a sidewalk, when I saw a sign.  It had been put up by the city fathers, and seemed like it would have good advice.  I read the sign and followed the advice.  It said “DON’T WALK”, and I didn’t walk.  That saved me from a lot of harm and pain.

In I Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul says

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

That’s what we are doing now as we celebrate communion.  The Heavenly Father put up the sign.  We read it, and we are following the instructions.  And unlike the traffic light, these instructions never change.  Let’s pray.

Lord, you have made it so simple for us – see the sign, do the sign.  Hear the message, do the message.  And yet without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, without the Holy Spirit’s power, we couldn’t do this at all.  Thank you for the reminder, for the call to remember.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Ice cream is good.  Ice cream in itself is not sinful – it can be a blessing.  But not always.

Let’s look at three different reactions to wanting a bowl of ice cream

One friend tells you “I want a bowl of ice cream, but I’m going to a birthday party tomorrow.”  You think to yourself, “Fifty-fifty chance they’re having ice cream tonight, maybe sixty-forty.”

Another friend tells you “I want a bowl of ice cream.  However, I’m trying to lose ten pounds for the holidays.”  You recognize there’s different motivation, and think there’s a decent chance your friend will go without ice cream.

A third friend tells you “I want a bowl of ice cream.  Nevertheless, I’m diabetic, and I ran out of the medication, and I don’t want to die.”  There’s motivation, and conviction, and strong willpower. No ice cream for that friend.  No way.

But.    However.    Nevertheless.   Three words, all in the same group, with different intensities.

Jesus, on the night before He was crucified, had a talk with His Father.  In Mark 14:36, He prays, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Abba means Daddy – that’s very intimate.  The cup is not a glass, not the wine from the Last Supper – it is the cup of pain, suffering, and dying on the cross.  Nevertheless means that God the Father makes the decision.  Jesus carries it out.

And that’s what we’re celebrating here – the grape juice that symbolizes Jesus’ blood, the wafer that symbolizes His body.  Because regardless of what Jesus wanted, He did what He had to. All who have said “The world pulls me.  Nevertheless, I choose Jesus” are invited to partake.  Let’s pray.

Father God, the pull of ice cream, the pull of the world is strong.  You are stronger.  Thank you for the Holy Spirit strengthening Jesus, and us, in times of testing.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Friday morning.  Working at home, starting late.  Great morning for some French toast in a cast-iron skillet.

And what better to top it off than real New York maple syrup?  Thanks, Dick Atwood!

IMG_20150717_102955524

(and also thanks to Mom and Dad for providing the light amber goodness)

Solid state drives (SSDs) are a blessing and a curse.  So fast – so quick – so quickly filled.

Though it’s getting better, SSDs used to be microscopically tiny.  Compared to spinning rust hard drives, these things were gnats.  You can buy a desktop hard drive, size 8T, for $260 delivered.  I remember when used hard drives – used, as in been through the wringer and then taken out when something else died – cost a dollar a megabyte.  That would make the cost of this drive – if it had existed back then – $8,000,000.00.  Eight million bucks.

Of course, I have copies of PC Magazine where you can buy 10M hard drives (to turn your PC into an XT!!).  But that’s not where this ramble is going.

If I remember right, I started talking about the relative difference in drive sizes, hard drives vs. SSDs.  Those SSDs are coming down in price, just like spinning hard drives did.  Mine was purchased to maximize space at a price point – I had a dollar limit, and was able to get 128G of silicon goodness.

It filled up this week.

As Dave Ramsey says, Christmas is not an emergency.  I could have seen this coming from a long ways back.  I didn’t look – bad on me.

I deleted some big downloads, looked for and deleted some big files (using the Everything tool, looking for *, sorted by size).  Still not enough.  Look around at some tools, and found PatchCleaner.

As the PatchCleaner site says, Microsoft can leave gigabytes of unused junk in hidden folder c:\Windows\Installer.  PatchCleaner will see what is safe to remove and offers you the option to move it somewhere else (to the spinning disk where you keep your pictures and music, perhaps?) or to delete them altogether.  I used it, deleted the orphaned files it found, and was able to free up X gigabytes of SSD space.  X is unknown (or rather, unremembered).  Probably 10G to 15G.  I had deleted some other things manually, and have 20G open, when I was down to single-digit megabytes before-hand.

Recommended.  Download it, run it, and decide whether you want to copy off what it finds, or delete the extra, unused junk.  Either way, you will probably have acres more of sweet silicon emptiness, waiting on your cat videos.

There’s an old joke about the early days of aviation.  A pilot took his plane over to Africa and convinced a tribal chief to take a ride.  They saw the village, the lake, the paths through the jungle.  The pilot kept going on about how marvelous the airplane was.  He turned to the chief and said “This airplane – aren’t you amazed at it?”  The chief answered “Not really – isn’t this what it’s supposed to do?”.

And so we come to Lollipop, Android 5.1.

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Google has a new tool called Inbox.  It sits on top of your Gmail account, lets you see your mail in a different way, and offers different tools.

As my friend (whom I have never met) Dave Farquhar says, “You’re either going to read the next sentence or you aren’t.

There are advantages to Inbox.  One of the subtle ones is that this is a new product from Google.  It’s where all the kids want to go play.  Old apps from Google have a tendency, like old toys, to be left behind and discarded.  Inbox also bundles similar emails, displays pictures and details within the app (instead of within the email), letting you open attachments directly.  You can set reminders for yourself.  You can pin emails so they are visible.

There are disadvantages, also.  You can’t directly see starred emails that you had set up in Gmail.  yes, you can search for “in:starred” and see them.  Not the same as a one-click.  I guess the pinning replaces the functionality, but it doesn’t replace the stars you had in place.  Same for spam – no single-click, but rather “in:spam”.  I like going through my spam (not the content, just the headings) to see if Google places anything in the wrong place.  I see about one a month that’s falsely labeled spam.  I don’t want to miss that one.

Finally, the sticker, and the one thing that caused me to write this post.  Gmail allows you to paste pictures in-line.  Inbox requires you to attach pictures, so they have to be files.  Terrible for screen shots.  I want to copy (using my still-favorite Greenshot) and paste right now.  I don’t want to have to go through the steps of saving a file and then importing it.  I want frictionless pictures in email, and Inbox doesn’t (yet) have the ability.

Of course, Google is tweaking and updating their programs daily, so there’s hope.

Urban legends have become common-place  People understand what it means when you use the phrase. There are books written about urban legends, and a dialect has grown up around them.  There are themes and categories, people doing comparative analysis, and even lingo.  One of the neatest words is an acronym: FOAF.  The friend of a friend is a non-distinct, distant source of information.  You hear it, but wouldn’t want to act on it.

Or would you?  I know of someone who is travelling to a foreign country to teach for a while, and will be staying with the friend of a friend.  Gutsy – and trusting in God.

Tonight I am looking up a computer to recommend for a friend to buy.  I am going to use a site recommended by another friend.  The purchasing person is being helped by the recommending person – a friend of a friend – and that’s a good thing.

The site is Product Chart, and they will help you decide what’s important in laptops and smart phones, as well as smaller consumer electronics.  I don’t know if they have ads – I block ads with both AdBlock and AdBlock Plus, so if you are enticed to buy an ostrich pillow or a Ministry of Silly Walks watch, I’m sorry, but it’s on you (literally).

Have fun.

Well, not exactly.  But there is free storage.

Google will bump up your normal 15G that’s available with a Google account, adding two gig if you complete their Security Checkup by Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015.  If you use Google services (anything more than the search engine), this is a good thing.

First, you are protecting your online identity.  Not everything you do – this won’t help with last week’s Anthem breach or next week’s breach at a bank or a retailer.  This will help your Google identity stay secure.  The checkup is quick and easy.  You get to see which devices are tied to your Google ID (think Gmail address).  I detached an old cell phone, just to keep tidy.  You get to see what services have access to your information, and I knocked off one or two there.  You get to check where you last logged in to your account from, physically and from what device.  If you live in Nebraska and don’t have a cell phone, then an Android login from Nigeria is probably cause for alarm.

Second, you are picking up another 2 gigabytes of space on Google Drive.  Which is shared with Gmail and Picasa, and available for whatever suits your fancy.  You can put a lot of stuff in 2G – a couple thousand pictures, or five hundred songs, or about three movies, or squillions of emails.  Use it as you wish.

Finally, there is the increased sense of awareness that this brings.  As you are doing the checkup, you start thinking about the ways that the bad guys could use something useful, like your Google account.  I understand that Google is an ad sales company more than they are a search engine.  I know that they read my email (they store it, so they have to be able to read it).  I also enjoy the support I get from an ecosystem of digital services, and I’m willing to make the privacy trade-off with Google to get the benefit of all the Google products.  Knowing search terms and browser history across machines is cool.  Something like WordLens

640px-WordLensDemo5Feb2012

is completely mindblowing when you see it running on your own phone instead of on somebody else’s video.

So I think Google is pretty cool (even inventing and making available the Go language).  I want to protect my investment with them, and to encourage others to do the same.

Regardless of your motivation – greed, higher purposes, or a utilitarian view of protecting your investment, do the Google security checkup.  You’ll thank me later.

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