For the last several days - getting close to 2 weeks - I've been working on a new project for my boss at A&P. He wanted me to learn SQL (database stuff) and Reporting Services (drawing data out of databases to make a nice report). Eventually I'm supposed to be a back-up and assistant to our full-time Reporting Services person (the field is called "Business Intelligence"). But the only exposure I've had to it were two 3-day classes.
So now, I'm diving in head first. It's so impressive what one can do with data - the software is amazing. It could be seen as straightforward as MS Word (and it almost is), but it is also as flexible as coding one's own program from scratch. The straightforwards stuff is what I've been picking up very quickly. However, as one might imagine, it is hard to make one's creativity turn into reality without knowing the coding language very well. But I'm learning.
And I'm getting ready to publish my first report. Actually, the report had already been created - I'm just reworking it. It was the best place for me to start so I didn't have the "blank page" staring back at me. (Someone had already worked the clay and I was just reshaping it a bit.) The report has to do with the progress my own department (IT dept) makes on Service Requests. The previous reports had us looking better than we really were doing. Some of it was that we were falling behind. Most of it was that we were lazy to let the database know when we started and ended work on a Service Request. Hopefully, we will "reset" the stats soon and get off to a fresh start.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Long ago, when I was, maybe, two years old.... I lived in Edina, MN with my parents and my older brother. There were lots of other families around us with kids a little older than me. Right next door to us was the Larson family. My earliest memories include members of their family in most cases. There was my first word (as I remember the story). I was sitting on the lawn with my mom and my mom's best friend, Sue Larson. We saw an airplane go by, and as I heard my elders talk about it and point, I spit out something that resembled "airplane". Another time, when I was 3, I was playing with my brother and his best friend, Mark Larson in the basement. Mark lifted an empty suitcase above his head. I, not wanting to get bashed on the head with it, took off running. I didn't keep my feet too well. I ended up falling into a desk and getting six stitches out of the ordeal. My brother reminds me of a phrase that we made popular in our youth, "Wanna make a bet with Mark Larson". I don't remember what it meant, but it must have been important. Of course I was babysat by Barb Larson (whom I met much later in my life - she had shrunk terribly. Probably the difference in perspective from a 5 yr. old to a 22 yr. old.) When my sister arrived from Korea, one of her good friends was the neighbor, Dawn Larson. But the story that I remember most fondly is about Mr. Larson. Ned. Choc. All I remember about the story is that I was eating chocolate ice cream at the Larson's house. Maybe my whole family was there, I don't remember, but at least the kids were there. And I asked Mr. Larson for some more in the way any 2 or 3 yr. old might. I just said "Choc". It stuck. From then on, I called him "Choc". I never intended to name him, but since then, he was Choc to me. My dad reminds me of this when we sometimes refer to him.
I never really knew him very well. He and his family moved away from Edina when I was still young. I haven't followed up with any kind of relationship. I only know about him because my mom and Sue still keep in touch.
But his passing leaves me in wonder and sadness. Because his story touched mine in a beautiful way - if only for a short time. And I remember the times of the innocence of childhood - when I was a child, when I was closer to innocence. It stirs up in me a strange desire to be back in the fairyland of childhood. (Two seconds of thought blast away the sappy, foggy emotionalism.) Yet I'm a little less because there is one less witness to my story; more than an eyewitness, a friend on my journey. Hopefully, I might have been a small, friendly face on his.
Rest in Peace, Choc. God will remember you at the end of all this toil, and may His mercy rule the day for all our sakes.
(image gratefully, if unwillingly, donated from http://galerievie.com)
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
One of the things that I appreciate about Mark Heard is the strength of his conviction in God. He drank, swore, and smoked - but he believed in God. He's been humiliated by a pastor during the intermission of his music set that the same pastor invited him to play - but he still believed in God. He knew his own frailty, his own faults, and the disillusionment with his dreams - but he still believed in God. He rarely went to church - but he still believed in God. He was an insider (one of the first) in Contemporary Christian Music, but was never really welcome there. As he said about himself "I'm too sacred for the sinners and the saints wish I would leave." His last handful of albums didn't directly address much about God, but they did very much so indirectly. He wanted to break out of the mold and be himself - to be true to himself. Some weren't comfortable with that style. Some (including Mark himself) weren't comfortable with the results. Yet he still believed.
He always seemed to have some confliction about himself, about people, and the world. Not so much as doubting, but it was more like strong emotions pulling on both sides of the 'tug-of-war' rope. One of his last songs seems to illustrate it best to me. I don't know really how he intended it - but he's either talking/arguing with himself or with the devil on his shoulder. He seems to both enjoy the action in the first of the lines and then mistrust it because it is fleeting or false or shallow by the time he gets to the second line. It's called Nothing But the Wind Listen
If you should see me stop and scan the hot sky
Don't let me - give me an alibi
If you should see me stoop to smell the rose
Don't let me - show me the thorns it grows
If you should hear me beckon long lost years
Don't let me - burn me with the salt of my tears
If you should hear me wish upon a star
Don't let me - show me the way things are
If you should feel me move toward the light
You'll shoot me down like a dead satellite
If you should feel me shake on feet of clay
You'll have me baptized in shades of gray.
I can hear nothing but the howling
Nothing but the wind
And it is covering up the tracks where I have been
A) I will say nothing but a whisper
Lash me to the mast
For it was nothing but
the ghost of innocence past
B) I will say nothing but a whisper
Paralyzed of voice
Haunted by nothing but
the ghost of Paradise lost.
B) I will say nothing but a whisper
Paralyzed of voice
Haunted by nothing but
the ghost of Paradise lost.
Friday, April 9, 2010
This morning on my FedEx route, I saw some wonderful things from my truck. Alas, I have no pictures, so I will describe them.
First, leaving the airport, I drove next to a small pond on the NW corner of the airport. Since it was chilly, there was a layer of fog on the lake since the water was warmer than the air. But it's shape was odd. The fog was level on the North side, but on the South it looked like great arms stretching out into the sky.
As I kept on driving (no stopping for pictures - even if I had a camera), I imagined that they were reaching out to the sun, for the sky was just beginning to show light and chase shadows.
By the time I got to my next stop at 1 General Mill Blvd, their lake only had fingers of fog pointing up at the sky. The sun was almost up.
My third stop was at 12001 Hwy 55 at the Honeywell building. The fingers had sunk back into their lake as the darkness had been vanquished for awhile (or "put to bed" for the non-violent).
It was fun to imagine the arms of the fog pull up the sun and get burned away by its light and heat.
Just a thought.
Anjali has not been in diapers for many blessed years. Mark, however, has been in diapers since he was born. As most boys his age, he's resisting the move to a more grown-up and responsible approach (not to mention, economical) approach. In my wisdom (haha), I proposed that we have some sort of party to celebrate Mark's ditching of the diapers (pushing him out of the nest so-to-speak). Mark came up with the name. It is a Pee-iesta. Not quite a Siesta, it's a specialized kind of Fiesta. Not many people are invited to help us hit the pinata and celebrate Mark's next step - into underpants. :) Maybe this big event will help him overcome his fears in this big transition. (We've got a padded seat and everything.)
That celebration will be coming up in the next week or so. Now, what should the pinata look like? Hmm... What is going to be inside?
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
In the last 15 or so years I've been convinced of the badness of taxes - especially high taxes. I've come to the conclusion that taxes and theft differ only in legality. Not liking theft, I also do not like taxes.
Taxes take from me what is rightfully mine. They do the same to you. I personally have not given assent to this one-way transaction, but am bullied into it by threat of violence or other coercive means. Truly, if taxes were not enforced in this manner - if they were merely optional - none would relinquish their monies. Ah, but the government needs the money more than I do, so they burgle it. They are mean bullies.
Democratic (Republic) governments elect their leaders by majority vote. And the majority imposes its will on everyone. Would the rights of the minority be trampled on by the majority? Yes, of course. It happens all the time. Freedoms, property are like fruit for the majority. A Monarchy which loved freedom for the people would be better than any Democracy that took freedom from the people.
Alas, this is all too political. I simply want to have so little to do with the government that it would seem like they didn't exist. For as one revolutionary said "In our present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem." I would paint with a broader brush.
This makes me angry when I think how much money I'll be 'giving' next week to the IRS.
(image from http://etc.usf.edu)
This is inexcusable.
It's a couple days after Easter. I didn't write anything about Easter, except some thoughts on Jesus death.
What was Jesus' body like after Easter? after he had risen from death? (I don't think that it's helpful to distinguish it from of the other 'raised from the dead' stories just here, but maybe another time.) The one thing thing that I've heard that really distinguishes it (besides immortality) is the walking through walls. The Easter body is able to walk through walls. Don't anticipate much privacy in heaven.
I'm not sure, however, that such abilities would be normal for the most Resurrected bodies. Jesus was able to walk on water while have the same kind of body that we all have now - and that isn't normal human behavior. He cast out demons, healed the sick, multiplied tasty treats, but this is outside the bounds of everyday expectation. If Jesus demonstrated these rare abilities before his death, why wouldn't it be fair to assume that the abilities He had after His death were also fairly unique to Him?
Another thought: I woke up Easter morning wanting to hear a Sandi Patti song. I looked through my whole Sandi Patti CD collection (2) and couldn't find what I was looking for. So I found it on Youtube here. I suspect I shall not have another Sandi Patti 'yearning' for quite some time. But the song is an interesting one - pretty much all questions (like my favorite from M. Card) "Did the grass sing? Did the earth rejoice to feel you again?" I haven't heard the grass sing, but if it sang then, I hope the grass remembers how.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July--
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear--
Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream--
Lingering in the golden gleam--
Life, what is it but a dream?
(picture is of Alice P [Liddell] Hargreaves
swiped from Wikipedia.com)
Monday, April 5, 2010
In case you care... my Baseball predictions for 2010.
American League Division Winners
East: NY Yankees 95-67
Central: Minnesota 91-71
West: Texas 88-74
Wild Card: Tampa Bay: 88-74
National League Division Winners
East: Philadelphia 94-68
Central: St. Louis 98-64
West: LA Dodgers 90-72
Wild Card: Houston: 92-70
AL Champions: Minnesota
NL Champtions: St. Louis
World Series Champions: Minnesota
I'm a sucker for the home-town team. The Twins have really improved their team over the off-season. We'll see how we fill the gap left by Nathan's injury, but I've never really given Nathan as much credit as he's probably due. Maybe we'll be OK there.
Maybe it's just that I would like a positive return on the extra tax that I pay for the Twins Stadium. If I can hate the tax, then I want to be able to feel less bad about it. Go Twins.
Concerning picking sports games winners and losers, I didn't do so well in picking the March Madness teams. Oh well. Where there is life, there is hope. Glad I'm not so confident that I place bets on these things.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Today is the day before Easter. Long ago, this same weekend (roughly), Jesus was dead.
It is an unpleasant thought for me. If God were to die . . . simply unthinkable. For the disciples and followers and family members; their hope was in his understanding of the world - their hope was in Him. For Him to be dead must have been terribly disillusioning and frightful to them.
Some people believe that Jesus didn't die that day on the cross - and with good reason. "Today, you will be with me in paradise." For me, this is the only reason, and all other Biblical evidence points towards Jesus dying like all other people dying. And then they are dead - Jesus was dead - like all people* will be dead. It is sad. He didn't have to die. The script shouldn't have been so mean - but He played the part and took the blows and stripes.
Is it comforting to believe that Jesus didn't die? that he went to Paradise (and that we will too when our time comes)? that he descended into hell to set the captives free (IPeter3)? I'm inclined to think that that is "figure of speech" stuff. If death does not mean really dead, then what does resurrection do to someone who is not really dead? What happens to those who have "died in Christ"? (as Paul adresses in IThess) If Jesus didn't stop existing in death, then death is very counter-intuitive to me. It's pretty much what I think will happen to all of us - we die and cease to exist - to be resurrected when Christ returns. (How could we rise to meet Him in the sky if we are already in Heaven?)
It's kinda scary to think that one day I'll not exist. There was a long time before I existed and people seemed to do just fine (all things considered). Maybe people will miss me. Maybe it'll be OK. I just hope God remembers me when the time comes.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
A news story has been capturing headlines recently about a 15-yr old girl who hung herself. Evidently, the girl had been tormented by some of her classmates. The school officials are justifying their actions or inactions. The picture is a response written by someone who had an opinion about the events.
It reminds me of a story I read more than 10 years ago - a short story - that still shapes my thoughts on raising my kids. It is called "The Playground". (You can read it free online from the link). In the story, the playground is the pit of bullying, where children go through some heinous and brutal initiation into socialization with other children. The 'hero', Charles Underhill, keeps his young boy from the playground as long as possible - despite the protests of friends and relatives who see this as a valuable and necessary experience. But he is sensitive, and so is his son, and Charles doesn't want his son to get hurt. In the end, Charles somehow saves his son from this tormet, but you'll have to read the book to find out how. (It's a mere 20 pages).
The way that people have been raised as children, and thus have raised their own children in similar ways . . . . Inasmuch as I have been raised, in some ways, in the playground, I want something different for my kids. Will this be helping them or hurting them in the long run? or the short run? Choosing to home-school my children is in no small way a response to my thoughts about these things. Whenever I talk to non-homeschooler adults about homeschooling my children, they inevitably ask about how they get socialized? Inside, I laugh and cringe at the same time.