Monthly Archives: April 2013

How Many Billions Sold?

1999-hamburger

See that McDonald’s hamburger above? It is 14 years old. A Utah man bought it in 1999, stuck it in a coat pocket, and forgot about it. The dated receipt was with it. Now, 14 years later, it looks the same as when he bought it, except that the pickle has disintegrated. It has no mold, and no bad smell. I don’t know what to think of it.

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Sealing the Milk Jug

milk-jugIt takes a half-turn to seal the cap on a milk jug. Perhaps you’ve noticed.

A few years ago, Research & Development teams in the milk jug industry designed a cap that required a mere quarter-turn. A major technological breakthrough if there ever was one. Think of the bodily wear-and-tear that would be saved by such an innovation.

But it flopped. Consumers felt like it wasn’t sealing the jug tightly enough. They wanted to keep turning.

So this great new invention was discarded, and society returned to half-turn caps.

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It’s Okay to Say They All Look Alike

south-korea-beauty-pageant

A little controversy arose in South Korea over the Miss Korea beauty pageant. A photo collage of all of the contestants showed that they look eerily similar. This is credited to the South Korean infatuation with plastic surgery. South Korea has the world’s highest per capita rate of plastic surgery. Women use the same plastic surgeons to get the same procedures done to lips, noses, eyes, etc. And so they emerge looking very similar. As this photo shows. It’s almost creepy.

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The Red Pill, the Blue Pill, and the Cost of Discipleship

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This morning, Pastor Matt Kennedy pulled off perhaps the best movie-based sermon illustration I’ve ever heard. First of all: “Matt, you had me at ‘The Matrix.'”

Matt was preaching from Matthew 10, where Jesus warned the disciples about the cost of being a disciple–that there would be great opposition and persecution, and that “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” He was totally up-front with them about what lay ahead if they chose to follow him.

In “The Matrix,” Neo had been living in a fake world of harmony and peace and pleasure. Morpheus wanted to bring him into the real world–a world of danger, blood, discomfort, dirt, and constant struggle. Morpheus told Neo, “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back.” Take the blue pill, and return to the fake world of comfort. Take the red pill, and everything changes.

That’s what Jesus was telling the disciples: “This is your last chance. If you want out, do it now. You can go back to your villages and families and fishing vessels and way of life. Just realize that if you follow me down the rabbit hole, things will never be the same.”

Now, Matthew 10 will always remind me of the Matrix. And the Matrix will always remind me of the cost of discipleship. It’s hooked into my mind. I love stuff like that.

As if that wasn’t enough, during our Sermon Sequel time in which we discuss the sermon, Matt used another great illustration from “The 300.” Definitely a banner day at the intersection of Christianity and pop culture.

 

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Divide and Conquer, but Self-Divide and Decline

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I’m finishing a wonderful book called “A Short History of the World,” by Christopher Richard Lascelles (a real mouthful of a name). The book takes a whirlwind tour through history starting with the Big Bang. I wish I had read it when I was young, to give me a foundational overview of world history. It’s just 165 pages long, and imminently readable.

History is mostly the story of the rise and fall of civilizations. One thing that struck me was the number of great empires that began declining when they divided. After Alexander the Great died, the Greek empire was divided among five generals. The Mongol Empire was divided among Genghis Kahn’s four sons. The Roman empire divided in half. Charlemagne’s Frankish empire was divided among several descendants.

54333e8840b6b763896e6040983fafedIt made me think of the current secessionist movements in the United States, with various states wanting to withdraw and become their own country. If Texas pulled out of the US, or the northwest states, or other regions, would that begin the decline of the US as a world superpower? Probably. We could get along without the Dakotas, but if one state withdrew, other dominos would fall. And I seriously doubt we would go to war (as Lincoln did) against fellow citizens. Not today, with our emphasis on self-determination.

I remember hearing Sean Hannity talking to someone who wanted Texas to secede. Hannity concluded the interview by saying, “I support what you’re doing.” And I wondered if Hannity really understood the consequences for America. It disturbed me that this one opinionated guy with a popular TV and radio show favored the disintegration of my country, and was probably convincing millions of listeners that this was a good thing.

Then you can consider: What if the South had won the Civil War? America as we know it would not exist. Instead, we would have had two countries–significant countries, but probably not superpowers–on a continual war footing with each other. The two countries probably would have had border clashes, if not all-out wars, various times over the years–perpetual enemies. They might have become friendly, but never friends. And the world would be lesser for it.

So thank you, President Lincoln, for preserving the union. And woe to the clownish Sean Hannity and all the other people who now want to divide our country into geographical pieces.

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The Best Windows Computer is…a Mac

WinrMBP

A PC services company determined that the “best performing” Windows laptop was the Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro. It won out over Dell, Acer, Lenovo, and other PC makers. The company Soluto took into account average boot time and the average per-week number of crashes, hangs, and Blue Screens of Death.

Soluto said, “A main factor in this machine’s metrics is the fact that every Windows installation on [the MacBook Pro] is clean. With PC manufacturers loading so much crapware on new laptops, this is a bit of an unfair competition. But, on the other hand, PC makers should look at this data and aspire to ship PCs that perform just as well as a cleanly installed MacBook Pro.”

We cultish Mac people gloat over stuff like this.

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Miniere’s Disease and the Barf Update

doenca2It has now been two years since I vomited. Sorry for the mental images. But that’s how we Miniere’s Disease sufferers measure progress. I’ve struggled with Miniere’s since 2004, and for much of that time, recurring vertigo would cause a vomiting episode (or more likely, a series of them) at least once a quarter.

I’d be okay for a while. And then I’d not be okay. You get so you can read your body, and know when it’s coming back in force. You wake up in the morning and just know, “Probably around noon, it’s gonna hit me hard.”

But my life changed on April 16, 2010, when I had an endolymphatic shunt surgically installed behind my left ear. The first year saw definite improvement, but a bout with acute pancreatitis threw my body off, and I still had some of the aforesaid episodes. But the last one occurred in April 2011.

April 2011 was also my last serious episode of nystagmus, where the world suddenly starts spinning and you’re nonfunctional for about ten seconds or so. For me, a vomiting episode is often a delayed reaction from a nystagmus episode. Not always, but often. I’ve had a couple minor episodes of nystagmus that stopped pretty quickly, and could usually be attributed to excessive sodium intake. But very minor.

Anyways, I give credit to the endolymphatic shunt. I can almost feel it kick in sometimes, taking in ear fluid before it triggers vertigo.

I’ve posted about the shunt surgery several times over the years, and I usually get comments or emails from other Miniere’s sufferers who are researching the surgery and discover me through a Google search. There have been a few negative reports, but most are very positive.

There are several surgical options for vertigo sufferers, and the shunt is both the lease invasive and the option with the highest success rate. During the past year I’ve heard from a couple people who have had a shunt in place for up to 20 years, and it seems the shunt was wearing out and they were having the surgery done again. I can live with that. It’s not a bad surgery.

I really feel like I’ve gotten my life back. I drive and fly without worry. I still watch my sodium and caffeine intake (moderation only). Alcohol is another trigger, but I’ve never been a drinker, so that’s not an issue for me. The fourth trigger is stress. You can’t always minimize that; I’m coming up on a period at work when there will be a higher level of stress. But I’ve learned to cope with it.

So, two years and counting.


My various posts about the surgery:

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Thank You Frank for the Lovely Picture

The whole table. Bishop Phil Whipple is at the other end of the table. Sorry about the lighting.

The whole table. Bishop Phil Whipple is at the other end of the table. Sorry about the lighting.

Bishop Phil Whipple ordered what was called a Bento Box, which had a variety of interesting things to eat.

Bishop Phil Whipple ordered what was called a Bento Box, which had a variety of interesting things to eat.

That would be our esteemed Global Ministries director on the left, and our esteemed bishop on the right. And that would be me striking a magnificent pose in the middle. A big thank-you to my colleague, Frank.

That would be our esteemed Global Ministries director on the left, and our esteemed bishop on the right. And that would be me striking a magnificent pose in the middle. A big thank-you to my colleague, Frank.

Today was our Administrative Professionals day, and we went to the Naked Tschopstix at the Village of Coventry. An uninformed reader may initially think that sounds like some kind of strip club, but said uninformed reader would be wrong. It’s an Asian place with various kinds of Asian food–Thai, Korean, Chinese, etc. I had a rice bowl with Bulgoki beef, a thinly sliced beef with a sweet marinade. It was quite delicious, but not terribly adventurous.

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Who’s Afraid of This Antichrist?

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I’m amused that some people think Barack Obama is the antiChrist. Quite a lot of people, apparently. And they like to produce graphics about the President being the antiChrist. I compiled a number of such photos above.

Let’s think about this. Obama has a relatively low popularity rating and has been ineffective in pursuing his agenda. Not a president you would consider particularly successful.

What kind of an antiChrist is that?

Is that the best Satan can do?

Is this the prophesied monster of Revelation that we’re all supposed to be afraid of? Seriously?

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Chinese Exceptionalism?

Interesting tidbit from a New Yorker article about China. Two behavioral scientists studied Chinese and American attitudes toward financial risk. Most Chinese investors viewed themselves as more cautious than Americans, and the Americans agreed.

But….

We Americans, of course, view ourselves as rugged individualists, boldly embracing risk. We are exceptional, better than everyone else.

But when the researchers ran tests on the two groups, they discovered that the Chinese took substantially greater risks than the Americans did.

I don’t know what the implications are; the article didn’t draw any conclusions. But clearly, stereotypes–about ourselves, and about others–should be questioned. As Romans 12:3 tells us, “Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement.”

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