Monday, April 30, 2007

Foreigners are invading

Okay, so they're not really foreigners. Just tourists and those passing through, or cannery and fishing workers for the summer.

I'm sure there must have been some, but I can't recall any non-Alaska license plates during the winter months. Just in the last few days though, I've seen Washington, Idaho, and California plates. The vehicle from California was stopped at a turnout on North Nordic Ave. with who I assume to be the driver was admiring the Narrows, Frederick Sound, and the hills.

Today was supposed to have some rain, but I didn't see any at all. I was even able to get out my road bicycle for a quick trip to the Post Office. The road I took by the airport has a short stretch that is no longer paved. It contains a combination of dirt and gravel. I was imagining myself on one of the stretches of roads in Belgium, racing in the dirt and cobbles... (sort of...)

Shelley seems to be coming down with a cold. So she is skipping her swimming lesson this evening.

We had some curried red kidney beans and cauliflower (rajma masala) for dinner. I found it in the February issue of Sunset (p. 106). I finally found a way to make cauliflower palatable! It has plenty of potent spices, so maybe this will help blow away Shelley's cold. Amy made the observation that it looked a lot like minestrone soup. Maybe because I added some zucchinis to it...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bible Reading 2007, Week 18

This week's readings are in Judges and Ruth.

When I read the first few chapters of Judges, some of the topics being discussed in our current Sabbath School study guide came to mind. Is Judges about historical facts and accuracy, or something else? If the former, then there are some real problems because Judges 1 contains very similar material to Joshua 15, but one appears to occur prior to Joshua's death while the other could have occurred after Joshua's death. Then again, his death is mentioned twice in the opening chapters of Judges.

And what about the reason God didn't drive out all the inhabitants of Canaan in one single pass? The original reason is found in Deuteronomy 7:20-24. But Judges 2:20-23 provide a different reason. Did God change his plans based on the peoples' response? Did the author of Judges interpret God's actions based on actual experience of his people? Both?

Of how about the ending chapters of Judges? Most scholars believe that chronogically, this fits in somewhere in the middle of chapter 3. But the author makes no attempt to clarify that point. As far as the book is concerned, it very well could have occurred at the end.

The book of Judges seems to be a pretty good example of Bible literature that is based on historical experiences, but is not about history. I think that it's primarily about God's interactions with people; how the people kept wandering away from God, yet God kept rescuing them from the holes they dug themselves -- many times without being asked first. I suppose we might call it the story of God's grace in the Old Testament.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Weekly note - April 28

I suppose this week just ending is about as routine a week as I've seen in some time. That's not to say everything was completely routine and ordinary.

One of our church members, who last attended before even our visit last June, passed away on Monday. She did not have any family members that go to our church, nor any immediate family in the area. She has quite a few in-laws, so it's really up to them how they want to proceed. I gave them my card, and if they want me to have a service or something, I'm prepared to do that. If not, that's fine.

Elise received her first real paycheck this week. Now we have a better idea of how things might move forward.

For the last few weeks we've had a couple of additional girls attend both our Sabbath services and the choir rehearsal. They need to be picked up for all these things and that is somewhat of an extra burden. We had them over for lunch, some games, and a bit of cookie baking this afternoon. It is extra work as they do require more hand-holding (so to speak) than would be those of more mature ages. But we need to remind ourselves that trees and forests don't grow instantly. Seeds have to be planted, the seedlings and shoots have to be nurtured and gently guided towards maturity. So I guess we are planting a few seeds right now. We hope that our efforts at seed planting will lead to germination, but that is not in our hands. We'll do what we can to water and nurture, to pull up the weeds and allow the sunlight to reach the ground. But we have to keep in mind that germination and growth is God's work.

As far as weather, it's back to rain this week. It looks like the latter part of next week might dry up again.

Oh, and one last thing: My desktop PC is finally back to its pre-crash state. I've been working with a Microsoft tech over the last couple weeks trying to get the Media Center Rollup 2 to install. It finally succeeded this evening.

Sermon: Traveling with Light

(Click on above title link to listen to the sermon audio.)

Today's sermon is based on John 3:14-21. I discuss John's comments regarding light and darkness, salvation and judgment, which follow the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus.

I make reference to items that were used in the children's story, so you may want to read that before listening to the sermon.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Children's Story: Inside a Cave

This is tomorrow's children's story to go along with the sermon.

Inside a Cave

Props: Flashlights or other lights of varying intensities, 3 or 4 types; a camera flash that can be triggered on demand.

Preparation: Have a child prepared to read or recite John 1:4-5 at the appropriate point in the story.


Have you ever been inside a cave? One that goes for hundreds and even thousands of feet underground, and you can walk and crawl inside for miles? Where there are rooms larger than several football stadiums put together?

Many years ago, when I was close to Amy's age, our family went to a place called Carlsbad Caverns. It's located in the state of New Mexico, near its southeast corner, where it meets Texas.

I don't remember a whole lot about it other than that we went down into the cave and walked around in a huge room. Because this was the main area for tourists like us to see, the path was well lit and well marked, and the interesting stalactite and stalagmite structures were also lit. (Ask: What is the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite?) There were chasms and pits and pools along sections of the path.

We took some pictures inside, but I don't recall them coming out that well. Even with all the lights, it was quite dark inside. Because the room was so big, the camera flash (trigger the camera flash), as bright as it is, didn't give enough light to light up the formations sufficiently.

In addition to this big room, there were others parts of the cave that people could go into if they were prepared and had the time. We didn't, so we just went through the big room and then back out. To get to and go through some of these other areas might involve crawling through narrow spaces, climbing and descending steep slopes, and unlike the big room, they weren't lit up, which meant you had to carry your own light sources.

If you were to go into one of these caves where you had to take your own light, what would you want to have with you? A little light like this? (Demonstrate weakest light.) Or perhaps something like this? (Demonstrate brighter light. Repeat with any other lights left, except brightest one.) How about this one? (Demonstrate brightest light.) Or would you rather have a camera flash? (Trigger it again.)

A camera flash is bright, but it wouldn't be very useful in a cave because it doesn't stay lit for very long. You'd have to keep flashing and flashing, but then the batteries will die very quickly. A dim, but steady light (show dim light again) is more useful inside a cave. This will at least show you where you might take your next step. But it's nice to be able to see more than just a step ahead. It's helpful to be able to see farther ahead so that we can tell if we're heading on a path that leads somewhere instead of into a wall or a precipice. So a bright light like this (show brightest light again) is what we want.

John writes about a bright light in chapter 1, vv. 4-5. (Have a child read or recite it.) What is the light that John wrote about?

All these flashlights and flashes, they'll eventually stop working when the batteries get too weak. People can't live in a cave. Food doesn't grow in the dark, and all our light sources will eventually go out. We have to make our way out of the cave sooner or later.

John tells us that this world is like a cave. All the bad things that people do to each other, all the bad things that seem to happen to us without explanation are a result of the darkness called sin. We need to get out. But how can we if we can't see a path leading out?

That's where Jesus comes in. He's the light that God sent to us to help us see ourselves and a path leading out. In fact, the book of Hebrews in the Bible tells us that Jesus has gone ahead of us to mark the path so that we can know exactly how to leave the cave. All we have to do is keep to the path that is shown by the light of Jesus.

The one thing we need is this light. We need Jesus. And Jesus makes it incredibly easy to have him. All we have to do is ask him to bring his light into our hearts, let him stay with us, and trust that his light will always remain bright in us. Would you like to have Jesus shine in you today? (Say short prayer with kids and dismiss.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Choir notes

With a new performance target less than two weeks away, we did some serious rehearsing tonight of "It Is Well With My Soul." We had seven kids this evening, one which was a first-timer. We have some work to do to get this song ready. I may end up recording the accompaniment for this one because with the choir sings the refrain section in two-part antiphonal style in the second half of the arrangement, and this really needs direction up front. I'm still doing both the directing and the accopmanying, and well, it's hard (nigh impossible) to do both simultaneously. To create a recording, I've got to make sure I have the correct audio cables for our piano to go to my computer (which is still working with the new motherboard).

Last week I received the Kodaly-based instruction book that I ordered. When I was reviewing the lessons earlier, I wondered how well they would be received, but I had nothing to worry about. I used one of the lessons this evening to great success. It was just a simple, short rhyme used to help experience and learn steady-beat. In beat, we all tapped our hands on our knees, formed our hands into wings to flutter away, varied our voice pitches, etc. Just simple things but there was plenty of excitement and laughs.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ramen recipe redux - now with vegetable broth adaptation

Yes, strict vegetarians and vegans can now use my Ramen Noodle Soup recipe (changes noted directly on the original posting). I tried it today with vegetable broth instead of dashi and chicken bouillon. I still came out pretty good. I think it lacks the tastiness that the other ingredients bring, but I think it still works.

I've never been happy with the flavor/taste of commercially prepared vegetable broth, so I also tried my hand at making my own. Most vegetable stock recipes say just chop up the vegetables, throw into a pot, then let cook for a long time. To me anyway, the result is stock that tastes too much like raw vegetables.

What I tried was to first roast and fry the vegetables before simmering them in water. I don't know if that ultimately makes any difference, but to my tastebuds, the result was more pleasing.

For anyone that is interested, here is my Roasted Vegetable Stock recipe.

Roasted Vegetable Stock

Makes: 3-4 quarts
Total Cooking Time: Approx 2 hrs.

Part A --
  • 1 Bell Pepper, cut into six pieces
  • 3 stalks Celery, cut into 2 in. lengths
  • 1 or 2 Carrots, cut into 2 x ½ in. lengths
  • 1 Leek, cut into 2 in. lengths
Part B –
  • 1 medium Onion, quartered and sliced into ¼ in. widths
  • 3 cloves Garlic, sliced thin
  • Olive oil, enough to coat vegetables
  • Water to fill large kettle or pot (approx. 1 gallon)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Wash and prepare vegetables.
  3. On baking pan or dish (may need more than one), drizzle some olive oil to coat bottom of pan. Arrange vegetables in Part A, single layer onto pan or dish, then drizzle more olive oil on top of vegetables. Spread the oil around to ensure vegetables are well coated.
  4. Place pan with vegetables in oven and roast for approx. 30 minutes.
  5. When vegetables are aromatic and the surface of the leeks and peppers have started to brown, remove vegetables from oven.
  6. While vegetables are roasting per step 4, in a large kettle, heat about 1 tbsp. of oil on medium to medium high. When hot, fry the garlic until it starts to turn golden. Add onions and continue to fry until the onions become translucent.
  7. Add the vegetables (with any remaining oil) from step 5 into the kettle and fill it full with water. Add salt.
  8. Bring to boil, and then simmer for about an hour.
  9. Let cool, strain, and pour into containers. This should be good in the refrigerator for several days and up to 3 months in a freezer.
  10. It’s a shame to let perfectly good vegetables go to waste. You may want to use the cooked vegetables and some of the stock as base for a soup. (E.g., add some potatoes, more seasonings, and then blend it into a cream-style vegetable soup.)

Note: There is relatively little salt in this stock, so you will likely need to add more salt than is called for in recipes that use commercially made soup stock. You can add other vegetables, herbs and spices (such as black peppercorn) to give the stock its own, unique flavor. Avoid strongly flavored vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage.

Notes from last week

I thought I should note a few things from last week that haven't been mentioned already.

Elise worked her first full week -- which is to say 12-1/2 hrs. x 3 shifts. She says she is enjoying it. What all this means for me is that I now have to adjust my weekly schedule to accommodate the children's activities throughout the week. This includes things like swimming, music lessons, field trips, and visits to the library. It means that I don't have quite as much uninterrupted time as I used to have. The fortunate thing is that because the distance from one end of town to the other is around a mile, everyone pretty much knows everyone else in town, and because our children are old enough to be quite self-sufficient, I'm able to leave them home for a while, or let them go about town on their own.

Much of last week was sunny, dry, and warm. That last one might depend on what you think is warm. We've had temperatures that have hit 55F. For people acclimated here, this is apparently shorts and swimsuit temps. We've seen quite a few people out and about in shorts and swimsuits in what Southern Californians might consider jacket or even coat weather...

With the roads fairly free of dirt and sand that was spread out during the winter ice and snow, I've been able to take out my road bike a few times. Here it's pretty much an out-and-back ride on Sandy Beach Rd., South and North Nordic Drives, and Mitkof Highway. I suppose in a couple of months I can take my mt. bike out on the Forest Service roads.

The clouds are increasing today, and the rest of this weeks looks like a return to rain.

In about 1-1/2 weeks, we are observing the National Day of Prayer. The evening service will be held at the Baptist church, in which I've agreed to function as the chorister for the congregational singing, and to have the children sing one song.

Bible Reading 2007, Week 17

The Bible reading for this week is in Joshua 20-24 and Psalms 18, 50, 53, and 94. We are coming to the close of Joshua and the conclusion of the Exodus story.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sermon, April 21: A Camouflaged Idol

(Click on above title link to listen to sermon audio.)

Today's sermon is based on John 3:1-15 as I continue our journey through the Gospel of John.

The modern world, including many churches and Christians, I fear may have fallen to a type of idolatry, that on the surface looks perfectly acceptable. It seems, too, that the ancient Jewish religious leaders had the same problem.

Through the story of Jesus and Nicodemus, John exposes this idolatry that had ensnared Nicodemus and perhaps us today. John tells us Jesus' response to Nicodemus, and also to us, in regards to what is most important in getting to know the Father.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Children's Story: The Tripod

The following is a story I'll be using tomorrow. I refer to the story at the end of the sermon, so it's also a part of the sermon.

The Tripod

Materials: Tripod and Camera
Preparation: Have one of the children be prepared read Mark 12:29-30.

Boys and girls [or Children], what is this?

Show collapsed tripod. (Italic text indicate demonstration actions.)

Yes, it's a tripod. What is it used for?

Extend legs and demonstrate mounting a camera onto the tripod. Look through viewfinder.

It's used by photographers to hold a camera and keep it steady so that when a picture is taken, the picture comes out clear and sharp.

For the tripod to remain steady, it needs to be balanced. All the legs need to be the same length. Otherwise it might tip over and allow the camera to fall onto the ground.

Remove Camera from Tripod! Then demonstrate what happens when the legs are unbalanced.

There's another important thing we need to remember when using a tripod. What happens if we forget to tighten the legs?

Extend the legs, then tighten some but leave some of the sections loose.

That's right. If the all the leg sections aren't tightened properly, we still end up with an unstable tripod. The tripod is of no use to us that way.

Jesus was once asked by one of the religious leaders what the most important commandment was. Jesus' answer is our scripture reading today. It is Mark 12:29-30.

Ask the prepared child to read the text.

Jesus said that the most important thing we can do is to love God with all of our heart and soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength.

What does it mean to love God with all our heart and soul? I think it means we're to enjoy being with Him, to choose to trust Him with everything, not just a few things, that happens in our lives. I think it also means we are to learn what God is like by letting Him live in us and change us to be like Him. I think we do this by talking to God through prayer. I think it means being passionate about Him, and being completely honest about ourselves with Him.

What does it mean to love God with all our mind? I think it means that we get to know what God is like by studying what people have written about Him in the Bible. I think it also means that we're to think about the things God wants us to think about, not just when we feel like it, but all the time.

What does it mean to love God with all our strength? I think it means that we're to do the things God wants us to do, and to not do things that would make God sad. I think it also means that when God asks us to do something, even if it isn't something we want to do, we're to do completely, not just halfheartedly, what God asks.

Our heart and soul, mind, and strength -- these are like the legs of a tripod. Imagine that each of us has a tripod inside of us. We can focus too much on one of the legs, and when that happens our view of God and our walk with God become unstable:

Maybe we spend all our time in prayer, but forget to study the Bible and do things for God. Or maybe we spend all our time studying about God, but forget to talk to Him about what we're learning. Or maybe we get so focused on doing just the right things and avoiding the bad, that we forget to learn what the Bible says about good and bad. Or because we forget to let God live in us, we begin to resent doing good things and start to wish we can do the bad things that begin to look like more fun.

Extend legs of tripod, lock them, then mount camera. Look through the camera viewfinder.

If we want to have a good, clear and steady view of God so that we can have a steady walk with Him, we need to make sure that our tripod legs are balanced and locked tight. We need to talk with God and learn to trust Him. We need to learn in the Bible what He is like. And we need to do what God asks of us. We need all of them in just the right balance.

Leave tripod and camera standing for sermon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More marine life images

I left for the weekly minister's gathering a bit early to take advantage of the sun and low tide. Here are a few more marine life images from this morning.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Low Tide Science Lesson

Today, tomorrow, and Thursday mornings offer this spring's lowest tides. The tide table says it was -3.5 ft. today and -4.2 ft. tomorrow. What this means in practical terms is that we are able to walk out 30-50 feet beyond what we normally get to see. All of that sea floor is exposed for our viewing, as well as for the gulls to pick off. Here are a few sea floor (and other) images from this morning. (Click on image for larger view and image titles.)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Motherboard replaced - PC works

The replacement Dell motherboard arrived today. With some doubt and trepidation I swapped out the old one and installed the new one, moving the CPU from the old to the new. I installed the memory, then plugged in the front panel connector and all of the power connectors. After switching it on, the fan no longer went into hyperdrive -- it spun up, and then slowed down to where it is supposed to be.

With basic operation verified, I plugged in all the drives and internal cards, closed up the case, plugged all the external cables back in, and then powered up. I first had to adjust the BIOS settings to my configuration and then restarted. Boom! The dreaded Windows Blue Screen.

Fortunately, from past experience swapping out motherboards under Windows XP, I suspected that a Repair Install from the original CD would reset whatever hardware configuration information had caused the blue screen to occur. Did I have the CD handy? The answer was yes, and went about the repair process. (BTW, many of the stock PC setups at computer retailers no longer include this crucial Operating System reinstall CD. A custom built one from a local PC store will include one.)

The repair install takes about 45 minutes to complete. During the process, there were numerous errors regarding .NET Framework 2.0 DLLs. I figured I could reinstall the .NET Framework later (a correct guess, I discovered). After it completed, the PC restarted as it was supposed to, but it was back to the original OS files, meaning all of the updates for it had to be redownloaded and installed (which is still happening as I write this, some 2 hours later).

As I was starting out that process I discovered another issue -- Windows Installer 3.1 is required for the new updates, but that wouldn't install because of files-in-use issues after the Repair Install. After a little Live search, I discovered a page that explained how to correct this problem. I followed all the instructions and Windows Installer did get installed, but somehow the DLLs in the Windows\System32 directory didn't get added... Another problem...

Whatever the case, I ended up doing some other things, including restoring the old DLL files. But the updater didn't like that, so I renamed the files again and reinstalled Windows Installer 3.1. This time the new files appeared. I really don't know what happened or why.

With that accomlished it was now a matter of reinstalling .NET Framework 2.0, Internet Explorer 7.0, and all the other OS updates -- which I think is mostly done now.

I still don't know if all of my other applications will work or not. They typically do after a Repair Install, but occasionally there are apps that have problems and might need a repiar or reinstall.

Bible Reading 2007, Week 16

The reading for this week is in Joshua 13:8-19:51 and Psalms 35, 47, 83, 116, and 124.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ramen Noodle Soup Recipe

My parents sent a box of Japanese food back in December. One of the items was Ramen -- not Top Ramen or the instant kinds typically found in most American grocery stores. This was closer to the freshly made, authentic ramen noodle soups one would find at ramen restaurants.

Once Shelley tasted a package, all other definitions and incarnations of ramen became rather deficient. She wanted to have some real ramen.

Thus began my quest for trying to see if it could be done here in Petersburg. I first looked up and down both grocery stores to see if there were any pre-packaged, genuine, good ramen. But my search was met with futility. My next stop was Google where I found some English recipe sites. The problem? They all told me to use the regular ramen noodle packages and the enclosed seasoning packet -- the very thing I was trying to improve upon.

I finally went to one recipe page for Tonkatsu (pork cutlet) Ramen. This turned out to be from the English subset side of a larger Japanese recipe web site. I promptly changed over to the Japanese site and switching over my input to Japanese, searched for "ra-menn" (the IME version) and came up with a number of promising leads.

There was one that looked more simple that the others. Most involve creating an original soup base from chicken or pork. I'm not willing to work that much. The recipe I found uses a package of Chinese soup mix, something I consider a great improvement over the pre-packaged ramen seasoning.

Things looked doable, so I went out to purchase some of the grocery items. Alas, the store I went to did not have regular Chinese soup mix. The closest thing I could find was a wonton soup mix. Reading the ingredients list it looked like imitating it was feasible.

Returning home I set to work in preparing the soup. I wasn't too sure if it would turn out sufficiently well on the first try, but I needn't have worried because once I gave the completed soup a try and gave some to Shelley to try, we knew it was a go. I quickly cooked the noodles and some mushrooms (for me, not the children), put all of them together in a bowl, and discovered it was quite excellent. Even Amy, who frequently refuses to even try some Asian cooking, discovered this one was quite acceptable to her palate.

So here is my Peterburg-friendly adaptation of the ramen noodle soup recipe. If you are strict vegetarian or vegan, further adaptations will be required.

Shoyu Ramen Noodle Soup

Serves 4


  • 1 lb. Chinese Egg Noodles
  • ¼-½ lb. Chicken, Beef, or Mushrooms (Meat may be ground or chopped into bit-sized portions)
  • 2 tbsp. Cooking wine or sake
  • 1 tbsp. Cooking oil, if using mushrooms only (no meat)
  • 2 Green Onions
  • 6 c. Water
  • 6 tbsp. Soy Sauce (or Golden Mountain Sauce, or combination of two)
  • 2 tbsp. Ground White Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • 4 tbsp. Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Powder Chinese Soup Mix
  • 1 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp. Asian Chili Oil
  • Ground Black Pepper to taste
  • Cilantro for garnish

Soup mix substitution

  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Grated Ginger
  • 1 tbsp. Cooking Oil
  • 1 pkg. Japanese Dashi
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
    • Or, substitute 3 c. vegetable broth for the dashi and bouillon
    • (You'll also need to reduce the added water to 3 c.)
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil

Cooking Directions:

  1. Sauté meat and/or mushrooms with cooking wine or sake until cooked and tender. If using mushrooms only, add cooking oil.
  2. Julienne white onions into 2 in. lengths. If using green onions, slice thinly across.
  3. Fully cook egg noodles according to package directions.
  4. Bring 3 c. water to boil, and then combine soy sauce, ground sesame, toasted sesame, and soup mix (if no soup mix, see below) into the water. Bring back to boil.
  5. Divide noodles (3) into serving (ramen) bowls, cover with soup (4), add in chili oil, sprinkle some ground black pepper, then place onions (2) and cilantro atop the noodles.

Directions for Soup Mix Substitution

  1. On medium-high, heat cooking oil in pot that you will use to cook the soup.
  2. When hot, add crushed garlic and fry for about a minute. Add grated ginger and continue to fry for another minute or so until garlic begins to brown.
  3. Pour in the 6 cups of water and bring to boil. (Vegetable broth substitution: Reduce water to 3 c. and add the vegetable broth. Return to step 4 of main directions.)
  4. Add dashi package and boil for 3 minutes. Then remove used dashi package.
  5. Add the chicken bouillon cubes.
  6. Continue with step 4 in main directions.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sermon, Apr. 14: Walking on Ice

(Click on above title link to listen to sermon audio.)

This week's sermon is taken from John 2:23-3:2, a transition passage following the cleansing of the temple, and the introduction into Nicodemus' interview with Jesus.

In preparing to preach on the Nicodemus interview passage, I discovered that there is simply too much in there to adequately work through it in just one Sabbath. Rather than trying to go wide and shallow, I plan to take a few weeks to go a little deeper.

The sermon today was about different types of faith that John describes and some of the examples he has already given in his account so far. I explore what it means to really believe in something or someone.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Another "Good" Friday

Last Friday was Good Friday, and today is Friday the 13th. So what is so good about today?

The reason is that for the first time in seven or so months, it seems like the dark clouds that were hanging over our lives are starting to break apart and let some light in. It's a lot like the weather we've been seeing -- period of clouds and some downpours, but lately there also been quite a bit of sunbreaks and clearing. It feels like spring is here, both literally and figuratively.

Elise spent seventeen+ hours yesterday at work. She thought she might be able to be present during a birth, but that wasn't to be and she returned home about 1 a.m.

Elise also discovered that in the absence of a vet in town, the hospital also acts in that capacity when necessary.

One of the two Realtors in town also works at the hospital. From her, Elise learned that one of the houses for sale by owner was going to be listed at around $200K. This property is located in the center of town, next to the high school. There are quite obvious advantages and disadvantages to the location. It is a "classic Norwegian" house, meaning it's well aged, though from what I hear it's been remodeled.

From another hospital employee Elise learned that her property is also for sale around $200K, but is currently not advertised or listed. This one is fairly close to the church. It's also an older proprety with parts of the house remodeled within the last decade or so.

The summer fishing season is approaching, and that means that seasonal workers are starting to come in to town. Our apartment complex will soon be filled.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spring is Here

I think it might finally be relatively (notice how I'm still hedging my bets...) safe to say that Spring has arrived in Petersburg. Here are just a few images from my walk this afternoon.

Spring shoots coming up out of the muskeg

Springtime Muskeg

Petersburg Mountain

Knurly Muskeg Tree

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Elise can start working

Elise received a call from the AK BRN informing her that her license was mailed out today. The hospital can verify the license online, so she can begin working now. She is scheduled to start on Thursday.

It's been a long delay... We're not quite sure yet, and really don't think we'll ever find out, why all the things have happened in the way they have. Maybe one reason was so Elise could accompany Lorean to help her visit her family. Maybe earlier there were homes that we might have chosen to purchase that we simply were not supposed to get. I really don't know.

When we made the move, now almost seven months ago, our plan was for one or both of us to find some simple job, part-time if needed, to be able to cover our living expenses. That didn't seem to work out too well. When the hospital expressed interest in having Elise be re-licensed as an RN, that's the route we took. We expected things to be done and over by January. Obviously that did not happen. Then we thought, February or March at the latest. But those months, too, went by. So here it is now, in the month of April when the second of our big, open questions finally has revealed an answer.

The next big question to be answered is: Where are we to live for the next unknown number of years? When we first moved, there was a plan for the apartments in which we now live, to be torn down around this time. It appears that won't happen at least for the good part of this summer, and perhaps won't happen until next year. So even though our house didn't sell until a month ago, and we have not had the necessary income to support the purchase of a house here, we aren't in a crisis mode today like we thought we might be some months back.

The interesting thing is that over the last couple of months, inventory of houses in the price range, with the features, and in locations that we'd like have dwindled to almost nothing. At the moment we know of exactly three. If it dwindles even further when the time comes for us to purchase, I guess we'll take it as providential leading...

In other news, I went back to the hardware store to check up on replacement parts for our dehumidifier. It's a good thing I did, because nothing had been done. The manager wasn't too pleased that the company makes it so difficult to obtain warranty parts. I hope that the parts are able to be ordered and will arrive, even if I have to pay for it. For the time being, we obtained a unit on loan from another family.

We had two new girls for choir this evening. It looks like we will need to do more work with pitch and rhythm. The instructor on one of the instructional videos I have says that anyone can be taught how to sing and stay on pitch. One of the techniques to help students learn pitch is to do simple interval exercises. At Pacific Union College, while taking music theory, I was introduced to Kodaly exercises. I found a set of Kodaly instruction books for kids, so I ordered the first one in hopes that this can be used to help some of the kids learn about pitch.

The weather here this week has been rain with sunbreaks. The snow is melting away. I could be wrong, but I think it's been sometimes since December since we've seen so much lawn out of the front window.

New Music: I Cry Out based on Psalm 142

Here is a new song and composition. The music was created by the children's choir a few weeks back, but due to all that was going on I didn't have the time to work on arranging it into a singable melody and putting it to a song until today.

The Psalm appears to be from one of the times when David was pressured by trials and difficulties, where there seemed to be no escape from his enemies. The only thing he could do was to turn to God and cry out, "Help!" It's an apt song for our family at this time, and I'm sure for many others who are going through difficult times.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bible Reading 2007, Week 15

This week's readings are in Joshua 1:1-13:7 and Psalms 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, and 13. This week starts a new theme, Joshua and Judges.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sermon, Apr. 7: What Upsets God?

(Click on post title to listen to sermon audio.)

Today we looked into the story of Jesus cleansing the temple as recorded in John 2:12-22. This is a story of one of the few instances in Jesus' life where he visibly and audibly expresses anger and fury.

In this sermon I explore why Jesus got angry, and in turn explore the sorts of things that cause God to become angry. These are also the things for which Christians today rightly ought to become angry and upset over when they are encountered. These are probably not the typical things for which many Christians in recent years have been known to express their displeasure and anger.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday Service

We just returned from the Good Friday service at the Lutheran church. My assigned word was the sixth word of Jesus on the cross, "It is finished." The text of the message is at the end of this posting. The pastor immediately preceding me spoke on "I thirst" and talked about how Jesus was given vinegar in response.

The four girls in our little choir sang When I Survey the Wondrous Cross right after my message. The two younger girls may have been a little intimidated about singing in front of a crowd of perhaps 130 or 150. They sang well in any case, and they were the only ones to get an applause!

We've seen quite a bit of rain over the last couple of days. The sunny spring has gone the way of rainy spring. The temperatures this afternoon rose all the way up into the mid-50's.

I sat at my laptop PC for much of the day, working on this evening's message, tomorrow's sermon, and putting together the program for tomorrow. I still need to do some studying of the Sabbath School lesson as our only teacher is away in Florida right now, leaving me to pick it up.

Message Text

John 19:29-30a (ESV)
29A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished…”

What was finished, and what does the sour wine, or vinegar, have anything to do with it?

In John's Gospel, one of the themes is the timing of Jesus' mission. In chapter 2, at the wedding in Cana, Jesus tells his mother that his "hour has not yet come." In chapter 7, when Jesus' brothers try to get Jesus to do better PR for himself, Jesus replies, "My time has not yet come." Shortly thereafter when the Jewish authorities try to arrest Jesus, John records that Jesus could not be arrested because "his hour had not yet come."

But as Jesus enters his final week, His message changes. John records that "Jesus knew that his hour had come." During this final week and final hours, Jesus himself says: "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." "For this purpose I have come to this hour." “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you…"

What was finished? According to John, Jesus' mission of glorifying his Father was completed at the cross. Jesus' work of revealing the true character of God to the world was finished.

What is God's character, His glory? Moses asked to see God's glory on Mt. Sinai, and this is what he saw:

"The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands [of generations], forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…"

Jesus came to reveal this truth about God to the world.

Through the cross, Jesus revealed and offered God's grace, patience, mercy, love, and forgiveness for every man, woman, and child. Through the cross, Jesus also revealed that God is just, that he takes sin seriously.

Paul records in 2 Cor. 5:21:

21For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Through the cross Jesus became sin itself, the antithesis of love, to guarantee the destruction of sin itself, and to offer us His righteousness in its place. On the cross, God, in Jesus, finished the work of saving us from the clutches of sin.

Right before Jesus declares, "It is finished", he asks for a drink and is given wine that had soured -- vinegar. At the wedding in Cana that opens Jesus' ministry in John's Gospel, Jesus gave a miraculous sign of changing water to wine, and offered it to the wedding guests. On the cross, Jesus chose to take upon himself all that had gone sour and bad in the world, and in its place offered us all the best that he has.

Brothers and sisters, boys and girls, will you give to Jesus all that is sour and bad in your life? Will you accept from him his grace, forgiveness and salvation? The work of salvation was finished at the cross, will you accept it?

The NET Bible

I learned of a new online Bible translation this week at our Ministerial meeting. It's called the NET Bible and is available at The main feature is the extensive footnotes that are provided by the worldwide, online community of experts in Bible translation and interpretation.

If you are interested in alternate translations and interpretations that can be made for Bible texts, this is a place to look.

"As pressure and stress bear down on me..." Psalm 119:143

Last week was comparatively a resful week. It seems as if the dam holding back stress and pressure broke this week, and it feels as if I might drown...

Just now I came across the verse quoted in the article title while reading part of today's Bible passage (Psalm 119:137-144). "As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands." (v. 143).

That is an interesting thought -- that when pressure and stress of life come upon me, I should go back to God's commands, that I should find joy in them.

What does that mean? Does it mean that when life seems to be falling apart, I should examine my life and make sure it is still in alignment with God's principles? Perhaps in light of some of the principles given by Jesus in the New Testament, I should take to heart commands to trust in Him, to not worry about life, to find rest in Him.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Turns out the motherboard and/or CPU is bad

I brought back a known good power supply unit today, but discovered that the problem with my PC still exists. The PSU tester that I have is apparently not good either. Sigh...

So it's down to either the motherboard or the CPU that is bad (and perhaps both...). I found a supplier that sells Dell motherboards, so I ordered one. I first started looking around for a complete replacement barebones system that I could plug in my current hard drive and other parts into, but it soon added up to $500 and so I decided to look a little harder for an OEM replacement motherboard (the reason I can't use any motherboard is that the Dell front panel connector and the Dell heatsink attachment are proprietary). The vendor doesn't ship to PO Boxes, so I'm having to have it shipped to the Lower 48, and then relayed up here.

That pretty much sums up my day -- not a whole lot of progress and plenty of frustration.

Oh, by the way, the PSU that I ordered hadn't shipped yet, so I successfully cancelled that order -- at least one sort of positive thing in an otherwise mediocre day.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Quick update before I have to dash off

This week is quite busy with a multitude of events and activities going on. That's the reason why I haven't posted much in the way of updates the last few days.

The weather here is finally spring-like. We've had clear skies since Sunday. I've even seen a few kids about town in shorts (in low-40 degrees). The Narrows outside our window, which has for most of the winter looked rather gray, is now a deep blue as it reflects the blue sky overhead.

A few of the leaders from the Alaska Conference are in town for a couple of days. According to the Conference calendar, Petersburg was only listed for them to be here one day, but upon their arrival, I discovered that they were here for two days. We had planned on them being here Tuesday, and then we would hold and Agape Supper and Communion on Thursday. But with them here tonight also, I decided to move the Agape Supper to tonight. That meant calling around to make sure people were aware of the change in plans.

Last night we had our children's choir sing a few songs. The two non-Adventist families came with a number of their other children, so our supper and the singing portion of the program was quite well attended. Because it was getting late in the evening, they had to return after our song service portion. The choir sounded great, despite our 4-strong size, and alleviated some of the concern I had about them performing for the (virtually) whole town at the Good Friday service. I had a video of the singing made, so once I find a bit of breathing room, I may be able to get it uploaded for your viewing.

I've been on the bicycle regulary this week going back and forth between home, church, and post office. The roads are now dry, but dusty.

The power supply unit (PSU) for my Dell desktop PC went out last night. I had just installed one of Microsoft's infamous security updates, I told it to restart, but it seemed to get stuck shutting down. So I forced the power off, and then when I turned it back on it wouldn't start up properly. Rather, the case fan near the CPU went into hyperdrive, as if the temperature sensor had gone bad. Since the last major change I made was the security update, I thought that perhaps it had somehow corrupted the BIOS settings. I shorted the CMOS, and tried all sorts of combinations with cards and such, but it simply would not come on.

In hindsight, I should have suspected that when the POST beep didn't happen, that it was something way early on in the power-up cycle -- say the power supply. I dug out the PSU tester that I purchased in my previous life and after I plugged it in, discovered that the -5 volt line was dead.

After spending a sleepless night (yes, I still worry about these little things that go wrong), I went out this morning to see if I could find a PSU in this town. As I was afraid of and suspected, it is another of those "not stocked here" items. I ordered a new unit which will be arriving hopefully sometime next week.

In the meantime, I realized that the PSU in the computer I use at church is a newer unit that would work in the Dell. But the compuer at church is also needed. So I spent part of this morning going through a number of boxes in order to locate an extra PSU that originally came with the kit that was used to build the church PC. Hopefully after swapping the extra PSU into the church PC, and the PSU from the church PC into the Dell, all two PCs will work. If not, I will have a much more serious problem on my hands.

I'll still want a new, spare PSU around for the next time one of them goes out.

I guess the "good" to come out of all this is that I might be able to build a whole sermon around the issue of bad PSUs, replacing them, etc. That was another reason why I had difficulties getting to and remaining asleep last night -- I was trying to work out the different angles, as well as see if there was something in the event that could be tied to this Easter weekend. We'll see.

Tomorrow I really must settle on the topic as well as most of the outline for this Sabbath's sermon. I also need to craft my 3-minute message for the Good Friday service.

I also need to get things started with a Stop Smoking series that we would like to hold later this month. Again, after I get past this week, I should have the time needed to organize the materials that I purchased.

I meant this to be a quick update, but it looks like it ended up being a complete update.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Saving Video Files from Difficult Sites

The web has lots of videos, but some of the sites make it difficult to download and save the video files on your local PC. The web page at can help you there. The page has a field where you can enter the video URL and it will give you a button to press to allow you to download and save. If you use Mozilla Firefox, there is an extension available from the same page that will let you do the same thing.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Recording Hope Channel Internet Broadcasts

Hope Channel is the Adventist church's global television network. It offers its programs over satellite and also as streamed video on the Internet.

Given where we live, it doesn't make sense right now for us to purchase satellite equipment. But there are occasional programs on the Hope Channel that are of interest to us. The other problem is the time difference. Alaska is simply not a large enough market for convenient broadcast times for major programs, so we have to accommodate our schedule, or have to record it first.

Therein lies the problem. The regular PC media players don't include features to record, let alone schedule, Internet streamed videos. So that began my search for some other program to allow me to record the stream as a file, and hopefully to schedule recordings so they would get recorded without me having to start and stop it.

I found a free one that did allow recording to file, but it was complicated and did not do well with Akamai caching and load-balanced media servers. It also did not include scheduling capabilities.

So I continued my search and found WM Recorder, a $49.95 program that does everything I need. It's actually an ingenious little program in that it uses existing media players to actually play the media, then sniffs the network packets and stores the data as it arrives. That means it doesn't need its own codecs to decode or encode the video and audio. All this program needs to know is to recognize media streams, and then repackage the data as a local file that looks good to a media player application.

I've used WM Recorder a few times now, and it's done what I needed. I'd eventually like to get a satellite dish installed (I'll be trading static for dropped frames, I guess), but for now this solution will be sufficient.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Bible Reading 2007, Week 14

In our readings this week we conclude the Exodus stories. Our readings are in Deuteronomy 31-34; Jude; and Psalm 119:81-176.

Sermon, March 31: Old vs. New

(Click on above title link for sermon audio.)

This is the third and final look into the story of the wedding at Cana recorded in John 2:1-11. This sermon examines more closely how Jesus came to get rid of all the old, bad stuff and replace them with new and better things.