Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Impulse

In physics, whenever an object speeds up, slows down, or changes direction, it has experienced a change in momentum.  There is a term for this -- we say it has experienced an impulse.  Galileo said that objects in motion stay in motion, or objects at rest stay at rest, unless acted upon by some outside force. Specifically, if we know the size of the force we can calculate how much change will occur, and if we know how much change has occurred, we can calculate the force that was involved.  The formula for this is that impulse (Δp) is equal to the size of the force (F) multiplied by the amount of time the force was acting (Δt) or more compactly:  Δp = FΔt

In our physics class, I mentioned one day that there are two different types of impulses.  One type involves a gradual change, where a small force is applied for a long time -- or fΔT. The other type of impulse would be a quick, "painful" change, involving a large force exerted for a relatively short amount of time -- or FΔt.  This would be the difference between catching a hockey puck gently by sliding back your stick as you catch it, versus leaving your stick still.  I remember the scene in Mighty Ducks where they practiced this with eggs on the court, and many eggs were broken.

All this got me thinking that God tends to exert changes on us and often these changes take one of two different methods.  At times, God has changed me with big events -- namely my mothers death, the birth of my baby girl, and a huge bout of depression that came about requiring medical attention when I was a senior in high school. Each of these have had a noticeable change in character.  But God has also shaped me through many small ideas for a long time.  The constant shaping of Christian schooling, and the loving example of my father, over 12 and 29 years respectively, have brought me to a trusting knowledge of God, and developed a loving character in me that, for the most part, desires to meet others needs above my own.

How has God impulsed (impacted?) your life? Has it been through big events, or a more gradual change?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Moon Video

Got the telescope and the camera out tonight -- it was a beautiful night for stargazing.  The moon was out at first quarter, and Jupiter and its moons were out and shining brightly too.  We saw four moons at 8:00 when we first spotted it through the telescope, and when I came back at 10:40 I saw only 3, so I think one is in transit behind or before the planet.  But our moon made for some good viewing.  Below is a video clip of what it looks like through the telescope.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Baseball

Today the Tigers are 64 and 64, and officially 8.5 games back.  Do they have a chance?  Lets calculate mathematically the chance.

Current standings:
 AL - Central W L GB PCT 72 55 - 0.567 69 58 3 0.543 64 64 8.5 0.500

The baseball season has 162 games, that leaves 162 - 64 - 64 or 34 games left in which to make up their ground with the Twins.  They have 162 - 72 - 55 or 35 more games.  Suppose we are fortunate enough to find the Twins going just under .500 the rest of the season -- 17 wins and 18 losses.  They would finish with a 89 - 73 season.  We'd have to win 89-64 = 25 games out of 34 left, or .735 the rest of the season.  The best teams in baseball are the Rays and Yankees and they have an average of only .614.  Only two teams in baseball history have had .735 seasons -- the 1906 Cups and 1902 Pirates.  Granted, we're not asking the Tigers to play .735 for an entire season, but still....

An interesting mathematical challenge: Calculate the required Tigers percentage for a given Twins percentage x.  I think 35*x is the number of additional Twins wins, and so 72+35x would be their final wins.  (72+35x) - 62 would be our required wins, and so T = (72+35x)-62  /34 should do it I think.
Here's a graph:

The x-axis is the Twins winning percentage.
The y-axis is the Tigers winning percentage.

What does the y-intercept represent on our graph?
What does the point where the graph leaves off the top of the page represent?

What would the point (0.2, 0.8) represent?  Who would be in the playoffs?  Can you find other points with the same results? Where are they all located?  If you could shade all the points that would allow the Tigers into the playoff, where would the shading be?  Approximately what percentage of the possible area would be shaded?  That's the likelihood that the Tigers can make the playoffs.

Every day this graph changes -- and if the status quo is maintained, the line will move ever more up and to the right.  What does that mean for the Tigers?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Probability Questions

Playing a game of backgammon today with another math dork brought to mind a handful of difficult questions in probability.

To make things easier, I'll take away some of the nuances of the game of backgammon--rolling doubles, or the fact that pieces have to be moved in certain ways--and just ask the crucial question:

If we take turns rolling dice and I have to accumulate 100 points and you have to accumulate 100 points, what's the probability that I get there first and "win"?  Assume you roll 2 dice at a time, and its my turn.

An alternate question is how many turns will it take to accumulate 100 points.  Answering this question suggests that the game should be over in 100 / 7 or probably 15 turns.  But it could end as soon as 100/12 or 9 turns, or could take as long as 100/2 or 50 turns.  What's the probability that it ends in 9 turns, 10 turns, 11 turns, etc....

But would knowing those probabilities help answer the original question--The probability that I get there before my opponent?

I'll say that these are questions I don't know how to answer, even though I love probability and have worked out many difficult calculations before -- perhaps a little more research will help.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mor"jing" Routine CLICK ME

Trying out a new piece of software called Jing.  It allows you to record a portion of your computer screen while you speak over it, like many of those tech help videos you've seen on YouTube.  This was my first attempt at creating a jing -- it describes my morning routine:
1. Check Email
2. Check Calendar and ToDo list

It's a large file, so it may take a while to load, but it's only 1.5 minutes long, so give it a try and send your feedback!

Click on the title to watch.

Online Group Work

This is my first time working on a document simultaneously with other group members.  The content of the presentation is, coincidently, how to work on a document online.

Podcasting Attempt

This is my first attempt at podcasting.  I had to write a reflection paper on UDL - which stands for universal design for learning. It is a set of guidelines that encourages teachers to make their lessons more accessible to all learners -- specifically those with different learning or physical disabilities.  The teacher allowed us to create a podcast instead of writing a paper -- so I thought I would give it a try, since I despise writing papers.  (Ironic, don't you think, that I have a blog where I write so much?)

Anyway, it's probably not that interesting, unless you are a teacher -- but if someone is willing to play it and see if they can hear things and what not -- I'd appreciate comments on how to improve, if I plan to podcast at all in the future.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jet-powered School Bus

Here's my new ride to school -- a Jet-powered school bus!

Sea Levels Rise!

story that a giant ice block has broken off Greenland and fallen into the arctic sea. This will cause the sea to rise, just like adding an ice cube to your drink causes the level of the water to rise.

This is different then sea ice melting -- that does not cause the level of the waters to rise, just like an ice cube already in your drink does not cause the water level to rise higher....

Thought it would be interesting to actually calculate the height the sea will rise from this particular chunk of ice.

WARNING: MATH CONTENT!

First, the facts from the story:
The ice is 260 square-km (100 square miles). For comparison, our Kent county is 872 square miles. I usually encircle a 100 square mile area on my drive into and home from work each day.

The ice is "about half the height of the empire state building" which is 381 meters (1250 feet) tall, so we will be generous and say the ice is 200 meters tall.

Volume = Area * Height = [260 km² * (1000² m²/km²)][200 m] = 52 billion square meters of water. 1 cubic meter is 264 gallons, so 52*264 is nearly 14 trillion gallons. For comparison, at 100 gallons of water per day (unfortantely this is the lowest I could find for average American usage) this is 14,000,000,000,000 gal/ 100 gal per person per day/365 days per year/300,000,000 Americans = 1.27 years worth of fresh water. It would probably last us much less time. The article suggested 120 days -- which we would get if we assumed we used 388 gallons a day, or if the block was only around 100 meters high.

Anyway, the real question is how many beach houses will be flooded now... so lets continue.
The area of the oceans is roughly 335,258,000 square km. if we assume that the 90% of the ice block is in the water, and that the displaced water spreads itself out uniformily over the entire earth, and we assume the water level is a rectangular prism (volume = area*height) instead of the more difficult spherical shell (volume = 4/3π(R³-r³)), .. blah blah blah...
(.90)(52 billion km³)/(335,258,000 km² * 1000² m²/km²) = 0.000139 meters

That's the projected rise in sea levels. Granted, this is an over-estimate because the more accurate spherical shell calculations would be lower.

0.000139 m is a tenth of a millimeter, the width of the fattest crustiest piece of hair you can find.

That's like, really small.

No need to cancel your spring break Panama City plans.

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Some might think I put this up to prove sarcastically that global warming isn't occurring, or is nothing to worry about -- that was not the intention at all. In fact, those who know me more closely would know the hesitation I had in putting this up in the first place because of that very reason. While I am hesitant to sell my beachfront property -- I do think caring for the environment is an important priority that we should not just shrug off as "God's job". If I remember correctly, it was one of the first things God asked us to do?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Aurora Laura Rorealis

The other day, a giant zit on the surface of the sun popped and sent a flood of protons and electrons sailing toward the earth. In truth, this sort of thing happens all
the time, but this was an extraordinarily large pop. When these charged particles approach the earth, they get caught in our magnetic field and interact with atoms high in the atmosphere. Some atoms pick up electrons, others give them up, others move electrons from one location to another in the atom, each of which releases photons of different energies. A photon is a wave of electromagnetic radiation, which if at the right energies, our eyes detect as visible light, of different colors. This can often result in a beautiful arrangement of light and colors, often referred to as the Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis. (Aurora comes from the greek Goddess of dawn, and Borealis from the greek god of North winds).

This display is something I have always wanted to see, but never gotten the chance. Supposedly, this large wave was possibly going to cause the northern lights to be visible as far south as mid-United States, but I haven't had a chance to see it. Typically, the aurorae tend to be seen at high latitudes, because the magnetic field lines are stronger there -- but during strong waves of the solar wind, they can be seen lower.

I wanted to name my daughter Aurora-- partly because I thought it was a beautiful enigmatic display, showing herself only secretly, and partly because the name Aurora Laura Roer was so fun to say. But my wife convinced me Abby was better. Abby means fathers deLight, so I still have the lights reference in them.

Random facts about the northern lights:
• They occur also in the south, called Aurora Australis
• They occur on other planets.
• They can be seen from space - the international space station has taken many beautiful pictures of it.
• The collisions occur about 50 miles above the earth, or roughly 1% of the radius of the earth above the earths surface.
• The auroras reach furthest toward the equators around midnight, so on any given day that would be the best time to try to observe them.
• Solar Flares, or "zit poppings" occur often -- once a week or so during good times and several a day during rough solar complexion. This varies in an 11 year cycle (why 11 years?!) and we are approaching a peak, 2013 should be a year of a lot of flares, and likely a lot more auroras visible. Perhaps the sun just ate a bunch of pepperoni pizza?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Phone: 799-ROER

Got a new phone number today. I'm now using Google Voice, an application provided by the omnipotent Google. Basically, you sign up and pick a phone number (its a local 616 area code) and you can have it forward any calls to that number to any of several phones you have. So I have two phone numbers now -- my personal number and this new (616) 799-ROER.

What's the point?

Well, the new number will be what I give out to my students and parents this coming school year. It keeps my work and personal lives a little more separate, even though they all come to one phone (the only one I have). You can change your availability to each phone as well - so I can say that I'm unavailable for work, and those phone calls will go straight to voicemail.

Voicemails are super sweet -- when you leave a message on 799-ROER, it sends me a text message and an email OF YOUR MESSAGE! It will translate the spoken words into written words -- here's one from carrie earlier today:
It mistranslated a little... "And he says hi" is actually Abby says hi. Higher earlier is "hi earlier." Not sure what "So in the You need bye bye" was -- but I can listen to it if I click on the play button.

I got that as a text, but it's also obviously visible from my computer -- where it is STORED. and that is the power of Google voice - these interactions are stored in a sortable database. That's why educators can use them -- it's a great way to keep track of and log conversations with parents.

Tim and I sent a handful of texts back and forth -- and they are all combined into one chunk above because they were all one conversation.

Anyway, thought you might want to know why I got a new phone number. But the old still works too.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Boring Blogposts

I feel like I've been doing nothing but writing papers for the last two weeks, so I haven't had any posts lately. Figure maybe someone somewhere would be interested in reading my philosophies of Christian education, and the role of technology in Christian education, which is where I've spent most of my blogging energies of late. Maybe more interesting posts will arise later?

Technology in Christian Education

The foundation of my beliefs is that this world was created by God. God is eternal, which means he has always existed and always will. God is all-powerful, and all-knowing, and deserving of all our worship. I believe God created mankind with that purpose in mind, that the things we do and say would glorify him.

I also believe that God is holy – he is pure and perfect, true love, truth and just. Man was created in that image, but man chose to live apart from God. As a consequence, there is evil, pain, and suffering in the world, and everyone now is born corrupted by sin and inherently living against God. Thankfully God loves us too much to let us stay apart from him, and he sent his son Jesus to save us and restore us to relationship with him. God calls us to know and live with him using two methods. First he uses general revelation, which is the nature all around us that points to him as creator. Second, he uses the special revelation that is his word, the Bible.

My role as a Christian educator is to help share this story, and reveal God to others, specifically to my students. As a math and science teacher, I tend to focus on general revelation, showing how the patterns and beauty and order we see in the world exhibits the properties of its creator. I use a lot of technology to do that. I show pictures of things I cannot physically bring into the classroom. I use microscopes and telescopes to see details in things that would otherwise be less glorious. I use databases and graphs to help show patterns. I even use technology like calculators to help teach other technologies like solving equations and quantifying things with numbers, all with the goal of describing the world as we see it.

There are lots of technologies that help teach via special revelation as well. The simple book binding machines that bring us our Bibles in the first place are a technology. More advanced tools are presentation tools like PowerPoint or word processors like Word that help present the ideas and stories of the Bible more effectively. There are videos that inspire us and instruments that help us sing the words of truth we get from the Bible. There are computers that help us communicate with others around the world and share our beliefs and discuss what the Bible teaches.

However, many of these technologies is also used by enemies of God to keep us away from him. Atheists can make presentations and propaganda using the same tools we can. Instruments can be used to sing songs that speak lies instead of the truth. Pornographers can create pictures and videos that tempt us to live for self instead of God. Telescopes used under the wrong assumptions can even lead some to believe this world is not created at all, but is itself eternal and infinite.

Technology is amoral – neither holy nor evil. It is similar to money, food, or even words for that matter. God has allowed us to have all these things and given us the choice in how to use them. We can either use them to honor him, or dishonor him. We can use them to help tell others about him to give him praise, or use them to communicate lies. We can even use them to glorify ourselves, or satisfy our own sinful desires, such as greed, pride, lust, or sloth. It is up to us to use the gifts and technologies he’s given us correctly.

And many times, just discerning the correct way to use our words, money, or technologies is an educational goal of its own.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

How My Christian Worldview Impacts My Teaching

A worldview is a system of beliefs and assumptions one makes, either consciously or unconsciously, which shapes how they act. It has been described as a set of glasses or filters through which you look at the world around you. There are as many worldviews as there are people, though many common themes exist. As a teacher seeking to interact with many people and try to teach them, it is of utmost importance to be aware of your own worldview, but also those of your students, colleagues, and coworkers. What follows is my description of the beliefs and assumptions I live by, and how I believe they impact my role as a teacher. My belief in and relationship with God is the primary lens my worldview is built around.

What is My Worldview?

What is god?
A more appropriate question is “Who is God?” I believe in the God described in the Bible, who goes by many names. The Bible calls him Elohim, Alpha and Omega, El Shaddai and Jehovah Jireh, Yeshua, Adonai, and many others. Each of names describes an attribute of God that reveals a little of his character.

Elohim is Hebrew for creator. I believe that God created the heavens and the earth. I do not know how he did it, but I do believe he did. Whether literally in six days by speaking it into existence as described in Genesis 1, or some other way, is interesting to debate – but God created it nonetheless. As a scientist, I am aware that the earth is held together by many different forces and laws, which I believe God, set in place in the beginning. Elohim does have the power to supernaturally override these laws at times, stepping in and performing miracles.

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, the beginning and the end. This name implies that God is eternal. God has always existed, and always will. This name reminds me of other attributes of God’s too. It reminds me that he is immutable, unchanging, and everlasting. It reminds me that he is immortal. It also reminds me that like him, I too will one day live forever.

El Shaddai is a Hebrew name meaning Lord Almighty. It reminds that he is all-powerful. Jehovah Jireh is another name meaning “The Lord will provide.” These two names combine to assure me that God will take care of me. There is nothing God cannot do, and he has my interests in mind. Jehovah Jireh is the name Abraham used when his faith was tested. He trusted that God would provide a lamb as a substitute for sacrificing his son Isaac. God did provide a lamb, and he has provided for me during numerous trials as well.

God provided most powerfully for me when he gave his only son Jesus to die on the cross for me. The name Yeshua is a name which means “He will save” from which we get the name Joshua, as well as Jesus. I believe Jesus is fully God, and yet fully man. I believe he lived on the earth around 2,000 years ago. I believe he was the only perfect example of an abundant life without sin.

What is man’s purpose?
Since man, like everything else, was created, the most important question to ask is why? I believe the name Adonai provides the answer. Adonai is translated “Lord” in the Bible. A lord deserves honor. A lord deserves obedience. A lord owns the land, and the people who work on it. Likewise, our heavenly Father deserves all the honor, glory, praise, and obedience that we his people can give.

Humans, like all creation, were created to worship God. We all do that simply by existing. I believe we are created in the image of God, which means, among other things, that we all reflect his attributes and character. I believe man stands unique from the rest of creation, because God has given us a choice. Some choose to obey God, and strive to live more like his son Jesus, and worship him joyfully. Others choose to disobey, and worship him reluctantly. Man’s primary purpose is to choose to worship God freely.

What is evil?
I believe there was an initial pair of humans, Adam and Eve, into whom God breathed life. This pair worshiped God freely until one day when they chose to disobey him, eating fruit from a forbidden tree. This first act of disobedience, also called sin, ushered in a curse. The perfect life they had enjoyed was now riddled with pain, suffering, and finally would result in their death. This is evil: the natural consequence of disobeying God, of which the ultimate penalty is death.

This curse of evil tainted all areas of creation – but namely man. Every child born now was born guilty of sin, subject to it, and preferring disobedience. In fact, though our physical bodies are alive, spiritually we are born dead. Without Yeshua’s saving grace – we are without hope, and have no place with God.

What happens after death?
Fortunately, there is life after death, both spiritually and physically. God’s son Jesus lived a perfectly obedient, sinless life. So complete was his obedience, and his love for mankind, that his unwarranted death on a cross paid the penalty that we each deserved. This act restores spiritual life in us. This act reconciles us with our holy creator, removing the guilt of our sin. No longer are we dead to sin, but we can once again choose freely to obey God, and do the works he has called us to do. This is the abundant life that Jesus came to give to us all.

Finally, I believe that three days after Jesus died, he came back to life. His physical body was restored and many witnessed it here on earth. This supernatural act began the reverse of the curse of evil. It provides a promise that we who believe in Jesus’ death for our sins can trust: that we too will experience life after death. Though our physical bodies will still die, we will be born again. We will live with God, in his presence, forever.

What Effect Does My Worldview have on my teaching?
Inherent in my world views are several philosophies which shape my teaching, including elements of objectivism and perennialism. My worldview also influences my teaching methods to include elements of behaviorism. Finally, my worldview sets my goal in teaching: preparing students to know and serve God better.

I believe there is objective truth in the universe, which we can learn and study. Specifically, I believe God reveals that truth to us in two ways. First, he reveals truth in the observations we can make in nature. I believe that by studying things in nature—and this includes much more than just birds and trees and such—we can learn about our creator. Studying the stars and planets helps reveal God’s power, order, and beauty. Studying a fractal gives a glimpse of God’s infiniteness. Studying an ecosystem can reveal how well things can work together and inspire us to live in harmony with each other, as God desires.

Second, God reveals truth to us through His word, written down in the Bible. I believe the Bible contains both literal and figurative language. This language recounts what happened in the past, describes how to live in the present, and gives glimpses of what is to come in the future. A large part of education is teaching students how to read, write, and interpret writings, so they can use scripture correctly.

As a math and science teacher, I tend to teach more on nature and how one can see God there. But much of the logic and reasoning I teach my students can also be used to interpret scripture. I also find elements of perennialism in my lesson planning. That is, I believe some truths are more important than others. While certain facts like the distance to the moon are interesting, I would rather my students know what the moon reveals about its creator. I would rather they awe at its beauty, trust that God’s faithfulness is even more reliable than the moons cycle, and be inspired to reflect God’s glory whenever they recall that the moon only gets its light from the sun.

I also find elements of behaviorism showing up in my teaching. I believe that every action has a consequence, starting with the original sin and subsequent curse. Unfortunately, the curse is so rampant, that often the consequences of actions are not obvious. In fact, sometimes the consequences even seem backward. Sometimes evil men prosper and good men suffer. I believe ultimately justice will prevail because Jesus rose from the dead after dying wrongly for our sins. I believe part of teaching morals to children involves making them aware that their choices are meaningful, and do have consequences. Part of that training certainly involves arbitrary rewards and punishments at times. Part of that training also involves inconsistencies in doling out consequences. That is often followed with a discussion about how sometimes life is not fair. Ultimately, students must learn to choose the right, even when the earthy consequences are hidden or unpleasant, because justice will prevail.

Overall, my goal in teaching is to prepare students to know and serve God better. Instructionally, I try to show them who God is by showing them what he has done in creation, and teaching them deeper reasoning and observational skills. My colleagues teach other skills, like communicating and interpreting literature. Together, we teach our students to learn all they can about who God is, who they are, and how they are to live. Informally, I show them through my example how to live morally and how to seek, know and please God. I pray to God that he will open their eyes to see their creator, and strive to view their world as I do.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Behaviourism

The topic of our first real discussion in my "Issues in Education" class was what role behaviourism should have in education. Behavioursim is the psychological approach of controlling behavior through the use of conditioning, or using reinforcemnt -- or as I define it: "drool-training." The classic example described is Pavlov's dog experiment. By ringing a bell when presenting food to his dogs, the dogs learned to associate the ringing of a bell with food, and would drool when the bell rings -- even if no food was around. This sort of behavior-training is the heart of behaviorism.

The articles we read - one pro-behaviorism by none other than B.F. Skinner himself - and another emphasizing the role of human choice, seemed to demonize behaviorists as manipulative, controlling tyrants. The beginning of the discussion seemed to center on this, and lean against the use of any sort of reinforcement training - i.e. the use of punishments, rewards, etc.

I felt alone in believing that behavioristic methods had some merit. I argued that behaviorism is quite natural -- we use it to train our cats and dogs -- even our young children. Some argued that students should be make their own choices, free from any external rewards or punishments.

The thing is, no choices are free from rewards or punishments -- ultimately, every choice we make has a consequence. I think the role of behaviorism in school is for students who haven't yet learned the consequences of their actions. So, for very young students, behaviorism in the form of gold stars and otherwise is certainly appropriate. Once students have learned that there are other rewards to doing right and consequences for doing bad, then behaviorism techniques should wane. It probably would not be appropriate in say a senior level class. For freshman -- possibly? Some freshman are already good at choosing wisely. Others are further behind.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Confessions of a Moviegoer

While attending my first class at Cornerstone today, we were doing a get-to-know you activity where we had to list one thing that "we never told our parents we did". I did very few secret things, and so thought it was a stupid question -- but only one thing came to mind.

Sometime early in high school -- maybe even middle school, I went to see an R-rated movie with my older cousin and some of his friends. I was not old enough. I can't remember what the movie was, or even how I managed to get in, being significantly younger than 17, but I did. I didn't want to go to see this movie -- but did and was told not to tell my parents. I never did.

The only thing I remember about the movie is that there was a sex scene. Thankfully, I don't remember the details -- but it did have a lasting effect on me. Throughout my high school and college years, I struggled with my thought life and my view of women. Was this directly a result of my cousin making me go to this movie -- of course not. But it was one of several initial encounters I had that lead me down a battle I wish I hadn't had to fight.

Needless to say, nowadays I take a strong stance on watching movies. My wife and I don't watch anything without "previewing" it first -- by reviews, or by looking at websites like Plugged In Movie Review to learn what's in it. I believe strongly that what you input into your system controls what comes out, and movies is one big influence on me, and many others. Carrie and I have found other things to do many times when a movie night was suggested for a movie we either hadn't previewed, or knew contained questionable material. Have I missed out on some good movies because of it? Possibly -- but I'm ok with that.

So next time you suggest a movie to me and I have something else to do -- don't be offended.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Its Been Three Days

Microsoft Outlook is telling me it's been three days since I last wrote in my blog, so I am writing again. I haven't been living as intentionally as I've wanted, so I am trying something new.

There are certain things I want to do consistently -- so I've used Microsoft Outlook to help hold me a little more accountable. For instance -- I want to "do devotions" everyday. So I set that as a task that recurs every day -- and so every morning when I turn on the computer it tells me that I need to do that.

Well, writing in the blog is something I want to do more consistently too, so I have it set to remind me every three days to write something. If I write before that -- great! If I write after that, no big deal, but it will continue to show up on my to do list until it gets done. Then it will move to three days later.

Other things on the list -- clean Ninja litter box every other day. (Not sure why I'm still doing this -- thought it was a temporary thing while Carrie was pregnant cause "pregnant women can't touch cat poop!") Doing dishes every other day. Take trash out, every thursday.

Not exactly sure how I feel about having devotions relegated to a task on my to do list - but I'd rather it be something I feel like I need to do just to get it done then not do them at all, which is what I had been doing. I suppose that's a philosohpical discussion to include in my next post, three days from now.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thoughts While Husking Corn

My mind and spirit are so under attack lately that I didn't even feel like I could husk corn correctly yesterday.

I was sitting around on the 4th while everyone was out on the boats and my wife and baby were napping. I was sick of playing chess against the computer and wanted to do something. I thought I should turn some music on -- because that always brightens my spirits, and then thought -- hey! there's corn here that I could help clean! That would be great -- listen to some music and clean the corn!

But as soon as I got my radio on and bags ready for the corn clippings and pulled my first leaf off, I felt it.

My step-mom yelled in super-fast dutch "No! No! No! something something something..."

Then my sister translated "No! No! No! What are you doing! We were going to grill them in the husks! Now we can't do that! You idiot!"

Remember -- they were in the boat, so they didn't actually say that -- these are the voices I hear in my head.

Anyway -- I decided that these voices probably weren't true -- but still struggled with cleaning for a few minutes -- wondering if I would "get caught" cleaning any minute now. Then I would be in big trouble.

Then later -- as I was getting about 60% done, I started hearing from the dinner table "There's all these hairs on my corn." "Yeah, I hate those stupid hairs." "Who forgot to remove these hairs!"

Seriously.

Why can I not even do one act of service now without getting attacked with voices of doubt. I choose songs for a service and instantly hear people complaining. I step up to the plate and hear "another pop fly coming -- better get my glove ready to go on defense." I set up a VBS skit stage and hear the kids "That's not a boat!" or "There's somebody under that table!" I assign homework and I hear the kids saying "It's too hard" or "I already learned this" or "It took me two hours!" or I hear parents say "How come your class is the only class that..."

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On another note -- Pastor Ron talked about complainers and "nitpickers" who just sit on the sidelines in a church. I have the perfect job for them -- husking corn. You have to be such a hairpicker to get all those little pieces of silk -- it would be so easy for some people.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fighting Injustice

Tigers' pitcher Galaraga almost threw a perfect game last night. The chance was stolen from him when Jim Joyce the umpire made a mistake and called a runner safe whom the Tigers had gotten out. The replay confirmed the runner was indeed out and the game should have been over -- but the game continued.

The reactions of fans, players, coaches, radio shows, have all been varied. The fans naturally booed -- and probably worse things. The players -- especially Galaraga -- simply smiled and shrugged it off, and got back to business. Tigers' coach Jim Leyland ran out on the field to fight the call -- but eventually submitted, and even announced today that Joyce was a great umpire - one who had given the game of baseball many great years. One radio announcer was on the opposite side of the spectrum -- calling for Joyce's firing, or at least suspension, and calling upon commissioner Bud Selig to use his power to change the call and give Galaraga the perfect game he deserved.

All this has got me thinking about what is the correct response to this sort of thing. Should we fight and argue and complain with all our might to get the call reversed and to assure that "justice is served?" Should we roll with the punches, shrug our shoulders, and realize its just a game and move on?

Anyone who knows me knows how I would have reacted -- but was that right? Should I too have gotten upset and frustrated and "fought a little harder?" Should seeking justice and truth be our priority, or learning to be content whatever circumstances life throws at us? Life is not fair -- everyone's mom has told us that from the beginning. Should we be trying to make life fair? Or should we be trying to cope with unfairness in life?

Or is this a false dichotomy? Are we to be doing both?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Not-so-profound-papapost

I've been waiting and waiting to write anything because I wanted it to be the most deep profound thoughts on being a new papa, but I can't think of anything.

Abby is very healthy, and I think she's super cute.

Being a papa is a great responsibility, but so far has not been nearly the nightmare I thought it would be. I can do all the major things, save one -- feed Abby.
I have changed diapers, changed onesies, washed Abby's clothes, and her arms, and her hair. I have swaddled her (it's just like making a fajita, but easier because the shell is actually long enough for the stuffing). I have learned to hold her and sway and bounce to make her happy.

I have also learned what not to do to babies, but I cannot post it here for fear of child abuse allegations.

Papa without an accent means potato in spanish.

Here's Abby with hiccups:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Come, Now Is The Time

... to be born!

I went through every hymn in the song book I have that has the word "Come" in it -- trying to convince baby to come out. Played it on the piano and sung aloud -- changed most of the lyrics. Jesus I Come became "Out of the darkness, into the the light, Baby Please come... Baby Please Come, out of mom's tummy, into our lives, Baby please come today."

She didn't listen.

Sang 2nd verse of Because He Lives -- about how precious it is to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride they bring. She didn't come.

She's now two days late. That's 10% off per day.

God's timing is perfect though. He never gives us a challenge that we are not ready to meet.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Calm Before The Storm

This morning, as I type in my grades at 4:45, I hear the wind begin rustling around the house. It's going to storm today -- big rains and 40mph winds expected. It's relatively quiet right now -- I can hear the clocks ticking away, and Ninja breathing on the sofa next to me. I can even hear Carrie breathing in the other room, poor girl is having trouble sleeping.

I realize that I'm experiencing a calm before the storm. I'm not ready to take my shower and move on with the day today -- I'm expecting it to be a tough day at school. I'm behind on grading, and only a day ahead with plans and assignments. Exam's and exam review guides are due Wed, and you guessed it -- not finished yet.

I realize I'm also facing a calm before the storm on another front. Carrie and I are quite comfortable taking care of ourselves, but any day now we will add another responsibility to our plates. Yesterday we watched as my cousin had to spank and "No" her son several times in the course of a meal. We watched as he slipped away from view during softball games, and ended up in the parking lot in front of and behind cars. I watched as he nearly fell over backwards out of her arms in front of me and my heart skipped a beat as I tried to catch him. I'm not ready to move into that storm. A car pulled in front of us on the way home and again my reflexes kicked in and startled me nearly to tears.

Well, its starting to rain, so I must be going.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Smother's Day

Another mother's day come and gone. I was hoping this year would be different. I thought the excitement of Carrie being a mom would smother all disappointment and grief I felt at mom being gone. While I admit this year was the numbest I've had -- I didn't cry (and no I'm not bragging here, I kind of wish I had) this year for the first time -- I didn't feel excitement for Carrie. Maybe that will come when I can actually see the baby, which I strongly believed I'd have held by now.

I just felt confused all day long. A large part of me was mad because Carrie wasn't a real mom yet -- I've longed so much the past two weeks for the baby. I knew she was going to come the last two weeks, like I knew she'd be a girl earlier. But anger? Really? Why should I be mad? Impatient I guess. Anxious. Nervous. Uncertain. Scared.

I was also confused regarding my mom and step-mom. As happy as I am for dad having found someone that makes him happy again, I haven't exactly hit it off with my step-mom yet. I don't know if I ever will either. I still feel a lot of jealousy I think because dad used to spend so much time here in Belding, and with us. Now I'm lucky if I see him once a week. Not to mention the changes being made in "the lakehouse". They look nice -- but its not the same house it used to be. A part of me feels like every memory of mom is being smothered out -- painted over, tiled over, removed and sold on craigslist. And the other part of me realizes this is just part of moving on -- a healthy stage of grieving. Just wish I could show the same excitement as everyone else does.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Beautiful Lawn

I don't know why it bothers me so, but I've been really discouraged lately about my lawn. Honestly, I couldn't care less about my lawn right now as I don't have time or reason to play in it or use it. But it's full of nasty crab grass, bare patches, and really tall grass. It looks awful. I see the other lawns in the neighborhood looking fairly good, and can't help but compare them to mine. I don't have a lawn mower, nor is there budget for one.

Why do I care what everyone thinks of my lawn? Why do I "hear" all my neighbors as they drive by wondering about 'who the slob that lives in 240 Pineview must be'. It's not that I'm a lazy guy who sits around blogging and watching tv all day. I work hard -- lately its been 16 hour days -- I just can't seem to accomplish it all and still have time to reduce the height of the blades of grass in my lawn by 33%. And I don't have the money to pay someone else to do it for me! If it bothers you so much, cut it yourself! (that's the screaming I do in my head when I'm combatting the neighbors voices i hear in my head).

By the way, no neighbors have said anything or given me any reason to think they actually feel that way.... Why do I feel like they do? Why do I feel constantly under attack? I feel the same way at school too -- like many of my students, and their parents -- see all the things I don't do, or the promises I break because I run out of time. Why don't I dwell on the positives! Why is the glass so half empty?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Coping With My Wife's New Job

I've been spoiled -- for the last 5 years my wife and I have carpooled to work and back. It has been so wonderful to have 1.5 hours a day just sitting next to my wife. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we just sit and listen to the radio. Sometimes we play Wordominos, where you link one word to the next, and come up with a long chain like "marshmallow yellow snow mobile" and see how long a chain you can make it.

The last four weeks Carrie has spent more days at home -- and this week is her first full time week at home. The car rides have been so much quieter and longer now that she's not there.

But it's not all bad.... Today I came home to food on the table, which was great. And I think I will learn to appreciate being able to stay at school later and get more work done there-- hopefully I won't have to do as much at home in the future. I'm sure that any difficulties I have finding motivation to work at home now will simply be amplified once my baby girl has me wrapped around her finger. (Isn't her fingers going to be wrapped around mine? Oh well)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lazy Saturday Worries

Struggled today with dealing with the emotions of upcoming fatherhood.

Today was one of Carrie and I's last free weekends together before little "Aurora Laura" enters our world and flips it upside down. I felt we should have spent it doing something really amazing. Instead, it was a pretty lazy day. Finally got up enough motivation to assemble the jogging stroller for the baby -- and it was a fail. The front wheel wobbles uncontrollably, and though I'm following the directions, the screw won't tighten and I can't seem to fix it. It shouldn't upset me, but I just keep thinking about soon I won't be able to fix things like why my daughter is crying. The frustration was almost literally paralyzing.

Thankfully Carrie and I had enough wits amongst us to get out of the house for a while. Went to the cousin's house and hung around with them and their little ones. There's no better cure for not wanting to follow through with your baby than to go and play with others' babies. Got to play with Adelle again, swinging her around and playing in the sand. Got to feed her and her cousin Halle. Even got to take Halle on a ride in the new stroller -- which works well enough.

So, though my wife and I cried and felt like giving up on the whole baby thing at 4:30, by 8:30 I was ready to see and hold my little kicker again.