Archive for May, 2008

Diversionary Measures

Here is my first Java applet. For those who don’t know what a Java applet is, it is a little program.

Just click on the square below to start. I think everyone should be familiar with the concept. The goal is to get the numbers in order. Click on a number next to the blank square to move that square into the now formerly blank spot. To reset the grid to a new random order, use your browser’s reload button.

alt=”Your browser is not allowing Java. Please check your security settings or options.”

“But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.”
– 1 Corinthians 14:40

Check is in the Mail

It is the end of May, and I have not received my economic stimulus tax rebate check. According to what the IRS said, I should have received my money a few weeks ago. But I did, last week, receive a letter from the IRS saying that I will get some money. Not the money itself, just a letter describing the money.

Lewis Black had a comedy routine about this the last time there was an economic stimulus rebate thingy (around 2001). And I have to agree with him. Why not, instead of mailing people letters telling them they’re going to receive checks, just put the checks in the letters? That would save people some annoyance and save the government some money. How much money? It cost the IRS $42 million to send letters without checks in them.

“For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.”
– Romans 13:6

Ban the Ban

Some misguided countries are banning or considering banning the good-old incandescent light bulb (GS) to force people to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). That is a bad idea. Not that CFLs are a bad idea, but banning GSes is a bad idea.

The article linked in the ‘bad idea’ phrase above recommends taxing incandescent bulbs instead of banning them. This would have a similar effect of forcing people to CFLs, but people could still choose GSes if they wanted. I agree that a tax would be better than a ban, but I disagree that the recommended action for governments is to add taxes. I do agree that if you want less of something, tax it, and if you want more of something, then subsidize it.

But I believe the government shouldn’t need to do anything in this case. CFLs should have to earn their place in a competitive market like any other product. If they are truly worth it (“a CFL can save you $45 in energy costs”), then people will use them. Most people don’t want to spend more money on things than they need to spend. But if they are not worth it (“but a CFL won’t work in my unheated garage, in my refrigerator, with my dimmer switch, etc.“) then people will reject them. If CFLs are worth being bought, then advertisers are fully capable of getting the public to buy them.

“But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet {them} and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it.”
– Joshua 6:18


I know a couple different people who are officers in the military. My relationships with them are unrelated to the military – they are just regular people I know who happen to have jobs working for the government. Last weekend, I was with one of them and needed help moving something. When you ask a military officer for help, be careful of the terms you use. Officers do not like being enlisted for anything. Use any word other than “enlist”.

“For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”
– Luke 7:8


If you have children, be sure to hug them today.

Maria Sue Chapman, 2003 – 2008

I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, According to Your word to Your servant.

Psalm 119:75-76

Water-Flavored Water

Upon reading the label on a bottle of a well-known brand of water, I noticed that pure water doesn’t taste like pure water.

label of a water bottle

For those who can’t see the image, it says “Enhanced with minerals for a pure, fresh taste”.

Doesn’t the word “pure” mean “not enhanced or modified”?  I suppose it does say “pure taste” not “pure water”.  Why does water need to be enhanced? Why can’t water be just water? The answer is this: they filter the water first, to take out the minerals. Since the minerals have been removed, they must be added back in. Otherwise, the water would not taste quite right. Oh, the days of drinking well water from a hose, water that comes straight from the earth to you. Great taste, and lots of minerals.

A similar concept is at work in the flour and bread industry. You may have noticed that there is such a thing as enriched bleached flour. This is flour that has had all the nutrients bleached out of it, so they need to be added back. Why all the work and fuss to take stuff out and then replace it? Just give me whole-wheat bread that doesn’t have to be enriched or enhanced (note: the link in that sentence leads to a site that may ask you to sign up for a newsletter. You should be able to skip that offer and go right to the article).

I know, I know, processing and bleaching the flour makes for softer bread, bread that holds peanut butter and jelly better. But I have learned to go for the whole wheat. Save the squishy bread for the occasional treat, but don’t live off it.

“You shall buy food from them with money so that you may eat, and you shall also purchase water from them with money so that you may drink.”
– Deuteronomy 2:6

Driving Tip

Do not try to guess what the other driver expects you to do. Maintain your course and speed and let the other drivers work around you.

Last week, I was commuting home from work and I was about to enter the freeway portion of the trip. The service drive is somewhat above the freeway at that point, so I had a good view of the traffic that was already there. As I was coming down the ramp, I aimed for a spot just behind someone in the right lane. Unfortunately, they thought I was aiming for a spot in front of them. I think they were trying to be nice, so they slowed down to let me in.

But I wasn’t going fast enough to get in that spot. I couldn’t merge because the helpful car was right in my way, and I couldn’t slow down because there was someone just behind me, also wanted to enter the freeway. So I had to stomp on the accelerator and cut in front of the person before the short entrance lane ended. If I had some nice sporty car, that wouldn’t have been a problem. But I have a Buick. Not exactly suitable for quick maneuvers like that.

And that reminded me of a similar problem we had a number of years ago. Back at least a decade ago, my dad was driving the family back (eastbound) from a trip to visit my sister (who at the time was the only child of his who was married and out of the house). Part of the journey involved a rural two-lane road with a few long straightaways. The speed limit was 55 mph, and we were behind someone who was going slower. So dad pulled into the other lane (westbound) to pass the person.

The person was driving slowly, but not extremely slowly, so it took a few seconds to get next to the car. At that point, an oncoming car was approaching. Dad judged that there would not be time to get around the slow person before we crashed, so he slowed down to get back behind the slow person. Unfortunately, the slow person was trying to be nice and let dad in ahead of him (or was it a her? I don’t remember). So the oncoming car was even closer, but dad could not get back into the lane because the other car was trying to guess what dad wanted but was getting it wrong. After a cycle of slow down, speed up, slow down – matched exactly by the other car, we finally got back into the eastbound lane before the westbound car met us.

So if you ever see me driving and it seems like I’m not being courteous by slowing down or speeding up for other people, it’s not because I’m being mean. I’m just trying to avoid accidents.

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12