Archive for July, 2015

A Fine Library

I’m finally back to a zero balance at the library. We had overdue books since April.

They weren’t accumulating fines since April. As soon as I realized they were overdue, we renewed the check-out to stop the fines.

The fine was $11. And it cost $4 to pay to replace the book if you give up and say it’s lost. But the library is generous in that whatever you pay to replace the book is applied to the fine.

But along the way, other books came and went and accrued fines. Here’s a tip: if you let a 3-year-old check out books on your account, don’t let them out of your sight. He will set them down somewhere and then promptly forget where.

So the total was $17 today, and we are the proud owners of two small books.

… if we can find them.

And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’

Luke 15:9

For Emergency Use Only

image of a chapstick under a lean-to to make a balm shelter

Balm shelter.

There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.

Isaiah 4:6

Straw Poll Results

The winner of the straw poll, with 66.666666666666666666% of the votes is:


People praised both its versatility and its usefulness, particularly in helping small children be able to sip a drink without tipping it and spilling its contents.

He trains my hands for battle, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

2 Samuel 22:35

Straw Poll

I’ve heard of people taking straw polls before, and with the election year starting soon – or having already started, depending on your location – there will be more talk of straw polls.

So I thought I’d hold my own straw poll.

Which is your favorite type of straw:

A. Normal
B. Bendy
C. Curly
D. Scoop

Cast your vote in the comments section.

So the taskmasters of the people and their foremen went out and spoke to the people, saying, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I am not going to give you any straw.’ “

Exodus 5:10

Efficient Entrance

We were in line to buy tickets to enter a tourist attraction. The line was accumulating, even though the place had two cashier windows open.

I inclined my ear toward the windows and heard people at each station discussing memberships. Meanwhile we, and everyone behind us, were interested in simply buying tickets for the day.

I thought it was an inefficient process to have all available windows processing memberships. My plan would be to have one window dedicated to normal tickets – the quick transaction – and one window that would take membership applications as well as sell tickets.

That would have made my experience better. But would it be better overall?

Let’s assume it takes an average of 2 minutes to buy a set of tickets. And let’s assume an average of 10 minutes to buy an annual membership.

In order to replicate my situation, let’s assume the two memberships are at the beginning of the line. So for the first 10 minutes, the line does not move as both windows are busy with memberships. Then there are 20 minutes left to sell tickets. At 2 minutes each, times 2 windows, that equals 20 sets of tickets.

So in 30 minutes, 2 windows process 20 sets of tickets and 2 memberships. How does that compare with my proposed setup?

The first window is only tickets. In 30 minutes, it processes 15 sets of tickets.

The second window is memberships and tickets. This window takes 20 minutes for memberships and then has 10 minutes for tickets, so 5 sets of tickets.

The total is still 20 sets of tickets and 2 memberships.

That doesn’t show any difference. But the difference does show up in the average wait time.

Average wait time in the first case is 0 for the memberships and then 10 + ((0 + 2 + 4 + 6 + 8 + 10 + 12 + 14 + 16 + 18) / 10) = 10 + 90/10 = 19 minutes per set of tickets

Average wait time in the second case is (0 + 10) / 2 = 5 minutes for memberships and then (0 + 2 + 4 + … + 26 + 28) / 15 = 210/15 = 14 minutes for the first window and (20 + 22 + 24 + 26 + 28) / 5 = 120/5 = 24 minutes for the second window.

The average is not 14 + 24 / 2 (which equals 19 minutes), since more people had the lower wait time. The average is 210 + 120 / 20 = 16.5 minutes.

So dedicating a window to the slower process results in a lower wait time for 90% of the clients.

Not only is it faster, but it also feels faster to everyone, since the main line is always moving. With the original configuration, it felt very slow because the whole line did not move at all for 10 minutes.

See, I am going to wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.

2 Samuel 15:28

More Bonus

I saw this on a bottle of something we had around the house:

image of a bottle of sunscreen that claimed to have +25% more bonus

There were a couple of things about this that amused me.

1. More bonus? Not more product?

What if the previous amount of bonus had been zero? Then you could legitimately claim just about anything, like 100% more bonus, and it would be true.

2. Why the plus sign? Are they trying to encourage positive feelings about their product?

Someone should try sneaking a minus sign in a claim just for fun. “-25% more bonus!” Of course, if the original bonus amount was zero, then it really doesn’t matter if the percentage is positive or negative.

And that is why punctuation is important. If it had said “+25% more! Bonus!” or “+25% more, bonus” or something to separate bonus so that it is not the object of the word more, then there would be an ambiguity here.

But then I wouldn’t have a fun topic for my blog post, so maybe it’s fine the way it is.

But if he should ever wish to redeem it, then he shall add one-fifth of it to your valuation.

Leviticus 27:13

Christian Excuses

This was a post that I wrote a long time ago with the hopes that it would become a guest post on Stuff Christians Like. I believe that will never happen now, so I’m publishing it here. Enjoy!

Sooner or later, during the journey that you take as a Christian, you are going to be cornered. You will be asked to do something.

If that particular task is not your cup of tea, you will want to refuse. But if you’re like I am, you can’t just say “No thanks.” – you must provide some additional, compelling explanation of why not.

Maybe you are being asked to be on a committee.
Maybe it is expected that you will be teaching the children’s Sunday School class.
Maybe you were voluntold to drive the church van for the teens’ canoe trip.

Whatever the situation, you need an excuse.

And if you need an excuse, you have come to the right place, for I have gathered excuses from the Bible. You can use this handy-dandy list the next time a church activity threatens to reduce your free time. Don’t these people know that you can’t play Draw Something if you are busy setting up chairs?

Since these excuses are from the Bible, your fellow Christians cannot argue with you. Drop one of these, and all they can do is watch is amazement as you walk away, commitment-free.

1. I just bought a field, and I must go see it.
Most church-goers will recognize this as an excuse.
However, anyone who has paid attention to the sermons about this passage will also recognize this as a sham excuse that really means “I don’t really care about you now would you please leave me alone”.
This is a rookie excuse – try to avoid it.

2. There’s a lion in the streets, so I mustn’t leave my house.
This one might backfire because the other person will probably think you were just trying to be funny while referencing Proverbs.
Not the best move either – pick something plausible.

3. I’m not yet 30. Or, I’m over age 50.
Did you know there are approved ages for serving in the church? Seriously – it’s in Numbers chapter 4. Only those between the ages of 30-50 were to work in the church.

4. I’ve been married for less than a year.
God told the Israelites that newlyweds are not to be bothered for a year. Don’t ask them to do anything other than be happily married.
Let’s see if we can work this into the church by-laws.
I would expand this by-law to include the clause that newlyweds are also not to be asked about their timeline for offspring.

5. It’s not my role in the body of Christ.
That is a job for a hand, or at least an arm. I’m the ankle in the church body, so I really wouldn’t be of any use for what you need. But I’ll support you in your efforts.

If you need time to pick the best excuse, no worries there either. Just throw in an “I need to pray about it” and you’ll get at least one extra day.

So, what’s your excuse?

The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!”

Proverbs 22:13