Archive for April, 2016

Girl Scout Logo Inspiration

I discovered the inspiration for the shape of the Girl Scout logo.

image of the Girl Scout logo morphed with Princess Leia's head

Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form.

Ezekiel 1:5

The Age of Jesus

I was wondering about why Jesus died at age 33. So I looked it up on the internet.

The answers were not helpful.

They ran the range from “Because the Roman soldiers crucified Him” to “Because it was time for Him to fulfill His mission” to “to shed His blood to atone for our sins”.

All of those are answers and they are correct, but they are not correct answers. They don’t answer the question. Or rather, they answer the question wrongly.

Or maybe the question should be rephrased: Why was it at age 33 that Jesus died? or: What is special about the number 33 in the Bible?

That’s what I wanted to know. And I’m guessing those other people who asked the question earlier also wanted to know that aspect.

So I decided to come up with my own answer.

But before we get to that, let’s spend some time on the significant numbers in the Bible.

First, the number 3. It is the number of the Trinity. Things occur in threes throughout the Bible: Satan tempted Jesus 3 times, Peter denied Jesus 3 times, etc.

Second, the number 7. It is number of completeness. There are 7 days in a week, Daniel had a vision of 7 weeks, the Israelites marched around Jericho 7 times, etc.

Third, the number 10. It is the number of power. There are 10 kings in revelation, 10 plagues for the Egyptians, etc.

Fourth, the number 12. It is the number of God’s people. There are 12 tribes of Israel, 12 disciples, 12 gates of Jerusalem, etc.

Fifth, the number 40. It is the number of a journey. Noah’s boat experienced rain for 40 days, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, Jesus was in the desert for 40 days before the temptation, etc.

Sixth, the number 1,000. It is the number of, umm, a lot. Jesus will reign on earth for 1,000 years, etc.

There are other numbers in the Bible, but none I could think of that are used repeatedly like those I listed here. Astute readers will note my list has only six items, therefore it is incomplete.

Slight topical detour here to discuss the number 5. David picked out 5 stones from the brook and threw one of them at Goliath. Why 5 stones? That doesn’t fit with anything. He could have picked out 3 or 7. Even 6 would make more sense. But 5?

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. How does the number 33 fit in here?

You can make the number 33 by various methods. Maybe 3 times 12, minus 3. Or 3 times 10, plus 3. But I think it’s more likely to be 40 minus 7.

And I think that because of the meanings of the numbers.

If you consider Jesus’ life here on earth as a journey, that should be 40. But He has unfinished business here on earth, right? Since He is going to return, that means His journey is not complete. So we subtract 7, the number of completeness.

Why 33 years? Because 40 – 7. Because His journey on earth is not complete.

When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli

Luke 3:23

Voice Commands, Anyone?

Does anyone use the voice command feature of customer service phone calls? I ignore those and always press the keys.

I find myself annoyed at them, because it takes the lady long enough as it is to go through the prompts normally. But when you add having her say the phrases that you need to say for the option you want, it about doubles the time you have to sit and listen.

I understand that some people might have physical limitations that cause them to have problems with keypresses. For those people, the call system could have that as an initial option. Like they do for English and Spanish. They could say “For English, press 1; para Español, marque dos; for voice commands, please say ‘voice commands’.”

That would also work for the people who are multitasking by calling customer service lines while they are driving and can’t or won’t press keys (or key-like sections of a screen).

Yet hear now this word which I am about to speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people!

Jeremiah 28:7

Customer Service Tips

Dear customer service representatives: please end your conversations with “Have a good day” not with “Thanks for calling such and such”. Because people will want to respond with “You too” and your final words must allow for “you too” to make sense.

The worst case is when the agent says “Have a good day, and thanks for calling us” because the first part gets the caller’s brain primed to say “You too” and it’s hard to switch gears that quickly. So the end of the conversation ends up being “…and thanks for calling us.” “You too.” Click.

It doesn’t have to be exactly “Have a good day”. It could be any other sentiment to which a response of “You too” would be appropriate.

Her wise princesses would answer her, Indeed she repeats her words to herself

Judges 5:29

Credit Card Tips

Related to my Trip Booking Tips on credit cards: I thought I’d let you know my credit card strategy for life in general.

I have multiple credit cards. Not too many, but enough to spread the risk around. Or rather keep the damage limited if something does happen.

I have one credit card that I use for swiping at physical locations (grocery store, gas stations, etc.) The problem is reduced by the new chip cards, but there are still plenty of opportunities for skimmers to steal my information from swipe machines. Which means that I don’t use this card for other things, especially recurring charges.

I have another card I use for online transactions. This is the number I enter just about every time I buy something online, so I have it memorized and haven’t touched the actual card in months.

If I were doing it right, I would have a third card for recurring transactions. But I don’t want to juggle too many cards, so I put these on the online card.

And one more thing: if I know I’m going to be going to a restaurant, I take enough cash so I don’t have to use a credit card. I’m suspicious whenever someone takes my credit card away where I can’t see it. Plus, it makes leaving the restaurant easier – I don’t have to wait for the waitress to come back with my card. I just hand her the cash (bill plus tip, rounded up to the nearest dollar), tell her it’s all set, and then I can leave whenever I want.

A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,

Proverbs 1:5

Trip Booking Tips

Another thing I do is not trust telling someone my credit card information over the phone. Booking websites, yes. Most of those are automated and there’s no chance for a rogue employee at the establishment to walk away with my information. Losing information to hackers is a possibility, but that’s at another level. I can’t do anything about that.

My credit card was compromised a couple years ago. The CC company caught on and did not fulfill the fraudulent purchase, but I still had the hassle of cancelling that card and getting a new one. No, that wasn’t the hassle. The hassle was remembering all the places that used that card for recurring transactions and updating them with the new card info. The monthly transactions weren’t that bad – just a glance at the previous statement told me those. But there were some annual transactions that were trickier to find. And one I didn’t find until the company notified me that they were denied.

I have a pretty good idea of what happened to get into that mess. It happened shortly after I called a place to book a reservation. It was a smaller operation, one that did not handle reservations online. And it was a seasonal operation, meaning that a lot of the staff were college age, or maybe even high schoolers. My guess is that I happened to get one of the untrustworthy ones. He probably entered my information into their booking system and also wrote it down for himself to use later. Maybe he tried to use it himself. Maybe he was just a runner who got paid to gather information for someone else. Doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is that I now use a Virtual Account Number if I have to give a credit card number over the phone. Not every CC company has them (mine does but my wife’s does not. Yes, we have separate cards. For risk mitigation purposes).

When I see that a place says “Call for reservations” I go to my CC website and generate a VAN with a limit slightly over the expected cost and an expiration date just after the expected time. I tell the VAN to the suspect place, so if my CC is compromised, I can tell the CC company those are not real purchases and I don’t have to do any more damage control or scramble with giving a new CC# to companies that I do want to have it on file.

He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.

Proverbs 20:19

The 5 Hows: Splendor

Continuing my series of how to play board and card games, I now present Splendor.

I don’t have this game yet, but was introduced to it by my brother-in-law. And now it is on my birthday present wish list.

1. How do I win?
You win by being the first player to reach 15 points.

2. How do I get points?
You get points by buying cards with point values on them. Not all cards have point values, but you might have to buy some of those in order to afford more cards. There are also a limited number of Nobles available, which you can win by having certain combinations of cards. So the pointless cards can help you get points that way.

3. How do I buy cards?
You buy cards with gems. Each card displays its gem cost. You pay that combination of gems and you get the card.

4. How do I get gems?
You draw them. On your turn you can either draw 3 gems or buy a card. If you don’t have enough gems to buy a card, then your choice is simple.

Another thing to note: the cards you buy not only have a gem cost but they also have a gem value. You may pay 4 gems for a card, but then that card is worth a gem later. Gem chips are drawn and paid – the chips physically move from the bank to your hand and back. But cards count as gems and do not leave your hand. As you accumulate cards, you accumulate their gem values and can thus afford higher-worth cards.

5. How do I play defense?
I simplified the rules earlier. On your turn you can do one of three things: draw gems, buy a card, or reserve a card. If you think someone is going for a particular card and you want the thwart them, or maybe you want the card but can’t afford it yet, you take the card without buying it. This has the added benefit of giving you a piece of gold (a wildcard when it comes to gems). It has the drawback of costing you a turn, since you must use one of your later turns to pay for the card. Or you can hold it in reserve indefinately, in which case it never counts toward your hand. You could consider that a draw-a-wildcard-gem turn.

Not related to the question, but related to the simplification of the rules: on your turn you may draw gems – either 3 gems if they are different colors or 2 gems if they are the same color. But you are not allowed to draw 2 of the same color if that will result in there being less than two of that gem in the bank.

There, now go play Splendor.

Now you must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen; and you must hurry and bring my father down here.

Genesis 45:13