"And the trouble is / We don't know who we are instead."

Monday, November 29, 2004

Harmony remote

Yes, if you so desire, you can now spend over $200 on a remote control: Froogle Search: harmony remote.

There's just something about mankind and control, especially when it's done via infrared—invisible 'magic', reminiscent of thundersticks and Indians.

"Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms." —motto of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair

"People Propose, Science Studies, Technology Conforms." —the designer's motto today

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Living sacrifice

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" Luke 14:28.

The greatest pain comes when we let go of the searching and embrace the found—when we realize the search is over. The melancholy adventurer longs for the search, but can be downright terrified at the thought of grasping the prize. Many songs are written about the search, few esteem the prize enough to lose everything for it. When we finally realize the cost is the search itself, will we pay the price?

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:25-27.

My heart cries holy

Heart Cries Holy, by Big Daddy Weave

Standing here in the presence
Of something more than merely real
There are no words to describe you
Or explain the way I feel

As you speak I find healing for my soul
And your touch alone can make me whole

And my heart cries Holy
And my spirit feels the change
As my heart cries Holy I will never be the same

Your mercies toward me last forever
Your faithfulness is true
And as You touch the coal to my lips
My mind is made brand new

I could never repay all that You've done
So use my life to the glory of Your Son

Everything inside me
Everything untrue
Oh Lord I surrender
All of it to You

Monday, November 22, 2004

Wisconsin shooting

Five people were shot dead and three wounded when a hunting dispute erupted into a shootout in rural Wisconsin near the Minnesota border.

The manner of the killings and the context were especially disturbing, as the suspect actually hunted down some of his victims with his 7.62mm assault rifle.

But what I find only slightly less disturbing is this headline:

The Australian: Row ends with five deerly departed [November 23, 2004]

How a reputable news organization actually has the audacity to make a morbid pun on such a horrific incident is truly a sign of the times.

The real litmus test is how many people will read this headline and not be able to hold back a chuckle.

A lot of seared hearts and minds. Products of the media we consume. I still struggle to truly feel sorrow as I should.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Old Testament experiences

From an email I sent this morning . . .

I was thinking about it more, and what I was trying to say last night amounts to this:

If we are left sinning again and again, the same sins over and over, present and future, then we are left with an Old Testament experience. We have not yet entered into a New Testament experience brought on by the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. This is where I believe most Christians find themselves, largely because the ‘Church’ has stopped teaching victorious living—that is, living free from sin. So we are left with people being taught that their cyclical experience is acceptable, even normal—but if that’s the case, then we are not a royal priesthood and holy nation, but are instead no better off than the priests of the Old Testament who had a ‘remembrance of sins every year’. Christ came to set us free from sin—we cannot be in ‘at one ment’ with God and keep on sinning; in other words, Christ doesn’t just offer a convenient way for us to continually receive forgiveness—a sort of perennial ‘on the altar’ sacrifice. His blood does what bulls and goats could not—it changes US.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Birthday, shapes, and scanner

Today is my birthday, and to honor this day, Microsoft and Google have both offered their humble gifts.

Microsoft's comes in the form of unveiling their new search engine, currently accessible (or, depending on network traffic, inaccessible) at: http://beta.search.msn.com. Great results, much improved over the absolutely horrid mess of a search they had when this thing was in its earliest stages; and that marked improvement means competition for the GOOG. Speaking of which, is it time to sell? GOOG is currently at pre-crash eBay/Amazon/Pets.com levels, with a price-to-earnings ratio that makes them seem as if they're larger than General Electric . . .

. . . but not to be outdone (although they might be anyway), Google has unveiled an update to its index, which has ballooned from 4 billion to just over 8 billion pages. This means that a search for "matthew wensing" now yields many more pages than it used to . . . and of course this means a bunch of other less important stuff. ;-)

Skip this part if you don't need any more reasons to believe I'm a tremendous geek:

In other news, my program for deciding if something is a rectangular sheet, rectangular strip, rectangular bar, square sheet, square strip, or cube based upon its three dimensional measurements turned out to be more exciting than I had once thought.

Turns out that, as I was hoping but hadn't expected, you can reduce it all to a single number: the slope of the line passing through the point 0,0 and the point defined by the ratio of side z to side x and the ratio of side y to side x—if slope (which is really is the rate at which the sides of the shape are growing in relation to one another) is greater than 2 or less than 1/2, it's a sheet; if that number is in between 2 and 1/2, it's a bar. At some point bars become cubes, so you have to code a special case for that, and also some sheets are strips, so you code a special case in those regions of the graph as well. But overall, very cool stuff! :-D I love turning tedious manual tasks into algorithms, thus liberating our group at work from all these chores . . .

My parents have gifted me an Epson 4870 Photo Scanner. This means big things for my photography pursuits—essentially I'll finally have a way to output digitally, which means I can start showing my work to others, which means I might actually sell some prints, which means I might actually start to get my little hobby transforming itself into a business.

That's a lot of 'mights' . . . but we'll see. I would love to leave the desk one day and be a full-time photographer, though.

Has anyone gotten this far? Or did you all quit reading up there? ^

Enough rambling, back to the slab!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Web development and the Middle East

Not much to say, but instead of saying nothing, I'll say those few things I can think of . . .

Today was yet another day at McMaster-Carr Supply Co., working in Merchandising's Item Group. The most exciting moment of the day came when I realized that tomorrow I get to tackle a mini-challenge of writing a script that will automatically classify products as bars, strips, sheets, or cubes based upon their dimensions.


I've seen a number of exciting things on the web recently, only to realize that the odds of them becoming ubiquitous are about 1:1,000,000,000. One of those is Macromedia Flex. It sounds like exactly what I would love to use for my hurricane website project—I can't exactly wrap my brain around it, but it involves some crazy integration of mxml, ActionScript 2.0, and n-tier architectures. The problem is that it sits on J2EE, which I will not be running on the hosting account I pick up from wavepath.com; moreover, I still couldn't exactly grasp what the advantage of Flex is over using Flash MX 2004 Professional with all of its nifty XML Connectors to make remoting a snap. The best I could gather is that "Flex is best suited for n-tier setups", etc., which makes me think, along with the price, that Flash Pro 2k4 is still the way to go.

That said, I'm almost finished with the database/historical layer of the forthcoming stormpulse.com. Then I get to work on lots of PHP scripts for generating XML from the MySQL tables, and then finally Flash. And somewhere in there I have to establish cron jobs to cURL reliable feeds, as well as learn enough about things like hurricane vortex measurements to intelligently parse it into the database . . .

. . . I also learned, as was expected, that many software packages already exist that do similar or better things than what will be stormpulse.com. The difference? Stormpulse will be a free, publicly-readable and accessible website, while all that I've seen so far are bona fide software installations for the power user types. The problem is I need to figure out how to generate revenue. So far Google's AdSense is my best guess, or perhaps just a meager PayPal Donate Now button.

Our softball team finished 6-6. Basketball starts next week. Mamun and I will be on the team. Should be fun. He's "undersold us" so as not to manage expectations.

Emma is a greater and greater joy to behold every day. Coming home from work and holding her is just such an amazing experience . . . you really can't put into words just how much you love a child until you have your own. No, pets don't compare. That isn't meant to sound elitist; that's just the way it is.

I found out that there's an Imacon scanner on campus that I may be able to borrow to scan in my 4x5 negatives from Yosemite National Park. Finally, digital copies of my negs! Then I can adjust in Photoshop and voila, output via Inkjet, Lightjet, Giclee, whatever-have-you. Woohoo!

Of course there's the looming possibility I won't actually be able to USE the $10,000 scanner, since I'm no longer a student. Alums are people too, though, right? And aren't we all students, deep down?

Yasser Arafat is on his deathbed, and I am so tired of Zionist interviews and commentaries on the Christian radio stations, talking about the forthcoming nightmare of mobs of Palestinians carrying Arafat's remains to the Temple Mount. Who cares?! Let them have their parade. Of course, if you're in the pro-Israel camp, you probably think you have proof that this is yet another required sign of the Second Coming . . . *sigh*

With all this, I am going to finally finish brushing my teeth and hit the hay. I haven't been able to wake up early in weeks!

Monday, November 01, 2004

John Adams

I decided to download an audiobook copy of David McCullough's biography of John Adams off of iTunes to listen to while at work. I don't usually have work that allows me to engage a book at the same time, but these days are particularly monotonous with the need to enter in lots of numbers by mechanical repetition (eyes look at book, fingers type what eyes see).

In light of my earlier post today, I've already come across a striking point in Adams' thoughts in relation to Chomsky's. Namely, that citizens have a right to not be left out of the democratic process whether by means of force or New World Order plot.

And Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right from the frame of their nature to knowledge as their great Creator who does nothing in vain has given them understandings and a desire to know. But besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, Divine right to the most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge—I mean, of the characters and the conduct of their rulers.

So you see, I'm not anti-American (as if there could be such a thing . . .).

What America is all about

If you're at all interested in politics, take 15 minutes and listen to this: Noam Chomsky on the Election and the War in Iraq and optionally give me your thoughts.

As a warning: I don't agree with 100% of his stance—the irony is that I have personally found myself coming so far to the right that I have been creeping into sympathizing with much of the outcry of the left; namely this:

There are serious problems here. One problem is almost a total disillusion, disappearance of the basis for a democratic society. I mean, if we compare, say, this election with elections in, say, the second biggest country in the hemisphere, Brazil. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. They have actual elections where there are issues and where they can elect some mass popular organizations. They can elect, as presidents, one from their own ranks, a man whose background is a peasant, steelworker, union organizer, no higher education, very impressive figure. Against far higher barriers than exist here. I mean, here, we have a thing called an election, which is a choice between two men, both born to great wealth and political influence, and went to the same fancy private schools, same elite university, joined the same secret society where you train people to be members of the ruling class. They can run because they're funded by pretty much the same concentrations for private power. Both understand that the election is supposed to keep away from issues. That's -- they are run by the PR industry, and in a way designed to keep the public out of it. They focus on what they call qualities. He is he a leader, a nice guy? Does he sigh, that kind of a thing. That's what the campaign is. Very few people know where they stand. In fact, there was a Gallup poll about a week ago where voters were asked why they're voting for Bush or Kerry. I thought it was quite striking. I mean, one of the choices of the many choices was their stand on the issues. You know, their agenda, policies. It was around 10%. If you had asked the people, they wouldn't have known. That's the way it's supposed to be. This is a symbol of something extremely serious.

You can’t ignore the election. It’s there. But it’s designed as a method of essentially marginalizing the population. There’s a huge propaganda campaign to get people to focus on these personalized extravaganzas, and make them think ‘That’s politics.” Well, it isn’t. That’s a marginal part of politics, and here, a very marginal part.

In light of all this, some encouraging and blessed words from a song I'm currently listening to:

Sometimes it seems the world’s unraveling around us
We fear it all my one day come undone
We can’t forget the One who came before us
To forgive the past and bring hope for what’s to come
When it all comes crashing down
The cross still stands alone
And on this our faith is built
And our courage is made strong

When the world falls apart
And you fear for your heart
There’s a tower of peace
It’s still the cross
So bring your sick and your poor
And your longing for more
To the place of relief
It’s still the cross
There is hope for the lost
It’s still the cross

Sometimes it seems that I have been forgotten
I don’t know how I will make it on my own
But the One who said I will never be forsaken
He still hears my prayer and I will never be alone
When it all comes crashing down
The cross still stands alone
And on this my faith is built
And my courage is made strong

Though the world may not confess
You and Your holiness
One day all will see
You in all Your majesty
And the cross will stand alone
As the place where You made known
Your love for all mankind
Till then in it we’ll hide

—FFH, "Still the Cross"