Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reunion [Mc]

When I saw the name of my sister-in-law come up in the caller ID on my cell phone, I silently prayed that there would be some reason she was calling me in the middle of a Sunday night service other than the one that I knew was coming. Julie and Trudi's dad, Holton, has been battling cancer for some time, and his condition was steadily growing worse.

Trudi was scheduled to fly to Asheville on March 5th, on what would be Holt's 74th birthday. We knew he didn't have much time. We didn't know how little time he actually had.

As I made my way from the Production Suite at the church down the back stairwell, Julie confirmed what I had already guessed. Holton had peacefully passed from this life at 6:30 pm, February 22, 2009.

Trudi and Julie had been with their sister, Christi, when she had passed away 2 1/2 years ago. Her death had been unexpected, but they had been able to rush to her side to share her last few hours on earth with her. When Christi finally slipped into the arms of Christ, no one had to tell them that the end had come.

But on this night, Trudi was part of the offering counting team at church. Julie, Casey, their brother, and Holton's wife, Jan, had been unable to reach Trudi, as the noise of the counting room drowned out the buzzing of her cell phone.

I stopped before entering the counting room, quickly called our daughter, Shae, and told her to pray for her mom. And me.

This is one of those things you dread ever having to do.

What do say? I prayed again for the right words, and gently opened the door.

Trudi was in the rear of the room, entering checks into the online deposit system. The other four members of the counting team were chatting about something. I have no idea what. I knew that the rest of the family had left messages on her cell phone, but I didn't want Trudi to see her phone before I had a chance to get her out of the room.

"Do you have some gum?" I asked, trying to act innocent and normal. It wasn't really working. They could tell I was a little uptight about something. I wanted to get into her purse so I could slip her phone out.

"In my purse."

I couldn't find the gum. I found a mint and put it into my mouth.

"Would you check my phone? I thought I heard it buzzing a while ago." I found the gum.

"Um...yeah." I pulled the phone out and slipped it into my pocket.

"Who called?"

"Um, it's okay." I'm not sure if I specifically lied, but I definitely left her with the impression that no one had called. Suddenly, I was unsure what I should do. Maybe I could just wait until we got home in thirty minutes or so.

I walked out of the room, and paced for a minute. No, I needed to get her out of the room and let her know so she could call Julie and Jan and Casey and begin the process I knew we would all go through over the next few days.

As I went back into the room, I moved over to the corner, where I knew Trudi couldn't see me. I tried to silently let the other counters know that they needed to take over for her, then I asked if I could talk to Trudi outside.

Lots of questioning looks from everyone followed us into the hall. Church would be ending soon, and I knew I had to give her the opportunity to get out of the building first. I gave one final plea for the right words, and knew I had none. All I could do was look into her eyes.

As it turns out, those were the right words.

"What is it?" Then the realization came. "Did my dad pass away?"

Later, when I went back to the church to pick up Sam, Summer and Sawyer to take them home, we sat in the parking lot while I tried to explain what had happened.

Sad? Yes, I said. For us. But not for him. He's happy to be free of pain. He's happy to be whole and well. He's happy to see Jesus face-to-face.

There were several pictures of both Holton and Christi that I had to choose from, but I ended up with this one of Holton and Christi's son, Jason. It was labeled as being of Holton and Christi in my computer, and even though it's Jason, not Christi, I believed it was her, because Christi always seemed to like things that weren't "girlie" - motorcycles and cleaning off her roof come to mind.

But it's still a great picture of Holton. This is the easy-going, down-home guy I knew. He loved to have fun. He loved his grandchildren.

I'm sure Holton and Christi are enjoying a great reunion.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I hate when News people use statistics to lie [Gator]

A new article from the AP sounds the alarm: PEOPLE HATE FLORIDA!

Actually, using driver's license data, it says that only 410,000 people a year are moving here, as opposed to 585,000 in 2003. Okay, that's down 30%...but still it's 80% of the population of Wyoming. Moving in. Every year.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A library in your pocket [Gator]

One of the coolest gadgets out there is getting updated. The updated Amazon Kindle, now version 2, was announced today. The first version was widely criticized for its clunky appearance, but actual users seemed to love their Kindle.

Version 2 actually looks kind of cool. What is it, you ask? It's a web-enabled, anywhere, anytime, book-reader. It allows you to download books and magazines and other web content quickly. It will even read it to you.

UPDATE: 2/10/9…new links.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Nines - iLife and iWork

I've been using iWork '09 for the past couple of weeks and iLife '09 for the past couple of days. Here are my first impressions on the two suites. Keep in mind that I have used every version of both programs since their beginnings. (And these are not exhaustive reviews.)

iWork '09 adds some nice features in this iteration. It includes Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, the Apple counterparts to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. The Apple suite still doesn't have the depth of features that the Microsoft offering does...but who cares? Not me.

The basics of each program remain unchanged. Pages still is basic word processing and page layout with a Mac feel. Numbers still does its spreadsheet thing. And Keynote still outclasses PP with its cool transitions.

I work on a Powerbook G4, which Apple recently reclassified as obsolete, so performance for me is sluggish in every application.

But what's great and new that would make you want to upgrade if you already have an earlier version of iWork? I'll take it one app at a time...

Pages - For me the biggest addition is Outlining. I usually use OmniOutliner Professional for my outlining needs, and I'll may continue to do so. But it's nice to have it in Pages.

The other two big features - being able to view your document in full screen view and being able to use - are irrelevant to me. Additionally, there are several new templates that are pretty cool, but I don't know if I'll ever use them.

Numbers - There are a couple of nice changes here. The ability for categorization - actually, a second-level sort - is nice. Numbers also adds a quick view of all the formulas you are using in your worksheet.

Keynote - The star of iWork is Keynote. The incremental changes in this version of Keynote are apparent right from the beginning, in the theme chooser, where a mouse-over of a theme shows you the different options available within the theme.

I like the new Keynote, but my biggest frustration with the entire suite comes here. They took out a feature, one I actually used! The feature is Webview. It allowed you to insert a live web page into your presentation. And they took it out....aargh.

They did put a few new transitions and effects in, though. That's good. And they upgraded the presenter's view to give you more control. Very nice.

The best thing, however, is the integration between the three apps and the ability for a Numbers chart to be updated with a Keynote presentation or a Pages document.

I purchased the iWork '09 Family Pack, since I have several computers to upgrade. (The link takes you to Amazon, where you can get it for $10 less than from Apple.)

iLife '09 was the more anticipated of the two suites. It contains Garageband, iMovie, iWeb, iDVD, and iPhoto. And I'll just tell you right up rocks.

The bad - I can't use the new iMovie on my computer. Of course, I couldn't use iMovie '08 either. My Powerbook just doesn't have the horsepower. But that was okay with '08, because a lot of people stayed with '06, so much did they hate the new '08 interface.

That won't be the case with '09. I have used it on the church's 24-inch iMac, and it is much nicer than '08. iMovie now includes a Precision Editor that makes editing much better. It also has a stabilization feature which - although it takes a long time, even on a 3.06ghz iMac - will be very useful.

There are also some added transitions, themes and effects that will dress up your vidoes. Spiffy.

iDVD - well, it is what it is. Unchanged. I didn't even see any new themes.

Garageband - although some learning abilities have been added, functionally nothing else has changed for '09. Cosmetically, the look has changed, to a nicer, darker feel. Not important, but nice.

iWeb - probably the biggest thing here is the ability to publish to your own domain. There are some nice little bits of this and that, but nothing else substantial has changed for my use.

iPhoto - THE app. The new Faces feature alone could sell this entire suite by itself. If you don't know, Faces allows you to tag your pictures with the names of people in the picture. Faces will then search your library for similiar faces and let you tag them. This makes organizing and searching your photo library very easy. And fun.

Places allows you to add location information to your photos. This lets you organize your photos by the places you've been. Very nice.

I would highly recommend iLife '09 Family Pack. (Again, this link let's you get it from Amazon for $10 less.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Heavy [Rev]

"But when Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail, and thunder had stopped, he and his officials sinned again, and Pharaoh again [made his heart heavy]." Exodus 9:34 (NLT)
The economy is in turmoil. People are scared. The pressure is on. Some would be tempted to say that God's judgment is at work. Others would say it's just a normal part of life. Whatever the case, God always uses circumstances to try to get our attention.

People are looking for answers. People cry for reform and change when the pressure is on. But when the pressure is off, then what?

Greed and financial recklessness seems so out of place now. But what happens when the threat of financial collapse disappears?

Scripture...and history...tell us that greed and recklessness will return. Worse than before.

Unless there is a true change of heart. Lightened by obedience, instead of heavy with stubbornness and selfishness and sin.