Monday, December 28, 2009

Hard Learned Truisms

Climb the tree gently, you will need the branches on your way down.
When we disdain the past, we condemn the future.
Everything in life proper is a temporary condition.
I complained about the rent payments, until I met a homeless man.
We are not what, we are who.
Only the artist can know the true meaning of His work.
I hated my job, until I was out of work.
Poverty is not the abscence of something, but the burden of everything.
Karma is the rationale for what we think we can get away with.
Damning your parents is cursing at yourself in the mirror.

The fallacy that we're masters of our own destiny is proven; the smallest of things can change a life.
We have two ears and one mouth, so we're meant to listen twice as much as we speak.
In society proper, we have the right to speak, but only the Lord has the right to be heard.
All roads do not lead to Michigan.
Anything made of metal is a poor investment.
People are our best natural resource.
Ideas are water to dry soil.

A business cannot downsize itself into prosperity.
The day we view learning as unnecessary is the eve of bankruptcy.
The best product won't make up for mediocre service, but the best service will cover a multitude of defects.
Government is the problem to the answer.
A union cannot stand when it's every man for himself.
Better to never give than to give and then take away.
The only ship that can't sail is a partnership.
Incompetence in line employees costs a firm, incompetence in management will sink it.
If you're not giving raises to your employees, don't give them to yourself.
Management is the problem to the answer.
An open door policy will not work with a bolt in the jamb.
Managers must learn to manage themselves, hence the title.
Spreading gossip in the workplace is spreading poison (I will fire people for this offense).
Your job description is what the situation requires.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fixing a Charging System Issue on a 1999 Ford Taurus, Part Deux

The next step was the plastic power steering pulley that had been cracked and broken. Again, there is precious little space and I had to remove the coolant hoses from the overflow tank just to get the pulley removal tool on the pulley. This part is much better experienced than told, but after a few curse words and nearly an hour I had the pulley off. Getting the new one on was fairly straightforward. However, being able to make sure it goes on straight is paramount. Also since the bolt for the installer needs to screw into the pump shaft, it also means that it cannot cross thread or you wreck the pump.

To prevent that, I screwed this bolt in by hand before cranking the pulley and action of the tool onto same. This took another half hour, but once there was resistance, I stopped and checked the alignment with the other pulleys. Not a problem and I hooked the hoses back up and filled the tank back up with antifreeze. What I didn't do on a ten year car was attempt to drain the petcock on the radiator. If this was gummed up or corroded, it would mean replacing a $150 radiator. I would rather waste $5 worth of coolant.

The alternator goes in next. Hook up the 10mm battery terminal first, making sure the wire ends up pointing toward the front of the car. The front bolt goes in first, loosely and then the rear one, loosely. sung them up gently and maybe a quarter turn as you're threading into aluminum. If you strip the threads, it's another trip to the auto parts or hardware store for longer bolts and nuts. No big deal, just inconvenient as all get out.

Hook up the exciter wires, loop the serpentine belt over the alternator, hook up the battery and you're ready to ride. Start the car and check for noise. Unless the belt or pulleys are wet, there should be none. Use a good quality alternator with a lifetime warranty as the one year rebuilds could fail and you'll have to pay again. I prefer the new parts over re-manufactured ones, but in the case of the alternator, this commands a $50 premium over a re-manufactured par. Even the $30 core charge is refundable, minus the sales taxes paid. Not everyone wants this added expense and the re-manufactured will work fine. One the other hand, a water pump is something that's always better new, but that's a whole other story.

There is a lot more to fixing something as simple as an alternator and a lot of other things to take into consideration. However, if you plan ahead and get the proper tools beforehand, not to mention taking your time and a lot of breaks, you'll have a job you only have to do once. God Bless

Fixing a Charging System Issue on a 1999 Ford Taurus...

My parents own, free and clear, a 1999 Ford Taurus sedan that has been in the family nearly seven years. It had about 70,000 when my sister had it and it now has close to 150,000 miles and still running strong. This is the 3.0 liter, overhead valve engine, non-flex fueled. It really hasn't needed much done to it in the time they've owned it, but one thing had finally come to fruition last week.

My dad called up, the battery light was on. This is the symbol that the charging system is out of whack and you should probably take the car in for service. Running a vehicle with a non-functioning charging system makes the battery work harder, causes the engine to misfire and will eventually damage it, along with your exhaust system. As an added bonus, it can cause the catalysts in said system to overheat because raw gasoline is being introduced into same, causing damage to the involved parts up to and including a fire.

Mom and dad parked the car and went in to check it out Christmas Eve. I pulled the battery and charged it, because the alternator (I thought this to be suspect) is not designed to charge the battery, it's mainly there to maintain a charge to run the electrical things, including the ignition, radio, power windows, heater, air-conditioner and in some vehicles even the power steering system is electrical.
Once the battery was found to be good and I looked at the belt, I noticed a chip on the power steering pump pulley next to the alternator. This can fray a belt to the point of failure, but an inspection of the belt showed that to be fine.

What delayed the project was the lack of a serpentine belt tool. Tauruses and in fact many front wheel drive cars have precious little space for tools in front of the motor to release the tensioner. After getting one, I used the 15 mm crows foot adapter on the tool to unlock it. As the belt is really tight even when it's released, you'll need to pack your patience when trying to slip it off the alternator pulley. Another wise thing to do is make a sketch of the belt and the pulleys before you take it off and do it in good light. I replaced this belt when it was dark outside and it was a pain in the neck.

Once the belt was off, I elected to remove the alternator first. First take off the negative battery cable, then remove the clipped in connectors (there are two) from the exciter terminals. The battery terminal is next with a 10mm wrench. The two mounting bolts use a 14mm and 15mm socket wrench, but keep in mind that the one in front only needs to slide out part way as the coolant tank is in the way of removing it completely. I used a medium-sized pry bar to carefully pry the alternator out of its mounts and set it aside. To make putting the new one in easier, I gently tapped the spacer in the forward part of the alternator mount with a ball pein hammer toward the passenger side. Gently is the watchword as you can break off the mounting ear if you get too medieval with it. This would mean replacing the entire mount or having the old one welded (the latter never a good idea as the alignment will likely be off and the alternator will eat up belts forevermore.

In part two, I'll tell you how to replace that pulley and get this back in working order. Wouldn't miss it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fixed the Monitor.

Today, there was one line left on my monitor and I got rid of it by degaussing it once more. The display is as good new with no more lines or distortion. We saved ourselves some green by waiting this thing out.
It would be nice if everything was solvable by waiting, but maybe it is. Even the Lord told us to wait on Him and renew our strength (Isaiah 40:31). Although He said nothing about a computer monitor, but I'll take it.
God is not a prosperity god and we shouldn't give up on our riches in Heaven (New Jerusalem) because times are getting tough here today. I've decided to wait on Him and do what He tells me to do. Right now this is taking care of the precious lives He's trusted with me.
Father God, I commit myself to Your cause. Despite the chiding of friends and family which is sure to come, Your Word will never return void. There is more than enough time to rest in Your arms, drink from the River of Life and eat from the trees of Your blessing. Your grace is enough for me, Father.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoBNngUcOF4

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Enviromentalists Want Us To What?

First of all, this is a rant, if this was an actual emergency, you would have heard warning bells. Maybe this is really the case. However, as I look at our cherished horde of Charmin in the closet, this article got me thinking...

Hey, I'm all about saving the environment and being a good steward. Part of this means being able to fix something and not waste. My monitor being a case in point. Yes it's nearly fixed and has three lines left and counting. Better than dropping $100 on a new one, or even $30 on a used one. Not too shabby, right? Wrong, according to the radical leftist movement disguised as working in the interest of "Mother Earth." (Gag me with a recycled spoon).

In a news article I read today on Gateway Pundit/First Things First this was the intro...

"Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups have pushed manufacturers such as Kimberly-Clark (Cottonelle) and Procter & Gamble (Charmin) to stop using wood from virgin forests to make tissue products."

So now they want to regulate what we use in our restrooms. It's bad enough that we have to use this recycled stuff when we go out. Now the leftists want us to use it in our homes. To be fair, I've used "recycled" toilet paper (Green Forest) and it was like sandpaper. We've also used Angel Soft, Meijer brand and Cottonelle (too soft and way too pricey).

Because I do most of the shopping, I've found that Charmin Basic in the orange wrapper provides the best performance for the best price. With four people using it, we go through a lot of toilet paper and this brand outlasts even the double rolls by competitors. Again, this is the Charmin Basic.

If the leftists get their way and eventually, they will there will be a revolt of monumental proportions. Poland was a communist country and threw off the yoke because of all things, toilet paper shortages. I can cheap out on a lot of things, but not on that. Besides, this attempt to save the environment will be for naught because of the inevitable negative consequences this will cause.

Rather than decreasing paper usage, it will actually increase it. Think about the last time you had to use a public restroom. You had to pull close to 50 feet of the stuff and roll it into a ball to make it work right, not to mention the toilet seat. This isn't bathroom humor, but bathroom seriousness.

Speaking of seriousness, recycling is fine, as long as it's cost effective to do. Studies show that taking the time to recycle trash actually costs more than any benefit realized. The City of Lansing, MI actually tried a mandatory recycling program and charged the residents $77 a year in increased property taxes for the privilege. It managed to lose money until the program began to fall by the wayside. I still see the green recycling containers from time to time, but mostly holding things other than their intended purpose. Nowadays, private companies like Granger and Waste Management do a far better job for less money than the City ever did.

Personally, when someone tries to force me to use fluorescent bulbs, change or give up toilet paper (something Niel Young ranted about in "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World" with Crosby Stills and Nash) or drive a Smart for Two for a family of four, my answer to them is "butt out." If these same people have used this argument for nearly four decades as an excuse to kill babies, then I should be able to use it to defend my right to choose as well. The right to choose Charmin over Green Forest, the right to choose plastic or paper, or the right to choose to raise my family the way I see fit. While this in no way equates with a mother and her legal (but not moral or biblical, much less godly) right to have her unborn baby murdered, it does illustrate the one-sided agenda they practice. In no way is about helping anyone, but establishing governmental control over every aspect of our lives. That is, everyone save those like Albert Gore, who live exorbitantly and decadently, despite buying carbon credits.

Until there's a better alternative, leave me alone with my toilet paper, as this is one of the few things I can splurge on without so much as an ounce of guilt, much less a sheet. Maranatha!

http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/2009/12/it-has-begun-green-activists-want-a-ban-on-soft-toilet-paper/

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The True Cost of Car Debt!

In order to remove the splinter from another persons eye, you must first remove the beam from your own. This is a loose interpretation of Luke 6:42 and Matthew 7:3. In this spirit I'm going to give some hard-learned advice that I want to share. Debt is by many, including a mechanic I talked to, a necessary evil when it comes to having a decent car. In fact a lot of people I've talked to believe me to be crazy when it comes to paying cash for one, not to mention have it work right.

I'm not about to argue the advantages of a $2000 car over a $20000 car. This is a situational observation that will have to be determined by your own financial situation in which you yourself must honestly assess. I'm going to give you the facts, give my two cents and let you decide. However I will strongly suggest all through this writing that you are not what you drive.

Today, I received an email from Hyundai Motors with a link to the website. I clicked on it and in particular noticed the Sonata and Azera. The former starting at $18,000 and the latter at nearly $25,000.

I got on the automobile mag website with the Hyundai Azera because I know someone who just a 2009 one through the cash for clunkers program. This person probably earns $25,000 a year before taxes are taken out.

The first year she owns this car, she's going to pay $6,601 in depreciation, $1335 in financing (with tier one credit) $1342 in insurance (probably more because she's younger) probably about $100 in state fees (or more) $1928 in fuel (or more because she drives 40 miles a day to work alone) and another $55 in maintenance costs (this is probably more too). All told, she's paying at least $11358 in the first year for the privilege of owning the smell of a new car. This even though she's only feeling $4757 the first year, depreciation is the biggest expense of any new car and will be paid when she trades it in. By the time her car is five years old, she will have paid $17,640 in depreciation.

Compared to this "sneak thief" of auto ownership, the five year price of nearly $12,000 for fuel is a distant second. This car is going to cost her $42,869 over five years, and this is if she does the maintenance perfectly and doesn't crack it up. This doesn't take into account manufacturing defects with are a reality with any car. These are the pesky things that the manufacturer likes to blame on the customer. I have a laundry list on my own car, and it was two years old when I bought it nearly five years ago. Now I have a seven year old paperweight I can't drive and spent too much money on. I'm probably going to have to sell it for scrap because in good conscience, I cannot sell it to a party as a daily driver. I have a reputation to protect. Such is the school of hard knocks.

My parents get flak for driving "crappy" cars, but considering the alternatives I believe they're a lot better off paying cash for their rides. They avoid the expense of depreciation, increased insurance and financing, which on the Azera, would have them about $25,000 a five year period. Unless the repairs are costing a prohibitive amount, (more than half the value of said vehicle at a time) or the body is eaten with rust, it's a good idea to keep it. If you can't keep it, the solution is to find another ride you can comfortably pay cash for.

In my situation, it's going to cost me at least $3500 to make my ride roadworthy. The engine (another manufacturing defect) has a poor reputation for reliability to say the least. The car is worth nothing even if I fix it because of this reputation (and the fact it's a Chrysler, sorry) and I've have to sink another $6,000 into it when the engine does blow or lose my $3500 in hypothetical repairs. Dave Ramsey once said that you need to buy a car you can afford to push off a cliff (preferably without your family inside) without feeling financial pain. This is arguable because the authorities could fine you for littering, but hey, I get the gist. The other adage he provides is "forget the cheese, I just want out of the trap." In a few weeks, I'm getting rid of the Dodge and buying a garage sale car.

Dave Ramsey is one of those people who is a gift from God as far as I'm concerned. He's someone who's convicted me and I have nothing but praise for it. Thank you Dave and more importantly, thank you Jesus for making sure we all have a means to get where we need to go. Maranatha!

Sources

Dave Ramsey radio program.

http://www.automobilemag.com/am/2009/hyundai/azera/ownership_costs.html

http://www.hyundaiusa.com/vehicle-lineup/sedans.aspx

Friday, December 18, 2009

How to fix an External Hard Drive

I have an external hard drive, in addition to a thumb drive, for back ups on my important papers. While the thumb drive is more reliable, it does not have the space required for all my stuff. Losing my project thesis I got an "A" on would truly bite. Well, I've had issues with the hard drive since the warranty ran out several years ago. It's a USB, or Universal Serial Bus connected device made by Western Digital, a company lacking good technical support.

As always, this is for informative purposes only. You break it, your bad.

You can tell when these things are messing up when an error message pops up in the taskbar on your computer. When you pull up the "My computer" in Windows xp or prior or just "Computer" in Windows Vista (trash) and Windows 7. There will be a similar message with MAC, probably some tree-hugging, dirt loving sentence like "Your component needs to be recycled, be kind to mother earth." Well whatever it is, this should help save the planet (yeah right) and more importantly, your wallet. These hard drives are not cheap. The problem is that they overheat and it's due to a defective design of the case (every one of them I've seen has this problem).

For this operation, you need a blade type screwdriver and some common sense. Handle the hard drive gently or you will wreck it. Unplug the USB or Firewire for you MAC people along with the power cord (if any). If this is a Western Digital like My Book, your job is easy. Simply pry off the cover from the frame with the screwdriver. Easy does it because you want to save the plastic frame the hard drive actually attaches to. You can discard the cover (throw it away) as long as it isn't under warranty, otherwise save it for posterity.

The hard drive itself is secured into the frame with rubber grommets. You can remove it easily, but don't throw the frame away as it protects the hard drive somewhat from shocks and will help keep it ventilated. So take the hard drive out and carefully set it aside. There is a little plastic button that's supposed to be a part of the on/off switch; break it out. Then you can put the hard drive (carefully) back in the frame it's supposed to live in. Attach the leads and as long as you didn't wait too long and cook the hard drive, you're done. Keep it standing up and keep it in a place where it won't get knocked over. It may not look as nice, but it should work if you did it right. Cost $0: Maranatha!

My apologies to Mac people, by the way. I'm a PC and I'm crazy anyway.

Fixing a Monitor

Computer monitors are a dime a dozen nowadays, especially the CRT or Cathode Ray Tube variety. In the olden days, these were everywhere, TV screens, computer monitors and even in at least one or two cars, a Maserati and an Oldsmobile for vehicle information systems and in the case of the Olds Toronado Trofeo', operated heating and air conditioning through a touch screen. This was twenty years ago. Now the venerable CRTs are being phased out with LCD, LED, STP, DIP and even plasma (had to get the humor in there) taking its place.

Now a monitor that used to run almost $200 is next to nothing, at a secondhand store. While the flat screen monitors are nice, they're fragile and expensive (to me they are) and they're a bit temperamental. I had one go out and it was going to cost more to buy the capacitors to fix it than to buy a cheapie CRT that Radio Shack had sitting on their shelf since 2002. I scored that for less than $30 in 2007.

A few days ago, a magnet got next to it and screwed it up. The picture color was all out of kilter and more disturbing was there were no less than fifty vertical lines in the middle of the screen. My wife and I are on a tight budget, so even buying a secondhand monitor is going to be out of the question right now. I looked online for a solution to the problem and found none. Everyone says to basically throw the monitor away. Not wanting to do this I found something that I'm still working on, but has lessened the vertical bars and fixed the colors to like new. Eventually I believe that the lines will be completely gone.

First is to get on to the menu for the monitor itself. There are 6 to 8 buttons besides the on/off switch. With these, and it's difficult to explain, but you'll have to go to the maintenance menu and find the degauss function. Next you need to use it, and multiple times until the screen stops wavering. This will demagnetize the screen enough for you to view it. You will probably want to do this 3 or 4 sessions a day anywhere fro, 5 to 10 times. Once the screen stops wavering with the degauss, let up on it awhile. You can do while while using the computer, but may have some disruptions.

This is going to take patience and at least a week by my reckoning. Most will opt to discard and buy an LCD, but for someone who's unemployed, this may be a godsend. What will happen is the picture will get better and the lines will start to fade top and bottom and soon will disappear one by one, until hopefully they're all gone and you can instant message or loiter Facebook unimpeded. Even if you eventually have to replace the monitor, you have the satisfaction of knowing you beat the system of planned obsolescence that much longer. In the future, it is a good idea to keep any and all magnets away from a CRT monitor. Maranatha!

Taming the Tongue

To me, liberalism and idealism are a sign of defective thinking and reasoning. Anyone who knows the bible realizes that human beings cannot govern nor create anything beneficial without Jesus' guiding hand. Even then, because the world is contaminated by sin, this is a monumental challenge. Something as benign as the subject of electric cars is a case in point. This subject polarizes people to no end in a way few material things can. People love their cars (me included), but we must also guard our hearts, and our tongues (or in this case, keyboards) when we voice our opinions concerning such trivial matters (to me is anything outside of Jesus or His work).

I've probably made mention of this before, but it bears mention again,

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in his word, the same is a perfect man and able to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bit in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of the fierce winds, yet they are turned about with a very small helm (rudder), withersoever the governor listeth (wherever the captain wants). Even so the tongue is a little member (part of the body) and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter of a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members (other parts of the body), that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature: and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of the things of the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therwith we bless God, even the Father: and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain yield salt water and fresh. James 3:1-12 KJV

For the King James impaired I added modern explanations in parentheses.

A week or two ago, I left a very innocent comment on a video sharing site which I'm a frequent visitor. The video happened to be about the electric car and in particular what GM did with the EV1, their attempt, at that time at a "zero emissions vehicle." While there's some controversy concerning this, the fact is that General Motors ended the project because it was a money loser for them. However, I never said anything bad except that "You can't carry a family in an EV1." This was fact, not even opinion as a family constitutes two parents and a child or more children. In my case it's a family of four. The EV1 seated two people, a driver and a passenger. No controversy here. It's the same as calling a Corvette a sports car. If I called it a family car, I would be committing a fallacy.

However, one young man went off the deep end toward me and explained that electric cars would have been a lot more utilitarian if government and industry had been working toward dedicating themselves to a better world and not easy money (paraphrased to protect the guilty). The last part of the statement, was "get you head out of your behind." That wasn't what he said, but you get the idea.

I have to confess that I nearly laid into this guy. Rather than tear him apart, which I could have done incredibly easily; I merely stated that in fact, I was stating the facts. I also told him to get over himself (a far cry from what I'm capable of and still very true). He did the unthinkable and apologized to me, but went on to voice his concern about the possibility of me being another "naysayer" to his cause. I let him have it, the argument, that is. "No sense in pushing this further" I thought. I would much rather win this guy for Jesus than the virtues of the internal combustion engine. Maranatha!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just a Tryst...

My son, attend unto my wisdom my wisdom,
and bow thine ear to my understanding.
That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.
For the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:
But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.
Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.
Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are movable, that thou canst not know them.
Hear me now therfore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.
Remove thy way from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:
Lest not give thine honor unto others, and thy years onto the cruel:
Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labors be in the house of a stranger;
And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed.
And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised proof:
And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!
I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.
Drink waters out of thy own cistern, and running waters out thy own well.
Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.
Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.
Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe: let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with the bosom of a stranger?
For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all goings.
His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall holden with the cords of his sins.
He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly shall he go astray. Proverbs 5

As an unemployed dad of two trying to find a job and taking care of my spouse and two boys, it really pains me when someone who's "made it" in life decides to have a an affair. I'm not trying to be "holier than thou" or being hyper, or hypocritical. What I am pointing out is that God condemns adultery and when someone flouts this, it's a slap in the face to Him.

To translate this chapter in Proverbs for the King James impaired, It means to keep your paws to yourself. If you must have a fling, it better be with your wife. The Lord isn't into punishment, but the law of cause and effect will come into play. You could get sued, catch a venereal disease like Herpes, Gonorrhea, or AIDS (even with a condom, because viruses can and will get between the molecules of the best made latex and they break all the time). What's worse is that the jilted spouse could even take the law into their own hands; and you could die of lead poisoning. Even more so, they end up calling Joey Greco. I rest my case.

Unfortunately, Tiger Woods is finding this out after a tryst with a cocktail waitress. This has already cost him sponsorships and has torpedoed his career, probably forever. You can damage a lot of things and be able to fix or replace them, but a reputation is fragile and irreplaceable. It makes the damage to his Escalade insignificant by comparison. Just a note, I'm not out to defame this person, but to point out in no uncertain terms that God does not mess around. He's no respecter of persons either and while He isn't in the business of punishing anyone, he will allow our mistakes to catch up with us.

I know one fellow who did this who subsequently was left with nothing but two guns, a bag of clothes and an answering machine when his wife left him because of adultery. He has not turned this over to the Lord and still to this day has issues with infidelity. He lost everything and still yet to rebuild his life. He's been through five wives in forty years.

But no one can possibly avoid this sin on their own. The temptation is always there, as many of us have passions ingrained in our DNA. This is why we must turn this over to the Lord, and avoid compromising situations with another woman, or man (I'm talking heterosexual here, ladies too). This could be as simple for some as not going to the bar, ever. The other help will be to keep yourself busy. An idle mind is Satan's workshop and of someone has too much time and money, they're more likely to fail their marriage vows.

This isn't to say that someone unemployed could not do the same thing either. I don't propone class warfare, but the articles concerning the rich and shameless back this up.

Another thing about marriage while I'm at it. The next time you think bad of your spouse, remember the one who married him/her. That person in the mirror, if he/she is a Christian, is also a work in progress. The Lord wants you to honor your wedding vows. After all, your marriage is a representation of the relationship between Jesus and His church. Remember, we're all in this together. Life's short, pray hard.

More Thanks

Lately there's been a lot to write about, depending on the point of view. A lot of challenging stuff has cropped up. On the other hand, a heaping helping of God's propensity to provide (sorry for the alliteration) has manifested itself in a meaningful way.

To start, shortly after Thanksgiving, I was forced to park my car due to safety concerns. Mainly the exhaust was leaking in the passenger compartment and the system is full of cracks. To add to this, the computer is on the fritz, the transmission won't shift and the steering would not stay fixed. I'm looking at $3500 to get this all fixed right and I don't have the money to pour into a used car worth half that.

The good news is that we still have a good running car which is reliable, so we can take my wife to work, go shopping, and take my son to school. It could be a lot worse. Our neighbor doesn't even have a car and was out of T.P. the other day. We have this in abundance and I was more than happy to give some to her. It was nice to help someone else out for a change, even if it was a small favor.

Jose, our older son, got to go on a shopping spree at J.C. Penney this evening and got clothes and toys courtesy of the Grand Ledge Chamber of Commerce. My hat's off to these people. Thank the Lord for Grand Ledge and all her people with a heart. It isn't that we couldn't get him anything (and we are) but he needed clothes and Christmas was going to be a bit slim pickings this year. God is good!

My wife made mention that she could just cry. I'm pretty stoical about it, but I've cried enough for a long while. Far better to just bask in the Lord's blessing with the knowledge that He's Lord and when it's time to bless someone else, I'm there.

I went to see a re-employment counselor yesterday and she suggested that I try and pursue (cultivate) a plan of action pertinent to my degree. This means being a management consultant. A couple days of soul-searching still leaves me mulling over my options (I praise Jesus I have options) but the job market in Michigan is horrible right now. 50% unemployment in Detroit and my prayers are out to a people who've done so much and been given so little.

Fact is I'm not worried about the car, or the job situation, or the economy. I can only take care of what I can and this includes the boys and my wife. God has entrusted me with them and this is the clarion call right now. Opportunity is very bad for employment in this state, but it has never been better for entrepreneurship, especially for those who want to spurn the evil of debt. Right now, there are grants available for those willing to take this step. However, all in good time. Maranatha!