Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Weapons in School

Today, my older son was on his best behavior on the way to the bus stop. This was very helpful as this was not going to be an ordinary morning. One of the kids on the bus stop, (I do not mention names) promptly climbed one of the ubiquitous snow hills and whipped out a pair of nunchaku or numchucks as they're known. As he did his best interpretation of Daniel Son and climbed down, two parents, a woman and myself, warned him that weapons were not allowed on the bus, much less school. The student (elementary, my dear Watson) ignored us and promptly boarded the bus with nunchaku hanging on his neck right under the nose of the oblivious bus driver.

Several calls were made, one to Neff Elementary and the bus garage (another concerned parent beat to it). I also made the walk to Neff to make sure this kid's ignorance had not injured anyone else, much less my son. To be honest, these were practice nunchaku, covered in foam to prevent self-inflicted injury. Nevertheless, these can hurt someone. Boxing gloves are soft, but people can and do sustain serious injury from a fist inside of one these. Nunchaku on the eye will produce painful and lasting damage. My concern and those of the other parent were genuine. Honestly, If I had a car to take my son to Holbrook, he would have not gotten on the bus. Considering the circumstances, and a five minute drive from our stop to Neff, the danger was minimal. The kid was just ignorant, not violent. It was still worth the walk.

To be honest, I've carried a pocketknife of some sort since I was this kid's age and this was never a big deal. It was better suited to my work than working someone over. Despite the fights I was involved with, brandishing or using it was not an option. There are more than enough anecdotes of old where kids actually used to take their guns to school during hunting season. There was also a greater sense of responsibility too. Guns and knives were tools with known inherent dangers from their misuse. At present, I would never advocate a child taking a gun, knife or any weapon to school for any reason. This includes that pair of nunchaku. Children are not as responsible and not as aware of the negative consequences as they might have been in yesteryear. This can be taken so many ways, but this my take on it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Offended Someone...

...But not intentionally, I assure you. As you may or may not know, I am a frequent guest of YouTube and these concentrate on Christian channels and a healthy dose of fix it ones too. One young lady; I believe she was a pastor, has a video titled "why God won't Rapture us..." The first words to enter were "the word rapture is not in the Bible" and she proceeded to tell why God told her personally that there was not going to be a rapture and that we (Christians) should get the earth ready for Jesus' coming. She used Matthew 13 as the reason for this "revelation" of why God does not want us (Christians) to leave in a rapture. Then she proceeded to "argue" that this couldn't be true and that God was right in telling her this "revelation" was also true.

She argued that God wants all of us to be saved (and I agree, see 2 Peter 3:9) and that's why He's not going to take the Christians out in a rapture. Her argument was that God is coming down only for a "perfect" church and that if (again, Christians) left in a rapture (sorry for the redundancy). She further added that faith would degenerate and that no one could get saved without Christians being here. The rest of the video was redundant, but attempted to put all the make readiness on the shoulders of sinful man, Christian or not.

She promptly deleted my comment that was not out of anger. It was merely to point out this doctrine was limiting the Lord's glory, authority or sovereignty and giving this to man. I also pointed out that man's abject failure to bring any kind of "perfect" society or church over the past two millennia was also telling. If you need any more proof for the last argument, look around you. There is at least one major earthquake a week. There are killings, war and rumors of war, all of that which is made mention of in Matthew 24. If this is our great commission, we (Christians) have epically failed to the nth degree. Like it or not, the great commission is to minister the gospel, not to allegorize or limit the bible, much less the Lord.

Like it or not, the church is removed in Revelation 4:1 when John is told to "come up hither" by the angel of the Lord ("was as it were a trumpet taking with me" so much for the last trump argument)... "shew thee things which must be hereafter." If the church is to stay to be roughed up by the Antichrist, then why bother to show the elders, or the living creatures (Cherubim), or the martyred souls of the tribulation saints? What about the hailstones weighing a talent (100 pounds)? How about the clouds of believers in Revelation 19:14? How about Jesus slaying Satan's armies in 19:15; is this figurative, wasn't the church supposed to save everyone? Maybe Revelation 19:20 is also allegorical when Jesus throws the Antichrist and false prophet into the lake of fire. (Deep breath).

The bible is orderly in its timing. Revelation 20: 4-6 points out that His thousand-year reign begins after Satan and his minions have been punished by Jesus Himself, not because the church brought in this glorious new age. While the argument the pastor uses about people (Christians) being able to die to oneself in order to usher in this new age seems noble, it is fatally flawed (Romans 3:32, Romans 3:10, Ephesians 2:8-9). The point is when we hear that man is supposed to "bring in a new age" we need to take this with many grains of salt, and a healthy dose of skepticism. No, I personally am not an optimist concerning the human condition, but a realist. Past performance is a good indicator of future results and we can't afford to look at this world through rose-colored glasses. We must not overestimate our ability, as we're nothing without the Lord.

The whole purpose of this post is not to belittle anyone, but to defend the gospel and the Lord's word. It's also to help reassure that as Christians we have hope in Jesus Christ. If anything, I find it a bit crazy to want to endure the tribulation voluntarily. Imagine not being able to buy or sell unless you pledge allegience to Satan, or losing your head because you didn't take his mark. Everyone thinks that they'll be strong and many will, but I've never had to look down the business end of a gun, or a guillotine. Besides, being in heaven during the tribulation isn't going to be a "pleasure cruise," but a time of incessory prayer that will last for 7 years.

What we should be doing is living like Christ, praying and going to church. We also need to be carrying on with our lives in service to others which is service to Jesus. Most importantly, we need to center our lives on Jesus and eagerly await His return. This is something that He will reward us a crown for someday, believe it or not. "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:8. A crown just for waiting for His return, imagine that. I can imagine one more to throw at His feet when He returns. Maranatha!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Christ, You Have Spoken...

Yesterday, I received what anyone could interpret as bad news. My DSST tests results came back and I passed one, and not the other. Yes, this is frustrating, but not at all surprising. I have more work ahead of me to get that all-important bachelors degree. To make matters worse, the job market in Lansing is crushingly poor. It's difficult to get a job as a pizza delivery person, much less the management consultant position I was vying for. My job prospects with a disabled car aren't exactly helping matters either. It's going to cost more to fix it than what it's worth or even what I owe on it (note to self, save for the next car, all of it. No more car payments. Lesson learned).

So what to do? When a door closes, another opens and in my case, another is to be made. The fact is that most if not all of the economy was based (and it still based) on debt. Employers frequently find themselves borrowing money to make payroll until the receipts are posted to the balance sheet. The problem comes when these payments come due and no receipts come in. Those people depending on debt find themselves out of a job. Because credit is still tight, employers are not going to have the resources to expand their operations and their payrolls. Unfortunately, this has been a fact of life at every job I've held in the past 17 years. It's like asking the banker to sign your check too. It's no way to live, or work; with the specter of all this debt determining whether or not you have a job. This part of what Jesus has to say about this whole debt thing. "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave" (Proverbs 22:7).

Slowly, but surely, I'm finding this out and putting this into practice in my own life. I have a pretty good idea of what the Lord has in mind for me, but I'm not at liberty to write about it at this time. I will say that He will open a door for me and take care of me and mine while we're working at life. It hasn't been a day in the sun, but I look forward to our day in the Son. Jesus, You have spoken!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

See You Later Agitator, or Repairing a Direct Drive Washer.

A phenomenon of today is to eliminate as many mechanical parts as possible. This goes for cars, trucks and major appliances. Clothes washers are almost as ubiquitous in this country as cars are, and until ten or twenty years ago, were driven by belts. The result is that motors and pumps are stacked together in line with the transmission. This is not unlike cars are set up today, complete with a clutch and drive train. This does not eliminate the need for corrective maintenance on these machines however as there are always trade offs in any mechanical device.

A Disclaimer: If you elect to do the repairs yourself, you assume the risk of personal injury, property damage and the resultant costs. I cannot control how you fix things or read directions. When in doubt, call a professional or consult with a service manual or counter person. A service call is still cheaper than a trip to the emergency department, a ride in an ambulance, or a property damage claim. No, I will not do your laundry either. You've been warned!
ONE NOTE, this is not about the front-loading washers which are getting more popular by are still pretty pricey for the average consumer. These have the virtues of saving water and energy, not to mention much quieter. These are something to consider when buying a new washer, but there are more trade offs with these along with the higher cost. This is a topic for later. This is about the still run of the mill top loading clothes washers which waste water and electricity; making more noise than a young war but are still reasonably affordable.

The washer in question this week was a Kitchen Aid top loader probably made by Whirlpool. The complaint was that the washer wasn't spinning and probably not agitating. The assumption over the phone was that it needed a belt. Not a problem. Tipping the washer forward showed the ugly truth, there was no belt; only the remains of a plastic coupling assembly in pieces on the floor. I had the part ordered and left for the night, Nothing more to do here.

The motor and transmission are in line in such a way that taking the motor out without removing the cabinet was out of the question. The pump is also attached to the motor in such a way that it is resting against the inside of the cabinet. Here are the step by step instructions for replacing the coupling. The time will take about an hour. Unplug, shut off the water and remove the hoses from the taps before working on the machine.
  • Remove the 4 screws holding the control panel to the cabinet and set it aside.
  • Disconnect the wire harness leading into the cabinet, leave the other wires alone.
  • Swing the basket so you can reach the two clips holding the cabinet to the frame underneath the top. The clips come off from the top.
  • Tilt the cabinet forward to clear the lip on the front of the frame and remove, making sure the plastic strips on the back panel remain attached. Set the cabinet aside, it is fairly lightweight.
  • The pump and motor assembly is at the bottom/front of the washer. Two clips with 5/16 screws secure this to the transmission. Remove those and set aside. Leave hoses attached to pump.
  • The coupling consists of 3 parts, a rubber bushing and 2 plastic "claws" that affix to the motor and transmission. These are the intended weak link to save more expensive parts in place of the belt.
  • Pry out the "claws" with a screwdriver, then install the new ones. The new ones will have a metal bushing inside. Use a hammer and a 7/16 deep well socket to tap these on the motor and transmission. When the shaft is flush with the bushing, stop tapping.
  • Install the rubber bushing on the transmission claw, and then line up the one on the motor to the open holes in the bushing while installing the clips and screws.
  • Verify that everything is assembled correctly before putting the cabinet back together, paying close attention to the plastic strips on the back panel; these need to line up with the edges of the cabinet. There are also two tangs that are on the frame that must line up with the corresponding holes in the cabinet or the cabinet will rattle. The clips for the cabinet install from the top into the back panel. The rest is reverse of what it was before, but make sure the holes line up.
  • Reconnect the water, replace hoses if at all worn. Reconnect the electrical and verify that the agitator moves. Happy laundry day!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Hate to Say I Told You So...

I write a lot, but only open my mouth to change feet. When a former (not by their choice) customer of mine said that Toyota was a great manufacturer, I blurted out that they were headed for a fall, and that they're in the same position GM was in the 1970's. In other words, they built marginal cars, but public opinion hadn't caught on yet. The bias against domestic automakers was too strong, even though their quality had improved steadily over the past 20 years (Except Chrysler).

Well, today my little prediction was right. Part of it was that they abandoned quality control in favor of high volume. Honda too, has also suffered from some major quality problems too, including, but not limited to, the transmissions in their Accords (early 2000's). Since they had this great reputation of reliability, quality and high resale value, customers bought and leased (fleeced) these little Camrys and Accords in droves. Another aspect of this perception made reality was that a ten year old Camry could demand more than a five year old Malibu. (I've been scoping out cars for a couple months).

The problem with perception driven reality is that eventually, real reality will eventually catch up. It could catch up to the point that I could trade my disabled Intrepid for a running Accord, even up. My wife's friend, who just leased a Camry is now scared to death to drive it because of the possibility of a stuck accelerator. In the olden days, this was nothing a little WD-40 couldn't fix. Now every problem requires a re engineering of the part or parts involved because failure tolerances are so close. Parts used to be under engineered and overbuilt. You didn't even need a torque wrench to do minor engine repair 30 or 40 years ago; now they are mandatory because cars and the materials they are made out of are so fragile. This is due to the higher cost of materials and labor, and a push to save money somehow.

Another problem is the increased dependance of computers and electronic controls on automobiles in general. in 1986, our family bought a 1979 Fiat Strada for $750 dollars. As unreliable as this car was, it had its virtues. My stepfather had to fix the heater, speedometer and window regulator on this car soon after we got it. The parts weren't too much and the effort to fix it wasn't horrible either. All one needed was a wrench and screwdriver. Now all cars have their windows, speedometer and heaters controlled with a computer. Instead of cranks and cables costing a few dollars, it can now be hundreds to fix the same things on a modern automobile, otherwise do a redneck repair (I did a lot on the Fiat when parts were unavailable).

I'm looking forward to a time when things will be simple and easy and it won't take a rocket scientist to fix something as mundane as an automobile. Mabye get to the point where we won't need them. I apologize for the ranting by the way. Maranatha!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Playing House with the Bible

Yesterday, my friend's niece and daughter were over and my older son more or less played what children that age typically played. This was a role playing game that has stood the test of time. Yes this was house. My son played the daddy, the niece played the mom and the daughter played the, well daughter. It went a little like this.

Mom to Dad: the daughter was really, really bad today.

Dad to Daughter: How come you know the rules and won't obey mom like you obey me?

This is verbatim of many, many times in the Grace place. We have this conversation repeatedly, though to my son's credit, this is easing. Too often, the rules are abandoned or forgotten until the father comes home.

What my son displays is a really good knowledge of the rules, he can recite them from rote. However, when it comes to bringing them into practice, it's a whole different animal entirely. We try and keep the rules sparing and simple, but whenever it's convenient, the object is to "lawyer" a way out of them. Such is the ingrained rebellion of all of us as human beings.

When we read the bible, we tend to cherry pick the things we like and either ignore or explain away what seems too fantastic or cramps our style. In fact, I've heard people say and write that it isn't possible for said book to free from error, making reference to the "living word" as being more reliable than the bible is. The problem with the "living word" is that all too often, this is interpreted as being as anything we want it to be. I won't discount that God has spoken to me (mainly about going back to church), but the fact is that nothing is outside of the realm of the bible when He does speak to me.

There is a church (read cult) that is called the Living Word, which also makes such claims. Surprise, they even use such practices as soul travel and astral projection. They also teach that in this state, even if you deviate from the word of the Lord, and still be a winner (emphasis mine). Dear reader, I would like to remind you that anything that removes glory from the Lord and places it on man is heresy. It is damnable heresy at that. You will be held accountable for this. Jesus warned us.

Revelation 22:19 "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Deuteronomy 4:2 "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."

Deuteronomy 12:32 "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it."

This verse spells it out succinctly Proverbs 30:6 "Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar."

There are other verses and warnings, which as Christians, we need to heed and obey. What's even worse is actually teaching such heresies to others. This is disgusting and offensive to the Lord. Mark 9:42 ""But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea."

This isn't to say that the Lord is all about punishment if we do wrong by Him and His word. Understand that His word is His gift to us and thus a blessing.

Revelation 21:5 "And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."

Revelation 22: 7 "And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book."

This isn't to belittle or offend anyone, but anyone emboldened by the seeming lack of action on the Lord's part in our daily lives; take notice. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3-9. Maranatha!