2021 Ship's Log

Amie found it! I've been saying that I needed a shirt exactly like this since Graham hit 18 months old. Best Christmas ever!

Despite our boy’s horrific sickness and a sleepless night, Christmas day was marvelously executed.

On Christmas Eve, Amie and I decorated the ceiling with stars, the table with cloth and candles, the bookshelf with stockings, and the tree with presents; one for each person. I attempted to install a swing clasp to the ceiling but, after three holes drilled without hitting wood, we chose another Christmas gift until we could request help.

Graham exclaimed, “This is so exciting!” when he noticed the transformation. Royal sleepily ignored the festivities, but he warmed once we began to unpack the stockings.

Stockings are the centerpiece of Christmas gift-giving, now that we open but one package apiece. Most items are individually wrapped for greater paper-tearing fun.

Post-gift aftermath. Poor Royal is asleep on Amie's chest while Graham quitely plays.

Interspersed throughout the morning were calls with family, then the longed-for lunchtime nap.

Kati Ray was over for Christmas dinner; a lavish affair of turkey breast, mashed potatoes, carrot soufflé, potato-bread loaves, fruit salad and Le Sueur peas. We merrily enjoyed the feast, put the boys to bed, and consumed two-thirds of Kati’s chocolate pear pie while watching the first episode of The Chosen.

We're so thankful Kati Ray joined us. Christmas is meant to be shared.

Royal woke last night at 11:00 pm with croup. The stridor was so bad he vomited all over Amie. He slept in our room and woke us every hour with a coughing fit.

Graham woke at 4:00 am with hand-foot-and-mouth.

So yeah, that’s an awesome way to start Christmas Eve…

It’s been over a year since the spark of desire to introduce the nations to Jesus was rekindled in our hearts. We’d thought an open door was before us to share our gifts alongside like-minded believers for the sake of the many nations in Chicago, but it’s not as we’d hoped.

Ted Kim shares with Jared Boyd a beautiful vision of spiritual formation through communal spiritual practices, but the missional emphasis is left to the individual’s growth with Jesus. I’ve started thinking about what’s missing in my note we give more than we have.

We couldn’t secure babysitting for Royal, so yesterday Amie and I split up and took the boys in a special trip separately.

Graham and Amie rode the Metra train downtown. He was so excited! They walked over to see the Macy’s Christmas windows, then back to the station. They had planned to visit Kriskindlemarket, but the line wrapped the block.

Royal and I drove to the Lincoln Park Zoo. We saw all sorts of animals: giraffe, zebra and meercat in the Africa exhibit; snake, lizard, bat, and armadillo in the mammal/reptile exhibit, many birds in the bird exhibit, and monkey, seal, camel and squirrel outside.

When we couldn’t find a babysitter, Amie and I improvised and split up. Graham went with Amie to downtown while Royal went with me to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Amie’d hoped to take Graham to the Chriskindlemarket, but the lines were around the block!

Amie and Graham

Graham loves riding the train. This was his favorite part of the whole trip.
The Macy building had trumpets around the entire circumference. Look at that face!
One of the Macy windows.
Who has two thumbs and is having a great time? This guy!

Alex and Royal

Royal rode around most of the zoo, but the best parts were inside. Good thing too; he prefers to be warm.
Royal didn't get animated for the animals, but he did for the signs.

Gorgeous three-minute meditation on Genesis 1 and God’s relationship with humanity. Thanks Matthew!

What God Thinks Of You

Royal’s toddering hard these days. Resistant to changing clothes, walking to the car and sitting in his car seat; the mornings are a wrestling match to move him out the door. He doesn’t give me the same resistance that he gives Amie, probably because I’ll just man-handle him, so it’s even more frustrating when she’s trying to contain his flailing body.

Reminds me that I still need to get that custom shirt made, the one with crossed AK-47s that reads, “I don’t negotiate with toddlers.”

My first opportunity to meet my Performance Trust colleagues occurred over a year after I started at the company! The IT department hosted a party at Topgolf. It was a delightful three hours spent with great colleagues, delicious food and swinging entertainment.

Since people had only seen me on Zoom, no one knew my height. Multiple people said they expected someone shorter!

Inspired by the pleasure of sharing stories with Graham as we put Christmas ornaments on our pine tree, I’ve crafted an ornament memorial from a selection of our ornaments. Enjoy!

We had a lovely double-date with David and Sharon Ello at Lady Gregory’s last Friday. Not only was it a miracle that we both found babysitters on short notice (thank you Kati Ray!), but we were able to get a seat in less than five minutes when we were told it’d take a half-hour.

We’ve spent the last few months praying with them and listening for God’s direction for our households. The Spirit has led them to move-a bittersweet answer; my plan was to get them to move into our building-and given us encouragement that’s led to pressing further into our apostolic gifting.

Be blessed my friends; may the LORD bless you and your household with joy and peace that overflows the streets of your neighborhood.

Amie, Graham, Royal and I spent a lovely visit with my Uncle Mark, Aunt Steph and Viktoria in Grand Rapids; our Thanksgiving tradition for the past seven years!

This year was more restful than we’ve experienced since Graham was born. In part because none of us was under a year old, and also sleeping in the same room seemed to help. We also made record time on the drive over, arriving almost an hour earlier than we expected. That worked out great since we were able to contribute a little to the dinner prep this time around. And as we have most years, we brought board games to play.

Watching Amie read to Graham and Royal is one of my favorite sights.
Nothing could dissuade Royal to go outside without shoes or coat. So we threw up our hands and let him go...
Graham was having such fun pushing the snow shovel that he cleared the entire driveway. It was snowing the whole time so that, by the time he'd cleared it there was another layer. Endless fun!

My December website update is complete! I figured it’d take half the month, but there were fewer mobile bugs to fix than I expected. If you run into any glaring problems, feel free to shoot me an email. Done is better than perfect, and I wanted to get this out before my November newsletter since all the links would have broken.

In December I will make a change to the structure of my website that will break nearly every existing link. If you’re curious, read reasons to migrate to a digital garden.

Random thought: freedom from spiritual enslavers

We made the mistake of visiting the Kohl Children’s Museum on a weekend. So many people… But we managed to get a few photos that’ll serve as better memories than the press of crowds, the noise of a hundred toddlers, and the price of admission.

This little boy pushed Royal right after this photo, but he took it well. Life with Graham has built his resiliency.
There were three train tables where Graham spent most of his time. When he gets time to sink into play, he's happily focused.

Amie and I took a date night last Friday at the Botanic Garden’s Lightscape event. Here are a selection of photos. It snowed the entire time, but you could hardly tell. The effect that the snow had on the colors, however, was beyond description. It was the most awesome worship service I’ve attended in a long time.

Near the entrance to the event is a light-tunnel. Brilliant!
A rubic cube kaleidoscope made this astonishing effect in this courtyard. Unlike most pictures, the colors stand out more in the photo than I noticed live!
This section was like walking through Alice in Wonderland.
There was so much to see-you wouldn't believe the videos we took-but I don't want to spoil the surprise. You gotta see it for yourself!

Amie had an endoscopy today because she’d had trouble choking awhile back. When the doctor was looking around, however, the doctor didn’t find the customary scarring, just some swelling, and so didn’t do anything. They took a biopsy, but otherwise that’s it. Amie’s been hurting the rest of the evening from bloating caused by the anesthesia. You don’t know till you know, you know?

It was our best Halloween excursion yet! Graham, Royal and I dressed up as old men, Amie and Kati Ray were the photographers. We made it back to the apartment with a stash of candy and loads of compliments. Victory!

Amie did the face paint. Graham wasn't sure about it, but he went through with it after watching her put face paint on Papa.
Royal went straight from naptime to face-paint. He stared at Papa for a while with a confused expression not much different than this one.
Graham was the happiest old man of the bunch.
Damn it, got my wheel stuck again!
COVID's aged our family...
Amie did a great job on the makeup, don'cha think?

I’ve logged few new observations from meditating during the watches of the night, one of which is that god wants more humans.

I’m launching a new effort to read through the Hebrew Bible. My Bible intake has waned in recent years, dipping at times to essentially zero. The Bible Project has been a source of inspiration and delight for months now, and I’m grateful for it, but I’ve begun to use it as a crutch. In a desire to read the Bible with the rich layers that Tim and John reveal, I’ve hoped that I’ll learn how to explore the Bible that way by listening to many, many examples. But I remember now that I’ve read the Bible from the beginning with an awareness, albeit limited, of its interconnected and patterned nature. This is not a new skill, but a growing skill.

I’m reading three segments of the Hebrew Bible in tandem: Torah, Prophets, and Writings.

Amie’s back! Graham, Royal and I picked her up after school yesterday. The flight was delayed by weather so we ended up circling the airport for a bit. Graham slept through it and Royal was only mildly agitated.

Amie had a fabulous time in Maine. I won’t spoil her stories, but you should ask her about the time Olivia gave her a “treatment.”

BFFs forever!

Amie brought home special lobster suckers. Royal enjoyed his a lot…

Doesn't it look like Royal ate a squirrel? Creepiest Halloween photo I've seen.

Amie flew to Maine this morning. Graham, Royal and I woke early to drive her to the airport. We went straight to the skate park in Niles afterward.

The boys have done extremely well today, even though at times they miss their mama. Graham has his moments but for the most part he’s very helpful. We spent almost two hours at the skate park with no meltdowns or crazy-making.

We ate lunch a half-hour early because Royal was sleepy. He didn’t put up a fuss when I placed him into bed. Graham played quietly while I took a shower, then an hour-long nap. He didn’t want snuggles nor did he demand television.

Royal was awake shortly after I awoke. We grabbed a snack and headed for the Chicago Botanic Gardens. To my surprise and delight, the jack-o-lanterns were out! Royal squealed with delight over and over; he never seemed to tire of looking at them. Graham sat in the stroller mostly, but I think he was having a good time. We needed to turn back because it takes so long for Royal to walk anywhere, but Graham agreed to hold Royal in his lap and we did the entire circuit.

I cooked mozzarella ravioli for us when we made it home, and the boys ate decently well. Then we played chase before Royal’s bedtime. When Royal was settled, Graham and I did something he never gets to do - we watched a little of a shark documentary. Probably should have vetted it before we began - I thought it was scary - but I guess we’ll see if it affects Graham. The Jippy and Dumper tale was about meeting a shark so hopefully we were able to process the experience together 🤞.

Royal looked in over two dozen jack-o-lanterns, just like this.
Amie and I have tried to take pictures in the dark for the last two years, but a daylight picture turns out so much better. These six pumpkins were on display, but the rest were covered in burlap sacks.

Royal and I picked up 264" of PVC pipe for Halloween costumes today. You’ll have to wait to see why. Graham and I found a fun use for them in the meantime - rolling tiny plastic balls! This might be a fun strategy for a homemade Christmas gift this year…

Graham just after he rolled a ball down the tube.

As though we had enough, Amie’s taking Royal to the ER.

Why, you ask? He shoved a black bean up his nose. 🙄

Can you see it? Right nostril.

Amie was able to get right in without a wait. But while Royal was happily playing in the ER bay, the bean fell out!

Looks like it was starting to sprout. Royal's earned a new moniker, the Bilson bean.

The doctor looked him over anyways and remarked how well-behaved Royal was, even when the doctor was looking up his nose. Only we know the truth…

No, we didn’t move to Arizona (sadly 😩). This was taken in one of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s greenhouses.

Mema, Royal and Graham posing before the cacti.

Today I upgraded my Raspberry Pi to Bullseye!

The latest Debian main distribution, Bullseye, was released on August 14th. I’ve been nervous about making the upgrade lest it take down the services I use on a daily basis, but it was surprisingly simple. Thanks to all those who contribute to Debian releases!

The best part is that Podman is now officially supported. Commands like podman stats now work as expected, and I can reliably pull new updates when they’re released. Having used Podman for a few months now, I’ve grown to prefer it to Docker. I’m stoked that Podman desktop version will be available for my machine… someday.

It’s often on my mind to migrate my setup to the cloud, perhaps Vultr, but it’s opportunities to fully operate my server that make me stay loyally attached to my Pi. It’s also the most cost effective.

After many months of dodging the bullet, Graham tested positive for COVID. He and Royal will be home for the next two weeks.

Symptom-wise, nothing more than a low-grade fever presents itself. Even without symptoms, still a crushing blow to over-stressed parents

(weeps pitiously in the corner next to the train set and children’s books).

Since Friday I’ve been too overwhelmed with disappointment and anxiety to do more than the bare minimum; clean, eat, watch. A three-day weekend spent in a daze, the anxiety only worsening as the hours slip away. The worst of it may finally be passing but to be this derailed doesn’t speak well of my emotional reserves.

Let’s practice a little gratitude. I’m thankful for:

Inspired by blog writers I follow and a need to upgrade my CSS skills for work, I’ve released a major revamp of my site.

My themes have expanded from a binary selection to a dropdown list (thanks Amie for the Fall theme). There’s a fair amount of under-the-covers refactoring to make each piece its own component. Not using any framework gives me a better idea of what’s possible with code alone. A lot, as it turns out. The web has come a long way…

Last night the tenant above us held a bachelor’s party. The music was loud enough at 11:00 pm that we could understand it from our living room below.

At 1:00 am he knocked loudly on our kitchen window to ask that I let him inside the building because he’d forgotten his key. At 1:45 he again knocked loudly to let him inside a second time.

He works night shift at St. Francis. It’s not like him to host a crazy party, so I don’t think he’ll do it again. He apologized this morning.

I’ve been exhausted all day, and annoyed that, after a restful Saturday, I’m going into the week tired (again). There’s not space to recover from these setbacks, so it may be until next weekend before I feel more rested. Ugh.

I was once honest and vulnerable at work. But at a company I’d rather forget, I was hated for my vulnerability, which is my strength, and my honesty was shaped into a dagger and plunged into my exposed heart. Will I ever be safe to entrust myself to anyone with authority over my livelihood? Or am I consigned to live forever behind a partial mask among those who have power to hurt me?

Dilemmas such as these sweeten the prospect of self-employment, even if it will not free me from fear of harm.

My trust in the steadfast provision of the Father was once sufficient to risk unemployment, even court-martial, to be vulnerable and faithful. But my trust has not grown so fast as the increase of people who depend upon my labor for food and shelter.

Amie left to visit her parents in Madison yesterday afternoon. We ought to know by now that travel without prayer protection is a severe risk, but we’re still learning this lesson.

She drove off at the start of Royal’s nap time. At Dempster and Crawford, about twenty minutes into the trip, a warning light flashed on. Low oil pressure. She called me.

We started to troubleshoot by checking the dipstick and discovered the oil reservoir was bone dry! Amie purchased a quarter at the nearby gas station, poured half in, and watched under the car for a leak. Nothing. She cranked the engine and, behold, the oil poured onto the asphalt!

I called the shop that we’d had our oil changed at to demand he send a mechanic, but it didn’t take much - he handled it right away.

It had now been an hour into their trip. Graham was filthy from playing on the gas station ground and Royal was covered in chocolate snack and irritable from sleeplessness.

The mechanic discovered the problem - the oil filter was faulty! Whether because it was the wrong one or not, I do not know. But the mechanic hadn’t brought the right replacement, sonhe drove back to the shop for another filter.

By the time he’d returned it was over two hours into the trip. Graham was doing okay, but Royal was melting down and refusing to get into his car seat. Amie was frazzled and almost ready to come home.

The trip still happened, but oh the drama. Moral of the story - ALWAYS ask for prayer when traveling!

Last Thursday, I dropped Amie off at the Urgent Care with severe abdominal pain before picking up the boys from school. To our surprise, the doctor recommended Amie head to the ER so, instead of picking her up to take her home, we picked her up to drop her at the hospital.

Amie spent the whole night in the ER undergoing various tests to discover why her gallbladder was inflamed. By the morning she was expected to have it removed, but the day-shift contradicted the night crew and decided it wouldn’t be necessary. In other words, try again later 😕.

I took Friday off to care for the kiddos, reminded once again that caring for two young boys by myself is a herculean task; props to mama Hercules. We finally picked Amie up from the hospital in the afternoon.

The boys did well in her absence. Graham melted down when he realized mama wouldn’t “sit a w’ittle” while he fell asleep.

I’ve recently finished Derrick Bell’s short story series, Faces At The Bottom Of The Well. He was a civil rights lawyer who lived between 1930-2011, taught at Harvard Law, and wrote some of the most thought-provoking ideas about race in America I’ve encountered yet. The series ends with The Space Traders, Bell’s most famous short story.

Curious to see if economic conditions have improved since Bell’s writing, I looked it up on Pew Research Center and found 6 Facts About Economic Inequality. Looks as bad and worse than, yikes.

This weekend I spent a couple hours mapping all the tasks, goals, and ideas in my head onto paper. There are so many projects going at the same time it’s impossible to keep them straight in my head.

When my life gets this chaotic I live in a perpetual state of anxious dread. De-cluttering my mind by dumping everything on a paper reduces my anxiety by quieting the looping list in my head and ordering their priorities. The task count doesn’t change, but the items I must address this week is more manageable than the full list.

Today the city of Evanston blocks off much of Ridge Ave (a busy thoroughfare) for bikers to ride along. There are charities along the sidewalk and a live band in Ridgeville Park. Graham’s a little on edge and sensitive to all the people, but he’s enjoying the novelty of all the roads blocked off and police cars everywhere. Royal squeals with delight every time he sees a baloon.

We’ve been in such a fast-paced season, for so long, that I wonder if I’ve become addicted to the rush. I don’t ache for solitude as I once did. Silence has become more uncomfortable than before. It would be nice to separate myself for a time, to rest and remember that the world does not require me nearly so much as I may grow to believe.

A colleague of mine recommended this list as a refresher of what NOT to do in software development. It’s a good overview of the common temptations developers can succumb to as they write code.

Seven Deadly Sins of Programming

I’ve been wondering if an IRC channel would be a suitable way to enable real-time conversation with family and friends on the subjects I write about. Comments have been a bonus, but maybe it could be more? I’ve been enjoying a foray into Discord groups and wonder if a similar platform would be a useful addition. What do you think?

I’ve been listening to a Bible Project podcast about the theme of trees. They recommend a book on the subject called Reforesting Faith that I’d enjoy. Maybe I’ll come back to it…

I had first heard about OBS Studio from Scott Hanselman a few months back, but I guessed it’d have a learning curve if I didn’t already understand video and audio editing. Turns out, it’s simple enough that I could make a video in 15 minutes!

Don’t let the lack of screenshots deter you from checking it out. I think I’ll try it for a bible study soon, and for my September family update.

This bout of sickness may be the longest we’ve had yet. I’ve been sick now for nine days and have taken four sick days from work. Most nights I’m up multiple times with my coughing or Royal’s; last night for two hours between 0000 and 0200. Royal was finally getting better, then on Wednesday he spiked a fever and appears to have a second viral infection. Graham and Amie are doing well enough, but not 100%. We keep getting a little hope, then it’s crushed the day after. When will this end?!

We’ve been sick for weeks now. First Graham and Royal, which entailed waking multiple times a night and rising for the day between 5:00 and 6:30. Then Amie and I. Currently I’ve lost my voice, have fatigue, a wretched cough, and congestion since Thursday. Today is the second day I’ve taken sick time from work to recover. I’ve slept all night and through half the day. At least being sick at different times that’ll the boys has made their care easier.

What is this?! Bret Victor's Website

Looking for dinner table conversation tonight? Look no further than The Dinner Table.

The Tail End is a sobering post I discovered while perusing Matthew Kudija’s reading notes, specifically this book. It’d be worth creating a few of my own graphics to represent what’s left on my timeline.

Matthew Kudija has written notes for a list of books, astonishing for both its prodigious length and breadth of subject matter. Here are a few book notes that revealed books I’d love to read.

I know little about Bitcoin but am interested in economics and curious about this upstart monetary system.

The title drew me in. It reminds me of an invaluable book I’d read years ago (I don’t remember the title) that gave me freedom to not finish many books.

Nassim Taleb’s name keeps popping up. This looks like a great place to start with his work.

Since Matthew has written the laws down, I probably don’t need to read the book. But I would like to compare/contrast these with Jesus' style of power.

This would be a great way to continue my re-introduction with evolution after Adam and the Genome.

A story from yesterday:

In the morning, Graham came looking for Amie to tell her there was dog poop on the kitchen floor. Confused, Amie came over to look. Sure enough there lay a big turd, half-squished, in the center of the kitchen floor. She shrieked in horror.

The source was verified when we found the rest of the poo on Royal’s left foot. It must have fallen out of his diaper. Who knows how many places Royal’s foot trod between Graham’s discovery and his apprehension?

Graham maintains that it was dog poop. He’s in denial, poor guy.

Who knew the human blood-suckers only account for 3% of the mosquito genus?

The Secret Lives of Mosquitos

Royal has been putting random stuff off the ground for months now. We figured he’d outgrow the habit, but it’s not looking promising. Now it’s part of his mode of independent resistance. But I got him today, he he.

He popped a dry pinto bean in his mouth and looked over at me with gleeful defiance. Usually, I’d tell him to take it out. But this time he chomped down on it and split the bean in two. So I told him to eat it.

At first he must have misheard, so he popped the pieces out and handed them to me. But I pushed them back and said, “nope, if you’re going to put them in your mouth, you eat them.” This seemed to puzzle him, bit I kept at it. After a few tries he was making faces (it must not have tasted good), but he kept popping it back in when I said, “finish it up.”

Here’s hoping he’ll think twice before popping another bean!

Royal may be starting the terrible twos. Sickness only explains part of his immense and random resistance to all parental suggestion. He’s INTENSE. It’ll serve him well in the future, but we bear the brunt of it today. Oye.

I have never read poetry translated from Chinese nor any from factory-workers but, thanks to Matt Webb I’ve been introduced to dagong shige. It appears to be translatable to either “battler’s poetry” or “labor poetry.”

I Swallowed an Iron Moon

I swallowed an iron moon

they called it a screw

I swallowed industrial wastewater and unemployment forms

bent over machines, our youth died young

I swallowed labour, I swallowed poverty

swallowed pedestrian bridges, swallowed this rusted-out life

I can’t swallow any more

everything I’ve swallowed roils up in my throat

I spread across my country

a poem of shame

- (Xu Lizhi)

Sundress

The packing area is flooded with light

the iron I’m holding

collects all the warmth of my hands

I want to press the straps flat

so they won’t dig into your shoulders when you wear it

and then press up from the waist

a lovely waist

where someone can lay a fine hand

and on the tree-shaded lane

caress a quiet kind of love...

- (Wu Xia)

Why am I only now hearing about these poems? Poetry like Wu Xia’s is ten-thousand times more effective at communicating the lives of those who produce most of the world’s goods (or at least the United States).

Another week past. Work took half the week to calm down from last week’s fiasco, but all has finally normalized.

I’m grateful for the time spent with others this week. We’ve had numerous conversations about seeing a movement in Chicago and several chances to encourage and exhort others. It’s likely that we’ll host a DBS group this Fall with some we’ve met, which is an exciting prospect.

The question, “how can I help?” has been so useful to learn how I might get involved in other’s needs. It’s a keeper.

Sometimes there’s just so much going on it’s hard to keep up. I end up with 50+ tabs on my phone’s browser from all the articles I hope to read in greater depth. Only that never happens. Here’s a few thoughts I wanted to get down so I can close some tabs!

Half of American's Can't Afford a One-Room Rental

My eyes perk up whenever I see articles like this because I keep trying to make sense of my own experience. Amie and I have no debt, I make a high salary, and we have an affordable 15-year mortgage, yet it seems to be just enough for us to live the dream of a single-income household. Our friends and neighbors lack many or all of these benefits and often have additional obstacles. If we’re exceedingly privileged and well-positioned and it’s just enough for our little family, how is the rest of America faring?

When I pulled the Guardian’s data apart it was too general to make any concrete statement, but it does reflect a trend.

The History of the Web

A resource that’s fun to page through. It’s amazing that the Internet has managed to stay organized enough to remain generally interoperable across the world.

Apple Privacy Update for Child Safety

There’s some controversy in tech privacy/freedom circles about Apple’s decision to scan photos on our iPhones. That sounds bad, and it would be, but they’re doing a few more things to minimize the invasive nature of their scanning and the data that might be gathered from a scan. My personal opinion is that Apple has done all I could imagine possible to solve a horrifying problem without creating worse privacy concerns and, in this specific case, I’d rather they take action than remain passively involved.

Comparison of Vaccine Effectiveness With SARS-CoV-2 Variants && SARS-CoV-2 Breakthrough Cases

I’m still learning the underlying material to understand this research paper, but it’s my aim to learn enough about genetics, vaccines, and the human immune system to make sense of this research and others like it. Stay tuned for a full-size article!

60 Years of Woodland Regeneration

This was an encouraging story about the regeneration of farmland back to a woodland habitat. We don’t know enough about how the Earth will heal from our involvement, but it’s wonderful to read about the astounding resilience and self-repairing nature of creation. Most repair will require more human involvement to set right where we’ve made mistakes, but it’s encouraging nonetheless.

The State of US Open Banking

I’ve been complaining about bank systems for a long time. I’d have jumped ship to another bank if I really thought there was a better option. I’m surprised, and yet not so surprised, that other parts of the world aren’t locked up with crappy standards. Might be time to move to a Swiss bank 😎.

Royal and I look alike in these photos don’tcha think?

Marcella and Alex
Amie and Royal

I think that there is a shared belief that the world is a lot fairer and more complex than it is because it’s easier to see it that way. We want to perceive the world and the people that live in it as a machine that can be tuned, improved on and fixed, that is predictable and malleable, because the alternative - that it is uncaring and chaotic - runs contrary to our educational system and the supposed “hard work gets you success” mentality we have drilled into us as kids. - The World Is More Obvious Than We Want It To Be

This resonates.

This week has been insane.

Since Tuesday I’ve worked nine or more hours a day, releasing new code almost every night to resolve critical issues with our software. Today I was indirectly threatened with being laid off if any other problems arose. Mayhem.

If it were my boss making those kind of threats, it’d be time to start looking for another company. But it’s not. It’s a firm partner, and the IT department has little recourse. My boss and his boss have been exceedingly reasonable; stressing the criticality of these issues without making threats or falling into the blame game. I’m grateful to work with them.

It’s tempting to stage a walk-out. If our team continues to receive this treatment, I might succumb to the temptation. How many developers have to leave before someone realizes that it’s not okay to treat people this way?

Anyways, don’t make any decisions at the end of a grueling week. That’s my motto.

It’s been so great to have Val in town for a few days! She stopped by on Monday to hang out with Amie while I worked, then we visited Dick Ryan’s place for a party in her honor. The boys happily played chase all over the living room, filling his house with laughter.

Amie connected with Christine and we’re both ecstatic to discover that she’s hooked on DBS! It seems like trips to Mafraq, Jordan and Dorren’s influence has borne unsuspected fruit across the Evanston Vineyard. May it continue to bear fruit according to its kind for an expansive harvest!

Graham watched the Tokyo 2020 Olympic BMX qualifiers (first year at the Olympics!) and afterward was like, “meh”.

Graham and Mama watching the Olympics

There’s so many cool cinematography tricks going on with Matthew’s “Day 222 of the Pandemic.” Check it out!

My first unoffice hours today was so joyful. My mom scheduled our call today literally minutes after the invite had been sent. It’s a sunny day and there’s not much traffic, so I walked around the neighborhood while we spoke on the phone.

You won’t find a more tenacious woman than my mom. I may get my great hair from my dad (thanks Dad ;) ), but my endurance and my children’s endurance is her gift to us. My gratitude for her grows with every year I raise my boys as I reflect how impossible a task it’d be to raise them without Amie.

What’s it like to hear the voice of God? This is a life-long question that’s so helpful to have the wisdom of those who’ve been listening long. Brother Vryhof has many insights; these are the most helpful to me today.

It is as if God speaks a word to us in the deepest place of our heart, and that word is gently but persistently repeated over and over again until we finally wake up to its full meaning and impact­­.

It seems to me that God’s words are expansive words, leading us beyond ourselves, beyond the safe spaces we have created for ourselves, beyond the cautious boundaries we have so carefully marked out for our lives;

Listening to God

It’s been my experience that, the longer I follow Jesus, the more partnership we have together. In the beginning I treated God primarily as an authority figure. I listened for my orders and moved when I got them. He has weaned me from this reliance on certain direction in the prevailing years, instead pushing me to a regular practice of listening and planning that blurs the lines between what parts are my contribution and what are the Lord’s. Instead of a dramatic event, followed by a change in direction, He’s slowly molding my heart towards a direction that’s still wreathed in mist. Perhaps because, were the mist to dissipate, I would be frozen in my fear and uncertainty. For it does seem that the Lord’s plans far exceed what I believe myself to be capable of.

My Papaw sent this picture of us when I was about the age of my boys today. What a sweet photo!

Alex and Papaw

So many sparks today around obedience!

It is remarkable that, despite driving half-way across the country, meeting all sorts of new people and putting so many new things in his mouth, Royal was never seriously sick on our vacation. A week back and he’s got something that kept him coughing all night. He and I slept on the couch; a better option than rising to cuddle him every half-hour when a cough woke him. So I’m tired, sore, and ready for bed.

Amie and I enjoyed a lovely evening of prayer and pie with the Ellos tonight. All of us are seeking to be quiet and listen for the Father’s voice as we ponder next steps for our families in this tumultuous season.

For the Ellos, we heard integration, provision and home. May the Father unite the Ello’s many gifts and passions to breathtaking display of God’s character. May the Father supply all their needs without fretting, as the birds have their needs met without harvest labor. And may the Father go before them to establish a home in which they may rest and bear much fruit.

For us, we heard passion, influence and celebration. Like fallen green leaves which turn brown and dry, our ambitions and longings have been silent and seemingly dead. But a fire begins to smoke in the leaves, and the blaze will be momentous when it catches. Amie is dancing with joy, a band of jewels upon her ankle.

It’s Royal’s first day at school! Doesn’t he look cute wearing this monkey backpack from Ty?

Graham’s only been in his new classroom for a couple days, so this is also a big day for him.

Will you pray for them today?

Royal Wearing Monkey Backpack

In the spirit of intentional change, what if I implemented unoffice hours? My purpose is three-fold.

First, for years my family has stated that they never know when to call. That’s partially true; a full-time job, two young children, and my human need for rest absorb nearly every waking moment. When the responsibility to contact family is entirely in my hands, however, no one’s happy because I (almost) never think about it. Maybe office hours would make those free times explicit?

An added bonus to family office hours is that it’s equal for any family member. I don’t need to somehow balance my time between folks - anyone can see how often I’m speaking with the whole squad and can sign up at the next available opening, even if it’s three months hence.

Second, I miss friends of old. Every time I speak with an old friend, even for a short period, I walk away grateful and energized. I’ve had some success keeping streaks by scheduling the next call before the current one ends, but multiple reschedules break the streak. I’ve come to accept that I can’t maintain monthly calls with everyone I love, but I might connect with more folks if I kept office hours?

Third, there’s a vast network of people I’ve not met. How awesome it’d be to make some new acquaintances, colleagues - even friends. I’m a technology consultant by trade and passion, and the hope that office hours might open new doors to work together is motivation enough.

I suppose Calendly will have to do, but I’d love to host my own solution. Suggestions?

(republished because it doesn’t fit in my notes but I didn’t want to lose the thought)

What gives life meaning?

Is it the fulfillment of our dreams? The result of our vision and the labor to bring that vision to reality? For there is a sense of meaning after a project ends and the results are before me.

Then is it in reflection? With or without a preceding dream, is meaning formed in the review of one’s mundane life, when all the highs and lows flatten by distance and the whole is in view? For there is meaning in the review of our son’s early pictures and the memories, sweetened by time, which Amie and I share.

Then it is in our sharing? When the stories are cast and recast, forming in the telling a shape to their narrative that explains the purpose of the characters and reshaped by the special perspective of each new listener.

(republished because it didn’t actually fit in my notes but I didn’t want to lose this little rumination)

I’ve written hundreds of business insights, but few are polished for the web. I’ve started to migrate them to notes so I can at least reference them more easily and slowly, possibly, transform them into a worthwhile resource. You could start with Entrepreneurial Insights.

For our 7th anniversary Amie and I went out to dinner at Big Jones. We don’t often get out after bedtime but Amie’s mom stayed with the kiddos so we could have a relaxed evening. If we ever leave Chicago we’ll sure miss the world-class dining.

Amie With Dinner

Today is Amie and I’s 7th wedding anniversary! We arrived back in Evanston from our summer vacation yesterday morning (really? Yes, Alex, really…), so I’m not in the best state for a celebration, being sleep-deprived and driven to catch up, but we’re still going to celebrate!

I’ve added a new feature to the site, backlink previews!

What if you could see, not only to what places an article pointed, but also what other articles pointed to the current one? And what if, instead of opening an article from either direction, you could preview a snippet of its contents? That’s what display backlink preview on hover is all about.

I started Strange Rites by Tara Isabella Burton last night over ice cream.

She writes like a sociologist by exploring the history of religious affiliation and syncretism in the United States. Her sweeping review of a US which began pluralistic and intuitional, became more uniform and institutional after two world wars, then is shifting back to pluralistic intuition was novel and insightful.

Spirituality remixed is a fitting description of our day, both what I see in the world and my own inclinations, but a threat beyond our collective power, like a world war, will draw us back into the security and necessity of compromised individuality for the sake of peace and community.

Tim and John’s discussion about how the three major biblical roles (prophet, priest and king) are parts of the Genesis mandate was really helpful as I wrestle with what being the image of God means for life, work and rest.

The relevant parts are about halfway through Priests of Eden.

Last weekend Amie and I hosted a board game night for our upstairs neighbors, Maya and Mo! They brought a couple expansions to Dominion, a deck-building card game, and we had a blast. Amie crushed us the first round; particularly remarkable since neither of us had any experience with the expansion cards. We played a second round then decided to try one of the games we’d offered: Robo Rally. It’s a board game where you program robots to drive through checkpoints. Lots of laughter.

It was wonderful to get to know some new neighbors, and I look forward to future game nights with them after our vacation!

Kati Ray’s cousin Bronson and girlfriend Alexis were in town for a wedding over the weekend, so we met them in person for the first time! Since COVID we’ve been meeting on Zoom for DBS, but they live in Virginia so, even if we wanted to include them in our bubble, it wasn’t possible given their distance.

Sunday morning at the Evanston Vineyard we crept in and sat behind them. It was the first time we’d been in a service in over a year, so it was almost as new for our family to be in the church as it was for them. We headed out at the beginning of the last song to pick up our kids and head for the beach, so we hardly said anything to them yet.

We arrived at Lee St. beach, set up our new umbrella and our lounge chairs, and waited for Kati, Bronson and Alexis to arrive. Kati beat them there and panicked for a brief moment, but Amie walked up with the two of them (she’d stayed at the car while Royal slept).

Royal did his rounds, playing with each person in turn, and Graham was content to play by himself for the morning, so we had ample time to chat with our friends. Both Bronson and Alexis were playful and engaged with our kids and I enjoyed watching Graham and Royal have a wonderful time with them. I was overjoyed to hear that the DBS group they’d started is going well. Both Bronson and Alexis invited friends, many of whom don’t know each other, and they’ve met three times to read passages in the gospel of Mark. Bronson was particularly happy that friends who were skeptical at first were feeling more comfortable and getting a lot out of the group.

We headed home for lunch and naps, then over to Kati’s to hang out on her back porch. Graham loved showing his cars to Bronson and Royal snuggled with everyone. Suzy and Allison dropped in, and we enjoyed a little small talk and a beautiful day outside.

The next day, Amie took Bronson, Alexis, and the boys downtown to visit the Bean. They had scheduled an architectural boat tour, so Amie said goodbye took the kids over to Maggie Daly park after.

So happy we got to hang out with them in person!

Picture at the Bean

Totally stealing Sarah’s mission statement:

My goal is to raise independent adults, not obedient children

At long last, everyone’s mostly healthy!

The worst streak was Royal. He drank pond scum a couple Sundays back and hardly slept that night. As the week progressed, he became worse. Intermittent fever, constant crying, and unable to sleep without being held. On Friday I took him to the Immediate Care - a double ear infection and croup!

Graham’s had a dry cough for even longer. It started with three days of coughing and boogers, but the cough hung on for weeks. When Graham has boogers he’ll randomly stop and wail about them. Like a storm siren.

Royal Asleep with a Toothbrush

I attended the 20’s and 30’s gathering at the Evanston Vineyard tonight. We ate Pita Inn and got to know one another.

I met Andrew Teague (spelling?). He’s a college student who enjoys comic books and video games and wants to try doing User Experience (UX) design. His older brother was also at the event. His father is probably Jim Teague.

Anna Herning is taking a year after graduation to serve in Palestine. She volunteers at a church summer camp and is going to Mafraq. Her older sister Sarah was present and just back from nine days at a wilderness campin the UP.

Amanda White is a schoolteacher of five years. She’s traveled to Spain and Brazil teaching English for three of them. Her father is a retired spec ops colonel, and her younger brother is studying pediatric medicine. She cares deeply about her students having cross-cultural encounters and forming relationships outside their home networks.

After we finished eating and chatting, we sat in a circle for prayer. Anosh led us in ten minutes of worship. Adama said the Spirit was on me, Paul (my left) and Amanda (my right). When he prayed for me my hands filled with something heavy. I went to pray for Derek but was led by Ted back to Amanda. We prayed for her for a while and gave prophetic words. Jess Sales prompted me to share, and I had seen bones being cleaned by a swirling sandstorm. I prayed for the Spirit to expose the true Amanda, the one He had formed from ages past, the Amanda with foundation. Adama asked me to pray that three times. My hands eventually emptied and, when we finished praying for Amanda, I went straight home.

What a privilege it was to meet with Neighborhood leaders last Tuesday in Reneé’s backyard. On the drive down I thanked God that I was invited to share in this community. As we shared our stories and thanksgivings with one another my hope in the future of our community ballooned. Even as we’re being scattered by the closure of the Neighborhood Campus, the kingdom potential is stronger than ever. I was reminded by Jesus' words about His death bearing much fruit and the growth of the early church after persecution in Jerusalem scattered the new Christians in the early chapters of Acts. May fruit be scattered across the land!

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (ESV, John 12:24)

Inspired by Maggie’s digital garden directory and the ideals represented by this eclectic group of digital gardeners, I have made a separation between Evergreen notes and family logs. I’ve also bucketed posts by type rather than category which may help visitors find what they’re looking for without reference to categories. This is a significant update and, while I’ve attempted to redirect every broken link to its new home, I may have missed a few.

Welcome to my newly planted digital garden.

I don’t remotely have time to peruse Brendan Schlagel’s canon, but I want to.

David Cole’s description of his childhood experience with video games, his insight into the hopes it stirred for his children, and the discoveries he’s made of his children via Minecraft is both enjoyable to read and very close to my own unexplored thoughts. Read it here.

That was the worst four-day weekend I’ve survived in ages.

I was stuck with my second COVID vaccine shot on Thursday and within hours was feeling all the worst symptoms of a fever: body aches, chills, sinus pressure. I went to bed early, hoping to jump-start the recovery, and took a Friday sick-day.

Friday was worse. All the pain, all day. The kids were miraculously good for Amie, so I was able to get hours of extra sleep, but there was no change.

Saturday the aches and chills lessened, but a new problem cropped up. Allergies. My nose ran and my eyes watered from the moment I awoke until late into the night. If I leaned over, the sinus pressure was so great I felt my head would pop like a balloon. This is with daily Claritin and two sets of Benadryl.

Sunday was not a whit better. Same symptoms, no relief.

By Monday, resentment was added to the mix. A long weekend wasted by allergies and sickness (huff).

The suffering wasn’t isolated to myself. Amie was only just beginning to recover from her own COVID vaccine on Thursday and was exhausted from Royal’s night-time wakes. Both Graham and Royal were sick all weekend; Graham with a hacking cough and both with runny noses. The icing on the cake? Royal drank some stagnant water on Sunday and spent all of Monday in wriggling stomach pain and a mild fever as his body fought all the bacteria he’d ingested.

Liturgies of Empire reminds me of Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom.

I found this article about motherhood and art while perusing Tom’s parenting wiki.

It never occurred to me before that WebMention technology might be used to communicate between pages on my own site and not only others. But it is a bi-directional link; a feature I’d love for my own site.

Now I have good motivation to implement WebMentions. I’ll keep the static vibe by running a WebMention aggregation post-build, then will read them onto the site just like Remark42 does with comments.

Thanks to Maggie’s post.

“Digital garden” is where I want my site to head. I’m anticipating reading the other sources Maggie Appleton references.

Finished my second COVID jab. After Amie’s three-day fever symptoms I’m nervous how it’ll affect me.

After a review of my existing tags, I wonder if it’d be better to create two tag groups to make it more zettelkasten. The first would describe content and would remain a tag. The second would describe type.

For example, a comment might have tags software,python but it would have type recommendation.

Alternatively, I could re-work the category system. Decisions, decisions…

There’s something to the digital note-taking approaches Edwin highlights here. I love Vim and could easily imagine using a similar system. I’ve found my own website achieves the same purpose and let’s me write notes even on a mobile phone!

A prayer from Graham’s godparents the Beans on his third birthday:

🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR GRAHAMY BOY 🎊 (a nighttime blessing from your GodBeans:) We hope you’ve had a sweet celebration day full of joy and the hope that you bring, giggles and tasty things. May God bless you every day, shine his loving face on yours. May you find kind playmates, clean puddles to splash, lots of laughs with your Royal brother. May sleep bless you both every night and nap-time. May the force be with you in your fourth year, holiness abound and surround you, the Spirit known as a gentle guide. May you hold peace close on all your adventures, snuggle your mum and dad, know they are behind you and before you with every step. And the Maker of the Stars watching over them. May you knit together ever closer as a fam, even as you take more steps and wander farther and braver and with more strength. We’re all rooting for your joy in prayer, eager to see you grow as you bloom and blossom.

So happy birthday sleep dear boy. May you awake in peace, remember your dreams where you get God hugs and move forward with courage in the world. You are loved 💕💞💕

Have you seen my tags network? It’s color-coded by content type (blue tags are only in posts, yellow only in comments, green are in both" >}}, sized by number, connected by proximity in the same publication, and linked to the tag page. Nifty, right?

Amie received her second COVID vaccine yesterday and, like many of my colleagues, she feels like a truck backed over her. All the flu symptoms from the moment she awoke. This bodes poorly for my own second dose 😢

I’ve revamped how I publish new comments. Not only is comment publishing now mobile-friendly, but I can allow other users to create them! For now, only Amie has the privilege.

Note: “comments” here refer to published work, not comments at the bottom of a publication. Those kind of comments are still available for anyone willing to authenticate.

Long ago, I had included a cloud of every post tag with a line connecting multiple tags in the same posts. I’ve finally gotten around to re-writing the tag parser from PowerShell to Go. Check the results here!

Switching from PowerShell to Go let me build the command binary and load it into my Docker container with a minimum of fuss and a small image size. I was pleasantly surprised how easily I was able to create a Go project for the first time. I might have to consider it for future projects…

Over the weekend the four of us traveled to Madison, WI, to see the grandparents. It was an impromptu affair, but fun to visit family and a good test-drive of our summer vacation drive. We joined them at the start of a week cleaning out the great-grandparent’s hoard of wood, tires, lawn mowers, and more. My major contribution? Helping to pull an ancient appliance from the basement.

massive appliance on dolly

Tom paid for a hotel room so we could stay the weekend. Graham had a blast splashing in the pool, but Royal was undecided. He seemed uncomfortably cold.

Graham proudly carted wood to the garbage trailer and impressed everyone with his eagerness to help. In fact, both he and Royal brought joy to everyone. Especially when Graham’s laughter filled the air, riding in a wheelbarrow while I ran him around the driveway.

January 29th, 2020 was my first post.

June 27th, 2020 was my first mobile comment.

I’m so grateful for this place to write. To reflect on the year’s events, to store interesting ideas and TIL, and to learn tons of technologies. It was an experiment back in early 2020; now I don’t want to imagine being without a digital home.

On the wise advice of my wife I took last Wednesday off. After dropping Graham at school, I spent the first half of the day at the Botanic Gardens. In three hours I slowly toured the entire place, stopping to rest in the evergreen section and the Japanese gardens. The evergreens and birdsong reminded me of camping in the Colorado mountains, and the Japanese gardens were calm and peaceful. I watched a family of geese on the Island of Everlasting Happiness for a long time. Around noon I ate a salad at the cafe, then walked back to a secluded spot and napped under a tree.

I’m full of gratitude for Nick’s understanding about breaks. He encouraged me to take a day off when I was feeling like I shouldn’t because we’ll be on a two-week vacation in late June. And for Amie’s encouragement to take the alone time when my inclination is to stay home in case I’m needed.

I’m longing for Wednesday. I’ve taken the day off to catch a break and be by myself. It’s been months (years?) since I’ve had an entire morning alone with God. The plan is to drop Graham at school then spend the entire morning at the Botanic Gardens. Can’t wait!

Check out my new glasses! They’re transition!

Alex's New Glasses

Yesterday I received my first jab of the Pfizer vaccine. Except for a sore arm this morning, no discernible symptoms. By the end of the month I’ll be fully vaccinated!

Last night Amie noticed that the 2008 Toyota Highlander we’d been waiting a week for had become available. I called after work to verify and schedule a trade-in appraisal, then drove over to Elgin Toyota.

As I left the city behind for trees, meadows, lakes and fields of the outer suburbs, the stress of the purchase melted away. The environment was a factor, but Amie and Graham were praying. I was ready to walk away if we couldn’t negotiate a cash payment in our price range.

Ali was courteous and direct. He didn’t try to sell me anything more than I was there to buy. I took a test-drive of the Toyota and was grateful to find that it more than met our expectations.

I knew the number I was offering was more than fair, so the negotiation didn’t last long. Ali’s manager did manage to get me to concede $250. My negotiation skills could use sharpening, but I’m not disappointed.

Oh how giddy I was with relief and excitement when my offer was accepted! The paperwork took another couple hours but I drove away with the car we wanted and left our 2013 Hyundai Elantra in good hands.

As I drove home, I reflected on the favor of Yahweh in the entire process. His favor as Amie searched for a reliable vehicle for our growing family, and how she landed on one that met every criteria. His favor in the dealership and the salesperson. His favor in the financial and schedule freedom to walk away if the negotiation was sour, and His favor when both parties went away happy. It’s like His favor towards Abram who, whether in the land of God’s promise or in the foreign land of Egypt, was always multiplied under Yahweh’s covenant protection. May the name of Yahweh be exalted forever!

Goodbye old friend, you were a great vehicle for our needs!

!2013 Hyundai Elantra

On a whim I began a book recommended over 12 years ago. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. I had no idea it was an autobiography!

I’m a quarter of the way through and have delighted in his writing style and his description of the French countryside. I’m envious of his language skills.

The full list of causes is uncertain, but I am exhausted to the near edge of burnout. It’s evident in a limited recovery from Sabbath rest, in a weakened motivation to do more than watch television after the kids are asleep, in an absence of creativity or engagement in fun activities, and in a limited capacity to listen and engage with Jesus. In this state even the hope of a vacation is shaded in doubt. I’m so worn down I can scarcely remember what it was like to have energy or believe that energy will be restored. My emotional bandwidth is narrow but not trapped in sadness, anger, or despair, so I doubt that I am depressed. Only spent.

Thanks to Simon for a shout-out to a new visualization Javascript library, Observable Plot. I’ve used d3.js in the past and am excited for a simpler alternative.

I’ve added comments to my site! I don’t allow anonymous users, but anyone in the world who will identify themselves may write what they will!

See my newly-minted policies page to review how I handle your data and how I moderate content.

Where does Ben find so many amazing articles?!

Flu Cases Down in Covid The Right to Disconnect Target Leaves AWS Source

If you find oddities on my website these days, it’s probably because it’s now being build with a new version of Hugo. This version is a bit more strict with the use of Markdown vs. HTML. Probably good in the long haul, but it does make for tedious work.

The day after school Graham is such an emotional roller coaster. It’s like he’s saved up all the feelings built up in the classroom until he’s home all day, then pours them out at intervals throughout the day. The triggers are never clear; anything could set off an explosion.

Or maybe not Monday. Turns out the vehicle we’re ogling only just arrived. It’ll be another week or two before it’s ready for sale. (Sigh)

After a few weeks of research and discussion, we narrowed a car buying decision down to the following three options:

  1. Toyota Highlander
  2. Honda Pilot
  3. Honda Odyssey

We’ve found a fantastic deal for a Toyota Highlander. May it be all that it appears on the surface. I find out Monday!

This may be helpful to any of my friends or family who are tired of Facebook. I wonder if I still have an active account?

Leaving Facebook

“Languishing” is a spot-on description of my experience the past weeks. The effort to live is high, and the motivation to go beyond the essentials is low. I’m barely alive. Languishing.

Thanks to Reneé for the reference

I’d broken my publishing workflow to transition my site to another style of DevOps, but now some of it is working. The effort was more than I expected and I’ve had to find intermediate steps to let me get back online, but I’m happy about the learning opportunity the transition provides.

What a valuable sysadmin overview. Even though it’s for RHEL7, I’ve found many of the command line options just as useful for Debian.

My conviction about the relationship between Kingdom communities deepens every Sunday. Sunday gatherings are weak replacements for discipleship groups and poor avenues for individual transformation. Sunday gatherings, if their focus shifted from individuals to leaders and members of discipleship groups, would become powerful influences on the Kingdom community.

This is a thoughtful article about micro-services and monoliths. Worth referring to again.

I don’t have room on top of the pile of books I’m currently reading, but once I’ve knocked a few off I’d like to try Fight the Fire. The chapter headings indicate this will be an invaluable review of the complexities of our local and international market and how it helps or hurts efforts to change for the sake of our planet and children.

It’s been one stress event after the next for the last twelve hours!

First, Amie and I had a two-hour discussion last night about a Congressional Oversight Committee’s published findings on toxic metals in baby food.

Then, ambiguous results about the mold content of our bathroom came in this morning.

Then, a board member asked for an update and further action with a repeatedly broken common dryer.

Then, I started on a customer ticket at work and forgot a morning meeting. In the meeting there was heated discussion about the project deadline and content which needed swift attention.

Then, I was asked to offer an estimate on another work project.

I’ve systematically worked my way through most of this, with priority on work, but it’s taken me from 7:00 - 13:00! The bulk of that time has been spent carefully communicating with those involved to reconcile and set expectations. It’s invigorating to do the work; only it’s a rubber-band-snap swing from the quiet coding days of the last week and a half. Yeehaw!

We just purchased 80's Mall Murder Madness! I’m stoked to play this with my Neighborhood friends, especially with Jeremy Elston hosting!

It’s another Sabbath day! While there are always ways to improve, I’m happy that our family has found a rhythm that often leads to rest. This is how the day usually goes:

Sabbath starts the night before, at supper. We may squeeze in a few chores after dinner to ensure the next day’s rest. Then we enjoy a special dessert or drink, recently a slice of pie. We may have Kati Ray over for conversation or games, or we might watch a movie. Last night we watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Graham and Royal have sporadic nights of good sleep, but rarely on Sabbath night. So Amie may catch a short nap if I get up to feed and clothe our kids. Sometimes Amie will get up early and I’ll sleep in.

When all are fed and dressed, Graham and I head outside. We have an established process: 1) walk or ride a bike to the coffee shop. 2) pick out special juice and maybe a snack and get coffee for Amie and I. 3) walk to the train station and wait for the train to pass. 4) walk to the fire station. 5) walk home. 6) drag feet at the last block.

I’m ready to rest when we get back, so I’ll sit down while the kids play (like I’m doing now as I write this). The we wait for lunch and naptime. Graham will watch a show, usually Stinky and Dirty, while Amie and I veg out. When Royal is awake from his nap, we may all go outside or do something special together. This is usually spontaneous, like jumping in the car to walk along the beachfront.

If we didn’t have dinner plans, we may pick up food on the way home. If Kati Ray hasn’t joined us earlier, we may share dinner together. Or she may drop by for an hour or two to play and snuggle with Royal. For Graham, Sabbath means outdoors, special snacks, and cartoons - for Royal, it’s Kati-time.

Another artist I’ve been enjoying lately, Taylor Leonhardt. If you’re near the border of Nebraska and Ohio, see her live March 25, 2021!

Support her next album

Though it’s not my norm, I may have walked enough to gain no more fat. Today. Now I just need to rinse and repeat every day for the rest of my life (and eat better too, alas). How Many Steps to Health?.

My experience of God, the Bible, and the world seems to be in motion, like a mudslide down a steep hill. What’s at the bottom I wonder?

Of God, I am struggling to connect. My confidence that He is near at hand and communicative has taken a hit as I’ve pondered the immensity of space and the billions of years of time vs the miniscule blips of dust that we humans are. You might say that my awe at His majesty is, for the time being, making approach more challenging. To counteract this (not my idea - it seems to be God’s) I’ve been reading a book about self-discovery, “The Gift of Being Yourself” by David G. Benner. But it’s hard to pick up a happy book when I’m most nihilistic. “The Arm of the Starfish” by Madeleine L’Engle has also helped me frame my experience.

Of the Bible, I am finding myself thinking of its stories and reading larger chunks than I have in some time. Inspired in part by The Bible Project, the beauty and intricacy of books-truly Jewish meditation literature-has stoked a renewed desire to immerse myself in it. A stylized version of the Psalms has helped, as has The Infographic Bible. I read Song of Songs two days ago, 1 Peter last week, and most of Abram’s story last night. Although my time is and will continue to be limited, the hunger to immerse myself in this limitless work; to learn the original languages, to memorize large portions, and to discuss it with others regularly still resides under layers of parental responsibilities.

Of the world, a mixture of despair and universality. On the one hand, the piling up of human evil in the past year is a monument of horrors that weighs on me many hours of most days. On the other, I am spell-bound by Jesus' universal love for both oppressor and oppressed, by those inside his family and outside, for the Roman centurion, the Samaritan, and the neighbor. Before such corruption of humanity, differences don’t matter, and I think this season may be shaping me towards Jesus' universal love even as it threatens to plummet me into hopelessness.

What is this? An album about the Big Bang, humanity, and the Creator? Check it out!

Finally publishing a new post after nearly two months! I have a half-dozen posts written, but nothing in a state I’d be happy to share. As you might imagine, the holidays have been a little busy…

On another note, we’re starting potty training part deux! Here’s hoping it goes better than last time.

Thanks to Victoria Drake’s post, my site is now searchable! Check it out here!

What’s the state of COVID deaths in Evanston, IL?

As of today, 96 people have died. Here’s the list, sorted by street name, along with a count of the number who have died per address. Can you spot the nursing homes?

I’ve added a couple new pictures to my About page. Enjoy!

This video gets more funny every time I watch it. Probably because Graham gets more like the kid in the book every day. Go the Fuck to Sleep as narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

I’ve got a list of books to dig through, but when that’s over, I’d love to read this classic: The Prophets by Abraham Heschel.

Of equal importance to the camera (maybe more, actually) is a thermostat. This article from Initial State comes with a video tutorial!

Kamran’s baby monitor post is the most detailed I’ve found yet for making a baby monitor out of a Raspberry Pi! Will definitely revisit when I have the parts.