Check out my projects page to get a copy. It’s a little tool I developed for simultaniously generating the HTML and RSS blog feeds used on this website. You can see the project page for details, downloads, etc. I generated this very entry with it!
Wow, wow – I am amazed by this thing.
The technology to do this has been around for years; but nobody has put them together until now. It is a map that has taken satellite images and overlayed them on topographical and street maps. You can zoom around in 3D, pan, and explore the entire world with actual satellite images overlayed on it – all for free.
I was just using it to plan out some possible photo shoot locations for my trip to Bend this weekend. It helped me see where some good sunrise/sunset shots might be taken from without even leaving my chair here in Portland. This is really close to real-time updating globe described by Neal Stephenson in his book the Cryptonomicon. If such a technology existed for the masses, you wouldn’t even really need CNN anymore – just go look at the events unfolding yourself. Imagine watching battles, demonstrations, parades/festivals, all in real-time from home.
It has made me realize again and again how much our society is in desperate need of some new tools to make sense of these new capabilities. Well, not new, but emotional, moral, and spiritual tools that people need when given these major shifts in information available to each of us. Human beings need a way to make sense and assign value to the many events in our lives. As a chaplain, I have been seeing this dynamic powerfully at work in the hospital. People become paralyzed and act very irrationally when they can’t make sense of what is going on to them. How do we go about avoiding this fate as we advance in technological understanding?
In case you didn’t notice, I’m the proud owner of my first domain name on the web: http://mattfife.net.
I got it from a great domain hosting service (www.1and1.com) that gives you domain registration, 25mb/mo transfer, 10mb storage, free emails, sub-domains, a 90 day money-back guarantee and a lot of nifty extras for $29/6mo. They also don’t hold your domain name hostage if you try to leave.
So far it’s an excellent service – very fast, great ftp support, etc. As added fun, it was very interesting getting spam emails after registering a domain name. A bunch of no-name companies congratulated me on my new domain and asked if I’d like to buy a whole bunch of stupid products/consultation services to help optimize it’s ‘business potential’. They were clearly form emails, and likely generated by scripts that watch the Internic for new domain registrations and pull the email address of the owner and mail them. Oh the fun of computer automation…
I undertook a little coding project for fun. After a number of requests, I’ve added a RSS feed to the site for you bloggers. I wrote up a little C++ app to update my blog in both HTML and RSS 0.91/XML format. The RSS feed only keeps the last 10 articles. The code for the blogger is really messy right now; but works. I’m planning on cleaning it up and then publishing the writer class. It’s silly nobody has released such a tool before…
Awesome! How about a summary of all the math used in the Simpsons!
Explained are some of the more nuanced and especially complex examples. A good one that appeared in the Homer^3 episode is the equation 1782^12 + 1841^12 = 1922^12 that floats through the scene and seems to disprove Fermat’s Last Theorem (but does not). Way fun!
I finished my first 28-hour shift with all-night on-call session at the hospital this week and it was quite a wild ride.
After visiting with patients all day, I was on-call for exactly 3 minutes before the first call to a terminal patient and family came in. I rushed to the ER and met with and prayed with the family and the patient for a couple of hours. After the family had to go home, I would continue to drop by the patient’s room and pray with them every few hours – even though they were unconscious. There is something amazing about walking down a perfectly quite, dark, and almost abandoned ICU at 2am, stop in to pray with someone who is unconscious and you know only has a short time left.
I had a few more smaller trauma visits (non-terminal) and then about mid-shift another patient came in. The accident was minor; but it got worse and worse until it was clear the person wasn’t going to make it – a total shock. I stayed with the family and the patient until the person passed away a few hours later. Ah, then there were the individuals that thought the best way to determine the paternity of their child was to fight it out in the parking lot. Welcome to level 1 trauma.
I would often just wander through the ER and talk to the lucid patients and families – some of whom were very funny and joking around. We also had an on-call room which we could sit, take naps, and wait until calls came in. It’s on the top floor of the building overlooking Portland. I watched the sun come up and break across the city. It was so beautiful and I wished I’d brought my camera. I’ll definitely remember it the next time. After running such I long shift, I went home and slumped into bed completely exhausted. I’m just now processing all that happened and where God was in all of it. It is quite overwhelming; but amazing at the same time.
We do spiritual journaling and verbatims to sort through all the emotion, spiritual movement, and just plain raw input. It’s amazing how experiences like this pull up every one of your own fears, sense of mortality, shortcomings, joys, strengths, and weaknesses. You will deal with the death or life of the loved one just as much as the family or the patient themselves. It showed me that in this kind of work you will go through all the things that the people coming in with are going through. You enter into each pain, terminal diagnosis, fear, tear, joy, relief, joking and every other emotion yourself. Yet, it’s amazing how people will let you come and enter into the most intimate parts of their families – even deeper than doctors or the nurses are allowed. Just walking in and saying you are the staff chaplain they called for immediately changes the tone: softening, opening, and calming the room. It was interesting how there would be a kind of ‘parting the waters’ as you enter and everyone leave you with the family. There was a sense of other-ness to the place you enter. You truly enter a sacred and intimate space – it is almost palpable. But the question it leaves the chaplain is if we have the courage to really enter that space and share all those experiences with people – again and again – often powerless to do anything practical but be in the moment with them and go through all of it with them. It’s a good question.
After Lazarus, Jesus’ friend dies, he goes to visit the tomb and his sister who is grieving in tears the brother who died. The first thing that Jesus does is to weep. I think I understand why now.
Was driving today when all of a sudden I noticed that my left turn signal was blinking twice as fast as the right. Ahhh, I realized, this isn’t right. I went out and checked the bulbs and sure enough – the front signal bulb was out. So why does it blink twice as fast when a bulb is out? Because the relay (which switches based on a capacitor) gets more juice (because now the bulb isn’t using it), ‘fills’ up faster (2x faster because 1 bulb is now gone) and trips twice as often. Screw out the old bulb and put the new bulb in for about $1 at the local auto parts store and voila! Perfection.
Been a wild ride for the old Altima lately. After 12 years and 150,000 miles, she starting to need some repairs that I’ve been putting off. I’ve got 2 torn CV boots that can only be fixed by replacing the axles. Surprisingly not too expensive and good because you also get CV joints with them (which needed to be replaced like oh… 50,000 miles ago). Minor oil leaks galore but none that really need real fixing (rear main seal costs $300 vs. $1 for a quart of oil every 3 months). I just had to replace the radiator which had cracked at least twice and finally split beyond repair. Only took an hour from start to finish though – so that was easy. I also replaced a water pump recently; though I discovered later that the original was really OK – but now I don’t need to worry about it for years. Tricky part about the water pump was that I need to unbolt and jack the engine up just to get it out. No joke – that’s what the official guide said. And it was true. Took 6 hours. What a pain – they sure don’t design cars like they used to – meaning the average mortal might actually be able to fix it. I also seem to have some strange electrical problem/short going on; but have been unable to isolate it. Had the alternator out and tested at two places which both said it was OK (which is good because a new one wholesale was $170 – which is outrageous for an alternator. Sucker should be made of gold for that price).
But I’ve also discovered the beauty of a brand new source of do-it-yourself parts – the junk yard. There’s a GREAT one in Hillsboro – they have a great parts database and if they don’t have it they can check the inventory of most of the major other yards in the area. I’ve found almost everything that way. Just take some tools into the yard and tear out the part you want, bring it up to the counter and they’ll charge you something insanely cheap. Man is it fun!
I went to the fireworks display downtown Portland as part of the celebration of the Rose festival. You can see some of the pictures I took here, or you can look at the schedule of Rose festival events at their official website here. Since I’m still in the middle of moving; I’m doing all my photo editing for this site on my laptop – which is NOT optimal. Flat-panel displays are still very much lacking in the ability of proper color/brightness/contrast calibration. I’m really hoping to get a new monitor sometime soon because even my old CRT is starting to fade and die. 🙁 But as is, it’s in a friend’s attic right now. :)Anyway, The Rose festival is a really big, mutli-day festival here in Portland each year. It’s shaping up to be some nice weather this year and it’ll be fun to get to some of the events.
I’ve been reflecting on, and becoming more aware of, probably the most missed element of Christianity – it’s communal and unitive half. The way we REALLY achieve human/societal/global/country and community unity.
Christians (especially American Christians) see their faith in a heavily personally/individual fulfilling/transforming/relational reality. Witness the more modern rise of the phrase: “Have you accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?”. And while this is a good question, it is only half the reality of Christianity. We must remember that Christianity and God constantly break through our assumptions and God explodes into our lives with a reality that constantly challenges and stretches us to re-frame our understanding of God, the world, and ourselves. If we are not experiencing this constant reframing and being challenged to accept a new depth of understanding of God, ourselves, and our roles for each other – we haven’t really begun our life of faith. It gets called ‘dying to self’, ‘total transformation of self into the eyes of Christ’ and many others – but this is what it really means.
If our encounter with our faith isn’t like this – we aren’t really experiencing faith but something else… But back to my point. I’ve realized that it is really part of God’s plan that our life as Christians and our personal salvation is an inherently LINKED reality. We are not meant to find fulfillment or salvation on our own. That is why we have the Church – which tradition has long called her the mother or the womb from which Christians are nurtured and born. Jesus came and set an economy of salvation into order. While he did come down to earth in a finite form and a short span of years – and also enters our lives and hearts in a real way – he set up an economy of salvation that he desires to work through, and requires us to have families, parents, relationships, societies, churches, elders, popes, priests and prophets to help the body grow and develop. He wants us to all be participants in his plan of salvation. This means that if we are flying ‘solo’ in our faith life; we are missing much of what God is trying to teach us through others.
This what I’m finding in things like my CPE assignment. We encounter the explosion of Christ into the world through the written words of the Gospel for sure, but we must also see the Christ trying to come out of each person and learn from the Christ present in what his current disciples have learned. While imperfect, if we do not, can not, or are too stubbornly independent to rely on, share with, and learn from other Christians (and non Christians!) and have them rely on us, we will miss the very real and unitive element of Christianity that carries us beyond our own myopia of self-centered faith. It is only when we are in relationship with the Christ in others, and they in relationship with the Christ in us, each helping that image of truth and reality become more and more whole that we can ever hope to become one mind and heart.
I always try to remember that in heaven I will live in perfect unity with all those around me that make it there too – even the ones I don’t agree with right now – and heaven is not a reality that will be some big surprise; but should be the kind of kingdom of God we are living and bringing about now.
It’s no secret my favorite game is Half-life 2 – especially Counter-strike. Unfortunately, there are some fun bugs in HL2, and here’s an interesting list of bugs with pictures and/or demos of them happening.