No New Phone for Me

I took my son in to get his new phone last month. He got the Galaxy S6. I was so impressed by it that I started investigating the differences between the iPhone and the Samsung phones. From what I can gather, the Samsung S6 is a better phone than the iPhone 6 (and quite possibly, the 6s which comes out later this month). Verizon just changed their plan structure, so I asked them, “When can I get a new phone?” They said, “you can get one now if you switch to our new plan.”

That sounded good, so I waited until we had enough money for me to cover the taxes on the new phone (they divide the cost of the phone over 24 months interest free while they cut your monthly plan payment in half from $40 to $20). While I was waiting, I did some research and finally settled on getting the Galaxy Note 5. I really like the multitasking abilities of the android system that I’ve seen my son use. The ability to have my note taking app open at the same time as my Bible really appeals to me.

I went into Verizon this morning to get my first ever purchased android phone. After waiting about ten minutes, a lady came over and got my phone number and checked my ID. When I told her what I wanted to do, she said, “Well, it says here your current contract doesn’t run out until November.” I said, “I know, but they said I could come in and get a new phone on the payment plan with no contract.” She said, “Well, that’s true, but if you do that, you have to trade in your iPhone, and we’ll give you nothing for it.”

Just so the reader understands, this is a 32gb iPhone 5s, which is going for between $300-$400 right now on eBay.

My options are:

  1. Go back to Verizon, hand them my $350 phone, and get my new phone.
  2. Wait two months, go back to Verizon, get my new phone, and make $300 (ish) dollars on my old phone.

So while it was true that I could have walked out of there with a new phone today, I still feel lied to, because the implication was that I was free of the old contract because of the new plan. I will now wait until November (only two more months) and then get my new phone.

Who knows, maybe the iPhone 6s will come out and have better specs and have true multitasking. I doubt it, but Verizon may have just done me a favor. We’ll see.

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Iowa State Fair

As part of my annual trip to Iowa for family camp and visiting relatives and friends, I make a point of going to go to the Iowa State Fair.  I enjoy wandering around, looking at the cows, the horses, etc.   The first stop was to get a funnel cake.  We bought two from a concession right on the Main Concourse in front of the Varied Industries building.  Unfortunately, we picked the concession stand run by three 14 year olds who didn’t know how to make funnel cakes.  Mine was thick, doughy, and undercooked.  The funnel cake is supposed to resemble lace.  This one resembled a thick rope. I took it back after a few bites and got my money back.

We go through the Varied Industries building and usually find interesting things.  Not so much this year.  There seemed to be about six hot tub displays in the building, which seemed excessive to us.  Usually there’s a piano store booth with several pianos where my son can play for a few minutes, but this booth was gone.  We said hi to the people at the booth for the Iowa Association of Regular Baptists, and even ran into one of the missionaries from our previous week at family camp.  Other than this booth (and the two right to life booths), there really wasn’t much that interested me.  I thought maybe one or more of the presidential candidates might have a booth set up, but I couldn’t find one.

Then we went to find more food.  We found another funnel cake booth and got a replacement one (and an elephant ear), and I went to get my annual “Guinea Grinder.”  This is a hoagie bun with hot sausage and mozzarella cheese and I look forward to it every year.  It’s the only thing I really eat that is spicy.  I approached the location of the stand (right by the public restrooms….coincidence?)  and saw that they had changed the name to “Jenny Grinder”.  What?   I asked the guy, “When did you change the name?”  He said, “We didn’t. One person complained, and now we can’t call it that anymore. But that’s still what it is.”

Evidently the word “Guinea” is a racial slur against Italians.  I’m guessing because Italian sausage is used in the sandwich, but I’m not sure.  I looked up the word “Guinea” and found out that the basis of the insult is that it implies the Italian person is too dark skinned to be a white person, and may in fact come from the Guinea region of Africa (West Africa).  So the whole reason the term is offensive is that it compares a white person to a black person?  In the post-civil rights, racial equality world in which we live, why is it still offensive to be compared to a black person.  I am offended that someone would be offended by this. I’m sorry, but are we going to change the name of the country of Guinea? Guinea-Bissau? Equatoreal Guinea? Papua New Guinea?  Guinea pigs? No?  Then leave my guinea grinder alone.

I said, “one please” and handed him my money. He handed me the sandwich with a knowing look, and I said, “Thanks for the guinea grinder.”  He smiled and said, “You’re welcome.”    I ate quickly, because we needed to get out of there since it was “Eastsider Night” and we didn’t want to get stabbed.

Look, people, leave the names of things alone. If there’s a really good reason for changing the name of something, then by all means do so. If you own the thing named, go ahead and call it whatever you want.  But don’t walk around insisting that other people change the names of things because your sensibilities are offended.

My guinea grinder was delicious.

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My Son

I was not a father until he existed.  He was born five and a half weeks early 18 years ago.  We had signed up to take a one-day lamaze class, but the class was on Saturday. He was born two days before that.  We weren’t ready for him yet.  The crib wasn’t set up. We hadn’t bought the stuff he needed (diapers, etc).  And yet he came.  He was supposed to be born a month after my college graduation, but he came a week before.  We were not ready.

That phrase was so true then, and it’s true now as well.  We aren’t ready for him to leave.  I think back on the last 18 years, and he has always been there.  Playing with his legos.  Making a mess.  Asking questions. Playing on the computer.  Eating all the food. Being weird.  Playing with his sisters.  Building snowmen. Being stubborn.  Being a boy.

And now he’s about to go off to college.  I know he’s coming home at Christmas. I know he’s coming home next summer.  But it won’t be the same.  For the next four months, he won’t be here. He’s going to start meeting a whole bunch of people and having a whole bunch of experiences that I won’t be a part of. I’m happy for him. But I will miss him. We will say goodbye to him next Sunday, and leave him behind.

And we’re not ready.

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I am a fan of the Star Trek universe.  I have enjoyed most of the shows and movies in the Star Trek universe.  I don’t own a Starfleet uniform, but I wouldn’t make fun of you if you wore one.

Today I was watching the Star Trek movie from 2009 (the reboot) for probably the 10th time, when I noticed something.  Obviously there are spoilers so if you haven’t seen this movie, don’t read any farther.  You’ve been warned.

There’s a scene in the movie where Spock is in the captain’s chair, and Nero has just dropped some red matter into the core of Vulcan.  Chekov points out that Nero is creating a singularity (i.e. “black hole”) in the center of Vulcan.  Spock asks how long Vulcan has before it is destroyed.  Chekov replies, “Minutes, Sir.  Minutes.”

Spock then says he is going to beam down to the surface.  He briefly discusses this with Uhura, and then leaves the bridge, giving Chekov the conn at 59 minutes 47 seconds.

Kirk and Sulu fall off the platform, and the transporter crewperson can’t beam them up because they are falling. Chekov realizes that he CAN beam them up, so he is needed in the transporter room. He gives the conn to someone else at 1 hour and 44 seconds. He runs to the transporter room, arriving at 1 hour and 55 seconds.  He successfully beamed Kirk and Sulu back to the Enterprise. Then, at 1 hour, 1 minute and 32 seconds, Spock calmly walks into the transporter room, ordering, “Clear the pad.”  This is so Spock can beam down to the surface of his rapidly dying planet and rescue his parents and the other Vulcan elders.

If we look at the order of events chronologically (leaving out the extra details), it looks like this:

59:47 Spock leaves the bridge heading for the transporter room
1:00:44 Chekov leaves the bridge heading for the transporter room
1:00:55 Chekov reaches the transporter room
1:01:32 Spock reaches the transporter room.

Anybody else see the problem here?  Why did it take Chekov only 11 seconds to get to the transporter room and yet it took Spock (who was in a bigger hurry) 1 minute and 45 seconds? What was Spock doing for that minute and 34 seconds?  Going to the bathroom? Eating a donut?

In any case, this just shows that even though you experience something over and over, there’s always something new to learn.

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Nutrition Advice

Ok, you’re here, that means you have at least 5 minutes to kill.  Stop reading my blog and head over to this site to check out the top five contenders for the worst nutrition advice.  Then come back.

I’ll wait.

You’re back?  Ok, well, just in case you didn’t want to click or if all the information confused you, here’s a summary of the top 5 list of worst nutrition advice:

1. Throw Away The Egg Yolks, The Most Nutritious Part of The Egg
2. Everyone Should Eat a Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet… Even Diabetics
3. A Calorie is a Calorie… Food Quality is Less Important
4. Use Polyunsaturated Vegetable Oils For Cooking
5. Replace Natural Butter With Processed, Trans Fat Laden Margarine.

In case you missed it, here’s what you SHOULD do:
1. Eat the whole egg. Yes. As many as you want. Cholesterol is actually good for you.
2. Eat a high fat, low carb diet. Especially diabetics. Your pancreas will thank you.
3. Don’t worry about calories, worry about the quality of your food. 1800 calories of junk is still junk. I can’t stand it when I see “healthy snacks” when it’s a package of small oreos, but they’re “healthy” because they’re only 100 calories.  Yeah.  Your body isn’t a Buick, it’s a complex organism that responds differently to the different things you put in it.
4. Use peanut oil, coconut oil, or olive oil. Stop using corn/canola/vegetable oils. They’re bad for your heart. No, really.  Yes, I know, you’ve been told they are GOOD for your heart.  You were lied to.
5. Eat real butter, not that other stuff that’s yellow and tastes bad. Yes, I know butter is more expensive, but that’s because it’s real food, and really good for you.

On the last point:  Let’s assume you use two pounds of margarine per week. Some of you are saying “Who uses that much??”  Others are saying, “Hello!?! More like two pounds a day!”  But let’s assume 2 pounds on average.   You are paying about $1 per pound for the yellow plastic.  Butter costs about $3 per pound, so it’s more expensive.  But is it worth it?  I say yes!  Over the course of a year, if you replaced your margarine with real butter, you would spend an additional $208 on butter.   That’s sixty cents a day.  Would you pay that much to be healthier and enjoy your food more?  I say yes.

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Noah: The Movie

Today I decided to finally watch the movie “Noah” (subtitle: the worst movie ever starring Russell Crowe). I have seen the reviews of this movie, and that’s why I didn’t see it until it was free (or at least included in my Netflix subscription). I heard that it was unbiblical, and that it was simply a bad movie.

So I decided to watch it. Less than a minute into the movie, there was an error. Then another one. And so I decided to catalog every error I found. There were several:

1. The movie implies that Adam only had three sons. Genesis 5:4 states Adam had other sons and daughters.
2. The Bible never says the fruit was an apple.
3. Cain never lived with a band of fallen angels called “the Watchers.”
4. Cain was protected by God, not by fallen angels.
5. Lamech (Noah’s father) died five years before the flood, when Noah was 595 years old, not a child, as the movie shows.
6. Ham was the youngest child (Genesis 9:24), not Japheth.
7. God spoke to Noah. He didn’t express his wishes through visions. In the movie when Noah’s wife asks, “Did he speak to you?” Noah replies, “I think so.” The Bible says in Genesis 6:13 “Then God said to Noah” Genesis 7:1 says “Then the LORD said to Noah…” Genesis 8:15 “Then God spoke to Noah, saying…”.  God has a voice, and He uses it.
8. Rock monsters. Even if they were fallen angels, they wouldn’t have defended God and done what was right. Fallen angels are demons, spirits. And the Bible never says that fallen angels can be redeemed after their disobedience. The whole rock monster subplot is a fiction.
9. The movie implies God’s visions come through drugs.
10. The flood was sent because of man’s sin, not because of man’s destruction of the environment.
11. Eight specific people got on the ark, eight specific people got off. God told Noah, “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.”  Shem, Ham, and Japheth were already married when they got on the ark.
12. Noah seems to indicate that killing in self-defense is wrong. The Bible never says this.
13. I found their casting choices interesting. We’re supposed to believe that every ethnicity on earth descended from a family of white people?
14. In the movie, there is a battle between the sons of Cain and the rock monsters (defending the ark) right in front of the ark. The battle starts after it starts raining. The Bible is clear that Noah and his family got on the ark a whole week before it started raining.
15. Where were the dinosaurs?
16. The serpent had legs before the fall of man.
17. God did not use evolution to create the world, as the creation montage indicates.
18. God never told Noah He intended to let mankind die out, quite the opposite.
19. Nothing in the Bible indicates Shem’s wife was barren to begin with, nor that Methuselah had magical powers of healing and putting people to sleep.
20. Tubal Cain never got on the ark.
21. Noah got drunk in a tent, not a cave.
22. when they came out of the ark, there was no sacrifice and no covenant.  No indication from God that it was ok to eat meat now (which He did say).  And the rainbow at the end was decidedly cheesy.
23. God never asked Noah to decide if mankind was worth saving.

But the movie wasn’t all bad. There were also things they got right. Namely, these:
1. The flood was worldwide. Everybody died except those who were on the ark.
2. The ark was not a boat, but rather was a box. A big box filled with animals and people.
3. Sin will be judged, but salvation is offered.

Do I recommend this movie? No. The movie is based on nine chapters in the Bible, which takes up nine pages of single-spaced text in Microsoft Word. The details given regarding the flood are sufficient that they could have at least gotten those facts correct. But they didn’t.

The bad guys in the movie decided they knew better than God. And that is the same error Mr. Aronofsky, the director made.

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Tree No Mo’

Today was Memorial Day.  Both my mom and our friends are visiting from out of town. We planned to sit around today, play games, and not much else.  This afternoon my friend’s oldest son said he was bored, so he asked if he could mow my yard.  Absolutely! While he was mowing, his dad was walking around and noticed that the tree in our front yard had some dead branches.  After cutting off a few branches, he looked closer and told me that my tree was dying.  Evidently it is infected by the “emerald ash borer.”

The tree is to the left in this picture.

The tree is to the left in this picture.

Since we are selling our house, we had two options: do nothing and hope nobody notices until after the house sold, or cut the tree down.

We thought the second option was more ethical. Our African-American neighbor (white guy from South Africa) saw us using a tree hand saw to cut down this tree (about 8 inches in diameter) and loaned us his chainsaw. It went much faster after that.  In no time at all we had the trunk and large branches cut up and stacked, and the smaller branches gathered in our side yard for disposal (no idea how to get rid of them, but I’ll find that out tomorrow I guess).

My best friend expertly wielding the chainsaw.

My best friend expertly wielding the chainsaw.

So now we have no tree.  I looked into methods for stump removal, and since we have no truck, no chain, and no dynamite (the HOA might frown on that last one anyway), I put some bricks around the stump (which is at ground level) and filled the space with dirt.  Tomorrow I will get some flowers and it will look great.  Hopefully nobody looking at our house asks, “Hey, what happened to the tree?”

Before flowers.

Before flowers.

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