Great Voices

Five years ago, during the fall of my first term in Seminary, I took a class called “Speech Communications in Ministry 101.” In it I found out just how terribly awful I am at the use of my voice as an instrument.

Not so with these guys. (Warning: there is one crude phrase about halfway in. Interestingly, it isn’t a laugh line itself, but is there only to set up the next two lines.)

Engle Institute concluded

People keep telling me I need to turn the knob to 11. Easier said than done. Also, I need to quit trying to lead in program development and instead to lead in theological reflection. If I do that at all well, then programs will follow. (Sigh.)

Anyway, it’s been an awesome conference. It was good to see so many PTS people and to meet some non-PTS folks. Worship at Miller was excellent as always.

California, Here We Have Come!

Well, here we are. Ten days of traveling and ten nights in hotels, 2859 miles of driving, and now we’re officially Part of the Problem.

I stopped off at the new church yesterday but any further contacts there will be on the sly, since I don’t officially begin until September 10. We get our house on the 14th and we unpack the moving van (actually the trailer, which the tractor will drop off there) on the 14th and 15th. Then I have two whole weeks to figure out how to be a pastor, because it wasn’t a big part of what we studied in seminary.

On the road again

I’m blogging while traveling. Well, actually, I’m in a hotel right now, but I’ll be traveling again in an hour or two or three. This is the 3rd hotel we’ve been in and it’s the first whose “free hi-speed internet” worked, so I hope to be able to blog every third or fourth day going forward.

Today we’re in Cleveland, Tennessee (“the blogging state”). Today we’re bound for Huntsville, AL, to see the Marshall Space Flight Center. Then it’s westward ho, straight down I-40 another couple of months until we hit Memphis. From there it’s a clean shot west all the way to California. (“…here we come!”). Although we may deviate from this plan to visit Southern New Mexico and then take I-10 in to California instead of I-40.

Anyway, we’re 544.5 miles from the Lukoil gas station near the seminary’s married student housing.

I thought we’d never leave. We’d hoped to be done Friday at noon; in fact we didn’t finish packing the truck until about noon Saturday, and cleaning the house and packing our vehicles took until 7pm. Thank the Lord for good neighbors. (Honor roll: Phil T. from church, Bill M. from church and also from seminary, and Susan S-B & Mr. B., Sampson, and David and Caty A. from seminary.) I can’t say I’m looking forward to unloading the truck without them in the desert. (“But it’s a dry heat!”) Pretty clever of me to schedule a move during a nationwide heat-wave, huh?

Our stuff, which did not include any major appliances, took 20-odd feet of a truck 9×8 feet in cross section. The top foot of that isn’t as well-packed as I’d like, but I did my best. Call it 1260 cubic feet. I can’t wait to hear how much it weighed. Note: our new house is about 1500 square feet in area. So unloading the truck will be non-trivial even apart from the desert heat.

P.S. I preached on the 23rd and was called there! Someday after I get there I hope the church aquires a web site, then I’ll link there.

Fifty boxes

Goodness. I’ve packed 50 boxes. Most of them are book boxes (1.5 c.f.) but there are a half dozen or so each of banker’s and case-of-copier-paper boxes. The book boxes average about 52 lbs. each, so I’ve got just about one ton of book boxes. The banker’s boxes and paper cases are a little lighter. My back hurts.

Book Packing

I’ve been packing. Our lease (actually, the 1-month extension) runs out at the end of the month, so we’re moving. I expect to know where we’re moving no later than the 24th or 25th, so we can give the moving company a “to:” address.

Anyway, I’ve been packing books. I hope to mail some of them to their final destination. (Oddly enough, the USPS media mail rate is cheaper than certain national relocation specialists. Which is why a stamp costs $0.39, I suppose.)

With the first couple of boxes I did a little study. I figured out that a 1.5 cubic-foot box of my old computer books averages 39 books and 55 lbs, while same size box of seminary books has 51 books but only weighs 45 lbs. These samples aren’t perfectly representative. The computer book sample represents almost half of the computer books I still have. (I used to have a whole bunch more, but my wife spent the last three years unloading them them on half.com.) The sample of seminary books, on the other hand, was only about 5-10% of that category, and even then, it skewed light, since it included a bunch of C.S. Lewis paperbacks.

But from these (flawed but not hopelessly so) data can be determined the following facts:

  • My average computer book weighs 1 lb 6.5 oz., while the average book from seminary weighs 14.1 oz.
  • The average computer book in this sample occupies 66.5 cubic inches while the average seminary book occupies only 50.8 cubic inches. (Typically, books aren’t cubical, but if they were, these would be cubes 4.0 and 3.7 inches on each side, respectively.)
  • Thus, the density of a computer book is about 5.6 ounces per cubic inch, while a seminary book is about 3.8 ounces per cubic inch.

(These numbers again in SI, for the world readership: computer books average 0.64 kg mass, 1.089 litres in volume, and 0.59 g/cm^3 density. Seminary books average 0.40 kg mass, only about 0.83 litres volume, and about 0.48 g/cm^3 density.)

Done and done!

I am done with seminary! It’s all over but the shoutin’ … or more precisely, the commencement exercises. (Assuming I don’t flunk any of my classes, but I won’t even mention that for fear that … uh … oh, no. Aarrgh!)

I spent the past week reading about a zillion books and then churning out end-of-term papers for all my classes. One was technically a take-home exam, and one was a “group project” (i.e., I had a partner), but the other two were the usual 15-page doozies.
Continue reading

Fair trade coffee from co-ops only?

Here’s something I didn’t know.

Martinez owns a small family farm and produces a high-quality coffee, but none of his beans carry the Fair Trade label. His farm isn’t part of a cooperative, a Fair Trade non-negotiable that disqualifies small, independent farmers, larger family farms, and for that matter any multinational that treats its workers well. “It’s like outlawing private enterprise,” says former SCAA chair Cox, who now serves as president of a coffee consulting company. “What about a medium-sized family-owned farm that’s doing great, treats their employees great? Sorry, they don’t qualify.” In Africa, many coffee farms are organized along tribal, not democratic lines. They’re not eligible either, a problem that has prompted some roasters to charge cultural imperialism.

We have Fair Trade at the coffee kiosk here on campus. I should ask around to see how widespread my lack of knowledge is.

There’s a whole article about Fair Trade at Reason.