Monthly Archives: October 2006

Blog administrative notes

I set up my first mailing list. Like many webserver accounts, this one comes with a certain number of mailing lists, but I never had a use for one until now. One of my associates back at seminary suggested that we all keep in touch now that all but the real sluggards have graduated. (Some of us even have jobs!) I didn’t want to maintain a bunch of email addresses for all these people as they move around (e.g., when/if the sluggards graduate and lose their seminary email accounts) so I knew that a mailing list was just the ticket.

Also, the blog is working again. (This one. Which you’re reading.) I asked the tech support people here for a feature upgrade and something went wrong so I was down for a day. (The feature upgrade was moving from PHP 4.x to 5.x and it broke something. I thought that WordPress was unhappy with PHP 5 so I reinstalled it so it could be introduced properly to its new hosting environment, but the problem persisted, thus fingering the PHP setup as the culprit. The tech support people here immediately fixed the problem, and everything was hunky-dory.) A small price to pay, since I routinely go more than a day between page-views, and that’s counting the search-engine spiders and the ‘bots trying to push comment-spam on me.

The reason I went through feature-upgrade heck (although that term is too strong) was so I could install MediaWiki, the engine that powers mighty WikiPedia. I have great plans for it. Watch this space for coming announcements.

Double Exegesis

I’m trying to begin a pastor-led Bible study next Monday, where we (me and whoever else attends) study the passage on which I will preach the following Sunday. Then, on Tuesday, I can write my sermon, incorporating any good ideas that came up on Monday. I get to expand the number of people from which I steal ideas, and the congregation gets to hear better ideas than I would have hatched on my own. It’s a win-win thing.

A fine idea, so far as it goes, but it requires me to do double exegesis this week: first, for the sermon I’m writing this week to preach on Sunday, and then second, for that class the day after Sunday (“Monday”). This means that when I’m reading yet-another-commentary, I have to carefully keep track of which text it is that I’m procrastinating with.

Apple Mighty Mouse

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Mighty Mouse that comes with Apple machines these days. When we got the iMac, I was actually prepared to throw it in a drawer and buy a real mouse from Microsoft or Logitech or somebody.

After several days, I pretty much like the mighty mouse. The lack of buttons is only slightly irritating. If my desktop were flat, I’d be fine. But the non-button buttons require you to click the entire mouse, and if the surface isn’t utterly planar, you’re out of luck. Or so I find it. Supposedly it’s touch sensitive, but it seems to be push-down-to-the-floor sensitive. Your mileage may vary. Certain exclusions apply.

On the other hand, the scrolling nub is awesome. As much better than the scroll wheel as the wheel was than not having one.

On the other hand, I still prefer my Wacom tablet.


I moved all my files from the iBook to my Linux machine, and imported them into Thunderbird.

So far, my reaction is “Feh.” Say what you will about Apple’s i-Apps, but they look pretty. Which is pretty important when most of what you do is look at it. Firefox isn’t as pretty as Safari, but its advantages are obvious. (To me. By “obvious” I mean I won’t explain — at least, not hear and now. Write me off as a troll if you wish.) But Thunderbird isn’t obviously better than (mbox-format storage notwithstanding) and it is fabulously uglier.

So now I’m thinking about going to Mutt, which I used for years (1997-2003) on Linux. And that was in the fetchmail era. I remember how much better its message-threading was even then than’s is today. Nowadays, it would appear that mutt can do POP and IMAP all by itself, and there are a variety of SMTP-pretenders suitable for sending stuff off your machine to someplace with a a real SMTP server. Plus, I suppose, spam-filtering of some kind or another.

(Maybe instead of Mutt I should use Sylpheed. It’s supposed to be like Mutt but with a GUI like Thunderbird. (Note I didn’t say a GUI like

(Mail is step 237 of the ongoing migration. When I get this step done, there will only be two steps left: getting sound working, and being able to read and write DVDs. Then I can dump the iBook. Then I can buy a larger hard drive, and begin backing up the eMac.)

(Update: while writing the next post, I remembered that I need to configure my Wacom tablet to work under Linux. I’m not looking forward to it.)

UPDATE: apparently speeds up a lot when you do this.

New PC at work.

My beautiful new 17″ iMac arrived this afternoon. Demonstrating a fine grasp of priorities, I immediately quit writing my sermon and set it up. Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long, because (in my experience) Macs “just work.” It found the wireless network without being asked, and the drivers for my printer were installed with the part of the OS.

I installed Xcode so I could compile macports (nee darwinports), neither of which took very long, so within an hour I was all out of excuses and had to get back to work on my sermon.

Tomorrow I have to install Office and Accordance. (I’m bringing them in from home. No, I’m not pirating software. I’m discontinuing the iBook, since my linux box has become the main home machine.)

Fire-Hunter (Book Review)

When I was a kid I had the good fortune to read Jim Kjelgard’s Fire-Hunter. After we had almost given up hope, the San Bernadino County Library located its copy and lent it to us via inter-library loan. So I had the good fortune to read it again. Wow. What a great book.

Fire-Hunter is the story of Hawk, a sort of “stone-age Tom Swift,” and his main squeeze Willow. Hawk is banished from his tribe for a crime he didn’t commit (more or less; I’ll breeze past details like that so as not to spoil it). You might think Willow is along for romantic interest, but you’d be wrong. None of that mushy Clan of the Cave Bear stuff in this book. (Although she is, to the very limited extent that Willow factors in the book at all, a sort of a strong role-model for any girls who might inexplicably find themselves reading this book.))

Left alone to die in the paleolithic wilderness, Hawk turns the tables on fate. Instead of dying, he invents the throwing stick, the domesticated dog, and much much more. He also fends off the bad guys (and bad animals, like dire wolves and sabertoothed cats) and generally demonstrates that Bill Gates wasn’t the first high-tech entrepreneur to become rich and famous in their own time.

Of course it’s all fiction. But it’s fun. My kid joins me in giving it two thumbs up.

World Communion Sunday

As you know, I was ordained a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) eight days ago, on Rosh Hashana. This morning I officiated in my church’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper. This was the first time, since in the Presbyterian Church, you can’t administer sacraments until you’re ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament. Until today, the closest I ever got was to stand up next to my field ed supervisor when she officiated at the Lord’s Table.

Since today was also World Communion Sunday, this first-ever time officiating at Communion was particularly special. The lectionary passage was Mark 9:38-50, a passage that certainly lends itself to ecumenical application. As a result, I had no trouble putting together a sermon, despite the hectic (travel-packed) schedule last week.

However, I learned that it’s hard to maneuver around the Table while wearing a 16th-century robe and a whatever-century-it-was stole, today being also the first time I wore the official get-up. I also learned that practicing the liturgy isn’t enough: you also need to work out with the servers who will stand where, and when, and whether the pastor is served first or last, and other practical matters of that sort. But most of all, I learned not to misplace the last page of your sermon.