Life

I sit here in in a coffee shop, typing this on my Nexus 7, thinking about the changes that 2013 has wrought. It’s been a strange year, as I was laid off at the beginning of the year, but still received severance through July. In one way, it was welcome time off, a chance to spend more time with my son, but in other ways, it has been anxiety inducing as I’ve pondered over my future and the family’s finances. Odd Job Computing is starting to take off, albeit more slowly than I’d like, but it’s still a long way from being able to pay the mortgage on a regular basis. And thinking about the tax situation for this year is enough to make one break out in a cold sweat. But God provides, He always has and always will, so I concentrate on doing what I can and try not to worry about things that are out of my control (and if I can control something, why would I worry about it?). It’s a new stage of life, and one I’m not sure I was quite ready for. In the meantime, I can work on getting the house fixed up and support Kara as she pursues her dreams through the church and Thirty One.

Redecorating

I’ve decided to do some redecorating around here, I’ve not changed the backgrounds or theme on the blog for something like 7 years. So if you notice some dust about or things not quite where they should be, it’s just me reworking things in the background.

Rampage Replacement Soft Top

After 15 years, the soft top on the Jeep was getting a bit (actually more than a bit) ratty, so I began to look for a replacement. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on the top, but I did want something that would look nice and would keep out the weather. My first inclination was toward a Bestop Sailcloth Replacement Top, as I’d heard good things about them, but alas, they were way out of my price range at $500 plus. So I started poking around on Amazon to see what I could find (I find the free shipping that comes with the Amazon Prime account can make a huge difference on bulky stuff). What I found was the Rampage 99515 Soft Top with Upper Door Skins for a mere $320. The reviews on Amazon looked good so I hit the one-click button and purchased the top.

The top arrived two days later as per the usual Amazon Prime shipping, It was nicely rolled in a reasonably small package with tissue paper separating the window plastic. As I had nice weather, I went ahead and started the installation despite the temperature being a bit low (mid 60s). The top itself and the rear windows went on without a hitch, there’s a bunch of small screws that secure the top to the windshield mount, those needed to be saved and reused. All in all, replacing the top and rear windows took about half an hour and it would have been quicker if I hadn’t needed to drill out some of the mounting screws. The fit was good, the top looks great and it’s much easier to put up and down than the original top ever was.

And now we get to the hard part, the upper door skins. I knew before I started that they would be trouble and they were. The first step was to cut the old skins off the frames and clean the frames up a bit. No problem there, a bit of work with a pocket knife and the frames were naked. The next step, though, was a lot harder; you have to stretch the new skins over the frames, so that they fit tightly. It helps a great deal to warm the skins up first, a few minutes in a clothes dryer at low heat does the trick nicely. However, try as I might, I could not get the skins on the frames. And when I finally did, I ripped the skins slightly! This was a problem, although the skins were still weather tight, they didn’t look right and I was pretty sure they shouldn’t rip going on.

I called Rampage about the problem and told them the model year, etc of the Jeep. They asked where I purchased the top, I told them Amazon and they grumbled a bit. Apparently, the upper door frames on a ’97 Wrangler are slightly larger than those on a ’98+ Wrangler and they ship a different set of door skins for ’97s. However, as the order went through Amazon, they didn’t see it and so I got the wrong skins. After a little back and forth with some emailed pictures and a copy of my receipt, they shipped me out a new set of the properly sized door skins. When I received them I compared them to the original skins I received and yes, they are ever so slightly larger, but it’s just enough. I threw them in the dryer for a couple of minutes and was able to get them on with minimal fuss. They still weren’t easy to get on, but at least I didn’t rip them and didn’t have to resort to profanity. I’m thinking Rampage really needs to create a separate part number for ’97 Wranglers so others don’t have the same problem.

All in all I’m quite happy with the top. There are still some minor issues with the way the doors close, but I think that’s a misadjustment on my part. Rampage was very good about getting me the correct door skins in a timely manner. The top itself went on very easily and looks great. There are a couple of zippered pockets in the inside front corners that are pretty handy and you can’t really beat the price (especially with Amazon Prime). I can highly recommend the top, just make sure you get the correct door skins!

 

Sitcoms, Gay Marriage, Whatever…

I was watching television with my wife the other night and it reminded me why I don’t typically watch sitcoms. For starters, all the men are such absolute idiots, you wonder how they manage to stand upright, much less hold a high paying job. But that has nothing to do with this post…

What brought this on was the season finale of “Rules of Engagement“. As is typical in this type of show, they try to wrap up most of the season’s loose ends and create a bit of buzz for the next season: babies born, couples wed, that sort of thing. Nothing wrong with any of that, even if one of the couples being wed was same sex. Actually, it is the same sex wedding that bothered me, but not for the reason you might think. Both parties in the wedding are actually straight, they’re getting married because one has lost his work visa to stay in the country and the other is trying to help out. It’s a spur of the moment thing in a hospital chapel and that is what bugs me. In New York state, there’s a 24 hour cooling off period after you get the marriage license before you can actually get married, you can’t just get married on the spur of the moment. Now I realize that the writers are probably LA based and may not have known this, but you’d think that someone would have have pointed it out. The other problem is DOMA (the Defense Of Marriage Act), I personally think it’s a bad idea (the states should be able to decide these things for themselves), but it means that same sex marriages aren’t recognized for immigration purposes. So not only is the marriage a sham legally, it’s not even a useful one! But since it appears the show has been cancelled,it doesn’t really matter.

For the record, I think the state should get out of the marriage business entirely. All legal marriages should be “civil unions”, if you want a “sacred marriage”, you do that separately in the church or religious establishment of your choice. That way religious establishments aren’t forced to perform (or even acknowledge) marriages they don’t condone, but you can still have the legal benefits. The civil union would be a simple (or not so simple) contract between the two parties outlining their rights and obligations as a married couple. Deities need not be invoked or involved. For those wanting a religious ceremony, they can have a church wedding with the attendant vows and ceremony, but that wedding won’t be legally binding until they sign off on the civil contract.

Ch-Ch-Changes

Well, after 13.5 years on the job at ThomsonReuters, it has been decided that it is time for me to move on. On that note, it seems likely that I will have more time for blogging and keeping this up to date. I’m moving into a new phase of life in self-employment as a freelancer so I’ll be doing more tech writing and the like here.

Still Alive!

It’s just been a very busy year with moving the in-laws to Arizona, raising a three year old, changing churches, I’ve not really thought about blogging too much. I’m hoping to get started again, so we’ll see what happens.

Orbits

Most people don’t realize it, but the moon doesn’t technically orbit the earth. Instead, both the earth and moon orbit around their common center of mass. Admittedly, this center of mass is located within the earth, but that’s beside the point. In fact, because the moon is so large in proportion to the earth, the earth-moon system is sometimes considered a double planet and what affects one, affects the other. And both the earth and moon dance together around the sun.

Our lives as a Christian married couple are much the same. They are intertwined, orbiting a common center and at the same time in a much larger orbit around God. We dance through life, sometimes in joy, others in mourning, all the while reflecting the light of God to our partner. To maintain this, though, one partner cannot have an excess of “gravity” in respect to the other, it must be a partnership of mutual respect and love. Only then can the marriage shrug off the pains and heartache afflicted by daily life. And our orbit about God provides additional benefits, as His influence steadies us and maintains our greater orbit about Him.

The problems come when we allow other “planets” to perturb our orbits. If we allow these outside forces a greater influence on our orbit than our partner or God it’s all too easy for the delicate dance to be disrupted and for one (or both) of the partners to be stripped away. This is especially true when the partners’ mutual influence begins to wane and they draw apart, it becomes easy for another party to slip in and supercede one of the partners.

Just Say Please

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Yesterday afternoon, the boy wanted a “popcircle” (Popsicle). We’ve been working on getting him to say “please” and “thank you” when asking for something, so when he came up and said “I wanna popcircle”, we said “say please”. Now, you or I would simply turn around and without really thinking about it say “I want a popsicle, please” and we’d get one. Not the boy, no way, no how was he going to say please. “I don’t wanna say please!”, “I wanna popcircle!”, accompanied by screaming, collapsing on the floor and just generally throwing a fit. And every time he’d scream “I wanna popcircle!”, we’d calmly tell him, “say please”, at which point a fresh round of screaming and flailing would ensue. This went on for a couple of hours (being a horrible father, I took video of him for a couple of minutes) and he never did say please. He also never got his “popcircle”.

The point of this is, I wonder if sometimes God doesn’t feel like Kara and I did. He wants to give us good gifts and to bless us, but we just won’t ask in the right way. We refuse to say please (figuratively) and scream and throw ourselves on the floor when He doesn’t do things our way, right away. Maybe if we took to heart James 4:3 and stopped asking for things with the wrong motives, God would be willing to cheerfully grant our requests. So, the next time you’re asking God for something, examine your heart and determine why you’re really asking. And always say please.