Monday, January 29, 2007

Finally done!

I couldn't sleep last night, so I got up and read Philippians through Revelation in my ESV. My Great ESV Read is now over. It was a nice feeling to put my ESV on the shelf in a more permanent place: I've been keeping it on the top of my stack of Bibles, so it was the first one I'd grab. 

I enjoyed the ESV. It was really a very enjoyable translation to read; but in the end, I found it too quirky a translation for serious study, so I shelved it.

I bought the Bible on June 26, 2006 and I finished it on January 28, 2007. I didn't start on Genesis 1:1 right away, but for the sake of argument, that's almost exactly seven months to read through it. Just for comparison, a lot of people work hard at reading their Bible through once a year, but Geo. Mueller is said to have read his through four times a year! That's roughly twice as fast as I read this Bible, and I felt like I was almost going too fast. My reading isn't very consistent, though. I will often read several books in one day, and nothing the next. I need to work on my consistency more.

This morning I started reading through my new (although second-hand) NASB. This is a pretty serious Bible: single-column, wide margins, minimal notes, lots of room to write.

I've read a lot of press about single-column Bibles, and so far, I think it's everything it's cracked up to be. But then, I'm only in Genesis 2. We'll have to see how that goes. One thing about single-column is, it makes the Bible a lot thicker: you can only get so many characters on a single line; that's why "we" started printing in multiple columns to begin with.

We'll see how this Bible goes. I still have a new lovely little Darby I treasure very highly, but I've read Darby through several times over the last few years, and I wanted to read through the NASB at least once.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Buck Rogers

Now this is too cool!

I want one of those!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Life goes on

Ok, so I've been tagged about why I haven't posted for about a week. Well, the truth is, I've been busy.

So since people seem to care, here's a rundown of what I've done:
  1. I've been working, of course. And work is getting way better. I suddenly started to make progress, and for the first time in about 8 months, I actually believe I'm going to get the project I'm working on finished. Probably not on time, but not so late it'll make a huge difference.
  2. We went to H&R Block and got our income taxes for 2006 almost done. Almost: there are a couple things we forgot to take to the office, and there is a little research our tax person there has to do. But the thing is, I get a refund this year! And it's going to get bigger as we wrap up the last couple items. We already got all the bad news out of the way, so that made me very happy! After all the money I paid the IRS in estimated payments through 2006, it's about time they give me something back. I still need to make some adjustments for 2007, though. I paid way too much, and there are a number of ways to reduce that (legally, of course!), like putting more into my SEP, etc.
  3. I've been reading: some of my new books (especially FER vol. 7) and my Bible. I'm almost done Acts now on my great ESV Reading Project. I want to get through this Bible so I can do the same on my new NASB. Not to rush things, but I've already decided ESV isn't my translation of choice, so I want to try the next one. The thing is, I am determined to actually read each translation I try cover to cover, so I can make an intelligent decision on whether to use it.
  4. I got some new books for work: Java Concurrency in Practice (Goetz et al.), and Practical OCaml (Smith).
  5. I've been trying to really learn concurrent programming. I've been working mainly in Common Lisp (thankful---oh so thankful---for the Portable-Threads library ) and in Java 6. I would have done it all in Java 6, but my Linux laptop doesn't have very good battery life (HP ain't Apple!), and my iBook is old (it's a 2002 G3, I mean c'mon!) and strains under Java (especially since I prefer to work in NetBeans ). So I've been using Emacs + SLIME to work on the iBook.  That means, model it all in Lisp.
  6. I've been discussing a possible start-up with my wife. I'm not thinking about something to sink a lot of time and money into: just a small moonlighting gig to generate some residual income. If I could make $30k after expenses, I would be happy with it. If we ever decide to go ahead, I'll be sure to post the news here. We're still trying to find the right idea to pursue; but a close friend and I have been thinking about this one for a while, and there might be some good stuff coming out of this soon.
  7. I've posted a few thing on my other blog.

Now, today starts a new project (although I doubt I'll get any progress made today). I intend to fit out my cheap grill (Charbroil Santa Fe ) for slow-cooking. I'll line it with unglazed ceramic tile and maybe some high-temperature grout. That'll make it a decent heat sink.I cooked three pork shoulders and two chickens last weekend, and realized with a shock that I hate cooking on my offset smoker. So rather than getting rid of my cheaper grill, I'll try to get rid of my smoker, keeping my two grills. I'll leave my stainless steel one as is, but I'll modify my Santa Fe with extra mass, etc. to make it ideal for low-temperature cooking. I'll try and take pictures to post here.

So that's my life of late. Not terribly interesting to anyone but me, I'm afraid.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bookshelf Catalogue

I've often thought it would be fun to do a little catalogue of my books. I never quite got to it, so I thought I'd try now. This is in no way complete.

I don't have what you'd call a large library, but it's big enough to require some cataloguing. At any rate, this is probably Part 1. I have a few bookcases, and I'm not entirely sure what's on each one. Since I loaded up my newest bookcase yesterday, I'll start with that.

Disclaimer: just because I have a book on my bookcase, I am not implying that you should have the same book. In no way is my having a particular book to be construed as my approval of that book. I have some books that I was given as a gift, some that are questionable, some I bought years ago, and some I bought specifically because they are bad: I keep them as an example of wrong thinking. Please don't take this as a recommended reading list.

From Test Album

What's on my newest bookcase? This is a more-or-less complete list, in roughly the same order they are on my shelves:

  1. J. N. Darby: Collected Writings of J. N. Darby (vols. 1--34); Notes and Comments on Scripture (vols. 1--7); Letters of J. N. Darby (vols. 1--3); Index to the Writings of J. N. Darby; Synopsis of the Books of the Bible by J. N. Darby (vols. 1--5)
  2. M. W. Biggs: The Christian's Path in Days of Difficulty; The Assembly in the Wilderness; The Christian's Blessings
  3. G. V. Wigram: Gleanings
  4. J. G. Bellett: The Evangelists; The Opened Heavens; A Short Meditation on the Moral Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ
  5. J. B. Stoney: Ministry by J. B. Stoney (vols. 1--13); Letters of J. B. Stoney (vols. 1--3); Index to Ministry by J. B. Stoney
  6. F. E. Raven: The Head of All Principality and Power; Ministry by F. E. Raven (vols. 1--20); Letters of F. E. Raven; Index to Ministry by F. E. Raven
  7. J. Pellatt: Closing Ministry of J. Pellatt, Vols. 1 & 2
  8. C. A. Coates: An Outline of Genesis; An Outline of Exodus; An Outline of Leviticus; An Outline of Numbers; An Outline of Deuteronomy; An Outline of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth; Outlines of Samuel, Kings, and the Chronicles; Outlines of the Books of the Chronicles; An Outline of the Song of Songs; Outline of the Minor Prophets; Miscellaneous Ministry on the Old Testament; An Outline of Matthew's Gospel; An Outline of Mark's Gospel; An Outline of Luke's Gospel; An Outline of John's Gospel; An Outline of Romans; An Outline of the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians; An Outline of the Epistle to the Ephesians; An Outline of Hebrews, Thessalonians, Titus, Philemon; An Outline of the Revelation; An Outline of the Epistle of James; Miscellaneous Ministry on the New Testament Matthew--Romans; The Paths of Life; The Food of Life and Other Papers; The Believer Established; Spiritual Blessings; Twelve Lectures on the House of God; A Sure Foundation; The True Grace of God; Letters of C. A. Coates; Index to Ministry by C. A. Coates
  9. Various authors: The Classic Christian Commentary or the red volumes of The Serious Christian. Also one volume of The Serious Christian.
  10. H. A .Ironside: An Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement; In the Heavenlies; Holiness: the False and the True; Addresses on Thessalonians; Notes on Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther; Notes on the Book of Nehemiah
  11. F. C. Jennings: Mediations on Ecclesiastes
  12. S. Ridout: The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit; The Church and Its Order According to Scripture; The Book of Job
  13. Sir R. Anderson: The Coming Prince
  14. A. Hislop: The Two Babylons
  15. W. Kelly, Ed.: The Bible Treasury (16 vols. + Index) (Actually, there are technically 32 vols. spanning 64 years, but they were bound in books of 2 volumes (4 years) each. So there are 32 volumes in 16 physical books)
  16. W. Kelly: FER Heterodox as to Life Eternal; Lectures on the Church of God; Two Lectures on Ezra and Nehemiah; Lessons on the Books of Chronicles; Exposition of Isaiah; Notes on Daniel; The Minor Prophets; Exposition of the Gospel of John; An Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles; Notes on the First Epistle to the Corinthians; An Exposition of Timothy; Lectures on the Epistle to the Galatians; An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews
  17. E. Dennett: The Three Marys; Unsearchable Riches; The Prophet Daniel; Typical Teachings of Exodus
  18. F. W. Grant: The Numerical Bible (vols. 1--7)
  19. R. K. Campbell: The Church of the Living God
  20. Savage: The Scroll of Time
  21. N. D. Smith: Roots, Renewal, and the Brethren
  22. R. Baylis: My People
  23. N. Noel: The History of the Brethren (vols. 1 & 2)
  24. H. Pickering: Chief Men Among the Brethren
  25. M .Weremchuck: John Nelson Darby
  26. A. Habershon: Study of the Types
  27. F. F. Bruce: The Gospel and Epistles of John
  28. W. Scott: Bible Handbook, New Testament
  29. F. B. Hole: Outlines of Truth; Foundations of the Truth; The Great Salvation
  30. W. Nee: Song of Songs; Sit, Walk, Stand; Love Not the World; The Finest of the Wheat; Spiritual Authority; The Spiritual Man (vol. 1); Not I, But Christ; The Release of the Spirit; The Normal Christian Life
  31. A. Miller: Song of Solomon
  32. W. MacDonald: Justification by Faith
  33. W. A. Lickey: Malachi, Lessons for Today
  34. J. Bramhall: My Beloved is Mine; I am My Beloved's; Living His Life
  35. E. Sauer: The Dawn of World Redemption
  36. H. L. Heijkoop: The Glories of Christ as Seen in the Offerings
  37. C. H. Mackintosh: Short Papers (vols. 1 & 2); Notes on the Pentatuech; The Mackintosh Treasury

No, I haven't read them all. But I have read a lot of them, and have looked in many of them. And that's just the new bookcase: we'll have to cover others later.

Looks like I got some reading to do!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


There's nothing quite as exciting as receiving a package in the mail. Well, almost nothing.

But today I had a triple-whammy exciting day:

  1. A huge package arrived for me in the mail

  2. The packages was from Dover Bible Fund (Books!)

  3. The timing was perfect, because I just finished finishing my new bookcase!

So here's the package:

Looks a little dinged up? Yeah, it was. I assume that's the fault of USPS, rather than DBF.

And here it is unpacked:

What are those books? I'm glad you asked. I got the complete set of F. E. Raven (20 vols. plus an Index plus Letters of F. E. Raven, a couple volumes by J. B. Stoney, a couple booklets by M. W. Biggs, three copies of Closing Ministry of J. Pellatt, Vols. 1 & 2 and something called The Scroll of Time. Sounds Dispensationalist!

And, of course, I got all the books on my new bookcase:

That's pretty mad book storage density! That's actually a whole lot of books to fit in 29 1/2" wide bookcase. Actually, that bookcase turned out pretty well. Thanks for the help, Dad!

Monday, January 8, 2007

Fish or Cut Bait

Well, my Green Card expires in a year and a half (give or take a few weeks). So the question of what to do about it looms larger. It would seem to be a good idea to start acting now, rather than procrastinating on it.

At the end of the day, I have three options:
1. Move back to Canada
2. Renew my Green Card
3. Get a US citizenship.

This is my second green card: my first was a provisional. If you understand how the system works, you can probably figure out on your own how long I've been living in the US, but for everyone else, it's been just over 12 years. Twelve-and-a-half, actually. That's a long time.

August 8, 1994 I moved from Vancouver Island to St. Louis, MO. Or at least I crossed the border on August 8. I was fresh out of University and 22 years old.

Since then, I've gotten married (been married more than 11 of the 12 years I've been here), and we've had kids, a couple dogs, and a house. I had one career, then abandoned it for another. I've been self-employed, I've worked twice as a State employee, and I've lived in several cities. I've done my second career persistently enough to turn down job offers under six figures. It's been a good run.

I've lived my entire adult life in a foreign country.

But the USA I live in now is a little different than the one I first met in 1994. Those were the pre-PATRIOT Act days, when non-citizens enjoyed "equal protection under law". Now my credit report shows I'm not a citizen. When I applied for a car loan last year, I was told "The only problem I can see here is that you're Canadian". Things have changed.

So we're at a decision point. Rationally, there's no reason to believe we'll ever actually move to Canada. Let's face it, whatever problems I might face as an immigrant here my wife will see up there. I have the advantage of being Caucasian here, but she has the advantage of being a visible minority and a woman up there.

As much as I'd love to move back to Canada, I see nothing to indicate it'll ever happen. It just looks like we'll be in the States for the forseeable future. There it is, I came out and said it.

The USA is a good place to live. It's not perfect, but no place is. We have different problems here than the Canadians do, but I don't think they are really any worse (probably not any better either). True, people here can die for lack of health care, and the violent crime rate is unbelievably high. On the other hand, the Canadians seem pathologically determined to run their country into bankruptcy. Yes, everyone is theoretically covered by health insurance, but the coverage is inadequate in some cases. The violent crime rate is much lower, but the Canadian justice system seems designed to ensure the maximum number of violent criminals is on the streets with a minimum time behind bars, regardless of whether their behaviour has changed in any way.

So compared to Canada, the USA is not significantly better or worse. We're close neighbours with different housekeeping problems, but we're neighbours in the end. And we're close.

Of course the question everyone asks is "Why don't you get dual citizenship?" Well, that's a good question, really.

I actually spoke to an immigration lawyer about this, who confirmed what I'd already found out: the USA doesn't recognize dual citizenship, so they more or less ignore other countries' citizens. Canada says that someone who is born there is a citizen until they actually renounce their Canadian citizenship, which requires a formal process. So since the US won't actually make me turn in my Canadian passport and the Canadians really don't care how many other citizenships I have, what's the problem?

The problem is, the oath of citizenship in the USA starts: "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;" That sounds pretty much like I would be taking an oath to actually renounce my Canadian citizenship.

Now the immigration lawyer I spoke to said essentially the same thing other people have said: no one actually enforces my renouncing of my Canadian citizenship. No one actually follows me to make sure I go to the Canadian consulate and renounce it.

But that sounds a little ethically grey, doesn't it? I guess it all hinges on the words "entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity". Does that mean I can still be a Canadian citizen, but my loyalty is only to the States? Or does that mean I have to formally go and renounce my Canadian citizenship in Canada: telling them I have no intention of living as a Canadian any more?

I suppose if the judge, an INS officer---or even an immigration lawyer---were to say "Don't worry about it, just remember where your loyalty lies", I would take the oath without a second thought. If, on the other hand, the USA actually means it's an exclusive deal, then I have to be absolutely sure before I take such an oath.

In actual fact, my Canadian citizenship is more or less meaningless now. I haven't worked or lived in Canada since I was a University student: my whole adult life has been in the USA. Pragmatically speaking, all my citizenship does for me is allow me to cross the border into Canada hassle-free. On the other hand, when I come back into the States, I get hassled about my Green Card. I guess you really can't win.

But cutting ties with the country where you were born and grew up is not done as easily and lightly as I would expect. I have trouble picturing going home, to be accepted only as a tourist. I mean, they already think I'm a tourist when I go home, but to actually tell the border officer "I'm an American; I'll be here a couple weeks" seems strange. I'm sure Americans would find it no less strange to say something like that coming into the USA, too.

I frankly don't want to give up my Canadian citizenship. It's got nothing to do with the USA: I was born and raised Canadian, and I would have to think long and hard before renouncing a citizenship that is of no practical value to me.

On the other hand, the USA has become home. I have no idea how to do some tasks in Canada, because I've spent my adult life here. And the USA has been a good home: Americans are generally friendly, and they've been very welcoming. Sure, there are the RV drivers with heavy tans from Texas or California who speak loudly about themselves; but they're not the norm. (Not even in Texas or California!) No more than beer-bellied, loud, rude Quebecois in a Speedo is de rigeur for Canadians. (Not even in Quebec!)

But if we decide I should naturalize, I'll have to do it with iron resolve. Taking an oath is a serious thing, and I would have to do it seriously. Like a marriage: you need to treat it like irrevocable, regardless of the divorce rate.

So what should I do? Stay here, accept the inevitability of it, and get a US citizenship? Or pack up and go home? Or try to defer a decision a little while longer, renew my Green Card, and think about it some more?

I have no idea.

Computer Geek Score

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Apparently I'm qualified to do my job!!!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Book Storage

I haven't updated this blog in a while. Why? Because I've been busy, that's why!

Mum and Dad flew home Tuesday, and it's been a little quiet here. My youngest daughter keeps saying Grandad's in the shower, he'll be out soon. No---she's old enough to know better, she's saying it to be funny.

Before they left, Dad and I all but built a new bookcase. I have still to finish it (sand, stain, wax), and I need to cut a couple more shelves. But all in all, it's done. We built it seven feet tall, and put in brass pilasters to make the shelves adjustable. So given that many or most of my books are undersized, I figure I can get 7--10 shelves in this one. They're 28 inches wide and 10 inches deep, so that's a lot of storage. I can hardly wait to get it done! I plan on a trip to Lowe's tonight to get a couple more 1X10 boards, which will become about six more shelves.

I did learn an interesting thing on this project: we bought a 5/8" straight-cut router bit to cut dadoes to hold the shelving pilasters. So rather than the cheap bits I have, I bought a decent (probably not "good", but decent) Bosch blade. Wow! No more working in 1/16" at a time: this puppy chewed a 5/8X5/8 groove in one pass! That makes it definitely worth it. I've spent too much of my life working a router slowly into some stock: had I known how much my cheap bits were slowing me down, I'd have bought better ones a long time ago.

So when I go to get some shelving stock tonight, I'll buy some new bits too.

Now, a bookcase is the most basic thing you can make, but I am making a few of them, and proud of them. Why? Because I'm using them as test projects to try and learn to do stuff right. This one was made way better than my last one: I cut tongues and grooves in stock to create a ladder-like side panel, whose gaps I filled with inset plywood. So it looks way better than my previous bookcase. Next time, I'll so something almost exactly the same, but I'll make better joints on the sides: next time I'll make comb or dovetail joints.

Eventually I'll learn this stuff. I love working with wood, but my passion far outstrips my skill.