Category: General

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Permalink 12:28:14 pm, by fumanchu Email , 427 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Provocative questions on prayer

Dave Warnock points us to Ten Provocative Positions on Prayer by "Kim", to which I can only answer, "huh?" Perhaps they were provocative in Barth's day; I find them stale and purposefully vague [1]. Number 6 was the sole exception.

Here are some questions on prayer that I find provocative:

  1. Does anyone in the Bible ever pray silently? If not, are we sure God can hear us if we pray silently? [2] Perhaps God created flesh as a barrier between our thoughts and his thoughts. If he cannot hear us, what would that do to the Church in the West (especially the USA, with its focus on the "personal walk")? What would it do to your "walk"?
  2. If you believe God has decided everything in advance, why does the Bible state that God sometimes changed his mind when people prayed?
  3. Do you believe God hears you as readily as he heard the patriarchs? You are not Moses--should you model your prayer after his?
  4. Do you pray with your eyes closed? Why? Is it fear of ridicule? Guilt? Tradition? Try praying in a group with your eyes open and see if your answer changes.
  5. If God already knows what you need, are your words important? Would meditation have the same effect? Or is speech fundamental to thought and our recognition of the Other?
  6. Do you pray too often? Has the "spiritual discipline" robbed your prayer of its meaning? Would your spontaneous prayer be better if you didn't pray corporately and ritualistically so often?
  7. Have you made your life so comfortable that you no longer have anything to pray about? Do you care about anyone else enough to pray for them?
  8. When Jesus was asked "how we should pray", his example was short and to the point. Are your prayers short and to the point? Why or why not?
  9. Are your prayers different from "normal" speech (in any way other than inserting "Jesus" or "Father God" instead of "uhhhh...")? Should they be? How and why?
  10. Do you pray to a Person or to an impersonal Force? Does he answer you as to a son or daughter, or a servant, or not at all personally?

[1] Okay, okay, I find most theological writings stale and purposefully vague.

[2] I recently spoke with a friend who went to the Ukraine and met with a deaf Christian community. They believed they could not pray to God since they could not vocalize, only sign (my friend's group took the time to teach them otherwise).


Permalink 04:34:13 pm, by fumanchu Email , 99 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Which super hero am I?

Do you need to ask?

You scored as Batman, the Dark Knight. As the Dark Knight of Gotham, Batman is a vigilante who deals out his own brand of justice to the criminals and corrupt of the city. He follows his own code and is often misunderstood. He has few friends or allies, but finds comfort in his cause.

Batman, the Dark Knight


Lara Croft


El Zorro


The Amazing Spider-Man


Neo, the "One"


Captain Jack Sparrow


James Bond, Agent 007




Indiana Jones


The Terminator


William Wallace


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with


Permalink 04:28:17 pm, by fumanchu Email , 309 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Reacting to business challenges

James Robertson (among others) has been following the Sony rootkit fiasco, and comments:

Some of the management meetings at Sony must have been utterly fascinating over the last few days, as they slowly worked their way around to doing the right thing.

I can't help but wonder how my own company's management would respond to a similar challenge. My guess is that we would have a similar set of reactions. That is, we would choose the following reactions, in order:

  1. Try to ignore or deny the problem, for reasons of expediency—we have more pressing matters to deal with, mostly involving keeping ourselves afloat long enough to reach our visionary goals.
  2. When (if?) the outcry reaches an unacceptable level, decide on a quick fix.
  3. When (if?) the quick fix has been roundly trashed as too quick, decide to implement what was "the right fix all along".
  4. When (if?) the outcry has spilled into other business, try to assuage fears with verbal promises, not new policies or visible proof.

I imagine that each step was instituted by a progressively-more-senior level of management. It's hard to imagine a company with more than 5 employees doing things any differently; there are simply too many such challenges (and too many "if's")—a company which discussed, implemented, and guaranteed a full fix for all of them would quickly smother itself in bureaucracy and second-guessing. In other words, my hunch is that Sony's error was probably systemic (the result of being a large company) and not moral.

Perhaps some issues, like Sony's rootkit issue, should side-step the above sequence and jump their response straight to 4th gear. I'd be interested to hear anyone's logic for deciding which issues need that and which ones don't.


Permalink 01:10:20 am, by fumanchu Email , 39 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Sorry about the recent outages

These blogs have been getting hammered by some unknown process; Apache and MySQL start taking up all my RAM. It's mostly "unknown" because I can't be bothered to fix it at the moment—too much else going on.



Permalink 01:45:08 am, by fumanchu Email , 545 words   English (US)
Categories: General, Photography

Backpacking in Los Padres National Forest

Ryan (my fellow IT worker), Chris (his girlfriend), and I took a well-deserved five days and went backpacking on the Pine Ridge Trail in the Los Padres National Forest (Ventana Wilderness).

On Thursday, we left San Diego at 1:00 AM so that we could get a full day's hiking in. It's over 10 miles to Sykes Camp, plenty of time to reacquaint oneself with California's gorgeous trees:

Twisted trees on the Pine Ridge trail Entwined trees on the Pine Ridge trail Tall dark trees in a deep canyon

Once we arrived at Sykes, we partook of the hot springs. Here's Chris standing in a very small one:

Chris standing in a hot spring

The next day, we didn't move camp—just wandered up the Big Sur River in search of cool things. We found quite a lot of them, but I don't have any pictures to show you, and I probably would hide them from you if I had any. No sense making such a fantastic place too popular. Ryan found a turtle, maybe this pic will tide you over:

Floyd the turtle on Ryan's head

Saturday, we decided to hike on over to Cienega Camp, which sits above the North Fork of the Big Sur River. Here's a panorama of the North Fork valley:

Panorama of the Big Sur North Fork valley

That day...wasn't the best. Cienega is six miles away from Sykes, but the last three miles are a tough fight through thick brush. Wear pants if you ever try it. I didn't. ;) Once we got there, we found Cienega to be little more than a wide spot in the trail, so we turned around and backtracked the three miles to Redwood Creek Camp, which was much nicer:

Wall of redwoods at Redwood Creek Camp

Deep shot of redwoods

In the second picture, I hope you can see that the forest floor is a long way down. The "small" trees in the gaps are the same size as the near trees, just much further away.

Sunday, we continued our return trip, this time passing Sykes and stopping for the night at Barlow Flats Camp. Once there, Ryan and I decided to wade down the Big Sur River. I wanted to see the point where Logwood Creek fed out into the river, and once there, I cajoled Ryan into scrambling up its whole length until it rejoined the trail. Sure glad we did; this waterfall was 20 feet high, and fed into a pool at least 20 feet deep:

20 foot waterfall

This is only one of the many cool waterfalls we navigated on our way up.

In Barlow Flats Camp, unlike the other camps, the nearly-full moon was visible, and astoundingly bright. I spent a lot of time trying to get the perfect moon shots:

Moon behind a deciduous leaf Moon and Big Sur River

On Monday, we headed back to the parking lot, having traveled about 40 miles in all. Here's a last pic of the trail which I particularly liked, due to its spiral structure:

Trail with hint of a spiral

We left the park about 1:30 PM, stopped for pizza in Monterey, and tried to head home. After road closures, rain, flash floods, accidents, wrong turns, and too many leftover snacks, we hit San Diego about midnight! But I got a neat picture of the moon over Tehachapi. Note that, for all of these moon pictures, I used anywhere from a 4 to 15 second exposure, and never had a tripod—just me holding the camera as steady as I could.

Moon over Tehachapi, CA

To Dan, I just have to say, we should have gone to Los Padres instead of Kern last month. ;)

Permalink 12:37:37 am, by fumanchu Email , 159 words   English (US)
Categories: General, CherryPy

A severe shortfall in the motivational index

I can't seem to finish or maintain anything lately. I never can, but recently it's been more acute. Maybe it has to do with the pending release of CherryPy, which means we're in "feature freeze" mode; I miss writing the sweeping redesigns that I was able to shove into 2.1 before the beta.

But it's apparent in other areas, as well. I have about 80 hours of video transfer to DVD to do for various friends (and some personal projects). I haven't touched any of them in months. I also have a company to officially close, which is moving at a glacial pace. I've got a bunch of papers in triplicate that I need to mail off to the State, but can't seem to work up the drive to buy a large envelope for the purpose.

But then, having everything "done" is a much worse state. Maybe I should count my busy blessings.

Permalink 12:26:06 am, by fumanchu Email , 45 words   English (US)
Categories: General

This blog has moved recently

You might not have noticed, if you don't check every day, but this blog has moved recently. It was hosted at (owned by Amor Ministries), but now it's at (owned by yours truly). Please update your aggregators, feedlists, links, and bookmarks.


Permalink 05:58:38 pm, by fumanchu Email , 507 words   English (US)
Categories: IT, General

Broken mail, and when to outsource it

[Disclaimer: if you're a techie, and you find this discussion a bit patronizing, bear with me. I raise my own salary through donations, and I'm trying to communicate to my non-technical financial supporters where their money is going. If you're one of those supporters, please bear with me when I descend into meaningless jargon. ;)]

Our mail server, which runs Microsoft Exchange, died two weeks ago—critical operating system files got corrupted, and Windows wouldn't boot. This is a bad thing. Bad technically, because it meant reinstalling Windows, which was sure to confuse the Exchange service. Bad corporately, because it took us two days to get mail services back up and running, which meant lots of business not getting done. In point of fact, although we spent several hours with a consultant and a Microsoft engineer, we didn't actually fix the problem; however, we got the mail server back into enough of a working state that business could proceed. So we backed up all our mail and said to ourselves, "don't touch this machine again".

Then I started shopping. Being an intuitive fellow, I listened to that little voice in the back of my head saying, "now would be a good time to outsource our mail". That is, I went looking for someone who could run an Exchange server somewhere else on the Internet for us, and host our mail. If it worked, this would be a big benefit to us because:

  1. It would make someone else squirm when the server crashes,
  2. The provider would benefit from an economy of scale, since they perform the same service for multiple companies: they could afford redundancy and safeguards that we, a small company, cannot,
  3. It would take the administrative burden off Ryan, our system administrator. At the least, it would change his handling of issues away from technical resolutions (fixing machines) to social resolutions (calling the service provider when things go wrong),
  4. At $10/month per mailbox, it's pretty cheap for 40 users.

Would I have made the same decision if we had 20 users? 100 users? Perhaps. What was more important in my calculations was the ratio of IT workers to other staff. We are right at the point where we need more IT staff, but haven't hired them yet. That is, the demand for IT is outpacing what Ryan and I can supply.

Assume an ideal ratio of 1 IT worker for each 20 staff members. Given our staff of 40 (and growing), if we had 3 IT workers, we might have chosen to keep hosting our own mail. Similarly, if we had 20 staff to our two workers, we would have chosen (and did choose for the past few years) to host our own mail. But because our demand is exceeding our supply, we chose to outsource it for now:

Ratio of IT to staff per year

We're still in the process of moving our mail to the new provider, but don't worry about sending us mail! Nothing about that will change. I just wanted to give some of you a peek into the day-to-day (-to-week-to-month?) fires I end up putting out.


Permalink 02:16:45 pm, by admin Email , 10 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Overheard at lunch

"My face may be copyrighted, but my body's public domain."

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