Time is on our side

So the year is pretty much wrapped-up at work. Due to the mangled leg, I had to participate in year-end activities via phone, rather than in person, which is less than ideal, but I pulled off a decent showing and I’m pleased with what I delivered. Unfortunately, like most of my team, what I delivered was short of the goals. Turns out getting industry giants to pivot around a new technology paradigm takes more than 6 months.
I’m pretty confident in how it’ll shake out though. Yes, we missed the mark, and yes the mark might have been set a little too far out, but some pretty great work is in progress from those same industry giants, and next year looks to be the year of the Cloud — which benefits me, as well as the tech world.
The likely result though, is that this buys/sets me back (depending on how you look at it) another year. This one went ok, but won’t be launching me on any new career paths — meaning there’s still some headroom above me to fill. Of course I’ll be working hard on that in the coming months, but there are some other interesting things going on that we’ll be glad to be able to participate in meanwhile…
– Ben will be attending senior kindergarten at the local public school. I still object, on principle, to the all-day/every-day mandate, but we can rebel quietly, pulling him out for family time whenever we see fit. And the school is close enough and small enough that we can participate in his early education with the teaching staff. Its a good place for him to start, in a fairly idealic little community, so when the Christian school called to follow-up on our talks where they explained that tuition costs there were about $500 a month, I fairly confidently told them we were no longer interested.
Abi will be starting pre-school in the fall as well — two half days a week, like Ben has been doing (and loving!)
– Our church will be working on opening two new campuses — one in an area we know well from our college days. Having helped open a couple campuses during our time in New York, it seems like this might be one of those divine appointments. As long as I’m not locked in the tech room all the time, I do love being involved in church ministry.
– I’m going to finish my one year Certificate of Theological Studies, leaving me with the option to do 3 more years for a Masters some day in the future, then start work on something I had always intended to do: get a Science degree. Depending on what country I want to work in, my education is evaluated differently. In the US, I’m well positioned. In other places, a few additional letters on the resume will help a lot. I’ll have to go through a prior learning assessment to determine how much I have to take, but it could be as little as 10 courses, or a max of 20 — all by correspondance. Considering all the time I spend on airplanes, that shouldn’t be a problem.
– Nicole has some renovations she wants to do — although some other house related expenses may come first. The kitchen is on the list, right behind getting the central air conditioning working again. Fortunately, 3 kids keeps her sufficiently busy. Its a good thing she’s such an awesome mom!
Financially, another two years in my current role should leave us very liquid. A couple trips over-seas, including getting the kids on their first airplanes, should keep things interesting. Beyond that, who knows, but after 7 weeks of sitting on a chair, its nice to have some clear goals to pursue. Now if I could just get off the crutches, at least onto the cane, I would feel a lot more sane…

My Little Deuce Coupe

Its not a motorbike, but put the windows down, open the sun roof and push the pedal until the turbocharger kicks in, and the feeling is pretty similar.
My new car is a 2007 Saab 9-3 2.0T. Its very well equipped, with more features than I know how to use, and it goes like the wind. The 210 horses are responsive, taking off from stopped in seconds, sipping gas even with the turbo engaged – after three days with me, the average gas mileage is down to 8.7 7.2 litres/100km (from 18 when I got it!) of combined highway and city driving. The disc brakes make you feel confident with that much power. Handling could be better for a vehicle of its class, despite a tight suspension, but its still acceptable. The interior is roomy (although the backseat of the 9-5 was roomier) and comfortable; even with the GM influence, Saab’s clever engineering still shines through.
New, this particular car went for about $40,000 but at 4 years old, we got a pretty good deal at $11,700. With money from the liquidation of the other vehicles, we’re financing about $9,500. It wasn’t exactly in our financial plan, but we should be able to take care of that quickly, and still have a pretty sexy, but practical ride parked along-side the family van. More importantly, I am no longer a stationary object slowly going insane. Today I ran a bunch of errands – alone – and with the bum leg able to hold maybe 20% of my weight, I am starting to feel like a self-actuating adult again.
Here’s a picture, and a gratuitous list of the features I’m still figuring out…

  • rain sensor — automatically adjusts windshield wiper speed
  • headlight leveling — automatically points the headlights up and down to maintain viewing distance on angles
  • calculate arrival time — enter your destination distance and it’ll tell you when you’ll arrive based on your average speed. if you set a target average, it’ll tell you when you’ll arrive at that speed
  • % oil life remaining
  • convenience unlock — unlocks the doors and opens the windows/sunroof if you press and hold the unlock button on the remote (for hot days)
  • auto climate control — set the desired temperature and it automatically adjusts to keep it there
  • heated mirrors
  • auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • pinch protect windows — stops the window from rolling up if a certain amount of pressure is detected
  • glove box cooling
  • and… a horn :-p

Guitars, Bones and Automobiles

Thursday I visit the surgeon to have this cast removed, and hopefully I won’t go home with another one. In its place I hope to have an air cast, which looks like a giant boot. Its weight bearing, removable and will be the first step toward walking again.
A friend who broke his ankle 4 weeks before my accident got his air cast two weeks ago, and has made great progress since. My injuries are more severe, but I hope for a similar recovery. In fact the only difference I’ve observed is that my pain hasn’t subsided the way his did. Either I’m a bigger wimp, or more likely, the muscle and nerve damage, combined with the swelling, are causing my continued discomfort. At the start of a day, once the swelling subsides after I put my foot down out of bed, I feel pretty good. By the end of the day, even with my foot up as much as I can manage, it gets pretty painful again. Hopefully being out of a cast will relieve some of that pressure.
I’ve started physiotherapy – ahead of schedule, maybe, but I have ambitious goals for the summer, including at least two business trips and two special weddings. I plan to dance with my wife at both. This summer will be our 10th anniversary.
The motorbike was written off. Apparently the impact of my tibia against the frame of the bike cracked both supporting structures – mine and the bikes’. At 27 years old, it was determined that my beautiful old bike was not worth repairing. We got $2800, although we paid $2500 for it last summer. From that we (hopefully temporarily) bought a guitar. It’s a long story, don’t ask. But it’s a gorgeous instrument. Maybe someone in August will play it for the kids.
The Saab is about to sell as well, the process slowed only by the weekend getting in the way. We’ll get $1100, although we paid $1500 for it in January. Its not great, but it’ll do.
We bought a couple things for our living room re-decoration project, and the rest will go toward my new vehicle. But more on that decision as it unfolds. Suffice it to say, we need to do something sooner rather than later.

Claiming Old Testament Promises

Alas, I am still easy-chair bound, and to hobble downstairs and yank out my giant textbooks would be too difficult for a simple blog post, but I’ll write this without citing sources simply as a challenge — rest assured that this challenge was given to me in the form of first year seminary courses, and not something off the top of my head. If you have questions, I encourage you to research them for yourself.
At issue is our tendancy to claim Old Testament promises out of context. I myself am guilty of quoting Jeremiah 29:11 to encourage someone going through a tough time, but its important to understand the implications — especially political, national and theological — of doing so.
The promises God gave to the Israelites in the Old Testament were given to a geopolitical group: when He promised land, He wasn’t promising you land; when He promised wealth, He wasn’t promising you wealth; and when He promised a hope and a future, He wasn’t talking to you, or even to individual Israelites at the time. He was promising to provide a home, and later to provide restoration, to His chosen people — a whole nation (and sometimes not-yet-born generations of that nation, not even the ones alive when He made the promise!!) — with the stipulation that they obey His commandments!
The only way to claim those promises for ourselves today is to re-understand “Israel.” The most common approach to that, and in my opinion, best supported Biblically, is to understand that when Christ came, he redefined “His chosen people” not as a geopolitical people group but as the new nation-less, race-less assembly of those who would chose to follow Him, whom He called His Church. If you can accept that “Israel” is not now the (relatively newly established) country in the Middle East, but is instead the Church, then you can lay claim to some of those Old Testament promises and stipulations on them — as they relate to the whole Church; again, not to individuals.
If, however, for reasons likely political, it is important to you maintain the current country and people of Israel as a continuation of the Old Testament Israel, then you have no claim to the promises given to that nation thousands of years ago; all of those promises belong only to them.
Apparently there are those who find some middle ground, or compromise between those two positions, chosing to view the church Christ established as a chosen people, and ancient-through-modern Israel as also a chosen people, picking and chosing which rules and promises are applicable to the former, as they see fit. I see the two positions as mutually exclusive. John 16:33 promises that in this world we will have trouble. It doesn’t promise that God will make everything right — at least on this earth. Our only reason for hope, and the only reason our brother’s and sister’s living in Israel have for hope, is in life eternally with Him.
There’s no promise that each of us will have a pain free life, just because we’re Christians. I offer as evidence my mangled leg: I hope it will heal completely — but the most likely outcome is that I’ll have 2-3 months of re-hab, 6-12 months of painful swelling, a lifetime with at least a mild limp, and probable arthritis when I get older. If I hope hard enough (or pray hard enough) there’s no promise that will change. But when I get to heaven, I do have hope that my new body will be a much better one than I have now!!
A good list of the viewpoints on who the “Chosen People” are today can be found here.
PS: It would be prudent to exclude Psalms from this discussion, as those should be interpreted differently, due to their genre. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes as well seem to offer promises, but the wisdom genre again requires a different kind of exegesis…

What's Happening to Sony

John Dvorak is far from the most salient technology reporter out there. His years of trolling about the imminent death of Apple never really panned out, and most of his other “observations” trail actual news by a few weeks. So its no surprise that he’s oblivious about why Sony has been under attack for the past few weeks. It would be a surprise, however, if Sony were equally confused. If they haven’t gotten the message by now, they probably never will: their view of the marketplace is dying. The Internet is killing it.
When Sony launched the PlayStation 3, they pre-empted the homebrew scene, who’s efforts to unlock the Dreamcast and the original XBox drastically increased the functionality of those devices, but put their go-to-market strategy under strain. Sony decided to include a feature called OtherOS which allowed tinkerers a “sandbox” in which they could install Linux (or another OS) and experiment with the powerful hardware in the game machine. It was a good move.
So a few years after the fact, when they released a software update that added no new features, but did permanently disable the OtherOS feature, you can understand why it was pretty much universally considered a bad move.
When a brilliant but harmless at-home tinkerer, the young GeoHot, exploited a gaping hole in the Playstation 3’s hardware architecture, re-enabling the ability to launch Linux, Sony didn’t respond by patching the hole, or by re-activating the feature. Instead they sued the young college student for all he was worth, filing legal injunctions to halt his PayPal account, take down his website and require social media websites, like YouTube, to turn over identifying information of anyone who might have viewed GeoHot’s posts of how he unlocked the hardware that he had purchased with his own money.
To be clear, GeoHot owned the hardware, used his own tools and his own observations to learn how the device worked and then enabled it to be more useful. I’m pretty sure inventors have been doing this for centuries. Only now its illegal.
Unfortunately for Sony, that legality is a relic of an era they have failed to outgrow. An era when only big companies owned innovation and ideas, when only bureaucracies had the authority to publish information, and where the group with the most money usually wins. Yes, GeoHot settled and agreed never again to publish information about the PS3, but that doesn’t mean Sony won.
Sure, the giant company squashed the tiny individual. But now tiny individuals all over the Internet have responded in kind, exploiting more gaping holes in Sony’s old-world technology offerings. Long-known backdoors not sealed, unencrypted username and password lists, credit card information stored in plain text on exposed servers… Sony is a stupid, plodding behemoth, swatting at a million flies who combined are smarter, more innovative and more effective than ironfisted control over information and ideas.
We see it happening over-and-over again: a shift of power from organizations to individuals. Whether its a thousand hackers turning from curious exploration to retaliation against a company that thinks it owns ideas and the people who buy their wares, or individuals across the nation of Egypt sparking a Jasmine Revolution over the Internet and over-throwing a dictator who’d held onto power for decades. The Internet connects people faster and across greater distances than ever before. A heirarchy is not needed to spark and shape ideas: a swarm can do it better. Loyalty is to ideas and activities that allow us to explore them, not to companies or boards of directors. A company or a government cannot afford to be stagnant — and they certainly cannot afford to move backward — because if we can’t find what we want, we can invent it ourselves: without a budget or a chairperson or an executive committee. The world is a smaller place, and whether you go by the name Sony, or Mubarak, if you can’t change, you can die by a thousand cuts…