Thursday, December 28, 2006

Jesus Christ: In Historical Perspective.

As A Christian, I am often amazed and saddened at how Jesus Christ is depicted for the non-Christian audience. I'm linking you all to one of the best presentations I've read anywhere. For those of you who are into pod casts, this is the transcript from The Biography Pod Cast. You'll find all the information at the link below. This is a positive portrayal which didn't lapse into lunacy. Thank you Phillip Zannini!

A Biography of Jesus Christ

Setting Limits: The Stress-Free Christmas

I gave myself the best Christmas present of all this year. NO Stress! Usually, since this is such a "special" time of year, all rules and limits totally vanish in an orgy of hysterical co-dependency. Now I had a rough start for this season, but once I landed back on my emotional feet with God's help and prayers from friends, I was fine. But the actual Day, Christmas Eve, fell on a Sunday.

I set a limit with my Pastor, that the bulletin information had to be called into me by nine PM on Saturday. I wanted to avoid cranking out the bulletin at midnight. But, because of the holiday, I told Pastor to call me when he could. About ten PM I heard from a totally wiped-out Man Of God.

After stumbling through the bulletin, he told me NOT to stay up all night to get it done! I was overjoyed. I needed to sleep and he was giving me permission to take proper care of myself. Now do you all understand why I love this man and my church? I went to bed and set the alarm for an earlier-then-usual time.

I remembered a very sweet conversation with an old friend who has come back into my life. She and I are both telephone addicts. We can talk for hours. This is fun, but with my crazy work schedule, I had to make sure I only get late night calls from her on a Friday. Obviously, if its an emergency prayer request, that is different. But for general yack-yack, Friday night is my only good night to play.

She had praised me for this! Still being ever so prone to the guilt of co-dependency, I worried that she'd think I was being snobbish, or something. She respected my request and watching me set a limit, reminded her that its all right to set limits. A lovely conversation, all around.

At six AM my alarm went off and I attempted to jump-start my mind with coffee. Oh man, I needed like three more hours to put all the fancy stuff into the bulletin! It was now almost eight AM and in order to pick up the sheet cake for the church dinner, I'd be leaving in an hour. I made a decision to put out a one sheet bulletin with some of the words in color. I realized, I was getting all uptight over this bulletin thing. The world would not stop turning if I didn't manage to get the fancy-schmancy bulletin out. I made up my mind I was going to be late for Sunday School. I needed time to eat and dress without getting all wound up. I couldn't believe I was ignoring all that early training about being hysterical for the holidays.

Pastor then called and offered me a ride to pick up the cake, as he had to get food also. I accepted, but let him know I was going to be late for Sunday School. He told me it was fine and to relax and take my time!

After getting off the phone, I lapsed into a few thank-you prayers to God. I could actually eat a quiet meal, meaning I wouldn't have the heartburn monster to fight with for the rest of the day! I got enough sleep to actually enjoy our longer-then-usual church day and I didn't even feel guilty!

I'm learning to not only take control of my world, but to keep control of my world. Now, this is stunning mental health. A stress-free holiday. I hope everyone is able to stop hurting themselves in the name of making others happy.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Humor: A True Perpetual Motion Machine

This idea was posted to Art Bell's website about eight years ago by one of his listeners. I don't know if you can find it on the current website. I tried and couldn't locate it. Whoever wrote this deserves our undying gratitude.

A True Perpetual Motion Machine

Universal Law #1: A falling cat will always land on its feet.

Universal Law #2: Falling buttered toast always lands butter-side-down.

(Note: this is a "proof of concept" proposal. No cats have been ill-treated in any way).

The Device:

Take a piece of buttered toast and attach it to your cat's back, butter-side up.

From an elevation of at least three feet, drop your cat.


Your buttered-toast-cat combination will gently rotate indefinitely about a foot off the floor because of the two scientific laws cited above.

Monday, December 25, 2006

HURRAY! Australia Stands Up For Her OWN Culture!

We have gotten oh, so politically correct and "sensitive". Lord, if my Christianity and its symbols offend you, why I'll just "pretend" not to be a Christian for your COMFORT! We have Pseudo-terms for people who have "challenges". We dare not state a fact that I can't see the side of a building more then ten feet from me! So, I become differently-abled, Visually-challenged, or my current favorite: "differently-abled".


I don't see very well and the actual name is "legal blindness". This gives me the legal right to carry a white cane, or use a dog-guide. Yes, it used to be a guide dog, but the owners sued to make sure people knew the blind human was actually in charge!

Hat's off to the Australians! The Muslims in their midst wanted to practice their own religious laws - instead of Australia's laws. They have been told: our way, or the highway. Hurray!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Installing RAM: From Arrogance To Humility In One Hour!

I manage a website for my church which grows by about five pages a week. We've been up since last may and the site is now over one-hundred-forty pages. Because I am not a REAL geek, I use iWeb and cheat on website development. IWeb is a lovely program by Apple which is NOT designed for a business application. But, being users don't read things like Application Documentation, I use iWeb to build and update this website.

Since iWeb was never designed to be Dream Weaver Lite, there are a lot of things one CANNOT do in iWeb. Mainly, you can't break up your site. You re-create all code generated for the entire site every time you "publish to a folder". So, I had a problem.

Just to "open" iWeb takes about five minutes. To "Save" the raw file in iWeb took a half-hour, or more. To "publish" also took a half-hour or more AND to actually upload it to the Server was another half-hour or more.

I began to loathe updating this site because when iWeb is running, I can't run other things, unless I want to take even more time to process the site. I was driven to seek out a way to make my eMac work faster. I did some nosing around and discovered something called RAM: Random Access Memory. This is the temporary memory area for your computer. I had a tinsy 256 MB! When friends were informed of this, I got lots of encouragement and sympathy! So, I called my Apple Representative. She recommended an add-on to my machine of a 1 GB RAM chip. She assured me, that even with my crumby vision, I could install it myself.

She emailed me the customer documentation from Apple and I sent in $135. After several panicked readings of the customer documentation, I called my Apple Rep., introducing her to levels of patience, she hadn't had to explore before. I couldn't keep my voice from going up in pitch with the whine of a cat in pain. It was dreadful. I was petrified!

"Why do you ground yourself before unplugging the cord from the computer?"

"Cybe, listen to me. That is geek speak. Just disconnect the cables, unplug the electrical cord, both ends, ground yourself and you are good to go" My Apple Rep. was starting to sound frustrated.

"But... in the documentation..."

"Cybe. That was written by Engineers. They don't know what they're doing. Just do what I said. You can wear rubber shoes if you are really nervous, but you'll do fine." Her voice was showing the strain of emotional control. I decided to stop hassling her.

I was going to involve a neighbor to move the computer, but I really didn't want a stranger telling me I didn't know what I was doing. So, I began my Odyssey alone at 9:45 PM.

I had to pad my desk with a soft towel, put my computer on its monitor, with the "user access door" facing me. So far so good! Thank God, I have enough sense to do this all myself. Why pay some idiot a $100 for something I can do. This will be done in twenty-minutes, just like the documentation says (Starting time 9:45 PM, Ego, inflated and cocky).

Got the door off, and found the latches for the empty "slot" for my new chip. But, where was the chip that was already in here? I wasn't supposed to touch anything, so I'm using various magnifying glasses to attempt to divine what was happening. Oh, well, as long as I know where the new chip is supposed to go, who cares about the other one? (9:50 Ego, slight deflation, less cocky).

I carefully open up the chip, ground myself several times and attempt to "slide" it into its "slot". I figured it would slide in like a drawer, disappearing into the computer. Yeah, that's why I can't find the other chip. Well, that can't be right, because I feel its latches...

So, I begin to try and figure out where the "top" of the new chip is. I'm not supposed to touch it. I figure if I touch it, I'll ruin it. I'm now feeling a bit scared. This ain't going so easy as I thought it would. So, I placed, pushed (ever so gently), flipped the chip and placed and pushed... Now, there are only four positions possible for this chip. After NONE of them worked, I made a decision. I am almost blind, I can't tell what is supposed to happen. Its time to grope this puppy, so I can learn what's going on. If I screw my equipment, I screw my equipment, ($1,135.00 down the shoot.) Well, if the memory refuses to work, Apple Care just might cover it. Until they ask questions as to how I managed to mess up my RAM!

"Well, I thought any idiot could do this... but I'm not just any idiot. I got in there and groped every little thing trying to figure this out, so I could put my computer right-side-up and go to bed!" Apple Care would read this as user incompetence and refuse to fix it for free. (10:20 Ego descending fast, a sense of futility rising to the challenge).

Well, everyone should grope the guts of their computer. I found the first, already installed chip. It was at the very top of the opening, and it was ninety percent hanging out of the machine! The hinges were holding it at its midpoint! Well, I'm amazed! (10:30 Slight hope replacing futility, but body is covered in sweat).

Now, to shove it in the "slot". Wait, there are two slots. A large gap and a little slit-slot. By now I'm beginning to feel genuine mental fatigue and a sense that I'm in so far over my head as to be standing in the need of prayer. (10:35 Labored breathing and sweating)

I figured out that the larger gap was not a slot, but a space between the two slots. I again tried to line it up, in the hing guides and make it "snap" into place. It didn't "snap" into place in any of the four possible positions. (10:45 Abject despair and life-confession prayer)

"God, you know, sitting here, thinking about my life. I admit that I took on something I shouldn't have. I realize that I've been a jerk, like this my entire life" In total fatigue, with my hands still on the chip, I leaned on it, to rest my weary body and..."SNAP"!

"Holy God! It went in. Oh thank you God. Now, to put it all back together. Geez, I feel like sobbing in relief!"

Put it all back together and it WORKED. All 1.25 GB of RAM registered and had an OK status!
I now notice I'm shaking all over. No longer paying attention to the time. Oops, I have lost my external disc with all my backup and "extra non-backed-up stuff". Oh man, not all my photos!

Yes, I got it all working. The power cord for the external disc drive had worked loose. Funny, no power, no disc drive! So, now, it is all up and running. Booted REALLY fast! I must write my friend. But I don't feel like boasting. I feel like I've survived a trauma and am not sure I even want to talk about it at all. Hmmm, that's a curious reaction.

Friends and my Apple Rep., were elated at my accomplishment and I got good strokes all around. I also had a friend plead for me to document this struggle, so he could have a good laugh. (He's a real geek and my first waltz with electronics brought back memories for him).

He even said he'd READ my blog - at least this post. So, Merry Christmas, Adorable! You know my email address and I've earned that gift certificate from I told you I want.

A Web Security RANT!

I have a friend who refuses to follow directions. I have been stalked and have learned the hard way about security in all its forms. Security issues prevent me from allowing email on this blog. You can comment, until the cows come home, but I have to contact YOU. I realize that ninety-nine percent of my readers are great people, but it only takes one trouble maker to ruin it for everyone.

So, when a friend started sending me those obnoxious chain-letter-email things, I politely told her to stop sending them. I will never send on something that smacks of magic, or "luck". It goes in the trash, period. I was polite, as this person didn't know my feelings and didn't deserve my pent-up rage over all things unethical. Being the dedicated and untreated co-dependent she is, she informed me that she didn't like those things either (? - then why are you sending them out to the tune of several per day?!) She seemed a bit hurt, but for awhile, I didn't hear from her over the Internet very much.

Somehow, I've gotten back into her Internet good graces and again started receiving forwarded information. Stuff from newspapers, her mother and newsletters. As I always check out security on email, my address was not passed on. But TODAY I got something called a "Hug Certificate". (Rage Alert!)

To: CyberGal (and fifteen others with complete names email addresses!)
Subject: Fw: Hug Certificate

A Hug Certificate for You!

This poem is very sweet. It will be interesting to see who sends it back.
Forward this on and back. Thanks!

If I could catch a rainbow
I would do it just for you
and share with you its beauty
On the days you're feeling blue.

If I could build a mountain
You could call your very own;
A place to find serenity,
A place to be alone.

If I could take your troubles
I would toss them in the sea,
But all these things I'm finding
are impossible for me.

I cannot build a mountain
Or catch a rainbow fair,
But let me be what I know best,
A friend who's always there.

Love, Anonymous
Eight .gif attachments were included!

CyberGal's response:

I do enjoy your friendship -
a quiet joy for me,
but I am scared about Web security.

I scanned the flock of receivers,
quite a curious list
If these names got mis-used, someone would get pissed.

I do not forward things ahead
with personal ID's
I learned a painful lesson - from someone stalking me.

You may trust these people
but I'm distressed to say:
Please don't forward me along in any email chain.

Happy holidays, my dear. A hug for you to!

Please don't include me in a list of forwarded email. It is not that
hard to delete "sender" info. from a forwarded email. If you want to
send one email to three people, put the first address on the "To:" line.
Put the other receivers on the "BCC" line. This stands for "Blind
Carbon Copy". Please do not send my info. out where anyone can
harvest my name and email address. Thanks allot.

Love Cybe
Now, let me explain the problem with an email with open names and addresses. Of course you trust your friends and business associates and family members! Like me, anyone who is obviously causing your computer to be attacked by Spam, or worse, is quickly gone from your address book and most likely your life. But, there is a very bad problem out there on the Internet with PCs especially.

A nasty person can "trick" your computer into doing things without your knowledge or permission. The first thing these hacking, spying and Trojan Horse programs do, is to go into your address book and use all that information! So, I get an email from "Phillip". I know him, and normally wouldn't hesitate to open something from him. These days I check the subject line to see if it "feels" right. If Phillip is suddenly trying to "pitch" me, I KNOW there is something wrong. Once I scan the subject line, I look to see if there are attachments. This in itself isn't necessarily a problem, but it can be.

I open the email and read the content. If the content checks out, I view the associated attachment, to make sure it is what it purports to be and all is fine. One of the newer developments in the world of malware is burying secret code in pictures. They look like cartoons, or photos, but they have "hidden" programming code for turning your machine into a spam factory, or worse.

My friend's email had sixteen recipients. When I requested "more information" from Firefox, my full same and complete email address popped up along with fifteen other names! Oh My God! I then read the (to me) smarmy poetry. I was already angry with the line: Let's see who reads their email... I hate having to re-tell someone something more then twice. I know I've politely written and spoken to this gal about these darn chain-letter emails. Now, I was going to give her a smarmy poem back, along with explicit directions on how to send duplicate emails without screwing around with people's personal information.

I haven't heard back. Her computer may be having a problem. The last time she had a problem, she was totally virus-ridden and it took almost a week for the technical firm to "clean" her system.

Please, folks. We have to be more careful now. This goofy email had eight .gif attachments. All o them containing some kind of script command. We have to be careful with our name and address information. Malware is getting more and more sophisticated, even a protected machine may get "tricked". Don't use the "To: field for a bulk mailing of your address book buddies! Address it to one person and put everyone else in the BCC field. PLEASE.

Yes, I have made this error. I bulkemailed everyone in my address book with a change of email address. I quickly heard from a small business man making the speech of this blog. The days of innocence have to come to an end. Not all is roses out on the Information Highway.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Taking A Stand: Building Character

I sometimes watch parts of my life, like a movie in my mind. Now, with this admittedly narcissistic perspective, I want my movie to be a good one, full of pathos, action and of course - I just come out looking really good. (Admit it, you've thought like this, but have enough sense not to make it official).

At church, we had just wrapped up a cool mini revival. Like a pep-talk, or rah-rah session for the religious. I realized I wanted to add to my Christian commitments. I wanted to make sure I attended scheduled meetings reliably. Not just when there wasn't something more interesting to attend. I fear making commitments. If you voice them, people have the outrageous idea that you are serious and then, when you don't follow through, ask nagging questions of "why?". Oooh, I hate it when that happens.

I am too much like the Apostle Peter. Shoot my mouth off first and worry about the consequences later. I checked myself. I was serious about this new-found desire to consistently attend meetings. In my mind I was the struggling hero scrambling up that hill of commitment to plant the flag. I'm sweating and panting BUT determined. Music, up, as I gallantly plant that flag of victory! I made a commitment! Fade to black.

Unfortunately, I also don't plan ahead for the challenges, or conflicts in life. Not a week later a friend calls me up for a lunch date. I stumble into a problem by asking her when she wants me to meet her. Now, it is Friday morning, Prayer is at noon... She specifies 11:30 AM. What do I do? Yeah, agree to it and ditch prayer! Oh, oops, I ponder if a hamburger might have some spiritual importance. No, God didn't go for that one either.

I have to make a plan to avoid this problem. After some serious thought, I realize I can stake out meeting times and schedule around them. I will keep control of my schedule. Once again, I climb that hill, victory is mine!

Sure enough, the next social invitation rolled around on a day of a prayer meeting. This time I was ready. I carefully explained I was busy from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. My friend elected to meet me after prayer. Yes! This works. Confident I'd never let myself down, ever again, I turned my attention to other matters.

I had gotten an invite to co-host a pod cast because of one of my email rant-o-thons. I carefully prepared notes and other information the host would need and began to play the ever popular: "When can we schedule this?" game. The first week I was about as easy to track down as a Mexican Jumping Bean. Week two, I was around, but on this particular Wednesday night, I had a prayer meeting in 45 minutes.

My friend was totally busy and I figured it was time to disconnect my headphones, put my music on the external speakers and prep for church. My friend is in business for himself. When he finds some time to do something, he wants you NOW! This man did not get where he is by being indecisive. Any of you abuse refugees have trouble with assertive people? My newly created spine was about to be reduced back to a pile of quivering jell-o.

"Hey - poke - tap - are you there?" came a string of one-line instant messages. He wanted me to switch to Skype, so we could work together over the phone to record his show. I get totally freaked out when I have more then one thing to do at a time. I've learned to try and disguise my internal sense of panic. After some fiddling around, I finally got the headphones and mike set up. Now, I had less then thirty minutes before prayer. No problem. I'll just use that fact to move our session...

"This is the only time I'll have available for this for the next three weeks." Note, he's just stating his fact. Did I heroically forsake the fame and fortune of pod casting for God, like the hero in Chariots of Fire? (He gave up an Olympic competition, in order to go to church). Oh heck NO! I folded like a house of cards! You know the old people-pleasing: "Well, since you put it that way, I'll ditch prayer".

As soon as I typed that response, I felt a curious sense of internal discomfort. Oh nuts, I've violated a REAL personal value. Oh well, too late now. "God, I'm gonna put you on hold, until I finish this pod cast and then we can work it out. CyberGal Out". Hmmm, I must be getting healthier, this doesn't feel good and I definitely won't do it again...

Damn, maybe I really am building character, wow!.

My friend was being challenged by several unexplained technical problems making it impossible to do a quality recording for his program. At this point I started to pray that God would help him solve the difficulty. It didn't resolve, and I had the crazy notion that I'd better finish getting dressed, in case I could still, actually make it to church! I ached to pray that the problems WOULDN'T get fixed, but I stopped myself. But as the minutes ticked by and my friend was still having problems I rejoiced when he threw in the towel with: "Go, on to church, this computer is having a problem."

Inside I cheered. I'd already explained to my ride that I may not be able to come. Now, when she called to let me know she was downstairs, I like Cinderella waltzed triumphantly, into my carriage and off to church!

Prayer had the largest attendance I'd ever seen over my year at this church. A lady got saved and a wonderful time was had by all. My friend, being the class act he is, rejoiced with me. So, "...when the moon is in the second house, and Jupiter Aligns with Mars..." We'll both be available, at the same hour to record his pod cast.

I hope the next time I'm confronted with an objection to my planned prayer commitment, that I'll stick to my guns and not do a fabulous imitation of a waffle!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Meet My New Peace Lilly!

Well, hot damn, I'm now blessed with a Peace Lilly! I don't remember its technical name. Leaves are shiny and the older onse get wrinkled (like the one on the top right). I did a favor for a neighbor and she graced me with this beautiful plant, which I am nervous about caring for.

I searched the net and discovered that this plant is from the tropics and can handle temperatures from 60 degrees F. to 90 degrees F. That is pretty much the range in this area. Supposedly this plant needs to go into "dormant" states from time to time lasting for from six to eight weeks.

Being moved, re-potted, or blooming causes the plant to need to take this rest. What is making me crazy, is when the plant goes "dormant" I'm advised to not water it at all until it totally dries out. Normally it needs water once a week. If it isn't in the mood for a plant nap, wouldn't withholding water be like torturing the poor thing? The literature says, this treatment duplicates the weather of the tropics.

So, if any of you recognize whether this plant looks like it wants to go dormant, please, leave me a comment. It is totally beautiful and I really fear hurting it, or worse.

I live in a very small space. I recently got a bigger refrigerator from my landlord and have added fruit and vegies to my diet! The three foot square area where my little plant now lives is my only counter space. This plant was all scrunched up when I first got it. Its leaves were all pointing almost straight up. Now, it has spread out and is adding leaves almost weekly. I really have to love something to let it have that precious kitchen real estate! I just know its going to take over the whole table!

Dear Maria gently inquired where my latest blog was. Well, I've been busy. We had a six day revival at church with one of the most authentic Christian speakers I've had the pleasure to listen to. She even excited our normally non plussed teenagers! I'm trying to get the church website caught up and sometimes I just want to listen to my music and think about how cool God is.

I have a three-year-old computer and it only has 256 Mb. of RAM. (For those of you who don't get this, skip the rest of this paragraph). Updating the website, just to save, publish and upload was taking over an hour and a half. That's not counting the data entry time! I finally called my Apple rep and for $120 I'm going to be upgrading to 1.25 GB of RAM. This means that things will speed up markedly. Only harrd part, is that I have to brave putting the memory chip in myself! (To pay a tech to do it would cost in excess of another $100. Somehow, I'm warming to the idea of futzing with my Mac. Those of you that are religious - please pray I don't mess up my machine, or the $120 memory chip - thank you!

I've gotten my money plans in order and essentially will do nothing more then pay bills and save money for the next twelve months. But, thanks to some wonderful friends who have graced my life with audio, ebooks and print books, I won't miss my normal shopping haunts (much).

One last bit of humor. I am getting really tired of some of the problems with program updates and hardware, which have been floating around Apple-Land. See, when I pay schlock prices, I don't complain when the product is garbage. But when I throw down $2,000+ for a computer, by GOD, the case better not split, crack or discolor! So, in my normal style I ranted in an email to my friend who does the macnation podcast.

He said I seemed indignant. Oh, such diplomacy. I was shooting my mouth off and ranting! So, I've been invited to be on the show to cover the topic. See, that is two times when ranting in an email has secured me an opportunity! Oh, how sweet it is. And all those years of trying to act reasonable and mature to get a job! Now mind you, there is no money involved for these opportunities, but hope springs eternal. When the show gets posted to iTunes, I'll, of course, provide a link.