Saturday, May 31, 2008

Theremin -- Pictures of the Coils

Here are the cores for my coils and the two coils themselves. I used an old harness from a television set for the copper wire and two cores from my Loving Husband's pile 'o cores. I think I did an OK job on winding the coils. But I think that I will need MUCH bigger inductance than I originally thought.

I've found a little box to put my next project in -- I'll snap a few pictures shortly . Maybe I can put the kit together tomorrow....

I have a life and it's a geek life, thank you very much.

Star Trek, Time, Veterans and Crystallization of Identity

I'm a Star Trek fan from way back. WAY back. So it's not to surprising that I think of Star Trek as one of my "lexicons." Well, there is this episode of ST:DS9 that intrigues me. Sisko takes back an orb (sacred artifact of the Bajorans) into the wormhole and has encounters with the Prophets (wormhole aliens). Now the prophets are pretty interesting; we are anchored in one particular place in TIME, but not space. We can move around. The Prophets are anchored in one particular place in SPACE but not time. So interactions with the prophets are interesting. It's a Heisenberg-ian kind of thing.

In this episode, Sisko communicates with the Prophets, but is always in the same place and time. Every time he encounters the Prophets, it is at the moment of his wife's death. We see that moment over and over again. We experience the violence of the death, his grief and agony, his despair of having to leave her body. He asks the Prophet why they are tormenting him and they respond, "But this is where you exists." It was a moment in time where Sisko WAS in a way that he WASN'T anywhere else. His person and identity are crystallized in that moment; it shapes the rest of his life.

These moments occur in all of our lives. My dad was a veteran; if you are a vet, you can understand some of his moments. I saw an echo of this in the movie "Flags of our Fathers" when Doc Bradley collapses from a stroke/heart attack on the steps of his place of business and he cries out, "Where is he?? Where is he??" From the flow of the movie you KNOW that he is looking for his friend Iggy who had died in the hands of the Japanese 50 years previously. My dad lived, he existed in moments when he helped liberate the concentration camps; I know other vets that live in moments like these. I think of them every Memorial Day and I wonder if they will ever find healing; if they CAN be healed or if that moment needs somehow to be redeemed.

I have my moments in time; there was the moment where I told my Dad goodbye; there was the moment where I was driving to the hospital to claim my mother's body and I saw the lights on First Baptist's Steeple. There was the moment I surrendered to God as I rocked my baby who was sleeping in a light blanket because of jaundice; I surrendered myself and took up my call. I exist in these moments; somehow these moments are eternal.

My mom died May 28 seven year ago. Those final moments with her are still crystal clear. They have shaped my life. I think of them every year, around this time. We all have them. My Dad dreamed of the concentration camps the rest of his life. We also will crystallize other people by these moments; they shape our perceptions of them. I have a perception of a minister of my youth and the day he ordered a homeless person out of the sanctuary. I have an image of another the day he held my grandmother's hand and cried with her the day my grandfather died.

What are your crystallizing moments? How have you been shaped? Are they moments of hurt that still need healing? Are they moments that have helped shape the world's perception of you?

We also have images of Christ that we carry around with us. Some of us have an image of the babe in the manger; some the image of Christ on the Cross. Most of these crystallizing moments are of great pain or great joy. Which will we cling to? Which can we let go? Where will we exist? Can we exist with the great "I Am?" Can we?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday Bullets

  • I've been "off" of blogging for a week. The break was good.
  • The girls are now out of school. We've been busy doing this and that -- we spent 3 hours at the dentist earlier in the week and I'm going to get them both physicals in the next couple of weeks. Their school day was 9:30 to 4:00 this year and the school system doesn't like you to check them out for routine doctor visits, so it's catch-up time now.
  • The house is still a work in process. It will be for a while, I'm sure, but I would like to SEE the progress instead of a mess. The last time that the house was TOTALLY clean (like I like it) with every drawer sorted, every thing picked up, every closet sorted, all the laundry done, the refrigerator cleaned out and behind all furniture and appliances cleaned (all at the same time) was December 2, 1996. Why I remember the day, I don't know.
  • The last time I really sorted my closet out and gave away stuff was December 14, 2003. It's time. I'm going to spend the next few days working on that.
  • I did finish the bathroom (it's been about 5 years for that too.) Every bottle examined and determination made to keep, give away, throw away. I threw away a couple of garbage bags of stuff. Why do I purchase a product, use some of it and then when decide I don't like it -- why don't I just throw it away then? Why do I wait until the "sell by" date rolls around? The bathroom is great now -- nice and peaceful. I even put out fresh candles.
  • My bedroom is approaching "finished" as well. I have a motherload of video tapes in there -- I will never watch them again. I am going to go through the videotapes and sell or donate all of them. I also need to sort out my jewelry stuff. I will put some of it aside for the kids but I don't need all of that stuff.
  • The girls are off to Savannah this morning to do the Girl Scout Big Trip. I'm looking forward to romantic dates with the Loving Husband. They are going to be so very busy. On their itinerary: Dolphin Cruise, First Headquarters of the GS, BirthPlace, Mable Frances Potters Cupcake Emporium, Casbah Restaurant, Ghost Walk, Andrew Lowe House, Tybee Lighthouse, Fort Pulaski and the beach. They are camping at the 4-H center on Tybee.
For Girl Scouts, it doesn't get much better than this. Camping, the beach, belly-dancing, Juliette Gordon Lowe, Dolphins, Cupcakes, Lighthouses. I am SO GLAD I'm not the Adult in charge of that flock of 12-14 year olds. Been there; done that. Got the Tee Shirt. Maybe next time. =o)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mildly Funny. OK, Really Funny.

Playing Around with Statistics

I've been playing with numbers this week and doing some very basic analysis on Church Growth in north Georgia. Here is a population density map with pushpins on all the Megachurchs in north Georgia. I would say that the pattern is self-evident; there is a large concentration of Megachurches within the Atlanta area, following the population density.

You can "see" numbers and then you can SEE numbers. In this map, I can "see" how there is a corridor of growth up I-85 and another up I-75. I've also done maps on the 50 largest UMC churches in NGa, the 50 who have grown the most via membership and the 50 who have grown the most via attendance. The patterns there are also unmistakable.

I need to have the presentation finished by Monday so that it can go to committee, be reviewed and ready to go by Annual Conference mid-June.

Morning Prayer -- I Cannot Do This Alone

O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you:
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me…
Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before you and before me.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I've had a series of headaches this week; a cluster headache. Migraines. It's better now, but it sure has taken a while. I know of so many who have these for a long time; it's been years since I've had one this bad. Blogging has suffered; so has the house. I'm taking a true sabbath day to see if it will go away.

Friday, May 16, 2008

On occasion...

On occasion I will download or purchase a software package that will start to totally suck up my time and interest. I downloaded a newer copy of Google Earth and I have been geeking out -- exploring remote Antarctic Islands, looking at my neighborhood, making "tours." I really did it to make a tour of the fastest growing churches in my conference; it's going to be a nice presentation.

I just can't believe how long I've played around with this -- I've looked at all the Malls around, at the place we are going to spend our vacation, at parts of Alaska; there is one shot where there is practically no land to be found. We really do live on a water world. There is another shot I could have taken where Asia and Africa take up the entire view.

We get so used to seeing it "right side up" that when you can turn the view this way or that, it gives fresh perspective.

I think I'll go explore Togo now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Question of the Day

Note: I'm bumping this up top today -- I really want to know what you think.

What makes a church congregation "healthy"? How does one quantify it?

More: I'm doing an analysis of our conference; I've got bunches of statistics for the last 7 or 8 years. These are the things I can look for. I would appreciate more suggestions.

1) I have the growth rates for each county. I also have a) membership gain b) attendance gain. I am going to either add or subtract the difference (the delta) of the growth rate for the county from these -- this will "normalize" the growth of the church. For instance, if a church's attendance appears to be dropping 10% per year, you might assume that the church is at risk. But if the county is dropping at 10% as well, then they really are at steady-state. If the county is dropping 15%, then this church really is doing quite well.

2) I have the "average age" of people in each county. It really does vary all over the place. If there is a church with just a handful of prep members and /or constitutory members and they are in a "young county," then they might be at risk. If on the other hand they are in a county that is aging, then they probably are OK.

3) I have a figure for "giving." I can divide this by membership and get a count per head. I can look at the figures for average income and figure out how this congregation is doing compared to the income of the county. (What will I use for the "norm"? The average giving? The mean, the median?)

4) Membership to attendance ratio. I know that people just don't do church like they did in the 1950's. In the 50's, people went 36 to48 Sundays per year. Now I think our largest group attends 24 to 36 per year (lots of reasons for this.) Can I legitimately normalize for this?

Morning Prayer -- African Hymn

The cross is the hope of Christians,
the cross is the resurrection of the dead,
the cross is the way of the lost,
the cross is the savior of the lost,

the cross is the staff of the lame,
the cross is the guide of the blind,
the cross is the strength of the weak,
the cross is the doctor of the sick,

the cross is the aim of the priests,
the cross is the hope of the hopeless,
the cross is the freedom of the slaves,
the cross is the power of the kings,

the cross is the water of the seeds,
the cross is the consolation of the bondmen,
the cross is the source of those who seek water,
the cross is the cloth of the naked.

We thank you, Father, for the cross.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

An Offer You Can't Refuse; maybe.

Found on an email list.
Offer: One Russian Blue Cat. His name is Puppy. He likes to eat and sleep. Overweight. He is very cuddly as long as you do it right and as you let him approach you, hates being teased. He is older, maybe 10 years, declawed and fixed. Has to stay inside. Only likes women. Must be the only pet. Spoiled rotten and has grumpy old man personality.

How can I resist?

Tuesday Randomness

  • Entropy's Awards Ceremony was last night. Chaos and Entropy go to a HUGE middle school. Entropy received two awards; one for perfect conduct and one for High Honors. Yeah! But it was 3 hours of my life I will never ever get back. Thank goodness we had the 2 DS's and could play "Brain Age."
  • And Thursday? We get to do it AGAIN for Chaos' Awards Ceremony. Goody.
  • Last full week of school -- all the end of the year stuff to do. Not enough time.
  • Karate is going well; because of Awards Ceremonies, we will miss a couple of classes. I've not lost weight, but I am stronger. And I've lost inches. I suppose I will eat carrots... instead of snacks. And oatmeal for b'fast every day.
  • Walking everyday sounds good. That would be a good way to incorporate more exercise.
  • We are arranging vacations. Kids this age make life complicated.
  • But because they BOTH are going to be gone on Memorial Day, the LH and I get to do some Adult Time Without Kids.
  • We've beach time coming up too. That sounds wonderful.
  • Still working on an Estate Sale. That's trucking along.
  • And the Book Sorting is continuing. I'm on Fiction L-M today.
  • I've missed "creative time." I made a video for Annual Conference yesterday -- almost finished. It's cute and silly. Last couple of AC's, all the videos were very "significant." This will be a nice silly note to lighten mood. After all, the subject will be statistics which is "significant" enough.
  • I've lots of "missing links." I'd post pictures except that the battery of the camera needs to be recharged and I'm missing the charger. I'd take pictures of various things except I'm missing my good wide angle lens. I'd sew some, except I'm missing the little screwdriver thingy to change out the broken needle. I'd vacuum, except I don't know where the vacuum cleaner bags are. Lots of "missing links."
  • Time to package Amazon books, get ready to leave to pick up kids and go to Post Office. Then it's fold laundry, empty dishwasher, bring down dirties to wash, pick up living room, make dinner and karate. A Day In the Life...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

True Sportmanship

"It's a wonderful thing when someone has the character to do the right thing at the right time."

A game where there were only winners; no losers.

Hattip to: Lake Neuron

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Morning Prayer -- from the Celtic Tradition

God's will would I do,
My own will bridle;

God's due would I give,
My own due yield;

God's path would I travel,
My own path refuse;

Christ's death would I ponder,
My own death remember;

Christ's agony would I meditate,
My love to God make warmer;

Christ's cross would I carry,
My own cross forget;

Repentance of sin would I make,
Early repentance choose;

A bridle to my tongue I would put,
A bridle on my thoughts I would keep

God's judgement would I judge,
My own judgement guard;

Christ's redemption would I seize,
My own ransom work;

The love of Christ would I feel,
My own love know.

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

John 7:37 -39

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Morning Prayer -- from the Celtic Tradition

Lord, hear my voice when I call to you. My heart has prompted me to
seek your face; I seek it Lord; do not hide from me, alleluia

The maker of all things,
The Lord God worship we;
Heaven white with angels’ wings,
Earth and the white-waved sea.
May the Trinity protect me wherever I stay, Father, Son and Holy

May Jesus and the Father,
may the Holy Spirit sanctify us!
May the mysterious God not hidden in darkness,
may the bright King save us!

The praise of Christ is illustrious speech,
The worship of God’s Son is an art full of virtue.
May everyone who has sung it or heard it
Belong to God’s kingdom without rejection.
Christ, Christ, hear me!
Christ, Christ of your meekness!
Christ, Christ love me!
Sever me not from your sweetness!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Monday Bullets

  • Today is a catch up sort of day.
  • I've made phone calls all morning; arranged for the girls to go to horsey camp; cleaned house; done laundry; sorted stuff and that ilk.
  • I'm working currently on "my" 8th grade Social Studies project. Chaos has two projects due tomorrow; she's currently on a all day field trip with her science class (7:00 am to 6:00 pm), Girl Scouts at 6:30. The kid will be home at 8:00 pm. So I'm helping -- I've spray painted all day (every 20 minutes or so) her cardboard cutout of a 1948 Cadillac Convertible for her skit in Social Studies tomorrow. I will detail it this afternoon with some markers. I sure hope I get an "A" on my project.
  • I've put cardboard to recycle in the back of the car as well as 4 big bags of outgrown kid clothing. I'm continuing the purging process.
  • I've D and E in the correct spot in the Book Alphabetizing project. F to G is sorted and ready to be moved onto the correct shelf; H is on the correct shelf, as is I. J is floating around in a box, as is K- M. I'm making progress....
  • I purchased with my trade-in points three books this morning. I took in 60 books and took home 3. Definitely the right direction.
  • I wanted to build this weekend on my Theremin project; never had time. I did find the other lens I needed; I think the lens on the camera now is toast. Somehow the Nikon got dropped on the lens and my cheapo wide-angle lens is busted. I'll take pictures as soon as I get the new lens on the camera.
  • Entropy cut her hair off and is now donating it to Locks of Love (second time for her.) She also had her eyebrows waxed for the first time. The kid looks like a different person. Who is this child? What did you do with my daughter??
  • I'm geeking about karate. I'm watching karate videos on YouTube...
  • I've built a "Theremin" in Second Life; no scripting yet. Still wondering about how to do that. I've got to learn how to created animations first. More to do.
  • I couldn't get online for my Monday morning Bible Study in Second Life. Dern this Linksys Router!
  • I'm currently playing with statistics in between coats of spray paint. Time for another coat!

OK, I can't stop snickering.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Virtual Parties can Make Real Mess

I'll clean it up later. Or I could just add some virtual rats and roaches that I found on teh interwebs as a freebie.

I'm too tired to make a real posting about GC2008 right now -- I stayed until the very end. Gavin and I were the only-est ones to stick to it that long. I eventually downloaded some Tai Chi moves so that my avatar didn't get too fat. =o)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Spiffy new shirts

Last Night

I lost track of how many people wandered by last night. I know at one point we ran out of seats -- I had out 11 chairs. Unlike Sunday, the 20 to 30 people who wandered by came a few at a time.

There was a large enough core of people that we have formed bonds -- throwing around "inside jokes" that were only two or three hours in the making. It's really amazing how something like watching this feed together (for hours and hours) can forge friendships and bonds.

And it's amazing how silly you can be after watching this for hours and hours and hours. And we did indeed get really silly. Hence the Bowties -- we noticed how many people were wearing Bowties. It was really a large ratio of speakers. It eventually got to the point that someone would get up and speak and we would say, "Hey! S/He needs a Bowtie!" Silly stuff.

After the feed was turned off -- we stayed and prayed. It was a Beautiful time.

I'll be on again this afternoon, but I do have to take care of some things in Real Life.

Later, y'all.

Thinking ...

It has been indeed the issue of Homosexuality that has been the hot topic this year at GC2008. And again, we are staying with the language currently in the Book of Discipline. Those on either side -- I feel for them. I feel the hurt of a mother whose child cannot be theirself and still find a way to fulfill their call. I feel the pain of men and women where the door has been shut in their face; the pain of couples who want to be bound together in covenant.

Yet I also feel the pain of those who feel that we are losing our grounding; that we are not seeking to will of God in this; that we are denying a certain witness of scripture. They hurt as well.

To see the open wounds and the open conflict is heartbreaking. How can all this brokenness come together in unity? How can we be indeed the Body of Christ in all this?

I know that real reconciliation will not come on a legislative floor; there must be some better way. I was caught by a sentence in the May 6th Christian Century -- "Leadership often gets too far ahead of the congregation... The vision caster must wait for the team, the team must wait for the congregation, and everyone must wait on the Lord."

In the General Conference's decisions to not change our wording in the Book of Discipline, I am not hear rejection of either side. What I am hearing is, "Wait." Adam Hamilton's posting today likened a radical change in either direction to throwing a car into reverse as it's speeding along at 70 miles and hour. It would destroy this church. Let us wait a while until all of our conferences and delegates and congregation can catch up. Let us not get too far ahead.

Let us wait and pray for discernment; Let us be still and wait upon the Lord.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Final Hour Watching

Dear All,

Watching General Conference 2008 in community within the medium of Second LIfe has been such a blessing. We have had jokes and laughter as well as excellent and thoughtful reflections on the actions of General Conference.

Tonight is the final working evening for GC2008; the closing worship service will start tomorrow, May 2 at 3:15 Central time. Please join us in community tonight at 10:00 pm Eastern Time (9:00 Central, 7:00 Second Life time) to watch the final working hours of GC2008.

Tomorrow, we will gather together at 3:30 Eastern Time tomorrow for a short prayer session before the final Worship Service of GC2008 starts at 4:15 Eastern, 3:15 Central or 1:15 Second Life time.

To enter Second Life, you will need to register at and download the client. The orientation for Second Life will take anywhere between 15 minutes to 30 minutes -- when you are finished, IM myself (ReverendMommy Rabeni) or Gavin Richardson (Gavin Tellig) for a Teleport invitation to the build. If you want to find it for yourself, the build is on Xenia Island and is just North of Koinonia Church.

Thanks and I hope to see you there!

Thursday Bullets

  • Here's a picture of a few of us watching GC2008 outside the Methodist Meetinghouse in Second Life. Yes, I know that the video feed is upside down and backwards. It seems that a quarter of the viewers don't see the video at all or hear any audio, a quarter hear the audio, but see no video, a quarter of us see the live feed upside down and backwards and a quarter of the viewers see it just fine and wonder what's wrong with the rest of us. I think there is something deeply theological about that. The recorded videos play back just fine -- it's the live streaming video that gets messed up. I almost didn't want to stream until the feed was perfect, but that's sort of like not having anyone over until the house is perfect -- I don't think that it will ever happen.
  • This is myself, Carol from Smallest Angel, Gavin and John Meunier from Come to the Waters. I'd link, but I'm lazy today. I added the bubble chairs yesterday when I realized that some of the problem with streaming was probably due to the fact that the parcel was "full." The folding chairs took up too many resources.
  • Last night was a biggie -- they voted to keep the Discipline the same per homosexuals not being ordained clergy. They also discussed other changes -- and most of the time have voted to keep the Discipline as is. The issues are so very complex at times: the leg bone is connected to the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone -- literally a connectional system. If legislation A is enacted, the people B are going to feel displaced. If people B are displaced then people C will not support legislation D. I'm not going to get into what exactly A-D are but just say that it has been interesting to be a fly on the wall. For a beautiful and heartfelt summary of the issue, go to the Rankin File. Here's an excerpt:
    I know that this is how politics works and I guess, most of the time, I'm quite OK with it working this way. But when I see the emotion permeating this particular vote; when I watch people weep after the vote because, once again, they feel that the church has spurned them or someone they love, I think to myself, "There has to be a better way to deal with this issue."
  • On other fronts, I'm shopping for gaming headsets for use in SL. The problems I have with what I can find: too heavy, mic boom too short, uncomfortable. I'll still just shop for a while.
  • And I have to shop for a dance dress for Chaos. My little girlies are growing up.
  • I got my Rotten Banana Belt (yellow with black stripe) last week. Loving Husband was correct and I was wrong (there, I said it, ok?)
  • The gas thing is freaking me out. I figured it is costing me $.33 a mile. I used $10 of gas yesterday. I'm planning on combining trips as often as possible. I'm reading on the interwebs how to save on gas mileage. And it's gallons, not galleons as Jim so aptly pointed out. I'm going to save galleons on my gallons, though.
  • I'm reading a couple of books to help me write a proposal for the SL church thingy. "The World is Flat" from a couple of years ago and "Exodus to the Virtual World." Interesting reading.
  • I'm still sorting books.
  • I'm still thinking about Theremin -- I may take pictures this afternoon.
  • But first today, I think I will sit outside in the sunshine and listen to the birdsong.
  • More Later.