Sunday, September 15, 2013

What made the past week so great

Sorry, this isn't about Assad supposedly agreeing to turn over his stockpile of chemical weapons or about progress containing California fires—great though those things are. And I am grateful that violence and devastation are averted or reduced or at least not increased.

No, what I want to tell you about is just stuff about my life. Starting with about a week ago, when I had a wonderful time interacting with our fellowship group about Jesus in Matthew 8–9. What hit me then, and I am still processing today, is the question: "What is my life about?" Because it's so different from the life of Jesus.

Looking at Jesus in those two particular chapters (which happened to be my teaching assignment) made me see that his life was all about bringing grace and truth into the world.

Grace and truth—an important combination. Earlier in the week, when talking with the lovely Carol about this, I said that Jesus was all about bringing salvation—salvation in the broad sense: freedom from debilitating illness, illusions, alienation &c.—but perhaps “grace and truth” is a better phrase.

My life on the other hand is a lot about staying out of trouble. Yes, I want to do good, and sometimes I actually do. (And now that I think of it, I actually have a lot of joy at times.) But am I all about bringing grace and truth into the world? Healing and mercy? Not so much.

So yes, last Sunday's class was a lot of fun for me. I even wrote a paper (I spent about 5 minutes of class time introducing it) on an engineering/inductive approach to faith and miracles. I'll send you softcopy if you're interested; let me know.

More joy came in the form of writing code. Some of that is for work (I could show it to you, but then my boss would have to kill me) but more of it had to do with a couple of little projects. One was related to "kenken" puzzles. I wrote a solver on last month's vacation, but the input was kinda unfriendly. I mean it looked like this:

    11+ 1A 2A
    2/ 1b 1c
    3- 2b 2c
    20* 1d 2d
    6* 1e 1f 2f 3f
    3/ 2e 3e
    6x 3c 3d
    240* 3a 3b 4a 4b
    …remainder elided
What I did this week was change the front-end to accept input that looks more like this:
11+    2/    <    20*   6*   <
^      3-    <    ^     3/   ^
240*   <     6x   <     ^    ^
>      ^     …remainder elided
So now the kenken solver takes friendlier (or at least not-so-cryptic) input. Am I getting my inner nerd on or what?

My old friend Jan (she's younger than I am; what I mean is we met in 1968, before either of us met Jesus) was in the area, and we had breakfast Friday morning. I heard about some of the joys and disappointments in her family, some close calls and deliverance. Jan exemplifies Colossians 4:6 for me: Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt…, as well as those verses in Psalms that encourage us to tell of [God's] works (see for example Psalm 73:28).

Another cause for celebration: my keys, which had been missing for the past week, were discovered Friday. They once were lost, but now are found. Happy day!

And yesterday, I worked with my daughter Sheri on her new website. Javascript was involved. So was coffee. As of about 9 this morning, it worked. I discovered happily that network solutions have Python 2.6; they do support cgi-bin. The layout is a big quirky, though; if you create a directory "icons" under htdocs, you can't ever get to it, because "/icons" redirects to some magic place where they put their icons. Arrows and dots and such. My icons, which were a few arrows and dots I created with convert(1), were nowhere to be found. So of course I renamed the directory my_icons. Hurmpf.

But it works! The challenge now is to make it easy to update and maintain.

Church was lovely this morning; besides the amusing quote If you have to ask whether you're young or old, you're old, the message was powerful: the importance of community. I heard something recently on NPR about how with economic prosperity comes a breakdown of community. Exactly how does this happen? I'll tell you. I don't know. The basic idea described on the radio was the idea that in poor villages, people have to rely on each other a lot more. But as prosperity comes, people become less reliant on each other; they're more "self-sufficient" (or so they/we tend to think) and therefore become more isolated. Dumb, huh? Yet I resemble that remark. I need to ponder that one too.

The lovely Carol and I went for a walk at Pulgas Ridge this afternoon. Our faithful pup also enjoyed the walk, though it was rather warm. It was great being outdoors and moving our bodies around.

Dinner tonight was fried rice—many leftover veggies make for an interesting dish. The lovely Carol offered to do the dishes since I'd done the cooking.

So I am thankful today. Sometimes I wonder how it was that I got to live in such a time and place as this, to have only minor problems in life, and so on. Not that I'm complaining. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Amen.