2 May 2010

While the blog here has been quiet for the last couple of months, life for me certainly hasn't been. Holly and I found a house, we moved from a rented condo in Lakewood to our very own house in Omaha, I started working remotely from an office in my home, and we found out that Holly is pregnant and now in her ninth week (I think). In the move, we left our close community at our previous church and some close friends and moved to a place where we have almost no friends but much more close family close by. The process of pregnancy has been a kind of adventure all to itself so far as Holly's hormones have totally shifted the gears of her body to get it in order to support the child that is growing inside of her.

As we are making these huge transitions, God's blessing has been over-abundant. I am amazed at how smoothly everything has gone. I never would have imagined that we could move to Omaha and I could somehow keep my job. Our house is more than we deserve. And having family "close by" has been a wonderful blessing. It has been so very nice to have them be able to just stop by because they were in the area and to be able to share meals and talk so much more easily. Holly's pregnancy was a beautiful if somewhat unexpected blessing after so many trying months of hoping and waiting (see Holly's post on the subject).

Before us lie more changes: joining and connecting with a church community (at the moment pretty settled on Coram Deo), seeing Holly's pregnancy progress, the baby grow and in due season be born—Lord willing—and becoming parents, learning to live as faithful followers of Christ in our neighbornood and among our neighbors. As we continue in this latest chapter of the journey, I look forward with anticipation to the new blessings that God has in store for us, blessings that show us his infinite faithfulness and goodness, blessings that shape us to be the people that he made us to be. May the Lord Jesus receive all the honor and glory and power, for he alone is worthy (Rev. 5:12-13).

25 Feb 2010

I have had my email address for several years, and although I do not have very stringent spam filtering enabled, I still don't get a lot of spam email. One tactic that I have used that I think helps me keep it this way is that I don't give out my email address to websites that request an email address just for registration.

Many sites require some kind of user registration just to access their content, and they require a valid email address to register. Instead of giving them my real email address, which they may or may not use responsibly, I often choose to use a throwaway email address from mailinator.com. This gives an email address to which the site can send the registration email without actually entrusting the site with my personal email address and increasing my chances of receiving spam.

Sometimes a site has some code that apparently rules my made-up mailinator.com email address as "invalid", but fortunately Mailinator also has several other domains that point to the same place, so I have always been able to find a different domain that is not blocked that accomplishes the same purpose.

There are other services on the internet that will do the same thing. I use Mailinator because it is easy and works for me. If you have an email address that you would like to guard against spam, I recommend not giving the address out unless you really trust the site to which you are disclosing your email. This will not protect you 100% from spam—perhaps not even close—but it should help.

21 Feb 2010

Holly quit her job effective a week ago, so she has been a "stay-at-home" wife since the beginning of last week. I put "stay-at-home" in quotes because she really does not just stay at home. Every day, Holly has had a list of chores or errands that she wants to take care of, so she has kept very busy. She posted some of her initial initial thoughts over on her blog, but I thought it might be nice for me to share some of my thoughts as well.

Having Holly able to take care of a lot of housekeeping and errands while I am at work during the day has been very good for us so far. With our impending move, there are even more things to take care of and plan for than usual, so this has been an especially helpful time for her to have more time to dedicate to managing our domestic affairs. The primary effect that I have noticed this week is that we both seem to have more energy than we did before. Holly gets so much done during the day that when I get home from work, we are pretty much able to put dinner on the table and eat and then have the evening to relax and enjoy one another's company. On the evenings where we had outside engagements, such as our Regen community group or visiting Holly's Mom and Dad, it felt less rushed than when we were both getting home at 5:00 or later and then trying to get ready to go.

Aside from Holly and I having more time to relax and have fun together, I think that Holly is also happier in this arrangement. Admittedly, it is still early and no doubt frustrations may appear as we stick with this for the long haul, but it feels like Holly is energized rather than enervated as she has been taking care of the business of the home. Her joy in turn tends to put me in a better mood, I think, and in some ways it feels like we are back in the dating or early newlywed stage again.

One attendant benefit that I had not expected has appeared: We have been able to go to bed earlier and with more energy, so I am catching up on my Bible reading plan. Although it is well into February, I am still back in mid-December in the reading plan. There are more factors in plan than just when I go to bed and how much energy I have when I do, I'm sure, but it has been very good for my soul to be getting back into reading my Bible regularly and having more mental energy to engage with the text as I read it. I still have a lot of growth to do in this area, but I have seen some good steps in the right direction this week.

I think that the main reason that this arrangement is working out so well so far is that Holly is a woman of character who desires to honor God by caring for our home. Like the idealized wife of Proverbs 31, "she sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." I look forward to seeing how the Lord will bless her for her faithfulness as my wife.

1 Feb 2010

House Hunt Weekend

Submitted by Paul Brown

Holly posted the story about our plans to relocate to Omaha and how amazingly that worked out with my work to allow us to do it basically at our convenience. If you didn't read that before, you may want to visit her blog to catch up. This weekend, we took the next step toward moving to Omaha and flew out for the weekend to look at homes. It was a bit of a rush, but the trip was successful and we did in fact choose a house!

Holly and I went to the airport straight from work on Friday. Everything went well with the flight, and we arrived in Omaha a few minutes early with my uncle Ward waiting to meet us. The Sierts were very kind and allowed us to stay with them for the weekend rather than having to go to a hotel or rent a car or anything. That was very nice, and it was even nicer for us to get to visit with them. They had been in England last year when we got married, so this was their first opportunity to meet my beautiful bride face-to-face and for her to meet this very kind and fun family from my biological father's side.

On Saturday, our agent picked us up at about ten o'clock and we headed out for a full day of looking at houses. We had already thoroughly vetted the listings that our agent sent us, so all the homes that we visited were ones that we were looking forward to seeing. I think that we made it to thirteen houses between when we left in the morning and when we finished up just before five o'clock in the afternoon. It was neat to see all these houses and take note of what we liked or didn't like about each one. For the homes that were still occupied, it was interesting to observe little things that the owners had laying around and speculate about what types of activities they enjoy doing.

By the time we got back to the Sierts' house at the end of the afternoon, Holly and I were both worn out. We went through our notes and photos right away to sort out which houses we wanted to look at again on Sunday, but even with Holly's notes and my rather sparse photos, it was difficult to remember which house was which. Eventually, though, we did get them sorted out and selected out top three houses for a second viewing. I emailed the list off to our agent, who also added another house that we hadn't been able to get into on Saturday. Then we were done with house stuff and enjoyed the evening of talking with Ward and Linda—mostly listening to Ward's great stories—before going to bed.

On Sunday, our agent picked us up a little earlier and we started right in on looking at our favorite houses. Due to their location, we ended up seeing them in the reverse order of our original preference. The first one was a custom home with very nice finishing, wide stairway, great master suite, and a well-finished basement. The only drawback was the kitchen, which was quite small. The second house had a nice, big kitchen, but the master suite was small, with no bathtub (a priority for Holly) and limited storage space for our clothes. The third house was OK but didn't really exceed either of the first two in any significant way.

At that point we were left with a tough dilemma: Is it preferable to have the large master suite but have to be creative in how to get by with a small kitchen? Or would we be better off with the very comfortable kitchen and a little tighter bedroom? My view, which Holly ended up agreeing with, was that it would be better to have the more spacious kitchen, since we actually have to work there, than the more spacious bedroom, in which we mostly spend our time sleeping.

With that dilemma more or less settled, we went to the fourth house of the morning, the one that we had not had the chance to see on Saturday. Although Holly did not have high hopes for the house, as we went through, we like the house more and more. It had a nice, open floor plan, a large (though worn and dated) kitchen, real wood flooring in the kitchen and dining area, good living room, very nice master suite with a whirlpool bath and lots of closet space, and three good-sized additional bedrooms. The basement wasn't finished, but there was a lot of room down there if we ever did want to finish it. In short, it was the best of everything that we were looking for. I don't think it took long for Holly and I to decide that this was the house would be best for us!

Excited to have found such a great house in our price range, we went back to the real estate agent's office where we drew up the formal offer. The owners were out of town for the weekend, but we gave them until Monday evening to respond to our offer. For the amount of money involved, it was surprisingly easy to make up the offer. Initial a few pages, sign here and there, and BAM! it's ready to go!

After getting the offer done, we went back to Ward and Linda's place where we were expecting a visit from Mom and Dad and from Sarah and Kevin and the kids. They all arrived shortly, so we got to meet my newest nephew, Carter, and spend the afternoon telling the story and showing everyone the house that we had chosen. Assuming that we can come to an agreement on price and that nothing comes up in the inspection and appraisal process, we should be able to close on our house on March 8 and be moved to Omaha a week later. Yippee!

If you wish, you can go see some photos of the new place.

25 Jan 2010

The following is a quote from Walter Elmore, a recently deceased power systems protection engineer:

Edison was a brilliant inventor despite the fact that he had little formal education and lived in New Jersey. His first invention in 1877 was the phonograph which could soon be found in thousands of American homes where, as Dave Barry pointed out, it basically just sat until 1923 when the record was invented. But Edison's greatest achievement came in 1879 when he invented the electric company. Edison's design was a brilliant adaption of the simple electric circuit. The electric company sends electricity through a wire to a customer, then immediately gets the electricity back through another wire. Then (this is the brilliant part) sends it right back to the customer again.

This means that an electric company can sell the same batch of electricity thousands of times a day and never get caught, since very few customers take the time to examine their electricity very closely. In fact the last year in which any new electricity was generated was 1937. The electric Companies have been merely re-selling it ever since, which is why they have so much free time for studying rate increases.

(From his keynote address given in May 1997 To IEEE/PSRC Williamsburg, VA, as transcribed by PAC World Magazine.)

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