The Whole Armor of God

March 16, 2019

I preached last week on the need for Christians to armor up against the challenges of life and to protect their hearts. Last week's main scripture was from the Proverbs. There are plenty of scriptures that speak to the importance of protecting ourselves, but this one particularly stood out to me this time.

23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

One of the natural references when addressing our need for self-protection is The Whole Armor of God. I didn't have enough time to go deep into it during that sermon, so this week it gets its own time in the spotlight.

When reviewing the passage in entirety, I was struck by how logically it was organized. Now, this is the writing of the Apostle Paul we're talking about, so a certain minimum level of awesomeness should be assumed, but here the organization was so on point that it leaped out at me. As a computer programmer by training, I succeed or fail by how I logically arrange the internal structure of my computer programs, so I recognize good organization and dependency management when I see it.

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Even More School Bus Thoughts

February 22, 2019

Time is rushing by and I'm into my fifth month of driving a school bus. The changes are subtle, but noticeable. I am mostly over my fear of reversing. I still don't enjoy it, but I don't get nervous. Recently, I had to reverse about a third of a mile along a country road, around two corners and down a hill, when my only available turnaround point was not plowed out and was too full of snow for me to safely use. I wouldn't want to do it on a regular basis, but I did it and that pretty much put the final nail into my fear of reversing.

Despite my bad memory, I have both of my current routes memorized. I drive Blue in the morning and Purple at night and know where to go, when to be there and am making good progress learning the names of my students. For some reason I remember more naughty student names than good ones.

Having driven for far too many years on the Madison Beltline I've seen my share of bad American driving, but at the helm of a school bus I've had a grandstand seat to witness some awful driving. (Ok, not as bad as the Russians, but pretty bad. Search on Youtube for Russian dashcam footage, but be warned that it's scary stuff.) There are three main things that people are getting wrong. First, they are failing to understand the warning and stop lights on the school bus. I'm pretty sure that's in the driving test around here, but it feels like most drivers skipped class that day.

School buses in the United States have two sets of lights. The lower lights, those at the same approximate level as the main headlights and the upper lights near the top of the bus. The lower lights are exactly the same as all other road vehicles: headlights, indicators, brake lights and reversing lights. They all mean exactly what they mean in every other vehicle and there are no legal mandates concerning them. The upper lights are specific to U.S. school buses and are known as the student lights. There are set of amber (sometimes called yellow) lights and a set of red lights. These lights flash when in operation, are important and under penalty of law must be obeyed by all other road vehicles. The flashing amber student lights mean that the bus is getting ready to slow down and stop for a student pickup or dropoff and so you should start slowing down and be prepared to stop. When the flashing red student lights mean that the bus has student activity (getting on, getting off and possibly crossing the road) and you must stop and wait at least 20 feet away until the red lights stop flashing. There are expensive fines for not stopping for a school buses' student red lights, so please do your wallet a favor and stop.

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Walking Is Good For You

January 24, 2019

So I wrote a post a few weeks ago about an interesting article where doctors were prescribing taking a hike for their patients. This got me thinking about something I'd heard before, but that was not specifically mentioned in the article, that of the benefit to joints from free walking.

I first heard about the joint benefits of free activity in the context of weight lifting. This is pretty much what you think it might be. Rather than using weight machines, you literally just pick up the weight directly and in the process of doing so your main muscles get worked, but so do your supporting muscles and ligaments and this adds not only to your direct lift capability but also makes your muscles more robust and less likely to suffer injuries. Nassim Nicholas Taleb would call this being antifragile. Weightlifters who follow this protocol appreciate the extra strength benefits, but mostly do it for the durability that it builds into their joints. This is also a compelling reason for recommending that people use kettlebells in their workouts because the non-linear movements that most kettlebell exercises require cause even greater ancillary muscle and ligament strength.

Well, it turns out that the same principle that helps free weightlifters also helps freewalkers. When walking on a flat uniform surface, the ancillary muscles and ligaments get very little use and hence do not strengthen significantly from the exercise. In contrast, when a person walks on a rough surface, their ancillary muscles are forced to do more work to support the ankles and knees and help keep the person upright and balanced. This has the same benefits that free weightlifters get. The walkers get stronger muscles and their joints get tougher and less likely to suffer injury from unexpected lateral movements.

Here are a couple of articles that say the same thing with more sciencey words.

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Quicksort With Hungarian Folk Dance

January 17, 2019

Sometimes the Interwebs are truly as awesome as we all hoped they'd be back at the start of the millennium.

For your edification today we have the classic computer science algorithm for Quicksort presented flawlessly through Hungarian Folk Dance.

If this outstanding (and world class) geekiness has gripped you tight, fear not, there are other videos using other music styles to demonstrate other algorithms.

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Getting Old

January 7, 2019

The driver of the blue route in the afternoon has a tendency to leave the radio set to the local classic hits station, so when I start it up in the morning, I get whatever classic hit they're playing at that time. I hadn't listened to the classic station for several years, but was pretty sure that they played stuff that my parents used to listen to. Well, lately the station has been playing songs that are squarely from my teens and I'm starting to feel old.

This morning, they were blasting Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. This song was huge during my late teens and was also used as the theme music for the American Footbal show on Channel 4 back in England. Given that misery loves company, I'll share it with you as well. You get the instrumental version, as I don't think that the lyrics come anywhere close to being considered family friendly.

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