Personal Drivel

The 8:18 Machine

Back in the day, my son had a fascination with the number, or more accurately the time, of 8:18, mostly PM. When we were putting him to bed, he could not go to sleep until it was 8:18 – once it reached 8:18, he could go to sleep. This was a problem if we missed seeing it on the clock, or if we went to bed late, or if we needed to get to bed early, or if we were camping – you get the picture. It was kind of like a bit of a security blanket.

So I took matters into my own hands, and created “The 8:18 Machine”. Now we just had to turn it on, hit the big red button, and, boom, there it was, in blazing red 7 segment glory – 8:18.

Not one to leave it quite so simple, I also decided to make it able to display any number (up to 4 digits), through spinning of the 4 potentiometer knobs. Flipping the switch would put it into “number” mode or “clock” mode. But of course, hit that red button, and there it is again, 8:18.

He no longer needs to see when it reaches 8:18 pm, which is now much too early for him to go to sleep :). I was in need of a button for a project, so I went looking for “The 8:18 Machine”, but was surprised at how heavy it is – most of my electronics projects these days are more in the IOT category – small and light. On opening it up, I was reminded, and amazed, and how much effort and circuitry went into this thing. The clock display was dead simple, no i2c here – apply voltage to a segment, it lights up – so one connection for each number, and 4 shift registers, and pushing data into those shift registers from an Arduino I don’t even remember how.

Without further ado, feast your eyes on this rats nest – all hand designed wired and soldered. I think I would cry if I attempted to do this today!





for Grandma

My Grandma passed on this week.

She was one of the most Godly, loving, kind people that I have known, I think that everyone who has met her has had their lives made a little bit better. This all sounds quite trite, but in her case, it really was true.

She will be missed tremendously, yet we know that she is in Heaven, reunited with Grandpa at last. She would never say it as she would not want anyone to feel any less loved, but I always had the feeling ever since Grandpa passed on that she was ready to go. She missed Grandpa horribly, and I am so glad that she is with him again.

In a world that is sadly lacking in heroes and role models, my Grandma was both. She persevered through the trials of life, from losing her own mother at a very early age, to having to be a single mother for the first two years of my dads life while my Grandpa was serving our country during the war. The way that she lived her life as a follower of Christ, and confident of God’s grace, is an inspiration to me, and I am sure to others.

I remember being deeply thankful for my Grandma and Grandpa’s devotion to each other – a fiftieth wedding anniversary is an uncommon thing, and their faithfulness to each other and to their vows before God is still an inspiration to me for my own marriage. I certainly hope and pray that my wife and I can follow in their footsteps and grow closer and be more in love with each other as the years go by.

Why there is suffering

I am reading a book about embarrassed believers (Christians) – its premise is that Christians have let themselves be marginalized by a intellectual elite that dismisses Christianity, without ever butting up against it head on. Thus the Christian culture (in western societies at least), keeps quiet, and tries to keep the Christian part of life limited to Sundays and retreats, but never let out in the open in society at large.

In one of the chapters, the author deals with some of the common questions that are thrown at Christians as to why our religion does not make sense. (I will not comment on how this does not quite fit in with the theme above 🙂 ). One of the questions is, “Why is there suffering?”, sometimes asked as “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

The pat answer is that there is suffering because there is free will, and with free will comes the ability to choose wrongly, i.e. sin, and thus cause suffering, not only in ones own life, but the lives of other around you as well. The question posed in the book is that, well, God made the rules, couldn’t he have changed the equation so that we could choose between good, better, or best, but not bad, badder, or worst?

I think that God could have made the rules of our existence this way, but it would have been a cheap version of free will – while we could choose between good and best, we would not be able to choose to reject God altogether, and this would not have accomplished the end goal. Much as it hurts to say, and hurts to hear, it really is not about us, it is about God, I mean it really is his world after all.

So moving along to continuum, we give a little more real free will, maybe we change the equation so that we can reject God and sin, but it is easier for us not to sin than to sin, rather than what we do have, which is that our sin nature makes it easier to sin than not to. This would certainly give free will, and it would give humanity to follow or reject God at an individual level. However, even though it might have made the world a nicer, i.e. less sin, less evil, less poverty, less violence and crime, it would not have eliminated suffering altogether, thus does not fit the bill. And to be honest, with nothing to compare this world to it is hard to say, but it sure seems like we certainly could be much worse off – even with a sin nature, many non Christians do lead lives that leave the world a better place than if they were not in it – not good enough, not perfect, but not visiting pain and suffering on those around them at every turn.

At the core of it, when I look at it from a purely selfish perspective, I think I am glad that God made me so that I CANNOT be perfect. If God had made the equation such that one COULD be perfect, while still having the option of rejecting God and sinning, then we would all have no excuses, and there would be very few, I mean very few people going to heaven, and I know that I probably would not be one of them. You could live your whole life absolutely perfect, and then on your death bed, with some horrible painful disease, you curse at some poor nurse because she missed your medication and you are in pain, and bam, you are on your way to hell.

If we could be perfect, why would God have sent Jesus to die for our sins? I mean buck up, you could have done it on your own, why would God take that on to give you an out, an excuse, a convenient backdoor, when if you just had really wanted to, you could have done it on your own. Again going back to the fact that this is really God’s show, and good and bad are defined by God himself, and by his nature and who/what/how he is, for Jesus to die and take on all the sins of everyone in the whole world, and to be heard accountable for them – that is powerful, that is God becoming all that he is not, becoming the very opposite of who he is, in order to make the payment for us, so that we could live.

So having a sin nature, we cannot be good enough, we just cannot. There is no way. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But, and I don’t know if I am standing on shaky theological ground here, since we cannot do it on our own, that makes it worth it, in God’s eyes, for which we must be everlastingly grateful, for Him to die for us so that we can be saved. So that we can live eternally in His presence, worshiping him, having had our sins washed away by Jesus’ death and suffering. It lets God give us an out, a salvation for those that aren’t perfect. If we could be perfect, and God still provided us with the free gift of salvation, wouldn’t it seem just a wee bit unfair to those that worked at it really hard and gutted it out and made it without sinning, not even once? They have to share heaven with those that did give it their all, that slipped up here and there, and then got into heaven because they took the easy way out by letting Jesus’ pay for their indiscretions? But no, as it is now, we are all on the same level, everyone of us has sinned, we all deserve hell, not one person who has lived on this earth, with the exception of course of Jesus, can say that they deserve to go to heaven. Not one – we all get in on equal terms.

So again, I have to say, not that my weak little opinion really matters in the long run, but I really am glad that God set up the rules the way that he did.

Thats my story and I am sticking to it 😉

Chanler has it in for me

I was hoping it was a phase, but he is keeping it up. Not a day has gone by since we brought him home that he has not tried to baptize me in one form or another.

The first night home, middle of the night, sleepy, semi dark room, changing the diaper, and suddenly there is warmth all over my hand. Would not want to let the changing pad go 24 hours without needing to change the cover 🙂

The next day, Sunday, I am holding him, he is sleeping peacefully, when boom, spreading warmth down my shirt. Same thing Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Monday, he gets Jesse as well, so I am thinking that it is not just me, and we thought that he was going to go for a hat trick since his Grandmama was coming over for dinner, but she escaped unscathed.

He decides on Thursday to try a different approach, he waits until I am changing the diaper, and I have to get close to apply ointment, and suddenly he is spraying everywhere. Same thing Friday and Saturday. Twice. At this point, I think every time that I have changed his diaper in the last 2 days, it has taken at least two diapers, and sometimes three.

Saturday morning, I am holding him and we are both sleeping – he wakes up slowly, getting a little fussy, then he lets fly, and I am scrambling not to get the bed all wet.

So at this point, he has tagged me three times today alone. I would try to get a truce, but he is not even entertaining the idea.

And yet, he is so very cute, I can’t even be upset about it, it just makes me laugh!



I have to say, there is nothing quite like the first time that you feel your first child kicking! It left me pretty speechless, which is pretty easy to do, as those of you who know me will attest, but pretty amazing. It all becomes very real at that moment. Of course, not having gone though all the other parenting experiences yet, who knows what will eclipse that moment, but at this point, it was a pretty special moment. First contact, as it were, with another human being that I am responsible for, not only for his or her existence, but also for raising to be a responsible, decent, Godly individual.

I am sure this seems silly for those who have had child(ren) already, but it is pretty special for me at this moment.

The Blog Lives!

Maybe I spoke too soon – I have suddenly found many things to blog about, not the least of which is the fact that I am now blogging again 🙂

Not quite sure yet if it is the cold, the headache, the fact that I might be feeling more me than I have been lately, the fact that I have been feeling less me lately, guilt for not blogging (why, when I am doing it for myself?), or just random chance?

Death of a blog?

It started so well. A couple of entries a week wasn’t so bad. But now it has been over a month. Course it served its purpose, and made me feel better. Not that anyone cares, as it is really just a private journal, not really expected to be read. Believe me, I have looked at the logs, and there is no one reading this 🙂