Sunday, March 28, 2004

I've been going to church on Sundays earlier than usual for the past few weeks. I usually get there a little past 9am and do some reading... it's been helpful, especially recently. My mind's just been all over the place. Matt and I got together at Borders this past Wednesday. Among other things, he asked if I'd be up for becoming our small group leader. He stepping down this summer, because of reasons I won't talk about here, but they're related to other things that I've been thinking about. Basically it boils down to my favorite Brent principle: "People suck". And there's been some messy stuff going on lately. Matt's been a real champ, I might add... I don't envy his position, and he's held up the way any man should under the circumstances.

I told him I wasn't going to consider being small group leader yet, not because of the stuff Matt's had to deal with (apparently whoever takes over next won't be inheriting Matt's situation... the powers that be will see to that), but because I was still in a mode of transition. I mean, all I have is a temp job at NetLearning. So I told him nope, not in my current situation, because I might still be gone in a couple of months. Well, the next day, Raymond comes up to me and tells me they're trying to get a new testing position approved at NetLearning, and he's gonna have me do the stuff related to that position after I'm done helping Dave on the network diagnostic thingy (yeah my language is real technical, can you tell?). Once the position is approved, they'll post it, get resumes, but most likely the guy who gets the job will be the one who's been doing it already, namely, me. So I'm thinking, ok a few months from now I might have a permanent job. Still too late to take over from Matt in summer.

The next day, Ray's talking to Dave and he tells him we're looking at about 20 more days I and Dave will be working together, and then I'll be moved to the new thing, and after that maybe in a few weeks it'll be permanent. Ok so it's been upgraded to a couple of months is what I'm thinking. Then today, Sunday morning, I bump into Ray at church and we talk to Gretchen Paxton for a bit after that, say hi to her parents who are visiting, and Ray says to them I'm working a temp job now but we're looking to get me into something permanent in a couple of weeks. I'm going 'man whatever negotiating technique I'm using must be working great'. And of course my technique involved saying absolutely nothing about it at all. The whole thing is pretty much being placed on my lap. Hey! No complaints there!

What this means, though, is I'm going to have to tell Matt some time soon that, yes I'm probably going to be in a position to lead small group. I guess the question is whether or not I ought to. It might not seem like a big deal to some people, but the way I look at it is this: The closest thing to a small group leader described in Scripture is, really, a pastor. There's no other equivalent, at least scripturally. Some folks say the closest thing is actually Jesus, and the twelve were his little small group. Well, that's fine except if I was ever in a small group with twelve other guys, I'd get out of there... that's one frikkin' large small group.

So a small group leader is probably a pastor, of sorts. And what's the description of a pastor in scripture?

"Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.
Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. "

That's from 1 Timothy 3. Obviously we have to make allowances here... most of the guys at YAMs aren't married, and there aren't enough of em to go around fascilitating all the small groups there. But the principle laid out in this passage is clear: The guy in charge must have his house in order. "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?". And in the case of single guys, I guess he must know how to manage his own life. Yahoos need not apply.

Now, obviously, Matt wouldn't ask me to do this if he thought I was a yahoo. He cares about the folks in our small group, and he's not about to do anything he'd think would be damaging. I look at what God has to say about folks in that position, though, and I'm thinking, if this is something I'm gonna do, I'm going to have to just grow up. No more 5-hour MU-ing sessions. No more hiding in my litttle pc hole on weekends. No more thinking around in circles and feeling sorry for myself.

Well, I've got some time to consider all this... Fellowship does require small group leaders to be church members, and that means taking a membership class, and then there's a leadership class after that. Even if I do decide to give this a shot, mayhaps I'll be sifted out by the process :p. I don't know. I just don't know.

Friday, March 19, 2004

I'm really tired. I finally got a prototype of this graphing app I'm making in Visual C++, though. All in all, not bad for a week's worth of work. I learned a new programming environment (or at least got to where I'm not completely lost in it), used it to interface with a MySQL database, and graphed its data using a third-party library. I'm well on my way to finishing a functioning MFC application. Maybe now they'll bump my salary up a little :).

I need to go looking for an external hard drive for my laptop now. The poor thing only has 650 MB of HD space. I found one at Best Buy last week going for 200 bucks, but it's exactly what I want... 20GB, and it's only a little larger than a wallet. It was a bit pricey, though, so I'm gonna try my luck at Circuit City tonite. Then, more Mu-ing!

Sigh, no life, no life.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

One good thing about having a job in Knoxville is that I can now make commitments to stuff at Fellowship or at YAMs and at least be able to say I'll be around to do those things for a few months. Last night I had my first practice session with Amanda Hopkins' worship team as a *member* member and not just a fake member of the team. They did something different too last night, before practice started: a pot luck dinner! Those are always fun, and I hadn't done one in a while.

Unfortunately I didn't have time to cook, so I bought KFC chicken strips. Tyler got pizza. Ken did a shrimp boil. Deb made basmati rice (I *have to get me a box of those!). Amanda made this sugary... fruit... thing. It was good. We stuffed ourselves silly and talked about how if you put together the name of a cool pet you had, and the name of the street you first lived on, that'd be your name if you were a soap opera character. Well I had to fudge the street name because if I'd used the name of a street in Malaysia they'd just go "huh?", so I used the name of the street I lived on when I first came to Knoxville. And it turns out I'm Ranger White, IT consultant.

But even if we lived in a soap opera world with soap opera names, there would still be no camels in India.

Monday, March 15, 2004

It turns out I have quite a bit to learn before I can really start contributing to the going-ons here at NetLearning. They've given me the task of figuring a way to get device activity from their servers/routers/whatever and producing historical graphs of that data so they can troubleshoot. A search on the internet for graphing tools produced a wonderful graphing library that does exactly what Ray wants, but needs to be deployed either in Visual C++, Borland Builder, Visual Basic.NET, C#.NET, or Delphi.

We decided to go with Visual C++ because a)They already had a license for it, and b)I don't know it yet, and I was born to suffer. :p. Actually I'm thrilled to have a chance to learn VC++. It's probably a good thing to have on my resume. Unfortunately, it's more convoluted than Borland Builder ever was, so it might take me a while to learn. Fortunately, I bought a book called "Learn Visual C++ 6.0 In 24 Hours" to help me out. 24 hours!!! Holy cow! With books like these, who needs a CS degree?

In addition to figuring out how to deploy this thing in VC++, I will eventually have to learn how to talk to the server and the databases. Then I can query for historical data and, eventually, hopefully, create an app that graphs server activity in real-time.

Now a lot of people would say at this point that I should be very very scared. They'd be right, but there's a coffee pot here at the office which I'm abusing as much as the one back at the IRIS labs, and caffeine is a sure-fire way to kill fear. I mean, have you ever seen a frightened, wired man?

Last I heard, there are still no camels in India.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Friday, March 12, 2004

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I was sitting in front of my laptop at NetLearning today looking up software packages to help me with this project that Raymond (the IS director and probably my boss) and Dave (the network consultant) have me working on, and an online form asks me what I work as. So I poke my head into Gretchen's office (where Ray was hashing out some purchasing issue with her) and say "Um, if a form asks me what my job title is, what do I say?"

"I would say... 'IS consultant'."


"Or 'IT consultant' if that sounds better."

"I *like* that. Thanks!"

So there you have it. I'm an IT consultant.
Well it looks like I'm about to be employed. There is a company in downtown Knoxville called NetLearning which makes online learning modules for their clients, and I just had a good long talk with their network consultant and SI director yesterday at the office about a project they want me to work on. It's going to be contract-to-hire position, so it's probably a good idea to keep looking for other opportunities, but it's a good place to start and gain some experience while I'm at it. At the very least, it looks like I'll be here for Brent's wedding, which is a good thing. Now I need to start thinking about renewing my passport and visa. Dad's calling me this weekend (right dad???) so I can ask him to talk to the US embassy and Malaysian government and ask them about doing it over the mail.

In the meantime, I've still been MU-ing, without Adrian, who has dissappeared off my radar this week (Where are you??? scumzzz!!!). I also bought No One Lives Forever 2 for $10 (I traded in Silent Hill 2 for $14), which was short, but fun. I know I said I was gonna get Vietcong, but I played the demo and it was a little *too* realistic. I couldn't see a damn thing in those bushes! Maybe later, when I have a sweeter PC, and then at least the bushes will be nicer to look at. Anyway, NOLF2 has it all if you're into dryly humorous spy spoofs: gadgets, guns, one-liners, and racial stereotypes abound. The only problem is it's a first-person game; it's not a gameplay problem (I love first person views), but it does mean you only see Cate Archer, the game's protagonst, about 0.1% of the time. Anyone that cute ought to be onscreen more often. They could've snuck a mirror into her decoder gadget, or something. Yeesh...

On the upside, she's still very hot when she shows up in the cinematics, and it also turns out she's Scottish, which pretty much blows the dials of the hot-o-meter. And the game is the only one I know of that takes you in exotic Akron, Ohio, probably one of the most under-utilized locations in videogaming, ever. I'm sure Matt Forsythe could elaborate, since he's from Ohio. It's also the location of one of the most nerve-wracking boss battles I've played in a while . SPOILER ALERT.......................... During this boss battle, you pursue a ninja assassin into a trailer house, which gets lifted up into the eye of a tornado. The fight takes place as the airborne house slowly breaks apart around you. Great stuff :p..................... END SPOILER ALERT.

Well I'm of to go MU-ing again, and then at 1 o'clock I'm going in for my first day of work. I'll be working on a gratis basis for a couple of days, but hopefully I'll be on payroll by next week.

Monday, March 08, 2004

With apologies to Yeats and his 'Ballad of the Foxhunter':

The Pauper's Dream

Sunday morning I had a dream
I was working at a bookstore
The shelves were tall and dusty
The owner was a nice fellow
He asked if I wanted an advance on next week's pay
I said no way
No way

This girl with short dark hair
She's putting books on the shelves
She has a nice smile when we speak
So I decide to ask her
"Are you seeing anybody either tomorrow or today?"
She said no way
No way

No sorrow here
No shame
No way back to whence ye came
I didn't know anybody in that dream
But everything was alright

Her long blonde friend and I were lounging
She leaned over and told me
"We've talked all day the sun's turned red"
"You're getting bored", to which I said
"Are you kidding, I could listen to you talk all day"
"No way I'd ever get bored listening to you talk, no way"
No way

No sorrow here
No shame
No way back to whence ye came
I didn't know anybody in that dream

No sorrow here
No shame
No way back to whence ye came
Just a poor idea of paradise
Unfit for anyone who'd be his own king
Just a poor idea of paradise
Unfit for anyone who'd do his own thing

No sorrow here
No shame
No way back to whence ye came
Inside a pauper's dream

And when you wake up
You're a blind hound
And the moments pass and pass

Oh, you wake up
You're a blind hound
The moments pass and pass