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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category


High gas prices can make people consider strange things.  We struggle to avoid pain.  Is the compressed air car (CNN story) an innovation or a vain attempt to avoid reality?  Developers claim it can get over 100 miles per gallon.

Zero Pollution Motors has received the U.S. rights to produce the technology developed by MDI.  They claim they will make cars available for sale in 2010 for about $18,000.

How does it work?

The concept is similar to how a locomotive works, except compressed air — not steam — moves the engine’s pistons, said Shiva Vencat, vice president of MDI and CEO of Zero Pollution Motors.

Whether the engine uses just air or both air and fuel would depend on how fast the car is going. It would run purely on compressed air at speeds less than 35 mph, Vencat said.

Since the car could only go a short distance when using just air, fuel is needed to get the full range, he explained.

“Above 35 mph, there is an external combustion system, which is basically a heater that uses a little bit of gasoline or biofuel or ethanol or vegetable oil that will heat the air,” Vencat said.

This sounds like a commuter car, not one to be used to travel 150 or more miles a day.  This means you would have to add this car to your ordinary vehicle rather than replacing it completely.

Some have expressed doubts about the technology.

Another expert expressed concern about the amount of energy it would take to generate the required air pressure: 4,500 pounds per square inch, or more than 120 times the pressure inside the tires of a typical four-door sedan.

“That is above what you normally find even in an industrial setting,” said William Bulpitt, senior research engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Strategic Energy Institute.

“That takes quite a compressor to do. … It takes horsepower to compress the air up to that pressure.”

If you count that energy, it’s hard to believe the car would be that much more efficient than an electric vehicle, Callister said.

Only prototypes exist at the moment.  Will they be able to translate them into useable cars that can carry multiple passengers?  We’ll see.

The body of the car planned for the United States would be built with fiberglass and injected foam. The chassis, composed of aluminum rods, would be glued together, not welded.

The design allows the car to be as light as possible, Vencat said.

For anyone who has doubts about its safety, he insisted computer simulations show that the vehicle would pass crash tests and meet all U.S. safety standards.

“Do you think somebody would actually put millions of dollars into making a car that will not pass safety regulations? There’s no point in doing that,” Vencat said.

Sounds like there are still lots of questions that need to be answered.  And they will not be answered until ZPM actually tries to sell one.  Until then I, for one, won’t hold my breath.  It sounds too good to be true, and it just might be.

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No, this is not my prediction.  Boston.com ran a NBA 2K8 simulated series.  The Celtics took Game 1, but lost Game 2.  In LA, they lost 2 of 3.  But back in Boston they prevailed both times to win their 17th banner, and keep Phil Jackson from surpassing Red for the most titles by a coach.

Now we have to watch and see what REALLY happens.  Go Celts!

Update: ESPN used NBA Live, and the Lakers won in 7.  ESPN has been pro-Lakers all week, so this just adds to the pile-on.

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Her hair points to the sky, the place she wants to be.

Sorry, ripped that off from a lyric on Daniel Amos’ Vox Humana album.  A fine mid-80’s piece of work that was. 

It was a long weekend, made longer by a stomach bug.  CavDaughter suffered with it most of last week.  CavSon seems to be immune thus far.  I started symptoms on Saturday.  By God’s sheer grace, I had a remission while fufilling my pulpit supply duties making me think it was done.

I filled the pulpit at the congregation where we currently worship.  They let me have an office, so I have a key.  This was their Family Camp weekend, so a large portion of the congregation was enduring the odd weather this weekend (tons of rain & a tornado warning Friday night, very breezy & cool Saturday, and downright chilly Sunday morning) as well as the ever-glorious time change.  I don’t sleep well camping, and that would have thrown me over the edge.  As it was I slept horribly this weekend.  But I digress.

So… the pulpit supply was the guy who essentially opened the facility.  The guy who runs the Power Point was sick, so I quickly figured it out and trained one of the elders to use it.  I discovered they wanted me to do the pastoral prayer just before the worship service.  As the opening song began, the people were looking quite sparse- lots of empty room.  By the time the song was done, the sanctuary filled up nicely.  The service went pretty well (here’s the sermon).  Next thing I know, I’m the guy who is locking up too. 

About an hour after heading home, I knew I was in trouble.  CavWife went to Blockbuster to get some “chick flicks” and we ended up watching Rush Hour 3.  Don’t waste your time or money on that dog.  If I went back to see the credits it must have had either a 12 year-old or 4 Alzheimer patients writing it because it was uneven and only sparsely funny.  Not enjoyable at all.

So after the kids went to bed we sat on the couch and watched some of The King of Queens, season 3.  Sometimes you just have to laugh.  And there were more laughs per episode than in the entire RH 3.

Over the weekend I started reading Revival and Revivalism by Iain Murray (so far very interesting) and an early biography of U2 called The Unforgettable Fire.  That has some interesting background on Dublin for us Yanks.  Hopefully I’ll be good enough to go fishin’ with the bros-in-law Tuesday, stupid picture or 2 sure to follow.

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We had a jam-packed weekend at the CavHouse.  It started as I went to the Social Security office Friday.  CavSon needs a # and a card.  It went quickly, and his card should be coming soon.

I met the fam at the chiropractor.  There he discovered a bald spot on CavDaughter’s head.  She has “sensitive skin”, and he thinks it is a skin issue that can be easily resolved.  You can’t see the spot, but if it were to grow this little girl would be devastated.

That afternoon we went looking for a “big girl bed”.  We didn’t find what we were looking for yet, at a price we can afford.  We are all in serious internet detox at this point.  CavWife has the DTs.

Saturday morning we went looking for a bed again.  We found what we wanted, at a price we could afford but they didn’t have the box spring in stock.  Oh, well.  We strolled over to Dunkin Donuts to console ourselves.  “Mmmmm, chocolate creme filled donut.”

After the kids’ nap time, CavDaughter isn’t feeling so good.  But it is a beautiful day and I want to replace the resistor for my car’s A/C fan.  The 1st 2 settings don’t work so the fan is loud and you freeze quickly.  My neighbor who used to be a GM mechanic says I’m lucky, the resistor is under the dashboard and I should be able to reach it.  I remove the bottom panel.  Can’t see the resistor anywhere.  It’s really dark in the back, and I’m upside down with my feet hanging outside of the car.  CavWife’s compact mirror helps me identify the resistor WAY in the back.  This… is …. not…. good.

After much contorting and frustration I get the first screw off the resistor.  I borrow some long pointy thing to remove the wire plug, hoping to gain access to the rear screw holding my bad resistor in place.  Okay, this screw is pretty much where the floor and dashboard meet.  Got the picture here… I am calling down curses on the design engineers because the wrench won’t fit in that spot and I am not guaranteed of 15 visits to the chiropractor when this puppy is done.  Using the extension on the socket wrench, I get it about 1/3 off.  The sun is sinking and I run out of light.  Doesn’t matter, I was having lots of trouble keeping the wrench on the screw.

The kids have pancakes since CavDaughter has a slight fever.  No idea what we will have.  While bathing the kids we decide to use a gift card to the Olive Garden.  Mmmm.  Makes my frustration contorting in the car a bit better.  Yummy.   I’m still not sure if I’ll be able to physically function in the pulpit the next morning with the gymnastics I had to perform in my car.

I did survive the worship service, though it was my lower back, not my neck or shoulder that was bothering me.  The church had a shower for CavSon.  It was very kind of them.  He gots lots of boy toys- trucks, trains and such.  I’m very thankful.  We get home late, and I can’t change into clothes suitable for fixing my car before the kids get to sleep.  But the night before, I woke up with an idea.  I used a screwdriver that acts like a ratchet wrench to change the angle on the socket extension so I can apply consistent pressure.  Shazam!  I get the screw off in no time.  Now I just have to get the screws back in to secure the new resistor.  Hmmm… this looks much longer than the old, burned out one.  But it fits.  I secure the easy screw quickly with the socket wrench.  A brilliant idea comes to mind, do I have to secure the 2nd one?  I ask my neighbor.  “90% of the time I didn’t.”  I plug in the wires, turn on the engine and …… it actually works.

I am amazed.  Usually I give up long before this.  But I stuck out this car repair, got advice and improvised.  I actually did it.  I’m not as mechanically incompetent as I thought I was.  Of course, I’m having trouble getting the dashboard back together.  But let’s not quibble over that!

I barely have time to change before we head off to our family Bible study. 

Monday we started off with a broken candle holder.  I was in the shower when it happened.  I entered the living room to see CavSon holding a large shard of glass in his hands.  I had to secure the kids in the bedroom until I could clean up all the broken glass.  But CavSon is not done giving my long, arduous tasks.  He soon had one killer of a diaper, and he’s Mr. Fidge-it.  When can I leave for the office?????

Over the course of the weekend we witness frustration and triumph.  Sickness and scarey stuff.  But we are still standing.  Now, should we buy that laptop?  Tempting.

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The laptop is in the shop, so my on-line time is limited to office time.  While I’m in the office the next few weeks I’m working on sermons.  I’ll be preaching on the “presbyterian” son, actually the 2 ways to run from God (yes, I’ve been listening to a lot of Tim Keller as I’ve driven to supply pulpits the last 3 Sundays).  I see Winter Haven as an older son kind of town.  People are generally good and decent and this obscures their perception of any need for Christ and His righteousness.  But we tend to preach as if they are all reckless, rebellious sons.  Perhaps this is why the Reformed churches here are not bearing a whole lot of fruit (in addition to the consumer-mindset-satisfying churches).  There are a few other projects I’m working on as well, which limit my time in the office.  One of these days I’ll replace the resistor for the A/C fan in my car too.

Posts will come, as time permits for the next week or so when the Geek Squad either fixes the laptop or decides to replace it.  I say “Praise God for extended warrenties!”

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Basic household tasks and improvements have been taken to a new level of frustration.  I was trying to hand a curtain rod in CavSon’s room yesterday.  As if there were not enough problems presented by the cinderblocks, every time I turned around I had at least 2 kids in the way.  Sometimes the dog was in the way too.  I couldn’t move and every step took forever.  And I’m not even done.

CavSon continues to do well.  He and I were alone all morning yesterday.  Aside from a small tantrum when his snack wasn’t as much as he wanted, it was great.  But I was done.   I also can’t wait for us to get done with the Huggies.  We are Pampers people.  I’m not sure how the Huggies ended up in our possession, but they do not hug his bottom, particularly when there be poop in there.  There have been “breaches of security”.

CavWife is now nesting.  She has me trying to hang the aforementioned curtains.  She is cleaning the closet in our room so the pack ‘n’ play can fit there while her parents are here.  She’s trying not to move my “lousy chair” again.  She gave me this “lousy chair”.  It is “lousy” because we keep moving it from room to room every time we try to make life work in our 1,250 sq. ft. home that God keeps filling to ever-increasing abundance.  We know people in other places have more people in less space.  But we really feel cramped, we can barely turn around without bumping into a kid, or the Visa Dog (everywhere you want to be).  We are trying to be good stewards of the what God has given us, and this means lots of rearrainging.

 We were also having internet issues.  They are following me around.  The church were my office is has not had internet service since we returned from NY.  The poor layman whose been trying to fix it, starting 2 weeks after I mentioned the problem, may finally have it under control.  He’s doing this because he cares, not because of expertise.  Unfortunately, churches can sometimes take the cheap way out, and lose valuable time while a kind-hearted person tries to figure it out.  The secretary has spents a few days without being able to print things since this has affected the whole network in the office.  Here, it seems that our modem is failing.  So service has been intermittent.  In coming days there should be more pictures (I’m loving the extra free space WordPress has provided).

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I went to a seminar on church renewal a little over a week ago.  My Presbytery worked with our denominational board covering church planting and renewal to put this together.  Ken Priddy, a pastor and church consultant, has taken a part-time position with our denomination to assist in the revitalization of many of our congregations through United Front Ministries.  Ken graduated from RTS the year before I did.  Unlike Dr. Nicole, he recognized me.

Why did I go?  Statistics indicate that 80% of churches in America are either in recline or decline.  As a result, 80% of the churches I talk to about a new position will be in one of those positions.  So, I’ve got an 80% of leading a congregation in either recline or decline.  I thought it prudent at this juncture to add some more tools to my toolkit so I can be more effective.

Why Do Churches Go Into Recline & Decline?

– Recline is the bull’s eye that most pastors and congregations aim for.  This is an extension of the empty nest and retirement mentality.  We long for the time when we don’t have to work in the fields very much.  We forget that the rest awaits us (Hebrews 4:9ff).  Right now Jesus is building His church, through us.

– Our default mode is inward, not outreach.  We don’t have to spend much time advocating nurture (though we do need to instruct on what gospel-oriented nurture is).  But we must continually advocate outreach & evangelism.  We must fight to keep evangelism a focus.

(more…)

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