Monday, October 31, 2016

Checking your Urn'ings

Singapore's relentless drive for efficiency has resulted in a standardization of urn sizes for remains that is a bit smaller than what was provided in Indonesia.  Normally this wouldn't matter, but Singapore also has a government high-rise cemetery for storing urns with their memorial plaques in a clever vertical structure.  This is all part of a complex with industrially efficient crematoriums.  I am wondering a bit about the carbon efficiency of all this, but no doubt this will be taken care of the next time I have to return here.

Today's activities were certainly appropriate for Halloween.  It was one of taking urn measurements, discussing plaque layouts, and picking a proper location in the Christian side of the facility.  The plaques that I saw all had Christian verses on them, so I was asked to help pick out one for the plaque.  I recommended Isaiah 41:10 as offered by Max, but they instead chose Philippians 4:7 -

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Since this will be inscribed in Chinese, I will give this version:


In case anyone else is thinking this might be a good place for a loved one, I will include this list for you (in Singapore dollars):

More details on this are here.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Mourning

Today I had to gaze upon the dead body of a dear brother-in-law who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack.  I was joined by his mother, his wife, his sisters and brother, and his son, along with a number of other relatives.  We tend to be fairly private in our affairs, so I won't say too much.  Now, I mostly have the memories of being with him off and on over the nearly 40 years that I have known him.  Among our family pictures hanging on our wall are some of him as a young boy.  Later he was very successful in his studies and this led to a long running career as a businessman.  With many older parents and other relatives, he was the last person I expected to get The Call about.  But so it happens as God gives life and places special people in our lives for a time, but then takes them away according to His eternal plan.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Call

It was inevitable, but we don't like to think about it.  Either we get The Call about someone else or they get The Call about us.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Yoga Pants Controversy

In case anyone hasn't heard about this, you can get the details here.  My first observation is that what are termed "Yoga Pants" were formally known as "tights", and don't have anything to do with Yoga.  I can't really be sure why call their tights Yoga Pants, but perhaps it makes them feel more sophisticated.

Other than this I must express my sympathy for those women who must choose between wearing Yoga Pants and wearing a Burka.  It is a terrible thing to be forced to choose between these extremes because modesty and decency are now public outrages.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Resistance is Futile

It makes a catchy campaign theme/slogan.  However, I am not sure after Brexit and the Columbian peace treaty with FARC that this is really the sensible way to proceed.  But then there is Venezuela.

Seasons are changing

The lake temperature is slowly cooling with some leaves now along the edges.  Most of the trees along the banks don't show too many signs of changing their color yet, but their leaves should all be in the water after another month.  A lingering cough is the only problem with swimming.  Part of me dreads the cold that is coming, but another part is confident that I will be able to handle it.

Now I am trying to decide if I will sign up for the Alcatraz New Year swim again.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

"God will give us the president that we deserve."

That was my answer to an inquiry at a party about whether it should be Trump or Hillary.  Clearly we have been bad as a nation and some punishment is needed.  Or maybe I should say that the punishment needs to be raised to another level.

A related item is a memory of growing up on the edge of Appalachia.  We had a derogatory term for poor whites who were especially believed to be morally loose: "White Trash".  A difference of today is that revelations or accusations of such behavior from the nominees no longer result in any surprise.  What was formerly an exception is now mainstream, having been fully embraced by academia and modernist theologians, with Hollywood a little behind.   The damaging thing to the prospects of a potential candidate is a revelation of a clean past.  Clearly that would point to some sort of extra-terrestrial disguised as a human.  This would be much more scary.  The final irony isg that those who are loudest about condemning Trump from the left for his behavior are the same ones who are desperately mainstreaming Trump's behavior into America's culture, government and legal system.

"Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
as if a man fled from a lion, 
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him.
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?" - Amos 5:18-20

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Happiness: Brits :( vs Americans :)

This post is inspired by an article by a Brit who was suffering from culture shock here in Silicon Valley.  (Note: I am actually in Tucson, Arizona, but most of the time I hang out in Silicon Valley.)

I am in general agreement with the author on a few points, including the general theme:  That the pursuit of happiness is a self-defeating goal.  Happiness shouldn't be an end in itself.  But then again, I am not quite convinced that the Brits' laser-like focus on cynicism really makes them happier either.
My real belief is that happiness should be a side effect of a sensible pursuit of other more plausible goals.  Or maybe it is just something you experience when you finally doze off to sleep knowing that you have a few hours before the storms of life become apparent to you again.

The real Christian pursuit, however, is of suffering:  "Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me'" (Matthew 16:24).  Or perhaps "present your bodies as a living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1), which means volunteering for some Indiana Jones style treatment by the barbarians, but of a life-time duration. And Jesus enticed the apostle Paul to convert with this promise: "For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." (Acts 9:16)   The joy is something we are supposed to look forward to in another life.  Or maybe it is something that the pain just brings out.  For the time being, pain is cool and happiness isn't.

Those who are worried about whether they are happy or not clearly have too much idle time.

Saturday, October 01, 2016