Thursday, June 26, 2008


I'm done. I took my last VLI final exam tonight and I have completed the program. Woohoo!

What's it get me? Uhh...nothing. Only the personal sense of accomplishment of having completed two years' worth of college-level theology and leadership courses, I don't get a thing. But it does help me feel better prepared to do my job. I never really meant to be a pastor, so I didn't go about studying to be one. At least not until now.

One thing it made me realize is that I really do like academia. I always did pretty well in school. I liked the competition of it on strictly a performance level, trying to figure out what it was that would get you a good grade from different teachers, things like that. And I still like those things, but as I've gotten older I realize I like the pure learning and discovery part of it as well. So someday it would be nice to continue on and get a real degree. And maybe teach. But for now I just get to sit back and bask in the glory of getting....uhhh.....nothing!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Iowa Floods

Last night I talked with my sister who lives in Waterloo, Iowa. Waterloo is about 45 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids, where some of the heaviest flooding in Iowa has occurred, and the Cedar River passes through both cities. All of the pictures here are from the Cedar Rapids area. Waterloo has had some flooding as well- enough to close down all four bridges in the city that cross the river at one time, and seriously damage one of the bridges. But luckily they've had nothing that compares to Cedar Rapids. My sister and brother-in-law already know four people who have lost their homes to the floods.

From what I've been reading and have heard the flooding is expected to reach "500 year" levels, and that the damage could rival Katrina. Be praying for the folks in Iowa if you have a chance.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Plumbing Genius

OK, so some things are worth the wait. We finally got a second plumber to come out to our house to check out our kitchen drain problem. The first guy who came out quoted us between $2500 and $3200. He told us he was going to have to cut our countertop, take out the sink and open up the wall to remove the old pipe and install new PVC in its place. It might take two days of work total. My newest best friend Keith from D.J. Hughes plumbing comes today and says, "I'll just leave the old pipe in the wall, cut a new hole and drop in the new PVC pipe alongside it." Estimated total cost= $585. Brilliant!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Whazzup with plumbers?

Our kitchen sink backed up a week ago Sunday. After trying the usual Liquid Plumber and, when that didn't work, an actual plunger it became obvious that our problem was more serious than just the usual clogged drain. So I got underneath the sink and disconnected the j trap and let everything drain out. The j trap was clear so the problem was obviously in the galvanized pipe that the PVC j trap connected to. I tried to clean out the galvanized pipe with a snake, but that didn't work either. So I had to take off an elbow at the end of the galvanized pipe to see if that would give me a straighter shot with the snake.

I got the elbow off and, man, what a mess. The galvanized pipe was completely full of disgusting, vile, black stuff. I mean I was amazed that the drain had worked at all because this stuff had to build up for years. I cleaned some of it out before realizing I had a bigger problem. The galvanized pipe was corroded, and the end where the elbow had screwed on was completely disintegrated. So I had reached the end of my plumbing ability.

We called two plumbers the next day who had been recommended by friends. One of them called back to say he didn't do "that kind of work" (I'm not sure what kind of work a plumber does besides plumbing) and referred us to the other guy we had already called. So we called him again. He never called back. We called another plumber. Again, no call back. Ever. Vicki's boss recommended a plumber, and we called him. He was out to take a look at our problem the next day, but the price was high enough that we wanted a second opinion.

So we called another plumber. I picked this one because his advertisement said they answer the phone. That actually seems to be a novel idea in the plumbing business. Someone did answer the phone. This was on Friday and they told me they would have someone come out Monday. By mid-Monday no one had called to say they would be out so I called them back. A different person answered this time and said she would get right back to me. By the end of the day, we hadn't heard back from them. So I called again yesterday and they said they would have someone get in touch with us first thing today. Do you want to guess what happened? Nothing. No call.

So out of five or six plumbers we've contacted only one has even come close to panning out. That's a pretty poor performance rate for a group in the service sector. So does anyone know a good plumber? Are they out there? Do they really exist? I feel like I'd have better luck tracking down Sasquatch.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Steak and Potatoes

Our small group went to Fred and Rhonda Maess' home tonight for a cookout. For those of you who don't know Fred, he's a great guy who spent a lot of his adult life in the restaurant business (although now he manages a fleet of trucks- go figure!). He's an excellent cook. And he grills some of the best steaks I've ever had. Melt-in-your-mouth good. So we had steak and potatoes, fresh asparagus, sauteed mushrooms and onions, salad and dessert. Several hours later I'm still full. Vicki will tell you how rare that is.

I had my last VLI weekend intensive today. The intensives are held on two weekends each quarter and go on Saturday from 9:30 to about 3:00 or 4:00 and Sunday from 1:30 or so until as late as 6:00. I missed Saturday's portion (I let too many people on my team off for the weekend so I needed to be there). But today's session was pretty good. It was on 1 and 2 Peter and Jude. I have a new appreciation for those books. One more regular class and a final exam and I will be completely finished with VLI. Then it will be my goal to post more often here. My buddy Brad Wise has already threatened to stop linking to me because I don't post enough. I'm in danger of becoming a cyberspace loser.