February 28, 2008

Helping the Homeless…with Technology?

I never would have expected slapping technology at the homeless would be helpful. In fact, when I first heard it, I expected that it would be a proposition that purported to help people by giving them technology when what they really needed was something like food. Or shelter. Or Jesus.

While those things may still be true, I’m impressed with Google’s plan to give homeless folks a free phone number with voice mail. (Kind of odd to find that news on MSN…but I digress.) As I said, I was at first rather skeptical. But then, as I read further, and realized that this was a tool that homeless folks could use to get a job (how do you schedule an interview if you can’t be reached) or keep in touch with their family, I was impressed. I am all for giving people tools that they can use to try make their lives work. No, it doesn’t solve all their problems. But it might help some…and I think that’s worth it.

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February 26, 2008

Our Trailer

I was just going through some photos we have and realized that we have a pretty nice one of the out side of our trailer. Then I thought that if I add this picture to the floor plan I posted earlier, you can have a better idea of what our home looks like. The kitchen is in the front. Enjoy!


In Christ,


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February 25, 2008


Inma makes me laugh out loud!

It is not often that a person makes me want to laugh out loud. Especially in Starbucks full of other people.

Inma is from Spain. Young, beautiful, full of life. She is learning English and hopes to be fluent before she goes back to Spain. The best part is, while she is talking, she uses a lot of gestures to fill in the missing words. She doesn’t hesitate to make a face to describe an emotion, or use her hands to better explain a story, or even to use sound effects to make her meanings clear.

The first week I sat and watched her as she used gestures, facial expressions and sound effects to tell her stories, and I wondered if it was just because she was looking for ways to explain her meanings that she was so dynamic.

The second week I asked myself why I don’t use these methods more in my daily talk to make a story more vibrant. I even tried a sound effect or two, but felt a little silly and thought I would just leave them to her.

I am realizing that although a lot of why Inma uses so many methods of getting her meanings across might be because she is still learning English, it’s more than that too.

She is bold. I am not. She likes to step out and talk English, even if she doesn’t know it well. I hesitate to do what I don’t know because I am afraid I will get it wrong and people might laugh. She wants to be understood and will do what it takes to make her meaning clear. I’d rather not even try.

I am not so bold, but when I am with Inma, I find that I am not thinking about myself or what other people think of us, and I find myself laughing out loud.

A good, loud, deep down laugh.

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February 23, 2008

A Long Overdue Post

I know that my writing here is long overdue. And, unfortunately, this post won’t satisfy most of you. I could write all sorts of things about our life in Ithaca and at Cornell since we moved here months ago—but, I hope it will at least appease some if I say that we really love it here. School has been great, though very busy, and we really love living in Ithaca. It’s a new experience: it is a pretty safe assumption that most folks here aren’t Christians, and, interestingly for me, no one assumes that I’m a Christian, either. It seems to bring new meaning to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

Oh. I probably should add that I have found an advisor and a thesis project. I’ll be working with Dr. Hod Lipson at the Cornell Computational Synthesis Laboratory. I’m really finding that I think God put me here for a reason. Not only is it a melding of computers and mechanical engineering that is surprisingly enjoyable to me, but I am realizing that there are a whole slew of ethical and philosophical issues attached to working with robotics. In particular, how human-like can robots become? How can I explain my point of view as a Christian in ways that everyone else understands? How can I design robots that help humans use their God-given abilities more effectively rather than stunting them? Anyhow, I’ll have to write more about my future work some other time.

What I really started out to write was on a completely different topic. Perhaps you realized that since this post is in the Public Policy category. (But I bet most of you didn’t!)

Though I am registered as a Republican, I don’t attach a great deal of allegiance to that party. I am a Christian, first and foremost—and following Christ defines how I make my political decisions. Though I do believe that conservative policies (in the sense of small government and fewer laws, generally speaking—and, yes, I know, Republicans aren’t ideal here) are best, and that such beliefs are consistent with my faith, I am perfectly content accepting brothers and sisters in Christ with other viewpoints on the topic. In many ways, it is such disagreement that makes Christian fellowship truly a beautiful thing. In fact, to some degree, I think it is the sense of disagreement—but ability to compromise appropriately—that has help our nation prosper so greatly.

That said, I’ve been paying closer attention to politics this year than most. Perhaps, it is inevitable with the huge amount of publicity that the primaries are receiving. More probably, it is Rita’s fault, as she listens to talk radio often during the day. Today, though, I ran across a blog post which states better than I ever could my concerns about Barack Obama becoming president. Frankly, I do expect him to win. But I don’t trust him. I would far rather have an atheist or even a moderate Muslim as president than a man who claims Christ very openly but does not seem to acknowledge His teachings in some very critical areas (in particular, I think of an excerpt from his book—particularly the last paragraph. I hope and pray that I am wrong—and I guess only time will tell.

Fortunately, we serve a mighty God who is in control of all things—even when they don’t match our ideas of what He should be doing.

Anyhow, I need to get back to the work that I am supposed to be doing. I hope and pray all y’all are doing well!

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February 20, 2008

Our Home

I have been asked if I’ve posted any photos of our trailer yet. I haven’t. Quite frankly, unless you like seeing a lot of dark brown panelling, there is not a lot to see.

Ok, that isn’t strictly true. We have a nice white kitchen with red curtains. My work room is a nice cream colour, and the hallway is a beautiful bright yellow. Only the living room and the guest room are still brown panelling. Our dining room is half wallpaper and half panelling. Our bathroom has been covered by a nice wall covering that looks like tiles. And our bedroom is an ivory colour.

Unfortunately many of these walls do now allow for all my bright accents to shine, so I haven’t taken many pictures.

Instead, I thought you might enjoy seeing a layout of our trailer. Then you can still get an idea of what our home looks like.

Floor Plan

Also, as we are able to do some painting, as we did with the hallway, I’ll post a few before and after photos :)

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February 18, 2008

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(I know it is a few days late, but since it has been such a long time since I have written, I wanted to write an update first to let everyone know how we are doing. Now I want to tell you about my wonderful husband. :-D)

Every year for Valentine’s day I ask David what he wants to do. (Just a reminder that Valentine’s day is coming. He could surprise me with something if he would like to. I don’t mind.) I ask because I want to know what is expected of us on that day. Maybe we (or I, since David doesn’t care either way) don’t feel like celebrating this year, maybe we (I) do. I’d like to know for sure, and tell David my thoughts.

This year I wanted to celebrate. It has been a very busy year for us. We have tried to make time for dating, etc, but it has been less of a priority. We also haven’t been spending the same amount of money as we did in Iowa to get each other gifts or to eat out just for fun. This year, I wanted to celebrate Valentine’s day.

I told David that I would like a surprise this year, one that costs a little money. They have been rare of late. I was even kind enough to tell him what I would like to have, and where he could get it, so he wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time trying to think of something. (I’m a considerate wife.)

When David came home Thursday evening for supper, he knew I had been baking, he could smell it as soon as he opened the door. I made him chocolate chip cookies. His favorite.

David was sad that he didn’t have anything for me. The gift he was trying to get for me hadn’t arrived yet and he didn’t have time to think about doing anything else to surprise me. I didn’t mind, I knew he already ordered my gift, but as he was quite sad about it, I asked him to make me supper while I finished the cookies.

I left him to his work and went about my own until we sat down for supper. Lo and behold! This was my supper!!

Valentine's Pizza

David is not typically one to think of little things like decorating a pizza with hearts to let me know he loves me. I was completely surprised!

Thank you David, for loving me and wanting to make me feel special! I love you too! (You are the BEST!)

In Christ,


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February 16, 2008

Jar Of Wood

I am proud to announce that my new spoon website is up and running!! Please go to Jar of Wood to see the spoons I have been working on. I have a page of spoons that are ready for sale, as well as a few pages of photos of other spoons I have made. I’d love for you to check it out and tell me what you think.

Jar Of Wood

Just a note, we are working on getting Paypal added to it to make easier ordering. The web site is not quite complete, but I am glad to have it up to show off it’s colours. Didn’t David do a good job?! Merry Christmas and Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

In Christ,


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Welcome to 2008!

David and Rita in Windmill Yes, yes, It has been 2008 for over a month already, but as I was sick in bed when the new year rolled around, I would like to welcome it now. I think that this year promises to be a good one.

“Why?” you ask. Well, let me tell you.

First, I must say that God is Good. Last semester was a hard one, but God held us and lead us through it all. God has given us peace despite the challenges we had.

Secondly, David is enjoying school. He loves his lab and his research project. He is enjoying classes and although they make him busy, he has not been stressed like he was last semester. That makes us both happy! :)

Thirdly, I am working constantly and steadily on making spoons. Before the new year I had been working on my carving, but not very consistently as I was hoping to get an outside job. Now I have a goal of carving 4 spoons a week, which takes me at least 4 full days of work to complete. I throughly enjoy my time carving, and I am glad for the excuse to spend so much time doing it.

I did some counting and discovered that I made about 49 spoons in 2007. So far this year I have done 14 and have three waiting for the last steps of completion. It’s not quite reaching my 4 spoons a week, but close. I also received two new orders in the past two weeks, which is encouraging to me.

So, why do I think 2008 will be a good year? David loves his work, I love mine, and when a person is able to love what they spend most of their time on in life, it is a good thing. Also, we have assurance that God is with us and is blessing our endeavors. It was He who has brought us here, and when we are where He wants us to be, it is good.

So, here is to a good year! May God continue to bless it as He has. David and I wish you His blessings also.

In Christ


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