Sunday, May 30, 2010

Church Volunteer

I was a volunteer in church today partly because I sat in the front row and partly because the pastor has spoken to me before and thought that I would do a good job.

I uploaded the section of the sermon in which I am volunteering to YouTube (see below). Pastor Tim did not tell me what I would be doing for him, so all of my actions are solely based on his verbal cues. If you listen closely, when he tells me that I am going to be Jesus, you can hear me respond with "That's a good role."

If you want to see the whole service, you can find it at the website of Blackhawk Church. The sermon is called "Forgiving Myself" and is in the series called "Forgiveness".

Anyway, here it is...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Open Letter to Verizon, AT&T, etc.

Dear Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and other cellular phone companies,

Is it really necessary for our government to make a law that early termination fees (ETFs) should prorate to $0 by the end of the contract?


Tyson Diddley

Further reading

Friday, May 28, 2010

Getting a Passport Book

I applied for a passport book today. Although it was not that difficult to figure out what I needed to do, it was difficult enough to warrant a summary of my own.

Before I get started, did you notice how I said "passport book" instead of just "passport"? That is because there is also something called a passport card. A passport book allows you to do everything that a passport card can do and more. The main benefit of a passport card is that it is cheaper. There are some other differences as well.

My instructions apply for
  • a native born US citizen that is
  • at least 18 years old and
  • applying for a passport (book) for the first time.
What to bring:
  1. All pages of the form on this page with the last two pages filled out.
  2. A certified birth certificate (where "certified" means that it has a raised seal). Note that it does not have to be the original. They will keep your birth certificate and mail it to you with your passport book.
  3. A driver's license.
  4. A photocopy of the front side of your driver's license on one page and a photocopy of the back side of your driver's license on a second page. If this is too difficult, they can (probably) make these copies for you where you apply. They did where I applied.
  5. Two recent pictures of yourself that satisfy many requirements (see step 6) or just apply at a location that can take your picture for you (see below).
  6. The ability to pay a $75 application fee (via check or debit card) and a $25 execution fee (via check, debit card, or credit card).
Finally, bring these materials to an "acceptance facility", which is otherwise known as "a place to apply for a passport". I recommend that you find an acceptance facility that can take your picture "on-site" since their requirements on the pictures are so strict.

See you abroad.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dead Sea Scrolls

On Tuesday, Shannon and I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum to the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. Their version of the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit only lasts until June 6th.

At the beginning of the exhibit, there were many artifacts, including pots, coins, (chest) ossuaries, medical tools, makeup tools, oil lamps, and probably some more things that I am forgetting. My favorite were the coins (because there were probably the type of shekel mentioned in the Bible) and a particular ossuary. The display said that the ossuary probably belonged to Alexander Son of Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried the cross of Jesus. Upon reading Wikipedia about Simon of Cyrene, it says
A burial cave in Kidron Valley discovered in 1941, belonging to Cyrenian Jews and dating before AD 70, was found to have an ossuary inscribed twice in Greek "Alexander Son of Simon." It cannot, however, be certain that this refers to the same person.
There was also a model of Jerusalem accompanied by a few aerial photographs.

After a few displays about finding the scrolls, we got to see a facsimile of the of the Great Isaiah Scroll. Created circa 100BC, it predates the previous oldest copy of Isaish by 1000 years. Finally, the next room contained actual dead sea scrolls. They were pieces ranging in size from a softball to a fingernail and set between glass. After this room, there were a couple more hallways with other examples of old copies of the Bible.

The model of Jerusalem reminded me of a thought that I have had before. I think that people should make famous buildings, such as the temple at Jerusalem, into virtual worlds (not unlike World of Warcraft or Second Life) that can be explored via computer. What better way to learn what the temple looked like than to explore it?!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Thought about Colors

Colors are full of themselves.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Love Madison 2010

In Madison, I attend Blackhawk Church. Not last weekend, but two weekends ago (the weekend of Sunday May 2nd), Blackhawk had their second annual church "service" called Love Madison. Instead of having a traditional church service (in a building, singing songs, praying, listening to a sermon), about 2,700 of us went out into the community and volunteered our time in many, many different ways. I am told that there were over 100 service projects.

My project involved removing invasive species (Buckthorn and Garlic Mustard) along a trail in Verona, a city 20 minutes southwest of Madison. We had about 25 people in our group. The job was supposed to last four hours, but we worked so quickly that we got done an hour early.

Here are some action shots:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

So much for Protecting My Identity

A few months ago, I wrote about how I created a second checking account to use for online purchases from websites that I did not completely trust with my (sole) credit card information. The idea is to keep this account empty at all times unless I am going to make an online purchase from a shady site.

Well...I do not make online purchases that often, especially from websites that I do not trust. So today, Wells Fargo decided to close my second checking account because it was inactive and without a balance.

Do you see the irony?

Now I have to waste my time to create the account again (and get a straight answer the conditions under which an account is automatically closed). The whole point of getting this account was to save me the time and money involved with the theft of my identity. Of course I would rather have an account mistakenly closed than have my identity stolen, but I am not happy that this is costing me time when the whole point is that it is supposed to be saving it.

When I opened this account, the Wells Fargo employee told me that I had to transfer $100 into the account, but also said that I could transfer it back right away. No one ever told me that I needed to do anything to keep the account from automatically closing.

This is not the first time that Wells Fargo has neglected to give me all the pertinent information. Do I have any hope that it will be the last?