Saturday, October 25, 2003

I got those blinkin' sync light blues...

modems and routers and wires oh my For some reason that eludes me, I've been having major DSL problems for the last week or two. But they're very strange DSL problems. First of all, they seem to be the worst at night. This morning I was able to stay online and connected to my office via VPN for several hours. Yet if I log on at 1:30 AM, as I am wont to do, I can barely keep a connection for two or three minutes without having the modem drop and re-sync.

The only real change I can think of during this time period has to do with the assault on pavement currently being carried out by the good people at Nashville Gas. Part of this involved digging up my front yard and replacing an old-school iron gas pipe with plastic tubing. I'm wondering if perhaps something in the house was improperly grounded to the gas pipe. Now that the pipe is insulated with plastic tubing, perhaps the lack of ground is causing the problem.

My little theory, however, wouldn't explain the curious day/night phenomenon.

This is all quite vexing.

Like all good DSL techies, Mr. Butler was very quick to blame my unfiltered alarm system. But the system has been disconnected from the phone line for several days, and the problem has persisted.

Of course, the phone wiring in this 1920s-vintage house is strung up from the rafters in the dirt cellar, and is quite literally held together by thumbtacks and duct tape. So I suppose at some level it's amazing the thing worked at all. I should probably take the time to crawl around down there and run new wiring, but I have a paper to write this weekend. So maybe I'll just borrow a cup of wireless Internet from everyone's favorite funkadelic neighborhood coffee joint.

In unrelated news...

Beignets I saw The Runaway Jury with a friend earlier tonight. A great suspense story, and I got to revel in a bit of New Orleans nostalgia to boot. (Shady dealings are just better when you negotiate them over Beignets at Cafe du Monde.)

I also discovered that Bonhoeffer, which I just missed the last time I was in DC, is playing for the next few days at the Belcourt. I have been fascinated by the German theologian and Nazi resister ever since I read Denise Giardina's haunting historical novel Saints and Villains. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to convince my friend to go see it with me, but I'm going to try to make it over there before the show closes.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

They don't do windows

Some VIPs from our company's headquarters are flying in on the corporate jet next week for a bunch of meetings and schmoozing. My boss just sent out an e-mail with their agenda, which I opened on my computer at home. A brief moment of amusement followed. When I double clicked the Word attachment, Word popped to the front. My to-do list from last weekend was still open on the screen.

So for a brief moment, I thought that the corporate honchos had scheduled activities like like "clean bathroom, "get new toilet seat," "get scrapbook supplies," and "directions for Grandpa." Alas, it turns out that they're just doing things like having Operational Discussions about Financial Impact. Too bad.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

ding, dong, ratatatatatatatatatata

I was up very late last night. (Blogging, I admit, but also doing some school work and various other things.) My plan had been to sleep until 9:30, which would have still given me, if not a lot of sleep, at least enough to make it through the day. At 7:00 AM, the neighbor's kid persistently starts ringing my doorbell to tell me that the cat was fine when she checked in on her. A week and a half ago, while I was on vacation. Not sure I see the urgency in this, but anyhow.

So then I was awake for a while, checked my e-mail and did a few other things, and could already tell that I was dragging. So around 7:45 I figured that I'd go back to bed for another couple hours. No sooner had I gotten to sleep, the world champion jackhammer team arrives outside my bedroom window. And starts tearing up the part of the street that they hadn't already destroyed.

Maybe I'm an unwitting part of some sort of sleep deprivation experiment.

Luther -- The Man, The Myth, The Movie

Sorry I've been invisible lately. Lots of stress, for a variety of different reasons. Hopefully things will get better soon, but I have a feeling posting may be erratic for a while -- possibly until the end of the semester.

Martin Luther at age 46, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1529 On a non-stressful topic, I saw Luther on Friday night, and was blown away by it. Not that it was necessarily the best movie ever made. But, like Titanic, it gives you a real impression of what people might have seen and heard at a particular point in history.

I think if you've been exposed to something all your life, you sometimes don't really get the point. Growing up Lutheran, I've known about the 95 theses and Luther's wrath over indulgences for as long as I can remember.

The phrase "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise" is stuck in my head, but not because I really comprehended it. Instead, it was part of a church camp chant that we'd repeat every morning before announcements:

Gooood Mooorning, Mister Craig. And what a fine morning it is. Yes, yes, indeed. The sun is peeking through the clouds, and it looks like it's going to be a wonnnderfulll day. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me, Amen. A might fortress is our God. His banner over me is love. Turn, Turn, Turn. Oh, rocka my soul, Baby! A Do Run Run Run, A Do Run Run.
(Or something along those lines -- it was like 20 years ago!)

The point is, that when something is drummed into you in such a relentless and silly way, it loses all meaning. So that's why I was blown away by the scene where Luther stands in front of representatives of the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor (who could easily have him burned at the stake) and refuses to recant his writings.

Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.

This dude is thumbing his nose at the most powerful people in the world, in a time when due process wasn't even a glimmer on the horizon. Not something you realize when the phrase is a prelude to announcements about tonight's big game of capture the flag.

To be sure, the movie is probably a rose-colored look at the life of a complex person. Nothing is said, for example, of Luther's antisemitic writings -- which reflected his time but are incongruous with his otherwise progressive views.

Still, I found the movie to be inspiring. If nothing else, it made me want to revisit Germany. I think we breezed by some Luther-related sites during our whirlwind 3-week stay in high school, but I'd like to see more. So I was also inspired to dust off my German book and order a new set of flash cards.

Nothing new there, I guess. I think my restlessness in Nashville is reaching new heights lately. And that's saying something.�