Summer Blog Project

5951683773I’m about to ramble so take this as fair warning.  My blog has been around for a long time and has meandered through many identity crises.  Sometimes, it’s a puzzle blog posting interesting mind-benders that need a keen intellect and occasionally, some mathematics.  That’s all still here, by the way, which you can find with a not-so-difficult search tool in the sidebar.  It’s also been a devotional through my efforts to better understand our responsibilities as stewards of God’s creation.  It’s been a log of classroom activities.  At one time, I was posting periodically about what I had accomplished in each of my classes.  For the last few years, it has been only a repository for sparse events and thoughts in my professional life.

So what is it now?  In an effort towards both professional and personal development, it is going to serve this summer as a kind of diary or journal where I attempt to solidify my mission and calling in life.  Periodically, there have been times in my life where I doubt my chosen path, I wonder about what might have been, or I simply lack the drive to keep heading down the road I am currently on in life. While I have no doubts about the path I’m on now, I am certainly in a dry spell finding the springs of motivation often running dry, both professionally and spiritually.  So, I’m going to write it out and clarify in possibly painful detail what it is I really care about and what I hope to carry out in the coming weeks, months, and years.

If you happen to read this and you’re either one of my faculty, my students, my colleagues, or even my supervisors, should you be concerned about my commitment to my current job responsibilities? Or to say it another way, if I were in your place, would I be worried about someone in my position laying bare their soul about their calling in life? Absolutely not.  In spite of all the challenges that have come along with my first year as an academic dean, I am more committed than ever to affecting positive change through our programs.  I am more committed than ever to the personal and professional fulfillment of students.  I am more committed than ever to fulfilling God’s call on my life.  The problem is the that it too often feels like a drudgery than the passion it once was. This is intended to be a rejuvenating exercise that will renew my spirit and strengthen my resolve to see God do his will through me.

Here are just some of the questions I intend to reflect upon:

  • What strengths do I have that particularly equip me for this position and what are areas where I need to grow?
  • What are specific actions I can take to strengthen those weaknesses or to partner with people who can complement my weaknesses with their strengths?
  • What am I afraid to do because I’m afraid we might fail?
  • What can I learn from the mistakes I made in my first year as dean?
  • How can I keep up and build upon the successes in my first year as dean?
  • If I were to squeeze all of my current job responsibilities into 80% of my current time spent on them, what would I do with the other 20% of my time to make a lasting mark on the world?
  • Revisit my Personal Mission Statement
  • How do I work? How do I make sure I “get things done”? How do I follow through?
  • Who are my colleagues, my friends, my mentors/mentees?  Where do I go for help?
  • How do I balance work and family and faith?
  • What can I do to continue to improve?
  • The bucket list and the reverse bucket list.
  • How did I get here?  How do I get to where I am going?
  • What do I value most? Prove it.

Here’s hoping I can follow through…

My 4x4x4 Assembly Fail

Some time ago, my son shattered his 4x4x4 Rubik’s cube. The core was snapped but all the pieces were recovered. I tried gluing the core back together and reassembling. It went very well until near the end when it exploded and broke again. A replacement part is on the way.

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Creation Care is Worship in Action

I was honored to be asked to write one of the devotionals for our Creation Care emphasis at WBU this week.  I thought I’d share what I wrote.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

“I should take better care of my things.”

Those words, as they came out of my daughter’s mouth were eerily reminiscent of my own childhood mistakes. She had destroyed another pair of earbuds and took full responsibility for their neglect. As for myself, it was me leaving a toy outside to be chewed up my beloved beagle. Later, it was neglecting to put my allowance in a safe place only to be lost amidst the clutter of my room. Even later on, it was carelessly neglecting to properly maintain my own car, wearing down tires without rotating them and waiting far too long to change the oil. In each and every case, when we neglect our gifts, we end up losing them prematurely. 

Taking care of your things honors the provider even more than the provision itself. 

I know for a fact that I did not realize this as a kid, but there is far more at stake than the privilege of USING those gifts. Sure, we lose them and are less likely to be entrusted with them again, but more importantly, the gift itself bears the mark of the giver. When we disrespect our gifts, we are disrespecting the one who gave.

Creation care is worship in action. 

The motivation for tending and keeping the creation is not simply to preserve it for future generations or even to satisfy a moral obligation to the creation itself but to honor the God who created it and gave us the responsibility for it. Just like we can easily get swept up in the music in a worship service and focus on the song or the band losing sight of the object of our worship, we should avoid creation care as worship OF God’s creation. Instead, it is an effort to honor our God who created this world as our temporary home.

Make the little changes to acknowledge God’s provision.

Already this week, Dr. Kasner has shared in these devotionals how little efforts are multiplied when we all work together. Taking the extra few steps to drop your refuse in the recycling bin, turning off the tap water while you brush your teeth, turning off the light when you leave a room, all reduce your impact on the environment and reduce wastefulness of the resources God has blessed us with. This week, I’m trying to remember that I’m not doing it for the creation, I am “working as for the Lord.”

Let me also encourage you this week to see your creation care efforts as a holy act of worship of the Creator, Himself. If you will, say a prayer of thanksgiving when you make these little changes. 

God bless you in your efforts this week.




Moving OneNote Notebook to OneDrive

I was asked a great question in class today. Someone had a friend whose computer crashed and the student was worried about what would happen if that wiped out an important OneNote Notebook. That would be a catastrophe for me, if I were to completely lose either my Wayland or even Personal Notebook from OneNote.

Fortunately, that’s not going to happen since I actually have both those notebooks in the cloud and are thus, synced across several devices. Even if an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) knocked out all of Plainview, my notebooks are stored safely on servers in Microsoft’s data farm. I should be careful to say it’s not impossible, just extremely improbable.

So, how do you move your notebook to OneDrive? Assuming you have an Office365 account, which all faculty and students at WBU have access to, you first need to log into your Office365 account. To do this click on the File Tab, then click on the Account Panel. From there, click Sign In and log into your account.

Next, open the Info panel File tab in OneNote, click the Settings dropdown next to your notebook (in the Info panel) and click “Share or Move”


Then, make sure you’re using the correct Office365 account, click Continue, and voila!

You can also share your notebooks using the Share panel and send links or invite people to edit your notebooks.

It’s okay to feel inferior


Brick Wall
Find value in being the wall, when alone, you are only a brick

Not all posts on this site will have to do with math, teaching, or technology.  For example, today, during my time alone with God, I was impressed to record the following in my journal.  It may not be exceedingly profound, but I don’t want to soon forget it because I am often, easily wounded when my ego takes a hit.

Do not let your feelings push you to overreact when you encounter someone that excels at something you do not. For one, you must remember that your value, whether to yourself, to the world as a whole, or to your creator, does not depend on how well you fair against other individuals. You are vastly more complicated and intricate than just one trait or skill. Even though it is easy to fall into the trap of assigning general superiority to someone who has bested you or overshadowed you, remember that there is a uniqueness to your make-up and that uniqueness allows you to meet the needs of others in vital way. I think it is also worth remembering that the value of single brick in a wall is not in its uniqueness. It may even be the case that removing one brick will not bring down the wall. Even so, you are part of something larger. You together with many other bricks hold up your portion of the building. The wall needs bricks. It may not need each and every single brick, but that’s not important to the bricks or the wall. The wall needs to be a wall, it needs the parts in order to be the whole. Find value in being the wall, when alone, you are only a brick.

My First Program from 1987

Back in 2010, I posted a brief story about one of the highlights of my childhood, the first time I was able to get a program to successfully compile and run on my Apple IIe clone, the Laser 128.

Here’s the tale again:

I was subscribed to a children’s magazine called “3-2-1 Contact” and in the back of every issue were a couple of programs in BASIC (as in the BASIC programming language). I can still vividly remember one of the most exciting and exhilarating moments of my childhood, perhaps of my whole life. The moment came after seemingly endless hours of trying to get the very first program to run. I knew nothing about how I was supposed to type it in, whether punctuation or case had anything to do with the code, whether the line number needed to be typed and I definitely had no idea what the code meant. Yet, I tried and I tried and I tried until finally, after pressing the “Enter” key at the “RUN PROGRAM”, something happened. Something beautiful. Something amazing. Something that made me jump up and down, hoot and holler, clap and do a little jig. Okay, specifically what happened was so basic and ordinary that no one but I would be impressed. It was the fact that it ran that made me so happy. The program just drew a multicolored box around the edge of the screen and then criss-crossed a multicolored “x” on the screen. It repeatedly drew the box and the x over and over again. It was essentially the most boring screensaver you could imagine. But, the code I entered ran. Brilliant! Genius! I still feel the excitement in my gut when I think about that moment.

from Chasing Rabbits in Stat Class (June 17, 2010)

So, today I was finally able to find the original code by digging around on the web.  I can’t believe I actually found a scanned image of the page from the back of the magazine, but here it is:


And then, thanks to Joshua Bell, I was able to use an “Applesoft BASIC in JavaScript” utility to re-create that experience again:

Here’s the code to copy and paste if you want to try it out yourself:

20 COLOR=1
30 FOR S = 0 TO 39
40 VLIN O,39 AT S
60 FOR S = 0 TO 39
70 COLOR = INT(RND(1)*232+1)
80 PLOT 0,S: PLOT S,S: PLOT S,0: PLOT 39,S: PLOT S,39: PLOT 39-S,S: PLOT S,39-S
85 FOR T=0 TO 100: M=T+100: NEXT T
100 GOTO 30

Note that I added line 85 just to slow down the rendering on the page.

Are you ready to see that amazing graphic that I created?  Again, let me just say that the moment this finally ran, I freaked out with excitement.  It was only after hours, if not days of trying to get that code entered correctly.  Seeing it again didn’t quite recreate that feeling, but I’m still feeling pretty proud of myself for being able to recreate the graphic from 1987.