Friday, November 28, 2008

Some Engineering Humor (Arguably an Oxymoron)

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Running with the Kids

Last Saturday I ran in a race with Kori in Kati in Lawton. It was pretty cool and everyone is excited to hit more races very soon.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rebellious Children

I recently read a question on another blog asking a mother what she would do if her children developed views that were not Christ centered. The question was not addressed to me…and I jumped into the conversation prematurely (violating many of the principles set forth in Proverbs chapter 10) and did more to harm the conversation than to move it along. My apologies to you if you were involved in that conversation. It did cause me to think, however, about the underlying question. What is the appropriate parental response in this situation, from a biblical perspective?

Now first, I realize many unbelievers read this blog. I am sensitive to that fact. Regardless of what we call ourselves; Christian, Buddhist, humanist, Hindu, atheist, agnostic….we all have SIGNIFICANT influence in how our children view the world. The bible is sensitive to this fact. In Proverbs 22:6 we are told, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” As with all other Proverbs…this is a principle set forth by God…NOT a promise. I can raise my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and they can still rebel and reject His offers of mercy. The principle is, though, that they have a much greater likelihood of repentance and accepting the Lordship of Christ if I “train them up in the way they should go.” I believe this principle holds true for other worldviews as well. A quick look at the world will tell us that much. That is why we see most people raised in western countries claiming to be Christians, just as most people raised in Middle Eastern countries claim to be Muslims. It is easy to see that children raised by people who do not think deeply about these matters…would, in turn, grow to be adults who ignore or do not think deeply about spirituality. This, of course, holds across the spectrum. As a side note…I also believe that most people who claim to be Christians, Muslims, Catholics, agnostics, etc. do not really understand what they are saying and are merely claiming a heritage. While I would love to get into a broader discussion with any proponent of an alternative (to Christianity) philosophy…this post is not doing that. As a Christian I have a high calling to have well thought out reasoning for the things I do…especially fundamental things, like parenting. So the rest of this post will primarily be relevant only to Christians who believe that the Holy Scriptures contain the infallible wisdom of the very real, non-silent, holy, and only living God. If you are an unbeliever I promise you will be offended if you keep reading. God specifically designed Christianity to be a stumbling block to the unbeliever. True Christianity (not typically on display in most American churches) is diametrically opposed to the “natural” thought systems currently prevalent in western culture.

First things first. I became a Father before I became a Christian…an obedient, spirit-filled Christian anyway. Some of you reading this will be much Godlier fathers than I am and I could learn a lot from you. This post is as much about me working out my understanding as it is teaching others. If you have something to add…please chime in. Sometimes when I read what I have written I am struck by how dogmatic I sound. Please accept the following as I wrote it…with a humble spirit.

Childhood is over. It is too late to “train the child up in the way he should go”. Obviously parental love is important. That must continue, and even increase. Obviously, praying for your heathen child will be easy for a Christian parent. Why? What does a Christian believe? All unregenerate souls spend eternity suffering in a very real place called hell. Jesus taught about hell more than nearly any other topic. Any true disciple of Christ cannot ignore this reality. The fact that it is your child who is in rebellion does not change the reality of where he/she (I hate political correctness…from here on it will be “he”) will go when he dies. That is fundamental to following Christ and it is a stumbling block to many people. If that does not drive you to your knees begging the Lord for the salvation of your child…then what does? You cannot “save” your child. You can only do your best to show them the love of Christ. As most of you know…shining the light of Christ on a darkened soul is often very offensive to those living in rebellion. Your unrepentant child will likely not thank you for it. In fact they may be hostile. Just keep loving and praying though. Don’t stop.

Now, for those of us with multiple kids. Older siblings have SIGNIFICANT influence on younger children. It is our job as parents to manage this. If I had an older son, who was a rebellious whore-monger, practicing homosexual, pornographer, rapist, murderer, and drunkard (whore-monger is one of the funniest of all hyphenated words in my opinion….totally irrelevant…sorry) then, once he is out of the house and living on his own, I would do everything in my power to limit his influence on his younger siblings still under my roof. First and foremost would be not just reducing but eliminating any of the time the younger siblings spend alone with the rebellious child. Again, this only seems radical if you deny that the eternal future of your children is hanging in the balance.

As for the sinful practices of the child….I would do what I do now with my smaller children. When my 9 year old says something rude to her big sister…my wife and I do not tell her she is a rude person….we tell her that God calls us to be kind and to lift others up in love. We tell her that her actions were sinful and rude, while maintaining her dignity by not defining her as that. On the other hand we DO also teach (not us but the bible) that we are eventually defined by what we think…what we do…what we live. That is why it is important to learn self control and obedience as a child. I, personally, did not learn those things as a child and spent many years in severe sin…drug abuse, debauchery, leading others astray, and yes…whore-mongering. If my adult child was a practicing homosexual, or was an outspoken atheist, or just someone who didn’t care to think about these things…of course I would still love them. Of course they would still have a welcome place with me. But I would not have the same attitude toward their sinfulness as they have come to expect from modern western culture. I would not condone any portions of their lifestyle that was sinful or allow displays of it in my home or around my minor children. I would not beat around the bush. My position would be clear to them.

In Ephesians 6 we are told: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

We literally live in a spiritual war zone. We fight against not only demonic activity and the sin of fallen man….but philosophies, and established worldly patterns of thought. Handling a rebellious adult/child must be viewed from this perspective. Love and shine the light of Christ, and do so with a sense of urgency…as if your child is dying. We cannot save our children. We can only show them the one who can.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thus Believeth New-Think

Today I will tie together the last 3 posts and tell you what to expect from the future, economically speaking.

How does all of this fit together? Yesterday's series of if-then statements are a useful tool, BUT, it will not be that black and white. Right before oil demand began being destroyed by the tanking economy, demand had been slightly exceeding supply. Customers (mainly very poor ones) were priced out of the oil consumption business and those who could afford to buy what they could not (us) bought it. That is why oil was so expensive. As a consequence of the high prices, though, we were able to fund a LOT of projects to find new oil and get it out of the ground (or sand or shale) as quickly as possible. People like T. Boone Pickens began rolling out multi-billion dollar alternative energy projects like thousands of giant wind-mills. People naturally used less because they could not afford it.

Now people are losing jobs and having trouble getting new credit cards....the cost of oil has drastically decreased. The government has shown it will do whatever it takes (including change the rules in the middle of the game and ignore the constitution) to prop the economy up for as long as it can. Actually, they are surprisingly good at it. It is amazing how, when the money stops flowing, you see who is really loyal to who…that is, if you are paying attention.

Anyway, it appears to New-Think that a full collapse of the U.S. economic system is still a very real possibility within the next year. If you are rolling your eyes at that, please think back and remember how you rolled your eyes when we told you oil was going over $100 and the dow was going below 10,000. Turns out those were very conservative predictions. If a systemic collapse happens, all of the following predictions go out the window.

If, however, the system holds up.....

The price of oil will continue to fall for the very short term and cause numerous project cancellations in the oil and gas industry and it will bring the “alternative” energy industry to a near stand still. Especially after 6 months when everyone forgets what $4 gas was like. The economy might not get much better, but eventually, demand will increase (either from very low prices or a more stable world economy) and we will find ourselves worse off than before because we were still, after all, using millions of barrels or oil every day while cancelling the energy projects we needed to sustain the practice. The price of oil will once again skyrocket…until something else breaks. Then we’ll do it all again. Only every time it will be more painful. Welcome to the long emergency. Don’t borrow any more money. Get out of debt now. Don’t borrow any more money. Get out of debt now.

I mentioned politics in the original post title but didn’t say much about it at all. No, your candidate, whoever he or she is, cannot fix this. They will keep telling you/us they can, though. We’ll hear a lot about a lot of things, and I’ll keep getting e-mails about the stupid things politicians say to win votes…but won’t actually work, asking me if it is true. I won’t say most politicians don’t care BUT I will unequivocally declare that most politicians (especially in the legislative and executive branches of the current administration and the next) do not yet fully understand these issues. If I have to hear about the Bakken formation or Utah oil shale one more time from one of these folks I’m gonna…….It doesn't matter who you voted for in regard to energy and the economic issues.....in these regards democrats and republicans are one large monolithic, idiotic party. By the time the ballot gets to you the choice is primarily an illusion.


Later.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gas Is Under $2 per Gallon - We're All Saved

Gas is under $2 a gallon! We’re all saved!

No. Sorry, you are not saved. The finite resource you know as crude oil is still finite. Here is a brief, generalized, and grossly overly simplified line of reasoning of why gas costs under 2 bucks per gallon now. Prior to the “Credit Crunch/Crisis” (that terminology is inaccurate…but if I don’t call it what CNN calls it some people might not know what I’m talking about). Anyway…before this whole economic downturn got going full steam, you’ll recall that oil was about $150 bucks per barrel. Gas was over $4 per gallon. That (among other things) was putting a major strain on most Western consumers. $4 gasoline (and it’s trickle down effect) helped cause the “credit crisis” by being an agitating factor when adjustable rate mortgages began to reset and just causing a strain on consumers in general. I felt it. Didn’t you? It wasn’t just the cost either, was it? It was the concern over when the next shoe would drop. Well the next shoe dropped, and it looked like a “credit crisis”. Unfortunately the shoe was not on a human. It was on a centipede and there are about 98 shoes left to drop. Did we take that analogy too far?

Onto something more interesting. What does the “credit crisis” do to oil..and what will happen in the future. What does it mean?!?!?!?!?!?

The price of gasoline has primarily gone down because demand has gone down. AND because future traders FEAR it will go down more and BELIEVE supply will outpace demand. Perhaps it will. Obviously, when people are doing well, economically speaking, they use more gasoline.

1. IF world economies makes a turn for the prosperous THEN demand will start marching right along again and the price of oil will test even higher prices as demand again knocks on the door of supply capacity.

2. IF the economy stays flat or dives further AND oil supply growth can truly keep up with oil demand THEN prices may go down even further for a time.

3. IF the economy stays flat or dives further AND oil supply growth cannot keep up with oil demand THEN…Katy bar the door….the price of oil will go up until another shoe drops. Ad Infinitum.

The 3 if-then statements, above, cover the most likely scenarios we will see in the next 2-5 years.

Tune in tomorrow when we wrap this up, tie it up with a neat little bow, and tell you what to expect for the next few years.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No One Could Have Seen This Coming

This is the second post in a multi-post series on macro-economics, oil, politics, and the near future.

No one could have seen this coming (in reference to current economic downturn).

I have heard some very smart people say this. They are wrong. It was very easy to see the crisis coming, and a lot of people did. When people say things like this it tells me they have not formed their worldview (economic worldview anyway) on understanding the facts and then thinking critically about them.


No in-depth analysis is needed. In the main stream media you will hear a lot of technical talk about how we have to free up credit….so people can borrow…so they can keep consuming…so the economy can keep growing. When the economy is truly “fixed” this type of reasoning will be dead. More credit is not the solution. Living within our means, as individuals, as a society, and as a world is the solution. The economy cannot grow infinitely. We can make it grow for a longer period of time if we do stuff like make it easier for people to borrow money (people who shouldn’t), and borrow and steal from the future ($700,000,000,000 bailout ring a bell?) to prop up the present…in the end though, the higher we prop it up…the harder it will fall. It is not hard to predict. It is easy to see the train coming down the tracks right at us.

Some of you may not yet be drinking the kool-aid I am serving, so let me put it another way. If you make $100,000 a year and spend $50,000 a year on your house and $50,000 a year on other stuff and still need $30,000 a year for your 3 cars….would planning to borrow $30,000 a year, every year, be a good solution? If you cut back and rent an apartment you can afford, eat at home a few nights a week, and pay cash for a Chevy Cavalier that would be a disaster. Why? Because if everyone did it what would happen to the mortgage company? How could they increase profits if everyone decided they didn’t need a McMansion? How would the Lexus dealer survive if he didn’t have a bunch of 30 year olds making $80,000 a year taking out six year loans to buy a car?

If that happened organizations like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and lots of other mortgage banks would be in serious trouble AND auto company CEOs would have to beg the government for money…because…NO ONE COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING. Give me a break.

By the way…if you didn’t get the sarcasm (I hope it was only one or two of you)….a bunch of mortgage firms did fail and auto company CEOs are on capital hill begging for money as I type this.

Tune in tomorrow for more in this mult-post series about the future.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ash Wednesday-The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

OK, I have to admit, I waited until the last minute to think about this post. So, needless to say, it will not be the greatest. Currently I am reading the book The Tipping Pointby Malcolm Gladwell. It's possible that it has previously been mentioned in this blog but it deserves a second mentioning. I recommend it to you, definitely. It really gets you thinking. I would love for someone to read it and start a little discussion on it with me. That would be really fun. Just saying.... OK, that's all I have to say this Wednesday. Sorry.

Oh and by the way I love getting comments. Keep 'em coming.

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Economics, Oil, Politics, and the Future

Regular New-Think readers know that we enjoy prognostication. Please allow us to clear up a few things for you regarding the next decade or so.

First, let’s get our credentials out of the way. Way back before oil was above $40 per barrel we predicted that oil prices were set to skyrocket on the basic principles of supply and demand. Way back when the Dow was up in the 14,000-15,000 range New-Think told you it would fall below 10,000 (and probably much further) within the next year. Since we are going to spend the next few posts talking about macro-economics and energy (in the most interesting way possible) it is important that you keep these things in mind. We have not been wrong about calling the shots before they happen in the past.

Now, here is a disclaimer. This is NOT investment advice. My only investment advice to you is to get out of debt. The world economic situation has entered a VERY volatile phase and my prognostication is going to be full of “if-then” type statements. New-Think clearly sees the dominoes, set up and ready to fall, but seeing which domino will fall first is a bit of a guessing game at this point.

These posts are written in response to two sentiments I have heard expressed by ordinary citizens (non-New-Thinkers) in the past few weeks.

1. No one could have seen this coming (in reference to current economic downturn).
2. Gas is under $2 a gallon! We’re all saved!

Tune back in daily for the next few days to get a taste of the future.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Birth of Asa Kayil Johnson


Our first son, Asa Kayil, was born January 4th of 2008. This is the story of his birth from his father’s perspective.

Millicent was born in January of 2006. She was born in our bedroom with only Michelle and I present. No doctor, no midwife. Just us. After that uplifting and beautiful experience we were convinced that we should never do it any other way. When Michelle became pregnant with Asa we calmly (since we were not longer rookies to unassisted home birth) began preparing for his birth. This means digging out the old birth supplies, getting a new birth pool because that’s how Michelle likes to deliver…in the water, stuff like that.

Toward the end of October I began to notice that Michelle’s face seemed fairly swollen compared to when she had been pregnant with Millicent. After doing some research I began to regularly take her blood pressure and test her urine for protein (a sure sign of preeclampsia). Her blood pressure was very high…so we agreed that she would go on bed rest until it came down. It never came down. The week after Christmas (2007) she began to pass protein in her urine. On the 2nd of January I took a sample and the amount of protein present was so much that it was off the scale of the strips I was using! I was very concerned for the health of Michelle and our unborn baby. Michelle wanted nothing to do with a trip to the doctor, though. Since the conception of Millicent we had done our own “prenatal” type care and felt very confident and self reliant in this area. I promised her that we would just go “consult” with a doctor and I would bring her home, as we suspected they would want to admit her and give her a c-section or some other asinine thing like that. We were correct.

We consulted with the doctor who was, admittedly, as cool as could be expected when present with a preeclampsic woman who is 39 weeks pregnant, had no prenatal care, and is not open to the option of any medical intervention. Anyway, after some discussion, the doc wanted to cut the baby out. I said no (as I had promised Michelle). We did agree to come back the next day however, so Michelle could be induced.

As a side note, I told the doctor a number of things about Michelle’s condition including gestation, amount of protein in her urine, even her exact dilation and amount of effacement (I don’t usually check much, but sometimes toward the end we get curious). I think we scored some points, when the hospital tests confirmed us correct on every prognosis.

In order to get Michelle and I to agree to inducement we had the doc and nurses agree to a long list of requests (more like demands).

1. Minimal “internal” exams.
2. Amount of inducement drug (pitocen) will be controlled by us. We wanted to slowly increase the amount to “kick-start” labor and then back it off, so Michelle’s body could do the work and not the drugs. Typical practice is to overwhelm the mother’s body with the drug and get the birth done quickly.
3. Absolutely no c-section.
4. Absolutely no breaking Michelle’s water.
5. Keep all medical personnel and machines as far away from us as possible.
6. As much privacy as possible.
7. Leave baby attached to placenta until the umbilical cord “dies”. Common hospital practice is to cut it very soon after the baby is born.

There are more…but you get the picture. We had envisioned how we wanted Asa’s birth to go down. Obviously, being in the hospital was a huge blow to that, and we were doing all we could to keep the rest “our way”.

I have said all of this, but I have not expressed how much of a bummer going to the hospital was for Michelle. I mean, I wasn’t happy about it. But, Michelle, it was a really big deal to her. When we drove into the hospital on the morning of January 4th, it was a very sad thing.

Most of the morning was spent with Michelle hooked up to a pitocen drip to get labor started. Since we insisted on going slowly it took a few hours for much to happen. My parents hung out with us for much of the morning and helped take care of Millicent. Ashlea also was with us and that was a huge blessing. Kori and Kati were out of town visiting relatives, but were able to make it to the hospital that evening. My sister, Carol, and her 3 children spent a few hours with us in around lunch time. By the time Asa arrived the lobby was full of our loving family…both our blood family and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Asa had a huge welcome party…but more about that later.

Everyone is Waiting to Meet the Baby

In the late afternoon Michelle’s contractions became more intense. I ran her a bath and she had a bath…then got back into bed…then got back into the bath. Every 5-10 minutes she was telling me how hot it was and asking if I would turn the air down. After a few hours the room was really frosty.

The labor significantly intensified. It was just Ashlea and I in the room with Michelle. We were not talking (except to pray) so that Michelle could concentrate. I prayed with Michelle through most contractions, thanking God that the birth pains would soon be gone and that Michelle would forget about them as she looked at her new baby. One of the things God showed us with Millicent’s birth is how intensely spiritual birth is. We definitely approach birth as a time of worship and communion with God.

The labor got pretty intense and Ashlea decided to go check on everyone in the waiting room. Delivery of a baby is definitely something you have to prepare for mentally ahead of time. The nurse came in to check on Michelle. She was acting so peaceful and calm that the nurse did not realize that Michelle’s water broke while she was standing there in the room. Of course, we did not want to be inundated with doctors and nurses…so we kept that information to ourselves.

Michelle knew the baby was coming soon and wanted to go get into the bathtub to deliver it. I told her no. I later explained that I knew that the sound of running water would bring the nurses in who had already expressed concern that she was getting up and down too much this late in her labor. Seriously, I don’t know if all hospitals are like that…but my opinion is that they really have things backward. I realize letting laboring women walk around is an insurance liability…but that is part of the problem. Anyway…it is really hard not to soapbox about all of this stuff….

Millicent had been fully born just a few minutes after Michelle’s water broke, so I put my finger to my lips to remind Michelle she had to be quiet if we were going to do this. A shot of adrenaline ran through me as I realized we were going to be able to deliver this baby by ourselves. I pulled the covers back and could tell that in just a few pushes we would meet our new son or daughter. Sure enough, Asa shot out so fast that I had to jump back to avoid being splattered by the wave of amniotic fluid he surfed out on (I know, I know…this birth story is pretty biological…hope you can handle it).

I gave Asa to Michelle and we both were thanking God and weeping. About a minute later she told me we had a son, but I already knew.

The nurses came in when they heard Asa cry and told us we had cheated. They hung around for a few minutes until it became obvious that we didn’t have any intention of handing Asa over for their inspection. He was clearly a healthy boy. They kindly brought us the materials we needed to cut the cord and then left us alone.

Our tradition is to let the youngest sibling of the newborn cut the cord. Kati cut Millicent’s and the plan was to let Mill cut Asa’s. Millicent’s first words upon seeing Asa were, “that baby’s oooowwee”. She did not want to touch the slimy little fella so we let Kori cut the cord. The doctor was a little freaked and said if she had known that was the plan she would not have let us. Oh well….too late.


That Baby's Ooooowwee!

The kids and I examined the placenta and sure enough it contained the tell-tale calcium deposits that are a dead giveaway that the mother had preeclampsia.

We let all of the kids have some time with Ace before we invited everyone else in. I didn’t count, but for a while I think we probably had about 30 people in the room. We love our family…but thankfully everyone had a look at Asa, said congrats, and said see you later.

Much to the nurses’ disapproval we announced that we were ready to leave about 2 hours later and headed home with our first son. As you can see in the picture below…he is doing very well.

9 months old

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Hey, I'm Ashlea and today is Wednesday. Hence the title, Ash Wednesday. The owner of this blog doesn't blog nearly enough, you may have noticed, so I decided to help out. Now every Wednesday(ish) I will post. Today I'm just filling you in on what's going to go down. Once it gets started though I will post about a variety of things. Sometimes about what's happening in my life. Things like school, church, work and so on. Sometimes it will be just something funny. A quote I find funny, a video, or something funny that happened in the week. Sometimes it might just be a picture with or without words. And sometimes I'll even try to post something serious. You may not like it. That's ok with me. Just remember, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

Now I'll just tell you some random facts about myself.
I'm a senior in highschool. I will be attending Oklahoma State University in the fall of '09. I already got accepted and everything! I love watching OSU football, I NEVER bet against my team. I currently take classes at Cameron University.... It's very difficult. I have a waitressing job at a little restaurant in my town. I have a wonderful youth group at Gatlin Baptist Church where I am currently the second oldest. So, needless to say, I have a fairly large standing in a youth group. Right now my parents are the Sunday school teachers because our former youth pastor (My uncle. Go figure) got a new job out of town. So they stepped up and decided to attempt to teach the teens of today. It's not an easy job, either. There are only 9 people in our youth group so, it's pretty noticable when one of them sleeps, or texts, or talks, or well.. you get it.

Ok, I think that is plenty long for my first post. I promise to not always be so long winded. Talk to you later. Oh, and here's a picture of me. Just in case you were wondering.


This is Me, Millicent, and Jo. Millicent is my little sister. There is stuff about her throughout the blog and Jo is my very best friend in the world. I love her to death and she is as close to being a part of my family as you can possibly get.






New-Think is Back and More Nutritious Than Ever

The Texas Tech grads around the office are predictably very boisterous these days. If you have watched Oklahoma State play at all this year you have no doubt noticed the colorful play calling "cue cards" on the side line. A tech grad sent me this rendition of the OSU sign after Tech creamed the pokes this weekend. It would be funnier if it wasn't so true.

Get it? Someone cover Crabtree please! Someone needs to cover the Smurf too. Or do they call him Elf? Oh well, it doesn't matter now.
I haven’t blogged for a while…because, among other reasons, I haven’t felt like it. But there were other reasons. We took a much needed family vacation and got out of town for about 9 days. Shane and Carol moved to Oklahoma City and I have begun teaching the youth (Shane used to do it) in addition to leading children’s worship. Also I took the professional engineering exam in late October and have been putting the finishing touches on a 3 year long project at work. So… the main reason I haven’t felt like blogging is that I haven’t had much time. But I feel like it again.

Here are some VERY random thoughts and some Very random things to check out.

1. New-Think’s early summer predictions about the economy have all come true.

2. The Mango Times is a good blog I have been into lately.

3. Every little thing is gonna be alright.

4. Some tips to help hone your self discipline:

a. Become discontent with messes in general.
b. Make a schedule and learn to conform to it.
c. Wean yourself from entertainment. Do productive things with your excess time.
d. Be on time…even for non-important events.
e. Keep your word. Always. Especially in little things.
f. Always do the hardest task first.
g. Finish what you start.
h. Practice self denial, for the sake of self denial. Remind yourself that you’re in charge.

5. Here is a pic of some of the kids.

6. Here is a pic of my love.


7. I’m back baby. I’m back.