Thursday, October 13, 2011

Did Steve Jobs Create the iCloud to Eternally Hold His Consciousness?

In Star Trek: The Next Generation's Schizoid Man, a brilliant researcher who is conscious of his impending death meets Data, sees the potential of his advanced neural net, and uploads his consciousness to the android.

The theme of eternal consciousness through a computer or artificial life form is not limited to Star Trek. The Dr. Who episode Silence in the Library is about a girl trapped in a computer; it is a simulation created by her family to store her consciousness alongside all information in the universe. Literature, music, and art are to be her companions.

Steve Jobs knew he was dying but did not seek appropriate treatment; he distrusted modern medicine. But he had a tremendous amount of trust in himself. He worked on revolutionary new technology towards the end of his life. Jobs was also very cognizant of his impending death:
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

What is more important to a man than his own essence? Very few things. Steve had ample time to create a system that would capture what was truly important to him.
Is Steve Jobs in the iCloud?

The storage technology does perhaps exist for such a system.

The ability to read and transfer the mind's information almost certainly does not. This obstacle would be enough to prevent even the most technologically genius billionaire from uploading themselves to an artificial device. Steve was not a doctor, an his statement regarding his pancreatic cancer, "I didn't even know what a pancreas was" reveals that he most certainly did not have the medical background to create a secret piece of technology. If he hired someone to attempt such a feat, the news would have almost certainly leaked out.

More difficult than that would be the provisions for processing power. The mind functions differently than traditional computers, with many more parallel operations. The mind isn't necessarily faster than a computer, but it has more hauling power, the way a dump truck would compared to a NASCAR vehicle. It is difficult to believe that anyone would have the control technology to parallel enough processors to simulate a full human mind, even if we did understand the mind enough to design such a system (which we do not).

Steve Jobs most certainly does not live in the iCloud, but it is a testament to his visionary genius that such a theory is even being circulated.

Addendum: Since this was originally published, some have begun to claim that Siri stands for "Steve is really inside."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Most Wanted Itunes Feature

I have a simply request for Apple: Let me choose where I save my iOS backups. Right now, they dump to the C partition by default, and there is no in program way to change that (you can set up what are essentially redirects, but that's no good, really).

What I really want is the ability to save my backups on an external or cloud drive - just like I can with my library.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs' Death

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose." - Steve Jobs

It is incredibly humbling to consider that one of most successful and wealthy men in the world has died from one of the most common killers in existence: cancer. In my family, cancer has been a major killer. Thus, I look at Mr. Jobs' as a dark mirror into what could one day happened to me.

Most likely, I won't die a millionaire, my death will make national news, and I will not be considered a world changer.

This realization does not trouble me, because I know that I was created for purpose and I will always do my best to fulfill that purpose with the help of the Lord.

It is important to remember that even the wealthy suffer in death. Mr. Jobs' family will miss Mr. Jobs as much as the family of a poor Chinese labor would miss its patriarch. It is also important to remember that death has a great equalizer: judgment before the Almighty. I will be treated no differently before God that Mr. Jobs or you would be.

Mr. Jobs' spiritual quest has been well documented. Jobs pursued Buddhism and psychedelic hallucinations. It is possible that Jobs rejected Christianity by lumping it together with the religion of his biological father (Islam) as a "desert religion".

As Mr. Jobs family suffers, we can only pray that Mr. Jobs was found by grace some point before his death. Were this the case, he would have found true and eternal success. Success at the foot of the cross. Success over death!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

RIM vs. Apple: RIM Wins in THIS Are

I sell a product that is used primarily on cell phones, and making a demo video showing it being used is just logical. On RIM, there are tons of free apps that allow this to be done. On the iPhone, one must jailbreak the phone and then use a Cydia app.

I am somewhat surprised that Apple doesn't make this process easier.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thank You, Dentist

I went to visit my dentist today to have a tooth "filled".

However, this was in all actuality the trip to fill in a tooth chip that I got several years ago. The original filling fell off at some point in the last six months. However, when I got the dentist he informed me that filling the area would require him to take off more tooth than the feeling would protect! So, after conferring with him, I left.

Thank you Mr. Dentist.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


If I can end the day with my wife knowing that I love her, then despite what may have happened at work, or whatever other kinks may have happened in the day - that is a good day.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Things Are Settling Down Nicely

Sarah and I had a laid back, fun weekend.

We had a blast listening to whatever we wanted on Spotify. The free version of Spotify meets our needs for now (and makes them money, apparently, via advertising). The library is truly impressive. The only music I couldn't find were obscure Vineyard Winds of Worship albums. But who knows - I may have simply been searching incorrectly. I was even able to find Christ for the Nations albums on Spotify. If I ever make more time to listen to music, or resume a heavier traveling schedule, I think that I will spend the money on Spotify for a premium account.

I tried out several contract apps. I can take customer order signatures directly on my iPad for contracts now. There is a cost to doing this that will limit how often I do so; the contract app wants to charge 1.99 per contract. That isn't a big cost, but if I was ever in a scenario in which timing did not matter, I would not use it. 1.99 per contract is significantly cheaper than overnighting a contract. The quality of the document will be much better than it would with a FAX. I personally hate faxing.

Saturday, I went to the Gunshow in Memphis at the agricenter. While walking in, I was treated to what was perhaps the best signage I have seen in my life. Let me qualify that. By best, I mean most amusing. I will let the sign speak for itself.

As you can see, it starts out with a gun and knife show and lightens up with Kids Town and a Foam Party before coming out strong with Amber's Fight for Life Wrestling Event (I hope the wrestling even raised a lot of money. I'm sure it did, the name is very attention getting).

In many areas of the country, having these events together would have made the news. I'm glad that in this respect Memphis is sane.

One of my friends ended up buying a nice Ruger Super Blackhawk. I've never shot one. One day I want a big bore single action hunting pistol, but I have no way to justify that now.

Church was nice on Sunday. Sarah played in a string quartet and the music was wonderful. The quartet had piano and organ accompaniment. It was very peaceful and soothing. The choir did an nice job as well.

After church, Sarah made a great chicken salad which we had on sandwiches.

We recently read through Hebrews, and are now going back through it with a commentary. We will use several commentaries as we approach the book. I've always been fascinated with Hebrews.

Friday, July 01, 2011

My Wishlist for IOS

I am pretty excited for iOS 5. The state of the smartphone and tablet world in general pleases me and things will only get better. I have a wish list, and since I'm not a developer, I don't know which of my wishes I will get!

1. Ability to create new albums on each device. Even blackberries allow a person to create a new folder! iOS limits you to dumping each picture in the same folder. That stinks - let me organize them ON my device!

2. Profiles (for iPads). I'm not talking about two logins, but something more like driver memory as found in luxury cars. If a car with this feature has two drivers,each can program their seat preference. iPad profiles could include browser favorites, icon/folder locations, push/location preferences... And be synced with the cloud.

3. Better video. I have been on several networks (Sonic Wall and Watchfuard) that allow YouTube playback on PCs but struggle with iOS devices. The H.264 standard is great, and not an apple standard, but apple needs to push better adoption practices. Too many companies have issues with standard firewall settings, video, and iOS.

4. Buy Nuance. Seriously apple, buy Nuance. Reap the benefit of their voice technology. Beat Android on this key mobile interface issue.

5. Better calendar alert options. When I make a calendar appointment in Microsoft exchange and sync it to my iPhone, I have far more options regarding the alerts. I can specify that I receive notifications 1 min., 3 min., 17 min., 42 min., or 984 days prior to a calendar event occurring. But this level of flexibility is not available when I input calendar appointments directly into my iPhone. Instead, I have canned options that I can scroll through available to me. For some people, the ability to scroll through these options is amazing. For customers like me who heavily utilized their calendar, there should be the option to allow direct text and put in this field.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ah, Huntsville

Yesterday Sarah and I made a quick trip to Huntsville. Quick, as in we left church early and spent less than 4 hours in Huntsville before heading back around 5:55 PM, CST.

I'm glad we went. I think it made Sarah feel a lot better to get home one last time before the wedding, and we of course had a trunk full of items to bring back. The real reason this was good is that she knows we're close to her parents. A four hour jot over to her parents is nothing; a day trip is easily accomplished.

The dog even seemed to enjoy it. And he's crazy.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Little Bit 'o Nostalgia - OR - A Saturday Afternoon Scanning Wedding Pictures

I have a job, I guess. The women in my life have told me this. It is to scan all the pictures of my childhood, and of Sarah's childhood, and then to make some sort of fancy slide show.

Of course, I should know how to do this and do it without complaining, because I'm a man, and this isn't as important as everything else the women are taking care of. And in case you can't tell, I'm poking fun at everyone.

Going through these pictures is causing me to feel nostalgic. To be honest with you, I simply have not thought much about my childhood recently. I've been feeling a drive to go forward and conquer. Also, in many ways I didn't enjoy my childhood. I had good parents and all, and I can't really tell you why, other than I really disliked school and school makes up the bulk of a kid's life.

There are a lot of good times in these pictures though. Prom dates I thought I might be really interested in down the road. Cleaning guns. Fishing with Dad. Christmas with cousins. Pictures I could use to get relatives thrown in prison. All the good things of growing up. Looking at my pictures and looking at Sarah's, we could have been in the same regiment in Jr. Montana Freeman Militia School.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mud Island

Today we went to Mud Island to the Mississippi River walk. The river is in flood stage which made the presentation seem even more powerful.

Here is a picture of Sarah and her brother taken at the River Walk:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Today, I Was the Idiot in Church

Every Sunday in church, someone's phone rings. Everyone looks offended, gives the half look of disapproval, and thinks "What an inconsiderate idiot!"

I was that guy today in church. Ironically my parents were visiting our church today. We met them before service and I tried to get my dad to allow me to put his phone in airplane mode. He Would not, but put his phone in vibrate mode.

I use my phone as my bible in church and also to take notes. As the pastor opened the 9:15 service, the 9:20 alarm I put on my phone for one day but meant to take off sounded. Because alarms bypass vibrate mode on iPhones.

Yeah, I was the idiot today. :/

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Am GLAD I Don't Have Comcast Phones!

I use Comcast for my primary business internet connection. In addition to Comcast, I have an AT&T DSL backup connection. I run my phones on a PRI; the T1 for this is provided by AT&T. Of all my local services, telephone is the most critical (I of course host my web sites off site at a data center).

Comcast regularly calls my business trying to sell phone service. They have great rates on phone service, but they do not offer guaranteed up time according to the reps.

Memphis had a serious wind storm the evening of April 19, 2011 (Tuesday). You can see what it did in my area in one of my earlier posts.

I'm glad I don't use Comcast for phones because I would not have phones right now with Comcast. It's that simple! Several businesses in my building use Comcast's phone service, and they have effectively been out of business since yesterday morning. I pay more with my current method of phone service, but I am ALWAYS up. In the event of an outage, AT&T guarantees a work crew will start fixing my system within 4 hours.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

That is NOT My Car... Thankfully.

As I went to my vehicle today, I could not help but be glad that I has parked my car a few car lengths behind it's normal position. That was almost me! Yikes.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Upgrading to Watchguard 11.4

I've been planning the upgrade of my XTM505 to Watchguard's 11.4 release for some time now. This version of came out in March and I have been waiting to see if any major issues were noted. It appears stable, so I'm making the upgrade.

This was my first Watchguard upgrade, and as such there were a few things I didn't understand.

My questions were:
  1. What is the preferred order of upgrade?
  2. How does the software get to the actual XTM 505?
The preferred order of upgrade is Watchguard System Manager (This will also upgrade the Server Center) on all systems running System Manager. Yes, The 11.4 System Manager can control your device while it is waiting for the upgrade and still running an earlier version (11.3 is the only version I can confirm 11.4 will run from personal experience).

The software "gets" to the XTM 505 by you downloading the update and "installing" it one the box running Server Center. You don't install to the Firebox, you install to Server Center, in other words. Then, you connect System Manager to the Server and schedule the upgrade. Pretty nice!

Sticking to My Guns

I have had great luck with diet change in the last couple of years, but I've always gotten to a certain point and then started to fail. This is normally the holiday season (imagine that).

I made a grocery store trip last night and did some healthy cooking. Packed my bags for work... And then forgot them. Oh well... I won't just give up!

To home at noon go I!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I Still Can't Believe the UCONN / Butler Game

I enjoy championship games, but I was very disappointed in the NCAAB Championship game. the 2011 Championship just didn't deliver.

I don't have much time (I'm on lunch) but the reason for the disappointment is that Butler just wasn't a well rounded team. They were fantastic on defense - majestic even. but they shot something line 18% from the field.

Any team that lopsided will fail eventually. I can't help but admire Butler, but what a low-scoring, disappointing game!

Personal Improvement

I have been thinking about the subject of personal improvement lately. Like most other things that I spend a lot of time thinking about, this has been sparked by my upcoming marriage.

I believe that improvement requires an honest assessment of the current state of that which a person is attempting to improve. I suppose that technically one could improve something without understanding the degree of improvement that is taking place, but personally I don't feel that there is any point to improving something if a difference cannot be noted. Improvement requires a before and after comparison point to be fulfilling and worthwhile.

Benjamin Franklin wrote about several of the methods he used to improve himself in his autobiography. My favorite method was his systematic documentation of his flaws. He divided his life up in the 13 areas and would daily document his feelings in each area. One week he would focus on area A and document only his flaws in that area, the next week he would focus on area B – again only documenting his flaws in area B. He called this his path to virtue.

While Benjamin franklin and I would most likely disagree on the source of virtue, I appreciate his efforts to be virtuous, and feel that what he learned offers a lot of insight. Of particular interest to me is his admittance that after he documented his flaws he realized they were far greater in number then he had ever thought possible. Documenting his flaws allowed Franklin to successfully identify trouble areas, work to master them and, finally, to verify his mastery of them. Of course, as a Christian I don't believe that true defeat of vices is possible with out the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, but that is an issue for a separate post.

Enough about Franklin: what are my personal flaws? What areas do I, Matthew Nowlin, need to improve on?

I'll keep this to fairly nonpersonal issues – but know that more introspection is going on here then is readily obvious.

The first area that I feel I can improve on is my physical fitness. The serious and an ongoing battle for me and I'm going to attempt to use Franklin's method of daily journaling and analyzing to help me here. I am also going to rely on Sarah's help in this area. Honey, please hold me accountable!

The second area that I feel can be improved using the methods discussed here is overall discipline. I'm not a loose cannon or a rebel without a caused by any means, but I do not feel as disciplined as I would like to. I do immature things and I flat out do not like that.

A subset of discipline is mastering my time. I hope that in time I can develop a much greater discipline in this area and master my calendar. Like a child, I often have difficulty doing basic things like going to bed on time and waking up early in the morning. Sure, I get everything done that I need to, but those two basic daily tasks left unmastered have left me with a feeling of immaturity. I think that when Paul said " I beat my body and make it my slave" he probably did so with a sense of glee - if his body was indeed a slave to him, he had to feel incredibly empowered.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Lesson Learned: Be Quiet and Go Away (sometimes)

Sarah and I had a great weekend in Chadron, NE. My former youth pastor and good friend is performing our wedding June 11, and we needed to spend some time counseling. Sarah and I both come from good backgrounds, but just like every other person in the world, we have preconceptions that can add baggage to a relationship. Our goal has been "To do things right" throughout the relationship, and the purpose of this was to be another stone laid in that relationship.

So we flew into Rapid City, SD and then drove down to Chadron, NE. By the way, if you need a car rental in Rapid City, SD, I recommend Dollar Rent-A-Car. They had a price that was about half of what the airport based rentals were charging because they didn't have to pay airport fees, and it only took us 7-10 minutes to get from the airport to the car rental place (yeah, I know, great job timing there Matt). I have family in the area in addition to the friends we visited, so I can say with some certainty that I will use them again.

We got in midday on Friday and received some counsel. Part of our homework for the evening was a test that involved us answering questions about ourselves in several areas related to marriage, and also answering how we felt oLinkur to-be would answer. Saturday was grading day for the questions, but I'll jump the gun and let on that having dated for four years, we were both accurate guessing what our to-be would answer.

Saturday, we hopped in the Subaru rental (which I loved, by the way) and went to Mount Rushmore. The goal was to have an enjoyable day and knock out the counseling we went to get. Doing the counseling in the car was a fantastic idea for me at least. The scenery offered me something different to look at constantly, and relaxed my mind. I felt much more "involved" with the conversation at the end of the day than I would have if we had simply stuck ourselves in an office and yelled "Go."

I learned a lot and was reminded of a lot in counseling, but had one truly epiphanic moment when we were talking about conflict resolution and handling emotions. To be honest, this wasn't even only about conflict between Sarah and I, but also helping the other person work through conflict with others.

Anytime Sarah has had any type of problem with me, another person, or a situation, I have tended to want to destroy/fix (same thing) that problem. Whether it meant sitting down right away and talking about it, making a run to Wal-Mart at 3:00 am, or having a come-to-Jesus talk, I have wanted to solve the problem now. That is a personality strength and weakness of mine.

Through this weekend, I came to an understanding that Sarah needs time to process things and that I am not abandoning her or shirking my duty if I simply leave her alone. This is perhaps obvious to many people, but to me it was a revelation of humongous importance.

Also, I haven't worked out since Thursday, so I'm going to hit it hard this afternoon.

The Memphis Storms of April 5, 2011

Memphis had bad storms on Monday, April 5. While the storms weren't as bad as Hurrican Elvis, there were extensive power outages and a lot of property damage. We had to shut our business down due to an extended power outage. That speaks to me, since we have invested a lot in battery backup. :|

Our power was out until close to 10:00 PM.

On the home front, a car was destroyed near my home. A tree landed on it. I was interested in this since the tree hit a car parked where Sarah normally parks when she visits me.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is Comcast Blocking SSH?

There have been suspicions in the past that Comcast blocked SSH. This was supposedly selective, and geared towards blocking users "abusing" SSH for file sharing.

Well, I use SSH for work, to log into a linux box I host websites on, and I dont' share files doing this. Today, after a long successful history of use, I can't SSH into the box on my Comcast Business Class connection. Nothing on my network has changed, and I was able to connect a terminal as late as yesterday.

I can get a terminal through my AT&T Business Class DSL connection, my iPhone's 3g connection, and my Air Card's 3G connection. I rebooted my Comcast modem, and still no dice.

Is Comcast playing dirty poker and blocking SSH connections on Port 22?

It Is Indeed Happening

That time seems to go by more quickly the older a person gets is no uncommon knowledge. Children, enamored with life, often live with an undirected joyful, aggressive enthusiasm that adults envy. Were children to have the knowledge and experience to match their enthusiasm, they would conquer the world in short order.

I find myself feeling like a child the closer I get to marrying Sarah. Our goal has always been to do things right, and I think that for the most part we have. We've had our share of arguments and emotional pain, but after four years of pursuing her I'm confident that we can work through anything with the Lord's help. Beyond ability, I'm confident that we will work through anything.

With this confidence, and with the expectations of marriage growing on me every day, I can freely say that I feel like a little kid in many ways.

The first reason I'll say that I feel like a little kid is due to the sense of timing that I have. The days seem to be going by me slowly!!! This isn't a complaint, because slowness of time allows the mind to solidly articulate thoughts and accurately analyze what is happening. Right now though, when my first desire is to marry my bride, slow passage of time seems more difficult to bear than it actually is.

I listened to a John Piper sermon on marriage last night. In it, he states that God had Adam name all the animals before he made him a helper Genesis 2.

18Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone;(R) I will make him a helper fit for[e] him." 19(S) Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed[f] every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and(T) brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam[g] there was not found a helper fit for him. 21So the LORD God caused a(U) deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made[h] into a woman and brought her to the man.
Piper notes that God observed man's loneliness in prior to creating a helper for him (verse 18 was the notation of loneliness, 21 and 22 were of the sleep and God BRINGING the Bride to Adam). Sadly, until I listened to Piper's sermon I did not understand that God paraded the animals in front of Adam and had Adam name them in the middle of this story. Was it to show Adam that there was no helper for him without another created in the image of God? I believe it was. Adam's loneliness must have been compounded as he looked over all of creation's animal life and realized that he was completely unique.

The passage of time was required for Adam to see his need for a bride - because the passage of time is required for the order of God's plan to come to fruition. It would be wonderful if I could pass the time over the next few months learning those things that I need to learn to have a successful marriage: to serve my bride, please the Lord, and be a good example to others.

The second reason that I feel like a child is my sense of expectation. This is a new adventure. Though I've heard "the big kids" speaking about marriage all my life, the only thing I'm confident of is that I can't fully know what to expect. I will be challenged as a man. My bride will be challenged as a woman.

The third reason I feel like a child is due to my fear of sacrifice. Marriages that take place with a Christian understanding begin at an altar. On an altar, blood is spilled. From the temple sacrifices to the altar represented by Golgotha, altars have brought new life from pain.

No one will die due to my marriage. No animals will be killed to incur a blessing. We both live under the new covenant of Christ's sacrifice.

And yet Ephesians 5:25 says I am to follow the example of Christ. I must give myself up for a bride. There is strong potential that sacrifice and pain will be involved in that. Lord, help me to take that seriously.

I often think that the reason we have so few men willing to make sacrifices for their marriages is that we have so few good examples in our society of this happening. We require good examples, which is why our civilizations have been built around sacred texts (with the best civilizations being built around The Bible), why fables and legends are taught to children, and why we prize the examples of heroes.

Currently, there are many bad examples of marriage. By talking about these in an "objective" manner, we make them seem acceptable to children. Just because something is normal does not mean it is acceptable.

It is with this challenge that I must enter marriage: The challenge to be Christlike to my bride. I fear I am woefully inadequate to meet this challenge. It might just be time for a personal revival.

So, I am fearful, expecting, and have a bad sense of timing. God help me!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"I Cannot Learn Under These Conditions!"

There is a nice couple who lives below me. Until tonight, I've only met the husband. As I was coming back from work, he caught me and informed me that the noise from my apartment was getting out of control. Since my neighbor's wife is in school, it is important to him that she have a quiet environment to study in.

I live in a world of headsets, and the loudest things I do are run the dishwasher, run the washing machine, and misstep when I get out of bed.

That fact doesn't solve the problem that my neighbors have though, which is that they think I'm being loud. In the spirit of dealing with that, I gave them my phone number and told them to text me when they were hearing loud noises. I tried to be sincere, but like I said, I'm pretty quiet about my place.

I want to be a good neighbor, so I certainly hope they'll contact me if they perceive loudness.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Keepass for iOS 4

I've used Keepass on my desktop for a long time. As I travel, I have been hoping to find a version of it to use with my iPhone. As of yet, I have not. If anyone knows of a good keepass app, please let me know.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Adwords After The Gym

I've started a routine of hitting the gym around 1:00 and then resuming my work on Adwords campaigns. No one will convince me that the half hour to hour the workout takes doesn't double the remaining 3 hours of my day into six hours worth of work.

Today was pleasant, because my fiance joined me at the gym (she has spring break off). It was truly joyous to work out with her.

The No Name Pastor

Out of respect for the Pastor this article is about, I won't mention a name. This isn't being written in an angry or vengeful spirit, but rather as a reminder to myself to not be arrogant and unteachable.

I was watching television late last night, and a well respected Christian Pastor came on the television. This is a man that I have always respected and thought well of.

The show was done in an interview format, and the leader went into attack mode when asked about his thoughts on Charismatics. He stated that all the church's problems in America today stem from the Charismatic movement, because it allowed bad theology to go mainstream. He then stated that if God still moved today in the same way he did in the early Church, that God would only move through people with sound theology. The tone of the conversation lead me to believe that those people would be, of course, folks like him. Really, Pastor?

The issue here isn't one of Cessationism vs. Continuationism. That argument is largely dead (much to the chagrin of the Pastor I'm referring to). The issue here is one of spiritual pride. This Pastor honestly doesn't see how his words parallel the words of the Pharisees of Christ's day! By making a claim that God would only move through people with good theology he is essentially saying that God would only move in a way that he understands and approves of, and that unclean spiritual lepers are unusable.

As I watched this man speak, I thought of the wonderful books of his that I've read, the lives this man's ministry has impacted, and the great works he has done for the Kingdom of God. I then realized that were the Kingdom about man, it would be a kingdom made in vain.

Lord, we each have flaws and in each of us their is a vanity and an arrogance. Help us!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Little Fiber In the Morning Helps

About a year ago, I googled something along the lines of "Does Fiber Help you feel fuller?" I've found that when I eat fiber in the morning with my breakfast, I seem to stay much fuller for the rest of the day.

I know, I know - "Duh. Everyone knows that." Many people know it, but it impacted me enough that I felt it was worth repeating.

In my research, I found that besides giving one a feeling of satiation and helping to digest food properly that dietary fiber also helps your body release nutrients more evenly from the digestive system, keeping you more even keeled throughout the morning.

When You Leave, I Miss You

Sarah is in Nashville for the next two days. I can't remember exactly when she moved to Memphis so I won't lie and throw a date out, but it's been over six months. We've been engaged since late December, and have enjoyed seeing each other nearly every day. She often travels past my apartment on the way too and from her various appointment and she teaches private lessons at a school near my office.

A two day interruption is thus a major change to the status quot, and I find myself already missing her.

I woke up very early this morning. 5:30 AM early. Sarah had planned to wake up at 4:00 AM and I was surprised she hadn't called me like she normally does. A frustrated nervousness immediately crept into me, and I couldn't help but worry that she had forgotten to plug her phone in and hadn't been woken up due to a dead battery.

So, I called her, and her phone went straight to voicemail! Ruh-roh. Several phone calls yielded the same result. At that point, it became clear to me that I had a duty as a man to drive to her apartment and wake her up. I grabbed the dog, ran to my car, and drove to her apartment. No car. She called me back as I was leaving her apartment complex, informed me that she had gotten my voice mail, and was driving through an area with bad cell coverage.

She then told me that she turned her phone off because she knew that in areas with bad coverage cell batteries were drained more quickly (due to them trying to find a cell tower). It then hit me: She listens to what I say! I told her that a few years ago and she remembered! And that feels really good. So thank you, sweetheart, for making my morning.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Thoughts and Prayers Are With Japan

The devastating situation in Japan has been weighing on my heart since I received news of the earthquake and Tsunami. I did relief work in St. Bernard Parish (New Oreleans) after Katrina, and could not fathom the scale of the damage before I arrived in the area. My mind's eye imagines that Japan makes the Katrina Aftermath look like a walk in the park.

There are several troubling things about the global response to the crisis in Japan (and I won't address them all). The most troubling thing to me is the fact that a relatively minor incident with a nuclear power plant is receiving most of the attention. I said relatively minor on purpose. My reasoning is simple? There is a confirmed death toll of around 3500 from the earthquake and subsequent Tsunami that will easily top 10,000 and billions (if not hundreds of billions - or trillions) of dollars in property damage from the same event.

And, as of yet, there has been one confirmed death from the nuclear power plant incident in Fukushima - from the explosion, not radiation.

The truth of the matter is that we don't need to be focusing on the nuclear situation in the country. Instead, we need to be focused on supporting established relief organizations do what they exist for: help these people. Japan doesn't need an influx of people, they need an influx of relief supplies. I recommend giving through Convoy of Hope which is one of the most cost efficient charities in the world.

Rather than focus on fears of a nuclear disaster that is being overhyped, let's focus on helping Japan rebuild.

Friday, March 04, 2011

My Calendar Doesn't Say When Spring Is... But I Know It's Close!

I was surprised yesterday afternoon when I looked at my calendar to see when spring started this year. No mention of it - though St. Patrick's Day made the cut.

Looking on Wikipedia yielded no easy results either. I found out that the answer to the question "When does spring start in 2011" is March 20.

Where has the year gone? Having officially never had a sense of time or date until recently, I've not been one to ask that question until now. The year is going very quickly! So quickly, in fact, that I'll have to leave this blog as it is, lame, and get read to head to the office.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How To Buy A Used Car the Right Way

Background: Why You Should Be Wary Buying Used Cars Without 3rd Party Inspection

"Certified Pre-Owned Cars." Carmax and other non-brand dealers along with every brand in existence make big bucks on used, "Certified" used cars. Unlike new cars, they actually make money on used cars by offering low buying points and selling high. There is nothing wrong with this, but it definitely doesn't represent the best way to buy.

The last three used cars I or family members have bought have needed, respectively, $3000.00, $2700, and $900 worth of work after certification by a major branded entity. Today, my Fiance had a dealership walk away from a deal after we had it independently inspected. The certified technicians at a local dealership had missed a vehicle that needed a transmission flush (it was 30,000 miles past due by their maintenance schedule. The dealership inspecting it had handled all of this cars servicing in the past), all new pads and rotors (front and back), new lower ball joints, and the alignment that would need to be done after the ball joints were replaced.

Our mechanic could do this work for just shy of $1,000, but the local dealership could not. They tried to get my Fiance to pay for the work their "certified" mechanics had missed. Sadly, this doesn't take gall - it is standard industry practice. They then came back offering her discounts - $300, leaving her $700 to pay. Then $500, leaving her $500 to pay. Now, they're acting like she is not being fair, so she walked away from the deal.

What to Do

Whenever you buy a used car, demand that you be allowed to have the mechanic of your choice inspect the vehicle. Then, take it to the most reputable and thorough mechanic that you can find. Most shops will have a "courtesy" checklist. They like these because it is one of the ways they generate business; have them use it as the basis for their inspection, and ask them to also use their experience and intuition to go beyond these parameters.

IMPORTANT: Always have a compression check done on the engine. This will normally cost you more than the rest of the inspection combined, but it is well worth it. I recently had a friend who got a vehicle inspected prior to purchase. The spark plugs (which must be removed to do a compression check) were stuck! The mechanic stopped, the vehicle was returned to the dealer, and they attempted to remove the plug. The bulb ended up falling into the engine, and the head had to be removed. This would have been a $600-$900 spark plug change! He ended up buying the vehicle without eating that cost.

Don't "Play Games"

I've never purchased a used vehicle without it needing some work. It has to be done, and the only question is who will pay for it. The dealer wants to make the sale and he wants you to eat the cost of the work. Here are some common methods they have of doing that:

  1. Guilt. "We can't do that work for what your mechanic can. We'll lose money." Surprisingly, this works on many people!
  2. Dismissal. The dealership will try to tell you that your mechanic is being too picky, and that the parts in question actually don't need to be replaced. Don't buy it.
  3. Negotiating. The dealership will offer to cover the labor if you buy the parts, or vice versa. Failing this, the dealership will offer to discount the car. They get away with this because many people don't know how to do basic addition and subtraction. If they discount a car needing $1000 in repairs $500, you're still out of pocket $500. Additionally, you'll be out of pocket for any issues that might arise in the repair pocket.

Be courteous, but make it clear that for you to buy the vehicle, the repairs have to be made. If the dealership will not do it, walk away.

Closing the Deal.

After the dealership fixes the vehicle, have it inspected again. "That's insulting!" Yes, it is. However, it is not as insulting as being told work was done and then finding out it was in fact not done, and that you've been played for a fool.

My dad bought my sister a 1996 Toyota Camry from one of the largest Toyota Dealerships in Memphis. On inspection, it was obvious that the vehicle needed all new struts. Four struts. The dealership agreed to replace the struts, put the car in the shop, and then told my dad they had made the repairs. He surprised them by getting the vehicle inspected again. The two front struts had been replaced. The rear struts had been painted. My dad could have easily sued that dealership for fraud. He didn't. Instead, he had them make the repairs and reimburse him for the 2nd and 3rd inspection charges.

It is sad that there are some real scam artists out there. I sell used engines, and encounter these types of things in my competition all the time. Though there are bad apples in the industry, realize that there are excellent companies in existence who will take care of their customers. Find these companies and patronize them!

Final Thoughts

Let me close by saying that buying from a dealership isn't in actuality the best way to go. You're paying for a nice building, some Starbucks coffee, and a sales and support staff. Oh, and a car. What you really WANT is a good car.

Shop privately using,, and your local newspaper. Then have the vehicle inspected. Have the owner fix what needs fixing, and then buy the car! The seller will get a higher selling price on a private sale, and you'll get a lower buying price on a private sale. This is a "win-win" situation.

Please feel free to distribute this to friends. I only ask that you cite me, Matthew Nowlin, as the author.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

New Year's Resolutions: Nope! Yes to Steady Improvements on the Year

I no longer make New Year's Resolutions. Several years ago, I noticed that virtually no one keeps them. Sure, there are exceptions to this, but using something as arbitrary as the calendar reset to motivate me in keeping new goals doesn't well up any deep motivation in me. When New Years hits, if I'm not already motivated to do something, I understand and don't make a blind, wild promise that I will do it.

What I do use New Years for is an evaluation of my already existing goals. No, I don't believe this is an issue of semantics. I see refocusing on an existing goal as clearly different than shifting my entire mental posture to focus on a new goal.

Here is a brief summary of my refocus areas. This includes what I've already done with them as well as what I hope to do with them in the future. I've selected three areas of focus. By their vary nature, some of these will call on elements of my life that are necessary, but not topically related.

My first area of refocus is relationships.

The most important thing that I will do this year is get married. This will create the greatest relationship a man can have with another human.

On December 24, 2010, the love of my life agreed to marry me. Her love, her demeanor, and everything about her have served to encourage me and to make me a better man. We will unite our lives on June 11, 2011. This year must solidly cement our marriage, and I must conduct myself in a manner once married that increases my fiance's confidence in me and deepens our love. The fulcrum of our marriage must be our Christian faith and our relationship with the Lord.

In the interim between now and our wedding, I will continue my support of Sarah and try to make it more consistent. I will also try to make myself more available to her.

I also have relationships that I want to develop more with several family members and friends. My goal is to minister to them, and not to be a taker. I don't think that I'm a taker, but I want be conscious to give more than I receive.

Sarah and I have been attending First Evangelical Church of Memphis since August of 2010; I want to continue fostering relationships there.

My second area of refocus is my health.

2010 was a great year for me in this area. I lost 65 lbs (at one point I thought I had lost 70, but I gained 5 back during the holidays) and kicked my cholesterol in the butt. I did this by changing my diet and exercising. Towards the end of the year, my workouts faded. Work was very demanding, and while there was no way I could have worked out at the same pace from mid November through mid December, I did not pick up the torch where I left it. I will refocus on running and will resume light weight lifting with high reps.

I will also refocus on cooking properly. I will incorporate a greater variety of vegetables into my low carb diet and make certain that I properly regulate my carbohydrate and sugar intake.

If I am to continue to make strides in this area, discipline and planning must continue their ascension to a place of prominence. I will use the power of Microsoft Exchange to sync my Outlook and iPhone. I will continue to avoid overcommitment, and I will make sure that what I do commit to is done with great planning and care - excellence in execution is my goal this year. I will discipline myself in both waking up and sleeping as well. I'm considering several business ventures this year; all of the above will apply to these as well.

Discipline and planning are key to reducing stress, which in turn is key to good health. All of these areas tie in, even though they might appear to be unrelated.

The last area of refocus is personal finances. I've grown tremendously in my application of basic principles of conservative finances in the last four years. Note the part about application; my parents raised me right, but in my youth I lived foolishly (I left home the day of Graduation from high school and went on one big spree of fail for years!). This next year, I will continue foundation building. For me, so much of my time has been spent gutting the old foundation, which was built for a type of financial lifestyle that I now thoroughly reject! I'm fortunate that Sarah thinks the way that I do. We both want nothing more than to be good stewards of the money that we're blessed to earn and to enjoy financial security.