Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: internet

Reflections on my bread machine saga

I thought I had this bread machine almost figured out, I had managed to produce two loaves that were completely edible. Friday’s trial number six proved that I still have a ways to go – the loaf rose too high and then fell. I cut off the top part and the rest is quite edible, but I still haven’t mastered the process.

My mother was an artisan in the kitchen. she baked white bread, brown bread, rye bread, buns and cinnamon rolls without a recipe and without a failure.  A machine that makes breads does not have my mother’s knowledge and skills.

A bread machine is known as a robot boulanger in French – a robot baker. It occurs to me that in order to successfully produce a good loaf of bread with this robot I have to become its servant. If I do not do everything exactly as the robot wishes my efforts will produce flop after flop.

How much are our lives ruled by things? The weekend cyberattack creates some doubt in my mind about the brave new world that is promised by the internet of things. Could some shadowy group, directed by a criminal organization or a hostile government, bring all those things to a crashing halt?

What about self-driving cars? If one reads closely the propaganda in their favour, it becomes evident that the ultimate goal is to eliminate private ownership of automobiles. Would that then make us all slaves to some arcane algorithm? Who would design and control that algorithm?

The ultimate question is: How would a Christian live by the leading of the Holy Spirit if he cedes so much control of his life to things and algorithms?

I am not a Luddite, but these questions trouble my thoughts.

Temperamental devices

My internet has been down. My wife’s computer is connected to the same service, through the same modem and router and has had no problem. The cable connecting my computer to the internet had several splices and bare spots on the wire, evidently that must be the problem.I bought a new cable yesterday, hooked it up – still no signal.

The internet connection troubleshooter on my computer told me that an ethernet cable was disconnected. I’d just been through all that, so decided the problem must be an internal disconnection. This morning I pulled off all the wires and took my computer for a ride in the car to our nearest town with a computer shop. They plugged it in and it worked ! !? Evidently the car ride fixed it. The young man at the computer shop charged me for 15 minutes labour.

The next time this happens, I’ll just tell my computer “I’m going to take you for a ride.” Hopefully that will do the trick. If it doesn’t, I’ll try the little device the computer repair man sold me. It has one end that plugs into a USB port and the  internet cable plugs into the other end. This gives another pathway for the internet signal.

No doubt our grandfathers have all told us about their first  car that wouldn’t start until they gave it a good whack at a certain spot on the left front fender. Cars nowadays are much easier to start. A good thing too, a whack like that would make a permanent impression on their fenders.

I have had my share of temperamental automobiles. There was the venerable Olds which regularly coughed and sputtered to a stop because the timing had gone out of whack. I took to carrying a wrench so I could get out and turn the distributor housing until it would run smoothly. There was the 1972 Toyota Corolla that had the coil sitting low down a few inches from the road. Every time there was water on the road the connection got wet and the car stalled. (It never rains in Japan?) I carried a cloth to wipe off the moisture from the wire connection that fit into the top of the coil. Then there was the Dodge with a capacitor mounted behind and above the motor that was prone to failure. I always carried a spare so that I wouldn’t be stranded somewhere miles from home or a repair shop.

Unfortunately, we people can be temperamental at times, too. I’m sure many a person has at times wished to give me a good whack to see if that would solve my problem. I’m thankful that they have refrained and tried gentler ways. I would like to think that, unlike many cars that I have owned, I have become less temperamental with age.

Is it really that bad?

This world is a horrible place. There are environmental catastrophes, threats of international terrorism, dangers in the streets. The danger of religious persecution threatens us even here in North America. There is sexual exploitation of women and children. There is abuse of power by those in positions of trust: police officers, preachers, teachers and parents. There are dangers on the internet. It seems that you can’t trust anyone anymore.

Um . . . let’s back up a little bit here and see if we’re getting the whole picture. Yes, all these things are going on; and yes, these are the things the media wants to tell us about. But is that really what most of us are experiencing in our daily life?

My grandchildren are blissfully unaware of any threats to their well-being. I am not experiencing any harassment because of my religious beliefs. I encounter friendly and helpful people wherever I go.

I started using a cane about six weeks ago and I am amazed how that triggers acts of kindness from others. I have even had young ladies hold a door open for me. A few days ago I bought my fast food lunch at Tim Horton’s and the lady behind the counter offered to carry my tray to a table. I declined, but not without a hearty thank  you. Someday I may need her assistance.

Today I was in my favourite coffee shop – the one where the young ladies behind the counter don’t need to be told that I want a cappuccino with amaretto syrup. This time I asked the young lady who served me if she  had ever heard an old, old song that has her name in the title. Her response floored me: “You remembered my name!” I have known her name for a long time, she has served my coffee countless times, we have talked about other things than coffee, but I had never called her by name. This is something I have encouraged others to do, and here I wasn’t even doing it myself.

That seems such a small thing, but it was a reality check. When I begin thinking that the world is such a cold heartless place, perhaps the first question I need to ask is “Am I the problem?”

By the way, she was all too familiar with the song. Her music teacher used to sing it every time she went for a lesson.

Do it yourself customer service

A resident in a nearby home for seniors, let’s call him Frank, gets around fairly well in a wheelchair.  However, Frank has limited strength on one side, so he also has an electric wheelchair that he sometimes uses.

Recently he discovered that a small spring assembly from one of the front wheels was missing.  Presumably it came loose and fell out.  A friend called the dealer to order replacement parts.  The dealer said he could not order the parts without knowing the serial number of the wheelchair.   There is no serial number to be found, perhaps the sticker with that information also came loose and was lost?  The friend then took a picture of the spring assembly from the other side.  The dealer still didn’t have enough information to know what parts were needed.

Then Frank asked me to help.  The next time I went to the city I took the remaining spring assembly and showed it to the dealer.  He immediately recognized what make of wheelchair it came from.  After a brief check he said he did not have those parts in stock and would have to know the model number and serial number before he could order the parts.  He did take the assembly apart, laid out all the parts on the counter and took a picture with his cell phone, promising to see if anyone else in the shop could identify them.

That didn’t sound all that hopeful, so when I got home I went to my computer and googled the manufacturer’s name.  I then went to the model number of Frank’s wheelchair and found detailed illustrations and part numbers.  There is a generation 1 and a generation 2 of this machine, but the spring assembly is identical on both, so a serial number is not needed.

I copied down the numbers of all six parts that go into this assembly, faxed the list to the dealer and a few days later he called to tell me the parts were in.

All’s well that ends well, I guess.  But I remember a day when the dealer was the source of all information and parts for the machines he sold.  Now it’s the internet and woe betide  the person who doesn’t have internet access or doesn’t know how to use it.

Do it yourself publishing

Something similar is happening in the book publishing world.  Publishers are being squeezed for cash.  Except for a very few big name authors, publishers now expect writers to look after the editing of their own manuscripts and the promotion of their books once in print.

Help is available for the aspiring author who wants to see his name in print.  Many self-publishing companies will compete for the privilege to publish your book, as long as you are willing to pay for it,  There are a number of outfits offering print on demand at minimal cost.

So now it is possible for everyone who has ever dreamed of writing and publishing a book to actually do it.  Thousands of titles are coming out each year.  The average self published book will sell 200 copies, mostly to close friends and relatives.

If that’s all you want, it’s fine to go ahead and do it that way.  If you dream of something more than that, then you need to start with professional editing.  I have seen so many sloppily edited books that could have been good books with a little help.  I have no desire to follow their example, I don’t want to publish a book that shouts homemade as soon as you start reading it.  Editing is going to cost money unless you have a friend who is a professional editor and owes you a favour.

Book promotion is a topic for another post.  We in this house are just beginning to learn about that aspect, but it sounds like traditional methods such as book signings are not going to move a whole lot of books.   The best results will come from smart use of the internet via a website and a blog.  Some people talk a lot about Facebook and Twitter for marketing, others say don’t waste you time with them.   We don’t intend to.

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