The Plan is not Clear.. Day #1,777

The Plan is not Clear.. Day #1,777

Thanks to all the prayer warriors out there who have lifted me up in prayer! I saw the C-Doc today for my post PET-Scan review. I hoped to hear “you are good to go, healed, proceed with life”. Conversely I also prepared for worst case “cancer found, let’s dig in for the grind”.

I heard neither: “Slight growth of a lung nodule that looks benign”.. “weird to see lymphoma in both face parotids and lung”.. could go after nodule with radiation and/or chemo but risks to that. Unfortunately the plan – the next step – is not clear. Have we not heard enough of that lately? So many of my plans for the past 2 years found dead ends.

Five years ago a good friend learned she had cancer the same time as me. A year later she was gone. We are all given different paths to travel, different moccasins to wear – in spite of our plans. It is so easy to become mesmerized by our path, “it’s good”, “it’s bad”. Recently some other friends learned of cancer and have begun that same grind of radiation, chemo, worry, focus on self. “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”.

I am reminded by “Gracious uncertainty”: knowing that regardless of what is happening around me – good or bad – I am certain of God. Sounds easy, right? Third school Roman Catholic catechism.. Philippians 4:13.. I often say “too blessed to be stressed”, followed by “repeat it until you believe it”, a variation of “fake it until you make it!”.

I spend too much time in the mirror, too long planning my plans, worried about my ailments. “As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises.” Over and over and over again this has proven true in my life. Step back, see who God has placed in your life, do something to make their life better, seek their best interests.

I am convinced as a Christ-follower we are bombarded by this lesson. The Trinity (3 Gods in 1). Jesus’ life while physically here on earth, spent with 12 disciples. The lesson is to be an active part of a community. Seek the best interests of those in that community. Do this and you experience why Paul spoke about Love as the greatest. Do this and you get a glimpse of what heaven – eternity with God and Christ – is.

In six months I will return to my C-Doc, return to wondering about what is growing in my body. Until then I will wake daily reminding myself to focus on the task – the person(s) – God has placed nearest. To seek their best interests. To Love.

“If you want to see God love, share your struggles with a brother/sister”. Humblest of thanks to all who have sought out my best interests by lifting me up in prayer!

…it has not yet been revealed what we shall be…

1 John 3:2

Geo

Thankful.. Day #1,201

Thankful.. Day #1,201

Visited the C-Doc today for my 2nd annual CT Scan review: ALL CLEAR, still. We will no longer do routine CT Scans, maintenance mode unless we see reason to be more concerned.

Obviously I’m thankful for this new information. I have other minor health issues I need to address, but the Grim Reaper of Cancer appears to have left my property for now. During this time I’ve known many that were not that lucky, and I grieve the loss of many of them. I am thankful I get another day with my family and friends!

I am most thankful for the family and friends who took the time to pray for me during this experience. I’ll admit that I’m not the greatest pray-er. I do it, but not nearly as much or as long as I feel I should (or at least 7th-grade teacher Sister Maria Crucis thought I should).

But ultimately it is simply a conversation with my God, who had people write books and testaments about how much He desires that conversation. When I do it I immediately feel His presence, His peace. I know that He could instantly take care of whatever I’m praying for without me even praying for it.

My favorite verse in the Bible is 2nd Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Weakness in the face of cancer. Weakness in my prayer-life. Weakness in the face of COVID. Weakness as I see society polarized around me. Weakness as a care-giver.

That does not mean Christ wants me to be powerless… “..so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Tomorrow – and each day – I hope that I again feel weakness, but that I then use the power of Christ to courageously love and take care of the ‘task that lies closest’ – the task most likely put there by God.

There is no doubt in my mind that when I do that – I feel most thankful!

Again, thank you for taking time to do a simple task that was laid close to you!

His 2nd Cor 12:9 Power!

G

Zoom Pro Tips

Zoom Pro Tips

As a 2-year vet of over 500 Zoom conferences, I thought I’d post this to share with all.

Zoom Pro Tips

Topic Participant Host
1. Your Audio Mic
You can choose to use either a) the microphone on your computer (built-in, headset, etc), or b) the microphone on your phone. In my experience, audio through computers is the most common fail point (e.g. max headroom). If you are an active or key participant, read the host section to the right! When working properly, your microphone at bottom left will show green level/volume when you talk When your audio is critical (you are host or key presenter), consider using your phone for audio:
1) connect to the webcast via computer, don’t choose computer audio, instead
2) use your phone for audio by dialing into the webcast from your phone.
3) Note your participant ID, then dial into your call using the phone. When you enter a participant ID, it will marry your phone connection w/ your computer connection.NOTE: While I’ve found this most reliable, you also lose voice quality as you are going through the POTS rather than using higher-quality audio on your computer.If you are doing this a lot, you should consider a good mic. Personally I like to use gamer headsets but search amazon for ‘podcast microphones’ and you will find some good choices
2. Your Audio Speakers /Headset
If you can, use a headset, which often comes with a good mic. Moving your speakers to your headset ears will reduce chances of audio feedback (saves any other humans in your company from having to listen). I like the Corsair VOID wireless gamer headset but also use a pair of Jabar Elite 65t. I like when I can control the mic volume as I tend to speak softly.

In Zoom you can easily and quickly change to a different headset. I have a backup in case my wireless headset batteries die.

3. Mute As a participant, FIND AND LOVE YOUR MUTE OPTIONS (in Zoom or on your phone). Modern mics work great but also tend to pickup anything making noise around you. If you are not talking feel free to mute yourself. If you are driving or in any loud room it also helps. On laptop, hover over window to see controls: bottom left is audio on/off, video on/off, bottom right is ‘leave meeting’ As a host, be a ‘mute hawk’: you can mute anyone. With newbs on, you will find people roaming around their house trying to find the right spot, often through rooms w/ lots of background noise (even the bathroom!). When you hear background noise you can see on the list of participants where it is coming from: their little phone icon will be emitting green waves. Rather than querying everyone ‘someone has background noise’, I just mute that BG noise. At a break I’ll mention ‘Steve, you have lots of background noise’ or I’ll just unmute them when it appears they are settled/have less noise.

If you have more than 10 people on, you may want to consider having a ‘co-host’ to ride herd on muting and other call issues (only paid for subscriptions): Enabling a Co-host (paid Zoom accounts)

 

4. Audio Feedback Audio feedback loops are the worst, and yes, they happen in Zoom. This most commonly occurs when people turn on their mic on their laptop in a room that also has a conference phone. You must turn one off. If you hear feedback, immediately mute your mic and turn off speakers (if not using a headset) to see if you are the cause. As host I am always prepared to shut down any audio that I find causing feedback.

If I’m visiting someone and hosting, I also like to get in early to make sure what they have in the room will work. Many things can cause problems: network, rooms, conference phones/no conference phones (I actually carry this eMeet M2 with me in case I need a conference phone, but not cheap)

5. Zoom Personal Room
I use my personal room much like I do a physical office. I will often be in there for anyone to visit me. To make it easy to remember how to share this info, I go into the Zoom Website and set my personal ID to be my cell phone #. Some colleagues use their name.
6. Managing Participants Hosts can do a lot to manage overall quality, so open your ‘participant’ list immediately, even separate it into its own window so you can see everyone on: their audio status (on/off/talking), and their video status. Hover over them lets you easily mute, ask for video, etc. Often people will connect but will have neither audio nor video. You hear the ‘doorbell’ and think you can begin communicating but you cannot.
7. Location You must be sensitive about where you take a Zoom. For work calls, most people have usually settled into a good videocon setting: little to no background noise, headset to reduce noise further, appropriate background. If possible, think about your spot beforehand. If not possible, be aware of your surroundings: cars have a lot of BG noise, outdoors has wind and other BG noise, your spouse talking on a call or watching TV will be very distracting.
8. Helping Connect Video Hosts can prompt people to join video. Many newbs struggle to turn on/off their video, even disconnect. After a few attempts to walk newbs through connecting video, just right-click the camera icon on their participant entry and click ‘ask to share video’. They will be prompted to share video, they click YES and done!
9. Sharing Videos/MP4s or Audio/MP3s Sharing videos or audio can be tricky: the audio from video/audio often can be jittery or not work at all. If possible avoid it. Zoom tries to switch audio to whomever is talking. So to Zoom the audio from a shared video/audio is just another person talking, and will be interrupted by any noise on any line. As host, mute all if you need to share a video/audio.
10. Participate in your own webcast As host stop asking if people if they can ‘see what I’m sharing’. Use your phone or an ipad or another computer to ‘participate’ in your own conference. They you can see what they see, if your share is working, what type of delays people are experiencing. Don’t forget on the 2nd device to mute the mic and turn off the speakers to prevent feedback!
11. Know your Chat By default chat goes to everyone: this can be either a) embarrassing, or b) a great tool (eg. sharing prayer requests). As participant, check twice where you are posting a chat (like ANY chatting tool) As host be proactive about what type of chatting you want.
12. Virtual Background For fun get a cool logo/graphic file (JPG, PNG) and make that your background. Recognize that like a green screen, it will try to replace colors, the wrong BG image will end up making you look like a hologram.
13. Recording Legal? Recording is cool but might be illegal! Many states require that you get permission to record. Know who is on your call and what rules apply. Safest approach is that if you need to record, ask permission. Some have advised that the ‘recording’ icon at top left meets legal guidelines. Everybody (should) act differently when being recorded, so I believe it good etiquette to announce.
14. Location Lighting Consider the lighting at your location. Most cameras do well with existing light, but consider what people are seeing. I was told my room is dark so I bought a light to add some brightness.
15. Camera Eyeballs Align the window of people directly under your camera, especially if you use multiple monitors. Your eyeballs are naturally attracted to the window of people talking, and that way you are looking directly into the camera. I find it annoying when someone spends the entire call with the camera on but looking elsewhere. If you know you are going to be looking elsewhere (not critical to call, have other tasks to work on, just bored), turn your camera off.
16. Camera Covers Consider a cheap sliding cover to cover your camera when not in use.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

All Systems Go! Day #454

All Systems Go! Day #454

Visited the C-Doc today after a 3-month CT-Scan on Tue to check in on a small growth on my lungs – ALL CLEAR! Great news for sure, special thanks to all my prayer warriors out there!

Last trip the C-Doc recommended I try the ‘Plant Paradox’ diet to help some symptoms I complained of (migraines, etc). Any one who knows me knows that my diet is not great. And I’m stubborn. And old. But, he’s my C-Doc, and he could tell me to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and I’d probably do it!

So Sheryl and I embarked on this new adventure, knowing that it was a high-maintenance diet: don’t eat certain veggies, eat only meat that was pasture-raised and more. No almonds but almond flour ok? Muggins?! Lectins? Pistachios..

Well, I am a believer. For the past 3 months Sheryl and I have bounced in and out of the ‘Plant Paradox Church of the Lectin Free Faithful’. I can tell you that when we follow the diet closely, I feel great: no headaches, no stomach aches, etc. When we veer off ranch, these things return.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical of many of the gluten-free, X-free causes. A life of eating habits made it hard to believe that bun on top of my Chick-Fil-A sandwich was evil. OK, not ‘evil’, but definitely not on my side!

When not traveling, Sheryl and I try to stay close to the ranch. It is hard, but we committed to not being religious about this. I have made a lot of smaller tweaks to my life: pistachio snacks during the day (shelled to slow me down!). Don’t eat the bread on that sandwich, or not all of it. Salmon when traveling.

We promised each other no guilt when we go off course: it’s like choosing to ride your bike on the nicely-paved blacktop road, or to ride it on a gravel or stone road: why would we do that?! For example, I ate pizza today. It tasted good, but I’m already pedaling through the muck. It’s not worth it.

The best news it that my Sjogren’s symptoms are better: my dry mouth seems to have gone away. I sleep without a bottle of water near my bed, and play sports without having to stop every 5 minutes for a drink (yes, I know I probably should regardless!)

Again, thanks to all who have prayed for me: it is great knowing the hedge that you put around me!

Peace!

G

Humanity’s Greatest Achievement: The Car/Road/Highway System

Humanity’s Greatest Achievement: The Car/Road/Highway System

A rush-hour drive into Houston on the Southwest Freeway puts you smack in the middle of what I believe is collectively humanity’s greatest achievement. 2,000-pound deadly missiles traveling at 70 miles per hour, only feet from each other, are guided by perfect strangers (often wielding Starbucks cups or eye-liner) from every stratum of our social, economic, and education classes.

I challenge you to think of another accomplishment as ubiquitous (who does NOT have a car) or significant (matter of life and death every trip).

Find another accomplishment that puts the PhD economist lawyer beside or behind the high school dropout; the wealthy software mogul in their Tesla behind the near-homeless in an Escort; the religious with their rosary hanging on the mirror beside the atheist with their bumper stickers; the 80-year-old great-grandmother stopping to let the teenager go first.

Try to find an accomplishment at the root of freedom for so many. From that first drive alone with your new junior license, to all those work, hobby and vacation drives, to those drives to the grocery store in your 80’s.

What can compare? Our phones? Let’s face it, the phones and the networks at the center of our new social media world were invented by a few really smart people. And while it may seem life-and-death, that snapchat or lack thereof will not kill you (unless you are snapping WHILE DRIVING!)

The Internet? Certainly amazing, and daily actions taken by people globally contribute to this accomplishment, even if some of it is fake (yes, you cannot trust everything you read on the Internet even this article). But where is the life-and-death?!

Our democracy? Again, a few really smart people did most of the grunt work on that one, we are riding their coattails. And half of us want to scrap the whole thing for a different model. In many parts of the world the idea of people taking responsibility for themselves is frowned upon. Or worse just lip-service from authoritarian leaders. (But have those leaders try to take away people’s CARS! Then you would see democracy!)

Our medical sciences or any sciences in general? Amazing accomplishments, but..  a few really smart people! We are often passive at best in our use of these advances – certainly life and death significance, but our daily decisions have little impact.

Perhaps the closest rival is computer technology. Yes, you are right to point out that again it is a few smart people that made those computer advances, and that computer technology is at the heart of phones and the Internet, candidates already dismissed.

It is the promise (threat?) of computer technology – and how it affects driving – that moves it into my 2nd place. The elegance of the driving achievement is its decentralization: humans make so many of the important life-and-death decisions. One day computers will be making those decisions for us.

People will align into two camps (probably by age): You may want to drive MORE – since you aren’t actually ‘driving’ but being driven, I get that. I will drive LESS – I’ve seen too many Windows Updates, too many BSODs, too many phone updates and hang-ups!

Regardless of how you align, the accomplishment of humanity – of trusting people you do not know driving deadly missiles only yards from you – will diminish and never be the same: “I don’t know you Stranger-In-The-Car-Beside-Me, but I trust you with my life infinitely more than any car operating system those really smart people think up”!

Rethinking Faith Quotes, Jonathan Leeman

If you are a person of Faith who cannot ignore the political arena… Love this quote:

Imagine an airport security metal detector that doesn’t screen for metal but for religion standing at the entrance of the public square. The machine beeps anytime someone walks through it with a supernatural big-G God hiding inside one of their convictions, but it fails to pick up self-manufactured or socially constructed little-g gods. Into this public square the secularist, the materialist, the Darwinist, the consumerist, the elitist, the chauvinist, and, frankly, the fascist can all enter carrying their gods with them like whittled wooden figures in their pockets. Not so for the Christians or Jews or Muslims. Should they enter and make a claim on behalf of their big-G God, the siren will sound like a firetruck. What this means is that the public square is inevitably slanted toward the secularist and materialist. Public conversation is ideologically rigged. (35)

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/20-quotes-jonathan-leeman/