My Schedule

December 20, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Admin 

Blogging may be light for a week or two.

I work tomorrow and Friday.  Tomorrow my boss is taking us out to lunch.  Friday is the company lunch.  I hope to be allowed to leave early one or both days.

After that I’m on vacation until January 2.  I hope to fly one more time with my instructor sometime between Saturday (not likely – bad weather) and January 1.  There’s a TINY chance that I could get my instrument checkride in during that time.

While I’m not going anywhere for more than a day, I probably won’t be online as much.

Gay Civil Unions in NJ – February 23, 2007

December 20, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs, Life 

Governor Jon Corzine plans to sign the NJ Civil Union bill into law tomorrow (Thursday, 12/21/06) at the Trenton War Memorial.

The law takes effect in 60 days – in order to give various departments time to create/update regulations.  That makes February 19 the first day to get licenses.  That’s a state holiday (President’s Day) so February 20 is the first practical day to get a civil union license.  There is a 72 hour waiting period in NJ, so the first practical day to get married (I refuse to use the term “unioned”) is Friday, February 23, 2007.

Invite me to the wedding – my company makes great wedding gifts!

In somewhat related news – yesterday the Governor signed legislation to add “gender identity or expression” to the list of banned discrimination categories.

Instrument Written Test

December 19, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Flying 

Yesterday, I took the FAA Instrument Airplane Written Test, in preparation for my checkride to get that rating.

I got a 95%.  Passing is 70%.  Reportedly, 95% is pretty good.  It’s a really tough test – LOTS of stuff to learn.

The next step is to get 1.6 more hours checkride preparation with my instructor.  Between joining a new church, family stuff, other life stuff and weather my instructor and I have only flown together twice in the last 2 months.  You have to have 3.0 hours in the last 60 days, so I have to fly with him again.

Then, I’ll probably do my checkride in January.  There’s a TINY chance of doing it before New Year’s.

New Jersey Civil Unions – passage and other things that were changed at the same time

December 15, 2006 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs, Life 

Yesterday, the NJ legislature passed a bill that will create civil unions between two people of the same gender, with the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual marriages.  The term “marriage” was not used, the term “civil union” was used instead.  The governor is expected to sign the bill shortly – he has indicated that he will.

I have read the bill.  The writers of the bill were very comprehensive in granting equality to gay civil unions and marriage.  It looks like somebody did a search for the phrases “marriage” and “spouse” in state law and the bill amends each section to add civil unions.  There was clearly some intelligence involved – it wasn’t just a simple cut and paste.

I support civil unions and I believe that they should be labeled marriages.  I believe that they should be recognized in churches as well – including my Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination.  I hope that the gay rights activists will be satisfied with equality under a different name, and will let enough time go by before pushing hard to get the term changed.

While modifying the bill, a few other things that didn’t pertain to gay people were changed.  Here’s a list of some of them, and some other interesting stuff in the bill.

Any child born to a partner in a civil union becomes a child of both partners.  The same goes for adoptions.  Those children will be treated equally by the law as those born to married heterosexual couples, particularly in terms of divorce, custody and child support.

Interestingly, the law concerning sanguinity and marriage was modified.  The NJ restrictions were rather loose – first cousins have always been allowed to marry but you can’t marry your aunt or uncle or niece or nephew.  The modification was done simply by adding the same gender to each line – brother was added to the sentence about men, sister was added to the sentence about women.

The marriage license law was changed.  The old rule had the license issued in the hometown of the female.  If she was not an NJ resident, the license was issued in the hometown of the male.  If both were non-resident, the license was issued in the town where the wedding is to take place.  The new law changes it to allow that a marriage/civil union license may be issued in either party’s hometown – for both homo- and heterosexual couples.

NJ law concerning marriage of minors (under 18) requires the consent of a parent (and for under 16, a judge).  However, there was an old law that said if a minor boy managed to make any woman (“of good repute”) pregnant and was arrested for sexual intercourse with her, he could marry her immediately without consent.  This clause has been removed.

Anyone who could perform marriages can now also perform civil unions.  I believe that this includes lots of clergy who would rather not do so ….

Premarital agreements (aka prenuptial agreements) are now also allowed for civil unions.

Civil unions can be nullified for all of the same reasons that marriages can be annuled, EXCEPT for impotence.  Interesting.

Name changes are allowed for either partner in a civil union – just like marriage.  Ditto for divorce – you can go back to the name that you were using before the union/marriage.

“Civil union status” is added to the list of discriminatory areas prohibited by law in NJ housing, employment and the like – alongside “marital status”.  “Affectional or sexual orientation” have been on that list in NJ for some time.  This means that it is now illegal to refuse to rent to a couple who are in a civil union.

Domestic Partnerships (the precursor to these civil unions, which had far fewer privileges) are no longer allowed for couples of the same sex.  They continue to be allowed for couples over age 62 (a group where an actual marriage could cause negative tax implications).

A New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission will be established to study the implications of this law and determine whether or not it should be changed and/or added to.  That commission will also study the option of removing the Domestic Partnership laws.  The commission will report back every 6 months for 3 years.

Any Civil Union from another state that is legal in that state will be recognized in NJ.  I suspect that this includes Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and California.

Interesting changes.  Only 2 things change for heterosexuals and those changes are minor and to the benefits of the parties involved.  The rest is simple equality.  I approve.


December 15, 2006 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Admin 

E-mail from my last post seems to indicate that TypeKey is hindering folks from commenting.  Today begins a new experience to see if not requiring TypeKey will work.

If spam gets too bad, I’ll have to turn TypeKey back on again.

NOTE:  This post comes from an older incarnation of my blog.  TypeKey does not apply anymore.

Is anybody reading this?

December 13, 2006 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Admin 

I sometimes wonder whether or not anybody is reading this.  Or if they are, if they’re getting anything out of it.

I know – the counter on the left hand side shows that some are reading.  However, nobody is leaving comments.  Or sending me e-mail.  I’m just talking to myself.

Please consider this an opportunity to de-lurk.  And if the comment process is too difficult, just click my e-mail address on the left and send me a note and I’ll work on that.

Christmas Cards

December 12, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

This week, we’re sending out Christmas cards.

Over the years, we’ve developed a formula for determining who gets a card.  You have to meet one of these criteria.

  1. You’re a new family member or friend.
  2. You sent us a card last year.
  3. You are an elderly family member and cannot be expected to send a card.
  4. You sent us a card this year.
  5. We decide that even though you didn’t send us a card last year or this year, we’re going to send you a card anyway.  Maybe because you are a close relative.

We have one exception to the rule this year.  We had one relative (David Rappe) who took the card that we mailed to them earlier in the month, tore the front off the card, and then wrote a message on the back and turned it into a postcard.  No card for you this year.

Where Have I Been?

December 11, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

Sorry, readers.  Life is busy.

  • I’m studying for my flying Instrument written test.
  • It’s the holiday season, with the implied shopping and decorating issues.
  • I went to my brother’s house in Maryland for his annual party this past weekend.

Blogging will resume once my head settles a bit.

Yo no quiero Taco Bell

December 5, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Food and Drink 

Here in NJ, we are experiencing an E. coli outbreak related to Taco Bell restaurants.  Three restaurants in NJ are listed due to multiple patients, and there is some indication of a similar problem on Long Island, NY.

The night before Thanksgiving (within the timeframe for this outbreak) I picked up takeout Taco Bell at for my wife and I.  The next day, I experienced unexplained cramping and diarrhea.  I’m now wondering if that was the Taco Bell (though I had just had the colonoscopy 5 days previously).

I guess I’ll avoid them for now.

Is It Time for the PCUSA to Split?

December 1, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Religion 

As regular readers know, the PC(USA) denomination is in turmoil.  There is a growing divide between conservatives (who call themselves “evangelical” or “Biblically faithful”) and liberals (who call themselves “progressive”).  It looks like the fight is over homosexuality, but it’s really over a combination of social ideology (today’s hot-button issues like homosexuality, abortion, and oddly enough property rights) and Biblical inerrancy.

When it comes right down to it, the divide is based on one question:  “Do I believe that I have the only True Christian Faith?”

If you answer yes, then the world is divided into two groups:  people who believe and behave like you and who are to be applauded, and people who do not yet match your beliefs or behavior and who are to be at best converted/assisted to return to the Truth and at worst vilified.

If you answer no, the the world is divided into many groups.  One of the groups believes and behaves the way you do and feels like family.  Other groups don’t believe or behave the way you do, but they meet some lesser standard of “do no harm to others” and are to be applauded as finding a “different path to God”.  Still other groups are seen as taking a path where their beliefs or lack thereof lead them to do harm to others; these groups are vilified.

The definitions of harm are different between conservatives and liberals as well – conservatives tend to define harm as physical or “leading people away from the True Faith” while liberals tend to define harm as physical, mental, economic, or discrimination based on a number of attributes.

From where I sit, it seems like the pew-sitters in the PC(USA) fall into 3 groups:  20% activist conservative, 70% non-activist, and 10% activist liberal.  The officers (elders and deacons) and clergy skew more to the liberal.

The PC(USA) is posed on the brink of a split.  One of three things can happen.  The denomination could pursue a graceful split, dividing property and churches using principles similar to those used by “still friendly” divorcing couples.  The denomination could go through a painful split, with ecclesiastical and civil court cases, lots of name-calling, and heavy losses of membership as people get disgusted and leave.  Or, the non-activist middle could rise up and tell the activist conservatives and activist liberals to sit down, shut up, and stop hurting the community.

I favor the “middle rising up” scenario.  However, it seems like we are pursuing the “painful split” scenario now.

When I was in high school, I was involved in the Tech Crew.  This is usually called “Stage Crew” elsewhere, though we also did lighting and sound for school events that didn’t happen in the auditorium.  By the time I was a junior, I had risen to be Lighting Director.  We also had a position called Technical Director held by a friend of mine.  The two positions were considered co-presidents of the group.

In senior year, disaster struck.  Both of us developed romantic notions for another member of the group.  To this day I’m not even sure whether or not she shared romantic feelings for either of us.  Throughout the fall of senior year there were a number of ugly incidents (none physical – more passive-aggressive) and the Tech Crew started to show signs of a similar split.  There were the 3 of us, a few friends of those 3, and the rest formed the “knock it off” middle.  We managed to get things done, but it was clear that the situation was hurting the group.

So, I chose to leave the group for the good of the group.  This also ended the friendships with the Technical Director and our lady friend all the way around.  Some felt that I took the coward’s way and avoided conflict.  Some felt that I should have just let it go and stepped aside of any relationship that they may have had.  Others were sad to see me go but understood my decision (the adults involved fell into that group).  I do know that I no longer had to experience the immediate pain of the disagreements, though I did feel the pain of the loss of part of my life.  The group ended up having further problems and while it didn’t split it never regained the level of fun that we’d experienced before the love triangle formed.  The knowledge transfer that usually happens as the group ages and a new guard comes in was interrupted, resulting in some permanent loss of knowledge.  At least one person had to take over a role that they weren’t prepared to handle.

Does that sound familiar?  Replace me with the role of “conservative church leaving the denomination”.

The key question is “Does staying together do more harm than splitting?”  More harm to each of us, more harm to the whole.  It’s clear that as we spend time fighting amongst ourselves, we are not advancing the Kingdom of God.  If anything, we are fragmenting it.  And we are losing people to disinterest and disgust.

It’s time for some project management skills.  We need to pick a few options and evaluate the upsides and downsides of each.  This is the same decision-making process that I use every day in my IT job.  It’s the same decision-making process used by doctors when they have a sick patient.

Let’s look at the upsides and downsides of a split.  Let’s look at the upsides and downsides of staying together.  Let’s look at the upsides and downsides of letting people go peacefully.  Let’s pray over all of it, and pick the option that will help us all move forward in the best way for the greatest number – separate or apart.

Most of all, let’s leave the emotions at home.  Let’s think and pray, but stop fighting.

An interesting side note:  I found the Technical Director mentioned above on the web.  From what little is on his website, he has a similar DVD collection, similar interests (indicated by links) and his cats look like mine.  Freaky.  I’m glad for him that he’s apparently happy.

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