December 2013 Archives

My Plans / God's Laughter
December 27, 2013 8:48 AM | Posted in:

If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.
Unknown Wag

For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.'
Jeremiah 29:11 [NAS]

I do agree that God laughs when we tell Him our plans, but probably not for the same reasons the unknown wag quoted above had in mind.

First, God laughs in joy when we, His children, feel comfortable and confident enough to confide in Him our wishes, hopes, and dreams for the future. He revels in that sort of fellowship and intimacy with His most beloved creations.

Second, His mirth arises from a divine inside joke - one that He wants us to understand, even though He also knows we're really resistant to doing so. It's the truth expressed in the passage from Jeremiah quoted above, giving us a glimpse at the truth behind God's laughter.

He laughs because He knows that whatever our plans and dreams entail, they're merely a fraction of the good things He has in store for His children, all who are "called to His purpose."

So go ahead...tell Him your plans, and rest in the confidence that He's laughing with you, and for you.

I was going to insert one of those "Laughing Jesus" pictures as a visual aid, but they're either really creepy, or they just don't match my imagination.

Heaven's Perfect Lamb
December 25, 2013 9:32 AM | Posted in:

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Would some day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered,
Will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Would give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby,
You've kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary, did you know...?

The blind will see,
The deaf will hear,
And the dead will live again.
The lame will leap,
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb...

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy
Is Heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding
Is the great

"Mary, Did You Know?"
Words by Mark Lowry, music by Buddy Greene

My father-in-law maintains an active online presence, checking his Facebook account daily, along with a handful of other websites. That's not particularly notable in and of itself, but the fact that he's 93 years old makes it special. It also means that he has a few challenges that most of us don't face, including some eyesight issues that make using some websites problematic.

We've done our best to adjust some global settings on his monitor, trying to optimize brightness and contrast, but the fact of the matter is that some websites are just not designed for use by those with failing eyesight (but who are not at the point where they need a screen reader). Any site that routinely uses small fonts and/or light gray text color for important information falls into this category (I'm looking at you, Facebook). There's just not much we can do to address those things via hardware settings.

However, most browsers offer a little-known option that allows users to override the styling of the websites they visit, and it occurred to me that this might be the answer to Debbie's dad's challenges.

His computer is a Mac, and we've installed Google Chrome in addition to the default Safari browser. I did some investigation into Chrome's style override options and discovered that it's actually pretty easy to fix the text size and color issues I mentioned above. I'm going to tell you how to do this, in case you have a similar need, but I'm also going to give you some caveats about implementing this "solution."

Every time you open a web page in Google Chrome, it accesses a file on your hard drive named Custom.css. Anything you put in this file will potentially be applied to whatever website you're viewing. I say "potentially," because that depends on how you go about specifying the new style parameters. But a primer on style sheets is well beyond the scope of this article, so I'll stick to some basics.

First, you need to find the aforementioned Custom.css. In the Mac OS it can be found by typing the following path into the Go => Go To Folder menu selection:

~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/User Stylesheets

If your computer is running Windows, you'll need to look elsewhere for this file. Try googling "path to default.css in google chrome for windows."

Once you've found Custom.css, open it in a text editor and copy and paste the following into it:

* {
font-weight: bold !important;
font-size: 16px !important;
color: black !important;
background-color: white !important;
line-height: 110% !important;

Now, assuming you have a website open in Chrome, as soon as you save the changes to Custom.css, you'll see a transformation of the page similar to that shown below.

Default web page, prior to editing Custom.css

Screenshot of browser window

Same web page with the edited Custom.css

Screenshot of browser window

So, here's what we changed. All text is now black and in bold. The standard font-size have been increased, and all colored backgrounds have been changed to white. The space between lines of text has been increased slightly to improve readability.

What we're doing is overriding the styling specified by the website's designer, and while doing so may improve the site's legibility for those with impaired vision, there are certain drawbacks to this approach. For one thing, the edits to Custom.css will apply to every website you visit.

In addition, there may be design details that are actually made worse by these changes. In the example shown above, the some of the text has expanded so that it no longer fits within its bounding boxes; some sentences or phrases are cut off. On some sites, a white background may make some graphics difficult to see. 

And, of course, these changes will invariably make for an uglier website. But an ugly usable website is almost always preferable to a pretty one that you can't see well enough to use.

Keep in mind that you don't have to make all the adjustments shown above. Perhaps you just want to change all the text to black, but you want to leave the weight and size the same. Just delete the lines in Custom.css you don't need. (Warning: If you try that approach, keep in mind that websites that use light colored text on a dark background might actually become less readable. You're probably always better off specifying both text color and background color.)

In the case of the father-in-law, we'll likely make these changes so he'll have an easier time using Facebook, but he'll use a different browser to visit the other websites he likes to use...and we'll leave them as they are.

Slinging Henry
December 7, 2013 3:25 PM | Posted in: ,

After almost a year of fearful contemplation, and thanks in no small part to a bit of cabin fever (it's been really cold for TWO DAYS!), I finally worked up the courage to mount a sling to my Henry Golden Boy rifle. If that doesn't sound all that courageous, then you've never seen that beautiful walnut stock and entertained the idea of drilling a hole into the heart of it, a hole that can't be undrilled if not done perfectly the first time. I'm not a gunsmith and the risk of defacing a beautiful firearm was not one I take lightly.

As it turned out, the contemplation was worse than the execution, and it's with great relief that I present the results.

Photo of rifle stock

This is where the drilling came in. See what I mean about the beautiful wood? That simple-looking fitting was complicated by the fact that it required drilling a 5/32" hole inside a 7/32" starter hole - with each having to be drilled to a specific depth - along with the additional facts that I don't have (1) a gun vise or (2) a drill press or (3) a drill bit depth collar. Or, for that matter, (4) any inherent skill to perform this task.

I've never let lack of proper tools or basic proficiency stand in my way of performing delicate operations on expensive equipment, relying instead on God's grace for children and fools along with a knack for Texan engineering (and a spooky ability to cover up mistakes). So I addressed the first three issues with a shop vise, some microfiber towels, and a strip of orange duct tape.

Photos of southern engineering

Fortunately, the fourth shortcoming was set aside for the next job, and the outcome of this little project was pleasantly successful.

Photo of rifle with sling

The only remaining task is to change my name.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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