Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Laptop Cable Lock

Boy, do I feel dumb.

Have you ever not seen something right in front of you simply because you weren't paying attention?

That's what happened to me.

I bought my current laptop online from Dell early in 2008 and kicked myself for not ensuring that it had a security port after not being able to find one on the back or right side like it was on two previous laptops. Most laptops have it and, since my last laptop was made by Dell and had a security port, I expected the feature to be standard on the series. Sure, I could have returned the laptop and gotten another, but I liked the other features too much which is why I selected it in the first place.

So, for close to two years, I haven't taken my laptop to the public library because I couldn't figure out how to secure it and didn't want to have to carry it with me every second.

However, on Christmas Day, probably due to the atypical blizzard that shut down mid-Oklahoma through the top half of Texas, I found myself contemplating the ports on my laptop where I discovered one on the LEFT side that I didn't remember having seen before.

"Wait a minute. That looks like..."

I got my cable lock, fit it into the hole, and it locked down tight. Sure enough, the left side is where Dell put the security port for this laptop. Boy, do I feel dumb for not noticing it before!

If you didn't know there's a way to secure your laptop, examine the back and BOTH sides for a little rectangular hole that doesn't seem to have a purpose (photo below). Then, visit a store that sells computer accessories or search online for "laptop cable lock" for the type of lock you prefer. There are combination locks, keyed locks, locks with short cables, locks with long cables, locks with expandable or retractable cables, locks with motion detectors, and locks that will link more than one device together provided each device has a security port.

Because my last laptop was stolen from the locked trunk of my car in broad daylight, I recommend getting a cable lock and figuring out how to secure your laptop to a part of your car as an additional theft deterrent. While your home owner's or renter's insurance policy may cover the theft of your laptop, the loss of the data you have on it will be what devastates you unless you're really good about keeping a current backup. Even then, losing personal data puts you at risk of identity theft.

Better safe than sorry.

Friday, December 25, 2009

White Christmas

Those who prayed for a white Christmas overdid it this year. Oklahoma and Texas are not supposed to get blizzards!

It was nearly 60 degrees Fahrenheit when I went to Walmart on Monday afternoon. I was ready to go on Saturday then realized the fallacy of going there during the weekend before Christmas when I didn't absolutely have to. On Monday morning, my thoughts were confirmed by a lady who said she went on Saturday and couldn't find any place to park so returned at 1 a.m. to avoid the crowd.

It was crowded when I got there on Monday shortly after 2 p.m. even though it was a week day. I was fortunate in finding a parking space right away although it was nearly the farthest from the store. I didn't mind, figuring I can use the exercise.

Walking to the store, I was perturbed to see a shopping cart standing at the rear of an SUV with a woman's purse in the child seat begging to be stolen. I stood watching for a minute, unnoticed by the woman in the driver's seat of the SUV bent over like she was looking for something. What was she thinking, leaving her purse like that?

I walked up to her door. "Excuse me, please don't leave your purse out like that."

She got out. "I only wanted to get something," she protested.

Why didn't she take her purse with her where it would be safer?

"I could have grabbed it and ran off, if I was that type of person." And she would have never known until it was too late.

She looked annoyed. "Thank you," she said, retrieving her handbag.

"Merry Christmas," I replied as I left.

Once inside, I navigated the crowd until I was in the back corner with the flashlights. The pegs for the pocket-sized mini flashlights were empty leading me to think they are the popular stocking stuffers for this year. It's a good idea.

I searched the LED key ring flashlights for a red one for a lady I know but found only one that is too big and too heavy for a key ring for my taste. There weren't many key ring flashlights to search through because those pegs were mostly empty. Another popular stocking stuffer?

After reading a label for a grandmother looking for the right size for her baby grandson and lifting a case of soda for an elderly woman in one of the motorized shopping carts Walmart provides for the less able, I checked out and left; my good deeds done for the day.

Set for the holiday, I awoke on the morning of Christmas Eve to blowing sleet and snow. By 9 a.m., my car was sealed shut. The sleet soon abdicated in favor of the fiercely driven snow. I had planned on going back to Walmart for some chocolate candy and quickly cancelled the thought.

One doesn't usually think of needing a vehicle preparedness kit in case of being stranded in the snow in Oklahoma and Texas, but that's what's been happening according to the evening news.

So, I'm socked in, safe and warm, watching the 24-hour "A Christmas Story" marathon on TBS, waiting for daylight to check out my gifts.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Revisiting John 8:2-11

In my last post, I quoted John 8:2-11 of the Bible, a passage about an adulteress, and want to revisit it.

Have you ever wondered why the woman caught in adultery, "in the very act" (John 8:4), was the only person the scribes and the Pharisees brought to Jesus?

Since Leviticus 20:10 says that both the man and the woman are to be put to death for breaking the Seventh Commandment ("Thou shalt not commit adultery" Exodus 20:14), what happened to the man who was with the adulteress? Since he isn't mentioned, the only logical conclusion is that they let him go.

Since John 8:6 says they brought the woman to Jesus in hope of getting something against Him, I'm thinking that if He said that they should not stone her, they could accuse Him of being against the Law.

If, however, He agreed that she should be stoned to death, they could accuse Him of ignoring the part of the Law that says the man is to be stoned as well.

Either answer would have given the Pharisees something against Jesus as they wanted but He saw their double standard, the injustice of their wanting to stone the woman but not the man who had been with her, and had the wisdom to avoid their trap.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Matter of Balance

The Tiger Woods situation has some people arguing that adultery is a private issue between a husband and his wife. This post takes a look at two scriptures that have been used by those who think the media and everyone else should be quiet about Tiger's infidelities.

One scripture, "...He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone..." seems appropriate because Jesus said it in a passage about a woman caught in adultery:

John 8:
2. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4. They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6. This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11. She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

The problem with trying to use it to convince others to leave Tiger alone is that doing so misapplies the verse; no one has condemned Tiger to death. No where does Jesus say that the adulteress shouldn't have been exposed as such, only that he without sin should be the one to begin her execution which has never been an issue in Tiger's situation.

Moreover, the passage shows that public exposure was the path to God's mercy and the woman's repentance just as public exposure was the path to Tiger Woods' reluctant but eventual statement of guilt and intended repentance.

The other scripture is, "Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:4).

Frankly, I'm appalled that anyone would trivialize breaking the Seventh Commandment (Exodus 20:14) by equating adultery to a mote (speck). What then, considering that the Commandments aren't ranked by magnitude, might be equated to a beam?

In defense, a more appropriate verse is likely, "Judge not, that ye be not judged," from the same passage in Matthew 7:

1. Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

The problem with using this passage is that because God doesn't see any sin as being worse than another as we might see murder as being worse than stealing, and there's a distinct comparison of magnitudes in this passage, this scripture isn't about sins but is about the non-sinful things some may criticize or think they need to help other people fix about themselves.

Also countering the erroneous belief that "Judge not, that ye be not judged," is about sins is that Jesus instructed us to "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).

Even so, we weren't given much of an opportunity to judge Tiger because his lovers began confirming his infidelities within a few days and God has already judged adulterers:

1 Corinthians 6:
9. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

The fact is that Tiger's philandering has been the worst kept secret and the media has known about it for a long time without printing a word.

What changed?

When Tiger crashed his vehicle, the accident became a matter of public record. The public wants to know how and why accidents happen as well as if people were injured or property damaged and to what extent. It's the media's job to keep the public informed. Reporting accidents also helps keep the public safe because it's the easiest way for us to learn what to do or not do.

After that, it's simple back-tracking from the accident to its underlying cause: Accident -> reckless driving -> upset over argument with Elin -> his texting Rachel Uchitel -> adultery. Thus, Pandora's box was opened.

Another reason adultery shouldn't be a private matter is because such a violation of the Ten Commandments erodes the fabric of society which is everyone's concern. Too often, silence is interpreted as consent and in no way should we ever allow anyone who breaks the interpersonal Commandments the illusion that s/he's behavior has gone unnoticed or will be without consequence. While a person not in the public eye deserves the attention of family, friends, associates, and church; a public figure who travels the world needs the watchful eye of the public to hold him or her accountable especially after years of concealing the behavior from the public has failed to effect a change.

Although we've all heard or read about how intrusive the media can be in regard to the personal lives of celebrities, especially the tabloids - and I do not condone the excess or the fabrications - however uncomfortable it may be, the situation is one that Tiger Woods brought upon himself.

By committing adultery, he proved himself to be immoral.

By texting Rachel where Elin could catch him at it, he displayed poor judgment.

By blaming Elin for ruining their Thanksgiving, he exposed himself as a blame-shifter.

By driving recklessly, he unleashed the media.

While I'm sure those who use the two scriptures examined here think they have the best intentions, taking scripture out of context and picking scriptures to the exclusion of others in the Bible leaves them on the slippery slope of using the Bible to say whatever they want it to say instead of having a balanced outlook of the scripture.

Everyone else needs to be aware that since there is what people say the Bible says versus what the Bible actually says, they need to study the Bible for themselves.

Tiger Woods is a great golfer, but not a good man and it's better for us to see him as he really is than it is to hold an unbalanced view of him as being like the other celebrities who manage their lives without engaging in the scandalous behavior that Tiger has.

If Tiger's lucky, having his adultery exposed publicly, like the adulteress in the Bible, resulted in true repentance rather than mere lip service and the painful memory of his exposure will keep him from behaving badly in the future.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Crane Offers Free Shipping

Crane & Co. is now offering free ground shipping on orders $25 or more. This is a great offer because last year, the minimum order was $75.

If you like fine stationery or have someone on your gift list who does, Crane's 100% cotton papers have a divinely luxurious feel that is well worth the price especially if the item is in the Sale section. Both thermographic printing and engraving is available on select products.

Shipping is prompt - my orders are usually delivered in about a week.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Joy by the Water

I decided to change my blog's title from "Sound Off!" that I started using in 1999 when I emailed my first rant to various people about how the millennium wasn't starting in 2000 but in 2001, despite the worldwide celebration by those who evidently didn't know how to count from one to a thousand.

I'm going with my name since it is a good name and has served me well over the years. I also like the symbolism, both spiritually and geographically.

"Gail" means "joy" in Aramaic.

"Rhea" in the original spelling means "by the water" in Irish.

Thus, my name means "Joy by the Water" and it is true.

"The Lord is my shepherd..." (Psalm 23:1)


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making a Change

I've been thinking of changing the title of this blog because "Sound Off!" doesn't suit what it's become as well as I thought it would.

One option is "The Pachinko Machine" because one never knows where the ball is going to bounce.

Another option is "Falcon Works" since I write with a fountain pen and my favorite is the Namiki Falcon because of its flexible nib.

The third option is to simply use my name. Boring, huh?

Let's see, what other options are there?

Decisions, decisions...

As it turns out, it was easier to select one of my photographs and change the banner.

[The photo was taken at the 16th Annual White Sands Hot Air Balloon Invitational that is held every September at the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.]