Blast Off! - The count down is nearly complete. Tire pressures - check. Fuel - Check. Clothing Packed - Check. We are go for lift off with the replacement vehicle. The main engines have lit and I can hear them building up thrust. The whole vehicle is shaking. This bird wants to fly and there is nothing that's going to hold it back.
So long, see you late Saturday.
T -21 Hours and Counting - So far there is only on hitch showing up in count down to the launch of my planned away mission. The starter irregularity on my car is beginning to become more regular. I may have to swap cars with Karol for the trip. I would rather not be at the remote base and have a total failure.
An interesting thing on the web. I happened to go to the web site of the dealer where Karol bought her car. I was looking for their phone number and just for haha's took a look at their used car inventory. There was Karol's car! A blue 1999 Honda Accord EX, except this car has 64,000 miles on it and Karol's car had 40,000 mile on it when we bought it. The topper? It is more than we paid for Karol's car. Boy does that make one feel good.
What will they think of next - Jewish Guard Pigs. This sounds like something Americans would think of.
An organization in Israel has gained rabbinical approval to train pigs to guard Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Until now, Jewish settlements have been guarded by men with guns and also by guard dogs. But a new idea - guard pigs - has been thought up by an organization called The Hebrew Battalion. The man in charge, Kuti Ben-Yaakov, insists it is a serious proposal. "Pigs' sense of smell is far more developed than that of dogs," he said. "The pigs will also be able to identify weapons from huge distances, and walk in the direction of the terrorist, thereby pointing him out. Moreover, this animal is considered to be dangerous by Islam and, according to the Muslim faith, a terrorist who touches a pig is not eligible for the 70 virgins in heaven."
Preparing for Another Away Mission - This one is back to North Jersey. I plan to light the main's Wednesday evening for a lift-off that should put me at the hotel by about 19:00. That way I can be at the client site, ready to go, by 08:00 the next morning. I expect to launch for my return from the Fire Base sometime on Saturday. Likely gliding into the home landing zone late Saturday afternoon. Should accumulate some good billable hours.
A new blogger from Iraq - Healing Iraq. He's an Iraqi giving his take on what's going down.
Love is in the air in Iraq:
Freed of an onerous Baath Party bureaucracy that sought to regulate even the most fundamental aspects of Iraqi life--such as who married whom--Iraqis lately are tying the knot in numbers not seen in recent memory.
Before President Saddam Hussein was toppled, the ruling party imposed a complex and strict set of matrimonial rules on Iraqis, particularly on members of the military. And since military service was compulsory for Iraqi men, the effects were pervasive. Now civil servants estimate at least twice as many couples are registering for marriage as were a year ago.
"Because Saddam is gone, now I'm getting married!" said Wasim Adel, 27, beaming beside his bride, Sheelan Shafeeq, 18, in a crowded corridor at Karrada city hall, which serves a neighborhood in central Baghdad. The hallway was jammed with couples making their way from the office of the registration clerk to the office of the judge who would perform a civil ceremony. Four couples waited ahead of Adel and Shafeeq.
"There is no comparison between now and before," said Kamel Abbas Tammimi, Karrada's senior judge. "Now there are no obstacles.
Meanwhile the resistance in Iraq shows just what scum of the earth they are. On second thought, that's an insult to scum.
A woman carrying a baby just a few months old was arrested in front of Al Yarmuk hospital in Baghdad after trying to enter. The Iraqi Police found out that the baby was wrapped in explosives between his clothes. After questioning the woman she confessed that the baby was kidnapped and that some Arabs had offered her a considerable amount of money to get the baby inside the crowded emergency hall in the hospital, leave it there and they would do the rest.
It makes you want to shoot people like than on-sight.
Another Sunday a repeat church - Karol and I have started the second round of our church search. We are revisiting the churches that seemed rather promising in our first attendance. The one we attended this morning was the first one we tried after leaving our prior church.
The pastor is physically similar to our previous pastor. He is slightly rotund, below average in height, balding with glasses and a moustache. The church inside itself is nice inside. It seats about 112. That is smaller than many churches we have attended, but with maybe 60 or 70 in attendance, it doesn't feel so empty. The seats are basically chairs arranged in rows. I think it is an excellent idea as it allows the room to be rearranged to fit about any function. The chairs are VERY comfortable. Here is what they look like, except the ones at this church are red and they have a wire rack underneath to store bibles and hymnals.
If I had my druthers, I'd put the pastor in a robe. I just like the pastor to wear a robe. He wore a suite. Even there I'd like to see him wear a long sleeve white shirt. It would brighten up his image. With his dark suit, tie, and shirt, it made his whole demeanor seem dry. It was almost as if he were wearing camouflage clothing. Perhaps I'm too sensitive to visual cues.
The pastor's sermon was good. It was about the importance of reading the bible daily. He made the point that we watch TV at least a couple hours a day, then we should be able to spend some time in the bible. His point is well taken. He also had a couple of funny stories that broke up the pacing of his sermon, but did not detract from it. I'd repeat it here, but I could not find it on the net.
After the service that served coffee and snacks. I think that is a rather good idea. It gives people a chance to chat and new people to meet existing members. We chatted with his wife, who is looking for a job. She and the pastor are fairly recently married. She has rather a bubbly personality. I will concede this church seems friendlier than some we have attended. Full disclosure: we already know one of the members.
Christmas Stories - I have renewed my request for friends and relatives to send me their more memorable Christmas experience. So far, I've gotten one more, but need a lot more. Can you help?
My car is occasionally acting up again about starting. It's happened twice in the last couple of days. It seems to happen after the car has run for a short time, but not a long time. In the last two instances, I moved my car from the garage to the back drive way. A bit later I came out and turned the key and nothing happened. I tried it a second time and it fired right up.
Tonight I was going to wash my car, but their are predicting lots of rain on Tuesday. So I decided not to. I guess that means we'll get no rain at all. I did wash both the inside and outside of the windshield, however. Then I put a good coating of Rain-X on the outside of the windshield.
I had been using a sponge to apply the Rain-X. I was keeping the sponge in a plastic bag. I took the sponge out of the bag, squirted some Rain-X on it and started to apply it to the windshield. The sponge disintegrated in my hand. I went and got a paper towel to do the job. I like to use Rain-X as at night I don't need to run the wiper blades as much, when it is raining very lightly. Also, if I find when the windshield has iced up, when I come out of the office or a client site to go home, the ice is a lot easier to scrap off.
One of the fellows at the office waxes his windshield, but I don't know if I'm quite ready to try that. The only trouble with applying the Rain-X is, it's hard to make the window completely smudge free.
A Very Nice Service - Karol and I went to the memorial service for Lynn Barone who died a week ago last Thursday. Karol and I felt it was a very nice service. It was in a church and it was a little bit like a mini church service. What was refreshing was the sentiment. "Yes we all miss Lynn and desperately wish she was with us now. But God is absolutely wonderful. Because Lynn was a Christian, she is far better off than any of us. Now she is where there is no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.
The best analogy for the service I can give is, it is like parents who have a young person that has just graduated from college, has married a wonderful person, and it moving way to take a very lucrative job. The parents will dearly miss their offspring. But they are proud of who they have become, where they are going, and their future. That was kind of the feeling of the service today.
It was a good turn out. The church could seat probably 200+ people and it was standing room only. The pastor was sort of an "Ole Country Preacher" type. Not glib, but believed in his heart in the truth of the Bible and took every opportunity to make the case for Christ should there be anyone in the building that needed it. He reminded me of a good salesman, he never stopped selling.
We met five people from out Toastmasters group there and heard there were more, but did not personally see them. To my surprise, they had food afterward and it was all delicious. The service was over by 14:00 I had eaten lunch. I wasn't really that hungry. But all the food looked homemade and I certainly didn't want to make the people that prepared the food feel unappreciated. So I manage to great please a few taste buds on my tongue. And I will say, they were greatly pleased.
I bought a new pair of shoes this afternoon to go with my new uniform. They're a pair of Dockers Manahttans. The shoes were on sale for $49.95. But Boscov's had a sale called Cash Register Roulette. When they ring you up, you get an additional random discount. I won - sort of. I got an additional 20% off. I think they will go well with my khakis, don't you?
Reading some other blogs and I came across this column by Victor David Hanson. I feel he really nails the situation in Iraq. Would that I was as skilled a wordsmith as he.
Now for something REALLY interesting. Amazon.com has a new search function for its book inventory; in addition to titles, authors and the like, it will also search the full text of some 120,000 books. If a keyword turns up in the text of a book, you can view the page on which it appears. Not all publishers have made their books available for searching. This service is likely to grow. What a potentially powerful research tool this could be.
It's Getting Colder - It was 37º at 05:20 when I went out jogging this morning. I wore clothes to jog in I haven't worn since maybe April. I blame this cold weather on global warming. If it wasn't for all this pollution making the earth get warmer, it wouldn't be so cold now.
I've been using my blankey. Karol put the electric blanket on the bed a couple of weeks ago. I find that really makes me sleep a lot better. I turn it on a very low setting and sleep warm as toast all night long. If I DON'T have the electric blanket on, I wake up in the middle of the night cold and soaking wet in sweat. I have to get up and change to dry pajamas and go back to bed. The electric blanket completely solves that challenge.
New pictures in photo album. My father purchased an industrial grade leaf catcher for his garden tractor. It took some work but he got it up and running. Here's a picture of it. On the same page is a computer picture my niece, Suzanne, as put together. It is a work in progress.
Arnold: I've often felt that Ahnold should not be underestimated. Here's a quote from the web.
George Butler, who introduced Mr. Schwarzenegger to the world in his 1977 film "Pumping Iron," says that "no one should ever underestimate Arnold, because he has always had a master plan that he meticulously follows." The bodybuilder first outlined it to Mr. Butler and others at an International House of Pancakes in Santa Monica during the filming of "Pumping Iron." Mr. Schwarzenegger told his friends that his plan came to him in a recurring dream and had a specific order: He would move to America; get an education; invest in real estate; become an actor, a director, a producer; buy houses; collect art; marry a glamorous and intelligent woman, and be invited to the White House. Then he wanted to win political office.
I hadn't seen this before, but have observed Arnold's career. Look at where he came from and what he has achieved. You don't get that from being lucky or in the right place at the right time. You do that by having a plan and making it work. My hat is off to AS for what he has accomplished. Would that I could do as well. Would that his detractors could do half as well.
As you know, Christian apologetics is one of my interests. Let me give a go and you tell me how well I do. Please let me know if my logic or theology is in error.
Let's pretend for the moment that the naturalists are right. That God does not exist and this whole universe, solar system, planet and all life simple evolved. We and the world in which we live are merely the product of random chance. Now I don't think that is true, but let us just give them some rope and see where it goes.
That would mean that Man would seem to be the most current in a process that appears to be over 3 billion year old. But, under this model man is not set apart from the rest of life and the world. Other than having more chromosomes in his DNA, Man has no more value that a colony of ants. Some environmental whacko's seem to contend that man is WORSE than a colony of ants.
It also means that man has no guidance for morality or what is right and what is wrong. Man can decide for himself right from wrong, moral from immoral. He can literally make up his own rules.
There are many that would cheer this line of reasoning, but they would cheer prematurely. The logical conclusion to be made here is, under this model, THERE IS NO MORAL HIGH GROUND.
Remember I said that under this model man has no more value than an ant colony. That means that genocide cannot be called bad. It means the concept of human rights ceases to have any meaning. Why should we value human rights, when man has no more worth than any other life form. If we want to discriminate against homosexuals, people of color, or white red-headed people between 60" and 72" tall, then we can morally do so.
It also means that when you're dead, you're dead. There is no afterlife and no reason to prepare for one. You only go around once in life so you'd better grab all you can, because there is no tomorrow. Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Pol Pot, and Saddam Hussein were not bad people. They were successful people. In this model, kindness and generosity are stupid. Only the strong and powerful survive.
Doesn't that sound like a wonderful world?
Now consider the Christian model. God created the whole universe, solar system, and this world for man to live. Man is set apart from the rest of creation, he is made in God's image. The Bible commands, "You shall not commit murder." The reason, man is an image bearer of God.
Christians are given moral codes from God. I'm not sure the Bible says why these rules were handed down, God says to follow them. Suddenly human rights have meaning because of all creation, man is special to God. Environmentalism has a foothold as God commands man to be a good steward of the earth.
Christians are told that evil people in this life will suffer eternal punishment in the hereafter. Then comes the BAD news. We are ALL evil. To paraphrase what Pogo once said, "We have seen the evil ones and they are us."
The Bible tells us that man has fallen from grace. He and his descendants are cursed in that, although they have the freedom to sin or not to sin, they are morally incapable of living a sin free life. For the Bible says...
What shall we conclude then? Are we any better ? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." Romans 3:9
The Bible teaches there is ONLY ONE WAY into heaven. It is through Jesus Christ. Those that call upon him and honestly and sincerely ask for forgiveness, will be saved from a fate far worse than death. Jesus is the man in the lifeboat holding out the life preserver to all who are drowning.
In a future post, I'll work on R. C. Sproul's argument for predestination, but this seems a good place to pause and consider. So, what is wrong with my logic here?
I want to drink you blood - The doctor had said he wanted me to have a blood test to check my cholesterol after I had recuperated. So I showed up at 07:00 this morning at the vampire estate. I chatted with the lady sucking my blood and asked, "Is is true that Count Dracula frequents your trash every night?" I guess she's heard comments like that before as it only generated a neutral expression. So I tried again. "On Halloween, yawl should dress like vampires." Again a neutral response. I just didn't have enough caffeine that early in the morning to do better.
Then, to my surprise, she gave me a small tube and a cup and said she wanted a urine sample. She said to go in the cup and then pour it into the tube. I was unprepared for that. I had just left the house and it was only a seven minute drive to the bloodsuckers. I was tapped out in that department. What to do?
Well, I decided, if they wanted a urine sample, by golly they're going to get one. I just made up my mind to meet or exceed the goal of filling that tube. I thought to myself, "Surely I've got some sloshing round somewhere inside of me. I'm sure that, with the right attitude, I can route it to the appropriate outlet."
So I went into the bathroom and went to work on the task at hand. You know, I didn't do half bad. As a matter of fact, considering my physical condition, very low on the desired fluid, I did very well. I more than filled the tube and had to pour the remainder down the drain. That in itself seemed a shame as not all my contribution would be used or even appreciated. I thought I would tell her just how well I had overcome my challenge to meet and exceed the goal.
But I found she was already sucking some else's blood. Then I figured they probably weren't used to overachievers here and even this success would go unappreciated. Oh well, back home to breakfast and my World Famous Breakfast Drink.
A blogger, whosyourbaghdaddy, serving in Iraq and involved with Chief Wiggles and his toy drive writes the following about delivering toys to one of the hospitals in Iraq - sad.
We were able to deliver enough toys to outfit all the patients in the 350 + bed children's hospital. How wonderful and terrible at the same time. My function at this event was to ensure the security of the toys (I gave myself this duty because last time we went to the orphanage the workers, teachers, and pretty much everyone were begging for TOYS.
And when told that the toys were for the orphans and not those who are paid to work at the orphanage, they began to try and steal the toys en mass. Like sharks in a feeding frenzy).
They would have done the same at the Children's Hospital this time except that I stood between the crowds of hospital employees/general public with a loaded weapon. I had a difficult time dealing with this fact for a day or so after the event. I've guarded food rations, and medicine with loaded weapons, I can understand that. People all must have these things to survive. But TOYS, I found myself guarding against unadulterated greed. And this deeply saddened me. But I found peace in the fact that this time it went a lot smoother. The cancer ward almost killed me. The kids were in such a state of medical neglect that I broke down more than once. It wasn't that the medicines aren't being widely distributed, but rather, the doctors and others in the medical industry are stealing the drugs to sell on the black market. Mothers pleading with me to save their beautiful child (all of whom were the same ages as my children). I hate feeling helpless. I felt like I was putting a Band-Aid on a decapitation victim.
But there were smiles, priceless reminders of the role that I believe we should be playing in this country. And that is not one of solving all the countries problems (for that would create dependence, and breed laziness), but rather show them the path, repair the "pot-holes" that we created, and offer advice and encouragement as they try their wings as a free nation. Or else occupy with martial law and cleanse this country of corruption, warlords, and terrorists with an iron fist.
Both options are just fine with me. And the first option is only a dream.
It's starting to get a lot cooler. It was 40 degrees at 05:20 when I went jogging this morning. That's now five days in a row. One more day and I'll have completed my first week "Back On The Road Again." I wore my winter coat to the office this morning. It seemed even colder, when I came home tonight. I guess it's time to take the air conditioners out of the windows, clean them up, and then store them in the basement.
Worried about airline hijacking? Don't be. Watch this.
Do barbers exist? Someone sent this to me and I thought I'd pass it on. It's not good logical case, but it does make a nice point.
A man was in a barber shop to having hair and his beard cut and was starting to have a good conversation with the barber. They talked about many things and various subjects. Suddenly, they touched the subject of God. The barber said: "Look man, I don't believe that God exists."
"Why do you say that?" asked the client.
"Well, it's so easy," replied the Barber. "You just have look at the world to realize that God does not exist. If God existed, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be no suffering nor pain. I can't think of loving a God who permits all of these things."
The client stopped for a moment thinking, but he didn't want to cause an argument. The barber finished his job and the client left. Just after leaving the shop, he saw a man in the street with long hair and a beard (it looked like it had been a long time since he had his hair cut and he looked rather shabby).
Then the client again entered the barber shop and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."
"How can you say they don't exist?" asked the barber. "I am here and I am a barber." "No!" the client exclaimed. "They don't exist because if they did there would be no people with long hair and beard like that man who walks in the street." "Ah," replied the barber, "Barbers do exist. What happens is that people do not come to me."
"Exactly!" affirmed the client. "God exist too. What happens is people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."
Spam has been canned. About four seeks ago I downloaded and installed SpamBayes in my Outlook. SpamBayes does not work in Outlook Express. In that time it has gotten better and better. I have gone from 30 to 40 spams a day to one every couple of days. For me, spam has ceased to be a problem. So now I same to spammers, "Bring it on."
Back from the Away Mission - The away mission went well today. It was a one day mission so I am now back home and can sleep in my own bed with sneezey. Did you ever try to sleep with someone sneezing in the very early morning? It's not easy.
During my away mission, one of the people noticed I wasn't wearing a suite! I've been wearing my new uniform which consists of khakis, long-sleeve white shirt, tie and sport coat for several weeks and this is the first comment I've received. I think the white long-sleeve white shirt with a tie really makes the major part of the impact. I think it sends the subconscious signal - "professional." And that's what I want. My goal is to use as many visual cues to promote myself as I can. As part of that, I have my hair cut every two weeks. That way I NEVER look like I need a haircut and no one can tell if I just had one. I always look the same. I believe in consistency.
I was thinking today, while cursing between lift-off and landing, what is patriotism? I looked it up at Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It says that patriotism is: love for or devotion to one's country. They define patriot as: one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests. Given this definition, it is hard to imagine that a patriot would burn the US flag. There are some people that say they hate the US flag. Given these definitions, I would conclude they are not patriots.
So a patriot is some that loves his/her country and supports it authority and interests. Given that, I would ask those that so vociferously criticize this country, what it that they love about this country and do they support its authority and interests?
Three Days in a Row!- Out of the house at 05:20 for my morning jog. That makes three in a row. I have so far to do to get back to 15 miles a week.
My two day mission scheduled for next week just went to three days. The more billable hours the better. They're log days, but profitable ones. Mission launch as been pushed forward to about 17:00 October 19 with re-entry to take place about 14:00 November 1.
I was thinking as I was driving to and from a client site today. The Democrats are headed toward minority party status. Next year 43 will win re-election. Not only will he win re-election, but the Republicans will pick seats in both the house AND the senate. It's going to be a dismal election fro the Democrats. The REALLY good news is that after next year's election, 43 will likely have a big enough majority in the senate to be able to nominate Mickey Mouse and have him confirmed to the Judiciary.
I'm pretty sure that Hillary plans to run in 2008. But it is possible the Democrats could be in such a deep hole, she will have a very difficult time winning. Even if she does win, the Republicans will maintain their majorities in both houses.
Tomorrow is a one-day away mission with a planned return landing of about 18:00.
The Iraqi toy drive in on again. Chief Wiggles has a place in Baltimore to mail the toys to. There they get sorted, repackaged and then sent on a boat to Kuwait. From Kuwait they will go by truck to Baghdad. So far the Chief has received 712 packages.
Here's a riveting story from Iraq. It involves a soldier wounded by a mortar round and the struggle to save his life. I'll give you a hint, they are successful, but it is nip and tuck all the way. It shows real heroes in action.
A thought, not original, but why was Christ crucified and not stoned? Stoning was a very popular means of execution. Remember the adulteress they wanted to stone? One of Christ's disciples, Steven, was stoned. This is not a rhetorical question. I really don't know why and would like your thoughts.
A One-Day Mission - A one day mission today and the vehicle continues to perform flawlessly. Well, flawlessly except, it needs a wheel alignment, probably could have the tires rebalanced, and the inside of the windshield needs to be cleaned. But other than that, it performed flawlessly.
The client site was an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes each way. I left the client site around 20:00. It's now dark by that time, but traffic was light. I was able to engage the auto-speed nearly the whole way home. I set the power to about 2,200 RPM. After running up and down the Turnpike and Parkway cranking 3,000+ RPM, it seemed a lethargic trip home. I was making a ground speed of just under 60 mph. Since the speed limit was 50 and there were so few cars on the road, I didn't want to take the chance and stick out too much.
I listened some more to my R. C. Sproul CD's and his talk on predestination. I made a small discovery on my CD player. There are two buttons that let me skip to the next track, if I'm playing a music CD. However, if I hold down either button and I can make the CD player either rewind or fast forward just like a tape player. That's very handy.
Here's a thought for you on Predestination from R. C. Sproul. It's from Paul's letter to the Ephesians:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
So, what do you think? Do you think Paul believes in predestination?
I would conclude that he does.
Believe it or Not!
I have received emails from some people (friends) that have read this Blog and they say enjoy it. I really appreciate the comments, but it does make me wonder about their judgment a little. Currently, this web site averages about 10 visits a day.
Another Sunday, Another Church - Karol and I visited the last church in our first testing of churches in the area. After today, we will go back and revisit the three or four we found most interesting.
The church today was typical of what we've come to expect. It was a traditional church. It could seat maybe a little over 200 and had a little over 20 people in attendance. I would guess that two where under the age of 50 and there were only two men.
The service was nice enough. This pastor running the service was just visiting. Apparently they don't have regular pastor.
It's amazing what bloggers are digging up. Take a look at these two articles written six months after WWII in Life Magazine. Here's some quotes from one of the articles
The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," the men tell you. "We can't make it stick."
A tour of the beaten-up cities of Europe six months after victory is a mighty sobering experience for anyone. Europeans, Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American.
Never has American prestige in Europe been lower. People never tire of telling you of the ignorance and rowdy-ism of American troops, of our misunderstanding of European conditions.
The taste of victory had gone sour in the mouth of every thoughtful American I met.
Article 1 Article 2
Reading these article, it sounds they the presidents critics have already read them and are using the same language to attack him.
UBL has just released his latest recording. I love it. As a skilled MC, here's how I'd introduct UBL's new recording.
"Ladies and gentlemen!. Tonight we have a special treat for you. As you may know, no one has seen Usama for two years now. But Usama lives! Now, from somewhere on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, deep in a hole where the sun don't shine, eating roaches, worms, and other bugs to stay alive, has not used a can of Right Guard in two years, it is my duty, it is my pleasure to bring you Usama's latest recording, "You Dirty Rat. I'm Going To Get You." Take it way Usama!"
My take on this latest recording is, this is to keep up his troops' morale. From a tactical situation, you never warn your enemy you're going to get him. The element of surprise is always best. No, I think it is to encourage his own troops. If you look at the strides we are making, you can see how they might get discouraged. They could probably use a little pick-me-up from Usama.
On a higher note, the vehicle started and preformed flawlessly throughout the whole mission. Perhaps I just had a loose connection and during their diagnostics, the dealer tightened the connection back up. I'm still going to ask them about the starter recall though.
On a more somber note, our friend Lynn Barone passed away Thursday night. Her struggle with Ovarian cancer is over. It deeply saddens me to bring you this news. I like to be upbeat and glib, but my attempt to be light here would be inappropriate and would fail. Through it all, I only saw her with a smile and cheerful continence. She never complained. Still, there is a bright side.
If Christianity is true and if Lynn was truly a Christian, then she is now far better off that ANY of us. Only God knows people's hearts, but she certainly seemed to be a committed Christian. If she was, then the body we see in the coffin is only the empty cocoon after the butterfly has emerged. She now resides in the arms of Jesus where there is "no more death or sorrow or crying or pain." The only loss we should mourn is our own, not hers. She has graduated.
Party Time - At the Toastmasters Contest one of the people, who attended, said she and her husband would be renewing their wedding vows tonight and invited Karol and I to go. So we went. I figured it would be a good opportunity to practice my meet and greet skills.
We drove out and finally found the place. When we walked in we realized this was a costume party. I was dressed in my uniform. Oh well.
It turned out we knew a couple of people out of maybe forty. But I did meet a new contact that has his own business. He started and runs a business that sells a service to apartment owners. They come to him and tell him who is looking to rent an apartment with them. Then his software can tell this apartment owner if this particular person as been to court with an previous apartment owner. This can be a big headache saver for the apartment owner. It sounds like this fellow is doing well.
We met another person who works for the FAA. The person that invited us to the party also works at the FAA. This fellow does risk assessment. A few years ago the FAA went from a vertical separation of 2,000 feet between flight levels to 1,000 feet between flight levels. His job was to help calculate the risk of a midair collision by doing this. It involves a lot of statistics. It turns out this fellow is also a jogger. I think of myself as one, even though I don't do as much as I should.
The renewal of the wedding vows was a little weird - at least to our minds. The husband and wife are Ed and Cathy. Both were dressed up in costumes. The wedding vow renewal was done with both in costume and the follow doing the ceremony was dressed as the grim reaper. I guess they enjoyed it and that's what they wanted. Karol and I thought it a bit spooky. It seemed to trivialize, what I would consider a fairly serious ceremony. But don't forget, I'm still trying to figure out why leaves are symmetrical.
Posted 10/18/03 22:00
Dasher 1 has returned - I made a two day supply of my World Famous Breakfast Drink (banana flavor) and finished packing the car. The rest of countdown went without incident and Dasher 1 was launched on schedule. I took Route 55 north.
At about mile marker 49, I observed a police car down in a hollow in the median strip. There were deep ruts in the earth in a arc behind the car. Steam appeared to be emanating from under the hood. At 75 mph, there isn't much time to do anything. I first felt curiosity, then more interest. "What had happened?" I quickly looked for a mile marker and very shortly saw mile marker 50. I presumed that I saw the car at about mile marker 49.
I unholstered my cell phone and dialed 911. She came on and said, "What is your emergency?" I responded, "I am north bound on Route 55 and at about mile marker 49, I saw a police car in the median strip with steam coming out from under its hood. You should get someone over there to see what's going on."
She came back and said, "I'll connect you to the state police." They came on the line and asked, "What is your emergency?" I responded again, "I am north bound on Route 55 and at about mile marker 49, I saw a police car in the median strip with steam coming out from under its hood. You should get someone over there to see what's going on."
She came back, "Is it a state police car?" My first thought was, "Who cares? Shouldn't you send someone regardless?" But I told her, "Yes. It is a white police car with blue and gold markings. You should send someone over there to check it out." She replied, "We will."
That was it. By then I was two more miles down the road. All I could do was wonder what had happened. I didn't really get a good look at the vehicle, so I don't know if it had struck anything. But with steam coming from the cooling system, I would say that something had caused a leak - perhaps by a puncture.
The rest of the trip up was uneventful. I arrived at the hotel about 14:15. I checked in, put my breakfast drink in the refrigerator, and then went on to the client site. We worked upgrading the client's software from version 7.0 to 7.5 until about 20:30 and then went out for a bite to eat. I got back to my hotel about 21:45. I called Karol to give her an update and then went to bed.
The wake-up call came at 06:00. I showered and dressed. I pulled out my breakfast drink. About a quarter inch of slightly brown color was at the top of the container. I shook it up good and it returned to pretty much the original color. I drank half of it and left for the client site. We started at 08:00. It was a day filled with the usual fighting of software glitches and setup issues. After dinner with the client, I returned to my hotel room early - about 20:30. I called Karol, read a little and went to bed.
Friday morning the 06:00 wake-up call came. I showered and dressed. Shook up my drink again to make the color uniform and finished it off. I packed, checked out and headed to the client site.
More software setup issues and some training. Also revised some reports the client needed to give to his bank to have his loan renewed. Left the client site at about 20:00.
I called Karol to tell her I was starting home and headed out in a light drizzle. Traffic was heavy, but moved well. With the light rain, I did not set any track records. I called her again, when I came off the Garden State Parkway and on to the New Jersey Turnpike to give her a progress report. I again called her, when I entered Route 55 south, the last leg home. I glided into the garage at about 22:45. I recorded my time and mileage. Then powered down the Accord, pulled my stuff from the car, and entered the house. Week over.
This morning was the Toastmasters Area 4 Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contest. Our club, Boardwalk Toastmasters was hosting it and I was the MC. Some prefer me as the MC as I make sure we don't dawdle. We stared about 09:30 and finished at 11:30. There were four speakers from four different clubs. All gave very funny speeches. But best of all, the winner was from our club.
In the Table Topic contest. The contestants are called to the front of the room, one by one and given a subject on which to give a two minute speech. It teaches one to be able to think on your feet. In the contest, each contestant is given the same subject. Of course the contestants are brought into the room one at a time so the others cannot hear the what the subject is, until their turn comes up.
I gave them the subject. I handed each one a leaf from a plant and observed that it is symmetrical. I asked the to explain why life forms in general and leaves in particular are symmetrical. This really separated the wheat from the chaff.
During a break many commented on how hard the topic was. I responded, "Am I the only one that wonders about these things?" The nearly unanimous response was, "Yes!"
Then I mentioned to them, "Think about how critical to life on earth it is that ice floats." That brought blank stares. Then I explained, "If ice sank, then when the surface of the water froze in a lake, it would sink to the bottom. As more water froze, it too, would sink to the bottom. Eventually the lake would become a solid chunk of ice. Since the ground is a very good insulator, it is likely that the lake could never complete thaw out during the summer. Then extend this example to the ocean and you can see that earth would be encased in ice instead of liquid water.
The amazing about my little discourse is, they looked like they had never in their lives considered this possibility before. It really makes me wonder, "Don't people wonder about the world in which they live? Are people so hypnotized by their lives they don't look at the natural world around them?"
On the way back Karol wanted to stop at the Hamilton Mall. She wanted me to look at the Sport Coats in Macy's. I wound up buying two at under $100 each. Both are worsted wool. Also on the way back, she bought four mums for $11.
Posted 10/18/03 17:00
T - 0:55 and counting - The prelaunch count down is nearly complete and all systems are go. I've packed and loaded the car. Plenty of socks and underwear. I checked and adjusted tire pressures. Still to do is make a big helping of my World Famous Breakfast drink to take with me. Top off the fuel tanks - at $1.40 a gallon, it's much cheaper in Vineland that North Jersey. The windshield is clean and clear. I'll fine tune the left and right review mirrors in route. I have the same set of CD's to go through and get a little smarter on the way.
A surprise when jogging this morning. I was jogging about 05:20 and what did I see - a small critter staring back at me. With his fat bushy body and bandit like eyes, I immediately recognized him for what he was - a Raccoon. I was a little trepidations. Raccoons do carry Rabies. However he seemed healthy enough and he turned a waddled across the street to the nearest tree.
Unfortunately for him, someone had placed bags next to the tree. Trash gets collected this morning, so they were probably there for trash collection. He/she kind of collided into the bags. If I could read his mind, here's what I would imagine he was thinking, "Oomph! Wait a minute. This isn't a tree. What idiot put these bags in my way?" Then he went around the side and started a half-hearted effort up the tree. Again it was if he was thinking, "Do I really have to climb all the way up this tree? That's a lot of work and my belly is just too full. Maybe if I just lean against this tree as IF I'm going to climb the tree, this guy will go away and leave me alone. There's still a lot of good garbage to be had here."
I left him and went on my way.
Time to make my World Famous Breakfast Drink and go. I'll see you on the flip side.
Oh No, A Halloween Party! - Karol announced today that we have been invited to a Halloween Party November 1. Argh! I don't mind the party. Going to a gathering where I don't know everyone is not the MOST pleasant thing in the world, but it gives me a chance to practice my meet & greet skills. I have to remind myself, "Notice the color of their eyes. Notice the color of their eyes." That forces me to make eye contact.
But a Halloween Party means I have to dress weird and funny. That is NOT my cup of tea. I much rather dress so that I look good. Well good for me, anyway. Let's see, I wonder if she'll let me go as a businessman.
I took my car to the dealer today to have the battery and alternator tested. I stopped by the dealer at 13:00 and gave them the key. I had already told them my situation about the intermittent starting failure and told them I wanted to have the test the battery and alternator. When I asked, they said it would take about an hour.
I thought that, rather than have Karol come get me and then take me back, I'd do some work. I had taken a report I had generated and I wanted to review it. I found a spot in the showroom at a table and went through my report. One person asked if I needed help and I told them I was waiting for my car.
When I finished on the report I went to their computer. That have a single station set up so that people waiting for their car can surf the net. That's perfect for me. I sat down at the computer and logged into the GoToMyPc web site. From there I logged into my computer at my office. Their internet connection is a little on the slow side, but I was able to work on my computer in my office through the computer in their waiting room.
Then about an hour after I brought my car in, they came and announced they were done. They said both the battery and the alternator were fine. The best part? They didn't charge me anything! I was amazed, but pleased.
We both agreed that I'd have to wait for the failure to be more regular before they could diagnose the problem. Intermittent failures are a real curse. I just hope it doesn't become too regular, during my upcoming mission.
When I got home tonight I had a email from my sister, Kathy, in Michigan. They have 1998 Honda Accord almost identical to mine. It's even the same color - Dark Green. Kathy said that Ned, her husband, said that Honda had a recall on starters. He apparently has a card from Honda on it. It's for 1998 Honda Accords. I'll ask Rossi Honda about it. Thanks for the tip Sis.
I visited the lead I got from my BNI (Networking) group today. I tried calling on the phone, but always got voice mail. My contact at my networking group said I had to visit him. Since the lead is only about 20 minutes away I drove down there. I wasn't able to talk to the owner, but chatted briefly with the secretary? She said their accountant does their accounting, but they all say that. I gave her my newly printed card and left. Perhaps I'll stop in again in a few weeks or try calling again.
Spoke with my client in Massachusetts today and I've got some work to do to finish my quote for them. According to my guy, I need to come in under $80,000 for everything. That includes the server and I'm not even selling the server. I don't know, it could be close. This might turn out to be one of those deals were, the good news is, I got the sale. But the bad news is, I got the sale. I'll have to run the numbers and see what floats to the top.
So far all system are apparently go for tomorrow's 12:00 launch on my mission to North Jersey.
Oh! My mother tells me I got is screwed up. I got the North/South highways right, but I got the East/West ones wrong. It seems the exit number start at the western state line and increase as one drives east. I'll bet that's the fault of those dang Californians. I blame Ahnold for that. Thanks for straightening me out on the Mom.
Did you see that poll that Gallup took in Iraq? The Iraqi's what the US to stay three to one. And that's just in Baghdad. Go outside Baghdad and you'll find the percentage much higher. I think that's a more than the US population. It is certainly higher than among the nine dwarves pretending they're running for president.
Bad news for women in the military. It turns out that the military has dropped the standards so that women can make it. All but the Marines, that is. That policy is getting people killed. Sending troops into battle with inadequate training is a sure fire way to take casualties. That's what happened with the Jessica Lynch fiasco. Investigation after the fact revealed no attempt to take a defensive position and return fire. As I recall reading from the report, they found no spent US cartridges. And she's being hailed as a hero.
Productive Day - Finally got back out on the road to do some jogging this morning. I've got a long way to come back. I went out about 05:15 and ran one measly mile. I need to work on getting myself back into shape and get my resting pulse rate back under 60 beats a minute.
A day in the office and I actually got some things done. For some reason, I find it hard to get things accomplished, when I'm in the office, but today was an exception. That's good.
Spoke with my client for my mission the starts this Wednesday. We covered some of the items he wants to accomplish when I'm there. He really wants to start doing eCommerce over the web.
My car is acting a little strange. Sometimes, when I turn the key, nothing happens. It doesn't even grunt. Then I try it again and it fires right up. Something's not right. The question is what? Could the ignition switch be going bad? Is the battery weak and not causing the starter solenoid to pull in? Is the solenoid becoming worn out? Or do I have a bad connection somewhere? I'm not sure what to do, but to keep on until it fails more regularly. Then the repair shop can figure it out.
Trouble is, I'm going to north Jersey on Wednesday. Will it start, when I come out of my hotel in the morning? Stay tuned and find out.
Another Sunday, Another Church - Karol and I tried another church this morning. Actually it was the same church we went to a few weeks ago and I had to bail prematurely because I felt so badly.
This time I was able to make it all the way through the service and make a better evaluation. The service was nice. The whole think only went 55 minutes. There was plenty of variety so we were never bored. I think this was the type of service they call high church versus low church. They had a processional at the beginning and a recessional at the end.
The church looks like it would seat a little over 300 and I would estimate that there were maybe 100 people in attendance today. They had a choir of 18.
I guess I rather like the structure of the high church. I noticed that many people wore name tags. Then, as we were leaving, I saw a wall of many name tags. It appears that everyone has a name tag they can wear. I think that is an excellent idea. We use name tags at our Toastmasters meetings and I think it really helps guests feel more at home.
The pastor for the day was a woman that was a temporary stand-in for the senior pastor. He was apparently on vacation today. Her sermon was OK, but she could use some practice. It appeared she had gone to the trouble of writing out the whole thing in advance. The problem with writing speeches is, that unless you're a professional speech writer, they come off sounding flat. A good speech should sound conversational. Her speech sounded like she had written it and was reading it.
Not that she looked down to read it, she knew it well enough to give it without referring to her notes too much. It's was the cadence I guess I'd call it. We tend to write differently than we converse. Written language tends to be a bit more stilted than spoken language. I think that was what she was missing. Still she didn't do badly, I'm just a pain-in-the-neck critic when it comes to public speaking.
Karol and I had another pot roast tonight for supper. We put three or four pounds of beef, with chopped celery, potatoes, carrots, onions, and mushrooms in the crock pot before we left for church. Tonight we took everything out, made gravy and yum! The only trouble with this meal is since we were home, we could smell it cooking all day. The whole house was filled with the aroma of cooking pot roast.
I know I'm a pain in the neck about Iraq, but here are some photo's taken by one of our GI's currently serving there. The internet as been great for the grunts actually serving in Iraq. Many of them are really PO'd about the news reports being shown on national TV. All the news organizations show are the bad things that are happening. Why can't they show some of the good stuff? Well, with the internet, many soldiers are speaking out and putting up their own blogs so people back home can see what REALLY goes on. Power to the grunts!
My mother tells me I should have known about the exit numbers. According to my mother (mothers are never wrong) exit numbers always start counting at the state line. On North-South highways, exit numbers start counting from the southern state line. On East-West highways, they start counting at the eastern state line. That's a lesson I have now learned well.
I have a new mission coming up. It is now T -64:00 and counting. This time I'm going to a client in North Jersey AND it is billable hours. Although I don't charge this client top dollar, he pays promptly and is a pleasure to work with. My current launch schedule has me blasting off at 12:00 on Wednesday with touch down back at home base late Friday night. The 12:00 departure time should give me enough time to drive to the hotel, check in, and then on to his place for work. He wants me there by 15:00. The good news is I should get 11 to 12 billable hours both Thursday and Friday.
With my networking group meeting Wednesday morning I may not be in the office at all on Wednesday.
Oh, one last thing before I forget. Karol's aunt sent us this and I thought it was cute so I'm passing it on. I think I may have seen it before, but it's still nice. As an aside, you'll also notice that it speaks of predestination. God is picking which one to save and God is doing all the work. Very Calvinistic.
"Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Then he cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, and then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for the entire world to see."
Slow Saturday - Not a lot of interesting stuff today. A story from my trip to Massachusetts on Wednesday to recall. My route was on US 84 to Hartford Connecticut. There I would pick up US 91 and head north to Springfield. I stopped in a rest area about 20 miles outside of Hartford. I called my client so he could be assured I would show up the next day. Then I call the hotel. I told them I was coming into Springfield from the south on Route 91. I asked them how to get to the hotel.
He said, "Take exit 13B. That will put you on route 5. We are about a half mile down on the left." I thought that certainly seems simple enough. I left the rest stop and headed toward Hartford. There I picked up 91 and headed north. I carefully watched the exit numbers to make sure I didn't miss my exit. The first exit I saw as 39.
Now exit numbers are typically mile numbers. That is not always true, but it seems the most common. Locally route 55 exited numbers correspond to mile markers. The New Jersey Turnpike however, they are NOT mile markers.
Anyway, I saw exit 39 and figured exit 13 would be about 26 miles down the road. So I'm driving along and then I see exit 43 go by. That's a little disconcerting. My exit numbers should be going down, not up. They I pass exit 47. Now I'm really starting to worry.
Let's see. I made my hotel reservation over the internet. Did I inadvertently pick the wrong city? What to do? Not much choice but to carry on and see what develops. Then I cross the state line into Massachusetts. I pass another exit on 91. This one is exit 1! Then I pass exit 2, then 3, then 4 until I get to exit 13B.
I take the exit, get on route 5 and there is my hotel. I walk in and they have a reservation in my name waiting for me. Good thing too. A fellow came in right behind me without a reservation and they had no room for him.
This was a puzzler. Route 91 is a federal highway not a state one. But the exit numbers in Connecticut are a different number sequence than the ones in Massachusetts. But then again, maybe the mile markers start counting over again at the state line. It was all very distracting, when I barely knew where I was.
Today I washed and waxed MY car. I did the same to mine as I did to Karol's. I used Meguiars ScratchX on the hood, top, and rear deck. then I went over the whole car with Meguiars Carnauba wax. It came out pretty good.
The Day After - A little tired today. I haven't jogged since Monday morning. I really need to get out there.
My email at the office was overwhelmed. When I left on Wednesday I turned on my auto responder so that anyone that sent me an email would know I was out of the office until Friday. Well, apparently I received some email from a spammer. My auto responder sent back a reply. The spammer's system rejected the email and sent it back. My auto responder thought that was another email to respond to and replied again. This went on for thousands of cycles. When I downloaded my email last night I had 27,828 messages to download. Cowabunga!
I have since cleaned out all my Outlook folders, but what an aggravation. Fortunately my anitspam software was able to route most of it away. I'm using something called SpamBayes. It's pretty clever software. It reads all my email and then as I tell it whether or not an email is spam or ham, it learns what I consider spam and what I consider ham. Then it puts all the spam into a spam folder that I have automatically delete. If it finds an email in which it isn't sure, it routes that email to a Maybe Spam folder. It is very clever software. I used to have to go through 40 spams a day. Now I never even see them.
Iraq is still not a quagmire, much to the disappointment of the media and liberals everywhere. L. Paul Bremmer reports on what we have accomplished in the last six months. The US and it's allies have made startling progress.
The Iraqi toy drive has run into a snag. After receiving more that 440 boxes of toys, it has been discovered that it is against regulations to run a charity organization through the Armed Forces Postal System. If you are sending toys, don't. They'll just come back to you. Keep an eye on this website for details. You can also just donate money, if you wish.
By the way, here are some pictures and pictures of some of the children to whom the toys are given. Notice in the second set of photo's that one of the guys in civilian clothes still has an M16 slung over his back.
Home Again - Mission Complete with only minor casualties. Yesterday I finished my pre-flight checklist, went through my countdown, fired the main engines and was on my way. Blasted off at 13:23, went through re-entry at 18:00 and touched down at 18:15. I only had to make two pit stops on the way.
I made good time on the way up. Most of the time I was making ground speed of at least 75 mph with occasional spikes to 90 mph. At one point I was in the right lane in relatively heavy traffic doing maybe 75 mph. Then out of the 7:00 position came four or five motorcycles. They passed my port side moving at a good speed. They wove through traffic like swallows through trees. I thought to myself, "Good grief. That is not safe."
Yet at the same time, I know the feeling of being on a bike. Riding a motorcycle is akin to flying. Once you are one with the bike, there is a great feeling of freedom to wind the bike through curves and around obstacles. It is enticing, but dangerous.
I stayed at a Hampton Inn, which was fortuitously located at a shopping center. Ate supper at one of those Buffet places. I know that many people turn up their noses at those kind of places, but it's good enough for the likes of me. The overriding advantage of these types of places is speed. You can walk in, wolf down your food and be out again well in under 20 minutes. I found they added sugar to their corn and carrots. I wasn't impressed. I had their roast beef (which was good) mashed potatoes (also good) and gravy. The gravy wasn't bad, but not as good as I make and had a slight burnt taste to it. Had a soft ice cream for desert. That was the real speed challenge. They served the soft ice cream in small bowls piping hot for the dish washer. Could I eat the ice cream before it all melted? The race was on and I won by a spoon.
Shortly after achieving orbital velocity, my subconscious mind, having completed it review of my pre-flight count down announced that I had forgotten to pack extra socks. What to do? Wash the ones I was wearing out in the sink and hope they would be dry by morning? Then I spotted a Kohl's in the shopping center. I walked in a purchased three pair for $10.00. I was needing some extra socks anyway for my new uniform.
One of the good thing was the TV in the room carried Fox News. Normally all I can get is that cruddy CNN blather. The CNN morning people are just so smug I want to reach out and smack them. The downside was, they had no exercise room. I had planned on using their treadmill in the morning. Turns out I couldn't, as they didn't have one.
I must admit to being somewhat psychologically high. I'm a pretty shy person. I work at being more outgoing, but it doesn't come easy and I fail at it a lot. The comment from my Wednesday morning networking meeting about Karol and I being opposites as she is quiet and shy implied that I was not. I thought to myself, "Dang! I may not feel particularly glib, but perhaps my shyness doesn't show." Well appearances are what counts, not how I feel inside. It reminds me of a quote by my old friend Ben Franklin. When he talked about trying to be humble. To paraphrase what he said, "It's not that I was ever able to really achieve humility. But what proved as effective was, I was able to give the APPEARANCE of humility."
The next morning I had a leisurely wake up as my appointment wasn't until 10:00 and it was only 10 minutes from the hotel. I still arrived at about 09:10.
Here's the situation. They are currently using Great Plains. They have had some issues in which they were less than satisfied. They have looked at demo's of competing packages. My main contact is, or at least appears to be, very firmly in my corner. But he is not the final decision maker. They are using version 6.0 of Great Plains. My job was to demo version 7.5 of Great Plains and see if I could keep them in the Great Plains camp.
My method in doing demos is to use the computer as little as possible. I also ONLY demo what they express an interest in. If I feel I've got a really neat bell or whistle I think they'll like, I will show it, but only in passing. Should they express some interest in this feature, I'll elaborate until their interest wanes.
It's like a dance and my goal is to follow their lead until I match their rhythm. Then I try slowly move them to my rhythm. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. I believe that persuasion skills trump technical skills. Now don't misunderstand me, one needs some technical skills. But two people with equal technical skills, the one with the power of persuasion will eat the lunch of the techie almost every time.
For this demo there were seven people in attendance. This included my guy as well as the owner. My years as a Toastmasters have helped me immensely. I set up for the demo. Then as they all sat down, I handed each my business card and got their names. Some I already knew and some I didn't. Then I said, "Now I know you've looked at some other packages and you've been using Great Plains for some time. Can you please give me a list of things you're looking for?"
Do you see the power of this? I'm not telling them. I'm deferring to them and being a servant. It shows confidence. I'm also keeping control of the conversation. The person asking the questions always controls the conversation.
We spent 15 minutes making a list of items. Some of the items I could fix immediately in the current software. Some of the items were just a manner of training and some were going to be a challenge. But I kept my powder dry. I wanted the whole list before I made my response. You want to see your enemy's complete strategic position before you make your attack and that's what I did.
Then I told them, that some of the items I might be able to address directly and some I might not. Again, I'm not promising, but simply stating fact and being reasonable.
Then we went through the list. One-by-one I took out each point. Some I pointed out it was just training. Some were just setup issues, some required additional modules, and some I didn't have answers to, but told them I would find answers. On those issues in which they just needed some training, there were somewhat incredulous