autumn feels spectacular

autumn is a spectacular time of year. i've never been a huge fan of the way i look in shorts so i always get excited when it's time for pants and long sleeves and jackets.

jen, ani and i have been in transit for the past 4 months or so and it's surprising what it's done to my world view. we moved out of our house in june and rented it to some wonderful people who are here in the area on extended business. the initial goal of this was to make some extra money so that we could outfit jen with the necessary equipment to turn her photography hobby into a sideline. 4 months later she's got a laptop, a canon 30d and a couple paying jobs under her belt. i couldn't be more proud. she's really got a great eye.

the ancillary effects of being homeless have been challenging, but in a way that fits us well. since we knew we weren't gonna have a permanent home for at least a year, we had a garage sale and got rid of a bunch of stuff. at the end of our first house sitting gig we had another yard sale and got rid of a bunch more stuff. we kept only the necessities and those things we absolutely couldn't part with yet, which has left us leaner and nearer the ground than we've been our whole life together. it's a good feeling. it's sort of the opposite of the feeling you get when you realize that while you're pretty happy where you are, you could never change anything anyway because there's just too much at stake. the way i, and i think i can safely say we, feel now is that it would take an awful lot to rock us. our expenses are lower than they've ever been. our only debt is our house. we're loving life as a family and getting used to ( not completely of course) being outside the beautiful den of comfort we'd worked so hard to build.

so now as autumn begins to pick up speed rolling down the steep hill toward winter, i feel pretty safe. there's plenty of stuff that can go wrong. i don't doubt that plenty of stuff will. but if i'd made a list of the things i had to concern myself with last year at this time, and then compared it with a list i made today, today's list would be much shorter. for a guy like me, that's a very, very nice feeling.


Politics Schmolitics!!! :: a political post turned biblical diatribe

I just read a great post by Brant Hansen over at Letters from Kamp Krusty. One comment on his entry by John Husband suggested that voting for a real Mormon is better than voting for a fake Christian. John goes on in his blog at disorganizedreligion.us to expound on this idea.

Interesting premise. I don't think i agree.

I support the separation of church and state. I've known plenty of "real" and "fake" Christians in my day (who decides who's relationship with God is real or fake? Me?) and the one thing they all share is that they share few, if any, common threads. We could probably come up with a basic statement about who Jesus is and the concept that he died so that we could live and I think most would sign on that line. Other than that, it's pretty much up for grabs.

The problem is that the Bible isn't the "instruction manual" it's been dubbed. It's more like a cross between a history book and a bunch of stories about people's lives.

"OH, so you think the Bible's just some book huh, you heretic!!"

Not so fast there, Slappy, i believe the Bible is the word of God and that ALL scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. That doesn't mean it's a 1 to 1 read.

People who simplistically claim that you just "Read the Bible and do what it says!," are at best missing the point, and at worst, completely unaware of some of the most important messages the Bible has for us.

The Bible likens a husband's love for his wife to Christ's love for the church. This seems to suggest that marriage is a great thing.

Then Paul tells us that remain single if possible, so that we can devote ourselves fully to the work of the Lord.

This is a great example of two opposing choices both being Godly for the right reasons.

Song of Solomon reads like a Danielle Steele novel, but is not meant be some sort of medieval Kama Sutra. It could be to give us a glimpse into what sexual intimacy can be. Maybe it's a sort of allegory to God's love and devotion to us. The point is that the "just read it and do what it says" argument falls apart quickly as soon as we switch on our brains.

Even in the big ten, "thou shalt not kill." It seems simple enough but then what about war? David was a great king and leader of armies and was also a man after God's own heart. (Acts 13:22)

Anywho, the point is that politics can not be based on religion any more than the color of someone's skin. A person' (professed) religion can tell you little about that person.

Plus, it's not like our votes will count anyway, so what's the difference?


plastic pastors

i read a blog post today over at spitbox called "blog honesty". this guy is talking about how he reads a lot of christian bloggers, specifically pastors, and that they appear perfect because they never struggle with anything. i can see his point. i know that i struggle with being fake myself as a pastor. the problem is, people only want authenticity when it agrees with them. i don't know about the people over at caffeinated faith.com but i've had several conversations this week where i felt inauthentic.

i listened to a woman tell me that the music in our sunday morning church gatherings is too loud and that she doesn't want to have to leave the church, but that all her friends are mad and they might have to leave if the music doesn't get quieter.

that's garbage. she doesn't have to do anything. she and her friends can choose to leave the church because the volume of the music is more important than the relationships, teaching and other things the church has to offer. that's fine. just don't tell me you have to leave. that's a copout. (my language there was edited by me for public consumption. after all, i am a pastor)

but what did i actually say? "that's tough. i don't want to downplay the seriousness of your concern, but it's a very complicated issue where live instruments blah blah blah. and we'll never make everybody happy so we've chosen to focus on blah blah blah."

of course she didn't hear a word i said. she simply reinstated her plea as she left to be picked up by her husband who wouldn't even speak to me (being one of the main people who is offended by the loud music)

and then earlier this week a fella i know from around town who's a part of our church casually came into the office to reserve a space for a baby shower for he and his girlfriend's upcoming baby. I congratulated him excitedly because that's exactly what i was supposed to do.

what i really wanted to say was, " are you crazy? you weren't even sure how into this woman you were last time we talked. are you even gonna be around to raise this baby? she's already got another son you're gonna have to raise and, no offense, but i'm not sure you've thought this through." and of course they hadn't thought it through, it was an accident.

by the way, this isn't to say that i appreciate authenticity that i disagree with any more than the next person. i'm just acknowledging that this whole "emerging" or "emergent" or whatever-the-hell-you-wanna-call-it movement is extremely concerned with authenticity and yet, in my personal, totally fallible estimation, has neglected to count the cost of such open honesty. that's not to say that we shouldn't go there, let's just try not to romanticize it so much. i mean, what's romantic about a more complicated life, lots of hard conversations and a lot of hurt feelings that will, hopefully, with the holy spirit's involvement, lead to some growth in the long term?


Acer still thinks (knows?) i'm a sucker

today i got this response from my last response to Sarah at Acer Corporate Customer Care.

Hello Justin,

I did check on the history of your unit and it appears to be about 5 months out of warranty, therefore any repairs preformed would have a fee of $449. If you would like to set up service, you can contact 800-816-2237 and they would be happy to help you out.

Thank you,

Sarah Wykes
Acer America
Corporate Customer Care

shocking!! i must give her props for responding the next day, and i know she's just acting on behalf of Acer, so, Sarah, i know it's not your fault. anyway, here's my latest response. (i can feel my heart race just thinking about how little Acer cares about my troubles)

That’s very true Sarah, and it seems to prove my point, that although your tech support team was unable to fix it while it was under warranty Acer’s not willing to work hard to win my business. I’m sure individuals like me are a small portion of Acer’s income so it’s understandable. However, paying for acer to try to fix something that they were unable or unwilling to fix while the item was under warranty seems more than a little ridiculous.

Thanks again for trying, but I fear the best Acer can do is give me excuses and charge me for things that should have been included, like software that wasn’t reloaded at the repair depot, and product repairs that were botched twice while the unit was under warranty.

justin landis

acer seems to be trying

i received this response from my previous email yesterday.

Mr. Justin Landis,

I apologize for your frustrations and we would definatly like to get this resolved for you. I checked the history on your monitor and it appears that it has never been in for service. If your unit needs to come in for service, we would be more than happy to set that up for you. If you would like to have it repaired, or if you need technical phone support, please contact 800-816-2237, and they will take care of you.

Thank You,

Sarah Wykes
Acer America
Corporate Customer Care

while i was far from optimistic that anything would actually be done, i appreciated the gesture and responded.


Thanks for the response. The monitor is fine now, but I had to figure it out. The item that has had the main problems is my Travelmate 8200 the has come in for service at least once, and I think twice, over the past year and has never been repaired. If you are able to help me with this I’d love it. The s/n for the laptop, if you want to check the history, is xxx.

Thanks for the response,

justin landis


Don't Buy Acer Products

it takes a lot to get me really upset. it takes a lot to motivate me to ever make public statements like the one i'm about to make. after all, i'm the farthest from perfect. however, in this case, i've fallen victim to far more than a few accidental oversights. in my experience Acer America i poorly organized, does NOT value customer service, and is unwilling to stand behind their products. Below is an email i just sent to one of the few email addresses on their corporate page. it gives more detail about the problems.

here's an overview:

  1. I bought a high-end laptop and had problems out of the box (a clicking sound when playing dvd and the monitor inexplicably shutting off, necessitating a hard restart.)
  2. after sending the laptop in to tech support, they returned it without fixing the problem and without explanation.
  3. during the tech support they reloaded my hard drive but didn't reload the acer erecovery software, rendering my recovery discs useless and preventing me from creating new ones.
  4. when my recent tech support call ascertained that erecovery had not been reinstalled (at the repair depot), they refused to comp me the $40 recovery discs that i now need.
  5. several calls to Marty Lower, who was supposedly helping me get this taken care of, went unreturned
  6. email tech support took at least 4 days to respond.
The point here is to detail my experience in the hope of preventing you from experiencing similar problems. I may be the exception to the rule, but if that were the case i think the few people within Acer who i've shared this story with would have been a little more shocked at my "bad luck."

Do yourself a favor and pay a few extra bucks to get a different brand that will hopefully make a decent product and stand behind its performance.

To Whom it May Concern,

I am the owner of a Travelmate 8200 as well as (2) AL1916W's. I have had more than 3 encounters with Acer customer service and technical support and NONE of them have been helpful. I sent my laptop in for repair once and it came back with the same problems, a form letter, and zero help.

I had a problem with the monitor and the tech support was unable to fix it. I ended up finding the solution on my own while talking with the tech support staff.

My recovery discs for my laptop won't work because when I sent my laptop in for repair, they reloaded my hard drive and somehow didn't reload Acer's eRecovery software, rendering my current discs useless in addition to preventing me from creating new ones. When the tech support people figured out why my recovery discs weren't working they refused to comp me the $40 replacement recovery discs that I was unable to create because Acer didn't reload the software!

Anyway, I couldn't find anyone else to communicate this too. I'm beyond caring about how you deal with me. However, if my business had as many breakdowns as Acer does (in my experience) I would certainly want to know about it. It's possible that the stars aligned and I just happened to fall through every tiny crack, but if that was the case, I feel that once that was noticed I would have been dealt with much differently.

Thanks for your time. Please forward this on to whomever may benefit from the information herein.

justin landis


Dear Justin Landis,

Thank you for contacting Acer America. I apologize for the delay in
responding to your inquiry. I see in our database where you called in to
our tech support line regarding this issue. This is to acknowledge receipt
of your email.

Jeff Waits
Acer America Online Technical Support

Name: justin landis
E-Mail: justin@cedarhillschurch.com
System: LCD Monitor
Model: AL1916W
Serial Number: ETL86080587170CC7C4230
Operating System: Windows XP
Date Purchased: 09/20/2007
Subject: native resolution

Question / Problem:

When i set the resolution to the native 1440x900, the picture is squeezed
with lines on the top and bottom of the monitor. i have the same model
monitor for my second and it works just fine.

this monitor is acting like its native resolution is 1024x768, which is the
resolution of the monitor that this new one replaced.

i've tried uninstalling the monitors, uninstalling the video card, changing
the settings through both the windows video configuration as well as the
video card's ati catalyst control center. i also tried to reset the
settings in the monitor but that didn't make difference either.

do i need to do something in my computer itself? do i need to do some sort
of hard reset on the monitor? please help me fix this problem.

thank you.