Tuesday, December 14, 2004


I recently decided that my current software package for managing my digital photos was not meeting my needs. In my search for new software, I cast about to see what other people were using in the hopes that there was indeed better software out there. My father-in-law passed this question to a friend of his who has spent time looking for exactly this same type of software, and the recommendation that came back was Picasa, which is owned by Google and is freely (as in beer) available for download. While a very small download (much smaller than the software I was using, which came from the manufacturer of my camera), it has already sold me on its usefulness and easy interface.

Monday, December 6, 2004

God’s Providence in Fortune Cookies

For those readers who know us apart from this site, this will not come as a surprise, but Amy and I are working to adopt a child from China! We started the paperwork in January of this year, and we hope to travel to China in late February or early March to bring back our son or daughter. Working through the various steps of adoption has been an incredible process for us individually and as a couple. We have learned a great deal about ourselves, about each other, and about our great God and Father who has adopted us into his family and made us heirs to the kingdom. God's providence has sustained us and His grace has carried us through the long wait.

During this time, we have joined a number of mailing lists full of people who are adopting or have adopted from China, and the exchange of information and ideas has been encouraging, but eye-opening as well. There are all sorts of superstitions (most only lightly held) relating to adoption, such as the appearance of lady bugs being a sign that referrals are about to be sent. (For those who haven't gone through this process, the referral is what they call the package sent to you by the Chinese government containing the name and picture and whatever other information they have on your child. We are still waiting for our referral, and are hoping that it will arrive in early January, if not sooner.) Other little "signs" are also held to be significant to the process. As I said, most of these are tongue-in-cheek, but it does not take much to get a group of waiting parents excited! Each time we see posts on this subject, it reinforces our joy and profound security in knowing that God is in control of this process, and not superstitions or mysterious fates and chance.

I say all of that to set the context for this story. Last night, Amy and I went to Pei Wei (one of our favorite restaurants) and had a nice dinner talking about the future and about our child whom we do not yet know, but whom God knows and has in His hand. After dinner, we each picked up a fortune cookie, which we typically laugh at as ridiculous and often nonsensical, only to be reminded that God has a sense of humor and is guiding all events in our lives. Amy's fortune said "You will soon be crossing the great waters." My fortune then went straight to the point in saying "A short stranger will soon enter your life!"

New Features

I've been told recently that I need to be better about updating my site. With that in mind, I thought I would post several links to areas of the site I've been working on but have not linked to the main page yet. I hope to add them to the sidebar somewhere soon.

First (and covered previously though not with much fanfare) is a webcam I have set up in the office. The scenery is pretty boring, but I just might be convinced to get a longer cable and move this into the nursery after we complete our adoption! There is a button you can click on to refresh the picture, though I'm still struggling to find time to work out the kinks. You will probably have to click the button and then force your browser to refresh if you want to see the updated image. Did I mention that not much happens in the office, so the scenery will be boring? Ok, just don't say I didn't warn you...

Next, as mentioned once or twice previously, I have set up a package on my site for storing photo albums from which visitors can order prints through several services. As you'll see, I have added a gallery of Amy's photos from China. They are unedited in quality and quantity at the moment, so viewing them all may take a while! The software behind this project is found at the Gallery homepage.

Finally, I set up this nifty little area for managing recipes. Amy and I have only entered a few so far, but it's a start, and I am working on a script to import recipes from other electronic formats, so check back soon. If you want to be able to enter recipes, let me know and I'll set up an account for you. The more, the merrier! For more info on the software behind this part of the site, visit the Recipants site.

Well, that's all I've got, at least until I find another fun way to expand the site....

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Amy’s Home!

Great_Wall.jpgFor those wondering, Amy got home last night. She had a great trip, and is glad to be home.

I'm downloading her pictures as we speak. Here's a shot from their last day, which they spent in Beijing seeing a few sights. Hopefully I'll get more posted soon.

Monday, November 1, 2004

Sunday update

I spoke with Amy again Sunday morning (our time). While we were only able to talk for about 10 minutes, she said all was going well. They had been up in fairly mountainous country working in clinics in small towns, but had come back out of the mountains and were starting the journey back through the larger cities on the way out of China and back home. They will be getting to Kunming sometime Tuesday, I believe, and then travelling on to Beijing for a day or two before flying home on Friday.

She briefly told me about some bus troubles they had (think overheating engines, brake failures, and loss of lug nuts holding the wheels on) and experiences in a rural clinic with donkeys in the courtyard and cowbells in the distance. I am sure she will have a number of stories to share, and I am looking forward to seeing her photographs too. I will try to post at least a few here on this site.

Thank you for your prayers and concern for Amy as well as for me. Please continue to pray for energy as they see patients and safe travel as they begin their journey home. I will update this site if I talk to Amy again before Friday.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Update from Kunming

I spoke with Amy briefly Sunday morning and again Sunday night. She was in Kunming, a city in the southern part of China, where they were going to help in a clinic for the day (Monday) before flying on to a more remote part of the country. As I type, it is almost midnight there, so they have already left Kunming for the next stop.

We were not able to talk long owing to the shared nature of the phone from which she was calling, but all is going well. They all arrived safely and enjoyed a relaxing Sunday in Kunming. Amy said everywhere she turns is a visual feast. She is taking as many pictures as she can given the fact that we forgot to send a couple of the smaller storage cards with her.

One thing to pray for is their ability to cope with the altitude. In Kunming, they were apparently at an elevation of 6500', and they will be going much higher to get to some of the smaller towns. They were walking as she was talking to me on the group cell-phone, and I could tell she was winded. This from someone who enjoys running 5k's! They are taking medicine to prevent altitude sickness, but I imagine everything will take more time and energy than they are used to. Our 600' elevation in Dallas seems downright subterranean by comparison!

Oh, and here's a more complete picture of Amy's travels from Friday to Saturday, which totaled 8694 mi, according to the Great Mapper site.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Cool CGI stuff for those with nothing better to do…

Just found a great site that aids in my desire to track Amy's progress towards Beijing. Great Circle Mapper will map a path between two airports using the great circle route typically flown by commercial airlines. For example, here is an image showing the shortest path between Chicago and Beijing:


She’s off!

Amy and I headed to the airport bright (well, it was still dark) and early this morning, and I saw her safely through the security checkpoint, and on her way to Chicago, and on to points west (or east, depending on how you look at it...)

Pray for a safe trip, and a quick recovery from jet lag. It is, after all, a difference of 11 hours!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Special request

For those that don't know about this already, my better half, the talented and lovely Dr. Bredenberg, will be headed to China early tomorrow morning to spend two weeks serving in medical clinics and helping with public health training for people in the southern part of China. She will be travelling with a group of about 12 other people including doctors and nurses. While there, they will help in these clinics and see how future trips can best serve the existing clinics and doctors in these areas.

We obviously desire your prayers for safety and a productive and enjoyable trip for the whole team. I will be posting updates from Amy as we are able to communicate, and we hope to have pictures to post when she gets back. We are not sure yet how much access she will have to phones and/or email, and the thirteen to fourteen hour time difference may also make communication difficult.

Feel free to email me and ask for more details!

Friday, October 8, 2004

Google SMS

As evidenced by my earlier post on Lookout, I am always interested to find new techie stuff to make life easier. In that vein, I think Google's new Google SMS service is outstanding!

To elucidate (a word I looked up via this service) I'll give an example of how this changes things for me. I have a Treo phone that is able to browse the web. Up until now, when I have been out and about and needed to find an address or phone number, I have navigated to a search page and eventually (some number of clicks later) found what I was looking for. This process usually takes several minutes as I wait for Sprint's system to respond and my phone to load the pages needed.

Now, however, all I have to do is send a quick message (via SMS) to Google, and their service will reply (very quickly, so far!) with business listings, residential listings, current product prices, or even a definition of a word! You can read their page for more information and complete instructions, but I'm already liking this!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A different kind of Spam…

I get a lot of spam. I know I'm not unique in this, but my point is that I have a system set up to filter it out so I don't have to look at 99% of the spam that comes in. Every once in a while, though, my system is unsure of whether or not something is spam, and I have to read it and categorize it. Most of these are unusual, but this one absolutely takes the cake. No more Nigerian bank scams, get rich quick schemes, or fix body part A schemes. No, my friends, my all time wackiest email had the title "How one can become a terrorist?" (punctuation included)

Read on for the text of this completely bizarre email, noting that I have removed all the contact/web site info for your safety, my safety, and so no one can accuse me of advertising for these wackos....

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Awesome Creation

Ok, I'm supposed to be too busy to post, but I saw something this morning that was so cool I just had to break my silence.

Our normal morning routine is that the dogs wait until our alarm goes off before proceeding to go bonkers, as they get let out and then are fed as soon as we wake up. (They wait for the alarm because failure to wait results in getting penned in the kitchen and a delayed breakfast...)

This morning, it was I who went to let them out. As Savannah has a habit of sprinting out and catching birds unaware at our bird feeders, I always check to see if anything is in range that may not be able to get away before she gets there. This morning, I saw a bird sitting in the grass, but something about it did not look normal. Then I realized I was staring at a bird of prey. I don't know enough to tell the difference between a hawk and a falcon, but my guess is that it was a hawk. It had just caught a dove (probably at or around our aforementioned bird feeders) and was enjoying its meal in our backyard. I was awe-struck at seeing such a fascinating animal in our backyard!

When I recoverd my wits, I went to get the camera and get Amy so she could see. Unfortunately the motion in the windows must have startled it, because when I got back, the only sign of it was this.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


If you couldn't tell by now, I am finding myself with no free time to do anything related to this site. If you get tired of looking at this as the latest message, feel free to email. If you can help with my Analysis of Algorithms homework, I might be able to free up some time to post something....

Thursday, July 29, 2004


If you use Outlook for mail, and have a large body of saved or archived messages, you probably know the pain of having to search them using Outlook's search problem, er, feature. I certainly do, and I have found what seems to be the greatest thing since the ability to synchronize Outlook with my PDA!

You ask "What is it?" Lookout!

No, that's not a lead-in, that's the answer! Lookout!

I downloaded this yesterday (thanks to Joel's entry on the subject) and already I love it! A search through years of old email takes less time than it takes me to blink and realize it's done. For those who regularly search Outlook, you'll know this is orders of magnitude better than the built-in search capabilities of Outlook. Not surprisingly, Microsoft purchased Lookout recently, but you can still download the software. I try not to be too pessimistic about Microsoft's business practices, but I would recommend downloading it soon, before it disappears or ceases to be a free download...

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Not your average intercessor

This morning I was reading Ephesians and was struck by something in a new way. I'm sure others have said it more eloquently, but when I read the following, it made an impact.

and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
       Ephesians 1:19-23

What struck me was realizing that Christ is our intercessor and mediator with the Father. If you had someone who went on ahead to plead your case, you would not feel very confident if that person had just barely made it to the destination, and was on the outside of things there. How could he or she plead for you if they were, for example, reluctantly admitted out of generosity, or admitted only to the outer circles. How could they be effective in their stiving to see you admitted and brought in safely?

This made me realize how blessed we are that this is not the case with Christ! Not only did he pay the penalty for our sins, but the Father, in his might, raised Christ from the dead, seated him at the right hand of the Father in a position of ultimate honor, and put all things under his authority! Now that is someone I want pleading for me! How can there be any doubt that his intercession will be effectual?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Where are they today?

Have you ever wondered where your friends from high school are today? I suppose some people keep up with such friends and don't have to ask that question, but I seem to have a few friends who scattered to the winds. While I knew the approximate whereabouts of each, I have not heard from either in a while, and thought I would try "Googling" for them. Here's what I found:

Sean Slaughter - a friend who went to the Air Force Academy and is currently (to the best of my knowledge) based in Anchorage, Alaska. Here's a news story I turned up on him, even though it is two years old.

Neal Frazier - a friend who went to law school in Austin and then moved to Missouri, though I have not seen or talked to him in over 4 years. I found out that he's been busy, though.

Robert Meyer - a friend who went to Oklahoma as a graduate student to study physics. While I could not find an actual news article, I found hints that indicate he is working on his Ph.D. in physics.

Glad to know they're still out there rocking the world!

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Reflections on Alaska

I previously posted an album of our pictures from Alaska. However, I did not have time to describe them or go into detail about our trip, so I'll take the opportunity to do so now. Our rough itinerary included flying to Seattle Friday night, spending Saturday and Sunday in Seattle, and flying to Sitka, Alaska on Monday morning where we spent the rest of the week. Amy attended a conference on Family Practice medicine that Thursday through Saturday, and we flew home Sunday.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Home, but still daydreaming…

Well, as my last post indicated, Amy and I went on a trip to Alaska a couple of weeks ago. We had a fantastic time, and the weather could not have been better! We are back (have been for a week now) and are getting caught up on the normal stuff of life. I, however, am still dreaming of Alaska...

Here is an album of our pictures. I have not titled them or put any comments down just yet, but hopefully they will be self-explanatory. I am saving a few to highlight later on (don't worry, none of the really good ones) for various purposes in this space, but most of the picutres worth seeing are included in the album. Enjoy!

Friday, June 11, 2004

Victory at last!

I am pleased to announce that logic has prevailed, and we will NOT be flying in a redundant circle in Alaska!

On a final note on this topic, I put this list together last night when again banging my head against the phone dealing with American and Alaska Airlines...

You know you have spent too much time on the phone with the airline when:
(see previous two entries for back story...)

  • You call American Airlines and mention your record locator to the phone rep and they immediately know who you are.

  • Each new rep that answers the phone takes 5 minutes to read the history of your case before being able to answer your questions.

  • Every single person at American Airlines sides with you, but Alaska Airlines just keeps telling you there's no other way to get you to Seattle.

  • You are gathering supplies to put together a sandwich board sign so that everyone in the airport will know just how ridiculous the situation is.

  • The thought of your vacation in Alaska raises your blood pressure and pulse to dangerous levels.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

The Death of Common Sense

For those who read my post yesterday about our trip to Alaska, here's an update: Alaska Airlines refuses to change our reservation, and insists on making us fly in a 4 hour circle from Sitka to Juneau to Sitka before making any progress towards home. And they call it "protection" against schedule changes...

Monday, June 7, 2004

Planes, planes, and … more planes

This made my head explode, and I thought I would share it and see if others have similar stories...

Amy and I are going to Alaska soon, partly for a medical conference she is going to attend, and totally for a much-anticipated vacation. We managed to use frequent flyer miles with a major carrier to fly up, but of course they don't fly to the small town where we are staying, so they are using a partnering airline to get us from Seattle to Sitka. Given that this is the peak season, we were disappointed but not terribly surprised that the flights on which there were still frequent-flyer seats available were not at the friendliest times. For example, we will get to Seattle just shy of midnight. We then leave Seattle two days later (by choice) on a 7am flight (not by choice). Not ideal, but oh well. Those are the breaks.

Our return flight was even worse, leaving Sitka at 6:00am to fly to Juneau. From Juneau, we would wait several hours and catch a flight to Seattle. From Seattle (again, several hours later) we were to catch a flight back home, arriving after 10pm local time. The plan was definitely less than ideal, but what can you do when you have to make 2 connections with layovers? They don't exactly offer non-stop service from DFW to Sitka. For that matter, they don't really offer non-stop service from Sitka to anywhere, including Sitka.

You think I'm joking...

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Our second 5k!

Hard to believe, but it was a year ago that Amy ran her first 5k race. I was ill and not able to run with her, but this year I did! Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures to show for it, because we were both running and had no place to safely keep our camera. Amy finished in about(*) 32 minutes, evidence that she slowed down to run with me for the first half of the race. I, on the other hand, finished in about(*) 42 minutes, having to walk parts of the last half of the race to spare my knees and legs that are not used to running. Amy tells me that's not too bad, given that I've only run 4 times in the last year, and all of them have been in the last 2 weeks in preparation for this race. I think I'll stick to swimming and let my knees recuperate...

* - exact times were measured with chips we strapped to our shoes, but we have not gotten the results yet.

Friday, May 28, 2004

How to avoid the ER

While visiting the US Postal Service's website to track a package (if you can call it tracking when a package arrives at your house before ever showing up as registered in their system), I noticed the following graphic:


I was initially startled that such a thing would be on the USPS's site. Then I realized the obvious, and proceeded to read the information supplied regarding National Dog Bite Prevention Week. While I was startled by the assertion that dog bites can account for as much as 5% of the ER visits in this country, my first question was actually "Shouldn't we get a day off from work for this?"

When I got past that, I decided to do some research, and found this CDC report from 2000, which I believe to be the latest published report by the CDC on such statistics.

The first thing I noticed was that this report listed Dog Bites as accounting for only 1.3% of ER visits across both men and women. That doesn't sound as bad, but we obviously still want to prevent dog bites in the first place. Unless, of course, the dog bites someone who is intruding or tresspassing, in which case I say "Bite AWAY!"

Then I noticed that Overexertion accounts for up to 11% of ER visits. Stop the presses! Perhaps we should have a whole month (or two) devoted to National Overexertion Prevention! I can see the public service announcements now....

Husband: Almost done honey, I just want to clean this one last bathroom before I stop for the night.
Wife: Well, dear, don't overdo it! After all, it is...
In Unison: National Overexertion Prevention Quarter!
Wife: Remember, dear, overexertion accounts for up to 11% of ER visits annually!
Husband: Golly! You're right honey, I'd better quit now before I get overexerted. You're a life-saver, sweetie!

Before we get too carried away, let's notice one more statistic from our friendly report: The leading cause of ER visits for both men and women is listed as "Fall"! So, no matter what you do to avoid going to the ER, when September 21st rolls around, it all goes out the window. Personally I would have predicted Summer for a leading cause, but that's beside the point. Now, when Amy asks me to be carefull on that ladder, I can say with confidence "Have no fear Amy, ladders aren't listed on the CDC's list of ER visit causes! As long as it's not Autumn, I'm safe!"

So be safe, avoid dogs, avoid working too hard, and by all means avoid Fall!

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

A friend’s response to my question…

The following is a response to my question about seeing "The Passion of the Christ". It comes from a friend and elder with whom I agree on this issue. I offer it up here because it deserves its own post rather than being buried as a comment lower down.

Oh My Friend....

[Editor's Note: Good-natured bantering edited for time...]

BUT SINCE YOU ASKED... Here is my 2.5 cents...

To my knowledge I do NOT take exception to anything in the Westminster Standards saving perhaps a difference on the "practical" application of the Sabbath.

I am in 100% agreement with both the Shorter and Larger Catechisms on and relating to the 2nd Commandment. Having said that, I also saw "TPOTC" and will certainly "buy" it also on DVD when it comes out... I LOVED the movie!


Saturday, March 6, 2004

New Feature!

I'd like to introduce a new feature that I doubt will be highly used, but was fun to set up from a technical perspective.

Birthday Photos of Josh and Beth

Also in the "better late than never" category are some pictures of Josh's 6th birthday party, a trip to the Clubhouse for Kids we made a week later, and Beth's 6th birthday party this morning. Rather than uploading to Ofoto, as we have done in the past, I am trying a new piece of software called Gallery, and I have created an album hosted on my server. You can order prints from any of 4 different printing services. One is in Germany and won't be much use to most viewers. We do, however, have readers in Germany, so I'm leaving it on the list!

If you have problems with Gallery, let me know. Otherwise, enjoy!

Better late than never…

I know, everyone is doing it. I also know I'm several weeks late. However, I wanted to post at least ONE picture of our snow day, since it will be a while before we get another.


Friday, March 5, 2004

Getting closer to having seen EVERYTHING!

When I was in college, I spent countless hours playing a game on my Mac (gasp!) called Spaceward Ho! A simple game of galactic domination, it was one of the first network games available that could be played with other people on our AppleTalk network, thus exponentially increasing the amount of time wasted spent!

Today, roughly ten years later, as I was reading about the Wine project, which aims to provide the ability to run Windows applications on non-Windows OS's, I ran across the website of Spaceward Ho! As I was recalling the funny soundbites and rapt attention with which I was glued to my Mac LCII, I noticed something I could hardly believe. I clicked on the link and, sure enough, Spaceward Ho! is now available for the Palm OS! Once again, I can waste spend countless hours defeating imaginary foes for a galaxy that doesn't exist, only now I can do it on a screen the size a cracker! Suddenly I'm looking forward to the next impossibly long meeting at work....

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Will you see "The Passion of the Christ"?

Here's a question for all you theologians, and particularly officers of churches that prescribe to the Wesminster Confession and Shorter and Larger Catechisms: Will you go see "The Passion of the Christ"? If so, have you lodged your disagreement with the Larger Catechism with the leadership of your church?

Monday, January 19, 2004

I’m SO in demand…

For the last two years that I have had this domain registered, I have been keeping an eye on bredenberg.com (without the "s"), thinking it might be nice to have. About a year and a half ago, the registration lapsed, but before I noticed, a company in Korea had registered the domain, and has been sitting on it ever since. From time to time I have tried to visit the domain to see if they are doing anything with it other than sitting on it, but they were not.

Last week, I tried again, and noticed that they have put a page up now declaring that the domain is for sale. Interested, I followed their link, and sent an email asking what they would be willing to accept to part with such a hot commodity (wink, wink... nudge, nudge) as bredenberg.com. Below is the chain of email communication that ensued. I'll let it speak for itself, but I must say I feel honored that they not only think my last name is worth that much, but that I would be successful enough someday to buy it!

Friday, January 16, 2004

How’s this for a way to start your New Year?

I know I'm about two weeks late posting this, but for some reason the pilot in the family (i.e. - yours truly) is the last to know about this avaition accident that was a near miss for my loved ones. Strangely enough, I heard about it through my father-in-law, who heard about it from a business contact who knows my mom and had heard it from her! Talk about lines of communication! But I digress, read on...

As covered in this Fort Worth Star Telegram Article, a small plane crashed into a neighborhood in Dallas about 3 miles south of Addison airport on January 1, 2004. While this in and of itself is enough to interest me, it gets more interesting...

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

It’s official: I’m a Masters Student!

I suppose I could have technically said that after I was accepted into the Computer Science Masters program over the summer, but I started my first graduate level class Monday. As I can't exactly quit my job to pursue this thing, I'm only taking one class per semester. At this rate, it will be a long process, but at least we are under way!

Technically speaking, I suppose I have been under way since the summer of 2001, as I took the various required classes in preparation for being admitted to the Masters program. Now, though, I'm actually making progress towards a degree, and not just prerequisites.

My first class is on Operating System Design. Did you know that most computers today follow the von Neuman model developed in the late 1940's? I know, I know, it changes the way I look at them too...

But seriously, I'm looking forward to this class! It is clear that it will be a significant step up. I am looking forward to the challenge that goes with graduate classes, as opposed to the tendency of the undergraduate classes I took to move slowly and stay fairly basic.

I do find, however, that I have gotten a bit lazy in the last six months or so. The class I signed up for in the Summer of 2003 was cancelled at the last minute and there were no other classes I could take, so I ended up having the summer free. Additionally, I could not take a class in the Fall because we were gone for most of the first three weeks of the semester. I really enjoyed not having to make the trek to campus several times a week, and having my evenings free. Alas, now I will spend my Monday and Wednesday evenings in class, and more evenings studying. Last night I spent the evening (before and after we went to work out) reading from and highlighting a technical book. Oh, Amy says that's not unusual...

It remains to be seen just how far I will get in this process. Your guess is as good as mine. I'd love to finish the Masters degree, but I have to be realistic and admit there are a number of complicating factors, and more are on the horizon. It may be that I have to throw the towel in at some point. Until then, however, I will plug away and learn as much as I can...