Category Archives: Personal

Obamacare and me

I’m not prone to political rants, especially online. To say this, however, obviously means that a political rant is forthcoming.

It is a sign of a deeply broken system that a relatively tech-savvy person could inadvertently enroll his family in public assistance. I created an Obamacare account last year to check prices for health insurance. Our family was among those who liked its coverage, but couldn’t keep it. Because of the requirements of the new law, our monthly premium was going up about $150, which was beyond what we could swing. Thus, the visit to (which remains broken; when I log in, I invariably am greeted with “Error ID:500.000888,” which allows me to do nothing else).

All things considered, we opted to go without coverage this year. In nearly every scenario, we would come out ahead financially. This remained true even with the birth of our third child, who was delivered (quite expertly, with the aid of a midwife) at home.

Here’s my complaint: apparently, the process of creating a account (with financial information, etc.) is also counted as an application for public assistance, if you qualify. And I created my account in the early days of Obamacare, when you were required to enter your information even to be able to see the prices. So my wife and children are now enrolled in Medicaid.

This was never my intent. I’m not debating the merits of these programs themselves, but simply asserting that, by the kindness of God, our family is not in position to need this help, even if we meet the qualifications. It simply shouldn’t happen that a person can acquire a DHS case worker for his family by accident. That is a bad system.

It further occurs to me that we are likely among the statistics of those who have been helped to get insurance because of Obamacare, despite the facts that 1) we had workable insurance prior to that law and 2) I didn’t even realize that we had been enrolled in Medicaid and 3) that I never wanted to be enrolled in Medicaid.

OK, just wanted to get that off my chest.

Comments Off on Obamacare and me

Posted by on December 12, 2014 in Personal, Society


Now adjunct at Northland

Just a quick announcement: I will be teaching an online hermeneutics course for Northland International University’s Graduate School this summer. Here’s a link to my faculty profile.

Comments Off on Now adjunct at Northland

Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Personal


Way off topic: bad fantasy basketball league

You are warned: this post will be of interest to very few readers. I’m looking for the overlap between three groups: people who like the NBA, people who like fantasy sports, and people who have a slightly odd sense of humor.

If this describes you, please continue reading.

I have started an NBA fantasy league in which the scoring is inverted: instead of getting points for having the best players on your team, your goal is to play those players who provide the least production during their time on the court.

In this league, your players get points for starting games and for every minute they’re on the court. They get points for taking shots (but lose points if they make the shots). The get points for turning the ball over, but lose them for assists and rebounds. They also get points for fouls, including flagrants and technicals.

The result of this is that the top ten players in this league in the NBA last season were

  1. Travis Outlaw
  2. Stephen Jackson
  3. Jason Richardson
  4. Dorell Wright
  5. Wesley Matthews
  6. Trevor Ariza
  7. Metta World Peace (!)
  8. Gilbert Arenas
  9. Marco Belinelli
  10. Wesley Johnson

If this whole concept sounds amusing to you, add a comment below and I’ll send you an invitation to the league. We’re drafting on Monday night, and trust me: you want to be able to draft live for this one. The autodraft will just kill your team.

Comments Off on Way off topic: bad fantasy basketball league

Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Personal


Moving West to Central

In a few minutes, I’ll be loading up the car and heading west. My destination for the evening: Rockford, IL. And then I will rise early tomorrow morning to drive the remainder of the way to Plymouth, MN, home of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, where I will begin my first week as Assistant to the President, serving under my friend and mentor, Kevin Bauder.

The timing of the move creates some complications: I will be commuting to Minneapolis for the next month or so. Following Christmas, I will work for the Seminary from here in Michigan, as Alicia and I eagerly wait together for the arrival of our firstborn (due January 14). We’ll then look to be moving to Minnesota sometime in late January or early February.


Posted by on November 28, 2010 in Personal


An article about me

I thought it was odd to find an article about myself on First Things this morning.


Posted by on October 28, 2010 in Personal, Random links


A growing Riley

I was able to go with Alicia for her ultrasound last week. So far, all seems to be well with our little one. One highlight, captured here: we got to see the baby sucking its thumb. It was quite amazing to see its little jaw moving.

1 Comment

Posted by on August 31, 2010 in Personal


A good deal on music

I think I’ve previously mentioned eMusic on this blog; at the very least, I know that in some of my posts on various music issues, I’ve linked to some of their track samples. I was introduced to eMusic by Ryan Martin, who directed me to this great (read: cheap), relentlessly addicting music store.

Anyway, the point of this blog post is simple: eMusic is currently running a really good offer on music, and I thought I’d pass word along for those interested in building their collections. The Annual Basic plan is now $99.99, which gets you 24 credits per month, plus 100 bonus credits for choosing an annual plan.

And now I have to explain credits. eMusic used to be a “one credit equals one track” store, so that 24 credits meant you could download 24 songs. I’m an album guy; I hardly ever (read: never) download individual tracks from CDs; this means that I used to hunt eMusic for things like long symphonies (for instance, Beethoven’s 9th), so that I could download a whole CD for only 4 credits.

However, in recent years, eMusic has made two significant changes: they’ve added some of the major music labels (Sony, etc.), and they’ve switched most CDs to a flat 12-credit-per-disk price (regardless of the number of tracks).

Bottom line: at 24 credits per month, plus the 100 bonus, you get 388 credits for the year. That’s just over 32 CDs, and because some labels (like Telarc) still function on the old plan (one credit per track), you can actually get that number up higher with a little digging. For $99.99, you’re looking at just over $3 per CD, which is hard to beat for really good CDs.

And now for the full disclosure: if you’re reading this, and it sounds like something you’d be interested in, shoot me an email ( If I send you an invitation to eMusic and you join, I get 50 free credits. Quite frankly, however, it’s just a good deal, and even if you don’t email me and you just go to eMusic directly to take advantage of this, you’ll have a good way to get music for a great rate.

Comments Off on A good deal on music

Posted by on July 19, 2010 in Music, Personal, Random links


An announcement, and an amusement

The announcement is:

The coming Riley

And the amusing story to accompany the announcement: I had taken a picture of the ultrasound with my phone and made it my phone background. While my boss and I were loading our delivery trucks for the day, I decided to show him the picture of our coming baby. So I pulled out my phone and showed him the picture, but I didn’t tell him what it was. His reply: “Hurricane Alex?”

And thus, the baby has a nickname.

1 Comment

Posted by on July 12, 2010 in Personal


Interpreting Herbert’s “The Sacrifice”

George Herbert’s “The Sacrifice” is among my favorite works of devotional poetry. When I was a dorm supervisor at IBC, on several occasions I used the evening devotional time to read the work to the men in its entirety (and the reading never fit in the ordained fifteen minutes).

As Good Friday and Easter approach, I am again hoping to be able to read the poem for devotional benefit, both for myself and for some who will hear me. I am currently putting together a small booklet of hymns and poems for a Good Friday service, and with the poems, I am adding short notes to help explain the more complex syntax and allusions.

Unfortunately, I am myself stumped regarding a handful of phrases, and I would be very interested in getting some help from others who are better at reading poetry than I. Here are the expressions that I am struggling to understand:

Line 26: “both the Hemispheres”: Some notes suggest that this is a reference to eyes; it seems to me that it could also refer to the whole world.

Line 55: “Comments would the text confound”: Here, I am unsure what meaning of confound Herbert is using, and I am also unclear what is the referent of the text.

Line 119: “more than heav’n doth glass”: Again, I have a general idea of Herbert’s meaning, but am not certain about his specific idea.

Line 146: “That he before me well nigh suffereth”: Here, I’m pretty well lost. I assure he refers back to the taunter in the previous line, but I’m not able to unpack much more than that.

I apologize that the version of the poem to which I linked has no line numbers; I wasn’t able to find a online version which did.


Posted by on March 24, 2010 in Personal, Worship


Bring on the gimmicks!

I don’t intend to make a habit of gimmick posts, but for whatever reason, as I was surveying my music collection recently, I asked myself: if I had to pick five of my albums, and only five albums, to last me through the rest of my earthly existence, which five would I pick?

In the interest of a full disclaimer: I wish I knew more and understood more about music. I can’t claim any particular expertise, other than that of an enthusiastic listener. Unfortunately, this means that I can’t explain in any satisfying way why you should like these albums; I do ask your pardon for this failure on my part.

As to my five: I’m not sure I have a final answer yet; some on this list have a firmer grip on their spot than others. But, for the sake of it, here’s the five I came up with:

1. Handel: Messiah
Taverner Choir & Players, Andrew Parrott
Confession: when I was a student at Bob Jones, the University choirs combined for a performance of Messiah. My incredibly profound evaluation: “That whole thing could have been done in fifteen minutes without all the repetition.” Since that time, I have repented.

At this point, I’m actually not sure that a person can be thoroughly Christian and not love Messiah.

I’m partial to this recording, primarily because I tend to like period performance recordings with smaller choirs.

2. Grechaninov: Passion Week
Phoenix Bach Choir, Kansas City Chorale, Charles Bruffy
I admit that some bias may well have crept into this selection: I had opportunity to attend a few performances and practices of the Phoenix Bach Choir (now The Phoenix Chorale); they are awe-inspiring. For those who read this blog who live in the Phoenix, do your soul a favor and attend one of their concerts. If you visit their website, you’ll also see that they do free, open rehearsals occasionally.

Did I mention that they are free? You have no excuses whatsoever.

This recording was Grammy-winning, if I recall correctly. The full CD booklet is available from Chandos’s website. I would love to link to a full recording of this on lala, but it is unavailable there. If you download albums anywhere, get a copy of this one; it is very, very rich.

3. J. S. Bach: Cello-Suiten
Mstislav Rostropovich
This selection was very difficult; I could quite easily fill this entire list with Bach, and be justified in doing so. However, I wanted at least some variety.

For me, the choice was between Bach’s cello suites and his sonatas and partitas for solo violin. I would hate especially to give up the Chaconne, but the cello suites were my gateway into Bach, and for that reason hold a particularly special place in my affections.

4. Psalms for the Soul
Choir of St. John’s, Elora; Noel Edison
This is a relatively newer addition to my collection, so its position here is perhaps a bit shaky. However, I find the simple Psalm-singing on this album to be very contemplative.

5. Arvo Pärt: A Tribute
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Theatre of Voices, The Pro Arte Singers, Paul Hillier
If memory serves, I was introduced to the music of composer Arvo Pärt through the blogging of dissidens; Thank you, dissidens. This album doesn’t have all of my favorite Pärt pieces, although I do love the Berliner Messe and “Which was the son of…” at great deal. It lacks his “The Beattitudes” (track 11 here), which may be my very favorite of his choral works.

What think ye? And, would anyone else like to offer their five “desert island” albums?


Posted by on January 9, 2010 in Personal, Random links