Month: October 2005

Car door shopping in St. Louis – from here

our smashed van door

Fifteen months ago the passenger door of our van became smashed due to my unfamiliarity with Hungarian road signs. I pulled right out onto a road without the right of way. Over the last year several auto body mechanics promised me they would check all their sources for a used Ford Windstar door, but nothing turned up. I think I must be one of three Ford Windstar owners in Hungary, and neither of the other two have sold theirs to a junk yard yet.

Thanks to the Internet and our Vonage phone I did some shopping in St. Louis today (where I will be in two weeks). I found a used door but discovered my airline won’t let me check it in as baggage. A friend of mine here in Budapest runs a shipping company, so he said if I could get UPS to ship it to his U.S. warehouse he could get it here easily. By hook or by crook I will get this door here and restore our van to a somewhat more civil outlook! It should also add more to the value of the van than my cost of acquiring it – at least I think!

Hurricane Wilma fixes Charley’s damage

This made my day:

…the tree that was leaning from last year’s storms is now standing almost straight up.
-Dan, current resident of our house in Florida

At our house in Orlando, the recent winds from Hurricane Wilma blew in the opposite direction than the winds from last year’s hurricanes, Charley, Frances, and Ivan, forcing our leaning red maple tree back into place!

One of my (futile) summer jobs last July was attempting to right this tree.

Sometimes only God can put back into place that which God originally moved!

Passports to get RFID chip implants, Hertzler to get hammer

Passports to get RFID chip implants | Tech News on ZDNet

All U.S. passports will be implanted with remotely readable computer chips starting in October 2006, the Bush administration has announced.

This news concerns me, a passport carrying traveller who frequents places where people would happily steal my identity if they could.

As soon as I get a passport with an RFID chip – which won’t be too far in the distant future as my third set of inserted passport pages is nearly now full – I will also get a hammer. Physically destroying the RFID chip should render it useless, while leaving my paper passport intact.

Thanks to Dave Selig for this simple non-technical solution!

Starting another phase of finding Ministry Partners

One of the constants in our missionary life is raising support. The normal increases in cost of living (medical insurance, gas, etc.), Ministry Partners who can no longer be on our team, and special needs create a stream of reasons to trust God and find more partners.

Completely inadequate is how I feel about this part of my job. Frankly, I observe that God meets our needs in spite of my abilities to raise support. Give me a problem to solve, a meeting to run, or a team to lead, and I feel like I’m a fish in water. Put a support trip in front of me, and I feel like I’m swimming in molasses.

Ironically, meeting new people and telling them about our ministry is one of my favorite things to do. Making phone calls and setting those appointments up is my least favorite thing to do.

So this year I’m trying something new. Rather than making phone calls, I’m sending emails. And rather than asking our Ministry Partners to send me the names of people they know who might like to hear about our ministry, I’m asking them to invite a friend to lunch with me.

If you are in St. Louis in November and don’t hear from me soon and want to invite a friend to lunch with me and hear about our ministry let me know!

Technology is too important to be left to Techies

Techworld.com – One in ten IT departments dead by 2011

Technology may end up being too important to be left to techies, Gartner said, and business executives may end up managing it as part of their regular roles.

Finally someone put into writing what I have felt for several years now. As Tom and I talk to our ministry leadership about what technology our ministry needs, I keep having this thought. Technology is too important to our ministry to be left to Techies. Our biggest challenge (as developing, growing former techies) is to convince our ministry leadership of this principle. We see progress in this direction!

I finally get it; Europe’s Right Hand Rule

Ever since we moved here people warned us to beware of the Right Hand Rule. When approaching an unmarked intersection, you must yield right of way to the person on your right, regardless of how much your own street looks like the main thoroughfare. We never quite abided by our understanding of this rule, and it never seemed to come into play, my accident notwithstanding.

For two years this notion frustrated me. It makes no sense to disrupt the main flow of traffic along one street just because a side street feeds into it. Why make all the cars on the main road stop when a car approaches from a side street? I never yielded, and I never understood.

Recently another American, Tom Seely, explained the logic of the right hand rule to me, and now everything seems much clearer. Here’s the deal. Signs are expensive, so if you can avoid using them, it saves money. An unmarked four-way intersection therefore requires the right hand rule; the car to your right has right of way through this intersection or else you have a mess. In lieu of stop signs, this makes sense and saves money.

I was happy with this conclusion for a few days until I realized how few unmarked four-way intersections I traversed. Virtually none. On the other hand, I pass unmarked “T” intersections all the time, and the Right Hand Rule applies there, too. This rule went right back into my category of Things I Am Frustrated About. Why apply this rule to a “T” intersection; it only slows traffic down?

Compounding my frustration has been my observation that many “T” intersections are marked with a yield sign on the side road but with nothing on the main road. Isn’t this the second worst of all possible situations? Both roads are told to yield. (The worst would be if both roads have right of way.) The yellow diamond sign, which indicates that the road you are on has right of way, yellow right of way sign, should resolve this ambiguity, but it is rarely posted near the intersection in question, and it is hard to remember to take note of it until you are at an intersection where you need to decide who has right of way. Add to this the habit of most Hungarian men when they approach a yield-marked intersection to pull out anyway as though they had right of way, and it makes you feel like you are driving in one of those bumper car rides at an amusement park.

In searching for something that officially describes this rule I ran across this hilarious article that does a great job explaining what European driving conditions look like from an American perspective. Aside from some salty language, it is the best description I’ve read!

Trip to Ráckeve

Ráckeve Convent

Ráckeve Convent

Twice a year the Campus Crusade for Christ Eastern European and Russian national directors have a week of meetings to take care of business. Every few years they meet at a place outside Budapest, and this year it is in Ráckeve, Hungary 50 km south of Budapest on the Danube River.

Knowing that once I entered the hotel in which everyone was meeting I would not come out until later in the evening, I took a walk through town first and enjoyed discovering this wonderful place.

We all met in the Kék (blue) Duna Hotel, and I think it’s a place to which I’d like to return with Cathy someday.

(And I don’t normally work on Sunday, and I didn’t like the fact that our organization continued working today.)

– More photos of Ráckeve

Riki-Tiki-Tavi on our roof

Riki-Tiki-Tavi was a mongoose in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, and he now lives on our roof.

[Read Audrey’s account of this on her blog.]

At 1:00 am Audrey and Mallory, her friend, came down from their sleeping quarters in the attic to wake me up and explain there was someone on the roof.

Sure enough, there was something heavy walking on the roof, but not quite as heavy as a person. I opened an attic window and everything went silent.

Wondering if mischief was afoot, I went downstairs and surveyed the street to find what looked like a cat prowling beneath a parked car. It came out into the light and was clearly not a cat. My best guess, based on what I could find this morning, is that it might be a mongoose. A weasel is too small for what I saw, and a wolverine is too big. The above link to a yellow mongoose looks exactly like what I saw, only yellow mongooses don’t live in Europe.

There have been rumors around the neighborhood that some sort of wild animal had been raising havoc on the rooftops during the night over the last few years. Now we know those rumors are true!

79 indicated decisions on Croatian site!

After spending roughly two years unsuccessfully trying to develop effective student evangelistic sites in Eastern European languages, I discovered tonight that all the while our Croatian ministry’s site has been leading people to Jesus quite effectively without our help and without our knowledge. Last month 79 people indicated decisions to trust Christ while on the site, and for the last 12 months, the average has been 43.

I’m okay knowing they did it without our help. In fact, that is the best of all possibilities. It’s frustrating that this has been happening without our knowledge, and I suspect it has been happening without their knowledge, too. Who reads those statistics reports, anyway, right?

Now that we know, we can begin making sure we do everything possible to personally connect with the visitors who put their faith in Christ while reading the site.

Put in contrast to our currently low response rates for our Russian language site, GodLovesRussia.com, I am encouraged that God might still use this approach to evangelism!

Technical note for WordPress users

Prior to tonight I had a problem; getting WordPress to publish our blog to our home page – and still provide some sort of introduction for anyone landing on the home page. The problem was getting the introductory message to go away for all other pages except the home page.

Tonight I learned that if you create a home.php page and stick it in your theme directory (wp-content/themes/theme-name), WordPress will display that template for your home page. Voila!

I’m using the “Connections” theme, and it didn’t originally have a home.php file. So I copied index.php to a new file and named it home.php. Then I edited home.php to do what I wanted. Simple enough.

Having learned that, I figured out that I could also prevent WP from using the index.php file to display Pages. I created a pages.php file (copied from index.php again) and modified it to remove the post date that was showing up on each page. To do this I created a new file that was a copy of the post.php file, named it page-post.php and then made sure that page.php called that file instead of post.php.

So, in the end, I have three new files in my WordPress theme; home.php, page.php, and page-post.php.

And things work like I want them to now.

The WordPress Codex is extremely helpful. This article explained a lot about reserved filenames and how WP uses them.

Is Google.ru showing our ads or not?

Campus Crusade is running ads on Google for a Dutch version of the 4 Spiritual Laws. According to my coworker, Google shows the Dutch ad about 40,000 times a day. By contrast, Google.ru is only showing our ads less than 400 times per day.

Now, it is possible that Dutch speakers search for spiritual issues on the Internet more than Russian speakers, but that doesn’t seem logical from what I know of Dutch culture and Russian culture. There are roughly the same number of people on the Internet using Dutch as Russian, too. So something is wrong, and we are not at the bottom of it yet.

One suspect is the Russian character set used by Google. If Russian web searchers use a variety of Cyrillic character sets (e.g., my browser will view in one of 9 different Cyrillic character sets, so who knows how many sets are commonly used to write) to create search terms, could it be that Google uses a different character set to receive that input, misinterprets the word, and doesn’t display the ad as a result?

I suppose some Internet research might answer this question, but until it does I remain a bit perplexed.

In spite of this, two people indicated decisions to receive Christ on the site, and one other indicated a decision to recommit their life to Christ!

Vienna Soccer Trip II

Vienna Soccer II

Last year’s trip to Vienna didn’t seem so long. I remember getting a parking ticket and playing on a professional quality field, but this year’s 5 hour round trip with 6 caged junior high boys in my car, all hopped up on sugar, seemed like a steep price to pay for the 40 minutes of soccer we ended up with.

We played on another amazing quality field, but we lost again.

6 Grade Lock-in

No sleep tonight. It’s the 6th grade lock-in, and I’m the token dad.

Assassin, a hide and seek game in the dark, has been the fun spot so far. Two assassins hunt down the rest of the group and try to hit them with an empty plastic bottle before getting tagged. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt create the fun!

I got to be one of the assassins and found a perfect lair. One by one I knocked them off until a group of them cowered in fear in the hallway leading to my hiding spot discussing what to do – for about twenty minutes.

Aside from the trouble I had keeping from laughing I was really amazed at how fear, uncertainty, and doubt rendered this small group completely useless when all they needed to do was rush me and tag me. But some would get whacked by me with the plastic bottle as they rushed into the dark, and that thought gave me the advantage!

Our not-so-exotic car

It turns out that information is the key to many things, not the least of which is getting your car fixed. My good Hungarian speaking friend, Beni, guided me to an auto electronic repair shop today which had my headlight, tailight and broken passenger window fixed in less than an hour for less than $45.

Our exotic car

One of the problems with owning an exotic car, a 1995 Ford Windstar in our case, is finding replacement parts. Most must come from the U.S., and they take a while to get here. Sure, a Windstar isn’t quite an “exotic,” but the difference is moot when you can’t find cheap parts. Our front headlight recently went out, so until we get it replaced we have this anxiety about being pulled over by the rend?rség (police) and having our car papers yanked because of our non-compliant, non-functioning headlights. Maybe we’ll just run with our brights on all the time. Annoying is better than walking.

Tom was right; one more move. Sorry.

Tom told me I should just publish our blog to www.Hertzlers.com (or Hertzlers.com which is basically the same). I knew he was right, but I couldn’t figure out how, if I moved it, to make it serve the purpose of a brochure for anyone hitting it for the first time. With a couple tweeks I think I can do it, so I went ahead and made the move.

Hopefully you are reading this and didn’t experience any problems getting here. If you did, leave me a comment so I can fix the problem.

If you subscribe with an RSS reader, you shouldn’t have to make any changes to continue your subscription.

Painting insecticide

Insecticide always surprises me. I guess that means bugs surprise me, too, since the only purpose of insecticide is killing them.

Spraying insecticide on bushes or grass seems pretty normal. A new twist on insecticide came to our family when we dealt with lice (yikes!) a while back. The stuff you put on your head to kill the lice is insecticide. Today I painted insecticide on furniture.

Our friend, Diane, found another treasure for us. It was an incredible bargain of an armoire, but it was inexpensive for a reason. It had wood worms. The worms had eaten so much of the back of the armoire that you can see right through the rear wood panels. So I spent the day today killing those worms and their offspring. Apparantly the larva can live in wood for years and hatch later to eat your furniture. I soaked this piece with so much chemical killer today it’s likely we will die from smelling the fumes sooner than the worms.

armoire worm damage

Furniture Mecca in Hungary is a town called Vac (“vahts”). In Vac there is a woman who can fix this and make some internal additions that Cathy wants. Her plan is to make it a desk that folds away into the armoire, thus hiding her unfinished work.

4 wheel drive shopping carts

It was four months living here before I made it into the grocery store with a shopping cart. The first problem was remembering that the cart pickup was near the car out in the parking lot, not near the shopping mall door. The second problem was leaving the house with the right coins to get a cart.

See the yellow circle highlight in the picture? That is the coin deposit device, and it ensures you are motivated to return the cart to the corral. This is brilliant! Why pay some kid minimum wage to shlep all the carts back into place? Let everyone put their own carts back. Enterprising panhandlers will often do it for you, too.

Unfortunately, those little devices consumed all the brilliance of this cart’s designer. By the time he got to the wheels, all his good ideas had vanished. Indeed, even his basic logic was gone.

All four wheels rotate on these things, rendering them nearly impossible to control. If you find yourself shopping with slippery shoes or high heels, (I have never found myself shopping with high heels, but I have heard it happens) your back will do all the work instead. At the end of the check-out process, the only thing you want to do is go home, lie down, and remember your tennis shoes next time.

There is another cultural norm here that involves shopping carts, too. Rather than push these things wherever people go in the store, they leave their cart at the head of the aisle and fill it up from there. That way the Zamboni machines have to dodge their cart, and not the other way around!

Welcome to the new blog!

I finally did it. Blogger is gone, and WordPress is in.

The blog address changed to www.hertzlers.com/more (or just plain hertzlers.com/more)

The RSS feed address did NOT change. As much as I dislike the name, “getalife” (which is part of the RSS feed address), I didn’t want to disrupt all you RSS readers. Note: For some reason Feedburner isn’t publishing the post times correctly.

New: You can subscribe to comments on this blog. Point your RSS reader to http://feeds.feedburner.com/hertzlerblog-comments

Old: All previous posts to Hertzler Blog are here in this new format. All the old files still exist on Hertzlers.com, too, so you may run into a page with the old format every once in a while.

I hope you like the change.

Campus Ministry Measurement Project

Last week a project Tom and I began working on almost a year ago became a much higher priority; our Campus Ministry’s Measurement Project.

In order to know what God is doing through our ministry, we have to measure it. Through the years we have used various processes to do this, but the time has come now to make the process easier to use and more helpful for our staff.

This project is simple to state, but very large to accomplish. Over 400 Campus Crusade for Christ staff members will use this application in 15 languages across 12 time zones in Eastern Europe and Russia.

You may be wondering why CCCI doesn’t already have a central program to do this. There has been one in the past, but it proved too cumbersome for effective field use. Also, each region of CCCI functions relatively autonomously. This has advantages and disadvantages, but in this context it means we must develop something for our region.