The other day I got to use algebra to show my youngest how we could determine the shelf spacing on an Ikea shelf by only knowing it’s height and the height of another in the same family.

She was looking at this Mulig shelf unit for her new turntable and wanted to know if the shelves were tall enough for the records.  All we knew was that it was 35.375″ tall.  However, they have other units in the same family and this one is the same width and is 5 shelves instead of 3 and it’s 63.75″ tall.  With a couple of rational assumptions and some algebra we determined that it would work.

First the assumptions:

  1. They are made from the same components.
  2. The shelf spacing is the same between the two units.
  3. The space above the top shelf and the space below the bottom shelf is equal.

Given that, once can write the following with X being the center to center spacing of the shelves and Y the space at the top and bottom:



Solving one for 2y we get:


Which we can then substitute in the first equation and solve for X:





That then lets us solve for Y:






So, the shelf to shelf dim should be about 14.1875″ and the shelf center to floor dim should be about 3.5″.  Assuming a shelf thickness of about 1″, reasonable looking at the images, I estimated the open space to be 13.1875″. Plenty of space for 12″ records, so we ordered one.

After picking it up and putting it together I measured the space and found it was exactly what the algebra told us it would be – 13.1875″.

Gotta love math.

Prayer Request

A long time on-line friend from back when I actually was blogging, keith Brenton, posted this on his blog today:

The Brenton family needs your prayers, because we need two miracles.
Angi has been a little ill – digestive difficulties – since January and it got bad enough that she went to the doctor early last week. They did some blood tests and a CT scan Friday, 2/15. The preliminary diagnosis we got the next day from the scan is pancreatic cancer – a golfball-sized tumor near the bottom of the pancreas, and unfortunately, signs that it has spread to the liver.
The prognosis for this type of cancer is never good, and life expectancy if caught early is usually about nine months – less if other organs are affected.
She will see an oncologist in Asheville Thursday, one who specializes in this type of cancer, and we’ll know more then.
This has been a shock for all of us, and we have been informing family members and friends. It has been especially difficult for our 16-year-old daughter Laura, who has been battling depression for some months. The day Angi’s scan was taken, we were admitting Laura to the local hospital’s ER for a comprehensive evaluation. We agreed (including Laura) with the evaluating team that she needed to be placed temporarily at a hospital which specializes in treating depression, and one of us was with her at the ER 24 hours a day until a bed opened up Monday evening 2/18, just 3-1/2 hours away. We have taken her there, and she’ll be in that program to help restart her life about 5-7 days.

I shared this with my minister here to add Keith, Angi and Laura to our prayers and his response was “Wow. That’s a lot to handle.” Indeed.
Keith is a vocal champion for Jesus, not one to hold back from challenging those who’s focus is other things. He and I hail from separate branches from the Church of Christ tree, each with plenty of opportunities for such challenges. As such, Keith has a thick skin (and a gracious spirit to compliment it), but I imagine these events are threatening to pierce it.
If you follow Keith on twitter, you’ll be familiar with this near-daily tweet of his (and this one is from today):

Too often I look at it and think “what a nice sentiment” but do nothing with it. Not tomorrow.
Won’t you join me then, and now, in praying for Keith, Angi and Laura?

Farewell, George

I found out on yesterday that a dear friend, George Wolfe passed away of complications from a fall. The news rocked my world. I’ve known George for over 20 years.
My first memory of George was from college, the summer I lived in a rented 3 story house with 14-16 college and single guys (not recommended, BTW). He and I were watching TV and he turned to me and out of the blue he said “Brother, I have to confess that I have an attitude with you now. I’m sorry, I don’t know why, I have no reason, but I just do. I had to tell you to get it off of my chest, please forgive me.” I had only become a Christian a few months before and I didn’t quite know what to make of his surprising openness. I think I said something like “It’s OK.” or something equally profound. But that was George, a man with a heart bigger than his small frame could possibly hold.
Though I knew him well enough, we were never what folks might call close friends. He was just always around. I would see him regularly at various singles or campus events and at church services for 4-5 years until Maria and I were married and we moved to Detroit for my job.
That was over 19 years, 2 states and 5 residences and ago, yet George kept up with us and he’d send us 1-2 letters a year, hand written, 2-3 pages each. Peppered with scriptures and dripping with encouragement, it was always a highlight when a letter from George arrived. Along with news of his life, he’d remind me of how great our God was and exhort me to remember his blessings and not neglect my faith. He’d encourage me to be mindful of my duties as a husband and father to lead my family and raise my girls in the Lord, while at the same time praising me for how I was doing with them.
I was not nearly as good of a pen pal, but I did manage to write back a couple of times, telling him how encouraging it was to receive his letters. Encouragement was clearly his gift and I told him so. He wrote back right away, you’d think I had wrote him a check for a million dollars he was so thrilled that his letters were making such an impact.
If anyone in this world had the gift of encouragement, it was George. He was the kind of guy that was easy to overlook, but if you stopped and paid attention to him, you were the one blessed.
The world will be a decidedly dimmer place without George in it. Lord, give him a big hug for me, please, and George, save me a place at the table.

Lenten Sketchbook

Give Up
Four years ago, my online friend Paul Soupiset committed to sketching daily for lent. I linked to his amazing sketches at that time because they were very good and because I was a bit envious. I always wanted to be able to sketch like that, but I’ve never had the patience, discipline or whatever to develop the skill. I can draw, but I can’t sketch like this.
Anyway, this year he’s doing it again and they are every bit as incredible as before. These arent’ necessarily sketches about Lent or spiritual art (although the two I’ve chosen here are), but it’s about the discipline of slowing down, observing and immersing himself in his surroundings and meditate.
You can see them all here and if you missed them in 2007, some (though it loks like not all) are here.
Little Church

The Christmas Letter

2010 Christmas Picture
Many of you got our 2010 Christmas letter. For those of you who did not, here it is.

So, let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

~Inigo Montoya. (The Princess Bride)

Here’s a little peek into our lives this year. ?

  • Jessica is 15; Emily is 13; Audrey is 11. No shortage of drama in our household!
  • Emily had a great time in Washington, DC with her 8th grade class.
  • Jessica will be traveling over winter break to sunny Tampa, FL to the Outback Bowl where her high school band will be performing as part of a mass band performance at half-time.
  • On Feb. 14, as Maria and Doug were buying kitty supplies at the pet store, a Bagle (basset-beagle mix) adopted Maria. Boy, were we surprised! He’s an amazing, loyal 3 yr old doggie and we can’t imagine how we got along without him. His name is Copper and he loves chasing the kitties around the house. They don’t seem to mind.
  • Doug and Maria celebrated 17 years of marriage!
  • Maria decided that she would pursue getting her CPA and is 1/4 of the way there.
  • Audrey continued band into 6th grade and is now considering switching to oboe.
  • We took our first camping trip on our own, and nearly made it the entire trip without rain.
  • After our family hauler of almost 9 years nearly gave up its transmission on the way home from said camping trip, we traded it on a 2010 Saturn Outlook SUV.
  • We lost our 35 ft shade tree in our front yard while on that same camping trip (come to think about it, we’d rather of had the rain).
  • We camped in the Mohican area of OH, the Upper Peninsula of MI and near Springfield IL.
  • We graduated the last of our girls from Elementary school.
  • We survived our first year as High School parents. Jury is still out on year #2.
  • We made it through marching band season #2.
  • Maria became treasurer for the Bradley HS chapter of the Hilliard band boosters and spends more time on it than she thought she would.
  • Emily continues to enjoy choir and was nominated to the district wide 8th grade honor choir.
  • Jessica took her first AP class (US History) as well as honors Biology and Pre-Calculus and is feeling quite challenged by school this year.
  • Jessica took up saxophone and is playing it in the school jazz band.
  • Audrey continues to enjoy art and is interested in helping dad on projects in the garage like repairing camper.

That’s about it for us…from our family to yours…Merry Christmas and a very Blessed New Year!
The Schaefers

New Wheels

Wow, has it really been three weeks since my last post? Yikes. Well, life around here has been a little hairy. I’ll spare you the litany of stuff that’s happened (Hey, stuff happens to everyone, right?), but the biggie was the transmission slipping on our van as we came home from our memorial day camping trip. Turned out to be mostly due to a leak that was easily repaired, but our friend who’s the service manager at the local Acura dealer, said it didn’t it didn’t look healthy. Even though it ran fine after getting fluid in it, he recommended not towing with it again.
It was about 6-7 months early, but with a big trip planned for the end of June, the hunt was on for a replacement vehicle. On Tuesday, we traded out faithful Honda Odyssey for this:
2010 Sautrn Outlook Front
It’s a 2010 Saturn Outlook XR. I had pretty much settled on one of the GM ‘Lambda’ crossovers (Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave and Saturn Outlook) due to their combination of roominess, economy and towing capacity. The seating is nearly as roomy as our minivan and the cargo space behind the third row is double that of most 3 row SUVs (although half what the Odyssey had). At 17/24 MPG, it gives up only 1 MPG highway to the new Odyssey EX-L and actually beats the LX. It’s the towing that convinced me, though. The factory tow package comes with a larger cooling system, a larger alternator that will charge the trailer battery while driving, a dedicated ‘tow mode’ on the transmission that reduces shifts and provides more engine braking on hills and a 5,200 lb rating (1,700 lbs more than our Odyssey). The Odyssey always felt like it was near its limit, and I guess it was.
I really like the look of the Chevy best, but the Saturns were significantly cheaper. This Outlook was several thousand dollars cheaper than the comparable Traverses we looked at. I guess that folks must be wary of buying a Saturn since GM shut down the brand. I didn’t care, since under the skin it’s just like the others. The Outlook would have frankly been my last choice based on styling, but I’ll take the bargain.
2010 Outlook Rear
As a result, this top trim XR was within our price range and it’s the best equipped vehicle we’ve ever owned. Leather seats, heated seats, remote start, power tailgate, 3 zone auto climate control, bluetooth and the tow package among other features. The Outlook was the only 2010 Saturn made and they were all sold to rental outlets. Ours has 12,000 miles on it and was built in September of 2009 and sold to the rental company in December. It’s certified, so we have a total of 42 months or 36,000 miles of factory warranty left.
I’m sad to see the van go, but I’m very happy with this new Saturn, Interesting that we would get the last model year Saturn made, we also owned the first year sold to the public, a 1992 Saturn SL2 (there were a few 1991s sold to, ironically, rental companies).
Oh, and I didn’t waste any time putting it to work. This is from today:
outlook and trailer

Meet Copper

So, last weekend, on Valentine’s day, Maria asks me to join her for some errands, including a stop at the pet store. So, we’ve got all the stuff for the cats and on the way to the checkouts, she makes a turn to the adoption area. Next thing I know, we’re heading home with a 2 year old lemon beagle named Copper.
OK, it wasn’t quite like that. There was nothing sneaky going on and no arm twisting. She had no intention of coming home with a dog that day, this one just reached out and grabbed her heart. She’d been talking about getting a dog for a long time and this was the one. It was unexpected, for both of us. Well, more so for me. 😀
He’s a great dog. Quiet, housebroken, and follows Maria closer than her shadow. A welcome addition.

Pardon Me While I Brag a Little

Today, Emily was called into the principal’s office. Uh oh, right? Nope, instead whe brought home this letter from the Principal:

Hilliard City School District • Bruce P. Stephanic, Principal
February 27, 2009
Dear Parents,
I am writing this letter to thank your wonderful daughter, Emily, for being such a positive student role model at Hilliard Station Sixth Grade School. Each year, one of my main goals for our students is that they treat each other with equality and respect. Emily has demonstrated that she understands this simple act.
This morning, I received a phone call from a district bus driver. The driver explained to me that Emily, and two other Station students, have been performing a wonderful act of kindness each and every day. Each morning, these wonderful students have volunteered to escort two of our special needs students from the bus at Memorial Middle School to Station. After dismissal, their generosity continues, and they escort these students back to their waiting bus.
Imagine the joy and pride of these two young ladies to have their peers escort them! Emily’s simple act of kindness, generosity, and respect has made me very proud of her! Emily’s empathy is praise worthy and reflects the giving spirit, empathy, and generosity of you. Your excellent example has now surpassed Emily and afforded two young, ladies a wonderful experience and example of human kindness.
Have a wonderful day!
Educationally yours,
Bruce P. Stephanic Principal

I couldn’t be more proud. Every parent hopes for good news from school, straight A’s, making the varsity team, the lead in the school play or making honor role. To me, this trumps them all for she’s acting like Jesus, caring for the least. Emily’s compassion and care have always been one of her strengths and it was so encouraging to see her using it in this way.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me … as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:35-36, 40

Emily, I’m so proud of you and so encouraged to see you acting like Jesus and meeting the needs of those around you. Keep it up.

Twitch Update

funny pictures

An update on Popsicle, as they called Twitch at the Vet ER. After he had been home for a few days, it was clear that although he was back to his normal self, there was something not right about the tip of his tail. It was constantly seeping, which was obviously not normal and more than a little gross. A trip to the vet revealed that it was frost bitten and would likely have to be trimmed. They tried antibiotics and a twice daily soak in, uh, something, but that didn’t help and last Thursday he got about 3″ of his tail snipped off. There he is above, post surgery.
The image of him in that cone just screamed LOLCat, so there you go. Got a better LOL? Go give it a shot.
He has to wear the cone for two weeks, which is both funny and sad. He’s already gotten it off once and he keeps getting his feet caught in the ribbon/string that holds it on, so I’m not sure we’ll make it the full two weeks or not.
Oh, and I’ve also learned that Twitch is not alone in his refrigerated exploits:

funny pictures of cats with captions

If you like these, check out more LOLCatz at Beware, however, as Pinakidion will tell you – they’re addicting.

What a Day

In the middle of the snowpacolypse, I had a rather nteresting morning. After chiseling my car out from under over 1/2″ of ice, I made it to work (~24 miles) in heavy snow and sleet in decent time. However, before the morning was done I made that trip two more times, still in heavy snow. I’ll let my wife tell you why:

We’ve had a bit of excitement here. Twitch (Jessica’s black and white kitten) managed to get locked in the freezer. We think he was in there for about 14 hours. I knew something was up when he didn’t come for treats. He ALWAYS comes running when I whistle. I had thought that he may have gotten outside and was calling and calling for him. We searched the whole house and finally Jessica prayed that God would give her sign where he was. Just then, I heard him howling from the basement. Imagine my shock and dismay when I opened the freezer door and there he was barely conscious and curled up in the door of the freezer. I brought him upstairs and we called the vet right away. Unfortunately, my car was completely frozen and Doug was at work. He left right away and came to pick us up. The vet told us to get a heating pad on him and use a hair dryer to warm up his skin. He drifted in and out of consciousness until Doug got her and we all loaded up in Doug’s car and left for the Animal ER (our vet was closed because of the weather). As soon as they saw us coming, they whisked him away to the back. They could not get a reading on his body temp since it was so low and feared that he may have a lot of damage to his back leg as it was not responding neurologically. Before we got to the vet, Emily told us, “God told me he’s not going to die.” We were all praying fervently for that to be the case, but Emily was very confident.
At the ER, the vet told us he was in pretty serious condition, but that because we had warmed him up, he was in better shape than they had feared after my call. By the time we had left, his legs were responding to stimulus and he was comfortable (he was in a lot of pain as he regained consciousness). They let us all go back and see him and he responded to our touch much like he always would. They were able to take the heating pads off around noon and he ate rather heartily. If he continues to improve, we may even get to take him home tonight! [He came home around 8PM.] All in all, he has made a surprising and miraculous recovery.
We know that God answers prayers because I don’t think I would have heard him otherwise. Especially since we hadn’t heard him all night. How he managed to survive 14 hours in the freezer can only be God. He has definitely used up one or two of his lives. 😀
To sum up a long story, we know that God really does take care of the little things in life – in the grand scheme of things, a cat’s life may not be as important as some other things going on, but God knows how much he means to us.

Twitch isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and he’s extraordinarily curious. He’s been known to try to crawl into the dishwasher while you’re loading it. That’s him there in the Wii box at Chrstmas time. Why? Because it was there. We figure he crawled up into our stand up freezer to see what was there while Maria was putting something away and she didn’t see him.
I’ve got to say as well, the folks at Capital Veterinary Referral & Emergency Center were great. They took good care of him, were very friendly and professional and the cost wasn’t as bad as I expected.

On This Day

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