There and back again – a hospitalization tale

I had gall bladder surgery this month.  It’s been a trying ordeal to say the least!

It was scheduled surgery to remove my gall bladder on Tuesday, August 6, 2011 because of obvious gall stones found in an ultrasound which matched my pain symptoms (a growing burning pain in my side and various other apparently related pains across the bottom of my rib cage.)  Angela had hers out some 15-20 years ago and it’s been no big deal over the years for her.  The doctor said that I’d arrive early on the morning of the surgery and leave the hospital the next day if all went well.

All did not go well, as you might have guessed.Annoyed

I was not afraid of the surgery, but I certainly can’t say that I was relaxed and the surgery prep, while not really "trying" is certainly not relaxing either – more like annoying!  My experience with the French health care system to date had included plenty of visits to our general practitioner, plus two endoscopies (I really hate those) to look into my stomach to see if there were ulcers, etc., plus some heart tests a few years ago when trying to diagnose various pains that in the end seem to be completely digestive in nature. This, however would be my first hospital stay and first surgery.  I wondered if, when waking up from the anesthesia whether I’d be able to understand and/or speak French.  That, thankfully, ended up being a non-issue.  I’ve not had general anesthesia often (3 times?) but I don’t like waking up from it.  No exception here, but not as big a deal as I had remembered.  I was certainly glad however, when they took me out of the recovery room (with bright lights, noise and plenty of other patients all waking up) back to my room.

The stones that were in my gall bladder!!!The doctor came by that evening and let me know that I’d not be leaving Wednesday but Thursday.  Apparently the gall bladder was quite infected (it seems there is the same kind of danger as an infected appendix…so I’m glad it’s gone) and had somehow become covered by the liver so that its extraction was not as straight-forward as would have been hoped.  So that was my first bummer of the experience…but not my last! Sick smile

Getting home on Thursday evening was so nice.  I was so glad to be home and Angela was such a good nurse.  Friday I was already feeling better.  Saturday I felt kind of blah…less perky.

Saturday night, in the middle of the night (of course), I started getting a pain under my sternum…sort of a burning, dull pain that just kept growing.  At one point, the pain made me nauseous but I only had dry heaves…nothing to get rid of.  Finally it was a question of getting help, but boy did I NOT want to go back to the hospital.  There wasn’t much choice though.  The hospital of the surgery was in Colmar, a half an hour drive that Angela did NOT feel confident making.  There is a local hospital in Guebwiller but even then, in the middle of the night, Angela preferred that we call an ambulance.  So we did.  Then in the ambulance, they asked me which hospital I wanted to go to.  I said Colmar simply because I knew there was a chance that this was related to the surgery and I’d end up back there anyway.  They were going to honor that when their superiors said that I should go to Guebwiller to get an electrocardiogram as soon as possible to rule out heart issues, so to Guebwiller I went.

Thus began 12 hours of nearly pure agony and 5 difficult days (total) in 2 hospitals with 2 ambulance rides (the billing for which still remains a significant questionEye rolling smile). The pain came and went twice and then it pretty much stayed…sort of migrating around my chest and abdomen and left shoulder.  No pain killers were making a significant dent.  Finally, somewhere Sunday afternoon, they either found a good pain killer or it subsided pretty much for good.  By this time I’d been in 2 different emergency rooms, had lots of blood drawn, had full chest x-rays, was given an MRI (or some kind of really fancy scan) and of course couldn’t eat or drink diddly squat! (one of the BIG issues with digestive medicine!) The time in the emergency rooms was particularly annoying as my pain was acute, but sufficiently vague that no one could give me good answers to my questions (and I imagine they felt the same about me!) and due to the recent operation and the narrow emergency room "beds", I certainly wasn’t comfortable in any sense of the word.

Once the pain was gone, I was moved to the standard post-operative ward where I was basically under observation.  This meant that I got the standard nurse and nurses’ aide visits, plus blood tests, plus a second MRI, but not much in the way of contact with doctors who could tell me what was going on.  What’s more, the doctor who operated on me, who would normally have been "in charge" of me upon my reentry into the hospital, had gone on vacation just after I was released from the hospital the first time.  So I felt somewhat abandoned in the whole process.  With being passed from doctor to doctor, there were certainly lapses in communication.  I could tell 10 different personnel that I was not in pain, which answered their question for their purposes, but somehow that didn’t get back to the doctor such that when I asked if I could have anything to drink, she said that as long as I was in pain I couldn’t!  Confused smile

Because the pain had been so significant, I wanted to know what it was…what had caused it.  When I tried to have a conversation about it with a doctor, she literally interrupted me twice with "Stop!" and wouldn’t let me finish my question as I tried to find out what caused my pain.  Apparently there are too many things that could have been the source of my pain.  I finally, after thinking about it and trying to forgive the doctor over and over in my heart, I came to the conclusion that once the pain is determined to not be life threatening (they rule out certain things with tests) and once it’s been dealt with, the pain is no longer so important to the doctor; merely a trigger that got me back into the medical care system and indicated that something was not quite right.  At this point, they operate more based on their tests to determine the cause of the problem than to search back and find a reason why there was acute pain.   I think part of this, of course, is that all the personnel seem to be very busy and juggling many different patients at once.

Certainly one of the great frustrations that I had was the fact that often I was told that something would happen at a certain time or someone would come at a certain time and invariably it was much later, if at all, that it happened.  I think in the end, as the stay in the hospital really began to wear on me, this became the most frustrating thing.

Were there any bright spots in all of this?

Yes!

  • The brightest spot by far was Angela.  Rolling on the floor laughing Her visits and phone calls were pure life to me when I felt alone, scared, frustrated, bored.  She even found her way all by herself to the hospital finally.  It was big trial for her as well, seeing her husband suffer (she saw some of the worst of it), be the communication channel for those asking about me, run the home, etc.  Incredibly precious for me and incredibly draining on her.  Even as I’m still getting over those two weeks, she is too.
  • I also had a visit by my pastor and his wife who are very dear to us.  Their brief visit and prayers meant a lot to me.
  • The prayers of so many people.  I knew I was supported.  Very powerful.
  • I re-read the Hobbit (hence the significance of this blog post’s title) and almost finished re-reading the Fellowship of the Ring. This was my sole weapon against boredom when I had begun to feel better but still had to stay in the hospital.

Conclusions:

  • He who finds a wife finds a good thing!Red heart
  • Hospitals are made for abnormal interventions in the health of your body and not for long stays
  • If hospital food is bad in general, the digestive surgery ward must be the lowest point!Sick smile
  • I’m not wired to care for people in this way – the untiring dedication of the staff that I saw who deal continually with people in the range of health from sick-to-just-getting-better is amazing!
  • The French health care system is good – understaffed and overworked but full of dedicated and talented and, for the most part, friendly people (mostly the nurses) – even under stress
  • The relationship between a doctor and his patient, especially in the hospital, is really complex!  I was, in general, pretty frustrated with the doctors in the hospitals and the sort of "condescending" manner in which I was engaged.  I can see with the steady stream (flood!) of patients that they see and treat how it would be very easy to focus on the problem-solving or the science or the technology of what they’re doing, but one can’t escape (especially the patient can’t) that they are dealing with a person, not simply a piece of biological life. I certainly didn’t feel that they were majoring on me, as a person, but on my liver and how I was functioning as an organism.  Not that they were forgetting about me as a person, but it did not seem to be the priority.  To their credit, they have an incredibly difficult job, and I wouldn’t want it!
  • I don’t think I got enough post-operative counsel as to what I could expect and I’d certainly tell people who have abdominal surgery about the possibility of diverse, intense reactions.
  • Emotionally, I’m not that strong and I don’t suffer well – both of which I’m not very proud of. That realization, along with the intensity of the physical pain I had have both left a mark on me that I’m currently working on with the Lord.  I’m reading a lot of Psalms right now simply to cleanse my heart from fear and deep disappointment.

Preparing for Fruitfulness

My 'ministry office' - aka 'the bat cave' Our school's iconic French chateau Our school happily received the news in the spring that a Christian school in Holland was going to donate "around 20" computers to our school to upgrade our computer lab. We had 19 computers that were getting pretty old! So we ended the school year by sending a LOT of stuff to the dump.  This emptied our computer lab and allowed us to restructure its layout and do a few other housekeeping things that as the school’s only IT staff, I’d wanted to do for awhile. BUT, it did leave us with only a firm but non-detailed hope that better stuff was, in fact, coming. Then the computers from Holland arrived and there were exactly 15 of them…and one didn’t work! (What’s a bit funny about this is that in French, there is a word for "around 15", quinzaine and a separate word for "around 20", vingtaine.  Repeatedly, I was told "vingtaine" for the number to expect.  When exactly 15 arrived, I thought that somewhat interesting that 15 was "around 20" and not "around 15!" Winking smile) They arrived with Dutch-language operating systems and no other information (like administrative passwords to facilitate any modifications to make them ready for our environment or information about operating system licenses or which machines had which problems, etc.)  These are all things which can, of course, be overcome, but which do add to the work…multiplied by 15 (or 14 at this point!)

My job this summer was to figure out what to do with these Dutch machines (make them work, make them speak French, make them connect to our internal network, connect them to the internet, decide on operating systems, etc.), prepare some additional systems to make up the lack of machines from Holland and overhaul one of our internal servers as well. Throughout the school this summer however, there were also practical renovation/beautification projects undertaken by teachers and parents (including us) in various parts of the small campus. My wife and I also have a vision for a house of prayer and worship to start in our area and so we simply committed to worshiping twice a week during the summer at church. So, our summer was pretty well laid out…while the majority of others around us scattered on vacation!

Real Alsatian grapes - though no wine production yet! Peaches!
I honestly don't know what these are! Our school grounds has an orchard on it and this summer we began to have production from all the fruit trees like I’ve never seen in our 7 years here. I tried the apples on one of the trees and became addicted! Incredibly good! Those apples became a constant source of physical sustenance for me throughout the summer while working on the computer network (work a couple hours, go out and shake the tree, eat, work some more, etc.) But it didn’t stop there. God really spoke to me through that tree…in two ways especially.
More peaches! First of all, the orchard’s fruitfulness spoke to me as a sign of the fruitfulness that He intends to bring to the school this year (or at least we’re entering into such a season). So many things, like apple trees, peach trees, and significant efforts in God’s Kingdom can take time to germinate, mature and finally bear significant fruit. In the meantime we prune when really needed but can often just become accustomed to the unfruitful presence of something (after all, it’s still pretty and gives shade, etc.)…until suddenly it produces a bumper crop! At that point, we need to start picking or it falls on the ground and rots. So these fruitful trees got me really praying for the fruitfulness at school this year, and that we would be ready to pick what ripens.
Apples!  Though not the ones from the BEST tree, still quite good! Secondly, my efforts this summer were sometimes frustrating and tiring and discouragement would knock routinely on my door. During some of these times, the Lord reminded me of Song of Solomon 2:3 “Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I took great delight and sat down, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” Just as those apples were incredibly good, I needed to stop my intellectual head-banging and contemplate the goodness of Jesus and let the refreshing nature of His presence invade and drive out the pressure and discouragement I was feeling.
Here are our APPLE (cough) computers in our lab

School started at the end of August and the computer lab is usable, but still much computer work remains. I, however, am excited by how God can and will take the summer pruning and cultivation work that many have done here and use it to enhance the growth, fruitfulness and multiplication that in the end, only He can bring.

Martin Scott: Spiritual Mapping

In May 2011, Martin Scott was the speaker at the YWAM France School of Intercession at the "Gault-la-Forêt" base in the Champagne region of France. The topic centered around the concept of Spiritual Mapping, but the amount of time given to Martin allowed him to synthesize into that topic many of the different themes that he regularly deals with in his prophetic ministry.  This is really a fabulous opportunity to gain a holistic understanding of the dynamics of the Body of Christ actually bringing transformation to a city or region.  Another way of looking at that is the intersection of The Body of Christ with a location and what that is supposed to mean for the manifestation of the Kingdom of God in that place and why it sometimes doesn’t work out as it should.

The teaching is given in English and translated into French.  This is also a good opportunity to brush up on your French if you’re so inclined!  The recording was done with a hand-held digital recorder so the quality is not the best.  I’ve post-processed it some to try and clean it up…listener beware.

01_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (1h23m 60Mb)

02_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (1h24m 61Mb)

03_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (26m 19Mb)

04_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (1h4m 46Mb)

05_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (1h11m 51Mb)

06_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (1h44m 75Mb)

07_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (57m 41Mb)

08_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (1h11m 51Mb)

09_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (59m 43Mb)

10_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (1h6m 48Mb)

11_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (53m 38Mb)

12_Spiritual_Mapping_Martin_Scott.mp3 (37m 27Mb)

And the winners are…

In this post I lamented the demise (at least for me) of Zoundry Raven.  Due to the evolutionary spaghetti of our WordPress-powered site, we have, essentially, two themes active at one time.  One theme is the one for my blog and the other is for the rest of the site where we talk about our family and mission and post our newsletters.  Zoundry could (with some gymnastics) handle both themes.  I’ve not found anything else that really could.  I even looked at Blog clients that one pays for and they are no more capable (often less) than the free options.  (don’t waste your money!)

In the end, Windows Live Writer had most of what I needed for my blog and its theme (though the Windows Live plugin situation is pretty lamentable) and I was able to set up BlogDesk to support our newsletter posts with its theme.  Neither is perfect but Zoundry had problems too.  So I think I have a solution that works for our needs and I’m pleased that I can move forward without too much gnashing of teeth!

No, no, no, no! We’ve got to think differently!

I’ve been tracking off and on with Martin Scott since around 2002-ish and find him inspiringly provocative! Winking smile  Those provocations have been one of several key ingredients to my personal growth and the growth of my theology.  As a prophet, Martin frequently has had specific perspective about the times in which we live and often for each new year.  I don’t think he’s posted a specific word about 2011, but in mid-January he and Gayle, his wife, were at Family church near Sacramento where two messages were recorded that I think create a provocative (there’s that word again) context for how to journey with God in His destiny for us and the world during these really extraordinary days in which we find ourselves.

Certainly personally, and I think as an American, destination has been more my focus than journey.  I struggle to appreciate most journeys and usually have my telescope out to scan the horizon for the destination.  Martin is one who repeatedly brings me back to the profound truth of journey in our lives and in the tapestry of redemptive history.  How to move forward with purpose and a deep-seated hope and joy when you’re filled with genuine questions without easy answers is often difficult (at least for me) and yet I am convinced that it is our calling in this season of world history and in being the Church sown into the World.  I think Martin makes a great hands-on tour guide!

Be provoked and enjoy the ride (If you’re like me, you may have to get back on and enjoy the ride a few times!)

Martin Scott – Sacramento – January 14th, 2011

Martin Scott – Sacramento – January 16th, 2011

Goodbye Zoundry Raven…hello ???

It’s with great sadness…ummm…ok, frustration…that I say goodbye to our blogging client of the last few years: Zoundry Raven.  I’ve searched MANY times for free and paid blogging clients for Windows and never found a reason to replace it.  I only searched back then when I found something perhaps missing or not fully developed yet in Raven.  Now, however, I’ve had to resume the search and this time…I think it’s for keeps.

Why?

Well, it stopped working!  I’ve had Windows 7 Pro x64 for almost a year now and Raven was working fine for most of that time.  About 2 months ago, it started having a problem.  I don’t blog that often so I can be sure just what changed.  In recommencing my search for blog clients, I was very disappointed in what I found so I thought I’d take a look at perhaps trying “fix” Raven.  Raven went “open source” a little while ago and unfortunately, it’s not gathered a development community, so development basically stopped at the version that stopped working for me.  I’ve never coded in Python but it looked interesting (still does) and I’d love to learn it.  One must be realistic from time to time however, and diving into a complex piece of software like Raven and trying to find the “bug” when you don’t know the language at all…well, let’s just say that I had my tiny pen knife and I was out to kill the elephant and eat it in one big bite…not gonna happen!

Each month we write newsletters that we post on our site using WordPress and send out as emails using phplist.  So, even if I don’t blog that often, each month comes around and I fire up the blog client and write something.  Well, it’s that time again and I’ve got to figure out how to make something work.  I’ve got an old XP laptop on its last legs where Raven is still working, but for me, I concede defeat.  I’ve got to make a change now.  So, yesterday I went looking again and was both semi-encouraged and frustrated.

First of all, I was, for the first time, open to the idea of buying a piece of software.  For most things, I’m really a freeware/open source (can we say cheap!) kind of guy so this was somewhat of a departure!  Anyway, after having looked over the options out there, I think I can safely say that paid blog clients are NOT any better than free ones!  Freeware can often come with a “price”: you get what you pay for.  Not in this case.  What I think I can say is that each blog client caters to a different type of usage and the paid ones are no different.  That’s why I liked Raven so much…it catered to what I do when I write blog posts and newsletters…at least it did so more than other clients.  I’ll admit that I’m pretty particular and there are features that are important to me that simply are not to others.

I’m also a “feature-hound” in general.  I’d much rather have “too much” functionality than “not enough.”

So, I’m down to three choices now:

I may have to pick more than one depending on what I’m doing.  Obviously Windows Live Writer is getting more and more capable all the time, building a good user base and will probably not be let go any time soon.  Post2Blog is already declared “unsupported” by its creators.  It’s got good potential functionality but definite buggy-ness that, of course, is not going to go away with time.  BlogDesk look really promising, but looking at their forums, I wonder how much more will be put into it.

I’ll try the newsletter today and see how it works for me in these three clients.  I’ll post a follow-up to this to state my choice(s) and why.

Mind the gap! The difficult path to “both and”

Well, it’s the eve of the US mid-term elections and here in France…well…no one cares I think. No, it’s All Saint’s Day (Toussaint) here and they’re mostly at the local cemetery putting chrysanthemum’s on grave stones. Tomorrow is “All Souls Day” where one prays for the deceased in Purgatory. Add to that the US import of Halloween last night and the ever important VE Day celebrations on November 11th where the French gather in every town’s war memorial (they call them “monuments to the dead”) and there’s a whole lotta’ “death” being celebrated over here!

The recent strikes and riots and fuel shortages have not helped either. The sense of “division/divisiveness”, at least for me, has a consonant ring with the “spirit of death”. To surmise that this period of time on the calendar and this period of time with respect to political events in the US and in France, is fraught with activity in the spiritual realm would not take a genius. The stakes are high and the tempers are too…prime territory for enemy seed to be sown in hearts. Kind of scares me that we cast important votes in such a climate!

What seems to be trumpeted around so often in American politics and, I see in French politics too, is that you have two real choices…no more…no less. One must fall on one side or the other and responsible engagement in the political process (aside from the ubiquitous call from all fronts to simply “VOTE!”) requires fighting for one side or against the other. As I’ve mentioned in other posts this sort of default engagement by the Body of Christ does no one any favors as we abdicate our priestly role to steward the land in which God has put us.

How do we get out of these deep ruts? Well, as one for whom concepts are primordial to shape certain kinds of behavior, I think we need to better understand what it looks like when the Kingdom of God is advancing…i.e. when God is King. What it looks like typically flies in the face of “either or” dualistic views of the social and political landscapes. Jesus bridges the gap and takes a path that doesn’t necessarily align with either right or left-winged expectations (no matter how hard we try to put Him in such “one-sided boxes.”

Recently, Duke University Divinity School held their Convocation and Pastor’s School where they had 3 outstanding speakers: NT Wright, Andy Crouch and Rob Bell. Each of these speakers, in different but complementary ways, outlined both concepts and practical application of how we “mind the gap”; how we, as the Body of Christ can and must embrace the tension of the “both and” and reject the easy slipping into left or right-wing ruts. I don’t do their excellent talks justice at all in this short blurb of publicity, but I’m much better at pointing you toward excellent source materiel than I am at summarizing it! So, I highly encourage a listen to these speakers. If you have iTunes and want to use the iTunes U. service, you can simply use the links here. If you, as I do, rather despise iTunes, feel free to take advantage of my efforts to extract these free mp3 resources from Apple’s grip and download them/stream them directly from here:

NT Wright Part 1

NT Wright Part 2

Andy Crouch

Rob Bell

iTune out!

I really like NT Wright audio teachings. He stimulates and provokes and challenges and bridges many a theological gap. I found on the NT Wright page (https://ntwrightpage.com) recently a link to some lectures he did at Duke University’s 2010 Convocation and Pastor’s School. I happily went to download the free audio teachings and I couldn’t get past a page that said that iTunes was not found on my computer. Well duh! Of course it’s not found on my computer. I wish it could stay that way!

I detest iTunes and I detest Apple’s practice of creating “monopolistic” and “invasive” software. I’m duly convinced that much of what Apple creates in terms of hardware is really good and from a design standpoint is laudable (if stupidly expensive!). However, their handful of offerings that make it to the Windows world are hugely annoying! They’re probably just trying to stick to Microsoft for their clunky Mac offerings. Of course the losers in this war are the end-users, not the big corporations.

Having had experience in getting other streaming protocols to finally cough up a standard URL of a standard media file via circuitous editing of a series of downloaded files, I did various “view sources” and tried playing my results in different capable, non-invasive media players and tried changing the protocol from itms to http, etc. None of this worked. So I started out looking for specific freeware players capable of playing/downloading itms files. I failed…

Apple has started this thing (I hesitate to use the word “service” as it does us only a dis-service!) called iTunes U. iTunes U is a corner of the iTunes Music Store universe dedicated to more educational media files. They must make it pretty attractive to participate in. Personally, I find it reprehensible that Duke University would, in essence, force people to download Apple software to play a free academic mp3 lecture. I can’t imagine that the bandwidth hit or storage space is any kind of real problem for the university that they just couldn’t put their mp3 files up on their own servers somewhere where anyone could easily download them.

Anyway, I didn’t succeed in circumventing iTunes completely, but I did find this tutorial on how to install iTunes in a less invasive way: The unofficial guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware on the zdnet site. I highly recommend doing things this way if you simply need iTunes for some unique capability it offers and you don’t want it to be so invasive or huge. I would add however, this final step: Fire up autoruns after doing the install steps and do a search on Apple. Then you can delete autostarted tasks/services that you don’t want.

Praying while I work

In the latest Online Update Newsletter from Church Production Magazine the question is asked, “Should techs stop and pray during services?” My first reaction to this is along the lines of, “Oh brother! Can we not waste our time on pointless discussions please!?” I know that there are sincere people on the other end, but this rationalistic/dualistic way of “doing church (services)” is so far removed from my reality that I struggle to even wade into the conversation. I read the article however (hoping to find a place where I could fire off my “eye-rolling” comments). Thankfully this article wasn’t up for discussion on their site…and thankfully I have my own (barely visited) site where I can comment away.

My philosophical/theological stance on all this is we need to be praying all the time and our definition of prayer needs to expand as well. Consequently a discussion of whether this circumstance or that circumstance should/should not include “prayer” is difficult for me to engage with (other than my judgmental eye-rolling!).

But, I read the article and I think they treated the sincere question well and with much more grace than I would have. For me, personally, I find that my time at the mixing board during a service is ideal time to intercede for the worship and whatever else is going on in front of me. For example, we have a couple of youth worship teams, and I love to intercede for them while they do their thing. They’re taking risks and learning how to lead people in worship at an age where I was simply goofy…nothing more! It’s stimulating to pick one of them out up on stage and call for more of the anointing to flow through them!

However, this still leaves me with a personal dilemma/question: How do I pray constantly (without ceasing) in other areas? It’s all well and good to think “correctly” that I should…it’s a whole other thing to actually do it .

This is a constant struggle with me because my work (computers) is cerebral in nature. There are times when I can interject worship and prayer and declaration, etc. into what I’m doing and there are times when I need to focus on something simply to understand it. I don’t have a problem with the idea that my focus time is “prayer/worship”; that I’m honoring the Lord in my work. What is difficult is coming out of that deep focus and consciously bringing Jesus into it. I’ve no problem with the idea that Jesus wants to be in it and that He has great solution ideas for me and that we can commune with each other in my technology work…I just have a hard time doing it consistently; a hard time remembering that He’s closer than my skin and desiring that intimacy with me…and not always to the exclusion of my work, but actually in my work!

I like to think back to the Brother Lawrence’s example of Practicing the Presence of God where he does the dishes with God (and for God as an act of worship). I think that’s great and, in fact I love that example because I already do the dishes with God. Literally, that’s where I listen to teachings or pray or ruminate on some scripture. That kind of routine, manual work is such an opportunity for me because of what I can and have gotten out of it. Now, if I could just add that next level of connection in the realm of cerebral work! Help Lord!

The mysteriously constipated ADSL router

Recently I’ve experienced reeeeeeaaaaaallllllyyyyy slow load times for anything at wordpress.com and wordpress.org, including all wordpress.com individual blogs. They would finally load but with no formatting. So obviously something was getting gummed up in the works. I’ve solved the problem finally and so I’ll share my experience in hoping that it will help someone else.

Here’s my process of discovery and solution:

  • It’s only happening on these WordPress-hosted sites. Everything else is loading fine.
  • My Firefox has tons of addons so I load up IE and Google Chrome to see if it’s the browser messing up. Nope. Same results with other browsers.
  • I look at the Net tab of Firebug in Firefox to see what is not loading. I notice that s0.wp.com, s1.wp.com, s2.wp.com and s.wordpress.org are not loading. These all resolved to 93.184.220.20 for me.
  • I lookup “slow loading s0.wp.com” on Google and even in the recent posts there is not unanimous agreement that there is a “general” problem or outage.
  • We have K9 Web filtering on some computers but not others. I try wordpress.com on a non-filtered Windows box and on a headless linux box (a simple wget). Nope. Same results.
  • I do a traceroute/tracert. No problem. Works fine.
  • I can ping both the ip address and the domain
  • We use OpenDNS and its cache check page had no problems
  • I have access to a windows box via VNC that has a different ISP and it worked fine
  • I have access to a linux server at large French hosting service and via Webmin’s HTTP tunnel it worked fine

Process of elimination points to our house and not a specific computer or operating system in our house. What’s left? My Neuf box (SFR) ADSL router. Everything looks fine in its web interface, including its ability to ping and traceroute. It caught my eye that the uptime for my router was 51 days. This problem with WordPress I had noticed, maybe 2 weeks ago. In the past, I’ve had speed issues every once in a while and have discovered that rebooting the router can fix some of them. So, on a whim I thought I’d just reboot the router.

That fixed it. So I’m not sure exactly WHAT was the problem in the router that screwed up HTTP traffic to a single IP but not other traffic, but perhaps this will save you some time if you encounter something similar.