09 May 2006

Three short personal items

by Phil Johnson

Update on Jeff Williams

I've posted a few times about my friend Jeff Williams, who is currently doing a six-month stint in the International Space Station (ISS). He phoned me from space just before I left for Italy. Darlene and I have gotten pretty good at spotting the ISS at night. We watched it several times in Italy and expect to see it twice tonight. If you want precise details about when the Space Station will be visible over your own house, you can get the calculations at the Heavens Above website.

Updates on Jeff's mission are also featured daily on NASA-TV (channel 376 on DirectTV). This morning Jeff gave a complete video tour of the Space Station and gave himself a haircut. How do they do that in space without getting little bits of hair all over the place? I wondered that, too. Turns out there's a vacuum hose attached to the electric shears.

While we were in Italy, an unpiloted Progress cargo carrier docked with the ISS. It brought fresh supplies, including some fresh fruit (Jeff peeled and ate an orange on this morning's NASA update). While the Progress craft was docked with the Space Station, its engines were fired for about six and a half minutes—long enough to adjust the Space Station's orbit, moving the ISS an additional 1.7 miles further from earth.

The November A&O Conference and Cruise

I've had to withdraw from the Alpha & Omega national conference and cruise in November. An unexpected conflict arose that makes it impossible for me to go. Of course, my duties at Grace to You and Grace Community Church must take priority over everything else I do. So although I regret having to cancel, I couldn't anticipate or avoid the conflict, and I can't change it. It especially pains me to disappoint James White, but he is a good friend and has been very gracious about it. Likewise, Mike O'Fallon, who is arranging the cruise, was extremely kind and understanding, even though my withdrawal is a huge inconvenience to him. My profound apologies to all who are inconvenienced or disappointed by it.

Debrief on Italy

I meant to post more pictures and a full report on my recent visit to Italy and the Republic of San Marino, but there's no time this week, and after that it will be out of date.

But I wanted to say a public thanks to David Standridge, who translated for me while I taught forty hours of intensive bibliology and theology proper in five days. Teaching eight hours a day is grueling enough. Just imagine if you had to listen, translate, and repeat all that in a different language.

David is a Roman native and showed us things in Rome we'd never seen. (His dad has been a faithful missionary pastor there for many years). Since my great-grandmother's maiden name was Standridge, we're probably distant cousins. Those who know us both say that's a frightening thought.

Our hosts for the week were Joe and Georgia Aleppo, dear friends of ours and close partners in ministry with Grace to You for several years. So despite the grueling teaching schedule, the week was a wonderful and refreshing break from my routine. I'm already looking forward to next year's installment.

At the moment, however, I have to get back to my regular work. I still have a book to edit, and less than three weeks to get it finished.

Phil's signature


Lindasue said...

Phil, congratulations on your recent trip to Italy. I have been there several times on business to a small town called Avezzano approx 45 min east of Rome and I NEVER get tired of it. I was directed to your site by a friend that came from your church recently and he has spoken very highly of you. That's about it. Gotta go to. Take care and God bless.

Chuck said...

My great-grandparents came over from northern Italy. Hopefully I'll be able to travel there one day...

Jeremy Weaver said...

That's just great.
Now I have to find someone else to idolize on the cruise.
Thanks a lot.
I'm crushed.

Scott McClare said...

OK, I figured out without reading how to cut your hair in space without fouling the air with little hair ends. But I'm at a loss how you could peel and break apart an orange in zero gravity without at least once squirting orange juice across the room.

donsands said...

Thanks for sharing about Jeff. Very cool indeed. What a blessing for you to have such a fine Christian friend.

"Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel. -
Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Prov. 27:9,17

FX Turk said...

Dagnabbit -- I was going to cross-post to my blog, but I can't possibly bump Phil.

Geez. When wa the last time I posted anything on the front page here anyway?

Chris Freeland said...

The Flowbee is in space? I always wanted one of those things to cut my hair, but never bought one. Now I can't find them anywhere.

Phil Johnson said...

Frank: Feel free to post any time. If I don't want a post to be bumped down, I always say so ahead of time in an e-mail to all the Pyros. I think that's happened...once. Most of the time I'm quite happy to be overposted.

There's especially no reason to show such extreme deference to a self-indulgent navel-gazing diary-entry style post. Put something up that will generate some comments. Quickly.

Fred Butler said...

I would definitely encourage folks to check out the Heavens-above site Phil linked. It is a tremendous tool for astronomy geeks such as myself. Just keep in mind that in order for you to track the ISS fly overs, you have to create a page with your geographical latitude and longitude location. Moreover, it has to be in decimal points, not degrees in order for it to work. Here is a good link that may be helpful.


Steve said...

Phil said to Frank, "Put something up that will generate some comments. Quickly."

Frank's been pretty good at generating comments in the past...

Will keep you in prayer, Phil, as you commence your editing marathon...

Kim said...

What's wrong with "self-indulgent navel-gazing diary-entry style posts?" Sometimes, that's pretty much all I have to offer!

Phil Johnson said...

Kim: No negative reflection on diary-style blogs. What's great blogging and interesting reading for some doesn't look good on others. As Frank Turk often reminds us, "This is where I am now"-style posts don't usually work very well at PyroManiacs.

The appropriateness of "self-indulgent navel-gazing diary-entry style posts" is inversely proportional to the amount of lint in one's navel, I think.

DJP said...

"Scabs," "navels," "lint"....


Castusfumus said...

NEWS FLASH: It has been learned that the Sovereign Cruises, hosting Alpha and Omega Ministries will be invaded by Arminian terriorists seeking to throw Phil Johnson overboard.

Kim said...


The appropriateness of "self-indulgent navel-gazing diary-entry style posts" is inversely proportional to the amount of lint in one's navel, I think.

You know, I was going to say something about lint in the navel, but I didn't want to appear unladylike. It sounds much better coming from you.

And, truth be told, if there were more diary-style entries coming up here at Pyromaniacs, I probably wouldn't enjoy it as much as I do. The balance around here is pretty great.

DJP said...

Note to self: Kim doesn't care about us as persons.

Momo said...

Frank, feel free to post over top of Phil anytime. If he says anything, just tell him "Spurgeon" would approve. You don't have to tell him which.

Oh, did Phil already give you permission? Never mind. Scratch that first part.

Kay said...

*taps fingers on the computer table*

Homeschool Moms are busy here. Where are the goodies?

SoccerReformer said...

If you get a chance Phil - it would be interesting to hear about the pastors and the church in Italy. What is it like? what are their challenges?

Do you see reason for encouragement in that land, or does it continue to be much tough sledding for most?

Kim said...


That's two "chain yanking" comments in one day. One here, and one at my blog. Is this your way of telling me I'm putting my foot in it?

Doesn't the fact that I have never got your name wrong count for something? I'd put on a smiley thing, but there are none of those nifty things available here.

DJP said...

Hey, I was just funnin' ya.

Don't be such a girl!


Kim said...


Don't be such a girl!

I'll do my best! :-)

I wish Phil had emoticons, because I'd put a winky one or a smiley one.

I did realize you were only teasing, and that's okay. [*whisper* Don't tell anyone, but I don't always mind being teased. I had three older brothers; I grew up on it]

Jeremy Weaver said...

I just saw that Tom Ascol is on the cruise now. Disregard eveything I said earlier.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I would love to ask him the Christian perspective of space exploration. I've had a difficult time justifying the purpose of NASA in light of the Bible and prophecy. I can admire the tenacity and knowledge, but the why perplexes me.

Asaph said...


When you post a debrief about your trip would you mind posting your syllabus and list of resources you used to teach this course? Would love to see what you taught and especially the books used as resources. Some of us need all the help we can get, we did not have Homeschool Moms to teach us.



Fred Butler said...

Kent ponders:

I would love to ask him the Christian perspective of space exploration. I've had a difficult time justifying the purpose of NASA in light of the Bible and prophecy. I can admire the tenacity and knowledge, but the why perplexes me..

Because it is cool. One of the aspects of being in the image of God is loving to do cool things, like surfing, scuba diving, mountain climbing, golfing and in the case of Jeff, earth orbiting. If we do our cool stuff to the glory of God, God is pleased with us doing cool things. No other reason is needed to justify it.


Kent Brandenburg said...

Kewl Fred,

I am more interested as a tax paying citizen in this case, since it seems much of NASA (not this particular astronaut, I'm sure) is looking to explain the origin of the universe through its exploration. I'm sure those building the tower of Babel thought that was cool too--especially as they got into higher elevation.