31 August 2005

Schezuan Noodles: I think I figured it out, but this is still a beta version. I've missed this dish for years as no one in Texas seems to make it. Years ago, I'd meet Alan and Taffese in NYC's Chinatown for dinner following the Shing Yi Class at the Centre Street Kwoon. We'd go to this little place where you could pick your fish from one of the tanks along the wall and a bunch of well dressed older men played high stakes mahjong in the back corner. Alan would always order us as they knew him by sight and one dish we always had was Shun Choy. It was a mixture of pickled Chinese vegetables stir fried with noodles and meat. The noodle and meat part was easy, as it was similar to a lot of Chinese dishes. The vegetables themselves were the issue: finally I found something close. Alan meanwhile tells me he can buy them vacuum packed in Chinatown. <sigh> Different mix of regions down here - I can't find them regularly even in Asia World.

1/2 pound wide rice or wheat noodles (I use Good Duck Brand Imitation Noodles -imitation 'cause they are wheat)

salted water - 10 quarts

4 Tbsp Peanut oil

2 gloves minced garlic

4 Tbsp Schezuan Hot Sauce

1 pound sliced pork loin (thin strips)

12 ounces canned mushrooms (I'm lazy)

1/2  jar of Schezuan pickled vegetables (Farmer's Hut Brand - its the only one that smells right -comes in 8 ounce jars)

1/4 can of Pickled Cabbage (4 oz.  can use fresh bok choy but you need to steam it first and cut into strips)

1 Tbsp chili sauce

2-4 Tbsp soy sauce (reduced sodium)

1 cup chicken stock

1 tbsp whole cumin seeds

optional: Another cup chicken stock, 1 tsp Schezuan sauce, and 1 tsp cornstarch.

Cook the noodles in about 10 quarts of salted water. Takes about 10 minutes. When done, drain and rinse well with hot then cold water. Set aside. (We cook the whole pound and keep half in the frig. You can also use the whole pound but the boys think it is better with only half).

Heat 2 Tbsp peanut oil to shimmering and then add the garlic and 2 tbsp Schezuan Hot Sauce. Stir well and add the pork. Cook until the pork is brown. Add mushrooms and cook until warmed (if using fresh, you want them cooked - if you have Schezuan peppercorns you can add 1 Tbsp of them with 1 Tbsp of tsen tsin peppers now.) Remove solids and add the remaining oil. When hot, add the chilli sauces, mix well and then the pickled veggies and the noodles. (I add all these in three batches of veggies, noodles, stir and repeat). Keep mixing and add the soy sauce, and chicken stock. Toss so all the noodles are wet and add the pork/mushroom mixture. Keep stirring and tossing until it is all heated thro. If you want a thicker sauce, you can add the cornstarch to the chicken stock and sauce, mix well so it is all in solution and add it to the mix. Serve immediately. 

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More on the Uniate Return: I've heard the stories in both my family and the Orthodox Church on the work of St. Alexis Troth in the US and the return of parishes to Orthodoxy. Interestingly today, while trying to track down the link of the Orthodox Aid organizations for disaster relief, I tripped over site by the Greek Catholic Union. Anyway, their side:

 The thought of a Church with a married priesthood calling itself Catholic was more than the Roman Catholic hierarchy could tolerate. Unceasing agitation in Rome led eventually to Rome's intervention in the form of a papal decree, CUM DATA FUERIT, issued in 1929 which set forth the canons for the governance of the Greek Catholic Church in America. Most controversial was the requirement that henceforth no more married men would be ordained to serve Greek Catholic parishes in the United States augmented by the ban on the import of married priests from abroad and their service in American parishes. In addition the practice of holding church property in the name of parish trustees was prohibited in favor of the Roman Catholic practice of placing all property in the name of the local bishop as corporation sole. The Greek Catholic Union resisted the imposition of both requirements in vain.

CUM DATA FUERIT was followed by widespread desertions of Greek Catholic parishes priests and faithful to Orthodoxy. From this defection a new Orthodox church was created called the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church which placed itself under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.


Interestingly, while they claim things are better now, they have a couple of comments that suggest the Roman Catholic Church still does not understand the issue. One is they discuss how the current Uniate hierarchy is self contained and reports directly to the Pope. Secondly, they reduce the certain actions that the Orthodox see as expressions of heretical positions to "different traditions." I'm assuming that crap came in from the Protestants. This is clearly stated as:

the Polish Pontiff has made it clear that he wants the Eastern Catholic Churches to return to their ancient traditions, theology, rites, art forms and liturgies and to eschew everything which is alien to them. His encyclical, ORIENTALE LUMEN (2) and the INSTRUCTION FOR APPLYING THE LITURGICAL PRESCRIPTIONS OF THE CODE OF CANONS OF THE EASTERN CHURCHES (3), both of which are dealt with elsewhere in this Web site, constitute in their purpose a clear mandate to the Eastern Catholic Churches that they are to recover and restore their ancient traditions and make themselves less distinguishable from their Orthodox brethren of the same ecclesial tradition, thereby repudiating all that the Romanizers had sought.

And then the footnote:

Whereas the rosary and the stations of the cross are alien to the traditions of the Eastern Churches and now discouraged by the INSTRUCTION FOR APPLYING THE LITURGICAL PRESCRIPTIONS OF THE CODE OF CANONS OF THE EASTERN CHURCHES as non-conforming in the context of the latters' own traditions, the cult of the exposition and veneration of the Blessed Sacrament is actually illicit because it contravenes the theology and the canons of the Eastern Churches which mandate that the Eucharist be distributed at the Divine Liturgy with only two exceptions for temporary retention, namely the communion of the sick not present at the liturgy and the communion of the pre-sanctified on non-liturgical days. See canon 713, par. 1 of the CODE OF CANONS OF THE EASTERN CHURCHES and section 60 of the INSTRUCTION above referenced.

The idea that the Church can have traditions that are wrong in one church but okay down the street is, well, nuts. The Tradition is the life of the Church and it is driven by theology. The fact the RC Church accepts 2 theologies as applied above supports the Orthodox opinion that the aims of the Papacy are control, by any means possible, and that the heresies are now so deep in the RC Church that they are part of its very nature.

Note: I'm not claiming the Orthodox are without faults. The Lord knows we are guilty of many sins ourselves as a Church and I imagine many of our hierarchs will have some explaining to do at the Dreadful Judgment for the multiple failings of the Orthodox Church in the US. See the Price of Prophecy for a good look, especially the chapter "American Concerns." However, the difference in the Orthodox-Catholic view of the split is interestingly in that only the Orthodox seem concerned about the theological differences.

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Science and Christianity: Since before I hosted the Tangled Bank, I've been trying to put a post together on Christian and Science, and the Orthodox understanding of it, because it is very different than the Western view. I also have a few email friends who don't seem to understand that devout Christianity and science do not conflict and this is, in some way, for them. A lot of the supposed issues between Christianity and Science appear to be driven by people with axes to grind and this has been true for a while. Starting with Darwin, the extremes of both sides have been less than reasonable. From the Christian side, as Archbishop Lazar has written, the current fundamentalist's insistence on a literal reading of Genesis is more likely to drive people away from Christ than anything the Enemy does.  If science is a search for truth, and Christ is the Truth, then science leads back to Him at some point. The Orthodox position has been stated many time and to quote on a site addressing the matter: " it is more a novelty than a tradition among the Orthodox to disclaim evolution." This follows the tradition of the Church will allow both allegorical and literal interpretations of the Bible. As the Bible is seen as part of Tradition in the Orthodox Church, it does not generate the need that other churches have for it to be always literally correct.

A measure of how much of a non-starter the issue is among the Orthodox, especially until the flooding of the Church with converts from Evangelical churches in the last 20 years, is a look at some of the discussions of Orthodox and Science. Evolution and Creationist are normally not mentioned. It's not seen as an issue. Light from the East doesn't even have evolution listed in the index and looking up creation, you find we're blaming the problems with creationism on Augustine. (This seems to be a standard response for us - when you can't figure out why the Western Churches do something silly, blame Augustine.) Some of the Orthodox non-interest is I think due to the concept of God. Unlike the Western concept, where God is often made to be a slave to necessity and to His Own Justice, the Eastern Orthodox concept is a God Who is best described by what He is not.  This Unimaginable Being created the entire university from nothing and is outside of Time and Space.

This means, by the way, the Orthodox view of evolution is not going to make the atheist or secularist happy either. While I have no trouble accepting random evolution as science, I don't believe its truly random in leading to a being made in the image and likeness of God.. The Unimaginable and Uncreated God set up the Universe and his hand is subtle enough that it may not be apparent to one who doesn't believe in Him. From our limited viewpoint, it may appear that random or a series of coincidences we turned out human, but God is God. From my viewpoint, as a scientist, working within the limits of science -natural phenomena only, evolution fits the evidence better than anything else.

I think it gets summed of best by my oldest boy, who believes in dinosaurs, fossils, etc, that "God created the world; I don't know how He did it. Why is this such an issue?" Too much of science ties together in one piece so if this fails, so does large chunks of geology, medicine, genetics, material science, chemistry...And it detracts from a more important issue of how we relate to the Incarnate God.

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30 August 2005

Southern Fifty Caliber Shoot: Just got in touch today with Bryan McCann over in Louisiana, who's trying to get a Southern branch of the FCSA started. Looks like we are going to have a match in Waco during mid-October. Hmmm, let's see 60 rounds plus sighting...about 300 in ammo I guess.

Details to follow as they become available.

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28 August 2005

I should live so good: Dang lizard. Noah let him run around on the desk again and he settles in right next to the battery and fan of my laptop. Warm and vibrating...kinda like a massage chair for geckos. It took us 15 minutes to coax him out...

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26 August 2005

Wow! Reporters are psychoanalysts too: This has gotten a lot of comments from the puppy blender (rumor has it he carts them home in an all black SUV that plays "Night of Bald Mountain" as it drives thro the Knoxville streets) as well as the best of the web.  While there have been a lot of comments on how the SUV is actually needed by those of us with larger or active families, in rural settings, etc., I haven't seen a comment on this quote  from NY Times reporter Keith Bradsher:

"They tend to be people who are insecure and vain. They are frequently nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood. They often lack confidence in their driving skills. Above all, they are apt to be self-centered and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbors or communities."

Really, Keith? And can you prove this or it just another ad hominem attack from a coastal elitist DINK* on those of us who don't share your sterile yuppie lifestyle? Especially if you're a NYer who doesn't need a car.  Surprisingly similar to the unconservative's rant on SUVs: again another childless big city dwelling. Now, as interesting as the SUV issue is and as much fun as it was to indulgene in abuse above, my real interested was in his characterization of SUV owners. Vain, insecure, nervous, uncomfortable, lacking confidence, self-centered...hmmm, sounds like the average run-of-the-mill human to me. Anyway, for a media with a reputation of dishonesty, laziness, and arrogance, this fits right in. Apparently journalism school now teaches you to do psycho-analysis on large segments of the population you never met because it's easier that actually doing research.

* DINK -dual incomes - no kids.

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The Media finds Boy Scouts it likes:  Newsweek, anyway. They are Moslems and it has a whole article on them and their trip to the Jamboree. Interestingly, while they ask Moslem kids about being in troops sponsored by Christian Churches what its is like (good mostly - although the Moslem kids do see any comment at all as an attack on them. Interesting how these young warriors of Allah are, like CAIR, unable to tolerate any criticism or teasing. I could tell stories of what we did to each other.), they never ask the kids from troops sponsored by mosques how many non-Moslems are in their troop and how they are treated? My guess is none.  The involvement in the BSA is probably a good sign on these kids integrating in to society, but I do wonder what happened to the objections about no gay leaders? Maybe Newsweek doesn't understand the Koran's teaching on that?

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24 August 2005

Canary in a Coalmine: I've been spending the last few days over at a coal lab in East Texas. Texas is actually fairly rich in coal and uses it for a lot of power plants. Under current EPA rules, the coal has to be checked for a variety of compounds that can cause air pollution and for carbon content, so it can be graded. Interestingly, land prices increase after mining as the restoration process actually improves the soil.

Anyway, I'll be glad when this is over as the 2.5 hour trip each way is killing me...

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21 August 2005

Mapo Tofu the right way: The boys were pleasantly surprised a while back to find that the Chinese are the only cusine that can make tofu, that white plastic-tasting product of a rotten soybean, taste good. Not passable but good. Let face it, tofu sucks. The Chinese use it to extent meat and that makes the difference because it then absorbs the taste of the meat. I learned to love Mapo tofu when I worked in Wah Ping's while a college student. There it was called Tofu with pork and was one of my favorites to eat late at night when the customers had left and Ping, Jim and I were closing up. Nowadays, it seems to be this horrid veggie dish. Anyway, this is what I remember and we're making:

1/2 pound ground pork 

2 Tbsp soy sauce

Pinch of cornstarch

Pinch of 5 Spice

1/4 teaspoon chili paste with garlic or hot Szechuan paste

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp peanut oil (I use a 1:1 mixture with chili oil*)

2 Tbsp black bean paste

3/4 pound tofu (firm preferred), chopped into small cubes

5-6 tien tsin peppers

2 Tbsp chicken stock

1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, whole

1 tsp ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2 green onions, sliced thinly crosswise

Take the pork and mix it with the soy sauce, cornstarch, and 5 Spice. Let sit at least 20 minutes (can refrigerate overnight).  Heat a frying pan or wok to high heat. Add the oil. When it shimmers, add the chili paste and garlic. Fry about 30 seconds until it releases its smell. Add the pork and cook thoroughly. Drop heat medium (on my danged electric stove I move to another burner.) and add the bean sauce, the whole peppers, and the tofu. Cook about 8 minutes until the tofu picks up some color.  Add broth and the spices and then stir well. Add green onions. Serve over rice to absorb the drippings. (Eating the rice is a peasant thing...yep that's me.)

*chili oil: take a pound of crushed hot red chilis and add enough oil to cover. Let sit in a dark place 2 weeks. Filter off oil.

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Sunday Shooting: The best thing about the summer heat is it really cuts down on the number of people using the trap and rifle ranges in the middle of the day.  We went out today to shoot at the NTSA range in Sanger and the trap range was unused. The only people on the rifle range were the Benchrest Shooters, having their monthly competition and hog the rifle range session. <sigh> Our Benchrest shooters are a regular annoyance. Having 2 board members in the group, they basically hog the space with impunity and are cliquish enough that joining in the fun is not really an option for a dabbler. I'm not sure if this is true everywhere but locally, while shot-gunners, cowboy action shooters, and the practical pistol folks will often try to drag you into their sport kicking and screaming, the benchrest people don't seem to want to mix with the hoi polloi. The upside was their presence pretty much means everyone else stays home so Noah got his first instruction on combat shooting with the 45. I used my Dad's old competition Gold Cup and remember now why I switched from Colts. Dang thing jammed on almost every round of a local reloader's ammo that runs like silk in my Kimber or my Springfield. He did okay, shooting a bit to the right (he's constant issue with everything including bow), but his shots were one hole at 5 yards. He's a bit confused with this whole "both eyes open" thing, but hell, I still am too.

We also shot 3 rounds of trap each, and in the last one I finally started hitting those dang suckers. Dove season is right around the corner so I better improve or it will another case of being mocked by the birds. Noah is still struggling with the whole idea. Ben just finds shooting a large noisy gun fun. After that, the boys worked on their 8" circles at 50 yards with their .243s while Dad tried to keep the .44 mag in the small area at the same distance. Now after dinner, its time for archery practice. I'm gonna hurt tomorrow...

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Congratulations Thad & KAT!

God Grant You Many Years!

My suffering music teacher, Thad, got married today. We hope it is as happy and joyful as ours has been. It's kinda fun to be surrounded by all these musicians who just assumed I had to be player, cause Thad was my friend when I'm really here because we are both Orthodox.

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19 August 2005

For my three frequent readers, I'm posting today the stuff that was written for various days during my trip. I tried posting Tuesday night and realized I didn't have the software on the laptop to update this site. <sigh> I forgot to load it when I replaced the hard drive. Since the Goddess and pups are in Houston visiting my goddaughter, I get the time to unpack and catch up. They come back tomorrow morning or late tonight.  Sorry. So did you miss me?

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Carnivals and Things: Beth (whom I missed in San Diego by 12 hours, which I am fairly sure is intentional. You cook one cuy and everyone hates you.) has the Carnival of Recipes up, Russ posted another Carnival of the Damned Optimists, the Christian Carnival  and the Carnival of Vanities ( I apparently was late, again) are both up and the Carnival of Cordite should be soon is too.  I don't think I missed anyone...

Over at Bark 'N' Blog, our buddy Lep is the featured pet of the week. Not bad for a spoiled beastie with a brain the size of a pea. 

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He's tormenting me:  I just got another pound of coffee in the mail, from Jimdesu and it's labeled "Happy Day." Someone probably told him I down to one cup a day. I have my suspicions...Anyway, thanks Jim!

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A date with my gay surrogate husband (8-18): After spending the day with a very bright young lady from Switzerland working on the detection of polymorphs and solvent-obscured transitions, I had the pleasure of going out to a brewery for pizza and stout with Da Goddess and Mrs. Smash, who turns out to be this incredibly charming young woman. The Lieutenant himself is off on a training exercises and Mrs. Smash joined us for appetizers and drinks. She have to leave early to join another friend and left us with this line: "I have to go. I have a date with my gay surrogate husband."  After my sinuses recovered from being rinsed with beer, she took her leave of us, leaving the room a little darker.

I can't for the life of me remember the name of the place, but it was the best pizza I've had outside of New York City. Texas pizza tends to be too dough and the sauce is too sweet and I am not going to even discuss the nightmare called Chicago Deep Dish. This was just enough bread to make it chewy and the sauce was tarter than the sugar laden crap I normally get here. The tiramasu was okay, but not up to NYC standards. I need to get Alan to bring one with him next week. Neither ever seems right out of the NYC area. This was a good as I remember. 

Due to the computer issues this trip, I'm a bit behind on the news and therefore I was a bit behind on politics. So Da Goddess had me at a bit of disadvantage. From her stories, San Diego sounds like an amazingly diverse place and a foodie's paradise. sadly I just don't do that much business there.

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San Diego,  Da Goddess and Louisiana Red (8-17): Not the goddess, but this lovely lady. We had discussed having dinner but then I got this phone call asking if I'd like to go hear Louisiana Red, a old time blues musician. Heck, I didn't even know he was still alive. So instead of just having dinner, I had the pleasure of a younger woman taking me to an old church in San Diego to hear some dang good blues, sponsored by Acoustic Music San Diego and BLUSD.  Despite some very minor technical problems, it was an amazing performance. I was close enough I could actually watch his fingering and wow! I though that Jonathon was good. This was scary good...  He did a piece he wrote about 9/11 that had me in tears. At about 10 I started to fade and my kind hostess dragged me out for food.  A very witty and delightful woman, who also happens to be Orthodox. Amazingly she is still single. Must be the water out there.

San Diego is perhaps the only large city in California that seems livable. The large military bases seems to minimize the moonbat concentration and its spread out enough to still be pretty. At least, it looks that way by moonlight.  Not that I'll be moving there anytime when the median house price is 600K. I'm staying in this cool 50-style hotel that's a round tower about 3 blocks from the beach.

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Shooting in Phoenix and Coffee (8-17): A  friend of mine down here took me shooting at Caswell's while I was waiting for my plane. It's a very nice indoor range and he kicked my ass at the 50 foot range. This whole lasic thingy has been a pain. I need to get either a lazer or large type style sights. <sigh> However, he also gifted me with a pound of Fair Trade Ethiopian Coffee from the Santa Cruz Coffee Company.  Dang stuff is actually better than Peet's! Not by much, but it is.

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Mortality (8-17): Long ago, it was the custom to keep a memento mori, a reminder of the inevitability of death, in your study as a reminder of what awaits all of us. The ending of life facing us all is a common theme. Roman Catholics in their Ash Wednesday rituals preserve this with "Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust you shall return." This was a good week for that. Years ago, I got plans for a coffin, thinking to make my own. It might have not been as twisted an idea as I was told.  

Recently this week I heard from an old friend in China who mentioned he was not training anymore as his knee was blown. Similarly, I also heard of the passing away of someone I knew, not well, but in passing, from high school. At fifty, I find my joints are mostly shot, I tired more easily than I did if I don't work at staying in shape and my sight is lengthening. None of this is really a surprise but it drives home a comment made in a fantasy story about an elvish and immortal race, that just when a man understands arms, his physical skills begin to fail. As I said, no surprise just a gentle sadness. We die. As a poet said: “Man most mortal, doomed to die.” Man dies and if the atheists are right, he ends. Now, that doesn't sound that bad. To cease to exist, to end forever has peacefulness to it, an end to pain and an end to worry. Especially as the body begins to fail and the mind weakens.  That's life, to be as a child twice, helpless in the care first of your parents and then years later, in the care of your children. The added benefit of no Dreadful Judgment makes it even more tempting.  To be a short burst of light and fall back into the darkness has a certain appeal. Especially today, where instead of your grandkids around you, you are tucked a way in some hospital

The problem is, of course, is that belief true? If there is an underlying reality and we are the creation of God rather than the product of truly random forces, then yes. Because in that case we will have to live the consequences of making choices based on bad information.  Man was, in the Christian view, created to be in communion with God and through that communion, he could share in the nature of God including His Immortality. When that communion was broken by the sin of Adam, that immortality was lost and death becomes a gift in that it limits evil. Lewis wrote in his Pilgrim’s Regress that “God in His Mercy made fixed the pains of hell” so that misery and evil might be limited, because, as we have seen with Hitler, Stalin, and others, evil has no limits. Imagine that continued without limits in an immortal being - can you say demon?. So the doom of Adam becomes in a way a gift. However, as your eyes dim and your joints stiffen its cold comfort for those of us who have not reached the point of deification. But then,  there’s no honor in only obeying when it makes sense or is comfortable. And some of us are old fashioned enough to care about that.

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From a Shing-yi master (8-16) : For Russ - We were talking of the past days in NY and the story came up of when I first learned the Hawk Form. I told how, during that visit, Sifu was spinning a foam coffee cup in his hands while tossing a cigarette butt at the inside and outside. He looked at me and said "Inside traps, outside repels." I said "like centrifugal and centripetal forces?" He said "yes, now do in saam choy."

Tom: Yes, but you know the inside and the outside are the same.

Me: So basically it's a Klein bottle?

Tom: Yep.

Acknowledgement: Klein bottle from Wolfram's Mathematica. Calligraphy was done for me.

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16 August 2005

It's nearing the end of the summer here in North Texas and we got a burn ban in place because the annual drought is in full force. So it's not exactly the best time to have this pile of stuff that we need to burn. However, you do what you you got to do. So let's grab the gasoline, the liquid oxygen and a match.

Annika of Annika's Journal sent in early, kinda like taking the trash out two days early. Annika decided her blog needed a compliance meter and its pegging out, most likely because of posts like this. I'd make more comments but then again there's this. Never mess with a woman with a gun especially one into exposure.

Russ of Boxing Alcibiades on the other hand, is trying to be sneaky. I read his blog and if this is his worse post of the week, well then I'm a cat lover. Obviously his malicia needs work as this would be a much better choice.

Nikita has the same problem Russ does: either a fundamental misunderstanding of this carnival or wanting us to think very highly of their work. Hell, it that's the worse post, I am going to quit blogging. So anyway from nikita demosthenes, we have this piece. I'm pretty sure this was what we were supposed to get instead.

Sometimes however, you like something and it needs to go. Your favorite sweater, a old pair of shoes...A4g of Point Five makes that call on this post about the oil industry predictions.

Sean over at American Mind tells us he's not an alcoholic and then posts this. Hmmm..Isn't denial one of the signs? Especially considering this post?

Joe from the Alpaca Burger Forum needs to go to those meeting with Sean: You know those late-night-drinking episodes where, in a spirit of sheer liberation, you get an idea and shoot off a post that sparkles with unbridled wit and erudition? Well, this is more of the kind which are not funny to start with and become less so through addled execution, adding an entirely new level of pain and regret to the morning after. But its still better than this.

Rick over at the Right Wing Nut House has a post that looks like it should be classed with Sean and  . But no, he's looking at something I though we killed in the 60s. Turns out that not the only old evil thing coming back.

The MaryHunter at TMH's Bacon bits writes: "Is there an award for being the last one to post on Iraq The Model's great letter? I started composing this post late Sat. evening, when this was still news... then one thing led to another and... I tried to doctor it up quaintly and even updated it for "relevancy" tonight before posting. Hell, I even stole a paragraph from Rick Moran, believed I had invented a new emoticon (maybe I did?), and whored like a juiced junkie." No. But its still not as late as Sen. Kerry's 180 is.

Over at the People's Republic of Seabrook, Jack is all excited about his new status. He'll be burning trash in the yard too in no time. H should probably toss this one in too.

From the Ravings of John C. A. Bambenek, what else? A rant about a ISP that neither works nor does support. Some of the ravings are coherent thro. Wish my were.

Oregano at Cafe Oregano had absolutely nothing to say all weekend. So he's got Nokia semi-automatic firearm with a telephone keypad in the grip. Nothing to say but it will make people listen. He needs to use it to talk to these idiots.

The Golf widow from Multiple Mentality is noodling around and dang, its not as naughty as I thought. And a lot of good stuff including some thoughts on reading.

From Rusty at My Pet Jawa we get a match up of Yoda vs. David Roth Lee as the best gigilo. And then there is this. I gotta go clean the coffee off my monitor now...

Okay, I'm back, Now Mensa Barbie fits in here well with her issues with things burning, in this case flaming Mexican divers. And she has cats.

From the Mind of Mog, we get a review of the new Apple mouse: a bad cat toy.  Now it irritates the crap out of Mog cause "when I click on the left side, I keep getting the right mouse function. The little ball works great for scrolling documents but the right mouse function ia slower than keyboard shortcuts."

Ferdy the Conservative Cat talks about Bruce's pod cast and the follow-up poll: short is good and shorter is better. For a cat, he's got a good understanding of science versus news too.

Over at the Musing of Brian J. Noggle, we got conspiracies theories based on letters. And yes, another cat. At least, he's got the right idea...

Meanwhile, Harvey at Bad Example is mutilating the currency as talking about playing the Viking Kittens ...still more cats. Don't any of you owe a dog?

Finally, ...Eric over at Classical Values  has a dog and decide to share more information about girls becoming dogs and driving than I need to know. Ah, Eric, some dogs already are girls: that why we have puppies. He's got some suggestions of another idea or two that might need burning too.

William Teach from the Pirate's cove has this cool product he's selling: Demo Gone. No price thro...gonna hurt sales that. Now as much as this hurts someone's credibility....

Giamoco at Joust the Facts is upset the Man is keeping him down, and quite honestly I'm surprised locked up isn't mentioned. On the other hand, he does mention that the certain lefties seem to have issues with women, so maybe letting him run around loose is a good idea.

Tigerhawk decided to burn a post about drowning tree rats. Yeah, I can see why. It's faster to shoot the suckers, althro drowning ruins less meat.  As my godson tells me, a  U.S. Marine wastes nothing but the enemy.

Elisson at the Blog d' Elisson has issues with Charlie. Serious issues for a fellow whose only occasionally around. His issues with chicken breasts are even more disturbing.

Mike from Wunderkraut has issues too His are with FRN...railroad enthusiasts they called themselves. He's not so kind. And Mike, Happy Birthday!

Andrew at Dodgeblogium is now broadcasting itself into space in its never ending attempt to raise its hit rates. So how long before he gets alien spam? Hey, wanna buy a tentacle enlarger? I would have though this would have gotten him enough attention.

Steve Pavlina claims that poker teaches you lessons about life. Steve buddy, I tried the same line about hunting and I'm still sleeping in the garage. You try that line too much and you need this.

Mean Ol' Meany sents us a quiz for week that burns all on its own. However, this little gem from his sight may just get me out of the garage.

Beth from My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy dares us to find something to say about this. Well, I guess the first thing I'd say is that you need to be shopping elsewhere because in texas we'd never let a lady carry her stuff to the car. We are trying to keep this a Cindy Free Zone, although this thing ain't helped. It's like mushrooms to badgers and you just can't stay away.

Coturnix from Science and Politics sends us a discussion on not being OCD and odd it is to be balanced.  This other post however should go to the Tangled Bank...

And to close this week's burning, Chicken Little of Chicken Fried Life talks about life without the Internet. I think I'm ready. While getting your crispy nuggets, try a side of this too.

That's it. I'm off to San Diego. Two quick notes: I'll add trackbacks later today so if you sent me one, it should go thro. Secondly, I tried to link to another post I liked on your site because I find myself too often rush and not taking the time to look around. And get rid of the cats...Sheeesh.

UPDATE: Thanks to Kevin at  Wizbang for letting me host and you can find a listing of Carnivals at the UberCarnival.

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15 August 2005

And I though he was being clever: Tim Blair is turning his skills on some poor liberal and it's kind of like watching someone rabbit hunt with a .50 BMG. However, it applies he wasn't being classical and Cretan was really how said target spelt cretin. <sigh> I thought he was being classical and calling him a liar. Dang.

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Amazingly stupid: Can someone explain to me what the hell is the point of the argument from the moonbats that President Bush's daughters enlist? And why the hell is Fox printing this drivel? Somehow the Bush girls serving would make the war more moral and acceptable? Gee, when did we start the draft?

 It's simple: if you are against this war, you are siding with Saddam and all he did. Trying to confuse the issue with shit like this is proof you are morally and ethically stunted to the point you should not be allowed loose without a keeper. So if you are, is it because of your racist against Iraqis or because you feel they are too primitive for democracy? Either way, it shows what you are. We as a country should be ashamed we did not take him down in the first Gulf War.

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Also morally bankrupt: While I am losing it here, let's talk about Judith Miller and this stupid idea that reporters have some special privilege to violate the laws of the land. Ms. Miller didn't want to reveal her sources and is serving her time. Fine. I don't agree with her but she's got the conjones to back her position. However, this claim the somehow reporters should be shielded from the consequence of their actions is bullshit. Reporters work for newspapers, and those suckers are businesses. They are not some special branch of the government or special oversight group. If they really do feel they need to protect a criminal that badly, then let them pay the price. Stop acting like a bunch of little kids that want to break the rules but not pay the price.

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14 August 2005

Explaining what we do: Years ago, a gentleman I worked for had this sign on his desk that said "If you can not explain what you do to a child, then you are a charlatan." The point of the quote was, I believe, that if we really understand what we do in our lives, we should be able to put it into terms a kid can understand. Another good test for a scientist would be a music major. Most of what scientist do is somehow related to studying reality. So even strange and esoteric stuff to an outsider has an explanation a child can understand. So for example, most non-technical folks find calculus scary. Higher mathematics is hard. However, if you take a kid and tell him: "you know how you get a problem and they want you to figure something out, an answer? The problem has one answer. Well, in calculus, we work on problems where there may be more than one answer, or the answer depends on more conditions than a simple problem has. It's a tool for dealing with problems that you can't write out in simple math."

Now is that totally true. No, its is what Terry Pratchett calls "a lie to children." Any simplification can be looked at as a lie or story we tell to wrap our heads around something we don't really understand. Hence, my youngest tells people that his daddy does rheology, and that where he pulls materials apart, listens to the screams, and then tries to figure out why they scream that way. (I think scream came from vibrations being explained as like sounds). Now in one way it is true, but its obviously false too. Similarly, explaining rheology to a music major may require talking about something she understands, like a cold cream, and relating how it behaves to the what they understand.

Science ain't supposed to be a secret and we don't do a good enough job explaining it. I'm half convinced that the problems with teaching evolution is the agenda that gets stuck to it. It takes a bit of work to be able to explain what you do in a child's or non-specialist's term, but we need to. Too many kids and adults don't see the fun in science because we don't tell them. Too many of our spokesmen are either whoring for a cause or arrogant bastards, and guess what? People notice.  It's not easy being the one explaining what science really does, especially if you deal with the press as most journalists are clueless, hostile or both. Not doing anything will be worse. Less than 20% of the PhD candidates in the local Chemistry, Physics, and Materials Science department are Americans.

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13 August 2005

Robin Hood is a verb: At least it is in modern archery. I was shooting today at 20 yards to work in the sights and heard this funny noise. It turns out I "robin hooded" my shot.  Cool huh?  I'm been rubbing shafts a bit at 20 yards but this is my first time to actually split a shaft.  George at DFW Shooter's Supply in Lewisville is hoping I keep this up (yeah, he sells me arrows.) Since Noah is rubbing shafts and Ben wants a bow for Christmas, he's smelling profit here...

I'm going to go hold my arrow now and gloat at Noah....

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Blogging of many types:  I've been bad about linking to these kind folks who run the various carnivals, so if you haven't found them yet: the Christian Carnival, the Carnival of the Vanities, the Carnival of Recipes (hmmmm....meat pies) and the Carnival of Cordite.

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12 August 2005

Knew it: Fox News reports today that a survey now shows that Dallas is more liberal than Austin. Well, shoot, I knew that. You just got to read the Dallas Morning News. Of course, details on how they decided this would be nice, but I guess that would be telling...

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Rosemary Potatoes: By request, since we mentioned them below. Wrap some corn up with an ice cube in aluminum foil, and you got the meal on the grill. Heck, if the goddess isn't home, you don't even need plates.

3 pound of red potatoes, cut into small chucks.

3 springs of fresh rosemary (can use dry)

2 Tbsp olive oil

Lay out a piece of aluminum foil and put the potatoes in the middle. Try to get a monolayer as much as possible. Sprinkle the rosemary over the top and then drizzle the oil over everything. Fold the foil up into an envelope and then put on a hot grill (if gas, run on high). Turn after 20-30 minutes. After another 10, remove from the heat and cut open foil. Eat. It goes good with anything grilled.

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Working at home: The biggest issues with working out of a home office is the interruptions and the people who want to us your PC for all sorts of odd reasons. This however is going too far. I am not sharing my computer with a gecko, even if he wants to read Sharing Spirit. I think he's got a crush on the bearded lizard.

 Then Lep* (yes, our leopard gecko is named Lep...those kids really need a dog) realized the laptop was both warm and vibrated as it runs and we couldn't get him out from behind it. <sigh> I guess I should be glad he's not a four foot iguana.

* you need to read Artemis Fowl to understand why...

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Evolution, Intelligent Design and Some Common Sense: From Protein Wisdom, I found a link to this nice rational discussion of this issue.  Most people who come here frequency have probably figured out I could be put  in the theistic evolution box, and I should probably write on it someday.  However, the discussion of big versus little "d" ID is very good, and very similar to the Orthodox approach of big and little "t" tradition. Especially as I think theistic evolution was once called intelligent design (ID). It's also interesting as an example of how do you interpret that poll anyway?

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10 August 2005

Lamb Shank Recipes: Steve over at Hog on Ice writes and asks about lamb shanks. Sadly I was in the lab today and got the message late and he already developed his own version. It looks okay except for the damned gin and Rossi red. I guess they don't sell ouzo in Florida. Not sugary enough for those fruity drinks. I'll skip the comments about the spicing being overly complex despite his calzone abuse. Then his comments blacklist me. I take back the below. Anyway assuming he ever lets me post, here are three interpretations of Lamb Shanks, 2 Greek and 1 Armenian, which is what I actually prefer.  Did I mention he's gotta ask on a fast day too? Anyway his recipe is here for comparison.

Lamb in Tomato Sauce (this is the closest to what I think he's looking for).

3-4 pounds of lamb shanks, bones in (you can cut into pieces if you'd like)

2 cups lamb stock (I make from roasted lamb bones)

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup wine- Mavrodaphne (a Greek red) with a 1/4 of Restina added

3-6 gloves garlic chopped (depends on taste)

2 yellow onions, chopped

1 cup paisley

1/4 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp mint (optional)

2 tsp oregano

2 cups chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup tomato paste

tomato sauce

sea salt

black pepper

Brown the meat in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the meat, the broth, the wine to a Dutch oven or large heavy pot and add the onions and garlic to the remaining oil. Cook until the onions are clear.  Add the remaining stuff except for the sauce and the mint. Cook until the tomatoes cook down. Adjust the thickness with excess tomato sauce. Add to pot and add the mint. Bring to a simmer and cook until meat is tender (1.5 -2 hours). Serve over rice or orzo pasta

Lamb Stewed with Onions

3-4 pounds of lamb shanks, bones in, 2 inch pieces

6 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup flour

2 1/4 cups lamb stock

1/4 cup Boutaris Restina

1 ounce ouzo

3 cloves crushed garlic

1 cup tomato paste

24 small white onions, peeled

2 carrots, sliced thin

1/2 tsp marjoram

1/2 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2.5 Tbsp lemon juice

3 Tbsp parsley chopped.

Add oil to pan and brown the lamb. Mix salt, pepper and flour and coat meat. Put meat into a baking pan. Add broth, wine, ouzo, tomato paste, and garlic. Cook at 350 F for 1 hour. Add veggies and herbs. Cook another 30 minutes. Uncover and let stand 10 minutes. Add lemon juice, parsley and stir gently. Serve over orzo pasta or rice.

Armenian Lamb Shanks (this is what I normally do) I got this recipes as a intern in college from my boss's wife, who was Armenian-American. Later I was surprised to find almost the same thing in a cookbook. It's apparently a standard.

5 pound lamb shanks cut into 2 inch pieces

2 mild onions

8 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp allspice

2/4 tsp nutmeg

1 cup white wine. I use leftovers. No clue what Armenians use

 

Add everything to a Dutch oven or large pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook covered 2 hours until the lamb is tender. Remove lid in the last 1/2 hour to thicken sauce. Serve with fresh bread...

 

Lamb Stock

Roast about 5 pounds of lamb bones with meat at 400 F for about 40 minutes. Add a bunch of vegetables ( I clean the vegetable drawer in the frig - you want a volume equal to the meat) and the roasted bones to 2 quarts of water in a pressure cooker. Add 4 leeks (never have them except for stock). Add 1/2 cup vinegar. Pressure cook at 15 psi for 20 minutes. Let cool and then strain. Cool and then freeze. Re-boil on thawing...(trust me)

Greek Bread

2 Tbsp yeast

1/4 cup warn water with tsp sugar

7 cups flour (normally 5 of white, 1 of whole wheat and 1 of rye; some people use 1 of  barley too)

3 Tbsp Olive oil

2 cups warm milk

1 egg

3/4 tsp salt

Add yeast to 1/4 cup milk and set aside. Add 5 cups flour and salt to a large bowl and add the egg, milk, and oil. Add yeast mixture and start mixing until it looks like a paste. Add the remaining flour and mix to a soft dough (add more flour if needed). Roll out on a floured surface and knead until elastic (15 minutes). Put in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled. Shape into loaves and bake at 375 F for 45 minutes or an internal temperature of 190 F.

Hope that helps.

UPDATE: We got a few whiners that don't like the taste of Restina. <sigh> Then just use the Mavrodaphne (or any dry red) alone and replace the Boutari with a dry white. If you're desperate you can replace the ouzo with gin, although I think the flavor of junniper goes better with venison than lamb.

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Whack! Bad Technogypsy! It's not just the lawyers: Smacked with the newspaper for this all the way from Langfang, China for generalizations. My buddy, J.D., a lawyer working in China at present, writes:

"...normally you think things through carefully.  "Kill all the lawyers" became a knee jerk reaction in the 80's, but that was a long time ago and the trendiness has to have worn thin.  The logic you used to reach the idea that this somehow rests on lawyers being social parasites seems less than your usual standard, and I respect you for having more than a knee jerk intellect. 

I'm a lawyer and former administrative hearing officer, I've never accepted a contingency fee, I've done more than my share of defense and pro bono work, and you've just gone and wished me dead.   Calling me a social parasite (I know, people say things about lawyers all the time, and then try to work around the fact that they didn't necessarily mean me . . . but I'm still part of that group) is no more appropriate than if I damned all chemists on the basis of the bastardized studies you quoted...<snip>

We are an easy target, the visible face of the system, but it is 12 people from the community who will make the call on this case..."

He's got a good point despite the fact he didn't get the quote. (The idea was first floated by some Elizabethan playwright.)  The problem is we have a society seems to demand every inconvenience and every risk, no matter how small, be avoided and where any injury can not be our fault or just the way life is. Everything must have a cause. A odd view actually for a secular society that believes we are the result of random changes. That's why I am a real supporter of a loser's pays system, and in one fo those huge class action suits, everyone gets a bill (and J.D. will hate this) and the organizer is stuck with any excess costs. J.D. mentions later he opposes loser pays as  it will make the courts the playground of the rich, but I don't see the difference. I know locally we have more than a few people with lawyers in their families who use the threat of lawsuits as a weapon of intimation.  I've given up on at least one issue because I really can't afford to fight it. So maybe I'm prejudiced...

But I don't have a solution, other than to advocate a return to stoicism.

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Tangled Bank: Or as I am beginning to call it, my biweekly walk with the liberals. This week's Tangled Bank is up at Creek Running North, and comes complete with a honest disclosure of his position, something you won't see on the evening news. Since Chris actually has a sense of humor, a rarity it seems on both sides of the political spectrum these days, I'm going to contrast his moonbat icon with my wingnuts. (Wingnuts...yes! We hold your bicycle tires on!) I'll have to play with it later and see if I can dress it so its as cool as his. Meanwhile, they are 1/4 by 16 TPI.  And yes, Chris, you are right: I am not the environmental type of extremist. I'm just your "standard southern sociopath" as Mr. Keillor once warned you might meet some dark and rainy night if you left Minnesota.

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9 August 2005

Self Assembly Polymers: Biological metaphors are the "in thing these days, but directed assembly or directed formation would be a lot closer to the truth. Anyway this is dang cool. Polystyrene, a inexpensive but brittle material, was polymerized in bulk after dissolving asp,e dendron rodcoils into it.  The rodcoils formed a loose network of ribbon like structures and these guide the forming polymer chains to line up alongside them, improving the mechanical properties and making the normally transparent polymer strongly birefringent (Stupp, S. Polymer Preprints, 41(1), 929, 2000,). Similar techniques were used to a flexible ceramic (Weisner, U. American Physical Society, Annual Meeting, 2002.), a flexible display for smart cards( Whitesides et al. Science, 296, 323 2002), and a LED (Oullette, J. The Industrial Physicist, December, 26, 2000). Dang cool.(hat tip to the SPE Tech Focus newsletter)

What a neat idea. A internal guide or model....I would if it would work with thermosets?

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Telfon again: Want to know the real reason behind the law suit mentioned here? How about the fact the demand for fluoro-polymers is expected to exceed 2 billion a year by 2009. That's a ton of money in contingency fees... Can you say social parasite? How about "let's kill all the lawyers?" No? Well, then losers pays?

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Speaking of Bonfires: This week's is up at Wunderkraut. Next week here. I've even got the gasoline ready...

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Dropping the bomb: Nagasaki's mayor is unhappy we bombed his city and we still have nuclear bombs... Ah, such moral outrage. Does he apologize for Pearl Harbor? Nan king? The Bata an Death March? How about the use of civilians in Okinawa? Or maybe the rape and murder of Koreans and North Chinese?  Us of Korean women as sex slaves? The arming of the Japanese women and children with bamboo spears so they could get slaughtered when the US invaded the main islands? No? Then he should shut up and stop whining. When you start a fight and play dirty, you have no right to complain if someone decides you deserve no mercy. I'd have bombed the entire island into the ocean to save one American soldier.  His country is lucky we didn't raze it back into the stone age after the war.

I think we should start mailing the ass copies of Iris Chang's The Rape of Nan king. My dad mailed that to Japan's UN delegate when he complained about guns in the US.  I'm sure there are other books too. Send him one today.  Maybe one on racism too, since the Japanese still think that's acceptable? Meanwhile I am going looking for the idiot in the anti-bomb tee shirt I got to play a couple of days ago. I got some more history to teach him and some pictures to show him from Ms. Chang's book...

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Thoughts on the Light of Tabor:  Saturday past was the Feast of the Transfiguration, when Jesus revealed to two of his disciples that He was truly the Son of God, God the Word Himself Incarnate. Interestingly, there was once a discussion of whether this light seem was really the Glory of God or a creation. Despite the fact in Eastern Orthodoxy, the tension is between created and Uncreated, not natural and supernatural, Orthodox decided that the Light of Tabor, then and as seen by the saints since then to the present day, was truly the Glory of God. This seeming trivial point becomes important because, like the difference between original and ancestral sin, the understanding of God it leads to influences the rest of our theology. Now this is especially important in Orthodox where theology does not imply someone like Thomas Aquineas and his modern day followers or Karl Barth*, never mind the more esoteric of them. In Orthodoxy, it implies first and foremost a man of prayer, for he who prays best is the best theologian. Theology in Orthodox literally means knowledge of God and you gain knowledge of a person by communicating and spending time with Him, as well as reading about Him. So the Orthodox belief **that is we can, most of us after our deaths, but some of us during this life, can actually know the Living God. For among the gifts of the Spirit are the gift of pure pray and the vision of the Light of Tabor. In the latter, one receives a vision of the same Light that shone on Mount Tabor, the Glory of God that predates the creation of all things... For while the Essence of God is unknowable to us, someday we will all share in the wonder of the disciples at Mount Tabor and of blessed few who had seen the Light of Tabor in this life. And when we do, that Light will either be something that we embrace and crave like sunlight after a long dark night or that burns us like the flames of a blowtorch. The dreadful part is we are making the choice now which one it will be. There is a reason it was said the the love of God is like flames of fire.

"He who is near Me is near the Fire."   

Attributed by Origen to Our Lord Christ Jesus.

* I could have picked some of the modernist but even people like Aquinas and Barth, who appear to have been good decent Christians, are not what as an Orthodox I'd consider a theologian by our definition. It's sad to see that a theology or religious major at any major US university has the same morals as the rest of the student body if not worse. Well, I guess its sad if you use the Orthodox definition of theology...

** This was the Palamas Controversy. More details here. The Roman Catholic Church adopted Barlaam's viewpoint as dogma which I think lead to the western fascination with philosophy and these carried over into the Reformation.

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8 August 2005

Scariest thing I read today: James Taranto at the WSJ makes fun of the metric system on a regular basis and last week did this silly bit confusing 28 C and 82 F, suggesting the metric system inverted the Fahrenheit numbers. Go read this email he got from a reader. It's a bit more than half way down the page and titled degrees of difficulty. Now should people with that little sense of humor be allowed to breed, never mind vote? Taranto is going to hell for panda abuse thro (next item). Any man linking the panda to Bill Clinton must be damned.

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A boy, a bow and 48 releases every morning: As hunting season approaches (dove season in 3 weeks!), we are really have started to try and get the archery skilled tuned. A old friend of mine, once a top tier field archer on the East Coast, swears by two drills. The first is 50* shots first thing in the morning and that's what we are working on now.  Now, this is for him in addition to his normal practice in the evening, but he swears by it for people like us who want to kill Bambi and Porky rather than compete. For one thing, he claims the shots stay in the back of your mind all day and your brain works on figuring out what went right or wrong. So Noah and I have started this week as bow season opens in early October. His comment from working with kids is it teaches them discipline and focus, and the doing the shots every day rain or shine, hot or cold, seems to give them the mindset of doing whatever is necessary to get the job done. He quoted from our old OA book: " Strong straight timber is made by striving for sun and rain." The second drill he recommends we start as season approaches, and that is to get a deer target and to shoot one shot at it in the morning. Just one. Cold. No warm-up. No practice shots. Walk out there, notch the arrow, turn and shoot. Do it ideally from an unmarked distance. Then you leave the arrow there all day, so you can think about why you shot Bambi in the butt... and its waiting for you when you get home. You can pull the arrow after dark so the next day starts fresh. His comment to Noah was that shot is like a lot of things in life. You get one chance and then you have to live with the consequences...

* We don't have fifty arrows so we do 2 flights of 24...and yes, my neighbors do hate us.

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Science and Semi-Science - the difference between them: I was given a publication of a certain guild organization, which had some dang good stuff in it from their annual meeting. However, what surprised me was there were a few things things I thought dang weird and while they were peripheral to the main point of the article, there was no response in following issues either as an article or as a letter to the editor. Now let's assume I published an article in an SPE or ACS journal*, and claimed that Z rays really did exist**. Just as an aside, not as my work, but just in the article. The rebuttal article and about 10 letters to the editor (out of 100s received) would be in the next issue and they would come from everyone from society fellows to graduate students to folks who read it in a public library and thought I was nuts. Asking about it, it turns out only certified members can publish articles in this journal and my source believed the same was true of letters. So apparently the oddness is either common belief in the guild, or no one knows that area well enough to object. Subscriptions are apparently also limited to members.

This is one of the biggest differences between science and the semi/pseudo sciences. In science, anyone can challenge your data and expect to be given a hearing, at least in principle. In practice, people pushing stuff like a flat earth or 6-24 hour day creationism tend to get ignored because those arguments are long settled and if you are going to reopen them, you need pretty major evidence. Say a shot of said flat earth from its end showing it really is a pancake on a giant turtle? Semi, pseudo, and bad science groups tend to limit discussion to true-believers. Certain guild organizations do so too because guild membership is the price of admission. I suspect a lot of this started as a quality control thing as members had to meet certain standards.  The problem is that this prevents disagreeing information from getting in and leads to the fostering of odd beliefs. Now, I am not saying what I read was wrong, in fact their was a lot of good information and these folks are good at what they do, but it was limited to one viewpoint. That means that a systematic error may go un-noticed. Science isn't and the process tests things even when people don't like them or ignore them. Despite Darwin's ignoring of Mendel's manuscript, genetics did make its way into evolutionary theory anyway.

* Society of Plastic Engineers/American Chemical Society

** Z rays...a classic case of science gone bad. They really don't exist. Details here.

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7 August 2005

Happy Birthday, Ben

God Grant you many years.

but no caffeine after noon, okay?

He's got the world coolest Mom. The goddess made him a space shuttle cake and then put the ten candles in as the engine.

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Cutting thro the smoke: Jonathon over at the LEO test has been running various people thro this model he's created and looking at what their writing and public statements say about them. He uses a statistic model to sort their language. I'm not sure I agree with all the definitions but its still dang cool. And he proved me right on Sullivan (see the comments).

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Gerry's Lamb Chops: Gerry comes down once a year from NYC to hang out with the rednecks and cook. We normally take him hunting, out to the farm, and just hanging out. He's the fellow who got us into making jerky, larding with larding needles, using a food mill, etc. So last year he came up with this recipe for a lamb marinade; of course over the year we changed it to reflect our love of heat and light use of salt. He says it best on loin chops but I use it on the piece of meat you get left when you first cut off the racks of ribs from the spine, and then slice the spine up into chops. This is for about 2 pounds of meat.

Garlic- 4 large cloves - crushed or chopped.
Rosemary-- fresh needles from two full sprigs
Cinnamon-- 1-2 tsp. (We actually use 1 tsp of a blend called Sweet Spice)
Sea Salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp for me, but I'm very light with salt. )
Pepper-- 1 Tbsp (
White Wine ( I tend to use leftovers; sweet is better) -- 1/4 cup
Black Truffle oil--2 Tbsp
Hot pepper flakes or chipotle powder -- 1 tsp or taste (We actually use 1 Tbsp but then it bites a bit)

Chop the rosemary. Put the rosemary it in a mortar and pestle with half the salt, the pepper, cinnamon and hot pepper. Crush it into a pesto-like mass. Put the oil in a pan, throw the rosemary pesto into it while still cold. Set the burner temperature to low and let it heat up. Then put the chopped garlic into the mortar with the rest of the salt. Mash it up to a paste. When the rosemary and spices start giving off their flavor in the oil (it should be like a little simmer but don't fry the stuff) turn off the heat. When it is warm, but not still hot, add the garlic. Let it come to room temp. Then add the wine.

Coat the lamb. You can either brush it on or I like to make it this the day before and dump it and the lamb into a zip lock bag, shake well, and let it sit in the frig overnight. Lately we have made this up in triple batches and then using just what we need. Once you put the meat in it, you need to toss it, but we seem to be able to keep it for a month in the refrigerator as a pre--made marinade.

Set your grill on high and cook the lamb to rare (140 F internal temperature). Serve with rosemary roasted potatoes, which can also be cooked on the grill in a foil envelope, and a nice summer salad.

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Dancing in the Dark - Thoughts on competency and practice: I'm wrestling with learning to play a mandolin and to learn music theory to the point I don't sound like a screaming idiot and was noticing how people who are competent with music act. In many ways, it reminds me of martial arts in that in both cases people who get good have talents that lead them this way.  Years ago someone mentioned one of the best thing a black belt could do was take up a totally different martial art, so if you did judo, study capoeria*. In fact, it was a maestro in that Brazil fighting/dance art that I heard the term, dancing in the dark, used. If I remember correctly the analogy started with a beginning stumbling around in the dark and work up to dancing in the light.  Then at mastery he's dancing in the dark. Similarly, one hears about unconscious incompetence and a similar scale.  At some point, you reach what gong style shing yi chuan calls "baby catches butterfly" a moment of unconscious excellent where intention and action are one. But how does one get there?  Or in my current case, how do I learn to play chords?

The answer is, depressingly enough, lots of practice. Lots of intelligent and thoughtful practice. Near as I can tell, to get really good, it takes 2 hours a day six days a week*. Not two hours in the gym, the studio, or the kwoon. Not two hours hanging with friends talking about training. Two hours of actual, honest to God, working practice. When I trained for my yellow and silver gloves, I did two hours a day of practice on my own in addition to what classes I took or taught and on top of everything else in my life. Two hours alone with the tools of my craft.  Not weight lifting or running for conditioning, not stretching, but two hours a day practicing what I needed to learn. Normally this was a two hour session each morning from 5-7 and then some shing yi at noon and classes and sparring three nights a week. On class days, an hour every morning and another about 10 at night at the salle so I could spar 15-20 rounds. And you know what? I didn't feel it but I got good enough to pass my silver glove exam easily, including losing 5 points for hiding behind the monitors and making silly faces at my opponents in the 2 on 1 rounds. Looking back, I am  sure none of my class-brothers who are what I'd call good trained any less. Some of them trained a lot more. I'm fairly sure you can't get to that level without that kind of commitment. The time commitment is what drives the proverb about chasing 2 birds at one time. I think I stopped everything except my job and my family at that time in my life. Hell, I even trained in deer camp...

All the wood-turners whose work I admire and sigh over spend about 2 hours a day turning. Most of them have been doing it for years so they may only do it three or four days a week but the time is still there. Similarly, Steve (the mocker of calzones) and others in a discussion of music a while ago also mentioned 2 hours. I think the time period is important because of the need to settle into a task and then the need to push yourself a bit on the end to go farther than is comfortable. But its got to be practice. I've worked out with people who haven't broken a sweat by the time I and other people were soaked. You see it in gyms all the time - the folks who do these 2-3 hour work outs that never really seem to be tired. I'm talking working for the time.

How hard you work depends on how long you've been practicing. A beginner should be working much less intensely than someone who has been training for 4-5 years. A beginner also might need to break the time up. On mandolin, I'm still developing the finger strength, control and toughness I need for long sessions. I'm up to a hour at a shot but I've already noticed that when I get 2 hours in a day, my process week to week is much greater than not. Especially facing a deadline like a test in martial arts, a recital in music, etc. the 2 hour rule seems to help. While two hours seems to be the magic number, one long session may be a personal preference. I know a very good martial artist who was trained in 20-30 minutes sessions. It's a family art and he's Moslem, so they did 20-30 minutes after prayers. So 5 times a day... gee, that's roughly 2 hours. Now not everyone can do this for many reasons, and that's fine. There is nothing wrong with being middling-good at something if it isn't that important to you or if you have other demands on your time. As much fun as music is for me, I have other commitments, so in the words of Fred Lovert, I will "never climb a very tall mountain."  It's frustrating because I'd love to play as well as Thad or Jonathon but life is probably not going to let me.  Now, I know you can get to the same level, or close without it, if you are willing to invest years of regular practice at shorter times per day. I know some good shingyi players who trained a half hour to an hour a day for 25 years. You do get good but then you see people who did 2 hours a day for that same time and realize good is relative...

What the heck does this have to do with dancing in the dark? The big improvements in the dancing in the dark and light analogy come from understanding what you are doing, first on an intellectual level when you realize how much you really don't know. Until you make that jump, you are tripping around in the dark. Then from knowing stuff so well, you learn it "in your bones." Not knowing the skill appears to be a common problems as one music writer says if you can't play fast, the most common problem is you don't know the piece well enough. It has to be know well enough you don't consciously think about doing it because if you do, well there is not time to do it. Until you get to the point that you can react without conscience thought, until changes and responses happen without you thinking analytically about them,  and  btw, it can be surprising when it happens ( I remember one incident when I had to figure what I did afterwards), you are never going to get past the clunky, almost static response that characterize most of us doing something.  Fencers like to talk about thinking 5 -6 moves ahead on what the opponent will do. I think that's bullshit from either a servely limited system or where most people are dabblers and the few goods ones can predict what they are going to do. Most things in life are too complicated for that idea of where you can predict every future option. You need to be able to change and adapt on the fly. That comes with deep knowledge. You have to know your craft to where to the point you can think strategically not tactically.  You can't be worrying about cutting the dovetail joints when you are looking at the best use of the grain. The ability to cut any joint must be there as well as the knowledge of which is best for what. Only at that point does craft become art.

Flow, grace, fluidity all come from knowing the stuff so well it is etched into your very bones. Knowing it to the point you can think strategically not tactically. And then, you can start trying to catch a butterfly.

* I'm talking hobbies here.  To get good at something like science or medicine takes full time for most of your life. To get good at prayer takes eternity.

* a Brazilian martial art and dance form

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6 August 2005

The cartoon for the hamster song: Audie finished this a bit late for the hamster song, but we make a tee shirt out it.

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HAPPY 5th ANNiveesary Russ and Anna

Enjoy the trip 'cause it changes once y'all spawn.

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5 August 2005

Things to read: Carnival of Recipes, Carnival of Comedy, Carnival of Cordite, and the Carnival of the Deluded Optimists. Meanwhile I'm reading Lazar Puhalo's The Creation and Fall while waiting for UPS to get here with Hart's The Gates of the Sea.

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The badger is back Noah got back last night from his trip to Washington DC and the National Jamboree. His comment was "this was the most fun I ever had." We disinfected him and sent him to bad and got the full story today. He had a great time, traded patches, got all the rockers done, and made more than a few friends. His only regret was not doing the merit badges as one of his friends managed to wipe out all three Citizenship ones while there. He did have a few depressing stories of scouts stealing patches at the trading area, both individually and in their patrols, but I guess scouting is stuck with the same problems of moral decay the rest of us have. He's talking about doing it again as an junior leader in 2010.  The following shots are his. He took some really nice ones so we'll see them over the next week. The film gets dropped off tomorrow.

     

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Some more of S 397:  Back when we were discussing the amendments I noticed that some sort of ammo ban was there. John Burtts of the FCI sent out an explanation today:

Here's what the amendment does:

1. The amendment (section 6 of the bill) restates the existing prohibition contained in 18 USC Sec. 922(a) on manufacture or sale by manufacturers of "armor-piercing ammunition", except for government use, export or testing/experimentation authorized by the attorney general. This law has been in effect for nearly two decades and was not changed by the Sec. 6 amendment.

2. It increases the mandatory minimum sentence for the criminal use of "armor-piercing ammunition" in a crime of violence or drug trafficking case from the current federal minimum of five years in prison to an increased penalty of 15 years in prison. It also authorizes the use of the death penalty if the ammunition is used in a murder. So, this is simply a penalty enhancement provision. I think we all agree that bad guys should go to jail.

3. It directs the Attorney General to conduct a study "to determine whether a uniform standard for the testing of projectiles against Body Armor is feasible". (So this is a study to determine whether studies are feasible). In fact, we know that such a standard is "feasible" because the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has been testing projectiles and body armor since the early 1970's and has regularly written and updated standards for testing projectiles against body armor. NIJ's research has saved lives by improving the design and manufacture of body armor. The NIJ standards and background information are available online at http://www.justnet.org/testing/bodyarmor.html.
 

While that doesn't sound so bad, I still wonder why the heck they can't just pass a clean bill. Politics really may be the second oldest profession, having developed from pimping. <sigh>

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4 August 2005

Mandolin music sheets: I got bored with copying music sheets via the scanner so if you look in the sidebar, you will see links to mandolin TAB  and  notation-tablature sheets I made up in Freehand. They are in PDF because I know some of y'll are Mac users.  (Don't tell me if you are. Your perversion is your own business. And no, I don't want to hear about LINUX either.) Anyway, I did them with wide borders 'cause I punch holes in mine to keep in a binder and lots of space for notes. Alan will scold me for not marking them with my name but that was more work than I felt like doing. But heck, they're free...

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3 August 2005

Post Library Depression: Heck, maybe even Proof Reading Depression Syndrome. After all everyone with a syndrome gets to be a victim, right? And victims get hot coffee... Anyway I'm still tuning these papers and not much else. Meanwhile Dunmoose the Ageless has the Christian Carnival up, the Bonfire is up at Crystal Clear (A real cutie but a bit strange..Can you see me as a real estate agent?), and a Tangled Bank last week I forgot about. Ah well, that gives me something to read after I finish the drawings...

It's still better than working on a patent.

UPDATE: Oops. Missed the biggie: Carnival of the Vanities at Riding Sun

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2 August 2005

I hate Proof-readers: I have these two articles for the Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing and the non-technician editor decided to change the format of the references. Then they told me they would make the changes due to time constraints. So Friday I got the manuscripts back and spend 10 hours today in the library on-line fixing the references they didn't. I have to start the text next and I'm already seeing literary horrors. Not to mention some oddities with the figures. It's like Ben proofed it. <grumble>

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ConocoPhillips Boycott: The NRA is calling for a boycott of ConocoPhillips products since ConocoPhillips is one of several companies challenging a Oklahoma law and refusing to allow people to keep firearms in their cars if parked on ConocoPhillips property. Now the problem with that is, due to the size and location of ConocoPhillips' plants, you pretty much are forced to park on the property.  It will be interesting to see why this goes and if it gets extrapolated to other firms. I've always look at company banned firearms as part of a freely entered contract, but when state law says that parking areas can not be restricted, that changes the equation.

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Noah Update: The badge called in last night and he finished collecting his rocker. They drop camp tonight and sleep under the stars so they can get out fast on Wednesday morning. Two more days of sightseeing in Washington DC and then home. He sounds like he had a great time. He was at the President's speech but didn't talk about. He was more excited about finishing the rockers. Both the goddess and the house psycho-child are really missing him by now.

*rockers are awards that surround the jamboree patch and you are supposed to try and earn 8 of them to make a full circle.

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Company:  We have Jack Kane drop by and play for a bit yesterday. Gosh, its been a bit since I've seen him and now he turns up twice in a month. The boy rolls like a rubber ball and I think Audie was disappointed he didn't break.  Alan will be down in August with his family and then Glenn is having his Kaizen in Louisiana. Grayson is back in the world and I got back in touch with Thompson...It's just been a great summer for old friends.

If I could only drink coffee, I'd be a happy bear. Off to the library for reference checking on these papers.

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1 August 2005

Breakfast Calzone: I got up at 5:15 this morning and was looking for breakfast when I tripped over this recipe of my fathers. Since its a day spend checking references for a publication's first pages, I figure I need the calories.

1 pound bulk sweet sausage

1 pound bulk hot sausage

1 pound bacon

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

1 large yellow onion

1 tsp butter

10 eggs, beaten (can use leftover scrambled eggs too)

2 loaves frozen bread dough, thawed

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Sesame, dill, or caraway seeds (Actually I used black cumin seeds)

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Crumble sausage meats and brown in a frying pan. Remove and place on paper towels to drain Fry up bacon until crisp and set aside to drain like the sausage. Crumble into bits.  In a separate pan, sauté chopped peppers and onion in a little butter or oil. Add eggs and cook eggs until scrambled (a bit on the soft side). Roll each thawed bread dough* into a rectangle about ¾ inches thick. Place filling on rolled out dough. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll in jelly roll fashion. Place seam side down on cookie sheet. Bake for 35 minutes until brown and crusty. Top may be sprinkled with seeds. Slice and serve hot. With lots of coffee <sob>

* or you could make the basic bread recipe from before. That way you could add cheese and sausage/bacon bits to the bread.

UPDATE 8/2: Despite the slurs made by some people, bulk sausage is not a mystery meat, made with household pets and rodents. Bulk sausage is sausage that is not in casing (not links) and is, in other words, loose. In this case, the sausage is made from pork from happy domestic and wild piggies and from Bambi, who didn't listen to Mom and when into the clearing, in a 1:1 blend. The spicing was a friend's recipe but Penzey's makes a good spice or you can use the one here. If you do, remember this doesn't need to be cased.  Not that I'd object to a hamster or two in it.   If you want to make your own, everything you ever wanted to know about making sausage is here.

UPDATE 8/4: No photos?  That's because my digital camera is at the National Jamboree.

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On the Road again: For you fans of the "Coffee with a Chemist" tour, my travel is starting up again: tentatively, we are looking at Phoenix and San Diego the week of Aug 16th, Houston and then Layette on the weekend for the week following August 24th, Burbank for the NATAS conference on Sept 18 to 21, and Denver for the following week. Early October will see us in San Jose. I got to fit Atlanta and Florida in there too. So book your date now...

No, actually I don't have a home life.

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Babysitting a Hamster: You know how kids bring stuff home from school or friends ask you to watch pets. Well, my suggestion for those little unpeeled meatballs follows. I've even decided to learn the melody to "My cup runnth over with love" on the mandolin to accompany it. Now you got to imagine this on mandolin, harp and keyboard, with two boys singing backup vocals (shown in <>):

Sometimes in the morning when Mom is asleep
I get out the pan and to the kitchen I creep
<yum yum yum>
I make up the omelet we're all dreaming of
A hamster is really just grub..
<really just grub...yum yum yum>

Sometimes alone in the middle of the day
I remember excuses that I could to you say
<yum yum yum>
I remember the recipes I've fondest of
A hamster is really just grub..
<really into grub...yum yum yum>

When evening falls and dinner time comes
we heat the grill as we plan our fun
<yum yum yum>
with skewers, tomatoes ,pinapples and rub
A hamster is really just grub..
<good grub....yum yum yum>

Sometimes in the midnight when shadows are deep,
I get kinda hungry before we sleep
<yum yum yum>
I find the makings a sandwich of
A hamster is really just grub..
<really just grub... yum yum yum>
 

Ed Ames probably would hate me but they changed their minds about us sitting the beasties. Don't quite know why. I mean you'd trust me, wouldn't you?

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