31 March 2005

A ex-student of mine and I ran out to the old lease today and took down the bow stand and feeders. As I mentioned earlier, we lost the lease because the guy, Donny, who cut the detail with the landowners didn't want kids on it. One of the interesting lessons in the mess was that as fond as I am of my hunting buddy who got me on, the rest of the folks on the lease are not people I want near my kids with guns. From basically unethical behavior (the landowner said 4 guns - everyone on the lease is letting their kin hunt too so there must be 10 hunters using the land) to drinking heavily at deer camp to just bad practice (5 shots to drop a whitetail at 80 yards - my 12 year was horrified and said he's have lied rather than admitted he shot that poorly), I'm not upset about being gone as basically I am not sure I want the kids near these folks. I am upset the kids lost the chance to hunt the end of season. People wonder why the shooting sports are less and less popular. This is a part of it. I hear this from other fathers and from folks at our state association.

More and more hunting leases in Texas are restricting access by kids, probably because it cuts down on the guys' booze intake, or charging full hunter fees for a kid that comes along. I've hunted up in Northwest Texas where the farmer charged a ton extra for the kids, lied about the condition of the land and lake, the hands routinely forgot to pick up the people with children, and the food was basically inedible. Very different than what I was told by friends who had hunted there childless. We met this nice guy with his daughter  while there who I've kept in touch with and his story is the same. When your pond is about a fifth of  its normal size and no one has seen a buck in a few weeks, honesty says you might want to tell the people before they come up and pay, no?  I figured then this guy was a bad apple in the pile, until I talked to some people at the TSRA and they told me more and more of these stories are being heard. A lot of us who moved away from the land look for a place to take our kids so they can share the love of the outdoors we have. In Texas, with its relative lack of public lands for hunting, that means leasing. Sadly, more and more farmers and other hunters are increasingly anti-child. You need to hook a child on hunting when he/she is young; it's rare when people take it up as an adult. With stories like these, anyone want to know the reason hunting is less popular with the younger generation?

While we were out, we did take the .17 rim fire rifle with us as squirrels and rabbits are open season in that county. It's a loud gun and that little bullet shows a lot of drift with the wind, but on a almost calm day like today it will drive tacks. Heck, it will drive brads. So we spend the lunch hour sitting in the lovely North Texas woods, shooting squirrels and watching the slow wind ruffle the prairie grass.  We got a half dozen of the beasties, now dressed and sitting in my freezer. We'll stew them up or make squirrel pie after Lent is over. It's days like today that remind me why Texas stole a chuck of my heart and why I love to hunt some much. Too bad the kids were in school. They are going to be so jealous...

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30 March 2005

The Christian Carnival is up!  Lots and lots of stuff this week for Western Easter... Go and read.

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Because someone asked, here's a Basic Bread:

1 Tbsp dry yeast

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup lukewarm water

1 tsp salt

1.5 cups shortening

1 egg (can be skipped like we do in Lent)

4 cups or so unbleached bread flour (use bread flour not all purpose)

2 Tbsp black cumin seed or caraway seed (optional)

 

Combine yeast, 1 tsp sugar and 1.4 warm water and mix well. Let sit until foaming. Beat the egg in a large bowl. Add remaining water, suger, shortening, and salt. Mix well, add yeast, and start adding flour. Add flour and mix well until dough starts to pull away from the wall of the bowl. Dump dough out on floured board and knead, adding flour to make dough unsticky. Add the black cumin seeds now if using them. After about 10 minutes, dough should spring back when poked with finger. Let rise 2 hour in a covered bowl in a warm place. Turn on a floured board and tear into 2 equal sized pieces. Shape into loaves and place into 8x10 greased pans. Let rise in pans for another 2 hours and then bake for 40 minutes or longer at 350 F. Bread should sound hollow when tapped on bottom if done. (Internal temperature should be about 190 F)

 

You can also make the bread into dinner rolls by making 18-20 rolls after the first rising. Cover rolls and let roll 2 hours. Bake them at 425 for 12 minutes or so.

 

UPDATE: More help for the newbie: If you are really unsure of what the dough should feel like, get a can of whoop biscuits. The dough before kneading feels like that. After about 10 miuntes of kneading, it should feel like the instant bread you buy and bake. Soft but bouncy, so pushing your finger in to the bottom of the nail doesn't tear it and it springs back afterwards (there will still be a small dimple but that too will disappear. To shape the loaf, roll it out and fold the ends under so it is vaguley oblong and drop into into a greased pan (I grease mine and then sprinkle with cornmeal ~ 2 tbsps.) Pat it down until it is the shape of the pan and let rest as above.

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29 March 2005

Visiting Hog on Ice, I noticed Steve was making Ethiopian food. Now Ethiopia claims to be the oldest Christian country in the world and has an extensive list of fasting style dishes.  More importantly, they are all spicy and at this point in Great Lent, that's good. So unlike Steve, who makes his from scratch, I drove to East Dallas and the local Ethiopian Market. I had made Teff pancakes with flax seed and bananas on Sunday but the goddess and the otter pup didn't like them. Noah and Russ did although those two will eat anything as long as there is lots of it.  However, the stew and the lentils are always a hit and we all love bread with black cumin seeds...

Vegetable Stew:

4 Medium red Onions, sliced long wise (not in rings)

10 potatoes cut into long slices

4 carrots

3 cups green beans

4 large Jalepeno Peppers, seeded and cut into strips

4 Tbsp diced garlic (I use the stuff from a jar)

4 Tbsp diced ginger (I used some from a jar from the local Asian Market)

1 tsp tumeric powder

3  cups water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Optional: 1-3 tsp Berbere* or that other hotter mix I can't spell.

Cook onion in oil until soft but not brown. Add spices and keep stirring. Add green beans and cook 5 minutes. Add carrots and cook another 4 minutes or so. Then add the water and the other vegatables. Simmer on low heat until tender but not mushy. Serve hot**.

Powdered Chickpea Stew:

I cheat. I buy and use a Falafel mix from the store. I use that instead of this step.

2 cup powdered chickpeas

2 cup water

1 cup oil

 

Mix chickpeas and water to make a paste. (I use the mix instead) Form into shapes (Stars with a cookie cutter) and then fry in the oil until golden brown.

 

2 cups chopped onion

1/2 cup  Berebere*

1 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp minced garlic

2 Tbsp Tikur Kemen***

2 Tbsp Cardamom

1 cup oil.

2 cups water

Cook onions and spices in oil for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring a lot (or it sticks). Add the water and heat to a simmer. Adjust taste with salt and hot sauce. Add chickpea shapes and simmer for about 20 minutes. traditionally this is served cool but we like it hot from the stove as a side to the stew with bread. For bread, we make a basic wheat bread and add 2 tsp of black cumin seeds to it for the right flavor.

*  Berebere: the most basic of Ethiopian spices it is commonly available on the web: holler if you need a recipe but its got a bunch of ingredients and its easier to buy it. They also have the wot spice (translations vary). Good coffees too. Try the sea salt and rue or cinnamon and clove blend.

** most Ethiopian food is serve cool but we prefer it hot.

***Tikur Kemem: 1/4 pounds of each black cumin seed and ajown seed (bishop's weed or ajwain); 1 Tbsp each of dry ginger and garlic; 1.5 Tbsp cardamom. Sometimes called wot kimem.

UPDATE: The pancakes aren't injera as the batter isn't fermented. They are just pancakes using the Teff instead of wheat flour. Flax is used in place of an egg since its the Great Fast.

UPDATE 2: The Dallas area market is Maru Groceries, 8353 Park Lane, Dallas. Just a bit east of I-45.  They are really nice Christian folks, and, while not online, they are in the phone book. All sorts of Ethiopian stuff  can be found there including a bunch of books and Ethiopian music CDs. No spiced coffee unfortunately although you can buy traditionally roasted coffee and the spices there.

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My Garands got here from the CMP! Sweet! Now if Noah and Ben will let go of their's to go to sleep, I can clean them up. Out to the farm on Saturday...

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28 March 2005

Thought on shutting up in the Presence of God: Yesterday for the Eastern Orthodox was the 2nd Sunday of Lent and the Feast day of Saint Gregory Palamas, a monk from the 14th century. His work represents another place where Orthodox and the Western Churches differ, and deals with the concepts of Uncreated and Created Grace as well as the practice of hesychasm. Hesychasm derives from the Greek for to be at rest or silence and is the term used for both a discipline of pray as well as a movement for renewal in the Orthodox Church. The reading for Sunday was Mark's healing of the crippled man, where Christ heals both body and soul, and this ties to St. Gregory Palamas whose work defended the idea that man could physically be in direct experience of God. From this, he developed the Orthodox distinctions between the energies and essence of God.

Hesychasm or silence is today a method of prayer, using the Jesus Prayer, where one strives to pray all the time. The word "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner" are repeated until they work inward to the heart. A lot of superficial interest is seen in this technique, especially the monastic version where body postion, breath control, etc are used as aids. Because of the surface similarities, it is looked at as a Christian Yoga. The problem with this is the prayer is not a mantra to make you one with the universe; it is a prayer, a plea to the One who created the universe. It's not a technique to attain enlightenment, but a cry to He Who substains all things by his will.  Mercy here is the older meaning; asking not just forgiveness but also care, love, and support. Our souls cry to God for all things and we repeat the prayer until we get it right. Until if He chooses, the gift of pure prayer without ceasing fills our life.

A priest I knew via the martial arts once commented (and I don't know if he was quoting someone else) that the tension in the west is between the natural and the supernatural, science and religion if you will. In the Eastern Church, the tension is between created and the Uncreated, between what can be known to some degree and that of which our mind's can not conceive. Hence the claim about the Incarnation and the humanity of Christ "that which was not assumed is not redeemed." This difference tension in the East means the Incarnation of God as man, the dual nature of Christ as fully God and fully man, 2 natures in One Person, is constantly there. He Who contains the whole universe emptied Himself of Glory Inconceivable to be contained in the womb of a young virgin in a small province of a conquered country. He Who has the Power to create all that is allowed Himself to be executed as a common criminal. The Uncreated Word of God, the Son of God Himself, Uncreated and Eternal, willingly became part of His Own creation.

In the face of this, what is left but silence? What can one say or do that even comes close to this fact? You can sing songs about walking with Jesus, we can pray "Lord we just...", we can argue theology, but at some point it all becomes silence, a silence broken only by the singing of the Heavenly Worship of which the Divine Liturgy is but practice.  In the face of the enormity of the Incarnation of God Himself, His Death, and His Resurrection, what can I really say that isn't trite or vanity? How can I ever stand in His veiled Presence?  All that I can do, all I dare do is to prostate myself and silencely in my heart cry the one pray left to me: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us."

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27 March 2005

For those you of the Western Churches, Happy Easter!

Spring is finally here in North Texas: flowers are blooming, the redbuds are out, and my owls are back. No more squirrel or stray cat problem here. The wisteria which covers most of my back fence and the neighbor's tree is flowering and the honeysuckle just starting...and the fig and peach trees are budding.

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Those of you claiming that Michael Schiavo's actions can be defended in any way needs to read the second paragraph here. Refusing to allow communion on Easter to his wife is final proof that he is pure scum.  Those of you who are from low (non-liturgical) churches or aren't Christian may not get it: for a Roman Catholic, Anglican, Coptic, or Eastern Orthodox, this is totally beyond the pale.

UPDATE: The link about has been fixed (thanks Vlad) and it now reports that Michael Schiavo has relented and allowed Terri to receive the sacrament. Fox has replaced the original story with the one there now. I can't find the original.  I don't know what made him change his mind, but thank God he did.

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This is so cool....and yes, I am very easily distracted by shiny things too.

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25 March 2005

Resistance is futile has the Sixth Carnival of Cordite up again this week. It's back home where it started and it looks good again. Dang! I got to hear about the Texas Blogfest via a blog in Oregon....I need to stay home more. A lot more...

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Carnival of Recipes is up and I've missed that too. It was a good fast recipe too. Dang! Gotta have to check the sent folder on that laptop.

UPDATE: Donna does love me after all. She added me to the end of the Carnival. Thank you very much.

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Dang! This sucks.Go with God.

UPDATE: Apparently what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander. I can't say I'm surprised. After all the talk about free speech, the left still equates any opposition and/or unfavorable metaphor with violence. Well, unless its them, then violence, blackmail, voter-fraud, treason are just free expression. BTW, for a real trip down hypocrite lane, read the comments. Calling Bush Hitler is cool, but GayPatriot suggesting outing is terrorism isn't accept because its a threat.

UPDATE: Apparently since it worked on GayPatriot, Rogers is now trying it on others, including digging up their cell numbers and trying to shut their blogs down. However, LimeShurbert seems to more ready to rumble.

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24 March 2005

Thursday isn't a holy day for us as our lent is just being, so the boys and I went out to Sanger to do some trap shooting. Now, I'm a passable rifle shot and the boys are coming along nicely. Trap was another experience: I sited on the clay, and squeezed my target as the clay arced up and then continue to squeeze as it arced down and landed. <sigh> The boys didn't do a whole lot better. It's amazing the amount of difference in shotgun shooting clays and rifle and pistol. All the breath control, the focus, the controlled trigger squeeze don't seem to work. The other big difference was how social the guys at the trap and skeet ranges are: while marksmen are a friendly breed, that kind of shooting is basically you and the target. The solitary nature of the sport tends to make you work quietly on your own and to focus on the shooting. I've shot next to people for years and spoken a couple dozen words to them. I'll see them in town and we'll talk but the range isn't a social place.

The shotgunners were a different breed. About a dozen people came over to visit with us and when it became known that I had young ones shooting, lots of folks talked to them. Some gentleman I barely met traded ammo with the kids because "those are dove loads son and they kick too much for trap. If your daddy's doesn't mind, let me swap you for these." We all got pointers and advice and invited to come shoot with the league on Saturday. A very different social setting indeed. Now if one of us can only figure out how to hit more than 3 birds out of 25, maybe we will join them...

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The Schiavo case is being discussed all over the place, but with the exception of Peggy Noonan's column, no one seems to comment on what really bothers me. For the record, I do not believe in extreme measures to keep someone alive nor do I think that the US Congress should be interfering in a state matter. I do think that poor woman is married to scum and that what is being done is wrong (more later). What really bother me is the people who are protesting in favor of Michael Schiavo: the parents and the protestors attempting to get the tubes reinserted are apparently driven by moral concerns about the possibility of killing Terri rather than letting her die. I can understand that and I can also understand her family's desire to keep her alive. However, while I can understand Michael's public position (it's the reality of it that bothers me...I'm sorry but despite the opinion his actions are normal, the man is a scumbag.  I know two people who had similar rows to hoe who were faithful to their spouses, despite the spouse's condition. One of them actually had the same problem of being willing to let go before the parents were. Both managed without having affairs or extra-martial children. The position held by people like John Cole just strikes me as more confirmation that libertarians are moral degenerates. His claim no one can live up these standards is just bullshit: people can and do. Some because of their faith; others because that promise they made in the wedding ceremony meant something. It says more about the values of  people who excuse this behavior than anything else.) I don't agree with it or the laws that allow it. Without the existence of proof (ie a living will) I think that the family (parents and spouse) need to agree this is what she would want. Ideally they would. If the spouse has power of attorney, its his call. However, I honestly admit what worries me is the behavior of her husband; without that I'd be fully in favor of whatever he decides. The other saw about never trusting a man who betrays his wife rings too true. God forgive for judging but I can't shake that. With that very visible doubt, it is much better to err on the side of caution.

What I don't get is the demonstrators in favor of Michael's position: there is something creepy about people who are basically urging the government to allow someone to starve to death. While I can understand people who think he's doing the right thing to some degree, I still don't understand what moral t lack could make you hold a sign up urging for an innocent woman's death. People like James Carville and some of the other democrats who have spoken for her death have just proven why I can no longer morally vote for anyone in that party. Heck, Rodger may not go far enough. Now I know the medical community says starvation not painful, etc. I really don't care. There is something wrong with the whole idea of "well today I am going to go demonstrate for a man who wants to starve his wife to death." It's like demonstrating for partial birth abortion: how many years of therapy do you need to become so perverse and amoral.  Starvation is so fundamentally inhuman. Hell, I'd have a lot more respect for the man if he overdosed her on drugs: even my kid asked "Dad, if she is that close to death, can't he use a drug or something to kill her instead of starving her?" I think the husband and Judge Greer should be made to sit with her in the room the whole time it takes and we should show tapes of it on the news.

Another thing that strikes me as weird is this whole thing (see Cole again and Reynolds) on how this is the un-wrapping of the Republican Party. Excuse me? I've never been totally enchanted with the Republicans. I was raised where Republicans were the rich SOBs who hung out at the country club. The current big government position of the Republicans and their refusal to seal our borders drives me nuts. However, as frustrated as I get, the Democrats are worse. Christians in the Republican Party are more than just the social conservatives and while they are a large part of the Schiavo protestors, there are others. (However we make good targets for the media and the democrats as the hatred both have of Christians and Christ makes us the visible target.) It's impossible to vote for the Democrats when they are for bigger governments and more spending than the Republicans, they attack the Christians at every turn and try to drive all religion from the public sphere, they are anti-gun, pro-abortion, anti-defense, anti-military, pro-special treatments to special groups, and pro-judicial tyranny. I'm not interested in a national suicide pact just because the Republicans do something stupid. My disgust with the Republicans on certain issues does not mean I'm close to voting for a Democrat: there really is a less of two evils and it ain't the latter. The fact that Bill Quick can and is planning too says more to me about his morality and politics than it does about republicans. Does anyone out there really think most politicans' hands are clean?

UPDATE: Neal Boortz gets spiritual? Well, I always suspected he wasn't an orthodox Christian - and his view of the afterlife sure isn't... but for some reason I doubt his reasoning, that its past time to let Terri go to God, is why most of those pro-death demonstrators are out there. I'd bet money on it...

UPDATE: Instapundit links to Donald Sensing, who has a slightly different take than I do. I actually don't disagree with him: its the gut reaction to Michael Schiavo's actions that hits me as well as the whole starvation thing....I never claimed to be a totally rational man. Andrew Sullivan, both in his misquoting of Reynolds and in his insane ravings about the American Taliban, again proves why I don't read him: inaccurate in his fact, smug and self-righteous in his position, willing to demonize any opposition and as moral as a female cat in heat. Mr. Sullivan might want trying living his lifestyle in Saudia Arabia, Indonesia, etc to see what its really like. Religion has affected our politics from day one and it takes a total ass to think it will be purged. A much saner discussion can be found at GayPatriot: they are a better read than Sullivan under any condition. For one, they are really conservatives and for another, they actually think rather than just raving.

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23 March 2005

The Carnival of Vanities is up at CodeBlueBlog. Yeah, he skipped me...I was submitting this. He's probably secretly a Denton County Democrat....

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22 March 2005

Tulsa OK: All jokes about Oklahoma aside, this and nearby Bartlesville are really nice places. Lovely rolling hills and fields of grass, friendly people, and good food. Excellent BBQ in fact, but I'm here in Great Lent <sob> Salad tastes the same everywhere.

No photos. Forgot the camera....<sigh>

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Sunday of Orthodoxy and knowing the heart: This past Sunday was the Feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy, which represents the rrestoration of the use of icons in 787 and 843. This isn't something common in the West, as the iconoclasts there came into power mainly after the Protestant Reformation. In the East, it exploded in 726. The icons are a secondary theme, really: a large part of the issue was really the definition of who Jesus Christ was. Listening to the prayers at Vespers, one hears the re-affirmation of the truth that he whose resurrection we celebrate on Easter was none other than the Word of God, the Very God of Very God incarnated into human form, truly and fully both God and man. Only because He became man for our sakes, emptying Himself so that He Who contains the universe was contained in the womb of a virgin, can his image be drawn. Only because of this great mystery, can we now know Him who is unknowable.

The reading today, John 1:43-51, deals with how Nathaniel follows Jesus, because Jesus sees into Nathaniel's heart. That divine ability to know someone so totally at first glance is what love at first site and instant friendships are but a shadow of. Holy men and women have shared in this gift of God, to be able to look at someone and see their soul's secrets and its a gift that I sure don't think I'd want as I doubt it is often joyous. It must be a bitter gift, to see the pain and despair that fill so many lives, as people grab for more and more physical goods. My job requires long periods of working hand in hand with people around the country and I hear that a lot. As one faculty member at a large and well known university told me: "there seems to be something lacking that they are searching for."

Even those of us who know what the lack is, don't really see into hearts. How many people end up divorced or in troubled marriages because they can't or won't understand what is happening in their spouse's life? How many of us are shocked to find out the fellow in the office down the hall had major problems? We are trapped by our own sins, to even be hidden from those we love. Hence, Lent is the time we try to look into our own hearts and it's not pretty. There is an old teaching of the fathers that he who wishes to learn to pray, must learn to tolerate the stench of decay. As we strive to draw nearer to God, as we open more of ourselves up to him, the stick of our own evil can be overpowering. Anyone who is a parent know how much you can hurt your kids as you try to do what's right for them. The more we open ourselves the more we find how much of our right actions are driven by evil and foul motives. There is a reason why some of the fathers have said the only prayer you can truly pray is: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

Nathaniel was wise enough to know that what Jesus did, to read Nathaniel's heart in a glance, to know him totally is not something a normal man can do. He was also wise enough to respond and follow. For only Christ truly can know us. And hence the importance of the Sunday of Orthodoxy's theme. If He had not become man for our sakes, we would never have known Him. And without knowing Him, what hope have we?

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20 March 2005

Singapore Fried Rice:  It's Sunday so oil and wine are permitted, so we decided to try this recipe for fried rice. The original recipes comes from when I worked in a Cantonese restaurant and Singapore seems to be used these days to mean curry and other spices added:

5 Tbsp peanut oil

1 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup thawed peas

1/2 cup thawed carrot (I just use a cup of the frozen mix, thawed)

1/2 cup snow pea pods

2 Tbsp chicken broth*

2 beaten eggs*

3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

4 cups cooked rice

1 Tbsp chilpotle powder

2 Tbsp curry powder

2 dozen cooked medium shrimp

Heat 2 Tbsp peanut oil until hot and add eggs, pouring in streams. Stir until eggs are cooked dry and in small pieces.  Remove eggs and add remainder of oil. Heat until hot and add veggies and rice. Stir fry for about 5 minutes and then add shrimp, chicken broth, and spices. Stir welll and cook until shrimp are heated thru. Add eggs, sesame oil and salt & pepper to taste. Serve hot. Feeds 2.

* During lent, I skip the eggs and use Chickenless Chicken Broth from the local Health Food Store. Why someone who is a veggie want chicken broth flavor without chicken is a mystery but I'll take the gift. Otherwise I use homemade veggie broth...

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19 March 2005

Stuff:  Carnival of Recipes is up at the Flying Space Monkey Chronicles. Uncategorizable? Blini?  No, silly, it's dinner... Only savages eat blini for breakfast.  Tim Blair links to this photo-essay, which explains a lot.... Over in England, they are finding gun control works. Sort of. Well, it you like high crime rates...And finally this man is a Canadian? In Toronto? I'm shocked they haven't deported him to Texas yet. But he's dead on target...

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18 March 2005

Best of the Web today has a item entitled "Eck. A Christian" which links back to a Jill Porter column in the Philadelphia Daily News (registration required so I'm not linking) on the Smith-Nichols story in Georgia . Porter gets mocked and rightly so for her anti-Christian and maybe anti-religious bigotry. She asks the incredibly stupid question: Why does Ashley Smith have to bring religion into it? Well, Ms. Porter, because with our Ms. Smith's faith in Christ, and the actions that faith lead her to, the story might have another ending. If Nichols had taken hostage a secularist, do you think we would have the same ending? I personally doubt it.

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Whose ox was gored department: Someone vandalized the sign of the Denton County Democratic Party last night. While one can be expected to be upset, the response when similar things happened to people Bush-Cheney signs was fairly moderated. Not with the Democratics, who got a large article in the Denton paper (no link given because they require registration.) Ms. Edra Bogles, the local chairman, response was to tell us this is the beginning of the concentration camps:

"You begin with anti-locution (Editor: yep, she's a college professor) which is a fancy term for badmouthing people, then avoidance, discrimination, physical attacks, and finally to extermination."

Wow. All from some fool spray painting her sign. Funny the physical attacks haven't happened before, even when Democratic demonstrators gave my kids shit about turning pens for the troops in Iraq last fall. However, it gets better. She said when she search "the Google Search Engine" for VRWC she found a website called that. A website? One link? Hell, I ran the same search and got that site as well as over 93,000 other hits. Heck, a third of the sites I visit claim to be members as does my 12 year old (and yes I know where he was last night.)  Even more terrifying this is the second time that "VRWC" was used as graffiti in Denton. On January 27 it was used too. Wow, 2 incidents in under 60 days? Aren't the Democrats the same people who told us the destructiveness of anti-war demonstrators was just free speech?

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5th Carnival of Cordite

Thank you for coming to Technogypsy for the 5th Carnival of Cordite. It's almost Spring Turkey Season in Texas and the boys and I are busy getting ready for it. First stop is the local gun store down the street, where we need to get Noah some more .243 rounds. Since we'll be hunting in West Texas, shotgun is not an option as we'll neve get with 50 yards of a bird. Walking in, one is always surprised at who you might meet. As we wander around the store, the old timers are playing dominos by the coffee pot and arguing over politics of the day. Gregory of American RealPolitik is talking about the Brady's Campaign (refered to locally as those damned gun-grabbers) latest attempt at disarming America:

"they're screaming bloody murder (ha!) concerning the introduction of "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act". Let's take a look at their press release concerning what they call a "nothing but a special interest giveaway to the gun lobby and a shameful attack on the legal rights of innocent victims of gun violence".

He's got a nice little table matching the claims and the truth on the Immunity Act too. Brave man. Everytime I got to the Brady site, I damage my monitor. Meanwhile Noah is in rapt attention to Denise of the Ten Ring. She's explaining to him how come his beloved East Ridge .50 is endangered because a bunch of gun grabbers like Mass. State Senator Barrios are trying to claim terrorist could use these to shoot down airliners. Her point is valid:

"So, all these bed-wetting gun fearing fools who conflate guns and terrorism need to get a life. Recognized terror attacks in America have involved vehicles, explosives, and boxcutters used to hijack airplanes. If you count John Mohammed's and Lee Malvo's Washington, D.C. sniper attacks as acts of terror, death toll comparisons are not even close (3,000 on 9/11 versus 10)."

Dang. I think the boy has a crush now. Meanwhile Saxon of the Bastidge is in the middle of a long discussion with someone about semiautomatics and gun prohibitions.  I resonant with his comment on parenting:

"I do not believe you are paranoid to desire that and I do not think others on this post do either. Your right to raise your children in a free and safe society is not only your desire; it is your unrelenting duty as a father and husband. Your right in this is as solidly supported and protected as is the peopleís right to own arms. It is your right to desire a gun free society if you like and, I might add, a laudable one, just not a realistic one unless you can somehow make it so that the criminal has none. Banning them certainly wonít. "

David of Resistance is Futile, the gentleman responsible for this carnival, is ranting about how stupid Gwyneth was to move her kids to England to raise them safe while the local ax murder is running around. Now, not being much of a TV or movie fan, I'm not sure who she is, but I'd sure rather fight an ax wielder with a gun than my bare hands. England isn't the only place that self-defense gets weird: South Africans, victims of a new and restrictive firearm law and the resultant crime wave, are going after the weapons they can get: spears, crossbows, battle axes. Yep, prohibition works good: you think the Great Experiment would have taught us about that.

Over by the counter, you can hear folks arguing over which caliber and which rifle is best for what. Steve from Wadcutter gives the budding young shooter an explanation of why energy and momentum  matter:

"the numbers above are useful for comparison between the different projectiles. For example, 9mm has an alpha about 1/10th that of .308Win. That means that if a 9mm round penetrates 10 inches into a fluid, a .308 round of the same shape would penetrate about 100 inches into that same fluid. Likewise, the baseball and the bowling ball would penetrate very little. This explains why Nolan Ryan never killed anyone at the plate, despite hurling a projectile with twice the kinetic energy of a .22LR round.

Interestingly he asked a question about why soft body armor seemingly fails more with high velocity rather that other factors. That one I can answer. Kevlarš is a polymer and like all polymers has a frequency or time dependences in the properties. A cool demo of this (in reverse) is shooting a 10% cornstarch mixture. It flows like syrup but above that critical concentration the chains can't move away and it acts solid. At high enough velocity, the response changes. This polymer property comes back to haunt people working in the field all the time. (I discuss frequency dependence here at length.)

Chris from the Anarchangel is making a case for why the AR-15 is a good rifle for its job. He makes a good case, especially when he suggests heavier calibers than the .223 (was it Kim du Toit who wanted a FAL in .243 a few years back?):

"Heading down from the abstract for a moment, in todays American military, the AR is our assault rifle. The AR isn't perfect, but it's design is fundamentally sound, and it is a decent compromise weapon for the purpose. The AR is the best example of the American conception of the assault rifle, and its damned good at just that (though it needs a better chambering).

The AR isn't a battle rifle, and it isn't an SMG, and if you try and use it for either, you'll be at best pissed off, and at worst, dead."

Not being an infantry soldier, I'll admit a preference to the old M1 Garand out of all the military rifles. The old thumb-buster is still my favorite and you gotta love that 30-06 round. CMP still sells them cheap too. Not to go totally off on a tangent here, but I got a beautiful M1D several years back from them that look like it was canned like a steak in lard. For you non-Texas out there, chicken fried steak reputedly developed from canning steak in lard to keep it over the hot summers. Frying it in batter helped the taste apparent. (If you ever drive thro Bowie Texas, they still make them at the Jim Bowie Restaurant the old way...pan not deep fried.) Anyway, cleaning that rifle was a royal pain and I wish Mark of Irons in the Fire had been around:

"Cosmoline is a grease that was designed for one thing: to protect metal from corrosion in long-term storage. And it works, very well. The bad thing about it? Getting it off. It is the stickiest stuff you've ever ruined your pants on, and the British in particular used a lot of it; the climate I would assume. When a rifle was sent back for service/storage they would dismantle it; anything needing work was repaired or replaced; then the bore was filled, the action & barrel greased thoroughly and replaced in the stock; and sometimes the wood was given a coat. When it was placed in the rack or crate, it could- did- sit there for years into decades, well protected from rust. Which means when you get it...

Did I mention that if it has sat long enough, the stuff can harden? Petrified Cosmoline is even worse to get out.

I sure found that out. Not only can he clean guns, but he's a smith too. I think the boys want to be adopted. Anyway, as we turned to head out, we overheard Chris of the Anarchangel this time explaining why your Glock doesn't have to suck:

But there's hope for those of you stuck with Glocks, for whatever reason, or those who like them. I confess, other than the stock trigger, and the chunkiness (for concealed carry), I LIKE Glocks. I don't mind that they are ugly, because functionality and engineering excellence has a beauty all it's own. They are dead reliable, easy to maintain, easy and cheap to fix, and generally quite accurate.

As the Chinese proverb says " In manners of taste, there can be not arguments." Okay, but why not just buy a nice Kimber .45ACP or an EAA 10mm? Something sexy. Something that looks as good as it shoots and has a trigger pull... Jay of North Georgia Dogma did and following my theory if you gonna buy guns, buy lots, he got two! Since I own the same Ruger, let's look at the other gun, here at the right. I've always wanted one myself. Jay says:

"Needless to say, I bought it on the spot. Itís a .22LR, not a Magnum, but after shooting the .22 Magnum through the exponentially larger Single Six, I donít think Iíd want to shoot it through a Mini-MagÖ At least not with the stock grips! And the short barrel means this is about as small as you can get (the only way to get something smaller would be a .22 short chambering, and Iím not going that small). Plus, as I mentioned in my last post, .22 Magnum is literally 10X the price of .22 LR."

As we head out the door, we stop to listen as Thibodeaux of Say Uncle talks about Carbine Williams and the exhibit on his workshop at the North Carolina Museum of History. It's a fascinating story about someone you could call a real character:

"Williams, a North Carolina native, was a prolific inventor and firearms designer; during his lifetime he would be awarded forty patents for firearms-related inventions. The exhibit highlights two of his inventions that were adopted by the US Military in the years leading up to World War IIóinventions that he conceived, designed, and prototyped while in prison for murder."

After picking up the ammo and the visiting, we hit the Sonic across the street and head out to the range to do some shooting. We ain't the only ones as a bunch of other people seem to have been there too. Lots of range time is part of my prescription for parenting and making kids gun safe as restrictions and laws won't work.

Now as  Nick of Libercontarian apparently knows, few things match the fun or relaxation value of recreational shooting:

"We blew up some major-league cans of Van Camp's Pork and Beans, tore apart two dozen of Sam's Club's finest sodas, and shattered countless clay pigeons. All in all, it was a great plinkin' day -

and he's claiming boasting rights for one of those shots too. Sounds reasonable to me.

 Al over at Random Thoughts also went shooting and apparently had a lot of fun. His choice of targets makes him one of my youngest's favorites. Ben was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a purple dinosaur. I bet Al knows all the verses to the Shooting Barney song too.

Cowboy Blob of the same named Saloon, Humidor and Shooting Parlor had a heck of a time at the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun shoot. Lots of nest pictures record the action. His take on the coolest (is joke, he's in Arizona<g>) part of the day was the storm a helicopter exercise:

"The coolest prop was the helicopter body you had to capture with your riotgun, clear more targets from the rear window, then move to the front and whack the rest of the bad guys with your pistol. It would have been more fun using the machinegun, but the astute observers among you would note that it's a .30 machinegun with belt of .50 BMG ammo stuck in it"

It looks like a dang fun day. Maybe my next trip to Arizona I can swing down and play. 

After a day of shooting, we normally stop off in downtown Sanger for fried chicken, and people come over to talk, especially as the kids normally are talking about the day. Rarely, in Texas, do I get negative comments about shooting and hunting. People will ask occasionally what I as a shooter think of something or other. Gretchen of The Green Lantern does so in her email to the carnival:

"I thought there must be some sane and rational gun-owners out there would would be interested in this sick story and know that its wrong. To all hunters: this one Wisconsin gun-nut is making the rest of you look crazy. Please speak up on this if you think it is wrong. Thanks.

As my father would have said, its a over beer issue. Chasing back the links to an original article, it appears Minnesota has a problem with feral and loose cats. Housecats are non-native species, and speaking of someone from a rural background, feral animals of any species are destructive. Despite Miss Gretchen's opinion, the person pushing this law sounds neither insane nor a gun nut. Based on what the wildlife expert says, I'd have to think its a good solution. I know I'd have no qualms about shooting an uncollared dog or cat out on the farm or the lease, especially one I saw hunting native animals. Heck, where I was raised, you were told to. It's sounding like a case of rural verus urban: animals as pederator and varmints verus animals as cute fluffy pets. If more folks kept their cats indoors and had them neutered, this would not have been necessary.

Anyway, that its for this week. Time to clean the guns and get back to work. Thanks for coming by. A special thanks to Shaenon Garrity  for letting me use Dirk Teide's drawing of Mell from her book "Narbonic -Volume 1. Y'all know the original quote, right?

Next week the carnival is back at Resistance is Futile: email submissions to carnivalofcordite@hotmail.com.  In the meanwhile, check out the earlier carnivals and remember speed only counts when you hit the target.

 Carnival of Cordite 4

 Carnival of Cordite 3

 Carnival of Cordite 2

 Carnival of Cordite 1

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17 March 2005

St. Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland

 Holy Bishop Patrick,
Faithful shepherd of Christ's royal flock,
You filled Ireland with the radiance of the Gospel:
The mighty strength of the Trinity!
Now that you stand before the Savior,
Pray that He may preserve us in faith and love

***

"Every man, at some time, wants to raise the black flag..." For a lot of people this seems to be the time: McCain latest attempts to prevent free speech and assure incimbents of jobs appears to be the spark. In my case, the time for that is long past:  It started for me back in 1985 when the NY ACLU told us they didn't care what Planned Parenthood did, abortion providers were untouchable. It continued thro the Brady Bill and Assault Weapon Ban,  the ACLU's continual attacks on the Boy Scouts, and McCain-Feingold.  Well, the assaults on personal freedom continues and the McCain-Feingold attack on free speech (except for those lovely MSM who pump so much money into the coffers of both parties) continues by trying to restrict email and Webblogs. David at Resistance is futile is more than slightly upset as are a lot of people.

The bluster and comments of out of my cold dead hands mirror another issue dear to my heart. I hope however until the pro-gun crowd bloggers can do this with out the self-destructive sniping ones sees at the NRA. They make a lot of mistakes, but screaming obscenities at them makes it a lot harder to get them to hell you in the future. It's a lot hard to fight back when you drive people away because of doctrinal impurity. I think it comes from the libertarian bend in a lot of bloggers: to paraphrase someone I read "Libertarians would rather be intectually pure than win elections."

I signed the petition a bit ago but that isn't really enough. Write your senator and representative. Write the RNC and the DNC. Then call. If you made donations, mention that. Be polite but firmly state that this is wrong and will cost them your vote. Y'all should know the drill. Reguardless of what you write on the your blog site, you need to make sure your elected representative gets the message. (Don't know who he is? Try here)  The petition is here and if you are at the point in life to fly the black flag, it can be found here at the Insurrection HQ. The other flag is more appropriate but every boy worth his salt wants to be a pirate.

Anyway, for what's it worth, I'm in...

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Did you know...Conservative Cat has a submission page for most if not all the Carnivals and Showcases out there. With the times due too.

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16 March 2005

Things to Read: The Christian Carnival #61 is up at ChristWeb. Stephen makes you think, about blessings and lessons in my case. Bird at a Birdseye View is hosting the 130th Carnival of the Vanities and is greatly taken with the word "twitchy." Lots of cool stuff there on all sorts of things. Next week's will be at CodeBlueBlog.

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Children and Gun Safety:  The shooting in Houston last week of a 2 year by his older brother has generated the usual set of cries from those willing to exploit any misfortune to disarm the American people.  One of the common responses is that you must to keep your guns unload and locked as nothing is more important than a child's safety. I'm not going to to address the latter, other than to say I've hear a good friend of mine suggest you can love and shelter kids too much.  For those who own or carry for self-defense, an unload gun is, as my father said, a poorly designed club. A defensive weapon is only useful if you can deploy it in a useful fashion. The idea that a gun needed never to be loaded even appeared at my church, not normally a hotbed of liberalism. People literal gasped when I said I carry cocked and locked a la Cooper. I'm sorry but I am sure I believe a 4 year old can be taught that guns aren't toys, he shouldn't touch, and don't go into Momma's purse. The latter problem is what God made peach switches for.*

The answer actually takes more work and more parenting than just locking the suckers up. It means you start teaching the kids as soon as they can walk about gun safety, whether the NRA's Eddie Eagle Program (which should be in every school in the country) or another method. Kids can be taught that guns are not toys, the same way they learn not to touch the burners.  Personally, we never purchased realistic looking toy guns because it made my wife's non-shooting kin happier about the kids owning real guns. Not that that slowed the kids up at all: to a small boy a stick can be a rifle. t  We were teaching them to shoot from an early age and we made sure they had an idea of what guns could do. Between going hunting with me and the "Mr. Magnum meets Mr. Melon" demo they learned. The exposure to firearms, plus constant harping on safety, gave me a 5 year old who chewed his grandfather out because Grandpa left a 45 in a pistol vise on his workbench to go to the john. The little guy was upset because some "little kid" might have found it. Dad almost choked to death laughing after his grandson left. The kid was by far the youngest one in the house Years later on his first deer hunt, the same boy got me compliments from the rancher on his gun handling.  The second is coming alone as nicely.

Safety training and familiarity seem to be the key. Now the training should also include you being a good role model. Like anything in parenting, doing it right is work. You'll need to work with the kids and train them in safety, let them handle the guns and take them shooting so guns are not a mystery to them and they are therefore not tempted to play with them when you aren't looking.  You need to teach them not to touch other people's stuff. You need to take them hunting and out around other shooters. Yep, lots of work (or so I tell the goddess) You also need to be responsible about where that gun is kept. It can be done. Police Officers, for years, have raised kids around loaded weapons a disproportionate number of accidents (I believe it is lower than the general population.). Heck I use the same drill with older kids I teach shooting to I do with  my own kids. Nothing is perfectly safe but the solution is not to ban or restrict the tool. It's proper handling.

* a southern custom is to sent the kid out to pick/cut the peach branch he is going to get swatted with.

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15 March 2005

The Bonfire of Vanities # 89

"I am now encouraged to attempt to write something about the 8 vices..." John Cassian

Well, actually, I'm encouraged by several glasses of Booker's Single Cask Bourbon and water. If I had know what I was going to be doing to my psyche, I'd have started with tequila because it's cheaper. Anyway, I am in Great Lent, a odd religious observance of the Orthodox and as penance for past sins, hosting this edition of the bonfire of vanities. Part of my lenten practice is to read the Philokalia again and following the lead of John Cassian, I decided to group these by the vice best reflected in them. So we have them grouped for the 8 vices of gluttony, avarice (greed), anger, un-chasity, dejection, sloth, self-esteem, and pride. I've added prelest or delusion because it fits. Actually I'm guilty of  the latter myself in doing this even half-sober.

Gluttony

"the belly engenders the seeds of profligacy"

Rusty over at My Pet Jawa is so food obsessed that even an Instalaunch reminds him of food and he shares the comparsion with us by comparing Insta-launch to Insta-lunch. White trash or not, it's apparent there is way too much salt in this diet. Heck, he probably even drinks puppyshakes.

Gluttony as a vice implies excess concern for the needs of the body. It's not just overeating but also being too fussy about what you eat. Over at I am the Lizard Queen, Rufel is tormenting vegan's as trees are found to be more aware than we thought. So the strict vegan is going to be living on dirt and air?

Un-Chasity

"we must guard the heart from base thoughts"

Small hope of me doing that with Ms. Finger's little posting on alternative activities during International Women's Week over at Give me spirit fingers dammit!! At this point, I'm not sure a cold shower would help.  (Actually her Irish post isn't helping either....) Obviously Ms Fingers is the type of person John Cassian would have warned me about. I wonder if she likes bourbon.

Laurence Simon over at  This blog is full of Crap falls in here because what he does to the UN Frontpage is so true in so many ways. 

Avarice/Greed

"more destructive than the other passions, for it is, as the Apostle calls it, the root of all evil."

This one gave me trouble as I could have placed it here or in Un-Chasity. Using sex to lure browsers, Gretchen at the Green Lantern admits to being ashamed that she posted a picture of Pam Anderson in  lettuce leaves to generate links. I hope it worked 'cause it got me to go look. Actually I'm just gonna sit here and drink and stare at the monitor...I'm thinking of something to say, honest.

Ah, where were we? Yes, moving right along, Mad Anthony is wondering why they don't charge for the use of public restrooms. Talk about your evil ideas: he's obviously never had to pull into a McDonald's with two kids needing to go. This is one idea that needs to be stopped before it spreads...

Sloth

"making him slack"

The Conservative Cat tries to show that mathematicians are all not like the fellow on the "Numbers" show (that's a good thing no?) So Ferdinand gives us really boring facts about numbers but is too lazy to go beyond a hundred.

 Anyway, heading next over to GOP and the City, that lucky guy is getting death threats and what does he do? He runs a contest on who can mock them best instead of doing the right thing and mocking them himself.

Finally over at Boxing Alcibiades, Russ isn't even trying. He's waiting for the appearance of a three-headed rainbow baby lover.... No. I don't even want to go there. I'm still too sober.

And coming in both late, lazy and sleep deprived, Pooklekufr (No I did not make that up. Yes, I am still sober. Way too sober) posts about Insomnia induced blogging over at Pooklekufr: the Kafir Constitutionalist.
 

Dejection/Despair

" that demon which keeps us from good works and from our daily tasks"

Obviously, over at Coffee with CrankyBeach, they are not thankful enough for the gift of caffeine, but instead whine and complain that their blog mother got a troll before did. Not going out and offending someone enough to get their own, they instead complain about Ith's good fortune. I don't have a troll and you don't here me whining. No, I just sit here and drink myself silly reading this stuff. <sniff> I wants a troll....

Over at the Alpaca Burger Forum (hey what do those taste like?...Sorry) they are into data. Large amounts of it. Large boring amounts of it. Did I say boring? And drinking. And blogging. All to avoid the work of going out and getting a life.

Anger

"eradicate this deadly poison from the depth of your soul"

Jay over at the Zero Boss has some issues with a blogger's magazine. Now, the concept of a blogging magazine should give you pause but apparently reading it was a less than pleasurable experience.

Meanwhile Robert at Centerpiece wants to know if the technology that created the Stefford Wives has been obtained by the liberals in this country. Maybe it's living in Oregon, but self delusion makes him mad.

And the Opinionated Bastard is fighting with feminists again, who are whining what an opinionated bastard he is. Anger will make you pound sand, which is what the poor fellow is doing...

Coming in a bit late, which should in itself put him under sloth were it not for the unsupressed rage in this post, Rick at the Rightwing Nuthouse is venting about Fox selling out to pressure groups and CAIR's view that Americans are too stupid to know that not all Muslims are bad.

Self Esteem

"the seeking of praise

Digger over at Digger's Realm doesn't want accept all cable in Sacramento sucks and that it is going to act like a fitness guru on a Stairmaster. (Now that is another image I don't need.) For everyone. It's not they are out to get him.

Some people are just too clever and show it by telling obscure jokes. Brian at Musings of Brian has that problem.

Pride

"it acts like some harsh tyrant"

If this happened to me, I'd worry but Andrew at Dodgeblogium instead asks "should he be flattered."

   Prelest

"Delusion of the soul that leads it to its destruction"

John of Minion of the Great Satan has reached the greatest form of prelest a blogger can. Punning. Lots of it. Punning on punning. Arrrgh!

Well, that's it I hope. I finished a bottle of  bourbon writing this and I may need therapy but at least its all electronic. Do your realize how long this bonfire would burn if it was all hardcopy? Thanks (or something) to the folks at Wizbang for starting this and letting me play.

UPDATE: Sorry,  I don't have permalinks. If anyone knows how to do them in Frontpage, holler at me.

UPDATE: And now someone wants me to run RSS Feed? Arrgh!

UPDATE: Hey! That was easy. Now to fix the site. If my ISP would only allow me to run Movable Type<sigh>

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Haven't got a lot done with doing my first carnival of posts yesterday. The goddess, reading over my shoulder, asked if my humor wasn't just too strange even for the blogsphere. We'll find out I guess. Hopefully no one is too offended.

The first day of spring break with the kids corresponded with the first day of Grandma's visit and the first day of Great Lent. So it was a odd day. I had a bunch of 12 years over for a non-sleep over as they played video games and worked on making explosions in Flash MX all night. I took them out to IHOP Sunday night for my last blintz (no blini left from dinner) and some older guy, just off work, looked at me and a table of kids and said "you poor bastard."  Wasn't quite that bad but I didn't manage the Tom Sawyer trick and get them to insulate my attic either.

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The 5th New Christian Blog Showcase is up at Nick Queen.com. Wonder if I'd qualify? This week he highlights Lady4Jesus, promptings, and  my three pennies worth.

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13 March 2005

Cheese-Fare/Forgiveness Sunday

Great Lent truly starts today with Forgiveness Vespers. Most folks who visit an Orthodox Church during this period don't notice that: what people think of  Cheese-Fare Sunday. The last day that we can eat eggs, fish, and dairy before Cleansing Week opens the Great Fast, those churches have some sort of feast following the service: blini with sweeten cheese, fruit compotes, or caviar, sweets of all kinds, cheeses, dairy based dishes, and ice cream are common.  Our little parish had several kinds of cheesecake, dozens of cheeses, several pasta dishes, cakes, cookies, deviled eggs, and a mess of casseroles.  The blini we'll have for dinner...

Then Forgiveness Vespers tonight.  One of the most moving services in the year, Forgiveness Vespers flows directly from Christ's teachings on forgiveness: as you forgive, so are you forgiven.  During the service, we bow to each other and ask forgiveness for any wrong we may have done them during the year. We do this with everyone, priest with parishioners, husband with wife, parents with children, old friends with friends, and enemies with foes. That last is where I stumble: my heart is not pure enough nor I am good enough to forgive. If the old story about the bad monk who based his salvation on the fact he never judged anyone and forgave all who offended him is true, I am in very great need of the Mercy of Christ.  For I find myself each year wrestling with should I attend and try to forgive people who I know are hypocritical pharisaical frauds, who I believe actually harm the faith? People who are more Russian than Orthodox, who live in a 19th Century Russia that never was, who make a big deal out of the rules and their positions but have no expression of the love of Christ?

This is why I need to, must make the Forgiveness Vespers service. There are people I deal with I can't stand, who I can't forgive that are part of the Body of Christ. Yet, I am commanded to forgive them. The body and mind are not separate creatures as is sometimes said, but part of the composite creature we call human. Because of that, physical actions affect the mind as much as the mind's attitude affects the body. So grumbling and muttering, I go to Vespers...

During Vespers, we sing the hymns asking God to forgive and heal us. Afterward, we apporach each other and forming a large circle around the room, bow to each other and ask forgiveness for any sin, any wrong we have committed during the year. We then share the trifold kiss and promise to forgive the other person and entreat their prayers.  Everyone does this to everyone else. With freinds and compadres, its a cleansing renew of our relationship. With my sons, it is a chance to ask them to forgive all the ways I have failed as a father, when I have yelled too soon, been too demanding or unreasonable, when I have neglected them for other things. With the goddess, it is a chance to ask forgiveness for all hurts we caused each other over the year, those sharp little wounds that only lovers can inflict on each other. My failings in the last year, the times away, the neglecting her for my job, the grumpiness from the pain of old injuries, all this can be offered up to her and ask to be forgiven. With a deep breath, swallowing my pride and forcing my unrighteous anger back, I approach and ask forgiveness from my enemies, offering them the unconditional forgiveness He requires. For by His command, my forgiving does not depend on their actions. It is freely given and with it, I give up my right to be offended to be angry, to wish them ill. For as He forgave me, so am I to forgive others.

Afterwards, the deep feeling of peace fills me. We depart the church in silence, with quiet farewells, and head out to our own places, in our case home for blini and then out to Beth Marie's for ice cream. Everything isn't fixed and the problems are still there, but we will start trying again. Years ago, I sucked it up and went to offer and ask forgiveness of someone with whom I have had serious problems. These were at the point that we were not invited to the same parties and we never spoke. He began crying and hugged me and begged my forgiveness in return. We are still not close but the anger is gone. So sometimes it works, whether you think you want it too or not. Would I have approached this man without Frogiveness Vespers? Probalby not. It really was not inconveince to me to avoid his company, but what was hidden to me in my sin was the harm it did to others?  Does it always happen like this? Well of course not but it does often enough. That's not surprising for hatred and anger are large burdens to carry and He did promise us the yoke would be easy and the burden light.

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What would be Cheese-fare Sunday without Blini? Especially since after this I am facing 6 weeks of tofu. (BTW did you know the pictographs for   tofu literally mean rotten bean?) Anyway here's the blini recipe we use:

1 eggut

2 cups flour

2 cups milk (we use half milk and half buttermilk)

2 Tbsp vegatalbe oil

1/2 tsp baking soda

salt

butter

 

Beat the egg and add the flour and milk slowly mixing until smooth. Add oil and baking soda and mix well. Mixture should be very smooth.

Heat a frying pan or crepe pan and wipe the pan with butter. Pour a thin layer on the bottom and cook until the edges are peeling up (about a minute) Flip and cook until done. Remove and brush blini with butter. Fill with one of the below or caviar and sour cream.

 

Cottage cheese filling                        Apple Filling                                    Potato Filling                                         Nut Filling              

3 cups cottage cheese                    6 cups sliced apples                           2 potatoes mashed                                1 pound chopped walnuts

2 tsp vanilla                                    1/2 cup sugar                                    2 ounces grated cheese                          4 Tbsp sugar

1.2 tsp grated lemon                       1 tsp Sweet Spice                             Milk to thin as needed                           1 Tbsp butter

2 tsp sugar                                      small amount of wine                                                                                      Milk to make a paste

                                                     Combine and cook on high for10 minutes

 

Filling should be mixed well together and then 2-3 Tbsp added to each blini, which is then rolled up.  Have everything ready as they are best hot. Serve with pickled herring in sour cream on the side.

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        Why Christians and other religious types are twitchy about gay marriage, etc:  If one looks at many poll numbers, one finds a majority of religious people have no problem with civil rights, etc for homosexuals: in fact there is a very definite opinion that discriminating against them is wrong. Things go negative when gay marriage is suggested. I'd suggest a good part of the reason can be seen in the Catholic Charities problems with birth control as a health benefit in California and in what is happening at the Catholic-run New York Medical College with a gay students group (here too). 

Actions like these, directed against one of the most visible and organized Christian Churches, basically tell Christians of all stripes that their religious beliefs are practiced only at the whim of the state. Like the attempts in California to twist the law in regards to gay marriage and the judicial tyranny seen in Massachusetts, the general response is to become less willing to compromise. Why? Because it is apparent the opinion of a preferred minority are going to be forcibly applied on everyone because some legal appointee or some pressure group thinks is right.  Most Christians have learned the lessons of the "When they came for the Jews, I was silent." Whether or not one is Catholic, this forcing of Catholic organizations to betray their beliefs will be noted.

One of the fears will gay marriage is that it will be forced onto churches by legal and governmental actions or the churches will be  persecuted that choose not to accept it.  The Catholic Charities case shows the beginning of that and in the response from Planned Parenthood one can hear the glee. This glee is not an isolated case: when I was in California after the birth control case, people were giddy with the fact "those Catholics were being made to offer birth control." Now, whether you believe it right or wrong, forcing someone to go against their beliefs should worry you. Freedom is supposedly means able to do things that others don't like.

UPDATE: Dan at Gay Patriot has a similar conclusion about driving the backlash.  More here.

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12 March 2005

After we picked up my mother-in-law, we had a nice fish dinner and made the normal Saturday afternoon run to Barnes and Noble. While I buy most of my books online, there is a definite pleasure to browsing among paper. It's not as fun as Shakespeare Books in Dallas was, or any small locally owned book store, but with the coffee shop, large comfy chairs, and a tolerant staff, it's close. While I was there, I tripped over this book on the Easter Display (let's not go there, what the hell Deepak Chopra has to do with the Resurrection of Christ is a mystery to me) by some gentleman named  Jim Wallis with the interesting title of "God's Politics: What the Right has wrong and the Left doesn't get." I read about half of it while waiting and then the reviews at both Amazon and BN online. The reviews re-enforced my initial reaction: talk about being damned by your friends.

Wallis has a point and a valid one. However he's not really pushing for the idea that Christians need to vote the way they conscience dictates. He's pushing for a progessive (translation Democratic) vote. Given his way, Saddam would still be in power because peace is important and social justice (translation: increased taxation and more special programs) increased. Now he has a point in that the current association of  evangelicals with the Republican Party is in many ways dangerous because the Christian is obligated to follow Christ's teachings, not be aligned with a party. BUT the reason many Christians of many stripes go Republican is the Democratic Party has made it impossible to vote for them by making abortion, sexual license, secularism, etc parts of the loyality test. Seen what happens to anti-abortion Democrats lately?

The Democratic Party is realizing that the votes of those Christian people may be important. Maybe even more so as the black churches are tending to look at the Republicans more favorably. Despite what the elites think, a lot of people of all races and flavors are interested in doing what they believe is right, not what just benefits them personally. So adding "God talk" and such ain't gonna cut it. As long as the Democrats remain wedded to anti-Christian special interests, the Republicans will get the religious vote despite misgivings on other polities.

This could have been a good book, because I know I'd like more of a choice. I haven't been able to morally pull the lever for a democrat in years. If the Republicans were to drift too far away on certain issues, I'd be voting for minor parties. However, the book basically tries to get me to buy "progressive" policies as part of the gospel of Christ and it doesn't work. Christians give personally or thro their churches in large amounts. I can work for social justice and fairness locally without pandering to politicians and creating systems that come back and screw me later. I don't need someone like Wallis pretending to be for Christ when it is apparent he just wants me to vote for his side.

Yeah the Republican Party has issues and they are complacent in a lot of things I don't like. Some religious, some like this that may involve the survival of the nation as a whole. BUT they are not asking me to sell out on Christian beliefs held for almost 2000 years.

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Well, I figured out what I did wrong on bookmarks and apparently I have to change the whole way I sent up these pages. Althro the links update automatically, bookmarks do not in Frontpage 2003 and I need to set the page so the month is there from the beginning. I can't wait until the kid figures out enough Dreamweaver to allow me to work in it. Anything is got to be better than this dang MS software.

If anyone knows of a better way in Frontpage, let me know.

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11 March 2005

The Carnival of Cordite is up and wow, the Anarchangel, Chris, put a ton of work into it. Great stuff: both good photos and  interesting reads...<sigh> My wife won't even pose with our East Ridge Arms .50. I am so jealous....

And its coming here next week! Wow! 

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The Carnival of Recipes is up at Pam's newly established "Bloggers' Kitchen". It looks great and the desserts are making me think sinful thoughts. Only 6 more week of fasting to go...We'll just to share our recipe for "Tofu Nightmares" before long (based on the children's opinion all tofu is a nightmare).

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Friday is gun blogging day: Today's picture includes a New England Arm's Youth Model in 243 and 20 guage alternative barrel but that is really an aside. I could have really called this post Guns, Hunting and Kids...

That's my oldest, Noah, - three years ago- by the white fallow doe he shot. He's bigger now and his brother is training for his first hunt, probalby another exotic in a very controlled environment like Thompson Temple's place down in the Hill County. The love of hunting was set deep that trip and it may be why so many families that hunt seem to pass thro the teens with less anguish than others. The experience of hunting with a young son, especially the blind type hunting in West Texas, the being out in the wilderness, the working together as a team, of a son learning to be a partner with his father in a shared task, all this leads to an opening up about things in a child's life he normally doesn't tell. Especially as he learns what is said in the deer camp, stays there.

Training a kid for that first hunt is a bunch of work. Safe gun handling must be almost instinctual as he will be handling a load firearm. It helps if they have been gun-trained since birth and if shooting is a part of life. My youngest, Ben,  dry-fires 20 shots from the five positions (normal 3 positions plus supported and kneeling) each night before bed. His goal: all his shoots in a 6" paper plate at 100 yards with his .243 deer rifle. No, its not marksman grade accuracy yet but he's nine and that will let him drop a deer clean, like his brother did. His brothers shot was at 155 yards, so the same is expected at 200 for Ben. He's tagged along for turkeys and hogs, for several deer hunts, for doves and quail. This year he gets to join in the shooting. The fun is already there because to quote Ortega "man kills to show he hunted, he does not hunt to kill."

Over the years, we've seen deer grazing with their yearlings, foxes carrying their kill back to their burrow, badgers waking up, armadillos scurrying by...We chased turkeys down the road as we drive in and met some good folks. And some not so good...

Hunting with kids in Texas is sadly getting harder and harder. I hear it many places and from a lot of folks. The TSRA has also mentioned it and talking to one of their staff, it is getting to be more of an issue. More and more ranchers are looking at kids not as the future crop of leasers, but as a current source of income. Most folks I know can't play the lease for themselves and the kids are full rates. A lot of horror stories are out there of guys who leased from people and found out the kids were expected to pay full fare. We lost a lease this year because the guy who ran it didn't want my kids on it. Talking to the landowner and the other hunters, there was no problem with the kids. Childless himself, this his guy apparently doesn't want kids at all on the lease. Since he works for Kimball Homes, that's one contractor I'll never use...

It's a shame because there are some great people I've met who ranch and hunt in Texas. We leased from some folks in Lampasas who were lovely people and Thompson is a very good man and his staff first rate (Rich Johnson, his head guide, made me the happiest dad in the world when he called me aside to tell me Noah had the safest gun handling he ever saw, and that included 20 years plus of military service.) But the kids are the future and we need to hook them on the shooting sports (target, skeet, trap, hunting) or the gun control nuts will win. And it makes a difference. We tend to be a close family but the closest that comes from a hunt comes from no where else and it affects the way they look at life: my 12 year wanted Bush to win 'cause Gore was anti-gun. The boys are much more respectful of not wasting food now they have killed and prepared deer. Lots of things flow from the hunt: now if we could only get them to stop calling venison "Bambi burgers."

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10 March 2005

The Christian Carnival is up. Man, all those clever people make me feel stupid...some great reads there.

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Apparently the FBI can't find any sleeper cells...It's politically incorrect to mention but a large chunk of the problem is the vast majority of Moslems would rather shelter and hide a Moslem murderer and terrorist than turn him over to the infidel police. And infidels is what we non-moslem Americans are. The word used for us in Arabic is worse than being called a dog or a cur in their eyes.

That's why I think Glenn Reynolds is wrong here. We are at war with Islam as a whole. He's got it backwards: it's only certain sects that can be deal with as they have developed a tolerance of others. The majority of Islam wants Sharia law imposed here and the dhimmi (most of us) subdued. Where in the world is Islam in contact with other religions that is violence free? Historically the Moslems were so nice as overlords to the Sikh, the Hindi, the Serbs, the Rus, the Coptics, the Nubians, the Greeks of Istanbul, and Armenians. 

UPDATE: Much is being made of this, and maybe I'm wrong above. I'd like to believe that the Muslims in Spain are against terrorist as a whole, but for now I'm siding with Litte Green Footballs...took them 3 years, an attack in Spain, anti-Muslim sentiment, and only denounced Bin Laden, not terror as a whole. One of the big problems with dealing with Islam is the Koran allows one to lie in all ways to deal when dealing with the infidel. When they start turning in the terrorists in their midst, then maybe....

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9 March 2005

Carnival of the Vanities is up at A New View...go look.

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I drove to Texas A&M today, about 4 hours, and was again stuck by the beauty of the countryside in Texas. If you run from Denton to Waco, I35 is nice but it's highway with all the development that implies. However, when you turn down Route 6, you run down country road and state highway among small town, farms, and ranches.  The beauty of this state makes my heart ache at times. Especially in the early morning, you understate why the Russians say that a man with a heart cries at beauty. The little cattle pond in the early morning sun for example (right)

College Station is a lovely hill country town despite the size of Texas A&M. Talking to someone there, the reputation A&M has for being a conservative hotbed is not a function of the faculty. This guy, who has been to some very liberal universities and worked in some heavy blue areas, swears that the faculty at A&M is as left-wing as anyplace he's been. The difference is the student body, as a whole, tends to conservative and Christian.  Apparently the cultural resilience of the small farming towns a lot of these kids come from is greater than thought. It probably helps A&M is mainly a science and engineering school, where it is much harder to force your opinion down people's throats by extortion and grade-blackmail. 

Another interesting observation that came up was the strength and presence of Texas women. We were talking about cultural difference and my thoughts on a sense of humor (see here). It was noted that Texas women are much more personally tough and resilent than other places he's been but also more willing (demanding) actually to be treated as feminine. I think the pioneer ethic crossed with the southern charm creates a ideal of womanhood here that is strong enough to allow a woman to be treated as feminine. Strong enough to be soft and smart enough to realize you get more with honey than vinegar.

The above is sunrise outside of College Station with the grass and trees just waking up from winter. (No, not the same scene as above. The close up was taken at 10:30 near Byran while the sunrise is just down 6 from Waco. The white stuff in both foregrounds is clover.) To the left is the same part of the world at sunset. Bluest skies you've ever seen in Seattle. I don't think so...

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8 March 2005

Bonfire of Vanities is up at Basil's Blog. The jealousy that my link-whoring was profitable is apparent. (I said whore...if it was for free, I'd have said slut...) Read the rest of it too as there is so funny stuff...  Next week I host it and I'm stocking up on Booker's already. This may be the excuse I need for the SW 500.

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The roaches do science... Insects infect Fisk's law as applied to martial arts.

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The Volokh Conspiracy has this great line: "this is America and I'm not going to be nice to Nazis to try to get them to go away." He finishes by asking a question that I think we can answer yes... Oppression of a group of people that highly value education and study is got to be a sign of a deeper and more extensive sickness. Insanity is not limited to one area of life...definitely not when its societal.

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A day off without family is a really naughty pleasure. So I spent it turning bowls and that was fun. The excitement came when the inlayed platter got a cathc and decided to explode...There are good reason not to turn naked.

 

So I did three projects today. The large shattered thing in the middle was a spalted elm platter with a cocobola disk inlayed into the center. Turning was a pain, 'cause the wood was spunky and I had to stabilize it with superglue. I had it finished and was buffing it then I pushed the speed too high. These were all the pieces I could find. The small bowl (enlarged on the right) is a spalted     with a strip of bloodwood in it. About 6" across, it came out really pretty.  The covered box is pretty in real life. It's curly mesquite and about 6" tall. I threaded the top so it screws shut. First time I tried that on a project. You can inda see the threads on the right.

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7 March 2005

My taxes are done! Finally! So when the hell can we have a flat tax?

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All this fuss about a collaborator in Iraq, injured by the sheer idiocy of those who purchased her release by speeding at a US checkpoint. Yet Fabrizio Quattrocchi went almost unmentioned. His last words should be part of every kids education in his homeland: "Now let me show you how an Italian dies." (BTW: Does anyone know the Italian words as I've had a couple of European friends say the original uses Roman.) Anyway, that was one tape not shown by the terrorist's TV network lest the murderous scum realize: "It is he who saith not kismet; it is he that knows not fate,  It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate."

Sometimes its better to die on your feet than live on your knees. Memory Eternal, Mr. Quattrocchi. Your name should be honored along with the troops that fell in liberating Iraq, while your country-woman's should be forgotten.

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 My last meat dishes until Pascha: At least I wouldn't be alone, so we can suffer as a family. In typical fashion, we had the meat fare gourging at Church today after service and then for dinner had "fast steaks" and the remains of the "Bigos". Fast steaks are what the kids call ribeye grilled quickly when we forgot to plan on anything else.

Fast Steak (or Dad forgot to plan ahead again)

2  2 pound ribeyes (mine are normally 1-1.5 inches thick)

4 Tbsp sesame oil

Santa Fe Seasoning Trinity Rub

Sea salt.

 

Turn grill onto highest setting and let heat 20 minutes. Rub steaks with sesame oil and let sit 15 minutes. Rub with Trinity Rub and drop on grill on high. Cook 7-10 minutes on first side. Turn over and drop heat to medium. Cook until desired (rare works here). Salt lightly and let sit 5 minutes to rest. Eat with grocery store potato salad and bread.

 

Bigos  - An eastern European hunters stew (the crock pot version)

 

3 pounds boneless lamb, in 2" cubes

1 pound venison, same

1 pound pork, same

1 pound bacon, diced

1 pound keilbasa (garlic sausage), sliced into 1/2" rounds

1 large red cabbage, in chucks

3 chopped onions

3 peeled, cored and chopped tart apples

1 clove garlic diced

4 Tbsp lard

2 cups beef broth

Salt, Pepper, and Paprika (the hot Hungarian kind) to taste

Brown lamb, venison and pork in the lard. In crockpot, layer the cabbage, onions, apples, meats with the garlic and bacon. Add the spices to the meat layer as desired (we use 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp each of black pepper and paprika). Add beef broth and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add keilbasa and cook another 2 hours. Adjust spices. Serve with a flat bread.

You can also add some potatoes and carrots in the onion layer if desired. <sniff> It's gone now. No more until Pascha.

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6 March 2005

MEAT-FARE SUNDAY

Anyone who ever trained seriously for a sport during high school or college knows the anticipation that precedes the start of the training season. As the starting weeks of practice approach, the sense of longing, of yearning for that hard training, the rededication of ones activities and time to tuning and developing ones skills becomes almost a need. Any athlete knows you can't train all out all the time, so the when the time to do so comes around again, we response with almost a need to train.

I think Paul's comparison of the Christian life to training and an athlete winning a race (1Cor 9:24-27 and many others) is deeper than normally explained. Living the cycles of the Church year gives one the same sense that swimming in the summer or playing football in the fall does when the time to pack up the gear, cut down on the fat and get one's tush off to training camp hits the athlete. One doesn't train everything all the time but works on certain things at certain times.  So now, as the Western Church nears its Easter, those of us of the Eastern Orthodox Faith start  feeling the need for the discipline and focus of Great Lent.  The preparation starts tomorrow as today we purge our house of meat on Meat fare (as it farewell). Starting tomorrow animal flesh will not be eaten again until the Pascha of the Lord. It's not Great Lent yet, but we are preparing...stretching out and unpacking the gear in anticipation of the training. How else can one describe it? I await the the start of Lent with the same anxiousness that I await the return of my beloved and I look toward the discipline of it with the same hope as I feel when the redbuds flower, saying spring is here.

The Lenten Spring as one writer called it is a good analogy for the way Great Lent's arrival feels in the nous, the heart of my soul. I often use Christ's parable of the sower to explain the disciplines of the Church and the path of Great Lent leading to Holy Week and the Feast of Feasts. We are called to be more than we are, we are called to be sons of God, to be as gods, to be like Christ. Strange and scary language that has been misinterpreted and twisted by many over the centuries but the teaching is still there: "God became man than men might become gods." Lewis's the Weight of Glory discusses the fact that in eons, the saved will be beyond all our comprehension. The path starts at accepting Christ as Lord and Savior and goes on from there.

Anyone who has lived or worked on a farm knows that Spring brings with it not only the joy and hope that comes with the thaw and the passing of winter but also a lot of work. That work thro is a joy and strangely a pleasure as is the season of training before competition. So also Great Lent brings the expectation of the Resurrection and the work of preparing our hearts and lives to experience it. So as the sower prepares the ground, we prepare ourselves. The rocky soil must be broken up and we fast from the good things of life, fish, fowl and meat, eggs and dairy, sweetness and rich food, oil and the wine that makes glad the heart of man. Even the allowed foods are only eaten lightly and rarely. Those stronger than I may even fast in the flesh. All of these things are great blessing but as an athlete gives up things, we fast from these goods to choose a great Good. The discipline of fasting also teaches us to remove those things from our lives that remove us from Christ. The soil is deepened and enriched to allow the seed to grow and we enrich our hearts with increasing our rule of prayer, with prayers for forgiveness and healing, with attempting to make ourselves more open to the seeds of Grace that fall into our hearts.  The weed are always there and we kill these with charity and almsgiving, both monetary from saving from the foods and luxuries we skip but also spiritual by trying even more to forgive, to love, to give to those around. For 40 days, we prepare the ground, we train for the event that without we are but fools.*

Unless one has walked this path, unless one has seriously attempted as part of a believing community to do this, one doesn't really recognize how much it feels like a team coming together again for this years season.  Starting with forgiveness vesper, where one forgives all in the community the wrongs they've done you in the year and receiving their forgiveness in turn, the focus continues thru Great Lent to "make straight the path of Lord." Like any road work it is a demanding and often tiring time, but a joyful one. We know for what purpose we prepare and that is greater than any other laurel we could receive. So despite the work, the happiness and joy at its start bubbles up in me. For my Lord and my God is risen indeed and I run to Him in joy and gladness...

I think I finally understand the psalms about desiring God as a loved desires his beloved and why David danced before the Lord. I'm bouncing around like a puppy with excitement as my heart sings "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Lord Immortal, have mercy on us"

* To an outsider this sounds very legalistic and dry, but living it is more complicated than given here. The whole Lenten discipline is treated as a medicine to help heal the soul and it varies greatly depending on your age, condition and health. For example, the sick as well as those with child are told not to fast.

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Less seriously: Kerry Spot suggests the Iranian oligarchs as cute puppies and Instapundit is interested. Does this mean there is truth in IMAO's accusations of puppy blending in Knoxville? If so, will that solve the Iran crisis as the mullahs end up as Glenn's milkshakes? One can only hope...freedom via blender.

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers and thank you, Glenn, for the link. Stay and visit a bit. Puppy-shakes served at 5.

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5 March 2005

Red State, Blue State and Humor: Interesting contrast the last couple of weeks. I was at a meeting that was mainly people from the South and another that was mainly Northeasters and West Coaster, with a few westerners tossed in. It was interesting not only in the political and social differences, which were many but also in the attitude toward co-workers and the sense of humor on the job. The normal scientist humor tends to be cynical about things and twisty or quirky and that is true of most of the folks I know except from the California area and the NE. If the techie works in support, the humor gets black really quick. To quote a friend when I was hired into one of those jobs: "Are you a cynical paranoid psychopath? No? Give it 6 months." There seems to be a lack of humor or any sense of the absurd about the job: they don't tease and they definitely don't do self-mockery. Too dangerous in a PC world? Lord knows I've gotten my butt chewed about incorrect humor more than once. However, we all still do it: I'm just more shameless than most. Most of this isn't derogatory stuff either; its laughing at the absurdity that is so much part of life. For example, I writing this as if I had a readership other than Terry and Noah: whatever for?  Williams' quote on superfluous-ness comes to mind and its answer: "think yourself the less." The difference between Red and Blue States seems to be crystallized for me in the over-seriousness of the latter. As a 12 year old I know said: "Daddy, liberals don't laugh."

This actually may be the most damning condemnation of modern liberalism I know: the lack of a sense of humor about life and about themselves. While many things are serious, only a few really require solemnity and many things benefit from a playful look at the silliness involved. However a system of belief that doesn't allow its followers to laugh at it seems like the old communism - a humorless faith where we are all too important to laugh. Within a 100 years, we are all fertilizer anyway and to put too much seriousness on this body with its flaws, weaknesses and embarrassing functions seems too much to bear. Maybe if more liberals accepted that, they'd laugh at themselves more.

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4 March 2005

Driving from Orlando to Tampa at 5 am, I heard this song "Unbreakable walls, break" about a boy seeing his father cry for the first time when the boy's grandfather dies. I ended up pulling off and sobbing. There is reputedly a Chinese proverb that says a man is not really an adult while his father lives and it is interesting that things do change. Mainly for me, who never really had a period where I rebelled against him, its the emptiness. Now I truly believe he is with Christ in the foretaste of Paradise, especially with the old Russian folk-belief that Dad's death on Pascha is a sign he was going to Heaven. Despite that, I miss the talks, the advice, the knowledge that someone loved me just because and that I had made him happy the way I turned out (despite all my failings and sins).

I wish his grandchildren had known him better. I married late and had children later and in retrospect my self absorption in my own career cheated my sons of knowing this man who taught me so much. I hope I can be half as good a father.

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A old friend: My Mossberg went with me to Jeff Cooper's school years ago with the slug barrel and with the choke-tubed long barrel on many a dove hunt...

Sometimes you gotta dance with the old friends instead chasing the new lovelies....

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 3 March 2005

Orlando and much of Florida is a study in contrasts. You have the glittering cities like Miami and the nearby beach towns, the large entertainment centers ike Orlando, the vacationer's havens, and the well-to-do Yankees retirement homes. Outside of this, you have a class of working class folks who are fundamentally southerners, red staters trying to make ends meet and live a normal life next to fantasy land. As a friend of mine said Florida seems to be a mixture of Hollywood and Arkansas, with a large dash of Cuba tossed in for flavor.  The latter two places to me seem to be the better places to be. The moneyed sophisticates seem to be so empty of real thought and real meaning...

I hear this a lot in my travels, especially at Universities and Colleges. The goddess sees it a lot at the clinic. Despite all the material goods, something is missing and some many are driven to despair by the shallowness of their lives. All the goodies, all the freedom to do and say as you please, somehow doesn't work. Suicides, depression and self destructive behaviors are so very common among the young. Hmmm. I bet they don't require reading the Hound of Heaven or the World's Desire in English Literature anymore...

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 1 March 2005

PittCon Day 2: I'm way behind on my Carnival contributions and on blogging. So much cool stuff here... I am probably not going to be online much until Sunday when I get home...I had forgotten how much work these are.

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