31 May 2005

Rules of Biology: Despite what we as a society want to believe, humans are not the same. Equality is a legal and social concept, not the biochemical one. Brain structure is different, hormones are different, and so is body structure (duh). So unless you want to believe in some sort of Gnostic position where the mind is independent of the body, we have differences to deal with. So while men can still make babies at 70, women can't. Now this flies in the face of feminism and the AMA's got spanked for daring to suggest that women might want to consider that their bodies are designed to have babies younger than 40. Dr. Summers got his spanking for suggesting women might not have the same ability in higher mathematics men do and if I wanted to get abused, I could point out the differences in membership of the American Physics, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences associations (listed in increasing female membership). Well, the Volokh Conspiracy reports that a  young woman has actually said maybe summer is right and the best response we see is this...  Ah yes, the legal-magical world view - where words are more important than the reality they represent and if you don't like what they say, attack them personally and discredit them that way.

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Neat pocket aids: We spend the day down at the local gun and archery store, getting Noah his hunting bow. We had this deal that if he finished the year with all A's, he'd get a hunting weight bow and he just squeaked thru. (If he didn't I was planning to kill him and start over: the Bill Cosby approach to fatherhood.) However, he made it and it took a lot of work in math.  So he choose a PSE Bruin 29/50, which worked out to 40 pounds at 27". Of course, we also needed arrows and the rest of the gear. While Danny was giving him lessons, and Ben was tranced out on Gameboy, I looked at the SW Model 500 and a nice rifle in 338. On the side table was a pile of these little cards from Caswell Target Systems: I forgotten about these, even through Caswell was kind enough to send me a bunch once for a Scout troop. It's a handy little reference to stick in your shooting bag. I find whenever I start consistently doing something wrong, I can never remember these patterns. (Left handed shooters use the other side of the card. If I remember correctly there are other guides for rifle shooters too.) Knowing that I am squeezing with that rinf finger again when firing helps you correct it. I've even used a tack once before I beat that danged habit: the tack didn't help. What cured it was a steady diet of dry firing. Now after that, I am a firm believer that most of these problems as with rifle can be solved by dry-firing. I have the boys on a steady diet of 50 shots a day with the 5 positions of rifle (prone, sitting, kneeling, standing, supported) and it has given the boys the ability to drill that paper plate easily at 100 yards before deer season with no problems. One drill I used and that other pistol shooters have mentioned is balancing a dime on your front site and making sure it stays there when the hammer drops. Another one the boys and I use is to hold a sight picture and continue holding it for a count of 2 after the shot is fired. If anyone else has some dry-fire drill, or the equalivent for shotgun, leave them in the comments as I can use all the help I can get.

Sadly, I know what we need to do for archery...5 yard, no fletching, and practice the release until we start "robin hooding" arrows. <sigh> My shoulder is gonna hate me 'cause I just tuned the bow back up to 65 pounds.

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30 May 2005

Memorial Day

For those who died in service of our country:

May their Memory be eternal and may Light Perpetual shine upon them.

And at 3 pm, please join in the Moment of Remembrance

(only don't do this PC silence crap: say a pray for all those who serviced, living and dead)

(flag courtesy of 3DFlags.com)

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Smoker time: Hmmm A ton of chores around the house, a ton of wood to move out back, a bunch of cold beer, and some lamb ribs. I guess we might as well smoke 'em as we do the chores.

Using our normal mix of 1 part each mesquite, cedar, cottonwood, and cherry scraps, we heated that sucker up to about 500 F and let it cool down to 230ish. While that was going one, we took:

2  racks lamb ribs, with 10 cloves of garlic sliced and stuck under the skin (after brining)

1 rack of beef ribs, cut in chucks (by the way, this really messes up the bandsaw)

1 brisket, about 12 pounds.

10 chicken breasts

5 pounds venison bratwurst

2.5 pounds venison kielbasa

Everything except the sausage is brined overnight in a standard kosher salt and sugar brine. Rinse off well and rub the red meats with olive oil and then rub all over with berbere spice. I use the stuff I buy from the local Ethiopian market. For the beef, I hit it with a good shake of lemon pepper afterward. 

The chicken gets rubbed with Montreal Chicken rub.

Make a mop consisting of 1 cup olive oil, 1 bottle Shiner Bock, 4 Tbsp Berbere, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 1 Tbsp lemon pepper. Put meat in smoker and cook 1 hour. Using a new cheap paint brush, brush mop on everything and turn over. Mop the top side too. (I use these racks Noah and I made to keep the ribs upright so you can get more racks in.)  Cook the chicken closest to the heat, then the lamb, then the brisket, and farthest away the beef ribs. After the second hour, check the internal temperature of the chicken. It should be done (juicy but clear, no pink meat). Remove them and re-mop and turn everything else. After 3 hours, the lamb ribs should be done. Re-mop the brisket and beef ribs. About 4 hours, move those closer to the reheat and (yep) mop everything. Brisket was done at 4.5 hours as were the ribs. Mopping the sausage every 30 minutes, they take about 2.

Let sit 20 minutes before cutting. I guess you could eat a vegetable or a starch with it but I don't see why. A good beer is nice...

UPDATE: YES!  We even sold the goddess on an all meat dinner. <burp>

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29 May 2005

Busy Sunday: Between the many things going on this weekend, I just haven't had time to blog. The youngest bridged over to Webelos this weekend and Mom stayed to camp out with him at Hills and Hollows, our lovely local Scout area. The oldest had the flu and is all bummed about missing his shakedown trip for the National Jamboree in August.  So I haven't written much. However, both the Carnival of Recipes and the special Memorial Day edition of the Carnival of Cordite are up, so its not like you need me to be writing... 

We saw "Revenge of the Sith" and Steve over at Hog on Ice was wrong. It stank at least an order of magnitude worse than he said. There were more plots holds in that movie that in a Michael Moore film. Lucas must have written it in a weekend while on a bender. With cheap booze and bad drugs. Ouch. Actually was worst that the Rape Return of the King. I am going to be drinking until 2 to clean out the damaged brain cells.

Anyway, its time to follow that man's rule on learning an instrument and get in my practice...

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Grilled Pizza: Tomorrow's a holiday for the male part of the house. The goddess has to work as she is indirectly a state employee and Memorial Day was originally a Yankee holiday. Actually I really don't know why but for some reason TWU doesn't count it as a holiday.  After going to the parade, we plan to smoke ribs and stuff. So instead of smoking stuff today, we grilled pizza 'cause last week I mentioned that you could cook pagach that way.

1 tbsp yeast

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1 cup warm water

2.5 cups flour*

2 tbsp olive oil

Combine the yeast, salt, sugar and water in a bowl and let sit until foamy. Add to flour in a large bowl and mix well. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Let sit 30 minutes**. Divide into 4 pieces and roll out about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Thinner is better here. Let sit 10 minutes.

Now you could use homemade tomato sauce and my sister-in-law Marie has a great recipe for that. However, I got 2 boys to feed and need to get food done fast. So I buy:

2 cans mushroom

1 stick of decent pepperoni and slice it paper thin

12 ounces grated pizza cheese mix

1 12 oz can of Hunt's Meat or Garlic Herb Tomato sauce

a bit of olive oil

Preheat grill on high. Brush one side of the dough with olive oil and drop on the grill with that side up.*** After 1-2 minutes flip over. On the warmed side, add 4 Tbsp sauce, enough cheese to cover the sauce, and mushrooms and pepperoni until it looks right. My kids like to also add cooked bambi-burger or venison jerky (SE Asian style). Drop the lid and cook until the bread is done and the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.

Fast, easy and impressive. BTW you can make the dough the night before and let rise in the refrigator.

*Can use 1 cup whole wheat as part of 2.5 cups of flour.

** You can skip this and it still works fine.

*** The Badger says his scout troop skips this part and tosses the bread on the grill and just dumps topping on. Of course, they are cooking for 30...

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27 May 2005

Oil Shortage -Gasoline ain't the problem: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientist has a article reporting that Exxon Mobil has quietly released a "Outlook For Energy: A 2030 View." In this, the claim is made that non-OPEC production will peak in 5 years. Now, this is the BAS and to deny that they spin this would be an out-right lie. Little things like magisterial profits, priced to satisfy the US, etc. reflect the general tone of the BAS and why I no longer read it. However, what is interesting, well besides the social commentary on the left's world veiw (I am not going there - I promise), is the report itself discussion of a short term peak. Now to some extent this happens every time a shortage occurs: I was in graduate during one and working for a oil/petrochemical/polymer company in a second and both times we heard of a 5-10 year peak. Note this only addresses non-OPEC sources and assumes that the coastal and Alaskan reserves will continued to be closed. (I'm betting at about 3.00 a gallon the public will figure out that more oil would be good and the caribou are bye-bye.)

What is interesting to me, and has been also the emphasis in other commentaries from the mainstream media to bloggers (See Reynolds earlier this week for links) is the focus on fuel oil (gasoline, heating oil). The BAS also focus on this. Now, as a polymer chemist and one who worked in the petrochemical end of the business, this strikes me as odd. Gasoline isn't the most important part of oil: it was originally picked for a fuel because it was cheap. Other things can be used: planes use a grade of kerosene, diesels can be made to run on vegetable oils, ethanol can be used. At some point, the economics of gasoline will make it more financially desirable for these alternatives and as that happens, economies of scale can lower their prices. Heating oil could be replaced by coal and electricity generated for either renewal sources or atomic power. More expensive, most likely, but doable even with today's technology.

What worries me is the feed-stocks that drive the rest of our society. While we use other sources for some drugs and things, the vast majority of materials used in our society have their origins in oil. An old rule of thumb for estimating margin in the refinery industriy was to take the cost of crude oil and subtract it from  the cost of gasoline plus twice the cost of benzene. (I think I got that right: it has been 16 years or so). Why benzene? Because it is both an important starting material for many chemical products and because its a good indicator of the cost of other chemicals like toluene, xylene, etc.

These materials, along with the ethylene, propylene etc. produced in refineries are the basic building parts of most things we use that aren't natural products or ceramics. A refinery really is a chemical plant. Crude oil is distilled into parts ranging from those light gases to asphalt and then these parts are manipulated and changed into the feed-stocks for most of our industry. On the Gulf Coast, in California, and in New Jersey, huge refineries feed as large chemical and polymer plants, and from these pour out plastics, drugs, paints, pre-cursor chemicals, etc.  These are then handled by other industries and turned in plastic food containers, computer chips, monitors, clothing and carpeting, siding for houses, automobile parts, fertilizers, medical devices, drugs, and the list goes on. Most everything we use has something in it that comes from oil.

Now the article then goes on to deny the feasibility of using oil sand and tar sands as possible crude oil replacements. In doing so, they again miss two points. First of all there is a bunch of oil in West Texas, Mexico, and other places that it is not yet economically suitable to extract or process...difficult to extract, dirty, high sulfur, etc.  As oil prices rise, this stuff becomes usable and then the various sand tars. Now they make a point of the fact this stuff isn't really petroleum but bitumen or kerogen but  in such a way that makes me think they don't understand what refineries do. This is the second point. Refineries aren't just distillation columns: they had units that crack (break down) heavier materials into lighter just as they have units that can build up molecules like an Alkylation unit. They have processes for adjusting pH levels and removing sulfur. In fact, I was told all sulfur used today is from extraction and it is no longer mined.  Yes, extra processing is needed for these materials but it is similar or identical to existing processes. Part of the smoke and mirrors here is the names petroleum, kerogen, bitumen....names with no real chemical meaning but used in the industry to describe raw material. West Texas crude is called petroleum but also contains bitumen.  You make asphalt from it for road surface (look another thing we get from oil.)

Finally, there is this economic, well, weirdness. They point out the price of oil is decoupled from procssing costs. OPEC countries are set have lower production costs than non-OPEC. Okay... so what?  The price of a commodity in a market place is driven by supply and demand. If it takes 6 bucks a barrel to get US or Russian oil out, and it costs 1.5 bucks for Saudi, the Russian producer has a lower profit margin. However, with oil selling at over 40 dollars a gallon, both can make money. (Their numbers which I am not sure I trust but I couldn't reach anyone who would know tonight.) It's kinda straightforward: if the market buys something at 100 dollars, and I make it for 15 and you for 60, I make more money but we both make money. If that selling price drops to the 60 dollars, you'll stop making it. The production cost is why why some oil still isn't being extracted. The costs are too high to make money. Prices at the pump include a healthy tax bite in the US, a bigger one in California, and an enormous one in Europe.

Now, one thing that was skipped here is that there is a possibility to use coal by converting it to syngas, a mixture of C0 and H2, that is then fed to a Fischer-Tropes Catalyst. This allows the generation of, in the crudest form, of a synthetic crude oil. Fischer used these technology in World War II to help keep the Nazi war machine running. (Sadly he was a true believer and destroyed much of his research so the Allies wouldn't get it.) Back when I in graduate school, it was considered the hot topic, very much like nano-technology is today.  The emphasis was to get away from making synthetic crude and design catalysts to make specific ranges of molecules. The neat thing is Fischer used coal and we have lots of that in untapped reserves that, at current efficiencies, would last centuries. Especially if the car fuels and heating energy came from other sources.

If you were to goggle syngas, you find a lot of companies selling catalysts and processes to take syngas from refinery byproducts to increase certain products. The days of just flaring hydrogen off are gone. (This means refineries and northern NJ no longer look like Mordor at night - probably a good thing. ) This stuff comes from oil, however, the syngas can come from anywhere and while oil and coal based sources will be nasty and corrosive with traces of all sorts of stuff, the possibility exists that we could go to biological or natural sources too.  This is where I think we are missing the target totally when we talk about the coming oil crunch: I think we need to be funding this stuff as well as more the cool stuff the Albany California USDA lab is running on generating biological materials that can be substituted for PE and PP. I can run my car on booze if I had too but I am not sure I want to have a heart stent made out of leather or a hip joint replacement made out of  ivory.

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Aw Crap: Ethiopia's election appear to have been dishonest and corrupt. See here for a summary. And as usual, Jimmy screwed it up bigtime. Can anyone in Georgia get that man a hobby? St. Mark, pray for Ethiopia and its people.

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Audie's work:  A student of mine did this as a portrait of my psyche. I deny any resemblance...

Autumn has a site now where her work is displayed and for sale. If you've been to the Roaches site (click on "living under your sink"), she did the cartoons there. She also does some lyrical landscapes and flowers scenes (as well as some really twisted stuff...let's not go there.). Go by and help my favorite starving artist.

UPDATE: Audie, honey, I need the link...

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26 May 2005

Shooting in the rural South : I forgot to write this up earlier but one of the cool things about traveling in the rural US is the unofficial public shooting areas still exist. You can find these areas of public land where the local government has allowed shooting. It's not much normally, just in this case a mountain side for a back stop and a couple of old wood benches set behind the firing line.  It's only about 100 yards long and tucked into a corner of an area outside of town that I would have never found without a local faculty member taking us. (He'll remain nameless lest I get him in trouble...I have no idea how anti-gun his school is.)

The great thing about these places is that you can plink. Unless you have access to private land in Texas, the joy of shooting at soda cans, water bottles and other house hold items is missing. Most public ranges get down right hostile if you do. And personally I find little else is as much fun or as useful for teaching a boy to shoot as aiming at things that break. Cutting boards in half and breaking clay pigeons as targets when I was a teenager in the North-South Skirmish Association really taught me to aim, especially as we were using those old-timey single shot black powder rifles.

Anyway, I had checked and transport my 10mm (and btw American is a pretty dang gun-friendly airline) with the new clips EAA has released since that stupid law banning high capacity magazines expired.  Now under normal conditions, I am not sure why a civilian who doesn't really live in  a war zone needs 15 round clips. (I realized on my drive to Houston last month I had 61 rounds on me...whatever was I thinking?) It does help when you are playing "bounce*" with a Georgian who carries a 9mm and lives to shoot.

Anyway, we shot for a couple of hours, cleaned up our trash and headed to dinner. It was a lot more fun than hanging at the hotel bar. I do wish I had a cheaper source of 10mm ammo thro.

*bounce - a game where you shoot at a can and try to hit it on the edge so it jumps away to a new location.

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Not dead yet:  Just wishing I was. Anyway while I was running around, a bunch of stuff is out there to read so if you haven't already check out the Bonfire of Vanities, the Carnival of the Vanities, the Carnival of Optimists, and oops, missed it last week, the Tangled Bank, a carnival of science related posts.

Also I found this excellent little fisking of the latest "all religions are equal" bullshit from the Christian Science Monitor over at Dhimmi Watch. (Hat tip to Little Green Footballs, which is always a good place for information on the religion of peace. See the color patch Iron Fist sent me... I always wanted to be an evil minion) Check out the good news about Sharia law in Quebec while there.

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25 May 2005

The Christian Carnival #71  

I spent last night in an airport, reading the posts submitted this week and realized I have a problem. We have over 50 posts this week and while I disagree with some, am lukewarm to others, and would love to argue others over a  beer with the author, that's a lot of stories.... So anyway I'm gonna try and tie this to various stories of the desert fathers.  The collections of Desert Wisdom are well known in Orthodoxy and Thomas Merton wrote at least one book about them. Bendicta Ward, a Roman Catholic nun, has been one on the most active translators of them into English. So who were they? Holy men and woman of the 4-7th Century who rejected the world for God and had their teachings preserved in either written or oral tradition. Hence, my own submission this week is Scary Wisdom.

So let's tell stories...

The World and the Faith:

Abba Nonnus was visiting the great city and, standing with other Christians, saw the prostitute Pelagai riding by in a litter barely dressed and all made up on her way to a client. The other christians averred their eyes, but he did not. Instead he wept. When asked why, he said: "Two things make me weep. The first is loss of the woman to hell and the other is that I am not as concerned to please Christ as she is to please her lover".

Chad at Plaidberry has some interesting data: non-Christians like Christ but dislike Christians. Huh? Keeping it real looks at the poll and its implications.

The evolution debate continues in civil form over at Christianity is Jewish. CWV Warrior argues that Evolution won't evolve. Gonna have to side against her with Sven, I'm afraid. Come by and join the discussion...

On the same topic of science meets faith, Greg at Sierra Faith points out an important fact about stem cell research: It's the Adjective before Stem Cell that's important.

Sodafizz has an interesting essay over at Logical Meme on liberal gay subculture and  discusses the other issues with that lifestyle. By any standard, that lifestyle is sinful and self-destructive and actually appears to embrace the latter.

Kyle as thoughts on Education, Doctrine, Culture, and Apologetics over at Nuematikos. He wanders into issues of cultural relevance with hospitality laws and how the Bible is often not a handbook for issues.

The world is one of the great challenges we face as Christians, and Bryon over at a ticking time blog has found this term "Centrifugal Bumblepuppy" that describes the mess... "Pleasure binds more surely than pain."

Paula of Listen In has had some hard things happen in life, and finds that this can be an Attitude Check. Some things put others into perspective.

Narnia as a movie has to deal with being made in a non-Narnian word. And they got wetas! Get the details from Catez at Allthings2All. Ouch!

As we know, all attacks on the faith are not direct. Sometimes we are worn down by exposure to non-Christian thought. Martin looks at Star Wars from a Christian viewpoint, with some help from CS Lewis, over at Sun and Shield.

Over at Weapon of Mass Distraction, Derek talks about an evil with less subtle actions in the return of Molech.

People do fall away and bad things happen. Dave at a Physicist's Perspective looks at Paul's departing advice for the Ephesians and wonders about applying it today.

One reason perhaps for the falling away may be we only think we know scripture?  Ron of Northern 'burbs blog looks at Biblical Illiteracy   He finds lots of it, even among Christians.

Ella's dad over at Ragged Edges has a similar question about Christian response in James, Abraham and Andrea Yates

Speaking of Bibles, Wayne at the Better Bibles Blog is continuing his look literary styles in Bibles. And he has a poll...

Basic Beliefs:

A scholar asked an old man how I should learn fear of the Lord for I wish to be a theologian and I have been told this is needed.. The elder said: "If a man has humility and poverty, and he judges not his brother, the fear of the Lord gets into him. And when he prays truly to God, he has become then a theologian. "

"I arise today, thru the strength of the Three-ness, thru confession of the Oneness of the Creator of Creation" John Pettigrew talks about that most unique of Christian mysteries, the Trinity, and how he wraps his head around something we can't really understand.

Leo Wong at Notes is also thinking of the Trinity, and among his cool images has a java applet on the Trinity with a traditional Russian icon. Look at the rest of the site as there are many cool images...(may not work if your ad blocker is on).

Icons and images hold a special place for me as Orthodox and over at all kinds of time, David looks at Rights and the Image Bearer.

However, I am not so sure about this idea: Mark the Pseudo Polymath has a post on Celebrating Heresy...interesting argument but I don't particularly want to be the one who has to be separated from God...

Speaking of heretical ideas: Only the Good die young? Hmmm. An old saying and a great song but what does it imply? Wayne at Questions and Answers suggests you take a good listen to the words of the song and the falsehoods behind them... The goddess would agree with his assessment, especially for young girls.

Richard's blog dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos Theophilos is focused on the writings of St. Luke and this week's submission looks at the mission of St. Luke to the Macedonians and the charity work he did.

Louie at the Marshian Chronicles looks at guilt and how we have to accept the fact we are guilty in the Human Condition Part 3. One of the few new twists on heresy in this century is that he needs to write this. Previous generations seem to have understood "no man past 20 wants justice."

Nicodemus as a Pharisee who appears also to be a follower of Christ, and the bloke In The Outer has a mediation on what lessons do we learn from how he related to Christ and how Christ related to those around him.

Free Will? Do we or don't we? Dick discusses the Necessity of Free Will over at Viewpoints. This is apparently part of an ongoing discussion of this mystery.

Mysteries...the old name for sacraments. Things we don't understand. Rebecca Writes discusses her understanding of them in Contradiction or Paradox or  mysteries in regard to Calvinism and Scripture.

Speaking of mysteries...Over at the Bible Archive, they are looking at Baptism.

And Eric at Ales Rarus looks at True Worship as viewed by Catholics and Quakers...

Community Life:

 An Abba and his disciple kept strictly the fast but when they went into town, a man who the abba had help saw them and insisted on them staying with him. He threw a great feast for the man each night, for it was the abba whose prayers had healed his child. The old man eat and drink everything with a smile. On the way home, the abba and the disciple stopped by a pond and the disciple went to draw water. The abba scolded him, saying you know we agreed not to drink before dark during the fast and to do so would be a sin. "But we eat at the house?" "Yes, but that was the food of hospitality and to refuse would have been the greater sin. Now we can return to way."

All life involves friction pf some sort and in a church or a home, we need to deal with people as we find them, sinners with flaws like ourselves. Dory of Wittenberg Gate discusses manipulative people in the leadership of a church.

Another issue with people in our churches, is do we put people needs first or the Righteous of God? Bill discusses that idea over at Faith Commons where he wonders about Who's on First?

Phil at Another Man's Meat has a parallel story to tell in A Tradition of Sedition. His example goes past the needs of people and over into a fallen member. A sadly common story: what happens when the shepherd isn't doing his job? How far does obedience go?

Hmmm. None of them probably shouldn't want to follow the advice offered tongue-in-cheek by Michael over at Tantalizing if True on the use of violence. He does make a point thro.

Speaking of inconvenient people, what about the disabled? The Deputy Headmistress over at the The Common Room looks at our response to" the messy, the less than perfect, the odd, the weird, the unsanitized reality of some disabilities" in a post called How Precious is Life.  This was a hard one to read as I wanted more than once to slap the hell out of someone. We had children late and tested for disabilities so we could prepare (God was merciful) but the idea that a child with disabilities is any less than a gift is a blasphemy. She says it without cursing...I don't think I could.

Small miracle: this post arrived within minutes of the one above: Sherry at Semicolon talks about grace to the humble and tells of how love isn't limited by what eyes see. "And saw a leper and his woman, pure and wholesome, breaking bread."

Looking for love is a different game and Matthew from The Gad talks about online Christian dating. He's got a success story rather the ones you normally hear...or that I do.

That love we are looking for isn't always romantic. At Underneath the Dirty Hood, Gary talks about a lesson learned over lunch with Mykadink when sometimes you gotta take a deep breath and say yes. Been there...

And sometimes its just hard work. Amy from Amy's Humble Musings talks about the Groundhog Days of motherhood and how everything is or can be an offering of love.

More thoughts on motherhood can be had over at the Musing of Micah Girl, and no she isn't happy....

Sven over at Theological and Biblical Studies looks at the orgins of the problems with motherhood and marriage.

and to close this section, Hal at the Great Separation announces the start of the Christian Blogger's Prayer Network.

Our Daily Work

Abba Joseph was asked by a man: I do my little rule of prayer, I fast, I work at my craft and give alms to the poor with what I make. I strive to judge no man and love all. Abba Joseph stood up and stretched out his hands, saying "you do well, but why not be totally changed as to fire?" And his hands blazed like 10 lamps and his face was as the sun at noon.

What should a Christian writer or artist do with their gift? Phil at Brandywine Books discusses what a decent ambition for a Christian writer is. So after reading his post, I'd ask does Christian faith require writing as did Dante or would Tolkien and Chesterton count too?

And why does a Christian blog? How much is pride and ambition? Bruce at The Spruce Goose has some inside thoughts.

And when we blog how much do we reveal?  Violet at Promptings has some thoughts on blogging and discretion.

We all have various gifts from God and sometimes they are amazing but often they are normal things we don't see.  Robin at Between Sundays looks at the traditional gifts of the Spirit and how those relate to those shown you in a quiz she links too.

Sometimes the work is a joy as Ray over at the weblog on Crosswalk.com reports. Young missionaries going forth to do a hard and maybe dangerous job have a joy the world doesn't understand.

Kim at Sharing Spirit has had a busy week and is thinking about change and changing for God in particular. She finds when she follows God's Will and not hers, things work out for the greater glory.

However, you probably should not follow the advice given by Sozo of Reasons Why in his song: Putting out the Fleece.

Sometimes we have to bear burdens, and these are often referred to "thorns" after St. Paul. KYPackrat notices Paul doesn't mention what his is and if this is a lesson for how we should treat thorns.

Sometimes however, everything does seem to go right. Mark at Better Living realizes that sometimes you savor the perfect day and say thank you.

From Off the Top, Bonnie sends us this admonition to scientist to see but not see though things. Part of a discussion of Lewis' the Abolition of man, it reminds me "those that reject science for religion show not their faith but their laziness." As a scientist, (which is why its here not under the World), I see some good advice here.

Agent Tim looks at to whom should we preach and poses a challenge. Willing to take it? Drop by and see.

And how do we preach? Ed at Attention Span reminds us of Peter's instructions.

Another question might be when do we preach?  If one person converts, what does the ripple affect do? Diane of Crossroads tells about her experience with change thru salvation.

Well, that's it for this week. Thanks to Nick for starting this, Dory for letting me host, and all the above for playing. In closing, let me ask you to pray for me a sinner, and read one final story from the desert:

A man had been caught stealing and the town asked the abbas to come and judge him. When they were all assembled, Abba Moses was late and they waited for him. He appeared an little late, tired, and carrying a huge sack of sand on his back. They asked him why? He said "with these sins on my back, I have hurried to judge my brother in his." They set the man without punishment.

UPDATE: All the links should work now. Thanks to everyone who emailed questions and to all of you who linked in (no Insta-pundit link thro...that's what I get for be a dog person.)  Also thanks for all the prayers and wishes with this intestinal distress... I appreciate it.

UPDATE 2:  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! Jeremy of Parableman was accidentally forgotten ( I'm claiming his email eaten by the email trolls) and didn't get included under the World and the Faith like it should have been. In  Sith Exclusivism and Absolutism, Jeremy talks about the 2 line exchange between Anakin and Obi-wan and has a very different take on it than I do, but then again I want to be a Sith Lord.

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24 May 2005

Sweet Home Alabama: Spent today at a historically black college in Huntsville Alabama, Alabama A&M, which is located in the Smokey Mountains. More north than what one thinks of as Alabama (the coastal plain and gulf in the South), this part of the state has a lot of the Appalachian influence including a local style of bluegrass music. The Huntsville/Decatur area is reputed one of the best places to live in the US and has a huge number of high tech business covering everything from pharmaceuticals to aerospace. One of the attendees  was from NASA and was working on using a laser heated electronic levitation apparatus look at creep in materials at 30,000 hertz. I'll link to the paper when it posts.

UPDATE:  Don't eat the biscuits and gravy. Trust me.

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22 May 2005

Scary Wisdom: Years ago, as a child, someone gave me a book of Zen stories. It was full of these funny quirky teachings from various Zen masters. Later on, I found that Christianity has its own series of this kind of stories, collected in the teaching of the desert fathers. These stories are teachings from the men and women who left the world at the start of the Monastic Movement during that period of time when Christianity was becoming acceptable as a religion. Imperial tutors and fools, rich merchants and poor shepherds, judges and outlaws,  sheltered ladies and whores...all sorts of people ran away from the world to try and discover a rich and deeper relationship with God.  As they became more and more closer to Him, others would come and ask their advice, or in the language of the stories: "Master, grant me a word."

Using a humility all too rare these days, people who seek out those older in the Christian life than them and ask for a word. Sometimes they got just that, a word, sometimes a long explanation of what was truly troubling them, sometimes an action. Because teachers of this type had received the gift of discernment, they could see into the hearts of the questioner. Sometimes they got sent away, especially after it became chic to have a spiritual father in the desert.

Master, grant me a word. An odd request in our self-centered, do it yourself again. A word to help me on my search to the Word. Advice on how to handle my wrestling with the flesh, my relationship with ours, how to structure my prayer life, to see if I was in delusion... One story tells of some monks who had begun to see visions of true things. Now they thought this was kinda cool and probably a blessing, so they cultivated it. Later  they  went to see St. Anthony the Great to tell him about this gift. On the way, their donkey died. As they arrived, Anthony greeted them and said "Shame about losing the mule."  Overjoyed that they had the same clairvoyance he did, they talked and visited with him for a bit. Then the youngest monk asked how did he know the donkey died and Anthony said: "Oh, the devil shows me all sorts of stuff to distract me from prayer. With God's grace, you learn not to put any value to it. By the way, why did you come all this way?"  The monks made up an excuse and went home quietly.

Sometimes the word isn't what you expect, but its what you need to hear.

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21 May 2005

Yet more traditional recipes:  Pagach (pagaci) - what my mother used to call a "russian pizza" when explaining it to friends. Since it uses the same stuffings as pirogi (I'll use Tony's spelling), it is easier to try while the fillings are available.

3/4 cup warm scalded milk

3 Tbsp Crisco or lard

1  Tbsp yeast

1 beaten egg

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

3 cups flour

1 stick butter, melted

Mix milk, yeast, and sugar and let get foamy. Mix together flour, egg, salt, and Crisco and then add the yeast mixture. Knead until elastic (adding flour as needed). Let rise 1 hour until doubled, punch down, and let rest 15 minutes. Divide into four pieces and roll out thin (about 1/4"). Spread about 1 cup fillings on one piece up to 1" from the edge. Lay another piece on top and pinch ends together.  Let rise 1/2 hour.  Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F for 20-30 minutes until brown on top. Brush with melted butter and serve.

To reheat, fry pieces in melted butter until warm.

In addition to the below fillings, you can also fill with fruit as for a pie. For example:

Apple: 2 Arkansas black apples, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 stick butter. Slice peeled apples in to thin slices and layer. Spice with sugar and cinnamon. Cut butter into small pieces and dot.

You can also cook like grilled pizza but it needs to be flipped to get the top layer cooked. (If you never grilled pizza, I'll write that up next week. For now, let me just note some people like my eldest don't flip those.)

UPDATE: Hmmmph. Some people get pie. Maybe I can fill a pagach with strawberries?

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The News Media as a nest of traitors: It sounds harsh but what else can you call a group of people who are more interesting in trashing the country that they live in than reporting the truth. If you have read Glenn Reynold's posts on circling the wagons, Tom Maguire on  the revenge of the press (this too) or Michelle Malkin on an Abortion Lie, you are probably pissed off at the press's general whoring for a leftist agenda under the guise of objectivity. Well, hop over to the Mudville Gazette and read this post. Apparently, in his own words, some piece of human filth allowed a soldier to die rather than stop taking pictures. I hit that yesterday and its taken 2 days plus a lot of prayer to get past wondering what ever happened to lynching as a form of social commentary. Add to that this little piece of crap and I am never buying Newsweek again. I do plan to check it at the airport so I can write down the advertisers names and not buy their products.  Along the same lines, I'm giving up my Pepsi One. Damon is right: sometimes you gotta walk.  So what do you do about it?

Let's start by emailing and boycotting Newsweek's advertisers. Newsweek has shown they are beyond shame but I bet the shareholders still want the dollars.

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20 May 2005

Hectic: It's been a busy couple of days with Glenn's visit, seminars and training in Houston and College Station, and the driving between. Spring is slowly fading into summer and the heat is setting in. It made 108 today in the backyard. Finally its warm. Until I recover from the drive and its backlog of paperwork, the Carnival of Recipes and the Carnival of Cordite are both up. So go read...

and a few photos from the Houston, Texas taken as I drove back from the coast...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17 May 2005

Small gifts: An old friend coming to visit unexpectedly, another one finding you online after years of being gone and writing to tell you about a decades past crush (why now? <sigh>), a small boy trying so hard to do the right thing, a beauty of a day for driving from Denton to Houston, eating BBQ on a roadside table in a small town off Hwy 6, watching the pretty girls near Texas A&M play Frisbee, getting to see your only goddaughter after a day on the road, and then mandolin music in the twilight.

Thank You, Lord, I don't deserve it but thank You.

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16 May 2005

Call it treason: Well, let's see...the media has been the enemy of the US government since Walter Cronkite whored for the North Vietnamese, helping loss a war we should have won. Mike Wallace and Peter Jennings admitted they would sell American soldiers lives for a story. Dan Rather tried to throw a presidential election by committing fraud. A constant stream of lies and misinformation comes from both the reporters and editors of serious newspapers like the NYT and WP. And people wonder why I read the Sun?

Seriously, the blogs and even the news media has been all over the fact Newsweek decided to run destructive and false story that has cost 17 lives at last count, and may lead to US deaths, I want to know if we can (1) try the editor for treason, (2) sue him for libeling the US military or (3) extradite him to Afghanistan for trial under Sharia law for false accusation?  If not, why not? At what point do we have to get to admit the news media in this country has decided to give aid and comfort to our enemies? Do they have to publish plans to our weapon systems or what?

An interesting side light is how bloggers and others response to this: Reynolds and a lot of the big name bloggers are rightly angered and horrified that Newsweek could do this on such bad evidence and without caring about the damage it could. Kos and the other lefties think its all true. Where it gets interesting is in the middle where people like Andrew Sullivan show their true colors: who the hell started the rumor he was a conservative? Anyone who has read the history of wars or the approach Al-Queda has in this one knows lying to and about the enemy is standard practice. And anyone who has bothered to read anything about Islam knows the Koran holds a very different place than does Christian or Jewish scripture.

Little Green Footballs has a ton of stuff on this and how it already played into the oppositions hands. Also on how the fake but accurate defense is started. So when do we start shunning these scum at least?  Or are we to sell what remains of our self-respect and continue to say that the media isn't really a nest of traitors? At the very least, stop buying anything from anyone assocaited with Newsweek

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15 May 2005

Ethiopia: Free Elections finally? I hope so. Ethiopia has had a rough ride since the Italian invasion and then the Communist overthrow of the oldest Christian Kingdom in the world. They did a good job, destroying the country. Will Franklin has a post along with interesting post on a bunch of current issues.

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More Traditional Recipes from a lazy Sunday: Yesterday we cleaned up a bunch of stuff and I'm not traveling until Tuesday so today was a slow day, good for cooking. We started with Pirohi, the Eastern European's version of ravioli.

2 cups flour

2 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

butter

2 Tbsp onion

1/2 tsp garlic

Mix flour, salt, and eggs together in a large bowl and add milk to form a soft dough (just past sticky stage). Knead until elastic. Divide into 2 parts and roll out one part until about 1/4" thick.  Cut into 2 "squares (about 18 of then). Drop a tbsp of filling in the middle of square and fold closed. We use squares for potato or meat filling, triangles for prune or cabbage. Add separately to a large pot of boiling water and swirl so they don't stick to the bottom. Boil until they float to the top. (You can cool and freeze them now and do the next step after thawing.)

Fry them in butter with the onion and garlic. Serve with melted butter as sauce.

Potato Filling

2 large potatoes

1 Tbsp butter

4 ounces cheese (cheddar or jack)

Boil and mash potato, adding butter and cheese as it mashes. Season with pepper as desired.

Meat Filling

1/2 pound ground lamb, venison, or beef

Spices as desired: I use 1 tsp garlic,  1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp nutmeg,  1/4 tsp mace, 1/4 tsp marjoram, and a pinch of salt for lamb or vension. I don't really use beef but some folks do. Sometimes I add a 1/2 tsp chipotle for bite.

Fry meat until done and drain off all the grease. Put cooked meat on paper towel and pat.

Fruit Filling (Prune or cherry butter)

1 pound prunes or dried cherries

2 cups water

sugar to taste

Cook dried fruit in simmering water until soft. Drain. Using a food mill, run the fruits thru to seperate pulp from skins. Repeat with skins portion until they are almost dry. Add sugar to taste. Let cool. (I let it cool overnight in a strainer to thicken it more). Any dried fruit will work but these are the two we use. You can use fresh fruits but you have to cook them down to a butter. You can also just buy and use commercial fruit butters.

Cabbage Filling

1 can sauerkraut or 2 cups cabbage sliced into strips

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 tsp caraway seed

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp oil

Fry onion in oil until soft. Add drained sauerkraut/cabbage and caraway seed. Cook until soft and beginning to brown.

Cheese Filling

1/2 pound dry cottage cheese (farmer's cheese)

1 beaten egg

1/8 tsp salt

2 Tbsp sugar

vanilla to taste

Combine all in a large bowl and mix until smooth.

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13 May 2005

Feeling better: The Carnival of Recipes is up, although apparently Bou doesn't consider Lemko (Carpathian-Rus) to be ethnic. Ah well, I never considered it that growing up. Also the Carnival of Cordite is up and Dave found another gun-babe.

And yes, I'm home snuggling up to my tater-bug and my sweet little EAA Witness. (It's Friday - I gotta mention a gun especially as this week was too hectic to gun blog.) BTW, EAA is selling high capacity magazines again for them again. Now if someone could make a laser site for the grip like they make for the Kimber Ultra.... (No, the goddess does not mind my mistresses as long as they either spit bullets or spin wood. At least she knows where I am.)

So anyone know a good deer lease in Texas? Ben's shots are tightening up...

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Texas, my Texas: Well, I got home but California got a couple of quick shots in on the way on. A front page story today was on how Palo Alto police had issues 700 tickets in two days to kids (like 10-12 years old) for violating bicycle rules, you know like riding without a helmet, not having 2 hands on the handlebars, not coming to a complete stop... Yep. A 70 ticket and a court date for kids acting like kids...

Getting to the airport, San Jose's TSA set another new level in rudeness, including threatening me for asking why my deck shoes needed to go thru an x-ray maching. I was told we check for more than metal with that. Really? Flipflops too. No, apparently according to Mr. TSA, those things check for bad chemicals like explosives too. Really.  I gave up. On my flight back, I got a NY lawyer in the middle seat. Okay, I have friends up there but can any of you explain to me why you don't kill people like this?  It was also easy to see it was a California based flight. Some poor lady was asking for helping putting her bag up because she had arthritis and I finally limped down the aisle as all the young healthy males just walked by. I almost kissed the tarmac when I got here. And then both the Bass Pro Shop and Larry's were out of 10mm hollow-points.

And I got to finish the physical inventory for work tonight....and figure out why my insurance hates me this time...<grumble>

Yes, I'm bitchy... but glad to be home.

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12 May 2005

Things to Read: The Christian Carnival is up, as is the Carnival of Optimists and the Bonfire of the Vanties. The weekly Carnival of the Vanities is also up as is the latest Tangled Bank, which I forgot to link to earlier.

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Still in California:  I don't if the weather is nice. I want to go back to Texas. Today I got to follow a bus with a sign on the back saying "Have sex with a child, go to jail'. They have to tell people that out here? Don't they have ropes?

Food has been great. I got to have a smoked lamb dish at Hunan Taste in San Jose for lunch today and ropa veida in a little Cuban place in Palo Alto last night. And spent most of the day during photo-curing with the DPA* system I designed. Still not worth having people look at me funny for being a hunter and a Bush voter...

* company acronym for a UV light curing accessory for our calorimeters.

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Per Request:  Someone asked about the tall loaf of bread from the Carnival of Recipes. So here's my Pascha Bread (Lemko version) recipe- the Russian version is a very dry white bread. This is baked the same way so it is tall but has a very rich and sweet bread inside, so when cut it looks like an egg.

White outer dough:

6 cups white flour

2 cups milk, lukewarm

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 packets yeast

2 large eggs

1 tsp salt

 

 In a cup, add yeast and 1Tbsp sugar to 1/2 cup milk and let sit until foaming. Mix butter, milk, rest of  the sugar and warm until butter is melted and dissolved. Add 1 tsp salt, 2 large eggs and 6 cups flour slowly to make a dough. Add yeast mixture, turn out and knead until smooth. Adjust texture as needed with flour or milk. Make into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, covered, to rise for 2 hours. Punch down and let rise again.

Yellow inner dough:

1 cup milk

4 cups flour

1 stick butter

1/2 pound  farmers or cottage cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup white raisins

1/2 dried cherries or wolfberries

4 egg yolks

1 packet yeast.

1 tsp turmeric and/or yellow food coloring

 

Blend cottage cheese and cream cheese until smooth. Add yeast to milk and 1 tbsp sugar and let sit until foaming. Add butter, sugar, \ flour and egg yolks to cheese mixture and mix. Add milk mixture  and 1 tsp turmeric to color yellow (adjust with more turmeric or use food coloring. A bright yellow is desired) and mix until a dense dough forms adjusting flour as needed. Add dried fruits and knead until elastic. Make into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, covered, to rise for 2 hours.

 

3 2-pound coffee cans

oil

parchment paper

water

Powdered or confectionary sugar

 

Cut each batch of dough into 3 parts. Roll white dough out until a half inch thick and a bit narrower than the coffee can is high. Roll yellow dough into a cylinder shorter the white dough. Place yellow dough on white and roll white around it, using a bit of milk to help seal the seams. Pinch white dough closed over top. This should be of a diameter so it will fit into the coffe can and fill the coffee cans to about 1" below the rim (Higher and  it overflows and makes a Cthuthlu  looking thing.)

 

Oil or grease coffee cans well. Line bottom with circle of the paper and then wrap the dough cylinder in it. Slide the whole thing into a coffee can and bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 for forty minutes or so. It should sound hollow when tapped and be about 190 F internal. Remove from can and set on a wire rack to cool.

 

Take about 2 Tbsp water and add enough confectionary sugar to make a thick but still pour-able glaze. Pour on top of the "mushroom" part after bread has cooled.

 

Serve with Pascha cheese. Cut off the top and slice the round part, replacing the top afterward so it will shrink across Bright Week.

 

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11 May 2005

More California: Today was our seminar on High Scanning Rate DSC on materials in San Jose with emphasis on electronic materials. I avoided listening to the news or read the paper until afterward so the shock won't hit. Today we have another example of judicial tyranny as some judge is taking over management of the health system in prisons. I think its the arrogance in the whole thing that bothers me: somehow a legal degree and a judgeship means this man is better able to decide who can run a billion dollar operation and how much money the state should spent on sick criminals that the populace of the state. Of course, the Mercury Chronicle thinks this is a good thing. Maybe the editors will be willing to keep a sick convict as a house guest?

On the radio, the topic is post-tenure review for teachers. This includes all teachers apparently and the California Education Association is not amused. How dare the governor suggest that teachers be treated like the rest of us and actually be evaluated by results?

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10 May 2005

Technology of simple things: I was visiting a manufacturer of beverage bottles today and was again struck by the amount of technology imbedded in apparently simple things like a soda bottle. A bottle consists of multiple layers of different polymer, chosen to give strength, resistance to oxygen diffusion in and CO2 diffusing out, resistance to stressing failure by the contents, and its ability not to alter the taste of the contents. Some bottles may use just PET but others use layers of materials to optimize the properties. All these layers must stick together through out the blowing of the bottle and the cooling of the bottle must be controlled so that crystallization does not occur in the PET. If we cool slow enough crystals form, we get light diffraction by the crystallites and this make a cloudy or translucent container. Most beverage manufacturers don't like this as it makes the drink look bad (milk bottles being an exception). Cooling has to happen fast enough we form mainly amorphous PET so that it is clear. However, cooling too quickly can lead to separation of the films. Despite the processing, the layers need to remain discrete, each showing its own glass transition in the Differential Scanning Calorimeter, and also continuous as breaks in the barrier layer will let oxygen in and spoil the taste or let CO2 out and loss the fizz. Cooling too quick can also embrittle the bottle and cause it to crack. Allowing the structural polymer, which supplies the strength of the bottle.

And all this for something used once and thrown away. The layers even makes recycling interesting as polymers tend not to be soluble in each other and just melting and re-solidifying a multi-component mixture will give a very weak mess.

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San Jose: Ah, yes, the Mercury Chronicle. My morning reminder I ain't in Texas anymore turned up at the hotel  with an cover article where they got .37 inches of rain yesterday. That was a record. I forget this place is a desert and without the water they take from Colorado and the Rockies, these cities couldn't survive. Kinda like the liberalism they spawn out here. Without the artificial environment of a very wealthy and uniquely secularist but Christian based society, one that made the decision fighting over faith was bad, the liberalism of the NE and West coast would not exist. Imagine this lifestyle in Saudi Arabia or any place where faith is a matter of social concern...

Interestingly, our radical environmental movement is based in one of the most "terreformed" areas in the US. Without water taken from the Colorado, and the series of dams that tame the river, there isn't enough water here to support the agriculture nor the cities. Without massive consumption of fossil fuels, needed because the huge area covered by the cities is not  friendly for mass transit, the business out here won't survive. So maybe the liberalism of the West Coast is an expression of guilt? A guilt based in a me-first, self centered world view where your will is the only factor that matters?

That would sure explain the other interesting column I read before work. Some editor is foaming at the mouth because pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions for abortifacient on the ground their faith says it is murder and they refuse to be party to a murder. She wants them forced by law to violate their religious belief. After all, they claim to follow a belief system that has held this position for near 2000 years and that is is valid and to be taken seriously today.  How dare they say by the teaching of their faith that what a woman is choosing  to do is murder. Her rights are so much more important than some pharmacists' silly little belief. Why, we have separation of church and state in this country! By demanding the right of the pharmacist to practice his/her faith, they are creating a theocracy.  That poor woman might actually have to go to another store to get her prescription filled.

Does anyone remember similarly to the screams of oppression when certain people realized the Catholic and Orthodox physicians were refusing to perform abortions even in training? Hmmm. That sure shut abortion down in this country, didn't it. The argument was the same: you do not have the right to base your choice on religion because I don't believe it too. After all, religion is a choice...

 Interestingly, she refers to a case from my hometown where a pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for a young woman. It made the national papers but a few things got dropped. Little things like despite the claim she had been raped neither the local ERs nor the police had a record of that rape. (Hmmm, she went to the press with this story, yet she was unwilling to report a rape? Something doesn't fit... Maybe she is using a Dworkin-ian definition of rape?)  Nor did they mention while she had to drive to another drugstore, we are talking about 50 feet across the street. I still want to know how someone could write a script for a rape victim and not be obligated to report it.  Doctors are required to report gun shot wounds and evidence of child abuse. Is this an exception like the way Planned Parenthood hides statutory rapes as a routine matter?  After all, think about what the refusal to notify the parents of a minor seeking an abortion can hide...an under-aged girl being used by a sexual predator.

I'm drifting off topic here, but despite the mockery of the secularists, right and left, about complains from the Christians about anti-religious bias in society, those concern are based in stuff like this.  It's not just Christians as religious Jewish, Moslems, Sikhs, Hindus, etc are all considered quaint and un-involved with the real world. I'll be having dinner with friends out here that look at my prayer before meals as cute and think no government building should ever allow any religious act to take place in it.  The idea that is as wrong as forcing everyone to attend Mass each Sunday makes no sense to them. However when both Stephen Carter and Pat Roberson are on the same side of an issue, you might wonder what makes such strange bedfellows.

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9 May 2005

St. Thomas Sunday: I often feel sorry for Thomas. In some ways, he's the archetype for the scientific believer. The term "Doubting Thomas" is prerogative, yet none of the other apostles were models of unbelieving faith after the Resurrection either. Thomas, however, had a specific and verifiable test that he wanted to perform. He gave out the criteria ahead of time and stuck to it. When Our Risen Lord presented him with the proof he desired, he did exactly what he said he would, and acknowledged Jesus as his Lord and his God.

The idea of "belief based on unbelief" is not a popular one. Chesterton praises it in his Ballad of the White Horse as standing "iron and alone" when more emotional based beliefs fail, but he's one of the few. The belief born of the inability to accept an lesser belief, a belief often born of despair, is more often seen as failing. Perhaps, but as Williams sings in His Region of the Summer Stars: "Creeds are." For it is the kind of mind that seeks proofs and reasons that looks to Creeds, for they define what we believe and why. Creeds set down what the Church actually believes about God as He revealed Himself to us. The Creeds define the nature of God as Tinity, the Son and Spirit as fully God as is the Father, the dual nature of Christ...the implications are profound and important. Most Christians do not think Arians, Gnostics, and Mormons are also Christian. It's almost a gut response by Christians of any stripe. The Creeds however define why they are not: they set the limits of of belief and the limits of discussion. Like Thomas did, they define a test by which other beliefs can be judged. Because of this belief, other beliefs can not be true.

This makes for an unpopular stance in our current secular society. People do not like to hear that you believe they are wrong, especially other Christians as we are heavily influenced by the branching tree theory of the Church here. However, sometimes we need someone like Thomas to say this and this condition must be met...

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Off to San Jose, CA: Heading out this afternoon for a week of seminars and training in the Bay Area.

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8 May 2005

Recovering from the Carnival: Note to self. Do not volunteer for hosting a carnival on a day when you get in a 2 am the night before. You ain't 20 anymore, bubba... Anyway, I spend yesterday doing grocery runs and work stuff I skipped on Friday as well as teaching my Saturday morning class. We remember to get flowers for mom, and to order them for Grandma. So at least I can still sleep in the house.

Looking for a good mediation on Orthodox Easter? Try Da Goddess. I wish I could write like that. (Well, yeah, hell, I wish I could write.) Scroll down until you hit Holy Thursday...

Instapundit has coverage of the whole blogNashville shindig. Why am I not surprised that with bloggers the session on civility apparently turned into a free for all? To my simple mind, it reminds me of a nice middle class or upperclass boy wandering into a working class bar. Never have been taught words can have violent results, they tend to say shit that gets them beat into the floor. Or even worse your average Middle-American martial artist, who thinks he is the toughest thing around.  I heard stories from bouncers and such that the life expectancy of either is fairly low in many of the more interesting local bars.  I think many bloggers are like that: they say all sorts of outrageous and macho stuff on their blogs, and never have to answer for it, because to some extent they come from a sub-culture where actually using violence is not part of reality. I've even seen some write: come on by and I'll kick your butt (Hmmm...entering into an agreed combat...I think that might be a felony). Anyway, I notice I do tend to read more and more the people who can keep their disagreements civil.

Speaking of incivility, the left is now claiming that the abuse of veterans by anti-war protestors during Vietnam is an urban myth. Tom Maguire has the links and a discussion that avoids saying what went through my mind: "What f-ing liars!" I guess that young man in Bainbridge Island, Washington wasn't abused either when he came home. (hat tip to Instapundit)

On a happier note, the Dallas Morning News* (locally know as the "see we really do have liberals" paper) had a great piece on the people who welcome returning military people back at DFW. It's heartwarming and the fact many of these people have no kin over there restores some of my faith in human nature. I've seen this happen several times myself and have had the pleasure of being on a flight with returning troops. On the American flight I was last on with, the pilot introduced them and told the passangers they were coming home on leave. The plane erupted into cheers, after take-off several people offered to buy the soldiers drinks, and when we landed, almost everyone on the plane lined up at the door to shake hands with them. I strongly suspect that someone spitting on or yelling at a returning soldier in DFW would have an interesting time. I know I'd be tempted: after Vietnam I swore not on my watch, not again.

* link is to abstract only as full article requires registration and a fee. Let's not encourage them (DMN)...

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FCSA: One of the more interesting gun rags out there is the quarterly publication of the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (Motto: "We're the good guys"). This month had some great articles: one the danger of cheap surplus ammo reloads and a second discussion bullet drop in the 50 BMG. However, the really cool one is the article on a 50 BMG wildcat called the .50 DTC. It's a shorter, fatter version of the 50 designed in Europe to get around equally stupid gun laws like the one in California. Now, we all know the real reason behind that law and its federal equivalent under discussion in Congress. (Did you write? Why not?) is to start the classifying of precision rifles as "sniper rifles" and get them banned by one means or another. If you just hop over to the Violence Policy Center and look at their page on 50 calibers. Read the criminal use for an idea of the weakness of the case on its merits. Less than a dozen incidents dating back a bit and in more than a few, the 50 was at the scene but not used. (Afterwards you'll wonder why they aren't all up about banning bulldozers.) If you read through what they plan you'll see first they want to ban 50 caliber guns as heavy sniper rifles. Then they plan to go after intermediate sniper rifles, aka .30 caliber and larger. Yes, that means your old 30-06, your 30-30, or .308 are to be attacked next. If you still believe these scum and their ilk want anything other than to totally disarm the people of this country, I suggest you (a) check your meds and (b) get therapy.

Anyway, the FSCA has accepted the 50 DTC EUROP in three catorgories and is now discussing accepting it in the light 50 class. This gun can not accept a 50 BMG round nor do its rounds fit in a 50 BMG. So it is legal in California. Performance is said to competitive at 1000 meters. Cool huh? If you are interested in the big guns, the FSCA has a website here and membership is reasonable at 40 USD/year.

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Stalking the Elusive Puppy blender: During my trip last week to Knoxville, I ventured out of the safe sane world of science into the blog-sphere's dark heart. Who could tell that the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, set in such lovely country, held within it the seat of a tentacled evil whose reach exceeds than of conventional evils like the Mainstream Media? The green hill and pleasant weather hide a darkness that etches the soul. Setting out armed with my puppy sock puppet and camera, I approach the multistoried lair of the dark lord fearfully. Rumor has it he was once just an engineer until exposure to the dark volumes chained in these halls lead him down his path to blogsphere dominance. (Okay so engineers are kind heading that way anyway, but even a chemist trembles at the depth he has fallen). Walking down the halls, one can feel the unholy power hidden behind the locked doors of the faculty library and fearsome emulations of the volumes of soul twisting information hidden there. By twisting and devious routes, I finally made it to the faculty offices, where incredibly hot penguin suited interns guarded the sacred portals to the Insta-office. Alas, the dark lord was not in and my autograph card and puppy-puppet returned unscathed. Except for the bruises from when the penguin-garbed guardians of Insta-office tossed me down the spiraled stairs. Maybe next time.

On the good side, the thermos of Peet's Major Dickinson blend I bought to share was all mine.

More seriously: Between my lectures and Glenn's other commitments I missed meeting him. He did warn me in advance thro so I knew it was a long shot.

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6 May 2005

Carnival of Recipes #38

The Pascha Basket Edition

Well, for me and a few others in the blogsphere,  last Sunday was Pascha (Easter). That means the fasting is done and we can eat all the good stuff again. So lets look at this week's recipes and see where they fit in the Russian custom of an Easter Basket. Orthodox baskets contain eggs and candy like western baskets, but also lots more. Meat, fish, dairy, eggs, oil, and wine are all excluded in the fast and therefore all of them are seen in baskets. The baskets are blessed after the midnight service and taken home and eaten out of for breakfast and throughout Bright Week. So without me wasting anymore time, let's see what submissions for the electronic Pascha Basket bring.

Meats and Fish:

One of the biggies in Orthodox lent is abstaining from meat. In fact, it is considered impossible to say you are fasting unless you have at least given up meat. After 65 days without meat, you bet my baskets contain meats and meat dishes. Traditionally, my grandma said you needed four meats, for the four Gospels. Lamb was always one. Baba theology as one of my friends calls the answers grandmothers give small children who ask too many questions can be odd at times. I still feel bad about using a hammer on Good Friday, even after I figured out Grandma told me it wasn't done so Grandpa, who worked night shift, could get some sleep. After the fast, any meat is good and we got some great ones here. Heck, for the last two weeks, the goddess won't even let me hold small children or animals.

Lets start with ryk from his live journal page where he has Cider Brine for ribs....Hmmmm, ribs. I missed ribs.  He also includes smoking directions too and a side dish of Roast Herbed potatoes with Sheep Cheese Gratin. I don't know who he cooked this for, but I'm envious.

Taleena sends her first submission to the Carnival and its a great one for a Russian Pascha. So from the Sun Comprehending Glass, we have Beef Stroganoff. It's looks like what Mother used to make. While Taleeena calls it a spring dish, Beef Stroganoff for me always makes me think of wet snowy evenings on the Northeast Coast when I was in High School. As you came in the front hall, you could smell it and it was this wonderfully warm welcoming scent that said dinner was ready.

Chris at the Anarchangel is another carnivore and continues his Recipes for Real Men. This week Chris is sharing his recipe for Andouille Habenero Chili, which sounds like just the thing for a Pascha breakfast (y'all know that breakfast comes from breaking the fast, right? At one time, most westerner fasted until after morning service and then broke the fast). Looks very good even if he does cut it with tomato puree to make it milder.

On the topic of Real man food that just might kill you, Steve from Hog on Ice wrote the book (I mean literally. See.) and he let me steal a link to his recipe for Doro Wat version 2. 

For more Ethiopian food that bites back, I have Yebeg Wat  too. Try both and tell me which you like best. We had this one after service on Pascha and I was accused of corrupting the children. Again. <sigh> More of Steve's evil influence...

Continuing the idea of excessive capsaicin intake is good for you, Dave at the Glittering Eye is making Braised Pork with Green Chili sauce. Now he's making it for Cinco de Mayo, which was yesterday but since I was trapped in Knoxville TN and missed it, I am going to pretend it never happened.

A good side dish for the above comes from Songstress at News from the Great Beyond,  where they also celebrate Cinco De Mayo with Refried Bean Soup. Looks like a great rainy night dish or for a cold spring morning after service.

And my own contribution for totally carnivorous excess, roasting a whole lamb. Done cheap too.

We could probably use a side dish about now and Jay has one for us at Accidental Verbosity. It's Whipped Sweet Potato with Apples and it could almost go under desserts. I wonder if we could cook it in a Dutch oven on the edge of the fore next year.

By fasting standards, chicken is a meat. Not that my baby brother figured that out until the day he dropped by to see Grandma and took along a a bucket of fried chicken. Grandma, 82, chased him around the house with a wooden spoon. Now this little recipe for Chicken Paprika from Nic at Shoes, Ships and Sealing Wax would have gotten a different reception. Grandma would have still swatted my brother for being a heathen but she would have kept the chicken for her basket.

Speaking (writing?) of chicken recipes Grandma would like, VW over at One Happy Dog Speaks has a nice recipe for Chicken Broccoli Au Gratin.  It even has a vegetable in it so its got to be good for you. Unlike a lot of recipes, its fast too.

Jay from Accidental Verbosity has another quick recipe, and with all the Services of Holy Week, fitting cooking for the Pascha Breakfast and the Church Picnic can be difficult so recipes like this Chicken Fried Rice are a real blessing.

Chicken Gumbo is always good but this recipe comes with a challenge. Cooking challenges are kind of a Pascha tradition as the babas try to show each other up. Shawn of Everything and Nothing, who's no baba,  is throwing down the gauntlet or in case the oven mitt.

As I said gumbo is a popular dish, and there are as many interpretations of it as there are cooks. Over at Gus Van Horn, "Gus" shares his not-secret recipe for Gumbo Van Horn .

Unlike western Lent, Eastern Lent forbids fish and some even abstain from shrimp. We don't but the recipe for Shrimp with Snow Peas sent to us from Allan at Inside Allen's Mind is good enough to be a Pascha dish as well as usable during Lent.

Breads: 

My grandmother insisted on three breads in the basket, one had to be the Pascha bread, a bread made with a sweet rich yellow dough inside a plainer white dough and baked in a coffee can to make a tall loaf as well as a nut or poppyseed roll. We'd have lots of choices for the the thrid bread this week. For a bit of spice after the blandness of Lent, Martin at Ego has a choice that sounds great - Zwieback Crisprolls with Chile.

Another option could be Punctilious' Honey Flax Bread from Like News but Tasty. It's a nice simple recipe for a beginning baker and flaxseed is good for you. Better take it this way than as flaxseed oil. That's Lenten, this is Paschal.

 Dairy and Eggs: 

Dairy products and Eggs are one of the greatest parts of Paschal eating for us. Eggs especially in either the eating form or in the decorated form of an Ukrainian Easter egg. Made by drawing on a eggshell with hot wax and then dying, they are a folk art form that says Pascha to a lot of us. But you have to blow the insides out and dry the shells so they don't spoil. And what do you do with all that egg? Well you could make a Cirak...

Another option come from the Countertop Chronicles and sounds like a great variation of what Mother called sick lady soup.  The recipe for Avgolemono Soup looks really good and he's promising variations for next week.

Ah, ice cream, I've missed that so much. Especially since the goddess doesn't fast from dairy because of concerns about her bones. But nothing says comfort like a bowl of ice cream and Mike over at   Meeting OzarkLad has a recipe for Homemade Mint Ice Cream.

Cheese is another thing I miss and Merri of Merri's Musing  has Lasagana Rolls would sure fit the craving I've been fighting all of Lent. Lasagna is one of those dishes at home everywhere.

Over at Eat Your History, the Grapes of Wrath come served with cheese and nuts. Deborah has one of those very simple dishes that looks like pure heavenly delight.

Wine:

Sadly, unlike some of my liberal Persian friends from back when Iran was under the Shah, the argument beer and bourbon aren't a product of the grape doesn't cut it. So it was a joy to again taste the "wine that makes glad the heart of man" and beer again. This Sangria recipe from the Countertop Chronicles  looks great and it would have gone down well with breakfast.

Sweets: 

We got a lot of sweet recipes this week, which is good because at a typical Pascha celebration the weigh gain is normally about tem pounds. Be from Bebere.com shares a simple Lativan recipe that would be right at home at the Paschal Breakfast: Cranberry Revolution.

Now despite the goddess's claim, chocolate is not its own food group but it does have a place in the basket. We normally have truffles but the Chocolate Brittle that ALa of Blonde Sagacity has may take their place next year.

What church holiday is complete without cookies? Well, since this is a digital basket, how about Javascript Cookies? Dave at Third World Country has them...

For a more healthy that is also really easy to make cookie, we can always try Ted's at Rocket Jones' Super-Duper Healthy No-Guilt Peanut Oat (and chocolate) No-bake Cookies.

Over at Booklore, Bernadette has the coolest recipes for the Overnight Baker. I wish I know about this. Toss them in the ovens before midnight service and eat them in the morning.

Pascha is actually the Greek for Passover and follows closely the Jewish Passover. So Elisson's of Blog d'Elisson non-kosher but awfully good looking Damnest Pie Ever Made would fit right in. The overlap between Eastern European Jewish food and Orthodox cooking was pretty strong where I was raised, and Uncle Lenny always fit right in at our holidays as we did at his.

For a more traditional and very Texan style pie, Beege of Coalition of the Swilling (can I join?) has a Pecan Pie recipe that makes me wish the pecan tree bore in the spring.

Speaking of Texas, pies are really not as common as cobblers. BJ of Early One Morning is kind enough to share Gran's Very Berry Cherry Cobbler with us and boy,  it looks good.

Besides pies, there are always cakes and this one from Shawn Lea at Everything and Nothing looks great The Cream of Coconut Cake is especially neat as it is an answer to a challenge from Booklore on using leftover ingredients.

Sauces:

Traditional Hrin, a mixture of ground horseradish, vinegar and beats is in the basket and maybe some dill-chili pepper sauce. However, Angela has a Salisbury Salsa recipe up at Fresh as a Daisy that looks really nice and would make a great addition too.

Dang if I know whether I'd call this a sauce or a sweet, but it sounds good. From Sisu, Sissy has this topping for breakfast that looks like you could it for dessert and still get your Apple a Day.

Well, that about finishes up the basket and I think I need a nap. Maybe a diet too.

Thanks to Beth for starting this up, keeping it going, and letting me play.

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone for the corrections to broken links, missing ingredients, and your gender. All fixed now.

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***

Gun Talk Time: Donna has the Carnival of Cordite up at Pajama Pundits and no, we don't have the male counterpart of last week's gun babes. Probably because of the gut on most male shooter. I claim the excess mass improves stability. Any the carnival is now up and I FORGOT ALL ABGOUT IT!!!! Dang. Lots of political stuff happening so get involved and keep the gun-grabbers frustrated.

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5 May 2005

Sales Presentation Blogging: Thank the Lord and Nick for the wireless here. I'm typing this as our salesguy gives the normal corporate pitch on the company. With the Carnival of the Vanities, the Bonfire of the Vanities, and the Christian Carnival up, I'm able to keep busy. Then there is always the Instapundit, blogging from his palace on the other side of campus (unless he's left for BlogNashville in the Insta-limo...)

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4 May 2005

UT Forest Products Center, Knoxville, Tenn.  Wood is really the most amazing thing: a complex composite of fibers and matrix whose properties vary with the time of year, the location,  and the climate it was grown it. Dr. Tim Rails' lab studies it in all its applications from forensics to manufacturer. We'll be giving a seminar tomorrow on various thermal methods as well as NIR.

The obvious question for any blogger visiting here is did you meet the Instapundit. I tried and will post pictures of my stalking the elusive puppy blender in the dark heart of the College of Law...

UPDATE: The short answer is no. I left a note under his door but I doubt a flappy bird gets much attention from a higher being, especially as I doubt Glenn is one of those kinder gentler gods. I see him more as one of the old ones, probably a Celtic deity, demanding blood sacrifices or puppy shakes from his worshippers (He's a lawyer after all so we wouldn't expect a benevolent god). Maybe Nuada of the Silver Hand?...Then again I may be reading too much of Frank.

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3 May 2005

Pascha Thoughts: It's taken me a few days to get this into world but one think Pascha always drives home to me is both what Lewis called the weigh of Glory and the irrationality of being a nominal Christian.  Christianity becomes wrapped with so many cultural things: things you don't see as an insider. For example, there is a strain of nationalism and middle-American in many evangelical churches as well as a decided form of tradition visible to an outside. Pascha and the Great Fast before it serves as a way of cutting thru our comfort and our ease with our country, our religious lives, and our faith: on Pascha midnight, the central tenet of Christianity is thrown back into our faces: Jesus Christ, the Very God of Very God, the Word of God became man, was killed, and rose from the dead. Not a great teacher or a man inspired by God. Not someone who taught and past on beyond us. Listen to his claims and the claims of his church and you have one choice: Jesus was either God Incarnate who overturned the natural order of things, or He was absolutely mad. No middle ground. If you accept He died, harrowed Hell, and rose again in the flesh, there can be no middle ground in your faith. You accepted the weight of Glory, and glory it is. He said we can become children of God. When heat death collapses the universe, when the fire of the stars are banked, we will still be and still be His. That is the reality we re-affirm at Pascha: because Christ rose from the dead, the rest is possible, including joy unending.

For me, convinced almost since childhood that man was not made for joy and that all we can be is a candle in the dark, this is the most amazing fact. It's also the scariest. If it all ended at death, and there was nothing, I could face that. The idea that there can be eternal life and unbearable bliss scares the heck out of me. I can't say if Christianity is wish-fulfillment because it isn't anything I think I'd wish for. Valhalla or the Fields, yes. But Heaven as described by Scripture and the Saints...not really. My atheism in my youth was wish-fulfillment: I didn't want anyone to say I couldn't do what I wanted.  Now when I was younger, I swore I came back to the faith because "belief set on unbelief stands iron and alone" but now I am not so sure that the little traditions' comfort didn't do a lot for me. Whatever happened I got snagged in the net of Glory and had to deal with the fact the center of my faith is neither rational nor sane. "Folly to Greeks, Scandal to Jews"

However, in a day and age that still permits the happy safe worldview of the middle American or the campus elitist, a w orld where things are mostly stable, interpersonal violence rare, and mortality something for the old, the lesson of Holy Week cuts across the false front. Something happened in Galilee long ago that changed all time. God became man, died and rose. With Him, all mankind is set free of the bonds of death, for whatever that means good or ill. Or more traditional Heaven or Hell. Not a teacher. Not a wise man. Not a social reformer. Instead the very God who created the Universe descended into death and Hell and threw down the gates of bronze.

"Christ is risen from the dead,

trampling down death by death,

and on those in the tombs bestowing life."

Like I said, not sane, not rational, but incredibly glorious. A great and dreadful glory, with a terrible joy.

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San Antonio, TX: Just a quick suggestion: if you need to schedule business and plan to stay a few days, the week containing May 5th is a good idea. Cinco de Mayo is 2 days away and the party has already started. 

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2 May 2005

Science and Culture: Anyone out there familiar with the poetry of Roald Hoffman? Yes, the Chemistry Nobel Laurelate at Cornell University. One of his poems, "Oligopoem," from his fourth volume of poetry, Soliton, will be republished as the introduction to the POLYCHAR-13 (International Conference of Polymer and Advanced Materials Characterization) Proceedings.

Propylene,
        propylene
How to relieve
        this boredom
of coupling
        with identical
partners ?

Makes me feel better about my stealing time to wood-turn, forge, or cook, although to be honest the mandolin has really cut into those. It's almost as bad a mistress as Shing Yi Chuan. This hobbies don't make me the exceptional. One of the things I noticed from graduate school on is the range of interests scientist and engineers have outside their fields. Years ago, somewhere, I read about how Los Alamos had more amateur music groups than any other US city. I've never been able to chase that down, but I do know when I attended a technical lead training at GD with a room full of chemists and engineers, the folks without a serious artsy hobby were less than 10%. Almost everyone in the room did something from model trains, woodwork, smithing to watercolors, music, and sculpture.  And they all tended to be good at what they did for amatuers. At my regional meeting for my current job this year, the technical folks fielded a band for the party and the gym looked like a martial arts convention in the early morning. There seems to be something about the kind of mind that wants to know how things work that makes it unwilling to stay in the little box of its job. Interestingly, I don't see this with the liberal arts types. Especially cutting the other way, for do you know anyone who does "diffeq" as a hobby?

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My new taterbug arrived today. The tone is awesome. During the initial tuning, the harp talked back to it from the next room when I got it on tune.  The woodwork on the back is awesome. The back is 19 staves of what looks like figured mahogany with holly veneer between each stave. The grain in the spruce soundboard is very even. This is a lot better instrument than I deserve. If it had been an A or F style, I'd have never been able to afford it. Luckily taterbugs aren't popular for bluegrass...

A taterbug is American slang for a bowl back mandolin. Reputedly, Gibson named them that when he was trying to develop a market for the initial flat back in A and F style.  Tater bugs are major garden pest, but since I'm a hunter not a grower, I don't care. Now if it was called a PETA, I'd get rid of it. As it is, I wonder how I can get a pickup inside....

UPDATE: I dropped it off at Sky Guitars to get voiced (or intonated and set-up) as the owner said. He also wants to do some work on the neck and suggested I not add a pickup. Rape was I think the word he used...<sigh> Now to find a case for it.

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Advice I wish I had: Mudville Gazette has a posting on advice for a new blogger that I wish I had when I started this in MS FrontPage last year. A lot of it (Haloscan, Counters, Carnivals, Trackbacks) I figured out and now I kinda like the freedom that non-blogger software gives. (I really do. Honest. I am not at all bitter my host refuses to allow me to run MT. Honest.....<sob>) Anyway, a lot of good things there that I wish I had know. I'd add RSS feed to the things to do. One blog I read wouldn't link to me until I get it and again, in Frontpage it isn't as easy as in MT or Blogger. I am planning to shift to Dreamweaver soon but that means a day or two when I can work everything out. Anyway, I am going follow these recommendations and see if I can become a Mauranding Marsupial someday. The savage wombat...

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1 May 2005   -  PASCHA

CHRIST IS RISEN!

INDEED HE IS RISEN!

 

 "Why do you seek the living among the dead?  Why do you seek the incorrupt among corruption?"

 

The lamb roast experiment: Can a Greek college kid and a grumpy old technogypsy roast a lamb in Greek fashion based on notes from the internets, email advice from old men, and half remembered plans? Without killing everyone in our little Russian Orthodox Church? Sure. Here's how. Get 8 large cinder blocks, 2 sheets of 2x6 flashing, and a six foot  1" steel pipe. Drill a half dozen 1/8 inch hole in the the pipe, working out from the center, about 8" apart. Drill 2 holes in each end at 90 degrees to each other. Find some 1/8 SS drill rod or skewers. Assemble as shown (flashing is held up by 4 pieces of rebar on each side, driven into the ground like stakes) and put a 35-45 pound lamb on the pipe, driving skewers thru both sides of the lamb and wiring the legs to the bar. Wire the ribs closed in 2-3 places and the neck to the pipe.

 

Using 40 pounds of charcoal, build 2 fires, on each side against the flashing. Use charcoal to start it and then add wood to get a good bed of emblems. We used oak. It helps if someone like Chris is willing to get out on 3 hours sleep and start the fire so your aged body can get some rest.  Between the fires put some large pans to catch the drippings. This is important otherwise the grease ignites and it gets really exciting. Like in bad exciting... BTW Aluminum isn't the best as we melted it.

 

Put the cloves  from 5 heads of garlic into the meat of the lamb, rub inside and out with Lowry's Seasoned Salt and Oregano. Put the lamb on the fire and turn 90 to180 degrees every 30 minutes. (top, bottom, then a 90 degree turn to one side, then 180 to the other). Baste using Shiner Bock mixed with Greek spices when turned.

 

Turn on loud Greek music, light a few cigars, and break out the beer and ouzo. We played catch with a football, I practiced mandolin, sparred with the boys to the horror of some non-martial artist parishioners, and basically enjoy the day. In about 3 hours, the thermometer read 148-165 F wherever we checked and it was time for Vespers. Afterward, the Church had our Easter egg hunt and Pascha picnic. All the lamb had this dark almost black coat and underneath ranged from medium rare to medium well. The meat almost fell off the bones. Next year I'm bringing an Octave mandolin for a bouzouki and getting myself a Greek hat like Chris. Opa!

 

Update: Not its not burned. The baste had sugar in it and it caramelized to a black crust. Inside was incredibly moist.

 

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Fellowship: Part of the joy of Pascha is being part of the community of believers, the fellowship that comes from travelling with someone toward a goal. Like many Orthodox in the US, the vast majority of my friends are not and Pascha is one time of the year when the Holidays fall different enough they can come visit. The Pascha Service at Midnight is lovely but long and without pews, rough on company so we tend to invite folks to join us for the Vespers in the afternoon.  Very pretty and short by Orthodox standards. So Pascha this year was made special by a few of my friends who joined us for Vespers and for roast lamb at the Church picnic afterwards. A lovely way to end a Joyous weekend.

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