Showing posts from January, 2009

bike fail

I have excuses but it is still true. I did not ride my bicycle at all to come to work in January. I drove every single day that I came to work. But here are my excuses.
The temps were from the arcticGasoline was cheapThe recumbent refused to keep it's line unfrozenThe recumbent's tires refused to hold airThe wrists hurt after riding the upright Trek, which is why I got a recumbentThe snow and ice left very little road for me and the cars to share
The state did not make a priority for shoveling off the path over the bridgeI've been sick half the month, in fact I didn't go to work for almost half the month

I need to draw a conclusion from these data. It's not that I'm a wimp. I just need a new bike. I think I found one and it is inexpensive. It's upright, but still relaxed, no wrist pressure. Feel free to guess or make suggestions.


I'm not sure if these domes are necessarily belonging to the conservation group, but they are too cool. I was perusing the archives of the Tiny House Blog and came across the Domespace (France/ USA). I like domes. I like round houses. I like wood. But I don't like expensive. I'm not sure about the ceiling/roof insulation, an air gap. However, you can rotate the house to capture the sun all day. It can be made with or without a rotating base. That is like totally wicked. But I don't play the lottery so I don't think I'll be living in one of these anytime soon.

Enjoy the promotional video enclosed.

Cinema review: Nanking (2007)

The HBO documentary Nanking was made in the honor of historian Iris Chang who wrote a ground breaking history of the atrocity, see my book report. As is the usual case, a book is better because it can tell more of the story. In fact, this film was pretty faithful to the history but it only told half the story, the bad part. It didn't explain the circumstances of the city's liberation. If one were clueless, but then why would they watch this depressing movie, one might think the city was still occupied by the Japanese, and men were still on the prowl for women to rape or men to practice wielding their bayonets on. I was disappointed in not even some afterword in text on the screen providing the date of liberation and by which country's armies, US, USSR and UK.

The half of the story it did tell, was told well and in an artistic manner. Instead of typical voice overs, reading journals, letters, and news clips, actors were filmed in period dress speaking the lines, as if the wi…

John Stewart notes similarities

a great observation from the inauguration

Pastor Lance, of a black reformed congregation, loved the display of love and respect between Barack and Michele. He writes, here's a bit of advice for those seeking to be winesome, witty, with it, relevant and attractive to our culture. And I'm particularly aiming this to our brothers.

Get married.

Find a wife to whom you can pour your love into and show authentic Christ-like leadership by serving her interest, issues and real needs.

book report: Slave Nation by Mr. and Mrs. Blumrosen part 2

Slave Nation by Blumrosen (2005) does a great job at exposing the crooked legs our nation was founded on. The cry for freedom was no less about freedom of commerce and assembly but also freedom to own property, which in Southern terms was the euphemism for slavery [like today "choice" is the euphemism for abortion].

Any mythology that proclaims that slaves were actually treated so nicely that they enjoyed the institution should be confronted with the results of the British to free any slaves who joined them against the rebels. The South "had not recovered from the brutal warfare in the later years of the war of the loss of a quarter of thier slaves who had been liberated by the British." p.178 Similarly, almost 90 years later, "of the nearly one hundred and eighty thousand black troops that served in the Union Army during the Civil War, at least one hundred and thirty-eight thousand were former slaves." pp.251-2

The book shows how the compromise of the Nort…

book report: Slave Nation by Mr. and Mrs. Blumrosen part 1

In my recent illness, I have had time to read another depressing book on the effect of slavery on our country's origins. Slave Nation: How slavery united the colonies and sparked the American Revolution by A. W. and R. G. Blumrosen is a worthy read for those of us who learned much of their American history from Schoolhouse Rock.

So how did slavery become a contributor to revolutionary sentiment? Certainly a British occupied Boston hardly concerned most of the other states who traded with England directly. However, when a slave named James Somerset fled from his Bostonian owner while visiting in London, the British court found in Somerset's favor, declaring in 1772 slavery "so odious" that "it is not allowed or approved by the Law of England." p.21 This freaked out slave owners in the colonies. The possibility of a British rejection of slavery anywhere in the empire appalled the plantation owners and their representatives because slavery was a necessary under…

I missed it

I didn't see the inauguration live. Instead I woke up with a stomach virus. I ended up back in bed sleeping hard for hours, except when symptoms manifested. When I awoke, I read and watched the prayers, oath, and speech. Let's hope things can turn out as he envisions. I do recognize the feeling of being in Steve Job's RDF (Reality Distortion Field) but that's not a bad thing, as long as it allows reality to adjust it.

book report: The American Patriot's Almanac Daily Readings on America

I'm a history fanatic. However, my readings of US history, especially in regards to its relations with native Americans, left my feelings of patriotism greatly diminished. We, as a country, have done so much wrong. Yet, The American Patriot's Almanac: Daily Readings on America edited by Bill Bennett and John Cribb has fanned this smoking chaff into a small flame. The introduction fairly acknowledges that our country is faulty and compares two approaches to patriotism.

In the early nineteenth century, naval hero Stephen Decatur gave a famous toast: "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right, but our country, right or wrong!" That almost hits the mark, but not quite. Carl Schurz, a German immigrant who served as a Union general in the Civil War and later as a U.S. senator, improved Decatur's toast: " Our country right or wrong - when right to be kept right, when wrong to be put right." (p.x)
The almanac focuses on …

Cinema review: Defiance (2008)

Being the family man that I am, I don't normally partake of violent action adventure movies anymore. The exceptions tend to come in January, during my and my brother's birthdays. Last night I took him out to see Defiance. I don't normally see R-rated movies anymore, but the rating wasn't earned for sex but for violence, not unexpected for a current war movie. Although based on a true story, the truth is too complicated for a 2 hour movie. So it is a parable, but good nevertheless. The Nazi invasion of Poland results in genocide. Four Jewish brothers escape after their parents are killed. They end up personifying the Jewish hero of the Old Testament, David, who led a group of ruffians in the wilderness while pursued by King Saul. They struggle over how to treat the Germans and their Polish sympathizers. Other fleeing Jews join them in the forest. They trade with and steal from local farmers. One brother joins up with the Red Army partisans to resist the Germans. The mov…

SIP Yurts- Solargon

Finally, someone thought like I did, that a Yurt made out of SIPs, in a kit form, would be a good idea and they are selling it, Hello Solargon Structures. One additional bonus is that they are using Polyurethane SIPs which are stronger and have a higher R-value per inch than EPS. SIPs are Structural Insulated Panels, which are foam sandwiched between panels, making a wall both strong without beams and insulated without adding pink stuff. EPS is like the stryofoam in coolers and polyurethane is like the foam around your freezer. I love yurts so much that I made it another category label.

Back to Solargon. They don't list prices but when the advertising talks about lifetime costs are much smaller than a conventional home, you know the upfront cost is steep. I love the simplicity of construction. I'm not a handy guy. I'm a measure thrice and cut it 4 times sort of guy. These things just hook together.

I want to give a big fat hat tip to one of my favorite blogs for this lead, t…

Blogs I commented on this week

I'm trying out a new idea. I read many blogs, but usually, I often comment at the ones I don't agree with, hence I don't put them in my shared feeds. So here is where I left droppings this week. You will have to go to them to see if I agreed or not or fell somewhere between or outside.
Pass the Courvoisier at Blaque Tulip
“Wives, In The Same Way” ? at the CBE Scroll
Is Spreading the Wealth Wrong? at the Reconciliation Blog
choosing a house at Living a Wartime Lifestyle

Abortion in U.S. - better than it used to be

Marvin Olasky tells the history of abortion in America. He finds it as early as 1652, but that's probably just for non-Indian abortions. The good news is that a lower percentage of babies are being killed now than before the civil war. The responses of the church, both liberal and conservative, at the time are remarkably similar to today. Then as now, theological radicals such as Henry Wright argued that a child's "first claim is to a designed existence, if it is to exist at all." Some said "it was less criminal to kill children before they were born, than to curse them with an unwelcome existence." But pro-life leaders rejected the premise that an "unwelcome existence" was the only alternative to abortion. They looked at three groups of women at risk for abortions and offered programs of education, refuge, and adoption that would help women to avoid unwanted pregnancy or to recover from it, without killing a child. My own friends have responded t…

Greek Bibles online

I am attempting again to read through the Greek New Testament. A chapter a day should get me through the year. I started in the Pastoral Epistles in December. As someone who likes to read through the Bible a couple times a year, it's good for me to read in slow motion. I use two tools. The NET Bible diglot and Kubo's Lexicon.

It's still cheating but it's more effort than using Bibleworks, which is such a crutch that I never even try to figure out a compound verb. I am in Hebrews right now and it is very humbling.

Sometimes though, one might need to get their Greek New Testament on when they are at work. It's nice to know where the good are. I've used Zhubert before, which is at The Resurgence, but the B-Greek list just pointed to Kata Biblon. Both are really great. For the best cheating away from your tools, I find Misslebrook's notes the best. They are more of a Greek study Bible than anything else. They are so much of a crutch, like software, that I never s…

book report: The Cay by Theodore Taylor

My wife picked out an excellent children's book on CD for our drive to Lake George, The Cay by Theodore Taylor. It's set in WW2 in the Dutch Caribbean. The narrator is an American boy whose mother takes him by ship to escape the danger of the German U-boats prowling the waters keeping the oil tankers from helping the allies. Of course, this is bad, and their own boat is sunk. The boy, Philip, ends up on a life raft with an old islander, Timothy. As his frustration grows Philip lashes out with his learned racial epithets against Timothy who, nevertheless, continues to care for Philip, even after Philip goes blind from a head injury during the sinking. They end up on a small deserted island for months. Timothy, aware of his mortality, teaches Philip to thrive despite his blindness, with marked paths, fishing lines, frond weaving, and coconut retrieval. Philip learns to appreciate Timothy as a man and mentor and friends and, with the aid of his blindness, forgets his skin color.


Vacation Review - Six Flags Great Escape Lodge, Lake George, NY

A homeschooling family has plenty of flexibility in scheduling vacations, especially right after traditionally congested weeks. Hence, when most families were leaving Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark, we were arriving. By God's grace we arrived before a wintry weather event and left before the next one. My parents vacationed at Lake George frequently when I was a kid and they still do today. It's a pretty area. In the winter, my options are limited since I'm not a skier. However I am a body surfer, and at this Lodge I could surf all day--and I did.

The lines were very short, so my son and I learned to surf on our knees and attempted several tricks. I don't think I would have attained this feat if I had to wait long between attempts. The girls tried this too, but once was enough for them. They preferred the meandering creek. The waterslides with tubes were OK. They were very dark though. My youngest fell off her tube near the top and had a painful ride t…

cinema review: Zorba the Greek (1964)

If you want existentialism without the angst, Zorba the Greek is your ticket. The scenery is gorgeous. Anthony Quinn is amazing. The townspeople are morally depraved, well, everyone is in this film. I'm not sure if the characters are immoral, but, rather, amoral to a large degree. This movie is a dramatization of the philosophy of Nietzsche in particular. So a brief philosophical and theological discussion must be included in this review.

What is existentialism? This brief definition at captures the flavor seen in the film. A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.

Nothing is declared right or wrong in this story. Sex outside of marriage is achieved without conscience: affairs, prostitutes, multiple partners, rape, nothing is condemned. But the universe is not…

book report: Samson Occom - Brothertown heritage

Samson Occom's biographer, W. DeLoss Love, wrote at the time of a treaty dispute with the resettled Brothertown tribe and the U.S. Government, a dispute ruled in their favor by the Supreme Court. Love seeks to emphasize to his readers the contributions that these tribes and their ancestors did on behalf of the United States and the colonies before the revolution. The Brothertown Indians, as the remnant of the New England tribes, have had a peculiar plea for consideration and justice. They alone of all the scattered nations, which our forefathers were wont to term "the lost tribes of Israel, can trace their ancestry back to the days of the founders of this Republic. In their civilization the seeds of the saintly JohnEliot's sowing are still bearing fruit. They are the descendants of Wheelock's Indian Charity School - the spiritual children of Samson Occom. Their ancestors fought with Uncas, "the white man's friend," in the Pequot War, went out with his th…

book report: Samson Occom - Statesman

Samson Occom's biographer in 1899, W. DeLoss Love, greatly admired his subject. If any native has merited the dignity of being called an Indian statesman, that man was Samson Occom. To recapitulate his views: he believed in the efficacy of Christian missions, and in education, particularly in industrial affairs; but he seems to have thought that the civilization of the Indian depended in large measure upon his relation to the land upon which he lived. So long as he roamed at large in the forest, he thought the native would remain a savage. It was necessary to gather them apart from the white men and on land which they could not sell, where they could be taught industrial pursuits and obtain a living from the soil. Moreover, he believed in maintaining, so far as possible, a tribal unity, establishing a form of self-government under the protection of the state, and preserving the Indian blood inits purity, especially from a mixture with the negro. These principles he sought to embod…

book report: Samson Occom - Card shark

Nowadays, many Americans associate native Americans with casinos. Samson Occom, Mohegan evangelist in the 18th century invented a missionary tool called "Christian cards." He dealt them out to provoke spiritual discussions with his listeners. Love writes In the evenings when no neighborhood meeting could be held, he gathered the young people about the pioneer's fireside, and entertained and instructed the with a gae which he had devised, called "Christian cards." These were versified passages of Scripture printed on cardboard, which he ave out to the company and as they were read he offered some comments upon them. He seems to have had an Old Testament and New TEstament pack; and the art was in the appropriateness of the card to the person, at which religious dealing the Reverend Occom was doubtless expert, though he does not instances when one "did not get the card which he intended." p.278