Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An unexpected pleasure

We left San Diego mid-morning last Friday to drive to the Bay Area. I didn't feel like gambling on Friday traffic through the LA Basin. Instead we skirted it east, going over Cajon Pass on the 15 towards Victorville and then cut back to I-5 through the high desert. That route is a bit longer and it's not as easy getting past Palmdale/Lancaster as it used to be -- growth equals more stoplights on the small highway.

I was beginning to wonder if we'd made the best decision as we poked along the 2 lane route behind a flatbed semi. He must have thought he was the only one on the road. Our 9 hour drive was headed toward 11 hours. Arrrggghhh.

Then west of Palmdale, as we approached the I-5, the turn north toward Gorman and the Grapevine we were suprised by joy.

Fields of wild poppies stretching to the horizon. For a few miles there the miles slipped by a little easier and maybe I felt just a little like my old friend Opus.

I do miss Opus...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Golden Bear Background

...and a golden moment foreground.

I was doing pretty well until Jon's Grandpa (who was commissioned an Ensign during WWII) did the honors and swapped out the cadet shoulder boards for Ensign shoulder boards.

The greatest Generation hands off to the Millenial Generation. May they be as great.

It was a beautiful sunny day at Cal Maritime Academy at the north end of San Francisco Bay. The morning commissioning ceremony was small, short and moving. It's a fine thing to see young men and women stepping outside of themselves and committing themselves to service and possibility of going in harm's way for their country.

Later in the day the graduation speaker was Roy Disney. Unlike most graduation speakers he actually was worth listening to. Approximately the takeaway was about how film making, going to sea and life are about teamwork, risk taking and expecting failure to come as an expected part of the venture. The lessons are in the failure and the character is in moving beyond the failure. Well spoken Roy.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Front sight -- Preeeesssss

You can learn more about shooting a handgun from Todd Jarrett in this short clip than 90% of handgunners learn in a lifetime.

h/t Xavier


Pack the pork rinds and Blue Ribbon! Posting may be light through the weekend. We're hitting the road early tomorrow for a run up to the Bay Area. The excuse is a college graduation and USNR commissioning for son of one's near and dear to us. The festivities will be at Cal Maritime.

An aerial view (linky)

Cal Maritime is a small California state college that never makes it onto most people's radar. It should because it's a fine institution. Then again, why would it? It's in the Bay Area and it cranks out graduates, many of whom have conservative leanings. Even more shocking is that many of the grads go onto serve in various branches of the military. Horrors! And so close to Berkley.

About Cal Maritime
Located in Vallejo, California, The California Maritime Academy (Cal Maritime) is a unique and specialized campus of The California State University that offers students bachelor’s degrees in business administration, facilities engineering technology, global studies and maritime affairs, marine engineering technology, marine transportation, and mechanical engineering. Cal Maritime is one of only seven degree-granting maritime academies in the United States — and the only one on the West Coast. A specialized education combining classroom instruction, experiential learning, and professional development prepare students for successful careers in international business and logistics, maritime policy, engineering, technology, or in the maritime and transportation industries. International travel, training, and experiences — including a two-month international training cruise onboard the Training Ship GOLDEN BEAR — prepare students in fields that are increasingly global in nature. Cal Maritime is committed to being a leading educational institution recognized for excellence in the business, engineering, operations, and policy of the transportation and related industries of the Pacific Rim and beyond.

Chew 100 times

Ever try eating the recommended 5-10 daily servings of vegatables? Yeah RIGHT! That's a pile 'o veggies! Just stake me out in the pasture will ya?!

Well then, here's a little morning goodness for you. Blenderize your veggies and get ~80% of the food value out of them vs the 20% you'll get from eating them the old fashioned way. That's like you're getting 4 servings for every 1 serving eaten normally. At least that's what I've been reading lately. It has something to do with the blenders more complete "mastication" of the cellulose in the veggies. The claim is that "chewing" with the blender allows more of the veggie's goodness to come out in digestion.

That witches brew right there is a couple carrots, a couple sticks of celery, a handful of frozen berries and a coffee grinder capful of freshly ground flax seed.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Does the chewing gum loose it's flavor...

...on the bedpost overnight?
That photo there is of 2 similarly overpriced pieces of nightstand hardware. Well maybe the 1911 isn't that overpriced but the hearing aides are ridiculously overpriced. The hearing aid industry has to be one of the greatest "Guild type" scams currently being perpetrated on the public. You have to buy from a closed loop of "certified" technicians. The industry is dominated by a few large suppliers and the pricing power they maintain results in insane cost to the consumer.

On the other hand, the pistol price is pretty much driven by open market simple supply and demand. Demand remains high for the classic John Browning design (nearly 100 years later) and so prices continue to stay high.

Each of those hearing aides is made up of a few dollars of electronics (max!) and a dollar or so of molded plastic and elastomer and has very little touch labor. What there is of touch labor is relatively cheap/low skilled assembly line labor. I'd be surprised if there's more than $20 in each aid (parts and conversion cost). Add to that an hour or two labor by a skilled hearing aid tech for individual customer testing, fitting and programming. Add it all up and they retail for $1500 -- EACH! I'll be lucky if they last a year or two before failing. At least this pair has a better warranty than the 3 pairs I've gone through since 2001.

That's just a guess on my part but I should be a pretty good guesser in this area. Professionally I've helped source electronic parts for nigh on 20 years and have been involved in sourcing injected molded parts. At one time I was something of a specialist in molded elastomeric parts (having written my employer's elastomeric keypad qualification and reliability document and qualifying some of our earliest keypad suppliers in Taiwan and Mainland China).

By way of contrast, the Springfield Armory "loaded" US Government Model of 1911 has in it 10's of dollars of material and a hundred dollars or so of machining and hand finishing and sold for just north of $500 when I bought it 6-7 years ago. Today that model retails around (i think) $800.

Compare that to the hearing aides and I'll let you guess what I'd rather have spent $3000 vs $800 on.

Now if I could only figure out where my hearing went...

It's down >40dB down through the midrange so hearing aides are an all day thing for me. Can’t think why…
Nothing to do with sitting next to the drum riser running lights and effects for a dance/rock band in the 70’s, shooting unprotected many days as a kid and left with ringing ears for 48 hours, troubleshooting & launching a/c on the roof of a carrier or 500+ hours radar time sitting between 2 T-56’s.

Nah, just bad genes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Colt 45, Ruger Old Model Vaquero

The cylinder is missing! Actually it's only missing from this picture. I know where it's at. It's went Priority Mail today to "Cylindersmith.com" .

Ruger must have had someone asleep at the switch a few years back when they built this handgun. The chamber throats are about 0.448" in diameter. That's interesting because this is a 45 Colt whose barrel rifling major diameter is 0.451".

The bullet exits the cylinder chamber through the cylinder throat (0.448"). At that point the bullet is swaged down to that diameter.
Next the bullet enters the barrel which has rifling grooves of 0.451" diameter. The bullet is now swaged 0.003" smaller than the barrel's major diameter. Can you almost hear it rattling down the bore like a Brown Bess musket ball at Lexington Green?

See the problem there? The bullet will be accelerated and rotated inconsistently from shot to shot. Without a proper fit a bullet cannot "be all it can be" in terms of velocity and accuracy.

The bullet is supposed to be the same diameter as the barrel (or larger) to seal the burning propellant behind it. A copper bullet will be the same diameter as the grooves. A cast lead bullet is more malleable and should be ~0.001" larger so that in can obturate properly to form a gas tight seal.

When a bullet doesn't form a good seal as it transits the barrel not only do velocity & accuracy suffer, but, all sorts of nasty fouling can develop in the barrel -- more than usual. The burning gases can melt the lead as it passes between the barrel and bullet causing "lead fouling." Lead fouling can be a metric son of a gun to remove.

Apparently it's a fairly common problem on this vintage Ruger. Common enough that the Cylindersmith apparently has quite a hobby business going reaming chambers out to better match up with the barrels they feed.

Yes, the cylinder is indeed missing.
Hopefully only for a couple weeks.
Hopefully it will return and show a measurable improvement (reduction) in size of groups shot.

Of course, it's going USPS so there's still a good chance it's the last time I'll see that cylinder.

Root Canal or Taxes?

Last Tuesday, taxes.
One week later, today, a root canal. Actually a (re) root canal of an old one gone bad -- fistula and all on the gum line.

What'll it be next Tuesday?

Maybe I'll just stay in bed...

Monday, April 21, 2008

One man's eyesore...

...is another man's collectible working art. I'm taking some guff from a colleague at work who insists this fine piece of American Iron is an eyesore.

Still trying to confirm the year of manufacture. It's a later Ford 2N. Probably a '46 or '47.

Unnecessary? Foolish or impractical purchase? Perhaps. Still, there's a lot of work to be done in the 1/2 acre below the house that used to be an Avocado grove. The heavy lifting and grading of playfield, drive and garage/RV pad will be contracted out. There's going to be some prep work needed before that in clearing field of hay. An old friend has offered up an old brush hog that's sat idle at his place the past few years.

The rationale for the tractor is that there will be a lot of small spot jobs, grade touchup and heavy lifting needed after the major grading. Hopefully itt can be sold after that and nearly all the original price recovered. The plan is for this unit to ease the load on an aging back for all the "before and after" grading work.

It's surprising the opportunities that come with a rig like the like this. Weed abatement is quite a seasonal business here in brush fire country. Already I have one contractor offering to refer small spot jobs to me that he routinely "no-bids" with his larger tractor. I don't have the bandwidth to engage in a sideline business like that. However, there might be an opportunity in this for the Son & Heir if that brush hog deal works out.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Some folks can't go for a run without a walkman (do they still exist?) or an I-pod plugged into their ears to distract them. Maybe the same folks find it unpleasant to paint a house or a room in a house. I dunno, for me certain activities allow a rhythm to develop that's meditative and therapuetic. Running, and painting are two that come to mind. Noise (ie music) just disrupts the rhythm and impedes my ability to find that relaxation/destress zone where thoughts turn into solutions and anxiety becomes peace.

I suspect for my wife, swimming is like that. I can swim some distance but don't have her competitive swim background.For me it's more like I'm surviving than thriving in the pool. She can get in after years out of the pool and (seemingly) effortlessly churn out a 1000-2000 yds. For me, it's not an activity that I've been able to get into the "zone" in -- maybe I'll get there with more training/experience.

Certainly the first time Vern Treat and I headed out Galvin road on our first freshman 5 mile X-country training run we weren't in the "zone." It was hot for Western Washington. It was Indian Summer and in the 90's. We were in pain. We were in the "survival zone." Funny though, just months later that same run was a light training run, barely more than a warmup.

I've had to find the zone in ways other than running or surfing since I've had a back surgery. Running is out of the question. Walking a sufficient distance to get in the zone remains beyond limits of my recovery thus far. It will come with time. In the meantime, I've had to find ways to add movement back to my life -- any movement.

Recently I've started getting into the pool a couple days a week. My swims are up to ~15 minutes now but that's not relaxing for me. That's work. Even after my Aircrew Candidate DWST (Deep Water Survival Training) experience in Pensacola I'm still not an in the "zone" swimmer.

I've returned to regular shooting and reloading as part of my recovery from back surgery. I've learned how necessary movement is to life. It's necessary to find activities that are within the limits of my ability to move. These activities require the total concentration and the rhythms so helpful in de-stressing.

This weekend, in several short sittings, I reloaded several hundred rounds of Colt 45. With each pull of the handle, with each case and bullet fed into the press, with each "feel" of a primer seating in a case and the click/clack of the powder measure rising and falling, tax day faded further behind me

Rhythms. Cheaper than therapy.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Flail of the Iron Minotaur

Q: How do you know if it is a rock drummer is at your front door?
A: The knocking slows down.

Minitaur takes the stage. A good time -- much better than I expected. They had the toughest song choice and tightest instrumentals of the night (of 6 groups) but lacked a vocalist. That lost it for them.

They should have won it on style points alone.

The group that beat them out for the $100 prize had a couple excellent musicians (esp, bassist) but they did simple songs. That group's vocals were really hard to sit through, but, gotta give the girls points for their head dip/hair flips.

The other kid's bands (and most praise bands) strike me as fusion of post-Punk pwr chords & folk (eewwww). Does such a thing exist?
I suppose when you take music education out of the schools, this is what you get. They want to make music. They have no base to start from. Well kudos for trying.

Anyhow, Iron Minitaur took the stage in Rm 208 at Horizon to a packed house -- and paid due respect to Clint (stage left) who they brought along from the garage.

A man's got to know his limitations.

"Hi, we're Flail of the Iron Minotaur. We've been playing together since, uhhh..., Monday."

Cowboys and Indians (ASG)
Electric Funeral, Paranoid (BS)

Their intended vocalist couldn't hack the Ozzie stuff so he dropped out. It happened too late to draft/rehearse little sister: The Divine Miss M. They just played 'em all straight ahead as instrumentals. Actually stayed together real well. Son&Heir didn't drift off tempo at all (must not be a real rock drummer). I could tell he was pretty amp'd for the occasion -- all and all surprisingly listenable.

Tecate Sunrise ($2.17 Diesel)

Up and on the road early this morning for weekly (almost) diesel fuel run to Tecate. It's 40 minutes through the hills east of us intoMexico and a Pemex station with diesel.

Prices have gone up another 20c per gallon in El Cajon since my last drive south. It's up 40c since I started making the drive. The price in Mey-hee-co hasn't budged in that timeframe.

I didn't get as good an exchange rate at the pump today (10.1pesos vs 10.4 previously).

Bottomline: $2.17/gallon vs. $2.11/gal I've paid the last month.

Slow posting: PC down

My work PC (laptop) went to blue screen and memory dump on me Thursday. Lovely.

Looks like I picked up a virus. It took the repair crew a bit longer than normal to get me back online. Turns out I had some hardware problems creeping in as well so they "upgraded" me to another used motherboard and new drive within my laptop shell.

Of course that left me needing to reinstall some programs I use that aren't in the company's standard load out. Not to mention being slammed w/ backlog of e-mail. Sat AM and I'm caught up now. Whew.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Centaur Redux. It's 1978 all over again

In keeping with the tradition of surfer bands since the days of wooden boards and iron men, the Son & Heir is part of the current generation of surfers cum rockers. He and his surf bud's are out of the shadows of our garage and off with their gear in search of the dream. Their first public performance is this Friday. A local church youth group is hosting a Battle of the Bands with a whopping $100 purse on the line.

What's on your playlist, asks I?
Two Black Sabbath tunes and one by "ASG" (ed. who?), says he.
At a youth group, says I?
They're clean lyrics says he...

sigh... At least they're not into Disco. Thank heavens for small favors.

They're not just hanging out in the garage, playing Guitar Hero and raiding the pantry for chips like a pack of starving wolves. It's a big improvement from last year.

Death before Disco!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


...and I'm clear! Taxes are in. With HOURS to spare. Wondering what all the rush was about now.

Seriously folks, I'm ready for a tea party. This tax system is just nuts. This is just the calm before the storm. If the "Bush Tax Cuts" expire in 2010 we'll be looking back at 2007 tax rates and complexity as "the good old days."

At one point I had a $28K gap between an item reported on my W-2 and a calculation on Sched D. Yikes! The "amount owed" ticker was long gone in the wrong direction and showed no signs of coming back toward Zero. Must. Breath.

Between me banging my head, praying like a man on a sinking ship and generally knotting up in the stomach, I managed to find an input error I'd made.

Any of you use Turbo Tax (tm)? Then you know how they put that little $ counter in the upper left corner. That little window keeps track of a) what you owe or b) what you will get back as a rebate. In my case, it usually starts as a big number owed. Then as I input additional income info from 1099's it just keeps growing from there. It seemed like an eternity before it started counting back down today.

Tonight I start selling at least one of my 4 kids on a CPA career.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Morning colors, Sounds of Sunset

Sunrise is still my favorite time of day. That must be inherited from my dad. Probably a recessive "Iowa Farm Gene."

Growing up Dad would rise early on a Sunday morning (well, actually he was up early every morning to read, pray and exercise) when the water was high. We'd drive out Lincoln Creek together.

Lincoln Creek is a valley of old farms that would flood in winter. One area in particular where we'd stop on a narrow tar side road would fill right up on both sides of the grade. We'd sit and take it all in quietly as the sun rose and the birds woke. I loved to fiddle with the cheap 7x35 Sears binoculars -- I still find pleasure in anything mechanical.

For some reason, I especially remember seeing a redwing blackbird for the first time there. The red of those wings still flash bright in my memory of that gray Western Washington dawn.

Good times. Quiet of day dawning. Light growing. Sounds of world waking. A twelve year old boy getting to shift the old Corolla from the passenger seat for his dad.

Dad's 83 now. He's been in the hospital all weekend. Had a heart attack last Thursday when he went to ER feeling poorly. Voice loaded heavy on the phone last night with stress of bronchitis, sleeplessness, and uncertainty of treatment.

The sounds of sunset I suppose...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wise man or Wise guy?

Humble Wisdom: James 3:13-18 audio is up. link

Wisdom from above

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

“They moderate their zeal with the condiment of peace, for those who wish to be physicians to heal vices ought not to be executioners.” John Calvin

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Southern Comfort


1. Go to a second-hand store and buy a pair of men's used size 14-16 work boots.

2. Place them on your front porch, along with a copy of Guns & Ammo Magazine
and a few empty shotgun shells or high-powered rifle cartridges.

3. Put a few giant dog dishes next to the boots and magazines.

4. Leave a note on your door that reads:

Hey Bubba, Big Jim, Duke and Slim, I went for more ammunition. Back in an

Don't mess with the pit bulls-- they attacked the mailman this morning and
messed him up real bad. I don't think Killer took part in it, but
it was hard
to tell from all the blood.*

Anyway, I locked all four of 'em in the house. Better wait outside.*

The rest of ya'll. Just get yourself a shotgun.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Chicken or the Egg?

William "Bill" MacDonald's commentary is a keeper on James 2:24 (faith vs works). Refers back to points in Romans...

We are justified by 6 things: Grace, Faith, Blood, God, Power, Works

"Grace is the principle upon which God justifies
Faith is the means by which man receives it
Blood is the price which the Savior had to pay
God is the active Agent in justification
Power is the proof
Works are the result"

"...Works are not the root of salvation but the fruit; they are not the cause but the effect. Calvin put it tersely: "We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.""

"True faith and works are inseparable. The first produces the second and the second evidences the first."

...and for the record, the chicken came first.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The older I get the bettter I was


Death before Disco

That's my old 60's Harmony dreadnought. Thank you Dave C. $50 in 1978 and still going strong. I just had the guys at Moze (local Guitar godz)put a new nut on it. The nut I installed in about 1978 (or was it Lance?) was a bit of a kludge. It finally feel apart when the Son & Heir went to restring it.

I let the old friend sit out of service in the corner a couple months. Another project unfinished that I intended to get around to finishing. It is an odd size nut. I wasn't confident in my ability to set the height properly so I just dropped it with Moze.

After all these years I still love the big warm campfire sound and am still dissatisfied with the miserable "make your fingers bleed" action. It doesn't play much better or much worse... 'course neither do I.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Heart health

Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down,
But a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25

Other shoe redux

James 3:1-12 sermon is up. link

Civilian Marksmanship Program

In the early years of US History preachers sermonized from the pulpit about the responsibility of parents to train up their children in the use of firearms. It was seen as a primary civic responsibility owed to the community.

The US Government still has a agency that promotes civilian marksmanship. It sells surplus or reduced cost rifles and ammunition to qualified citizens (have to be associated with shooting or veterans organization) It used to be known as the DCM (Director or Dept? of Civlian Marksmanship. In it's current incarnation it's known as (drumroll please) the "Civlian Marksmanship Program."

Homepage is at this link.

Here's an excerpt from a recent CMP e-mail update.


CHANGE TO CARBINE SALES DATES: Inspection & Repair and grading of M1 carbines has progressed faster than expected. CMP will now accept mail orders for Saginaw, Saginaw S'G', and National Postal Meter carbines on 28 April, 2008. Order acceptance date for Standard Products and IBM has now been set as 7 July, 2008. For operational reasons, we have set a limit of one carbine per grade per customer for each of these manufacturers until further notice. A small quantity of these manufacturers will be available at both CMP stores. For additional details, please see http://www.odcmp.com/rifles/carbine.htm

SA CORRECT GRADE M1 GARANDS NOW AVAILABLE: CMP has over 300 SA Correct Grade rifles in stock. For additional details, please see http://www.odcmp.com/Services/Rifles/m1garand.htm

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Nose to the Grindstone

The hand of the diligent will rule,
while the slothful hand will be put to forced labor. Proverbs 12:24

Back to the grindstone for me.

Roundup pro (blue jug, crystals) rocks!

It's spendy but works out to about half the price for a given area coverage as the big liquid Roundup bottle at My Toy Store (Home Depot). Also, it shows some effects within a day or two so you know it's working -- maybe it has an acid in the mix to burn the foliage a wee bit. Regular Roundup takes a week or two to show the effect of it's deadly magic on the roots.

Recently I sprayed the lower lot -- well actually the Son & Heir sprayed
the lower lot. I only did about 45 minutes worth before the ol' back
started warning it was about to goout on strike. It took over 6 hours to cover the ~25K sq ft of thigh high vetch with the 4 gallon backpack sprayer.
It was thigh high, thick and a chore to walk through. Not it's deader'n a doornail, lying down and slicker than you know what on a doorknob.

The field (an old avocado grove) needs defoliated in preparation for grading. The plan is for a playfield, full circle drive around the perimeter and to cut and roll pads at the top for a shop, RV parking and a potential pool.

It's not cricket to have all that green matter mixed in when moving the soil around and compacting. The "green" causes settling problems later so it has to be removed. Next up is cutting and remove all the dead grass (hay).

Monday, April 7, 2008

Court sets Athiest Holiday

I missed this news last week.

Have you heard about this case? In Florida, an atheist became incensed over the preparation of Easter and Passover holidays. He decided to contact his lawyer about the discrimination inflicted on atheists by the constant celebrations afforded to Christians and Jews with all their holidays while atheists had no holiday to celebrate.

The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the long passionate presentation by the lawyer, the Judge banged
his gavel and declared, 'Case dismissed!'

The lawyer immediately stood and objected to the ruling
and said, 'Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The
Christians have Christmas, Easter and many other observances. Jews
have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah... Yet my client and all other
atheists have no such holiday!'

The judge leaned forward in his chair and simply said,
'Obviously your client is too confused to even know about, much less
celebrate his own atheists' holiday!'

The lawyer pompously said, 'Your Honor, we are unaware of any such
holiday for atheists. Just when might that holiday be, your Honor?'
The judge said, 'Well it comes every year on exactly the
same date---April 1st! Since our calendar sets April 1st as 'April
Fools Day,' consider that Psalm 14:1 states, 'The fool says in his
heart, there is no God.' Thus, in my opinion, if your client says
there is no God, then by scripture, he is a fool, and April 1st is his
Now have a good day and get out of my courtroom!!!

(Rimshot) Thanks folks. We'll be here all week. Try the prime rib.

No U-hauls in Heaven

Ever seen a hearse pulling a U-haul?

A couple thoughts connected with me today from the Old Testament and New Testament passages when reading in my "One year Bible". At least I can see a bit of a parallel between Israel in the Deut 31:20 and the rich man in Luke 12:19. Maybe it's a stretch because I see this principle at work in my life.

Deuteronomy 31:20 For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant.

Luke 20:19 And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '
20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'
21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

Times of easy money and good health are an insidious test of character and devotion. The test of prosperity is an obvious one. It's easy to think of examples of when failures during prosperity has lead to fiscal or spiritual poverty. Best not ask me about the 2001 stock market and why I'm not retired early like so many co-workers.

Regarding investing and retirement accounts, I'll just leave you with 2 words, "Adult Supervision."

It may not be so obvious why I call good health a test. It's because I know how chronic pain has blessed me. It took a couple years, but, at some point I began being thankful for the pain. It was something of a mental and emotional wrestling match to get to that point.

The chronic pain I've experienced has definitely been a purifying thing spiritually. Pain has put me (figuratively and literally) on my knees and into led me back to better times in prayer and "the Word."

However, when my posture exercises pay off and my back pain or pinched nerves starts to feel better, I often start a slow drift into spiritual complacency. Similarly when I feel better I'll put off my exercises till later in the day or cut short the exercise on a "good" day. In both cases it catches up with me. Just like the man in Luke 20 I quickly revert to feeling self sufficient and forget to rely on my real source of strength.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cheaper than therapy

Well usually a trip to the range is cheaper than therapy. This trip probably didn't rise to that level.

I cut it short after the young man in the lane next to me cut my target retrieval string and my target slumped to the floor. Good shootin' Pilgrim! That was after a couple magazines through my S&W 22A. Discretion being the better part of valor, I just packed it up and left at that point. At least the counter girl didn't charge me for my time.

That was after he'd shot into the concrete floor about 7 yds from the line.
This was after Jean Claude wanna be a couple lanes to my right started shakingdust loose from the overhead with his rented 44 Mag Redhawk. Even being mostly deaf, the concussive force of that pistol indoors was too much for me today. At least he provided a little light for the dim indoor range with the flames from the 6" barrel.

Of course that was after waiting for a lane to open up while watching Jean Claude and his girlfriend break all of Jeff Cooper's 4 rules of safe gunhandling.
They seemed to be taking turns alternately resting the shotgun muzzle on their shoe tops and leaning on the muzzle like a walking cane -- that was when they were busy choreographing new and interesting ways to sweep the rest of us at the counter with the muzzle.

A bad day at the range is better than a good day at work? Well, maybe.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

Well, I made it through today's sermon without being bound and drug before the Inquistor for spewing heresy. That's something I guess.

Funny thing when you speak from the pulpit. Sure you might hear something like "Thanks for that message" or "That really blessed/convicted me." but not really that often. Oh, I suppose you might hear more of that if we had the tradition of the preacher at the front door saying goodbye to departing congregants. That's not part of our tradition. Besides you don't preach for the strokes. You speak from the pulpit because it's a calling and a burden on your heart.

The other shoe drops when you get a point of doctrine wrong, misspeak or when someone misunderstands what was said. The latter (misunderstanding) is probably the most common cause with me. It's undestandable considering with my sense of humor and semi-dry wit (shaken not stirred).

It's the negative reactions not communicated that are most concerning. Those reactions can fester. Folks take them home for a Sunday dinner of Roast Preacher with potatoes and gravy (I'll have mine with some Fava beans and a nice Chianti please)

In a worst case scenario, a person won't follow Matthew 18's instruction to go in person and speak about the problem/concern. Instead they just take offense, stew for a while and then fade into the sunset.

I wear a size 12D. Feel free to drop that shoe.

Now it's off to the range for a different type of brain flush.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Brain Flush

Confident in my total absence of hipness and techno-savvy, I boldly launch this first post on my first blog.

There are no lofty goals associated with this blog. It is nothing more than a lark, a brain flush, a pause to refresh. Maybe something profitable will come along in posts, comments or discussion as a result.

The same goes for this first post. This post is a brain flush, a pause to refresh during final prep for tomorrow's sermon from James 3:1-12, "Tests of Faith. Say ahhh..."

Next week's sermon will be on last verses of chapter 3 "Wisdom from Above".

A brain flush is in order because, frankly, I'm probably in a bit deep. Not on the teaching or preaching of the passage so much. This isn't a controversial passage. The challenge is in the the change I've been making in my methods of preparation and presentation.

In my professional life I prepare for public speaking by storyboarding and outlining visually in Powerpoint. Then I go back through and flesh out the presentation and speaking notes.

My method of preparing a sermon is different. It is more like the traditional approach to writing a paper. Thesis, outline, conclusion. Then fill it in. The difference is that, unlike some preachers, I don't actually write out the whole sermon in advance. I've found that note cards with outline, key points, verses and quotations has worked best for me.

I'm a bit of a story teller and an ad libber -- it's a natural tendency that works with my spiritual gift. The challenge for me is to not "under prepare" and thus rely too much on my ability to improvise and speak extemporaneously. On the other hand I have learned that if I over prepare and put to much in my notes, my delivery gets stiff and I don't engage the audience.

That brings me back to my point about a change in prep methods. I've recogized the need to prepare more visuals for my sermons. This generation requires it. Also our congregation has many recent immigrants and refugees who struggle with English. Not to mention the language challenge our Canadian ex-pats face!

So here I sit. Needing a brainflush; in the final throws of preparing a sermon using my workaday Powerpoint methodology. The visual content came easily for this passage -- almost too easily. The visual challenge was in the choosing -- not the finding. The bigger challenge is in integrating the teaching and preaching with the visuals.

The problem right now is that I may be getting too "prepared" and fenced in by content on the slides. The nice things about note cards is you can drop them on the floor or rearrange them on the fly. These slides may make my delivery stiff. The sermon may lose benefit of my ability to ad lib or ability to properly time delivery of a key point or turn of phrase.

Well back to the grindstone for now. Maybe my first blog post will be my last. Time will tell if I can remember this blog exists let alone the login info.