Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Go Big Or Stay Home

This year I've decided to engage the culture head-on for Halloween.

I love a good party just as much as the next guy and I love costumes too, but I kind of feel about Halloween the same way I feel about Mardis Gras -- they are celebrating the wrong day. And it's just bad liturgy.

With Mardis Gras you get Fat Tuesday, but skip out on Ash Wednesday and Lent. What's really the point then, except to party to excess?  Same thing with Halloween: a night to binge on candy and dress up with a focus on "spirits", and miss out on the Father of Spirits (cf. Heb 12:9) and the triumph of the Saints in Heaven.

We have a real holiday, and it is great. The Feast of All Hallows is the Solemnity of All Saints. The Church Triumphant -- the super-heroes who made it to Heaven who are the "cloud of witnesses" that support us with their prayers and intercessions and behold Christ in Majesty.

So by all means, ring my doorbell on Oct. 31 and let's have some fun. The girls, Blynken, Nod-girl, and Nib will be dressed in their best rendition of St. Philomena, St. Lucy, and St. Agnes with her little lamb in tow, Dab.

But you'll have to come under this 6-foot banner I got from Staples.  Just so we're clear. :D


Saturday, October 4, 2014

House On Strike

This is getting so ridiculous that it's kinda funny -- but my house is on strike.  Not the people in it, although I could fill up volumes in that regard, but the house itself.  Oh, and the appliances are conspiring against us too.

It just doesn't want to work anymore. Our house is starting to be that house-of-a-certain age. You know, the one where you decide that you're sick of your current state-of-the-house and could use a makeover -- and the house in protest just decides it's going to stop doing all those things that you have taken for granted up to now.

Like the roof and windows keeping out the rain. Like the water heater providing actual hot water for longer than 12 minutes at a time. The paint is peeling (or is that crayon?) and the carpet looks like the wrong end of a Chinese take-out.

The door frame is out of true and the garage door spring went sprung! Some outside critter got in and decided to chew a hole in the garage door insulation. Honestly, I didn't know my garage door was insulated to begin with, and certainly not with a million molecules of styrofoam.

The basement toilet refuses to flush completely despite the plunge-and-Draino routine and has developed a slow leak around the porcelain like an old man with an enlarged prostate. Not to be outdone, the oven heating element actually melted in place and sent up a shower of sparks to terrorize the kids.

The outside things looked in and decided to join the fray. The big Bradford pear tree in the back just up and dropped a 500 pound limb on our playset, so the swing-set got sunk.

The air conditioner flirted briefly with swallowing a toddler sized handful of gravel, but has since realized the error of its ways and crossed the picket line back to our side.

Finally today, after 5201 loads of laundry the washing machine is all washed up. The front loader drum came off its moorings and banged itself into oblivion, crying out "No more will I carry your load!" Gunga-ga-gunga-ga-gunga! Such a din!

The companion dryer wisely gave up its cubic yard of lint it had been hiding under its skirts and demanded amnesty. We have agreed to its terms and declared d├ętente.

We could laugh or cry, but laughing's much more fun. Here's mud in your eye. Ha! Ha!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Beer Conductor

There's a guy in Chicago, named Bill Diamond, who took a summer job at a rail yard after college and stayed there to become a Beer Conductor.
 - When the mercury plunges, this brew crew's job is to keep trainloads of beer from freezing. - Manuel Martinez
When the mercury plunges, this brew crew's job is to keep trainloads of beer from freezing.
Manuel Martinez


His job includes moving train cars around the yard to keep the beer from freezing below 13 degrees Fahrenheit.

They may get a little slushy, but the constant jostling helps prevent a hard freeze and exploding cans and bottles.

His warehouse, or "beer house" holds more than 1 million cases of beer at any given time. That's a powerful thirst, my friend.

What an awesome job! Far from being "a tedious and time-sucking endeavor" as reported by , this guy is performing a noble public service -- saving beer. >Sniff.< 

If you don't believe me, just ask Grupo Modelo S.A.B de C.V or Chicago-based Crown Imports LLC, Modelo's U.S. importer, I'm sure they'd agree; it's their beer.

This guy's a real mensch: performing a thankless task so others might beer. He can also do what no one else can do without committing a beer foul: he can shake the beer ... and it's a good thing.

Plus, being a train conductor is kinda awesome in and of itself. Every boy loves a railroad. Even my 3-year old Dab runs around the house singing Thomas the Tank Engine and making the couch  into a mountainous track or any horizontal surface into his personal train yard.

Bill Diamond is a real life grown up whose job is Beer Conductor. Combining two great things in life: beer and trains ... Atta-boy, Bill!

All aboard! Cheers!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

DIY Magnetic Stir Plate: In Progress

A work in progress: a magnetic stir plate for building up yeast starters.



First thing is to get a 12 volt adapter and hook it up to a rocker switch. This gives you on/off. Yay, power!



Next you wire up a rheostat to a used hard drive fan and your rocker switch. This allows you to adjust the speed of the fan. Wheeeee!


Now, take a hard drive rare earth magnet and affix it to the spinning side of the fan. Test mount the parts in an enclosure, put the magnetic stir bar in a flask and voila! It magnetically stirs your solution.
See the whirlpool funnel?


Needs a little refinement, but you get the idea.  I'll do a more complete post later.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Church of England: Planned Obsolescence

This past Sunday we read the Parable of the Sower. Whenever the seed fell on the path, on stony ground, or in thorns, then the seed perished. When the seed fell on fertile ground, it not only grew but flourished and multiplied a hundred fold.

It was with this background in mind that I read on Monday of the Church of England voting to allow female Bishops. For those who believe that being a priest or bishop is just like any other job, subject to so-called "equity laws" (they should be called "sameness laws"), this is a long awaited victory.

For those who believe that priesthood is something other, something set apart by God for his own purposes, made in the image of the Son, and not alterable by his creatures, then this announcement can only be seen as a grave impediment to unity.

Sadly, the CoE is tripping further down the path of irrelevance. As the Parable of the Sower goes on to say: "But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away."

When you continue to change your doctrine to suit the whims of society, you have nothing to say to the culture for you have become the culture; you are therefore irrelevant.  "What? You are still here? Go away, we have conquered you."

But it is no good to simply wag a self-righteous finger. We who are hearers should take heed lest we fall into the same trap -- for there is a promise and a doom:
"12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."

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