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Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

How Beautiful Can Life Get?

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Maybe Miami was Just a Bad Dream

Ocala is just too much.

Today I finished looking after my dad’s business, and I put my boots on and headed for the workshop. I sharpened up Big Bad Mama, the 20″ Echo chainsaw, and I put it in the E-Z-GO along with my new Woodchuck timberjack. I cruised over to the big live oak that tried to crush my chicken house, and I went to work sawing it up.

Before I got to the oak, I went off my property and grabbed a gigantic ball of live oak limbs and Spanish moss from my neighbor’s swale and carted it to my burn pile. Good neighbors don’t leave hurricane junk on each other’s swales. I scooped it up with the tractor forks and dumped it on the pile.

I cut little limbs and moved them until I had access to the bigger bits of the tree, and then I went at it. I cut the tree into manageable pieces, and then I used the tractor and a strap to yank it around into a position where I could buck the last big branch.

The timberjack is wonderful. You can grab a hundred-pound limb with it and yank it into cutting position with about as much effort as it takes to flip a pancake. I had no problem cutting big limbs up with it.

The tree had one huge limb which could be considered the trunk. Hard to say. After I moved things around with the tractor, that limb was off the ground. Using my brain, I put the tractor forks under it and then cut it off. It fell on the forks. I didn’t have to roll it onto them. I ran it over to the burn pile and dumped it on.

Because I use the right tools, I got a whole lot of work done in a short time. It was a pleasure. Tomorrow or the next day, I’ll go out and hit the pile with my plumber’s torch, and it will go up like Mt. Saint Helens.

When I was done, I moved everything back to the shop, got a chair, and drank several beverages, ending with a lovely Sierra Nevada Torpedo. Occasionally I drink beer to blow out kidney stones.

The air was cool. The bugs were not biting. It was quiet. No one was yammering at me in a foreign language. Exquisite.

This place gets better and better. Why didn’t I move 20 years ago? Oh, right. I was out of God’s will. I would not have fit in.

I’m in the workshop now. A nice breeze is blowing through. I hate to leave.

I’ll post a few photos.

Man, I hate Miami.

FYI, my dad’s boat is sold, and the money is in the checking account. A major headache, GONE!

I think I’ll buy some pie.


Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Out Top Gear-ing Top Gear

If I haven’t posted much lately, it’s because I am exhausted from recreation.

My oldest friend (not literally oldest, but the one I’ve known the longest) decided he wanted my dad’s 1995 Ford Explorer, which I was about to sell on Craigslist. It has at least 146,000 miles (for a while he couldn’t find a mechanic who could fix an odometer), it leans to the left, it smells really interesting, and my dad had the heat disconnected because it went bad and would have cost $800 to repair. I told my friend (Mike) it was “a real piece of crap,” but he wanted it to plow his driveway in New Hampshire, so we cut a deal for $500, and he flew down to get it.

My dad keeps saying Mike “stole” it. Guess I’ll be hearing that for quite some time.

It seemed to be okay before Mike came down, and then when he arrived, the overdrive wouldn’t work, and it lost something like a quart of oil every hundred miles. I have a recollection of adding oil to it recently, but I didn’t know it had a serious leak.

Some interesting facts that make the story richer: Mike’s birthday was yesterday, and he forgot to renew his driver’s license. When we tried to address this online, we found that New Hampshire’s online renewal system only works if you have the code they mail you before your birthday; the code Mike didn’t bring. Can you renew over the phone? Sure. The paperwork takes maybe a week to arrive by mail, and during that time, your license is not considered valid.

Also, Mike decided not to bring his winter clothes, because Florida is warm. Think about that.

He said, “When I left, it was forty degrees.” I pointed out that sometimes weather changes. I think that was helpful.

I had told Mike the car was only guaranteed until he got it out of my dad’s driveway, but he drove it to Delray Beach and back (funeral: a friend’s father had died), and it came back two quarts low, so I reluctantly decided his friendship was worth more than $500, and we spent several days doing a Top Gear-style restoration to get the car ready for the trip north.

During this time, Mike scored a number of free meals off of me via guilt trips, and I also gave him a treasured possession: the world’s best bottle opener.

Mike loves my tool collection. While I was showing it to him, I showed him the severed end of a 1 1/2″ box wrench. I had it on hand because I had bought a $9 Chinese wrench and modified it to use as a tool post wrench. I’ll post a photo. I had cut one end off to make the wrench shorter. You don’t want a really long tool post wrench, because if you have too much leverage, you may crack your compound slide when you tighten the nut.

Mike thought it was disgraceful that I hadn’t turned the wrench end into a project, and he suggested a bottle opener. That actually sounded good, so while he was at the funeral, I got to work. I had a piece of 304 stainless steel, and I cut a semicircle out of it, using a hacksaw and my belt grinders. I then welded it across the wrench opening. Because I am having all sorts of problems with my helmet, I couldn’t see what I was doing, so I left big globs of weld on the wrench, and I had to grind it down to make it pretty.

I was going to keep the opener, but then I thought of Mike’s frozen corpse sitting in a Ford Explorer with a seized engine, surrounded by puzzled state troopers, one of which was busy writing his dead body a ticket for driving without a license, and I decided to make it a birthday present, because that would completely make up for sending him to an untimely death.

Before turning the opener over to him, I put a lanyard hole in the end of it. Now Mike has the world’s heaviest keychain.

Mike thought a new ABS sensor might fix the overdrive problem, so we spent a day crawling around under the Explorer, and we got a new one installed. We put a quart of Lucas Engine Oil Stop Leak in the engine, and that seemed ( ! ) to reduce the leak’s flow to an acceptable rate.

Unfortunately, the transmission fluid level was low, and Mike added too much, so we spent the next day looking for someone to flush the transmission. Mike figured he might as well flush it instead of just having the level reduced. The weather had turned cold and rainy, so that was fun. I wore traditional Miami cold weather gear: a hooded fleece jacket with shorts. Maybe not the best choice.

Sears gave Mike a service appointment, but when we arrived, we learned that a Sears appointment is really an appointment to stand in line. It seems to serve no purpose at all. When we got to the front of the line, they refused to service the car because of the mileage. You would think they would have mentioned this on the phone, but Sears is dying, so I guess the people who work there are not knocking themselves out in order to get promoted.

I did offer to give the money back and put the car on Craigslist, but by now Mike was on a quest. He wasn’t about to surrender. Thank God.

The next day he got up early and bought an inverter from Harbor Freight. This is a device that turns DC into AC. He figured he would install it inside the car and connect a 1500-watt space heater to it. I am completely serious. My suggestion was to stop at Salvation Army stores during the trip and buy a used down jacket and gloves.

He collected me, and we decided to go to a Salvation Army store to see if they had anything he could use to keep himself alive. Miraculously, they had an unused electric blanket. I thought that was the answer. Put the blanket on, turn on the inverter, and drive. That has to be better than a heater, which blows hot air in random directions. It was like five bucks, so Mike decided to buy it. I also found an incredible deal: a #6 Wagner Ware skillet in perfect condition. Mike is my friend, so of course, my first impulse was to grab it before he got to it and buy it for myself, but I already have three #6 skillets, so I decided to let him have it. If he hadn’t bought it, I think I would have shot him. It’s the perfect size for cornbread. He got it for $3.75. Talk about “stole.”

We spent most of yesterday running cables through the car’s firewall and installing the inverter. He fired it up, and sure enough, it powered an electric drill. Now that he’s gone, I’m kind of wondering if it’s okay to use an inverter while the car is running, but I guess he’ll have to find out on his own. Maybe I should disconnect the phone.

He won’t be able to get a heater until he gets to Fort Lauderdale. In Miami, stores only order a few heaters every year, and on the first cool day, Cubans storm the aisles and buy every last one. The ones they can’t use, they sell for a massive profit. Probably. That’s what they do with generators during hurricanes. Anyway, there are no heaters here today.

I am still dealing with the virus I got a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have congestion or anything, but I have a crappy feeling that gets worse with exertion and lack of sleep. Last night I collapsed on my bed and started sweating, even though the mattress was cold. I thought for minute that I might be dying. I was cool with that. I still had Mike’s money, so I was dying a winner.

I slept about nine and a half hours, and then I got up to say goodbye to Mike. I still don’t feel rested, but I think a day of total loafing will put me right.

I shouldn’t worry about Mike. He’s a possibility thinker. Whatever happens, he will come up with a solution that will get him to New Hampshire. Anyone who would put a space heater in a $500 car can be trusted to look after himself.

I was hoping to talk to Mike about God while he was here, but he kept me so busy, I didn’t make as much progress as I had hoped. I managed to get him to sit still for a prayer session with my friend Travis and me. Mike loved it, and he talked about it before he left. He had been in a hurry to get to a car parts store, so he almost missed the session, but I got him to put it off long enough to pray. I told him you pray BEFORE you fix the problem, not afterward. That’s an extremely important thing to learn.

Considering all the barbecued ribs I bought Mike during the week, I’m not sure the car sale will show a profit, but at least it’s gone.

If you have a junk car, and you want a really interesting cheap project to improve it, I highly recommend an inverter. It will allow you to use power tools when the car breaks down. You can’t beat that.

I can’t wait for night so I can sleep some more. And I’m going to miss that bottle opener.

I’ll Have the Sparkling Water

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

Rum Wears Out its Welcome

I had a lot of fun fooling around with tiki drinks this week, but I think I’m done for a while. I’m starting to think there is something poisonous in rum.

When I was in college, I thought drunkenness was a good thing, and I worked at it. It was very unusual for me to get sick, but I managed it a few times. I also got sick once after I graduated from law school. The two worst hangovers I ever had were from dark rum. It won’t just make you sick the day you drink it; it will make you sick for half of the following day.

I had some Jamaican friends when I was in law school, and one of them told me they don’t drink dark rum. She said it was for the tourists. I guess the Jamaicans know something.

Anyway, I had maybe four rum drinks this week, which is not exactly binge drinking, and today I feel sort of off. I really think there is something in that stuff, apart from alcohol, which the body does not like.

I didn’t use dark rum; I used Flor de Cana golden rum, which is about the color of brandy.


I had a few days of nostalgia, and I really enjoyed cooling off after working on plumbing and so on, but I would not want to drink this stuff every week.

A lot of Christians are very worked up about alcohol. I don’t worry about it. Every once in a while, I have a drink. On rare occasions, I have two. I think I’ll be okay. I would not encourage anyone else to drink, if it’s a problem.

Some people rewrite history. They claim Jesus was a teetotaler who drank fresh grape juice and called it wine. Yeah, okay. And for five bucks I’ll sell you a keychain made from a fragment of the cross.

I used to brew my own beer, and it was wonderful, but I don’t do it any more. When you barely drink, what do you do with five-gallon kegs of beer? They sit and go to waste. The extra fridge takes up space.

The down side of giving up brewing is that it’s nearly impossible for me to get a really good beer. There are a few beers that are good; I like Flying Dog Snake Dog ale and Dogfish 60 Minute IPA. But it’s nothing like having four or five utterly magnificent beers on tap.

It’s not a big sacrifice. I don’t care much about it.

I did a lot more work on the house yesterday. I removed a lot of useless PVC from the pool pump, and I replumbed it. I broke down and bought a reciprocating saw, like a Sawzall. I got a DeWalt. They get good reviews. It did a wonderful job of hacking pipes out so they could be thrown on the trash heap.

I’m still bummed out that I can’t find anyone competent to take my money. I would be satisfied with work that is merely good. It doesn’t have to be fantastic. Good is too much to ask in Miami. Everything is done to the Latin American standard, which is very low. There is a reason why BMWs are made in Germany instead of Honduras.

Call me a racist if you want. Cultural differences are not imaginary. Defending your stupid culture is a sure path to loserhood. Admitting its faults is the beginning of improvement. If you want to hear some heavy criticism, ask me about the backward, defeat-oriented culture I came from.

Yesterday one of my Cuban friends used vile language in a text message to tell me how much he hates Miami. He has plans for bookshelves, and he can’t find anyone who can build them. Ridiculous.

I’m trying to figure out what to do about the pumphouse’s electrical ground. There is a bar hammered into the ground outside the pumphouse, and there’s a big wire next to it. It’s not connected. Is that because some idiot knocked the clamp off, or is it because it’s bad for the pumphouse to have its own ground? I’m trying to find out. I’m tempted to call an electrician, but then I think about all the potentially deadly electrician errors I’ve found and fixed.

As far as I know, there are only two wires connecting the house and the pumphouse, and neither is a ground.

I am Googling around, and it looks like the ground rod should be connected. I think I’ll hook it up and see if anything explodes. I would rather have grounding than no grounding, even if it causes some comparatively minor issue with the electrical service. When I say “comparatively minor,” I am using “instant death on the pumphouse floor” as a reference.

The plumbing is not right. The pipes are generally on the floor or close to it, inviting breakage. People step on things. Also, the pipes are not supported. I looked it up, and PVC at 100 degrees has to be supported every five feet. I’m going to figure out how to do that. Whatever I do may not be the recommended method, but it will work, and it will be better than nothing.

Things keep going well in my prayer life and personal development. God keeps moving me to higher levels.

I’ve started to get a better feel for the degree of brainwashing mankind has experienced. We feel self-conscious about God. Why is that? Why don’t we think God is cool? He creates galaxies. He confers invulnerability and power. He is in charge, and if you’re aligned with him, you’re in charge, too. Why do we think that’s something to be ashamed of?

Being right is cool. Being powerful is cool. Not wasting your life is cool.

Our perceptions are completely warped. But with time, prayer, and submission, it changes.

The longer I live, the more I realize the people around me are idiots. I suppose that doesn’t sound Christlike. Look at this place, though. We run around in circles, doing things that don’t matter. We devote our lives to things God is eventually going to burn. We love man’s temporary, cobbled-together solutions to problems. We hate God’s solutions, which are perfect and come without regret. This place is horrible. It’s like Sodom. We can’t do anything right. We hate the very notion of doing things right.

I can’t respect humanity. It’s too much to ask. I was a mistake to try. It was a rabbit trail. People have a lot of knowledge, and you shouldn’t ignore all of it, but it’s stupid to put human beings on pedestals. As far as we know, Buddha is in hell. Alexander the Great is in hell. Albert Einstein. Aristotle. All sorts of human beings we think of as superhuman. You can push respect way too far.

We ruin everything down here. The worst part about it is that we destroy human beings.

I thought about that this morning while I was watching a show about technology. They were talking about a special ship that upends itself and turns into a research platform. It reminded me of an experience I had when I was a kid. Don’t ask me why.

My dad represented the Alcoa aluminum company. They had a special aluminum ship which was built for research. It was docked in the Bahamas or somewhere–I forget–and they invited my dad to bring me to see it. They took us on board and gave us a tour.

Today I thought about how little I got out of that experience, which should have been very rich.

When I was a kid, I was afraid of everyone. I had no self-confidence. I could not talk to people. I had been raised in a house of abuse, and my response was to wilt and hide.

Some kids are not like that. They choose to be as aggressive as their abusers. I believe Freud called this “aggressor identification.” You could also call it a generational curse or a cycle of abuse. Kids decide it’s better to be the abuser than the abused, so that’s the path they take. My sister went that way.

I couldn’t cope with life. Mainly, I wanted to be left alone. I was so used to losing, I was highly motivated to avoid trying. A lot of my encounters with my dad consisted of him verbally abusing me until I gave up and left him alone, which was what he wanted, so you can imagine how I felt about approaching people. He actively, deliberately worked to make me back down, feel bad about myself, and leave in fear.

I think this is why I love tools so much. Tools represent power and success. They counter feelings of being unable to cope.

Parents are supposed to prevent kids from growing up to be as I was. When a kid falters, his parents are supposed to notice it and take him aside and teach him how to stand up and respond to life’s challenges. I was afraid of my dad, and my mother was not much better off than I was, so I just sat back and decayed. When I was in my twenties, I started trying to compensate, but change was extremely gradual. The chains we put inside ourselves are heavy, and it takes a lot of time to cut them and push them out.

My dad didn’t seem to realize he was supposed to do anything to help me or my sister in life. As long as food was on the table, he felt like his job was done and that everyone should be grateful and obedient. It’s strange, because his own father was not like that.

I wonder if the men on the ship noticed the destruction in me. I notice it when I meet kids who can’t engage. I wonder if they tried to interest me in the ship and the research and then pulled back, realizing I had been ruined.

I don’t think shyness is normal. I think it’s a flag that exposes abuse. No matter how much you pretend in public, if your kids are shy, there has to be a reason, and you’re probably it.

You can have sympathy for other people’s kids, but usually, your ability to help them is limited. If you want to help, you have to look for opportunities to do or say something effective. Vigilance is important.

We ruin our children. We don’t submit to God. We put our flesh in charge. Our flesh puts Satan in charge. The result is that we become poisonous to people we are supposed to help.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot today. I can’t undo my childhood. I have been able to help a few younger people, though. Maybe that’s an acceptable exchange. Satan screwed up my youth, so I am being used to screw up his plans and help several other people. His evil is being multiplied back to him.

Interesting stuff.

I should have done better, but here I am, as I am, so I work with what I have.

Today I plan to make some adjustments to the pool pipes and put a clamp out the pumphouse ground. After that, I think I’ll relax and knock off some more of The Odyssey.

I have to say, I’m disgusted with mythology and the characters of Greek literature. People like Odysseus and Achilles were the scum of the earth. They were pirates, and “pirate” is not a flattering term. They were murderers, rapists, thieves, and slave masters. They were sadistic. They were greedy. They thought nothing of pitching babies off of city walls. It’s strange that we see them in a positive light. If there is a significant difference between these characters and the drug gangs in Mexico, I am hard-pressed to see it. The more I read, the more I root for them to lose.

I hope you’re enjoying your Saturday. Go easy on demon rum.

Keys to the Kingdom

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

I Must be a MIDIanite

Crazy stuff is happening. A few years back, I got myself a grand piano and learned to play it, but I gave up because I couldn’t remember things I learned. Recently, I’ve started playing again.

I started taking guitar lessons a few months ago, and gradually, the emphasis switched from learning guitar to learning composition. First thing I knew, I was using Finale every day, and I found I preferred composing for the keyboard. Once that happened, I needed a MIDI keyboard to help me, so I bought a little-bitty one, and for reasons too dull to go into, I also set up a cheesy Casio keyboard beside my chair.

Now I have a couple of pieces written, and I find that to really understand and sharpen them, I need to play them. So in fits and starts, I’ve started sitting down at the grand piano.

It’s really something, playing a piece I wrote. One of my character quirks is that it’s harder for me to get interested in other people’s creative ideas (even Chopin’s) than my own, so now that I’m studying my own compositions, I feel much more connected to what I’m doing.

I got rid of my digital piano several years ago. It’s pretty clear that was a mistake. I’m going to need another one eventually. I may even have to get rid of my beer fridge so I’ll have room. Today I looked at prices, hoping they had gone down. They have, if you take inflation into account. But not enough to matter. ARRGH.

I guess it’s okay, though. I’m sure the piano I got rid of is inferior to the ones they sell now.

It makes me nervous to consider the possibility that I might be able to do really well at something new. I don’t want to put up a lot of crap theorizing about my potential and then find out I’m wrong. But I keep comparing my musical ideas to those of successful composers, and I am pleasantly surprised. I have a lot to learn, and in some ways, I’m restricted to pretty simple ideas, but I think I have the main thing I need, which is an inner voice that gives me good original music.

I don’t know what to think about this. If things keep going this well, there’s no reason why I won’t find myself generating a sizable body of useful music.

God guides and restores. The more you give yourself to him and get to know him, the more he repairs you and squeezes the most out of your remaining potential. You can’t expect it to happen if you live for yourself and have no prayer life, but if you persist in pressing into his kingdom, remarkable things will happen. I believe God has set his seal on certain promises he has made me, and based on the progress I’ve seen, it looks like I’m right. It’s a little scary, but I can’t deny it.

I don’t understand why the music I write is so different from what I expected to write. I thought I’d be coming up with religious music with a lot of soul, but so far, it’s all classical-influenced pop. I don’t mean it can’t be used for religious purposes, but it seems to be in the same broad class of music as things like Classical Gas.

I suppose one reason things are going this way is that it’s very hard to get a computer to swing or shuffle. Maybe I drifted toward whiter music because I’m not ready to cope with beating soul out of a CPU.

I’ll keep posting stuff as I write it.

I Need my Own Court Reporter

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Wine is a Mocker, but There are Those Who Need to be Mocked

I really can’t keep up with my testimony. There is so much, I can’t write about it and still have time to live.

Today I got a very moving email from Aaron, my friend of 31 years. It included a link to this Youtube video.

That’s Ohr Somayach (“Happy Light”), the yeshiva in Jerusalem where I ambushed Aaron in 1984. I arrived in Israel on the eve of shabbat, on the weekend of Purim. I had to spend the night in Ein Harod, but the next day, I made it to Jerusalem and found Ohr Somayach. I knew I was in the right place when I saw Aaron’s horrifying plaid boxers hanging outside a dorm room, on a clothesline.

Aaron was in shul, davening. But he was not dressed like a yeshiva bucher. He was dressed like one of the thugs in A Clockwork Orange. I didn’t know Jews were supposed to wear costumes on Purim. I guess I figured his twig had finally snapped.

I ended up joining in the celebration you see above. What a privilege.

When I got the email from Aaron, I realized what the video meant.

In 1984, before I had any idea what my destiny was, God took me to Israel to celebrate the holiday on which Jews commemorate their victory over their Gentile enemies. Haman, who represents the spirit of anti-Semitism (same thing as antichrist, to me), was hanged on the gallows he built for his Jewish enemy, Mordecai. Haman’s sons were hanged along with him. Centuries later, Hitler’s top men were hanged on the same day.

God put me in Israel, to celebrate this holiday, because he knew that my destiny was to participate in the rebuilding of Israel. Today I am privileged to help, through the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and other means. I am even helping a messianic synagogue develop an armorbearer team.

I didn’t know why I was in Israel, but God knew, and he didn’t tell me the reason until this morning.

Choose your side. You will be for God and Israel, or against, and God will reward you accordingly, in this life and the next. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

As for Aaron and me, we will eventually agree on the Messiah’s identity. Maybe one day we’ll toast him in Jerusalem. On Purim, you’re supposed to drink until you can’t tell the difference between blessing Mordecai and cursing Haman. If El Al permits, I’ll bring the homebrew.

Epic Beered Man

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I am a Work in Progress

I guess I’m a bad Christian, because the Steven Slater story cracks me up every time I think about it.

I know he cursed a bunch of people and broke the law by deploying a jet’s safety chute. I know he stole two beers in the process, probably hoping to get a good start on getting plastered. I know that when the cops caught him, he was busy engaging in sodomy.

I know.

It still slays me.

Pray for both of us.

Cinderella Boy

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Tears in his Eyes, I Guess

I keep waking up full of energy, ready to attack the day.

This is not normal.

I have always hated getting up in the morning. For that matter, I have never been a big fan of going to bed. When I was in college, my friends used to bang on my door with their fists at noon, trying to get me up so I could have lunch with them at Happy Burger, over on Broadway.

Great burgers, by the way.

To get back to mornings, for most of my life, I have regarded getting up as a great evil, to be avoided at all costs. I used to get up and literally stumble around, trying to get it together. I would do stupid things like putting the cereal in the refrigerator and the milk in the cupboard. It was pretty awful.

For a long time, I’ve used coffee to reset my morning clock. I would get up and have a quart of coffee to get the wheels turning. It worked pretty well, although it tended to make me a little crabby later on. Which I sort of enjoyed. Okay, not really.

A while back, I started getting the idea that God wanted me to give up coffee. It started keeping me awake at night, which was new. I would drink coffee to get up and take antihistamine to get to sleep. I began to feel as though it was time to let the caffeine go.

This was alarming. I have nearly given up artificial sweeteners, I can’t drink sugary soda all day, fruit juice is just as sugary as soda, and tea gives me kidneystones. Without coffee, I would be lost. What would I drink? A Christian can’t swill beer all day. Not unless he’s a monk. Then it’s okay. Ha ha. Religious humor.

I gave up real coffee, switching to decaf. If there is a difference in the taste, I can’t tell. I thought I would miss the caffeine rush, but that hasn’t happened. I get up every morning and have a quart of unleaded, I enjoy it, and I don’t get crabby. No crabbier than I was to start with.

I thought I would be unable to move until noon, but that hasn’t panned out. I wake up, I spend an hour or so in prayer, and I get out of bed anxious to get stuff done and experience the day. That is just plain weird. Like a mental illness. I don’t understand it. But it’s wonderful.

I had to have coffee to go with breakfast. My breakfast is pathetic. I eat a small amount of oatmeal with salt and sugar or maple syrup. I have to have something else with it, or I would go insane. Now I eat my oatmeal and enjoy my decaf, and I don’t miss country ham and hot biscuits and gravy. All that much.

I’ll tell you something funny. When you fast regularly, no matter what you eat for breakfast, your first meal of the day will seem like a banquet. You will wake up every morning and think, “Thank GOD I don’t have to drink water all day today.” I enjoy my crappy oatmeal and fake coffee a great deal.

We have spirits that hinder us and sap our energy and waste our time and discourage us. I think mine are getting pounded these days. I feel full of optimism, and I am receiving what Christians refer to as “favor,” which means things are going well even when I’m not paying attention.

I’ll give an example. I kept thinking about buying an AR10. But they cost a lot of money. Although I knew Gunbroker was hopeless, I looked at the ads. One day a gun I liked popped up for a hundred dollars below cost. If you order one from the factory, it takes months, because Obama is the savior of the gun industry and he has increased demand beyond manufacturers’ wildest hopes. Still, I got it for very little.

Let’s see. Here is another one. I designed a Cafepress T-shirt and ordered one for myself. When it came, it seemed to have some kind of goo on the front. I called and complained. They said they would send me a new one, but they said the old one might be okay after I washed it. So I washed it, and it came out fine, and I get to keep the first one. So I have two shirts.

I already wrote the story about my ticket to the National Day of Prayer.

Now my church’s cafe is going nuts. I have been frustrated because of the lack of a beverage fountain, and since I started making cheesecake, I have been thinking about the need for stuff that will allow us to sell cold food. I went to church yesterday, and there was a beautiful new Pepsi fountain at the cafe! It was there on Sunday, but I didn’t notice. And the pastor who runs the cafe started telling me about all the new stuff they were getting, so people would be able to buy cold things like desserts! I never told him we needed that. Never mentioned it, as far as I know.

Psalm 127 says, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows, for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” That last bit can also be translated, “He blesses his beloved even when they sleep.” It appears to be true.

Christians consistently overrate hard work. We want to feel like we’re showing our gratitude by working hard, but in reality, it’s a form of pride. We’re supposed to be given things we do not deserve, and we are supposed to glorify God for it. Sure, we work, but it’s not supposed to be utter drudgery. After all, Jesus said his yoke was easy and his burden was light. Your main obligations are to have faith and obey, not to do the heavy lifting. After all, Moses didn’t have to part the Red Sea with a bucket.

It can be very comforting to let yourself suffer and sweat, because it makes you feel like a martyr, and deep in your heart, you may start thinking you deserve the things you get from God. But it’s pride. There is nothing righteous about it. Adam didn’t deserve the trees in the garden. The Hebrews didn’t deserve manna or the Promised Land. We don’t deserve the Holy Spirit or the many blessings we get from God. We are welfare cases. Best to accept it. The suffering that is necessary is sufficient. We don’t have to add to it. That’s what I think.

And much of the work we do for God doesn’t feel like work, so it’s wrong to glorify yourself for doing it.

By the way, the rifle arrived faster than I thought I would. I posted a Youtube of me getting it ready to use. Check it out.

Comforter, Teacher, Housekeeper

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

My House Needs Fiber

I had a moment of clarity last night, unfortunately. It can be very relaxing to be wrong and not know it, so it’s always upsetting when I get an epiphany.

I had the TV on because one of the birds was out of the cage, and I happened to see a show called “Hoarders.” It’s about people who fill their houses with junk, until the rats take over and the kids have to sleep on piles of boxes.

The show bugged me. I’m not a true hoarder, but I’m related to one, and I have lots of hobbies, and I’m absent-minded. Put it all together, and you end up with a person with lots of junk, who puts stuff down in the wrong places and forgets it’s there for weeks or months. Hoarding Lite.

I got up and started relocating things. I had a pile of books and gun parts by my bed. I made room in a closet and stored it. I took tool-related items off the dining room table and put them in the garage. I threw out a number of stupid and worthless items.

Of course, I will need all of those items very badly today. That’s how decluttering works. As soon as the garbage truck drives away, you need whatever is in it.

I hate clutter. It’s like living in a little dirty crevice. It probably raises your blood pressure. But I have a clutter-prone personality. It’s like Felix and Oscar are in my head, duking it out like Rock’em Sock’em Robots.

I have a feeling that the Holy Spirit reduces clutter. Hear me out. When you’re not living for God, you do stupid things with your time and money. You will wander down fruitless paths, involving yourself in futile pursuits. That’s because only God can guide you in the direction you’re supposed to take. Result? You end up with stuff you weren’t supposed to have. Not just stuff, but time obligations. For example, you may give up church because your talented kid has sports practice every day, or simply because you want to squander time watching football on TV. You might end up devoting three hours a night to drinking beer. You may find yourself at a strip bar three times a week, blowing your money.

When God takes over, your priorities and desires change with time. Suddenly, you don’t need an entire closet for your porn collection. Or, like me, you may want to get rid of your delicious Cuban cigars. You find yourself selling things and giving things away. Life becomes more streamlined. You start discarding the things Paul referred to as “dung” so you can make room for the pearl of great price.

I still have a rolling toolbox full of gun stuff by the dining table, and a lot of my canning supplies are sitting on it. I have to move that to the garage. I have to throw out or give away some of the garage objects I will never need. I think it’s safe to throw out my old PC cabinet, and I need to Craigslist my brewing kegs.

I really need to get rid of the Super Genie Lift I inherited from one of my dad’s tenants. A guy at my church said they’ll take it, but it may be ten years before they get around to coming for it.

One of the reasons I don’t like Miami is that there is no space here. I’d like to have a home with an outbuilding for my hobbies. Here, that would run maybe three million dollars. A hundred miles north, maybe two hundred and fifty thousand. Cities are for limited people. If your only hobbies are TV and clubbing, Miami is perfect for you. Add three hobbies, and you’re out of luck. You need to move and get more room.

Last night I thought about my grandfather’s house in Kentucky. It had five bedrooms, including a little spare bedroom that held some of his guns and my grandmother’s sewing stuff. It had a big kitchen, a full dining room, a full living room, a big den, a second den in the basement, a second kitchen in the basement, tons of extra basement square footage, a big foyer, and three baths. It also had a tool shed and a barn, plus a carport and a concrete patio.

Mind you, this was not a mansion. It was just a nice red brick home. It brought $120,000 when the heirs sold it.

THAT is living. Bring your tools. Bring your cooking equipment. Buy three smokers. Get four gun safes. Get a bass boat and an RV and five motorcycles. No problem!

My idea of an ideal home is a three-bedroom CBS house with a big commercial-style kitchen, terrazzo floors, and no curtains, with nothing on the walls except maybe NRA calendars. Put a 1500-square-foot building out back with lots of room for musical instruments, tools, and storage. Give me two acres or more to grow food. I’m done. Let me live there until I die. You would have to hold me at gunpoint to get me to leave that house to go to paradise.

Forget antiques. Forget rugs; they hold dirt and stains and smells. Forget hardwood. It rots, termites eat it, and it makes noise. Put a drain in the kitchen floor so I can spill things. Tile the kitchen walls all the way to the ceiling. Get me white dishes and cups from a restaurant supply house, and put in a deck oven for pizza. Kill every plant that isn’t grass or something that produces food. Give me an entire room for Maynard and Marvin. That’s luxury!

The “stronghold” concept is well known among Christians. Satan has spiritual strongholds we have to conquer. The Canaanite cities Joshua destroyed are symbolic of these strongholds. Addictions and bad habits are strongholds. Bad attitudes are strongholds. A physical illness or poverty may be a stronghold. We’re supposed to break these things down by spiritual warfare.

It has occurred to me that God has strongholds, too. Every human believer is described as a house or a temple or an embassy. We belong to the nation of heaven, even though we live on earth. Within us–within our “walls”–God’s ways prevail. And we have to strive to keep Satan out, and we pray in the Spirit to build ourselves up, so there is something stronger than Satan within us, to repel attackers.

Similarly, a Christian’s home can be a stronghold. It can be an embassy of God. That’s what I want. I know life isn’t supposed to be a breeze, but we’re supposed to live in victory, and it seems to me that within our homes, Satan should be relatively powerless. A stronghold home should be a place where a Christian can retreat and recharge. We have to fight the enemy everywhere else. At home, we should have more peace.

A home should be like a military garrison. You defend it and keep it free from invaders, and from time to time, you make excursions into enemy territory and do damage. Then you retreat back to the garrison and prepare for your next assault.

This is what I want. I don’t want fancy furniture or snooty neighbors or a location shallow people would crave. I want a fortress where I can find a little relief.

Before the clutter show, I say a show called American Pickers, about two guys who go around talking old people into selling them valuable antiques below the market price. They went to visit a man who had twelve buildings full of junk. They had a hard time persuading him to sell them anything. He had to be 75 years old, and this stuff was falling apart, but time after time, they would show him a rusty object and ask the price, and he would tell them it wasn’t for sale. It seemed to me that this guy was in the same boat as the hoarders. He’s going to die, and all that neglected, decaying stuff will be loaded up in dumptrucks and destroyed so the new owners will be able to use the buildings. Crazy.

I also caught a few minutes of a show called Intervention. You can probably guess what that’s about. I plan to record it from now own. It’s helpful to see how tough professional addiction counselors are. It reminded me of an important truth: if you don’t fix a loved one who has an addiction–if you withdraw and wait for them to change, and it doesn’t happen–it doesn’t mean you didn’t try to help. It means the addict didn’t try. Every bad thing that happens to an addict as the result of not trying is the addict’s fault. If someone asks you why you’re not helping, say, “Shouldn’t you be asking why the addict isn’t trying?” Don’t fall for blame-shifting. If you accept even the smallest particle of blame, you might as well be handing the addict a bottle of pills.

It’s funny how I happened to tune in to three very instructive shows, on a night when I was just trying to find entertainment while I communed with my pets. Dang these “coincidences.” They are swarming on me.

Starving Your Demons

Friday, August 28th, 2009

My Unlikeliest Hobby

I thought this morning it might be interesting to ask about people’s experiences with fasting.

Fasting is a necessary part of Christian life. The New Testament makes it clear over and over. I cannot say I am thrilled about it. Anyone who has been reading my writing for more than six months knows I like food. After all, I wrote the world’s unhealthiest cookbook. In the minds of many Christians, whether or not they acknowledge it, overeating is the one physical pleasure God doesn’t restrict, so they cram the food in with both hands. And many of us fast pretty badly. We do things like going a whole day eating only nuts. That’s not much of a fast. Nuts are little packages of fat and carbs. If you want to eat something higher in calories than nuts, you pretty much have to chew sticks of butter.

I have also heard of people fasting with regard to certain foods, like meat or soft drinks. Again, not very impressive. I can go a day without meat and eat like a king. Cheese pizza has no meat in it. Neither does apple pie. Now I’m making myself hungry, and all I have in front of me is oatmeal.

I guess I cite Perry Stone a lot these days. I can’t help it. I really enjoy his work. His take on halfhearted fasting is that God notices it, but that real fasting is better. I guess that must be right. The Bible is full of things that could be considered partial fasts. Samson could not drink wine. The Jews have kashrut. And Jews have all sorts of temporary dietary and behavioral restrictions they observe during the year. I can’t say a partial fast is a bad thing, but surely, when you want real results, you’re better off doing it right.

The Jews don’t even drink water during their fasts. That’s pretty tough. The Bible says Jesus went forty days. Did that include refusing water? If so, wow. I just checked a survival site which lists 10 days as a likely estimate of the time it takes to die from thirst.

I fast on occasion, although I drink water, and sometimes I permit myself unsweetened, no-calorie liquids. While many people talk about how fasting makes them feel close to God, I find that it makes me feel farther away. My head hurts. I don’t think well. I get depressed and anxious. When I pray, I feel alone. The first day is the worst. The second day is not fun. I can’t remember what the third day is like, because it has been a very long time since I went three days. They say things get better once your body adjusts.

Am I the only one who feels this way? They say fasting is a method of afflicting yourself, so I suppose it would make sense. I find that I don’t feel like praying when I fast, because the effort of concentration is too unpleasant. I try to force myself. I often do a poor job.

My best guess about fasting is that there are two types. First, maintenance fasting. You fast once in a while, even when things are going well, just because you should. Second, fasting in order to get help with a problem. Maybe someone gets sick or your business is in trouble or you can’t get along with your wife. You fast and pray to get God to fix it. Maybe the type of fasting Jesus did is a third type. Fasting to change your character permanently and make you a better person.

I don’t like to talk about things I do which could be considered pious or righteous, except in a general way. If I do something good, I want to be sure I didn’t do it so people would hear about it and tell me how great I am. But I think that sometimes it’s okay to mention things, if I think it can help other people.

I fasted recently, and now that it’s over, I have a surprising result. I don’t feel like the same person. There are certain bad things I feel much less inclined to do, and I don’t understand it. Here’s a funny example. At the end of the fast, I got myself some ice cream, because I was very eager to put the fast behind me, feel normal again, and have a little reward. But I didn’t finish the ice cream. I ended up throwing out part of it. I don’t know if you can understand how odd it is for me to buy a pint of ice cream and not finish it. Especially after a fast. But it happened.

I feel more relaxed. More certain about the future. Less concerned about fulfilling my earthly desires. Less angry. This is the first time I’ve ever noticed any difference in me after a fast. Is this the reward we should be shooting for when we fast, or am I just having a temporary change in mood?

From reading the Bible, I get the impression that fasting is supposed to purify us. Not just fasting, but periods of deprivation, generally. For example, the Jews wandered in the desert for forty years, and when they emerged, they had been cleansed of the individuals who offended God by refusing to trust him. Jesus emerged from his forty-day fast in the desert (preceded by his baptism with water and the Holy Spirit) with new power. He started working miracles and teaching with authority. Maybe fasting is supposed to rid us of inclinations (whether our own or imposed by hostile spirits) that drive us to sin.

I’m not saying I’m totally repaired now, but I can see a difference in myself, and it’s significant. I almost hate to say this, but for the first time in my life, I find myself somewhat eager to fast again, to see what else I can get out of it. I don’t like to think about unpleasant duties, because I’m always afraid God will start urging me to do them. When I consider fasting, I find myself hoping God won’t get on board and motivate me to do it, because it’s so unpleasant. But if I can expect it to change me like this, it will be hard to resist.

As for my infatuation with food, I’m starting to wonder if stuffing myself is like getting drunk. It’s okay to have a beer. Drunkenness is a sin. Maybe food works the same way. I hope not! But it probably does. The Bible condemns gluttony over and over. The book of Proverbs says it leads to poverty.

Gluttony is a tough thing to beat, because you can’t give up food entirely, so the temptation will always be in front of you. And gluttony comes over you while you’re eating in a compelling way, as if you’re changing into another person. It’s not a mild urging. It’s extremely powerful. While you’re under its spell, it’s as if your entire personality and all your priorities have changed.

I still think it’s okay to have good food, but it would be nice if, for the rest of my life, I could stop eating when I’ve had enough instead of when I can’t jam any more in or when the waitress hits me with pepper spray. I’ve been behaving well lately, but on Saturdays I give my diet a rest, and there have been excesses.

If anyone who reads this has any input regarding their own fasting experiences, I would love to have some comments about it. This might be a very big deal and an extremely useful practice, if the benefits I perceive are real and lasting. Over and over, we are told we’re supposed to fast, but the things I’ve read about the beneficial results are extremely vague and unconvincing. If it can change a person’s character, it’s not just a good idea; it’s a gift the value of which cannot be overstated.

I believe in free will. So do most Christians. Aaron says the Jews believe you can enter a state in which you have no free will. That makes sense to me. I don’t think it’s wrong to say a crack addict or even a cigarette smoker has lost his or her free will. At the very least, they are subject to extreme temptation, the likes of which non-addicts don’t face. Perhaps one of the purposes of fasting is to rid yourself of compulsions you can’t resist. Maybe this is why Jesus had to fast for forty days before he was given real power. If that is true, then presumably, a modern Christian can get God’s power by fasting. God prefers not to hand out machine guns to monkeys. Power without self-control destroys us. Maybe we are supposed to fast in order to render ourselves suitable to receive increased strength and blessings. That would be fine with me. Fighting my own nature with my own nature is a tough battle, as is fighting adversity with my limited tools. I want all the help I can get.

I used to think the baptism of the Spirit and prayer in tongues were the main things that changed people’s natures, but I think I’ll have to add fasting to that list. I would rather add fishing or going to the gun range or eating pie, but I don’t make the rules.

This may be a big, big deal. Let me know what you think.

Funny how I happened to write this during the forty Days of Teshuvah.

Near-Miracle at Mancamp

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Pinch Me

Since I have been writing about eschatology, let me point something out. There is proof that the end of the world is nigh. I am referring to the fact that Budweiser has managed to produce a pretty decent beer.

I spent a few hours at Mancamp on Sunday, and Val offered me a Bud American Ale. I dreaded the first swig. I am familiar with ridiculous products like Killian’s, which look like beer but taste like Budmilcoors. I figured this would be the same basic deal.

I was wrong! It’s very bitter, and they used barley instead of corn and rice and cardboard. It will never be a favorite, because they bungled the hops, but still, what progress.

I barely drink anything any more, but if I felt inclined to drink a beer, and one of these were available, I wouldn’t be ashamed to take it. I could never say that about swill like Michelob and Bud Select.

There is no Need to Alert the Authorities

Thursday, August 21st, 2008


You won’t believe what Sondra K. is growing.

Beer Economics

Monday, July 21st, 2008

First Class is Cheapest

I said you had to be an idiot to spend hundreds of dollars on a bee hive, when honey is so cheap. And a commenter said I had spent $6000 on brewing, and that microbrews were available cheaper. I know he was kidding, but I did a calculation anyway. And I’m amazed at how cheap homebrewing is. I thought I was was getting a price break of about 80%, but it’s even bigger.

Here a six-pack of microbrew costs at least ten dollars, including tax. Some are worse, but that’s a good, solid figure. There are 72 ounces in a six-pack. So that comes out to about 14¢ per ounce. Not good.

I just realized I made a boo-boo. This is what I get for laying off coffee. Okay, let’s run with it anyway. I put the wrong number in the homebrew cost calculation the first time around. I’ll do it right this time.

I used to pay twenty bucks for ingredients for five gallons of beer. That’s 640 ounces. Do the math, and you get 3.125¢ per ounce. That’s less than 25% of the cost of microbrew. Ingredients are more expensive now, thanks to the hippies and the idiotic ethanol scam, but ingredient costs are hitting microbrews, too, and they will never be anywhere near as cheap as homebrew.

What if I had bought microbrew in the amounts in which I brewed my own beer? Let’s see. Multiply 640 by 0.14. You get almost ninety dollars. Good Lord.

It’s true, I spent money on equipment, but I went completely insane and still kept it under a thousand dollars, over six years. I’m not sure of the actual figure, but that’s probably correct. If not, it’s not far off. I don’t use fancy equipment.

Apart from the economics, homebrew is better than microbrewed beer. You get exactly what you want, and regardless of what anyone tells you, bottling adversely affects the taste of beer. When you drink from your own kegs, you’re drinking better beer, stored in the best possible way.

My beer is just plain superior to the fancy-shmancy stuff in liquor stores. And if you brew at home, your beer will be better, too.

What if I decided to keep bees? If the stuff I’ve read on the web is any indication, these days, it’s expensive. Hundreds of dollars for equipment for a single hive. And what do you get? Honey that is no better–maybe worse–than the honey you get at any store. What’s the most money you can save? I spend ten bucks or less per year on honey. So even if beekeeping cost nothing at all, the most I can hope to save is less than ten bucks per year.

I’m not seeing the logic.

My relatives in Kentucky used to keep bees, but they spent absolutely nothing. You prop a section of hollow log on a stone slab, paying nothing for materials, and you let the bees do their thing. If I could do it that way…no, it’s still a stupid idea. They did it because they were used to producing their own food, and they had lots of kids to feed. For me it would be silly.

I think I’ve proven that you have to be a fool not to brew your own beer. It would be IRRESPONSIBLE not to. Why, you have an obligation to start brewing, as soon as possible.

Get on it.