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Archive for March, 2010

Wednesday’s Children

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Families are Christians’ Exercise Equipment

Two prayer requests.

First, reader thebends says:

Would you mind keeping my Mother in your prayers? She’s waged a
life-long battle with rheumatoid arthritis and severe psoriasis. She
is to start dialysis today to help her kidneys rebound from no doubt
the cumulative effect of years of medication. She’s in pretty rough
shape and things aren’t looking too good.

She lives in Los Angeles with her brother, but my brother and I (we’re
the only kids) live in Texas. My brother and I are in the process of
moving her back home to Texas, however, her health has not cooperated.
This has been very frustrating – to say the least.

Prayers for her health and for guidance and strength for my brother
and I would be greatly appreciated.

Since then, he reports that she has managed to avoid dialysis, so God is obviously listening.

Ed Bonderenka passes this on. The writer is a lady named Judy:

My niece, Sharon, has two small sons whose father has been arrested for use of cocaine, he has set himself on fire, engaged in shoplifting (with the boys) and is involved in a lot of other illegal things. She will soon be going to court to try to make sure that he does not have un-supervised visitation. It is a long story but if you would please say a prayer of protection over Jacob and Joseph it would be greatly appreciated. Also would you please pray that the court will find favor with Sharon and that ultimately that their father will get the help he needs?

Thank You and Happy Easter/Passover!

Maybe Ed can fill in some details.

Incidentally, Ed has a great blog. If you enjoy reading about life from a Christian perspective, you’ll love it.

Day to Paste in my Scrapbook

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Guns, Sun, Fun, Memories

I’ll tell you what. I had a severely blessed day today.

Mike was in town with his son Ben, and we decided to go to the range. I got my dad to go, too. He brought the Glock I bought him for Christmas. Ben had never fired a gun before, and Dad had never used the Glock.

The weather was astounding. Clear skies, lots of sun, dry air, and temperatures in the low seventies.

We loaded up the giant Dodge diesel and took off for Trail Glades Range, which has been renovated. It’s magnificent! They have a real roof now, made from pressure-treated lumber and aluminum. They got rid of the old podiums, and now they have a marvelous wooden structure divided into stalls. They even have hardware-cloth screens between the stalls to deflect shells. And they have labeled target stations now, and the old steel target frames are gone. Now they’re all wood, and they can’t spin when the wind blows.

The berms have been built way up, and there is a new pistol-side berm about fifty yards out. Incredible.

I brought my Glock 26 and SW1911, and Dad brought his Glock 26.

Mike and I got started while my father and Ben took the mandatory safety course. I shot the 1911 pretty well, but I had a box of reloads that weren’t sized well, and they kept jamming the gun. Mike shot better than last time, but he still needs to practice to get his eye back.

When Ben saw the targets at seven yards, he complained that they were “way too close.” Then he started shooting. Hey! It’s not this hard on TV! After a few shots, he realized he had been conned by TV and movie shooting scenes, and we started coaching him. I gave him a few pointers, and he started putting shots in the black, and I said, “You are now better than 90% of the people out here.” Which was true. Most people will never ask for or receive instruction, so they’ll be bad shots until they die.

My dad had some trouble with the Glock misfeeding, but it turned out he wasn’t holding it firmly enough. Once he got it together, he and the gun did fine. I’m glad he finally has a decent weapon for self-defense, as well as a carry permit. I feel good about the financial contributions I made, which got him to this point. No older person should be unarmed.

We finished up the day at El Exquisito in Little Havana, where we had fried masitas and Cuban sandwiches. Dad and Mike talked about horse racing. They do that pretty much continuously, unless I stop them. Mike used to be a trainer.

Mike is driving Ben back to his mom right now, and I guess I’ll see him tomorrow, and we plan to cook at church on Sunday. Should be a great week.

I’m so glad the four of us got to shoot together. Outside of church, there is no better activity for family and friends.

I learned some new stuff about the Glock. Hard to believe. Before I started shooting, I prayed we would be safe and that we would learn, and danged if God didn’t come through. It turns out a lot of my perception of how tightly I’m holding a gun comes from my index finger, so it’s easy to let the other fingers get too loose. By thinking more about the third and fourth fingers, I was able to tighten things up a little. I’ll post a gallery. The target all by itself shows what 20 shots from the Glock look like.

I was very happy with that. The Glock is a fantastic shooter, and it’s nice to see it getting closer to its potential.

I guess I have some work to do before I overcome pride. Today I realized it would disappoint me if I went to the range and didn’t have at least one range officer stand behind me and watch me shoot. But I managed to attract one, so I didn’t have to face utter disgrace.

Happy Trail Glades to Me

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Potential Right-Wing Terrorist Takes his HOME ARSENAL to a Known Gathering Place of Obama-Deniers

The Bosch Universal Plus worked great. I made a nine-pound dough batch, plus a six-pound batch. The mixer had no problems with these amounts, and cleanup was a breeze compared to the Kitchenaid.

Mike and I are taking his son to the gun range. The boy’s mom managed to prevent him from firing a gun until today. Hard to believe. I still remember Mike and me, hanging out in his room among a big pile of firearms. No parents in sight. Somehow we lived.

Might get my dad to go with us. Finally, some supervision.

Churches Need Proctors

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Cheating for Jesus

Okay, I have to file a complaint. I am tired of preachers stealing jokes and passing on dubious stories.

A while back, a very successful pastor spoke at my church. He talked about his youth. He said his family was so poor, they went to KFC and licked other people’s fingers.

Unfortunately, a week earlier, another pastor had told us the same joke.

Now the same man has tweeted this: “I don’t want buns of steel. I want buns of cinnamon.” Remembering the other joke, I Googled. Sure enough, he’s about the zillionth person to use this line.

His wife does it, too.

Most people aren’t going to come up with great original material. It’s natural to repeat jokes. It’s a necessity for some speakers. But when you consistently fail to note that your stuff isn’t homegrown, and people know better, it looks bad. Especially for a Christian. “Thou shalt not steal,” and so on.

I think it’s also important to let people know when you’re telling a story you don’t know to be true. Pastors tend to recycle old stories. Sometimes the stories are true. Sometimes they are more like parables. People who hear the stories will generally assume they’re true. Then they repeat them as true. What if they’re not? Then you end up with well-meaning Christians, parroting untruths. And people catch them at it.

Let’s see. I remember a story. A railroad worker in Africa takes his son to work. I don’t know why it was Africa. I guess it sounds more spiritual. It may have been Mexico. The man’s job is to move a bridge into place when the train comes. He tells his son not to play near the machinery. The train comes, and his son is down in the gears, playing. The man moves the bridge, crushing his son, because he knows the alternative is to let hundreds die. And the idea is that this is how God behaved when he sent Jesus to be crucified.

True? I don’t know. No one who tells this story ever tells the man’s name, as far as I know. And who ever heard of a bridge that has to be raised into place minutes before a crowded train arrives? If the guy who pulls the switch has a heart attack, instant catastrophe. Not very plausible.

I just Googled. It turns out this story appears on the web in various flavors.

It never happened. Surely not. It makes no sense.

It’s wonderful to be witty, or to have a compelling true story for your flock, but God didn’t make every preacher witty, and there are only so many great true stories. I think it’s much better to teach what you know and bring the power of the Holy Spirit to back you up. The Holy Spirit gives people revelation when they read the Bible and prepare for sermons. He works miracles in their lives, leaving them with stories to tell. That’s better than stolen jokes. I don’t go to church to hear comedians. I want to hear from God.

Give your testimony, if that’s all you have. Nothing is more powerful than a good testimony.

If you can’t speak honestly and powerfully without cribbing, what gave you the idea that you were called? Something to think about.

When a preacher relies on stolen material, it makes me wonder if I can trust anything he says. If you steal jokes, maybe you’re lying when you talk about the miraculous things God has done in your church.

God doesn’t need a booster seat. He doesn’t need elevator shoes. He doesn’t need hair plugs or a girdle. If you can’t present him effectively just as he is, what are you doing in the pulpit? You’re selling people a product you don’t believe in. You’re asking them to put their lives in the hands of a deity you don’t trust. “Give me a seed gift of one thousand dollars! The God I just lied about will pay it back a hundredfold!” Does that sound wholesome to you?

One of the reasons I like Perry Stone is that he always has something to say, and it’s never canned, as far as I can tell. He can’t shut up. God reveals so much to him, he doesn’t have time to say it all.

I can’t recall him ever telling a great original (or uncredited) joke. He and his father relate a lot of compelling stories, but they’re generally firsthand or secondhand. Not, “There was a guy in Africa.” They name names and places.

If God gave us Perry Stone, surely he gave us other people who can stand up and deliver a message that came from heaven, not from theft.

A few weeks back, my pastor brought us a great story. A woman in a GAP group (God Answers Prayer–this is our name for prayer groups) saw an angel in the church. He was taller than a human being, and he wore a white robe and a golden turban. He told her he had come to strengthen her and her friends. For days, she was beside herself.

That’s better than an imaginary guy running a badly designed bridge that never existed. I can locate this woman and talk to her. I can see her face and touch her hand. She was in the congregation when our pastor told the story. I believe this type of person is called a “witness.” Does that sound familiar?

We get in all sorts of trouble when we try to help God do his job. I don’t need to pad his resume. I am content to wait to see him act.

On the First Day, he Rested

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Weekends are for Work

I had a fine time making pizza at church yesterday.

The pastor has moved the Sunday services up to 9:00 a.m., so I get to sleep half an hour later, and I’m also getting more efficient, so I no longer have to arrive two hours before the pizza is needed. That adds up to a scenario where I can sleep until the decadent hour of 6:00 a.m. and still get a decent prayer and study session in before I leave.

I used All Trumps flour for most of the day. It’s a high-gluten brand GFS sells. It makes very nice Sicilian pizza. It seems to brown up a little faster than the other stuff. But it seems sticky. I had a couple of pizzas that fought with me when I tried to remove them from the pans.

So far, I think Golden Tiger is the best choice. It works easily and doesn’t stick too much, and the pizza is good.

Maybe I just need to improve the seasoning on my pans. I’m working on that.

I sold a good number of pies, but I don’t know how many. I could have done much better, but they closed the cafe before the last service. We were putting on our popular Jesus of Nazareth play, complete with a mule and some goats, and that meant four services on Sunday instead of three.

The pastor says 344 people came to Christ this weekend, by the church’s figures. Not bad. Our goal is 100,000 by 2020.sysc

I can’t figure out how they kept the animals from pooping in church.

I could have stayed later yesterday and helped them strike the set, but I have bad memories of being squashed by a falling object the last time I tried to help. And I am concerned about their current efforts to keep the workers safe. I think everyone should wear hard hats and boots, and every job should be carefully choreographed in writing before they do anything. Until they make some changes, I won’t be comfortable working on sets. I don’t run the church, and I respect those in authority. I am not going to agitate or complain. But I’ll be volunteering for things that don’t make me so nervous.

Mike is headed for Florida. I was hoping he would be available tomorrow afternoon and evening to work in the cafe and help me test the cheese samples Sysco gave us. Unfortunately, he misunderstood my schedule, so he has conflicts, and it’s not clear when he’ll make it. He was going to make garlic rolls. Now he says he feels God pressuring him to go. Don’t know if he means it, but it would be great to have him there.

We have an interesting story in the news. Florida strawberry farmers are destroying their crops because they’re so cheap. This is sad, because food is going to waste. But it’s also great, because I can make strawberry cheesecake for the cafe, at a low price. I can also buy lots of berries to freeze. They won’t be any good for use as berries, but they’ll be fine for making the goop that holds the berries on top of the cheesecake. So later in the year, when prices go back up, I’ll be able to use cheap berries for the goop and expensive berries for berries, and the price will average out to a lower figure. I think.

I guess I should find out what Sysco charges for frozen berries. Maybe this is pointless. But in any case, this is a good time to make cheesecake.

I could also do strawberry shortcake. I love this stuff. It’s basically a giant biscuit made with sugar and butter, topped with berries in goop. You slop whipped cream on it. Wonderful. Or I could do strawberry pie, which is berries in goop in a pie crust. But I don’t want to make pie crusts. It’s a pain.

The church’s new mixer should arrive today. I’m having it delivered here. Will I be able to resist the temptation to fire it up? Probably not. Hmm…it takes 9 pounds of flour to fill it. Maybe resisting will be easier than I thought. But I’ll definitely want to hold it and love it.

My new plan is to get 10 more quarter-sheet pans and season them. Then I can make 15 or 20 crusts early in the day and put them in pans to rise. That will allow me to run off and do other things while other people put the pizzas together and bake them. I have to get myself free of the kitchen one day a week, and this should make it possible.

I picked up a De Santis Speed Scabbard to wear in the sanctuary. One of the younger guys shamed me by getting a nice belt holster, so I broke down and made the purchase. I guess this is better than digging in your pocket when trouble comes.

I had a funny feeling when I left church yesterday. I was tired, but I was sad to go home. I’ve prayed that God would weave me into the fabric of the place, and it looks like he has done that. I’m getting to know a lot of extraordinary people, and I feel much less alone than I used to.

If you’re a Christian, and you feel like you don’t fit into the secular world, you’re right. It’s not where you belong, and it will never accept you unless it can neutralize your Christianity first. The friends you’re waiting for are at church, and you should go meet them.

Glimpse of Our Future?

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Look What Happened in Two Years

Here I present more evidence that the Chinese are going to eat our lunch.

I have been cooking in my church’s kitchen. Like most kitchens, this kitchen contains no decent knives. The other day, I took my cheap Chinese cleaver up there to slice pizza toppings. I decided to get a cleaver for them to keep.

I ordered my cleaver a few years back, from The Wok Shop. I probably paid ten bucks. That’s what they charge now. It’s carbon steel, which means it rusts. It sharpens up like a razor in less than a minute. It holds an edge a good long time. It minces garlic better than any American or European kitchen knife. You can scrape stuff with the end. It will cut onions in slices as thin as a business card. You can carry chopped food on the side of it. You can tenderize meat with the dull side. Don’t get me started. It’s a miracle knife.

I placed a new Wok Shop order. Today the new cleavers arrived. I got one just like mine for church, plus a meat cleaver and a smaller (supposedly) vegetable cleaver for myself. All three knives were sharp when they arrived. Two were sharp enough to shave with.

Here’s a photo.

My old cleaver is the one on the left. Notice the crappy workmanship. There are lots of odd dings in the steel. The weird bands of oxidation are irregular, too. It works great, but the workmanship screams “CHINA.”

Now look at the pretty cleaver next to it. The stamped characters are done much better. The bands are even. They’ve made curves on the edge and back. There are no dings in the metal. It looks sort of polished. It’s like the two cleavers came from different planets.

Now, maybe the Wok Shop found a new supplier, and nothing has happened in China. But I don’t think that’s what happened. Chinese goods are getting better, across the board. If you buy tools, you already know this. My old cleaver just turned three, and it’s nothing like the one I just bought.

Incidentally, a lot of people get excited about Chan Chi Kee cleavers. I wouldn’t put much faith in them without trying one first. Back when I got my cleaver, very few people had heard of Chan Chi Kee. Nuts on knife boards were starting to talk about them. They got a lot of publicity over the web over the last couple of years. Now people act like Chan Chi Kee is the gold standard. Maybe it is. I don’t have one, so I can’t tell you if they’re the best Chinese cleavers. I very much doubt it. In China, commodity goods like this typically come from very similar factories, and they tend to be of pretty uniform quality. And Chan Chi Kee cleavers were cheaper before people started asking for them. Maybe there is a physical reason why they cost more now, but I suspect the main reason is PR.

I don’t see how a Chan Chi Kee could be any better than the one I just bought, or my old cleaver. I don’t think the Chinese are lying awake nights, reinventing carbon steel.

Oh. This is disturbing. My old cleaver cost twice as much as the new one. I just looked it up. Same product, better workmanship, half the cost.

Some day, little American kids will think we’re lying when we tell them unskilled union workers used to get $75 an hour. The Chinese will see to that. Some people claim the Chinese will eventually have to charge more for their labor. Sure, when they find jobs for 1.5 (or whatever it is) billion hungry people. Until then, my bet is on the law of supply and demand. And if the Chinese multiplied their average wage by ten, they’d still beat our butts.

Then there’s India.

I plan to enjoy the great cheap tools until I have to go live in a government-subsidized hole.

Correction

Turns out the heavy cleaver on the right is Taiwanese. Their labor rate is 8 times China’s, according to the owner of Grizzly Industrial, yet they managed to supply a very nice heavy cleaver which retails for $20. I assume, then, that a Chinese job would be considerably cheaper.

When Nothing New Happens, is it Still Data?

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Reproducible Pizza Results

I made another pizza with both Sorrento and Arrezzio cheeses. I learned that the cheese conclusions I drew the first time I made one of these are still true. Hey, it may sound like I achieved nothing, but this kind of research is important. No matter how big a drag it is. Making delicious pizza. Over and over.

I also learned that everything I concluded about overnight pizza fermenting was nonsense. I fermented this baby in a couple of hours, and it was very much like the one I fermented overnight. So I still don’t see what the fuss is about.

That Publix pan is a wonder. It fries the bottom of the crust beautifully. The texture is breathtaking. If you live near a Publix supermarket, try one. I no longer recall the exact name of the thing, but it’s about 8″ square, with sides maybe 1 1/2″ high. The inner surface is some kind of nonstick, but it’s not Teflon. I believe it’s aluminum oxide. Sounds crazy, but it works, and you can’t burn it.

A cast iron skillet won’t do this, unless you go through a lot of pointless work. The Publix pan works like this: put dough in pan, let dough rise, put sauce and stuff on dough, put pan in oven. Bam, as Emeril says. You have a perfect crust, except possibly for a little stone touch-up. No pre-baking, no preheating the pan. I suggest you try it.

I put the pan as close to the lower heating element as I can, and I bake for 9 minutes. I make sure the lower element is cycling on when I put the pan in, so the element will be red-hot for part of the time the pan is over it. When the pie is done, I pop it out and give it 30-60 seconds on the stone, but you really have to watch it, because the pan gets it very done, and the stone cooks the pie fast.

The pie I just made was beyond bizarre. I used my usual no-oil recipe (oil added to the outside later), but instead of activating the yeast, I sprinkled instant dry yeast over the dough as soon as I got the water and salt and pepper mixed into it. Then I mashed the dough around and folded it until the yeast was pretty much inside the dough. Sounds nutty, but it was great. There was yeast stuck to the outside of the dough, and I thought it would be nasty, but it was perfect.

I’m starting to wonder if there is a wrong way to combine pizza dough ingredients.

I got some new stuff for the garage today. A while back, I got a 16N Jacobs chuck, because the used 14N I bought to save money was junk. The 16N was a new chuck some guy had bought but not used, and while I got the chuck, I did not get the key. Today a new key arrived. It’s so big, you could literally use it as a tiny hammer.

Now I can actually use my chuck.

I also got several new center drills. All but one are cobalt. The other is carbide. I have HSS center drills, and they’re crap. I keep hearing how great HSS is. They’re crap. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. It’s not my fault. After you use one twice, it stops working. When I finally bought a big drill bit set, I went with cobalt, because the difference is very obvious, and the cost is not much different.

Maybe the HSS bits I’ve used were lame imports, and that’s why they got dull so fast. Maybe I applied too much pressure. I don’t care. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying to prove everyone who promotes HSS to me is right. If I’m wrong, I’m out maybe a hundred bucks I didn’t need to spend, and meanwhile, I have tools I can actually use. If my bad technique is the problem, isn’t the smart thing to buy tools I can’t hurt with bad technique? Obviously, I should try to do things well, but every little bit of insurance helps, and it’s extremely annoying to have to quit a job because a 30¢ drill bit is fried.

I tried to use my drill press to take the lower handguard retention pin out of my Vz 58, before I was persuaded to beat it hard enough to drive it out with a punch, and I learned something. Drill presses are not rigid. I knew that already, but I didn’t know how true it was.

I have a big industrial Rockwell press with a cast iron head, and the drill bit still wandered all over the pin. Even when I tried a thick center drill, it wandered. Some of this may be due to a need to tighten up the head, I suppose, but I can tell this thing will never drill like a mill. So if you’re looking for serious drilling technology, my recommendation is to get a drill press and a small mill. I may be wrong, but that seems like the way to go. You can get a little used mill for a few hundred bucks, and on those occasions when you need a mill or a rigid drill, you will get down on your knees and thank God you bought it. When you need a mill, you NEED a mill.

Truthfully, I’m a little worried that the drill press will turn out to be useless, but I guess that’s just neurosis. I’m sure it’s fine when you’re not trying to drill rock-hard Eastern Bloc steel that came from melted-down Trabant pistons.

I ended up putting my drill press vise in my milling machine vise! That was my strategy for drilling the pin out. But when I mounted the giant chuck on the mill, I realized I had no key. I tried to tighten it as best I could, but I couldn’t get it tight enough to do the job. The bit kept receding into the chuck. That’s a good thing, because otherwise, I would have wasted three hours trying to drill an inch-long pin out.

Those pins are insanely tight. You have to beat them so hard, it’s scary. I marred mine up, but instead of buying a new one for three bucks, I think I’ll make one on the lathe, slightly thinner than the original, with some means of yanking on it. Maybe a loop in one end. I realize pins in guns should be tight enough to resist falling out when the guns fire, but this thing was way past that degree of tightness, and anyway, my gun is semi-auto, so it’s not like it’s getting pounded ten times a second.

Now that I think about it, a brass or aluminum pin might not be a bad idea. Easy to make, easy to hammer out, and it won’t hurt anything around it. Brass would be pretty, too. And I have lots of 360 brass. I don’t know if brass galls when it contacts steel. Something to consider. I also have 304 stainless. That would work, and I wouldn’t have to blue it.

Reader Needs Help

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Open a Hailing Frequency

Reader blindshooter has put in a prayer request, in comments:

Pray for me, my wife has decided she don’t want to come home anymore. After I gave her a quarter mil to start a new business. Turns out a good chunk of the bucks went somewhere besides the new business. I guess I will need the services of a law firm soon.

My faith will see me through what ever comes.

Sorry to see this happen. If it were me, I’d start things off with a couple of days of fasting and prayer.

Dueling Cheeses

Friday, March 26th, 2010

I am a Dedicated Servant

Yesterday I made a test pizza with Sorrento and Arrezzio cheeses on different sides. It was an 8″ square pie, baked in a phenomenal Publix pan with lots of oil. The dough was allowed to ferment overnight, with very little yeast. I put provolone under the mozzarella to simulate my church blend.

These are great cheeses. They bake up beautifully. The Sorrento barely browns, and the Arrezzio browns more, but less than Costco cheese. They taste very good, but the flavors are not very strong. They seem less bland than Grande, though.

My conclusion? Sorrento is probably the better of the two. It seems to taste better. Still, nothing compares to Costco Kirkland mozzarella! That stuff is touched by the hands of the angels.

The all-night ferment gave me a chewier crust than usual, with a very nice crunchy outside, but some of the new qualities may have been due to the large amount of oil I used and the dough’s failure to rise as high as usual.

Research is arduous. Fortunately, I am highly industrious and have an incredible capacity to endure suffering.

Suffering v. Harm

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Deliver me From the Deep-Fryer

I saw a confusing scripture yesterday. It was John 16:33. I don’t recall the exact phrasing, but an accurate paraphrasing would be, “You will have tribulation in this life, but have courage, because I have seen to it that no harm will come to you.” I am quite sure it said no harm would come to those hearing the message. The speaker was Jesus.

You can imagine why that bothered me. Paul was stoned. He was flogged over and over, and flogging is not a minor thing. If they did it today, using a proper flagellum with weighted tips, the victims would have to be sewn up afterward to close the wounds. The flogging would send them into shock. Paul was also beaten with wooden batons. Eleven of the Apostles died martyr’s deaths. The one that died from natural causes was immersed in hot oil. Is that “no harm”? If so, what would constitute harm?

I looked it up. It actually says “I have overcome the world,” not “I have seen to it that no harm will come to you.” I cite the New King James Version. The Complete Jewish Bible says something similar.

Let me check the Greek in PC Study Bible.

The word translated as “tribulation” literally means “pressure,” and the word translated as “overcome” means “subdued.”

I don’t know why human beings make up scriptures or accept implausible quotations without researching them. These are very bad things to do.

Michael Reagan is adopted, and he is a Christian. But in the past, he rejected God, because he thought the Bible said people of illegitimate birth could not go to heaven. In fact, the passage he had in mind (Deuteronomy 23:2) says. “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” It’s part of the Mosaic law, and it has nothing to do with going to heaven. Because Reagan didn’t check the scripture out thoroughly, he was away from God for a long time.

How many people would bother going to a Bible to clear up a scripture they remembered incorrectly, or which had been quoted to them with errors? People tend to swallow what they read and hear, without chewing.

Imagine teaching people they would never be harmed in this world. Think of the disappointment and shock you would be setting before them. God should do miraculous things in our lives. We should expect that. But it’s crazy to tell people they are entitled to gentler treatment than Jesus, Paul, and the disciples.

Regarding the story of John and the oil, I have been told two different things. One is that he was not harmed at all, that the attempted atrocity was committed before a crowd in the Coliseum, and that many were converted following the spectacle. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, that comes from Tertullian. The other story comes from a sermon I heard. It said John was messed up to the point where he was crippled. Kind of looks like the sermon was wrong. So maybe “no harm” did come to John, but the other Apostles could not make the same claim.

Now that I think about it, John was sent to a prison island to live out his days. I would call that harm.

My belief is that unpleasant things happen to us sometimes, but that God turns them into blessings. Even the murders of the Apostles contributed to their eternal rewards in heaven. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

The upshot here is that we lose skirmishes but win the war. In fact, it was won before the world was created.

All in all, however, I hope that if I’m ever thrown in boiling oil, I will have the same result John did, instead of coming to resemble a giant Buffalo chicken wing.

Hogs in Boxes

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

The Slop Flies on Friday

Obamacare has been signed into law, and I feel healthier already. I think I’ll get pregnant with octuplets, demand free prenatal care, and then decide to abort in the eighth month, because a pregnancy belly makes me look fat.

Obamacare is an amazing thing. Like the mortgage mess, it’s an example of knowledgeable people going against their own best interests, in a way that is bound to cause great misery.

My take on things like this is that they have their root in the supernatural. There is no other way to explain such a dumb course of action, taken by so many people who knew better. Democrat politicians are virtually begging to be recalled. When has that ever happened?

They supported Obama’s law, which is extremely unpopular among Republicans and Democrats, in order to prop up a very unpopular President. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and we know they wouldn’t do it out of principle.

God clouds people’s judgments and lets them believe lies, when they’re far enough out of his will.

Obamacare will be a disaster, sooner or later. I wonder when the pain will come. I heard Rush Limbaugh’s show a day or two ago, and a lady in the insurance business called in. She said insurance companies jack up their rates in February, and she predicted 200%-300% increases. She was afraid these increases would come too late to affect upcoming elections, because elections are held in the fall. That would be a textbook example of a curse at work. Imagine people voting to perpetuate this insanity, two months before they understand what they’ve done.

If God is merciful, we’ll start suffering sooner, not later. Nothing is worse than prospering at the beginning of a self-destructive course of action. This is how junkies, alcoholics, and compulsive gamblers are made.

I wish Christians were doing more to help the poor. I believe our failings may have left this opening. I’m not sure about it. The fact is, bad behavior and lack of faith will lead to poverty, even when charities exist, so maybe it’s not possible for us to close the opening. Maybe God himself would stand against it. Jesus told us we would always have poor people among us. Still, any time believers fail, it leaves a way for the enemy to get in.

Aaron sent me a link to a wonderful Dennis Prager essay, explaining why secular Jews support Obamacare. Politically, Jews are suicide bombers. They vote against their own best interests, and the interests of the countries in which they live, in support of the religion of leftism. By and large, they are committed to justice, but they have abandoned the God who created their justice-driven culture. Man cannot solve his own problems without God’s help. That means obedience, faith, humility, and total submission. You can’t get these essential ingredients from Marxism Lite.

Secular thinking just doesn’t pan out, in the long run. That includes secular pride in our species. I have often noted the giant error Americans commit, when they claim human beings instinctively love liberty. I sometimes cite Star Trek. Kirk was always spouting off about the impossibility of domesticating and enslaving earthlings. He could not have been more wrong.

The history of humanity shows that often, it doesn’t take much pressure to enslave us. The Bible provides a proper method for people who desire to become slaves; you allow your ear to be pierced in a certain way. People were allowed to make that choice, and many did. Today many Americans are doing the same basic thing, voting for leftists. You give up control of your wealth, which is tantamount to selling your freedom piecemeal, because you can’t use freedom unless you have wealth. In exchange, you get to live like a hog at a factory farm. Mommy-State Dearest slops you and hoses out your pen, and in return, you accept a poor but stable standard of living, and your liberty is restricted.

We were created to trust God to give us health and prosperity and safety. Instead we rely on politicians, who are among the people we respect least. Crazy, if you think about it. We trust people like Jim Traficant and William Jefferson and Randy Cunningham more than we trust God.

Everyone has faith and lives by it. The question is, in whom is that faith placed?

God knew all this when he tried to get the Israelites to accept a church-state. Through Samuel, he told them kings would steal from them, treat them unfairly, and send their men to die in wars. Everything Samuel predicted came to pass; even David and Solomon did great evil. And we are no different from the Israelites. They’re at the center of God’s story. We’re peripheral, and unlike the Jews, we have no promise that we will be preserved as a nation. Compared to Israel, Gentile nations are disposable.

In continuing their blind devotion to Marx, Jews are perpetuating the decision they made back in Saul’s day. And any Gentile who votes the same way is doing the same thing.

On a lighter note, I’m planning to get back to rifle shooting. I got some .17 HMR ammunition. The price has dropped back to sane levels. I’m also finishing up the modifications on my Vz. 58/CZ858 (whichever you choose to call it).

Here’s something for suffering Googlers. If you bought a FAB Defense handguard, you need to know this. To remove the old handguard, place the gun on a very hard surface. You can put something under it to protect the finish, but don’t use anything thick. Take a punch and a sledge (I used a 3-pound hammer) and beat on the right-hand end of the retainer pin under the receiver. You may have to hit it really hard, but it will eventually come out.

To put the FAB part on, force it. The rear will be gouged by the receiver, but the gouges will be hidden once it’s on. Make sure you install the rails before installing the handguard.

I’m going to try to install mine today, and I may Dremel some of the polymer away to make it go on easier.

I still want a decent semi-auto long-distance rifle. The Kommunist Kannon (PSL/Romak III/FPK) isn’t that great. The trigger will slap you silly, leading to numbness and poor accuracy, and very few people report tight groups, especially with a hot barrel. Also, the supply of good Russian surplus ammunition (7N1) is gone. I think it may be time to get an AR15 and unload the PSL.

The Vz 58 is great for short distances, so I don’t need a light AR15 which is highly portable. That means a .308 with a varmint barrel. I think Rock River is the way to go.

This would pretty much complete my defensive arsenal. Not that I foresee a reason to shoot anyone 200 yards away. Or at any distance, for that matter. Prepare for war, if you want peace.

I also need a holster for church. The pocket method is working fine, but a holster would provide faster access. In the outside world, it would be a pain, but in church, it’s cool, and I can wear a shirt or jacket over it to provide concealment. And I feel like getting a Galco Miami Classic II for my .38 Super, for more formal occasions. Maybe it’s possible to get different holsters for the same harness, so I can use it for the Glock, too.

We have a lady armorbearer now. That’s pretty cool. And it makes sense. The greatest church-shooting hero of all time is a woman named Jeanne Assam.

I still have no pimp handles for the .38. Sad.

More

More info for Vz 58 owners.

It turns out the FAB Defense foregrip (pistol grip) with the integrated flashlight holder is worthless for the Vz 58 rifle. The rear of the pistol grip interferes with the magazine, no matter how far forward you put the grip. You can put the grip on the gun once the magazine is installed, but in order to remove the magazine, you have to take the grip off. Not really what you want to be doing while defending your house at 3 a.m.

Another fun issue: you can’t change the battery in the light or laser without removing it from the mount, unless your light or laser unscrews from the front. My light works that way, but my laser does not.

I’m emailing Israeli-Weapons.com, trying to get a refund. They don’t seem interested in returning my correspondence.

Another problem: I bought a plastic holder for a 1″ flashlight or laser. Israeli-Weapons thoughtfully includes a 1″ rear cap with a pressure switch. But the holder is too small for a 1″ flashlight cap, including the one they supply. How about that?

I had to put the holder on a milling machine and cut a hole in it to make my flashlight fit with the cap behind the holder. That way, you can screw the cap into the flashlight when it’s installed in the holder.

Pizza Skunk Works

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Show Your Pass at the Gate

Tomorrow is shaping up to be an exciting day, by my standards.

I have doubts about the Bouncer flour I’ve been using to make pizza at church, so I put a couple of pounds in a bag, and I’m going to make test pies tomorrow. I also took a pound of Sorrento cheese and a pound of Arrezzio cheese, which is distributed by Sysco.

We had toppings that were not going to make it to Sunday, so I took some of those, too. I had to chuck a lot of sauce due to age considerations, so I stuck some in a bag, and it’s in my fridge. This stuff will be fine tomorrow and Friday, but by Sunday, it would be too risky to use it.

I have to see if either cheese compares to Kirkland, and I also plan to do a sauce experiment. If it works, I should end up with the tastiest pizza sauce imaginable. Mike was jealous when I described it to him. I have a secret ingredient.

Pizza hobbyists have been needling me because I make dough in an hour, instead of letting it ferment for days. In the past, when I’ve tried leaving dough in the fridge overnight, it has been a little better than usual (I think), but not enough to justify the aggravation. And who can plan pizza a day in advance? That’s insane. Meatloaf, you can plan a day in advance. Because you don’t care if you ever see it on the table. But pizza is too good to put off.

I’m going to slap some dough together today with less yeast than usual, and I’ll let it rise for a day. We’ll see what happens.

I know sourdough would be worth the wait, but plain old yeast?

Pizza nuts talk about “poolishes” and “preferments.” I’d be pretty excited about those things, if I were not already making the best pizza I know of.

Mike may be here on Saturday. If so, Sunday will be interesting. I’ve threatened to turn him loose in the church kitchen, making garlic rolls. Should be a blast. I was hoping he’d be here early enough on Saturday to help me make test pies, but maybe we can do that on Monday.

I have to hit the store to get my secret ingredient. In fact, I need to get two versions of it. Hope it works.

Slow Tuesday

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Free Pizza

Last night, I believe I moved 6 pizzas, not including two I had to bake and give away. The cafe didn’t get much business.

The pastor who does the Tuesday services has a policy of locking the cafe doors while he’s preaching, to keep people in the sanctuary. That means you sell maybe two pizzas before the service, and then you get another chance at around 9:30 p.m., while people are leaving. So there is a limit to what you can do.

A couple of weeks ago I sold around 20 pizzas on a Tuesday. I’m not sure how that happened. I think they promoted it during the service.

Anyway, I’m thinking I should drop Tuesdays. It’s not worth it to drive up there and spend six hours just to make the church $60. And that figure is reduced when I have to throw out ingredients due to bad business. I can show someone else how to do it. I’m planning to write a manual.

Trinity is a church, not a restaurant. That means they want people in the sanctuary, not the cafe. I believe I overestimated their interest in making the cafe run at a profit. The church has a huge mortgage to pay, and the impression I got from what I was told was that they would like the cafe to do well, but now I think I may have misunderstood. I think they just want a credible cafe that runs briefly for short periods on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and if it runs at a loss, it’s okay, as long as it’s not a big loss.

I have to get serious about finding people to do what I do. I’m supposed to be an armorbearer, and the head armorbearer needs me on Sundays, so I need to free myself up. Knowing the way the church runs, I know the cafe might not exist in three months, but the armorbearers will always be needed. I want to be where I’ll do some long-term good.

We could net the church $50,000 or so per year if we made an effort. More, if we really tried. But maybe that would require putting too much energy into business.

It can be frustrating, trying to help a church. People get very excited about projects when they start, but after a short time, the energy tends to disappear, and things just peter out. I had a warehouse full of construction materials I wanted to give the church, and they were interested at first, but over a year later, nothing had happened. I couldn’t get anyone to come check it out. In the end, all this stuff was given away to the person who cleaned out the warehouse. I could have sold it myself and given the church the money.

Maybe the best way to help a church is not to give them your ideas. Maybe the smart move is to keep your ideas, make the money yourself, and give out of the proceeds. The cafe is never going to make money running twelve hours a week, but a pizzeria could make me money, and I could support the church out of the profits.

I’ll say this. I’ve learned a great deal working at the cafe. I’m much more efficient than I used to be. Last night I arrived at 5:30, and by 6:30, I had a whole bunch of crusts rising in pans, and there was pizza ready to eat.

Our new mixer will be here next week. Once we get that, I should be able to come in early, make 20 crusts, and then leave the rest of the work to other people. That should get me out of the kitchen so I can do my other job.

I don’t know where we’re headed, but so far, it’s been tremendous fun.

Gore’s Revenge

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Pope Prius I Drops a Curse on Me

Mike has failed me. He was supposed to be in Miami this week. We were going to cook at church, possibly leading to our being held hostage by the crowd and forced to continue cooking until the gas ran out.

It’s a big week, too. First of all, next week is the Jesus of Nazareth play, so attendance will be good. Easter brings the contrite out of their holes. Second, I have new sample cheeses to try.

Our Sysco rep brought Sorrento whole-milk mozzarella and Arrezzio mozzarella. I heard a rumor that Arrezzio is the same as Kirkland, so I had to try it. I wanted to bake a bunch of test pies, with Mike’s help. And he’s not here…because his PRIUS is sick.

I asked him what he was doing for clean laundry. [rimshot]

He said lived across the street from Sears, so he just walked over there and bought new huskies.

I had forgotten huskies. The only thing worse than being a kid who wears fat pants is being a kid who wears fat pants with the word “HUSKY” attached to the waistband.

Anyway, if he can get his Prius working (I think the agitator is bent), he’ll be here this weekend. If he could be here on Saturday, it would be tremendous. We could occupy the church kitchen and have the armorbearers judge the cheese.

Speaking of fat pants, I won’t be wearing mine any time soon. By the end of the week, with God’s help, I’ll probably be down 28 pounds from August. At that point, if I still look bad, it will be because I’m ugly, not fat. There’s a difference.

The cast of the play will need food. Mike HAS to be here. We can try to kill them. Talk about epic. Pray for Mike’s Prius!

What should I make for the cast? Just pizza? I was thinking ziti, chili, macaroni and cheese, brownies, and maybe cheesecake. Not all of these things at once. But I was thinking I might make some of them.

I still have to try Cento cherry tomatoes on pizza. They’re sitting in my kitchen cabinet. I’m sure they’ll be no good, since other people have tried them, but there is no substitute for personal research.

These are the exciting things that occupy my mind today.

Knife Points

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Let’s all Take a Deep Breath

Yesterday I wrote an entry about working in the kitchen at my church, and I pointed out that I had to be careful where I left a sharp Chinese cleaver, because the women who worked there were liable to injure themselves with it. I mentioned a lady who cut herself with it because she used it as a spatula. And I noted that women don’t seem to do very well with sharp knives.

People seem to think I was expressing contempt for the people in the kitchen, particularly the lady who cut herself. Sorry if I gave you that impression, but that wasn’t the point. As a matter of fact, the lady who cut herself is an unusually sharp and classy person. Speaks three languages fluently. The fact that she doesn’t know what to do with a Chinese cleaver does not make her stupid.

As for the generalization about women and knives, I’ve found it to be true. Most men are bad about sharpening their kitchen knives, but I’ve only seen women complain about knives being too sharp. Men tend to like sharp tools.

The safety concern is very real. When you work in an institutional kitchen, everybody shares equipment, and if the workers are volunteers, they often don’t know what they’re doing. No one who goes into a church kitchen is going to expect to pick up a knife that will pop the tiniest hairs off an arm and leave nothing behind it. They’ll assume it’s dull like all the other knives. One of the most likely ways to learn differently is to carve up a hand.

I can’t go to church and line everyone up and ask who is going to defy my expectations. I can’t hold a knife safety class. That means I have to make sure that if I have a sharp knife, nobody gets a chance to use it without asking me first. I should never have left my cleaver where other people could see it.

I ordered a cleaver for the church because I’m not willing going to suffer, using the church’s horrible knives to chop pizza toppings. I guess I’ll get a diamond hone, too. And I’m getting a Chinese Chan Chi Kee meat cleaver and a smaller Chinese vegetable cleaver for myself. I’m sold on the cheap Chinese stuff. You can put a fine edge on a Chinese carbon-steel cleaver in ten seconds, and my cleaver outperforms a Shun by a mile.

My Shun cleaver hasn’t been used since maybe a month after I bought it. That was years ago. There is a reason for that. Experience proved it wasn’t a very good cleaver. If it had worked well, I’d still be using it. Sometimes you have to admit the pretty toy you bought was a waste of money.

I guess I could donate the Shun to the church. But I don’t believe in giving God hand-me-downs I wouldn’t want for myself. There’s always the Salvation Army. They could sell it, along with the chipped Shun santoku I never use. And my Tojiro nakiri.

A commenter recommended Old Hickory carbon-steel knives. One of the few things I got from my grandmother’s house was her old rusty butcher knife. I don’t know if it’s an Old Hickory or not. I’m afraid to use it, because it’s kind of a museum piece. Fortunately I have a huge Forschner scimitar knife to fill the need.