Monday, June 29, 2009

Garden Update

Things are going nicely in the garden, although it is starting to get a little dry. I have started getting tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, onions, broccoli, and peppers. All of my beans are blooming, the cantaloupe and watermelon are doing nicely, and the okra is finally getting going.

It is a pretty garden this year. We have put up trellises for the green beans, purplehull peas, and cucumbers to climb. Everything is nice and green. At least for now.

I'm still sorting out irrigation issues. I noticed my green beans starting to go a little yellow on me from the lack of rain and abundant heat over the past week so I went to work to make sure that I got irrigation to them today. I ended up putting 6 patches on one of the soaker hoses. It could have used 8, but I only had 6, so I cut out a bigger section than normal so that I could get the last two leaks repaired. I have two more hoses to get sorted out. I need to do so soon because I have corn in the ground now that I doubt will come up if I don't get some water on it. The purplehulls are going to be needing water too.

And that is your farm report!

A Quote For Today

Is it the role of the church to shape the culture or to merely reflect it?... Christians need to take a break from worshiping this culture and the idols it produces. We need to take a closer look at the man in the mirror.

- Mike Adams from his article The Advocate Of The Episcopal Church

Ubercool Picture

F-22 Raptor breaking the sound barrier.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Beach Pictures

Carl the crab
If you are interested you can see more pictures from Corolla on my Facebook page. I would post more here, but I don't feel like trying to resize each one! For some reason the small medium and large editor on Blogger isn't working. I will leave you this picture though. It is one of my favorites...

Awesome monster beach bus
What could be cooler than a monster bus that can drive on the beach? Awesome!

It is hard to believe that this has already been over two weeks ago!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wynton Marsalis On Integrity

Excellent interview. I really like the way Wynton Marsalis thinks. He is clearly a very intelligent man. I'd love to have a few hours to sit down with him and talk - and jam too! Too bad most of the folks in charge don't see things a clearly and reasonably as he does.

Friday, June 12, 2009

More From The Beach

Wednesday we ended up going over to the Currituck lighthouse. It is a very beautiful structure. I believe that it may be my favorite NC lighthouse now. The lighthouse is open for visitors to climb, and climb we did. I got some pretty good pictures all along the way. I would love to share them with you now, but for some reason, my friends' computer cannot find the driver for my camera. I blame Vista. We also looked around at the buildings around the lighthouse too. There were some very interesting details.

For instance, there was a two-holer latrine/outhouse out there. It was not in operation, but an inspection of the building revealed that there would be absolutely no privacy in the privy. If I can get pictures up, you'll see what I mean. I also saw what looked to be a double cistern and water collection system on the keeper's house. I have pictures of that too. It is a shame that they didn't have someone out there to explain what everything is and to give some background information about the lighthouse and grounds.

We also explored the old Corolla village and shops. It is pretty much all tourist boutiques. The one big score that we did get was a barbecue joint that was in the village. Excellent 'que. Their ribs were very good and everything that I tasted was, well, tasty. For Eastern style barbecue it was a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday night we took another swing at Triopoly - although we probably should have called it Dupoly? We took the top level off to help shorten the game. I was playing great and had lots of sets and had even built several skyscrapers, but once again the other players started boycotting my properties. It was very sad, and somehow I ended up being cash poor and going down in ignominious defeat. "The Godfather" seems to have lost his touch. Perhaps it is because we are playing the international edition instead of the original one! After Triopoly we did a little bowling on the Wii. Very fun night. I even managed to pull off a few of my niece's over the shoulder strikes.

Yesterday we went to get some supplies for fishing. We bought bait at one store, but they didn't have licenses and they didn't have the other tackle that we needed. Afterwards we went shopping for some gifts. I was generally underwhelmed at the offerings. I saw absolutely nothing that I couldn't live without. We finished up at another tackle shop where I was able to get my license and some flounder rigs. It was a nice shop and the owner was very helpful. I don't recall the name of the store right now, but it was in the same shopping center as the Food Lion. His prices were pretty reasonable too.

Our fishing expedition didn't go so well. I was fishing with an old Penn Number 9 baitcaster. I had never fished with it before. I guess it would probably be safe to still say that! I spent most of my time "fishing" trying to get backlashes out of the line. I thought a couple of times that I had figured out how to do it, but another cast using the same technique demonstrated (with a mighty snarl of 20 lb test) that I had not. I also had my license checked for the first time on the beach this trip. I thought that it was interesting that it was checked by a deputy instead of a Wildlife officer.

After a couple hours in which no one had gotten a bite (but a lot of fish had gotten a free meal) David's son was tired of fishing. So I left the baitcaster and went back to my more familiar Penn spinning reel. I did have better success, although not with the flounder rig. After about a half an hour of fishing with it getting no bites I decided to switch to a drum rig like we usually use in the fall. It wasn't long before I did get a really nice blue bite. However, by that point most everyone was ready to move on so we packed up and headed on up the beach to look around some.

We didn't see the horses this time, but we did see a wedding on the beach complete with a steel drum band. I have never quite understood the fascination with beach weddings. Not for me, thanks.

Last night we started trying to get rid of some of the leftovers that we have been amassing. Most of the dinner was veggies, although we did take the leftover grilled chicken and steak from earlier in the week and added them to salads. Mmmmmm. Very tasty.

Instead of a game last night we ended up working on development of a game that David and I am working on. It is an iPhone application. I added some information to the database and he did some coding. We also kept an eye on the Baltimore/Seattle baseball game. Tonight Baltimore is playing the Braves. I hope that we can watch some of that too.

Today we have taken our time and not done too much. David and his family went out to play some miniature golf and I have been enjoying the solitude of having the house to myself.

Tonight we will probably play some more games. I am hoping to play some Risk. I've only played it once before and want to take another swing at it. Of course we will also continue to play billiards too. David, his son and his dad are all pretty good. I rarely win against them, but I have managed to pull off some pretty cool shots this week, including a few jumped cue shots to sink a snookered ball.

Sadly, our time here at the beach is coming to an end. We have to relinquish this wonderful house and head back to reality. I'll probably go kicking and screaming!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Update From The Beach

Yesterday we drove out on the beach above Corolla. It was nice out there. The dunes are really cool. It is strange to see people out on the beach doing anything besides fishing... it has been so long since I have been at the beach during peak season. Usually when I'm here the only folks here are fishermen! The water is also much colder now than it usually is when I am here in November. I doubt the water is much warmer than 60 degrees right now.

I also got to see some of the wild horses yesterday. I only saw them from a distance, but two of the ladies from our group walked up the beach and were able to get pretty close to them. In fact they got pictures taken with them and autographs too.... OK there were no autographs, but there were pictures. My friend, David, drove up to pick up the ladies and he managed to get his picture taken with them too. We also saw some porpoises or dolphins, lots of pelicans, and something that I had never seen before - a whole flock (probably 40 or more) of Canadian geese sitting out on the ocean. They hung around until they saw the dolphins...

The SPF-40 seemed to do the job yesterday. No sunburn.

A big thunderstorm came up after we had been there a couple hours. That was sufficient to get us off the beach. It ended up raining most of the rest of the night. So to pass the afternoon we broke out Triopoli. For those who have not played Triopoly before it is a modification of Monopoly. But the truth be told it is probably not enough of a modification of Monopoly to have kept the creators from getting shut down for copyright infringement. It is almost impossible to find the game now.

But anyway the game is basically Monopoly on steroids. Up to 8 people can play and it takes hours. I have not ever actually finished a game to the bitter end. Instead of one board you have three concentric boards. I'll try to include a picture here in a little bit. There is a whole lot more property than in Monopoly and the stakes are higher. There are also two casinos in the game that can either save you or ruin you! They had almost saved me yesterday. I hit it big 5 times out of six with 100-1 odds.

Last night we enjoyed the best fajitas that I have had in a long time, got down with our bad selves to some 80s funk and 70s disco and played some billiards. A good time was had by all. David is the reigning billiards champ, but you need to look out for his dad who has been dubbed "the closer."

Today I'm not sure what we'll end up doing. Roughly half of our party has to leave today so we will probably go back down to the beach for them to get in one last huzzah before the long drive back home. There has been talk of going to see the movie Up. I'm looking forward to that. I've been wanting to see it ever since I first started seeing the trailers on Facebook. I'm also going to try to make my way over to see the lighthouse and the stuff around it today or tomorrow.

We also have two more games to play. My friend brought the Emergency! board game, which will have to be tried out. It doesn't look all that complicated, but well, it was my favorite TV show as a kid. I also brought Risk. I hope we'll take a shot at that too. I've only played it once, but had a good time even though I made the classic blunder - I got involved in a land war in Asia.

So that's what's new and exciting here in Corolla. I'll update again when there is something fun to report.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Some Time Away

Today I have headed down to Corolla with some friends, leaving things at home in the capable hands of my cousin, and my dad is keeping an eye on my garden for me.

This is my first time to this part of the Outer Banks. It is really different from the area around Hatteras, but I think it is prettier here than Hatteras is. There are some really interesting things close by that I am going to do my best to go see. Currituck lighthouse is within blocks of the house where I am staying. Definitely will go see that. I also passed by the place where the Wright brothers flew for the first time. Would like to see that too. It seems like I passed something else that I thought I'd like to see. Hmmm.

Gas is a lot cheaper down here than it is at home. It was $2.55 in Salisbury and I saw it for as low as $2.46 here. Never expected that. Not that I'm arguing...

I'll see if I can get some pictures for you. I don't know if I will be able to download pictures while I am here or not. If not. I'll post them when I get back! More later!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

D-Day Anniversary

Men storming the beach at Normandy June 6, 1944Today is the 65th anniversary of D-Day the invasion of Normandy. I want to honor the men who faced the horrors of those beaches. They sacrificed in ways that those who weren't there will never comprehend. Thank you, men, for your courage and for paying such a high price to win the war. Thank you for fighting for your buddies and for your families. May your sacrifices not be in vain. God bless you all.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

20 Years Ago Today...

Lone protester resisting Chinese tanks in the Tiananmen Square Massacre20 years ago today, the communist Chinese government violently crushed a peaceful demonstration by thousands of Chinese people at Tiananmen Square who were petitioning for democracy. Last year I wrote an article titled Remember Tiananmen Square! I think the words that I wrote back then are just as relevant today - perhaps even more so.

Since his election, President Obama has hastened our nation toward Marxism at an alarming speed, with many in the media nodding and applauding right along. It was telling when I overheard a report on the news the other day that people (I think it was in China, but I am not sure because I only caught the tail end of the segment) were asking the reporters if President Obama were a Communist or a Democrat. I've been wondering the same thing.

Leading up to the anniversary of the massacre the Chinese government clamped down on anyone who could possibly draw attention to the significant anniversary. According to an AP report today the Chinese government is taking a similar approach to Tiananmen as the Japanese have taken toward Nanking: they are pretending that it didn't happen, and have been quite terse with foreign governments that suggest that they should acknowledge what happened there.

But how could they acknowledge what happened? Acknowledging it would be to concede the wrongness of their response. To admit wrongdoing would cause the government to lose face and would preclude the utilization of the same response in a similar circumstance. It seems clear from the government's approach to this anniversary that they fully intend to reserve the option to use the same draconian tactics again. Little seems to have changed in the way that the Chinese government does business. It is too bad that the Chinese government hasn't chosen to lead the way by acknowledging what they did. Perhaps it would have helped to encourage the Japanese to acknowledge Nanking.

As for America, the clock is ticking. It is time for us to rise up NOW and begin to protest the theft of our freedoms and demand that the Bill of Rights be held sacred. If we don't have the courage to fight now while we are armed, will we have the courage to face our own tanks when we're as unarmed as the demonstrators at Tiananmen were? Wake up, America!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Law Or Justice?

I have been pondering an interesting thought this morning. It has occurred to me this morning that our nation's courts, judges, and lawyers are more interested in law than they are justice. Perhaps this is why I am so often flummoxed by the things that lawyers say and do. If this were not the case, how else could a lawyer get someone who is clearly guilty of breaking the law off on a technicality?

An acquaintance of mine is a law student and had the following question on an exam:

Assume that you finally have graduated from law school and have moved to the State of Nirvana, a jurisdiction which follows the general law of criminal procedure that you studied in this course. You have begun work in the Trial Division of the Nirvana Prosecuting Attorney's office and have been asked to evaluate a case in your office. Your task is to write a detailed and candid report to your supervisor, the Chief Prosecuting Attorney, determining the legal issues involved, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, and predicting the probable outcome of each issue at trial. Structure your report around the items of evidence that the Prosecuting Attorney probably will want to use against the defendant in this case. Following are the agreed-upon facts and procedures up to this point.

The defendant in the criminal case you are analyzing is Xiao-Ling (XL). XL is a 29-year-old woman and a recent Chinese immigrant with an only moderate command of the English language. At the time of the alleged crimes, XL was living in a small apartment at the back of her restaurant. XL is part-owner and manager of the restaurant, working there about twelve hours a day, every day.

Local Nirvana narcotics detectives have long suspected that members of the large local Chinese community were involved in the importation, sale, and distribution of illegal narcotics, particularly cocaine and heroin. The police believed that the narcotics were being brought in from a drug ring in Beijing, dominated by the Dong family. Police officers had no individual suspects locally but generally were watching the activities around the twenty-five Chinese restaurants in Nirvana, including XL's restaurant, in the hope that they might discover evidence of narcotics trafficking.

Two weeks ago on a Friday evening, undercover narcotics officers Able (A) and Baker (B), dressed in casual clothing, went to XL's restaurant at about 7:00 p.m. A and B had dinner and lingered at their table after eating. After a few minutes, A got up from the table and went back near the rear of the restaurant to the men's restroom. Meanwhile, B walked up to the front of the restaurant to talk with XL, who was sitting behind the cash register near the front door. B began to comment on the menu and asked XL how busy the restaurant had been lately. B then asked XL if she knew of the Dong family in Beijing, and XL responded: "Yes, we buy food from them." B then told XL that he was in the market for about ten kilos of high quality "Beijing coke" such as that available from the Dong family and asked XL if she could provide it to him. XL responded: "Tomorrow; noon; I have." B then left the restaurant.

As B and XL were talking up front, A left the men's restroom and looked across the hallway into the kitchen. Seeing no one in the kitchen at the time, A walked through the open doorway into the kitchen. In the far corner of the kitchen, A saw an unopened package addressed to XL and with a return address of "Dong Family; Beijing, China." Just at that moment, the cook came into the kitchen and asked A what he wanted. A mumbled something about looking for the men's room, and the cook directed A to that location.

Once out of the sight of the cook, A walked to the far rear of the hallway to the doorway to XL's apartment. An elaborate curtain covered the doorway, but by standing right next to the curtain and peering through the curtain's few openings, A could see into the apartment. On a table in the apartment, A could see a small weighing scale and small plastic bags such as often were used to divide up large quantities of drugs into small packages for sale to individuals. A wastepaper basket was sitting just inside the apartment doorway on the other side of the curtain. A reached around the curtain and grabbed a small paper bag out of the basket, noticing some sort of residue at the bottom of the bag. He stuffed the bag under his coat and walked through the restaurant and out the front door, joining B outside. The subsequent laboratory analysis of the contents of the bag showed traces of heroin.

The next morning, A and B applied for a search warrant for XL's restaurant and apartment. A and B told the magistrate that they had found the heroin bag in a trash can in the men's restroom, had seen the unopened package with the Dong return address on a table next to theirs in the dining area, and had seen the small weighing scale with white powder on it through an open, outside window into XL's apartment. The magistrate issued the warrant to search for illegal narcotics.

At noon, A and B returned to XL's restaurant with the search warrant but not telling anyone that they had the warrant. Not seeing XL out front in the dining area, B walked quickly back to the rear of the restaurant, pushed aside the curtain hanging at the doorway to XL's apartment, and stepped into the living room of the apartment. XL emerged from her bedroom and told B to wait for her out front. Instead of stepping back out of XL's apartment, B walked over to the table with the scales on it. B picked up a cardboard box from the floor, opened the top flaps, and saw plastic bags of white powder inside the box. B said "Is this the stuff I asked for?", and XL responded "No! Mine! Leave alone! Get out!"

Screaming in Chinese, XL stormed out into the restaurant where she encountered A talking with the cook. The cook had told A that the restaurant gets many packages from the Dong family in Beijing, and XL takes the packages back into her apartment. A approached XL and started to say something, but XL screamed at him: "I get lawyer!"

By then, B had come back out into the restaurant and walked up to XL. B read XL the Miranda warnings and asked if XL wanted to waive the rights. XL did not respond to B's question about waiving the rights but instead asked A and B "You cops?" B answered "yes," and XL responded "Then not talk!"

A and B then placed XL in handcuffs and put her in the backseat of a police car, along with the cardboard box full of white powder found in XL's apartment. Subsequent laboratory tests indicated the white powder was cocaine. A and B sat in the front seat of the police car and began driving down to the police station. B remarked: "Well, we finally found the Nirvana connection to Beijing's Dong family." A replied: "Yup, I think we hit the jackpot." At that point, XL said from the backseat: "Dumb narcs know nothing." B replied: "Sure, lady. We know all we need to know." XL then began to describe her involvement with the Dong Family. By the time the police car had reached the police station about 20 minutes later, XL had made several admissions as to her involvement in importing and selling cocaine and heroin out of her restaurant.

When they arrived at the police station, a retired real estate attorney named John who was a frequent customer of XL's restaurant was just walking by on the sidewalk. XL called out to John, and John came over to her and the officers. XL told John that she had been arrested and that her restaurant had been searched. XL then asked John whether she should be talking with the officers about all of this. John replied: "If you've got nothing to hide, you always should cooperate with the authorities. I'm sure this is all a big mistake and that you can explain everything." John then walked on his way, and XL and the officers entered the police station. XL then agreed to make a full, written confession to the police, which she did, taking over ten pages to complete.

You are now preparing the case for trial and have been asked by the Chief Prosecuting Attorney to write a detailed and candid memorandum structured around the items of evidence that the Prosecutor probably will want to use. The Prosecutor has listed the evidence which presumably will be used as follows:

1. "Yes, we buy food from them."
2. "Tomorrow; noon; I have."
3. Unopened package with Dong Family return address
4. Paper bag with heroin residue.
5. Cardboard box with bags of cocaine.
6. "No! Mine! Leave alone! Get out!"
7. Cook's statements as to packages from Dong.
8. XL's admissions while in police car.
9. XL's 10-page written confession.

Write your report.

Now I'm not a law student or an attorney, but based on the things that I have read and seen on TV, I would dare say that Xiao-Ling would stand a decent chance at getting off (with a good attorney) because of the unethical (and probably illegal) way that the police put their case together and handled her arrest.

That's not justice. That's law. Justice would demand that all of the parties that broke the law would be punished even if the evidence were not gathered legally.

Or for a more practical and common situation; is it just for people to be able to get out of a speeding ticket by hiring an attorney? What is just about that? That arrangement deprives the poor of the same "justice" afforded to the rich. Justice would demand that punishment be required of those who violate the law. No, our society does not love justice.

Perhaps this American mindset regarding the law is why so many have trouble understanding God's justice. God's justice is absolute and cannot be bribed. There is only one thing that will cause you to avoid paying the penalty for your crimes in God's court and that is the surrender of the lordship of your life to Jesus Christ. When we submit ourselves to Him and cry out for His mercy then He begins to advocate for us.

But even this advocacy isn't without justice, for Jesus satisfied the requirements of justice when He died for us. God poured out on Him the wrath that was reserved for those who ran to Him for mercy. But sadly, that wrath is still reserved for those who have not done so. If you have never surrendered your life to Jesus, please do so and hide yourself in Him from the wrath that is to come.

It Has Begun

Yesterday I spent a good bit of time in the garden. I was able to get some plants in the ground. I planted some more tomatoes, some jalapeƱo peppers, and cucumbers. I also transplanted some tomatoes that had come up volunteer and some green beans that managed to get out of their rows. I also got up some rocks and tilled one row to get the weeds out. I drove some stakes for the new tomatoes and tied the tomatoes.

I also dug six post holes. That was the toughest thing I did. On my next to last hole there was huge rock about ¾ of the way to the depth that I was digging. It would have been nice to have some dynamite.... After an epic struggle I finally managed to lever that thing out.

Today I plan to do some more work. I need to spray, get up rocks, and till. I'd like to get the rest of the irrigation sorted, but that is probably more than I'll get done today. I also need to fertilize, finish the trellis for the peas, get the peas up on the trellis, and weed the peas. Anybody bored today? Sounds like I have another day's worth of work to do. More later!