Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Life is Interesting

Things have been busy lately. As if that were news!

Last weekend my girlfriend scored tickets to the Martina McBride concert in Greensboro. It was a pretty good concert. Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan opened for her. I think the most impressive thing she did though was ride a crescent moon prop across the coliseum while singing the whole time. She ended up on a little mini stage at the back of the coliseum where she sang a couple songs, and then WALKED singing through the crowd back to the stage shaking hands, hugging necks, and waving to the crowd. Impressive.

Saturday I planted the rest of my corn, another row of lima beans, some more basil, and some sage. I also planted a hill of cantaloupe. I worked on some of the irrigation too.

Saturday night we had a celebration for my mom's birthday. My brother made some tasty turkey burgers with spinach and feta cheese. My sister made a really tasty angel food cake trifle with pineapple and vanilla pudding. And I contributed a veggie slaw (that doesn't use any sugar or mayonnaise) South Beach mashed cauliflower, and a wilted spinach dish with portabella mushrooms, asparagus, and cashews. It was a tasty repast!

Sunday I got to play bass at church. It was fun. I haven't gotten to play bass in ages, so I was a little rusty, but I still had a good time.

At work this week I have been trying to get used to some new software. We bought an upgrade to our database program. It is definitely an improvement, but the learning curve has been a little steep. It has slowed down a lot of my administrative duties as I have been trying to figure out where everything goes in the program. It isn't extremely intuitive. A lot of the functionality is hidden until you know where to look for it - which really isn't any different than the last version of the program. I wish they had done a widespread beta. I would have liked to make some suggestions that I think would have made it better. The program is called MarketsharpM, and if you are involved in any type of building industry, I would recommend it. They have a good team of people supporting it and the program is affordable and powerful.

I hope that you all voted yesterday. This primary came up on me pretty quickly. I really didn't have the time to prepare like I would have liked to, but I did feel pretty good about the choices that I made. I was disappointed that James Taylor didn't upset Howard Coble, but I can still put my support behind Howard. I like the way Coble votes, but I just think it is time for him to move on, and I like the way James is thinking.

My band has moved to two a week practices now. We only have 26 days until we will be playing at our church's outreach called "Fields Of Grace." Fields of Grace will be a series of outdoor events beginning the last Sunday night in May. My band will be playing the first Sunday night in June, and there will be concerts the next two Sunday nights. We're just trying to get the salt out of the shaker a little bit.

This weekend will be tricky. I want to get up to visit my Grandmother for Mother's Day (that's this Sunday, by the way) but I still have some gardening that needs to be done. I need to plant my last row of lima beans and want to plant another hill of watermelon and cantaloupe. I may also have some sweet potatoes to plant, and they will need water so I'll have to get my irrigation sorted out better than it is right now. It is always something. I have already spent as much on this garden as I really want to. Oh well.

So that is the latest. I hope all is going well for you! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Garden Update

Well, things have been going pretty well in the garden so far. Two weeks ago I planted half of my tomatoes and some lima beans. Last week I planted just about everything else. I hope to get the rest of it planted Saturday.

When I went out yesterday to check things I saw that most of my first row of lima beans have come up. I was very pleased to see that. If I can get my irrigation out I'm sure it won't be long until the others follow suit.

So far we have about 50 tomato plants, a dozen squash plants, half a dozen zucchini, a long row of blackeye peas, a long row of purple hull peas, a long row of green beans, 2 long rows of lima beans, a hill of watermelons, a dozen jalapeno peppers, 3 red bell peppers, 3 poblano peppers, 3 yellow bell peppers, 3 green bell peppers, 3 purple bell peppers, 3 mild banana peppers, 2 dill plants, one basil plant, and one cabbage plant (that belongs to my niece.) Oh yeah, and three short rows of corn.

Still to be planted are two rows of lima beans (one will get planted next week) three or 4 rows of corn, cucumbers, and several hills of cantaloupes, water melons, and maybe even a hill of honeydew if I can find it. I also have some sweet potatoes to see if I can sprout. I may do some of them too.

It still sounds like a lot, but not so much really. I will probably plant the rest of the corn, one row of lima beans, and one hill of cantaloupe on Saturday. If I can find it I'll probably do a hill of honeydew too.

This year I selected 4 main varieties of tomato. I have a dozen Better Boy plants, because that has been my family's favorite for years. I have also planted a dozen Roma tomatoes for canning and salsa. There is also dozen Celebrity for eating, canning and salsa. Finally, I got a dozen Cherokee Purple for juice. I also added a grape tomato and another "tommytoe" variety. And my friend Terry gave me another variety that I have divided into three plants. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of that one.

Saturday's work in the garden will also be spent getting my irrigation sorted - or at least planned. Every year you have to chase leaks, and I'll have to take some time to find out what hoses are working, which ones can be repaired, and which ones need to be trashed. Then I can figure out what else I need. I also need to put down some lime and fertilizer. It probably wouldn't hurt to get the tomato stakes in the ground too.

So far the weeds haven't shown up yet, but when they do, I have a handy new pointy hoe to take care of them, thanks to my girlfriend's mom! As much work as gardening is, for some reason I really enjoy it.

Well, that's all for the farm report tonight! I'll try to get you caught up this weekend.


Hello, friends. It has been difficult finding the time to write here. I have started several posts at different times, but finishing one has been a major challenge. It would seem that my time management skills need some improvement. I am always amazed by the folks that are able to get massive amounts of stuff done with their days. I have that from time to time, but by and large I find that my time is stolen from me by little annoying things more than not.

OK, enough whining - about that anyway. If any of you out there were like me, but found a method that helped you to consistently manage your time well, I'd love to hear about it.

To get more to the point of my title, I am quite frustrated by what I see happening to my country. Every day (literally) I read another headline that points to the greatly decayed state of the union. Every day it is a new revelation of corruption - every day some new abomination laden bill sneaking its way through congress or being ram-rodded through it. And each report brings with it the certainty that my freedoms and rights are being eroded at an alarming rate. I have honestly never been so angry.

As an aside, something else that really pisses me off is the gall of progressives to call themselves that. What a load of crap! Progressive insinuates a moving toward something better, but the path that they would lead us down is anything but better. The progressive path is one headed 180° away from God and his Law. They steal but justify it by claiming that they are doing it to help the poor (which they never manage to actually do). They murder but call it choice. They slander but call it freedom of speech. They lie and call it truth. A perfect example is Al Gore, who was reported to have purchased an $8 million ocean front home this week. Guess he's not too worried about rising ocean levels after all. No, progressive does not match what they are. They are bad, old-fashioned liberals.

And then I begin to wonder, what can I do? Protesting obviously does no good, and violence does no good. Neither do phone calls or emails or written letters. I am losing confidence in the republic. The only hope that I have right now is in prayer and in my vote this November.

Truly, I can't wait for November to get here. God grant that the right heads roll. I would be shocked if there are more than a dozen each in the House and Senate that deserve to be there. I hope that when the dust settles that they are the only ones left. Change is clearly needed - but not of the variety that the current administration has brought. I only hope that God will favor us with a majority of leaders who love what America has historically stood for, are fiscally responsible, are willing to call a spade a spade, can't be bought, are willing to make tough choices for the sake of our country, and who don't give a rat's left hind tit if they get re-elected or not. I'd vote for someone like that any day.

Interesting Music

I discovered these guys through a friend's post on Facebook and really like their creativity and energy. They are called Pomplamoose. They remind me of my friends, the Dicksons. I hope you enjoy them too! This is one of my favorites, but they have a very diverse repertoire!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mission From God

So, me and the guys are putting the band back together. We've been trying to get practices going again because we're supposed to play a gig at our church on June 6th.

This time we are planning to incorporate some "secular" songs in the mix. We did some work on U2's Pride (In The Name Of Love) last week and it went well. This week I am thinking about bringing this song:

I like the key Sara is doing it in. Great song. I also like Edwin McCain's version. I could hear Chris Daughtry singing it too.

I did some checking for tabs for this song and got wildly different versions - all of them wrong. The good news is that I was able to piece most of it together from the different versions that I found. I still have one chord that I can't figure out. There is a passing chord at the end of the chorus that I can't quite figure out. I have something that works, but it isn't what they are doing in Sara's version. If only Justin and Sara (from the Stillwaters Jazz Band) were right up the street I would bug them and get some help!

We're also looking at doing Daughtry's "Home." I have found a really good acoustic version online, but haven't been able to quite figure out what this fellow is doing. I think that he is using an alternative tuning because I can't make the chords that it looks like he is playing work in the tuning that I use.

Of course then we have to find someone who can pull off the song vocally. I'm praying that the Lord will help me to do justice to these songs or that He'll provide someone who can!

Another song that I like comes from a somewhat surprising source. I've really been drawn to Nickleback's song "If Today Were Your Last Day."

Good song. The "official" video is pretty good too, but there is something about the image of the black doctor working on the injured Klansman in this one that is really powerful.

Well, it is getting late so I'll wrap this up. Happy listening!


It has been an interesting season.

Boy, if those aren't loaded words. Terry Pratchett wrote a book called Interesting Times. I haven't read it yet, but if I understand correctly one of the greatest curses that you can invoke on a person on Discworld (the Yoknapatawpha County of Pratchett's imagination) was that they would live in interesting times - which are always a bit more interesting in retrospect than they are when being lived out. Ask Frodo if his times were interesting, and he would have most likely responded, "No, they were bloody awful." Yet for the Hobbit urchins gathered around him listening to the stories of his adventures they were fraught with intrigue and fascination.

I love the way John Eldredge put it,

Twenty clear days a year - that sounds about like my life. I think I see what's really going on about that often. The rest of the time, it feels like a fog, like the bathroom mirror after a hot shower. You know what I mean. What exactly are you perfectly clear on these days? How about your life? Why have things gone the way they have? Where was God in all that? And do you know what you ought to do next, with a deep, settled confidence that it will work out? Neither do I. Oh, I'd love to wake each morning knowing exactly who I am and where God is taking me. Zeroed in on all my relationships, undaunted in my calling. It's awesome when I do see. But for most of us, life seems more like driving along with a dirty windshield and then turning into the sun. I can sort of make out the shapes ahead, and I think the light is green.
- Waking The Dead p. 5

Yeah, that pretty well sums it up.

Lately I have asked the Lord - at the encouragement of my significant other - what the future might look like for me. Not some sort of crystal ball inquiry, but a real frank discussion with Him about direction and destiny. I was surprised to have some answers and to see some really disparate puzzle pieces put into context with each other. It was really nice to see how these vastly different interests could possibly work together. It was encouraging to see that even pieces that I received years ago were not "misses" but are still a part of the plan.

I won't say that I have the road map, but at least I have a good general lay of the land now. That is comforting. I hope I can remember that when journeying through Mirkwood. All journeys seem destined to pass through its depths, don't they?

I have friends plumbing some of the same depths that I have over the past 20 years. It is hard to see them struggling. I hurt for them, but I am also encouraged by their struggle, for it shows me that the Lord has taken notice of them, and He is in the process of disciplining them to make them more like Himself and to help them love Him better.

So often we look at discipline (at least in the United States) as something that is for those who have done something bad. Yet God's discipline is not like that. See, those whom He loves He disciplines. It is kind of hard to understand until you experience it. Often what God is after isn't some great sin pattern in our lives. The thing that often brings His discipline is wrong thinking and wrong heart attitudes that keep us from knowing Him and loving Him correctly. These are almost never our fault, but are the result of woundings that we receive throughout the course of our life.

It is nice to have a little perspective. It makes the discipline a lot more bearable.

So, to my friends who are hopelessly lost in Mirkwood's haunts (now or in the future) my prayer is that you will quickly discover that you are not alone, that God is right there with you, and that God is GOOD. You aren't as lost as you seem. God knows right where you are, and none of this surprises Him. He's got you right where you need to be. Rest in these truths.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Garden Time Again

Today was the official beginning of gardening season for me this year. I got to disk the garden, which was pretty fun. But then it is always pretty fun to get to drive the tractor.

I had thought to go ahead and till tomorrow, but I think I am going to hold off. I don't really want to plant anything for the next couple weeks until I am reasonably sure that the danger of frost is past. I'm not planning to do any colder weather crops this year.

As I have been thinking about things, I am reasonably sure that I will do tomatoes, green beans, corn, cantaloupes, watermelons, peppers, squash, cucumbers, basil, and fordhook lima beans. I am also probably going to do black-eyed peas as well.

I plan to do a lot of tomatoes - at least 4 dozen plants. I want to do a dozen Cherokee Purple plants for juice, a dozen Better Boys and a dozen Celebrity for just plain eating, and a dozen Romas for canning and salsa. I'll probably also throw in some grape/cherry tomato plants too. I had good results from the Goliath hybrids last year too. They produced longer than the others did. I may do a few of them too. I'd like to do at least 2 Ox Hearts too. That's a lot of tomatoes.

I am going to try something different with my lima beans this year. I am planning to wait until most of the beans on the bushes are just beginning to turn a little yellow and then pull up the plants. In the past two years I have only gotten 1-2 good pickings off of the plants and the first was always bigger than the second. I think that I will have better results by planting pulling and re-planting than by doing what I have done before. Time will tell. Gardening is a great place to experiment!

Well, that is all for now. I'll keep you updated!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Where Does The Time Go?

I'm just sitting down here to start writing and looking at the clock, thinking, "how the heck did it get to be a quarter to nine?" Where did the time go? Germany?

I turned the computer on about 4 hours ago. Of course, I probably spent more than two hours watching partial clips on the Fox News website about this damnable healthcare bill that the President is trying to push on us without the benefit of a kiss. I am praying so hard for this thing to finally die the death that it should have died in committee.

I love the way they are trying to "help" us. According to all the accounts that I have heard about this bill, it would force all Americans to be covered by some sort of health insurance. That sounds great, right? Well, just how great does it sound? I was talking to a friend of mine who works for the state of North Carolina. Do you know how much he has to pay to cover his 30ish-year-old wife? Over $600 a month. Now let's consider someone who is working for minimum wage. I think that rate is $7.25/hour.

Let's assume a 3,000 hour work year. For normal people it would be 2,000, but someone on minimum wage would have to work two jobs at least best case scenario. That would amount to an annual wage of $21,750 prior to taxes - $1,812.50 a month BEFORE taxes.

Based on the percentages that I found for a typical US household approximately $600 would be spent on housing, $230 on food, $275 on transportation. At least another $300 would be spent on utilities. That tallies to $1,405, leaving only $407.50 for taxes and all other expenses. This scenario would be difficult for a single person. It would only be exacerbated for a single income family.

Check my math, but how would someone in that income bracket afford a $600 monthly insurance bill? Yet the government is going to tell that person that he must choose between, food, clothing, heat, or transportation and health insurance or face a fine - a fine that could eventually land the individual in jail if not paid. A fine that would end up causing the individual to incur legal expenses in addition to their other normal expenses. No thanks. I don't want help like that.

So, it would appear that the government is coming down on the side of insurance. I mean, if everyone has to have some sort of health coverage and there isn't going to be a public option then that means insurers will be the ones still making the money. And I am sure that there will be minimum coverage requirements. This is going to prevent any real change from taking place. If everyone is having to cough up the big bucks that the insurers will charge or face a fine then you are creating a situation that will introduce a moral risk.

It is a lot like people who go to a buffet. They may satisfied after the first plate, but because they have paid a higher fee for "all you can eat" then the inclination is to make sure that they got their money's worth even if they have to make themselves miserable to do it.

The same thing will happen with health care. Because you will have people who are having to sacrifice to make their monthly insurance payments, you can rest assured that they are going to go to the doctor for every little thing. This will put further pressure on the insurance companies to maintain the hefty profits that they are accustomed to resulting in rate increases and compensation decreases to medical providers. It will also increase demand on medical resources.

These pressures will create another "HEALTHCARECRISIS!!!!!!" That will give the government an excuse to create a one-payer system - a system with a dismal success rate historically. The only joy I would get from that is watching Michael Moore's fat butt getting turned away from a government run health clinic because he used up his quota of medicine.

I pray to God that this mess can be undone.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's Been A Long, Long Time

Wow. It has been forever since I last posted here. I think a lot of that has had to do with some fairly major changes that have taken place since my last posting. On November 25 I ended an almost three-year-long period of what mostly amounted to unemployment. I have taken a job as the office manager of a small home improvement company that specializes in windows and sunrooms. I'm not going to be taking over Wall Street from this position, but at least I am not losing ground any more, and I do actually enjoy the work most days.

I was somewhat concerned before I got back to work about whether I would be able to handle the 8-5 grind again. I didn't know if I would have the stamina for it. I didn't know if I could handle working for someone else again. I could on both accounts thankfully.

I also started dating someone back in August. Things have gone well for the most part. Today marks 7 months since we re-started our relationship. Seven months on St. Patrick's Day? That has to be a good omen! We had actually dated before back about 9 years ago. Most days we get along fine!

Need I say more? The truth is that those two things have in themselves changed my life fairly dramatically. Since I barely had enough time to engage in all the things I wanted to do when I wasn't gainfully employed and was not sharing my time with someone else it really isn't surprising that I have had a lack of time as a good excuse to be absent.

But beyond that I really haven't had the desire, motivation, spark, interest, whatever to write much. I really haven't had that much to say.

I am so utterly disgusted with the political situation in our country right now that I can barely stand to read the headlines, let alone try to comment on my thoughts. Frankly, most of my thoughts about these things are largely unprintable. I have tried to insulate myself from politics as much as possible. I am so completely annoyed with both parties. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that they are both equally worthless, would be willing to concede that they are both worthless. My only in depth comment is that I hope the Democrats manage to render themselves a non-party through voter backlash if they force this health care bill through. Tarring and feathering all of the "leadership" of that party would be too mild a punishment in my opinion - even if the tar were very hot. (I am only being mildly hyperbolic here....)

Speaking of hot, how about all of this global warming this year? I guess it is a good thing. We would have frozen to death if it hadn't been for that. Al Gore just continues proving that his grip on reality is tenuous at best. Of course, it may just be that his grip on the reality of the money he is making peddling his lies is enough to skew his vision so that he understands how global warming is a reality in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

I have watched Ben Stein's movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed a couple times recently. I am stricken by just how much of Al Gore's brand of "science" has become the standard today. In the movie you see "scientist" after "scientist" who have "suppressed the truth in unrighteousness" and as a result have become "futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise they have become fools," to loosely quote some key parts of Romans 1. It is pitiful really.

One of the scientists forcefully declared that it would be utterly boring to consider that a God or some intelligent being may have created the universe. How tragic that one day very soon most likely (if it hasn't already happened - at the time of the airing of the film he had a recurrence of brain cancer) he will face God and see the most fascinating entity that there ever was and won't ever be able to explore Him. He will be plagued down through eternity with the knowledge that he could have made endless discoveries studying God and His creation yet he chose eternal damnation instead because he thought God would be utterly boring. I hope that God was merciful on him and rescued him, but I doubt that He did.

Anyway, enough rambling for now. I am going to make every effort to get back to writing regularly - perhaps not every day, but at least a couple times a week. That has come about as a result of a conversation with a friend of mine who is in a home group that meets in my house every week for prayer and fellowship. As he was leaving two weeks ago he said to me something like, "If you're not sure what to do, go back to the last thing that God told you to do and do that."

I had to think on it a little while before I remembered what I was supposed to be doing. The last thing that I believe I heard from the Lord was to write about discipleship topics. It is hard to believe that it has been almost a year since I did that last. I shared that with a couple other people who both confirmed that I needed to get my butt back in gear and start writing. So here I am. Hopefully, I will be able to finish the next installment in the Spiritual Warfare series that I began all that time ago. I know that I have said that before, but I'm actually a little more motivated to do so this time. More to come soon!