Meet Audrey

A few weeks back, I said I was playing around with sourdough starters and such, and that I would keep you apprised. It’s been a small adventure, but things are finally getting to the point where things seem to be good. So, I want to introduce you to the starter I cultured from scratch: Audrey.

Chose the name as a week or so ago I could have sworn I heard a small female voice say “feed me.” So far, all she seems to want is flour and water, and I’m good with that. Any suggestions I may have discussed the landlord’s cats as tribute are not worthy of further comment.

Part of this came out of X (no longer referencing the “dead” name as omitting it seems to make Stephen King foam at the mouth) and the posts of QT, Snarksalot, and Lauren Gruel. Lauren has been posting step-by-steps on culturing and various uses. Snarksalot has posted a large amounts of helpful advice.

The basics are easy enough. For me, I took a quart canning jar and cleaned it out, and then added in four ounces of water and four ounces of whole wheat flour. Twelve hours later I put four ounces of that mix in with four ounces of AP flour and four ounces of water, cleaned the jar, then put the mix back in. Do that every day for about two weeks, and you should have a good active starter.

The first culture bubbled okay, but would never rise. So, I started again and have ended up with Audrey, who bubbles and rises. I’ve been working to get her to the point of being a mature starter and hope that this Friday/Saturday I will attempt to make my first loaf of bread.

Meantime, I’ve been having delicious biscuits, pancakes, and more courtesy of the discard. Rather than throwing it out, I’ve been putting it into another clean mason jar and keeping it in the refrigerator. There are so many recipes out there for using the discard it is not funny.

Sourdough buttermilk biscuits with whole wheat flour. Click to Embigen

Some things I’ve learned and want to share. Keep chlorinated tap water as far away from the process as you can. Chlorine hates yeast (and most other things). When I have to wash something then use again immediately, I rinse with some distilled water. I’ve been using distilled water for almost everything, as it is what I drink, use for coffee/tea, etc. Bottled water that has not been chlorinated should be fine. Give things time: for Audrey, I made sure she had her legs under her before going to the every 12-hour feeding. It may seem like nothing much is happening at first, but it is. Be patient.

There are a LOT of good resources out there. You may get odd smells or even some discolorations — most are fine. The good resources can help you figure out what is going on (too much feeding, not enough, etc.) and keep you going. Once it is mature, you can keep it going for decades with care. Heck, I’ve heard of some cultures that were started in the early 1800s (think ’49ers even) that are still going.

Nice thing is, you can do bread and more without commercial yeasts and lots of additives. A good loaf of sourdough is pretty much flour, starter, water, and a pinch of salt. Something you can make even in an emergency with a bit of forethought.

If ya’ll are interested, let me know and I will do up a post with links to not just resources, but to recipes. For example, I have one biscuit recipe that is incredibly flaky, while the ones shown above are some of the softest biscuits I’ve made in decades. I’m also looking at doing some pizza dough with either starter or discard. Not on this one as the landlord is having a new dishwasher installed and I’ve been having to do some stand-in for him with that project.

More to come.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Oil Candles & Lamps

The other day, I came across someone who was talking with great passion about oil candles and/or improvised oil lamps. They had a lot of information on how to improvise at need, provided you had wick material. Honestly, good to know if you are out of position when disaster strikes, except for the wick part though you can improvise that at need (pure cotton shoe laces for example).

While looking at their post, an odd feeling hit, and I began to smile. The next morning at Church, I double checked some things. Later, I checked in at the nearby religious bookstore, and frankly grinned a bit.

While you may have to hit a bookstore associated with one of the more traditional branches (Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic), there is no need to reinvent the wheel as the monks have you covered. You have brass and twisted wire wick holders, floating holders, and a variety of containers and container holders. Most of what I have turns out to be from Holy Cross, but am also hearing some good things said about Holy Archangel Candles.

With a trimmed wick and filled oil source, you can get a surprising amount of light out of a simple oil candle. Go with a holder that can handle a wider (lamp) wick, and you are doing good. My advice is to keep the wick trimmed, and if you keep the candle/oil source filled you can get a lot of life out the wick even as you get a lot of light.

Two other things to keep in mind. One, do NOT use extra virgin olive oil. It does not burn well, to be polite. Regular olive oil has a higher smoke point and is the way to go, though in an emergency you can use almost any vegetable oil. Two, provided it is not rancid, out-of-date olive oil still burns quite well and does not smell. You may can even find some restaurants willing to give you, or sell cheap, olive oil that is headed out of date.

Oil candles and lamps give you another layer in keeping the lights on, so to speak. Flashlights, camping lanterns, wax candles, candle lanterns, and chem lights all have their place and are good things to have. Adding one more layer is just insurance. Fairly inexpensive insurance too, as I don’t think I paid over $3.50 for any holder or packet of wicks, and some of the holders you can find for $1. Finally, to be honest, oil candles are pretty insurance at that.

Just thought I should throw a bit of light on the subject.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Fictional Scenario Follow-Up

There are a LOT of good comments on the original Fictional Scenario post. Thank you all! Rather than try to address them and some other points that have been sent individually, allow me to respond with this post.

Why do it as a fictional story? Well, the basic reason is that it will get a lot wider audience as a fiction story, and it is more likely to make money than cost money. It’s a tactic that actually been done for quite a while now, and often because if you try to submit certain ideas up the chain, or to a peer-reviewed publication, you know it’s not going anywhere but the circular file. Oftentimes with your career.

In fact, there are several popular science fiction stories that were created because the author knew that to present the ideas other than in fiction would be a career killer for a scientist. Couple of thriller shorts were along the same line, as higher had made it clear it didn’t want to hear about anything involving X (country, weapon, etc.). Understand China fits that X a good bit these days…

So, a fiction story has a better chance of being read, discussed, and benefiting the author. It might actually get read by the policy makers that need to read it. It also has a nice bit of plausible deniability for said author.

Now, for the containers. The K-pods were a good add to the discussion, and I wonder how much the Iranians paid attention to them in designing the CONEX pod they just used for the demonstration missile launch? Using such a standard pod simplifies a lot of logistics, and it is amazing the possibilities for them (Bruce was well on the mark there).

Depending on the missile used, you can potentially load up to four in a standard container, along with all the necessary command and control equipment. Keep in mind that anyone likely to do this could pull from Chinese, Russian, and Iranian missiles. Not to mention North Korean contributions, though I don’t see that as realistic at this time. I went with one weapon per container for a number of reasons, including not wanting to have the basic concept dismissed out of hand by certain bureaucratic types that are best avoided. KISS, in other words.

Also, no crew is needed in the pods. Such as system, as recently demonstrated by the Iranians, can easily be controlled from a laptop or console aboard the ship carrying the containers. It would not be too hard to even arrange for hydraulic jacks to lift one end up for an angled launch.

As for use of hypersonic, that was deliberate as certain buzzwords do hit the bingo card in DC. If you want people to pay attention (that need to), sadly you do seem to have to play buzzword bingo.

Reality is, the best choice for something like the first strike scenario described is a mixed load. Even non-hypersonic cruise missiles fired at that range are capable of hitting key targets in five or so minutes. Use faster (but accurate) weapons for longer distances, go for precision on the short range, and you get a devastating attack that takes out key targets before most even know they are under attack. There are even some inventive ways (including cross targeting from other ships involved) to take out some target areas with multiple warheads without worry of nuclear fratricide.

As for some of the target choices I made, while a number of bases are now reduced or officially offline, a number of our potential enemies have studied our history and know exactly how fast we could turn things around and make use of them. The lessons of WWII may be lost to much of our leadership, but I fear not to others. If you take out certain bases and/or areas, you eliminate our ability to build and sustain operations in opposition to other hostile activities. Activities that are the root cause of the fictional first strike.

Before I forget, it is worth noting that in the real world Russia has been taking a large number of high-precision cruise missiles out of strategic service, mating them with conventional warheads, and using them against Ukraine without replacements in the pipe. As Arte used to say, “Very Interesting!” and is something I am not sure is getting the attention it should. In turn, they are also buying a number of high-precision weapons from Iran for use for the same purpose. If I do decide to go back and finish this story, may have to make the load a mix of Chinese and Iranian missiles, with only some from Russia.

As for the countries involved, think about this a moment. Russia wants Russkiy Mir, and Ukraine is but the first step towards that. Iran has its own regional ambitions. China is not just focused on Taiwan, but has plans for the South China Sea and south even unto Australia. Remove the U.S. as a threat, and all three have the opening they need to act.

Ability is a different matter, as China is tottering more than most realize; Russia is not in good shape; and, Iran is one good match from seeing a new revolution. Just keep in mind that desperate people do desperate things, and the current leadership of all three fit that mold. So, don’t see this as likely but it is still something that needs to be considered.

More soon, I hope.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

More Soon

Sorry, got distracted trying to catch up on cleaning and organizing/re-arranging. The latter has been difficult with the surgeries, to be polite. My sudden trying to catch up on all of it has nothing to do with the fact that the priest is coming by this afternoon to bless my room/the house.

Did lead to a funny moment yesterday. I had to run some quick errands, and decided to hit the bookstore down near the Church to pick up some items. One of the things I decided to grab was a censer, along with some incense to go in it. The scented candle I like to use is expensive (by my standards) so for about the cost of one of them, got the supplies.

I only used a piece of broken charcoal from the roll, and one small cube (1/8″ square?) of incense, thank goodness. It smelled good, but room was full of smoke, the rest of the basement got some too as I carried the censer to the garage and out, and I’m just glad the smoke alarm did not go off. Especially since the housemate would never let me hear the end of it, given how often I twit him about his cooking setting off the one upstairs. I think both the landlord and I have referred to it as ‘Madhi’s bread timer.’ My room was still a little foggy almost an hour later.

More soon.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Fictional Scenario

Wednesday, I mentioned a bit of fiction that Iran may have sidelined. It got some good comments, so I thought I would share some of the background that led to the story on which I was working.

Short version is that most of our detection capability is focused offshore, and not from the shoreline inwards. Large shipping containers can make quite nice missile launchers that could be heavily shielded to prevent detection. China owns/controls several hundred large container ships, ships that could potentially have fifty or so such launchers in the top layer. Even if you dropped that to twenty or so, still plenty but 50 strikes me as a realistic number for this exercise.

If you go with hypersonic cruise missiles, horizontal or elevated launch is doable. There is also a way to do vertical launch, but for purposes of the scenario I elected to keep with the horizontal/elevated launch as you could avoid putting the missiles up high enough for rapid detection.

Now, if you have ships sailing into/towards Baltimore, Philadelphia, Savannah, San Diego, Long Beach, San Francisco Bay, Seattle, Houston, Hawai’i, and Anchorage, you’ve got excellent coverage. It might even be possible to get one into the Great Lakes, which would be icing on top. In pretty much every case, you are effectively launching from inside the country.

In the case of Baltimore, you would be talking five minutes or less to the targets in or near DC. That includes the White House and Pentagon, Langley, Andrews, etc. From there, bit longer gets you the bases stretching east, including Newport News, Quantico, and a few others. Now, expand that out and you are also taking out Beale and surrounding bases near SF, all of the bases around San Diego, Pearl Harbor, and all the facilities in Alaska. The ship at Savanah could not only take out Kings Bay, but Robbins, Mayport, Jacksonville, Canaveral, McDill, and others (like Barksdale). Even with hypersonics, you are talking longer to hit St. Louis, Omaha, the missile fields, etc.; but, still far short of ICBM time. The San Diego and Houston ships could also send some love towards the Mountain and Peterson, Ft. Hood, Dyess, Little Rock, etc. Great Lakes ship could not only send love towards the missile fields, but hit Wright-Pat, Grissom, Crane, and other inland targets. That’s not all the targets, but it gives you an idea.

In some respects, it is very similar to the targeting the AF chose in that little Rand video they did that had sub-launched missiles taking out our ability to hit the Soviets. The one who’s footage got used in The Day After. Largest difference is that you could have enough launchers to go for the secondary targets (state capitals, industry, etc.) even as you take out C&C and primary response.

May still try to finish it, but that’s the gist. Since there was interest, thought I would share.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Medical Update 2.22.24

Stardate 2-22-24… Always wanted to start a story that way. 🙂

Where to start. First, feeling a lot better this week than I did the last three or so. Weather has been weird, but a good bit of pain from the weather changes went away with the original shoulder joints. I do feel cold changes sometimes, but it is easily (for now) managed with ibuprofen. Major weather changes still aren’t fun, but are a lot better.

If I haven’t shared this before, it is something to know if you know someone who gets hit by lightning. Keep in mind it is not just any neural/cardiac damage. There is a LOT of energy running through the person, and when you dump that much energy into a system you get lots of things going on, from the possibility of internal burns to overloading systems. For me, in addition to cardiac and neural issues, I’ve had digestive joys and other delights. I’m just glad it’s not worse given the number of rather important glands and organs that were in the path of flow in my body.

Some people seem genuinely surprised that there isn’t a magic test that can tell you yes/no you were hit by lightning and here’s the damage it did. Some of it is going to be obvious at the start, and some seems to build. I still tend to think quantum probability cascades are a thing for those of us hit by lightning, as it would explain a number of things. There are a host of things large and small that seem to pop up in the aftermath.

On the good news front, aside from feeling a bit better than I did, the cardiac referral I was after finally got done. The bad news is that the earliest I can be seen officially is July. The quiet news is that I was told what number to call, and when to start calling, to try to score a cancelled appointment. My goals for the referral are to get answers on the mystery diagnosis I still can’t get answers about; and, to get a second opinion on all current official diagnoses and medications.

I really want to rule out the mystery diagnosis for a number of reasons. Prime one being that if it is accurate, there isn’t a lot that can be done. I think there may be a way to try to force it into a live-with rather than die-from thing, but that’s another reason for the consult. Find out what is going on and what can be done.

Frankly, what I would love to do is get me where I can go camping later this summer, maybe out West. I want to get things where I can move given my current insurance will not transfer to any state in the SW. Even feeling as bad as I have I’ve been getting in some walking. It is good for me, and I enjoy it.

On the not so good front, found out my primary care doc is having medical issues of his own. Just had my next appointment pushed out almost two months. Something had told me to start looking around, so am going to step that up just in case. Have a couple of leads, going to follow-up on them.

There is a small possibility of some more tests needing to be run, will see. The Big C is something that seems to pop up with some lightning strike victims, and with my family history we are keeping a sharp eye out.

I may not be moving fast, but I’m still moving and working to do more. Getting the consult is a huge step in the right direction I think, and I’m hoping it both goes well and that I might end up with better cardiology care out of it. I hope so, and will be glad if I just get honesty. No slam intended at current cardiologist or PCP, as most of the problems seem to lie elsewhere. But it is very frustrating some days, especially since where some of the problems seem to lie can’t or won’t tell me a darn thing. More than ever wonder about fraud with some of it, but want to tread lightly on that topic for now.

That’s the high points for now. I’m happy with finally getting the consult and hope to get in much sooner than planned. As for the rest, this too shall pass. Onwards.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Intelligence, OST, Thoughts

This is still going to be shorter than I would like, but things are afoot. I will say that the whole “Intelligence” issue that was supposed to be such a major security threat to the US seems much more a lack-of-intelligence/too-much-politics issue though it does raise some interesting possibilities.

Going back to my original post, FM made some very good comments I urge you to read. Nukes in space don’t do like they do on the ground. Take a look at what happened with Starfish Prime for an example. Not too long after, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which happened to ban such activity well before the Outer Space Treaty (OST). While Vladimir has pulled Russia out of most treaties of late, officially no one has set anything off in near-Earth orbit or deeper space since then.

I do seem to recall someone proposing to use nukes to clean up debris in Earth orbit, but that may have been during some informal discussions. Regardless, the idea and the originator were figuratively beaten about the head and shoulders. Just going to say look to Starfish Prime for reasons why.

Russia does have ASAT weapons and they do work. One was “tested” not too long ago and the ISS and other objects are still having to maneuver to avoid the debris created by the destruction of an old (Soviet?) Russian satellite. That is about all I can say on the topic of ASATs and SDI.

I will note that, in my personal opinion, a lot of marxist/communist fellow-travelers in the U.S. have long used the OST to hamstring both civilian and military space activities to the benefit of the Soviets and now Russians. According to them, any effort ground or space to develop SDI was a violation of treaty and some of them worked very hard to kill our efforts.

A good bit of focus of such efforts now is not just military, but commercial. Under the OST, most commercial is effectively banned if not formally banned. This, along with the ridiculous pious hand waving and screaming about how doing orbital extraction and processing would be an environmental disaster (yep, that’s a real thing), as would any human habitation on any celestial body be it the Moon or an asteroid. And, yes, there are real efforts underway to enact treaties and laws to ban such. Pay attention, as they really do want you and humanity as a whole trapped.

Personal opinion is that the OST has been twisted beyond pretzel status from the start, and is a treaty from which we should (must) formally withdraw. The non-binding Artemis Accords are somewhat better, but we need clear support for commerical, private property in space, and the use and exploitation of resources. Without such, any business will be taking a huge risk to pursue such.

There have been rumors for a while, that while a signatory to the OST, China was looking to violate it by claiming if not the entire lunar surface, good and important chunks of it. Including use of military force to defend such claim. Is such possible? Yes. Is it probable? Not at this time, not with the economic and other crises facing China and the CCP. That said, China is pushing hard to not only move into orbit, but have footholds elsewhere as well. It will be interesting to see where that goes.

Before I forget, again, the banning of WMD (nukes) from space not only was to protect Earth and the magnetic fields, but to keep things simple in regards attack detection. FM may have brought this up, but having nukes in orbit greatly complicates attack detection. Is that a nuke or a data/sample return mission (keep in mind that many spy satellites physically returned film and other media to the ground for quite a while)? When weapons can come from any direction, including straight up, it does indeed make it difficult for the defenders. See also yesterday’s post.

So, winding up. Could Russia use nukes in orbit to take out satellites, including via use of undeclared weapons put up as part of other payloads? Yep. Are they likely to? Different question, and I hope not. I will simply say I don’t think that would work out they way some seem to think it would. Should we leave the OST and any other binding or non-binding agreement that limits commercial activities? Yes. A thousand times yes.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Random Thoughts On A Wednesday

There are some longer works I hope to get done and posted this week, will see how it goes. Meantime, just some random bits that have caught my attention that you may find interesting or amusing.

I noticed earlier that some people are finally noticing that Soros has bought heavily into American radio. Yes, it is quite concerning. I’m wondering if it might also be tied into the push to do away with AM being included on the radios in new cars. Yes, that is a thing, it’s a serious discussion, and it would be a disaster for AM stations. Which is where you find most conservative talk radio. Which is likely the real reason behind the effort to do away with AM in car radios. Me, once I get some new wheels, I not only want a radio that can get AM, but short wave as well even though our local talk/news station is FM. Be subversive in all things, and in all ways great and small.

Going back to the Tucker/Putin interview, I think I touched on the fact that Vladimir’s take on history was about as realistic as the “Improbable History” segments on “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” Where is Prof. Peabody when you need him??? BTW, at conventions, be sure to ask Sarah A. Hoyt to say “moose and squirrel.” Anywho, here’s a decent take on Prof. Vladimir’s Fractured Fairy Tales, er history. As noted, it’s just a start, but it’s a good start.

It’s going to be interesting to watch what happens in New York over the next few years. Already intent on driving out major contributors to it’s tax base in the name of woke politics (Remington Arms being but one example), you have the triumph of Soviet jurisprudence that is the work of Judge Engoron. New York abandoned the rule of law a while back, and these days loves to viciously prosecute those who dare defend themselves and others while rewarding those who harm others, so no surprise that the AG, Judge, and others put on the show trial of the century (so far at least) after announcing the verdict ahead of time. Now, they and the other politicians are shocked that after announcing that such would only be done to the evil (cough) Trump that big money (and small) is voting with their feet. L’Ombre de l’Olivier (allow me to add it to my recommended regular reads) has a good post on this, and I think the tide is going to rise a lot faster than New York realizes.

The same applies for Delaware, which decided to join the war against Elon. The number of companies switching their incorporation to other states may fast be approaching a flood. It’s much quieter than the head-shot body of New York real estate dropping to the floor with a splat, but it’s there and is somewhat amusing to watch. The bet isn’t if, but when Delaware and New York start screaming for a Federal bailout because of their actions.

While I’m thinking about it, a couple of quick thoughts about Elon, his companies, and the war on him. Make no mistake, it is a war and it is being waged by the Biden Regency. Rather, they are being allowed to head up that war on the U.S. side. Understand, X is only free speech in comparison to the competition. It still bans a lot of speech under the banner of being nice and encouraging nice-speak. I frankly don’t care if the boot on the throat is the black jackboot of fascism or the white boot of the pretend angel of niceness — it’s still a fucking boot on the throat. However, by allowing any speech not endorsed by our would-be masters (looking not just at DC but also towards Europe and that smug little bitch TM) earned Elon the ire if not outright hatred of said wanna-be masters.

Which is deliciously ironic given that Tesla is for all intents and purposes the EV producer in the U.S./world, and that without Space X we have almost zero access to orbit. Blue Origins talks a lot, but still hasn’t made orbit — which might make me take some of the talk seriously. Everyone else is still playing catch up. I agree with Elon: we need to become a spacefaring race, and fast. Earth is the cradle of humanity, and we need to leave the cradle ASAP as crib death is still a thing. Elon is the best option for that happening at this time. For all that I agree with Glenn Reynolds on this, I worry about the future and what happens if Elon is taken out of the equation.

I was working on a short bit of fiction, but Iran just may have ended it. Their recent missile test used a standard CONEX to launch a missile. My story also did the same. Well, it was an exploration of a first-strike scenario using six to ten container ships to launch a rather devastating first strike against the U.S. Almost all of our sensors are focused out of CONUS, but not so much on close-in. Just think about one large container ship and the dozens of CONEX just on the top layer. Forget ballistic, go with hypersonic cruise missiles, say from a container ship headed into the Port of Baltimore. If very lucky, you would have up to five minutes warning in DC. Most likely less than that. With the six to ten ships, it could be possible to take out about ninety percent of the first and second strike targets. Don’t worry, I still maintain that Vladimir will not nuke DC as he wants to hurt us, not help us.

Speaking of space, I’ve been considerably amused at the frantic activity in DC around the “leak” of the so-called major security concern/threat. Boy howdy did that blow up in some very embarrassed faces. I still need to do a post on the subject and the Outer Space Treaty, it’s one of those longer pieces that I hope to get done later this week.

Meantime, I am working to re-arrange and clean my room. This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the priest is coming to bless the house and the room I rent. I will say that organizing and major cleaning have not been on the table since the first shoulder replacement last June, and it shows. My OCD has been having conniption fits for a while now, and of course one bit of (re) organizing always leads into other things… BTW, the priest is young and never been around the military, so I think my telling him that he was not allowed to try to bounce a quarter on the bed went right over his head… I use fitted sheets anyway.

UPDATE: Just remembered what it was I was going to post. Sarah posted this about some good people in need. Sadly, Synova’s husband has passed, but help is still needed. I also just read that Steve Miller, Sharon Lee’s husband and co-author has passed. Prayers are urgently needed for all.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Some Thoughts On Prayer

I had actually wanted to do this a few weeks ago, but with not feeling well, well… It may be for the best, as over the last few weeks some points have been raised that I think may add to this. As always, these are only my thoughts and do not represent the official position, theology, or doctrine of any church. I am not a theologian so as with all things that are the word of man, take with a grain of salt.

Prayer is one of the most important and powerful things we can and should do as a part of Faith. It is an essential part of building our relationship with God, and it should be not merely a reflection of that relationship, but a means of deepening and expanding that relationship. It should be an exploration that becomes an exhortation within our soul.

There are many beautiful and wonderful prayers. The liturgical prayers of many churches are things of beauty and power, with the Nicene Creed (Creed of Constantinople) being the symbol of Christian belief and faith. Even with the issue of the Filioque, which I’m going to skip for now.

Prayer can and does bring about miracles, large and small. I have seen it, I have felt it, and I believe it. I have also seen prayer used in ways that can come across as grandstanding (at best) or as a weapon against faith.

The latter is one reason I tend to take Mathew 6:6 to heart. That bit of scripture is why I rarely post a prayer here or on social media. It is also because I have issues with certain forms of prayer.

The first of those forms is to demand God do what we want, how we want, and when we want (usually right now!). This is definitely not a new take on prayer, and man being man, it is as ancient as man. The problem with demanding a specific outcome, but also how and when it is to take place, is that it attempts to put us on the level of God. It may or may not be related to our tendency to see God as a superhuman rather than an entity that exists outside of time, space, and our understanding.

Thing is, things happen for a reason. It may be because we have free will and are stupid (Hey ya’ll, watch this!). Which is how lessons get learned. It may also be because something we do or experience will make a difference several generations from now. Remember, all of time and space are but one to God, who knows and sees all. Short version is, I do NOT know better than God what is right or needed for myself or anyone else. As such, I rarely pray for a specific outcome, for myself or anyone else. My own tendency is to go short and sweet, and in such cases I tend to ask to let that which is right to be.

Does that mean I would object if God were to heal me and make whole a rather battered body and mind? No, no it does not, not at all. In fact, I would (and could) dance a jig if that happened. The question, however, would be if that healing were the best thing for me, for my soul, and for God’s plan? That’s the key question, and the short answer is ‘I don’t know’ along with the fact I suspect it’s not. Strongly suspect even. Through prayer, I do have faith that what has and is happening has a purpose, meaning, and more. So, let that which is right be.

Which ties into another short prayer that I find opens doorways: I will to will Thy will oh Lord. It not only opens me up to the will of God, but also opens the way to a deeper and better understanding of Faith and faith. To the person who taught me that prayer years ago, if you happen to read this, thank you.

Unless it is a prayer of thanks, I have found short and open-ended works best for me. The times I’ve left things up to the Lord in addressing a need/issue, it has always worked out better than I expected. To use a potentially bad analogy, it’s like praying for a Mercedes-Benz. God may have been preparing to give you a Lamborghini, but if the MB is really what you want… Even during the aftermath of the last shoulder replacement, when the pain medication and other treatment were withheld by the night nurse, I did not ask for a specific outcome. I simply asked the Lord to help me, and began to pray the Rosary. Suddenly, it was as if a barrier dropped into place between me and the pain. Prayer answered.

I will note that words do matter. One of the sermon topics recently was in regards the blind man to whom Jesus restored sight. This one may well depend on the Bible translation you are using, but it is worth noting that the blind man asked Jesus to end the darkness, to deliver him from the darkness and restore the light. It wasn’t just about restoring his sight, but restoring his soul. Choose your words with care, and make them count.

One of the things I enjoy about the Church I’ve been attending since around the end of November, is that before the service on Sunday is a time of preparation. Not only of people getting ready and doing what is needed for the service, but also a time of prayer so that those attending the service can prepare themselves. I’ve been finding it a wonderful time for a variety of prayers and meditation on Faith and more. I don’t like what I see coming in this world, and as the song says I’m frightened for the children. I don’t see a way to stop things from going sideways, so I pray for God to do so.

I could ramble some more, but there is some food for thought here I hope. Just remember, prayer is not only a chance to ask God to help others and ourselves, but a chance to explore Faith, and to strengthen and deepen our relationship with God. It is not a pretty magic spell to get what you want; rather, an opportunity to gain that which you truly need the most.

PS: God does always answer prayers. Sometimes the answer is no. When that happens, I’ve always found it’s a good idea to examine what I was asking for. A selfish and/or self-centered prayer always deserves a no.

The Lay Of Engoron

From the Encyclopedia of Minor Horror Characters:

Engoron was originally devoted to, and a minor acolyte of, Morgoth before he was thrown into the void by the Valar. It should be noted that Morgoth himself was unaware of Engoron, his crush, or his services which barely rose to approaching minor.

His first crush destroyed or banished from the world, Engoron quickly moved to ingratiate himself with Sauron, the greatest servant of Morgoth. Again, this went largely unnoticed, though Sauron did become distantly aware of Engoron during his time in Numenor. Engoron survived the drowning of Numenor through the use of dark magic, though there were rumors that making himself into a form of fish hybrid did not go as planned and his looks — never great to start with — failed to fully return upon reaching Middle Earth.

When Sauron once again began to rebuild the Barad-dur, Engoron was right there but this time his efforts to suck up and ride the coattails of Sauron were recognized and rewarded. Engoron found himself in charge of the dungeons and sewers of the Barad-dur, where he served as the chief justice, keeper, and janitor.

It was reported that the greater the miscarriage of justice he could arrange, the greater the torture of both person and the rule of law, the greater his joy and mirth. That said, the only entry that remained in the scrolls later made in Minas Tirith indicate that even Sauron referred to Engoron as the Anus of Sauron for his position in the bowels of the Barad-dur.

There are rumors that he survived the Third Age and took up residence in Innsmouth in America, where his countenance served to blend in with the local fish people hybrids. It is further reported that he still comes forth from time to time to pervert justice and create such trouble as he can in honor of his first crush Morgoth.


Satire people, Satire.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.