Exploring Faith, Christianity, And Theology

In no way do I fancy myself to be a Lewis, Sheen, or Tolkien, and I start what I hope will be a series of posts not as an apologist (a term that still bothers me a bit). Rather, I start this to try to explore some of the holes in my memory and make sure I’m not missing any important points. Also, I will be making some decisions over the next few months and want to explore thoughts and theology to help ensure I make reasoned and informed decisions.

If, in the process, my explorations prove helpful to others in exploring and articulating their own faith, all the better. If it helps bring someone to Faith, even better. By sharing, I hope that my words may do good beyond the mundane.

To start this series of explorations, I need to establish who I am and how I came to be where I am today. This provides you (and me) with the background to evaluate and understand where I come from, where I hope to go, the points I make, and to spot the gaps as it were. It also strikes me as a better forum than the cesspit that is social media.

My father was raised Southern Baptist, though he later joined the Southern Methodist Church after marrying my mother. I remember attending “Homecoming” at Mt. Zion church each year, mostly quite fondly. This was a time where those who grew up in that church, families, and friends all came back together to to socialize and share. Everyone brought food, and that food was quite good.

I recall at least a couple of the preachers there at that country church. I recall, not clearly, one who was of the hellfire and damnation cadre who preached a sermon telling those present that if they did not return to the church they would burn, burn, burn. I have the feeling that he heard, possibly strongly, that such wasn’t a good idea for Homecoming and that the next year if he was still there he was on better behavior. I remember one who reminded me very much of “Shaking Sammy” in the book MASH. Seem to recall being admonished for mentioning such to my parents, though I also seem to recall my Dad agreeing with me after he read my copy of the book. The last preacher I recall was an older gentleman who was quite good at his job and cared deeply not just for his congregation but others in that community as well.

I also very much believe my Dad when he remarked that they lost as many people as they gained, courtesy of the baptism. They did a full immersion baptism, and the pool (cement pond) was spring fed. Ice cold spring fed. Seems that when let back up from under the cold, cold water some people uttered less than respectful phrases, resulting in them being brought into the church and kicked out immediately. Yeah, it might be hyperbole, but having felt the water I can believe it.

My mother was raised in the Southern Methodist church, and was quite proud that our direct ancestor (my x-great grandfather) was Bishop Pierce who was credited with truly putting the Southern Methodist church on the map as it were. Indeed, the portraits of the good Bishop and his wife (who preferred to be called Miss Nancy instead of her real name), hung on the wall of our living room for many, many years.

Those portraits were eerie to me as a child, and I got a strong feeling of disapproval whenever I snuck into the living room as a small child. The room was off limits to me as a toddler and even when older. Miss Nancy seemed very disapproving. When I was older, I found it to be a matter of amusement and vindication when our beagle would sneak in (it was off limits to him too) and end up in apparent argument with Miss Nancy. No joke, he would be in rolling on the rug, look up at her portrait, and bark at it. Often, he would get up on the sofa, put his front paws on the bottom of the portrait frame, and appear to go back and forth with Miss Nancy. I’m actually rather glad that those portraits, along with the reproductions that replaced them until my mother’s death, were donated to the Methodist museum at Epworth By The Sea. Yes, there is a point to sharing that. Another day.

In many ways, my mom pushed religion hard, while Dad preferred a more refined approach. Laid back is NOT the right word for how he did things, but subtle gets into it. Dad was the type who would let you fall, bang yourself up a bit, and then pick you up and set you going again so that you learned from your mistakes. To be quite fair, he would usually warn you that you were about to bust yourself, and if you persisted… Good life lessons and I am the richer for that as wrapping people of any age in cotton and not letting them do is not doing them (or anyone else) any favors.

The church I grew up in has been around for more than 175 years now. It has long sponsored the Boy Scout troop in which I earned my Eagle and the God and Country award. As an aside, I am not happy with what Scouting has become, to the point that I promote another organization. As for me, I’m glad I came along so I could be an old-way Eagle, and the God and Country award was both an exploration of Faith as well as of comparative religion.

Looking back, I begin to suspect I may have been a trial to some of my pastors. I remember Rev. Fredrick Wilson, a nice man though not a theological powerhouse. I ended up confounding him by asking if dogs and other pets went to heaven (possibly related to the loss of a pet rabbit, memories are jumbled) when still quite young. It hit him cold, and I still find it interesting he didn’t have a position on such worked out, as surely I was not the first to ask such a question? I’m not sure if I hit him or Reverend Key with a thought on the Miracle of Transubstantiation. The Methodist Church, at least at that time, did not believe in the Miracle, instead believing that it only became the body and blood of Christ on a spiritual level. I think I was six or so when I innocently asked that if it did become the body and blood, why not have everyone partake, then spit out the literal flesh and blood, assemble them, and bring about Christ’s return on the spot? I have some very jumbled and fuzzy memories of what may have been a couple more doozies.

Years ago, someone put together an Art Linkletter-style book on mishearings by children in church. Yes, I think I did hear ‘parakeet’ when the term “Paraclete” first came up, like many others. I did think one of the choral responses used the phrase ‘and or-e-o’ at one point. One I didn’t do, but still appreciate, is the child in the book who heard “Father, Son, and Holy Goat.” BTW, if you are old enough to remember Art Linkletter and his show, good on you. If you are not, you should check it out.

I think I was in the seventh grade when the “Born Again” craze/movement hit. My parents were patient, mostly, with me and pointed out they had already been baptized and given themselves to Christ, and did not need to do so again. No direct reference to one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, but a strong implication. The youth ministers of the day pushed it, and a couple of years later I found myself visiting the historic house taken over by the youth movement (sorta hippie freaks from what I remember). It was there that I got introduced to C.S. Lewis, the Chronicles of Narnia, and The Screwtape Letters. I don’t think my mom (who tried to keep me from listening to Rock and a number of other things) was thrilled, and she found ways to keep me from ever going back to that ministry.

For me, I was taken by the writing, and use of language, by C.S. Lewis. I know I read the Perilandra trilogy, though I have no memories of the books. I just remember fragments of The Screwtape Letters. Strangely enough, I don’t think I got into Tolkien until around my junior year. Again, the language and use of same caught my attention, and I truly came to appreciate the power of language (and linguistics and the etymology of words and language). The corruption of language is also a pathway to the corruption of populations and the world, and as such I recommend reading this article that cites Lewis and more even as it gives warning.

I was still quite naive and callow at the time, and I recall bristling at the title “Mere Christianity” as I regarded Christianity as anything but mere. I also still cringe a bit at the term apologist, as given modern usage the original meaning is not well known. Again, my take was that Christianity needed no apology. Thankfully, both led to an increase in knowledge and an awareness of how words were changing — for good or ill.

Around my junior year, I left the Methodist church. We had gotten a pastor that while I loathe the term in many respects, sky pilot seems an apt designation even unto this day. He wanted to turn my church into a mega-church and himself into a noted tele-evangelist. A number of people quit leadership roles in the church over what he was doing and how, including my Dad. For me, the break came when he told my mom that he would not visit her mother, my grandmother, who was dying in a nursing home as she had no money to leave the church. I’m not joking when I say I am still amazed she did not literally kill him on the spot. When I asked her about that, she said she was so stunned she could not move or speak at first. Mom and Dad seriously considered leaving the church over this. Then the stubborn in both came out, it was their church not his, and they dug in until he was finally gone.

For me, I was going to school with the children of an Episcopal priest and had already been spending time at that church as they did midnight Christmas services and other such things I enjoyed. I had a talk with him, had him actually somewhat agree with a point of theology I lifted from Heinlein (true sin is harming another; harming yourself isn’t a sin, just stupid — no don’t agree with this today though it can be a good basis for detecting/determining sin), and joined the Episcopal church. Sadly, the priest ended up leaving the church several years later, but that is a tale for another day. Once in college and beyond, I came to find less satisfaction from the church and what seemed to be a changing doctrine as woke came into play.

So, I wandered for a bit. Work had me traveling, so as I did I attended a number of different services. Mary Stewart’s book The Crystal Cave had a profound impact on me when I was in the sixth or seventh grade (think sixth), as she had her young Merlin do much the same as he traveled. As the series progressed, I will note it did a good job of putting Christianity into a good light.

While in Japan, while not truly interested in it, I was invited to attend a Shinto Buddhist ceremony while staying at a monastery. Quick aside: if you go to Japan, forget Western-style hotels and stay at ryokans, which are traditional Japanese-style inns. Some of the best of them are the Buddhist monasteries. When checking in, I was told that if I happened to hear the bell the next morning, I was welcome to attend and observe. The next morning, I awoke vibrating about a foot off the mat. Seems the bell was about ten feet in diameter and rung with a tree trunk that would make a passing fair battering ram. Collecting myself, I went down and quickly determined a couple of things.

First, the ceremony sounded as if they were chanting ‘and I said and he said and she said and they said and you said and they said…’ along with the occasional spinning of a cylinder in a wall of cylinders apparently with prayers on them. I watched, listened, and never did pick up a real pattern to it. Second, I will note that Japan can be a very friendly country, but it also is incredibly bigoted (Japanese language, physiology, etc. is superior to all other on Earth). Apparently, there is a competition between the males attending as to who can sit seiza the longest. Turns out I have a bit more competitive streak than I realized, esp. when one of the other males present has made it clear that the gajin should not be there. Having learned to sit seiza for martial arts, I stayed in it for about five minutes longer than he did, and may have smiled at him… No surprise, I mouthed off to a Yakuza bouncer while in Japan. Thankfully, he didn’t understand American and thought I was saying thank you very much as I bowed. If I get killed, good odds it will be because I was a smartass at the wrong time to the wrong person. Keep in mind, I really did walk through the gates of the Kremlin whistling the theme from Patton. If I die of natural causes, it will be an amazing surprise.

I also attended the Hindu wedding of a friend, and found it fascinating. There was a lot of things done to emphasize two becoming one, with a strong implication that the one was stronger than the sum of the parts. While I don’t think it would be a good addition to traditional vows, I do think it could and should be used in pre-marriage counseling. I did have to turn down offers of an arranged marriage for me, but appreciated the thought. I also got a good laugh as the brother of the groom took me around the temple and explained all the different deities. When we got to Krishna, he very dryly pointed out that despite what Americans seemed to think, Krishna wasn’t that big a deal. (Oh now Krishna he must laugh on, to see me in my saffron!)

I’ll skip some of the wanderings and investigations (already confessed), and note that as I traveled in Europe, I began to more and more visit Catholic churches, from cathedrals to small churches. I am so glad I got to attend (though not participate) in a service at Notre Dame, and wish I could have attended more of services at both Mont-Saint-Michel and Sacre Coeur. I took it as a good sign that I did not burst into flames as I walked beneath the lintels, and that Holy Water did not sizzle when it hit my skin. Long story short, I ended up joining the Catholic Church in a traditional parish that did the Latin Mass every Sunday. They actually did three different masses on Sunday, and the one I attended most often was the sung mass.

I did attempt to start the process of discernment for becoming a priest. It did not get too far, as I was told I was too old to become one in this diocese, but was free to move to another diocese that might have different rules. Truth be told, I am now very glad that cup passed from me in the Catholic church. I am not sure I could be the priest I would want to be, nor that under current leadership I would be allowed to be the priest I would need to be. As for the future, what comes will come. I should also note that over the years various things have happened that have caused me to brush up against that which divides life and death. Those brushes and certain glimpses have had an impact on me and reaffirmed my faith. I may or may not ever discuss them, but they are a factor I need to keep in mind.

Since moving several years ago, I’ve been looking for a new church home. For all that I keep my Faith in my heart, I am a lapsed Catholic but not a lapsed Christian. Even in the years of wandering, I never lost my faith in Christ though I came close to losing my way a time or two. Again and again, God guided me so I did not lose my way. I see God’s hand, and a miracle, in that I am alive after being struck by lightning. I believe there is something I am supposed to do, but remain clueless as to exactly what that may be. Yes, I have actually suggested in prayer that given how dense I can be, it might be helpful to drop a sign in front of me telling me exactly what I am to do… As with almost every human, I am a sinner, but by Grace and Mercy keep trying to do and be better.

Next week, my plan is to either start discussing the nature of God and our understanding of him, or what is Christianity. I’m leaning towards the nature of God as that truly sets the foundation for all other discussions. That said, I will go where guided on this.

I wish I could remember Reverend Key’s full name, as he was a good pastor and theologian of the Methodist church. I can’t remember the name of the pastor who caused me to leave the Methodist church, which is a shame as I really do need to pray for him. I remember flashes of people, but for all that is missing there I seem to remember the truly important things, with the most important part being my Faith.

The Series Of Posts:

Exploring Faith, Christianity, and Theology

Some Thoughts On God, And Man

Some Additional Background Memories

Transport Update

Sorry for the lack of posting, but one thing I have discovered is that taking the bus is at least four times as long as driving somewhere. Knew it took longer to get around, but have been experimenting and while it works it is not efficient.

For example, what would have been a 20-30 minute car ride down to the rebuild dealer my landlord recommended took a bit over two hours. He has a number of vehicles in stock and in process, was very happy my landlord recommended him (landlord and family having been regular customers), and I left with some ideas including on how much I need to try to raise. As soon as I have someone check my math, plan to see what can be done. Total time in transit ended up being a bit over 4.5 hours (and that does not include time at the dealership or a stop on the way home).

What I am working up is the cost of the vehicle and all the related expenses (taxes, tag, etc.). Am also including the cost of having my mechanic check it out for me, and possibly some other precautionary measures. Will also have the insurance agent involved in the final selection (they actually offered to do so). So, working to ensure a good vehicle with no unexpected surprises. For all that the cost is much more than I have, it is far better than I anticipated.

May try to get some more up today, but have to attend a funeral shortly. Cancer blows. If you pray, please say a prayer for the soul of Ana, her mother, her husband, and five-year-old son.

More soon, working on something a bit different as I explore some of the gaps in my memory.

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.

Wednesday Update

I hope one and all had a Merry and Blessed Christmas! Mine was both, in part because I could cook again. I hit the wall, hard actually, both Christmas Even and Christmas Day on a physical basis, but got the food done and that was what I was after. Will try to post photos of the book and two cast iron pans that were my treats to myself.

The car issues progresses. Just had a talk with my insurance agent and they can cover a rebuilt title. So, looking at going Friday to a dealer my landlord and his family have used who specializes in such to see what they have and the price range. Once we have that, I will get something up. Big things for me are reliable, working heat, and working windshield washer/wipers. Most anything else is negotiable.

I need to do an update on some of what is going on in Russia. Saw where there was apparently some discussion of a Russian Black Swan event that would take Vladimir out of power and plunge the world into chaos. In immediate terms, don’t see him going anywhere — yet. Ask me again in March/April and it may be a very different answer. For all there is an effort to project an image of calm and deliberation, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Going to be interesting to see who is in the photo in a few months, who isn’t, and who is obviously airbrushed/photchopped out.

In regards the reporter predicting a Black Swan event for us, I think she’s onto something. In fact, I’m a bit worried 2024 could see more than one as well as a host of other problems. Be prepared. Need to do a post on that as well.

More soon, but am trying to take some time to recharge, recover, and otherwise get ready for the new year. Good news is, PT continues to go very well. Hoping we can take it up a level or two again here soon. Will have to spend most of Friday dealing with car, getting a bus pass, and maybe doing some grocery shopping. I now have one of those urban grocery carts that can go on a bus, as the arms were not happy with carrying, and the backpack was a bit limited on several fronts including how much I could put on the shoulders.

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.

Merry Christmas!

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to you all! If you have family, keep them close and enjoy them while you can — even the annoying ones. If you are with friends or the family you chose, again, keep them close and enjoy them while you can.

Keep in mind the reason for the season, as this is the third most important date in Christianity. It is time for food, family, and gifts; but, remember the gift given freely to us all.

I will try to get photos and share a bit more later on my feasting. It may not be much to some, but it is an abundance for me. I am overjoyed at being able to cook again, even if I did hit the wall, hard, yesterday before all was done. Been up this morning early to make eggnog from scratch, and will admit I got the urge to use some of the egg white to make a classic whiskey sour…

May your day be bright and filled with joy.

Lightning Memories

I had hoped to get this done earlier this week, but between the car going toes up, shopping, and other delights I’m a bit behind. While there is a lot going on in the world, I thought I would share a bit about memories after being hit by lightning. The recent passing of David Drake, along with thoughts on The Inklings and other things made me realize that I should probably document a bit, and hopefully you may enjoy it. May you never need the info…

While I have good analogies for filing cabinets and card catalogs (that date me a bit), the best analogy is in computer terms. Leaving aside the short-term memory issues that come with being hit by lightning, the long-term memory issues seem to be largely a case of the root directory being corrupted. In short, they think that most or all of the memories are still there, but the brain doesn’t know where to find them anymore.

Let’s face it, getting hit by lightning is going to have an effect on the most powerful bio-electric computer currently known to exist in the universe. That is exactly what the brain is, and given that the lightning appears to have hit me in or maybe just behind the right ear, I’m just thankful that damage is not worse. It could, and even should, have been so. As it is, still not sure of the best visual analogy but two seem to fit the bill: the lightning-like electrical arcs and surges inside and out when a starship is hit by a phaser or photon torpedo, or Battlestar Galactica’s last jump where portions of the outer hull and other chunks are breaking off and drifting down to the surface of the moon as the ship shudders past towards Earth.

It’s amazing the amount of trivia that is still there and pokes out on occasion. Stephen Green (VodkaPundit) made a WKRP reference the other day that I not only got, but remembered that there was a line from Dr. J. Fever that would make a good hook for sharing. That said, it is beyond frustrating to have someone who clearly was a significant part of my life contact me, and I have no memory of them. To know that I was close to dating someone, and not being able to remember their name. The thousand and one times I hit a brick wall in the middle of a conversation because the memory and information I need is not there. Let’s not even get into the fact that if I were going to lose memories why could it not be the ones I would cheerfully live without?

It would be easy to scream, curse, rant and even blame God — but it wouldn’t be right. Instead, it reminds me to be grateful for what I do have, memories included. To understand that there is a reason, though it does bring to mind David Weber‘s fictional Church of Humanity Unchained and the doctrine of the Tester in his Honor Harrington novels. Recently, two different areas — literature and music — have reminded me of the voids, and of why I should give thanks for them and the means of handling them.

David Drake’s passing was the catalyst for an interesting few days where I was able to catalog a number of missing memories. What started it was looking over a list of his works. Some I remember quite fondly, and can still pull up portions or at least plots. Some others I am sure I have read, but can’t remember a thing about them. Others, I really don’t know. I know I read C.S. Lewis’s Perilandra trilogy and The Screwtape Letters, but am drawing a blank. I think I read Mere Christianity (and boy did that title bother my 9th grade self!) but have a complete blank there.

I started doing something similar with other authors, and came to realize that there are some real gaps in there. What I am going to have to do is get copies of various books, start reading, and see if any memory cascades trigger. It’s a rush when they do, and it rocks my world be it a book or other. If it doesn’t, I still will enjoy the read as I re-discover an old friend I can’t remember having before. It is, oddly perhaps, quite comforting and even enjoyable.

The same holds true for music. The difference there is I have a ready way to tell if I have ever heard the song before whether I remember it or not. In the ear or just behind, the lightning took out pretty much all the higher frequencies in the right ear, and with the nerves quite dead it’s not coming back. It makes it hard to hear and understand small children (and some adults), music, triangulate sounds, and more. However, there is a phenomena I had read about but never expected (or wanted) to experience.

The human brain, in such cases, often tries to ‘fill in’ the missing sounds. It’s not always great when it picks up on something and fills in to create music or ‘distant’ voices on top of mechanical sounds (the rotating fan in the room often provides enough of a base for such). I say not great as one day I was catching bits of what seemed to be electro-swing, and I wish that album or station really existed. On others, the voices thing has caused me to make a security sweep or three.

That being said, I am delighted to find that if I have heard a song or piece of music before, the brain is filling in from memory the parts/frequencies that are missing. With something truly new, I either have what seems like a block of wood in one ear or something that doesn’t seem quite right. With things I’ve heard, I can enjoy them as if I still have the hearing of my 20s. When it comes to Christmas music, I’m rediscovering a couple but mostly just sitting back and smiling as I listen to the full range of the music courtesy of an amazing feature of the brain.

As with authors, I turned to Loreena McKinnett and Lindsey Stirling, along with a couple of rock groups. The fact is, when it comes to ranges and fullness of music, Loreena and Lindsey are the better choices for testing myself. Never mind that I have a bit of a crush on both, and along with The Hu, attending a concert by them is on my bucket list.

With both of them, I’ve been able to tell if I have heard the song before, and in some cases, I’ve even remembered it. In others, well, I’ve re-discovered an old friend.

I have to admit that Ms. Sterling caught my ear early on, as I’ve loved great violin (and fiddle) playing since I was a very small child. In fact, I wanted to learn to play the violin but it was outside the range of affordability. In high school, I was in a play where my character played the violin: very, very badly. They ended up taking the violin away from me except when on stage, as I was practicing and getting ‘too good’ for the production. Part of me still wants to try to learn… If you are not familiar with her, do check her out as she does qualify in the “Great” category and her dancing and more are amazing. Her video ‘Shadows‘ is a good start. For pure vocals across a wide range (and range of styles), do check out Ms. McKinnett. As for some of the rock, well, some is good and some of my choices as a kid or teen bring on a bit of cringe these days. 🙂

Despite the hearing damage, hope to keep listening to new music. From Nightwish to Sabaton, there is a lot of good music out there. Classical/Baroque is still a delight, though I wince a bit to think that one of the best such concerts I’ve heard was a large part of the Moscow Symphony panhandling in the subway as they hadn’t been paid in months. Even with the bad acoustics of all that tile…

I hope that as I re-read and re-listen I continue to enjoy meeting old friends anew. I hope, as always, that it leads me to new stories, authors, and songs. The past should always be a building block for the future, and there is a lot out there for building a new and better entertainment future.

As I said at the start, the memory issues are something I can either let drive me negatively; or, something I can use to accept and grow. I won’t deny the frustration, but it is tempered by being able to experience the first time again with delight and joy. That is a much better way to go, and leads to a number of new good things.

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.

Gut Punch On The Car

I was able to get my car to the mechanic today to see about the coolant leak. Given that many or all of the hoses and such are original and quite old, I had hoped it was a hose or clamp issue.

Sadly, the mechanic says it is the timing belt cover and/or the head gasket. So, best case would be $1k+ and worst case probably $3k+ since there were some other things that he saw unrelated to the leak. Such as suspension and even some frame issues that will become ISSUES sooner rather than later. His STRONG recommendation was not to throw good money after bad, but to get a new vehicle.

Unless I win the lottery this coming weekend (note to self, buy a ticket), I’m not in the best shape to do so. Bank loan is not really in the cards as while I’ve been making progress I’m not near where I need/want to be to get such. Buying from a dealer is not in the cards given that the used car market is insane right now and the new car market even worse.

So, the best bet is to find a used car that is in good shape and at a good price from an individual. My cigar buddies and others are going to be keeping an eye out, but it’s not like I have stacks of money lying around. Heck, I don’t even have a good pile of change. That said, I need a reliable car or truck to get to physical therapy, shopping, and Church.

So, I’m going to be doing some prayer and reminding myself to turn things over to the Lord. Thoughts and suggestions welcome, and I’m going to see what I might can do in terms of monthly payments if a reasonable loan can be found for a vehicle at a reasonable price.

If anyone knows of a good used vehicle in the Indianapolis area, please do let me know.

I would also note that I really can’t complain about my car. I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth out of it given what I paid for it. It has also lasted many years longer than either the person I bought it from or I expected. It has been a good vehicle despite some of the repairs it has needed. I just had hoped (and needed) for it to last another year while I got back closer to being on my feet. I have to remind myself to have faith, and to trust that this will turn out for the best.

For now, I think I can keep it limping along to get me to PT. Hoping bus, shank’s mare, and occasional rides from the landlord will let me do everything else.

Again, thoughts and prayers along with good suggestions most welcome.

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.

Update 19 Dec

Sorry for the lack of posting, have been under the weather a bit. While I did make it to PT yesterday, that may have been pushing it a bit. Between that and something later, both shoulders hurting. Feeling better, but still dragging today.

If you haven’t seen the eruptions in Iceland, check them out. Spectacular, though I hope the best for the town and power plant.

My thoughts on the Houthi are semi-unprintable and I hope that they get blitzed. Hard. Unsurprised but very disappointed to see who was not a part of the Naval group moving to protect shipping and/or take action. Sad.

Going to get the car to the mechanic tomorrow no matter how I feel, one of us needs to be fully running again soon. Hate spending the money and am hoping for quick, easy, and inexpensive fix as a semi-unexpected major expense is hitting. I would call it an unexpected, but it was expected in March, not the first week of January. So, semi-unexpected.

May cut back on Christmas dinner a bit as a result, but still looking to do some tasty. It will NOT be pizza again unless things fall completely apart in the world. Got some ideas but still thinking about what I want for the main course. Leaning towards a rare flank steak, but also considering a charcuterie board and making it more a brunch. Working out how to make a favorite casserole into something of a more appropriate size. More on that soon.

Be prepared! There is more to come, hopefully 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.

Update 15 Dec 23

Physical Therapy goes well, and I’m glad to say both sessions this week kicked my rump. That’s how progress gets made and you know you had a good session. Even better, we are seeing progress almost every visit in terms of range of motion, and the only day we didn’t get improvement we sorta held steady and suspect that overdoing it at home may have gotten things to tighten up.

I could tell you my therapist is mean and evil, but I don’t think I could keep a straight face. She knows her stuff, has a decent sense of humor and the absurd, and knows me well enough to know how and when to push, and when to slow me down. The entire staff there is good, though I suspect that one of the other therapists was, in this life or another, a Marine DI from some of her demeanor. It’s done me good though, as if I am not doing something right, or not keeping proper posture, I hear about it. Sometimes from multiple at once.

Right now, we are still waiting to hear if insurance will approve new sessions. Meantime, doing them anyway which technically puts me on the hook for the costs, but really do expect them to be approved. If not, hope they are good with a payment plan.

Have had some days here recently where I wasn’t feeling good. Apologies if it showed in the writing or lack of writing. Weather changes, particularly in winter, can and do knock me for a loop sometimes. We’ve had a number of them lately, including the weather trying to decide if it is winter or what. Between that and other, interesting is the term I think I will go with.

Thanks to those of you who suggested here or by e-mail not to let the new and quite possibly false diagnoses that ended up in my file at one provider stand unchallenged. I’ve reached out today to my GP and a specialist about them, and am hoping they may can find out who made the diagnoses and on what basis since I’ve not been able to get that info. I’m also looking into doing any testing needed to confirm or disprove them next year. Hopefully it will be something quick, easy, and preferably non-invasive. I’m a bit over being stuck and or cut.

I’m taking my car to the mechanic next Wednesday to see if we can get the coolant leak fixed. There are days I don’t lose much, and there are days it goes empty fast. I’m using it almost exclusively for PT, and taking the bus otherwise. Here’s hoping the fix is easy and cheap. Dislike not being able to try to do anything myself, but it is about three more weeks before I’m supposed to do anything other than lift a coffee cup with the left arm. Between weakness and mobility, doing things of any sort is still a bit limited. Quite limited, actually.

A few weeks ago I began attending a new Church, as you may know from previous posts. Had a nice meeting with the priest the other day, and we discussed a number of things. Short version is, the next step is no immediate step. I will continue to attend, take part, and otherwise see how things go and if I still feel like this is the right home for me. And, to be fair, for them to be sure I’m right for them. If so, about this time next year, then I will become a member.

I have known people who joined a church purely for social reasons, which is not what I think is a good idea. Social is nice, but what is important is the spirit and finding a spiritual home that is good for your soul rather than your social standing. A home where faith is strengthened, supported, and spiritual growth encouraged. So far, I’m finding that at this Church and am glad that no one is wanting to rush things. It is important to take the time to make sure things are right and to do things right for the sake of your soul. That the priest feels that way is another plus in my book.

Otherwise, life goes on. The cats that belong to the landlord and housemate got out the other night, which led to interesting times. One, the cat I call Cappy, which is short for Captain Neurotic, ended up on the neighbors porch and the next morning demanded they let him in. I’m still laughing because the neighbor contacted my landlord about the cat, not recognizing him at first, but asking for help since it was being demanding and appeared to be pregnant. Cue me rolling on the floor laughing when I found this out, as Cappy is sweet, not that bright, and — I have to admit — effeminate. And fat. To the point his movements can sound like a person walking upstairs, which has resulted in both my having to go upstairs to check and my referring to him as ‘lardbutt’ a time or three.

Cappy is black and white, not quite a tuxedo cat. Flash, or little stinker (yes, I do sometimes replace stinker with a different s word), is a ginger mog. He’s the one that knows what he is not supposed to do, and every morning makes a list of the rules he’s going to break that day. Rolls his Rs beautifully and has some markings that look more like a Bengal than just a ginger mog. Flash, of course, was no where to be found. Which means that after PT yesterday, I walked around the house and then started doing search grids for several blocks around while still smarting a bit from PT. No joy. I was happy at no street pizza being sighted, as I do like them a little bit. Landlord got some advice, and put out one of the covered litter boxes they use, a blanket, and a pet bed. Sure enough, after I went to bed last night, Flash turned up on the porch and deigned to come on in. Little bleep. He had to be around hearing me (and everyone else) calling for him. Oh well, I needed the two plus miles I walked anyway, did me some good.

Did have a talk with Cappy at one point though. Don’t think he liked his new nickname of “Preggo” and he actually talked back to me when I told him that if I had a pet it would be Lassie and why Lassie was superior to him. Including that Lassie would have found a way to tell me where Flash was hiding, and then shown me the location. Neither one of them is in any danger of being asked to join the feline version of MENSA, but do find it interesting that the ‘stupid’ one is the one that found shelter and then demanded to be let in out of the cold.

Here’s to hoping PT continues to go well and stays ahead of where we were at the same time with the other shoulder. Here’s also to hoping we can disprove the main interesting diagnosis that was added, if not all of them. Meantime, take care, stay safe, and enjoy all the time you can with family and friends. Keep your things where you can find them in the dark, and be prepared. 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.

Mores and More, Yet Again

Long time readers will know that I’ve been jumping up and down on the topic of mores (pronounced More-As) and the inability of many leaders in the West, particularly the U.S., to grasp that Russians aren’t just like us but speak funny since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. That they have a very different history, culture, and world view. That Russkiy Mir is a very real and defining document, and much like Hamass has been very clear on what they want to do in the world, Russkiy Mir defines what Russia wants to do. When your enemies tell you what they want to do and how, pay attention.

Then again, I’ve been jumping up and down on this topic since the late 1970s/early 1980s. Aside from the Reagan years, it has fallen largely on deaf ears. Boss got it, then again he knew it before he ever came into office. Would that others had done the same, or were doing it now.

One who gets it is Cdr. Salamander, who brings it up in a very good discussion on the Russia-Ukraine war. He makes very good points, and I agree with most if not all. I would note that a good case can be made that Vladimir is attempting to use two things against us: the lack of patience of the American public and economic warfare that mirrors what Reagan did to the USSR.

The American public is not known for patience, and since WWII has little interest in or patience with wars that aren’t over fast. Some of that is from cultural shift, some from Gramscian damage to our culture (see also modern higher ed), and some to political realities. Vladimir is counting on this, and is even stoking it (and trying to sway upcoming elections) by thanking Republicans for their efforts to defund Ukraine. His comments along these lines are pure malice and he loves the Pavlovian response of the progressives to them.

Also, America is in economic trouble and everyone knows it, even those saying otherwise. There is some very black humor in Russia doing all it can to push America into more economic trouble by military spending to support Ukraine. After all, Reagan forced Russia into military and other spending to help push the USSR under. If you think that is not a factor in Vladimir’s thinking, you are mistaken.

My own take remains that we do have an obligation to help Ukraine courtesy of Bill Clinton; that depleting our stockpiles and engaging in massive spending is not the best way to do it; that while the war is dangerous in that it could spread and/or nasty things could happen, better to do it now (though I do wish there were a good exit ramp); and, that if the war ends with a peace forced from outside, we will see a far worse and nastier conflict within two decades, more likely one. That one will involve NATO as Russkiy Mir calls for taking over Poland, the Baltics, and more. There is a reason those nations have a very different view of things than the rest of NATO. For all that I would love to see this war ended, I think how it is ended matters. I also still very much think that the only way we will get a true and long-term peace in the region is to have the Russian Federation come apart.

The Biden Regency is effectively Obama II. Obama I was committed to ending American military and other power. From the purge of the warfighters to gutting critical programs and planning, they did a good job of damaging our military. When you add the incompetence that is the hallmark of the Biden Regency to such an effort, I can make a case for using the term catastrophic as a descriptor.

My take on the intelligence and leadership failures that led to the invasion actually taking place is in the archives. Given that Obama I had shown we would not live up to the promises made by Clinton, Vladimir had no doubt the feckless incompetents of the Biden Regency would do nothing other than talk.

Then again, Vladimir was wrong on two counts. First, he thought that he had a short victorious war (never happens at scale), and that dusting off the 1968 Czech plan (down to using a number of the same Russian units) would work. After all, with his 2014 invasion all Vladimir got from Obama I was talk and a lot of important territory. Instead of the one- to three-day war he expected, however… Second, I think he was surprised that the U.S. and the West would respond at all, far less supply the massive amounts of ammunition, equipment, and other support required of a modern conflict. Then again, he trusted what he was told about his military, which has a long tradition of gundecking reports that predates the USSR…

If we had had competent leadership of any type in the White House, I don’t think the invasion would have taken place yet. If we had competent leadership, they would have worked to find ways to respond that don’t put us economically or militarily between a rock and a hard place. A competent administration would not be foot dragging replacement of critical supplies, replacement that they were forced to do by Congress. Then again, a competent administration would be working on some fundamental changes to our military planning processes as well. Topics for another day though.

Just some quick thoughts, and a link to a good and thought-provoking post. Sorry, just not up to more than that today.

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.

Into The Light: David Drake

I have to admit up front that I don’t remember when and where I first met David Drake. Stupid lightning. I know it was many years ago, and it probably first started like any other such thing with a quick hi, love your stuff, thank you glad you do thing. Listening to him, however, quickly revealed a sharp mind and sense of humor to go with a certain degree of being an introvert. David would people until he had enough, then would pull out a book and go invisible. I remember it took a while to do more than the brief commentary thing.

While I don’t remember most of the convention, or even the name of the convention (it was in Knoxville), I do remember him shaking his head, smiling, and providing me with Latin for use in a roast of the legendary Uncle Timmy. Rather than the traditional “Hail Caesar” this version ended with F U. I admit, I’ve used it many times since, because most people (including some superiors) really don’t understand Latin… Thank goodness.

It was always a blast to hear him talk about the roots of some of his work, be it Norse legends, Roman history, or obscure ancient politics. While he would discuss the military and his time in it, if you really wanted to see him get animated you just asked him a question on those first topics. Bonus animation and points for actually knowing a bit of relevant info on the topic.

Up top is the first of several videos of him I did for Blackfive while interviewing various Baen authors. Baen helped sponsor and arrange the interviews, and I suspect somewhere on the Baen site you can find those videos, and if not, you can go here to find them in the Blackfive archives. I think that interview was the last time I saw him in person.

He will be missed, both as a person and an author. I put that in that order deliberately, as I think it is how he viewed things. If he had even a trace of the “Big Name Author” syndrome, I never saw it at any convention. When I was railroaded into helping get LibertyCon off the ground (I heard the whistle and choo choo after the Timmy train had hit), he was one of the easiest people to work with in regards programming. He was just a man who had done a few things. He took pride in his work, be it driving a bus or writing a book. He was a man who believed in honor, which could get interesting if you crossed certain lines. He was a man who did not tolerate rudeness or other idiocy.

And he was one heck of an author. His Hammer’s Slammers books had quite an impact on me, including the realization that someone else felt the same way about some things as I did, that I was not alone. His work on the Eddas took Norse literature and legend into new domains, and opened that world to new audiences. It hurts to know that there will be no more Leary and Mundy adventures. Or that fantasy will be sadly missing a giant who reshaped the genre in ways that echo the influence of Tokien. While he might have disagreed, I do think a good argument can be made that his impact on fantasy should be seen in the same light.

I can’t say we were friends, but rather were friendly. The man could tell a joke, and had a great sense of humor. What advice he gave has stood me in good stead. His efforts to ensure that the work of Manly Wade Wellman were not lost, and his efforts to help Karl Edward Wagner say a good bit about him as a man. Particularly the latter, as that was no easy task.

Raise your glasses high, and honor ‘just a man’ who has done just a few things. A lawyer. A bus driver. An author. And who just happened to have ridden with the Blackhorse. Hand Salute!

I have said my prayers, and for those of you who pray, I would ask you to join in and also to say one for Karl as well.

As for me, I plan to enjoy going through his works. Especially as it seems my memory issues are going to make some of them (many?) a ‘reading again for the first time’ as the memories of reading them the first time are lost. And if as I read some of those memories return, well, then I shall happily welcome the characters and plot back as old and comfortable friends bringing comfort on a cold winter’s night.

Godspeed David Drake. The world is much richer for your life.

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.