Back Monday?

Doubt I will be posting much as I leave tomorrow morning for a retreat at a Greek Orthodox monastery out-of-state. The men’s group of the Church I’ve been attending (which is not Greek Orthodox) is going up to spend the weekend there. I am looking forward to it as the last real monastery visit I did was many years (sigh, cough, decades) ago when the Methodist youth group of which I was a member went up to the Roman Catholic monastery in Conyers, GA for the day. Yes, for you science fiction fans, that monastery. Go Team Conyers!

Thanks to a wonderful person, I now have a new study Bible and will be taking it with me. For those into the details, the Old Testament portion is a new translation of the Septuagint (LXX). The New Testament is taken from the New King James version. In doing previous study to see how the long-term memory issues impacted things, there were and are gaps in what I do readily remember of scripture. I do find it interesting that Luke and the writings of the Apostle Luke appear to have stuck with me better than most. The Old Testament took a far heavier (near total) hit on the memory loss than the New. In doing Psalm readings for Lent, I’ve gotten little flashes of “I’ve read this before” but no major memory cascades. Remember folks, pay attention to the lightning safety briefs as getting hit is not fun.

Between the new Bible, which features a lot of history and non-scripture commentary from the Fathers of the Church and others, and the Bible study at Church, looking forward to re-learning and exploring anew. Also, the class I’m taking at Church has proven interesting, as we have gotten into some of the Greek and translation issues. As noted before, we keep diving down all sorts of interesting rabbit holes in our discussions, while our instructor tries hard to keep us on track and schedule. Not sure we have ever finished on time or covered everything on the schedule for that day. 🙂

To those hitting the tip jar in the upper right, thank you! You and your help are much appreciated. There are a few more things I would like to get, including some items that will be the basis of the new series of preparedness posts. Hope to look not just at the what, but the how as well. Maybe even some hardware evaluations as well as general product evaluations.

As for current events, stay vigilant and be prepared. On the Moscow terror attack, there are still a number of questions about who truly was behind it; however, the real issue is what actions Vladimir takes on the basis of who he blames it on (regardless of who actually did it). Remind me to do a post on why he can’t do much, based in part on the article I linked to the other day about how fast they are running out of critical items. On the FSK Bridge, John Konrad has been on a tear with good commentary and links to lots of good and interesting sources. Between him, Sal, and Sal, you are in good hands for those discussions. Remember what was said about preventable and what we would find? Yeah, maintenance seems to have been an issue with the ship and other protective measures that could have been in place got torpedoed by politicians of various stripes. Quelle Surprise.

If anything major happens, hit the links in the upper right as I will not be taking much in the way of technology with me. Figure most things can wait until I get back. Be safe, be alert, and be prepared. Keep your things where you can find them in the dark. 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.

Prayer Request

Yesterday, I did the difficult but important visit to say goodbye to someone. M is a member of the Church I’ve been attending, and welcomed me when I started attending. She almost always had a big smile and a lot of enthusiasm the times I saw her, and her love of music was obvious. She was older, but still moved pretty good and even volunteered to work in the bookstore. The last time I got to chat with her was in that role, where when I said it was dangerous to my budget to enter the store she laughed and said I needed to spend more there.

I did not know her husband (call him S), who did not attend (any) Church, but have since learned that M had let a few people know that he was not doing well. Apparently, on Sunday, M had a massive and unrecoverable stroke and is comatose. Her husband passed a short time later. She will likely pass soon herself.

Please join me in praying for them both. Thank you.


Pray for the missing, and the survivors of the FSK Bridge collapse. The immediate is a thankfully small human tragedy. What is to come will be much worse.

Baltimore is about the 12th or 13th busiest port in the United States. For all intents and purposes, consider it offline for at least a year. For the next few months, the ships that are there are likely to stay there, and no new ships will arrive. This is going to have several major impacts.

First, goods that would normally arrive there and be distributed will not. This is going to impact logistics and supplies in the mid-Atlantic region rather significantly. Second, Baltimore is on the ropes financially and otherwise. Right now, I sure don’t have a clue how bad the impact will be to a city already teetering on the brink, other than to say it’s going to be very, very bad. Third, how bad it will hit our national economy is something I don’t really want to think about right now. It’s not going to be good, but I can see scenarios where the level of suck could truly sucketh mightier than a Hoover. Fourth, don’t forget that the bridge is part of a major interstate, and a good stretch of 465 is now offline. That will impact not only interstate transportation, but will hamstring a significant segment of local regular traffic as well.

Could it have been deliberate? Yes, but for now there is insufficient data to say yes or no. Could it have been an accident caused by shipboard problems? Yes, but for now there is insufficient data to say yes or no. The thing to keep in mind right now is insufficient data. Once we have more data, then we will know what happened and why. As someone noted on X, the odds favor that this was an issue warned about, that steps could have been taken to prevent, and that nothing was done. I would add to it the likelihood that such steps were deemed too expensive and unnecessary by bureaucrats at the time — and now we face financial and other impacts that are several orders of magnitude worse.

And, yes, I’ve watched some of the video and yes it does appear almost as if it turned straight into the support — from one angle. That said, it also looks as though the ship suffered at least two power outages as it approached. For all that it looked like someone tried to step on the power and maneuver (note the plume of black smoke), a ship that size does not handle like a sports car. You might want to think of the Evergreen in the Suez.

Meantime, I’m going to pay attention to John Konrad and Sal. Unlike many/most pontificating right now, they have real-world experience that puts them well ahead of others. Pay attention to them. I plan to.

Also, as you pray for those involved, pray for the nation and the impact this is going to have. Yes, you have Savannah, Philadelphia, and other ports but there are limits on how much of the Baltimore traffic they can take on, and expanding those ports is a non-trivial challenge. That they can and will do so is good for them and the area around them, but that’s also going to be an additional hit on the already tottering Baltimore.

It’s a lot more than just a bridge. Keep that in mind, and keep in mind the likelihood that there could be other hits. Be prepared.

UPDATE 1: As I note in the comments, I wish they had gone with a tunnel to start with and if our leadership had a brain they would switch to one now despite the time and expense involved. That said, the key to replacing the bridge is likely to lie with the supports. If they can be used as is, or with only minor repairs at or below the waterline, the replacement could take place rather rapidly. If they have to sink new pylons into the bedrock, that is a time-consuming process, even if relatively straightforward. If they can use any of the existing approaches and inner spans, that too could speed things up. Those, however, are going to need a detailed engineering survey as I suspect the outermost upright spans took a lot of torsion and other stress. Which could mean replacement. Having been a very minor part/on the sidelines for a major rebuild once, make it a challenge: Put up a sum of money and have people bid on doing the job for that amount, with the caveat that if they complete within one year or less and bring it in meeting all engineering and safety specifications but for less than that amount, they still get the full amount. You would be amazed at not only what gets done, but the improvements that still take place within such an environment.

UPDATE 2: To those hitting the tip jar today, THANK YOU! I can’t tell you how much you and the help are appreciated.

UPDATE 3: The tunnel idea is getting a lot of approval from the naval types (especially on X), and some justified pushback from those who note the restrictions on same. Putting in a tunnel will either increase traffic time around the city for those who can’t transit the tunnel or put more traffic onto surface streets. Good points on both sides.

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.

Moscow Terror Attack

Two good initial wrap ups are here and here. No surprise Vladimir is going to try to pin this on Ukraine and the West. That was a given. Also no surprise the no-nukes crowd (‘Oh my stars Vladimir will use nukes we need to abandon Ukraine now’) crowd are jumping all over this as yet another reason to run away.

I’ve made no secret that I have thought our support was not terribly well thought out, and I maintain that Ukraine is not a fight requiring American blood. I do think that allowing Russia to break it’s teeth is a good thing, and that having the myth of Russian armed might exposed is also a good thing. I just think we could have done it a lot smarter. A LOT smarter.

As for the run-away crowd, you might want to read this before joining Sir Robin and company. I would also commend this article. As for additional possibilities as to who really was behind the attack, this is interesting reading. I will admit, in many ways it doesn’t matter who really did it. What matters is who Vladimir thinks did it, and who he decides to blame.

Right now, looks like he’s going to blame Ukraine and the West for several reasons. Probably need to sit down and go over some of the reasons, but keep in mind that Vladimir could be behind this directly or indirectly. 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.

St. Nicholas Press

The other day, I mentioned knowing a Sister behind a publishing company, and promised a bit more information. The publishing company is St. Nicholas Press and they publish books for adults and for children.

Now, it is an Orthodox Christian press so if you are looking for Joel O or the Hour of Glower, you won’t find it there. What you will find are some interesting works of which the new translation of St. Patrick’s work(s) is but one of several I plan to read. And, yes, I’ve even sorta looked at one of the kid’s books.

Just wanted to share as several of the works look very interesting no matter your “flavor” of Christianity. I have to admit, if I were up to travel right now, the tour guide of Greece that takes you to the sites of every Greek saint (and a bit more) would be a different way go.

Your Input Please

I noted before that Preparedness Pays was intended as an introduction to preparedness, and to make the process less intimidating as so many people (and agencies) get waaaay too caught up in the huge number of possible disasters. As noted in previous posts and the book, there really are only about four things that can happen, while the number of possible disasters is an infinity-minus-one situation.

The idea behind the book (which, yes, I do need to get back to work upon) was to focus more on short- to medium-term situations, again so as not to overwhelm people. There are far too many out there, including in positions of authority or pseudo-authority (and I include people in entertainment venues like radio, social media, TV, etc. in this) that will automatically dismiss anything that goes beyond short (very short) term as survivalism/angry militia/crazy talk/etc.

So, would there be an interest in having me talk more about medium- to long-term issues? Things from food storage to keeping the lights and more on? I’ve touched on that in some of the previous posts, but it is an area where many (including myself) are not really as prepared as we should be.

What say you? Also, if we do this, I hope you will join in with your experience, hints, tips, etc. I know a small bit; but, am willing to bet that collectively there is a heck of a lot of knowledge experience that can join in.

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.

Preparedness Club: Reminder

I need to get back to work on the book sometime soon, but for now, some reminders and legal caveats in regards preparedness. Always remember the first rule of Preparedness Club: THERE IS NO PREPAREDNESS CLUB!

That is for your safety. Otherwise, first thing that happens is that ill-intentioned people can and will see you as a target and act accordingly. I will simply say for now be prepared, and that should include mental and spiritual preparations to decide what you are willing and able to do to defend your own against such evil. Only you can make the right decision for you.

Keep in mind also that the good-intentioned may also come to take anything you are known to have in regards food and other supplies. If you don’t believe me, check into your local and state rules, regulations, and laws in regards disasters. It is rare that it is easy to get the information, as for some reason governments don’t really like to talk about it, but most major (and even some minor) cities and even states have regulations and/or laws on the books that allow them to seize food, medicines, and other supplies not only from warehouses and stores, but also from individuals who are “hording” said materials.

You might also want to check the definitions of the terms used in the laws, as they can be most enlightening. That sack of lentils you got the good deal on so your family has food to get by may well be hoarding, a large food stock, or other term that allows it to be seized. Nor would I ever suggest that even if it were not those sent out to do such collecting would disregard the law and take it anyway.

Let me be clear: I do not advocate hiding any preparations or stocks of food from those legally (lawfully is something else) authorized to raid your home, property, or other to seize same. Nor do I advocate passive or active resistance to such. Keep in mind that not only are they likely to be legally armed (and you need to check your local laws as in emergency any weapons of any type you may have may no longer be legal to possess, carry, or use in some jurisdictions) and backed by armed enforcement.

In fact, I would remind you that using jelly jars or smaller to hold any supplies may not be a great idea as they are small and easily misplaced. For all that they are great for holding dried spices, wicks, small but critical hardware, and such — and keep in mind that not all that long ago pepper and other “exotic” spices were worth many times their weight in gold — they also can be easily misplaced or lost. That would deprive you of those necessities (like needles, thread, wicks, etc.) and luxuries that could also be trade goods in small quantities (spices, etc.).

Having your supplies in one central, secure, and known location can be a very good idea. You know where everything is located, what you have, and can easily rotate out stocks at need. Also, if things are seized and you are given a receipt for things taken, it makes quantifying such easier. Dispersing supplies makes it harder to keep up with what you have, rotate stock, and if it is known you disperse supplies could lead to a variety of unpleasantness. DO prepare, but be prepared to Both look after yours and to comply with legal demands.

As for me, I write a good bit but am very limited in what I can put away. Your help and donations allow me to experiment, write, and get by. I thank you very much for them.

Just as there are many good reasons to Be Prepared, there are many reasons to live the first rule of Preparedness Club. Be Safe. Be Smart. Be Prepared. Keep your family and friends close, and your things where you can find them in the dark.

NOTE: This focuses on state and local, you don’t even want to think about what the feds will claim they can do.

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.

The Church Lunch

For all that I am still dragging, I wanted to talk about the Church lunch I did yesterday. After our Sunday service, we have what is called a coffee to break fast, but most would consider it a lunch. People volunteer to provide the entree, and others bring in salads, desserts, and other delights. Given my background cooking, particularly for wounded and troops, I decided to volunteer.

Admittedly, I’ve not done anything like this in a while and definitely not since the lightning strike. So, in some ways it was a test to see if I could do something on this scale from both a mental and physical standpoint. Yes, I was pushing it a bit on more than one level, but felt like it was something I needed to do. Never mind that I wanted to do it.

So, an opportunity came up a couple of weeks ago to step in and help out. I grabbed it, and began planning. Rather rapidly, I decided to do spaghetti with two types of sauce since I had been told a while back that each meal needed a vegetarian/vegan option for the monastics who attend (though I found out later that they don’t participate in the coffee). So, given that and some of the Lenten restrictions, I decided to do a puttanesca variant along with a simple red sauce and two types of pasta.

I checked with several sources to be sure I could use anchovies in the puttanesca variant, and found out it was the last day I could do so. Works (worked). I keep checking the sign-up site and got a bit nervous in regards not seeing other things listed/people signing up, so thought I might should provide a bit more. After going through several options, I decided to do a play on it being cheesefare Sunday and do a cheese plate. Rather, two cheese plates as the idea is to have lines down both sides of the table(s) where the food is laid out to speed the flow. I also decided to do two little dessert trays just to be sure there was something sweet on the table. Later, decided to add some salad as well.

So, I did go over my initial budget, but it was well worth it. Interestingly enough, as shopping progressed early in the week, I kept running into bargains on the things I was after. Found some good cheeses and dessert items at very good prices (if not on sale) at Trader Joe’s. At the restaurant supply store, found a wheel of ethnic cheese and a huge container of mozzarella pearls at an almost ridiculously low price. I was disappointed that Fresh Market was out of my usual olive spread (which was on sale) but they had something similar. Yes, I prefer to get good assorted olives and chop them up, but those prices have gotten ridiculously high, so I use the olive spread. They also did have the smoked kalamata olives I’ve come to love adding, so got them. GFS had salad, a cheese assortment, and mini chocolate eclairs at a very good price. I also picked up various disposable serving plates and bowls to cut down on clean-up and such.

I also got permission from the landlord to really use the kitchen, particularly on Saturday. While there were some minor issues on that (housemate mostly), things got done. The landlord’s reaction when he walked in Saturday morning and saw the oven and most burners in use was actually amusing. I began marinating the pearls in olive oil and my homemade Italian seasoning blend on Thursday. Note: I did replace the red pepper with a mix of chipotle and smoked paprika(s?). Friday, I began the process to bake two loaves of sourdough bread. Interestingly enough, after I had volunteered, Audrey and her clone (who needs her own name) really took off so that I had plenty of starter for baking.

Saturday afternoon just before Vespers, I took almost everything down to the Church kitchen so that I would be ready to go early Sunday morning. I was also starting to get worried that I had not prepared enough food, didn’t have enough pasta, etc. I decided to not try to do anything last minute, but to have faith. Such was a good reminder.

Sunday morning very early, I was down in the kitchen starting the prep for service. Had verified the grocery nearby would be open in time if I did need more pasta and such. Oh ye of little faith…

My serving plans went out the window rather quickly. It wasn’t two small cheese plates, but three very full and large cheese plates by the time I finished prep. Two of the plates were centered by small brie wheels, surrounded by English coastal cheddar, three different Spanish cheeses, some of the ethnic cheese, and more. The center of the third was the ethnic cheese, surrounded by yet more cheeses. It wasn’t two small dessert trays, but three full and large dessert plates. Two big bowls of salad with more left over at need. Instead of two medium plastic bowls of pasta, it turned into two large stainless steel bowls of pasta (in part because the hot pasta turned the plastic bowls into modern art, much less not holding half the pasta). It was a large pot of puttanesca-style sauce and one of my enameled dutch ovens full of red sauce. Two baskets of sourdough after slicing. A nice bowl of marinated mozzarella pearls. Two wonderful ladies brought in salads, and one of them brought in some savory “pancakes” (crepes really) with smoked salmon and cheese and a huge plate of sweet “pancakes”/crepes/blini with raspberry jam. Another lady brought in an assortment of Japanese cookies. Another lady brought in a big tray of a Ukrainian dessert made with filo dough and a sweet cheese. I wish I had gotten a photo as we laid it out, but did get the one above about half way through.

The red sauce was okay, but the puttanesca-style sauce was a huge hit. The bread was also a hit, with people asking about sourdough, starting your own starter, and more. I think the only reason I came home with three small pieces was that they got lost in the folds of the serving baskets… I had bought some take-home compartmented trays, and they came in handy as people took meals home for others or for later (which I strongly encouraged).

I really need to thank my friend John, who left the service early to give me a hand, and it was needed. I had filled the large pots for pasta with water (big enough they covered from my belt up to my shoulders) and gotten them onto the stove, but it was a bit of a challenge. They were, I think, the largest and heaviest objects I’ve lifted since both the lightning strike and getting both shoulders replaced last year. He helped with the cooking of the pasta, and — even more importantly — got them off the stove and into the strainer for me.

Oh, I should mention that while I did not get to take part in the service directly, they do have a speaker in the kitchen so I could listen and take part in the singing and responses. Good part of that is no one else was subjected to what passes for my singing…

Two or three of the ladies of the Church took over the clean-up and shooed me out of the kitchen after lunch. I may have mentioned I’m taking a class at that time, and am very much enjoying it. For all that parts of it are all Greek to me (pun pun), we are getting into some of the joys of translating scripture and more from Greek and how word usage has changed. It is a bit jarring to hit condescension not in the modern usage (being an arrogant jerk, etc.) but in the original usage of willfully lowering from an high level to a far lower level (as in God becoming man). Great class, important, and the ladies were determined I not miss it. I can’t thank them enough.

John was also kind enough to drive me back to the evening service, for which I am grateful. I was fried since I had gotten up at 0300 to be ready to start prep work at just after 0700. Yes, I often start slow after getting hit by lightning. I’m also glad I was smart enough to take my walking stick as I needed it. Most of the time I don’t (IMO, other opinions may vary), but I knew I did then. Since it was forgiveness Sunday, it turns out prostrations were done in the service.

It was not just about asking forgiveness from God, but also our fellow man in the form of the men and women of the Church. You know, that whole ‘debt/debtor, trespass/trespasses’ thing. Now, rumor has it that I might be a very slight bit stubborn (and prideful even) on occasion. Despite the word being given that one should only take part in the prostrations if you were able, I decided to at least try to do them. Early, I got down on my knees and stayed there until the prostrations were over. Then, I worked my way back up to sitting on the pew, and then stood back up.

However, we were not yet done. The next part had us go up, prostrate to God, and then we started asking and giving forgiveness to each other. This starts with you going to each member of the clergy, and prostrating to each other while asking and granting forgiveness to each other. I made it through the Clergy doing the prostrations. Mostly. I had some issues part way through, nearly bashed one of them in the foot when I dropped my walking stick that I was using to get up and down, and just did the bow from then on. It was a good service and actually a very gratifying process as we bowed, forgave, did a three-part hug, and worked our way around to take our place in the line.

Admittedly, at one point I did look reproachfully at a friend and say “Ya’ll never said anything about calisthenics!” To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as my first Episcopal service where I kept waiting for someone to call out “Jumping Jacks” as part of all the kneeling, standing, and such — very different from the far more staid services I grew up with in the Methodist Church.

Oh, and remind me later to discuss the book I just got that is a new translation of St. Patrick’s surviving writings. Turns out, most/all translations are based of of more modern Latin, whereas he worked in early medieval Latin. The person who did this translation actually studied and has worked with early medieval Latin extensively, and apparently actually translating on the language he used makes a considerable difference. Who knew? Sort of like Caesar apparently saying in Greek “Kai su, teknon” which Shakespeare translated into Latin as “Et Tu, Brute?” Problem is, in the vernacular of the day, kai su can be translated as more ‘See you in hell punk’ than the noble line created by the Bard. See here and here for a bit more on that, though both cite the same work. The book is from a publishing company that as Sister I know helped found/founded. More on this later.

I was reminded by more than one person about loaves and fishes, and how what comes in each week, even when meager, is always more than enough. It was good to know that while it is a challenge, I can still work out the timelines and do something like this. Even better, I can provide a bit of tastiness and more to those in my Church. That means a lot to me, especially now.

What A Surprise

Vladimir won, despite it being such a close squeaker. Snort.

Officially above 80 percent, but below 90/95 percent. More than a bit deliberate as one should never be so uncouth as to claim 100 percent (or more!) of the vote.

Yes, one major opposition and one potential opposition died in the run-up. Vladimir and the current system do not believe in live enemies. That said, they tend to focus on those who openly declare themselves to be enemies, and tend to miss those building power in the background even as they voice the appropriate platitudes in public. There is indeed much going on behind the curtain.

Stay tuned. The fact that so many attended the funeral openly — knowing they would be arrested later — more than hints at the fractures in play. That there are rumors of a larger than normal group voting against Vladimir and his party speaks to even more.

Things were already interesting, I strongly suspect they are about to get even more so, possibly even openly.

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.