Saturday, November 29, 2008

Grilled Salmon

About a year ago I started grilling fish for lunch, now and then. Today I was talking with a friend on the phone and said I would post my current recipe. Here it goes...

First, the fish. Although there is a high quality and affordable fish market in Eugene it is difficult for me to visit it these days. So I have been using frozen wild-caught Alaskan salmon from Trader Joe's.

This fish is sold in two-piece packages. By making sure the two pieces are not touching I ensure it will be quick and easy to put the one I do not use in a plastic bag and return it to the freezer. This helps when holding a baby.

(As a side note, shame on Trade Joe's for not doing a better job stocking fish approved by seafood watch. In most regards that store does a commendable job stocking slightly better than average quality items for average prices. Fish seems to be one of the few areas in which they skimp.)

Second, the toppings. I get out our spray bottle of canola oil from the pantry, our bottles of crushed garlic and lime juice from the refridgerator, some oregano from our potted plant, and three spice jars. The first spice jar is plain dried rosemary. The other two were presents from my aunt and uncle last Chanukah: two spice mixes from Penzeys Spices named Northwood Fire and Bankok Blend.

(As a side note, Penzeys Spices are completely gluten free. Many spices are not.)

Third, the grill. I have a small one, so it heats up quickly. I use low heat to cook fish; not the very lowest setting but near that.

Fourth, the weather. My wife does not like the smell of fish so I need to eat it outside. If the weather is too cold for me to put Smiley in his exersaucer on the deck then I have to eat the fish during one of his naps. In that case I would start the grill warming after I mix his bottle but before I head to the nursery.

That is all the preparation.

Once the grill has heated and Smiley is either napping or ready to be outside I can start cooking.

I cut apart the package of fish and return the second piece to the freezer.

I spray both sides of the piece of fish with canola oil then set it on the grill, skin side down. Then I spread crushed garlic on with a spoon, and drip lime juice over it. I add the spices and spice mixes. (This can all be done right away, while the piece of fish is still frozen.)

Fish grills best with the lid closed. Do not turn the piece of fish over. Just let it sit in the grill peacefully. If you like very moist fish then cook it wrapped it in aluminum foil, but for my tastes that is not worth the hassle.

Salmon, unlike whiter fish, is not completely cooked when it becomes flaky. Wait until the fat rises to the top as yellow-white beads.

If I want an easy side dish then as the fish cooks I put some frozen vegetables from the freezer in aluminum foil and put them on the grill when the fish is done. By the time I have eaten half of the fish the vegetables are ready.

As with any grilling, when you are all done turn the grill to high with the lid closed, for a few minutes, to burn off any remnants and make brushing the grill clean very easy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sixty is a Lot

Today I took advantage of it being a vacation day (and Smiley taking a really long nap) to go through all of our videos from September through today. I did not trim out the good parts yet. I only picked which ones were worth trimming and moving to the BlipTV site. Just that took several hours.

I wound up with sixty that beg for trimming. Egads!

Morning Prayer for Smiley

Each morning, when I first greet or feed Smiley, I pray for him.

This is only worth writing about because it is very rare that I create a prayer which I say many times. Normally I either prayer spontaneously or use traditional prayers. But my prayer for Smiley has grown over the months into a form that I now use daily. Here it is with his name changed to his nickname.
Thank you, God, for Smiley.
Please give him health, wholeness, and strength; wisdom, kindness, and warmth.
May he have peace, joy, and contentment, and rest;
favor from you and from people.

And keep him free from allergies, iniquities, and other bad inherited things.
There are not too many things I have prayed about every day for more than seven months. I can think of three: myself, my wife, and the congregations to which I have belonged at the time.

Back when I led a congregation I would pray for the all the congregants very regularly. But I doubt I prayed for any one of them daily for seven months. I also pray for my relatives, but once again doubt I have done so daily for so long for any particular person.

UPDATE: The prayer now includes "rest" and "iniquities".

UPDATE: At some point during 2009, shortly after when Smiley shifted from two shorts naps per day to one longer nap, the time I say this prayer changed from in the morning to when I feed Smiley before his nap.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

My wife and I had a nice Thanksgiving dinner, just the two of us. Smiley was napping.

Using brown rice bread she made her usual mushroom-celery stuffing and a new apple-chestnut-leek stuffing. The first stuffing also filled stuffed mushrooms. We also had sweet potatoes and roasted vegetables (beets, turnips, and parsnips).



For desert, a pecan pie with chocolate ganache on top. (We said the blessing for chocolate before eating it.)



This year there is a lot to thank God for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bedtime Stories with Rocks in It

One of my life's greater ironies is that despite being a mathematician who loves board games I am terrible at Go.

But I enjoy playing and learning. Lately I have been reading commented games as bedtime stories.

A nice Go game is the right length for a bedtime story, interesting but not exciting, and contains as much art, suspense, negotiation, and conflict as any short story. To see what I mean, download Jago and this game commented by the excellent commenter Dieter Verhofstadt.

Infantry News

Recently James Rummel linked to an advertisement for the Oregon National Guard. It's certainly not my kind of music, but I enjoyed seeing local scenery as the Corvallis-based 2-162 battalion practiced their work.

I also found an article that was definitely not advertising about the Marine Corps martial arts training. I felt sore just reading it.

Leaves Due Soon

My neighborhood's leaf pickup day is December 1st. More raking soon!

"Leadership" Reads My Mind

Back in May 2007, Ruthie Leibowitz wrote an article about politics in Israel in which she notes that many Israelis say they "want better leadership" to actually mean they "want leaders who agree with me".

I am glad that the U.S. seems to have avoided that both before and after our recent election.

Instead I've seen a slew of essays full of comparisons. Are Washington and Wall Street foes? Is Obama being predictably cautious in his cabinet appointments? And so on.

Studying comparisons seems much more healthy than yearning for ideological sympathy.

An Anti-Creosote Scam?

Has anyone tried this Kwik-Shot product for stove cleaning?

It is not for catalytic stoves, but our Lopi Freedom is non-catalytic.

I cannot find a phone number for Lopi stoves. I called a few fireplace retailers and they all said products like Kwik-Shot are not effective. But they also all do fireplace cleaning, so there is clear conflict of interest.

Level Two Househusband

Way back in early July I wrote about being a level 1 househusband.

There have been a few days where I thought about continuing the joke and claiming to have advanced to level 2. But on those days I was either very busy (getting an unusual amount done) or not sure any real milestone had been reached.

It's a bit difficult to know these things. I seldom have an opportunity to try diapering a creature with a negative armor class.

During the past week a definite milestone has been reached that combines to skills. First, I've learned to take a shower while holding Smiley. Second, I no longer dread coming home from errands with him and needing to change our clothes.

The problem is the need to keep all gluten crumbs out of the house. Our "be safe" assumption is that any time we have been at a store or friends' house we are carrying crumbs on our clothes. (If no place else, the car seats might have had some on them, carried there by clothes during past outings.)

So every time we come home from a store or friends' house I need to change my clothes and Smiley's and wash our hands and faces. To avoid re-contaminating our new clothes or the carpet we must do this at the same time and without him initially touching the ground. This is a bit of a juggling act, but I have learned over time.

This is all enough bother that sometimes I'll just have us take a shower, which allows me to "cheat" and undress him on my bathmat since I can simply wash the bathmat after the shower.

November's cold weather actually makes arriving home from the car easier. When Smiley wears his fleece outer garment then when we get home all I need to do to him is remove it and wash his hands and face.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

August Videos

I've finished editing the videos of Smiley from August. Here are a few comments to help add some meaning. (To see all his August videos go to this link.)

His "almost crawling" stage lasted many weeks. When we recorded the video in mid-August we thought he would be crawling soon, but he was not really crawling until the end of September.

In August he was too small for the Exersaucer even though he enjoyed it. We had to put a pillow under his feet or they would dangle.

Bubba is Smiley's great-grandmother (my mother's mother). She likes nibbling on baby necks and thighs. She enjoys good health and during her visit in August would play with Smiley on the living room floor.

Only since mid-November has Smiley figured out how pacifiers work. Back in August he would treat them like any other object and grip it randomly before putting it in his mouth. To help him grip it I tied two together so most of the outside edges were handles.

Smiley chatted lots. He likes flying.

We did not get a video of the first time he put his foot in his mouth, but this one was close.

Our photos have several photos of his swing. Here's a video of him enjoying it.

Three New Videos

I've edited and posted three more videos of Smiley.

(These are fairly recent, from November 21st. I'm still just as far behind with catching up on processing old videos. The good news is that on Monday I figured out how to make Avidemux work, which will help immensely. Kino does more but is much slower Flip video trimming.)

First, Smiley climbing well. He has crawled from his big box onto the lap desk but then gotten stuck in one of the lap desk's "pockets". He not only gets out but climbs down by backing off the lap desk.

The main reason we have climbing places in the living room is so he can learn to back off a ledge and be more safe around stairs. He has learned to not go off a ledge forward. We have often guided him through backing off but he still does not do this on his own. You will see he does it a bit accidentally in the video.

Second, he climbs poorly. He is on the lap desk again but fall off backwards after getting one foot up under his chest.

Third, he is playing with a toy phone his Bubba sent him. He loves this toy. The video is only 30 seconds, but after we gave it to him for the first time he pushed and pulled it for six minutes before finally growing bored.

He has a little car which is also likes to push and pull. This used to be his favorite toy, but the phone is wider and thus more stable, so he can play with it longer before he unintentionally flips it over and it stops rolling and making its noise.

(The phone does have a long cord, however, so he cannot play with it unsupervised.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

In the 60s, Weekends Had Two Nights

Here is a really depressing article about what dating can be like in big cities. I'm not suggesting anyone read it.

But it did remind me of my mother's account of the rules for dating when she was in college. She attended Simmons during the 1960s.

In Boston, back in the days when smoots were new, college students began dating by one asking the other to go on a date. Just one. This was a small thing and the woman might sometimes ask the man.

This first date would either happen on Friday night or Saturday night because the other nights were weeknights and there was homework to do. Boston had plenty of things to do on a weekend evenings, and there was always dinner and a movie. Since the man would always pay any expenses, a date initiated by the woman asking was often a "study date" at the library.

If that initial date was enjoyable, the two students might agree to go on another date next week. If so, it would always be on the same evening. By "claiming" either Fridays or Saturdays the two students indicated that they were somewhat serious about getting to know each other. Both students would still go on other dates with other people on the other weekend evening.

Having someone you dated on either Friday or Saturday night was something friends would notice but was not necessarily a significant step towards courtship. Since it was normal to attend movies, plays, concerts, and other events with a date, the status of someone "claiming" either Friday or Saturday night most often only meant the two people enjoyed each other's company as friends and were relieved to no longer need to keep asking different acquaintances to go on a date just because they wanted to see a certain movie, play, or concert.

If the two students decided to make their relationship an official courtship then their dates expanded to both weekend evenings. This was a significant step. Friends would notice and start talking.

The final stage was the man loaning the woman a jacket or cardigan. If she was ever seen wearing his clothes during the week then they were officially a couple.

I wonder how many folk these days long for such simple rules to be in place again?

(Tangentially, my mother and her brother both received a small, weekly allowance from my grandparents while at college. My mother saved a little each week towards purchasing her first guitar and gave the rest to her brother, since they both went on dates often and thus she did not need any money on a weekend evening but he would be paying for two.)

No Gmail, But Google

Sometimes the people I work with use Google groups, documents, or calendar.

How does this work for people without a gmail account? Unfortunately there does not seem to be a quick "how to" on Google's help pages. So here is what to do...

First, go to the Create a Google Account page and create an account whose account name is your non-gmail e-mail address. If you were invited to participate in a Google document, calendar, or group be sure to use the same e-mail address that received the invitation.

This account creation page will ask you to invent a password. It is not asking you for the password you use to check your e-mail. Instead, invent a new password.

Once you have a Google account you can use Google services (groups, documents, calendar, etc.) even if you never create a gmail account.

You should take a moment to adjust your Google account settings after making the account. Your "display name" will be initially set to the e-mail address you used, but should be changed to your name or some nickname. Also set your time zone if using a Google calendar.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Teething Biscuits (Recipe in Progress)

Currently Smiley is on a break from teething. His first two lower teeth have come in, and he is waiting for his first two upper teeth to begin their advance.

But he still loves to chew on things and has been introduced to more grains, so Wednesday seemed a good day to experiment with baking teething biscuits.

I started with a recipe from this website. Quinoa and teff flours are much more nutritious than wheat flour, and their nuttier flavor will not be a drawback for a dry biscuit. Since we do not have flavored infant rice cereal I added real fruit. The resulting ingredients are:
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup teff flour
  • 1 cup dry infant rice cereal
  • 1 tsp applesauce, banana, etc.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • water
The measured ingredients are mixed in a bowl with the water slowly added until the dough just starts to form a ball. Then knead and shape on the baking sheet.

Without any leavening, these turn into something my wife nicknamed "chew bricks". That is the idea: a biscuit so hard and dry that the baby dissolves a little bit at a time as it chews instead of biting off a large enough piece to be a choking hazard.

I cooked the biscuits on a baking sheet with a Silpat, first at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and the, after they cooled, a second time at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. This still did not get them dry enough. Perhaps I should reduce the initial heat to 350 degrees and cook them for more than half an hour.

Also, while trying to make the biscuits thick enough to be sturdy yet thin enough to not create choking hazards when chewed apart, I made the first batch too thin. Smiley could bite off pieces too easily.

(Finally, I should note that I used millet instead of quinoa, only because Smiley has not been introduced to quinoa yet.)

I'll post a finished recipe when I have one. Any suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Flu Shots and Statistics

People that claim vaccinations are dangerous present two assertions.

First, that the mercury contained in flu shots is too harmful for the vaccination benefit. This claim is suspect because it is based upon the questionable work of one man and a substantial amount of research contradicts it. It also neglects the communal aspect of vaccination: by reducing the incidence among the general population the elderly (whose immune systems are often too weak to create a proper antibody response to the flu shot) receive important second-hand protection.

Second, that there are a number of stories of children showing symptoms of autism spectrum disorder shortly after vaccinations. This claim also lacks support. People worry about ethyl mercury because of lies that it quickly collects in the brain. An observation about the low rate of of autism spectrum disorder among some non-vaccinated Amish neglects the growing evidence that watching television before the age of two is linked to autism spectrum disorder.

One commenter at an above link wrote:
My son developed PDD-NOS symptoms at 18-mos., a day after his 18-month shot series. Went from talking (”Hi Dada”) to not talking, no eye contact, etc. etc.
His account is crushing and touching, but the statistics show it must be either a more complicated situation than "the vaccines caused it" or mere coincidence.

If you have a family history of problems with vaccinations then avoiding them may be safer route. Otherwise what has been proven safest is to wash your hands, get your shots, and turn off the television.

UPDATE: Tangentially related to the flu shot issue, apparently the MMR vaccine scare was faked.

UPDATE: My information in Fall 2009 about H1N1 is here.

UPDATE: Well, the day after Smiley's 18-month immunizations he showed a big jump in using specific babble-words to refer to specific objects. I might as well record our "testimonial evidence" that the shots made him smarter to balance out opposite "proofs" that flourish on the internet.

The Income of Spammers

Some researchers, by running a set of fake spam, were able to initiate just over one a sale per day. (Their fake pharmacy website produced an error message at the payment step.)

Scaling their work up to the size of an actual spam operation, they estimate the actual income from a major spam operation could be $7,000 per day.

No wonder I keep hearing that my replica brand-name watches are not large enough to give my wife a university degree.

Skyscraper Agriculture

Okay, enough politics.

Let's read about farming in the sky!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Skill, Showmanship, and "Never Again!"

(warning: most of the initial links are YouTube videos and thus have sound)

Shamus recently blogged about a teenage ukulele player. He complimented her showmanship. She does demonstrate a lot of showmanship in how she layers multiple tracks of voice and percussion, as well as editing her videos to jump from the ukulele performance to other scenes of herself and her friends.

I mention this video because her showmanship carries her performance. She is not an expert ukulele player (compare her to Jake Shimabukuro in this video) but her performance is entertaining because it is clever and crafted.

Some performers purposefully develop showmanship and others do not. Compare these videos of Buddy Greene and Eric Clapton.

In contrast, some showmanship does not compliment a person's skill but instead draws the attention away from it. The most extreme version of this is with a close-up magician, whose showmanship does not highlight skill but rather distracts the audience from noticing when the trick is done.

(okay, no more links with sound)

Politicians also use showmanship to draw attention away from skill, but unfortunately this is most often done to disguise a lack of skill.

The most worrying result of the recent presidential race for me is how much the public and media are now valuing showmanship above skill.

(I am not blind to the other problems in politics today. I have enough trust in God's plans to not worry that America's next president is already planning to divide Jerusalem. I have enough trust in American voters to doubt Congress can seize private retirement accounts. The American economy has recovered from worse problems than the Federal Reserve quietly loaning two trillion dollars, or a proposed 50 billion dollar bailout for companies worth only 7 billion.)

Todd Zywicki recently wrote an interesting article about political showmanship, in which he noticed how much the ability to "bs" works as showmanship within the political arena. He describes one politician as
a master bs'er, as his debate performance exhibited. As a general rule, the less informed he was about the answer to a question, the more assertive he was in answering it...he had not the slightest idea what he was talking about, yet he just plowed ahead throwing out assertions with rhetorical flair.
Patrick Stephens reflects on this article and laments that neither presidential candidate demonstrated more skill than showmanship:
It's more important that an ignorant executive be cautious than decisive. On that score, Palin is the only candidate in either ticket that seems even mildly conscious of her own ignorance. When foundering in ignorance, Obama reverts to platitudes, Biden makes stuff up, McCain suspends his campaign, and Palin asks for clarification.
Why am I most worried by the public and media valuing showmanship above skill? Because that has happened before, and fairly recently, and also during a depression. I do not know what great evils will appear during the next few years but showmanship cannot fight evil. At least I can hope that these great evils will originate outside our country, unlike how Germany in the 1930s was host to a great internal evil.

UPDATE: Apparently my final sentence was not clear enough since an intelligent friend asks me if am trying to compare Obama to Hitler. I tryied to avoid doing so. I'm not worried about Obama, who seems likely to be a capable president, or Congress, which has been this disappointing before. I'm worried about the American populace.

Rereading the post when it's not so late at night I now see that what I wrote leaned too heavily on part of a Jewish worldview I was taught as a child that most readers will not share. To this view, we must respond to the Holocaust with the motto "Never again!" because of two aspects of what happened.

The first was being herded for genocide: nationalism and Antisemitism had mixed many times before but previously it was always possible to flee the oppressive country. The first part of "Never again!" is not being passively herded.

The second was that the world was surprised by the Nazi party. It seemed to appear from nowhere and initially looked helpful. It was shocking to learn that countries could not reliably see a great evil approaching until it was almost too late. The second part of "Never again!" is staying alert for hidden evils.

So I'm not worried about political leaders having showmanship that hides or creates evil. (That will always be a minor problem to which our political structures are designed to be resilient.) Rather, a populace enchanted by showmanship is easily herded and not alert.

Appreciating showmanship is not a problem, but valuing it above skill or mistaking it for skill is a recipe for disaster.

UPDATE: The claim that Obama supported dividing Jerusalem is apparently false.

UPDATE:

Life Imitating a Cartoon

Here is a cartoon from the early days of the liquidity/mortgage crisis in which a youth wearing flip-flops and a baseball cap tells a mortgage broker, "I would like one of those loans for a home I can't afford that the government will pay for me."

Today that question is not fiction or humor. This article describes what to do.

Where's My Frog?

You can hide Smiley's toys on his back.



Maybe I should sew a small velcro squares to the back of his onesie and to his frog's belly?

Week 31 and Chapter 3

The third chapter of the Tao Te Ching teaches that people who are unable to be content when their basic needs are met will also be unable to be content with luxuries.

Last week was Smiley's 31st week and he has finally found contentment.

Every since July he has been striving. First he wanted to learn to crawl. Then he wanted to learn to pull himself to standing. Then he wanted to learn to "cruise" (walk while leaning on furniture). Then he wanted to learn to climb.

Now he can do all those things. He has no new goal. His waking hours are spent playing or eating or looking around when on a walk.

While learning those things, almost as an aside, he developed the abdominal strength and balance to sit up without supporting himself with a hand. So not only is he now content to just play, but he can play better. He can manipulate his toys much more: a larger range of motion than when lying on his belly, but using both hands.

Thus Smiley continues to learn daily, but now his lessons are smaller. How do you get a thumb and index finger to pick up a small piece of injera? Why does the little car no longer roll when pushed if upside-down? How do these beads slide along a string or wire? Does this toy rattle when shaken? Funny how the plastic cup changes his voice while he chews on its lip, but not when he chews on its its base? What does it sound like when I hit a wooden spoon against different things, or when I hit things with a plastic cup instead? Where is my frog?

It is a treat to see Smiley content and understanding objects as more than possible teething surfaces.

Spring is Here!

Our two lovebirds are really stupid. It's not their fault. Even smart birds, such as parrots, will readily believe a puppet is another bird. Lovebirds simply have itty bitty brains which they may or may not actually use.

In any case, the hours of daylight are growing shorter again. Lately sunset is happening at about 5pm.

What does it mean when the days are this short? It must be Spring and time to lay eggs!



To answer your next question, both lovebirds are female.

Problematic Infant Foods

Smiley has encountered two foods that cause him small problems.

The first is green peas.



He likes them very much. But green peas make many babies gassy, including Smiley. We did not know this and the day we introduced them to him he ate a lot of them. That night he was up from midnight until 2:30am fussing, his tummy quite bloated. We eventually thought to let him take a long bath, which succeeded in distracting him from his discomfort. Then he fell asleep.

His second problem food is wheat, which he apparently does not digest well. He had some baby cereal with wheat and oats for breakfast on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and subsequently his stools were mushy. This morning was 24 hours without wheat and his stools returned to being solid again. Not conclusive evidence that he inherited mommy's gluten intolerance but at least it shows that he currently does not digest wheat as well as vegetables and other grains.

We would like to have learned if he was also more tired during his three days of wheat eating: that would indicate that the wheat was actually passing through him undigested. But we attended a Shabbat gathering on Saturday afternoon that was crowded and noisy enough that he would not nap or eat there. So the latter two of his three wheat eating days had an outside reason for him to be worn out.

Recorder

Most days have been cold and rainy during the past two weeks. So I took out my older recorder to play for Smiley. I have another that is not as beat up; years ago I purchased this one for camping and SCA events.



Smiley enjoys the music. He tried using it too.



He only sucks or chews, so he could not make any noise. It was passable as something to chew on but not as nice for chewing as many of his toys.

The Boxes Get Bigger

Smiley continues to climb. His baby corral came in a big, flat box which we brought up from the garage.

Here is what the upstairs living room looks like this month.



He could soon climb onto the new, big box using his old, small box.



It took him a couple of weeks to learn to climb directly up onto the bigger box.

We like having the bigger box in his play area because it provides an easy place to try to teach him about climbing down feet-first. As of today he shows no signs of absorbing this lesson, but at least he has learned to stop and be wary at edges.

Climbing can still lead to problems.

Wool Shoes

Our friend Pam, who lives in China, sent us some baby shoes made in Tibet. They do not stay on his feet well, but sure look cute.



Sunday, November 16, 2008

Five Questions

At one of the local pastors' prayer meetings the organizers distributed a copy of Wesley's 22 Questions.

What set of questions has God taught me to ask myself? It is a surprisingly different set than Wesley's.
  1. Am I reading scripture enough so that when my brain goes "on idle" in between tasks my thoughts are naturally about scripture?
  2. Am I praying enough so that when my brain goes "on idle" in between tasks my instinctual action is more prayer?
  3. Am I worshiping enough so that when my brain goes "on idle" in between tasks my emotional state is gratitude and peace?
  4. Am I listening to God enough to know what long-term and short-term tasks he has asked me to do?
  5. Is my relationship with God intimate enough that I feel the joy of being near him?
In my own experience, these five issues follow each other in a set order. For example, I am not able to have the emotional state God intends if I am not first reading scripture and praying enough.

In one of my favorite books the characters pray to maintain "tranquility of purpose". I suppose my five questions aim, respectively, at tranquility of thoughts, deeds, emotions, callings, and intimacy--not as catchy and succinct a phrase, but real life is messier than a novel.

I wish it were true that I always could answer "yes" to these five questions. In the words of Rabbi Bunam,
Our great transgression is not that we commit sins: temptation is strong and our strength is slight! No, our transgression is that at every instant we can turn to God and we do not turn!

Political Disorders

A year ago someone wrote that Conservatives have a distinct psychological condition.

After the recent election, someone writes that Liberals have a psychological malady.

It's nice to know everyone's in the same boat.

Well, except that voter turnout was still low this November, even among African-Americans and younger voters, as well as almost as balanced as in 2004.

I guess we should merely conclude that everyone who votes has issues. :-)

(I'm still processing bookmarks I made during the past few months to blog about. The first article was an interesting read. The second wasn't. I did finally find the 2008 election results as a 3D map by county here, to compliment the version from 2004.)

UPDATE: The Washington Post 3D map is animated but slow to load. For a static, quick version go here.

Google and Privacy

Some people are worried about how the company Google is shrinking privacy.

I'm not sure if I should be one of them. I do use a lot of Google services (mail, calendar, documents, photos) and have never faced any problems. After all, the e-mail I write or read is already not private because it is processed by my internet provider.

The most startling example was how the company's browser, Chrome, originally had a Terms of Use that gave the company license to any materials people created using the browser.

Now Google is trying to track the spread of the flu. Some folks applaud this effort at help and others are alarmed by it.

Local Plinking

My last post described the nearest places I could go plinking with a pellet pistol. What about a shooting real handgun?

The only local indoor range is the Baron's Den. This is convenient for practicing alone. When with a group of friends the $10 per person range fee is no longer comparable to the cost of gasoline to drive to the local outdoor spots, and avoiding an hour of driving is no big deal.

There is an abandoned gravel quarry outside of Marcola that is used for shooting, near the end of BLM road 16-1-10 (map). This site is free to use, but you might drive half and hour and then arrive to find it is already occupied. Nearby (map) is the McGowan Creek area, which is also BLM land suitable for target shooting but is more heavily used.

There is another abandoned gravel quarry near Lowell, but I have not yet been there.

So, what do I shoot? Naturally, when I go plinking with friends I also get to shoot their guns.

But I do own a mouse gun, which which I try to stay in practice. Way back in December of 2006 I mentioned that I would purchase a NAA Mini-Revolver once I found people with whom to go target shooting. This happened during 2007, so for a year or so I have owned a handgun.



It's tiny and cute, and shoots inexpensive .22LR cartridges. It's also nice to have when camping, when I carry it loaded with snakeshot.

Local Use of Pellet Traps

On Thursday I purchased a hand-pump pellet pistol, the Crosman 1377. I wanted to introduce some friends to plinking and it was less expensive to buy this and some lead-free pellets that to buy more hearing protection so everyone could shoot a real handgun.

The city of Springfield has phrases in its Municipal Code (section 5.118) that allows using a pellet trap if done safely. Since my friends live in Springfield, I called that police department and asked how my friends could set up a pellet trap in their back yard that was a "shooting area which has been approved by the city". The police simply had me describe the area and equipment (including my homemade pellet trap), then granted permission.

In contrast, Eugene City Code has no such allowances: according to section 4.885 all projectiles are illegal unless on an "established range", which is never defined (also see 4.889g and 4.895).

The Eugene police department tried to be helpful. They referred me to the City Land Use division and the City Recorder while also voluntarily sharing that police are never dispatched to resolve a land use issue unless there is a complaint that safety or peace are disturbed. City Land Use could not cite any law or court case, nor did they know of any "established range" within city limits, but they were very sure that land zoned as residential could never contain a "established range". The City Recorder, Mary Feldman, tried to be helpful but all she could add was how to either contact my local City Counselor, Betty Taylor, or start a petition to propose altering the City Code.

I would like to observe the letter of the law, not just its spirit, as instructed by Romans 13:1-7. Since I'm still not sure if using my homemade pellet trap in my garage is legal, I suppose I'll be visiting my friends in Springfield to do my plinking.

Big Ark, Big Arguments

This is an impressive construction, done as a publicity stunt.

I have never understood most arguments about creation or the flood.

According to Genesis, seed bearing plants existed before the sun. Without continuous miraculous intervention, Noah's ark would have needed to be not only large enough for the animals but also for all their food. But no one talks about those things.

Politics finds the name Rick Warren

Back in June a magazine asked whether the presidential candidates were more "Pat Robertson" Christians or "Rick Warren" Christians.

After California passed Proposition 8, protesters went to Rick Warren's church.

Has the political presence of the "Christian Right" finally seen its leadership passed to those who are actually leading trends of thought among most American Evangelicals?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tao of Yeshua: The End

Hm. When I wrote about the ending of Summer projects I forgot to include the "Tao of Yeshua" label on that post. People going to that category would not have been directed to the completed project.

Here is a post to make double sure there is no confusion. :-)

More Videos

I've put up more videos of Smiley. I won't bother to list them here.

I am now caught up on blogging photographs, except for a few from the past few days which are still in the camera and not yet on my computer. For videos I am way behind. I have picked out 14 more from August to crop and share but have not edited them yet. Then I need to go through September and October videos...

Sewing Projects for Babies

Back in July someone asked me for the measurements for the Boppy Insert. They did not provide an e-mail, and I'm only getting around to blogging about sewing stuff.


The Boppy Insert is basically a square 19 inches to a side. The top two corners are rounded. The top and side edges have a hem of padding two inches wide and one inch thick.


My preferred swaddle cloth is the "Miracle Blanket". But the pouch for the legs is unimportant: if the nursery is chilly then a pair of pants or a Halo Sleep Sack is sufficient and easier. So this "swaddle cloth with arm flaps" could be easily sewn.

Our final and easiest sewing project still needs a photograph. We hemmed a very long piece of knit fabric that was the end of a bolt (on sale) at the local fabric store. It works great as a baby wrap, and fits my wife better than the Ergo.

I should note that one part of the advantage of a wrap over the Ergo, allowing Smiley to be carried facing outward, is new to November. It is recommended to have young infants sit in a carrier facing the adult, so they can turn their head away from the outside world when they feel overstimulated. But now Smiley is seven months old and it gets dark so early in the evening: most of the walks he takes with Mommy are at dusk or after sunset so between the lack of light and his age we avoid him getting overstimulated.

Pictures for Grandmas


Grandma made Smiley a hat.


It's a good hat.


A bath picture, since Great-Grandma likes those.


Great-Grandma also thinks worried faces are cute.

Climbing, Sitting, and Standing Photos


Smiley was crawling somewhat at the end of September. It was sort of a "Frankenstein Monster Crawl" with very little elbow bending and a lot of noise and his hands smacked onto the carpet.


At the beginning of October our wood floors still gave him trouble. His knees had too little traction for his amateur technique.


Like my brother, Smiley will definitely be a climber. We put his swing away in the garage because he kept trying to climb into it, which was not safe.


Climbing over a parent remains one of his favorite activities. To Smiley it is a completely different challenge when I lie on my side, or back, or front, or when I kneel. Even crawling over ankles is entertaining.


A week into October, outside. No fabric on his knees this time, and the gazebo floor is not as slippery as the indoor wood floors.


I was surprised by how long his "sitting" required one hand on the floor beside him for stability. He has only been sitting without using either hand since early November. He was "cruising" before truly sitting, which apparently is normal but not what I expected.


Smiley stood up for the first time, using the couch for support, on October sixth. For the following few days he was quite frustrated trying to stand more. He had lost interest in crawling.


Here is a more recent picture. These days his harmony has been restored and he is happy to play standing or sitting, and enjoys exploring as much as having a toy.


Back to October: Tushy shot. During the last two weeks of October he had a pretty bad diaper rash. Here he is in the gazebo airing out. The diaper rash timing was actually not too bad: since ointments clog the fabric pores of cloth diapers he wore disposables those two weeks, which were also the two weeks his stools were transitioning from goopy to solid. By the time the rash went away his soiled cloth diapers were less messy than before instead of more messy.


More climbing, this time up a big pillow.


We have a big "exercise ball" which rolls away when he tries to climb it.


He adores being bounced on top of the ball, or being held to it and rolled forward and back.


Once he realized he could stand using his ExerSaucer he decided it was much more interesting from outside than when sitting inside.



On November 4th he finally succeeded in climbing onto the lap desk.


Once he could stand quickly he could also peek out the window when he wants to.


That's not a chair, it's a trap!


Of course, for altitude nothing beats being held.

Tooth Photos


By the end of October, Smiley had his first tooth. It was easy to feel when this photograph was taken, but very difficult to see.


We should have opened his toothbrush weeks earlier. It is a great object to distract him so he lies on his back nicely after a bath to get dressed.


By November 9th his second tooth had come in and both were much more visible.

October Food Photos

I recently wrote about the different foods to which Smiley has been introduced. Here are some photographs!


At the beginning of October the only food Smiley really knew was rice cereal. He would teethe on carrots or apples but did not break their skin. He also enjoyed chewing on basil leaves, but we did not let him try to swallow those.


That same day, in early October, he shows off holding his own bottle. He rarely does this now. Once he became proficient at crawling then exploring and playing are much more fun than drinking. Most of his drinking these days is when he is very tired, before going to sleep. Instead of spreading out six ounces during an awake period he waits until bedtime and then drinks himself into unconsciousness.


Injera was his second solid food, after the rice cereal. He loves it (as do most people). In little pieces it works as finger food. Pressed through the food meal it mixes well with anything; later, when combined with vegetables, it lowers the overall fiber percentage to help vegetables be digestible. In this picture he is eating it for the first time using his mesh bag. These days he can empty a bag full of it a few minutes.


Almost three weeks later and that mixture or rice cereal and injera is still a regular food. When we cook Indian food, we tend to use it for half our dinners for several weeks. This happens because injera takes three days to prepare, and the main dishes we eat with injera never turn out to have three days worth of quantity. So we need to make more injera to finish off the main dishes, and then we need to make more main dishes to finish off the injera...


Here is a piece of injera we cooked, before we rip it into pieces to fill his mesh bag.


Only once did we let him take his mesh bag into the living room. Drooly injera crumbs got all over. Now his mesh bag is strictly for in the high chair, which serves admirably to keep him busy while his parents eat their meal.


In this photograph you can see his high chair, which was a gift from his great-grandmother. Instead of being beside our dining room table it is next to a table on which we're coring and dehydrating apples from our apple tree. You can see the pyrex bowl with a mixture of broccoli (through the food mill) and rice cereal, and his bottle beside it.


Ever since he started eating solid food he would eat a few bites and then want to drink a swallow or two to help wash down the solid food.



Broccoli is yummy. But then, so is everything so far. (But we were not cruel, and when it was time for onions or garlic they went into injera or applesauce and were not served plain.)


Face wiping is the worst part of meal time, no matter what is on the menu.


Dal is about the most boring food ever. But Smiley does not know that.


Red lentils and rice cereal. And a really cute baby.


It is not 100% safe to let him play with newspaper, but we do when he is supervised so we would notice if he somehow made a paper mache choking hazard. Newspaper makes a great treat for a car ride if one parent sits beside him.


Even today he only is able to pick up and put in his mouth one piece of rice out of a dozen. But trying keeps him entertained and is beneficial small motor muscle practice.


Rice cake is easier in his mesh bag. Since it can be served in seconds, it is a useful treat when he is not interested in his ExerSaucer but I need to empty the dishwasher, fold clothes, etc.


Beets are about the messiest food ever. We grow white and yellow beets in our garden, which have a more mellow and pleasant flavor. Smiley did not get any of those.