Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blue Skies Soon!

The Blue Skies Big Band is playing at the ELLA weekly swing dance on Wednesday, March 7th from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. They are very talented and also easy to dance to!
The Tango Center (194 W Broadway, Eugene OR)
7pm: Intermediate Lesson, 8pm: Beginning Lesson
$7, or $5 with student ID


My wife found this gluten-free cornbread recipe. We changed it slightly, since we have different flours at our home. Very nice with chilli!

Local Synagogue Attacked

Usually my lack of reading the mainstream news is okay. But occasionally I miss out on information that actually should affect me promptly.

I just found out this morning that last Thursday Eugene's Orthodox congregation, Ahavas Torah, suffered a break-in. Its Torah scrolls and prayerbooks were targeted and badly damaged. A second article (an editorial) is here.

The Eugene Police have since those articles decided to investigate the crime as an Oregon law bias crime.

The local Jewish community is sending supportive letters to Ahavas Torah, and rallying together to help with with fundraising to replace the Torah scrolls.

Some of the local Jewish community is alarmed and fearful because the two suspects who had been arrested have been released. Officials have explained the two men were transients with no known connection with any hate groups, and not a danger to people.

They may not be much the local Messianic Jewish community can do to help. Some of the same Talmudic passages that give such honor and value to Torah scrolls would disqualify any fundraising we contribute for use in purchasing a Torah scroll since we are Messianic Jews.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Purpose Changes

I'm back to blogging, after almost being gone a month. I was occupied with other matters.

(Yes, I now have a backlog of silly things to blog about. But this post is mostly serious. It's also about my ministry work: the math teaching has also been taking a lot of time as I improve my teaching by using the Starboard system and Moodle.)

During the past month P'nei Adonai has had a lot of internal change, which kept me very busy.

We were led by God to change our purpose statement items, which are also how we organize our congregation's ministries.

(If your purposes are "worship" and "prayer" but your committees are "building and grounds" and "finances", you'll wind up doing poorly at worship and prayer. Purposes and committees need to match.)

Now we have five purposes:
  • Yirat Adonai (fear/awe of the Lord)
  • Teshuvah (repentance)
  • Ol Yeshua (discipling)
  • Avodah (laboring for God)
  • Mishpochah (family-like community)
It has been an interesting month. I do not know any other congregations with a "Fear of the Lord ministry" or a "Repentance ministry". We have had to prayerfully learn what those are, how to do them, and who should lead them.

Consider these questions:
  • How does this ministry affect the weekly service?
  • How does it affect special events? Which special events are centered on this purpose?
  • How does this ministry help disciple congregants to be better at this purpose?
  • What responsibilities resources does this ministry need to succeed?
Those questions have quite well-developed answers for those purposes/ministries which are common among congregations, such as "worship", "prayer" or "community service". How should we answer those questions for our five new purposes?

After a month, P'nei Adonai has some worthwhile answers. But I've been processing them for an entire month, quite thoroughly, and am not going to write about them here. For partial answers you can explore our new website.

(I also put together the new website. I had to learn some new CSS and Javascript, but am so far able to avoid Perl and other more complicated computer tricks.)

Personal Update

I should share a bit of personal news, for those who have been following my hobbies and afflictions.

I still can't ollie, but am slightly better at a manual (wheelie). The skateboard and LCC bus pass combination is wonderful, even in winter. I'm not sure if in Spring Term I'll take another P.E. class at LCC to be a student and get the free bus pass; my teaching schedule does not fit well with any P.E. classes that interest me.

I'm still enjoying Tai Chi. This term the class is Yang 55-move sword form, which requires much more balance and fitness than the Chen 18-move unarmed form I did last term.

I'm still enjoying a monthly accupuncture visit. It may be helping my joint oddness, but I cannot say for sure as my joints are also for these same months (since last August) helped by the Tai Chi exercise. The most measureable benefit of the accupuncture is that I now fall asleep quickly instead of after 40-60 minutes, and I have many fewer distrubing dreams.

(Last night was the first night in a very long time I did not fall asleep quickly, because I was so excited about finally getting things done: the P'nei Adonai purpose changes, which allowed me to finish its new website, which allowed an afternoon for just blogging, which will allow me tomorrow to catch up on e-mail.)

The math teaching has been a lot of work, primarily because I am preparing PowerPoint slideshows for every lesson. You can see them by going to the class Moodle site and logging in as a guest.

Besides playing with moss for a few minutes, there has been a lot of yard work too. This is the best time of year to climb up in all the fruit trees and prune them. Then all those pruned "runners"/"shooters" that go striaght up, and a few real branches, needed to be cut into pieces that could fit into the yard waste bit. That was most of two weekends' worth of yard work. Also, the local squirrels and racoons are out again: last year we moved 15 squirrels with our live traps, along with quite a few opossums and raccoons. We'll see what this year brings.

My wife and I also needed more firewood, and purchased two cords, which once delivered needed to be stacked. That was my outdoor time on the Presidents' Day three-day weekend.

I've found out that a few of my friends occasionally do go target shooting, and even know the locations of the best local BLM Land for such endeavors. But they do not go frequently enough to prompt me to do any NAA shopping. I still am happy not owning any guns, since I frankly don't desire any more responsibility.

Regarding baking, my wife has found out how to make gluten-free challah, and I discovered that my Belgian waffle recipe works even better without any butter. I've been having waffles more often, and have been baking my spice cookies as bar cookies for afternoon snacking. I also may have found out why I like garlic bread.

The science-fiction role-playing game has also had a breakthrough. My wife and I played one session, which led to a great excuse to nearly but not completely isolate the main planet from the rest of colonized space. This, in turn, allows me many opportunities for political coruption and rivalries (my favorite plots) since now it BridgeCo's motto of "Now There is Enough" is no longer true of local resources and social mobility.

Tao of Yeshua: Chapter 44

Which is more important, your name or your body?
Which is more prized, your body or your possessions?
Which is more destructive, your gain or your loss?
The more you spend on others, the more you will spend on yourself.
The more you store up, the more you will lose.
One who is content is safe from disgrace.
One who knows where to abide is safe from danger.
He will last long.

We cannot buy safety or happiness
for ourselves or for others.
Instead nurture your virtue;
in integrity help others have virtue.
This help can make an eternal difference.
Abide in Yeshua.

Once More Ninjas are Cool

The cool ninja fad has a new product: NinjaWords, the speedy online dictionary that allows you to crush your definitions, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their synonyms.

(For a comparison of the quotations of Genghis Khan and Conan, refer to the final section of this page.)

Mad Science

I have a friend who is interested in memes. The concept interests me, as do some others that form the border between information processing, psychology, and technology.

For him, here is a link to a fun webcomic named A Miracle of Science set in a science-fiction world where a special police force attempts keeping the "Mad Scientist Meme" in check.

In somewhat related mad science non-news, the Badges of the OOTSSOERAAAP, why Indiana Jones was denied tenure, and a problem with retractable claws.

Hm. I wonder if Foamhedge counts as mad science?

Clearly an south-upward map doesn't. Because I find that interesting. ;-)

More Microsoft versus Apple Humor

Microsoft vs Apple.

(If you don't know why people are having renewed efforts to make fun of Microsoft, read this.)

More gems from xkcd: WWED? and Binary Sudoku. (The last reminds me of Q-Tetris.)

UPDATE: I move a picture of an X-wing Honda to this post.

Baby Animal Pictures

Apparently nearly anything can be unbearably cute as an infant. Consider a handful of hedgehogs, octopus, or penguin.

Penguins, being mysterious birds, can when grown up can be scary. Hamsters stay cute, especially when in love.

Cuteness acquired by being a stuffed animal is cheating. Cuteness when fighting snakes counts extra.

Also, there is apparently some sort of new fad about annotating photos of cats. For example, happy cat, monrail cat, hubcat cats, trash cat, apology cat, voices cat, and the pair known as invisible sandwich and invisible bike.

UPDATE: Now two sites are trying to be the definitive collection annotated cat photos.

Squamous Warning

Be careful. Election season is beginning.

Scenic Pictures

Here is an interesting web page with a photography shoot comissioned by Microsoft, of which two entries were selected to be new official wallpapers.

Moss in a Blender

Late February in Eugene is the beginning of crocouses, daffodils, and resuming having to mow the lawn now and then.

My wife and I actually don't want lawn. We would rather have moss, as in a Japanese garden, since that is equally pretty and I am not allergic to it. Not having to mow would be nice also.

Since our back yard has a few bare spots (where I let leaf piles sit too long) we found out how to promote moss growth with a "moss smoothie." Here is a summary of what many websites instruct...

Put into a blender a handful of moss from the kind of place you want to grow moss (i.e., moss from dirt to make more moss on dirt, moss from a rock to make more moss on rock).

If collecting from the lawn, try to minimze the amount of dirt and grass you collect.

Add 1/2 teaspoon sugar and enough water so it will blend nicely. If you need stickines for applying it to rock or clay, add 1 egg or some buttermilk.

Blend the mixture, and then spread with a paintbrush or spatula on the desired surfaces.

Be careful it doesn't wash away. If the weather is not rainy, keep it wet. Moss should be growing within five weeks.

You can also make patterns.

Dice Wars

Here's a fun game named Dice Wars (link, rules and review) that apparently has been around for a while, but I only discovered two days ago. I've played it three times so far, and enjoyed it a lot, but expect it will get old very fast because the computer AI is so poor. At this point it is already down to "mindless and soothing".

There is a multiplayer version named kDice (link, rules and review). Apparently it requires Internet Explorer to run smoothly (on Firefox the game's map does not update). I do not currently have time play a game that a requires actual diplomacy and negotiations, and would hesitate to use IE on my home computer. But it's nice to see someone made this game for others to play.

Another soothing game I've tried once and had enough of, but others might enjoy more, is a game were colors spread across a grid, named Virus. The game is single-player, and the objective is to minimize the number of turns it takes to spread the color, sort of like solitaire Chinese Checkers.

If I had played more Doom in my youth, the new Doom rogue-like would be quite entertaining. As it is, I'm curious how well a rogue-like with sounds creates a mental narrative, but am not about to try that game. Currently soothing games are all I desire.