Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tiny Weasel

Another animal trend continues while doing a Google image search for my previous post: a baby weasel in someone's hand.

UPDATE: A rabbit too!

Robots are Less Funny than Cats

I had written earlier about funny narrated pictures of cats.

Some people are trying the same with robots. Success is rare. Robots aren't as funny or cute as cats, especially when speaking English with a toddler's lack of proper pronunciation. Unless they are wanting snacks even though they cannot eat.

As David Barry once observed, the most innately humorous word in the English language is weasel. This word can even be said without any context at all in intonations that make people laugh. I expect a site named "LOL Weasel" to be next, except that people are not that logical.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tao of Yeshua: Chapter 52

All-under-heaven have a common beginning.
This beginning may be regarded as the mother of All-under-heaven.
Knowing the mother, we may understand how we as should be as children.
Knowing we are children, we should cleave to the mother.
Then we will be protected from danger, even if we lose our lives.
Close the mouth and live simply at home, and until the end of your body it will not fail.
Open your mouth and travel widely, and until the end of your body nothing will avail.
Valuing what appears insignificant requires enlightenment.
Embracing your weaknesses produces strength.
Using your vision only to walk in the light avoids calamities.
This is called "practicing the eternal".

Our primary role as children of Adonai
is to cleave to Adonai.
If we rely on God's presence, strength, and guidance
we will be following God's will for our lives,
and thus we will be protected.
Pray before speaking or making plans;
stay centered in the will of God.

Michael Brown's Latest Two Essays

The noted Messianic Jewish scholar Michael Brown has two new essays on his website.

The first explains why Messianic Judaism must retain the belief that Jewish people following Rabbinic Judaism do need to let Yeshua have authority over their lives (switching from giving Rabbinic tradition and leaders authority over their lives). Cooperating with people in Rabbinic Jewish communities is a worthwhile goal only if we may retain allowing our own lives to be Yeshua's light shining into the darkness of authoritative tradtions of men.

The second essay is a nice introduction to Jewish apologetics.

Oregon Census Facts

With my math classes I often use census data. Here is the most current page for Oregon statistics.

Alignment Test

I thought this might be fun. Would whomever created this quiz think I am Lawful Good or Neutral Good?

All I learned is that I am Impatient With Quizzes Good. I finished the first page, saw at the top of page two how many questions remained, and stopped. Humorously, the test called me Chaotic Good from my answers filled in at that point.

Soft People at the Mall

This article seems to go with this picture.

I am not so sure that soon America will have no option to remain soft. I hope our enemies are not soon successful in nuking an American, Iraqi, or Israeli city.

Minefields 2 Puzzle Game

This is an interesting puzzle game. But I'm tired, so I got to level 8 (password CGXX) and stopped.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Cute Cats

Admittedly, cute in very different ways...

(The first is Ayla, the cat of cran_apple. The second has no attributed author.)

UPDATE: Another, for X-men fans.

Countdown from 159

I try to keep my e-mail inbox under twenty messages.

The past two weeks have been very busy with LCC stuff. I've managed to keep up with my LCC e-mail, but my other e-mail account started today with 159 messages, most of which were unread. It's been 12 days since I dealt with any but the most high-priority e-mail on that account.

This afternoon I finally have time to start catching up.

This morning I cleaned the house to be ready for Shabbat. We'll see if I can do as nice a job with my inbox!

UPDATE: I got down to 65 messages. Not too bad...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tao of Yeshua: Chapter 51

The Way gives them life.
Virtue nurtures them.
Their family gives them their form.
Environment refines them.
Therefore all things, without exception, honor the Way and value Virtue.
They have not been commanded to honor the Way and value Virtue but do so spontaneously.
The Way gives life, Virtue nurtures: these care for, raise, prosper, lead, support, and shelter.
These produce but do not claim the product.
These work but do not rely on the result.
These lead but do not control.
This is called hidden Virtue.

Yeshua is our creator.
The Spirit of God causes our growth.
But neither will coerce us. Both act quietly
Although their work in us can be difficult for others to see,
it causes us to want to worship and praise!

Networking the Financially Needy

In August I wrote about two people I talk to often who beg for money on street corners. The woman I'll call Ann I knew pretty well; The man I'll call James I had just met.

In the months since then, Ann has pretty much given up on her corner, and gotten a bit dipressed. Her corner is a rotten one. It has a lot of traffic, but there is nowhere for her to be beside a driver's window. People driving alone who might want to help her would have to get out of their car, either during a red light or by pulling off into a grocery store parking lot. Moreover, some people habitually drunk decided they liked that corner and began causing problems.

James had a pretty ideal corner. His was along a major one-way street, so he could stand on the driver's side of the road and from the left lane be an easy person to hand something to. This corner is also beside a grocery store, which allows him to get a soda on a hot day. (Drinking soda has the added benefit of convincing motorists he does drink things that lack alcohol.)

In the last few months, James had developed a partnership with another fellow named John. They would stand on diagonally opposite corners of their intersection, trading off now and then. This kept them from competing for donations, but allowed them to look out for each other if someone drunk and troublesome came along.

A little while ago James got drunk, agreed to help a friend burglarize a building, and got arrested. He'll be in jail a while. When I heard about this last week I visited John and asked him if he is looking for a new partner. When he said he was interested, I told him about Ann and her situation.

I offered to pay John a little if he would help introduce her to his good corner, and look out for her at least until she figures out the subtleties of maneuvering her electric wheelchair on the that corner's sidewalks. John was very happy. Even aside from my offer of pay, he was worried some drunks would claim the now vacant diagonally opposite corner and cause problems.

Then I called Ann, and ran the idea by her. She was also happy with the plan.

So tomorrow morning I have a breakfast appointment with Ann at that second grocery store. We'll invite John too, and I'll introduce them.

Ann is still avoiding my offer of going together to visit the local social services office to make sure she is getting all of the kinds of help for which she qualifies. Maybe if things go well tomorrow that potentially more significant appointment will be closer to happening.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Two More Essays

I spent most of today writing essays to disucssing during the congregation's Monday morning "Introduction to Messianic Judaism" class. The two new ones are here and here.

Global Warming Update

The problem is apparently the global decline in pirates.

(Apparently digital piracy of music and computer games was not counted in this study.)

Confectionary Fabricator

I didn't even know there was an official Mad Scientist Laboratories!

They can fabricate any shape in solid sugar. Next: the caffeine patch to help college students, ahem, got off caffiene dependence?

Will this revolutionize the detail level on birthday cake toppers for nerds?

Tao of Yeshua: Chapter 50

We come forth into life and enter into death.
One-third of men follow life.
One-third of men follow death.
One-third of men say they follow life but in their actions follow death.
Why is that? Because they are overly protective of their life.
Indeed, I have heard that those expert in following life travel without meeting the tiger or rhinoceros and go into battle without weapons or armament.
A rhinoceros would find no place to put its horn.
A tiger would fine no place to put its claws.
A weapon would find no place to put its point.
Why is that? Because he has no vulnerable spot.

Followers of Yeshua need not fear death.
After death they gain eternal life.
Before death they have Adonai's protection.
Since all people are vulnerable, the only true protection
is being in the place Adonai wants you to be, doing his work.
Since all people die, the only true danger
is being brought to eternal life sooner than otherwise.

Tiny Platypus

Continuing the trend of photographs of tiny, baby animals in someone's hand: the platypus.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Leviticus Summarized

The concluding verse of Parasha Behar, Leviticus 26:2, is one of the Torah’s many instances of summarizing proper religion in a pithy sentence.

Many people are familiar with Yeshua’s summary in Matthew 22:35-40 ("The two most important commandments..."), Micah’s summary in Micah 6:8 ("He has shown thee..."), and James’s summary in James 1:27 ("True religion is..."). Other "summary verses" in scripture include Deuteronomy 10:12 and Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Hillel had a summary very similar to Yeshua's: it included the concluding phrase "...go now and study!" Finding summaries of Torah worth pondering was actually an intellectual game among first centruy Jewish scholars.

Here in Leviticus 26:2 God offers a summary focusing on spending time with him: “Keep my Shabbats and revere my sanctuary; I am Adonai.” In other words, “Rest with me and share meals with me.” The message of Leviticus, at its core, is that simple.

There are other worthy things for congregations to do: prayer, study, charity, fellowship, outreach, etc. But none of these other activities will be help God do what he wants done and extend his Kingdom unless the congregation is resting with God and sharing meals with God. Those two activities have always been how God rejuvinates and transforms people. Once we are rejuvinated and transformed by God then we can do other activities fruitfully.

Matthew Study

The congregation has started a weekly Bible study, going over Matthew's gospel. My essays about what we have discussed so far are here. More will be added weekly.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tao of Yeshua: Chapter 49

The Saint has no prejudices.
He gives all people the benefit of the doubt.
"I am on good terms with the righteous and the wicked: thus I obtain goodness.
"I am faithful to the trustworthy and the untrustworthy: thus I obtain faithfulness."
In the midst of All-under-heaven the Saint makes no distinctions.
For the sake of All-under-heaven he allows chaos in his heart.
The people rivet their ears and eyes on him.
The Saint treats them all like innocents.

We should love others as we love ourselves.
What does this mean?
How easily we accept excuses for our failings!
Extend this same forgiveness to others.
We care for ourselves even when we sin.
Extend this same kindness to others.
We are faithful to ourselves even though we abandon goals we set.
Extend this same support to others.
At times we still see in ourselves the neediness and innocence of infancy.
Extend this same insight to others.

The 2007 Squirrel Count Begins

I had not been blogging much as Winter began to transition into Spring and squirrels came back to the back yard and garden.

Our 2007 squirrel count (how many squirrels we live trap and then release far from home) is up to 3 so far.

Last year's annual total was 15.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

UFO Cookies

This recipe could still use a little tweaking, but I'm not sure how and it's nice enough as it is.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl (or electric mixer's bowl) combine:
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1 cup yogurt, nonfat vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 3 cups gluten-free flour mix
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Give the dry ingredients a stir with the teaspoon you are holding, to distribute the xanthan gum into the flour mix before it gets wet. Then mix everything well.

Put rows of small cookies on a greased cookie sheet (or cookie sheet with a silicon mat). On each cookie put one Trader Joe's "UFO" chocolate mint. Your cookies should be small: just enough to make a little ring of dough around the mints as you press them down.

Bake on a for 15-17 minutes, until the bottoms are browned.

(The recipe also works as a bar cookie, if you melt the "UFO" mints with some heavy cream in the microwave and drizzle that on the top.)

Pizza Theology

I was reading comics this morning over breakfast, and Count Your Sheep had another gem.

One of my father's coworkers had a favorite "saying":
Pizza is a proof we existed in heaven before we were born. Why do I say this? Because everyone instinctively knows the taste of perfect pizza. We could just have finished a dinner of the best pizza we have ever eaten -- even the best pizza in all of Italy -- and we would still lean back and say, "That was amazing, but it's still missing a little something..."
The same coworker would also say, "Chocolate is one proof of a kind and benevolent God."

In a somewhat reverent manner regarding pizza and chocolate, even most athiests and agnostics I talk with seem to find it disrespectful to argue with either asserion, whether or not they agree.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Making Flowers Last Longer

Since Springtime is here, some tips I did and didn't know before reading them...
  • Cut flower stems at an angle, under running water, before placing the flowers in a vase. This prevents air from entering the stems and clogging them up.
  • Warm water in a vase will make buds open faster. Use room-temperature water for flowers that are open and pretty. Slightly wilted blooms can often be revived by submerging the stems in hot water for ten minutes while spraying the petals with cool water.
  • Mixing into the vase's water a small amount of sugar or an asprin tablet will keep flowers fresh longer.

Tao of Yeshua: Chapter 48

Learning is daily accumulation.
Following the Way is daily diminishing.
Diminish, and again diminish, until you reach Non-Ado.
Abiding in Non-Ado ensures nothing is left incomplete.
Gain the world by constantly abiding in Non-Ado.
Serving your own ends you are unable to gain the world.

Following Yeshua involves dying to our desires.
The Spirit allows all things to develop naturally.
Abide in the Spirit and experience the world as it is intended to be.

A Mathematical Toolbox

For my Math 25 class I am trying to put together just what is in my metaphorical "toolbox" of math skills I use when thinking about how to approach real-life math problems.

I'm keeping track of this here.

I need to develop some lessons about this concept for the first week or two of Math 25 in future terms. One issue I have not fully processed is whose toolbox to teach about. I'm sure that my toolbox would look different than an A-level Math 25 student, and both would look different from a C-level Math 25 student. Do I try to teach "tools" at the most useful and advanced development of each concept, or the "tools" as they less useful but make more immediate sense to more students?

(For example, in my mind finding the percent of a whole number and the percent of another percent is one concept. But to most C-level Math 25 students these are two very distinct algorithms, since one involves changing every percent to decimal format and the other does not. As another example, when finding the percent change between two numbers is the final step "multiply by 100" or is that not a distinct step and merely part of how to see the decimal result of the earlier division?)


Why am I blogging after midnight?

Last night was a nice Erev Shabbat gathering.

This morning I got to sleep in late, since P'nei Adonai has no Shabbat services the first weekend of each month and I could not visit another congregation because of a noon appointment.

At noon I got to meet with a friend and help her plan a budget and try to get her finances in control. I normally avoid money issues on Shabbat, but no other day would work last week or next because of her work schedule and the congregational picnic tomorrow, and this was charitable activity instead of economic activity for me. She got the help she wanted, and knows to find how many hours per week to ask to work at a new job.

In the afternoon I got to relax around the house, and invented a new cookie recipe to celebrate Trade Joe's having UFO mints in stock again after a month's absense. (They had been sorely missed by my wife and some other friends; I almost expected to see UFO mints appear on the commodities exchange market.) I need to play with the dough a little more before blogging about the recipe, but image a tiny gluten-free eggy sugar cookie with a UFO mint in the middle.

Then I was tired, and took a long nap. My wife was in a cooking mood, and invented a gluten-free ravioli recipe. Needless to say, this was delicious but a lot more work than my cookies.

My wife and I have been enjoying a new computer game. Unlike our old favorite, we cannot share the same civilization. However, the games are often as short as 30 minutes (AoK is normally 60-70 minutes) and they involve a much stronger sense of map control, which is very pleasing during game play.

When I woke up from my nap it was after 9pm, and my wife had already had dinner and was playing the computer game. She paused it to make me some fresh ravioli, and also made more for herself. Then she went back to her game and I started blogging.

Unlike our multi-player games, she plays single-player at a very challenging level and the games are sometimes quick but sometimes take a few hours. This game was unusually long, so you get to read a lot of blog stuff. Everyone wins!

(I still have not touched my pile of ministry-related articles to blog about. I managed to type for a few hours just about the things I have been processing lately. No time lately for merely retrospective blogging.)

Now it's bed time.

Pleasant dreams!

The "Local Church" Movement

I found out about a month ago that several of my swing dance friends are part of the Local Church movement. One of them is likely to become the new P'nei Adonai nursery worker.

Among other things, this movement is trying to be like a first-century congregation. However, the history of the movement involves a rather elaborate example of the telephone game.

The movement's publishing house uses authors that lack an understanding of first century congregations through current scholarship and Jewish culture's preservation of its history. Instead there are the general and often innacuare ideas about the first century popular several generations ago in American seminaries, filtered through Christian culture in China, and then brought back to the United States.

It will be interesting to see what comes of the new connection between P'nei Adonai and this other local group trying to be like a first-century congregation. Having visited the other group's service one Sunday I know both groups have things they do well. The exposure to other valid and simple ways to express devotion to God could be very fruitful sharing.

Landscape Photos

Ooooh pretty.

I like how landscape photographs tell stories. I suppose the opposite, in some sense, would be a painting about telling a landscape story.

Tao of Yeshua: Chapter 47

Without opening the door you can know All-under-heaven.
Without looking out the window you can see the Way of heaven.
The further you seek the less you will understand.
Therefore the Saint understands without traveling,
knows about things unseen,
and achieves without acting.

A person unable to know Adonai at home, in stillness
will not benefit from searching, or going elsewhere.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

After Salvation from Slavery to Sin

This is an interesting article, in context, in part because so many old sermons have pointed this out.

Somewhat related is this other article, one of many I've seen recently about how liturgy, used in a balanced way, is making a comeback.

Biodiesel versus Bioethanol, Prius versus Hummer

Eugene is notorious for being very concerned about the environment. We have a new eco-friendly gas station whose company makes their own biodiesel, largely from used cooking oil from a few large local companies.

Biodiesel makes sense. My collegues in the science department at LCC tell me that 5% of thus U.S. gasoline usage could be replaced by biodiesel if all factory and restaurant cooking oil was recycled in that manner. (Five percent might not sound like a lot, but that would be an extremely significant change.)

Bioethanol, on the other hand, is not yet helpful. Ethanol is already used instead of MTBE by most gasoline companies during summer months, when they are legally required to have 10% additive for cleaner burning. Since that demand currently is sufficient to exhaust current U.S. ethanol production, using special bioethanol fuels does not actually reduce how much pollution the country produces overall. Until ethanol can also be efficiently produced from local waste products (instead of from crops grown to be fuel) the energy cost of growing and transporting it prevents it from producing any significant change (see "energy balance" in the previous link's page). This technology may well be developed within the next decade, but it's not yet just around the corner.

I know someone in Eugene, who upon seeing so many bioethanol bumper stickers, remarked, "It's a sign that their heart is in the right place even if their brain is not."

Changing the topic, this is entertaining.

UPDATE: Toyota announced a plan to have all their new cars by hybrids by 2020. The Futurist predicts that by 2020 such a stance will not be notable.

Star Wars posters

Sorry, but no comparison.

This one is funny. What force powers? Enlist now!

This one somewhat bugs me. The decorative design elements are exemplary of Star Wars artwork in mixing straight lines and curves in a distinctly "futuristic" manner. But the character art does not match, and so many characters and attitudes would fit in that place better than Padme in that pose.

Two Statues

One and two.

Another Skateboard Update

I still can't ollie.

But it's Springtime and getting sunnier! Maybe I will have time to practice soon.

(Monday mornings I teach an "Introduction to Messianic Judaism" class at a place in Springfield very near the county's most famous skate park. I might leave the house early...)


I have another friend who is getting a job as a firefighter.

Her job is actually a wilderness firefighter, not a city one, but the only funny picture I can find is this one.

Can't keep my eyes from the circling skies

I have a friend, one of whose favorite songs in high school was "Learning to Fly", who 17 years later is at a point in her career and life where she is finally taking flying lessons.

I'm very happy for her. I expect it would have happened even sooner, except that recent years have been busy with her marriage, moving, and other big changes, which have certainly been even more central to her happiness!

Since she has also retained her sense of humor from her youth, here are two pictures for her office door. ;-)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Two Open Source "Commons"

Today is "Spring In-Serivce" at LCC, when classes are canceled and employees attend meetings all day.

The best meeting so far mentioned two websites related to the "Open Educational Resources" or "Open Courseware" movement.

The first,, is an archive of positively reviewed free material. Besdies this resource there are few colleges such as MIT use their reputation to claim all materials are worthwhile, and other colleges that participate in cooperative consortiums with rules for quality of shared content.

The second,, is a website that allows anyone to easily create personalized copyright and terms-of-use information for material they wish to share on the internet.

Another "Count Your Sheep" Gem

Do you love all your toes equally?

(For my old post about this comic, with my other favorites, go here.)