Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Engineer in Raleigh sharply reduces caffeine intake

Coffee futures plummet on world market

Producers hopeful to recover java losses on decaffeinated side.   Analysts note substitution of tea may require unsustainable levels of fluid intake.

No, it was Latin

I'm a fan of WCPE's "Great Sacred Music", hosted by a gently-spoken announcer, Ken Hoover. Considering how much music which is truly great was composed for religious purposes, I find it sadly indicative of the thinking of one part of the local audience that GSM gets strong criticism for its religious content. Hoover's on-air comments are always very broad and ecumenical, his programming has included selections for Jewish holidays as well as Christian, and I have to wonder if these listeners' censure would extend to keeping Bach, Palestrina, Vivaldi, and much of other composers off the air.

In fact, GSM has included some pieces which I'd only call "sacred" in the sense that the earth is the Lord's and all that it contains. A recent show opened with the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor; okay, Bach was a church composer, I guess that counts. A couple of works later, we got Karl Orff's opening to Carmina Burana, the same one popularized by Sean Hannity's opening theme. The only thing "sacred" I see there is the manuscripts which inspired Orff were found in a monastery. Maybe it represents the viewpoints of another "sacred" tradition peopled by worldly monks, I don't know -- the whole work is full of drinking songs, amour , gambling, and other subjects you don't expect among Dominicans or whatever they were. It's an explosive, belligerent piece of music, and takes lungs of leather whether you're in the choir or the orchestra.

I had two of the boys in the car and I was explaining that this movement was called "O Fortuna" (as bellowed by the chorus in the first measure) but I didn't elaborate on the title, going into the provenance of the work instead. After a time, Matthew, 10, started to giggle a bit. He said he didn't understand the title's significance, and I told him it was a lament about bad luck, something along the lines of "O Fortune! Variable as the moon …"

"Oh!" he said with relief, breaking up entirely. "I thought they were singing, 'Oh, for tuna!'" Apparently he had been trying without success to understand the connection between fish and this dramatic music …

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Devotions with the Boys

Evening devotions were reading from Psalm 17, and I was pointing out to the boys the blessings of knowing God and the hope of eternity in heaven. I mentioned that if we've trusted Christ here, we'll spend forever in heaven with God, Jesus, and His angels, and we'll meet the godly people who have gone before -- Martin Luther, J.S. Bach, ...

"And Roy Rogers?" asked Seth, 5.

"Yes, I feel pretty secure that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans are both in heaven now," I said.

"I've seen Martin Luther," said David, 3.

"No, those were actors pretending to be Martin Luther so they could tell his story. Martin Luther died before there were pictures." We really like the old b&w Martin Luther film.

I turned to the gospel of Mark and started the second reading on the schedule.

"We'll meet Martin Luther's friends ..."

"Yes, we'll meet his friends, but we're not talking about Martin Luther now, David."

I read another verse.

"I know what Martin Luther wore ..."

"Yes, David, but this isn't about Martin Luther, this is the gospel of Mark."

Another verse ...

"I wonder what Martin Luther ate ... "

I cut the reading a little short this evening.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Homeschooling moment

Overheard at a kickball game after church:

" We're 'The Plantagenets'. "

No word on the name picked by the other team. 

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The right tools

The question before the house this afternoon is whether, when clearing backlogged paperwork from the desk, it is more effective to use a wide-blade snow shovel, or something deeper like an old fashioned coal scoop.

Energy usage

This interesting detail came across the Inbox this afternoon:  According to Investors Business Daily, to power a 100W light bulb for one year requires

  • 876 lb of coal
  • 508 lb of oil
  • 7x10-4 lb of uranium

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Reflections on the slate

This is not especially significant, but we installed slate tile in the kitchen and master bath of our home the past two years. Both rooms look pretty good, though I think the smaller tiles a missionary friend installed in the bathroom turned out smoother than the 12x12 tiles I put down myself in the kitchen. (Could it be the skill of the installer? Nahh.)

One thing about it, though, is the finality of tile's interaction with the world. Comparing it to the vinyl formerly in the kitchen and the carpet in the bath (not our fault, the previous owners') , the tile is startlingly definite in its effects.

In other words, if you step on something on the tile floor, you step on it profoundly. Any parent who has encountered a Duplo block with a bare foot has a new level to experience with an unyielding tile floor beneath.

Likewise, anything dropped on the tile is dropped utterly. Crockery doesn't bounce on slate, and the plastic tops of condiment bottles are known to suffer as well.

It does look nice, though. No one's going to scratch that surface, not that you'd ever notice.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Article in the January Carolina Journal

The January edition of Carolina Journal includes my assessment of North Carolina Baptists' seeming lack of interest in promoting Christian education, something which seems obvious to me and some others. According to the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools, despite four thousand Southern Baptist congregations in North Carolina and over 450 religiously-based private schools in the state, less than 35 are sponsored by SBC churches or associations. According to Bruce Shortt of The Exodus Mandate, "The theology of this is not difficult; we simply don't want to do it." I have to agree.

The article is on page 10 here.

First I buy books

Erasmus' quotation is pretty familiar: When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes. I reported on my reading list last year and will do so again for 2005, soon. A quick check at the end of the year tallied only fifty-six, somewhat down from '04, but then the current youngest child has little patience for pacing the hallway in front of the bookshelves -- the reason for a larger total last year.

I'll update with more particulars later.