Monday, July 30, 2007

Had to share

Well, we've been gone for a week to Missouri to visit family. I won't bore you with family pictures or scenery shots (we didn't take many anyway), but I did get some shots of an amazing site. Troy's dad was out one morning, and noticed this coneflower which had grown up and through a leaf of the bush growing next to it:

Before he picked the coneflower, both it and the leaf were still alive and growing. Amazing.

BTW, Troy got his tractor part with little trouble and neglible cost. Then the backhoe crapped out on him. The hydraulic place couldn't fit him in for months, so he took a look at it. Well, when it was assembled, a valve was inserted backwards. Makes a big difference! So, the morning we were to leave for Missouri, Troy was out early playing on the tractor to make sure it was all fixed and working. It was. (Yeah!)

All for now,

Friday, July 13, 2007

We have a building permit!

As noted in the title, we are now permitted to build our super insulated shop building. FULL SPEED AHEAD. For you star trek fans, full speed for me is about 1/4 impulse power. But at least the state isn't holding us up. We are thankful to our benevolent and loving God for facilitating this.

Of course, we still have to pass the actual inspections, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

On an almost unrelated note, I have almost solved a knotty problem with my tractor. For inscrutable Chinese reasons, they designed the thing to use an obscure, rare oil filter for the engine. I have looked at five places that sell lots of oil filters, and got skunked. The last two places, Isaac and I finally resorted to removing every oil filter from the box and measuring the size of the hole and threads where the filter attaches. Nothing, nada, zilch, zero, again. The solution that finally presented itself was to stop looking for the unobtanium filter, and change the filter mount. That will involve making a little threaded pipe adapter that's metric on the tractor end, and english on the filter end. If I had my lathe set up, this would be 30-45 minutes of pleasant work for a no-cost, permament and elegant solution.

Since my lathe is not set up, I'm trying to get another machinest to make it for 20-25 bucks. He doesn't seem to be answering the phone the last couple of days, so I might have to scrounge through boxes and find all the parts to make my lathe operational again. I suppose even machinests are allowed to go on vacation from time to time.

If it's not one thing, it's two others.

Have a lovely day,


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The need to help (impose?) balance on "nature".

There is a saying that Nature abhors a vacuum. It's often invoked when you try to eradicate some pest or weed, only to discover that it has been replaced by something else, often even worse.

Humans love to change their environment. I mean environment in the broader sense. It covers everything from your tidying up your desk drawer to cleaning your kitchen to mowing and weeding your yard, to remodelling your house, to as big as you have control/influence over. We want to make it better, though it is an entire other discussion as to how we perceive and define "better".

Everybody does it. Some are good at it. Some do it the absolute minimum they can get away with. Some take it too far and get obsessed with cleaness or organization. But it's essentially universal expression among people makes me think that this is a very deep and fundamental part of our being or soul. I think this drive is an expression of our little version of God's involvement and care for His environment (all of creation).

We desire harmony and balance and beauty in the things around us. Farmers hate it when their cows get sick and try to help them. Gardeners despise weeds choking out their veggie plants or flowers. They don't belong there. So, we all have a plan or a world view about how things are supposed to work, just like God has a plan. Clearly, we are not overly successful at totally fixing what is wrong with the planet. But still, in our own little corner, we do not easily give up and allow chaos to win.

I often speculate what the garden of Eden was like. How much did Adam and Eve have to "work" to keep things ship-shape prior to the fall? Surely, they were not overrun with too many squirrels and chipmunks such that they had to kill the buggers at every opportunity.

Clive Staples Lewis wrote a fascinating scene in the third part of his science fiction trilogy. In the book, That Hideous Strength, the protagonist (a man named Ransom) is giving us a little vignette of what life could look like when man and nature both embrace the correct and larger plan from God. Ransom, and a woman who is considering joining this dovoted religious community are discussing how different the community really is. Ransom uses a peculiar illustration to drive home the point.

I'll paraphrase it for a moment. (You will excuse me if I get some of the details wrong. It's been years since I read it.) They have just finished a light snack in the sitting room.

Ransom: Are you afraid of mice?

Woman: Well, I don't like them, but I am not especially afraid of mice.

Ransom: Then I would like you to sit very still and just observe for a few minutes. Don't be startled or make a sudden noise.

He then proceeds to take their plates, which are covered with the typical crumbs and remnants from their light meal, and brushes the mess right onto the floor. He then rings a small bell and sits back, expectantly. Nothing happens for a few moments. Then, three small mice appear from the other side of the room from behind the furniture and cautiously make their way across the floor to the crumbs. They delicately clean up the mess until the floor is spotless. Then they sit up and groom themselves with obvious satisfaction before scampering off and dissappearing.

Ransom: You see, there has been centuries of needless conflict between humans and mice. Humans are messy eaters, which produces a modest supply of crumbs and whatnot. Mice need a modest supply of crumbs and whatnot, and would happily remove them from our premises. So long as there is an understanding and a balance between the two parties, there is no conflict.

I firmly believe that our lack of balance and harmonious coexistance with all species is a direct consequence of original sin. Until that fundamental rift in the fabric of existence is repaired, we will have to make do as best we can.

Until the mice and the squirrels and the chipmunks start playing by the grand playbook, I will continue to encourage balance and harmony by killing them using every available means and opportunity.

While we are under the burden of original sin, do you think God has enabled us to actually enjoy hunting our fellow creatures to preserve some semblance of balance and order, or am I just perverted? Or perhaps hunting pre-dates the fall and "dumb" creatures without souls always needed a bit of killing to keep them in line with the greater plan???


Sunday, July 08, 2007

So what did you do on the fourth of July?

Troy is excited to announce that he actually started digging the foundations last Wednesday. A friend volunteered his services for the day, and Troy, he and Isaac got to work! The first part was moving Troy's approximately placed corner markers so that they marked a square rectangle. That took some time from where I was watching (at the wood splitter...I wasn't just lazing around!)

Once square, they marked the boundaries for the foundations with paint...and started digging: Troy with the backhoe and Joel and Isaac with shovels after him.

By the end of the very humid day, they had one long side done! Troy has sinced finished a short side, and yesterday he and Isaac just started the other long side.

Today is too hot to work, quite frankly. I think Troy was out for a while, but currently they are playing video games!

Troy has seen the zoning guy, and got the thumbs up. He has an appointment with the building inspector this coming Thursday (13th).

All for now!

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