June 22, 2010

Out of Balance

Buona sera. Today, I'm up to my old tricks of taking my experiences and observations and trying to form a general principle that I hope you can use. In this case, I have contrasting ideas.

Just a moment...yeeeerrrshhh. Ah, that's better. I needed a good, long stretch.

"I thought you had enough of a stretch in Sing Sing."

Cool it, Nicky! I was undercover. Don't you have trolling to do? Yeah, you thought I didn't know abou
t that. We'll talk later.

OK, before I was so rudely interrupted...

One of the most important watchwords in my life is "balance". (One of my favorite Moody Blues albums is "A
Question of Balance".) More often than not, going to an extreme can get you into trouble. Buddha was right in this area when he said, "Seek the middle way". (Don't give me that look. You know it's true, never mind the source.) If you focus on peripherals too much, you miss out on what life has to offer.
  • People will get so locked into their political views that "the other side" never has a valid point to take into consideration.
  • You can turn your churchgoing activities into a religion. I heard someone say that they were at the church not only every time it was open, but they had a key.
  • Extreme Minimalism. Some people have almost no possessions, think you should not have them either, turn it into a kind of spiritual "value", make it a political movement. Back off, Jack. Reducing possessions and/or becoming a Minimalist is the most individualistic philosophy that I can think of, don't ruin it, capice?
  • Don't get so wrapped up in hate that you become "stupidified", like I discussed in this post.
  • I've seen people in the "green movement" let environmentalism rule every aspect of their lives, and that becomes an extreme religion of its own.
  • Sports fans, musical artist fans, whatever else fans will live and breathe their pet adulation to the point where their friends wonder about their mental health.
That's enough, you get the idea. But I want to qualify church-related stuff for a moment. Specifically, beliefs themselves. Do not be rigid in non-essentials. Major doctrines of the faith, yes, earnestly contend for those. Otherwise, back off. We're all still learning. I have some less-than-orthodox views myself in some of those areas, and I do not bludgeon people into my way of believing on those.

The other thing I want to qualify here is that when someone is a Christian, it's a way of life. While we are to be ever-mindful of Christ and that he is guiding our lives, we have no call to be obnoxious about it (like standing at preaching at the office and getting fired; that does not bring glory to God, you see). Live and be guided, but as my father said, "Don't be so Heavenly-minded that you're no earthly good". Beware of a reverse "stupidification" like the kind that happens to those who live in hate.

Now for the contrast. A bit of a suggestion, something to consider.

In my own life, I have found that I get a "fascination". Something gets my attention, and I want to "get into it", maybe learn a great deal about it. I've learned to "go with it". This way, I can learn, have fun or whatever. If it's just a passing fancy, OK, time to move on. At any rate, I had fun and probably obtained some knowledge.

When I allow myself to get "out of balance" in this way, I have to keep in mind a few things:

  • Think very carefully before spending money; the higher the cost, the more hesitation
  • Related to the first point, not to load up on clutter that could wind up packed away in a box, awaiting the thrill to return
  • Not to let other things go, especially the regular and important things in life; don't become obsessed
  • Never become obstreperous with whatever the latest fascination is
  • Realize that even though I am allowing myself to get out of balance on this new quest, not to get too carried away
  • Be willing to "come back", or move on, when it's over; sometimes, the "high" is gone but the new ingredient is now a part of my life
  • Don't do something you know is harmful I Cor. 6.12
  • Keep the guidelines, this could take a while (like my studies of Buddhism, which lasted for several years, just like with Soviet history)
These guidelines of mine may mean nothing to you. That's fine. Hey, this whole article is simply my way of offering some ideas that I hope someone can use.

June 21, 2010

Heaven-Sent Software

Buon giorno. Yours truly is a bit wired today. I've made it clear in the past that I'm a proponent of freeware and Open Source software. (No, I'm not ready to tackle Linux without a tutor.) Although both are technically free, freeware is often the product of one developer being generous and giving away his or her work (sometimes as a way to attract attention to other products that are for sale), and Open Source is available to anyone with the necessary skills to develop; a group effort, if you will. Click on the above link for more information about Open Source.

Much of my favorite software is Open Source. I like the guiding principles behind it, and that it seems to be a labor of love. Firefox, Open Office (replacements for Excel, Word, PowerPoint and others), 7-Zip file compression and others.

I found a couple that are new to me. Sort of. Couple, that is. You'll see.

For someone that wants to do Bible study on their computer, with multiple versions to compare, have commentaries, dictionaries and other books available, BPBible has some good things going for it. (No, it is not affiliated with BP Petroleum. Duh.) One thing that attracted me to it was the portable version for flash drives and so forth.

There are problems with this, however. Most of the Bibles that can be downloaded are very outdated or (in my opinion) too modernized. But that is up to the user. I took the King James Version (1769 version; most people think they are reading the 1611 version, but they are not) and the English Standard Version. Others did not appeal to me. Commentaries and other helps struck me as "iffy", but they had to take what they could get without having to charge for their product and violate the Open Source standards.

One thing that really bothered me was their confusing Website. It links to the SWORD project (Eph. 6.17, presumably) and the Cross Wire Bible Society. They have many modules of Bible study software. Which to choose? They kind of throw it at you, in my opinion. A second part of this was that there are no instructions; you're on your own, Ollie.

The built-in uninstaller is lacking. Good thing I used Revo Uninstaller (free version) to remove all the stuff that was left behind.

On the other hand, I am very impressed by the very similar freeware called e-Sword. It has some of the same difficulties and limitations in Bible versions as BPBible, but the creator (a writer of software by trade) has made arrangements with some companies to sell some modules at reasonable prices. Now I can get the very accurate and highly-respected New American Standard Bible (perhaps) the Holman Christian Standard Bible that I am willing to pay for.

Edit: I am no longer using e-Sword. Although I have nothing against it and it's a fine product, I prefer "theWord" free Bible software above all else. And it has a portable version. Click here for my discussion of it.

Better "helps" are available, too.

Instructions and training videos are available to download and/or view on the site. Even with these, though, it takes some fiddling about and clicking to see what happens. When I made my copy look like the one in the demonstration video, things were making more sense.





Also, it's interesting to me... the Bible is ancient, and here I am, studying it with modern technology.

While I'm at it, I have some other useful things, and some fun stuff. First, the useful:
Here's the fun stuff:
  • The Brick Testament, a very large illustrated Bible — done with Legos!
  • LOLcat Bible — Your favorites from LOLspeak, with the annoying cutesy "LOLspeak", plus Ceiling Cat and Basement Cat in their struggle. Dig this: John 3.16 (hover over the link and let RefTagger do its work for you), and then... "So liek teh Ceiling Kitteh lieks teh ppl lots and he sez 'Oh hai I givez u me only kitteh and ifs u beleeves him u wont evr diez no moar, kthxbai!'" You decide if it's blasphemy or harmless fun, but I just had to show you. I think they mean no harm, though.
And I thought the Stock Car Racing Bible was a bit odd... Hey, it's on sale now!

June 18, 2010

Blind Hate

Edited 5 August 2011


Buona sera. Do you know that old group of Clapton's and Winwood's called "Blind Faith"? Well, this has nothing to do with it.

I have a lesson, with some illustrations from my recent experiences in Trollsville. Sounds like a new game from Zynga, doesn't it? Well, my game was unpleasant, and yet, there were laughable experiences.

Here is the point, then I will explain it: You can become so blinded by hate that you miss out on some good things. If your criteria for whether someone is "acceptable" to you is based on qualifiers, be careful. People have chosen to hate me because I am a Christian, because I am not (denomination), because I am a Conservative, because I work for — waitaminnit, you almost got me there. Can't tell you that.

But what good is it to have such severe limiting factors?

"You Xtians are all stupid and worthless, neener neener!"

That guy is missing out on valuable information. Just today, I heard Alistair Begg give some very practical comments about financial freedom. It doesn't matter if you're a "believer" or not, Alistair said some useful things and Carl Cretin is missing out because he's rejecting the information because of who is giving it (Genetic Fallacy). Frankly, it's all due to pride.

Not very bright.

In downtown Trollsville, some basement-dwelling juvenile atheists were so wrapped up in their hatred of me (some of which is justified because I taunt them by pointing out their folly), they actually accused me of this combination:
  • Shutting off the comments on this site (yes, because of trolling; finally shut off completely in April 2012)
  • Creating a "sock puppet" of an atheist to argue with me
  • Writing lengthy diatribes by this atheist
  • Commenting back and forth with this sock puppet
  • Locking up the comments again to keep out "real" people
How dumb can you get? If they had clicked on the guy's name in the comments, they could go to his profile, and then to his Weblog where he (lamely) ridicules me. What, then? Am I creating an entire new name and many posts on another Weblog that disagree with everything I stand for on this one? All because the site had been locked down whenever he tried to check the comments. If he had checked during the right week or so, he would have found out that the comments were indeed open for a while. I suppose that he's giving himself Godlike knowledge, thereby having the power of God, in whom he disbelieves. Agonizing.

"It's your multiple personalities acting up again, Cowboy Bob!"

Now you people have Lela taking a shot at me. The difference is that I know she's not being mean-spirited.

One thing struck me, however. Was this guy so bad at attacking me that the other atheist trolls could not believe that he was real? If they could get past the source, some practical advice is to be found for them in Galatians 5.15.

Remember Neil's adventures with that welfare slob that likes to throw punches? (I have to find another name for her that is not profane, but the old one had the initials of "BB".) Although it grated on him, Neil could admit when this childish adult was actually in the right on some things. He wasn't blinded by hate.

No good can be had by forcing someone to conform to your own mold, your own construction of what a person of (whatever) persuasion stands for. "Christians are supposed to...", and , "Aren't Conservatives supposed to...?" That's neurotic, Nelly. Take people for what they are, not for what you think they should be. Especially if your judgment is clouded by hate, you cannot see the actual person or any truth in what is said.

Well, I've long believed that if someone is going to think (or say) evil about you, there is nothing you can do about it. I've seen cat fights where one girl gets into another's face and yells, "I hear you been talkin' 'bout me!" So? You can't stop it. But what can be done is to live your life, do what's right and let someone with sense see that your critic is being a fool.

So, for rational people, pay attention and don't let hatred blind you to the good things about someone. The rest of you, I posted your picture below:

June 17, 2010

United States Air Force in my Waffle!

Buona sera. Hey, what do you get when you cross an atheist with a Jehovah's Witness? Someone who knocks on your door for no apparent reason. Ha! Love that one. (Insert Larry the Cable Guy voice): I don't care who ya are, that's funny!

You're not going to believe this. With the merging of technology and magic, the United States Air Force has made a holy relic in my waffle!

Are you ready?

OK, here's the Nighthawk:













Even though it's officially retired, I still think it's cool.

OK, now dig this. The USAF has made it happen that an image of the Nighthawk has appeared in my waffle! Get a load of this:
















What will happen next? I love miracles of technology! They send a tingle down my leg, just like Obama does to Keith "Leftist Nutcase" Olbermann. Do more than ten people watch that show anymore?

Now I have something a bit more serious. It's another area where I agree with disbelievers, and that's when religious people act like pagans worshiping idols. For instance, the "Virgin Mary" was seen in a piece of toast:


There's one very serious problem with this, aside from the fact that the mind can create images where there is nothing (like when I unfocus my eyes while staring at the couch and see a face in the pattern). That problem is very simple and basic, that nobody knows what Mary looked like! Just like when people see images of Jesus in things. Those images are based on imagined resemblances to paintings of imagined images, capice? Nobody knows.

So, unbelievers and disbelievers, you're right on this. "Religious" people need to focus on the Word of God, and not get wrapped up in imagination and silliness.

That cheese sandwich pictured here was sold for quite a few grotzits. I could have had good money for my stealth waffle, but I was hungry.

June 16, 2010

Bittersweet

Excuse me. I am very, very sad right now. Just found out that I lost a friend. Well, I considered Dana Key, the lead singer and guitarist of the Christian band DeGarmo and Key a kind of friend. Met him after concerts (and once before) about three times. Great show. (Greg Morrow was drumming for them, look for him on the credits of Van Zant's latest albums.) He's gone now, dead on June 6, 2010 at age 56 from a blood clot.

Some people say that people do not grow spiritually when they're into any kind of rock music. Well, Dana was another one that became a pastor. He was one of those people that you could see it in his eyes, felt like he was looking into me. Startling the first time it happened. These guys meant what they said, and had the courage to sing about Jesus. For that matter, I remember when they released a 2-for-1 deal — buy the tape, there is a second one inside the package for you to give to "an unsaved friend". That has always impressed me.

I came back to my faith a few weeks ago. Part of what brought me back was music by DeGarmo and Key. Back in 1978, I remember the guy at the Christian bookstore in Lansing, MI showing me the new album, "This Time Thru", by the then-unknown DeGarmo and Key. So, they've been important to me for 32 years, except when I had put my faith on the back burner. But they had retired from music just about that time, so I didn't miss out on many tunes. Even so, DeGarmo and Key and the band ministered to me (and many others).

When we meet again (this time, in the glory that he proclaimed), I'm going to ask how he did some of those guitar licks. When he wasn't doing the lighter pop music, he could fit in with the best of the secular rockers! The video below gives a sample of the skill of this direct descendant of Francis Scott Key.

Good write-up and touching comments here. Also see the tribute here. Addendum: My follow-up on June 6, 2011 is here.

It's more than a wish, more than a daydream
More than just a passing whim
Yes, I've said this all before
A thousand times or more
I don't want to waste my life in chains of sin

CHORUS:

I don't wanna be a casual Christian
I don't wanna live a lukewarm life
But I wanna light up the night
With an everlasting light
I don't wanna live a casual Christian life

This life is filled with strong distractions
With pulls from the left one from the right
I've already made up my mind
Gonna leave this world behind
Gonna live my life a living sacrifice.
— "Casual Christian"
Now see "Rock Solid":


June 15, 2010

More Stuff that Grinds My Gears

Buon giorno. Been getting myself in trouble with the crew. Grousing to Lela, Hal the Hacker, Tommy the Knocker, Billy the Baptist, Rowdy Ralph, Tommy the Knocker, Nicky and the others... they told me to put it into writing so they don't have to hear me.

I'm in the mood for a little grumbling, making the sound of a distant thunder. Most are small. Sure, I have plenty of things that I can rant about, such as people who use bad reasoning but cannot see it, double standards of the Hollyweird leftists (sure, complain about Bush at every turn, not a peep about B. Hussein Obama's failings in dealing with the BP situation), the way PayPal is letting finances for terrorist lovers go through but shuts down their account with Atlas Shrugs and other anti-jihad sites — but I want to let other people handle those so I can go after must less important things.

Except one brief comment of something bigger. Can the criticism of Elton John for playing at the Limbaugh wedding, willya? People got along, they liked each other, everyone had a good time and so on. Also, Elton said that he was there to "build bridges", according to Rush's account on today's broadcast. So, you hateful leftists, where everything is supposed to be peace, love and grooviness, you are way out of line, capice?

OK, now the small stuff.

It really grinds my gears when I hear amplified and often processed eating sounds. I was raised to chew with my mouth closed and not to talk with food in my mouth. When my relatives sound like jungle animals grunting over the kill in their "see-food diets", I get aggravated. When things like the Kit Kat candy bar commercial come on and I'm subjected to "CrunchSmackSnarfGrind", at least I can shut off the volume on the telly and wonder why they have to lie to us with amplified, processed crunch noises. OK, so Kit Kat is crunchy, I get it, no etiquette.

Another gear-grinder is when, despite my repeated attempts like this one, people don't listen and insist on forwarding a forward of a forward. When (if!) you finally get to the message after wading through everyone else it's gone to, it's full of border lines |||| that make it || very annoying to read.

Related to that, the forwarded letters with a blonde-haired, blue-eyed "luck angel" or some similar nonsense. Blackmail! Send it to everyone in your address book in three minutes and you will have something wonderful happen to you at 21.58 tonight. Otherwise, Jesus will drown a kitten. Spare me! I know, I know I've talked about this, but I can always hope that someone will take the hint.

People who want to debate on Twitter. That really grinds my gears. I mean, sure, the occasional exchange of comments is one thing. But to try and debate or have a lengthy discussion? My Twitter activities are automatic postings from my Weblogs, the others are "drive-by" at best. I was hit with stuff like, "Your article assumes that evolutionist is not fact and neglects to mention genetic evidence which proves common ancestry". It has plenty of things I could debate, but not on Twitter! Also, I had a comment from someone who's purpose is to destroy religion (his "bio" says, "Showing the harm of religious beliefs"). When I called him on it, he said, "That's not true, I hope to raise questions in their mind—but I also hope to show that 'atheist' is not the same as 'immoral'". Yeah, really useful to do this on Twitter. Except that I think both of those guys are just stringing me along.

Right, that's enough. Ciao.

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