Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Thinking Blogger Award

Angel at Woman Honor Thyself sent me an award! Seems she thinks that I make her think, me and some other bloggers as well. So she tagged me with this, linked to me on her blog, and said nice things about me.

I have to now pick five bloggers that make me think, tag them, and hope they don't get irked at me and say mean things. This takes thought and means some of those I enjoy will be left out! Don'cha hate that? Me, too.

Anyway, I tracked this down to a blogger, ilker yoldas, whose blog The Thinking Blog has quite a following among the members of MyBlogLog. I could not find any mention on that blog of the award, but so what?

This blog was begun as simply a way to express my opinions, sell copies of my novel, describe my own writing travails (the Goofing-Off Syndrome), and just put in writing things that were rattling about in my mind. The Writing Pad has had posts on Art, Artists, Comics, politics, religion, and other things, including silliness. I hope when I wax philosophical or opine on certain subjects, that they make folks think, even if they do not agree. I find that the act of writing down my thoughts oftentimes clarifies my thinking. I'd bet that's true for a lot of you, too. And I am always grateful for the visitors who find their way here, leave comments, and feel moved to return. I've met some wonderful folks through this blog, and discovered some amazing writers, thinkers, humorists, and all of them have added to my life! So Thanks! to all of you!

Rules of participation:

Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging. The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme and know you thinks so highly of ya!…heh

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

That being said (don'cha love the cliches? Heheheee!), here's my truncated list of blogs/bloggers who make me think and thus receive the Thinking Blogger Award:

1) Patrick Joubert Conlon, of Born Again Redneck Yogi(he has trouble finding a title he likes, so it changes!) ~ A Classic Liberal (or Libertarian) who posts with equal ease regarding the flora and fauna of his home, politics at large, and anything that comes to mind.

2) Always On Watch Two (Always On Watch got too big, so she opened the new one!) ~ A dedicated teacher, smart-as-a-whip blogger, and solid writer. Every visit is an adventure in common-sense thought.

3) Victoria at Sundries...a sweatshop of moxie ~ A British ex-pat, Vicks always has interesting, thought-provoking, or oft-times offbeat posts. Fun, palate-cleansing, thoughtful.

4)neo-neocon at NEO-NEOCON ~ She does with introspection and self-examination what William Bougeaureau did for Art. Her posts about her conversion from modern Liberalism are absolute classics!

5) The Anchoress at The Anchoress ~ Hers was the first blog I regularly visited. She needs no awards or recognition, as she is well-known in the blogosphere, but she has always given me food for thought.

Don't fret if I didn't mention you! You may already be getting the award from some other blogger who thinks you're thought-provoking. Besides, all you need do is check my blogroll or image links, at the bottom of the page, to find the bloggers I love to visit!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Crucifixion of Christ

"No Greater Love"

by Robert Grace

EXCRUCIATE: to cause great agony, torment

Latin : ex : out of, from cruciate : cross

"from the cross"

You've read the Gospel accounts of this. They are moving in their very simplicity, the speed with which the action occurs. Yet, because the witnesses were familiar with a Crucifixion, fully descrbing it was not considered. We are left to imagine the act, and the suffering of Jesus, as he is executed by the Romans. So what happens on that day? What were the Gospels describing?

The Jewish man has been arrested, tried illegally by the religious authorities, and convicted of proclaiming himself GOD. He has been given over to the ruling military authorities of the region, and beaten. Offered to his own people, as an innocent man and undeserving of further punishment, those people refuse him and demand that he be executed. The legal authority makes a display of being innocent of anything, by ostentatiously washing his hands, then sends the innocent man to be brutally scourged and executed.

The man has been beaten, with fists and sticks. He has been flogged with a whip, the ends of which are embedded with bits of metal and bone so as to bite into the flesh and muscle. Unlike most victims of this sort of flogging - scourging - who are whipped perhaps but a few times so as to prolong their coming execution, this man has received the full forty lashes. A circle of thorny vines has been fashioned into a kind of crown and pushed down onto the man's head. He is then beaten with sticks once again. He is not only in shock, and nearly exhausted beyond his own ability to stay on his feet, but he is bleeding profusely, and is in physical pain of unimaginable depth.

The skin of his back, his chest and arms, and his legs, hangs in bloody strips, the nerves cut, bruised, and exposed to the air and the man's sweat. The thorns upon his head dig deeply into his scalp, impaling the nerves on his head so that every movement brings excruciating pain to pulse over his face and down his neck. A soft breeze becomes an instrument of torture as they move the crown of thorns.

Barely capable now of standing, the man has a wooden cross, or cross-piece, put onto his shoulders and he is ordered to drag it to the place of his execution.

Unable to hold the heavy wooden object up, a by-stander is pulled from the crowd and forced to carry it in the man's stead. The crowd pushes close to see the tortured man and to jeer at him, some to weep at his plight.

Jesus is aware enough to speak to them and admonish them, saying, Luke 23:28 - 31:
"But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed [are] the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?"

The guards keep them back so they will not interfere with this execution.

Upon reaching the execution place, He is stripped of His garments, thrown on his back, dragged into place on the cross, and the execution begins. It is a Crucifixion, an ancient form of execution that has become somewhat popular with Roman authorities. It is a humiliating, painful way to die. The very word describes the experience: excruciating.
The Romans use large iron nails or spikes to affix the man to the cross-piece.
nails into the handsThey drive the nails into the space between the small bones of His wrist (the wrist is considered part of the hand in Ancient times), or they are driven into the base of the thumb angled so as to pass through the wrist. This is not always used in Crucifixions. Tying the victim prolongs the death. Nailing him makes the death quicker and far more painful. This is a form of torture the man from Nazareth is experiencing. And the pain he has been suffering has now been magnified.

His feet or ankles are impaled to the base of the upright, at an angle, so that his knees are bent. This will allow Him to push himself up so He can breath. It is not a form of mercy by the Romans - it is another addition to the torture. Sometimes the victim's feet are nailed through the Achilles tendon on either side of the upright. Gruesome, indeed.

When death comes it is usually caused by many things, among them asphyxiation as the victim can no longer hold his body up so He can breath. But the one form of mercy the Romans will show the crucifixion victim is to break their lower legs. This will cause enormous shock, and the victim will not be able to hold himself up. A quicker death is the only mercy the Romans will show.

This man, this Jesus of Nazareth, is being executed for no crime at all. Accused of blasphemy by the Jewish Authorities in their midnight illegal trial, He cannot be guilty because He is Who He claims to be. He cannot be found guilty because the prosecutors cannot find two witnesses against Him. But they find Him guilty nonetheless, beat Him, mock Him, and turn Him over to the Romans. They demand that the Romans execute this Jesus. And they lie to the Romans to see that He is executed.

Pontius Pilate, the Roman authority finally agrees and executes the Nazarene man. Not one of us can fail to recognize the pain that being beaten entails, nor the pain of having a sharp tool driven into our flesh. But what happened to Jesus went beyond what we can imagine in our own minds. So we can turn to experts on the human body to explain what happened.

From Dr. C. Truman Davis:
About a decade ago, reading Jim Bishop's The Day Christ Died, I realized that I had for years taken the Crucifixion more or less for granted -- that I had grown callous to its horror by a too easy familiarity with the grim details and a too distant friendship with our Lord. It finally occurred to me that, though a physician, I didn't even know the actual immediate cause of death. The Gospel writers don't help us much on this point, because crucifixion and scourging were so common during their lifetime that they apparently considered a detailed description unnecessary. So we have only the concise words of the Evangelists: "Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to them to be crucified -- and they crucified Him."

[...]the physical passion of the Christ began in Gethsemane. Of the many aspects of this initial suffering, the one of greatest physiological interest is the bloody sweat. It is interesting that St. Luke, the physician, is the only one to mention this. He says, "And being in Agony, He prayed the longer. And His sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground."

Every ruse (trick) imaginable has been used by modern scholars to explain away this description, apparently under the mistaken impression that this just doesn't happen. A great deal of effort could have been saved had the doubters consulted the medical literature. Though very rare, the phenomenon of Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional stress of the kind our Lord suffered, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process might well have produced marked weakness and possible shock.

After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was next brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest; it is here that the first physical trauma was inflicted. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards then blind-folded Him and mockingly taunted Him to identify them as they each passed by, spat upon Him, and struck Him in the face.

In the early morning, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, Jesus is taken across the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia, the seat of government of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. You are, of course, familiar with Pilate's action in attempting to pass responsibility to Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Judea. Jesus apparently suffered no physical mistreatment at the hands of Herod and was returned to Pilate. It was in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Bar-Abbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.

Now, recall that Jesus was a carpenter, as it is supposed, and was in excellent physical condition. He was also a preacher who walked everywhere and traveled great distances. This was not some sickly, weak man. As Cahleen Shrier, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Biology and Chemistry at Azusa Pacific University puts it:
It is important to understand from the beginning that Jesus would have been in excellent physical condition. As a carpenter by trade, He participated in physical labor. In addition, He spent much of His ministry traveling on foot across the countryside. His stamina and strength were, most likely, very well developed. With that in mind, it is clear just how much He suffered: If this torture could break a man in such good shape, it must have been a horrific experience.

It was. And we have, as Christians, watered down the very horror of Christ's execution to the point where it is a mere mention between Good Friday and the colored eggs of Easter morning. And this horrible death began as a Supper with friends, if you will, which we remember as The Last Supper.

As described by David Terasaka, MD, in "Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ":
From the upper room, Jesus went outside of the city walls where he spent time in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane. The garden has many ancient olive trees today, some of which may have grown from the roots of the trees that were present in Jesus' time. (All trees in and around Jerusalem were cut down when the Romans conquered the city in 70 A.D. Olive trees can regenerate from their roots and live for thousands of years.) The name "Gethsemane", comes from the Hebrew Gat Shmanim, meaning "oil press" (Kollek). Since "oil" is used in the Bible to symbolize the Holy Spirit, it may be said that the garden is where "the Spirit of God was crushed" (Missler). It was here that Jesus agonized in prayer over what was to occur. It is significant that this is the only place in the KJV where the word "agony" is mentioned (Strong's concordance). The Greek word for agony means to be "engaged in combat" (Pink) Jesus agonizes over what He is to go through, feeling that He is at the point of death.(Mark14:34) Yet He prays, "Not my will, but thine be done."

Cahleen Shrier describes the scourging:
Traveling from Pilate to Herod and back again, Jesus walks approximately two and a half miles. He has not slept, and He has been mocked and beaten (Luke 22:63-65). In addition, His skin remains tender from the hemohedrosis. His physical condition worsens.

Pilate orders Jesus to be flogged as required by Roman law before crucifixion Traditionally, the accused stood naked, and the flogging covered the area from the shoulders down to the upper legs. The whip consisted of several strips of leather. In the middle of the strips were metal balls that hit the skin, causing deep bruising. In addition, sheep bone was attached to the tips of each strip.

When the bone makes contact with Jesus’ skin, it digs into His muscles, tearing out chunks of flesh and exposing the bone beneath. The flogging leaves the skin on Jesus’ back in long ribbons. By this point, He has lost a great volume of blood which causes His blood pressure to fall and puts Him into shock. The human body attempts to remedy imbalances such as decreased blood volume, so Jesus’ thirst is His body’s natural response to His suffering (John 19:28). If He would have drank water, His blood volume would have increased.

Roman soldiers place a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head and a robe on His back (Matthew 27:28-29). The robe helps the blood clot (similar to putting a piece of tissue on a cut from shaving) to prevent Jesus from sustaining more blood loss. As they hit Jesus in the head (Matthew 27:30), the thorns from the crown push into the skin and He begins bleeding profusely. The thorns also cause damage to the nerve that supplies the face, causing intense pain down His face and neck. As they mock Him, the soldiers also belittle Jesus by spitting on Him (Matthew 27:30). They rip the robe off Jesus’ back and the bleeding starts afresh.

Jesus’ physical condition becomes critical. Due to severe blood loss without replacement, Jesus is undoubtedly in shock. As such, He is unable to carry the cross and Simon of Cyrene executes this task (Matthew 27:32).

Crucifixion was invented by the Persians between 300-400 B.C. It is quite possibly the most painful death ever invented by humankind. The English language derives the word “excruciating” from crucifixion, acknowledging it as a form of slow, painful suffering.1 Its punishment was reserved for slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and the vilest of criminals. Victims were nailed to a cross; however, Jesus’ cross was probably not the Latin cross (†), but rather a Tau cross (T). The vertical piece (the stipes) remains in the ground permanently. The accused carries only the horizontal piece (the patibulum) up the hill. Atop the patibulum lies a sign (the titulus), indicating that a formal trial occurred for a violation of the law. In Jesus’ case, this reads “This is the King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38).

The accused needed to be nailed to the patibulum while lying down, so Jesus is thrown to the ground, reopening His wounds, grinding in dirt, and causing bleeding. They nail His “hands” to the patibulum. The Greek meaning of “hands” includes the wrist. It is more likely that the nails went through Jesus’ wrists. If the nails were driven into the hand, the weight of the arms would cause the nail to rip through the soft flesh.

Therefore, the upper body would not be held to the cross. If placed in the wrist, the bones in the lower portion of the hand support the weight of the arms and the body remains nailed to the cross. The huge nail (seven to nine inches long)2 damages or severs the major nerve to the hand (the median nerve) upon impact. This causes continuous agonizing pain up both of Jesus’ arms.

Once the victim is secured, the guards lift the patibulum and place it on the stipes already in the ground. As it is lifted, Jesus’ full weight pulls down on His nailed wrists and His shoulders and elbows dislocate (Psalm 22:14).3 In this position, Jesus’ arms stretch to a minimum of six inches longer than their original length.

It is highly likely that Jesus’ feet were nailed through the tops as often pictured. In this position (with the knees flexed at approximately 90 degrees),4 the weight of the body pushes down on the nails and the ankles support the weight. The nails would not rip through the soft tissue as would have occurred with the hands. Again, the nail would cause severe nerve damage (it severs the dorsal pedal artery of the foot) and acute pain.

Normally, to breathe in, the diaphragm (the large muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity) must move down. This enlarges the chest cavity and air automatically moves into the lungs (inhalation). To exhale, the diaphragm rises up, which compresses the air in the lungs and forces the air out (exhalation). As Jesus hangs on the cross, the weight of His body pulls down on the diaphragm and the air moves into His lungs and remains there. Jesus must push up on His nailed feet (causing more pain) to exhale.

In order to speak, air must pass over the vocal cords during exhalation. The Gospels note that Jesus spoke seven times from the cross. It is amazing that despite His pain, He pushes up to say “Forgive them” (Luke 23:34).

The difficulty surrounding exhalation leads to a slow form of suffocation. Carbon dioxide builds up in the blood, resulting in a high level of carbonic acid in the blood. The body responds instinctively, triggering the desire to breathe. At the same time, the heart beats faster to circulate available oxygen. The decreased oxygen (due to the difficulty in exhaling) causes damage to the tissues and the capillaries begin leaking watery fluid from the blood into the tissues. This results in a build-up of fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion) and lungs (pleural effusion). The collapsing lungs, failing heart, dehydration, and the inability to get sufficient oxygen to the tissues essentially suffocate the victim.5 The decreased oxygen also damages the heart itself (myocardial infarction) which leads to cardiac arrest. In severe cases of cardiac stress, the heart can even burst, a process known as cardiac rupture.6 Jesus most likely died of a heart attack.

After Jesus’ death, the soldiers break the legs of the two criminals crucified alongside Him (John 19:32), causing suffocation. Death would then occur quicker. When they came to Jesus, He was already dead so they did not break His legs (John 19:33). Instead, the soldiers pierced His side (John 19:34) to assure that He was dead. In doing this, it is reported that “blood and water came out” (John 19:34), referring to the watery fluid surrounding the heart and lungs.

There is also a mystery here, not the one associated with the Resurrection. During the time while Christ was on the cross, yet still lived, the Bible relates that the sky darkened as if it was night. But it was not night but the middle of the day (noon to three p.m.). I know that there are theological implications to this. My own belief is that since Jesus was taking onto Himself the responsibility for the Sins of all humanity, GOD must pour out HIS righteous wrath on Jesus. That is the penalty. Nothing less will suffice to redeem mankind from eternal death. And so to hide what is being done to HIS only son, I believe that GOD caused the darkness so that no human would witness this punishment. If you think the Romans can cause pain, imagine the Living GOD meting out punishment to HIS only son.

When HE was finished with the punishment, the darkness receded, and Jesus Christ said, "It is finished," and died. He died so quickly that Pilate was astonished. He expected Jesus to linger for two days or more. He was not counting on the Wrath of Heaven to speed the process. After all, Christ had to die quickly so that He could be entombed quickly. For the greatest miracle of all was going to happen on the third day. And that is for another day.

"My Son, My Son" by Danny Hahlbohm
Bear in mind that beyond His suffering, His followers suffered,
and so did His mother, Mary. She watched her own son be executed.

C. Truman Davis: "A Physician Analyzes the Crucifixion"

David Terasaka, M.D.: "Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ"

Cahleen Shreir, PDd.: "The Science of the Crucifixion"

Dr. Mark Eastman: "Medical Aspects of The Crucifixion: Agony of Love"

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Where Is Golgotha?

Matthew 27:33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, ...

Mark 15:22 And they bring Him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. ...

John 19:17 And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called [the place] of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: ...

For early Christians, the site of Christ's Crucifixion was a revered, some may say 'Holy', place. But where was it?

In Jerusalem there are several sites which have been suggested for many years as the location of Jesus' crucifixion ("Golgotha" or "Calvary", both meaning in Hebrew "the place of the skull" or "the place of the head"). Two of them are among best known to us today.

Northwest of the Old City there is a small hill with features which some say resembles the eye sockets of a human skull. Near it is an ancient burial cave known today as the Garden Tomb. This was not the site that early Christians revered.

The mother of the Byzantine emperor Constantine, Queen Helena, in the 4th Century of the Christian Era, built a church at the present site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on the same site which, before Queen Helena's time, held a temple to the goddess Venus which had been built on top of the remains of a second century BC monument to the King/Priest John Hyrcanus of the Hashmonean dynasty. This was not the site that early Christians revered.

Consider the Scripture, if you will, as a guidepost to the actual history and you may discover the answer. First you need to recall that the Centurion who witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, and proclaimed Him "the Son of God", is the same who also, while at the crucifixion, witnessed the tearing of the Veil of the Temple, as well as the "darkening of the sun". He was a witness of an occurence which he could not have seen had he been at any of the traditional places which we accept as the place of Christ's crucifixion.

What was the Veil of the Temple, that it should be considered an important clue?
"And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made... and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. - Exodus 26:31,33"

The Veil of the Temple would have been 82.5 feet in height, and about 53 feet in width. A huge covering over the doors that gave entrance to the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest went through the Veil. Only the High Priest had access to GOD, directly, this way.

Now, consider that when a King was angered or grief-stricken beyond his own comprehension, he would tear at his robes until they were torn apart. The tearing of the Temple Veil, in exactly the same way, is supposed to be GOD's "tearing of HIS robes". By tearing the Veil of the Temple, GOD removed the priesthood, symbolically, from the place of access. From that moment on Mankind would have direct access to GOD, through Christ alone.

Now, from any of the favored sites considered the site of the crucifixion, no one can see the Temple Veil, despite its massive size, and it's astonishing color: "You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen. It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim." ~ Exodus 26:31

Only one place allows you to see that Veil, and that place is on the Mount of Olives. This place, which is "near unto the City", as John described it, is a place known as the 'Altar of the Red Heifer', and was the site where the High Priests would slaughter the sacrifice to be used in the Temple. This was a part of the worship ritual, even though it did not take place within the city or the Temple. It was also called 'Outside-the-camp' a proper name, mind you, not a simple description or direction. For over 1,000 years the Jewish High Priests went to this spot, sacrificed for the Temple rituals, and returned to the Temple, passing through the Veil into the Holy of Holies, where they would sprinkle the blood of that sacrifice on the Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat was the lid or cover of solid gold on the Ark of the Covenant.

Go back now from the Temple to the place where Christ was crucified. It could only have been in one place. Not the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, not at the site of the Garden Tomb. That place was on the Mount of Olives, in the place where the Jewish High Priests had sacrificed to GOD - a blood sacrifice - a place know from the Old Testament as the Place of the Head (or Skull). Christ was sacrificed as GOD had required throughout the Temple period, indeed from the time of Adam, with blood as the payment for Sin.

Only an innocent life could be used as payment for Sin. That is what GOD demanded. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." Leviticus 17:11

Remember: To GOD, Blood is life, life is blood. When blood is shed a life is shed. Blood becomes the vehicle of redemption throughout the entire Bible. If you can't understand blood, you can't understand Jesus. Jesus didn't come to heal the sick, He did it en-route. He came and set His face to go to Jerusalem and die. Jesus said, "For this cause I have come,"

John 10:18 "No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." Jesus came for one reason: to shed His blood. Remember, Jesus came to restore what Adam and Eve had forfeited.

Jesus Christ was crucified on the Mount of Olives, in sight of the Veil of the Temple. Traditions that place his crucifixion in other places are moot. Scripture reveals the Truth. And History needs to be adjusted to fall in line with the Truth, and the facts.

Next time, I think I'll look into crucifixion. Too many people have tried to clean it up, to make it nicer for the folks, or even slide past it quickly, as if it was not an integral part of the entire story. But crucifixion was, and remains, a stark, brutal, and humiliating form of execution. Believers need to face the facts, not wrap themselves in the soft blanket of denial.

Spring Has Sprung!

From The Farmer's Almanac, Tuesday, March 20, 2007:
Vernal Equinox, 8:07 P.M. EDT
The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning "equal night." The vernal, or spring, equinox is the point at which the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from south to north, signaling the beginning of nature's renewal in the Northern Hemisphere.

You may celebrate today, Tuesday, or better yet, tomorrow, as the First Day of Spring. The day that Winter has died and Spring has been born. The flowers will begin blooming, the trees will burst forth in varied shades of green, the birds begin to build their nests, and All is ahead of us. Hope is alive once more.

For those of you still wrapped in bitter cold, snow drifts and ice, don't worry. For warmth is coming. Soon enough you will put away your coats and gloves, break out your sweaters, and breath in the fragrances that herald the growing season.

From The Farmer's Almanac:


marks the moment of spring, but the appearance of the first greens makes it real. The early settlers in New England were firm believers in the tonic effects of eating spring greens: they were said to stimulate the digestion, purify the blood, cure scurvy and ague, combat rheumatism, and repel kidney stones. Let's face it -- anything fresh and green no doubt tasted great after a wearisome winter of salt pork and dried beans.

Dandelions were so valued that they were cultivated in gardens. French and Dutch settlers favored using the tender young leaves in salads, either fresh or blanched. Others preferred the leaves as one would spinach or make them into soup. (Those who boiled dandelion greens in water often made a point of drinking the "pot likker" or cooking water, which was, in fact, loaded with water-soluble vitamins.)

Rhubarb, or pieplant, was widely regarded as a fine spring tonic to aid the blood and the digestive system. Cooked and stewed rhubarb was called "spring fruit" in early cookbooks. Rhubarb found its way into pies, puddings, tarts, preserves, and even soups.

Another popular spring tonic was made by boiling together bunches of sweet fern, sarsaparilla, wintergreen and sassafras and using the brew as a basis for beer, adding hops, molasses,and brewer's yeast for extra bounce.

Follow the links to see what recipes and advice the Farmer's Almanac has to offer. Aside fromt hat, well, take heart! Spring is here! Winter is dead or dying!

BTW: If you haven't seen Farmer's Almanac TV, check your PBS schedule. I've seen it twice and it was a nice program. Informative, nostalgic, worth the time. Check it out!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sláinte! To Your Health!

"Sláinte!" "To your health!", is what I wish to all of you on this fine St.Patrick's Day! In Northern Ireland -what some still call Ulster - there are three main official languages: There's English,Irish(Gaelic), and Ulster-Scots. "Cheers", in Northern Ireland, is Sláinte(to your health)! "Cheers!" in The Republic of Ireland is the same: "Sláinte!" They're the Irish, after all! "Guid forder!"(good luck) is the toast for the Ulster-Scots. Thanks to the Alternative Whiskey Academy, for this information, and "Sláinte!"
May God bring good health to your enemies enemies
May you live to be a hundred years,
with one extra year to repent.
May you be in heaven one half hour
before the devil knows you're dead.
As you slide down the banisters of life may the
splinters never point the wrong way.
There are many good reasons for drinking,
One has just entered my head,
If a man doesn't drink when he's living,
How the hell can he drink when he's dead?
May the best day of your past
be the worst day of your future.
May you get all your wishes but one,
So you always have something to strive for.

~ Part of an Irish Toast

From "St. Patrick's Day - Customs and Traditions":
Much Irish folklore surrounds St. Patrick's Day. Not much of it is actually substantiated.

Some of this lore includes the belief that Patrick raised people from the dead. He also is said to have given a sermon from a hilltop that drove all the snakes from Ireland. Of course, no snakes were ever native to Ireland, and some people think this is a metaphor for the conversion of the pagans. Though originally a Catholic holy day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday.

One traditional icon of the day is the shamrock. And this stems from a more bona fide Irish tale that tells how Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity. He used it in his sermons to represent how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. His followers adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on his feast day.

The St. Patrick's Day custom came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick's Day was publicly celebrated in this country, in Boston.

Today, people celebrate the day with parades, wearing of the green, and drinking beer. One reason St. Patrick's Day might have become so popular is that it takes place just a few days before the first day of spring. One might say it has become the first green of spring.

Here's to you,
here's to me,
the best of friends we'll always be.
But if we ever disagree,
forget you here's to ME!!
Here's to your coffin...
May it be built of 100-year-old oaks
which I will plant tomorrow.
Here's to you as good as you are,
Here's to me as bad as I am,
As good as you are,
And as bad as I am,
I'm as good as you are,
As bad as I am.
~ Part of an Irish Toast

From "The History Channel":
The First Parade
St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for thousands of years.

On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

Over the next thirty-five years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called "Irish Aid" societies, like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums.

You can find more here, including pictures and video (just ignore the AARP ad that runs for the first 30 seconds). A pretty nice article.

As for me on St. Paddy's Day, I have no great love for corned beef, no matter how well prepared. I prefer to simmer a "bullet ham" - we called it that because it was shaped like a fat bullet, wrapped in red waxed paper. It's usually called a Smoked Pork Shoulder Butt. The inner wrapper is usually a waxed paper, but the best are wrapped in netting. You simply remove the outer red packaging and put the ham, still encased in the inner wrapper, in a pot of boling water, then turn down to a simmer - with potatoes, cabbage, and string beans. I do enjoy a good beer, but spare me the green beer, please! What an appetite wrecker! Yeesh!
May the sons of your daughters smile up in your face.
Health, and long life to you
Land without rent to you
The partner of your heart to you
and when you die, may your bones rest in Ireland!
May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
May your neighbors respect you,
Troubles neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And Heaven accept you.
~ Part of an Irish Toast

I don't drink to excess anymore, not since I was in my early twenties, so the modern expectation of drunken revelries as a way of celebrating is one I avoid. Why get drunk? Two beers is my usual limit, otherwise I do 'channel' my Irish forebears, becoming loquacious to the point of rudeness. I can tell when I've had enough: I talk too much!

So, friends, celebrate the holiday with your friends, drink wisely, eat well, and enjoy yourselves. And enjoy being Irish, even if for but a day!
An old Irish recipe for longevity:
Leave the table hungry.
Leave the bed sleepy.
Leave the bar thirsty.
I've drunk to your health in the pubs ,
I've drunk to your health in my home ,
I've drunk to your health so many times ,
That I've almost ruined my own.
~ Part of an Irish Toast

If you'd like to see some nice pictures, read some interesting writing, may I suggest that you amble over to benning's St. Patrick's Day Home. I think you might just enjoy it.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ireland: Poets & Views

Dunluce Castle
Originally uploaded by benning.

Dunluce Castle is one of the most extensive ruins of a medieval castle on the island of Ireland. It is located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim, Northern Ireland and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. It is between Portballintrae and Portrush.

He Bids His Beloved Be At Peace

I HEAR the Shadowy Horses, their long manes a-shake,
Their hoofs heavy with tumult,
their eyes glimmering white;
The North unfolds above them clinging, creeping night,
The East her hidden joy before the morning break,
The West weeps in pale dew and sighs passing away,
The South is pouring down roses of crimson fire:
O vanity of Sleep, Hope, Dream, endless Desire,
The Horses of Disaster plunge in the heavy clay:
Beloved, let your eyes half close, and your heart beat
Over my heart, and your hair fall over my breast,
Drowning love's lonely hour in deep twilight of rest,
And hiding their tossing manes and their tumultuous feet.

~ William Butler Yeats

Keem Bay, Achill Island
Originally uploaded by benning.

Achill Island (Irish; Acaill, Oileán Acla) in County Mayo is the largest island off Ireland, and is situated off the west coast.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On the Mourne Mountains
Originally uploaded by benning.

The Mourne Mountains are the most picturesque mountain district in Ireland. The twelve peaks include Slieve Donard, which at 850m is Northern Ireland's highest mountain.

The Mountains Of Mourne

Oh Mary this London's a wonderful sight
With people here workin' by day and by night
They don't sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat
But there's gangs of them diggin' for gold in the street
At least when I asked them that's what I was told
So I just took a hand at this diggin' for gold
But for all that I found there I might as well be
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

I believe that when writin' a wish you expressed
As to how the fine ladies in London were dressed
Well if you'll believe me, when asked to a ball
They don't wear no top to their dresses at all
Oh I've seen them meself and you could not in truth
Say that if they were bound for a ball or a bath
Don't be startin' them fashions, now Mary McCree
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

There's beautiful girls here, oh never you mind
With beautiful shapes nature never designed
And lovely complexions all roses and cream
But let me remark with regard to the same
That if that those roses you venture to sip
The colors might all come away on your lip
So I'll wait for the wild rose that's waitin' for me
In the place where the dark Mourne
sweeps down to the sea.

~ Percy French

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ireland by Mary Lee
Originally uploaded by benning.

Londonderry Air

Would God I were the tender apple blossom
That floats and falls from off the twisted bough
To lie and faint within your silken bosom
Within your silken bosom as that does now.
Or would I were a little burnish'd apple
For you to pluck me, gliding by so cold
While sun and shade you robe of lawn will dapple
Your robe of lawn, and you hair's spun gold.

Yea, would to God I were among the roses
That lean to kiss you as you float between
While on the lowest branch a bud uncloses
A bud uncloses, to touch you, queen.
Nay, since you will not love, would I were growing
A happy daisy, in the garden path
That so your silver foot might press me going
Might press me going even unto death.

Ballintoy Harbour, County Antrim
Originally uploaded by benning.

Ballintoy (in Irish: Baile an Tuaigh, ie townland of the ruler of the tuath) is a small village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is located alongside the B15 coast road, 28 kilometres (17 miles) north-east of Coleraine, 8 kilometres (5 miles) west of Ballycastle and between it and Bushmills. The village is located about 1 km (0.6 mi) from Ballintoy Harbour, a small fishing harbour located at the end of a very small, narrow, steep road down Knocksaughey hill which passes by the entrance to Larrybane and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. The harbour is host to a Dawn Service on Easter Sunday each year.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

The above is the result of setting up a "blog this" option at Flickr! which allows you to upload an image to Flickr! and post it to your blog from there. Seems the image size is limited to 240 pixels in width. Not that big a problem, I suppose. Big Header images, such as the ones I like to use, can be saved elsewhere, as I've done before.

This takes little time to set up. Worth your time, if you have the usual trubbles with blogger uploads. This also allows you to title your image, and so on. Flickr! sets up a sort of template that you can adjust a bit for your own use.

We'll see how well this goes, eh?

On another subject, my Sitemeter counter froze at 9,200 a few days back, then disappeared yesterday. Today it reappeared. But the number dropped to 8,625. Very odd. I discovered that I've been averaging 38 visits each day, which is a lot! For me, that is. So losing all those numbers rather cheeses me off. But whatcha gonna do? I could up the initial number of visits, I think, but that seems petty and has a whiff of cheating to it. Besides, the "TTLB Ecosystem" still calls me a Large Mammal. Granted, the ranking system does lean heavily on links - inbound and outbound - so having a blogroll or two can skew the numbers. But it's nice to be a Large Mammal, perhaps a prowling panther or a marauding bear, even though it's a bit like a Halloween costume.

Numbers aren't that big a deal. I wish more visitors would take the time to leave a comment or two, but I have regular visitors, just as I am a regular visitor to other blogs. And that means we're reading each other's work, thinking about it (sometimes practically copying it!), and being inspired, taught, surprised. And that's what I do, and why I blog: to present my take on things, no matter what the subject, as the mood strikes.

So, consider my numbers a fun thing, but not important, except as they effect my blog's functioning.

I found another interesting blog, by the way, called "Litterblog", which I visited for the very first time yesterday (instead of writing: I'm such a goof-off!), and commented at in a few of his posts. May I suggest that you take a gander? And don't forget to comment, even if it's simply to say, "Hello!" You blog! You know how nice it is to find a new comment. *wink*

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Peaceful Views: The Art Of D L Ennis

Important Information at bottom of post!
“The Irish forgive their great men when they are safely buried.”
~ Irish Proverb

“Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat”
~ Alex Levin

“We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.”
~ Winston Churchill

Blogger, for some reason, will not display an image in the size that I want. For instance, the header above is not saved at blogger. It's sitting at another image site - a free one, of course! - that allows me to present the image to you in the proper size. I don't know why blogger does this, but I suspect that the "New" blogger has something to do with it.

But keeping images elsewhere is not always a workable solution. Some sites limit the display of your images to one or two months. After that, the pictures disappear. Forever! So while trying to figure out what a "post display" is supposed to do - the answer tells you nothing, here at Blogger Help! - I hit a link and found some other recommended image sites. The first one on the blogger list is Flickr. Owned now by Yahoo, you can open an account - a free one, of course! - with your Yahoo ID. Or open an account by starting a Yahoo account. Takes no time at all.

Now aside from uploading a thumbnail pic of myself, and an Avatar image, which Flickr calls a "Buddy Icon", I haven't done anything else. So right now I have no idea if this will let me display large header images on the blog or not. We'll see.

All that being said, the reason for this post is to expose you to the photography of D L Ennis, a Flickr member. Just a cursory glance at some of his work astounded me. His profile says he's a writer out of Yorktown, Virginia, and apparently works at the Blue Ridge Gazette.

Just to whet your appetite, I am posting two of his images. I don't have permission, so these will likely disappear shortly. But while you can see them, enjoy, visit Ennis' place at Flickr, and let him know what you think of his artistry.

The following images are of Virginia. Enjoy.

Country Mist by D L Ennis ©2007 All rights reserved

Country Mist by D L Ennis ©2007 All rights reserved.

This is just such a peaceful image. I can nearly smell the morning fragrances and hear the birds beginning their morning calls. Click on it to see it in a larger version.

Below is the photo that first caught my eye. Full of possibilities, isn't it? So much in the picture to make the imagination soar. Click on it, too, for a larger version.

Mountain Mist by D L Ennis ©2007 All rights reserved

Mountain Mist by D L Ennis ©2007 All rights reserved.

As I say, these may disappear, should Mr. Ennis object to my displaying them here. So enjoy them, then go visit his Flickr pages. You can purchase the images there. Considering the artistry he shows these are as good as, or better than, most "art" hanging on folks' walls these days. Don't know about you, but I'm floored!

Go visit!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Important Information:
Also received in the mail was this, part of a newsletter I get from Dr. D.G.Williams. Those of us in Hurricane-prone, or Tornado-prone, areas can use this to good effect. If you live in an area that has the potential for a disaster, should read on. As always, the time to prepare is before a problem develops, before a disaster strikes, not after!
When I was a kid, “emergency preparedness” was knowing to stop, drop, and roll if my clothes caught fire—and to call the police, ambulance, or fire department should real disaster strike. But today, I don’t think a day goes by that we’re not reminded on TV or in the newspaper that we can’t just rely on the government.

One of the most recent examples was Katrina. When I saw the photos coming out of places like New Orleans, I couldn’t believe the destruction those people had to endure. That disaster hit home for a lot of us, making us realize just how quickly chaos and panic can disrupt our daily lives.

I don’t want to be a doomsayer in any sense of the word, but I’m a realist. And in this day and age I feel strongly that you need to be aware of steps you can take to make sure you and your family can survive a catastrophe—whether a power outage, natural disaster, or any other emergency.

The most important thing you can do is to create an emergency kit so all the essentials you need are in one place. I’ve put mine in a waterproof duffel so it’s dry and ready to use at home—and I can grab it and take it with me should I need to evacuate in a hurry.

Some of the essentials you want to include in your kit are:

Several boxes of new, clean, white trash bags and chlorine bleach (a quart in an unbreakable container). If you know in advance that a crisis is looming, you can place the trash bags in buckets or trash cans and fill them with water. With a water supply that is essentially clear, you can add regular chlorine bleach to disinfect it—one teaspoon will treat five gallons, or 16 drops for one gallon.

A stash of non-perishable food, such as sardines and nutrition bars.

A hand-cranked emergency radio—along with flashlights and rechargeable batteries, which can be used in the event of phone and/or power outages.

A standard first aid kit, with bandages, scissors, antiseptic wipes, et cetera.

A water-proof, wind-proof emergency blanket—preferably one that’s designed to help reflect your body heat back to you should the heat go out.
Plus, there are other survival secrets few people know about—but they could save you in an emergency. For burns, the pulp of the papaya fruit makes an excellent burn dressing. Just mash the pulp of the papaya and apply it directly to the burn.

Honey is also one of nature’s most miraculous dressings for open wounds and burns. Just apply approximately one ounce of honey on a 4-inch square dressing pad directly to the wound. Then, place a second, dry dressing on top of the first dressing and secure with adhesive tape.

To stop bleeding, even from a serious gash, there’s an excellent product called QR Powder, which is available at many mass-market retailers. (This is similar to a product I used to recommend called Bleed-X, but that company sells only to the military now.) Just sprinkle the contents of one packet (or more as needed) onto the injury and apply pressure.

I also recommend keeping a week’s worth of any essential medications and supplements on hand. Put all family documents—such as birth certificates and insurance information—in a portable waterproof container. And create a list of cell phone numbers and other contacts you would need in case of an emergency.

Many people believe a disaster could never happen to them—but it can. Think of all of the things I’ve mentioned in this dispatch as “cheap insurance.” I hope you’ll never have to use them, but if you do, they could literally save your life.

Keep in mind that much of these supplies, and some kits, can be found at your local Wal-Mart - I work in the Largo Wal-Mart, so I see these when they hit the shelves - and other stores. The prices are not prohibitive at all. And can you say you can't afford to protect yourself? Who ya gonna call? The government? Sheesh!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tips In The Email!

From the great Gales of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad.
~ G. K. Chesterton

I get loads of email. most of it crud, spam, and other silliness. I also get email I appreciate, updates from several blogs, and so forth. Marci, my co-worker, has emailed me again with another useful message containing tips. That's right, tips!

So here you are, some useful tips that may help out.

A lot of great tips!

Bed Sheets:
After drying my sheets, put both sheets and one pillowcase in
the other pillow case. Fold neatly in a square. Next time you
change sheets, you just take the one pillow case and all the sheets
and pillow case are inside. No need to look for matches.

Reheat Pizza:
Heat up leftover pizza in a non-stick skillet on top of the
stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust
crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel
and it really works.

Deviled Eggs:
Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag.
Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients,
reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done for an easy clean up.

Expanding Frosting:
When you buy a container of cake frosting from the
store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double
it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You
also eat less sugar/calories per serving.

Reheating refrigerated bread:
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins
that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water.
The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it
reheat faster.

Newspaper Weeds-Away:
Start putting in your plants, work the nutrients in
your soil. Wet newspapers, put layers around the plants overlapping as
you go, cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through
some gardening plastic, they will not get through wet

Broken Glass:
Use a dry cotton ball to pick up little broken pieces of
glass - the fibers catch ones you can't see!

No More Mosquitoes:
Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the
mosquitoes away.

Squirrel Away!:
To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle your
plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the e plant and
the squirrels won't come near it.

Easier thank you's:
When you throw a bridal/baby shower, buy a pack
of thank you cards for the guest of honor. During the party,
pass out the envelopes and have everyone put their address on one.
When the bride/new mother sends the thank you's, they're all

New Bike:
If you purchase a new bike for
your child, place their picture inside the handle bar before placing the
grips on. If the bike is stolen and later recovered, remove the
grip and there is your proof who owns the bike.

Flexible vacuum:
To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge
add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your
vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

Reducing Static Cling:
Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will
not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that
cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and -- voila
-- static is gone.

Measuring Cups:
Before you pour sticky substances into a
measuring cup, fill it with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but
don't dry the cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut
butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

Foggy Windshield?
Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser
and keep it in the glove box of your car. When the windows fog, rub
with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!

Use your hair conditioner t o shave your legs. It's a lot
cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a
great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like when
you tried it in your hair...

Good-bye Fruit Flies;
To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass fill it1/2" with Apple
Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dishwashing liquid, mix well. You will find
those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

Get Rid of Ants:
Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants.
They eat it, take it "home," & can't digest it so it kills them. It
may take a week or so, esp. if it rains, but it works & you
don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

Sand Gone:
Take baby powder to the beach
Keep a small bottle of baby powder in your beach bag. When
you're ready to leave the beach sprinkle yourself and kids with the
powder and the sand will slide right off your skin.

Now I cannot vouch for any of these, but why not give them a try? Can't hurt!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Change The Clocks!

Remember to set your clocks ahead TODAY!!! If you turned them ahead last night, well, you're smarter than I am. If not, remember: It is now Daylight Saving Time. So make sure you update your computer clock, VCR, wall clocks, watches, and so on. (Did I cover most of them?)

Have a wonderful Sunday, and a wonderful week!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Found in the comments section of Sister Toldjah:
“I will not spend my money, time or however many heartbeats left in my life on idiot liberals. I will not buy their movies, listen to their music, visit their websites or watch them on TV any longer than the time it takes to change the channel. Life is far too short and precious to waste it in the company of fools.”

sign here ________________
date here___________________

I signed and dated it. No, it's not a petition, but a kind of declaration written by geezer. It says what I've been doing for some time, now. Why give my valuable time and hard-earned money to people who would happily destroy the very culture and nation that allows them such Freedom and such wealth? Not a chance!

Hey, copy and paste this into your own reply, either here, or over at Sister Toldjah's blog. And tell her benning sent ya!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Victoria, over at Sundries, has a nice post regarding the statue of Margaret Thatcher inside the Houses of Parliament.
Made of solid bronze, she was overheard quipping, "They should have made it of iron".

Heh, quite right too, Maggie.
But of course, this begs the rather indelicate question...

What, if any part, will people rub on Lady Thatcher's statue? Perhaps a sense of delicacy will overcome even the rowdy MPs.

After all, it just wouldn't do to cop a feel on the redoubtable Iron Lady.

Head on over to Sundries and take a look. Don't forget to comment. You know we bloggers live for that! LOL

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Angel has a cute post on Arab Kvetching at Woman Honor Thyself. As she notes, with a neat link:
Canadian Mus–lims may launch a human rights complaint against soccer’s governing body after a Quebec referee ordered an 11-year-old girl to quit a tournament for refusing to remove her hij–ab.

Musl-ims grumble at Quebec soccer hij-ab ban

Sure, according to them they should simply discard : soccer’s Law 4, which says a player must not “use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself/herself or another player”.
(Curtsey and a tip of the hat: to Feyman)

Yup yup.

Surf to Angel's blog and have a good chuckle. A fun, insightful blog. Worth your time, friends.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Music To Write By

I've found that I write best with music playing, not the television rumbling, or the chit-chat of radio. Just music. And while Rock or Country can work, depending on what I'm writing, for Historical Fiction, which is what "Harry's War" is and what "Benning's War" was, Classical music is best. It sets the mood, I suppose. But it also lets my mind open to the imagination.

The Classical Archives does precisely that. Free members - yes, that's what I am - can download up to 5 MIDI files each day. The site resets at midnight, and you can download again, if you like. For $25/year you can:
*Access up to 1,000 media files per month, but limited to 100/day
(5 files/day for non-subscribers)
*Access HiFi MP3 files, Zipped MIDI-Collections, and One-Click Concerts*
*Remembered Login-state
*Send 25 (vs 5) music files/day with our SEND IT feature
*20% discount on early renewal of your subscription ($20 instead of $25)
*20% discount on Gift Memberships ($20 instead of $25 for non-subscribers)
*Increase the queuing capability of our multi-format player to infinity*
*All members of your family can use the subscription and its privileges

All in all, not bad. Plus, Classical Archives has its own Internet Radio, which allows you to click and listen. I use the Windows Media Player, but there are other players that the radio will accommodate. I also grabbed the "skin" for the media player. Why not? The original skin is dull.

I found this site when I began building my first web-page, "Benning's Bistro". I wanted some nice music to go with the graphics and text. I began with Beatles MIDI files found all over the web. But eventually I was creating pages with java applets and beautiful art images from Parrish, Waterhouse, and others. So the Beatles would not quite do. But the files I found at Classical Archives worked quite well.

If you are looking for some music to play, while you work on your computer, and are bored or disgusted with radio, tired of fumbling through your CD collection, why not take a look? Try the radio. It's a good place to start!

Siggy Posts a Gem!

People with a culture of poverty suffer
much less from repression than we of the middle class suffer
and indeed, if I may make the suggestion with due qualification,
they often have a hell of a lot more fun than we have.

~ Brien Friel.

It's impossible for a creative artist to be
either a Puritan or a Fascist, because both
are a negation of the creative urge. The only
things a creative artist can be opposed to
are ugliness and injustice.

~ Liam O'Flaherty

In "Yeah, leftists really do care about justice. Just like pedophiles care about children" Siggy hits a grand slam! I don't get to Sigmund, Carl and Alfred as often as I should, nor as often as I used to. He writes some long posts, and so many of them, that I began to get lost. But I still check in every once in a while. And this time I was very glad I did!

This post begins:
When asked to define pornography, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart relied, 'I know it when I see it.'

In reading and listening to the leftists shouting on the blogosphere like Glenn Greenwald, the brilliantly below average minds at Firedog Puddle and the assorted leftist apparatchiks at the Huffington Post and elsewhere, one would imagine that the possible pardon of Lewis Libby were tantamount to the legalization of porn and subsequent introduction into the nations kindergartens.

For the left, Libby is the tip of an (imaginary) iceberg of crimes and corruption so great that only prosecutions and convictions at the highest levels of government will rid the nation of evil.

From there it's a feast of Siggy's wonderful blend of facts and opinion which skewers the Left and their self-preening smugness as Moral Paragons. By the time he reaches the end, Siggy has reminded us of the Clintons' amazing aptitude for turpitude and malevolence. This is near the end of his post as he riminds us of Hillary's questionable, though "Legendary" to the Left, past:
Jerry Zeifman was the Democrats' general counsel chief of staff of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation. In a WSJ piece, reviewed and summarized Hilary Clinton's performance as a staff member:

Hillary Clinton violated House and committee rules by disclosing confidential information to unauthorized persons.

More than a few of the legal procedures she recommended were ethically flawed.

In one written legal memorandum, she advocated denying President Nixon representation by counsel.

Ms Clinton proposed that the committee should neither 1) hold any hearings with or take the depositions of any live witnesses, nor 2) conduct any original investigation of Watergate, bribery, tax evasion, or any other possible impeachable offense of President Nixon. Instead, the committee should rely on prior investigations conducted by other committees and agencies.

Ms Clinton also advocated that the official rules of the House be amended to deny members of the committee the right to question witnesses.

Jerry Zeifman decided that he could not recommend her for any position of public or private trust.

This post is a must read. Please go read it, and then comment. Siggy should be made aware of just how fine a blogger he is. And that fine blogger has hit a grand slam, again!

By the way, Siggy also linked to this YouTube video. About two minutes into it you will find yourself giggling uncontrollably!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Irish Sayings & Such

I hope and pray that none may kill me,
Nor I kill any, with woundings grim
But if ever any should think to kill me
I pray thee, God, let me kill him.

May those who love us love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.

May the curse of Mary Malone and her
nine blind illegitimate children
chase you so far over the hills of Damnation
that the Lord himself
can't find you with a telescope.

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Click for a better view! Ireland from space: NASA

Always remember to forget
The things that made you sad.
But never forget to remember
The things that made you glad.

Always remember to forget
The friends that proved untrue.
But never forget to remember
Those that have stuck by you.

Always remember to forget
The troubles that passed away.
But never forget to remember
The blessings that come each day.


Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Vacation Writing

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~ Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~ Ray Bradbury

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~ Mark Twain

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards. ~Robert Heinlein

Update at the bottom

When I planned this vacation - and I needed it, believe you me! - I told myself that I was going to write. Either I was going to continue struggling with the two novels I've been fighting for so long, or I would shelve them, and move on to another work. Well, I shelved the old, and picked up the new. I know I won't come close to finishing this before my return to work on March 16Th, but I can get a ways down the trail, and lay down a fine foundation for myself.

I've officially, for my purposes, begun my sequel to "Benning's War", which is called, for the time being, "Harry's War". I'm still doing my research reading, and may have to buy some of the books I'm reading (the library has some, but not all, of the material I need. And I like to have the reference matter at hand if I need it.), but I have a good idea of how the story will unfold. I have historical figures, and new characters, and many of the old characters from "Benning's War" to flesh out the tale. I have to confess that I love the family I created for my first novel. So writing more about them is no struggle, but is more like a nice visit with people I like.

This time around I doubt I can find the time, or the money, to go to the sites I will write about. I don't have the kind of income I had when I was ready to do on-the-ground research for the first novel. I wish I had, as that in-person look at the actual battlefields was very helpful to me, and added a feeling of reality to what I wrote. At least I think so! So this time around I will have to rely on maps, and pictures. And I will use the Internet more than I did before.

But the story will write itself, as the first one did, and I'll try not to get in the way too much. As of 10PM this evening, after about 3 hours of writing, I now have one-and-a-half chapters done. Granted, they're first drafts, so much can, and may, change later. But 4,000 words at a sitting is very good. For me. I imagine Stephen King can do 10,000 at a sitting, and come back for more after a snack. But I'm very happy that the words flowed so nicely for me, this evening, and I look forward to doing more. If not tonight, then tomorrow.

My editor from "Benning's War" has agreed to look over my early drafts. She is familiar with my "voice", or writing style, and I trust her judgement. That's a plus! I expect to submit this work to my publisher, ePress Online. I'm comfortable with them, too!

After my morning coffee, and my blog visits, mind you.

I'm expecting this novel to be longer than the first. I have a larger swath of territory and time to cover. And I want to delve into my Indian characters in a way I didn't do with the British and Tories in the first. I hope my Muse stays with me through it all. I'll keep you updated. Whether you want me to or not! Ha!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Possible SPOILER Alert! Warning! Warning! (that's for aka Blandly Urbane who has not finished Benning's War. Sorry, BU!)

Update 3/9/07: So far, this morning, I've managed to pound out 2,478 words. Chapter Two may be finished, as far as a first draft, but I may tinker with it a bit more. It's flashback, if you will, and it spreads out and adds some 'backstory' to the tale. This was fun to write, as I managed to introduce one of Isaac and Rebecca's children: daughter Irene, named for Isaac's mother. Well, two of the children when you include the baby, Will, who does nothing but gum a biscuit. Well, back to my Word document! The coffee is gone, and I may start thinking of eating something. Stay safe, friends!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Unhappy With The Current Crop For 2008?

Debbie, at Right Truth, posted today, asking "Alan Keyes or Fred Thompson for President?" Yay! Another blogger who is asking for more than the same old retreads and media-supported choices. She has quite a few links there, and I hope you'll visit and comment. As for me, no, I would not support an Alan Keyes candidacy. I think his last foray into the elective process was an embarrassment and proved that he is not a serious candidate for any office, fine conservative thinker though he may be. No, I support the former Tennessee Senator, Fred D. Thompson. And I said so awhile ago, too! Until he actually puts his hat in the ring, I will continue to support Rudy Giuliani. But Fred is my choice!

Why Fred Dalton Thompson? Well, let's see: He's a real Conservative, with a track record in the United States Senate. He's a lawyer who graduated from Vanderbilt U. Law School with a Jurist Doctor degree. He was the campaign manager for Tennessee Senator Howard Baker's successful re-election campaign in 1972, which led to a close personal friendship with Baker, and he served as co-chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee in its investigation of the Watergate scandal, (1973–1974). He was responsible for Baker's asking one of the questions that is said to have led directly to the downfall of President Richard Nixon—"What did the President know, and when did he know it?" Also, Thompson's voice has become immortalized in recordings of the Watergate proceedings, asking the key question, "Mr. Butterfield, were you aware of the existence of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?"

How is he for tough? In 1977, Thompson took on a Tennessee Parole Board case that ultimately toppled Tennessee Governor Ray Blanton from power on charges of selling pardons. The scandal became the subject of a book and a movie titled Marie (1985) in which Thompson played himself, supposedly because the producers were unable to find a professional actor who could play him plausibly. This film launched his acting career. A lucrative career, by the way.

He's been acting since his final years in the Senate, and his face and voice are very familiar to Americans. And, yes, he does have a sense of humor!

He fills in for Paul Harvey sometimes, and you can find text of Fred's commentaries here. Short and to the point. They also contain links to the audio of his commentaries. So feel free to give a listen! Now, that sounds like a President, doesn't it? If you go to Fred '08 you can catch up on articles about him, read a short bio, and get involved. Also, head on over to Draft Fred Thompson! Register, and join in the forum there. I did. The banner atop this post is from that site.

Look, we all know that a lot of conservative voters are quite leery of the current crop of Republican Presidential Candidates. They don't like the stances of the front-runners, but would hate to see either Clinton or Obama win the general election in 2008. Well, with Fred Thompson they would not have to worry. He's a Reagan-style conservative with a proven track-record. He could win and win big! And he might just have the long coat-tails that would bring the conservative Republicans back into power.

Let's stop rewarding the same old Lifers who have said the same old things while bowing to the Liberal Democrats, once in office. Let's tell Fred Thompson that we want a real Conservative to run. We want him!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Wondering why all the posts today? I'm now on vacation! Yay! I don't return to work until the 16th of March! So I'm gonna read a lot, write a whole lot (I must!), and be a lazy good-for-nothing! Yay!

Begorrah! Sweets From Me Sister, Kathy!

The Song of Wandering Aengus
W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

I WENT out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

When my sister was just a Girl Scout, a few years ago (she's me elder by less than a year, but I'll not be telling you her exact age! Not if I expect to see me old age, mind ye!) she learned a few recipes. One of those made me shudder when I heard its name. I was not happy to taste it. No way!

But I did. And I loved it! And now, these many years later, I'll pass the recipe on to you! It's easy to make, and you'll enjoy the results. It's called:

    2 (1 lb.) boxes powdered sugar (yes, it takes a lot!)
    1/2 c. hot mashed potatoes, drained (just boiled and mashed, no butter, milk, or salt!)
    1 sm. jar peanut butter (some like crunchy. I prefer smooth in this recipe)

Mix sifted sugar into potatoes a little at a time by hand. (Don't panic when potatoes liquify as the first sugar is added. This is what it's supposed to do. Just keep adding sugar until it is pastry consistency.)

Sprinkle wax paper with additional powdered sugar.

Take a baseball-sized ball of mixture and roll it out like pastry. Spread with peanut butter and roll like a jelly roll.

Wrap the rolls in plastic wrap; chill and slice.

Makes 2 rolls.

I got this particular recipe from I seem to remember that Kathy rolled the pieces in cinnamon after slicing them, but that may be something else. If it sounds right to you, try that, as well.

I don't know if Kathy remembers this, but I do. One of those fine childhood memories. Thanks, Sis!

Now, here's something to read while you have a wee draft:
My god! What happened to you?" the bartender asked Kelly as he hobbled in on a crutch, one arm in a cast.

"I got in a tiff with Riley."

"Riley? He's just a wee fellow," the barkeep said surprised. "He must have had something in his hand."

"That he did," Kelly said. "A shovel it was."

"Dear Lord. Didn't you have anything in your hand?"

"Aye, that I did--Mrs. Riley's left breast." Kelly said. "And a beautiful thing it was, but not much use in a fight!"