Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Today I ran into the term "pikelets" describing a food item in a Pamela Allen book I was reading to chiquitita #2. I never heard or read it before, so I looked it up. Apparently it's the Australian term for something the British call a drop scone, another food item of which I've not heard. Another word which has been tossed around in the definitions I've read is "crumpet", to which pikelets and drop scones can be compared, and with which they both have similarities. Alas, I also have no idea what a crumpet is, although I have heard of them.

Now from the pictures in google image search, it looks to me like a crumpet looks like a sort of cross between what we call a pancake and what we call an English muffin, but leaning toward the pancake. Of course the wiki definition for pikelet also calls it a "Scottish pancake".

Wiki says in the U.S., pancakes can be referred to as hotcakes, griddlecakes, or flapjacks, all terms with which I am familiar. It goes on to point out that the difference between American and British or Australian pancakes is that we Americans use a raising agent (usually baking powder), while Brits and Aussies don't, so American pancakes are thicker/fatter, while the Commonwealth pancakes are thinner/flatter. This is why Megan tends to tell our girls that we are having, depending on the day, "funny", or "fat" "American" pancakes.

Moreover, says wiki, the American topping of choice is maple syrup, and they are served mainly at breakfast. In Australia, on the other hand, they can be topped with lemon and sugar, or they can be wrapped around savory ingredients and served as a main course.

Apparently the Scottish/Irish variation, called pancakes, drop scones or girdle cakes in those two countries but known elsewhere as Scottish or Scots, add sugar to the eggs, milk, and self raising flour of the American variation, The Irish ones apparently opt for buttermilk.

So having gone through all that, I learned that pikelets are known in this country as silver dollar pancakes, and the chief difference between them and "regular" pancakes (if one can any longer use such a term) is their diminutive size--they are about 3 inches across. Now next time I make pancakes, I shall have to make them quite small and serve them up as pikelets, an Australian treat! goody.

Monday, January 29, 2007



From OED:

7. intr. for refl. To become eaten, corroded, or worn; to waste or wear away; to decay, become corrupt. Also with asunder, off, out. Obs. Cf. FRET v.4 2.

8. trans. To chafe, irritate. Chiefly with regard to the mind: To annoy, distress, vex, worry. Also, to fret oneself; and to bring into or to (a specified condition) by worrying. Cf. FRET v.4 1.

9. a. intr. for refl. To distress oneself with constant thoughts of regret or discontent; to vex oneself, chafe, worry. Often with additional notion of giving querulous and peevish expression to these feelings. Also, to fret and fume, and fret it out, and const. about, after, at, over, upon.

Today I was fretting, and I had two thougts about it. The first was an old gospel song which I learned in Sunday Morning Church®. The lyrics were

Fret not, he's watching over you,
Fret not, the Lord knows what to do.
Fret not, you're sure to stand the test.
Commit and trust, delight and rest.

The lyrics are from the first 7 verses of Psalm 37 in the Authorized Translation. Here are the same verses from the Message:

Don't bother your head with braggarts
or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
In no time they'll shrivel like grass clippings
and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.

Get insurance with God and do a good deed,
settle down and stick to your last.
Keep company with God,
get in on the best.

Open up before God, keep nothing back;
he'll do whatever needs to be done:
He'll validate your life in the clear light of day
and stamp you with approval at high noon.

Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before him.
Don't bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top.

If you read the rest of this psalm, you will encounter something which occurs all over the place in the bible and which absolutely mystifies me, namely, an extremely simple and clear dichotomization between "the righteous" and "the wicked". This is something I simply cannot see in "the real world".

My second thought about my fretting was in regards to my very recent learnings about mindfulness. I realized I could somehow regress a little and rather than fret about what I was fretting about directly, I could observe myself fretting about it, as a sort of wise, compassionate, yet somewhat detached observer "Look at that--I am all worked up about ________. I'm feeling ___________ right now, and it's affecting me in the following ways. I am loved, and isn't this fascinating. I can bring my love of learning, one of my major character strengths, to bear on this fascinating phenomenon. Etc. Etc.

I found the mindfulness thing a ton more helpful than the Bible thing.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

two quotes and a new word

Two quotes and a thought.

From Suzanne Wolfe

Art and literature "enrapture us," Suzanne said. "It's the last real presence of God in a consumer-crazy world. It kind of returns us to a sense of what is real and what is good and what is true."

From Dr. M. Scott Peck
In a letter to her sister, Saint Theresa of Lysieux wrote, "If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter." To define a "true Chrisitan" is a risky business. But if I had to, my difinition would that that a ture Christian is anyone who is "for Jesus a pleansant place of shelter." There are hundreds of thousands who go to Christian churches every Sunday who are not the least bit willing to be displeasing to themselves, serenely or otherwise, and who are not, therefore, for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter. Conversely, there are millions of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and agnostics who are willing to bear that trial."

I think Dr. Peck does touch on a reasonable definition for "true Christian", and I find it disturbing from both sides. I mean that from one side, I no longer think it's such a great idea to be displeasing to myself. I mean that Christianity was the place where I developed the toxic self negativity which I am now learning to give up/grow out of. From the other side, if this is the definition of "true Christian", then it has seemed to me that a solid majority of those who call themselves christians certainly don't fulfill the meaning of the definition--neither the "serenely bear", nor the "being displeasing to yourself." Or maybe I guess I mean mostly the "serenely bear" part--"they" tend to be very very busily avoiding and escaping their dislike of themselves.

And in a lecture this week on Relapse Prevention,Dr. Alan Marlatt introduced me to the idea of drawing a distinction between "lapse" and "relapse", and he talked about how this distinction has helped addicts in recovery. This struck me as amazingly useful and sensible.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

friday video

This via Shari

this made me laugh

I also found out that the cartoon I posted a couple days ago is from the same guy: Dave Walker.

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

The sect I grew up in--realization

I often tell people, when they are discussing elements of popular culture of which I lack knowledge, specifically popular music or movies, that I grew up in a box. The box was largely associated with a sect--to use their own language, an "indepedend fundamental Bible believing church". Not that we were ever educated in what these words might mean, except for the "Bible believing".

One thing that was often repeated at the sect was that it was important not to take an "ark" mentality. By this, it was meant that, unlike many of "those churches" (and by implication all those wrong, unsafe churches), we must not not think and act as if the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket (not that anyone in the sect would have so casually and profanely used the word "hell"), and the only safe thing to do is to "circle the wagons", "come inside the four walls of the church", and be safe, like Noah and co. did with the Ark, while the rest of the world drownded (I think "drownded" just works a lot better than "drowned".) Instead, we must "go outside the church" into "the marketplace of ideas" and "engage the culture!". We must not have a "hold the fort" mentality! The Bible says of the church "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it", and that means the church is on the attack, because, of course, gates are *defensive* hardware. And so forth.

So my realization this week is that in spite of all this ... ongoing talking along these lines, the sect was by and large doing exactly what it was saying we must not do. And so I grew up in a box, or an ark, if you will. Here's item one from the sect's statement of faith, pulled today from their web site. This is the item which perhaps strikes me as the strangest of the eight tenets in said statement, and perhaps also most represents the relative smallness of the ark/box.

We believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of the scriptures, and that the Bible is the absolute authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. We believe the King James Version is an accurate and trustworthy English translation of the original text

I can see now that in many (and toxic) ways, the main guy in charge at the sect thought of and acted towards the members, both children and adults, as if they were children, and they in turn acted toward him as if they were children, so that no one ever really made much progress toward ... maturity.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Jonathan Edwards' resolutions

Ran across these again recently. I last saw them some 20 years ago. I find them completely and utterly obnoxious. There are 70 of them. Here are numbers one through ten. I don't think I could stand to be long in the company of Mr. Edwards, if his resolutions are any indication of his personality. I'd get too exhausted (I mean, he's dead, of course, so that's not exactly going to happen.) What is your reaction? Is it generally more positive or more negative?

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God' s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. July 30.
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.


this via Byron. god it sort of ... hit me between the eyes.

Doomsday Clock

In recent news, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advanced their doomsday clock two minutes closer to midnight, so that it now stands at 11:55 PM. This is intriguing to me. It seems to me that ... more people in the west, and perhaps in the world, had a stronger sense of impending disaster from nuclear warfare back in the 60's, 70's, and 80's than do now in the 00's.

What do you think? Do you have a sense of impending danger/doom from either nuclear profileration/warfare, or from global warming/climate change?

My own sense is that though I do have a lot of fear, my fear is generally unjustifiable/irrational--it's not based on things which are actually dangerous or deadly, at least not at the same levels as the fear seems to indicate. This irrational fear tends to drown out the sense of reality based fears which I otherwise might have.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Recommended Event

So if you are planning to be in or around Seattle April 21 this year, May I suggest registering for The Neighborhood Mission Learning Day, an emergent church event: Reimagining Congregational Mission in Today's Culture with Brian McLaren, Karen Ward, Eugene Cho, and Randy Rowland, and MC'd by Dwight Friesen.
For more info or to register follow this link

Saturday, January 20, 2007


happy happy joy joy. =).

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Video

Found at Ordinary Attempts: A video about Scott, the Nametag Guy. I guess Scott, who is 27, took to wearing a nametag all the time seven years ago. He wants to help people be friendlier. He estimates that over the last 7 years he has spoken to or with 80,000 people he would have otherwise never met.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

32 hours

32 hours 'til I see my loved ones.

This painting by Joel Pelletier, entitled "American Fundamentalists, (Christ's entry into Washington in 2008)" caught my eye today. Click on it to see a bigger version. It's from here. Your reaction?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New nephew

I have a beautiful new nephew. Stokish! Sebastian Ardley Jones is his name. Congratualtions, Tom, Anite, and Eddie!

victim vs. perpetrator

I went to The Kindling's Muse live radio program yesterday with my friends Chris and Laurel. They had a panel discussion of various stories pulled from yesterday's New York Times chosen by Dick Staub, the host. It was fun. I really like Dick's insights and commentary, and I also really like Bill Hogg's insightful comments (there's a little redundancy for you, to make up for the recent oxymoron). One question Dick asked, which I'd like to ask here, was
1. Is peace in the Middle East possible?

Bill Hogg pointed out the magnificent irony of George Bush's repeated use, in his recent Iraq Policy (non) Update Speech, of the phrase "peace in the Middle East". I responded to this question with a question of my own during the "questions from the audience" segment. I shall ask that here as well:

2. Can question "Is peace in the Middle East possible" be rephrased as:

3. "Is it possible for me, for us, to choose to be the victim rather than the perpetrator?"?

Question three, I guess, feeds into the whole area of nonviolence. Is it possible for us to respond to the perpetrator with love? Is it possible to overcome violence with more violence? For me the answer to question three is generally "no". I am too often the perpetrator. I can see that as I mature, this is less often true--more often than before I can answer "yes" to question three. However, I still far too often must answer "no". And if the answer to question two is "yes", then I guess from my perspective the answer to question one is (by implication) also more often than not "no".

What are your answers?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Tomorrow (already today for most of the world), Monday the 15th of January, is Martin Luther King Jr. day in the United States. I think Dr. King was pretty kewl, and if being a christian means being a bit like him, overall, it makes being a christian a bit less unattractive.

Two quotes from Dr. King

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

thought for the day

Addiction sucks worse than
(The Crimson King + Sauron)^infinity.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A whole WEEK!?!

Wow--been a whole week since I posted. This week I learned about: sarcomeres, probability, Taylor series, actin, myosin, Na/K pumps. This week it snowed, and stuck, and all the side roads are still slick and icy in Seattle, and it's *very* cold. This week I *almost* completed a big secret project. Yay! This week I read part of Stephen King's Insomnia. This week I made 4 contacts about getting into the psych honors program at UW.

Can I also say that I strenuously disagree with Mark Driscoll's recent article on Bible Translation? Not that it really matters, since I mostly can't read the Bible anymore anyway. But "word-for-word translation" is very near (equal to, if you take the limit as n goes to infinity) a, well, (hehe), an oxymoron. Can't be done with any grace/beauty/joy ... most of all, can't be done with any trace of postmodernism/emergent churchishness. It's just a very bad idea all 'round. Translation isn't so much chemistry (in the post-enlightenment sense)--it's more alchemy, and this can't be done from an annoying modernistic point of view. Translation can't be done with pure science. It's got to involve a rather largish proportion of art, or it just sucks, like the mother of all vacuums. Furthermore, I think pastors should be barred from writing papers or speaching sermons on bible translation until they have become at least little "f" fluent in some living language besides their first language. And if it's Hebrew, it has to be more than just using the language to interact with texts. It has to include using the language to interact with people. BICBW.

Here's the Friday Video, Silent Star Wars, stolen from Siamang at eBay Atheist. If you've never been to see a silent movie in a theatre with live organ music, you should see if you can find a chance to sometime. It's fun.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday Videos

The New Democratic Congress started this week. Here's Colbert's take on their win.

And here is the rational response squad's blasphemy challenge, which has generated a bit of a stir recently.

To see some of the responses videos, see here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mandelbrot Set

This is extremely freaking kewl, and beautiful. Not that I begin to approach understanding the mathematics. The kewl thing is the mathematics is simple enough for me to have some remote clue what it means. Anyway, it's a fractal, and it never stops being complex no matter how far in you zoom. And if you have a good computer, you can zoom *way* in (like 60 billion times, if you start with a typical computer monitor, it's like zooming down to what you are seeing on a typical computer monitor is part of the original image blown up to 20 million kilometers wide). And if you click on the photo, or here, you can see a series of shot of such a zoom. Or click here for the actual wiki article, which has the same series, but with more explanation. This is featured on Wikipedia's featured pictures page, which has some other nice shots on it.

Here's the end of the zoom series at wiki--having zoomed in 60 billion times the original. Remember, it just keeps going.

Help stop the execution of Ronald Chambers

Click here to write a letter to the governor of the state of Texas to help stop the execution of Ronald Chambers, one of six individuals scheduled to be executed in the U.S. this month.

Does it make sense to execute a 50 year old man who has been in prison for 30 years for a crime he committed when he was 20 years old? The idea of this being a deterrent is ludicrous.
He had just become a father, and now he is a grandfather. Do we honestly so completely and totally reject any hope of redemption or reconciliation? This man could conceivably live for another 20 or 30 years, and in that time he could do and say things that could have profound positive impact in the lives of his family and in the lives of many others. Execution seems to me to be the antithesis of hope, and thus the antithesis of christianity.
Your thoughts?

The anti should campaign

What would it look like if everyone stopped using the words "should", "ought", "behoove", and related words which express the same thing? Megan and I undertook this experiment early in our marriage, and have both found it enormously helpful. For me, most of all, my tendency is to use these words on myself, and I call it "shoulding on myself". Since my self concept is so overwhelmingly negative anyway, I find that just cutting out these words actually helps me move in the direction of experiencing the accepting of myself. As my sponsor says "It is what it is", or "I am what I am". But other people regularly attempt to use these words on me as well. If I didn't have this little campaign going, I think I would miss it a lot of times, and just instantly internalize what they were saying. Instead, it has become my habit to instantly reject it. So for instance I was talking to my very lovely and lovable Nana this last week, and telling her how down I have been, and how I have such a depressive personality. She said, quite naturally,

Nana: "You need to work on that and get over it"

Benjamin: (in my head) "Aha, she said 'need to'. That's a 'should' word! Danger! Danger! Danger!."

Benjamin: (out loud). "Well, actually, Nana, I've kind of come to accept myself as being this way. I think God just made some people with melancholic personalities, and I'm okay with that. It actually feels relatively comfortable being me."

(did you catch that whole "in my head" versus "out loud" thing? Pretty kewl, huh? 10 years ago I was utterly incapable of such amazing sophistication (hehe). Here's to crawling and creeping toward maturity.)

My lovely Nana was rather accepting of this take on things, and just said something like "Oh. Ok."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Benjamin published at Porpoise Diving Life

The January '07 edition of the Porpoise Diving Life E-zine is out, and it contains an article by me! Yippee. You can read it here.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Grey areas

In case you can't read the labels, the left one says "Satan's Kingdom", and the right one says "God's Kingdom". I relate a vignette relating to this diagram on CatE, here. The questions are:

1. How far does Satan's Kingdom extend?
2. How far does God's Kingdom extend?
3. Are either of the first 2 questions relevant, and/or more important than the other question?
4. Does this diagram represent reality in any way? Why or why not?

Monday, January 01, 2007

american military death toll in iraq passes 3000

Replacements needed has been producing these posters every week for quite a while now. I think they speak very eloquently. The more significant number, perhaps, is the 22,000 american military wounded. Or ... how about this question: How is the death or injury of 25,000 americans in iraq related to the US$28 Billion in revenues and US$1.6 Billion in profits in 2006 of the biggest arms producer in our nation, Honeywell International, which is ranked 71 in the country by Fortune 500? Hmmmm... Do Bush and co. own any honeywell stock?

We've spent $400 billion to figure out what the French could have told us for free--you can't fix centuries old civil wars in 4 years, no matter *how* much money or military power you can bring to bear. period.

On a similar note: How would you like to have this guy's nightmares, or responsibility? This is Dan Murphy, CEO of Alliant Tech Systems, the biggest small arms ammunition manufacturer in the country. ATK had sales of US$3.2 Billion in '06. As producer of ~90% of the small arms ammunition for both the US military *and* the "sports enthusiast and law enforcement" markets, they produced the ammunition which killed around 27,000 individuals who died through the use of firearms in 2004. That's based on approximately 30,000 firearms related deaths in 2004 reported by the CDC. They also no doubt produced the ammunition which killed some significant percentage of the 57,000 dead iraqi military mentioned in the poster above, whom you will probably never hear talked about on mainstream american media. You can check out their annual report here (You'll need high speed connection--it's big)