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Thursday, January 28, 2016

I've Been Reading

The first month of 2016 has been a bit much at work. Three people left us for new jobs, The Powers That Be have rearranged other jobs, and I am training four people on four different "desks" (sets of job duties). I've never done this kind of training before, and my students are varied in skill sets and aptitude. Fortunately, they are all adults willing to try, and that is half the battle.

My hourly mantra, both spoken and prayed, is "we will get through this," and the proof of my enforced confidence is... we are. Everyone is learning, and adapting, and gaining competence, and the world is settling into a calmer pattern.

In the past, this kind of brain fry would involve Farmville clicking for hours in the evening, but I gave that up as being not only unhelpful but demonstrably harmful.

Anne McCaffrey's Crystal Singer kept coming to mind - the tale of a woman driven to be The Best in whatever difficult, prestigious career she could find - so I read that this weekend, and was relieved to discover I still love the book.

TT: Sometimes my younger-self feelings don't match my older-self worldview anymore, and I've lost some favorite enjoyments as a result.

I've moved to Killashandra, and will finish off with Crystal Line eventually. It's been nice to turn off the electronics - except for the blanket - crack the spine of an old scifi novel, and remember why I love Anne's style. Add some Benedryl and Bayer back and body aspirin, and I've even managed to sleep through the night two nights in a row. It's a miracle.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

House of Prayer

I am a pray-er. I pray a lot. Not usually in specific, on-my-knees sessions, but throughout the day and night, an ongoing conversation with God covering requests, emotions, thanks and rants. Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of my favorite verses. I take the "in all your ways acknowledge him" part very seriously, expecting him to "direct my path."

TT: This was why it was so hard for me and him to be on the outs in the Winter of 2012. How do you stop talking to someone who's been in the room with you for 30+ years?

I take my example from Moses, who was "a friend of God." I talk to my friends, and I rarely hold back. So, I pray.

God recently reminded me he answers prayers long-term.

See, some of my prayers are immediate, like "God, I need that notebook for work. Please show me where it is." He did, btw, within minutes.

Most of my prayers are long-term, and I don't expect to see the results in this life, like "God, protect Big Brother and all of his Siblings in Black and cousins in emergency services. Protect them mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically from all that comes against them today." I have no idea how God actually does that for all the law enforcement officers in Topeka, but I know he's working on it, and I thank him every day Big Brother comes home well.

Years ago, I studied prayer under Jim Cymbala of the Mormon Tabernacle. Not personally; it was a devotional. Pretty sure he compared prayer to building a house. Houses are built one brick at a time. You don't lay a brick and expect the house to be finished. You keep laying bricks. Just because I don't see an instant result doesn't mean nothing is happening. My house of prayer won't be finished until this life is over and the next begins. God is kind to let me see results now, but he is kinder to produce results. That's why I pray.

Keep praying. Pray for the big issues and the little ones. Tell God your hopes and fears. He already knows them, so don't hold back. Our goal isn't to make God do something; it's to open our eyes to what he is doing, every day.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Wait and See

Have you heard the story of the old farmer who had a beautiful, well-trained horse? The whole village said that was good. The farmer said, "wait and see."

The horse runs away. The village says you were right, having a horse was bad.
"Wait and see."

The horse comes back with six wild horses. The village says you were right. The horse running away was good.
"Wait and see."

The farmer's son breaks his leg while breaking one of the wild horses. "You were right. Getting those horses was bad."
"Wait and see."

The kingdom goes to war, and all the sons are drafted, except the farmer's. "You were right. The broken leg was a good thing."
"Wait and see."

The point of the tale, of course, is we can't really tell what works for us or against us until the very end of the story. The meaning of each incident was affected by what went before and what came after.

My nature is to draw conclusions from facts. That isn't changing. I am learning that what seems a disaster might be opportunity, and what feels like an end may be a beginning. False expectations ruin more lives than actual problems.

I don't have all the facts. I don't know how God will use your life or mine. I only know that He has, and He will continue.
"Wait and see."

Applaud the jellyfish.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Mortgages, part 3, or The Happy Part

I got another end of year report from my mortgage company. The escrow account estimates.

See, insurance and taxes are paid out of the mortgage. At least, mine are. I don't know if that's normal or not.

All that money I've paid? I forgot a portion of it is insurance and taxes. Almost a third of the refinanced mortgage payments, actually, if my estimates are correct. That means in 10 years, almost a third of what I paid to the mortgage company was taxes and insurance, not interest. I would have been paying that anyway.

So, I haven't been wasting my time, or money, paying ahead on principal. The mortgage company isn't lying about what I've paid on the principal. That huge amount breaks out into smaller, reasonable amounts. I just had to take a couple of weeks and marinate on it.

I still wish I'd known to get a 15-yr, fixed rate mortgage with 20% down, but I did what I could at the time, and it wasn't horrible. I still have a real chance of paying this off in 3 years.

I'm not likely to ever "make the money back" by selling the house, but I never intended to sell the house. I bought this house for life. We like each other most days, and I like to think we respect each other the rest of the time.

So this is probably the last post about the mortgage for a few years, but I will absolutely let you all know when the last payment is posted.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Mortgages, part 2

So there I am with a new 30 yr, lower interest fixed-rate mortgage on the same amount of money, no PMI, paying extra on principal. Larry would be proud. I didn't know Dave yet.

I thought that was fabulous, so I put it on auto-pilot.  I met Dave, heard I'd still done it kinda wrong, shrugged it off, and lived my life for the next 10 years.

This winter, I ran some year-end reports. I do this every year, but this was the year I paid attention to the mortgage. I used a mortgage calculator from the Internet (and we all know those have to be true), and learned I might be able to pay off the mortgage in 3-6 years.

I got nervous, and excited. Could this be true? Was I really that close? I could be gazelle-intense (a Dave phrase) for 3 years, if it meant ending the mortgage. Hope in the future revived.

Then I ran some more reports.

I was stunned. HOW MUCH money had I paid on this house already?! Quicken doesn't lie, and I'm very careful about categories, so there it was in black and red. The first mortgage, the refinanced mortgage...

Where was my savings? Why wasn't the house paid off with those amounts? Were they lying to me about how much I owed? Who kept tabs on mortgage companies and how did I complain?

I got instantly depressed, then angry, then depressed again. The money was gone. I'd been duped. Again. Like Lavender Squeak, only with way more 1000's of dollars.

I ran more internet mortgage calculators and couldn't find the same results as the first one. I got more depressed as the time stretched far into eternity. Eight years feels like an eternity compared to three.

I used the mortgage company's calculator, and decided those folks just plain lie. They're like credit card companies. They probably call me a deadbeat because I pay early.

That's where I sat for a week.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


You thought I'd moved on, didn't you? Nope. Just got real quiet while I kept worrying at it.

This is advice for the young people, who don't bother to read anyway, so I guess it's really for me to get off my chest.

I grew up listening to Larry Burkett of Crown Ministries on the radio on the drive to school. RIP, Larry. I'll hug you long and hard when we meet in heaven.

When I bought a house, I knew to get a fixed-rate (as in the interest rate remains the same through the whole life of the mortgage instead of going up and down with interest rates in the market) mortgage and pay extra on principal with every payment. I also knew to specify "principal" when I paid, so the money didn't get applied somewhere else, like interest. I knew to buy less house than the bank said I could afford because the bank is only in it to get the interest, and the bigger the loan, the more I pay the bank in interest over the lifetime of the loan.

I bought my house with a 30 yr, fixed-rate mortgage and paid extra principal on every payment. Not crazy extra but as close to $100 per month more as I could get by rounding up.

I hadn't met Dave Ramsey, also a Larry Burkett student, before I bought my house. I started listening to him years later, and it took a while for him to make sense. I get it now.

Dave says to put at least 20% of the cost of the house down in cash to remove the PMI (mortgage insurance) which is a huge portion of those initial mortgage payments.

I didn't have 20% at the time I bought the house, but God was kind, and between what I paid down with extra principle, and the house value going up, I was able to refinance in 5 yrs with a lower interest rate and no PMI.

I kept paying that extra principal, knowing the sooner I paid off the loan, the less interest I would end up paying the bank. I felt good about myself.

More tomorrow.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Survey of...Daughter of Anasca

1. What’s your word count? Aiming for 100K. Haven't quite cut it that much yet. 

2. How long until you finish? Depends on when it gets published.  

3. If you have finished, how long did it take you?  Feels like 400 hours, but less than that, probably. 

4. Do you have an outline? I thought I did. That was most of my problem. 

5. Do you have a plot? See answer above. 

6. How many words do you typically write a day? skip, 

7. What was your greatest word count in one day? skip, 

8. What was your least impressive word count in one day? skip to my lady...

9. What inspired you to write? This one? Dare I say it? ElfQuest. And some movie involving Maureen O'Hara and Errol Flynn involving shepherds and ranchers.

10. Does your novel have a theme song?
Little John & the Band from the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves soundtrack This is the song running through my head during Dyana's fight with the boarase.

11. Assign each of your major characters a theme song.
Dyana: Annie's Song by Roger Whittaker. I can't believe I found this version! I love it!
Glorya: Love Has a Hold on Me by Amy Grant
Cahnar: I Will Be Here by Steven Curtis Chapman. I don't like this version. It's too slow, but, again, it was all I could find on YouTube. 
Spidraax She's Like the Wind by Patrick Swayze Yes, this could be Dyana's theme song, but it isn't.

12. Which character is most like you? Glorya.

13. Which character would you most likely be friends with? Glorya. 

14. Do you have a Gary-Stu or Mary Sue character? No. 

15. Who is your favorite character in your novel? Harimer. 

16. Have your characters ever done something completely unexpected? Yes. 

17. Have you based any of your novel directly on personal experiences? Not this one. Can't think of a single thing in this one. 

18. Do you believe in plot bunnies? Don't know what they are. Sound delicious. 

19. Is there magic in your novel? Two kinds. 

20. Are any holidays celebrated in your novel? Is marriage a holiday? 

21. Does anyone die? Yes.

22. How many cups of coffee/tea have you consumed during your writing experience? 4 per day on average. 

23. What is the latest you have stayed up writing? 11 PM. 

24. What is the best line? Oh, so many...
"What do you suffer in this arrangement?"
Before Cahnar could speak the word poised on his tongue, Harimer interrupted.

"Hamstring her. Height means nothing if she cannot walk."
"Thank you.That is the kind of help I want." 

25. What is the worst line? I suppose all the lines I don't giggle about.

26. Have you dreamed about your novel or its characters? Not these. 

27. Does your novel rely heavily on allegory? No. 

28. Summarize your novel in under fifteen words. There are worse things than marriage. 

29. Do you love all your characters? Yes. 

30. Have you done something sadistic or cruel to your characters specifically to increase your word count? No. I like hurting them for no reason.

31. What was the last thing your main character ate? Dyana? Poisoned fruit. 

32. Describe your main character in three words.
Dyana: reckless, headstrong, spitfire.
Glorya: cautious, determined, righteous. 

33. What would your antagonist dress up as for Halloween? Herself. 

34. Does anyone in your story go to a place of worship? Yes. 

35. How many romantic relationships take place in your novel? Two. 

36. Are there any explosions in your novel? Not this one. 

 37. Is there an apocalypse in your novel? Not this one. 

38. Does your novel take place in a post-apocalyptic world? No. 

39. Are there zombies, vampires or werewolves in your novel? No. 

40. Are there witches, wizards or mythological creatures/figures in your novel? Witches, yes. 

41. Is anyone reincarnated? No. 

42. Is anyone physically ailed? Not sure what this means. Disabled...actually, yes. 

43. Is anyone mentally ill? So very many. 

44. Does anyone have swine flu? No. 

45. Who has pets in your novel and what are they? No pets. 

46. Are there angels, demons, or any religious references/figures in your novel? Demons, yes. And plenty of religious references. 

47. How about political figures? These are princes and princesses, so, yes, I suppose. 

48. Is there incessant drinking? A liberal application of potions, yes. 

49. Are there board games? If so, which ones? No. Do have some hakisak, though.

50. Are there any dream sequences? No.

51. Is there humor? Boy, I hope so. 

52. Is there tragedy? Absolutely. 

53. Does anyone have a temper tantrum? So many. 

54. How many characters end up single at the end of your novel? Most of them. 

55. Is anyone in your novel adopted? Depends. Can in-laws count? 

56. Does anyone in your novel wear glasses? Nope. Not invented. 

57. Has your novel provided insight about your life? It was no walk in the park, I'll tell ya that.  

58. Your personality? Bits of me all over the place.

59. Has your novel inspired anyone? Quick, somebody comment! 

60. How many people have asked to read this novel? Nine? I gave it to eight of them. *evil grin*

61. Have you drawn any of your characters? Yep. Check out my website Elementals page for the little sketches. The big drawings won't fit on my scanner. 

62. Has anyone drawn your characters for you? Not to my knowledge. 

63. Does anyone vomit in your novel? Not in this one. I had enough of that with my first. 

64. Does anyone bleed in your novel? Everybody. 

65. Do any of your characters watch TV? Doesn't exist. 

66. What size shoe does your main character wear? Dyana: 5s. Glorya: 8s.

67. Do any of the characters in your novel use a computer? Don't exist. 

68. How would you react if your novel was erased entirely? I'd kill myself. After I killed whoever erased it. With a spoon. It would not be pretty. 

69. Did you cry at killing off any of your characters? No. 

70. Did you cheer when killing off one of your characters? No. 

71. What advice would you give to a fellow writer? Don't pour new wine into old wineskins. You'll end up with a mess. 

72. Describe your ending in three words. Happily until sequel. 

73. Are there any love triangles, squares, hexagons, etc.? Yes. 

74. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the least stressful, 10 being the most) how does your stress rank? I don't understand the question. Where's my spoon?

75. Was it worth it? Totally.
Don't know if this survey was...

Bone Broth Recipe

Normal people call it "broth." That's really all it is - homemade broth.

This is my third Winter using bone broth, and I am willing to swear it's why I haven't gotten the creeping crud in that amount of time. While the rest of the office sounds like a Nyquil commercial, I'm doing fine.

I originally tried it for my teeth, but that was a bust. Turns out, it increases tartar, which is why it's important to buy antibiotic-free animals. I use chicken, but this could be done with anything that has bones. According to the blood type diet, chicken is poisonous to blood types B and AB, so those folks should definitely use something else to make their broth.

You're looking at 16 hours for this. I usually start the chicken between 10 and noon on a Saturday, debone it for dinner, and cook the bones overnight.

Chicken Bone Broth recipe

1. Cook a whole, antibiotic-free fryer chicken in a crockpot for 6 hours. Keep in mind, you'll be dissolving this sucker to ingest. Don't skimp on the wholesome goodness. Then again, you'll be making this once or twice a month, so don't be crazy, either. Don't add anything to the pot except the bird. It will cook just fine by itself.

2. Debone the chicken. This takes about 20 minutes if you haven't over-cooked the bird and you're being measured by seven animals trying to decide which would taste better - the bird, or you if you don't hand it over. Use the meat any way you'd normally use chicken.

3. Put all the bones back in the crockpot. I also add whatever skin and fat I haven't offered to the furbabies.

4. Add water. How much depends on how concentrated you want your broth, and how much space you have in your crockpot. I generally add about 6 cups. Enough to easily cover the bones.

5. Add lemon juice for blood types A, or vinegar for blood types O. The acid breaks down the bones, and that's why you're doing this.

5. Cook bones for another 10 hours. You can smash them up a bit after 5 hours, if you're awake.

6. Strain into another container to cool. A colander works fine to catch the bones and big chunks. I put that stuff into the trash because even though the bones are soft enough to crush with my tongue (I've tried it), I don't take risks with giving bones to my furbabies. The broth will form tallow on top, and aspic (jelly) on the bottom. These things all melt back into broth when heated, so don't be a sissy.

7. I separate the broth into 2 cup containers, and freeze all but one. I add broth to anything I'm cooking, and I've been known to just heat a cup and drink it if I feel I need an immune boost. You'll need to add salt if you do this.

You can add garlic and ginger to the broth for additional immune boosting, but I don't because the cats lick my bowls and garlic is poisonous to them.

That's it. If you can get over the ick factor of ripping apart a carcass, you, too, can enjoy amazing health benefits.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Not Fair

Sarah: "It's not fair!"
Goblin King: "You say that so often. I wonder what your basis of comparison is."

He's right, of course. Life is seldom fair, yet we all innately expect it to be. Why is that? If we evolved by chance, why do humans expect the universe to balance the scales, the "good" to be rewarded and the "bad" to be punished? How do we even define "good" and "bad"?

I generally mock those who live according to their feelings. I've asserted consistently that mind must rule over emotions. Emotions aren't bad. They are the sauce over the rice and beans of real life. But you can't live on sauce.

TT: I do understand some people process the world differently than I do, and their emotions lead them to conclusions just as accurate as my observation-based conclusions. I am not speaking of those people.

I really can't put into words how much my feelings have altered because of Heaven. Instead of looking at a budding plant and seeing its inevitable, meaningless death, I now look and see a future perfection. Don't worry, my feelings whisper. Every effort here will one day translate into beauty there. All life comes from God. No life is wasted. No life is lost.*

That reads as sort of new agey, but I assure you, I mean that one day, humans and the universe will be restored to what we should have been: physically, emotionally and spiritually. A flower that grows now has a purpose that translates into eternity. I may not understand it, but I believe it. I've always believed it, but I couldn't justify it biblically. Randy justifies it.

Now, Randy readily admits where his imagination takes over from scripture. He's not my new guru, and I don't take everything he writes as gospel. A lot of it is extrapolation, and some of it is a bit far-fetched. However, he extrapolates from the goodness of God angle instead of the meanness of God angle.

The first lie ever told was "Has God told you not to eat of any tree in the Garden?" Gen 3:1. Meaning, is God so cruel he made all of this and then won't let you enjoy it?

No. He isn't that cruel. His creation was good, and one day, it will be totally good, for all eternity.

Push button. Receive bacon.

*This has implications for those who reject Christ's gift of redemption. They, too, will exist physically for all eternity, but their existence will not be glorious. Jesus said more about hell in his earthly ministry than he did about heaven. It is also real, and terrible, and unending. Choose life, dear readers. Choose Jesus.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I Love Earth

While editing year 2012 of this blog, I accidentally republished a post from that time. If you're wondering what fixing pets has to do with playtime - nothing. Total accident. Probably. Not sure I want to dwell on it for hidden meanings.

Best to move on.

I love this earth. I feel like I'm not supposed to say that, being a Christian, but the fact is, I like being alive. Most of the time. When I'm alone. 

I like breathing. I like working hard in The Swamp. I like bugs and squirrels and the crane that visits every Spring. I don't care for a lot of stuff in the world, including tornadoes, but overall, I love the world itself. I think God did a good job making something that has survived everything we've done to it. 

For years, I've felt guilty about how much I love my furbabies. About how much I love the Kansas sky, and composting, and watching living things live. I'm told that my home isn't here, and I felt I was being unfaithful to God for wishing things could be different. I didn't want to go to a gold-paved heaven city when there was so much here that would be good if not for the Curse. 

So I lived sad, and angry, and guilty - even though I don't believe in the feeling of guilt - and I tried to confess it away or rationalize it or just pretend it wasn't true. In short, I've been miserable, and God wouldn't help me understand why He would make all this for us and then let us destroy it, and I was supposed to be OK with that. 

TT: You know, it's kind of like Lavender Squeak, now that I think about it. 

God spoke to me through Randy Alcorn. Sorry to sound corny, but that's what happened. Randy put into words what my heart has been trying to tell me for years that my mind couldn't grasp, even though I scoured the Bible looking for proof. 

Jesus redeemed the world, too. The universe also gets to resurrect, with all its skies and gardens and squirrels and whatnot. The city is one part of heaven, but heaven will be everywhere. All the universe will be heaven. A perfected universe that we can't ruin anymore. A place to work and enjoy and love for all eternity, just as I will love the One who gave it to me. Yes, creation fell when we did, but it also gets to rise when we do. God didn't abandon it. He saved it. We all get to live forever. 

I'm crying as I write this. I can't help it. My soul is coming back to life. The dry bones are turning to flesh. God is good. I just couldn't feel it. Until now. 

Applaud the jellyfish. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


When I was young, mom occasionally sent me to my room to clean. The room cleaning was more  relocating the "nesting materials" that ended up piled around my seat in the living room or basement than removing actual dirt. I come from a family of "nesters."

Of course, I'd trudge off to my room to "put things away." When mom came in four hours later to check on my progress, I'd be smack in the middle of playing with all the stuff I'd moved.

Let's forget for a moment that "playing" is the "work" of the child, and "cleaning up" is like "stop thinking." The truth is I'd forget why I was there. One minute, I'm putting away dolls, the next Barbie-as-Ramana-the-Time-Lady would be hopping into her shoebox TARDIS with K-9 and robot Chester (my own invented character) to battle aliens on another planet.

Had the same problem last night, Day One of Final Edits on Star of Justice. After going through my usual reluctant-to-sit-down routine (I should put that coat away. And move the laundry piles closer to the machine. And at least run water for the dishes so they can soak. And I may as well make some tea and change into comfy clothes if I'm going to be sitting at the computer all night. You know the drill), I got my bum in the chair and started.

Then I panicked.

I'm not proud of it, but I had that "what am I doing?" moment I knew would show up eventually.

I don't have enough time. The book is too big. I'm going to miss something huge and be a laughing-stock. Not that it matters since no one is going to read it anyway, and I'll go down in history as "the woman whose enormous book never got read except by that guy from The New York Times who gave it an awful review."

OK, so even when I panic, I panic big.

But who should show up at just the right time? Jesus. Oh, He didn't look quite like Himself. He had big, crazy hair and front teeth like Chiclets and a tendency to leap before looking, but it was Jesus all right. I'd know Him anywhere.

So I calmed down and set to work and what do you know? Work turned into play. I remembered how much I love these characters and that's it not as bad as I feared and one bite at a time is the only way to eat a dragon, if your tastes happen to run to cannibalism.

Don't Ask

While I'm composing my next thoughts on heaven, I'll write about something that contributes to my longing for heaven.

A while ago, a friend inadvertently answered a question I've had for a long time. Why do people buy pets, and then not spay/neuter them?

I've never bought a pet. Mine all show up at my door as strays. The products of humans behaving irresponsibly. Fool that I am, I adopt them and care for them as family, but I can only do so much, and at the moment, I am past my limit. The idea of breeding more animals to end as strays that no one might care for angers me in a simmering kind of way that explodes on occasion. I don't talk about it, but it's there. It's part of the wrongness I walk through daily.

I've heard the argument about children learning the circle of life by watching a cat give birth. Unless the instruction includes the gruesome end of those kittens as coyote or raptor food, or roadkill, after a year of life on average, don't talk to me. In fact, I don't care what you're trying to teach them. What you're teaching them is its OK to be irresponsible with a life entrusted to you.

Well, this friend mentioned she advised her friend who bought a puppy to breed her to make her money back. This was a perfectly reasonable thought to her. Spend money on a dog, make money back on a dog.

What I heard was "I adopted this child. It was a very expensive adoption, so I'm going to pimp her out until she has a baby, and then I'm going to sell the baby to offset the cost of the adoption. It doesn't matter who I sell the baby to as long as they can pay. I may even keep one of the babies and pimp her out, too. And when my adopted child has finally earned her keep, I'll let her give up prostitution and be a real part of my family."

I can't tell my friend this. She would be shocked and appalled that I would think such a thing. I was shocked and appalled that she didn't.

My question was answered, but I wish it hadn't been. This is one answer I don't want to live with, but it is a perfect example of what I absorb every day. Until recently, that taint has had nowhere to go. It settled into my bones and sloshed around until being around people makes me long for death - theirs or mine, I don't care.

And that is an excellent setup for tomorrow's post about heaven.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Lost Detour

I just finished bingewatching Lost for the first time, mostly because I tend to like Bad Robot productions. I have a few observations.

The show is aptly named. Nobody knew what was going on most of the time. Especially the writers.

Sad eyes and wistful smile aside, Kate is the most selfish and fickle person on the show. Whoever she ended up with would lose.

I've never seen a show improve so much with the deaths of three characters: Boone, Shannon and Michael. It became positively likable once they were out of the picture.

The most consistently poor decision-maker and Expert Victim status is a coin toss between Michael and John Locke.

Almost all of the drama of seasons one and two were people failing to ask Sawyer nicely for something. It was a physical relief when an actual villain showed up in season three.

TWD's The Governor remains my most hated TV villain, but he walks arm-around-shoulder with Ben Linus.

This is the only show I can think of where the show itself is a character.

I'm guessing Claire disappeared because Emilie de Ravin got pregnant and took time off from her fictional baby. Ironic.

If this were a video game, the only character with a chance of winning is Sayid.

Hurley is proof that humorous sincerity is the hippie-ride of life, taking you where you need to go and occasionally smashing through human roadblocks.

In the dead of Kansas winter, I would rather watch Hawaii-based Lost than New York-based Person of Interest, even though I like POI more overall.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Spirit vs Flesh

Spirit is good and matter is evil. This old idea finds new ways to express itself. During the writing of the New Testament, it was "gnosticism," and those writers, especially Paul, argued against it constantly. The main premise is whatever the body does has no effect on the spirit. The spirit can be completely pure, whether it resides in a serial killer or a newborn infant.

Seems someone is always trying to dilute or pollute God's truth (Can you say "Satan?" she writes in her Church Lady voice). The Bible never says the body doesn't matter. Jesus goes so far as to say if your hand causes you to sin, it's better to cut it off than go to hell because of it. That's one example. Randy Alcorn gives many, many more because one of his main arguments in Heaven is that Heaven is a physical place because humans are physical beings. We were created with bodies, and those bodies are part of what we are.

Early Christians went against culture by burying their dead instead of cremating them because they believed the body would resurrect with the person. Like Jesus. His body went with him back to heaven, even though he'd been only spirit prior to the incarnation (that's a big word for "turning into flesh). I have no issues with cremation in general because I don't think the God who created everything from nothing is going to have trouble recreating any body at his second coming. I prefer the idea of rotting in the ground until that happens because I'm a gardener and recycler, but that's likely another post.

I lived as a gnostic for many, many years. I believed I was a Christian even though I did none of the things Christians are supposed to do - give regularly to God's work, assemble together for fellowship and worship, make disciples, pray regularly, study the Bible. As long as I was saved, I didn't have to do anything more than ask forgiveness if I messed up to much.

The day my hypocrisy - that's what it is, really, to speak one way and live another: hypocrisy - came home to me, I made some changes. I resumed Bible study and prayer. I began to put my checkbook to work for God, even though the sums were small at first. I added "Jesus" to my daily vocabulary, determined that if I was ever to be beheaded for my faith, there would be plenty of evidence to convict me. I wanted to "store up my treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy."

My goal is for both my spirit and my body to serve Jesus faithfully as one unit. I want my body to join me in eternity, perfected, like I will be. I'm going to need it. I hear there's a garden, and I want in on that action.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Friday, January 8, 2016

More Thinking About Heaven

I rarely thought about heaven. I've read the Bible, maybe four times all the way through, and way more for certain sections. Pathetic, yes, but I think of it as an area for growth. I've read the obvious heaven parts, in Revelation, mostly, about New Jerusalem: big cube founded on twelve precious stones, gates of giant pearl, streets of gold, river in the middle, yada, yada.

I believe John is being literal. I don't read this as poetry. I expect New Jerusalem at first glance will match his description.

I'll be honest. Never cared for the idea. I don't like cities, or crowds of people. Don't care about golden streets or jeweled foundations. The Tree of Life has possibilities, and I always figured the sea creatures would live in the big river, since there's no more sea. On the whole, I accept that God made this city I'm supposed to be happy about, and it's probably more interesting than it sounds, but I figured He'd let me visit, and I could make my home somewhere else on the New Earth that New Jerusalem comes out of heaven to land on.

I'm not alone in this attitude. Most people have an idea of heaven that is either based on that brief description by John, or by completely ridiculous church traditions that have more to do with Renaissance paintings than Biblical accuracy.

No wonder it's easier to focus on day-to-day life. Who wants to live forever walking around a golden city in between church services?

Enter Heaven by Randy Alcorn. He scoured the entire Bible looking for glimpses of Heaven, and he found them. In the law, the psalms, major and minor prophets (so nicknamed for the size of their books, not their relevance), the gospels, and the epistles*. Almost every book in the Bible has something to say about heaven and what it will be like. We've just failed to look for it.

And those glimpses... well, it's got the Turtle thinking about heaven. Happy thoughts.

Push button. Receive bacon.

*If you're not familiar with the jargon, flip open a Bible or google "Bible table of contents." "The law" refers to the first 5 books of the Old Testament, "the major and minor prophets" start with Isaiah and end with Malachi, "the gospels" are Matthew through Luke, and the "epistles" (or "letters" start with Romans all the way to Revelation, which is prophecy.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thinking About Heaven

I feel almost back to normal this morning. Thank You, Lord. The vertigo dance gets old before it starts. I'll keep up the symptom treatment for a while, just in case.

I promised to write about Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It's unlikely I'll use just one post, but I have to start somewhere.

The book is a long exhortation about how heaven is a physical place, and a physical, resurrected Earth will be part of it. If Randy is to be believed, this is not normal thinking among Christians of his vast acquaintance. Hence, the book.

I'm a Biblical literalist. I assume the meaning is literal unless context indicates otherwise. Jesus goes out of his way in the gospels to prove he has a body when he comes back from the dead. Randy lists those passages, so I don't need to.

If I have not always believed in a physical heaven, I no longer remember when I didn't. It makes perfect sense to me that a physical, resurrected Jesus should exist in a physical place. He didn't shed his body after resurrection. He told us he is the firstborn from the dead, and we'll have bodies like his after we are resurrected.

This is one of those moments when the Turtle publicly displays how insane she is. Except I find it more insane to claim a written set of beliefs (I am a Christian) and then not live according to them (I don't do any of the things Christians are supposed to do based on their holy book). I believe the Bible. I don't always understand it, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try. So, yes, I believe Jesus is both God and man, that he really died as a man, and that he really came back to life by his own supernatural power as God, and because he did, I can, too.  That is the foundation of my beliefs. Someday, we'll all find out if I'm right.

I've run out of space, but that's the gist of Randy's book. I'll cover why I'm reading it later.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Stupid 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

As I was reviewing this blog, I found my problem.

April 1, 2011. Apparently, I was reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (curse you, Dave Ramsey, for the recommendation! or was that the year we started a book club at work?) and somewhere in there, it recommends being passionate about your work.

TT: Maybe it was Rabbi Lapin's book. They covered some of the same areas.

Anyway, that seems to be the moment I decided to start mastering my job instead of just being a pleasant, dependable employee. I did quite well, too, up until the moment I quit.


How was I to know how seriously I would take this new life tack?

When I started my new job at the state, I quickly mastered my assigned duties, and moved on to mastering other things in the office. I asked questions. I looked for problems and ways to avert them before they became my problem. My new boss wasn't big into telling me what to do. She wanted us to discuss options and synergize (my word). Well, the turtle is nothing if not willing to play by the rules, so I ran with the new rules of "figure it out" and mastered it. Perhaps too well.

My work motto for the last year is "be the solution, not the problem." As in, don't tell me all the ways you think you're thwarted. Tell me what you can do. Then do it with cheerful efficiency. Why are you talking to me about it?

In short, I now think like management. It's a real bummer. But it has led to my other motto.

No employee is paid what they're worth. They're either overpaid, or underpaid.

Good thing I'm not motivated by money.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Every once in a blue moon, I suffer from vertigo. I think of it as "motion sickness I can't stop." I'd have to check Quicken to remember the last time I had it because I went to the doctor. He couldn't help me. It went away eventually, but it was a long, miserable month of wishing for death.

This is my fourth day of vertigo. It is improving because the attacks are mostly limited to the few seconds after I sit up. If I can remain vertical, the nausea subsides and I can slowly, carefully, uprightly move on with my day. By evening, I'm mostly normal. Until I lie down.

If I remember correctly, last time I changed my diet to mostly rice and ground turkey to help with the nausea. I've already started that.

My back is killing me. If I can't bend, I can't stretch, and the turtle shell is screaming. This entire situation is somewhat intolerable.

TT: Within the last couple of years, I have finally realized "you can't survive everything." It was a sobering thought, and it surfaces more often than not nowadays.

Once upon a time, my allergist told me that sinus runoff causes nausea, but the best way to deal with it is to get up and get moving. The nausea will subside. He was right, and I've spent most of my adult life out of bed because of that advice.

But I can't just feel urpy and not try to fix it, so in these hours since Sunday when I'm trying not to move and staring at the ceiling, I consider my options. I'm taking Claritin during the day and Benedryl at night to dry up the brain pan. I'm avoiding wheat like ebola.

And I'm going to clean the basement with hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and baking soda (not all in the same bottle). I have fifteen year old wooden pallets down there that have been flooded every Spring, so it's a good bet the Black Death is growing under them despite the dehumidifier and fans. Mold is my only real allergy (although it's plenty, let me tell ya), and it may be seeping up through the vents at night to kill me.

Besides, the floor is concrete. If I start puking, it'll be easy to clean.

Push button. Receive bacon.