Posted in Reviews

Preach or Tell a Story

I found this book on the shelves of Barnes & Nobles the last time I was in (months ago) and decided, after reading the first part, that it might be worth reading. Either it was going to be one of the worst moral preaching book possible, or it was could have a really good story.

I didn’t realize that it could be both at once.

The book is New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson. There are some really neat characters with some really good events and character development. And this book is absolutely laced with some of the worst preaching sections imaginable, based on what passes in the politically correct world for science — in the Barack Obama sense of “proven science”.

There is are a couple of stock liberal characters, as well, which unfortunately were more interesting before they began the preaching of their liberal intolerance.

So I was glad I read the book, and enjoyed the good stories. But unfortunately there are so many people out there who don’t know about science or finance, and will seriously believe the statements at face value without realizing the full extent of its fabrication.

It is excellent fiction and fantasy; the danger is too many people today believe this is some actual reflection of reality.

Posted in Music

#223: Arise, My Soul, Arise!

 (Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)


Arise, my soul, arise! Shake off thy guilty fears;

The bleeding Sacrifice Is my behalf appears:

Before the throne my Surety stands –

My name is written on His hands,

My name is written on His hands.


He ever lives above, For me to intercede;

His all-redeeming love, His pre..cious blood to plead:

His blood atoned for all our race,

And sprinkles now the throne of grace,

And sprinkles now the throne of grace.


Five bleeding wounds He bears, Received on Calvary;

They pour effectual prayers, They strongly plead for me;

“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,

“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!

Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”


The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed one;

He cannot turn away The presence of His Son:

His Spirit answers to the blood,

And tells me I am born of God,

And tells me I am born of God.


My God is reconciled, His pard’ning voice I hear;

He owns me for His child, I can no longer fear:

With confidence I now draw nigh,

And “Father, Abba, Father!” cry,

And “Father, Abba, Father!” cry.

Posted in Reviews

On Video: Foreign releases to English

We watch a lot of foreign animation (usually with English dubbing) in our house, thanks to the quality tastes of our daughter and the wide variety of such available through our local library system or interlibrary loan.

Today I’m going to pop comments on two of them that we have in the house at the moment, one because I was surprised at how it went after the beginning, the other, well, here goes.

Azur & Asmar: The Princes’ Quest

This one began is a way that made me almost ready to stop watching. It had such a PC tone to the setup — then it made a quick turn that suddenly had me watching to see how they were playing this different.

The PC analogue came from two cultures, and my expectations of one being listed as bad, and the other as good. But, well, let’s just say I encourage you to get it out and see how these two boys play their roles of prince, and how the other characters exceed their stereotypes for the unexpected, and yet in a way very classic, conclusion.

Whisper of the Heart

This is one of many Studio Ghibli videos that have been dubbed to English by Disney Studios, which is doing a wonderful job of dubbing Ghibli movies while staying true to the original story. It shows that underneath the smart business acumen of the studios is also one dedicated to real art and storytelling.

This particular episode in a coming of age sort of movie set in Japan.  There are several growing up pain angles, several love triangle angles, but the one that really popped for our family was the one girl’s attempt to become a writer, and her reaction to her first critic. Her inability to believe how good her story was, struggling with the fact that it still needed a lot of work.  Shizuko is a clever and well-drawn character who has believable struggles that grip your heart without having to be end-of-the-world caliber. Just excellent story telling.


So go get out some movies and see what you think.

Posted in Music

#222: There Is a Fountain

(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

This is definitely a classic hymn.  It doesn’t have a chorus, but each verse has some ending lines that do a repetitive amplification of the thought.  It is a an excellent lyrical technique, and makes the song easier to sing and remember.


There is a fountain filled with blood Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,

And sinners plunged beneath that flood Lose all their guilty stains:

Lose all their guilty stains, Lose all their guilty stains;

And sinners plunged beneath that flood Lose all their guilty stains.


The dying thief rejoiced to see That fountain in his day,

And there may I, though vile as he, Wash all my sins away:

Wash all my sins away, Wash all my sins away;

And there may I, though vile as he, Wash all my sins away.


Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood Shall never lose its pow’r,

Till all the ransomed Church of God Be saved to sin no more:

Be saved to sin no more, Be saved to sin no more;

Till all the ransomed Church of God Be saved to sin no more.


E’er since by faith I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,

Redeeming love has been my theme And shall be till I die:

And shall be till I die, And shall be till I die;

Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.


When this poor lisping, stamm’ring tongue Lies silent in the grave,

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save;

I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save, I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save:

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save.

Posted in Avondale United Methodist Church, Music

A Farewell Recital

Avondale United Methodist Church, where I have attended and participated in services and the music ministries for nigh on the past decade, has been blessed during the past four years to have as its Musical Director a very young but very talented and spiritually focused man named Aaron R. Redburn.

When Paul in I Timothy 4:12 advised Timothy to “Let no man despise thy youth”, he could have had Aaron in mind.  For Aaron came to us as a very accomplished, yet very young man just out of high school starting his college career. And in the past 4 years he has challenged us to grow, both musically and spiritually. At the same time we as a choir of mature adults taught Aaron many things that his previous leadings of youth and school choirs doubtless hadn’t taught him.

But, alas, four years have passed, and with the bachelor’s degree completed, he is now taking his Master’s Degree in Memphis, so is no longer our Musical Director. As part of our parting, Aaron, along with his girlfriend Shannon Lowe (who we knew these four years and likewise became a part of us in this growth and challenge), and our church organist John Livingston, presented A Farewell Recital on his last Sunday with us, July, 30, 2017.

I video recorded that recital, and am putting the edited version up to the cloud today, to be embedded into this blog for everyone’s appreciation and enjoyment of their performance and skill. This video edit is my small token of esteem for all they have done for me and for us at AUMC.

The full video took a long time to upload; so I uploaded a link to the 3-minute title slide/teaser I created for the video first. Now you can enjoy both the full video and the title slide.


Posted in Family

A Blast of the Past #111: Keuka Lake

Part of the Summer 2009 trip was a visit to Keuka Lake, one of Finger Lake gems of upstate New York. We visited courtesy of Paul and Aggie, longtime friends of my mother and late father, who had a cabin on Keuka Lake at that time.  Here are some of the pictures from out time on Keuka Lake:

Posted in Events

Eclipse observations

The above video shows the effect of the eclipse on the lighting of our back lawn for the 4 critical minutes around the totality.

Below is a chronology of what we saw during our various spaced timed sightings:

  • 11:30 — full sun through camera obscura and eclipse glasses. Outside thermometer 72 degrees.
  • 11:50 — possible piece out of right side through camera obscura, through eclipse glasses definite though small piece covering sun in the 2 o’clock position. Outside thermometer 72 degrees.
  • 12:10 — Camera Obscura shows definite bite out of right side. Eclipse glasses show moon’s leading edge about halfway to the sun’s center point. Outside thermometer 74 degrees.
  • 12:30 — Camera obscura show indefinite progress across sun. Eclipse glasses show moon’s leading edge close to the sun’s center point. Outside thermometer 74 degrees.
  • 12:50 — Camera obscura shows indefinite progress across sun. Eclipse glasses show moon’s leading edge past the sun’s center point — a definite crescent. Not sure exact distance across sun.  Outside thermometer 74 degrees.
  • 1:00 — Camera obscura indefinite progress but progress. Eclipse glasses show thumbnail sun — crescent shape. Outside temperature
  • 1:00-1:08 — finally starting to get the weird lighting feels. The air gives a slight sense of a cool breeze, but the thermometer still shows 74. Getting dimmer and darker, crescent shrinks.
  • Totality — Can see the bead effect and the shimmer around it.  Nighttime darkness.
  • The brightening is almost more eerie than the going dark.
  • Clouds finally occluded our observation during the totality, so we couldn’t get a good view of the passing off the sun at first.
  • 1:15 p.m. — Eclipse Goggles do not work well through cloud cover.

Below is a time-lapse video of the grass behind our house, encapsulating 100 minutes into 26 seconds:






Posted in Music

#221: Thank You, Lord

(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

The chorus of this one was used for a short hymn or various transitional interludes, but once I knew the verses, I never wanted to sing it without them.


Some thank the Lord for friends and home,

For mercies sure and sweet;

But I would praise Him for His grace –

In prayer I would repeat:


Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul,

Thank you, Lord, for making me whole;

Thank you, Lord, for giving to me

Thy great salvation so rich and free.


Some thank Him for the flow’rs that grow,

Some for he stars that shine;

My heart is filled with jay and praise

Because I know He’s mine.



I trust in Him from day to day,

I prove His saving grace;

I’ll sing this song of praise to Him

Until I see His face.


Posted in Uncategorized

Don’t be the Zax

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And yet, they are both, unfortunately, based on the same fallacy. Everything is linked, rooted, blamed on race. Neither one can see beyond that frame to the individuals, the people around them. None of them form relationships to anyone but only to the race of a person. If you are one of the majority of the people who doesn’t see race in everything, it is because you are like a fish in water, not able to see the privilege of your position.

Both live in small worlds, of their own making, and everything they experience can be explained by their philosophy. Sure, it may be a small world, a small explanation, but it is complete, unassailable, just like the convictions of any insane person.

We outside this circle know that there is more to life than race. We refuse to be pulled into and encompassed by the embrace of their circles of hate and denunciation. We will not be drowned in the pool of their obsession. For just as they would accuse us of being fish unable to see the water around us, they cannot see the pool of their own delusion. Instead, we will continue to breathe the free air and enjoy the warmth of the sun of life, in all its undefined, divine glory.

Yet we will continue to call to them, beckon them to leave the stagnant water for the free air. For it is always possible that the fish might just learn how to fly.