Burns Night on Sunday!

Address to a Haggis
by Robert Burns

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis

MLK Day Doings

This was MLK day and I began in the attic trying to figure out why the fan I tried to install yesterday didn’t work. It required cutting a 11 x 11 inch hole in the ceiling, attaching the fan to the joist, wiring it up, etc. Three big pieces of wire met at this outlet, so I had to put some thought into the proper wiring. I listened to the NPR special about King’s last days on a tiny radio up there in the attic while I worked through it. Long story short, the fan/light combo is now installed and working in the bathroom:


It’s cool how the light and fan are together; the fan is really quiet. I’m pitiful–we purchased this fan/light back in the summer and I’ve just gotten to the point of installing it. It was just as difficult as I expected. I made one small trip to Family Dollar this morning to get some small candelabra sized bulbs for the light and saw this hilarity:


No, your eyes are not deceiving you, these are 38 watt incandescent light bulbs. All the 40W and 60W bulbs are now halogen, but in similar looking packaging to the old incandescent ones and at 4 times the price. I’m not even going to look up why they are selling 38 watt incandescents because I know the answer likely has something to do with government regulation. This wattage probably flies under the wire of some new standard designed to make everyone feel good while filling our landfills with mercury.

One thing I found in the attic was a 1945 issue of House Beautiful.

After getting the fan finished, I got back to work on the stairs. I tackled the lower stair that kind of wraps around the top one. Again, I’m using that cool oak that Ann spotted at a salvage store. I’m gluing in place in this photo:


I then weighed it down with a bunch of boxes of tile.

After this, I started working on the molding and finishing work in the bathroom where I installed the fan. Ann primed it all for me over the past few weeks. I nailed in place the door molding, the baseboards, finished up the molding under the window sill, and then I set all the nails in preparation for filler and caulk, etc.

To finish the bathroom, I still need to finish tiling the tub, grouting it, then putting in corner moldings and ceiling molding.

I’m pretty tired. Now I’m sitting here and all three of my sons who are home are talking to themselves in various parts of the house… sigh.

Making Christianity Weird Again

There are quite a few quotable bits in this piece from Dreher:

“we may be looking at a European-style collapse in Christian faith within a generation or two, in part because so many young Americans raised in Christian homes, in a Christian milieu, do not know what it means to think and to live as a Christian. They don’t even have the conceptual vocabulary to articulate their thoughts or to frame their understanding.”


“we need our Christianity to quit trying to conform to the world, and instead to ‘be a lot stranger.’ His [Bo Bonner’s] point is that if young people are given the choice between unbelief and a faith that puts a light God gloss on the same consumerism and materialism that everybody else lives with, then who can blame young people for rejecting it? Because that is not historic Christianity. The real thing is wild, and weird; it is not a set of ideas, but a way of life. There will always be some people — young, middle-aged, and old — haunted by the sense that there is something else there, a longing that cannot be anesthetized away. If the church stands true to itself, and doesn’t apologize for itself, then they will come.”

Evangelicalism has few tools to give the world an embodied Christianity. It thrives on an adoration of spontaneity. Changing up the liturgy each week is actually seen by many evangelicals as a way to get people to pay *more* attention to its content, rather than less. Anything that doesn’t need to be done the same way twice isn’t something that has much weight or importance. Why would we leave something as important as the gospel up to spontaneity? Things that are important to us, like dance or swimming or mathematics, have a curriculum that we follow. We use repetition to gain mastery, to let it seep inside us so that we no longer dance, but become dancers. The best way to become weird, and thus preserve Christianity as a way of life, is to start from the Lord’s supper and work outward until the whole weekly worship service makes the same kind of sense the gospel makes. Then, when you invite a non-Christian friend to worship, you’ll know what you’re getting them into, and they can hear the same thing each week as a drumbeat – the same message of creation, fall, redemption. That kind of foundation creates a world of wonder. Spontaneous evangelicalism too often creates a world of tchotchkes.

Weekend Doings: Rinky-Dink Circus, Fishing, Etc.

Friday night, the annual rinky dink circus (yes, it probably has a real name) came to Starkville. I love rinky dink local entertainment. I love rinky dink parades. I like animal sideshows. This particular circus has a 100% hispanic set of players who travel together and probably put on this show every night – it is truly amazing. Last year they had amazing juggling. Any kind of small-scale skill that can be done in a 20 foot diameter ring will work, so you usually have juggling, a guy with spinning tops, hula-hoop stuff, etc. Then there’s the random clown stuff and the truly peculiar stuff that’s just there to make the kids sing along.Like when Spongebob and Patrick randomly came out and waved to the crowd for no discernible purpose and likely under grey licensing conditions:


This year, they had a lady on a rope, suspended from the National Guard Armory ceiling. Here’s she is during an especially graceful part:


During the performance, as she was spinning, something flew off of her costume and landed near Eli. I found out later it was a flower that matched her costume and was in her hair. Right after the lights went up, I saw Eli run up to the man running the sound. I could see his laughing and gesturing Eli backstage, then Eli disappeared backstage. It turns out that he was trying to return her flower. He learned her name – Liza – and then I got a picture of them together:


The on Saturday, I took Eli and Charlie fishing:


We didn’t catch anything because it was cold and windy, but we walked around the lake through some weird woods where the beavers have been very active in trying to make a large wet area.

And then when I got home I helped Ann put together our knock-off Nelson bench that we’re going to use as a coffee table:


The main difference between this one and the real ones is that the legs are wood, whereas the real ones have metal legs and are indestructible. Correction, real ones have wooden legs too.

I’m writing this on Sunday – we’ve been to church and now everyone is doing various relaxing things. I was going to work on the house, but I needed to make noise and people are sleeping. I’m so happy that I have a day off from work tomorrow for MLK day. I can probably get a lot done then too.

Today, I started trying to teach the kids in Sunday School how to sing Psalm 1 using the Genevan tunes. It will be challenging in a church where there is no metrical psalm singing at any other time, but the kids will pick up the tunes soon enough, I’m sure.

Alright, have a great day, friends.

A Life-Changing Product

OK, I hyped the title.  But this At-A-Glance daily “diary” is amazing:

Not too many notebooks are sewn and bound like a real book, have exactly 365 lined pages that, as a memento mori, tell you how many days are left in the year and mark major holidays.

The Serial Podcast opened with the question of what you did yesterday, last week, last month, last year. It is very hard to remember. Last year, for the first time in my professional life, I had to justify a decision (and defend it) many months after it was made. At the time I made the decision, I knew the decision might be challenged, and so I sent an email to the person who advised the decision and recapped the advice given to me. Wow, I never thought it would come down to that email, but it did, and it really helped to show that I had made the decision in the proper way at the time. The person who advised me was now blaming me, but I could easily show that my intention all along was to take that person’s advice. Email is great, but not everything you do in a day can be established by an email trail, and you may not have access to older email if you change jobs or your company has a strict archiving policy.

But back to the Serial podcast, executives often have to go back and account for what they did on a certain day. The busier you get, the harder it is to do that. If someone asked you for an alibi on Feb 13th, 2003, how well would you do? Would you have to open up your tax records boxes in your attic and look for a receipt? What if you had a shelf full of these handsome, red, yearly diaries? These books are for working folks to record their daily meetings and activities, not for teenagers to pour out their deepest thoughts. You’ll know that there’s no way you could have been knocking over a liquor store at 2:00 on a Tuesday and getting away in a white Honda Accord because, while you do have a white Honda accord, you were at a meeting in which 10 people discussed whether to change the format of your TPS reports.

Also, most productivity methods require that you try to write things on a calendar only if the thing really relates to time. So you can use this diary as a calendar for the future and as a past record of events on a certain day. It even has a phone directory in the front for old-school jotting down of numbers and a cash deposit ledger in the back. Mobile phones are great, but this diary is always ready and is like a book. So unless you lend it out, you’re good.

Now, if you’re engaged in criminal enterprise, this book is not for you. Don’t write anything down. What are you, an amateur criminal?

House Work: Door Sweep Finished, AC Smoke Detector Installed

Tonight’s house work was to complete the door sweep. I installed a new sweep (hacksaw to length, screw to bottom of door, making sure it can open and close smoothly). Now the carport door has no draft. It looks pretty nice, I think, being black. It covers up the unfinished oak I used to extend the length of the door. Here’s a photo:

Door Sweep Installed

Next, I worked on installing an A/C smoke detector. This all got started because there was a weird, off-center mount for a wide light fixture in our dining area. I didn’t need to put another light there, and I hate sheet rock work. So I bought an A/C smoke detector to wire in there. Problem is, when I went to install it a few weeks ago, my current detector wouldn’t work. It was a Greenlee one. Yes, there are other ways to test a circuit, but I like the ease of the touchless ones and I don’t want to die by falling off a chair after being shocked. So I took advantage of their lifetime warranty and complained – they mailed me another one. I was all set to work on this last weekend and wouldn’t you know it, the replacement didn’t work either. So I just bit the bullet and bought a different brand made by Southwire. They are actually a local company. It worked right away when I tried it tonight. I’m going to mail both of the Greenlee ones back to the company with a note to ask them why they are so bad at making all the things. Here’s the one I bought - bonus, it has a flashlight.

I was really hoping that the A/C smoke detector was battery-optional, but they do require installing a battery for backup.  Lame. Anyway, I installed it and now there’s a discreet smoke detector where there used to be an unsightly hole:

AC Smoke Detector


Ok, well, it’s midnight. I need to get back on my going-to-bed-at-10 routine, but I’m still on holiday time, unfortunately. Tomorrow will come early.

Oh, one more thing – we renewed our tags today in Mississippi for the first time.  It took Ann 25 minutes and there were no documents required to get it renewed. Sorry, Missourians, I remember all the strange bureaucracy to get a tag renewed in St. Louis. I remember actually taking off a half-day from work to get all the documentation together and run from the courthouse to the license bureau.

I know this post is so boring that it is breaking the Internet. Party on, party people.

Studying Prayer Scientifically

It’s impossible to study prayer scientifically.

Here are a few premisses; assume they are true:

1. God’s will is always done
2. God’s will is almost always done via secondary causes
3. Prayer is a secondary cause
4. Sometimes God accomplishes his will by involving prayer causally in an outcome.
5. Sometimes God accomplishes his will by not involving prayer causally in an outcome.

Two people get sick. Suppose God’s plan is that both get well. He decrees that the first will get well via medicine and prayer. He decrees that the second will get well by medicine only. You can’t spot the causality in either result and you can’t spot the mechanism by which prayer is effective because the mechanism is God’s incorporating a request into the execution of his will. Thus, it is beyond anyone’s ability to study prayer’s effects empirically.

Those who think that science can disprove the efficacy of prayer have a larger problem. What serves as their theoretical foundation for thinking that randomized trials can prove or disprove anything? The only reason Benadryl keeps my allergies at bay is because God continues to incorporate Benadryl into his plan for keeping my allergies at bay. Only because God is so gracious to coordinate things so regularly can we do scientific work at all. Seedtime and harvest, night and day, Benadryl’s fighting histamines will never cease.

Of course, there are varieties of metaphysics that, if true, provide a basis for the testability of prayer’s efficacy. But the main takeaway here is that there are versions of theism that, if true, would mean prayer’s efficacy can neither be scientifically proven nor disproven.

Saturday House Work

Today I tackled the door sweeps. The previous owners of our house had 2 layers of carpet that necessitated shaving off about an inch from the bottom of most of the doors in the house. The carport door is now over ceramic tile and so we’ve had to jam a rug under there to keep out the cold.

Awhile back, Ann found all these pieces of exactly milled red oak at a local salvage store, and they were perfect for elongating the door. Now there is only a quarter of an inch of clearance, and I’ll need to get a rubber sweep next time I’m at Lowes.

fixing the steps

After this I tackled the steps that descend from the old part of the house to the new part. I tiled the sides and risers of these steps but after cutting a 45 degree angle in the tile for the treads, I was scared by how sharp it was. So we decided to use wood, and yet again the magical oak Ann found at Dirt Cheap Salvage came into play. Today I finished cutting the wood for the first set of steps. I’ll need to glue them down, fill, sand, stain, and seal these, but the cutting is done and I really like the effect so far (see photo).

steps cut

Hope you had a great Saturday.

Eli had a coronation ceremony to mark the transition of power from me to him as king of the geckos in our backyard. I have no idea what any of it means, but I think Annie will probably post a photo somewhere.