Monthly Archives: August 2006

Project: Twin Toy Chests

Well, the first woodworking project since that ‘build me a bench’ fiasco of ’01 is finally complete. The result is a set of twin mini toy chests. Outside dimensions: 18” x 20” x 13.5”. Those measurements were dictated by the size if the extra lumber I had laying around more than any esthetic reason. Sides and top are joined by some VERY uneven rabbet joints and overall the project amounts to two VERY heavy but VERY sturdy hinge-lidded boxes. Kathy plans to finish these with some high-gloss white paint and add a cushion to the top so they can double as extra guest seating when the leprosy clears up in the house and the department of health allows us to have guests again.

Total cost of this project including tools, lumber and hardware: $890. Luckily, I get to keep the tools. Overall, this is almost a good trade for most of the guts of my coin collection. I will say that even though in relative terms this is a very simple project it was a good learning experience. Clearly I need to exercise a bit more patience in some areas but the fact that the wife isn’t revolted beyond sensible words indicates my results were not totally outlandish.

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Genesis – Chapter 8

Wow… looking back, I amuse myself. This almost inspires me to start reading this book again… alright, more than almost.

Chapter 8: The Flood Subsides

After the rain, God suddenly remembered Noah and his animals and passes a wind across the Earth to counteract all that water. The water steadily decreases and five months after all this started, the ark comes to rest in a mountain range in the area of Ararat. Contrary to popular belief, there is no Mount Ararat, the name refers to the ancient country Uratu now occupied by Turkey, Iraq, Armenia and Iran. Three months after it comes to rest in the mountains, the tops of the mountains became visible.

After 40 days, Noah opened the window and sent forth the raven. It “flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth.” Considering that’s months away, it’s a pretty impressive feat of endurance. He then sends out a dove but it returned as it found no place to land. Noah waited another seven days and sent out the dove again; this time it returned with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. This is surprising given that no olive tree could survive several months under water. Further, the common olive (Olea europaea) can take several months to germinate even in the most optimal circumstances. Add to this the fact that the olive is not a mountain-dwelling plant so the waters must have receded at an incredible pace for there to be an olive leaf available even if it plucked a new sapling tree from the ground.

Noah waited another seven days and sent the dove again. This time it did not return. Deciding after very nearly a year in the ark that it was safe to come out, Noah removes the covering of the ark and at exactly a year from the time they entered the ark the earth is declared dry again. God speaks to Noah and tells him to get out of the ark and bring all the animals forth to repopulate the earth. This is, of course, impossible. Two individuals from a species cannot repopulate the earth for very specific genetic reasons.

After bringing out the animals, Noah builds an altar to the Lord. Then he takes some the extra “clean” animals that the lord commanded him to save in chapter seven, slit their throats and burned their corpses on the altar as an offering to God. It’s funny, I never heard about any of that in Sunday school or those made-for-TV-movies about Genesis. If a person did this today, they would be thrown in jail or burned as a witch. This is exactly the sort of behavior that modern society ascribes to devil-worshipers. God “smelled the soothing aroma” and promised to never again curse the ground because of the acts of man. He goes on to say that “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”

Frankly, I’m appalled at this chapter. Noah murders animals and burns their corpses and God looks on in apparent glee. Further, he goes on to say directly that man, who he created, is evil from his first days on earth. Any entity that looks at a baby and sees evil yet rejoices in the smell of burning corpses is, frankly, sick. Luckily, for the people who subscribe to this doctrine, all this has been revised and expunged from popular perception of the Bible.

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The Next Big … Struggle

It should be noted that the following Blog entry is more for my internal reference than for anyone to actually READ it. I like to keep track of the various meanderings that my mind takes but from your perspective it’s of no interest whatsoever. So, read if you like but don’t feel obligated to and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

On June 11th, I declared the 5 big goals of the moment: learn Spanish, write this Blog, do something with the coin collection, finish the Bible and get the outside landscaping done and garage properly cleaned up and organized.

As I open on August 1st, I find a few updates are in order. The Spanish goal is officially dead. After four books, 1000 new additions to my Spanish vocabulary and scores of hours spent on this I return to the fact that there wasn’t any real point to this in the first place. Even if I were completely fluent I’m not sure what I would actually do with this skill. More realistic levels of proficiency leave me only the option of watching REALLY poor quality Spanish television of reading classic Spanish literature for which more accurate English translations already exist.

The Blog goal has foundered somewhat but since I’m writing it now it must not be completely dead. My posts have hovered around a somewhat more pictorial style due to a still-valid theory that the commonplace, everyday visuals of our lives all too soon pass out of the sight of our minds eye. This still strikes me as a valuable, though boring to witness, record-keeping system for the mundane bits of one’s life.

The third item on the list is an item of no small contention. The coin collection represents for me the last example of my urge to collect, to grasp onto meaningless material goods. Starting on the 28th of June, I loosened my grasp by beginning the process of eBaying the whole stinking mess. From a purely numerical perspective, I’m a tiny fraction of the way through but from the standpoint of releasing the ‘suffering’ these coins represent I’m well on my way. The problem with any collection is that it’s a “sink” for resources. Sure, you may enjoy the collection but in the end, the only way to get more enjoyment from it is to contribute more resources to it. Collecting is an infinite spiral of suffering as you grasp for more and more and contribute more and more resources. All the while, you look back and see how much accumulated money you’ve spent and the waste that it represents. The only way to stop the suffering is to reclaim the squandered resources. Thanks to someone out there (you know who you are) who made this obvious truth… obvious.

Number four… ahhh, that illusive number four. The Bible, that most controversial yet most powerful document on the planet. After the past couple days, I find myself strangely motivated again to read this book but not for the reason anyone HOPES you read it. For the first time in a while, I was involved in an argument, an argument with a conservative. There is something eerily powerful about being able to argue with someone using their own source literature against them Well, at least until they claim that their Christian Faith doesn’t actually have its foundations in the Bible. When that happens one must just raise an eyebrow and walk away slowly…

The fifth goal represents… well, it represents a lot of things I’m really not all that great at. Goal number five in its most basic form consists of all the ‘manly’ household arts. The end of goal three has contributed greatly to the advancement of goal five since I now have the free capital to put together a pretty decent woodworking shop. And whereas collecting is a ‘sink’ of resources and energy, woodworking results in actual useful stuff from furniture to lots of miscellaneous items that can be used as Christmas gifts. As an endeavor, goal 5 contributes to the positive karma of the universe while goal 3 merely sucks karma out of the universe.

Unstated even in the June entry is the mystical goal six. Those who’ve been watching for a while will probably guess that this is the ‘reading list’. The Spanish goal effectively killed this goal but since the death of goal 1 I’ve blasted through ‘Brave New World’ and half of ‘Alexander’s Bridge’. Very entertaining pursuits in their own ways and very worth their own Blog entries… eventually.

To summarize, goal 1 is dead; it died a dreadful and pointless death under the weight of its own meaninglessness. Long may goal 1 be dead. Luckily, I have plenty of other goals to fill the void it leaves behind. I’m forced to wonder though… what are the rest of you people doing out there?

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