Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Adam

Today is Christmas Eve.

But the kids' excitement builds and builds and builds. So waiting until the day before Christmas is too hard. Even the day before the day before Christmas should have a celebratable moniker. What comes before Eve? -- Adam!

That's how we invented Christmas Adam.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Monday, October 27, 2008


I have had to change my mind. When I was younger there was nothing better than reason in an argument. But now I know that there is simply nothing stricter than reason in an argument.

I owe this insight to many things including grace and experience. But I wouldn't have noticed it so easily without my friend pointing it out like so:

"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." G.K.Chesterton

This is rather shockingly said - in my experience many touching moments in my life have been due to the beauty of the truth at the end of a line of reasoning. Yet it was too subtle at first to see that reason can be used as a billy club also.

I have been more sensitive this last year to this notion as I have been guiding an engineering project along. When there is a conflict between our expectations and the provided results I have been attempting to stay more human by appealing to the heart first. I have tried to leave the harsh reason of demonstration as a later or last resort.


Something to remember when deciding to impose or raise taxes.

"A citizen can hardly distinguish between a tax and a fine, except that the fine is generally much lighter." G.K. Chesterton.

G. can say things much better than I! And still true a continent and a century away. Fines are 10's or 100's of dollars. Taxes are usually thousands.

I am sure he had some good insight into "spreading the wealth around a bit". Fantastic when done voluntarily; NOT SO when required by the Leviathan - under the threat of law, i.e. loss of freedom.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Spicy Food

My friend from Taiwan just told me about a neat little way the chinese (ethnic chinese - not just the PRC comrades) have of describing how spicy they want their food.

Note: This is for people who WANT spicy food. None of these is equivalent to "mild".

They use 3 words in 3 different arrangements:
La (spicy)
Bu (not)
Pa (worry/ fear)

In levels of increasing heat then...
1) Bu pa la = not worried if it's spicy
2) La bu pa = spicy does not worry me
3) Pa bu la = I am worried that it might not be spicy.

Isn't that fun?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Many, many people (though still not enough) are loathe to deprive any person of life. There are good reasons - not the least of which is the irreversibility of so doing. But that alone is not something we always fear. We have no problem parting with our money for food though the transaction (as soon as we have eaten) is clearly not reversible. There is more to a LIFE than that! This is so eloquently expressed by Tolkien via the sage and humble wizard Gandalf:

Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends.

Wiser than all the wise, God himself is the giver of life. God Himself seems to aver cutting off the lives of even very evil people. (ref. "only the good die young".) Since we do not know his ways, and since we should surely respect his ordinance, it is right to be suitably fearful of making such a verdict on any fellow man.

Now let's turn to liberty. Surely it is similar to life itself. With it one is able to work good or evil. Our nation's founding fathers were not the first to agree that it is granted by God. Then they carefully noted that it is inalienable. But is it?

Once again God seems to allow plenty of people to use liberty to the most self-centered of ends. Some just frittering away their efforts and some as bad as Iago - even Lucifer became Satan using his own free will.

But these considerations are pretty heavy archetypes. What about work? - you know - a job.

I trade about 40 hours a week of my liberty to my employer - making my choices based on the good of the company. Don't I?

A supreme sinking feeling comes over me. If I am really doing this am I not also ceding my very life to him in 40 hour chunks? ... for money??


The bromide "If you love what you do you will never work a day in your life" hides the substantial answer to the heavy challenge above. I will not make choices "for the company" that are NOT choices that I would consider wicked, evil or in any way bad. And further, in working at the company, as part of a corporation (notably the same root as corpus - used to describe the Church - the body of Christ) I can, and hopefully do, improve the lot of mankind, perfect nature and do what gives glory to God.

It is true that there is sweat of the brow involved. And true that some decisions while not evil are clearly not motivated directly by my personal advancement. But in these, I believe, lie the "small things" of humility that we are supposed to grow in if we are to be ready for the kingdom of heaven. And, as God is good, there are usually commensurate small rewards to draw us on - pecuniary of course, satisfaction also and importantly growth in many facets of being a person. a.m.d.g.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Good Friday

I cannot remember the exact words.
I cannot remember which visionary heard it.
I cannot even remember when I heard it.

But cannot forget the most moving thing I heard about Jesus' suffering and death - that he would have suffered it all if there were just one person who needed it. All that suffering, all that love for one small wretched sinner! Even, gulp, for me!!!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Taipei Trips

At the request of my beloved wife I will post a few things about Taiwan. First post is about food. Besides - that's the first thing people usually ask about.

A lot of what I eat in Taipei is good. Though it took a while to develop the taste for it. (About 2 years to be precise!)

Dragon Fruit is wonderful (taste and texture) AND exciting to look at.

I have found that I love shrimp in almost any dish.
But NOT raw shrimp!!!! They have tricky shrimp that are orange when they are raw (not the common blue-when-raw - orange-when-cooked shrimp). The flavor might actually be good but I was overwhelmed by the gooiness of the texture and the notable features in this photo - black eyeballs and green-brain-goo. Yikes I need some Taiwan Beer just thinking about it!!

They have a killer dish that has tempura shrimp with pinapple-and-mayonaise sauce. Yum. They insist on putting colored sprinkles on it - gotta be cutsie.

You can always find something good in the "lunchboxes".

Oolong tea is wonderful - the best tea! - if made right - light, slightly sweet aftertaste, yum! It is very bitter when made wrong - and no amount of sugar can help fix it.
Zak, the best oolong tea maker I have encountered is trying to instruct me in the art.

The stinky tofu is not something I want to have every day. But if you are ever challenged to eat it there are two things you should know: 1) It smells a lot worse than it tastes. and 2) you really DON'T want to know how it is made.

I really do like sushi. But have learned that you should eat it toward the beginning of a meal rather than when you are already mostly full. Thankfully, the nauseating results were never seen by the world... but only just.

I tried Sea Urchin eggs/roe just this last visit. They came around the resturaunt on a little conveyor - which was fun. They looked great! They didn't taste good. Maybe this is why:

- ouch!

Raw lobster is good but I wish they wouldn't be so instistant on demonstrating the "freshness" by putting the still moving head on the table.

And I was relieved to find out that they don't serve actual people despite what the sign may say!

And yes I ate this fish eyeball:

but none of this meat:

or these cute little guys:

"Suffer the little children..." - my children to be more precise

Last night I sent my kids up to bed. As often happens they come down again by ones and twos to get books or drink water. When I found my daughter downstairs and not actively drinking water I hurried her back up.

She offered no resistance nor excuses but traveled a bit slowly. At the top of the stairs I noticed that her faced seemed a little cloudy. Thinking that I had been too stern in my demand I asked her if anything was wrong and expected to hear that she was downstairs "only looking for a book". Instead, as a couple tears welled up, she quietly explained she had been doing the stations. And I still didn't understand... I asked if she was sad that I stopped her from doing the stations or if it was the stations that made her sad. She was sad for Jesus.

Each time I start to think nothing will get through her skin she does something like this. I love her. I am sure Jesus does too! What could be better?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Physics Grand Unified Theory

I would like to take credit for being uber-insightful. Instead it is just a really satisfying coincidence that my previous post about the 248 dimension beauty may actually have a profound physical significance. Hat tip to Science Mom over on Unity of Truth blog.

It turns out that there is a theory in some physics journal by Garrett Lisi, a very colorful physicist/surfer, that suggests this may be able to explain the four fundamental forces that drive our universe: the electromagnetic force; the strong force, which binds quarks together in atomic nuclei; the weak force, which controls radioactive decay and now finally gravity.

Not even he knows if it is true - it's only a formal (very formal) hunch at this point.

But I want it to be true.

Here's one major reason why: it's mechanism is geometry rather than the much more confusing equation-noodle-pot that is string theory. Wouldn't it be nice if the unity could be pictured. It just makes my brain feel better to look at geometry. At Thomas Aquinas College I got to re-learn calculus. Night was turned into day when the proofs (OK they were quasi-proofs) were shown in geometrical terms and pictures.