Monday, November 8, 2010

A bit of humor

There were two "ladies" who, I believe, slept throughout most of the voir dire. Unbelievable! One lawyer asked 95% of the questions, the other had the chance to tend to any loose ends. Finally, the first lawyer returned to examine the two sleepyheads. The first was as defiant as she was inarticulate. It would have been humerous to watch her go off to the brig to cool her heels for a bit but alas, I think they are just glossing over it. The second was not as surly and tried to blame her work. I don't think she realized that her job can't hold this against her.

During the morning swearing in, the judge led in an oath that ended with "so help me God". He said they had another, irreligious version for anyone who wanted. "Anybody? Anybody?". No takers I thought it was a great way to shame any potential atheists.

Not looking good

The case is about an accident that happened roughly one block from where I live. Also, City lawyers will be testifying as well as the chiropractor I go to. Bummer! I was really hoping to get the nod! They haven't selected yet, but I don't think its's looking too good.

Into the belly of the beast

The courtroom is all about humiliation. First you are assigned a number, then a seat whereupon a large placard with your number is placed. I am a person, dammit! I will not be... Enumerated? Nmberfied? Once I took my seat, I realized my feet didn't touch the ground. These seats are oversized for Anakims reaching heights of at *least* six foot. Clearly this was designed to make me feel like a child. And so the psychological breakdown continued for the judge sits aloft, looking down on the nameless children. Oh and it gets worse: the judge is a woman. A female judge?! And the lawyers? Also females! The plantiff? Woman. And the defedant? Egads! Another woman! Its as though I walked onto the set of The View. I must go back, after a salad at Quiznos, and a suprise lunch with an old friend from KCBT, for what I expect to be more psychological abuse.


I've been called to a panel! Made the first cut... Now on to voir dire- an interview of sorts.

Nothing to report here...

The first two hours we were provided with live entertainment and a video. By entertainment, I mean instructions. We were given the same set of instructions and explanations thrice, each time according to the speakers own particular....hmmm... Idiom! The video featured local famous dude and former baseballer G. Brett and local newsies Elisabeth Alex and Brian Busbie. The judge was actually the most interesting. He also administered the oath to us (about which I have somewhat to share in a bit). Then we had a 30 minute Starbucks break (mmm, pumpkin spice!) Followed by 40 minutes of instructionless sitting about while the herd was being thinned of those who felt they had valid excuses to be poor citizens. I put that time to good use and plodded forward into reading about the fall of the Third Reich and Operation Barbarossa. Oooh! We're being instructed now! Waiting for my name to be called to be part of a panel.

Looking good?

Given that I want to be selected, "good" in this sense means getting to be off work a few more days. Since most people are, apparently, lobbying to not be here. That should give me a good start. There were 12 cases scheduled for this week and normally 90% of cases are settled prior to a hearing. But only 5 have been settled so far. So a limited pool and a big case load means things are looking up.

And speaking of looking, why does the lady next to me keep looking over at my phone while I type? These people are doing their damndest to drive me nuts.

Jury Duty

For the first time in months, I got someplace on time. Even a bit early actually. I don't miss 71 highway with its accident-causing, revenue-raising lights. I don't think it was any faster than side streets, either. I found a place to park for free and within a mile of the courthouse. The day, being moderately cool and full of sun, made for a pleasant walk. After breezing through security, I found a comfy seat at the back of the jurors room with elbow room on both sides. That is, until Darth Vader came and set next me. He's shed his royal armor and has chosen to serve as a "regular" guy, but his breathing is unmistakeable. If the elevator ride is what put him out so much, methinks that *somebody* needs to step up their cardio. Ugh.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bringing in the cones

This was the second year for a Cascade hops plant that I put in the ground. Last year was very disappointing in that the vines only got to about four feet long each and produced no cones. However, I wasn't really expecting any from the first year and didn't have much expectation for this year either, since the plant has to get established.

But much to my suprise, by mid-June it started producing cones! And by July it began producing an unruly amount of lateral vines which each produced numerous cones. Just this last weekend, it was time to bring in the harvest, as the intense period of heat we just had had already begun to dry them out.

Above, the vines are covering most of the side of our gazebo swing.

The vine along the top, which is showing discoloration and fading, is the first vine from the spring. The lower vine is actually a shoot from off of the top one. There were a lot of cones on that lower vine!

Even along the back where the sun exposure wasn't as good, there were still plenty of cones.

This is a poor shot, but I'm attempting to show the yellow, powdery substance that is produced between the leaves of each cone. This is called lupulin, and it's what gives hops- and in turn beers- their flavor.

The net weight of this year's production was just over eight ounces of green, only somewhat dried hops. Right now they are sitting on a window screen in the garage, drying out, down to eight to ten percent of the moisture they once had. Then they will go into cold storage until what time they are ready to be added to the hot wort for finishing, courtesy of brewmeister Neufeld. I can't wait to try them out in a few months!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Back in Oct of 2009, a missionary to India and Nepal spoke at a prayer service at our church. At that time, I had been doing some long range planning to take my wife on some exotic vacation for our 15th anniversary coming up in 2010. But the missionary announced he was organizing a missions trip in 2010. That announcement grabbed my attention and I spent the next two months mulling it over. Because of the nature of the trip, I wanted to make this decision with my wife- which meant foregoing any surprise- so I gave her a choice: we can either go on a vacation just for us, or we can go on this missions trip. She didn’t hesitate: it was the missions trip all the way!

It didn’t seem fitting to me, though, that we would just “decide” we would go on a trip. I have been on numerous trips of this nature before and always clearly saw God directing me in them. The clearest direction I ever had with this was in 1991 when the still, small voice of God told me “You’re going to Kenya.” My immediate reaction, as a broke, nineteen year old college student with really no interest in going anywhere was “Ha! I’m not going to Kenya- that’s ridiculous!” Six months later, I was on my first trans-Atlantic flight. God had directed and provided. Knowing that God is “in” something gives a person unparalleled confidence no matter what circumstances arise. So in Dec, we began praying that the Lord would confirm to us that this was Him.

In January, I went ahead and signed up for the trip, thinking “If God shows us otherwise, we’ll just back out.” About a week or two later, they announced that the trip was now full and on a waiting list. By the middle of Feb, we had all the money saved up to pay for the entire trip. We already had our passports as well, so everything was coming together. The door was wide open, but I was still waiting to hear that still, small voice once more. But nothing.

The weeks turned into months and still no clear-cut word. My wife began struggling through the process and God kept telling her “abide”. So she did. At another point she began to worry about the money but eventually she realized that God would provide if He’s in it. In short, she was growing through this process. Of course I was growing too; mostly frustrated. We soldiered on in prayer.

Then a deadline of April 1st was announced. Deposits, passports and applications had to be turned in for the trip. To me, this was D-Day. Either I hear from God or we don’t go. As we got closer to that date, God was showing me things in His Word but I wasn’t getting the binary “yes/no” that I was looking for. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, He showed me much that led me to see that we need to go. I didn’t get the “yes/no” answer I was looking for, what I got was more “if you want it, go and take it”. That sounds a bit Machiavellian… let me explain!

There is a scene in Full Metal Jacket when the inept Pvt. “Pyle” gets his gut stuck on an obstacle. The drill sergeant approaches him and shouts: “Oh that’s right Pvt. Pyle, don’t make any *** effort to get up to the top of the obstacle! If God wanted you up there, he would’ve miracled your ass up there by now, would’nt he?!” I think a lot of times Christians put too much on God and don’t realize what He has actually put on us. In everything the Lord showed me, God gave His people an imperative. They had a choice to make.

In Rev 2:5, Christ counsels the angel of the church at Ephesus: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen and repent, and do the first works;” Remember, Repent, Revive. That’s what I got from this time. Here are the highlights:

Remember: “remember from whence thou art fallen”

Rev 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Ezekiel 16:22 …thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast polluted in thy blood.

16:43: Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things…

Ezekiel 16 is what directed me to Rev 2, where the church is chided for leaving its first love. Israel had forgotten. They forgot the bondage they came from and they forgot the work of God in their lives. So they drifted off into sin. The first challenge from Rev 2 is to remember where Christ brought them from, how he brought them out and to serve Him with that same sense of joy and excitement they had in the early days. This was a command: they had to decide to remember.


Ezekiel 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit…

Psalms 78:8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright; and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.

“Make” a new heart and a new spirit?! I thought that was God’s job! But once again, God’s people had a decision to make. Repentance is simply a ‘change of mind’. God tasked them with changing their hearts by changing their minds. The church at Ephesus was tasked with repenting from their loveless service. The key to that was to begin by remembering.

Revive: “do the first works”

Hab 3:2 O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

Israel was being slack in rebuilding when Habakkuk came to them. Here, he asks for a revival… of the work! “Get back to work” was the message he had for them. God had already started a work, but “they” needed to get busy finishing it. Hence the “re” in revival. The church in Ephesus needed to get back to their first love. They, too, needed a revival. Not a revival of building but of love.

So after seeing all that, I was thinking “This is exactly where I’m at.” I, as a middle aged dude, have a lot in common with those Ephesians. I’m busy- there’s a lot to do. I’m generally consistent and disciplined. I go where I’m supposed to go to do what I’m supposed to do and I know the “right” things to do and, after a while, it doesn’t really take any thought. Life’s “autopilot” kicks in. But then you realize, you’re just sort of drifting. Nothing’s really wrong but then, nothing’s really quite right either. I’d like to get back to that “first love” I had about half-my-life-ago but I have to make a choice: God will not just “miracle” my ass back up there! So I choose to empty our savings and drag my wife halfway across the world for two weeks, on the day after Christmas no less, because I desire to serve the Lord from my heart and I believe that He will use this in my life to accomplish that. I am purposefully turning off the autopilot and trusting God to help me “make” a new heart and spirit.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Can the republic be restored?

It's been a while since I've blogged. I fully intended to do a review of 2009 but frankly the year sucked. There were some high points, but I've struggled with putting it all in context and writing something that glorifies the Lord. That's still pending.

A question that I have had in my mind for some time is, 'Can the republic be restored'? It is my estimation that our federal government is broken. There are many reasons why I think this, most notably a complete departure from Constitutional government. But I digress from why I think it's broken, the more pressing question is can it be fixed? In reading The Spirit of Laws, I saw this statement today:

When once a republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils, but by removing the corruption and restoring it's lost possibilities; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.

I'm sure that some will disagree, and certainly everyone is entitled to their own rosy opinions. Some weight, however, must be given to this opinion based on the amount of study, research and thought that went into it. Montesquieu devoted decades of his life to studying the governmental systems throughout history, including Asian, Middle Eastern, meso-American and African cultures. That doesn't make him right, but that should give us pause for consideration.