Monday, May 23, 2011

Teaching Myself C.

Once upon a time, near a clothing drop box in a place far far away, I found an orphaned book, sitting lonely atop a stack of sad faced abandoned clothes and whatnot.
It's Title: Teach Yourself C: Second Edition
It was, apparently abandoned from some hapless former student's appartment, maybe a roomate had the decency to take the student's clothes/material possessions to a donation box, as opposed to merely throwing them into the garbage. For what I know, a sad mother may have dropped off her child's things after an untimely death. However it got to being there, in a box by a clothing donation drop off, I took it up, and looked it over. A smile graced my face.

I avoided The C Programming Language in Highschool. The closest I came to ever messing with it was with a one week crash course in tcsh in a systems administration class. I thought that C was too much for me. It was for the real 1337 haxx0rs. I'm just an idiot who loves Jesus, making omelettes, and (although not then) coding in Ruby...
I picked the book up even though at the time, i had no way of even compiling any code I would write. I thought to myself "Surely there is something open source for C on Windows XP" I hadn't had my 'I see the light' moment with operating systems. That was about 6 months away. At that time, my mind was absorbing a vast array of everything going on in the world. I was becoming a father soon. I still felt newly married. I had just sold my favorite radio in preparation for paying bills. My inner nerd needed a challenge. Time for me to program once again!

I never did find an open source C compiler that I liked for windows XP at that time... It did however, get me searching for something else, a way to hack around using SOMETHING, ANYTHING, which lead to me discovering "Learning to Program" by Chris Pine, and began a long love affair with ruby. Ruby lead me back to Linux, and Linux has given me the tools I need to create/compile C code.
Back to Teaching Myself C!
I've made several starts at learning what's in this book, but various things (including a class in C++ that I didn't want to get sideways in in the nuance differences between the languages) always kept me from getting past the first chapter. Well, I finally started learning it forealz, and am on Chapter 2.
Hot Dawg!
I'm having a lot of fun with this book, partly because it's old, the second edition has a copyright of 1994, and partly because programming has changed so much since Herbert Schildt first wrote this. I'll try to keep you posted on my C-Adventures, and I leave you with the following quote from the preface:

C is the most popular computer programming language in the world. The reason for this is simple: programmers like it. Once a person learns to program in C it is very uncommon for him or her to switch to another language (except, of course, by moving on to C++, C's object-oriented relative). C combines subtlety and elegance with raw power and flexibility. It is a structure language that does not confine. C also is a language that puts you, the programmer, firmly in charge. C was also created by a programmer for programmers. It is not the contrived product of a committee, bur rather the outcome of programmers seeking a better programming language.

Omelette au Fromage...

This post is not about justice,
It's about Simplicity!

Have you ever had something to eat that told you everything you needed to know in one bite? I've eaten bland, and I've eaten complex. I've eaten complex enough that it changes with every bite, but there is something to be said about something that tells you exactly what is going on when you take the first bite. This is the delightful situation known as simplicity. Saturday morning I had a wonderful adventure in simplicity. I wanted to get an omelette ready for my wife, and used what I had handy, fresh garden herbs, some "Mexican cheese" blend, and butter.
I <3 the butter!
Real butter, no margarine. Here's the run down:
mince all the herbs, but keep the basil separate from the rest. Usually I like to just kind of tear that up.
Beat the eggs with the thyme, rosemary, and sage. Set the mix up, add quarter cup shredded Mexican cheese, and shortly before folding add basil.
Fold and serve, I garnished with some basil flower sprigs to give it that bit of extra basily mintyness.
It was good!
Post rapture justice blog is coming, working on making the illustrations relevant for people who don't sleep on them streets!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Gravy Speaks on Marital Holiness

James makes some straightforward comments to all men everywhere!
Heed his words my brothers!

He's there to listen, and he's one of the best at understanding what you are saying I know.

Chicken Wings & Jesus Things: Men...protect your marriage and family...: "I want to have a heart to heart with men.   Men who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.   Men who love Jesus and their family.   Chri..."

So Fresh and Clean...

Hey, PICS!
Tomato, homestead variety.

Yellow Jacket in the lettuce patch, drinking water in between catching bugs.

Fresh picked cucumbers

close up Cayenne Flower.

The cayenne bush as a whole.

Man, I love growing my own food. If you've never done this, you have no idea what you are missing!

Ate a salad today from my garden, it had fresh lettuce, basil, and cucumber in it. All grown right here at my house.

Remember this flower?

Now, it's gettin' okra in where the flower was!

Ain't that somethin'!
I can't wait till there's more to show...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Here Today, Gone Tomorrow"

May 21st eh?

According to some, that's when 'The Rapture' will occur. Don't know if I want to be a part of it or not to tell you the truth. I seem to remember something about the chaff being gathered and burned before the wheat. I love dispensationalists, I hope they won't be disappointed! It would be a shame for some to fall away from the faith because they have a flawed eschatology. That's the only point on the actual date of May 21st I want to make, and any further discussion will be an adventure in missing the point I will not engage in at this time.

I do think one good thing could come of all this talk about "THE End of the WORLD" Mainly, it has to do with Okra. Well not Okra directly, more to do with Okra Flowers because they are beautiful, intricate, simple, blooming reminders that life is a vapor, and we are here today, and gone tomorrow.

Some folks take pride in their ability for their floral arrangements to last. Then, you have a whole group of people who do almost anything to 'preserve' the flowers by drying them. I stand guilty of that. I got news for you and me, no flower lasts. They all wither and fade, some more quickly than others, but they will all go away. The best result we can expect from preservation is a dry, crumbly, shell of what a flower is, pressed between the pages of a book, or hung upside down over a window, or we can choose to encase it in a substance far removed from it's orignal composition, so that while it may look beautiful, it is nothing like the flower we want it to be. Shell or mockery, you won't have the flower forever.
God Knows us so well!
Isaiah 40:1-8:

1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
6 A voice says, "Cry!"
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

Ah, we are the flowers!
Here's part two of my okra flower picture: The day after I took that picture, I picked that withered blossom out of the square with the okra plant in it, and I threw it in the compost! It was already on the ground, withered up into a tube, as okra flowers do wither. Such is the fate of you and I. We will feed the worms, barring of course, great things happen before we die. Until then, Because of Adam, this body is destined for death.

God's word is forever, and it has promised us great things. God has given us a promise of a new Kingdom, a new heaven, and a new earth. We'll have permanent treasure, new bodies, and great rooms. When I think of heaven the thing that grabs me most is its PERMANENCE!

I hope you pause and think about what is temporary, and what is forever as May 21st approaches.
I hope you pause and think about what is temporary, and what is forever once it passes.
I hope you are changed by what is permanent and not changed by what changes with the passing of the day.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Quick Garden update:

Okra is in bloom!
I'm excited. Okra is one of my favorite vegetables and perhaps my favorite flower in a garden. The inside of the flower is the best!

The "Half Mexican"

I built an omelette today, inspired by quesadillas and enchilladas. I used no tomatoes, no cilantro, and no bell peppers, so it's only half mexican. I did use sour cream, 'mexican Cheese', and a habanero. The more I eat habaneros the more I realize that I haven't been giving this pepper a fair shake. On this particular go round, I noticed a distinctly sweet characteristic to the spicy suckers. Right before the heat hits you you taste something nice. I think that's the way it's supposed to be. I may start using habaneros in everything, sneaking them into dishes. Cook them a little bit, they won't be so hot.
Here's the recipe rundown:

One pinch each of fresh:

and then:
1 Tbsp Sour Cream
1/4 cup shredded 'Mexican Cheese'
3 eggs
1 habanero
1tsp butter

Clarify the butter, cut the habanero into thin strips, and discard the seeds (or save them for the interior of the omelette, if you are a little bold!). Saute the habanero in the butter. Beat the eggs, add to the pan. When the eggs firm up, add sour cream, cheese, sage, oregano and thyme. Shortly before folding the omelette, add the basil. Garnish with a little bit of basil/sage held in reserve, and a dash of Tiger Sauce to give it that last little bit of something. Enjoy!

Omelette, ready for consumption.
In the pic you can see one big chunk o' sauted habanero that I didn't cut thinly. Guess what my first bite was :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Favorite Cheap HF Antenna, The W3EDP

The station, my "Killer Watt" SW-40, Emtech ZM-2 Tuner, and W3EDP antenna, ready to play!

There's a good bit of info on the interwebs about the W3EDP:

Here's what it looks like (kinda) - but the info's a little off.
Here's some good info, but no pictures
A slew of experiences from a popular ham radio forum
Another Blog article, looks like he may have done some modeling of the antenna too!
I call mine the improved W3EDP because of some theory that I learned about end fed antennas in general, and about the W3EDP in particular.

Some time ago, on QRP-L, there was a great post about the W3EDP By W6JJZ
It was epic in my understanding, especially this part:
To understand the W3EDP, instead conceive of the short side as
one side of a feedline that's been separated or pulled apart from
the other side of the feedline.

Now in your mind move the short side so that it's parallel to the
first 17 feet of the long side and anywhere from several inches
to a foot or so away. What you have is a section of feedline.

I added the emphasis.
A W3EDP is an end-fed zep! Well, I guess you should say that a classic W3EDP is a pragmatic zep, because the matching section of line goes wherever you want, as a mislabeled "counterpoise."
To improve the design, I made a W3EDP antenna in Zepp formation. I took some 450 ohm ladder line (Wireman #553) and used it for the first part of the 85' wire, and all of the 17' wire, adjusting for velocity factor. Then I took 68' (85-17) of "Silky" antenna wire (Wireman #523) and attached it to one side of the ladder line. I put a red banana plug on the 'long' side, and a black one on the 'short' side.

The banana plugs, notice that I've added some string through the solid parts of the insulation for stress relief.

I used buttons for insulators.
you can see the button on the end, it's from old army surplus pants. They make the best insulators because they are durable, unobtrusively colored, and suitable for modification (you can make the holes bigger with a pocket knife)

When rolled up, the antenna is compact and easy to store
Ready to store.

in the box!
It goes anywhere!

That's my account of this wonderful antenna, I hope you can build one. I've used this one to talk to people all over the place. The silky wire means it bends well without kinking, you can also get good result with speakerwire, but using speakerwire means you will have to tear the wires apart. You could just make two at once, and give one to a friend!

HV FN ES 73!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gardening in a Box.

Normally, I do things a little outside the box. This time, outside the box is inside the box!

I love getting my hands dirty in good soil. I also love reminding myself of the simple truth: "If I want to live, something else must die."
That's some hard philosophy for you, and it's not what this post is about. This post is about gardening using a technique I have modified from "Square Foot Gardening" . I bought the newest book at a big box hardware store so I could start raising the food I eat instead of just going to the store. Previous attempts at gardening have only been minimally effective, I wanted to try and do something good and right, and I'm finally starting to see fruit, literally, and figuratively!

I don't wish to critique Mel Bartholomew's book Square Foot Gardening because I didn't follow his instructions exactly. I didn't build the soil he said to build (and I don't think I will), and I used slightly different materials. I didn't do anything different out of spite, or because I thought I was doing it better, I did it because I've learned to be pragmatic, especially when time is of the essence. I was already late in getting the boxes built, I feared I might become downright hasty if I neglected doing something beneficial soon! I'm glad I did things when I did them, I was able to learn some valuable lessons:
1. The thing about a raised box garden is that the magic is in the raised box! I believe that is the single most important thing I learned. Building a box, covering the bottom with a weed fabric, and controlling the soil you use to grow your plants are the things that seem to provide the greatest results. Isolate the environment to compensate for a lack.
2. Watch it like a hawk. Because your environment is isolated, you may have to make a quick reaction to what's happening in and around the soil, especially when it comes to water. When you have a raised bed, with weed fabric accross the bottom, it's hard to water too much, but it can be very easy to water too little, especially as it gets hotter. plants can't develop deep roots, so you have to compensate.
3. Have a plant support system established before you build the boxes. One of the things Mel says do, that I didn't was build a netting trellis. I couldn't find the netting, and instead of pragmatically just getting some tomato cages or stakes, I neglected to do that, and the plants quickly went willy-nilly. Bad call. I finally staked the tomatoes today, and got them off the everything. My tomato production will probably suffer as a result.

Other general notes include, the next time I do tomatoes, i will do one variety at a time, just to keep seeds pure. I will also locate some netting, because I think I could get better tomatos if I'd been training to to grow on a net instead of just staking them, staking will damage the vine. I'll do fewer plants too. Ultimately, I'd like to have a group of cherry tomatoes growing overhead. I think I could do that, and have it be awesome.

The garden is beginning to bear fruit. it's gone from this:

To This:

The tomatoes are producing tomatoes, although none have turned yet. The cucumbers are going strong, we've already had one. I've gotten basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, radishes, and various greens. I've also had a hand full of blackberries.

updates as summer and harvest progresses!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

New Omelette Listing on Side!

Every time I create an omelette, I will add a link to the blog article associated with the omelette to my page entitled "Grand Omelette Listaria!" so that if you want to view a particular omelette you may. I may, from time to time, also provide on that page unseen pictures, or whatnots pertaining to omelettes! Enjoy...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Do Not Forget the Clamor of Your Foes..."

Psalm 74
1 O God, why do you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
3 Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;
the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!
4 Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;
they set up their own signs for signs.
5 They were like those who swing axes
in a forest of trees.
6 And all its carved wood
they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
7 They set your sanctuary on fire;
they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.
8 They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”;
they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
9 We do not see our signs;
there is no longer any prophet,
and there is none among us who knows how long.
10 How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!
12 Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13 You divided the sea by your might;
you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
15 You split open springs and brooks;
you dried up ever-flowing streams.
16 Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter.
18 Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs,
and a foolish people reviles your name.
19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
do not forget the life of your poor forever.
20 Have regard for the covenant,
for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name.
22 Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes,
the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

I've stated before that there will come a post that talks about Justice and Judgment, today I want to share a few thoughts on a Psalm that begs God to do something about the unrighteous.

I find myself needlessly awake this morning, well not needlessly, I've got sick kids right now, and I'm not feeling too hot myself. It's been a rough day so far, and right now, it's only 7:00 AM! I read this Psalm often when I get down, for many reasons. It helps me keep perspective on a few things:
1. Vs 1-3; 10, 11: There's a difference between questioning God and asking God questions. The difference lies in the attitude of the heart. May my heart ask questions of God without questioning Him!
2. Vs 4-9: It's okay to tell God what's bothering you. You won't offend Him, or tell Him something new. When we tell God what's wrong in our hearts and mind, we make them ready for His deliverance!
3. Vs 12-17: Always remember what God has done for you. In the midst of sorrow, despair, or a lack of hope, it's most important to remember that God has already done many things for you! Name them, Thank God for them, and use them as a basis for making your faith in Him firm.
4. Vs 18-22: Once you've honestly told God what's wrong, and thanked Him for His past faithfulness, ask Him for deliverance now! It's ok to appeal to God from your heart!

Hopefully, my brief note here can encourage you. My kids are sick, and it's hard for me to take my own advice some times, so pray for me! Fortunately, they are still resting right now. I'm going to try and rest my own self.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflections on "The News" - Osama Bin-Laden is Dead

If you didn't hear, Osama Bin-Laden is dead.

Once upon a time I gave a sermon entitled "Do you really want it all to stop?"
Version one is on line in other places, I'll make you look for it. Revision two will appear here soon. It deals with injustice, and God's punishment for it. I've been working on it, but realized that in order to do a thorough revision, I would have to give people a basis for understanding my theology before they would understand what I was saying about "Bringing justice to this world."

So before reading this today you need to read these posts:

Then you'll be able to understand what I will briefly say about this passage:
8 Whoever plans to do evil
will be called a schemer.
9 The devising of folly is sin,
and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.

10 If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
12 If you say, "Behold, we did not know this,"
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?

13 My son, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.

15 Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;
do no violence to his home;
16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18 lest the LORD see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.

19 Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
and be not envious of the wicked,
20 for the evil man has no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

21 My son, fear the LORD and the king,
and do not join with those who do otherwise,
22 for disaster will arise suddenly from them,
and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?
Proverbs 24:8-22

I added some boldness to a couple of verses that highlight the simple point I want to make.

Christians aren't like other people, we should have a better understanding of justice. There's two things we need to remember:1. God gives the Government the sword for a reason. 2. When the sword falls, it's not a happy time, it's just a part of the inevitability of justice coming to the unrighteous.

Every time the sword is brought is sobering news because it's a reminder that a final judgment is coming, and there are many yet who are not ready for that day!
Let's make our hearts ready for the Day of the Lord!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"We're All Here Because We're Not All There"

This is a sneak peek at my devotional thoughts for Sunday morning's communion service. Last minute meditation givers are free to use it with proper attribution.

"We're All Here Because We're Not All There". I saw those Poignant words on a bumper sticker in Atlanta. It advertises the unofficial motto of a part of town called "Little Five Points". It's were all the weird hippies and cool kids hang out. I think what their trying to say is 'you gotta be crazy to hang around this place!' I would tend to agree. If you ever get there you might meet Wolf.

Wolf has been homeless a long time. Once upon a time I worked with a ministry called Jesus Place, and about 10-15 years before I came to work there, Jesus Place had a presence in Little Five Points. At that time, it's where a lot of homeless people and run away kids liked to hang out. Wolf was there then, and he was there when I started working with Jesus Place. Of all the things Wolf was famous for, the most famous was probably for sleeping in a tree in a park near Little Five Points. When I asked why he slept in a tree, his answer was "Because it's against the law to sleep on the ground." I'm pretty sure Wolf slept in that tree because he "wasn't all there."

I can relate to Wolf. I do things that make perfect sense to me that seem crazy to other people, especially when it comes to faith. Sooner or later, someone is going to think we are out of our minds for believing that our savior died, was buried, and rose again, furthermore, that he's coming back. Let's read 2 Peter 3:1-9:

1This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." 5For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
-English Standard Version
When we read our Bibles cover to cover, it's hard to comprehend the amount of time that passes between events. We forget that from the time the Israelites leave the promise land to the time that Jesus comes, is about fifteen hundred years. We forget that it took a little while for God to get mad enough at the world to destroy it in flood, and we forget that it took a little while for Noah to build the Ark. It may yet even be a little while longer before the Lord returns. Until then, Jesus wants us to do one thing together, the very thing we do together every Sunday morning. He wants us to remember the new covenant. We come together on the first day of the week to remember that one day, this world will pass, and there will be no more pain! We remember that our sins have been forgiven, and they will haunt us no more! We remember the awesome and powerful words Jesus spoke right before he departed from the disciples after rising from the dead: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Let's remember that we are all here, around this table, because we are not all there YET!