Tuesday, March 04, 2014

"Many have Pardon with God that Have not Peace with Themselves"


MADAM, -- Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. -- Though not acquainted, yet, at the desire of a Christian, I make bold to write a line or two unto you, by way of counsel, howbeit I be most unfit for that.

I hear, and I bless the Father of lights for it, that ye have a spirit set to seek God, and that the posture of your heart is to look heavenward, which is a work and cast of the Mediator Christ's right hand, who putteth on the heart a new frame. For the which I would have your Ladyship to see a tie and bond of obedience laid upon you, that all may be done, not so much from obligation of law, as from the tie of free love; that the law of ransom-paying by Christ may be the chief ground of all our obedience, seeing that ye are not under the law, but under grace. Withal, know that unbelief is a spiritual sin, and so not seen by nature's light; and that all which conscience saith is not Scripture. Suppose that your heart bear witness against you for sins done long ago: yet, because many have pardon with God that have not peace with themselves, ye are to stand and fall by Christ's esteem and verdict of you, and not by that which your heart saith.

Let faith hing by this small thread, that He loved you before He laid the corner-stone of the world, and therefore He cannot change His mind; because He is God and resteth in His love. Neither is sin in you a good reason wherefore ye should doubt of Him, or think, because sin has put you in the courtesy and reverence of justice, that therefore He is wrath with you: neither is it presumption in you to lay the burden of your salvation on One mighty to save, so being that ye lay aside all confidence in yourself, your worth and righteousness. True faith is humble, and seeth no way to escape but only in Christ. And I believe that ye have put an esteem and high price upon Christ: and they cannot but believe and so be saved, who love Christ and to whom He is precious. And it were not like God, if ye should choose Him as your liking and He not choose you again. Nay, He has prevented you in that, for ye have not chosen Him, but He has chosen you.

And the more your Ladyship drink of this love, there is the more room, and the greater delight and desire for this love. Be homely, and hunger for a feast and fill of His love; for that is the borders and march of heaven. Nothing has a nearer resemblance to the color and hue and lustre of heaven than Christ loved. Remember what He is. When twenty thousand millions of heaven's lovers have worn their hearts threadbare of love, all is nothing, yea, less than nothing, to His matchless worth and excellency. Oh so broad and so deep as the sea of His desirable loveliness is! Glorified spirits, triumphing angels, the crowned and exalted lovers of heaven, stand without His loveliness and cannot put a circle on it.

Alas! what do I? I but spill and lose words in speaking highly of Him who will bide and be above the music and songs of heaven, and never be enough praised by us all; to whose boundless and bottomless love I
recommend your Ladyship.

ST ANDREWS, March 27, 1640

(copied from CCEL)

Saturday, March 01, 2014

A Decade of Mercy

I'm about to head to bed and by the time I wake up, this little dude's odometer will have turned, and he'll be in double digits.

Sure, my youngest hitting the decade mark makes me feel older than any of my own birthdays could. But the important -- and mind-blowing -- thing is that this one has made it this far in pretty good health and spirits. Sure, there've been more hospitalizations for him than the rest of my little family combined (more than double, actually) -- but none have been truly worrisome, really they've mostly been expensive annoyances. (for the skinny on this, if you're new to the saga, click here)

We don't owe this to his own strength and perseverance (which he has in spades), to the care of his wonderful mother, his passable father, his supportive siblings (who are really his most devoted caretakers when it counts), the grandparents and extended family who are always ready to drop everything and help, his two excellent doctors, or anything else merely human.

It's the mercy and care of Our Lord, who by His providence has given him better health, greater strength, and better kidney function than anyone could've expected. But this covenant child, recipient of the promise of God is seeing His God's hand at work in his life. He, more than many his age, can see that (in the words of Thomas Watson) "We are kept alive by a wonderful-working Providence. Providence makes our clothes to warm us, and our food to nourish us. We are fed every day out of the alms-basket of God's providence. That we are in health, that we have an estate, is not by our diligence—but God's providence."

So tonight we celebrated the anniversary of his birth. We celebrated the time we've had with him, and the time we look forward to. But most of all, consciously or not, we celebrated the Triune God's care for him.

Gracious Lord, I thank you for our little Arnold, and beg Your continued care for his health as I plead for You to draw him to a saving knowledge of You.

And son? Happy birthday, and Lord willing, many happy returns.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Beauty of a Bot

So, this last weekend, we took our oldest up to Moscow to participate in the Idaho FIRST Tech Challenge Championships with the team from his school. Mostly, this involved TLoML and I wandering around our old stomping grounds engaging in excessive acts of nostalgia, while he worked on the robot with his team making sure everything was ready for the competition.

The team participated in 6 matches -- 1 didn't count on their overall score. I got somewhat iffy video of four of the five that did count. Like with many things, I don't think the youtube video captures the excitement of it all, but it might come close.

Beauty Bot starts on the far right of the screen here

Beauty Bot starts on the far left of the screen

Beauty Bot begins this match directly in front of (and blocked from view) by the umpire on the bottom of the screen. Best angle I could get -- sorry.

Beauty Bot starts on the far right of the screen here

If one of us has time in the next few days, I might add some more information about the videos.

Anyway, the team and the robot performed a lot better than they did last year, and it was a blast to see them at work. In addition to just doing better, they won an award -- the Think Award, which is described as
Given to the team that best reflects the "journey" the team took as they experienced the engineering design process during the build season. The engineering section of the notebook is the key reference for judges to help identify the most deserving team. Journal entries of interest to judges for this award will include those describing the underlying science and mathematics of the robot design and game strategies, the designs, re-designs, successes, and those 'interesting moments' when things weren't going as planned.
They also came in second for the Inspire Award
Given to the team that truly embodied the 'challenge' of the FTC program. The team that receives this award is chosen by the judges as having best represented a 'role-model' FTC Team. This team is a top contender for all other judging categories and is a strong competitor on the field.
Better than just the nice words, coming in 2nd to that, got the team a spot in the FTC West Super-Regional Championship next month. So that's a month of scrambling to make some improvements to the robot and fundraising to get the team to California. Good thing they've got nothing like studying to distract them.

Here's a shot of our boy holding the Think Award and smiling -- something I have a hard time capturing on filman image, but he couldn't help himself when I shot it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I'm Like Rasputin

Good grief, it's been a year and a half (and change) since I've done anything here. I've started a new blog devoted to my book reviews, but lately I've had a hankering to write things that don't belong there. Might as well try to resurrect this thing again.

We'll see how it goes this time. I've got to clean up the list of links, and other settings and whatnot. Blogger's changed so much the controls are barely recognizable -- I may get this posted, or I might activate Skynet in the attempt.

Is anybody still listening?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Story Board

The thing I mentioned with Arnold the other day is pretty much over, and the family (he in particular) are working on recovering from that, and I am drained mentally and physically, I'm clinging to consciousness here at work the last few days. For example, right now, if I leaned back in my desk chair, I could be asleep in 30 seconds. Which is making the whole writing thing pretty hard -- I'm trying to be good, I just know if I let off on the daily writing thing, it'll take months, if not a year, to reestablish that. So I got about 100 words yesterday, 300 or so today. No where near my minimum requirements, but...

Anyway, by gum, I'm trying to get something new posted by the end of this week.


Here's something that both entertained and inspired me, sorta the point of this post. Geek & Sundry, one of the new Youtube channel things (and the one I watch the most of, all due respect and fealty to The Nerdist notwithstanding) started a new thing yesterday, a monthly google+ hangout conversation hosted by Patrick Rothfuss about writing called The Story Board. Now, that's enough for me, I'm watching. But this first episode featured Jim Butcher as one of the guests talking about Urban Fantasy. Squee! Good stuff. You must check it out.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Designing the Baron's Summer Estate

whoops...this was supposed to go up yesterday, but I hit a wrong button somewhere. Oh well, worked out for the best, have been distracted the last couple of days by some issues with Arnold, so I won't have the next one ready 'til Monday or Tuesday.

Max scowled, clearing the screen he'd been sweating over for an hour, he needed a clean start. The pressure was getting to him. This assignment, if he pulled it off, could really make his career – a custom terraform for a client with an odd nostalgia for a bygone era. At least twice a day he almost returned the advance, the Baron could find another architect (read: sucker). Only ambition and ego (and mounting gambling debt) kept him at it.

Corsicon 7 had recently been cleared by the Council of Sirius B for development, and Baron Glau had staked a pretty substantial claim on it. If he didn't at least begin development within the year his stake could be challenged. So the Baron and his fixation on early 21st century Earth had come to Max to make his continent to reflect both the look and feel of that time.

He'd done projects like this before, on a smaller scale – an island, a fjord, an inhabitable meteor – nothing like a major continent, though. One complete with carried contractual penalties for historic, geologic, or bio-genetic errors. While holoscans and simulations were fine enough for a rough draft, Max couldn't depend on them. So he'd spent most of his remaining credits on booking a stay at a historical preserve on Earth to get hands-on. Who knew if the historians had got their details right when they did the retrofit/restoration, but the Baron had probably read the same texts they did, and would accept their conclusions. At least that's what Max was betting on.

The preserve couldn't match the majesty of the Towers of Markab Prime, or the Anin Forest on Sihnon, but it had a quaint charm. He found himself unwinding at the same spot near a river each day. The rhythms and whispers of the river trickling over the smoothed stones and occasional bit of flora soothed him – it reminded him of recordings of the lullabies of the Q'in, and he wondered if that feathered species had their roots on Earth, or if that was just another of those galactic coincidences that kept life interesting.

He wasn't unwinding this time, he was here to work. The trees had to set the mood, your eyes are drawn to them first. The geno-techs would be able to slice and dice the DNA to reproduce the various trees, weeds and wildflowers, but an artist's touch was needed to approximate their visual cacophony. It was the things the techs couldn't reproduce that were always the most difficult, like where the rough texture randomly becomes smooth and then grows coarser. Or the almost complete lack of straight lines anywhere – they may look straight, but there was a hint of curve to every thing. Or the skewed angles and intertwining branches –almost impossible to trace back to the tree they grew from. In short, the sorts of things that happened as trees grew naturally – rather than the things he had to impose to make them appear to be natural.

He couldn't even begin to guess how many variations of green he saw – thankfully his computer could. The river shared the predominant green – until you got close, or it grew shallow, and then it was clear. A stark contrast to the vivid yellow of the Essential Nutrient Liquid now standard throughout the galaxy – the yellow was said to fight depression and increase productivity – Max doubted that now, the clarity he had in front of him seemed much more refreshing and energizing.

Soundless (least within the audio range of most sentient species), but plainly visible and at times mesmerizing were insects like ants busily moving along – shiny black or dull red. Yet another thing to research – did he need both? Did they serve separate functions (what functions did they serve)? What about the airborne bugs? He'd hate to lose a million on something like this.

His chrono beeped. Bother, it was almost time for his morning VidConference. He took a deep breath as he started to walk back to his hotel. The olfactory scanner would be able to give a detailed analysis of the various scents he took in – and those he didn't realize he breathed in – but it couldn't capture the texture. He wondered if the atmo would be a good way to introduce the Vitamin D supplement every person on Corsicon 7 would need to make up for what that particular sun didn't provide, but worried that would affect the crispness, the freshness that seemed to grown stronger the nearer the river's edge.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A Couple More Exercises

I've got just two more things to post from camp before I have to come up with original material I'm willing to let you all see. And sadly, the deal I've made with myself mandates regular posting of material.

These are not the most appealing things (for me, anyway). The first up is one of those stupid things where we go out to some spot look at trees and nature and whatnot and try to describe it.

Yuck. Here's the thing, I hate nature. Well, okay, I'm ambivalent towards nature in general, trees hold my interest for milliseconds at best. But when it comes to writing I really have a hard time not seeing nature and similar stuff as anything but violations of some of Elmore Leonard's rules, "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip." and "My most important rule is. . . If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." I know some authors can pull it off, but most people write nature scenes that readers tend to skip, and I'm typically one of them (as a writer and reader).

The second was a little better, we wander around a big room in the Idaho Historical Museum that features black and white photographs from (apparently) random spots in history, we pick a photo and write a little narrative based on it. Better, but still not my cup of tea. Historical fiction? Even recent history? not me.

The thing that saved me? The instructor started off that session talking about how thankful he was that we didn't have SF/Fantasy types in our group (a clear sign that he a. didn't pay that much attention to my answer about influences/interests and/or 2. didn't know who I was referring to with names like Butcher, Rothfuss and Scalzi). How his classes at the university and whatnot have seen a big upsurge of Fantasy types following the Jackson Lord of the Rings series, and Twilight, etc. He didn't come out and say that SF/Fantasy was worthless and a waste of time for writers, but he sure communicated that.

Obviously, that got my dander up a bit, so I determined to give him a dose of that part of my brain and found ways (how interesting or successful those were is yet to be determined) to bring that out in my exercises.

Anyway, here they come, am interested in what you think (ditto for the 79 word stories and anything else I post here)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Update on Writerly things

Okay, so it's been two weeks since that Writer's Camp, and I've produced something on all but 3 days since then (only 1 of those bugs me). A lot of what I've produced has been useful, sort of. One day was just to get something done, but whatever. The important thing is, I've been writing (and rewriting a bit).

During camp, in addition to daily exercises, we worked on a larger story that worked out of a couple of early exercises. At some point, I described it as "nothing really good--a character I'm ambivalent about and a story I don't particularly like/fear is trite." I've grown to like the character and the story, but it's not quite...there. I'm not sure what to do with it. My camp instructor gave me some really good feedback, which I've tried to implement, but the biggest suggestion has so far been totally useless.

Well, in my hands, anyway. Better people could've done something with it. Better people probably wouldn't have needed it. To be honest, it's driving me crazy. I've moved on to something else this week, but the other story has taken up residence in a corner of my mind and is trashing the place.

The thing I've moved on to is more in my wheelhouse, some sort of SF--this other thing is more of a slice of life, realistic-ish thing. Oddly enough, I've written more of that kind of story than SF. Hopefully, this thing doesn't get bogged down, too. I'd like to actually finish something. Still, this is progress compared to the last year.

Oh, and I'm having fun, too.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

79 Word Story: Naturally, We Were Asked Never to Return

When we would recount the experience, we made the joke we whispered much funnier than it had been. As you do.

That lion dog sculpture (looking like Dali's rendering of Garfield) had simply begged to be joked about. Call it honeymoon-induced asininity, but we obliged. And then we giggled. Then we couldn't stop giggling. Eventually falling onto an adjacent (and apparently fragile) 6th-century statue. Green and white chunks of terra cotta dragon ending up strewn throughout the display area.

Why 79 Words?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

79 Word Story: The Artist

"Is that actually a drinking fountain, or is it a sculpture?" I ask the cute chick with the black-rimmed glasses.

"Your schtick is tired," she glares.


"The whole go to a gallery opening just to pick up women with your ironic commentary."

I stare.

"This guy could be important. Shut up, just look at these honestly, try to learn."

"Hate to break it to you, but, I actually just make these as a way to pick up women."

Why 79 Words?