Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End o' the Year

Well there it is. After finals week, I set the goal (and didn't tell anyone but my wife) to do an average of one post per day for the month of December. As you can see, I succeeded, and with no more fluff than usual. That comes to a total of 121 posts this year, up from 84 last year. That's a pretty good average of one every three days.

I would like to take this opportunity to not wave it in the face of Wilson who challenged me to write more even though his blog has seen a grand total of 22 posts since February and many of his posts begin with "sorry for not posting" or something of the like. But I won't wave it in his face. He was busy getting his wife pregnant which as you can imagine is hard to do while blogging, but I digress.

Thanks to all both my regular readers, I hope you had a good year and learned some stuff.
See you next year.

Home Energy Consumption Update

Just got our latest electricity bill. We are up to about 31 kWh per day in a December with several cold spells, and two nights into the single digits. However, our heating system uses propane below 25 degrees F outside, so those nights are not the source of the electricity usage, the cold rest of the time is. One day, I'll figure out how to calculate the propane usage into the energy equation. It would need to be divided into every day that we heat over the whole winter. We've already used one tank this winter so far.

A gallon of propane is 91,690 BTU's = 28.87 kWh x 20 gallons per tank.

= 577.43 kWh per tank

On second thought, the tank is filled to 100 lb (accurate or not) which is 635.26 kWh worth of energy.

As you can see, if we use 3 or 4 tanks per winter, there is a much larger amount of energy being used. That's why the heat pump is so useful. If we use one kWh to heat the house, we get somewhere between 2-4 kWh of heat in the house, because the heat is being moved by, not made from electricity.

Still, pollution wise, the electricity is made largely from coal, whereas the propane has few emissions and is often a waste product from other processes. On the other hand, as I often say, I can make electricity, I can't make propane.


You had a bad day?

You know what really sucks, when you're on vacation and someone drives in your yard and RUNS INTO YOUR HOUSE!!!

And your truck too.

It's not bad, just annoying.


One of the coolest things I got for Christmas was an Oregon Scientific weather station. I've wanted one of these since I was a little kid, and I have really wanted one for the past few years because I want to keep track of the wind to see if a wind turbine is feasible. It also checks temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and rainfall.

Here's the base station, and also a La Crosse Technology battery charger that I kinda got for myself. Not so much for Christmas but because our old battery charger sucked alot.

This is a very good smart battery charger. It can charge in a wide variety of currents, and can discharge and recharge to refresh a weak battery. The main reason why I bought it is because you can charge four different batteries individually, and from any state of discharge and not ruin them.

Also, my mother-in-law gave me a paper shredder, my old one broke. I use it to shred paper for the worms. Did you know a decent real paper shredder costs upwards of $1000? You know, the kind that will shred quarters.

I also got a rubber band gun from a Dirty Santa party. It pretty much rocks.

This Post Needs No Introduction

Another Featured Renewable Energy Generation System

As you've seen on here a few times before, I like to feature little renewable energy projects that are good not only for their owners and the environment, but also help spread the message by being conspicuous. I've talked about the ones in the pics below, at Walmart in Lowell AR, and also at St. Thomas' in Springdale. Feel free to click on the pictures to get a better view.

Here is a new system that is set up right next to the freeway in Rolla MO. It consists of a Bergey Excel S 10 kW wind turbine, about 2 kW of solar panels and a weather station. It is part of a project by the University of Science and Technology. The setup is on the front lawn of the Highway Patrol Headquarters and its purpose will be to test the performance of the system as well as keep track of all sorts of weather stuff. To the left you can see the 10 216 watt solar panels.

Here is the brains of the operation, the inverters, weather station recorder, and whatever else. It's hard to see, but there is a rainfall recording device attached near the top of that yellow post next to the propane tank in the background. I assume it's wireless.

Here is a picture looking up at the turbine and the anemometers of which there are three. No the tower is not straight, but it doesn't really matter as long as it doesn't fall over. For a little perspective which is hard to get standing next to the thing, it is on a 36.5 meter (120 feet) tower and the blades are 6.7 meters (22 feet) in diameter.

I didn't know what this was right off.

I had either never seen one before or never noticed. I did a little research and found out that it is a pyranometer which measures solar irradiance.

Here is the whole thing. It looks really good from the freeway. If you look up Bergeys, you'll find that this one has a custom paintjob as Bergeys have a very characteristic yellow to them. There's another one with original paint along the freeway in Springfield coming back from Lambert's that is on a monopole with a solar system with it too. I believe it is next to some sort of utilities office. Both excellent examples because a Bergey Excel is a great turbine for whole home service. One of these should easily be able to provide all the electricity for an efficient home in a moderate wind area. This unit is the grid connected unit, they also make a 7.5 kW low wind speed optimized unit for battery charging.

The wind was pretty heavy, so I decided to take a quick video to show how loud the wind turbine is. The problem is, I was standing right under the thing and it was no louder than the wind. In fact, on the video, it is virtually impossible to pick out the sound of the turbine. Admittedly, my digital camera does not have the best microphone.

Special thanks to the University of Science and Technology.

Switch to Metric

We all know we need it, it's a better system, easier to work with, and we're the backwards ones because we're the only ones not using it. We're the bass-ackwards section of the planet, we're the Mississippi of EARTH!!!

While writing the last post I realized just how easy it is. One liter of water is a kilogram. 1000 kg is a metric ton. That's a thousand liters of water per metric ton. A liter of water is one cubic decimeter. A thousand of them is a cubic meter. There's a thousand liters of water to a metric ton which is a cubic meter of water. So simple.

There's no 4 quarts to a gallon which is 128 fluid ounces which is different than weight ounces by the way, and then there's troy ounces if you're dealing with gold, and don't forget that a gallon of water weights 8.2 lb or something. There's no 5,280 feet to a mile which is 1760 yards, each of which is three feet, or 12 inches per foot which for some reason are divided up into sixteenths?!? Don't forget about nautical miles which is some odd number over 6000 feet, because miles are different on the ocean right? Temperature is another thing, water freezes at 32 and boils at 212? I think 0 and 100 makes a little more sense. Let's not even get started with energy or force. Being an engineer and being made to remember both systems is horrible, especially when one is horrendously worse than the other, it is no small annoyance. Wait til Dr. Jong springs a kip on you.

So, I'm switching to metric (The International System of Units.) If you really need to know what quantities I'm talking about in the old archaic system, get "Units" for your iPhone. It works great.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Today's Math Lesson

Estimate 3,000,000,000 metric tons of human waste generated every year by 7 billion people.
Estimate 1,500 tons of water to flush each ton of "waste."
Estimate 1,260,000,000,000,000,000,000 liters of water on earth.
Estimate .396% of water is available in all rivers, lakes, aquifers, etc. That makes 4,989,600,000,000,000,000 liters available to us.
Estimate all that water at 1 kilogram per liter, and we know 1000 kilograms per metric ton. That means 4,989,600,000,000,000 tons of water available to us.

To flush all the excretia from the humans on earth, we need 4,500,000,000,000 tons of water. That leaves us with 49,8510,000,000,000 tons. Then subtract how much we need for industry at 752,000,000,000 tons. We need 2,000,000,000,000 tons for agriculture (not counting rain.) To be able to flush all the poo, we'd need more than twice as much as all the water we use to grow food.

That leaves us with 495,758,000,000,000. The amount of water actually encapsulated in all humans is about 318,500,000 tons. Anyway, this could to on and on until I theoretically run out of water.

The point is, there's not really all that much water around, especially when humans are already using more than 54% of the water available, and that's now. This number is expected to grow to 70% by 2025. Even if the money was available to convert all the world to water based sanitation, it couldn't be done. Consider the 1-2 billion people with no fresh water or sanitation. That number will grow, not decrease. There's just not enough water out there.

Math out.

Conservation and a Different Way of Life

I spent a few days after Christmas with my in-laws. They live in a new house, but they were raised in a different time. I cannot remember how many times I shut of lights in empty rooms as I meandered through the house.

I don't mean in anyway to insult or denigrate my in-laws, but this stuff got me to thinking about how we think about things. We can require all news houses to be super insulated and have zero net energy usage, but we still have virtually all people living in sub-standard (energy wise) housing. Worse, we still have most people who don't really care about anything other than energy bills, and not that much even then. People care about making more money, and when you make more money you can pay more bills.

I'm not saying I have solution for this, but this is the problem. Older people don't have the same concerns and cares about the environment and energy usage as some of the younger of us do. The older you get, the more you are stuck in your ways and beliefs. From the era of cheaper power, some just don't care about whether or not the lights are on. When I go on vacation for more than a day, I turn off a bunch of the breakers and everything not necessary and turn the thermostat down to 40 but I don't know anyone else who does. And I sure don't personally know a single person willing to go so far as to make the change necessary to stop crapping in drinking water. I mean, I save a thousand gallons a month from an already quite low water bill by using the sawdust toilet, but I don't even know anyone who has what I consider to be a true low flow shower head.

So the problem is resistance to change. What can we do? We could raise the cost of energy, but that hurts the poor more than anyone, they are least able to make the changes necessary. Maybe some sort of progressive tax based on how much a person makes.

Or maybe it could truly work with just awareness and personal responsibility. Right.

No, it will probably come about with the end of fossil fuels, some sort of energy drought or something like that. It's already become uncool to be greedy thanks to the recession, hopefully it will become uncool to be wasteful and environment ignorant. Maybe if the recession gets deep enough, we'll get both birds with one stone.

Hard, I know. It takes hard stuff to get the change we need, not exactly like voting for a black guy or a woman or something...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Garden Next Year

I've been preparing for the garden next year, I am not sure how exactly big it will be, the fenced in area is about half covered with mulch. I don't know if I'll be able to get any more of it covered, so I may resort to doing half the garden in no-till, and the un-covered half may get tilled the old fashioned way.

I do know that I won't be able to provide as much maintenance in the garden this year, not only do I have Spring Break in Mexico, but I have Honduras in June, and various youth events at various times all summer. On top of that, I am planning on taking a summer class or two so there will be even less of me around.

A couple of good things have happened, I've been using the trailer I built in Oregon to add capacity to my truck so I can haul larger amounts of manure and compost. You remember when I got a pickup load of horse manure earlier this year, just last week, I got another pickup load with a trailer load too. I also got a load of compost from Bentonville's compost facility back in November I think it was. The compost is fairly coarse, not the good stuff, there's a lot of moderately large wood chips in the mix, it will take a few years to decay, but that's not exactly a bad thing.

Also, the new worm bin is beginning to do so some good work, the worms are beginning to congregate at the surface, especially underneath the slices of watermelon I put in there. Anything that gets them to group up is good because not only do they work faster in groups, they also mate more profusely which they really need to do to get the population up. The manure and compost will be for general soil amendment while the worm compost will be for fertilizing plants on an individual basis. The tomato plant you can find in the Fall Update was fertilized with composted horse manure, and it did quite well, but only after the manure was added. The soil is very poor, but it seems to be easy to fix.

I would have liked to have been able to use the sawdust toilet compost for the garden this year, however I had already added new material to it before I thought of that. Remember, the pile needs to sit at least a year before it can be used. The purpose of this is to kill off the most potent organisms which would normally be roundworms, which I don't have. It is not really necessary to compost for so long in a well managed compost pile, but for the sake of a factor of safety, it's a really good idea. In fact, for the sake of argument, that's just the way it should be done. If there were legal requirements that's what they should be, and in most cases two years can't hurt either.

Also this next year, I'm planning on not losing all my plants to frost. I will be starting tomatoes early like I did last year, but instead of planting them out in the frost, I'll be adding additional transplanting steps into larger pots so that they will be plenty large to get a good start when it comes time to plant them outside. The problem last year was that we were having 70 degrees for three or more weeks before we had the last frost which really messed stuff up. This is part of the learning curve when you move to a new area I guess. I plan to irrigate the tomatoes this year as well, I have a drip system that I'll be putting together so that the tomatoes don't get dry and crack when it rains again.

Hope you had a happy Christmas.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Trains are Sweet!

I have always been a fan of model trains. I don't know why, I just always have been. Lately, when studying efficiency and related things, I have become a fan of real trains. Though because trains have largely been unregulated as far as pollution goes, they are and have always have been a significant source of pollution, however, there are certain kinds that aren't, and the lack of regulation is being dealt with.

Trains have always been a method of moving moderately large volumes of things over great distances efficiently. Few people realize just how much stuff and how much mass is moving along in that train you see traveling through town. Each car can carry one to many times what a semi truck can carry, and at a better cargo to vehicle ratio. The only speed limits are those imposed by the construction and quality of the track, and those imposed by towns the tracks pass through. Efficiency is increased by limited grade that the train has to climb, and also the steel on steel wheels and tracks waste little energy to flex and heat.

As I said before, trains are now and have always been big polluters. The only evidence you need of that is to see the exhaust of a big modern diesel engine or to look at film of old steam engines chugging away at full steam. With pollution what you can't see is usually worse than what you can see, but what you can see is often indicative of what you can't. For instance, with coal fired steam locomotives, you can see smoke, but you can't see things like mercury, lead, fine coal dust, and NOx, stuff that are bad for you and the environment. Diesel engines eliminate the worst stuff but still leave some particulate matter, and are a significant source of NOx (nitrogen oxide, the biggest source of acid rain.) In fact, at this point, diesel engines account for up to 5% of the total NOx emissions in the country. Diesel locomotives are still vastly more efficient at moving stuff than cars though, remember that.

On the flip side, for many many years there have been electric locomotives. Electric locomotives share the same benefits and costs as electric cars except one important one. Electric locomotives need no batteries because they have overhead wires or third rails to provide a constant source of power. That means no fuel, no point of use pollution, more pulling power than other locomotives, and a really sweet one, because of regenerative braking, a train braking down one side of a mountain can provide most of the power for a train coming up the other side. This is put to great effect in mountainous areas of Europe where electric trains dominate. The downsides are as usual, cost. To electrify a rail system can cost as much as actually building the rails. As fuel prices rise, these economies will come into place and I am confident that electric rail will only expand.

Don't take an only dim view of diesels though, the EPA's Tier 2 locomotive requirements kicked into effect in 2005, requiring 65% less NOx, 50% less particulates and fewer other emissions as well. And unlike American car makers, GE's first run of the new locomotives easily came in under the emissions requirements and offer upgrade-ability for future requirements. The other benefits of emissions reduction as we have all seen are increases in efficiency which often pay for the changes in the first place. And biodiesel is a much better idea than ethanol because it can be made from wastes of all types and also algae.

The future: well, we seem to be ever slipping toward Europe, not that that's a bad thing, just saying. Electric trains are are probably the best mass transportation idea there is. I'd like to see them replace airplanes for the most part. If you crash a train, not everybody dies, I like that aspect. They often have sleeping quarters, better views, bigger windows, more spacious, and are cheaper. I like the idea of being able to hop a train and be in Oregon in less than a day, can't do it yet, but I like the idea. Also, it's kinda hard to crash a train into an important building.

I was recently at the Transportation Museum in St. Louis, here are some highlights.

World's Largest Tank Car, largest ever built, likely largest ever to be built.

Big Boy, one of nine or so left, most successful, kinda largest steam engine ever.

DDA40X, one of 13 left, longest most powerful American diesels ever. Almost 100 feet long.

Old street car.

Turbine powered engine. UP made some very large turbine engines way back that ran on propane or oil. I'd like to see one of those some day but there's only two left, in Chicago and Utah.

The museum also has on display one of three remaining operational Chrysler turbine cars.

Anyway, trains good, electric better.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This thing they call a Blog.

You'll notice the types of things I often write around here are kinda off the beaten path so to speak. I'd really like to change the world, not necessarily to have my name in lights or remembered for all the future or anything like that, but I would like to have made a difference. You know, when everybody gets to my funeral I'd like people to say things like "he made a difference in my life" or "yeah, he sure helped....." or "I'd never have known about ... if he hadn't told me about it."

So I often write about things that I think are important in the world, things like renewable energy, efficiency, and more importantly, composting toilets, plus Jesus. I'd don't know of any other thing I've ever written about on here beside Jesus that has the capability to do a lot of good stuff in the world than composting toilets.

Most of the hits I get on here are about subjects regarding "The Shack" which is an important book, but that's not what gets me. What gets me is the number two search term. "What is the most accurate Bible translation?" What? There are 30,000 children dying all over the world every day and that's your question? A Christian is martyred every 30 seconds or more and you wanna know about Bible translations? Would you also like to discuss how many angels dance on the head of a pin whilst genocide goes on in the world?

Though I have for the sake of appeasing the audience written on the matter before, I don't really give a crap which is the most accurate translation. I've told you which two are bad, so just pick one of the others and freaking move on!

Does no one care that more and more people are falling below the poverty line in this country? Does no one care that people starved to death today, and yesterday, and some more will tomorrow? You really want to quibble about Bible translations?

Go to Hell. They need you more there than here.

P. S. Sorry for being harsh. But really people. Really.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sustainable Solution to Poverty Alleviation.

This is what it is really all about. The green things I do are not for my own emotional benefit, they are part of a larger idea, one of bringing about a change in attitude toward many things. I think the one that would do the most good, the one which would result in the most lives saved, is composting toilets.

As this video shows a little bit, composting toilets have the concurrent benefits of cleaning up the environment, eliminating waterborne disease, and providing free fertilizer to people growing crops.

A new idea is growing, poo is not a waste product, it's a resource.

Humanure Handbook Writer's Garden After 30 Years.

Cool stuff. This is the guy who popularized the system I use.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cox Cable is horrible internet.

Just thought I'd make that known.  This is the too manyth time this year.

Every time their commercial plays that says "Twice as fast as AT&T" I wanna say "and half as reliable."


Sojourners "Subversive Christmas Carol"

Have Yourself a Peace and Justice Christmas

Have yourself a peace and justice Christmas, 
Set your heart a-right.
Flee the malls and focus on Christ’s guiding light.

Have yourself a peace and justice Christmas, 
Give your time a way. 
Share God’s love, And serve “the least of these” today.

Here we are, as we pray for peace,
We’ll live simply and give more.
We care for those far and near to us,
Which brings cheer to us, once more.

God brings down
The haughty from high places,
And lifts up the low.
God cares for the hungry and the humble, so –
Forget the stress and let the peace and justice flow!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quotation of the Day, 12.20.08

"There are two kinds of people in the world, people who sh-- in drinking water, and people who don't." - Someone who chose to remain anonymous.


Sawdust Toilet is Back!!!

Got a good pickup full of excellent sawdust today, great mix of fine stuff for absorbtion and planer shavings for aeration. I'm really excited about getting the water bill back down, and starting up the 'ol compoost pile again. Plus, there's no really good reason to crap in perfectly good purified drinking water.


Quotation of the Day, 12.19.08

“Since Thomas Crapper invented the water closet, many sanitation experts have come
to view it as one of the stupidest technologies of all time: In an effort to make them
“invisible,” it mixes pathogen-bearing feces with relatively clean urine. Then it dilutes
that slurry with about 100 times its volume in pure drinking water, and further mixes the
mess with industrial toxins in the sewer system, thus turning “an excellent fertilizer and
soil conditioner” into a serious, far-reaching, and dispersed disposal problem.
Supplying the clean water, treating the sewage, and providing all the delivery and
collection in between requires systems whose cost strains the resources even of
wealthy countries, let alone the 2 billion people who lack basic sanitation. The World
Health Organization has stated that waterborne sanitation cannot meet any of its
declared objectives—equity, disease prevention, and sustainability—and suggests that
only with more modern (waterless) techniques can the world’s cities be affordably
provided with clean water for drinking, cooking, and washing.”
Natural Capitalism, Hawken, Lovins & Lovins

Hear that? Flush toilets are bad. Bad for poor people too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Secular Christmas Music on KLRC Followup

Since listening to KLRC drives me batty, I listen to NPR alot, and wonder of wonders, our local NPR affiliate KUAF actually plays more religious Christmas music than KLRC does. I listened for about an hour today and I only heard one secular song and it was part of a medly of religious songs.

School's over, feeling better.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What is the most accurate Bible translation?

It may surprise you, but this subject is actually top two on searches that yielded my blog as a result. Google loves me. Anyway, you should know, it is a very distant second to subjects relating to to "The Shack" by Paul Young.

Well, I always like to serve my readers some of what they're actually looking for so I decided to delve into this issue once again in a flagrant effort to spread my own beliefs and add some hits to the old ticker. These posts also get some discussion going which I love too. Please don't criticize this paragraph, if you do, you'll see the term "knuckle-dragger" in my reply because this paragraph is said in jest. Remember, that's "knuckle-dragger." If you see it in reply to your post, you done messed up and made your self look foolish. This paragraph is to weed out trolls.

So what is the most accurate Bible translation. Let's start with the easy ones. First, the most accurate is the original. I'd say it has the fewest errors. Unfortunately we don't have the originals. What we have, and what all modern translations are based upon are early copies of the originals, or copies of copies of the originals, or copies of copies of copies of the originals, some translated to other languages, some not, some modified from the originals, some not. We really have to be realistic about this. If God wanted the exact words of the originals passed down, then we wouldn't have things like grammatical, spelling, and copyist errors. But we do have these things. However, we have a backup plan.

You see, there are many many many copies of the very early manuscripts. The more copies there are, the better we can piece together what the originals looked like. They don't each have the same errors. They were copied by different people at different times. If for instance I printed this post out and had 100 people copy it by hand, there would be quite a few errors all summed up. If 100 people copied each of those, there in total would be a whole lot of errors. But not each copy would have the same errors. Some errors would be copied from the first copyists, some obvious ones would be corrected, and some new ones would be introduced in each iteration. But when you gather up a sample of all the copies, it would be quite easy to figure out what the original text was, with perhaps a few questionable wordings that you'd leave a note about and that wouldn't change the meaning of the text.

So that's the Bible we have, but the real question you came here asking was what (brand name) Bible that I can buy off the shelves is the one I should buy because someone came to my door and said theirs was better than mine.

Let me give you a simple test for determining how good a Bible is. First, who translated it? I suggest a group of twenty people or more from diverse backgrounds so that any bias will be filtered out, the bigger the group the better, there's more likely to be people who disagree with a rendering of a verse if there are more people who don't see it from the same perspective. We don't want group think. Secondly, I suggest the translators be experts in their fields, both of translation of the languages in question and of history because we need to understand the meanings of figures of speech, hyperbole, poetry, simile and metaphor of the times in which the texts were written. The translation should be based on the oldest manuscripts available so as to be the most accurate. It should be in a language the reader understands so as to convey the most meaning. And finally, look at what others in the field think about it. Does it stand with little criticism or much? Remember the Bible itself says that wisdom is found in the company of many counselors.

As I've said before, most Bible translations are good ones, however, there are a few that are not, and those are the ones that turn from the suggestions I listed above. I'll delve into two of these today. The first is the King James Version. There are three main problems with the King James Version or KJV. Firstly, though it was translated by nearly fifty scholars, they were nearly all Anglicans. Secondly, the translation was done so long ago that the language is archaic and hard to understand to today's reader, and thirdly because it was translated so long ago, the oldest and best manuscripts were not available which leaves not a small number of inaccuracies in the text, though nothing that really changes doctrine. It is my firm belief that the KJV was actually a step backward in progression of Bible text, and the existence of a more modern language but older Bible, the Geneva Bible offers evidence for this.

A second and I'll go ahead and say worse translation is the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures or NWT. The translation committee of this version was very small, well less than ten people, and they all belonged to the same sect, and were close, and in essence, one employed the others, so right away, there is some question. Secondly, none of the so called scholars was an expert in the field, and at least one testified under oath that he couldn't actually translate much of anything. Third, the translation is often times strangely worded, and I understand that sometimes it's hard to translate and get a good equivalent, but that's no reason to confuse people. Fourth, the document is not based on the oldest manuscripts, it's based on the Wescott and Hort text published in 1881 before many of the manuscripts we have today were discovered. Fifth, it's not really accurate to the original text in several glaring ways. Too vague you say? I'll give you 237 examples. The NT of the NWT inserts the word Jehovah into the text 237 times, and there is not a single piece of evidence that it appeared even once in the original texts. These are 237 errors that a thousand years from now, translators would consider scribal insertions just like translators now consider the Comma Johanneum a scribal insertion from a thousand years ago or more. They both prove a point, but not a point that needs to be proved enough to change the text.

Many good translations are available. The following are good translations though none without at least some criticism. ESV, NIV, NKJV, NASB, and there are some that are much less word for word, and more thought for thought with varying degrees of modernity in the language, you'll have to decide which you are looking for. You should know that each Bible is translated by a group of people that ostensibly agree on a few things and you can read about the translation philosophy usually on the inner cover of the book. For instance, the NIV is an Evangelical Bible because of certain phraseology and because the Apocrypha is not included, but such is the same with most Bibles because most scholars don't consider the Apocrypha to be as well supported as the other books. The ESV might be considered to lean slightly toward Calvinism because of the word propitiation, but I'm not a Calvinist, and I like it, and the word use is not without merit.

So that's about it, I'd love to hear some comments about this, I know there will be a certain group on here complaining and offering all sorts of evidence to bolster their opinion, but you'll notice I didn't mention who that group is. See if you can pick them out.


Monday, December 15, 2008


Send your own ElfYourself eCards

For a limited time, you'll actually be able to know what I look like. Real winner eh?

Follow Up

Well, as you might imagine, I have gotten a little razzing from the last post, but I only got one thing to say.

I live what I believe, what do you believe?


Friday, December 12, 2008

An Issue Near and Dear to My uh.... Heart.

Ok, this could get a little graphic, so if you don't like scatological humor, you might as well skip reading this post.

I hate wiping. Absolutely hate it. And I don't know, but I may have a mild case of IBS. It's not something I talk about alot, but here it is, I'm laying it out for you.

I've thought of bidets before, but I don't have one and I had thought that they make a little too much black water for my environmental tastes. However, a little new information has come to light and I punched some numbers and came up with some interesting conclusions.

A single toilet flush at my house costs me about 2.5 cents. I don't know exactly how much toilet paper costs because use is variable. But I did get some numbers from MetaEfficient that will surprise you regarding toilet paper. According to ME, the US uses about 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper per year. That works out to an amazing 13 gallons of water used per roll just to make the stuff. It also includes one pound of chlorine used per 75 rolls, and half a kilowatt hour of electricity per roll.

The twelve gallons per roll number is amazing, but not surprising considering most people don't know just how much water it takes to make paper. It's a lot. Toilet paper, unless in the process on decomposition in a composting toilet, is a huge problem in every aspect of its existence, especially the part where it touches my butt. Clearly, environmentally speaking a bidet is the best solution, and if that could be coupled with a composting toilet system, it would be even more superior. The problem is that most composting toilet units have problems processing excessive amounts of liquid. I think a Clivus Multrum unit can do it by separating the liquids from the main composting mass, but there can be real problems if that system goes south due to too much liquid.

Another thing to keep in mind is a squat toilet, or at least the swat method which most of the world uses to this day. Done right, these units can look decent. Their main benefit is that they properly evacuate the colon and reduce colon cancer. Since my grandfather died of colon cancer, I think I can be sufficiently concerned about this issue. If you eliminate the flushing aspect, it is quite compatible with composting toilets.

Let me tell you how a Clivus Multrum works, it's a great system (I assume). It uses either an open bottom toilet that drops directly into the compost chamber or a foam flush toilet that looks like a water flush unit. The material drops down into the chamber where it is composted by bacteria and or worms (if you add them) for around several years. You then shovel out the resultant compost when it comes out at the end of the process. A fan ventilates the unit, drawing air through the toilet fixtures so that your bathroom vent is actually in the toilet, which I believe is a better system, because the toilet is actually where you poop, not on the ceiling where most ventilation fans are.

I found a great quotation on a website. "That means that less than one percent of the Earth's water is available as drinking water. Why $%!+ in it?"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Green Stuff

I am the new owner of a bicycle! Yes, greener than driving, faster than walking, more fun than being kicked in the butt by a bucking mule but feels about the same for the first little while.

Tip: Don't go riding when it's 28 degrees, I nearly died.

I did a bit of research, shopped around and got a Schwinn made in China. Maybe I am a capitalist at heart. Shudders.

I don't really wish I lived any closer to town, but it will take probably an hour to get to school when I can ride. The best use for it is to drive to the remote parking lot and riding the bus to school then riding the bike around there and back to the parking lot. Very handy, good excercise, convenient and saves me up to 30 minutes per day because CERTAIN BUSES ARE NEVER ON TIME AND ARE SLOWER THAN GRANDMA ON THE FREEWAY!!! (route 56) AHEM...

I'd like to convert it to electric hybrid one day so commuting is an option.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Remember Those Old Political Cartoons from History Class?

What sort of political cartoons will be in our children's children's history books?

Notice the torn constitution and burning book entitled "Rule of Law."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Top Down and Bottom Up

No, this is not a post about porn.

Ok, now that you've wiped your eyes from laughing so hard you cried, I'll continue.

We have in our country a crisis of management and organization and I'll tell you how it works. The bailouts show this well. Who got the first biggest least regulated bailouts? Banks did. Tell me what exactly banks make. Tell me what exactly the big banks make for me that my small local Arvest bank who doesn't need a bailout can't make for me.

Now the car manufacturers are trying to get bailouts. What do car makers make? Pickles. And who eats pickles? I do. Why is it so hard for industries that actually make things to get help? It's because for 28 years now, we have been living under Reaganomics. This philosophy says "free trade solves everything." Never mind that we don't actually make anything here anymore. What is our economy supported by? Not a whole lot, and that is borne out by the economy slumping because the people with the money to spend (that meaning the most people, the statistically significant group,) can't spend it because they don't have it anymore and they don't have it anymore because their jobs get shipped across our borders, and they've run out of credit.

Here's a conundrum. Some are saying that American auto makers have failed to compete with Asian and European automakers. But here's a question? Who do Toyota and Honda have to compete with in their main markets? They only have to compete with each other because Japan has Fair Trade policy. They have policy that protects their car manufacturers from outside influence. The kinds of cars they make are decided by what people want to buy and what people want to buy is guided by high gas prices. This is true in Europe too.

Here's the top down and bottom up concept. We have in American these things called CAFE standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) that decide what our car's gas mileage should be. This is a top down approach. What this leads us to is this: We have cheap gas (relatively) which means the Ford F-150 is the most popular selling vehicle. It gets bad gas mileage. But it makes money. Ford loses money on smaller cars because people don't really need or want them, but yet, it is required to make them by law. Reminder: this is top down philosophy. An additional factor is that cars and trucks are defined differently and have different requirements which means if Ford, GM and Chrysler can get you to buy a "truck" (truck, SUV, or minivan) they don't have to worry about CAFE so much and can sell huge unnecessary gas guzzling machines that don't help the world.

In Europe and Japan, gasoline prices are kept a bit higher than in America due to taxes with a great result. Car manufacturers have no problem making and selling cars that get an average of 40 miles per gallon or more. In fact our average fuel economy is around 60% of what theirs is. Their car manufacturers are not forced to do something that the market doesn't support and they get a sweet tax to build roads with. This is a bottom up approach, see how it works better? You can cause something far greater to happen if you make a small change to each of a million people than if you make a large change to one or a few people at the top. And really, the average person doesn't pay any more in total because even the gas costs more, you don't use as much of it. Win win.

It's like this. How can you beat a champion boxer? Buy a new set of gloves?, no. Stomp on his toes. He won't be so interested in punching you anymore, at least until he can walk again.

It's the same concept with tax policy. Reaganomics and Bushies say "give tax cuts to the rich to stimulate the economy." The rich are so few, you can give them a sizable tax cut and it won't do much. Give the bottom of the group the tax cuts, and you will have a much larger bang for your buck. Simple math, give one person a million dollar tax cut, or give a million people a thousand dollar tax cut. One case yields $999,000,000 more than the other. Which do you think (long term) is better for the economy? That's why I advocate a return to the tax structure of 1980, adjusted for inflation and the cost of living of course.

This country is built on this type of principle. It is what it is today because of a top marginal tax rate of 70%. But that has been rapidly torn down by the last 28 years of unregulated capitalistic rule that puts most of the money into the hands of those who already have it. The biggest problem with this is the enabler. Christians were duped into supporting this way of thinking simply because they weren't looking out for who Jesus told them to be looking out for. They were looking out for themselves, their comfort, and sold themselves to the gospel of wealth and disguised it as morality.

Jesus was a bottom up guy. You help your neighbor, he helps his, he helps his, he helps his. Jesus never advocated banning or passing a constitutional amendment to ban or restrict anything. It was contrary to the way he worked and still works. He is a bottom up guy. He never used his power or influence to in anyway limit the actions of non-believers. Christians shouldn't either. In case you can't figure it out, what I'm saying is don't use your vote to keep gays from getting married. If you don't believe in same sex marriage, then don't marry someone of your same sex. The constitution should not be soiled by such petty nonsense. It should be a proud and right giving document, not a document that takes away. Marriage is between you and God, not you and the constitution or the law. Give unto God that which is God's, and God gives marriage, not Uncle Sam. Simply said passing a law banning same sex marriage is a top down approach, and Jesus was a bottom up guy. They are incompatible.

And that is my foray in to top an bottom philosophy. Top down doesn't work well, that's why we all hate the government. Try bottom up. It will work better. And stay away from demagoguery. That's a lowest denominator situation and that doesn't work either.

Jesus was a bottom up guy, and so am I.

P.S. Those of you who think that everyone wants to come to America, sorry to burst your bubble, but Europeans like their free health care, Canadians do too, that's why we don't have a wall up there.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


One of the unfortunate difficulties with being an American Jesus Freak is that the Bible was not originally written in English. Yes, I know, I just found out myself. Apparently if it was good enough for Paul and Silas, it's good enough to be translated for me. As anyone who speaks more than one language any significant amount knows, things don't always translate directly across. For instance, in English, "I am hungry" translates to "Yo tengo hambre" in Spanish which translates back to English as "I have hunger." Simple example I know, but it makes a point. "I have hunger" doesn't really fit into our lexicon. So the same are important concepts in Greek in the New Testament. Greek has several words for love, while English basically has only one.

Let's explore this.

James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

In western culture, there is often a very real dichotomy between what we believe and what we do. You can believe stealing is wrong, but if you accidentally get out of a store with a small item in the bottom of your shopping cart, you may not go back and pay for it. You can justify it with any range of excuses, but ultimately, you stole it. This represents a disconnect from what you believe. In ancient Greek culture (which all of the New Testament is in someway influenced by,) the spirit has a more direct connection to the body, and therefore, actions a more direct connection to beliefs. James is saying "I don't need to tell you how much faith I have, you can see it, you can see it in the dirt on my hands, you can feel it in the strength of my hug, you can see it in the smile on my face, you can hear it in the tone of my voice, you can tell in an unwavering way by the way I am."

Why is it today that it becomes increasingly difficult to tell the difference between Christians and the world? What is going on here? We live in a world that draws us to value the same things as the world, to love the same things, to believe the same things, to think the same things, to act the same ways. Why is our rate of divorce the same? Why are we spending our time arguing about gay marriage when there are people starving all over the world? Why don't people stop us on the sidewalk and say "you're a Christian aren't you?"

Check this out: Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Check this out, it's like a math problem, verse 8 THINK, verse 9a DO and 9b FAITH.


Let me re-emphasize this because I know some of you are still stuck in the faith vs. works mindset. You are essentially equating think with faith. That is not how it was intended. Just as your spirit separated from your body essentially destroys what is "you" so separating the think and do parts of your faith destroys what faith really is. Faith is not a word attached to something you just believe. "I have faith that it will rain." Nor is it something achieved by performing a task. Faith is a thing that when it exists in a person, you should be able to see it before you are told about it.

The equation works both ways. If there is faith, there is think and do, if there is think and do, then there is faith.

So, do they know you are a Christian because of your love for one another?


Secular Christmas Music on KLRC

As I was pulling out of Encounter last night, I happened to have the radio tuned to KLRC. It seems this year, like every year I guess, they are again playing secular Christmas music alongside religious Christmas music.

I literally out loud said "what the f@$*?"

It was something like "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" or something, I don't remember. The question is what do I expect from a radio station that is "Positive and Encouraging" but apparently forgets why. They also host James Dobson's right wing demagoguery Focus on the Family show on weeknights. Go back 20 years or more and you can hear wonderful family encouraging material from Dobson. Lately, he's gone political and his message has degraded from that of teaching and helping families and parents to simple republican political intolerance.

It's Christmas and you are a Christian radio station, PLAY CHRISTIAN FREAKING CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!!

I'm gonna go listen to Air America (thanks Ben. ;-)


Short Rant

What's with people so obviously mispronouncing so often used words.

Iraq. "ee-RAHK" not "EYE-rack" Also Iran "ee-RAHN" not "EYE-ran"
Roll the r slightly if you really want to pronounce it correctly, but this is not a simple matter of rolling the R's or using the correct inflection. It is simply people not pronouncing the word anything near correctly. I cringed every time Sarah Palin said it. Was happy to hear Barry pronounce Pakistan fairly correctly. ("PAHK-ee-stahn")

I was interested to notice that most everyone is now using Mumbai instead of Bombay. I guess they had to pass a law or something in 1996.


A Day in the Life...

Just when I start to feel bad about how much weight I've gained, I get nasty sick for two days, puke up my stomach, crap out my guts, lose ten pounds, and I feel much better about myself. Suddenly the ways of a bulimic are not so foreign to me, though I am gonna have to clean the bathroom a bit. And I apologize to whoever had to clean up that wastebasket sitting outside the door of the Electrical Engineering Lounge in Bell, I'm real sorry 'bout that.

I've been thinking up a few blog post ideas, I kinda have some of a day off today so I'll do a little writing between cleaning. First I have to fix the vacuum, I think my wife sucked up an entire tube sock.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Postage for Micah

Sorry y'all, probably no new posts for a week or two.  I am going into finals week and have no time at all.

But please, do give me suggestions.  Which televangelists?  What subjects?  What book should I buy?  Movies to watch?

Pray for my performance in my finals, this has been about the hardest semester I've ever had.