how many commandments?

I have known this for a long while, but I saw an interesting article that did a nice job of clarifying the topic.

The ten commandments appear in Exodus and Deuteronomy, but in neither place is there any reference to this being a list of commandments, nor to there being ten. In fact, the Jewish community talks about the “ten statements.” And if you break the passages down you can work it out to twelve statements.

So how do we get to ten?

  • For the Jews, “I am the Lord your God” is a separate statement, while Christians combine that with “You shall have no other gods before me.”
  • For Jews and Catholics, not worshipping other Gods and not making graven images are combined into a single statement, while for Protestants and Eastern Orthodox, it’s two.
  • Coveting another’s wife and property is one statement for Jews, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox, while it’s two for Catholics.

The Bible is not as specific, cut, and dried as some people would like to believe.

on not being tied to the canon

One of the downsides of the online world in general and social media in particular is the proliferation of must-read lists of books. (Similar lists, of course, exist for movies, music, and television programs.) There is a place for identifying a literary canon, and I really enjoyed the Western Literary Canon lecture series from The Great Courses. Still, I think the must-read list thing is over done.

At the end of Why I Read, Wendy Lesser lists “A Hundred Books to Read for Pleasure.” She makes the point that “This is not a literary canon, and there will be no final exam— for any of us.” In a similar vein Janet Potter writes about “28 Books You Should Read If You Want To.” A few of her suggestions:


You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re laughing.

You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re crying.

You should read books about historical events you don’t know anything about.

You should read books about things you already know a little about.

You should read prize-winners, bestsellers, beach reads, book club picks, and classics, when you want to.

I like her approach. You might want to check out the whole piece.

#sb10066016a-009 /

our heterogeneous kitchen

I said I was done writing about refrigerators and I am. But with our replacement refrigerator, I have the inclination to write about our kitchen as a whole.

When we did our remodel in 2007, we decided to go with GE for our major appliances. The exception was the dishwasher, which was a KitchenAid that was working perfectly fine. We went to our local full-service Western Appliance store (the Gilroy location sadly no longer being there) and got some excellent help from the salesperson there. They even stored the appliances until we were ready for them. We bought a refrigerator, a stove and a microwave. As it turned out, the microwave started peeling inside and had to be replaced. Our esteemed contractor failed to properly anchor the dishwasher and it had to be replaced. (Not to mention that it was replaced by a Bosch, which was a disaster, followed by an LG, which also did not function properly. We’re now on a Frigidaire which, knock on wood, is functioning well.) You know the latest story about the GE fridge.

So, of all the major appliances we bought only the stove dates from the remodel. (There’s the U-Line wine chiller, but that’s in the dining area, and it’s not used in the food cooking and dish cleaning cycle, so I’m not counting it. But we greatly appreciate its constancy.) That doesn’t seem quite right. But the current heterogeneous collection looks just fine, and we expect this existing set to perform well for a very long time to come.

yes, it can

That is, yes it can happen to me. I was never under any illusion that it couldn’t. Getting laid off that is.

I was notified on Friday. I can’t complain. I’ve dodged the bullet many times. This time I didn’t. To change metaphors, I’ve said for years that it’s like the children’s game of musical chairs. It’s all about where you happen to find yourself when the music stops.

That doesn’t make it any easier when it actually happens. As I wrote of Facebook, “Did you know that it is possible to cycle through denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance multiple times in a single hour?” That’s what Friday afternoon was like.

So I move ahead. I trust that this is the beginning of something bigger and better.

Sacred Music Friday: Agnus Dei

Samuel Barber, Agnus Dei, Te Deum Chamber Choir

not paying attention

I wrote about how Terry and I were taking measures to conserve water, and how I felt good about what we were doing. It turns out that, at least temporarily, I was not doing as well as I thought.

I was looking at our back lawn and reflected on how good it was looking given the amount of water I was giving it. Then I thought it odd that the front lawn was as green as it was. Finally I realized what was going on: both lawns were getting a lot more water than I had intended.

On a Friday evening a few weeks back we had a power glitch. Terry had gone out to get dinner and the power went out. But before I could even get out of my chair, the power came back on. Some of our electronics reset themselves, some needed to be reset, and some were fine. What I totally forgot about was the controller for our sprinkler system. The slightest blip in the power causes it to reset to its default settings, which means it was giving the lawns a whole lot more water than I intended. Never mind that it was feeding water to our front and back drip systems, which long ago have fallen into disuse.

I was really ticked off with myself. It’s fixed now, but I’m still unhappy about the wasted water.

Distant Neighbors

DistantNeighborsDistant Neighbors: The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry & Gary Snyder
Chad Wriglesworth, editor
Counterpoint (May 13, 2014), 322 pages
Kindle Edition $14.99, Amazon Hardcover $22.44

I haven’t read much of either Wendell Berry or Gary Snyder, but I respect the work of both men and I pay attention when I see an article by or about them or when I hear either interviewed on the radio. What I didn’t know was that the two men were and are good friends.

What this book makes clear is the depth of that friendship and the long-standing mutual respect that Berry and Snyder have for each other. This is no small achievement. Snyder has long lived in the Sierra foothills, considers himself a hunter-gatherer and is a Buddhist. Berry has long lived in Kentucky, is a devoted farmer, and a committed Christian. Yet they both share strong values about ecology and the care of the planet, and this has led to a long-standing collaboration.

The first exchange of letters was in 1973, and the book takes us through forty years, up to 2013. Although published by a small, independent publishing house, the book is highly annotated and deserving of a place in any academic library.

This is a marvelous survey of the reflections of two of the most important American thinkers and writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

They appeared together on KQED Forum recently discussing the book, their friendship, and a variety of other topics.

much appreciated

I have written quite a bit about Rocca’s, our family owned, independent market. I can’t imagine going back to the supermarket and buying pre-packaged meats. Not when I can go to Rocca’s and get exactly the size or weight or quantity that I need.

It goes beyond that, though. A few months ago, perhaps it was just before Easter, I went in looking for tri-tip. They had it in a variety of marinades, but not the one I wanted. Tom, co-owner and responsible for the meat department, was right there, though he wasn’t the one helping me. He said “I can fix that for you,” and after verifying that I wasn’t going to cook it until the next day, set me up with what I wanted.

Last Thursday I went in for a number of things for the 4th and for the weekend. They did not, however, have any country sausage. Poppy, our fish monger was helping me, but Dan K, the sausage guy, was right there and said, “I can make you some if you can hang for a few minutes.” Well, certainly. Obviously he couldn’t make it in the small amount that I usually buy, so now I have enough to take us through mid-August. But that’s fine. That’s why we have a freezer and producersour FoodSaver.

When I say that I really appreciate Rocca’s I mean it.

On a side note, the dairy product line that Rocca’s sells is a brand called Producer’s. It’s very common to see that brand in independent markets and restaurants in much of the northern half of California, when you get away from the chains. The only problem is that when I see that brand I can’t help but think about a certain Mel Brooks musical. You know the one I mean: “Springtime for Hitler and Germany, Winter for Poland and France…”

OK, enough of that.

almost part of the family

I’ve written before about Victoria’s, our local, family owned Mexican restaurant. We generally go there for lunch on Tuesday or Wednesday. That’s because on Tuesday they serve tortilla soup and on Wednesday they serve albondigas soup, both of which Terry loves. For some time now Donald “Elvis,” our local highly regarded Elvis impersonator, restaurant co-owner, and the one in charge of operations there, has been working Tuesday and Wednesday lunch. Before that though, his aunt Carmen handled those shifts. They both know our standard order.

Some weeks back, it was kind of slow and Don was sitting at the table out in front talking to Carmen. We came up and Don started to get up, but Carmen said, “Just write up their ticket. They can take it back to the kitchen themselves.” So Don did.

How’s that for being considered almost part of the family? Later Don came by our table and said, “Only Carmen would do that.”

A week ago today Terry strained her hamstring. She wasn’t able to put any weight on it. (She’s doing much better now, by the way.) On Wednesday she still wasn’t able to be out and about, so I went to Victoria’s to get takeout. They were totally sold out that day, and when Don came by and patted me on the shoulder he asked, “Where’s your wife?” I said, “She has a strained hamstring. I need the usual to go.” He said, “You got it.”

When he brought out the order he said, “I put a couple of extra meatballs in the soup and gave you some extra chips and salsa. Tell her I hope she’s feeling better.”

Now how is that for being considered almost a part of the family?

Sacred Music Friday: Great is thy faithfulness

Great is thy faithfulness