Sacred Music Friday: A Song of Peace

One of my long time favorites.

A Song of Peace, Jean Sibelius. Don Neuen conducts at the Wieuca Road Baptist Church in Atlanta.

my state of mind

I was not expecting to be in a state of career transition on this milestone plus one birthday. Those things happen, however, and I continue to work the plan, as one of the Webinars from the career transition firm suggests.

There are up and down moments, but that is normal. There is plenty to keep me busy, and I am keeping busy.  I have a good package from my former company, and I am looking at this as an opportunity to engage in something new and different and enjoyable.

This past Sunday’s lectionary Gospel reading was the passage in Matthew about Jesus walking on water in the storm (Matthew 14:22-33). Fr. Phil had a useful insight about that passage and the storms in our own lives.

quoteStorms are not the only weather condition.  There can be many other weather conditions which are more supportive of human safety. So, do not let the storms define the totality of all weather conditions.  In the human sphere, do not let loss, pain, failure or threat, define the totality of life.  The total good outweighs the total bad; it is just that the bad is such a deprivation of the good that it yells out and gains attention beyond its actual strength.

My life is far from being all storms. I am grateful for that and need to make sure I hold on to that thought.

P.S. Since it is my birthday, and since I am looking for a new position, I hope you will indulge me and allow me to share my business card with you. If you happen to come across an employer who is looking for someone with my skills and experience, please do send them in my direction.


priorities: another perspective

Sometimes the comic strip Lio is kind of strange. But sometimes the kid gets it right. This is one of those times. (Yes, I read books on my iPad Kindle app, but the concept is the same.)


a trend gaining momentum

When we had our solar power system installed we used The Solar Company, and we have been very happy with the results since then.

The leader in volume installations these days, however, seems to be Solar City, part of the Elon Musk empire. Residents in our area have been adding solar panels to their homes with some regularity of late, and almost invariably I see those distinctive green and white Solar City trucks in front of the house.

Whoever is doing the work, it is good to see. There is the issue of how the utilities pay to maintain the infrastructure when people’s meters are running backwards, but the California state legislature last year passed legislation that allows the public utilities commission to address that.

And if we’re reducing the strain of the grid, that’s a Good Thing.

comfort food

I use my Yahoo! email account to send myself recipes that I want to add to our recipe database. It’s simple and convenient. Most emails get handled the next time I’m updating the database, but some sit there for a while. One of those was a piece from Cooking Light on 20-minute comfort food recipes. That’s mostly because there were 35 different recipes that I needed to sift through. Under current circumstances, however, comfort food seemed like a good idea, so I dug in and selected a number of recipes for our collection. (And while I was at it I added a category for comfort food.)

One of those recipes was Speedy Chicken Potpie. Given the twenty minute theme it was really a stove top faux chicken pot pie, where the pie crust was to be cut into strips and added to a soup or stew-like dish containing chicken pot pie-type ingredients. It occurred to me, however, that it wouldn’t be that much more work to make a proper chicken pot pie. So after doing the stove top work, I put the ingredients into our stoneware quiche dishes, making sure as little of the broth got in as possible, covered them with Trader Joe’s pie crust, and put them in the oven at 400° convection for 15 minutes.

I know a recipe is a success when Terry says, “You can make that again!” I was pleased with the result myself.

Sacred Music Friday: Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe

Felix Mendelssohn, “Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe,” The St. Olaf Choir, Anton Armstrong conductor

You’ll need to watch this on YouTube, but it’s worth watching.

Click on the text: “Watch this video on YouTube” after clicking the Play button.

a good reminder

quoteI take the Bible too seriously to take it all literally.
—Madeleine L’Engle, A Stone for a Pillow, p. 80

The Joy of x

JoyofXThe Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity
Steven Strogatz
Kindle Edition $8.61, Amazon Paperback $12.93
Available through Kindle Unlimited
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Reprint edition (October 2, 2012), 336 pages

Many of the science books I read I hear about through Science Friday, one of my favorite public radio programs. This is one of them.

The book is a tour of math for adults. Strogatz starts at the beginning with numbers, Sesame Street style, moves ahead to arithmetic, elementary school math, high school geometry and algebra, and on to more complex topics like statistics.

The author says that the book is “a guided tour through the elements of math, from preschool to grad school, for anyone out there who’d like to have a second chance at the subject— but this time from an adult perspective.” I was not great at math in high school and before, and I was fortunate enough to be able to avoid it in college. So while I found the book interesting, I didn’t really make the effort to follow the examples.

Still, Strogatz writes in a clear and witty style, and his wit is particularly enjoyable. An example:

quoteBut in private, math is occasionally insecure. It has doubts. It questions itself and isn’t always sure it’s right. Especially where infinity is concerned. Infinity can keep math up at night, worrying, fidgeting, feeling existential dread. For there have been times in the history of math when unleashing infinity wrought such mayhem, there were fears it might blow up the whole enterprise.

For the most part, then, the book was worth my time, and since I got it during my free trial month of Amazon Unlimited, it was definitely worth the price.

The Hungry Eye

Reading The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry made me think of my hometown bookstore, The Hungry Eye. It was on Florida Avenue, Hemet’s main street. I bought a few supplemental books there for a high school class or two, but mostly I went in for my personal reading pleasure. That was during the time when the Lord of the Rings trilogy was big, and we were all reading it. Paperback houses were reprinting every nineteenth and early twentieth century author who wrote in a genre even vaguely resembling Tolkien’s. Those books were all there. But there were plenty of other books in the store as well. The owner was also happy to special order.

A small Italian restaurant and pizzeria opened up a couple doors down, so what better way to spend part of a Saturday afternoon than browse books at the Hungry Eye and then get a bite to eat nearby. At least at those times when my finances allowed.

An interesting note. Steve, the owner, was a long-time valley resident, and used to own an auto parts store. So while he sold me books when I was in high school, he had sold auto parts to my dad when he was in high school.

A different time, to say the least.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

StoriedLifeThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel
Gabrielle Zevin
Kindle Edition $9.25, Amazon Hardcover $15.75
Available through Kindle Unlimited
Algonquin Books (April 1, 2014), 273 pages

As a former bookseller and one who appreciates the independent bookstore (even though I read Kindle books) I enjoyed much of the book.

A. J. Fikry owns a bookstore on a fictional resort island in New England. The kind that has summer visitors, but where it’s only the locals in the winter. He is widowed, bitter, unhappy, and unpleasant. Then a baby is mysteriously left in the bookstore, and the mother is soon thereafter found dead on the beach, having swum out to sea until exhausted. A.J. raises the baby and does a remarkably fine job of it. The first two-thirds of the novel is a story of love, patience, humor, and redemption.

Then there is Part II, the last third of the book. Was it written by an entirely different author? It almost seems like it. But no, all of the loose ends that were hanging at the end of Part I are nicely tied up by the end of the novel. Does it have a happy ending? That depends on your perspective. The author does bring things, at least loosely, full circle in the closing pages.

Am I glad that I read the book? Yes. Was I sad to leave the world created in this novel? No, I wasn’t. I was ready to get out of there.