Sacred Music Friday: Come, Come, Emmanuel

Come, Come, Emmanuel, the TAFPC Choir

a V8 moment

I recently had an “I could have had a V8!” moment. It had to do with photos to go along with the recipes in my recipe database.

recipe photoWhen I have an online photo it’s no problem. I can easily grab the photo file. But when it comes to recipes that are only available in a print source it’s trickier. I scan the recipe using my OCR software using the grayscale setting, as that is best for OCR. Then I would re-scan in color and grab the image using the built-in Windows snipping tool. It worked OK, but the images were often grainy.

Then I had that hit-the-heel-of-my-hand-on-my-forehead moment. I can use my iPhone to take a photo of the picture in the book or magazine.


Much better results.


Words on the Move

Words on the Move coverWords on the Move: Why English Won’t – and Can’t – Sit Still (Like, Literally)
John McWhorter
Henry Holt and Co., September 6, 2016, 272 pages
Kindle edition $14.99, Amazon hardcover $19.35

I am a big John McWhorter fan. I have completed all four of his offerings from The Great Courses: three on audio and one on DVD. He is a brilliant linguist. While he has taught graduate students he is superb at popularizing the concepts of linguistics. He is witty with a wry sense of humor.

In one of his Great Courses lectures McWhorter talks about “sweeping the ocean.” He describes someone with a broom who goes out on the seashore and tries to sweep the tide back as it comes in. That, he tells us, is the equivalent of expecting that language change can be stopped.

Words on the Move is the first book by McWhorter that I have read. While one does not get the full impact of his personality as one would on video or audio, his unique personality does come through. He tells us that we can forget about fighting use of the word “literally” to mean “figuratively.” (“He literally fell apart.”)

McWhorter tells us, as most linguists do, that many rules of language, “are arbitrary, unconnected to clarity or logic.” He also tells us:

quoteYet no linguist denies the other reality, which is that these rules, having been entrenched in society as measures of formality and social worth, must be followed in formal contexts and taught to young people.

If you enjoy the study of language this book is well worth your time.



a new iPad

Terry and I have been very careful about discretionary spending since we have moved south, for obvious reasons. But given the sale of my internet domain at a price greater than I would have expected, I decided to allow myself an indulgence. My old iPad 2 was getting slow and applications were crashing. Since I use it every evening, seven days a week, I decided I was due for an upgrade.

iPad Air 2I bought a new iPad Air 2 and a Logitech case + keyboard to go with it. I’m delighted. The iPad is thin and light, and the keyboard case provides a sturdy environment for the iPad.

The Logitech keyboard/case is designed to work in landscape mode, while all thisiPad case time I have used my iPad in portrait mode. But it’s fine. It is stable. It works well. And I don’t have the possibility of my iPad doing a back flip out of the keyboard as could happen with my old iPad and keyboard.

Meanwhile, the old iPad 2 and keyboard sold for a good price on eBay.  That will partially reimburse me for this new purchase. The nice thing is that they will be a Christmas  present for someone’s youngster.

All good stuff. It’s a real delight.



the great Christmas tree caper

Terry and I decided to get a Christmas tree this year. We have not had one for the past two years due to my layoff and our desire to be careful with finances. This year, however, given the election results, we needed the comfort, and with the small windfall from my internet domain sale we decided we could afford one.

Christmas TreeSo off we went to a Christmas tree farm that my brother had recommended. We got plenty of exercise. The first select and cut area had only trees bigger than we wanted. We found that there was another select and cut area with trees closer to the size we wanted. We looked, we saw, we found, we bought.

This was on Friday. We brought the tree home and put it in the stand I had bought at Target. It would not stay stable. It kept tipping over. I went off to Target for a larger stand, only to find that they were completely wiped out in that section.

We stabilized the tree for overnight and decided to return to the effort on Saturday. We realized that we had made two mistakes. First, in our effort to make the tree look straight at the top, we did not situate it properly in the base. Second, we had too much trunk beneath the branches making the tree unstable. On Saturday we cut four or five inches off the trunk and made sure the tree was solid and secure in its base.

We began decorating the tree. We had some problems with our Hallmark Star Trek ornaments plugging into the light strings. We’ve had them for many years and the contacts can get out of whack. But we fixed that for the most part and now we have a beautiful, marvelous Christmas tree, our first since we’ve moved south.


Sacred Music Friday: Sleepers Awake!

J.S. Bach: Wachet Auf! (Sleepers Awake!). For Advent.

those one-time-only meals

turkey pot pieSometimes you fix a meal that can’t be recreated. For Thanksgiving we took mashed potatoes and green bean casserole (with cream cheese and without onion sop mix) to my brother’s house. We came home with some of his marvelous brined turkey and what was left of the green beans.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving I made a skillet pot pie with those two ingredients turkey pot pie on the plateplus red potatoes and frozen veggies. That’s something I’ll likely never be able to recreate since I’m not likely to have those two exact Thanksgiving ingredients again at the same time. (Perhaps after Thanksgiving next year, but who knows what kind of leftovers we’ll end up coming home with then, and whether we’ll even make the same green bean casserole.)

It was, though, quite tasty and well worth the effort.

Some dishes, one has to admit, may only be made once.


recycling The Great Courses

I have downloaded more than sixty audio courses from The Great Courses since I first began buying them in 2010. Given that, it is becoming harder to find a course I am interested in when it’s time to load a new set onto my iPod. Sometimes new courses do get my attention, as did English Grammar Boot Camp, though I ended up getting the video of that one.

Great Courses logoWhat I’ve done then, is to recycle courses that I’ve listened to previously on my walks. A while back I reviewed Between Cross and Crescent which describes Jewish civilization in medieval and early modern times. I followed that with The World of Biblical Israel, which is a great course on exactly that topic. Currently I am listening to The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity, which describes the transition of Christianity from its status as a persecuted minority to becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire.

I’m reviewing fascinating material and saving money at the same time. All good stuff.


let’s do better

After the election I noticed the title of an NPR podcast from Weekend Edition. It was about escapist fiction to take your mind off of the election results. Just what I need, I thought. But what was the book editor recommending? Dystopian fiction. Why? Why?  That’s not what I need.

Recently, while downloading Kindle samples for books I saw in the Sunday New York Times Book Review, my Kindle Store web app displayed Dystopian Societies as the first category of suggested titles. Why? Why?

Fr. Phil used up in Morgan Hill used to preach about this. Why envision a dystopian society when we can just as easily envision a utopian society, he asked. Yes, “utopia” means nowhere, but we can make “nowhere” into “now here.” Remember the Belinda Carlisle song “Heaven is a Place on Earth”?

My friend Tahoe Mom writes of hope:

quoteAdvent, a time of waiting. A time of anticipation. A time of Hope. This year more than any I have experienced in a long time, I am in need of Hope. Hope for Light in a time of darkness. Hope for Love in a time of hatred and bigotry. Hope for Laughter in a time of sadness and bewilderment. Hope for Peace in a time of threat. … I must also live in the moment given me already, claiming the promise of Hope for Light and Love, Laughter and Peace.

Please my friends, let’s put our energy not into a dystopia but into heaven as a place on earth. Let’s focus on light, love, laughter, and peace here and now.


taking the one-skillet approach

one skillet photoOne thing I have noticed about getting recipes from Pinterest is that many of them are one-skillet recipes. That, combined with my new Cast Iron Casseroles book has led me to rethink the subject. I now think that one-skillet meals deserve a category of their own.

I have created a new one-skillet search category in my recipe database. That way if I want something simple and straightforward to fix for dinner I can find it easily. In addition, one-skillet often, though not always, equals comfort food.

Good stuff. All of it.