It’s a…

Life has kind of changed recently, and I get the feeling that the blogging days are coming to an end. This served a unique purpose in the beginning, one that has changed many times over the ensuing years. I’ve debated several reboot ideas, but at the end of the day, what I record here that still needs to be recorded has moved from a public forum to a private one.

So I guess this is somewhat of a goodbye. Maybe not. I’ve said many times that I thought the end was coming for the blog. I’ve gone through quiet spells only to find again the stride that moved the blog forward.

But this is different.

Past dearths were spotted with broad oases of revitalized energy and devotion, and even when I wasn’t writing, I thought often of what could be written. Mirages dancing above the heated sands of the long stretches of silence. Now, though, I don’t think of the blog often, almost as if I have moved out of the beautiful desert and discovered distractions and distance from what was here to what is there.

I do try, though, but I don’t quite remember what I am trying for. Like I said, the purpose has changed. The goals have moved past this to whatever they are now.

Two weeks past, I thought through a project that both excites me and also leaves no way forward for the blog. Oh, let’s be honest…. There’s always a way forward. Let’s say it this way: It excites me and discourages a way forward. I discovered some years back a tool that allows a full export of the blog to a Word document. I’ve always known that when I was done, I would export the blog and spend the next few years reading, editing, re-writing, and storing the blog in a format that would have greater permanence than this public spread. I tested the export about two years ago and–if I remember right–found that I had written well over four thousand pages! While my output has certainly slowed since then, it would not surprise me to find myself at 4,500 today.

That history, for the most part, is worth preserving, and the challenge of sifting through all that is here, cataloging it, and producing it in a format that is both worthwhile and interesting is more exciting than I can say! I’ll even admit that there is some here that I don’t want to continue. Nothing I would hide, but things I would not want to continue for their lack of importance (I don’t have the hubris to assume I’m that incredible) and certainly others that I would pull from the public world for the simple fact that oversharing is sometimes just that.

I don’t regret the time, the energy, and the effort placed here. Like I said, when I started, there was a defined goal–if only in my head–of what I wanted to accomplish here. I’ve done that. The goal changed, and I did that one, too. I find nothing left to do here but this close.

There are those who I’ve met through this blog and have no other contact except these pages. I’ll miss you. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that friendships almost always decay or change in some way, and I’ve grown to understand that the decay is both natural and comfortable most of the time if we allow it to be natural. If I glance carefully in the rear-view mirror, I see many who have passed through my life, accomplished great things, and then advanced in their own direction. Most of them I still contact in some way or another on a periodic basis. Those I’ve found here will be the same.

After all, we found each other randomly the first time, didn’t we?

When you think about it, that’s what relationships are really anyway; random encounters that turn into something more than just random for however long they last. Some last forever, some for many years, and some just a flash in the pan.

They are all meaningful and important in their own way.

So, yes. I think this is really it. I think what has come through these pages and been recorded is done. Complete. I truly have no regrets.

Oh yeah, and it’s a boy.:-)

Posted in On the Home Front | 2 Comments

For Sarah

Imagine being in a small, enclosed place. Now imagine short sleeves with nothing but a thin veil covering your head. And now add in 30,000 bees.

I just installed my new packages, and it was excellent. There’s something about the feeling of tens of thousands of little hairy legs crawling all over your arms and hands with the heavy song of buzzing.

Magical.

So Sarah, since we had Matt help dad last year with his hives, it’s only a matter of time before you get hives, right? I’m sure the Seattle area is great for beekeeping!

Posted in Bees | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Review: VidAngel

I saw an ad the other day for VidAngel, and we gave them a whirl last night. VidAngel is the latest in a long line of clean video shops, and I think they’ve finally hit the nail on the head. I was really impressed for a multitude of reasons:

  1. The problem other clean movie companies have run into has to do with legal issues. Legally, you cannot rent edited movies. However, you can edit movies that you yourself own. VidAngel gets around the rental/ownership issue by selling you the film for $20. After watching it, you can sell it back to VidAngel for $18 or $19, depending on the quality of video you chose. Essentially, you “rent” the film for $2 (HD) or $1 (SD), but because you own it during the rental period, you are legally entitled to apply edits.
  2. Unlike past rentals, VidAngel puts the control of what is edited in your hands. When you register, you create a profile that allows you to edit out certain words, types of content, and so forth. You can also adjust those settings on the fly.
  3. Content! Because VidAngel is not restricted by rental agreements, they can get their hands on pretty much anything, including new releases. Where Netflix, Redbox, and other services are delayed or limited, VidAngel can get something immediately. Granted, the content is limited by their ability to work through the review process, but still…. I was very impressed with the films available, including TV shows.
  4. Editing quality. If you’ve ever done CleanFlicks or some of the other options, you will certainly remember the truly awkward jumps to avoid certain things. VidAngel does a great job of avoiding those and leaving the story line intact. Audio content is tastefully muted, and sexual/violent content is removed cleanly. More than that, because you have full control, you can allow a level of that content without the full, blanket removal some services do. The control, again, is in your hands.
    One more thing here, but they also allow you to edit the captions. Pretty cool.
  5. Price. It’s a buck. Two dollars if you decide on HD, but SD was plenty high enough quality for us. We immediately sold the film back (which was a click of a button), and we already have $19 credit in our account for the sale. The next time we rent, it’ll be another dollar. It’s cheaper than Redbox, better options that Netflix, and clean.

If you know me well enough, you’ll know I’m not a movie person. It’s not that I don’t enjoy movies; it’s that I get really tired of being bombarded with sex and language. It’s frustrating to try to enjoy a movie when those things are throw in seemingly randomly and without any real drive to push the story forward. VidAngel, however, leaves me eager to get back into films. There’s a huge number of films I’ve really wanted to see but haven’t due to content. I love feeling like those are available to me now.

We have our filter set up to cut out all nudity, all blasphemies, and the biggest swear words (F-word, S-word). Last night we watched Spectre, the newest James Bond. It had no language, the nudity in the opening credits was cut out (standard James Bond stuff), and we never worried about the guaranteed sex scene interrupting the film. It was fantastic! We hardly even recognized it was edited.

If you haven’t given them a try, go check it out. I see this being a pretty regular thing in our house.

Negatives: I forgot to mention the one negative…. We play ours through the Roku app on our TV. It’s pretty slick except one thing; you can’t access your watchlist from the app. You can see it online, but not in Roku. There isn’t enough content yet (several hundred movies) to make it too hard to scan through them, but I like going through and flagging films I want to watch later but haven’t done yet.

Posted in On the Home Front, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Introduction

One of my goals for the year is to put a book that I’ve been working on into draft form by the end of the year. I’ve written about eighty pages so far, and I was going at a fantastic clip of about five to ten pages a day for a couple weeks until our computer blew up. That was four years ago, and it took about two weeks to get the computer back up and running. In that time, the drive died, the story got lost, and a couple of the critical questions I was trying to resolve became even bigger.

This last December, the book came back to my mind, and I went through and I read the eighty pages. I was reminded of a few things:

  • First, I love to write. I love seeing words formed into imagery and meaning that goes well beyond what simple letters on a page could ever mean.
  • Second, I love this story. It’s a hard story (you’ll see that in a minute), and it’s dark, but there is a real story here.
  • Third, I love this story. That’s different than the previous. The first love is a recognition that this is a creation that is coming from me. It’s mine. It’s something that I’ve agonized over and brought forth. In that sense, it’s the love of a parent for a child. You love your child because they are yours.
    The second love is something beyond that. This is the love that comes for a child you’ve watched grow and watched struggle. This is a love that comes from the understanding that what you have is genuine and good. I love this story not only because it’s mine, but because it is meaningful. In short, where this not mine, I would love it still. This is a story that would call to me, and I like to think that I would read it if I found it on my own.

The book came from a dream, written about previously here. The post is password protected, and I would tell anyone about to go back and read it that while that dream was the genesis of the idea, what has come from it is far different. And that’s a good thing. What has begun to rise from the memory of that dream is something infinitely better. Well, that’s my opinion anyway.

I wanted to throw out the introduction for you as it currently stands. There are still a lot of questions, and surely much that will change over time, but this is a start.

Enjoy!

The elevator cage closed with a crash, and he heard the audible click of the lock snapping together.

Peter stared blankly across the crowded area. No one spoke aside from the occasional whimpers and worries for what was below. He could hardly believe that he was here.

His family had tried to keep him from the Pits, but he had heard the whispers.

“We just can’t keep him any longer. It’s either him or all of us,” his dad had muttered on quiet nights when Peter was supposed to be asleep. “But he’s our son…,” had been the somber reply. “I know….”

Those words haunted Peter now. I know….

Still, even hearing those whispers, he had hoped that the words were nothing more than the half-spoken fears of parents figuring out what to do. How to keep him. He had never expected that those words would ever amount to anything more than that.

With a crunch, the cable began to pass through the gearbox and the elevator descended. The metal guides screeched quietly against the rail as the car dropped through the shaft. A few people began to openly cry, though most could do little but stare mutely at nothing. Peter could hear their silence.

I know…. An unspoken—and broken—promise that no matter what, no matter how hard, he had that trust; that commitment that he’d be safe.

The car continued to creak as it fell deeper down the shaft. Peter noted the soft clicks the wheels made each time they passed over a seam in the rail. It was impossible to know for sure, but they had to be several hundred feet down by now, if not more.

Much more.

The pits were said to be several thousand feet below ground, constructed from salt domes. In certain places, salt would form a dome deep beneath the surface of the earth, and engineers had learned to carve those domes out. Often, the domes were used to store oil, but they hadn’t been used for that since the Crash. Most of the domes weren’t much more than a few hundred meters in any direction, but there were some truly massive domes that were much larger. During the Crash, these had been hastily converted into Pits.

He envied most of the others in the car. He could tell that many were at least with others. Those they loved. He could hear the gentle assurance of husbands comforting wives, mothers comforting children. The last he had heard from his own mother was her crying in her room and his dad saying it’d be alright. Like the other times, he was supposed to be asleep then, too.

Peter’s trial had been swift, his public defender making little defense and no one standing up to claim him, not even his parents who had simply dropped him off with the Dredgers and then quickly left. The judge had asked him if he understood what it meant that no one had claimed him. Peter didn’t bother to look around. “I know.”

I know…. The words had condemned him. A verbal recognition that not only was he completely alone but that he had only one path forward.

The Pits. Into the black.

As a child, his mother would often tell him that sometimes he needed to step into the dark in order to see the path in front of him, that sometimes fear of the dark would make it so that he was too scared to try anything or to do anything. At first, he had believed completely in those words, trusting that he would see. Then, as he grew older, he had begun to doubt. “How can I see?” he’d ask.

“Trust me. When the time comes, you’ll see. When it really matters, you’ll know.”

The car continued to drop down the shaft. Peter had long since stopped paying attention to the sounds the machines made as they crunched the cable through the gears, instead listening to the tense conversations around him. He could feel the pressure in the car, and although no one moved and he had plenty of room to stand, he could sense the crushing weight of earth and emotion.

The air in the car had grown thick, musty with the scent of fear and worry, as though every passing second added to the dark. The blackness had never scared him, and the truth was that he didn’t know any better to let it. The world outside of his parents had always been one of deep shadow and unknowing, and he had long grown used to the idea that hoping beyond the immediate future was short-sighted at best. But within that circle of safety, the world was bright and open.

Until it wasn’t.

The elevator came to a sharp halt that sent Peter and the others grasping for support. The door slid open loudly, crashing against an unseen wall.

“Out! Out now!”

The voice was harsh and loud after the stifled elevator car. Peter and the others slowly moved out of the car onto the hard earth of the Pits.

“Over there for sorting!” called the voice, and Peter moved with the group forward.

“Men over there, women and children that way!”

Peter stood still, though those around him moved out. Soon he was alone.

“You there! I said go that way!”

Peter just stood there.

Pounding footsteps approached him, cursing him. “I said MOVE!” Peter felt the blow long before it landed, but he was still surprised. He crumpled to the ground as the man continued to yell at him.

“That’s enough, Cain,” said a quiet voice.

Cain stepped back, and Peter felt a hand on his shoulder. It was firm, but gentle. “What’s the matter, son? Did you not hear the directions?”

“Yes,” replied Peter. “Yes, but I don’t know where to go.”

The man muttered softly. “Look at me…. Ah,” he said as understanding set in. Peter felt the touch of the man’s hand change. The gentle grasp softened more. The voice took on a feeling of regret. Almost pity.  “Well, this is an easy one. Cain, move him over to Processing.”

Cain roughly grabbed Peter, set him on his feet, and pushed him forward.

“Sorry, kid,” the man called. I know, Peter thought as he was led away.

Some time later, Peter was thrown into a trench, not quite dead yet. His body was sore, the pain not quite high enough to turn everything numb, but far too significant to ignore. As his life came to an end, he remembered his mother’s promise—When the time comes, you’ll see. When it really matters, you’ll know.

And he finally did. As he died, he finally saw that the world had no place for a blind boy. No use for him. I know… was his last thought. Then everything truly went black.

 

Posted in Dave-isms, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Winter Bee Deaths

I suppose it was bound to happen eventually; I lost all of my hives.

I had suspected that the weaker one was doomed all along, but I was so sure that the big hive was going to do just fine. They had a bit of a varroa nightmare going into the fall, but I medicated for the first time in many years and was otherwise feeling confident. I went out the other day to see what was going on, and not a peep. I cracked the top of both hives, and there in the front on both hives was the remains of a tiny, frozen cluster.

My early guess is that they honey chamber was a bit too spread out, and they got caught between honey stores as they tried moving to a new spot. Very frustrating and discouraging!

A few weeks back my dad called me to tell me that he was dropping his hives. He’s getting to an age where the weight of the boxes plus the heat of the summer was causing difficulty for him, and it was the right choice. Talking with him made me wonder about my own hives. I enjoy keeping bees, but I’m also less willing to put forth the serious effort that they sometimes require. So do I stop, take a break, or start over?

Part of me feels like a short break of a year or two would be the right choice, but I also recognize that a short break might became a long break. Probably will become a long break if I’m being honest.

So do I start over this year? Sigh… I don’t know. Bees are pricey to start over, and I don’t care for that part of it all. My success rate with a package is only about 50% as well, and I’m not too excited to pour money down the drain. I’m debating baiting the hives and trying to attract a swarm. I’m also debating replacing all my equipment.

Then again, I could sell it all off and just be done for awhile.

So my fellow beeks, what have you done when you started debating the “do I keep going” question?

Posted in Bees | 2 Comments

Protected: Year 12

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Posted in Dave-isms, On the Home Front, Woman!

The Hopes and Fears of All the Years

Merry Christmas!

I woke up this morning and was immediately filled with a deep sense of peace and joy. I love this season of celebration and family and friends and gospel. As I pondered on the feeling, I had clearly in my minds eye that trip so long ago from the hills of Nazareth to the humble village of Bethlehem. I pondered the many miracles–probably small in the eyes of most and maybe not even miracles in the eyes of some–that led to a simple stable with a simple manger. I love the story of His birth.

As I thought, the words from the hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem came into my mind, particular this line:

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Hope makes sense. The Savior brought with Him an incredible feeling of hope for many who had waited long for His arrival. We, like the Jews of old, look forward to the time when He will come again. We hope on the thought that He will lift us from grief and pain. We hope for the gifts of salvation and healing that He brings.

But fear? Why was fear there that night?

As I pondered that idea, I came to feel that fear was not a towering power that night. It was the weakness and worry that we all carry with us. That night, it came as a humble lamb to witness what it saw as opportunity.

I think of my own fears and worries. So much of what scares me about the future, about the success of my children, and about the direction of the world can be tied up in that same fear. It’s not a fear that diminishes me or binds me. It’s a fear that pleads for help from the Source of all good help.

There were many witnesses that night, be them shepherds or angels. Carpenters or mothers. Hope and fear. Faithful hope and pleading fear.

Merry Christmas!

Posted in Dave-isms, Religion | Leave a comment