Sunday, September 22, 2013

Starting an Old Project Anew

Have you ever laid a project down for only a short time and then the short time became three years? Several years ago, I started a very intense religious project which entailed watching at least five Christian sermons a week, attending humanist meetings, interviewing a witch, learning some Greek and reading the Bible on a daily basis. Did I gain anything from my obsession with religion? Not on a spiritual level... but I can beat out most Christians in Bible trivia games :)

A friend of mine has encouraged me to continue my Bible reading project and publish my work into an e-book or make it available for the general public in some other way. I did put a tremendous amount of work into writing a summaries of my daily Bible readings and it was somewhat enjoyable, but I lost interest after about 400 articles and other more pressing issues got in the way.    

The following is an excerpt taken from my previous blog: 

Day 36

2 Kings 14 – I Chronicles
I know it has been a while since my last reading of the Bible in chronological order with a summary. The last reading ended with the death of Elisha. I do read the Bible almost daily. When I can’t read it, I have portions of it memorized to meditate over. One of the most profound books that I have read recently is “The Way to God” by Gandhi. It is a book about the beliefs he held. I borrowed it from the University library, and a girl had underlined a few portions in purple ink with “Jesus” written in bubble letters in the margins. At one point she wrote “Jesus or Paul?” Gandhi was greatly influenced by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and that is evident in his beliefs and actions. If the girl who had marked in the book had been paying attention, she would have noticed that on nearly every page Jesus was quoted. I know from reading about Leo Tolstoy that Gandhi and he had written several letters to one another. Tolstoy was also profoundly influenced by the Sermon on the Mount and the synoptic gospels. Neither one of the men are considered Christians or even considered themselves Christians. In the forward of “The Way to God” Gandhi’s grandson had the following statement:

When Grandfather confessed to his Christian friends how much he was impressed by the Sermon on the Mount he was asked, “Why don’t you become a Christian?” “When you convince me that all Christians live according to the Sermon on the Mount, I will be the first to change my religion,” he responded.

Later in the Introduction of the book quotes Gandhi as saying:

“One day a British cleric, well known for his imperialistic persuasion, found himself face to face with Mahatma Gandhi. Wishing to paper over their differences, he is said to have remarked, “Well, we’re both men of God, Mr. Gandhi aren’t we?” “You are a politician disguised as a man of God,” the Mahatma replied. “I am a man of God disguised as a politician.”

I have included a picture of the Bible that I read from. When my mother cleaned out my grandparent’s house she found this Bible. My grandparents had a lot of things, so she would run across a Bible occasionally. She put most of them in her antique booth writing the word “free” on it. Every time she has done that the Bible has been picked up within a week. She found this one in a box of stuff and asked if I wanted it. It was just the Bible that I wanted for this project. I have several New Testaments from the Gideon’s and some other versions, but I wanted the red letter edition KJV. I was looking at the first page and this Bible used to belong to someone else, a woman named Tammy, who was presented the Bible on June 5, 2002. I don’t know of anyone by that name and have no idea how it came into my grandparents' possession. Tammy didn’t mark in any section of the Bible or dog-ear the pages. When I first obtained the Bible in Christmas of 2009, the only thing to indicate that it wasn’t a brand new Bible was the white-out name and a small tear on the front cover. Since I have had it, the margins have little sun symbols indicating portions of solar myths, spaghetti stains are in it, some corners have been folded, the ribbon is a little frayed at the bottom, the gold lettering on the front is chipping and one of the blank pages now lists the Jewish calendar. The only thing missing is my name in the front.

The reading tonight is interesting in that it presents a kind of battle between the earth religions that were worshipped at the time and the God that is presented in the Old Testament. They believed in many gods but could only worship one. It is interesting to read how these “competitions” between gods were viewed. There is also a cryptic passage involving 10 degrees, and I think that has to do with the sun. Something called “The Book of the Law” is found which means it was lost. King Josiah seems to have been a fervent follower of the book and destroyed all idols.

Tammy's name was whited-out by someone else. I should write my own name there, just in case I leave it somewhere. I don't want all of my notes in the margins to be lost.

Amaziah, king of Judah – Amaziah was the son of Joash. He was 25 and reigned for 29 years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan. He did right in the sign of the Lord but left the “high places” for the people to worship at. As soon as he was king, he killed the servants who had killed his father. This is an odd passage, “And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.” Jehoash took Amaziah at Beth-shemesh and broke down 400 cubits of the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate. Jehoash stole the gold and silver that were in the temple and took hostages and returned to Samaria. Here again, we are missing much of the story because the rest of it are found in the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. The Bible itself writes that it is incomplete.
Jeroboam II, King of Israel – Jeroboam was the son of Joash and reigned 41 years over Israel. He did that which was evil in sight of the Lord. I’m not exactly sure what he did that was evil…
Azariah, King of Judah – Azariah became a king at 16 years old and reigned for 52 years. He did what was right in sight of the Lord. He did as his father, Amaziah, had done and also did not remove the high places of worship. God gave him leprosy.
Zechariah, King of Israel – He was the son of Jeroboam and did evil. Shallum, the son of Jabesh killed him before the people and reigned in his place. “This was the word of the Lord which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.”
Shallum, King of Israel – He reigned for a month until, Menahem, the son of Gadi came from Tirzah and killed him. Menahem then killed people from Tirzah because “they had not opened up to him.” He also killed   “all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.”
Menahem, King of Israel – He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord following in the sins of Jeroboam.
Pekahiah, King of Israel – He was the son of Menahem. Pekahiah was killed by Pekah.
Pekah, King of Israel – Pekah was the son of Remaliah. Hoshea killed him and reigned in his place.
Jotham, King of Judah – He reigned 16 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerusha who was the daughter of Zadok (I like that name). He did that which was right but he did not remove the high places.
Ahaz, King of Judah – He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. This is an odd passage, “But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel.” He also sacrificed and burnt offering in high places and on the hills and under every green tree. King Ahaz traveled to Damascus to meet with the king of Assyria, Tiglath-pileser. Ahaz saw an altar there that he liked and had one built by, Urijah, a priest.
Samaria Captured by Assyria – Hoshea reigned in Samaria over Israel for 9 years. He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Shalmaneser, king of Assyria fought against Israel. Hoshea became his friend and gave him presents. The king of Assyria found a conspiracy in Hoshea and that he sent messengers to So, king of Egypt. Shalmanser did not receive a present from Hoshea when So did as Hoshea had normally given him a present. Shalmanser put Hoshea in prison and besieged Samaria for 3 years taking Israel away into Assyria.
The Sins of Israel and Judah – It is said that they walked in the statues of the heathen and they feared other gods. They set up images in groves and on every high hill and under every green tree. They burnt incense in high places, made molten images and 2 calves. It is said that they worshipped all the host of heaven and served Baal. They made their sons and daughters pass through the fire and used divination and enchantments and also sold themselves to do evil.
Israel Resettled with Assyrians – Lions were sent by God to kill some in Assyria. It lists the gods of the various nations and how some were worshipped.
Hezekiah, King of Judah – Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and did right in the sight of the Lord. He removed the high places and broke the images and cut down the grove and broke the brazen serpent that Moses had made. It was called Nehushtan. Hezekiah did give the king of Assyria all the silver from the temple and the treasures of the king’s house. He also cut the gold from the doors of the temple and from the pillars and gave that to the king of Assyria.
The Assyrian Threats – The king of Assyria threatened war with Hezekiah. There is a weird threat in this passage… “But Rab-shaketh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to they master, and to thee, to speak these words? Hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?”
Hezekiah Sends to Isaiah – Hezekiah goes to pray in the temple. The servants go and ask Isaiah about the situation with the Assyrian king and he tells them to not be afraid.
Hezekiah’s Prayer – Hezekiah received a letter from the messengers and took it to the altar. He prayed to the God “which dwellest between the cherubims.” He asks for God to save his land and that he is afraid of Assyria because they have conquered so many other gods. He says, “Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God even thou only.”
The Divine Deliverance – Isaiah said that God had heard the prayer. There are many signs that will be given and the whole passage is written in symbolism. An angel of the Lord killed 125,000 of the Assyrians. King Sennacherib of Assyria was killed by his sons while worshipping the deity Nisroch.
The Sickness of Hezekiah – Hezekiah was told that by God that he was going to die and for him to set his house in order. Hezekiah was very depressed and cried. Isaiah then heard from God to tell Hezekiah that he would be healed and live for another 15 years. Isaiah boiled a bunch of figs and gave it to Hezekiah and he recovered. Very interesting passage that probably has to do with the sun “And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day? And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.”
Hezekiah’s Foolishness – Berodach-baladan, king of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah because he had heard that he was sick. Hezekiah showed them all the wealth that he had. Isaiah asked him what he had shown them and he said that he had showed them everything. Isaiah then said that everything would be carried away to Babylon and that there would be eunuchs in the palace of Babylon.
Manasseh, King of Judah – He was the son of Hezekiah and reigned at the age of 12 for 55 years. He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. He built altars in high places and for Baal. For Manasseh’s evil ways God says “I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.”
Amon, King of Judah – Amon was the son of Manasseh and also did evil in the sight of the Lord.
The Book of the Law Found – Josiah was 8 years old when he began to reign. He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. He sent, Shaphan, a scribe to go to the house of the Lord and bring the high priest, Hilkiah, silver to pay the repairers of the temple. Hilkiah said that he had found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. He gave the book to Shaphan and he read it. Shaphan then brought the book (scroll) to the king and he read it to the king. When the king heard the words he rent his clothes and commanded many men to “Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.” They then speak to a prophetess who tells them that God will bring evil upon that place because they have forsaken God. She also says that since Josiah was faithful he would not see the evil that was to come.
The Renewal of the Covenant – The king gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem and brought them to the house of the Lord so they could hear the words of the book of the covenant. Josiah burned all the things in the temple that were made for Baal. He put down the priests that had“burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the hosts of heaven.” It also says “And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove.” He broke the Topheth which held the place where parents would make their children pass through the fire of Molech.  Josiah died in battle at Megiddo.
Jehoahaz, King of Judah – He was the son of Josiah and did evil in the sight of the Lord. He reighend 3 months. He was kidnapped by Pharaoh-nechoh of Egypt. Eliakim, the other son of Josia was made king in his place. Eliakim’s name was changed to Johoiakim.
Jehoiakim, King of Judah – He did that which was evil in the sight of the lord. Nebuchadnezzar was king in Babylon at the time.
Jehoiachin, King of Judah – He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. King Nebuchadnezzar kidnapped the royalty in Jerusalem. He brought thousands of craftsmen to Babylon and all the skilled workers and soldiers.
Jerusalem Destroyed – The city was besieged while King Zedekiah reigned. The house of the Lord was burned. The poor of the land were left to be vinedressers and husbandmen. Anything of value was stolen by the Babylonians.

Jehoiachin in Captivity – When Jehoiachin had been captive for 37 years the new king of Babylon, Evil-merodach, took him out of prison. He gave him a throne with him in Babylon and gave him new clothes, a salary and fed him well for the rest of his life.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Underemployed Overtime

A raised bed, fireplace, rocking chair and desk were all considered luxuries at one time.

Sometimes I feel overworked from my job as a server at a popular non-chain restaurant, but then I immediately feel a little guilty because I meet so many people who are unemployed or underemployed and would love to have a well-paying job which would allow them to work overtime. My beekeeping mentor (who is in his mid-fifties) works in a factory and has the same problem with the least amount of time he has worked in the past three months has been a 60hr week. Why are some people working overtime when there are so many people out of work and those wanting to work more hours? I would be financially ok with working only 30hrs a week at my current rate of pay. My job could easily support two of me, and yet my employer chooses to employee one me and is legally obligated to pay overtime. It would make more financial sense for my employer to hire a second person and not pay overtime.

What are the problems with hiring a new server?

I have come up with a few answers:

1.       Despite popular belief, not everyone can wait tables and be successful at it. I make excellent money at it because I’m fairly personable and have a good memory.
2.       Not everyone can be on call to go to work whenever someone quits or doesn’t show up. Usually people working in restaurants do not give a two-week notice or in many cases someone will get angry and quit mid-shift.
3.       Failing the background check or having a bad reputation will result in someone not being hired. I live in an area where everyone knows everyone else. Once someone is labeled as a thief in one restaurant it is nearly impossible to get a job at any of the nearby restaurants.

According to Wikipedia, I fall into the category of underemployed. One of the stipulations for being an underemployed individual is to be overqualified or overeducated for a particular job. I have a degree in biology and could work as a high school teacher but currently I make more money as a server than I would as an entry-level teacher. Does taking a job in which I’m educationally overqualified for but making a higher income still qualify me as underemployed? I don’t feel underemployed…

A person’s attitude toward work is relative to their particular situation. A 30hr workweek would work well for me because I spend so little money and I also place a high value on my personal time. Recently I had a conversation with a woman who works for a large retail corporation and is only allowed to work 28hrs per week. She is paid minimum wage and often has to fight for what she considers meager hours. She doesn’t even like her job and complains about it quite often. I pay attention to what people say to me and came to discover she and her husband frequent a high-class restaurant on a weekly basis. I know the restaurant fairly well and have eaten there a few times so I’m aware of the prices. She was telling me how great the meals are and I agreed because the food is excellent. Judging by the food she was bragging about, I figured she spent about $70 per week just eating and drinking at that one restaurant. The restaurant is an hour away which would cost an additional $10 just in gas. Minimum wage is only $7.25/hr and a large chunk of that is taken away for taxes which may mean she is only making approximately $6.00/hr in take-home pay. At that low rate of pay, a nice weekly dinner of approximately $80 will really cost her 13.333hrs of her working time. In her situation she is not making nearly enough money because she spends too much time working for the luxury of hiring someone to prepare her food. I can fully understand why she complains about not working enough hours because she isn’t making enough money to meet her standard of living.

That being said, it would be very difficult for me to only earn minimum wage. I would have to work more hours to make up the gap in what I consider to financially meet my “needs.” I put needs in quotations because all we really need as humans is food, shelter and clothing (sometimes optional). I can almost guarantee that if I started wandering around in public naked, someone would quickly find some clothes for me to wear and then I would be taken to a shelter where I would be given food. My basic needs would quickly be met by others within a few minutes. Mainly what we say are needs should really be classified as modern luxuries and wants.    

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Muir's Spectacles

I love John Muir’s book, “Nature Writings” because it is nice to see the world through his eyes. I sometimes forget how beautiful the world is and how it is such a miracle to simply exist. Muir always tells the seemingly mundane natural occurrences with such wonder and curiosity. It is impossible to not follow him in his fascination with nature. I’m so grateful that he wrote down his views of the world. His adult faith was a type of Pantheism in which he saw the mind of God in the natural order of the world. I find it amazing that he developed such a rich view of the natural world, even when his father seemed to be blinded by Christian fanaticism.

Dick’s “Christian Philosopher,” which I borrowed from a neighbor, I thought I might venture to read in the open, trusting that the word “Christian” would be proof against its cautious condemnation. But father balked at the word “Philosopher,” and quoted from the Bible verse which spoke of “philosophy falsely so-called.” I then ventured to speak in defense of the book, arguing that we could not do without at least a little of the most useful kinds of philosophy.

“Yes, we can,” he said with enthusiasm, “the Bible is the only book human beings can possibly require throughout all the journey from earth to heaven.”

“But how,” I contended, “can we find the way to heaven without the Bible, and how after we grow old can we read the Bible without a little helpful science? Just think, father, you cannot read your Bible without spectacles, and millions of others are in the same fix; and spectacles cannot be made without some knowledge of the science of optics.”

“Oh!” he replied, perceiving the drift of the argument, “there will always be plenty of worldly people to make spectacles.”

To this I stubbornly replied with a quotation from the Bible with reference to the time coming when “all shall know the Lord from the least even to the greatest,” and then who will make the spectacles? But he still objected to my reading that book, called me a contumacious quibbler too fond of disputation, and ordered me to return it to the accommodating owner.

August Food List

August Food Cost

January Total: $39.48
February Total: $43.39
March Total: $35.51
April: $33.91
May: $39.11
June: $28.59
July: $22.39
August $12.56
Year Total: $360.27
Total Remaining: $4.73

I have become more lax on which foods I count in my total cost. My neighbor recently opened an organic coffee shop so I did not count the two days I ate at his shop. I also didn't count family meals because it is something fairly rare. I worked nearly every day this month and working at a restaurant cuts food costs dramatically with many days of only eating food at work. I feel fortunate to work at a place with such high quality food that has fresh vegetables.

So far, I'm not having any negative health changes due to eating meat almost every day. I still feel fairly healthy, but next month I need to add more vegetables.

food grown by me
locally sourced
my bees or from bees I know

August Food List

1st - 1-1/2c potatoes, 1/4c tomatoes, 1/8c bell peppers, scallion, 3 eggscr, butter, pancakes (bisquik, egg, milk), syrup, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: canolli, spaghetti bolagnese, lemonade) (DG: $1.35 milk)
2nd - strawberry freezer jam, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (family: turkey, pound cake, potatoes) (work: meatloaf, bread, butter, zucchini)
3rd - strawberry freezer jam, 1c potatoes, butter (family: pound cake) (work: stromboli w/ sausage&pepperoni, bread, butter, chicken, cucumber, tomato, lemonade)
4th - 1/4c tomatoes, bell pepper, 3 eggomlt, cheddar, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (craft show: 2 turkey sandwiches $2.00)(outback w/ aunt&uncle: bloomin' onion, steak, fries, broccoli, carrots; starbucks: mocha frappiccino)
5th - 1c potatoes, scallion, 1-1/2c fried squash (oil, house autry, egg), butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee, 1/3 box choc cake mix, lemonade
6th - mac&chs, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (GO: $0.59 mac&chs, choc cake mix $1.00) (work: lemonade, pasta, marinara)
7th - waffles (bisquik, milk, egg) syrup, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken wings, potatoes, coffee, bday cake, pizza, lemonade)
8th - 1/4c tomatoes, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter (work: hamburger patty, onions, coffee, honey, lemonade, sprite, bread, butter, soup)
9th - 1/3 choc cake box, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: spaghetti, lemonade, bread, butter)
10th - 1/4c tomato, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter (work: pizza, coffee, honey, chicken herbs, salad, brea, butter, root beer)
12th - (work: chicken, potatoes, pizza, coffee, honey, root beer, canolli)
13th - (work sort of competition: chicken parm sandwich, canolli, chips) (work: baked penne, lemonade)
14th - (family: beef roast, potatoes, corn) (work: chicken, peppers, lemonade, bread, butter)
15th - 2 ears corn, 1/4c tomatoes, scallion, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee  (snickers, baby ruth $2.00) (work: penne, bolanase, bread, butter, lemonade)
16th - 2 ears corn, 1/4c tomatoes, scallion, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee, 1/3 choc cake mix (oil, egg) (work: chicken, potatoes, lemonade, bday cake)
17th - 2 ears corn, 2 cucumbers, 1c raspberries, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: hamburger patty, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, lemnade, red velvet cake)
18th - 1/8c bell pepper, scallion, 1/4c tomatoes, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter, 2tsp honey, 2 pots coffee, mac&chs, reeces (GO: mac&chs $0.59, reeces $1.00)
19th - 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (walmart: turkey sandwich: $3.24) (work: penne, cheese sauce, lemonade, canolli)
20th - 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: pizza, root beer, coffee, sugar, canolli, chicken-ham wrap, potatoes)
21st - (work: pizza, chicken wing, spaghetti, bread, butter, salad)
22nd - (work: soup, bread, butter, talapia, eggplant parmigana, penne, marinara, lemonade, coffee, sugar, cappucinno)
23rd - 1/4c tomatoes, bell pepper, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter, 1/3 choc cake mix (oil, egg) (Justin's: cappuccino, coffee, agave, cherry danish) (work: chicken herbs, zucchini, tomto, pizza, lemonade)
24th - (work: soup, pizza, bread, butter, lemonade, baked penne)
25th - chinese w/ family
26th - 1/4c tomatoes, 2 eggscr, 1c potatoes, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken picatta, salad)
27th - cherokee restaurant: turkey wrap and got very sick
28th - (work: spaghetti, chicken , broccoli, peppers, lemonade)
29th - (work: chicken, salad, lemonade)
30th - (gas staton: juice $0.79) (justin's: mocha, cherry pastry) (work: potatoes, chicken, lemonade)
31st- (family: tea, sugar, rice krispies, bisquick waffles, syrup) (work: potatoes, chicken, pizza, coke)