Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Done with that Thick Book on Shamanism!

Okay, I've finally completed something that has been a long time coming. It seems like I've been reading Mircea Eliade's book Shamanism" since I was a little kid. Now I know it has been only a a couple months of start and go reading with lots of underlining and thought as I read, but it still seems like longer.

Yea, I am done, and now I am starting to write my thoughts out about the book at Square No More.

This book is over 50 years old, but still is a great read from a religious historian who writes about shamanism. I will be writing about Jesus, and how He quintessentially answers the search for those looking for hope in the shaman.

The book is a great read. Interested? You can order it below.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Catching up with Iolo Morganwg

Yep, I've been caught reading and eating, reading and walking, and just plain reading too much this week. I feel better, and less guilty about not getting enough reading in. I had better not start reading about someone who prays untold hours each day - then I will develop another guilt complex.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Iolo Morganwg and Feeling Bad About Not Being Able to read Enough

I can not find a copy of the old drawing of the Iolo Marganwg, which I saw yesterday in a book by Ronald Hutton entitled "The Druids," so this is the best I could recapture for now.

Iolo is the founder of modern bardic philosophy and culture as we know it, especially in the nation of Wales. His name is actually Edward, and of course, as a Bard it goes without saying that he must have another name - a real name that is.

My point is this: Iolo was walking and reading at the same time. I remember I used to do that often. I have not done it in some time, but I have so much reading to catch up on, that I thought that I must return to reading and walking.

Of course, doing that kind of thing is what made my mother call me the absent-minded professor when I was a little kid. The absent-mindedness has never left me, so I might as well return to the professorial quirkiness of reading and walking, and other such oddities.

This actually was the kind of moment we evangelicals call a moment of "conviction." I think.

Writer's Block and Tiredness

So, do I have writer's block, because I am so busy, and often tired, or do I have writer's block, because I am now over 50, and getting dumber?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Disgrace of an Election Cycle? I think so.

Today's Wall Street Journal Article by Jeffery Scott Shapiro marks my own feelings better than I can describe. From both the left and the right this has been the worst electoral campaign I have seen in my life. With the exception of McCain's acceptance and concession speeches everything has smacked of partisan bickering, and exaggerated fear tactics. Unfortunately most of it has been leveled at Bush. I have been ashamed at times of my own Christian brethren who have joined the rancerous banter of Bush bashing. Should we all be ashamed of ourselves? Read the article here. Could it be that those who behave in this manner are part of the problem in American politics - not part of the answer?

Why I Voted for McCain

I really leaned toward writing in Ben Stein, but decided that I would vote McCain at the end. What I saw in his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, and what I saw last night in the concession speech make me realize that I made the right vote. These are the things I expect in politics:

Monday, November 03, 2008

Boston Legal, Calling People Stupid and The Sickness of Politics in America

I just finished watching Boston Legal. It was not simply television entertainment, but a horrendously biased commercial for Barrack Obama. This is the second experience in the last few days, which has disgusted me about politics, and the human heart.

A couple days ago, I had a discussion with a man who is intelligent, works with people in government positions, and was born in the Netherlands. He said that he can not believe how stupid Americans are. This was based upon Americans choosing Republicans in their electoral choices.

Should Boston Legal be forced to charge Barrack Obama tens of millions of dollars for the commercial time they gave to him?

Should every person who continues to use the tired old argumentum ad hominem of stupidity as the only reason one would vote Republican be called on the carpet for being stupid enough to use that argument? (Republicans occasionally use that argument, but it is normally the Democrats who use it, and it is unfortunately all too common to hear in the Boston area.)

I am sure that politics are sick in every country, but it has reached unbelievable proportions, and this has been the worst Presidential election for people being divided and cruel I have seen in my voting days, which began in 1976.

Both parties declare themselves to be the agents of change. They have both proven that they do not have what it takes to change the politics of the age, because neither of them have run a different kind of campaign. Positive change still seems a long ways off to me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Favorite Article about Bailout Plan

Just had to link to this. Now this is thinking that I can identify with. It is kind of harsh sounding, but it makes sense to me. Maybe the first thing that has made sense in all this economic talk yet.

Do you think that bankruptcy may indeed be the answer to the problem instead of being the big fearful monster to avoid?

My Thoughts on Bailout Plan Failure

Barney Frank says that Republicans were offended by Nancy Pelosi's partisan speech about the bailout plan, and so decided to punish the American people. I say, muzzle Barney, please.

In the final tally, 140 Democrats and 65 Republicans voted in support, while 95 Democrats and 133 Republicans voted against it. That is bipartisan rejection! Were 95 Democrats offended by Nancy? No. These are people who really had a problem with the bill.

I love this reporter's notebook view of the moments before the vote. Don't get uppity you anti-Fox News People. This is a great article of those few moments.

The Democratic Congressman from our region, John Tierney voted against the plan. Yeah John! One Democratic Congressman who voted against it, whose name I can not remember said that something this large should take more than 9 days to consider, because the best we could get is a bad plan. I'm with him.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Who's Grandstanding Now?

"Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made their case for the bailout plan Wednesday in a closed-door meeting with House Republicans. Those who were there said lawmakers voiced new doubts, and said their constituents are overwhelmingly opposed.

House GOP leader John Boehner said Americans are "furious" that they're being asked to put up $700 billion. But he added that Congress "has a responsibility to act," and that he hopes a bipartisan deal can be reached.

A Republican said only four of his GOP colleagues raised their hands during the meeting when asked how many of them supported the plan. Tom Davis of Virginia said it's a "terrible plan," but that he hasn't "heard anything better.""

Above quote comes from this article on the 24 of September - three days ago.

Now, there has been talk from Democrats like Barney Frank (from my state) who have been saying that McCain's short reprise from his campaign was grandstanding. Yet Barney, and Chris Dodd and others have been saying that the Republicans who disagreed with the bailout plan should have stated something before everyone sat down at the table.

Okay, if their disagreement was public knowledge before they sat down together, who's grandstanding now?

I had mentioned on my other blog that this political season was having me wanting to move to Wales, and and join a peaceful Free Wales movement (simply to have something to really care about). Things haven't changed - except this, I will post my political thoughts on this blog from now on, and I think I'm leaning right on the bailout plan.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Life with Forrest

A few weeks back our ol' buddy Forrest the three legged Greyhound contracted an infection in his remaining back leg. Within a couple short days the infection spread throughout his entire back leg. The leg was compromised having had surgery when he lost his other leg in the surgery back on Halloween '06. We miss him desperately, but after a few days watching the progress of the infection knew we would have to say goodbye to him. That's him smiling big above.

Holly is pictured with him, and she is adapting to life without Forrest. She howls when we leave her at home alone, and snuggles up real close to us in the bed. We adopted Forrest and Holly together, and they had been ever together since they both retired from the racetracks about 8 years ago.

Forrest had really become my buddy. The last two years were filled with caring for him as he recovered from his accident, and the lessons I learned about life while caring for him are far more valuable to me than they were to him I am sure.

If animals end up in heaven, of which I do not have a theological consideration one way or the other, I will want to sit down with Forrest and spend some time hanging out with him long before I will want to visit the typical heroes of my faith like Paul the Apostle, Petr Chelcicky, John Huss, or Harald Bredesen.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Loving Living in Salem

Many of my friends are Witches and Pagans of various types. Tonight some of them gathered for a Pagan Pub Crawl here in Salem.

There were a few new faces, and a few people I have met before but have not gotten to know well. I spent time talking with a Witch who for years practiced being both a Witch and a Christian (first Fundamentalist Baptist, then Greek Orthodox), but gave up trying to be Christian, because "it didn't work." Another woman told of receiving a letter from her sister in law filled with clippings from Chick Tracts. Then I met the owner of the new tattoo parlor here in Salem. The parlor owner was not a Pagan, but perhaps a Buddhist, or maybe a Thelemite. There were discussions of life and death rituals in ancient religious cultures, and discussions about the variety of experiences which Pagans have had with other Christians.

All in all it was a good night with friends who are far different than myself, and who walk in a world not my own. At one point someone mentioned Amsterdam, and suggested that although he loved the city, it probably would not be a city I would feel comfortable living in. I suggested that might be the very reason I would like it all the more. I do believe it is true that I would be quite bored in an environment in which everyone was just like me. After all - I do live in Salem, and I love it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Glossalalia (Tongues) My Tiny Miracle in Spanish

Tonight I had a weird, but wonderful experience. I spoke Spanish. Okay, I know that millions of people speak Spanish, but I do not. Well, I know a few words like "Mas leche por favor," "taco," and "via con Dios." Perhaps a hundred words of Spanish might be found in my vocabulary if I thought about it hard and long, but that's what happens when you've been to Mexico, and lived near the Mexican border most of your life.

Yet my experience speaking Spanish was unknown to me until after it happened, and it occurred in a spontaneous moment of worship during our Sunday evening service. As a group we spent sometime singing improvisationally to a worship song, simply creating words of praise from our hearts. I sang in tongues during this time, and when the song ended Carlos asked if I knew that I was worshiping in Spanish.

Cool. I have been praying each morning this week about receiving the gift of interpretation of tongues, and then added that I would also like to speak in languages of this earth which I have never learned. Is this the beginning to answering that prayer? I dunno.

Skepticism can be had on this issue, but all I know is that it was weird and cool, all at once, and I am thinking that God was doing something unique among the small group at church tonight.

For more on the experience see the post at our church blog.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lakeland 2.0 - Testimonials and Comments from Salem Outpouring

The Salem Outpouring is a small version of Lakeland. I guess that would be Lakeland 2.0 in mini version at the moment.

People responded to my last post about the Salem Outpouring, and I thought it might be nice to post their experiences here. So here it goes, unedited, but perhaps with a comment or two from the peanut gallery (me).

"I was there from 7 to about 9:45, when the message was underway, so I didn't see any of what you describe. However, I do think I ought to say that the previous 2+ hours of worship, in particular a very tender and powerful sharing of the Eucharist early on, were amazing. I more or less see the narrative motivating events like these, and the "This Is It" hype, as a discardable part of that religious culture.... but I'm sure that would be harder to do for people who've been inside it." (the commenter is an episcopal priest and comfortable all types of religious settings)

This next person visited on the same night as well.

"Thank you, Pastor Phil, for your thoughtful story -- and, wow, what an incredible photo of the surfer and the wave.

Most of the people at revivals and outpourings are not there to receive physical healings or to witness them. They are there because they are radically in love with Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior, the God who became a human being and walked among us, took the hit for us by dying on the Crsss. Why? He is radically in love with us. We want more of Him. We love because He loved us first.

Pastor Phil, you are an observant and articulate person. You must have noticed, for example, how much the ushers extend themselves to help with the needs of any visitors. I attended on Friday night, too, the same as you. I asked my companion, "Are you thirsty? I'll go get us some water."

An usher overheard us and came back with two bottles of water. No charge.

Jesus bless you."

This next post came from someone from our church who visited two nights after my own visit.

"I went to this event tonight because a friend of mine called me, someone I used to sit side by side in church and haven't now for a year and a half, I've missed her and others that I love. It was wonderful to be there again and see a few familiar faces enjoying the vibrant crowd praising God. For me, worshiping God among those I have relationship with is powerful. Praying for healing for those I know, or recieiving prayer from those that know me personally make it real.

There are things that make it hard for me to worship in the setting tonight...but I just kept praying that God would increase his truth, his word, and his glory, and decrease anything else in the way. I don't want to cut into the worship or what God might do with my critical judgmental thoughts.

Seeing people seeking out healing from God so passionately is great. My prayer is that the Lord will not only bring healing tonight (as a lot of the emphasis was on the event and the timing of receiving blessing right then and there) but also that people will walk away and carry with them the knowledge that the living spirit of God restored them and will continue to do so if only they look to him.

We sometimes need to appeal to our emotions to get carried to a place where our hearts are freer, but it's important that we know the limitations and the distractions of our emotions as well.

God also brought to my heart, when I was feeling awkward or uncomfortable given the different style of expression of faith and when my heart was full of doubt or skeptism, that I need to pray for other churches communities in addition to my own. May Jesus continue to be the focus. May Jesus bring healing to broken hearts, bodies and relationships in all of God's churches, and between them as well.

It's also nice to go to this kind of event and be able to see the good, and have grace for the weird instead of only seeing the weird so I can't even see what God might show me.

It was a BEAUTIFUL thing to see diversity represented as well. How awesome was that!"

Here is another post from someone who was there on the night I visited, and recalled the exact story I told:

"Pastor Phil: I was there too. I feel that you misread the healing time that you mentioned. The woman they were praying for was hispanic and even though they had an interpreter, there was some miscommunication because of the language barrier. The important thing is that she was healed.
I was there Saturday night and they mentioned that GOD was healing many different things. I was healed for a shoulder ailment that I have had for several years. I know that I was healed.

God is the same today as he was 2000 years ago. He still heals. He still seeks unity amoung his churches. What is happening is Salem, aside from the healings, is a great deal of unity among the churches. This is a great testament to GOD. It is a great testament to the memory of Rev. Arthur Robinson and Rev. Rocco Rezza (who recently passed away). Unity among the churches and nationalities is paramount for the advancement of the Kingdom.

Come back this week, give us a chance. Let go of your hurts and let GOD heal you!"

This particular post warranted a response so here is what I said:

"I did not misread that situation. You will notice that I mention that she is Spanish speaking, and that there was an interpreter.

The fact is that she was asked to touch her toes before she was asked what was wrong with her. Herniated discs and touching toes are not a great combination. Now if she is still healed today, and a week from now that is good. If she still has pain, I am concerned that someone was asked to do something potentially harmful in the context of faith healing.

As far as your healing. May the Lord continue to keep you in health, and may the Lord be blessed for what He has done.

It seems that you are making an assumption that I must be harboring hurts and therefore have disagreement with the revival. I do not disagree with these meetings, but I do think that "the little foxes spoil the vine" as they used to say in Pentecostal circles years ago, and it is still true that small things can create big problems. These concerns have been consistent for 25 years - long prior experiencing deceit and false judgments at the hands of Pentecostal leaders. So "healing" doesn't change my concerns.

If the outpouring meetings continue I will visit as I am able.

Rev. Robinson I met years ago, before we moved here. He laid hands upon me when we came to visit him at home in his last few years, and he laid hands upon me and prophesied that I would wear his mantle. What that means I am not sure. That is just what happened in his kitchen on Franklin Street back in the early 90's." (my response)

That's all or now

Friday, June 13, 2008

Not Sure How to Think about Revival - Still

I admit readily that I have been jaundiced by my experiences with Pentecostal revivalist Christians who have been my bane in the last few years. They have proven themselves to be hypocritical, and judgmental, and I have been on the receiving end of this judgment.

Yet, I have been leery of revivalism even before the season of my struggle with my former fellow journeymen in the faith began.

Tonight I visited a meeting happening here in Salem for a half hour or so, and here is what I experienced:

"This woman says she has back back pain. We are going to pray for you. Is that okay?"

The Spanish speaking woman nods her head. The large screen projecting the service to the back of the room shows her face.

"Now as I pray touch your toes. Have you been able to touch your toes since you've had this problem? No?"

The woman shakes her head signifying no.

"Can you touch your toes now?"

Again she shakes her head negatively.

"Go ahead try to touch your toes as we pray."

The woman on the screen reaches down to touch her toes. She is a mother in her late twenties or early thirties.

"Did that hurt?"

She nods affirmatively, and mouths some words I can not hear.

"It hurts a little bit? Let's do it again. Reach down and touch your toes as we pray for you."

She does this again.

"Did it hurt this time?"

She shakes her head, and says, "No."

A brief conversation between the man praying, the young mother, and the interpreter ensues.

"A hernia? Oh a herniated disk. Folks, she has had 2 herniated disks for the last 2 years. No, 2 herniated disks for 6 years! She has had 2 herniated disks for 6 years and tonight she has no pain."

The crowd cheers.

"Oh excuse me. She has had 2 herniated disks for 6 months, and tonight the she has no pain."

The crowd cheers again. Less fervently this time.

I was standing in the back, and put my face in my hands. I thought to myself. Why didn't you ask about the specifics of her condition before you asked her to bend over?"

I am still not fond of the word revival. This particular revival meeting has a connection to the Lakeland, FL event, and I think that there were about 200 people in attendance when I popped in very late for a few minutes tonight.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Late Night with Jamiacan Special and Thinking About Stuff

So tonight was a generally good night at The Vault. I came home following our 6pm service, and decided I wanted to smoke a big ol' fatty Jamaican Special cigar. Not really being a smoker I have them for our guys cigar smoking group, which I jokingly refer to as "Padron Me." Stupid Christian humor I suppose, and maybe a pun most people won't get.

So I laid under the stars on this first 70ยบ night in Salem this year. I contemplated the peacefulness of God as I gazed on the stars through the branches of the silver maple tree in our yard, and periodically had to get up to take care of Forrest our three legged greyhound.

Tomorrow at 5am (only 5 hours from now) I will rise to go work at Starhouse. Within the next couple weeks I will transition from this morning job to a position as a liaison to DSS - I think.

I am hoping to get back to writing regularly again.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Support - what does it mean to you?

What is "support" I have been wondering. Is it making money? Is it emotionally being concerned? Is it being encouraging? Is it all of the above? Is it a combination, which is less quantifiable, and has to do with issues of the heart?

Could it be that there are times someone appears to be supportive, because they carry out all the right actions, but in reality they are unsupportive, because they do not believe in or care for those things which concern us.

What is it to you? and how does this determine how you support others?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Will the Pope Click His Heels?

So this is my favorite story of the Pope's visit. He wears ruby red shoes. It was an NPR listener who made this even more fun. "Does he click his heels and say, 'There's no place like Rome?'" she asked.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

No Place for Hate - Running Sound for Witches

I have a propensity for getting myself in trouble. So here we go again. I am setting up sound, and running it for an event called No Place for Hate. The famed Pagan author Margot Adler will be there, and it will be focused on Wiccan lifestyles, and faith. So, here I am once again jumping into the middle of places most Evangelicals (and our little angels) fear to tread. ;-)

Here's more info on the event:

No Place for Hate Committee to Host Panel Discussion
on the Faith and Lifestyles of the Wiccan Faith

The City of Salem’s No Place for Hate Committee will be hosting a panel discussion the evening of April 12th which will focus on practices within the Wiccan faith and the everyday lifestyles of those practicing Paganism. The objective of the event is to inform those in attendance about the religion, lifestyle and culture of those who practice Wicca while also touching on the history and its distinction within the Salem community.

The panel discussion, which will be held on the second floor of Old Town Hall, will be moderated by Salem State College Professor Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello. The discussion will be led by No Place for Hate Committee member Jerrie Hildebrand and Margot Adler of National Public Radio (NPR) and is sponsored by the Salem Witch Museum.

Ms. Adler is the host of NPR’s Justice Talking and is a regular on shows such as All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition. She has been a Wiccan priestess for over 35 years. In 1979, she wrote the book Drawing Down the Moon, a classic study of Neo-Paganism and Wicca which was recently revised and updated. Ms Adler also wrote Heretic's Heart, a 1960's memoir of her life. In addition, she is also a co-producer of the award winning radio drama, War Day.

Ms. Hildebrand is creative principal of a Salem-based marketing company. Since 1986, Ms. Hildebrand has worked with various national religious freedom organizations on issues pertaining to the Wiccan and Pagan religions and in 2005 was ordained by Circle Sanctuary. More notably, Ms. Hildebrand was part of the team from Circle Sanctuary that led the effort in getting the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to add the pentacle to its list of official emblems for the headstones and markers of Wiccan veterans. She illustrated the final version of the official emblem now used.

Both Ms. Adler and Ms. Hildebrand have traveled throughout the country to conferences separately and together doing presentations and discussion on related subjects. After the two are through speaking, the panel will open to questions from the public.

This will be the second event sponsored by the No Place for Hate Committee within its second year of existence. In June of 2007, the City of Salem was officially named a No Place for Hate community by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) after the Committee organized three events which focused on promoting respect and diversity. The Committee will need to sponsor two events each year in order to regain the City’s certification as a No Place for Hate community.

The Panel Discussion on Wicca and Paganism is free and open to the public. It will be held on Saturday, April 12th at 7 pm in Old Town Hall. The event will also feature opening remarks by Mayor Kimberley Driscoll and will conclude with a song from Rev. Amy “Gypsy” Ravish from the Temple of Nine Wells located in Salem.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wales - Grand Slam! Six Nations Rugby

I spent this afternoon with my Welsh friends at McGann's Pub in Boston. It was a day of Rugby games. I arrived while England was trouncing Ireland (to my surprise), and to the chagrin of the green jerseys in the standing room only pub.

The Wales/France game began at 1pm, and only a lone voice or two with French accents rose in the pub now filled with more red shirts than remaining Irish green. This was unique moment for the Boston Welsh Society, and in fact for a Welsh gathering in the US. There was actually a good group of Welsh together and yelling for their team.

As the game began, the Welsh expats, and myself stood and sang the Welsh national anthem together. Well, I gave it a try, but still haven't memorized the words. Sorry for the 2005 link, but the 2008 one isn't out yet.

"Wales! Wales! Wales...!" the pub rocked with the cheering, and the flags of the Ddraig Goch, and Aled Jones' red and yellow flag of Owain Glyndwr flew whenever Wales scored. After a mixed first half of trading penalty kicks, and France beginning to show some serious muscle on the run, Wales hard hitting defense, and ability to take advantage of mistakes paid off with a second half rout.

29-12 was the final score. Phil Budden, the British Consul General in Boston arrived toward the end of the game, and provided free Beer and Guinness for we celebrating Welsh fans. I can't describe how at home I feel with anything Welsh. Strange for a California boy (or is that "boyo?") like myself.

So, at the end I suggested a plan for putting St. David's day on the map next year in Boston. If you are Welsh, you will want to watch for this! The more people we can get to participate the more media attention we can get. We are going to pray like St. David on St. David's Day! Like those early Celtic monks, we are going to gather a group together to stand in the river up to our waists on St. David's Day next year! Wanna join the fun? It'll be followed by a seriously Welsh Saint practice of downing a pint following I'm sure! Watch for information to come sometime late this year.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An Air Car - And They Don't Even Need Preachers!

Check out this story - a car that runs on air. For long trips it will run on hot air - and they don't even need preachers. Is this cool or what?!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oh Yeah! Global Warming Blessings

I'm not sure what to do with this news, except to say, "Hmmmmmm," and maybe wax up my board in hopes of surfing in New England without a wetsuit. Oh, and of course, mention that I am not sure of the accuracy of "global warming science."

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Ongoing Saga of the '86 740 Volvo Turbo Diesel Wagon

So the old car was left behind in Asheville, North Carolina at Elijah's house, and I traveled home with mom and Bev. Now here I am a few weeks later back in Asheville, thanks to really cheap airfare on Skybus, and I have been trying to find out what was wrong with the old beast.

I posted on Craig's List asking for a diesel mechanic in Asheville. Gerald wasn't returning my calls, or perhaps I had the wrong number, which was quite possible. I received an e-mail from a guy whose e-mail address was volvoist@.... Well that was promising, but he turned out to be from New Jersey, and just loved these old cars. He once had an old Volvo Diesel, and wrote like someone who knew these well. We wrote back and forth, and he suggested that the head gasket was blown as one of his first thoughts.

Then Charlie called, "I'm not a mechanic, but I've got a Volkswagon Rabbit Diesel truck, and over the last four years I've gotten to know these engines pretty well." You see, the old Volvo has a Volkswagon engine. He offered to check it out for $10 an hour - $15 for repairing.

Charlie came over. He looked at the car, and was totally excited, "This is a really rare car. Not many of these were made, and it's a wagon!"

He tried all kinds of ways to get it going - but no go. We wrote back and forth to Mike the Volvoist Dude a few times, and he kept saying "Sounds like a head gasket to me. These cars are finicky, and often will not start if the head gasket is blown."

This was a few days ago. Well now, a blown head gasket might not be much in parts, but it is much in either time or money. Since I live in Massachusetts time in North Carolina fixing a car is the same as money. So I reluctantly put the old beast on Craig's List one more time - for sale. This did not make me happy. I had been troubled by what looks like a loose-loose situation.

Sell the car and need another vehicle to pull the trailer in the next few months, or spend money fixing something that I really don't have the money or time to fix. So Craig's list it was. This morning the car went on the list at about 9:30am.

Around 10am Charlie called. He saw the car on Craig's List.

"So, you're gonna sell it, huh?"

"Yeah. I hate to, but I don't have the time r money to fix it."

"That's too bad, but I'm excited. I'll buy it from you." Charlie said.

It kinda takes the sting out of selling it. I like Charlie. He loves the car, and will keep the old beast going, and it will definitely become what it was destined to be - a grease car. Charlie hasn't paid for gas in a few years. He and his buddies make bio-diesel, and he runs completely off that.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

HERETIC OR HEALER? - I sure hope Spencer Burke is correct

So, I never really finished the book by Spencer Burke called "The Heretics Guide to Eternity," but I guess it's time. The Salem Gazette came out with bold creepy looking letters in extra large font on the front page yesterday asking people to consider whether I was a "HERETIC OR HEALER". They posted the question above this nice, but dark mysterious photo.
Of course, I am being contrasted with one of the Halloween sign wielding, bullhorn preachers from Repent America, but it still is a little a strange to be placed in the heretic category by people who do not know what I believe, or whose doctrine is further from historic orthodoxy than my own.

So what's a guy to do. Turn the page and read the whole article I guess, then look at the milder photos. Actually they are all great photos - good job David!
I guess I'll finish reading Spencer's book, and see how to get to heaven. All tnhis because I have friends who are Witches.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Day Five to Asheville - Sunday, December 30th - 28 miles to go!

Five days to Asheville - this is getting ridiculous. It shoul dhave been two, but driving between 40 and 60 MPH had slowed us down. Worse yet, having to drive only by day, because the alternator was charging too little, and hitting the New York, New Jersey traffic made it slower still.

(When I wrote this sentence originally I mistyped alternator as "laternator." Seems so appropriate now.)

After stopping the night before, I let the engine run for a few minutes, and hoped to recharge the battery once again. During the evening I was able to watch the Patriots conclude their regular season with the perfect 16-0 record with the come from behind win against the Giants. Even my mom enjoyed that game.

It was raining. I put on my trademark Gortex hat and went out to the start the car. The battery was low, and so I found a guy with a pickup truck to help me jump the car. He pulled up to help me out, and we let the battery charge a bit while we stood and talked in the drizzling cold rain. He was headed to California for a 3 month long job as a boiler repair guy at a refinery in LA.

Once I went to the start the car I would not start up. I had no sense of engine problems upon letting it idle the night before, but no matter how much I tried the car would not start. It had lots of charge, and even sounded like it had fuel getting to it each time I initially turned the key, but it would not start.

My new found friend from Florida who was headed to California stayed to help. We stood in the slowly increasing rain, and tried several times. A diesel emergency repair truck came into the parking lot. The shop happened to be right in front of my car, and they were working on this Sunday morning. The owner of the shop was in the truck, and I thought that this was exactly what I needed. He pulled out the ether to work his magic, but the car still would not start. He stood and looked at it and said, "It got spark. It sounds like its getting fuel. I been doin' this fer 22 years, and I can't say I ever seen somethin' like this. It won't even take the ether."

Great. So I have the unique situation with my '86 740 Volvo Diesel wagon. Unique cars - unique problems I guess.

We said goodbye to our friend from Florida, and called Elijah and Rhonda. They drove up to Waynesville from Asheville to pick us up.

We left the Volvo and the trailer at Midway Motel in Waynesville, NC on Sunday, December 3, and 28 miles later we were at Elijah and Rhonda's house in Asheville, NC - but their house is another tale. The tale of the 1986 740 Volvo diesel wagon will continue tomorrow. Tomorrow would be Monday and we could deal with it then.

Fourth Day to Asheville - Saturday, December 29th - Over the Great Smoky Mountains

Sorry for posting this late. I did not have internet access on the final part of the trip, and was busy working on Elijah's place once we got to Asheville. We are home now, but here is the continuing story - in a couple posts

The Ramada Inn in Harrisonburg, VA has a breakfast as part of the deal. They also require that someone with a pet sign a paper saying that they will not leave the pet in the room alone. Bev and mom had some breakfast. I stayed with Crash the Hound in the room. They brought me some biscuits and gravy, even though I had hoped to go to the breakfast room myself, but I ate quickly and started the the old 740.

This morning "the beast" started up immediately. I have become pretty good at backing the Volvo up to the trailer hitch, and don't need someone to stand there and line me up. I had backed the ball under the trailer hitch the night before in the rain, and was able to simply drop the hitch down an the ball, hook up the lights, and make sure everything was ready to go.

We packed our few bags and Crash the Hound, and were headed for the Great Smoky Mountains.

The day before Highway 81 took us along the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the old Volvo 740 diesel beast took some of the hills easily at 60 MPH, and others dragged on long at 40-45 MPH. At one point I had to pass someone on a hill, because they were going so slow, and I remarked that this was probably the third vehicle I had passed in three days. Even the big rigs were passing me on the hills.

The day looked something like this: Drive for an hour. Pull over and add some water. Drive an hour. Get some gas, and check the coolant again. Drive an hour. Get some lunch. Check the coolant. Drive again. Always I watched the temperature as I drove up the hills.

I had previously been warned by Elijah not to take route 26 from the 81 down to Asheville, because it is a steep difficult climb into the mountains. Instead we opted to take a longer route. We would travel into Tennessee, and take the 40 east back into Asheville. According to a few friends who knew the area somewhat, and an online discussion about the routes in and out of Asheville, it appeared that this route would be winding, but less steep than others, and so we headed toward Tennessee, and the 40 east.

Upon entering Tennessee we came to the top of long hill, and the car was registering hot so we stopped at a rest stop at the top of the hill to check and fill the levels. I thought it was getting hotter than it should have and discovered that i forgot to replace the oil cap on the previous stop. Fortunately it was still sitting in the top of the engine, and I did not loose it on the drive.

I had been running the heater to keep the temperature down, and the running lights on the trailer, so I was not able to restart the engine, I had to get a jump. Across the highway was a guitar store shaped like a monster guitar. Any other time I would have had to visit the place.

It was late afternoon and we started what would be our last leg to Asheville - west on the 81 to 40 east and over the Great Smoky Mountains.

The car ran well all through the rest of the trip until we reach the windy section of the Great Smokies. The roads were steep, and had switchbacks almost like hair pin turns at times. This was the most difficult climb we had made on the whole journey, and it was getting late. If it got too dark I would have to stop, because we still could not turn on our headlights without draining our battery too low. So I had until about 5:30pm until it was too dark.

The hill got steeper, and the car was only able to pull the trailer at about 40 MPH. The big trucks behind me weren't doing any better it turned out. After a number of miles I pulled over at a rest stop to allow the car to cool down, and added some coolant. After unscrewing the cap slowly to allow the pressure to release, I waited a moment to add the coolant. Suddenly coolant came bubbling up into the overflow tank, and out over the top. I released why I had been loosing coolant along the trip. My thermostat had suddenly released and the water was flowing out all over. The cap had pressure release valves, and apparently thy had been letting the fluid and steam out when the thermostat released. Perhaps this had not been working properly the entire trip - then again perhaps I was just pulling too much weight for this poor little old 740 diesel wagon.

I now was getting too dark, and I did not have much distance to go, but it was still too far to Asheville to travel. I would need to use m y lights any moment. I got back on the road, and made it to the last exit to Waynesville, NC. We stopped at the Midway Motel. The name should have given me a clue about where we were, but I was too tired to think about it. I back the trailer into a slot next to the big rigs, and we got a room for the night, knowing we only had 20-30 miles left to get to Elijah's house in Asheville.