misc Archive

Hen with Chicks

I think these chicks are about a month old, maybe a bit more. They’re the first ones I’ve had a hen hatch out successfully. She got pretty adamant about sitting on a batch of eggs, so I figured the summer was a good time to let her try. Usually they lose interest in them for the 21 days are up, and they wander off and I end up throwing away a bunch of eggs. This time she stayed long enough to hatch three out of about twenty. I put a chick waterer in the henhouse and tossed some feed on the floor, but basically she took care of them. It was kind of cool watching her break feed pellets with her beak so they could eat them.

This was just their second day coming outside, but now they’re on the move all the time. Fortunately the cats seem to have no interest in them. Animals are funny that way; if something is born on the farm, they seem to understand that it belongs, while if you brought chicks home from the store, they’d be all over them if you allowed it.

Quitting Facebook Again

I just finished up my second Facebook ban, this one for seven days. So I’m out. The next one would probably be for 30 days, and there’s no point in using a communications network where you could be switched off at any time and have no way even to tell people why you aren’t responding. I had quit the site a couple years ago, and was happy with that. I started using my account again last year just to get to a private group of an organization I was part of. But FB has decided I’m a Nazi whose opinion should be suppressed, so I won’t be giving them any more content. If my FB friends want to follow my blog and videos, they’ll have to check the RSS feed here (your browser or app should know what to do with it) or subscribe to my Bitchute and YouTube channels (and the YouTube ones might go away any time for the same reasons). It’s inconvenient, but that’s where we are. Convenience or freedom: pick one.

Both bans were for politically incorrect memes posted to the private group. FB says they were for violating community guidelines, but that doesn’t even make sense in a private group, so it’s a lie. It’s simply a gradual purge of any opinions that would offend the average gender-studies graduate, and they’re ramping it up for the 2020 election, so it’s happening to more people all the time. That was obviously the plan since 2016, but they’re speeding it up now that they’re finally coming under the scrutiny of the FTC and DoJ. They always double-down.

FB could pull its head out of its ass and go back to the benign neglect of pre-2016, when they blocked truly offensive/illegal content and let people make their own decisions about the rest using the tools they provide to hide and ignore people and posts. But that’s not going to happen. The owners of FB, Google, Twitter, and the rest of the Big Tech, Big Social gang are not Americans. Some are technically American citizens, but they don’t think of themselves as part of the American nation and they have no respect for American culture, law, or the Constitution. They see themselves as citizens of a global, supra-national techno-state, and their loyalty is to themselves and their fellow technocrats. They have more money than they can figure out how to spend, so they reckon they can afford to lose some by cutting loose the right-wing and conservative portion of their user base. They expect to gain more than enough to offset those losses by the gains from their global and foreign investments, as long as they can suppress American patriots and get the White House back in 2020. They’ll gladly lose money on their bottom lines for that goal.

So they won’t back down voluntarily. There are a couple ways the feds could bring them to heel, so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out now that they’re starting to do their jobs again. I’ve talked about some of this before in podcasts, but the bad thing about podcasts is they’re hard to search, so I don’t remember exactly what I said. Maybe I’ll do some new ones to get up to date. In short: one option would be to apply Marsh v. Alabama, which says private corporations which provide a space for free public use have to respect constitutional rights in that space. Another option is to call them on the publisher/carrier game they’ve been playing. They claim to have no legal liability for the content they carry because they’re just carriers. For instance, if a group of people use FB to arrange to rob you, you can’t sue FB as a conspirator, just as you can’t sue the phone company if they plan it over the phone. But by censoring speech over offensive opinions, they act as publishers who are responsible for what users see on their system. They’ve had this both ways, and that can be stopped. They can be forced to go back to acting like carriers, as I said above, or they can be treated as publishers who can be charged and sued over any piece of content they allow, which would entirely destroy them.

We’ll see what happens. They may also be broken up under anti-trust law for monopolistic practices and other illegalities, but I don’t know much about that, and that doesn’t seem like it would address the problem as directly. It could break their dominance over the social media space and allow competitors without a political ax to grind to get a foothold, though.

Making a Wooden Wheel for a Lawnboy Mower

One of the drive wheels on my self-propelled mower started coming apart the other day. I tend to be hard on equipment, treating it like it was made of quality materials and can take some punishment. That’s why I like to buy older tools at auctions; they can handle heavier use than most new tools. Most of this mower is metal, but the wheels are plastic. I would hook the wheel on fence posts and let the mower pull itself around them, mowing close, and it kinda chewed up the wheel.

So a new wheel comes with the gear already pressed into it, and runs $40-50. I didn’t really want to spend that much, and I didn’t want to wait for one to ship anyway, so I thought I’d try to make a replacement. I built it with scrap plywood and a few bolts, and it works as good as new, so I’m pretty happy with it. The video is some clips of the process. Sorry about the crummy audio at the beginning; it does get better.

Computer Artistry

A friend linked to a thing today that’s pretty cool: the Deep Dream Generator. It’s a computer program that will take two photos and try to redraw one in the style of the other one. I gave it a picture of my mug and had it use a line drawing of a face as the style, and got the result below.

They call it AI. I don’t know about that. To me, AI would be a program that is self-aware and goes beyond its programming in unpredictable ways. This “learns” to draw in the style of a picture, but that’s still just one program writing new algorithms according to how it was programmed to do so. It’s interesting, though; and for someone like me who couldn’t draw to save his own life, it’s a way to get some artistic effects by rendering pictures in different styles and seeing what happens.

Shazam? Ah, No, Never Mind

[Setting: A Hollywood conference room.]

Suit #1: “Gentlemen, we have a problem. Our new movie is setting up to be a disaster. Test audiences hate it. They’re saying it makes no sense and that the lead actress has two modes, boring and bitchface. The editors say there isn’t enough good there to salvage. We’ve been promoting it hard, and now word is leaking out that it’s bad. How can we save our asses?”

Suit #2: “We could amp up the marketing campaign. Get some of our media allies to run positive reviews we provide and do some special interviews.”

Suit #1: “We’re already doing all that, and it’s not working. The fans just don’t care. Interviews with the star don’t help at all, because no one likes her except the producers who cast her.”

Suit #3: “We could bring in Joss Whedon and Ron Howard to punch up the script and reshoot half the movie.”

Suit #1: “God, no! Audiences have caught on to that. They know that’s a sure sign of a stinker. That would be throwing good money after bad. We need a fix that doesn’t bust the budget.”

Suit #2: “Well, we could get out ahead of it with a negative campaign against the genre fans. You know the drill: bash the basement-dwelling man-children for not wanting to see the movie. Tell women they have to see it to prove something-something about equality, and shame men into seeing it so they won’t be associated with the nerd virgins. Throw in something about racists and Russian trolls, and you’re golden.”

Suit #3: “Can that scam work again? Surely audiences are catching onto it by now.”

Suit #2: “It hasn’t failed yet. It couldn’t turn Ghostbusters into a hit, but it sold enough tickets more that it didn’t kill Sony outright. If nothing else, it creates buzz and curiosity, so some people will go just to see what the fuss is about. And it’s basically free marketing, because the media loves beating up on the male fan base of these franchises.”

Suit #1: “Good point. Okay, spread some articles in the industry press about how the angry male fanboys are attacking the movie already. Have our friends in the mainstream press pick it up from there. Have what’s-her-name talk about it in interviews. She hates the fans anyway. She’ll piss them off so they start bashing the movie for real, and then the media can blow it up into a major crisis. We’ll save our huge bonuses yet!”

TIL about Trees & Power Lines

Today I learned that if you’re an Adams Electric customer, and you need to drop a tree on your property that might get into power lines, they’ll come out and cut it down for you. I knew they’d do that for the power lines along the road, but it turns out they’ll do it for the lines coming in as far as your meter too.

Good to know, so you can let them take care of it in the first place, instead of starting to drop it yourself and then having to call them anyway because you need more manpower to pull the tree over in the right direction.

265/220/200

Forty-five down, twenty to go. For those unfamiliar, that’s what the title means: starting weight, current weight, goal weight. I lost the first 35 pretty steadily over 2017, then stalled for most of the first half of this year, and now the scale is moving again. Stalls happen; the main thing is not to start gaining it back.

My goal of 200 is based on calculations using wrist size to determine lean mass (bone and muscle). Just looking in the mirror, I feel like I have more than 20 to go, so I’ll recalibrate when I hit 200. For now that’s a pretty good goal, since I don’t think I’ve weighed that little since about 1988.

I don’t like to talk too much about weight loss (unless someone asks), because no one wants dieting advice from a fat guy. For now I’ll just say it’s low-carb. Nothing fancy, just what I call lazy-man’s low-carb: meat, animal fats (lard and butter), eggs, dairy, lower-carb vegetables. If you’ve watched my garden videos, you know I cross the line now and then for things like potatoes and sweet corn. I find that those are okay for me in moderation, which is how they come out of the garden. They’re seasonal, and harvesting them burns off some of their calories. Big difference between that and a bag of Doritos.

It’d be nice to hit 200 by the end of the year, but that would be a pound a week, so that might be pushing it. People usually slow down as they get closer. As long as it keeps moving the right direction, I’m not too worried about it.

A Bit of Grammar Pedantry

There are some grammar mistakes that I see at least daily these days, more often than you’d think possible. I thought I’d use a few for blog fodder, and maybe it can be a resource. Buckle up for hardcore grammar nerdery.

The reason….is….because….

For instance, “The reason I won the blue ribbon is because my cabbage was the biggest.” This is always wrong. It’s hard to explain why if you don’t know how to diagram sentences; but basically, you need a noun clause to be the thing the reason is, and noun clauses don’t start with “because.” You end up with an adverbial clause trying to modify the noun subject, and then my teeth hurt.

You can usually fix it by using “that” instead of “because,” because “that” starts noun clauses: “The reason I won the blue ribbon is that my cabbage was the biggest.” That’s fine. Another option is to shorten the sentence, because “the reason is” tends to be fluff anyway: “I won the blue ribbon because my cabbage was the biggest.”

Why is “because” correct in that last sentence? Because now the main verb is “won” and the adverbial clause modifies that verb instead of trying to modify the subject.

If you look this up, you’ll find claims that “reason…is…because” is wrong because “because” means roughly “for the reason that,” so it contains the meaning of “reason,” making one of them redundant. That may be true, but that only makes it redundant, not incorrect. The reason above is the real reason.

Aaand, now I’ve typed “reason” far more times than is reasonable, so moving on.

Amount/Number

I’m amazed how often I see and hear this one, several times a day. The rule is simple: if you would normally count something, you use “number.” If you would measure it, you use “amount.”

measured things counted things
amount of pudding number of bowls
amount of friendship number of friends
amount of meat number of sandwiches
amount of text number of words

Get the idea? But for some reason, I hear “amount” used in place of “number” constantly, and never the other way around. It’s weird.

What about edge cases that can be counted or measured? That’s why I said “normally counted.” Take peas, for instance. You can count peas individually, but you normally don’t. You buy them by the pound and eat them by the spoonful, so you would say, “I ate a large amount of peas.” But if you were planting them, actually putting them down one by one, you could say, “I planted a large number of peas.”

As a bonus, this rule also applies to “less” and “fewer”: use “less” for measured things and “fewer” for counted things:

measured things counted things
less pudding fewer bowls
less friendship fewer friends
less meat fewer sandwiches
less text fewer words

Easy peasy.

Who/Whom

This is a tough one. My main advice is, if you don’t know when to use “whom,” like know it cold, just don’t use it. Use “who” everywhere. If you use “who” where it should be “whom,” it’s wrong, but it just sounds conversational, so it doesn’t set anyone’s teeth on edge. If you use “whom” where it should be “who,” it’s like waving a big flag that says, “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I tossed in ‘whom’ to sound smart.” That’s probably not fair, but fortunately only good grammar students will see it waving.

Having said that, how do you use them correctly? Well, “who” is nominative case and “whom” is objective. But the trick is to see whether the word is nominative or objective in its clause – not in the overall sentence. If you’ve learned an inflected language like Latin, or learned sentence diagramming very well, you had to get that, so who/whom shouldn’t be too hard. Otherwise, it can be pretty mysterious.

In simple questions, it’s not too hard:

  • Who was at the party?
  • Whom do you love?

In the first sentence, “Who” is the subject, so it’s nominative. In the second, “Whom” is the direct object of “do love,” so it’s objective. When “whom” is correct starting a question, you can usually turn the sentence around into a statement, replace “whom” with another pronoun, and see quickly which is correct:

  • You do love whom?
  • You do love him.
  • You do love he.

The last one is obviously wrong. Since “him” is objective, “whom” is also objective, no matter how you rearrange the sentence.

It’s harder when who/whom starts a relative clause:

  • I asked who was at the party.

This catches people because “who” follows “asked” so it feels like maybe it’s the direct object and should be objective case. But the entire clause beginning with “who” is the direct object. A relative pronoun gets its case from how it’s used in its clause, not from the main sentence. So “who” is still nominative here, because it’s still the subject of “was at the party.”

  • I asked Jim whom he loves.

This is correct, because “whom” is the direct object of “loves” in its clause. It sounds awkward, though, because it’s so rarely used right. I’d only say it this way out loud if I wanted to sound snooty for fun; otherwise I’d say “who” and give myself a mental demerit.

The longer and more complicated a sentence gets, the more likely we are to be guessing and get it wrong. To always get it right, you have to be able to pull out the relative clause that who/whom introduces, and diagram it in your head to see whether the who/whom is the subject or an object. Otherwise, it’s safer to stick to “who.”

Those are the three that have been bugging me lately. If I think of more, I’ll have to do another post.

DNA Is Code

I studied biology a couple years ago. I guess I mostly slept through it in high school, because I sure didn’t remember much. When we got to the section on DNA, I was like, “Holy shit, it’s a computer program!” DNA isn’t just roughly analogous to programming; it’s basically the same thing.

When a living cell needs to produce something, the nucleus cuts-and-pastes a string of instructions out of DNA, picking the right short chunk out of a string billions long. It passes a copy of these instructions out to a builder unit (I forget the names of all this stuff) which follows those instructions to build the thing the cell needs.

When you want to produce an effect inside a computer, you send a list of instructions to the CPU. For common tasks, rather than write these instructions anew every time, you may call a routine in the kernel, which runs a particular set of instructions that were designed for that task. A modern kernel is a string of millions of instructions, but the set for a particular task may only be dozens of instructions long.

DNA is the kernel for the operating system of a life-form. Or maybe I should say a kernel is the DNA of a computer operating system, since DNA came first. Either way, if you understand one, you should grasp the other one pretty quickly.

So now to evolution. Sometimes there are mutations in DNA, where an instruction is changed or cut out. Usually these are harmless. Occasionally they are harmful, because the change happens in an important set of instructions, which that cell can no longer use. The cell may die or become cancerous. But on very rare occasions, a mutation may be beneficial, and the cell now does something better. All that is fact, not controversial.

According to evolutionists, once in a while one of these beneficial mutations allows that creature and its descendants to survive and reproduce better than others without that mutation, so the mutation gradually spreads over generations. The species has improved. Then there’s another mutation, and another, and over a gazillion years, you mutate your way from a bacterium to Eliza Dushku.

The math doesn’t work at all, but let’s ignore that and just go back to our analogy to programming and apply some common sense. A DNA mutation is like a typo or glitch in a piece of code. Often – if it’s in a comment or an area of code that is rarely used – it will be harmless. Sometimes it will be harmful, crashing the program or causing it to work wrong, like giving you the wrong balance for your checkbook. But on very rare occasions, a glitch could cause a program to work better, faster, more efficiently. (It could. I doubt I’ll ever see it in my lifetime.)

Now let’s say you copy this mutated “child” version of the program, and it becomes popular and out-competes other programs of its type. Then someday there’s another beneficial glitch, and one copy again gets a little better and supersedes the others. Generation after generation, most glitches are harmless or harmful and kill programs off, but sometimes one survives and thrives in a new form. How long would it take for your original simple program, like a tic-tac-toe game, to “evolve” via glitches into a grandmaster-level chess program?

Because that’s what evolution means. And I can tell you there aren’t enough seconds in time, or enough electrons in the universe, for that to “just happen” to any computer program.

Time for the Fair

Almost time for the Adams County Fair! It doesn’t look like I’ll be exhibiting anything, since the only thing in the garden that looks good right now is the Swiss chard, and there’s no Swiss chard category. It would wilt before it could be judged anyway. But I’ll be there for dairy judging on Saturday morning, at least. That’s always a good time, watching cows drag kids around the ring. I saw the heifers they were trimming up and getting ready to go, and they looked great, not that I’m much of a dairy judge. I figure it’s all about the udders.

I also like to get there for the hog show on Monday, if I can. And apparently the Oak Ridge Boys are playing one night. I don’t usually go over to the grandstand events, but that one might be worth checking out, or at least listening to from nearby. It’s nice to just spend some time up there, especially outside the busy hours, when it’s mainly the livestock owners and fair workers taking it easy before the crowds come. I’ll have to check out the wi-fi situation; it might be possible to do work from there now if something comes up.

It looks like the weather will be incredible, around 80 or lower every day. There might be some rain, but usually there’s scorching heat plus rain at some point to boost the humidity, so you need an extra shirt for when you sweat through the first one. If the forecast holds up, this could be the best weather I’ve ever seen at a fair.

Maybe this will be the year I come home with a couple rabbits. Got an empty hutch now….

Same Deal Every Time

I was telling someone the other day that every computer I’ve bought has cost about $700-800, even though they keep getting more powerful. You can spend a lot more than that, of course. But it seems like each time I put together a system with current proven hardware that’s plenty powerful for my needs, the price ends up in that range, going back to my first computer in 1988.

Then I got to wondering whether that’s really true. That’s a pretty old memory, so is it accurate, or something I dreamed up over the years because it sounded good? I went hunting online and found the Sears Catalog page from 1998 below, which matches up with what I remember. I bought a 128D and monitor from Sears just like the ones in the picture. According to that, the computer was $499 and the monitor was $299, but there’s the combo price in the lower right: $749.98. I don’t remember what accessories I bought, if any. I know I didn’t get a printer, but I probably got a joystick and some blank floppy discs.

That was a fun little nostalgia trip, since that was my computer until some point in the late 90s. Even after I got into the Internet business, I would connect to the Unix systems at work using a terminal on the 128 at home, so I used it for nearly ten years.

Aside from nostalgia, I’ve been thinking about that system because, since I got back into assembly programming a little, I was surprised to find out how much is still being done with the 6502 family of CPUs used by so many of the top 1980s systems. They’re apparently pretty popular in embedded systems and some of those hobby mini-computer boards, so I’d say there’s more interest in them now than there was 10-15 years ago.

That looks like another reason to do some assembly language tutorials or other videos like I mentioned in my recent C programming series. More to come on that soon.

Hats for Bats

If I wear a hat doing work out in the yard, I usually wear a baseball cap style hat, as is common around here. But the other day a few of my hats fell apart in the laundry, they were getting so worn. So while I was at Farm & Home getting feed, I thought I’d look at hats.

The first one – just an ordinary baseball cap – was $30. It didn’t have a corporate logo on it, but still, I’m not paying $30 for a stupid hat. I looked around some more, including at some with logos, and the cheapest I found was $15. If you want me to wear your logo, you need to pay me, not the other way around. (Actually, I wouldn’t mind wearing a hat to promote a local business I like, but they’d probably give them away.)

I gave up on those and walked over to the display of real hats – fedoras and straw hats and such, not baseball caps. Some of those can run up to $100, and they may be worth that, but I just wanted something to keep the sun off my face. Then I saw this one: $5 plus 30% off. Now we’re talking. I may look like an Amish with the wrong kind of beard, but it’ll keep the sun off better than a cap would, and may be cooler.

Little Buddy

One of the kittens turned up starving a few days ago, so I have a new best friend. Nothing like hunger to tame a wild cat, I guess. I took this a couple days ago, and she’s still filling out and doing better. Feisty enough to run past me a couple times when I opened the door, anyway, but we’ll be having none of that.

Pork Buying Demonstration

There are a few questions people often have about buying pork by the hog or half-hog, so I thought I’d do a little video to answer them with my latest haul. It should give an idea how much meat you have to be prepared for, what kind of cuts you can look forward to, and how the pricing works (if you get the hog from us). I hope it’s informative.

And here’s a video I did last year on how to render your own lard, if you get the fat.

Gut Punch

Art doesn’t usually do that much for me. I tend to take things at face value, expect them to mean what they say. So the idea of reading a poem or looking at a painting and seeing things that aren’t there on the surface – it doesn’t happen much. But once in a while something works, and then it can be a real punch to the gut.

This video is one of those. It came up in a discussion of music videos with movie-quality storytelling. The first time through, I didn’t get it, but I could tell there was something there I wanted to get. The next time through, it started to fall into place. I’ll be watching it a lot more to see what else comes out. I won’t go into the meaning I get from it, so I don’t spoil it for others. But it reminded me a little of the best moments of Scrubs, when you’d think you knew what was happening, and then that gut-punch came.

The other two videos below don’t hit me as personally, but they’re pretty great storytelling too. It’s nice to know that with so many movies these days being unimaginative reboots and nostalgia cash-ins, there’s still visual storytelling going on. And the music’s pretty great too.

Don't Be Spammed

A note to anyone who emails me: don’t put anything in your subject line like “website proposal” or “domain proposal,” even if it’s correct in context. I get so much spam with subjects like that, that you’re almost certain to be spammed. In fact, if you’re emailing from an address I haven’t already whitelisted, the best subject line is probably, “Hey, this is so-and-so, for real!”

Dragged Me in Kicking

They may be able to make me sign up for their data tracking nonsense to get coupons, but they can’t make me use my real name. (If you know where that’s from, you are a cultured individual.)

Should Have Been a Hoarder

I get an automated eBay notification for Commodore C128s, because sometimes I think it’d be nice to have a real one again, and I’m curious about what people are doing with them. But the prices on them keep going up, and an emulator is a pretty good substitute, so I haven’t bought any yet. The picture below is an example of what they’re going for these days: two completely untested systems, which may not work at all, and have missing keys, have a bid of $116 (including shipping). Tested ones without anything missing can bring $300.

And 15 years or so ago, I gave three of them, plus some peripherals, away to a metal scrap guy. They weren’t worth anything then, but now they’re making a comeback as collector’s items. Oh well. Would be nice to still have them, but you can’t save everything just in case.

I Left Him Cheese

I was reading through some old notes, and was reminded of this Dairy Council ad. It’s been almost 20 years, but thinking of that little girl’s grinning last line still makes me chuckle.

Starting Over

I’ve decided to revamp this site from scratch. I had built a very simple CMS based on Dancer, and it was fine, but I’ve been looking at static site generators and the possibility of creating my content in org-mode. I don’t really need dynamic content generation on the back-end, and I do everything else in org-mode anyway, so that seems like a better way to go. I’ll write more about it as I get familiar with it.

Quitting Facebook

I quit using Facebook a few months ago, when I wiped the app off my phone because it kept moving itself back to main memory and hogging it all. Normally I don’t announce when I’m going to stop using an online forum; I just stop. But in this case, it occurred to me that people might comment or post stuff on my timeline, and think I’m rudely ignoring them. I’m not, I’m just not seeing it. It’s not personal. Social media just isn’t my thing, and it’s becoming less my thing all the time. This isn’t a manifesto, and I’m not trying to start a boycott. I’m just out.

For keeping in touch with friends, I’m going to stick with the tried-and-true methods – you know, email and texting (maybe even phone and face-to-face, like in olden times). I won’t delete this account because it owns a couple of business pages that need to keep working. So I may still share links on it to things I write other places, in case anyone here is interested, but I won’t be following any comments on them.

And this is just fun:

New Year's Two Furnace Morning

Cold morning to start the year, -11 degrees when I went out to feed and water the beasts. Fired up both furnaces for a while to get things comfy for the day.

Latin Mass Propers

I’ve added a page containing many Latin Mass propers to the St. Rose web site, so I thought I’d link to it here as well.

I’ve been making the propers for St. Rose since it opened, so I’ve gradually accumulated a decent collection that covers all the Sundays, Holy Days, and some other feasts. (A “proper” is the prayers and readings in the Mass that change from day to day.) Haven’t needed to do a new one in a while. When I made them, I was often able to find samples online that I could cut-and-paste from, but sometimes they were scans that were full of typos, sometimes I’d have to get the Latin from one place and the English from another, and in a few cases I couldn’t find one and had to type it from scratch. So I thought it might be helpful to put them online for others who are in the same boat I was.

The English translations should be the same as the ones in the Baronius 1962 missal. I think I’ve proofread them all pretty well in both languages, but I’m sure there are still a few typos, so please let me know if you spot any.

I’m putting them on the St. Rose site instead of this personal one, since that seems like where they belong. There are instructions on the page with them, but in short: download the PDF if you just want to print it, but it will say “Saint Rose Latin Mass Proper” at the top. If you want to edit it or use it in your own materials, download the DOC or ODT version, which you can edit in Open Office or Libre Office, or possibly Microsoft Office (I’m not sure whether MS Office does ODT). Consider them public domain, and use the files or the text in them however it can help you.

Latin Rosary Card

This is a prayer card I designed back when I was teaching a Latin class, so I could give one to each student. I ran across the files recently and thought I might as well put them online where someone else might get some use from them. They have all the standard Rosary prayers in Latin: the Sign of the Cross, Apostles Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, and Gloria.

If you download the two PDF files and print them on opposite sides of an 8.5x11 piece of paper or card stock, then cut on the cut lines, you’ll get three prayer cards a bit under 3x5 inches, a bit bigger than a standard holy card, but a good size to fit in a pocket. I had a printer do it and then laminate each card, which I think ended up costing about 70 cents per card. Pretty good deal.

PDF Side 1

PDF Side 2

I’m also putting up the original files I designed, in case someone wants to make changes before printing them. I created them in the open source desktop publishing program Scribus, so you’ll need that or something that knows that format.

Scribus File Side 1

Scribus File Side 2

Pepper

"[S]he lies in front of me curled up before the fire, as so many dogs must have lain before so many fires. I sit on one side of that hearth, as so many men must have sat by so many hearths. Somehow this creature has completed my manhood; somehow, I cannot explain why, a man ought to have a dog. A man ought to have six legs; those other four legs are part of him… [M]y dog knows I am a man, and you will not find the meaning of that word written in any book as clearly as it is written in [her] soul." – G.K. Chesterton

I got her as a puppy 16 years ago. I wasn’t looking for a dog; my new landlord was getting rid of extra puppies and offered one. We had dogs on the farm growing up, but she was the first dog that was mine. She was half coon hound and half Spitz, so she had the pointy ears and thick fur of a wolf from the Spitz side. My sister used to call her a dingo, and there was a definite resemblance.

She was so friendly and well-behaved that she gave me a reputation for being some kind of dog trainer, but the truth is I never really trained her at all. She just seemed to know what she was supposed to do, and to do the right thing almost all the time.

She wasn’t a surrogate child, or a “companion animal.” To call her a “best friend” would miss the point and sell her short. What she was was My Dog, the best dog I could have hoped for, with all the faithfulness and devotion you can possibly pack into that title. In the last several years, she went nearly everywhere with me, and always knew when I was headed for the car. Even when she got old enough that it was hard for her to jump in, she was there, ready to go wherever I was headed.

One time when I had her at the store, a lady came in, dropped to her knees, and started petting her. After a couple minutes, I noticed she was crying, and she sat there petting her for a long time. Finally she said something about how Pepper drew feelings out of her about a childhood pet of her own that she hadn’t felt in a long time.

When so many people exclaimed over how pretty and nice and happy she was, at first I figured that’s just what you say about anyone’s dog to be nice. But eventually I realized it was more than that; she really was something special.

She’s been mostly deaf for a few years, but I still talked to her all the time, only now I didn’t bother to speak up. It seemed like she understood my mumbled thoughts just as well as ever.

Today I buried her, in the shade out by the grotto of the Virgin Mary, so she’ll be near me when I sit out there and pray. I was crying when I put her in the ground, same as I’m crying now as I write this. We’ll miss you, Pepper. You were a good dog.

Written September 10, 2016. – Aaron Baugher

Dactylic Hexameter

I made the mistake of telling the kids that their recent literature assignment might be more difficult than anything of the sort that I had to do in school. That gave them an opening to insist that it was impossible, and challenge me to prove that it wasn’t by doing it myself. Oops.

The assignment was to write a 25-line poem in dactylic hexameter, the verse-form the Iliad was written in. “Dactylic” means the rhythm uses sets of three syllables with the first one stressed, so it goes DA-da-da-DA-da-da, like a waltz. “Hexameter” means there are six of those DA-da-da sets in each line, though Homer apparently cheated a little and ended some lines a syllable or three early. Fortunately, it doesn’t also have to rhyme.

So I threw one together to show them it could be done. Since it’s only the second or third poem that I’ve ever written of my own free will, I thought I might as well put it up here for posterity. I don’t think it’s too bad, for 9th grade work. I cheat a little in spots (is “girl” one syllable or two? Here it’s both!) but not too much. I’m especially proud of the fact that I worked a Homeric simile into it.

So if you have a Kolbe Greek Literature student who thinks this assignment is too hard, feel free to show him this as proof that it can be done. If you are a Kolbe Greek Literature student and you decide to steal this, let me know what kind of grade you get.

How to Treat Your Introvert

I ran across this link called How to Care for Introverts today and realized I’ve never written about being an introvert, although I’ve mentioned it in passing a couple times. That link goes to a very crummy scanned image, so I thought I’d type it in here, and then add my own thoughts.

First of all, for those who don’t know what an introvert is, the best definition I know is: “someone for whom spending time with other people is tiring.” An extrovert is just the opposite: someone who gets a charge from being around people, who finds long periods alone boring and tiring. An introvert expends energy in dealing with other people, and needs downtime alone to recharge from it. There are other aspects to it, but that’s the main difference.

It doesn’t matter whether we have fun and like the people at the party, either, which is the part extroverts usually have trouble understanding. One time I mentioned to someone how I wasn’t looking forward to a string of family Christmas parties one right after the other, and she asked, “Why, don’t you like your family?” She couldn’t understand how going to a fun party with people I really like could wear me out. If anything, those occasions are the most tiring of all, because instead of sitting in the corner and waiting for it to be over, I actually talk to people and get involved, which takes more energy.

Being introverted isn’t the same thing as being shy, although there are certainly shy introverts. I was very shy as a kid, and I’m much less so now, but I’m just as introverted as ever. I think shyness is partly about fear, while introversion is simply about energy and what increases or decreases it for you.

So, here’s the list from the link. Some of these seem to assume you’re in charge of the person, so they mostly apply to the parents of introverted kids, but others could apply to anyone.

  • Respect their need for privacy.
  • Never embarrass them in public.
  • Reprimand them privately.
  • Teach them new skills privately rather than in public.

I never thought of this as an introvert thing, but I do like my privacy. Being embarrassed in public doesn’t bother me as much now, but it certainly did when I was a kid. I don’t mind opening up to a certain extent now, but there’s a limit. I also definitely prefer to learn things in private, rather than stumbling through them in public. (Like spending a year learning to play bridge before playing with people.)

  • Let them observe first in new situations.
  • Give them time to think. Don’t demand instant answers.
  • Don’t interrupt them.
  • Give them advanced notice of expected changes in their lives.
  • Give them 15-minute warnings to finish whatever they are doing before calling them to dinner or moving on to the next activity.

This kind of makes us sound slow, which isn’t the point. It’s just that we like to think before we speak, observe before acting. Introverts rarely blurt things out, and when we do, we often regret it. When I’m in a normal conversation, I don’t say anything without thinking over the sentence to myself first, considering how it will be received, and editing until I’m happy with it. That takes time.

This also makes me think that constant multitasking isn’t a good plan for introverts, and I see that in my own work. When I’m working on project A and getting instant messages about project B and a phone call comes about project C, I tend to not be very productive at any of them for a while. If you’re smart and good at what you do, you can cover for that to some extent, but there’s no way to be as productive as if you could focus on one thing for a few hours. I never thought of that as an introvert thing either, but it makes sense, since each new interruption requires a complete shift of thinking so the introvert can focus on the new thing before acting on it.

That 15-minute warning before switching tasks sounds really good. Maybe I should try to implement that with my work schedule, setting a 15-minute warning alarm that goes off before each appointment or task on my schedule.

  • Enable them to find one best friend who has similar interests and abilities, encourage this relationship even if the friend moves.
  • Do not push them to make lots of friends.

I’d certainly agree with the second one. Introverts take conversations slowly, and a friendship is essentially an extended and complicated conversation. Since conversations require energy, having lots of friends would wear us out and not leave enough time to recharge. It probably is better for us to have one very good friend than a bunch of casual ones, and we’re okay with long-distance friends because we can get away from them when we need time alone.

  • Respect their introversion. Don’t try to remake them into extroverts.

This is the biggest one. I’m sure every introvert has been told at least once to “open up,” as if it’s a personality defect we need to get over, like swearing too much. I’m so glad my parents never pushed that way; an introvert with extroverted parents who didn’t understand would have a rough time. Telling an introvert to “open up” is like telling someone with bad knees to run a marathon: it’ll be painful and won’t help.

Now for one of my own:

  • When an introvert isn’t talking, it doesn’t mean he’s mad about something or doesn’t like you. An introvert enjoys companionable silence.

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me what was wrong just because I was being quiet, I’d be a rich man. If I don’t talk for a while, it could mean I’m thinking about what to say, or I just don’t have anything to say. An introvert won’t just babble to fill silence, so sometimes that leaves lulls in the conversation that make extroverts nervous.

All this might make it seem like introverts are natural hermits who don’t like people, but that’s not the case at all. When I lived by myself in Barry, I’d find an excuse to go to the store or somewhere every couple days, for the human contact. I didn’t need a lot of it, but I did need it, just in small doses on my terms.