Friday, December 12, 2008


Read the at least one of the links first.

And there were reindeer herders in the hills, And low pixies in the sky dropped magic corn kernels which the reindeer ate because face it they were in the desert a kernel of corn was much better than manna, suddenly reindeer were able to fly. Now the herders had been drinking pretty heavily so at first they thought they had just gotten another bad batch of Joshiah's infamous clay vessel Gin and were seeing things, but then the reindeer landed and the pixies told the herders to climb aboard and ride them down to the village to visit the local free stalls. The ride, flight, caused enough vertigo and nausea that by the time they landed the herders were almost sober. So they cleaned up and visited the stalls, found Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. Most of the rest of story you know from here. The three wise men from the east, Abominable, Santa and Frosty. The three of them and most of the herders hit it off quite well and hung out for quite a while getting to know the whole holy family. Then Jack "the scrooge" Frost-Herod, got jealous and you know the things he did, just a horrible man, but the whole party flew the reindeer down to Egypt to save baby Jesus and his parents. That kind of sobered up the party and thinking it was best they split up for all of their safety. Some went north, some went east, a lot of them went west, in fact those who were the most vocal story tellers and marketing geniuses are the ones that went west.
So you see, that's why the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a religious story. Its a story of redemption of the misfits and the learning of Grace for the occupants of Santa's villiage. Forgiveness of the bumble (they called him Abominable because the original Abo was a big guy with lots of hair), and of course they learned that if you are good enough, and have a bright enough nose you can get through any storm.
Goes to show....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

How to Create a New Post

    • Log in with your email address and password.
    • Click on “New Post” on the upper right.

    • Enter a title in the “Title” bar.
    • Click in the big white box below and start entering the text of your post.
    • To upload a picture, click on the picture icon (3rd icon from the right in editing strip above white box). Follow the buttons on the screen to browse your hard drive for the picture.It’s better if you don’t load a 3MB picture, shrink it with Picasa (photo software from Google – oh, maybe that needs it’s own tutorial…). Decide they layout of the photo (none, left, right, center). I usually leave it as none.Choose image size – medium is good. Then click orange “Upload Image” box. Wait until the image uploads. You’ll see it in a pop up window. Click “Done.”
    • Videos are too advanced for you. Venture there at your own risk (2nd icon from the right in editing strip above white box).
    • When finished, click “Publish Post” orange box on bottom left.
    • Admire your post by clicking on "View Blog."

Monday, October 20, 2008

To Know or Not to Know, Watch this:

Make sure the sound is on while you watch it.

After-images of God

I watched an interesting documentary this weekend about Super Black Holes. It occured to me that black holes might be an 'after image' of God from the creation of time...or simply another metaphor of how creation gives us glimpses of her creator. Let me explain.

The initial search for super black holes was in Quasars - large object between 10-15 billion lightyears away (ie dating back to close to the origins of the universe) that emit tremendous amounts of energy. The theory was that somehow the energy emited was a result of a black hole. As it turned out the quasars were too far away to be able to tell but what was 'discovered' was that all galaxies appear to have a Super Black Hole (SBH) at their center. So the question was then posed, what's the relationship of the SBH to the galaxy and to galaxy formation. So this is what they found that reminded me of God.

  • SBH are the most powerful force in the universe, in fact their power is immeasurable.
  • We've never actually seen a SBH, we've only been able to see the effects the SBH has on the stars/matter surrounding and coming under the influence of the SBH and so we believe they exist.
  • We've never even seen anything enter a SBH but we believe they have the capacity/power to suck in stars etc.
  • The only way we know the SBH is there is by how it affects it's surroundings
  • SBH's seem to be the creative force of the galaxy - that without the SBH, the galaxy wouldn't exist
  • We think of black holes as destructive but apparently SBH are actually a massive creative force in the universe
  • Even stars that are too far out at the edge of a galaxy to be directly affected by the gravitational force of the SBH are still somehow affected by it (the speed of star rotation is directly proportional to the size of the SBH in each galaxy)
  • SBH seem to be more overtly active as the galaxy is being created and then 'rests' once it has taken shape.

    Well all analogies breakdown somewhere but maybe the Creator leaves his/her mark on creation for us to find. So do we 'believe' in Super Black Holes?
  • Sunday, October 19, 2008


    How was the movie?

    I found it entertaining, but I felt myself squirming when he is asking Christians why they believe what they believe. Their pat answers seem shallow and remind me of times in my life when I was asked to defend what I believed.

    During my college years I spent a year taking some courses at Sophia University in Tokyo. The international division had classes in the evening. I remember how the cultural anthropology class really stimulated my thinking about other belief systems. One evening, in between classes, when everyone was in the hallways, one guy yells at me, asking, "How can you believe in a God who allows evil in the world?' I felt flustered and mumbled some answer (who knows what I said). It caused me so much anxiety to defend God when I simply believed what I was taught all my life. So when I heard the Christians in the movie, defending their beliefs, the answers seem ridiculous.

    Bill Maher goes over the top, but I think it's important to ask, "Why do you believe what you believe?" Maybe the answer is simply "I don't know."

    99 lentil burgers in the fridge

    Actually, we're down to the last one. Mike refuses to eat anymore, so I'm hoping today will be the end. How is it that we ended up with all of them? I thought at least a few of you said you like them...

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008


    What a great time hanging out with the Irreverent Thinkers! This weekend exploring the Page area we saw many impressive and unusual formations. My favorite formation, though, was actually at Debbie's Hideaway.

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    Recipes from Page Weekend

    Verena has crashed, hopefully for the night, or at least until 3... So, I thought I'd take the opportunity to post the recipes from last weekend.

    Vegetarian Lentil Burgers:
    (Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
    I must give credit to my friend Erin - see her blog for this recipe - and MANY others.
    I usually end up using 3 cups dried lentils for 4 eggs, but the recipe is pretty versatile. I have used twice as many lentils with that many eggs and you still get burgers. You just want a mixture that you can barely shape into burgers at the end.

    3 cups cooked lentils (I've even thrown in some split peas)
    4 large eggs
    ~3/4 tsp teaspoon salt
    1 tsp+ cumin
    a couple cloves of garlic and then a couple shakes of garlic powder to taste
    black pepper
    diced jalapeño seeds and ribs removed - or keep some seeds if you want some heat
    ~1/2+ cup onion, finely chopped
    1 cup toasted fine (whole-grain) bread crumbs (2 whole wheat hamburger buns)
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

    Optional toppings:
    sliced avocado
    sliced tomato
    feta cheese
    homemade ketchup

    Wash and sort your lentils. Put them in a 3 qt. saucepan and cover with about 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes.
    Drain the lentils well and let cool for a bit.

    Combine the lentils, eggs, salt, cumin, and black pepper in a food processor - or just mush with the bottom of a glass. I like the consistency better mushing than processing. Pulse until the mixture is the consistency of a runny yet textured hummus. Just pulse until it comes together nicely, don't over process. Pour into a mixing bowl and stir in the onion and jalapeño. Add the breadcrumbs, stir, and let sit for a couple of minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a very moist mixture that you can easily form into ~6-7 4" wide x 1 1/2-inch-thick patties. "I err on the moist side here, because it makes for a nicely textured burger. You can always add more bread crumbs a bit at a time to firm up the dough if need be. Conversely, a bit of water or more egg can be used to moisten the batter." I didn't have to add anything.

    Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium low, add 4 patties, cover and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes. Flip the patties and cover, cooking the second side for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties. Carefully cut each patty in half, insert your favorite fillings, and enjoy immediately. We now tend to just slice them in half and then eat them open faced, topped with goodies.

    Multi-grain Pancakes:
    Modified From Good Food Book, by Jane Brody.

    I have made several modifications to use all whole grain flour using hard white wheat and whole wheat flours. I also replaced the oil with ground flax seed, which has omega-3 fatty acids and adds fiber. Finally, I cut out the sugar. This recipe makes a lot of mix, but then it’s easy to enjoy pancakes by just adding milk and an egg. They’re pretty hearty; hardly anyone eats more than two. Mike and I eat these almost every Saturday morning! Make sure the grill is hot enough - water drops should sizzle and dance before you pour the batter.

    6 cups stoneground whole wheat flour
    3 cups hard white wheat flour (lately I've just been using all hard white wheat)
    3 cups oats (thicker are better, Bob's Red Mill are my favorite)
    1 cup plus 2 T oat bran
    3 T baking powder (aluminum-free!)
    1 1/2 T baking soad (aluminum-free!)
    1/2 cup plus 1 T ground flax seed

    To make pancakes for 2-3 people:
    1 scant cup of mix
    1 generous cup of milk
    1 egg

    2 pounds thick oats (~10 cups, Bob's Red Mill are my favorite - do NOT use instant oats)
    1 cup olive oil/honey (I usually use a little more and put a little more than half honey, but the original recipe calls for 1/2 and 1/2)
    cinnamon, Mexican vanilla, freshly ground nutmeg

    Heat oven to 325 F. Mix honey, olive oil, and spices. Heat in microwave if necessary to get honey dissolved and less viscous. Pour over oats in large mixing bowl. Stir to coat. If the oats don't look wet or are not all coated, then add more honey/oil. Pour oats in 9x13 pan and place in oven for 30 min, stirring every 10 min. You can add nuts for last 10 min of baking or with dried fruit at end. Use your imagination with nuts and fruit - our standard combos are blueberry, cranberry, and pecan and dark chocolate, cherry, and almond. We've also used flax seed for omega-3 and fiber. I never measure the fruit and nuts, so just add however much you want. It doesn't take much chocolate to get good flavor, maybe 1/4 cup.

    Sunday, October 5, 2008


    I work up the street from a "hip & trendy" coffee shop called Lux Their slogan is coffe+community+art.(What's not to love.) The coffee there is fabulous - they roast the beans on site. I will pick up a bag and bring it to Page. Hopefully this will meet the standard of "good coffee" on our supply list.

    If other people are bringing their favorite joe, maybe we could have a "coffee tasting".

    Looking forward to seeing everyone,


    Friday, October 3, 2008

    Microwave Peanut Brittle

    1 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup light corn syrup
    1 cup salted peanuts
    1 teaspoon butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon baking soda

    1. Butter a cookie sheet. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a 2 quart glass bowl and microwave on high 4 minutes. Stir in peanuts and microwave on high 3 1/2 minutes more, then stir in butter and vanilla and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. (I would recommend microwaving for a little less time, and keep checking. Each microwave is different.)
    2. Stir in baking soda until light and foamy. Pour onto cookie sheet and spread thin. Cool completely and break into pieces and serve.

    Mundane Trip Planning Stuff

    If anyone plans to bring some food items or to make something while we're in Page, send me a quick note (or add to this blog entry). I'll keep the following list updated, so it's easy for everyone to see what's covered. My understanding is that we can pick up a limited range of basic supplies there.

    (Initials of people bringing items in parentheses)

    • Lots of granola, Multi-grain Pancakes, Good coffee (B&M)
    • Lux Coffee (J&N)
    • Pancakes, Syrup, Eggs, Fruit (J&C)
    • Bagels, Cream cheese, Smoked salmon (B&M)
    • Wraps, Sandwiches (get in Page)
    Dinner (a grill is available):
    • Noodle type casserole - Fri (G&P)
    • Ezekiel bread (J&N)
    • Veggie Burgers - Sat (B&M)
    • Hamburgers - Sat (get in Page)
    • Side dishes (get in Page)
    • Granola bars & Cliff bars, Nut clusters & mixed nuts, Chocolate, Wine & Scotch (B&M)
    • Sembei (Japanese rice crackers), More wine (G&P)
    • Hummus & pita, Dehydrated shitake mushrooms (J)
    • Settlers of Catan, Dominoes (B&M)
    • DVD Player, Princess Bride (J&N)

    Sunday, September 28, 2008


    Well here goes. After a letter sent to the Phoenix members of IT, some discussion with dinner and wine on Saturday night, and such, what follows is offered as an opening to an active blog. SO, I hope to see comments coming back.

    At our gathering last night a most important question was raised. Thanks Jeanette. I think it is directly related to my questions about a definition of spirituality that I have submitted in an email. How do we know something? How many ways are there of knowing? The irony of the moment when that question was raised was that the discussion was interrupted by the Stones’ song “I can’t get no, Satisfaction.” Irony because satisfying the “longing” was a theme in my email that I submitted to the group that raised this question and because after we all enjoyed a sing along of wonderful proportions, we did not get back to this question.

    I would like to ask for reflection on this: How do we come to know something is true? In my past studies, we called it the epistemological question. I think this is at the root of my on-going discussions with my friend about what if anything, is spirituality

    In our time, it seems, THE method of gaining knowledge that is considered by some to be the only way to gain knowledge, especially if it is to have “truth value,” is the method of scientific investigation. I hear from many different people the demand that whatever claims are being made about almost anything, must be able to get through the sieve of scientific investigation. So I would ask in this blog, can we define “scientific investigation” and is such activity required for all knowledge? Interesting twist, from trying to define “spiritual” to trying to define “scientific investigation,” but one that may beg ‘investigation.’ One question related, is scientific method synonymous with scientific investigation?

    Here is my personal connection of spirituality and scientific investigation: My experiences that I call spiritual do not stand up to the methods of scientific investigation. The prophets and priests of our time, the scientists, would not consider such experiences to have much “truth-value.” (There is another term begging definition.) I, at this moment, find that attempts to defend my perspective to that system of “knowing,” appear to be exercises in futility. I find that I have become more and more skeptical of that way of knowing, even as my very employment depends on it. I recall one amongst us, a scientist no less, questioning the “sacredness” of that way of “knowing” as demonstrated by Joseph Campbell.

    So how do we know something to be true? Does everything left inside of the sieve of scientific investigation fail to be true? (The image I am using is the sieves used in separating dirt from rocks or flour from husks. That which stays on in the sieve is not used, that which falls through is used.)

    And, I return to an old theme of mine: Does functionality have any say about what is true?
    I ask you all to speak up. Having this conversation with myself is like clapping with one hand.


    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Saturday's Events

    Having fun with watercolor!

    Wine tasting. Voted best: 2001 Napa Nook (courtesy of Mike)
    Roll your own sushi!

    Sunday, September 14, 2008

    Pilgrim's Progress

    Hi everyone. I've been listening to Kris Kristofferson alot lately - what a prophet! Anyway, here's a song that seems to capture the essence of some of our own musings. It's simple, but true:

    Am I young enough to believe in revolution
    Am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray
    And am I high enough on the chain of evolution
    To respect myself and my brother and my sister
    And perfect myself in my own peculiar way

    I get lazy and forget my obligations
    I'd go crazy if I paid attention all the time
    And I want justice but I'll settle for some mercy
    On this Holy Road through the Universal Mind


    I got lucky I got everything I wanted
    I got happy there was nothin' else to do
    And I'd be crazy not to wonder if I'm worthy
    Of the part I play in this dream that's comin' true


    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Wine = 10

    Wow, such a good list of wine must mean there is a GOD. No doubt about it!!!

    Klinker Brick YES!!!!

    Tuesday, September 9, 2008


    In thinking about our upcoming wine tasting, I thought I'd toss out some wine names that have been favorites of ours. Often, the occassion on which we discovered something was a large part of what made it special, so your mileage may vary.

    Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Rubicon Estate Rubicon (Francis Coppola)
    • Cousino-Macul Antiguas reservas, Chile
    • Halter ranch 
    • Sterling vintners collection
    • Errazuriz
    • Los Vascos - Colchagua
    • Marquis Philips S2
    • Nappanook
      (discovered during our summer in Portland)
    • Heitz Cellar
    • Continuum
    • Klinker brick lodi old vine
    • Peachy Canyon, CA
      (discovered when we stumbled into Restaurant 1881 in Bridgeport, CA - good eats) 
    • Valley of the Moon 2002 
      (one of two favorite wineries in Sonoma Valley)
    Pinot Noir 
    • Andrew Rich, Willamette Valley
    • Lorca 
    • Ledson (Sonoma) 2004
      (one of two favorite wineries in Sonoma Valley - we stop in every time)
    • Iron Horse (Sonoma) 2002 
    • A to Z
    • Duckhorn Goldeneye - Anderson Valley
      (special treat to celebrate Verena's birth)
    • Rosenblum hillside
      (hands-down favorite from a Caffe Boa wine dinner)
    Petite Syrah  
    • Bogle
      (a favorite everyday wine)
    • Bierzo Descendientes de Jose Palacios "Petalos"
    • Vina rey "70 Barricas"
    • Jose Maria da Fonseca, Portugal 
    I'd love to hear from others what some of their favorites are.

    Monday, September 8, 2008

    Convincing indicators of existence of "God," a scale

    Hi all,

    To whoever is interested, I was wondering about creating a scale of how convincing an idea was as "proof" of "God's" existence, whoever she is.

    As an example, Phil and I were talking last night about the idea of the "hyper agency-detection-device" , HADD, (note the three hyphenated words are a single noun). The person who wrote about that idea was trying to "prove" god's existence. Phil was reading this author who was from Calvin College. The idea of HADD is about our evolutionary progress to the present moment where we concieve of god as existing.

    Phil and I both were not completly persuaded that HADD really proved God's existence but only our perception.

    I speak for myself now: This idea would be a 2 or 3 on a scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being strong evidence of God's existence.

    Any other ideas that people might want to put on such a scale? Is it useful?

    I get back to experience, that is, experiencing a sense of the holy via the HADD is part of my life. The experience convinces me of God's existence, regardless of the means that the experience comes into my mind. Is experience scalable or too subjective?

    Just a start of a blogg if there are any out there that wish to comment.

    Sunday, August 31, 2008

    the beginning

    It all began with an email from Chuck on June 4, 2007.

    "Hi all,

    If you can make it, we would like to have dinner at our house on Saturday night to share food, wine (or beer), fellowship, and irreverent spiritual conversation about our spiritual journeys. 6:30 would be a good time if that works out. If not, let me know.

    At this point, you need only bring yourself and if you choose, a beverage of your choice. We will supply water, wine (no I have not figured out how to change one to the other), tea, coffee and beer but you might not like what we have to offer so bring your own if you don't want to risk it.

    I would like to consider this the start of a regular (or not) gathering of individuals, couples or whatever to support each other in our journeys of life as those journeys connect to our higher power (whom I choose to call God) (oops, my 12 step skirt is showing) and to each other's journeys.

    Jeanette and Nathan have suggested we use a Renovare format. It looks good. I suggested recently that the book "Soul Making" would be good fertilizer for mutual and individual growth. Saturday could be a day where we all bring our thoughts together for that.BUT, in the end, having fun is a perfectly good reason to get together too. I suspect that God likes having fun as much as we do. Seeing the crazy formations in Canyon Lands last week reminded me just how much fun S/He has had. What an awsomely creative entity there is that can take millions of years just to make such insane shapes with the power of wind, water, and upheavals.Anyway, enough of all that.

    Please let me know if you can make it.

    Chuck (and my better half, Jan)"

    We've been meeting every other Saturday night since that first gathering - for food and for talk.