Spring is here

Spring is here… I think. It is the beginning of April as I write this, and as hard as it may be to believe, I have to consider using a qualifier or three when making my declaration. Is it truly spring? In my post a month ago, I speculated that the end of winter was near, based on the budding trees and warmth in the air. What I did not expect was a cold snap lasting through most of March, making March colder than January according to TWC. It remains to be seen what happens to the local crops. I hope they have not seen too much damage. This is still a largely agricultural area, and we can’t afford to see a crop failure.

What will the season hold? The WagzTail crew has recorded a future episode about springtime, which will be released sometime this month. It… had a few issues but it should work out okay in the end. There’s bound to be a high pollen count for the next few weeks, which makes me glad to be inside, but if the weather stays pleasant, you can be sure I’ll complain a little bit — just not here.

I have other posts in the works. I will be posting them in the next few weeks.

Re-revising a novel

I have been working on a novel for the past year, almost, and am on the second version of the story. (No, I won’t tell you what it’s about. If you know, good. If you don’t know, or think you might know, then you’ll have to wait.) Originally I wanted to experiment with some things. For example, the story has only one POV character, and as a first for me, none are believers.

The story is not working.

Once this current round of revising is completed, aside from tweaking the plot a little more, I will be adding a second POV character and doing what I can to make the characters a little less faithless, even if they are not believers. I am not ready to have only one POV character for longer works, but it is more possible in short stories.

We’ll have to see.

Sweet Tea

A few weeks ago, Wolfin posted his personal sweet tea recipe and challenged me to do the same. His was a little too complicated for my tastes, so I’ll give a more simplified one below:

Ingredients

  • 1 scoop sugar (currently 2/3 cup)
  • enough water to fill a tea kettle
  • 3 family-size tea bags (I use whatever is cheapest at the grocery store)

I won’t insult you with directions on preparing it. You can figure that out for yourselves. But so you know, I let the tea steep for 30 minutes to an hour, and add enough water at the end to make about three liters of tea.

It’s winter…

It is nearing the end of January, which means in this part of the world there is a half-and-half chance that winter is on its way out and we will start to see flowers blooming next month. There is also the possibility of a late-season snowstorm.

Southern winters are not known for their consistency.

Just last week there was the chance of two to four inches of snow, which became an inch of snow, which became snow mixed with rain, which became rain. The rain moved out before the cold moved in. But just days before that, it was hot and muggy, and the damp clung to my fur.

Today the meteorologists had another go at it, but this time they were a little more accurate. With the exception of the out-there Weather.com, most outlets were predicting a glaze of freezing rain. Of course just this is enough to cause the Upstate to go into a panic; all the schools in the county were closed before noon and I am sure the shelves will be empty if I buy groceries in the morning. Even coworkers were nervous.

True, having to scrape a layer of ice off your car just so you can go to lunch is not fun, but as long as the roads are clear that’s more of an inconvenience than anything else. (This also gets to be one of the days that I make everyone freeze. I have fur, why do I need anything more than a light shirt?)

In the end, there was a glaze of ice on plant matter and elevated surfaces. The roads were fine. Somehow I suspect this is the last of real winter for the year.

Preparing a reading list

I’ve got my paws on a few books, one of which I’ve had sitting around for a few months and has been sitting at the end of the “to-read” list, but now that I have reached the end of that list, it is time to expand it. Recently I finished Paradise Lost by John Milton. It took a few pages to get used to the style, but once I did the reading became natural.

To start, I want to do a little bit of light reading and pick up a Redwall book I purchased back in October, Loamhedge by name. I am not particularly a fan of the books; there are some I like but too many of them follow the same tired plot for my taste, and it teaches a form of awkward absolutes: some animals are always good and others are always bad, with exceedingly rare exceptions. The world does not work that way.

Also on the list is John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. I have read portions of it in the past but have yet to suffer my way through the entire work. Of all the books on my list, this is probably the one I look forward to the least.

Third is The Natural Ability of Man, by Jesse Morrell. He is an open-air preacher I’ve been watching for the past couple years or so, and he has a number of sound things to say.

Edit: I would also consider various furry novels. Does anyone know of any decent ones? (Please do not recommend Kyell Gold. I have yet to see anything of his that I would deem appropriate.)

Prayer, and thoughts on the past year

God, how is it possible to repair shattered relationships or friendships or, barring that, sweep up what remains? In the past few months, while some friendships have been strengthened and nurtured beyond what I would ever have imagined, there are others that, neglected and starved for so long, are revealing themselves as far more damaged than I would have anticipated. Perhaps it is naivete on my part, as I am much at fault for neglecting them, but the realization is no less painful. But now that they have been so openly displayed, Adonai, where do I go from here? How is it possible to speak to them when the very thought is both exciting and dreadful? But to neglect this would be sin. God, the answer is apparent. Please give me strength and wisdom to carry it out. It must be done.

Adonai, this past year has not been a good one, in retrospect. While yes, some wonderful friendships have been nurtured, what of the broken ones? Especially the tragic way they have developed? Too much has been made manifest, more than I would have wanted to see. “Christian” sites in the furry fandom I would have loved to support show themselves to be tainted by sin, from the leadership to the users. How am I to support or endorse that which promotes what You abhor? How do I speak to the people? Is a schism wise? There may not be another option but, Adonai, I don’t wish it should come to that.

Please make it more clear.

Trip to Thailand

I am sitting in the airport terminal in Bangkok as I write this blog post about my latest world adventure, my business trip to Thailand. Truth be told, this was not one I looked forward to. My preference is for the Western hemisphere, especially Latin America, if I must travel at all. Theirs is a more familiar culture with a language that I can understand at least to a limited degree. Here, though, nothing is familiar.

A few coworkers thought this would not be the most difficult of trips, because of the planned nature of it. Perhaps this could be true in part, depending on one’s perceived levels of difficulty, but elements of this time were undoubtedly challenging. To begin with, there was no opportunity to take a break from the time I arrived at the customer’s location on Monday morning until the final Saturday of the trip. There was not any opportunity to look around and see the country I was visiting, only work in a lab from morning until almost midnight, sometimes later. Granted, most hours were spent waiting – for the reactor to heat to the proper temperature, for the customer to be ready, for the reaction to finish. However, being stuck in a lab for 12 hours or more is unpleasant, especially when it continues for day on end.

To say the food was odd is putting it mildly. Thai food has a reputation for being spicy (and there is nothing quite like being given a dish covered in chopped chili peppers), although the dishes I sampled all featured something of a delayed reaction. The first bite is pleasantly warm, just enough of a kick to enjoy the meal, but with each subsequent bite the warmth becomes an unquenchable inferno. Sometimes there is even a delay of several minutes, so the heat does not begin until after the final bite. And then there is the food itself, not the spice. My trip provided me with the opportunity to sample ostrich, snail, and frog. Squid was also served, but one look at red and white tentacles emerging from the stew like a sea monster eliminated all desire to try that. It took several days for the food to be edible, and even then, my portions were small. It isn’t very good.

The last day was also a disappointment. The plans to see the city fell through yesterday thanks to a miscommunication that was not to be remedied, so I was dropped off at the airport for my flight to Seoul at noon. Understand that my flight was not to leave before 1 AM, so I was effectively stranded at the airport for 13 hours. Needing the opportunity to kill time, I hired a tour guide to take me around Bangkok for a few hours. That was mostly good, with some excitement at the end. Not even five kilometers from the airport, the car’s front tire blew, so we were stuck on the side of the road for about thirty minutes until we could get it fixed and moving again. Being stuck on the side of the freeway in Thailand is not something I wish to experience ever again.

I realize that this post is sounding like a long list of complaints, and honestly that is precisely what it is. There simply is not much to say about the trip that is not unpleasant in some way or another. I have never been so happy at the thought of returning home.

The above really was written in the airport, but now several months later I am including something else that I did not dare write while in the country. If you are not aware, Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, and it is illegal to insult the king or the royal family. Thailand has built up a personality cult that for me was totally unfamiliar. Having the king on coins and currency I would expect, but seeing his face on the side of a building, on a bridge, beside the road, and anywhere else you could think of… quite frankly it was creepy. And maybe the king really is that great, but it was unnerving hearing nothing but praise about the king. It seemed really unnatural.

All told, I really don’t want to go back any time soon.

Thoughts on Aurora, Colorado

A friend of mine, IantheGecko, was kind enough to join me for a brief talk on the Aurora shooting, and we talked a little bit about one of the most important questions to answer here: “Where was God in all this?”

God was the same place on Friday morning as He was on Thursday morning, of course.

I encourage you all to listen, and comment if you will.

Thank you.

Link to recording:  http://bryandavisfans.com/AuroraEdit.mp3

Thoughts about VOM

This was not a post that I wished to make, nor was it something that could be written in a hurry. It takes time and prayer to make sure what is being said is what should be said, and to know that is the case.

Nevertheless, I will begin.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Voice of the Martyrs is an organization dedicated to raising awareness of persecution of Christians all around the world. They are faithful to tell the stories of those who are suffering, but also to provide means of providing support for them as best they are able. As far as this goes, it is a good thing that they do. Vital, really.

And yet, there was a tragedy in Voice of the Martyr’s not too long ago, but the tragedy extends beyond what VOM wishes to acknowledge, and probably the majority of Christians do not wish to go this far either. However, for the sake of keeping the reputation of the Church pure, this is something that must be made clear.

Nearly a month ago, VOM’s executive director Tom White was found dead in a warehouse at VOM’s headquarters, and it has been deemed a suicide. Prior to his death, he was being investigated for possibly molesting a child. Now, to my knowledge he has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing in this, so for now the allegations must remain that – allegations. I am not interested in speculating about those here. Let that wait for the proper authorities to determine.

So while it cannot be said that he was a child molester, there is something that he certainly was: a murderer.

Please do not get me wrong. I do not like to declare this. It would be wonderful if I could join the chorus of those honoring his memory and all the good things he did for the kingdom of God… but to do so does not bring honor to God. Rather, it dishonors Him by saying that His Spirit dwelled in a sinner. The only response the Church can make is that White was a sinner who did not know God.

Let’s make something clear: suicide is a form of murder in which the aggressor and victim are the same person. So emotional attachments aside, anyone who commits suicide also commits murder. The thing is, in John’s first epistle, John wrote that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

The tragedy is that a sinner took a position of authority in a church ministry and remained a sinner. The tragedy is that he never turned from his sins, but even in the end committed an act of extreme selfishness. (Even VOM’s response speculates that he took his own life rather than face the allegations.)

Remember that people are known by their fruits. Not just that, but good cannot produce bad, and bad cannot produce good.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

This is not to say that evil people cannot do good things, because they can. Those who hate God are quite capable of giving to the poor and helping their neighbor, for example – and they do these things. Rather, it’s different from that. You cannot just look at the outside, and we cannot know their motives all the time (although sometimes it is evident).

But self-murder shows quite firmly what camp he was in.

Christians, please do not further insult God by claiming White was one of His. Recognize what he was, speak against it, but continue the work of VOM, even though VOM’s credibility is also at stake. They have shown a distressing lack of discernment lately.

Easter Weekend

Easter weekend was a welcome opportunity to see family I have not seen since Christmas as well as meet the Korean exchange student my parents have “replaced” me with. (He was staying with another family, but that didn’t work out all too well and since my parents have an extra bedroom now, they took him in. He’s doing better now.)

Anyway, Dad, Sung, and I left for Alabama on Saturday morning. Our destination? Collinsville Trade Day. I was going to provide a link, but their site died. For those of you who don’t know – I presume that is anyone reading this blog – Collinsville Trade Day is basically an outdoor flea market. People come from all over north Alabama and Georgia to sell or buy their junk.

And in many instances it is in fact junk. Today I saw, among other things, a bathtub and slightly used shoes, alongside the typical rusted out pieces of scrap metal. There are useful things too, such as knives and guns, some homemade crafts, and also produce (I purchased a quart of honey today), but a lot of the time you go there to laugh at the people and chuckle at what people think potential customers will buy. It’s also fun to talk to the vendors, if they’re willing to act like proper Southerners and carry on a conversation.

And since it was the day before Easter, there were quite a few chicks and bunnies for sale. I don’t know how many were bought, but I can imagine that the number of purchases made is proportional to the number of parents who will regret said purchase come Monday morning. Besides, after Easter most of the kids will no longer be interested. What do you do with a chick besides raise it for eggs or eat it, honestly? There were also a number of free puppies, as well as goats, guineas, ducks, and turtles for sale. I know at least one who will want to know there were also geckoes today. That was a first.

It’s the kind of event that someone should go to at least once in his life. For locals, once a year is enough, maybe twice. Furries should not announce their presence as such.

Following that, we navigated Lookout Mountain and stopped by Dad’s relatives. Many on Dad’s side were there… and about as many as were there were strangers to the coyote. As is typical, they knew who I was but I did not know them.

Lastly before leaving we stopped by the mill hole. Years ago, a mill stood in this spot, but now there is nothing but the foundation for the building, and a waterfall into a wide, clear pool. People still swim in it to this day, although it’s not the sort of place I would want to venture into without shoes or thick-skinned pawpads. There’s no telling how much broken glass or metal cans have accumulated over the decades. (For the record, I have never had the opportunity to swim in the mill hole, although this is something I strongly wish to remedy.)

My apologies for the lack of pictures, because I know my words formed a report and painted no mental images for you. To do that would require pages upon pages.