I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving holiday. I am out at my dad’s in Berks County, with a gallon of my latest home-brew (Belgian Dubbel). My sister is allegedly coming, who I have not seen in some time.
This weekend, Sebastian and I had the chance to tour Christ Church in Philadelphia. I had never been before at all, and he had never really been on a real tour of it.
The history there is just amazing. It’s quite humbling to realize that the baptismal font still in use today has been around since before most people have paper records of their family’s baptisms – over 600 years old and it was used to baptize William Penn in 1644. As the tour guide pointed out, the chandelier they planned to light that afternoon for a wedding is the same chandelier that was in place (and likely lit) for Benjamin Franklin’s daughter’s wedding.
Another bit of history that I did not know stuck out to me after seeing incredible artwork in the form of stained glass. One of the scenes featured in the glass is the prayer given before the Continental Congress on September 7, 1774. The delegates asked the local Anglican minister open the session with a prayer. Following tradition of the time, the 36-year-old opened with the scripture that happened to be designated for that day, Psalm 35.
1 Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
3 Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.
5 Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord chase them.
6 Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the Lord persecute them.
7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.
8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.
9 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.
10 All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?
11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.
12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.
13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.
15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not:
16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.
17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.
18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.
19 Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.
20 For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.
21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.
22 This thou hast seen, O Lord: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.
23 Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.
24 Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.
25 Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.
26 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.
27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.
It’s rather amazing how that so perfectly fit the circumstances of that very day. However, the real highlight of our visit was getting to see the actual book of church meeting notes from July 4, 1776.
Getting into genealogy has inspired me to ask many more questions about the veterans in my family. I never expected to learn even a fraction of what I have lately.
My paternal grandfather got a bug for flying as a child when he was walking home from work in the late 1920s and he went by the local airport in Ardmore, Oklahoma. A guy with a plane offered him a chance to fly. That man turned out to be Wylie Post. In college, my grandfather joined the ROTC and was called up in June 1941 shortly before he could finish his degree in Petroleum Engineering. He served in the Army Air Corps and was stationed in Burma for his longest stint. He was trained to fly the B-25 and C-46, but after a while they told him to get into an unarmed P-38 and go take pictures of the Japanese. After the war, he went back to school to finish his degree and met a freshman girl who caught his eye – my grandmother. My grandfather survived a plane crash during the war and having a boat sink out from under him, but not skin cancer. He passed when I was 11 months old, so I never knew him.
My dad’s story isn’t nearly so eventful as his father’s story, but he did serve in the Navy during the later years of Vietnam. However, he was never sent over there and his job was primarily making sure people got paid and taking care of the accounting. I’m sure the men who served with him appreciated his ability to do his job. :)
(He’s the second from the right.)
The final picture I have to share was just recently obtained. It’s a picture of CASU-44, my maternal grandfather’s unit in WWII. He enlisted in the Navy, and they put him to work fixing planes because that man can fix absolutely anything. He went to Tinian behind some Marines and, from his stories, was basically working with them most of the time. He was punished for striking an officer after the fresh officer showed up and insulted my grandfather after trying to tell him that the manual said to fix the plane a certain way that my grandfather knew from experience didn’t work. He also told us about getting shot at by the Japanese while delivering ammunition to the other side of the island when he took a wrong turn in the sugar cane. Fortunately, some Marines nearby heard the shooting and pulled him out. My grandfather was put in the hospital when a storm caused the loss of most of their food supplies and they were put on different rations. He couldn’t keep any of it down at all and was no longer able to do as much as the Navy needed him to do. Eventually, he was shipped back to Hawaii and then back home.
(He’s second from the left in the fourth row from the top.)
To relate this a bit back to guns, my maternal grandfather could also shoot a squirrel out of a tree from damn near anywhere, even when other people couldn’t even spot the damn thing. His favorite squirrel gun is still kept loaded by his chair, and it was ordered from the Sears catalog.
A recently discovered picture of my Grandfather, who served in World War II at the end of the Battle of the Bulge. He was deployed for about a month before he was wounded near St. Vith, Belgium. This picture was taken before he deployed, in Spartanburg, South Carolina on August 6, 1944.
This was also recently discovered:
It looks like they chose not to inform my grandmother of the extent of his injuries. His wound was bad enough that he was partially disabled in the use of his left hand for the rest of his life, though he would never admit it. They shipped him home to convalesce. My grandfather died in 1996 at age 76.
I really liked the week in Oklahoma, but I do have to say, not as much singing as I expected.
How many states can say their official state song was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein? Sadly, I hear Mr. Chips has been waiting by the swinging chair for me to return:
The barn cats all seemed to take a liking to me, especially Mr. Chips.
Sorry for the lack of posting, but we had to take a trip to Bitter’s home town, a place where the corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye (actually, down there it’s more like the cactus rather than corn). Bitter’s grandfather, who she has not seen in 11 years, called on her. I’ve now met three of Bitter’s grandparents, all of whom are still alive, but obviously her grandfather is struggling at nearly 90. All my grandparents were gone by the time I was 30.
In that one picture, that’s probably about as close as I’ve been to horses in my life. We stayed at her Uncle and Cousin’s. Her cousin owns a horse ranch and riding school.
Are you better off than you were a decade ago? In terms of real wages, I’m making about what I did when I was 26, and I’m now 40. Granted, a lot of that is self-inflicted, so I really can’t complain. I gave up salary for flexibility, and the opportunity to take risks on new and interesting things with bigger potential payout down the road. But I have to admit, as I get older, it gets harder and harder to sacrifice for uncertain future rewards than when I was in my twenties.
That’s the one side of the coin. As I’ve have to be more careful about finances, the other side of the equation is undeniable: inflation. The powers that be decided that food and energy prices are too volatile, so they should not be calculated into the official rate of inflation. If you listen to those charlatans, inflation has been non-existent. But when I look at my own finances, the big things that stand out (other than the mortgage and taxes) are food and energy. I’m spending way more in those categories than I was a decade ago, as a percentage of my income.
In 2011, when I lost the high-paying job after the company went tits up, we decided to start eating more meals at home, and eat out less. Sure, it did save money overall, but my grocery bill shot way up to compensate. It was still a net savings, but the grocery bill offset more than I expected! Ordering out some pizza or cheesesteaks every once in a while, it turns out, is reasonably competitive with cooking at home.
Sure, if you can subsist on a diet of hot dogs and ramen, you can do pretty well, but if you cook meals at home as to not bore yourself, it will cost you some money. Eating on the outside of the grocery store? Yeah, that’s some shit invented by rich hippies with money to burn. I don’t find it to be cheap, even if you’re good at meal planning. I realized this summer I am mostly priced out of the beef market. I usually like to smoke a brisket at least once in the BBQ season, but not this year. Last summer we enjoyed several nights of grilled ribeye, but not this year. I haven’t had beef that wasn’t ground in some time. Fortunately, my mother taught me how to make a mean meatloaf, but I have to admit to missing steak.
How is the great recession treating you? Are you better off now than a decade ago? Is food and energy inflation pinching you? And let’s not even get into whiskey prices! It’s almost enough to turn a fella into a populist!
No posting from me for a while. I have been working every waking minute, amounting to about 18 hours a day since last Monday, including the weekend. The client project is wrapping up with a good old fashioned death march. It might be over after next week. I’m not sure, however. In the mean time, I’m going to be scarce around these parts. Apologizes, but the mortgage doesn’t pay itself.
Bitter has come down with a cold, so she has not been in the mood to do much blogging. I came home today to see her on the sofa, watching a foreign movie that involved two guys who had just killed a bear by impaling it from underneath with a spear, set inside a church. Apparently this involved some kind of post-apocalyptic nightmare. I said “What movie is this? I must watch this from the beginning,” since I figure any movie where two guys run a large brown bear through in a church probably involves all kinds awesomeness to arrive at the scene.
Either way, I’m still billing at the client, and about to take a second on. Today was to be my last week at the current client, but they extended me until the end of September, or I run out of work, whichever comes first. My bet is the end of September comes first.
Fourteen years ago, I invested in a small consulting company when it was a start-up. That is now my current employer. Two and a half years ago, I came on board to work on special projects. We wanted to take up special projects, because we don’t want to be in the consulting business long term. The consulting business has lasted 14 years, and has thrown off enough extra money to support my (and several others) efforts for the past two and half years to try to come up with a line of products that people might want to buy. But consulting is a tough business to be in, especially when you’re a small outfit. Unfortunately, we need the consulting business alive to provide the cash flow to fund the special projects.
This winter sucked. I can’t express how much it sucked, both in terms of weather and lost economic productivity. I wish I could say it was all the weather, but a lot of other unhappy things are just hitting at the same time. In consulting, it can be like that, and if you’re not Very Big Consulting, you can only take so much bad luck.. So that’s why I’m out billing instead. As long as I’m out in the field, even if it’s part time, I’m making money instead of costing money, and the company needs that right now.
Personally, I think it’s all a conspiracy by the Obama Administration to deliberately wreck the economy. That way the people who have to do all the work to support the technocratical terror he’s constructed don’t have time to complain ;)
I hope you all enjoy celebrating the birth of our nation by blowing up a small chunk of it. I’m going to spend most of today doing as little as possible. My major planned activity is snoozing in my chair and drinking iced tea.
My apologies for the light posting this week, but we’ve been busy tidying up for a house guest this weekend, and yesterday I had problems with the server the blog runs on. I was down a good chunk of Thursday because of a persistent crash involving the Ethernet chip on the board. I switched over to the other interface, in the hopes that it might only be specific to that one. We’ll see. I usually will get a text when the monitoring system detects the machine is down, but the mail relay was coincidentally out on that machine, which is the one thing that could go wrong where I wouldn’t know about it.
It may come time soon to replace the blog server. If I come to that point, I might have a fundraising drive. But I still think this current machine has some life left in it yet. We’ll see if switching to the other port fixes the problem.