Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bike Trip

Yesterday my friend Tom and I went on a little tour of the Livermore Valley Wine Country by bicycle. The weather was sunny and warm, around 75 degrees so the conditions were ideal for riding. We started off at our house and rode the back trails to downtown Pleasanton where we stopped for a late breakfast at Dean's Cafe, they have fantastic Omelet menu, real good fuel for the ride ahead :-)

We then rode out Vineyard Avenue until we reached Mitchell Katz Winery. We were a little early, they don't open the tasting room until noon, so we sat at the picnic tables outside and played a card game Tom brought called "Lost Cities" until they opened up. Mitchell Katz makes some really nice wines, the best was the "Fat Boy Cabernet" that we sampled out of the barrel, that won't be bottled until January but it's already really good :-)

From there we rode on to Concannon Vineyard, one of the oldest wineries in the Livermore Valley. Their main claim to fame is that they were the first American Winery to bottle Petite Sirah on it's own, not as an addition for flavoring to something else. The 2005 Reserve Capt. Joe's Petite Sirah is really a pretty nice wine.

From there we rode a short distance down Tesla Avenue to the LaRochelle Winery were we had a deluxe sit down tasting complete with a wonderful pairing platter. I had the Pinot Noir Flight:

Pinot Noir Flight
2005 Dutton-Campbell Ranch, Russian River Valley
2005 Pinot Noir, Zabala Vineyard, Arroyo Seco
2005 Anindor Vineyard, Umpqua Valley
2006 Late Harvest Riesling

Tom had the Sleepy Hollow Flight:

Sleepy Hollow Flight - Limited Time Date: Offered Daily
2006 Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Martini Clone,
Santa Lucia Highlands

2006 Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Clone #113,
Santa Lucia Highlands

2006 Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Clone #667,
Santa Lucia Highlands

2006 Winter Harvest Riesling,
San Vicente Vineyard, Monterey

Pairing Platter

• Saint André - High (75%) milk-fat ("triple crème") cow's milk French cheese with a soft buttery texture, like an intense version of Brie. It pairs well with Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc & Pinot Gris.

• Manchego - This Spanish sheep's milk cheese from La Mancha offers a full spectrum of flavors. This version is aged 3 months and goes particularly well with Pinot Noir, as well as other red varietals like Syrah, Merlot, and Petite Sirah.

• Fig & Olive Tapenade - Pureed kalamata olives and dried mission figs are blended with just a touch of rosemary, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. A little salty and slightly sweet, the tapenade pairs best with the red wines.

• Truffle Mousse - This luxurious mousse of chicken and pork features the gem of French cuisine - black truffle. Flavored with Pineau des Charentes and sherry, this mousse has an unbelievably silky texture and is perfect for the most elegant occasions.

The portions of wine were much larger here and we shared the tastings and the platter, by far the best food and wine we had all day was here at LaRochelle!

After LaRochelle we rode into downtown Livermore where we had a late lunch at Bruno's Italian place where we sat outside and I ate the Melanzana Vegetariano, eggplant, ricotta cheese, mushrooms and fresh tomato sauce baked with mozzarella cheese. MMMmmm. :-) Had a glass of Wente Merlot along with it and then we rode back to Pleasanton.

I had a great time and look forward to more bike-ride and wine tasting trips this summer!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Or we could just go with the happy clappy crap...

... and give up on being "confessional" I mean isn't THIS what it's really all about?

Click here for "True Worship"

AARGH! More Pirates, and it's Christian ones to boot!

Issues Etc., murdered by the LCMS, is rising from the dead!

Check out

Woo Hoo!.... er, I mean, AARGH!

Upcoming stuff

What's up next...

First, this Friday I'm going on a 25 mile bike ride with pit stops at wineries:

View Larger Map

Then on June 7th is the regular Mount Diablo Astronomical Society public night on top of the mountain, great time looking at planets and stars through telescopes...

Then on June 14th it's time for pirates!

In between is reading, and playing with Serenity, and learning with her about the world...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Just a family squabble?

This is from Weedon's Blog and lays out in plain language what the fight in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is all about. I still say we should compromise with the Happy-Clappys and split the name down the middle, we confessional Lutherans can keep the "Lutheran Church" part and they can have the "Missouri Synod" part, since they really aren't Lutheran and are barely Church anyway they will never miss those two words. Anyway, here is Pastor Weedon:

Thoughts Ablaze...

I posted this on the ALPB site in response to some words from Bishop Benke. A friend suggested they might be of value also on the blog, so here they are:

As far as the family squabbling goes, I've tried to suggest that what the squabbling is about is not merely whose turn it is to do the dishes, but precisely caused by those who, from inside or out, would insist that the very things that make the Lutheran Church be the home that it is are the things that need to be dumped: her liturgy, her catechesis, her hymnody. I've tried to point out that I'm not saying that these things have a value in themselves; they don't. Their value is in their deliverance of the Gospel. I've tried to avoid the impression that I'm into preserving the museum pieces of Lutheranism; I'm not. It's a LIVING heritage that continues to grow. But it grows in continuity with what has come before, not by cutting one's self off from it. Let's be concrete: a parish that adopts the liturgy of the Pentecostals, welcomes adults in without instructing them in the Catechism (which is all about how to live from the receiving end of God's rich giving), and is held up by the Synod as the wonder parish we are all to imitate, does not make for accepting Ablaze. It makes for those of us in the house crying out: "There are folks here - from the inside or the outside - who are setting fire to our precious Gospel heritage and if we allow them to burn it up in the spirit of American evangelicalism it is not just a loss for us - but a loss for the whole world. We hold this treasure always and only to offer it to the world as the joyful life of learning to live by the Spirit's power from the great giving of our God."

Hope that's not too blunt. But it's the way this fellow sees it. It's not about little family squabbles; it's about whether burning our house down is a good thing or a bad thing.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Book reviews

I recently read "A World of Difference" by Ken Samples. This is a "world view" book that sought to demonstrate that the Orthodox (Standard) Christian world view is superior to all others. While I agreed with his conclusion that it is superior, of course, I found his actual arguments less than compelling. I had difficulty with his choice of criteria for the "tests" he gave the several world views he looked at. For example test number 7 was what he called the "Existential Test: Does the world view address the internal needs of humanity?" In spite of his efforts to make that seem other than subjective and somewhat arbitrary it seems to me that particular test was a ringer put in to make sure his side won. He used it to discredit Pantheistic Monism in what I felt was an unfair manner. He pretty much just declared that believing you are one with the cosmos and that all is God is "unsatisfying." I never found that to be the case in the years when I embraced that philosophy. I eventually found that it was simply not true, but it was always a pretty satisfying way of looking at the world. The first 3/4 of the book laid out the Christian world view, as he sees it. Here too I found places where I strongly disagreed with him. He comes at things from a Calvinist or Reformed place while I am, of course, Lutheran, and that is not at all the same thing. Lutherans embrace paradox and accept the scripture at face value, while as far as I can discern, Calvinists and Reformed (is that the same thing?) insist on making all of scripture fit into logical arguments. All in all the book was an enjoyable read, but I would not use it to try and convince a non-believer, it might help strengthen a Christian who is afraid that his faith makes no sense in the modern world.

The book I read immediately after "A World of Difference" was "The Brain that Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge. This is a fascinating book about neural plasticity, the ability of the brain to physically change in response to environmental changes. It can rewire itself in effect. Like a muscle it is strengthened by exercise and learning keeps us young. All pretty common sense stuff but counter to long held science up until quite recently. This one I can recommend completely. There is a web site by one of the scientists featured in the book called "Posit Science" that I'm planning on checking out in some detail some time soon. If I can remember to do it ;-)

And finally the book I've just started tonight is "The Language of God" by Francis Collins. It's about how science and evolution and Christianity are not in conflict, theistic evolution is where I think he's going actually. I'll let you know what I think of the book. I've just started this book but I wanted to mention that on page 13 he states "Like my brothers I was homeschooled by my mother..." :-) Just thought that was so cool! The leader of the human genome project and a famous scientist, was homeschooled... take that judge Croskey, you senile old git!

Flying the Jolly Roger...

...means, Homeschooler Lives here :-)

At least it does at this house ;-)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ah, very cool

Here is a link to the Daily Readings for the LCMS in calendar format. I've been slowly working on transcribing all of the daily readings for my own use that I link to in two week chunks at the top of this blog. I was thinking I might just link to this site which seems to be up to date so far. Of course I've tried this in the past in other places only to find the spot I linked to either vanishing or being less than accurate sometimes, so I think I'll keep working on my own version of this for the time being.

On the Imperial Capital

So true about the American Empire's capital city, and many other government buildings in the US, be sure to click on the image to see it full size:

Monday, May 19, 2008


Diane Flynn Keith proposes that since the government is trying to say that homeschoolers are outlaws we should:

Hoist the Jolly Roger!

Be A Homeschool Pirate!
Hoist the Jolly Roger!

What a cool idea! I've got the pirate flag by the front door already, all I need to do now is to get a bracket for the staff and I can put it up. I'm going to do this for sure! Be sure to read the story here, there are whole bunch of really cool pirate links at the bottom of the article.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Trinity Sunday

Today, the first Sunday after Pentecost, is celebrated in traditional Christian churches as Trinity Sunday. On this day our church, Messiah Lutheran Church in Danville, California, will once again confess the Athanasian Creed as we do each year. We also confessed it during this Thursday's celebration of the Holy Eucharist, so I didn't miss out. This is one of the three ancient creeds of the catholic church, the other two being the Nicene and the Apostles creeds. This creed, which tells of the doctrine of the Trinity, is somewhat like a Zen koan, it cannot be processed rationally, or at least it can't by me! When you try to understand it with your rational mind you are wasting your time, you can only accept it in faith through the Holy Spirit.

Athanasian Creed

Whoever will be saved shall, above all else,
hold the catholic faith.
Which faith, except everyone keeps whole and undefiled,
without doubt he will perish eternally.
And the catholic faith is this,
that we worship one God in three persons
and three persons in one God,
neither confusing the persons
nor dividing the substance.
For there is one person of the Father,
another of the Son,
and another of the Holy Spirit.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one:
the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
The Father uncreated,
the Son uncreated,
and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
The Father incomprehensible,
the Son incomprehensible,
and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
The Father eternal,
the Son eternal,
and the Holy Spirit eternal.
And yet there are not three eternals
but one eternal.
As there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensibles
but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is almighty,
the Son almighty,
and the Holy Spirit almighty.
And yet they are not three almighties
but one almighty.
So the Father is God,
the Son is God,
and the Holy Spirit is God.
And yet there are not three gods;
but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord,
the Son Lord,
and the Holy Spirit Lord.
And yet they are not three lords
but one Lord.
For as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge every person by himself
to be both God and Lord,
So we cannot by the catholic faith
say that there are three Gods or three Lords.
The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created;
but begotten.
The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son, neither made nor created nor begotten
but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers;
one Son, not three Sons;
one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
And in this trinity none is before or after another;
none is greater or less than another;
But the whole three persons
are coeternal together and coequal,
so that in all things, as is aforesaid,
the Unity in Trinity
and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped..
He, therefore, that will be saved is compelled thus to think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation
that he also believe faithfully the incarnation
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the right faith is
that we believe and confess
that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
is God and man;
God of the substance of the Father,
begotten before the worlds;
and man of the substance of his mother,
born in the world;
Perfect God and perfect man,
of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
Equal to the Father as touching his Godhead,
and inferior to the Father as touching his manhood;
Who, although he is God and man,
yet he is not two but one Christ.
One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh,
but by taking the manhood into God;.
One altogether,
not by confusion of substance,
but by unity of person.
For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man,
so God and man is one Christ;
Who suffered for our salvation;
descended into hell;
rose again the third day from the dead.
He ascended into heaven;
he sits at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty,
from whence he will come to judge the living and the dead.
At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies
and will give an account of their own works.
And they that have done good will go into life everlasting;
and they that have done evil,
into everlasting fire.
This is the catholic faith which
except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Trip to the ballpark

Today Serenity and I went to the Giants game in San Francisco along with Kathy and her son Danny. It was not nice and cool the way it normally is, instead it was 99 degrees at China Basin today!

China Basin Landing, San Francisco, CA — Current Conditions

Daily Summary for May 15, 2008

Current: High: Low: Average:
Temperature: 83.8 °F / 28.8 °C 99.9 °F / 37.7 °C 64.3 °F / 17.9 °C 81.3 °F / 27.4 °C

We had a good time anyway, lucky for us we were in the Club Level that has an enclosed and air conditioned concession area behind it, we were in our seats for about an hour, then at the play area for the kids for about an hour then we fled inside for the duration. Kathy gave me a ride home because I discovered that BART was FUBART once again with 45 minute to and hour delays all over the system.

Here is Serenity with the giant spider that lurks along the Embarcadero

Serenity and Danny on the Willie Mays statue outside the ball park.

Serenity and Danny with a local Giants fan!

Serenity and Danny before it got too hot to stay in our seats.

Ice cream please!

As usual you can go to my Flickr site and see a whole extra slew of photos. This set is here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

FUBART - Part 2

It just keeps on getting better and better!

When I got back to the Pleasanton station after work and went to my bike I discovered that some idiot had locked his bike to the rack by running his cable lock through the frame of my bike! Even with my locks removed my bike is still locked to the rack!

I cannot believe this. I have decided that there is only one way to solve my bike and BART woes. I'm going to start driving my car to San Francisco.


No, what I'm actually going to do is to take my bike on the train the way I used to do. It's just that it's a little bit of a nuisance to hang on to it and it's hard to have it there and use my computer while I'm on the train. I do use the computer some on the train, like I did when I was venting this morning, but not frequently enough to make this sort of nonsense worthwhile!

Well a very kind BART police officer, Dexter, gave me a ride home since Lora and Mike are both up in Danville at choir practice, that's three towns north of here ;-) I'm home and I'm going to have a stiff drink now. Oh, and Dexter is watching my bike, which is doubly secure for now and will call me if and when the moron comes and unlocks it.

I don't recall asking the Lord to teach me patience but He seems intent on me learning it, also teaching me tolerance of police and such by having me encounter good guys.

I want one!

I gotta get me one of these!

Swiss pilot Yves Rossy, who calls himself “Fusion Man”, becomes the first person to fly with jet-fuel powered wings strapped to his back. He completed several loops at 300km/h (186mph) above the Alps.


John Climacus on Anger

These words from St. John Climacus really cut me to the quick in my devotional reading this morning. I pray they work upon you as well, that you might repent of your sin and trust in Christ's blood and righteousness as the cure for sin and death.

Anger is a dislike hatched from the memory of offenses received, a desire to hurt the people who have hurt us. The sweet scent of humility, however, makes it disappear, as the darkness scatters when the sun rises.

Some people with a hot temper do not worry about it and ignore the remedies that would heal them. They forget, unfortunately, what is written: "Surely anger kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple." (Job 5:2)

Anger is like the rapid revolution of the mill-wheel. It not only crushes but also scatters more grain than a reaper could do working a whole day.

It is also like an outbreak of fire when the wind is blustery: it scorches and burns up the field of the heart more disastrously than a slow fire would in a longer period.

The hot-tempered individual is like an epidemic: the disease takes him by surprise, shakes him up, flings him to right and left. He needs a great deal of humility because his anger is the result of an over-inflated opinion of himself.

On the other hand, gentleness attains its highest expression when we keep our heart calm in the face of someone who is provoking us, and actually show him our love.

--Ladder of Divine Ascent, 8

So, what is the Angry Gnome to do about it? Repent and trust in Christ and His Blood.


BART, normally reliable, is FUBART today! Man, I’m sitting on the train trying to go to work, so first we stood there with no train at the platform, then, 5 minutes late, a train pulled into the wrong platform, we were told to board that train, which we did, then for the next 15 minutes, nothing. Then just now we rolled out of the station, in the wrong direction. There really must be a mess in the BART schedule this morning! Yet there are no advisories on the BART web site. Now we are finally moving in the proper direction and are on the proper side of the Dublin Station, man they are totally messed up! Finally, a full 20 minutes behind schedule, with the train already at capacity, we have rolled out of the station toward San Francisco. Full speed for about 30 seconds and now we are moving at about 5 miles an hour... and now we've stopped... I wonder if I will ever get to work today? I suppose I will just get out my book, A World of Difference, and read for a while and try and relax.

Unrelated to the above I have deleted all of my KFUO podcasts. I once listened to Issues Etc., the Bible Study and Wrestling with the Basics from KFUO, but since they canceled Issues Etc. I have noticed that the confessional pastors who were once on the Bible Study have vanished. Only the sappy, sickly sweet, happy-clappy style pastors are on it and I was afraid I was going to go into insulin shock if I kept listening, so I've given them up for good now. I think I'll send them an email, if I get calm enough about the subject to do it in a loving manner, right now I don't feel much love for the fools.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Finding the Yes (From the Parenting Pit)

yes.jpgI know it can be hard sometimes.

In fact over the years I’ve been through periods when I thought that “the Yes” have become extinct. They can be slippery buggers – sometimes so small and great at hiding. Its as though you’ve got to feel them first… believe in them… then maybe, just maybe you might start to see them.

Not like finding “the No”. They are so easy to see and so numerous that I used to think that I would drown in them. I’m sure my daughter felt the same way a few years back and even today I find my self swatting unwanted ones away.

Things are improving though – these days when one of my children asks for something I try to pause, to think and even enroll their help in searching for “the Yes”.

Read the rest at The Parenting Pit.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


...or is it Mother's Day?

What do you think of those phony Hallmark Holidays that we dare not skip completely, Mother's Day and Father's Day, and that, if we are in a romantic relationship of some sort, then we must pay attention to Valentine's Day as well? These are what I think of as "Increasing Florist and Greeting Card Makers Profit Days." They were designed to literally force us to spend money to prove our love and devotion to someone we ought already to love and be devoted to! They are a scam, and yet I, along with nearly everyone else in the country, must obey our corporate masters and send cards and flowers and make phone calls. We should do these things anyway... but we don't do we? Ah, maybe these days are not such a terrible idea after all...

In any case, the real Holy-Day today is Pentecost! This is the day, 50 days after Easter, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. The Holy Spirit is that wonderful person/gift from God whose work enables us to have faith at all. As Luther says in the Small Catechism:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.

We are all moved into our new house in Pleasanton now. Thank the Lord all went without a hitch and we are settling in nicely.

Last night we all went up to the top of Mt. Diablo for the Mount Diablo Astronomical Society Public Astronomy Program. We looked at the moon and Saturn with it's rings and gazed out over the gorgeous valleys, mountains and cities of the San Francisco Bay Area... what a wonderful place God has given us to live in!

Here are a few of the telescopes...

Learning about the phases of the moon

Serenity and her best friend Kailey

Serenity playing the role of Earth in the Habitable Zone explanation...

We all had a great time, Serenity was really excited about stars and looking through the telescopes so we plan to go again next time... More photos are here at Flickr

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sometimes you just want to scream...

From Augsburg1530:


Yesterday I linked to a job announcement in the Synod’s official newspaper The Reporter. The position David Strand is trying to fill reads almost word for word as the job description the Board for Communication Services had for Rev. Todd Wilken. The only thing left out is the term “staff Pastor.” (Rev. Wilken was KFUO’s staff pastor.) It’s odd that Strand would cancel the show and “eliminate the positions,” and then advertise to fill one of the “eliminated” positions.

How does this guy keep his job?

If you’re trying to convince a church body that you fired Rev. Todd Wilken for financial — and not political or theological — reasons, can’t you cover your tracks a little bit better than this?

Friday, May 2, 2008