In church yesterday, as in many places across the land, veterans in our congregation were asked to stand and be honored.

I'm fine with that—veterans should be honored every day.

But here's something to remind us that Memorial Day is for honoring those military heroes who cannot stand up because they are lying in graves all over the world, having given "the last full measure of devotion."

Here, today, I once again especially remember Porter's granduncles, who each served, fought, and died in France during World War I, as part of the U. S. Army's 101st Machine Gun Battalion.

Harry Faulk

Harry Gilbert Faulk, of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, son of Olaf Frederick and Hilma Reuterberg Faulk, wounded in action near Chatêau-Thierry, France, July 25, 1918. Died of his wounds later that day.

 

 

Hezekiah Porter

Hezekiah Scovil Porter, from Higganum, Connecticut, son of Wallace and Florence Wells Porter, killed in action near Chatêau-Thierry, France, July 22, 1918.

 

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 30, 2022 at 7:47 am | Edit
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The Internet often attributes this to St. Francis of Assisi, but the odds are it's a misattribution.  Whoever said it, I like it.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 26, 2022 at 12:09 pm | Edit
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Amongst the devastating consequences of the Russo-Ukranian War is the disappearance from public eye of the power grab by Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and his tyrannical handling of the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa.

Actually, a few European politicians did make note of it, calling out Trudeau for his hypocrisy in condemning Russian president Putin while trampling the rights of his own citizens back home.  But largely that is yesterday's news.

So today I remember.

This beautiful 14-minute tribute by JB TwoFour (about whom I know nothing but this) bought tears to our eyes as we saw the familiar scenes replayed: the love, the joy, the unity of Canadians in all their diversity, and the support from other nations.  Followed, alas, by replacement of the friendly interactions with local law enforcement by an irrational show of force from the government and imported police agencies. 

`

(Yes, the misspelling of "Israel" also brought tears to my eyes, but that's just me.)

May history remember the Freedom Convoy as the turning point in Canada's return to sanity, respect for basic human rights, and constitutional protection for its citizens—instead of the minor footnote Prime Minister Trudeau and his supporters are counting on.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 8, 2022 at 2:52 pm | Edit
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Remember 2019?  Must have been at least a decade ago, right?  Who'd have thought we could pack so much pandemic, riot, and war into two years.

Nonetheless, my post for March 16, 2019 is at least as appropriate now as it was then, so I'm repeating it.

 


 

Sandwiched between 3:14 (Pi Day) and 3:17 (St. Patrick's Day) is

3:16 (Greatest Love Day)

John 3:16, that is.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

In honor of which I present this beautiful anthem, John Stainer's God So Loved the World. No, that's not our choir. But Porter and I have sung this many times and it's one of our favorites.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 at 5:29 pm | Edit
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This interview with GiveSendGo co-founder, Jacob Wells was so uplifting I have to share it. I'd written about GiveSendGo briefly before, and what little I knew about it induced me to listen to the whole interview, despite it being nearly two hours long. The advantage of unedited interviews is that you get them uncensored; the disadvantage is that they are l-o-n-g.  But this one does very well being played at 1.5x speed, as long as you're willing to overlook the fact that it makes everyone sound overly and artificially excited. While there are a couple of places where it is better to be watching, for the most part just listening is fine, so you can exercise, wash the dishes, or drive and enjoy it without feeling guilty.

Those who followed the Freedom Convoy story in Canada will appreciate information about the legal consequences for GiveSendGo of the Canadian government's threat to seize assets without benefit of court order, as well as the malicious hack they suffered and how they have responded. Others might find this tedious, but anyone can enjoy hearing about Wells' early life (he grew up in New Hampshire and has 11 siblings), his adventures testifying in front of a Canadian parlimentary committee, and the reasons why GiveSendGo does not discriminate against people or organizations (including the Church of Satan) as long as the projects involved do not violate a few minimal conditions (such as legality).

Rarely have I seen such a positive integration of a person's business, life, and faith. As I said: uplifting. I hope those of you who have time to listen enjoy it as much as I did.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 at 5:57 am | Edit
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Milestone note:  This is my 3000th blog post. That calls for something serious, but not depressing.  Here you go:

Fairy tales ... are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. — G. K. Chesterton, 1909 ("The Red Angel")

Since it is so likely that [children] will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. ... Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let the villains be soundly killed at the end of the book. — C. S. Lewis, 1952 ("On Three Ways of Writing for Children") 

I write stories for courageous kids who know that dragons are real, that they are evil, and that they must be defeated. I don’t do that because I want to hurt children, but because children do and will face hurts every day. I don’t want to expose them to evil, I want to help them become people for whom evil is an enemy to be exposed. I want to tell them dangerous stories so that they themselves will become dangerous—dangerous to the darkness. — S. D. Smith, 2022 ("My Blood for Yours")

Smith's essay in video form (three minutes).

P.S. There's a new Green Ember book to be released soon, Prince Lander and the Dragon War. Time to reread the previous books in preparation!

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, February 27, 2022 at 3:20 pm | Edit
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—George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Volume 1, "The Eloi"

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, January 21, 2022 at 11:15 am | Edit
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The impact of the Middle Ages on our human psyche cannot be overestimated.  It's no coincidence that our most beloved epic dramas, from The Lord of the Rings to Star Wars, from The Chronicles of Narnia to The Green Ember, feature knights and swords, chivalry and heroism, glory, honor, and worship.

Facebook thought I would enjoy this paean to medieval times, and for once they were right.  (5.5 minutes)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 27, 2021 at 1:21 pm | Edit
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altSo Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport (Business Plus, 2012)

I can't resist a Cal Newport book. My first was How to Be a High School Superstar (published 2010), then Digital Minimalism (2019) then Deep Work (2016). If the advice in any of them is out of date, I haven't noticed anything major.

So Good They Can't Ignore You is—like the others—both strong and weak but filled with interesting ideas that are contrary to much conventional wisdom. This time Newport tackles the "follow your passion" philosophy of choosing a career that was popular when the book was written. I don't think the appeal of that idea has lessened, despite the great number of college graduates who thought they were doing just that but ended up with unmanageable debt and a job at Starbuck's.

Much of his thesis is just what used to be called common sense: The work you choose doesn't matter nearly as much as how you approach it; focus on what you can offer the world rather than what the world can offer you; work hard; cultivate excellence. If that sounds boring and Puritanical, read the book to find out how it turns out to be the secret to having a career that's enjoyable and personally fulfilling. Newport fleshes out the ideas nicely, if sometimes a bit too repetitively, with explanation, analysis, and real-world examples.

As with Newport's other books, this one is business-oriented, making it hard to apply directly to non-business careers like homemaking and rearing a family. In fact, part of me wonders if it's possible to do what's necessary to achieve the skills he expects without neglecting other important parts of life. However, it must be noted that the really intense effort he recommends works best when one is young, and leads to far more autonomy and flexibility than standard career paths. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.

At present, the Kindle version of So Good They Can't Ignore You is currently on sale for $3.99. It's well worth the investment of your time and money, or a visit to your local library.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, October 10, 2021 at 4:53 pm | Edit
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Not a meme, but part of an actual conversation a couple of decades ago. The second speaker was Porter, the first one of his co-workers.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, September 6, 2021 at 1:07 pm | Edit
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I'm giving my computer files a much-needed spring summer cleaning, and came upon this, which I post here for my own future reference as much as anything. Unfortunately, I don't remember where it came from. The odds are it was from someone on Facebook, but that's the best I can do for now.

It's a clear, concise, visual guide to the seasons of the Church Year, as celebrated in the Episcopal Church and many other churches. The latter may differ in small details; I'm not familiar enough with them to say. But when I refer to the Church Year, this is what I'm talking about.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, August 14, 2021 at 9:26 pm | Edit
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It's 88 degrees outside at the moment, which is actually quite moderate for mid-day, mid-July in Florida. Still, it's ten degrees cooler inside, and that makes all the difference between enjoying my work and wanting to spend the day by (or in) the pool, drinking iced tea.

That increase in productivity I owe in large measure to one of America's great entrepreneurs, Willis Carrier, the "Father of Air Conditioning."

That this post appears today was prompted less by the temperature than by a new article by Eric Schultz' at The Occasional CEO (link is to the article), including an excerpt from his book, Innovation on Tap: Stories of Entrepreneurship from The Cotton Gin to Broadway's "Hamilton" (link is to my review of the book).

Successful entrepreneurship requires (among other traits) knowledge, skill, grit, determination, inventiveness, connection—and being in the right place at the right time. Lucky for us, Willis Carrier had them all, including the last, as you will see if you read the short story of how the Carrier Engineering Corporation opened for business at what looked for all the world like the worst possible time—and stepped into a golden opportunity that would have been impossible even a month later.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, July 17, 2021 at 11:43 am | Edit
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Liberty is meaningless when the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power. Frederick Douglass, 1860

When I was in school, my history classes went mostly in one ear and out the other without pausing to impact my brain along the way. I'm not sure how all my teachers but one managed to make such a fascinating subject dull, but they did. At least to me; it may be that those who were already interested in the subject managed to thrive. Don't get the wrong impression: I never received a grade lower than an "A" in any of those courses—I just didn't remember much of anything past the final exam.

Therefore I can't necessarily say that I knew nothing about Frederick Douglass until I went to the University of Rochester, where I encountered him every day. Sort of. Our dining hall was in the Frederick Douglass Building. That alone was enough to make what I've learned about the man since then stay with me. The learning process is a strange thing.

I'm still learning more. I ran into the above quotation just this morning. Since it was a Facebook meme, I did some research to make sure that both the quote and the attribution were correct. They are. Douglass was speaking in response to an incident in Boston, when a mob, supported by the governing authorities, shut down an abolitionist meeting. The speech, along with a good explanation of the context, can be found here: Frederick Douglass's "Plea for Freedom of Speech in Boston". It's not long, and I strongly recommending reading it.

I'd rather end this post here. But, sadly, I feel the need to include a reminder that Douglass was also an advocate for women's rights. Too many people have now (sometimes deliberately) forgotten the days when "man" was the general term for human beings of either sex, much as "duck" is the general term for a particular type of waterfowl, both ducks (female) and drakes (male). I don't want anyone feeling negative about this excellent and important speech because of an unwarranted reaction to Douglass's final sentence: "A man’s right to speak does not depend upon where he was born or upon his color. The simple quality of manhood is the solid basis of the right—and there let it rest forever."

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 at 10:24 am | Edit
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I love cooking shows. Most of them are on cable television, which we have never had and I hope will never feel the need to have, but they're a favorite of mine when available on long overseas flights. And then there's YouTube.

Ann Reardon's How to Cook That channel first caught my eye because of her "debunking" videos, in which she tries out and exposes too-good-to-be-true internet "hacks," mostly related to her specialty, food. Here's one (16 minutes).

And here's one for our daughter who has always loved miniatures (6.5 minutes). So has Ann, and in her "Teeny-Weeny Challenges" actually bakes in her miniature kitchen.

These are just some of the sidelights of her channel, however. Mostly she focusses on amazing desserts, and has recently published a cookbook called Crazy Sweet Creations. Here's a basic video on working with chocolate (13.5 minutes).

Are you hungry yet?

Most of Ann's creations are too complex to interest me in attempting them, but they are fun to watch, and I can pick up some interesting tips and tricks along the way.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 11:03 am | Edit
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I've never claimed to be a prophet (those guys are supposed to get it all right), but every once in a while I surprise myself. Looking back through old posts, I found this, which I had posted on January 1, 2020:

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 31, 2021 at 8:27 am | Edit
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