Death by Bernoulli   1 comment

A few posts down, I linked to a You-tube video of a fellow base jumping in Antarctica, suggesting that it was something I might like to try in the Kingdom.  Contra such imaginings is the video below of another base jumper who finds himself battered against the rocks by the inopportune application of Bernoulli’s Principle to him self and his parachute!

So, “maybe in the Kingdom” is now amended to “probably not, even in the Kingdom,” unless our Lord annuls Bernoulli’s Principle.


Posted September 21, 2011 by Fr. Bill in Sic Semper Mundis

And you thought the UN was a waste of money …   1 comment

Well, The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico should set you straight.  From the official Confernece Website, here’s how things went down in Cancun:

The United Nations Climate Change Conference took place in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010. It encompassed the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) and the sixth Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), as well as the thirty-third sessions of both the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), and the fifteenth session of the AWG-KP and thirteenth session of the AWG-LCA.

So there.

Just in case you thing it was boring, look at how the American representatives from the Sierra Club led their fellow delegates in protesting the no-nothing attitudes of those blithering idiots who think climate change is nothing to get all worked up about.  So offensive was this dismissive attitude of the corporate oligarchs of the industrialized world, those money grubbing tyrants who rule the planet to all our detriment, these sensitive delegates had no recourse except to rush to the beaches of Cancun and protect their sensitive brains from beholding the rapine of the world’s environment by these planetary polluters.

Posted December 13, 2010 by Fr. Bill in Uncategorized

In the Kingdom …   Leave a comment

… I’ll try this out, I think.  Too old for it now, even if G. W. Bush is sky-diving in his 70s.  Meanwhile, there’s fellows like this who show us what awaits us for entertainment after Jesus returns (I hope!):

Posted December 11, 2010 by Fr. Bill in Uncategorized

How to Speak Christianese   Leave a comment

Here, for fun — no matter what “flavor” of Christian you are — is something from Ronald Reagan’s home church when he was governor of California:

Which raises an issue for any flavor of Christian:  how do you handle “communal jargon” which inevitably arises in any community?  What do you do with it when dealing with people outside the community?  As, for example, when you’re speaking to someone outside the faith, to a non-Christian? 

The New Testament doesn’t give us a lot to go on here, outside what you might deduce from examining Paul’s preaching on Mars Hill.  And, the New Testament epistles don’t give us any exact parallels, since they’re written to already-converted communities of Christians who are predominantly Jewish. 

Even when the communities addressed might be supposed to include a majority of Gentiles (Rome, Corinth), Paul deploys the Old Testament in ways that simply borrow the theological iconography of the Old Testament.  In other words, he doesn’t do much, if any, “translating” for the Gentiles within his audience.  Nothing comes to my mind.  How about yours?

What I like best about this satirical video is the way it implies that much of Christian cant is actually meaningless prattle.  “The LORD laid it on my heart,” for example, is notable for what it does NOT say while that empty locution is wrapped in self-justifying endorsement.  In other words, it translates into this: “I thought of something I decided God was telling me, and now I’m telling you, and you don’t have the slightest standing to repudiate what I’m talking about.” 

Christian cant is challenging to avoid.  I know, since a parachurch ministry I’ve headed for 20 years now has, as its primary mission, to develop curricula for teaching Biblical doctrine on manhood, womanhood, and how men and women are to relate to one another in marriage, family, church, and society.  Any of these curricula might have been written in Baptist Blather, or Charismatic Cant, or Reformed Rigamarole.  Instead, we strove mightily to avoid all these sub-dialects within Christendom.  It was not an easy project!

And, yet, it is not possible to avoid Biblical categories, Biblical concepts, or Biblical terminology.  We gain nothing, as Christians, by rejecting the terms in which our faith is communicated to us by the prophets and Apostles of Christ.  And, so, we must use Pauline terms (for so much of the New Testament is written by him!).  And, we must acknowledge and deploy Biblical images, themes, and terminology. 

And, when we come to address new converts, we must teach them.  For many, the first lessons will be rudimentary.  “Milk for babes” is the way the author of Hebrews puts it. 

And when speaking to those outside the faith?  I suggest we take our cues from preachers like John the Baptist.

Posted December 10, 2010 by Fr. Bill in Uncategorized

Sauerbraten   3 comments

Tonight the parish is rejoicing at the prospect of the birth of Baby Joseph, the first infant to be born into our parish since its founding.  To highlight Baby Joseph’s infant manliness, there will be a number of manly baby gifts (check out the photos in the parish photo gallery which I’ll put up in the next few days).  And, the menu for the gala is manly too:  Sauerbraten, made with a recipe I got from the Wise Encylopedia of Cookery, as modified by wisdom gained from numerous appearances of that august repast in my kitchen over the past 50 years (yes, I began serious cooking that long ago!). 

Here, then, is the current version of Sauerbraten as the recipe has stabilized over a half-century.  You sauerbraten purists can keep your comments to yourself.  Any observant web-surfer can verify that the recipe varies considerably in the details of the spices.  The recipe I use is uncommon (from what you’ll see in a survey) in using beer rather than wine in the marinade.

The Meat

Begin with a beef roast (supposedly, the original sauerbraten was made from horse meat!) equal in weight to a half-pound per person to be served.  This recipe is correct for a 3.5 to 4.0 pound roast.  Scale the recipe below as needed for larger amounts of meat.

Sauerbraten works very well with tough roasts (e.g. arm roasts).  I prefer bottom round roasts.  Do not use fatty roasts such as chuck, as these completely fall apart during cooking, and you’ll wind up with sauerbraten-flavored beef stew instead of a roast.

Rinse the meat and pat dry with paper towels.  Rub lightly with salt and pepper.  Set aside while you prepare the marinade.

The Marinade Container

The point of marinade is to soak the meat, optimally on all sides at once.  So, the final marinating container should be something that allows the roast to be covered by the marinade — something like a 2-gallon ziplock bag.  Or a straight-sided utility bucket made of plastic.  Or a 2-gallon straight-sided jar (e.g. a smallish kitchen crock) made of glass or ceramic.  DO NOT USE METAL CONTAINERS.  The marinade is acidic and will react chemically with metals, imparting a horrid flavor (and metal-salts) to the dish. 

For a 4-pound roast, I used a 5-quart, straight-sided bucket I purchased from the cleaning aisle of the grocery store.  Covered with plastic wrap, it’s working quite well.  Also, a 5-quart plastic mixing bowl with a snap-on cover holds a second roast (we’re preparing three roasts for tonight’s feast).

 The Marinade

Place the roast into the container.  If you’re using a very large ziplock bag, place the bag containing the roast into a large mixing bowl to help support the bag as you compose the marinade.

Pour over the meat the following:

  • 2 cups of white or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups of a dark, strong-flavored beer (bock, dark lager; or a hoppy beer such as an IPA).

Add to the container, poking them into the liquid around the sides of the meat, the following:

  • 2 carrots, sliced on long diagnomals to expose lots of the carrot interior
  • 2 medium onions, halved and then sliced into thick slices
  • 3 leafy sprigs of celery tops
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 12 whole peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground thyme

That’s it!  Add just enough water so that liquid covers the meat.  Cover the container, or close the ziplock bag, and set into the refrigerator for at least three days.  Marinate four days if the roast is large, if the meat is tough, or if you want a spicier roast. 

If you wish to turn the meat once or twice a day, that’s okay.  However, it won’t be necessary if the meat is completely covered in marinade.  Also, the meat will turn a ghastly grey color.  This is normal.  No problemo.  It will look lovely when cooked.

The Cooking

Remove the meat and pat dry with paper towels.  Strain the marinade and place into a dutch oven.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of shortening in a skillet and brown the meat well on all sides.  This is NOT the “cooking” step.  You are giving the exterior of the roast a lovely brown color, and the portion of the meat that is browned will contribute to the final savory flavor. 

When done, pour off the excess shortening, and if there is any meat brownings remain in the bottom ofthe skillet, return the skillet to the heat and add a few tablespoons of marinade to loosen this tasty browning residue.  Once that is done, empty the skillet back into the marinade in the dutch oven.

Place the browned roast into the marinade in the dutch oven.  Heat to just below boiling.  Then put the cover onto the dutch oven and turn the heat down to simmer.  Let the roast simmer in the hot marinade for three hours.  If the roast is large or a tough cut, let it simmer four hours. 

The Gravy

While the roast is simmering, use a rolling pin or a kitchen mallet to thoroughly pulverize 10 gingersnaps.  If the gingersnaps are already crisp, pulverize away.  If your grocer only sells the “soft and chewy” gingersnaps (they’re not Really “snaps” of course), then you should let them sit out on the counter for the three days you’re marinating the meat, so they can dry out.

At any rate, you’ll want the pulverized gingersnaps ready by the time the meat is finished simmering in the broth.

Also set aside an 8-ounce tub of sour cream, so it can reach room temperature. 

After the roast is finished and set aside where it can remain warm, place the remaining broth/marinade in a saucepan and heat to nearly boiling.  Whisk half the crushed gingersnaps into the hot broth/marinade and cook until thickened.  If the consistency is thinner than you would like, whisk in additional gingersnap crumbs in small portions until you reach the consistency you prefer.

Add the sour cream and whisk smooth.

Using a very sharp knife, slice the roast into serving slices.  Platter them, and drizzle gravy onto the slices.  Serve the remaining gravy at the dining or buffet table.

Serving Suggestions

Saurbraten is usually served with plain boiled potatoes.  More ambitious cooks may wish to prepare potatoe dumplings (in the photo above), or fried potato cakes (yummy, but a cook’s assistant is nice for getting everything to be finished at the same time).  A good, strong-flavored beer goes very well.  If you wish to serve wine, pick a robust, chewy red.  Anything less ambitious will be silenced by the sauerbraten’s fortissimo flavors.

Posted October 27, 2010 by Fr. Bill in Manhood, Recipes

Facepalm: When Words Simply Won’t Do   Leave a comment

It’s understandalbe (though often tragic) when a toddler runs out into the street into the path of an oncoming car.  But, what can you call it when an otherwise sane-sounding adult does the same thing.

Metaphorically, that is.  The result is as metaphorically horrendous as it is unmetaphorically idiotic.

Posted October 22, 2010 by Fr. Bill in Uncategorized

Skin-singing, Brain-Pickling Horror!   Leave a comment

Those aspiring to the emotional roller-coaster thrills of Chicken Little, I recommend you dive into the pool of alarm over at The Green Prophet, a site riddled with visions, advice on eco-friendly shopping, eco-recipes, news about fashion contests ,and skin-blistering, brain-pickling horror stories.  Among the latter is this one , which provides serious competition to the grisliest scare-passage from your favorite Stephen King novel:

In some places, 2010 was the hottest year on record. Saudi Arabia – with its enormous swath of desert – was particularly hard hit, while Egypt stewed during a series of blackouts amidst heat that singed skin and pickled brains. The discomfort of those painful summer months may have dissipated as temperatures begin to dip, but prepare yourself: in the next few decades, particularly around the Mediterranean, our skin and brains could shrivel to nothing under heat and drought that our planet may never have experienced before.

So, that bastion of high-tech energy delivery — Egypt — had some blackouts in the summer.  It must have been horrid for those saps in California. 

And it got hot in the Saudi desert??? 

For crying out loud, why aren’t they touting the temperatures in Death Valley?  Or in the burg of my birth —Needles, California —where the summertime termperatures today are pretty much what I grew up with for the first 12 years of my life (check out the daily averages and record highs here ).  I used to work on the railroad in Needles during the summer when I was in university, and temperatures on the train platform at 3:00 PM were usually over 140 degrees.  All that concrete, basalt, creosoted wood ties, and steel rail are fantastic heatsinks, dontcha know. 

I guess my skin was really singed and my brains really pickled!

Posted October 22, 2010 by Fr. Bill in Sic Semper Mundis

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