Monday, December 29, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

AA 507

What the church needs in these days of peril is an army of workers who, like Paul, have educated themselves for usefulness, who have deep experience in the things of God, and who are filled with earnestness and zeal. Sanctified, self-sacrificing men are needed; men who will not shun trial and responsibility; men who are brave and true; men in whose hearts Christ is formed "the hope of glory," and who with lips touched with holy fire will "preach the word." For want of such workers the cause of God languishes, and fatal errors, like deadly poison, taint the morals and blight the hopes of a large part of the human race.

As the faithful, toilworn standard-bearers are offering up their lives for the truth's sake, who will come forward to take their place? Will our young men accept the holy trust at the hands of their fathers? Are they preparing to fill the vacancies made by the death of the faithful? Will the apostle's charge be headed, the call to duty be heard, amidst the incitements to selfishness and ambition that allure the youth?


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Static vs. Kinetic Friction and Other Observations

Today I found myself thinking back to an experience I had in academy. I was part of the ski club and we were on our weekly trip to Greek Peak when we saw an SUV stuck in the snow by the side of the road. Between the road being dry and only slightly curved, as well as the angle of departure from the road my only explanation was that this individual had been wanting to try out their four wheel drive (of which they seemed quite proud) along the side of some farmers field. It was suggested that, with a van full of high school students, we could help get this person out so we stopped to help. Over and over again we would dig out behind the wheels and get ready to push the car back the way it had come towards the road at which point the driver would floor the accelerator thus spinning and sliding themselves perpendicular to the direction they wanted to move. Back in the present I watched as a tractor was trying to get out of the mud from which it was trying to rescue a skidsteer that was also stuck for similar reasons - the strategy seemed to be to select the lowest possible gear (in low range of course) and give it full throttle... once again with similar results - if one wanted to dig holes, I think a shovel would probably have been less frustrating.

I would like to point out that the coefficient of static friction between two surfaces is always greater and usually significantly greater than that of kinetic friction - in this case meaning that a spinning tire has very little traction. Second, that increasing the torque to your wheels, although wonderful for doing heavy work without working the engine or clutch as hard, in no way improves your traction - to the contrary it makes it more difficult to keep your wheels from 'breaking free'. There is a reason why even some cars with automatic transmissions have an option to start off in second gear rather than first to make slipping less likely on soft and/or icy surfaces. Thirdly, increasing the speed of your tires when you have no traction will not help build up momentum to get over/through some obstacle but rather digs you into a deeper hole - literally!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A boy was once given a dollar by his father. His sister very nicely offered to make a sacrifice trading him two shiny quarters for his one rumpled dollar. Repeating this logic with his brother, and later with classmates at school, he increased from two quarters to three dimes and finally ended up with five pennies.

What have you done with the gifts your father has given you?

What will this boy do when his father offers to trade him a new dollar for his five precious pennies?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pawpaw: the Michigan Banana

According to Wikipedia, the Pawpaw is the largest indigenous edible fruit in North America and is the only member of the family "Annonacea" that is not confined to the tropics.

Each year I enjoy seeking out and enjoying this sweet, custard-like fruit (albeit with a mildly unpleasant aftertaste) that grows wild in most of the mature woods here in Southwest Michigan.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Evening Run

Approximate average temperature: 68ºF
Approximate average distance: 4 miles
Amount of mud gathered on shoes/legs: 0 lbs
Available refreshments: peaches, apples, pears, plums, cherries,
Average speed of passing cars (all two of them): 45 mph

Friday, August 15, 2008


St. Regis fire tower

Great race


The great range

Pregnant roller skate and owner (after being moved by hand)

Canoe camp out

Exploring the beautiful stretch of land between the trail form South Meadows and the road to ADK loj

Who can hold their hand in salty ice water longest?

The fifth picture is borrowed from Andrew Whitlow

Flying lessons from Joel

I have been extremely blessed this summer with an amazing team up at the horse barn - as a new director trying to run a spiritually centered, safe, and fun program the prayer, support, and advice of my fellow staff have been daily blessings from God.

The team members:






And last but not least: Caitlin

The first, second, and fourth pictures were taken by my mother

Monday, June 2, 2008

Barn Floor

The previous owner of our house had put down 3/8" plywood for part of the barn floor and over the past few years it has been telling us that it doesn't appreciate us renting it out to hold cars and boats for the winter - it tells us this by letting their tires break through the thin plywood and sink in between the beams supporting it. We (or more accurately I, with the occasional assistance of some slave labor pictured above) have been replacing the painfully thin plywood with planks that are more than five times thicker which means that the old beams supporting the floor will break long before these boards will. Even though these boards are not as dense as certain other "tablonas" I have worked with, the moment of inertia (due to their length) is sufficiently great as to make my mind wander while I work with them, back in time to other experiences I've had with large lumber.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Musroom Hunting

Over the past few weeks I have spent quite a little time searching for morels. As always seems to happen I started off being grateful any time I found a single small mushroom - as the season progressed I got more spoiled and began thinking of small solitary mushrooms as more of a nuisance and was more grateful when I found bigger mushrooms in pairs or triplets. Before coming back to NY (where there don't seem to be morels even though the climate is virtually the same) I went out and found 103 mushrooms in a patch the size of my living room and in another place there were a dozen or so nice big ones along a row of trees. This afternoon we will eat the shoe box full I brought out here and then be required to do without until next spring when the hunt will continue.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Power Supply

This past week I have occupied my time helping to remodel a home here in Berrien Springs. Most of the things I worked on in the house had an air of economy about them but nothing was poor enough quality (for the time period in which it was installed) to frustrate me. Most things had been built or installed to make the house normal - there was nothing spectacular or unusual about such things as choice in paint color, light fixtures, doorknobs etc. - everything was normal except one thing that is.

Whoever had owned the house seems to have used home wiring as their outlet for artistic expression and had come up with many very creative and amusing ways of laying out different circuits. Some were just plain frustrating, others made me feel like a genius when I finally cracked the code and could rewire things to be normal, but one junction box made me laugh out loud.

I was changing electrical outlets in the living room and noticed there being two receptacles within a foot of each other but in separate boxes. I thought it a bit odd but, after changing the receptacle in the first box, I proceeded to the second. As I unscrewed the receptacle it fell out into my hand with no wires connected to it. The junction box didn't have any wires in it either and, upon examination, never had been hooked up at all as none of the holes where wires would come in had been punched out.

I think many of us are like this receptacle at times - we have the same bright smile on our face as the receptacle next to us and appear in all ways identical... yet when we are not connected to the main power supply we have no value in ourselves and nothing to share with others.

The first outlet received a new body, the body of the second outlet was thrown away and there will be a blank cover placed over it's empty box.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Work Boots

After thousands of hours of faithful service and paying for themselves hundreds of times over my dearly beloved boots have been laid to rest. Carrying me to five countries and from the Ocean to over 17,000 feet (high that is... each one has only ever carried one foot) these boots have served their purpose well.
The first sign I had that they were needing replacement was when, while hiking one Sabbath afternoon during family camp at camp Cherokee the tread came loose in the front of one boot so that it was only connected at the heel and made a sound like an exaggerated flip-flop while walking. Some duct tape soon kept the tread from flapping until I was able to staple it back on and bend the staples over to keep them from falling out, then later when the back came loose some drywall screws remedied the new situation so that the original glue and stitching had been completely replaced. When I returned to MI for school last fall I was able to get another pair but chose to continue using these ones for work and wearing the new pair to school. As the winter wore on several of the lace eyes fell out and both "laces" (lengths of hard nylon string from Peru that replaced the original laces) broke and had the broken ends tied back together. While thinning timber this spring with my grandpa my right boot would fill up with sawdust from the hole in the side and finally the steel toe fell out thus requiring another application of duct tape to fix them. Last week while I was in the local farm supply store I saw that their boots were on sale and decided it was time to get a replacement for what I have been wearing to school so that I could wear my purchase of last fall to work. Upon arriving home I unceremoniously threw the boots pictured below into the trash. As I write I am wearing my third pair of Caterpillar boots with which I am still quite pleased.

But you know, sometimes the strangest things happen... after throwing those boots in the trash and never expecting to see them again I found them the next morning cleaned, oiled, and sitting above my dresser as if they had feelings for me and didn't want to let me go like that. (Just kidding)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Our old sugar maple finally had to come down. It leaned out over the house and had rotted to a point that there was not much holding it upright - just the same it was hard to see it go. I have grown up with this giant that was probably planted when the house was built a 150 or so years ago, have climbed high in it's branches (before I did so recently to limb it) and eaten the sweet syrup that came from it in years past. I guess nothing in this world will last very long except our characters and the those whom we are able to influence for eternity.

Goodbye 'till next year

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

PK 228

"When the Lord in His providence sees fit to remove from His work those to whom He has given wisdom, He helps and strengthens their successors, if they will look to Him for aid and will walk in His ways."

Monday, January 28, 2008


I am a shaker not a hugger, and when it comes to shaking; I'm a hammer not a saw.

This does not mean that I will not accept a hug should someone fail to understand the meaning of my outstretched hand and smile (or if they do understand, perhaps they feel totally inadequate when it comes to the art of shaking). All the same, a well executed handshake carries much more support, confidence, and respect than the indiscriminate wrapping of arms. There are different types of handshakes but most are built as some combination of the following: The “hammer” is a firm up and down motion usually containing two or three strokes of the hammer. Most handshakes are predominantly “hammer shakes” although they may contain trace amounts of some other handshakes as well. The saw, as one might expect, is a back and forth motion as if one was working a crosscut saw. There are also the “screwdriver”, “dairyman”, “knuckle roller”, “NRA”, and countless other handshakes most of which are extremely rare – the “soggy noodle” (queue tine hermana Liz), although very common, should not, by any stretch of the imagination be considered a handshake.

Some handshakes though, are harder to analyze than to say that, for example, “it is a 90-10 hammer/saw mix”. One person I know has a handshake that requires a coordinate system to describe (if you havn't had college math I advise skipping this paragraph). Imagine a Cartesian coordinate system in which “z” is up, and initially (my hand being at the origin) the positive “x” axis is along the length of my forearm. The first “stroke” of the shake with this particular individual follows a path approximately following the vector that starts from the origin and extends to the spherical coordinates: (0.2, 13π/12, 17π/36) with ρ being measured in meters. From there the direction reverses and our hands pass back through the starting point and extend to an equidistant point on the opposite side of the origin. This is complicated by the fact that I am still attempting to give her a “hammer shake” and that her elbow performs harmonic motion parallel to the “y” axis with significantly greater amplitude than the corresponding “y component” of our hand movement.

In layman's terms, this is primarily a “saw shake” but has a distinct angled feel to it and a certain twisting caused by the back and forth motion of her elbow.

It is almost sad, when shaking the hands of a large number of people, to come to the realization that precious few people on this earth know how to properly shake hands. Most commonly they are void of energy, have a faint grip, and a shake as though they are trying to scare a fly from the back of their hand. The “dairyman” would be just as bad if it weren't for its rarity, but in a world of limp noodles and weak shakers, receiving a “dairyman” is far better than the average. Still, those who have perfected the firm, simple hammer are in possession of a great gift that few are capable of giving.

If, as you have been reading this, you have come to the realization that you are a “hugger” you are not without hope - in fact it takes very little practice to become a reasonably good shaker but you need to start by identifying that you have a problem and make a conscious effort to fix it. For most this will merely require changing your mindset as you already have what it takes to give a good handshake: If you can pick up a 10 kg book bag with one hand you have more than the required grip and if you can shake a bottle of juice (up and down of course) before you drink it you have the forearm strength and merely need to implement these skills the next time you shake someone's hand. Some of my readers may have a unique handshake, I will not condemn this as it is often an idiosyncrasy that is part of their personality – but if that is the case they should be proud of it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Our lives are dominated by one of two 'forces' in this universe. As time draws to a close I believe there will be a noticeable shift so that each soul will be very closely aligned with either one side or the other with no 'middle ground'. In this illustration, the very instant I drop in a magnet, each shaving of metal aligns itself along the field lines and begins the slow process of moving toward one pole or the other; but it takes a long time before they all are drawn to their respective side. Unlike the metal shavings in this illustration, we, in our lives, have the choice as to which pole to align ourselves with... but beyond that the outcome will be the same.

Which pole are you aligned with today?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Car troubles and answered prayers

Getting ready for a day of cross country skiing yesterday I dropped my car keys into the back pocket of the backpack I planned to take. Getting skis, poles, and other paraphernalia out of my car I was unconcerned when the door sung shut...until I realized that it was locked and my keys were on the inside. A quick look through the Kurtz' car reveled nothing that looked promising for unlocking the car but with some more searching Joel had the brilliant idea to take the wire supports out of a nylon safety bag. After trying to feed these through the top of the various doors in attempts to catch the lock mechanism I realized quite quickly that my car was designed well (i.e. you can't slip a wire through the door anywhere near a lock switch), and that our wires, although we had two of them, were too short. During this time I, and hopefully those with me, were praying that we would be able to get in without breaking a window or calling someone to help us out. We finally returned to the door that had been the problem since it was not completely closed and tried to figure out how to unlatch it. I finally decided I could try an extended version of something we did in Peru - fish the keys themselves out of the car. We bent a hook in one of the wires and I was barely able to reach the top of the backpack, snag it, and pull it up close to the top of the door. Christy held this wire tight so that the backpack wouldn't fall down while i bent a hook into the other wire and caught farther down on the backpack hooking it again and bringing the pocket containing the keys closer to the top of the door. Now Christy held the second wire while I worked with the first to open the zippered pocket and dig around where I thought the keys were until I hooked them. Then with everyone pulling on the top of the door to make as big a space as possible I fished the keys out through the crack and was able to get into the car.

After a great day of skiing we got back to our cars, loaded up and after the other car had left Joel and I discovered that my car wouldn't start - headlights indicated a good battery but the engine wouldn't turn over. I backed the car down off the hill it was on to a level place and tried again - still nothing. Joel and I sent up a prayer and then prepared to crawl under and knock on the starter solenoid (or whatever the little thing is that gets you a couple more starts from a bad starter) after finding where it was and getting a hammer out of my trunk we decided to try to crank the engine one more time. This time it started right up just as the other car came back to hurry us up.