Category: General

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Permalink 11:32:29 pm, by fumanchu Email , 52 words   English (US)
Categories: General, Photography

Pics from my vacation

I'm a bit reluctant to tell you where I went, because it's crowded enough already. Okay, if you want to do a little work, I took these pictures in noynaCs'gniK near AC, onserF. I might find the time to tell you the story...later. Right now, here's the pics I like most.

River, Trees, Mountain, and Sky Mist Falls, as seen through two trees White flowers in green verge bordering a mountain trail Dead tree with white branches

Panorama of Zumwalt Meadow (N to S)

Sun peeking out from behind a tree (oversaturated) Smoke covering the Cedar Grove valley One of several gorgeous waterfalls in Sheep Creek Moss growing on a partially-dead manzanita tree Spiderweb on tree bark Red eggs and larvae in a side pool

Permalink 10:45:01 pm, by fumanchu Email , 483 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Book Meme

D'oh! I wasn't fast enough, so Jen tagged me and I'm it.

Number of books I own

I go through my whole collection and clean them out every couple of years or so, so I only have about 500 at any given time.

Last book I read

A History of New Testament Lexicography, by John A. L. Lee. A very interesting and accessible study of Greek lexicons and their development (or lack thereof) in parallel with New Testament translations.

5 books that mean a lot to me

  1. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter. An utterly absorbing and delightful treatise on referential systems. Essential for anyone who wants to understand the 21st century West, rather than merely mouth the "postmodern" buzzwords.

  2. The Order of Things by Michel Foucault. Where Hofstadter did a superb job of exposing postmodern logical structures, Foucault does an equally superb job of exposing those of the Ancient, Classical, and Modern eras. He is a much thicker writer (not wholly due to being translated), so make sure you can focus for long periods before trying to read anything by this guy.

  3. The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology by Bruce J. Malina. I might as well continue the theme. Malina does for 1st-century Palestine what Foucault did for broader eras: analyses and exposes the structures which people used to make sense of their world. In Malina's case, this allows us to interpret their actions and writings (the Bible) more accurately; we do not wish to impose meanings on the text which did not exist for their authors or original audience.

  4. Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War by Paul Fussell. Huh. Ideology and its impact on behavior in another culture, again. Only this time it's the brutal, crude, unforgiving culture of soldiery in wartime. Don't read this if you're a Republican, or even an optimist. You can't handle the truth.

  5. Collected Poems, 1909 - 1962 by T. S. Eliot. All of the above, but in poetic form, and 50 years before any of the previous four authors showed up. Truly amazing. The only way to explain Eliot is to read the other four books (and probably Frazier's The Golden Bough, while you're at it. Oh, and Nietzsche's Will To Power. Then go watch Apocalypse Now; note this is not the redux).

Shame. All the people to whom I want to pass on this meme don't have blogs.


Permalink 01:33:21 am, by fumanchu Email , 400 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Ichi, ni, sashimi

FUN college group meeting tonight—I taught the guys how to make sushi! There was some initial skepticism:

A hesitant Corey and Fred

...but after I showed them how it was done:

Me stuffing a big maki chunk into my mouth

...Fred tried some ginger:

Fred eating a piece of gari (ginger)

...and Corey tried some salmon roe by itself X(

Corey gagging on roe

...and they dove in:

Me, Corey, and Fred making sushi

Here's a rainbow roll Fred made:

Rainbow sushi roll

(Thanks for the pictures, Linda!)

After an hour or more of making all kinds of sushi, we cleaned up a bit, then talked about "friends and enemies". Reading Matthew 5, how serious is Jesus when he tells you to "turn the other cheek" to your enemy? Who is your enemy? Do you have any? Or (like many American Christians that I know), have you designed your life so well that you only spend time with your friends? I think I do, quite often. We find being hit on the left cheek so distasteful that we never expose our right side in the first place, and therefore never have to make the hard decision to "go the extra mile".

We also talked about those who are neither friends (our ingroup) or our enemies (our outgroup), but "nobodies". Jesus called them the poor, the lame, and the sick, and in Luke 14, says "when you give a banquet, don't invite your friends". But he doesn't say "invite your enemies"; instead, you should invite the nobodies. In Luke 16, he mentions the "shrewd manager" who loses money to gain friends (I wonder how many people have done the exact opposite). So we talked a bit about what it means to sacrifice, for whom, and why. And who will be mad when you do? Probably your friends ("a man's enemies will be members of his own household").

It seems Jesus is calling people to step out of their social boundaries, in effect joining a new "ingroup": the church. And just like MySpace's Tom, you have to be friends with the creator to be a member. ;) However, there's an additional responsibility to continually bring people—from your old ingroup (friends, family, social class), from your enemies, and from the nobodies—into the new group. I hate to say it, but I see a lot of churches fall down at this point; they neglect and isolate themselves from one or more of those groups. I'm glad I have the chance on a daily basis to serve the poor in Mexico...


Permalink 09:32:00 am, by fumanchu Email , 1435 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Where there's smoke...

Seems we had a fire recently near our Tijuana camp; I spoke with Forrest Fowler, our Logistics Coordinator, about the event and some of the pictures he took.

Bob: So, what happened last week?

Forrest: I was doing a routine lead-in with a group about 3:00, when Luis called me as I was getting closer to the camp. And he said, "hey there's a big fire at camp." I could see it on the way in, so I wasn't too worried about it. As I got closer I realized the fire was to the south and to the west of the camp.

B: At that point it wasn't on our property?

F: No, and the wind was blowing it away from the camp. But as I pulled into the camp and got closer and started to set the group up, the wind had changed, and was blowing the fire directly towards our camp—in the south area, not where the groups are camped, but where the staff trailers are, and some of the property owner's personal stuff.

Luis had called the [Tijuana] fire department, and they showed up with a truck and a tanker. They started to work over by Luis' house; his house was the most threatened at the time.

Mexican man using a water jug to fight the fireB: Luis Vargas has a house on, or near, our property?

F: Yeah, it's at the back southeast corner of our property. His house has a big, open field next to it, and the wind was blowing the fire right towards his house. So the fire department had their truck and pumper over there trying to put that out. The fire had also expanded a bit toward the north, close to where all of the staff trailers are.

I don't know where they all came from, but there was probably 30 people from the area—just locals—that had come and were starting to help us put the fire out.

Fighting the fire with water trucks, branches, wet shirts--it was crazyB: What were you doing to try to put the fire out?

F: We were running around with tree branches, to smash it out; we had shovels and rakes. One of the caretakers had taken his shirt off and soaked it in water and was beating it down. It was crazy.

Guardiana, the company that delivers the water for our groups—they had just finished filling up the Camping Pros water container. They had some water left, so they came over and backed up to the property-line fence. The fire wasn't actually on our property, but we were trying to put it out on the neighbors' before it got to ours. He started up the generator, and we were spraying the drinking water out on the fire, trying to get it out.

B: When you say there was a fire "south of camp", that's all open field, right? Not an urban setting.

F: Right. It's open grass field fire.

Fire trucks in camp

B: So, you had the fire under control by that point?

F: After about an hour or two of working in that, jumping around to find the different hotspots, the fire department had a couple more engines come out, and we pretty much decided that everything that we could find was out. We had had one spot that we were having a hard time working on, that was over by one of the property owner's warehouses. He has a bunch of wood stakes he used for holding up the grape vines, which was basically a big giant wood pile, and we had a hard time putting that out. But we worked on that for a long time and finally got *that* out.

The fire department said everything was cool there, so Sergio from Camping Pros fired up his barbecue and cooked hamburgers and hot dogs for all the firemen; there were probably 15 to 20 firemen.

FiremanFiremen in the Camping Pros chow line

We had 3 fire trucks, and 4 pumper trucks, and the Subcomandante of the Tijuana fire department, who's the second-in-charge of all Tijuana, was out there. We got to feed them, and take some pictures in front of their engines. They waved goodbye, and I said thanks to Sergio; we talked about it a little bit, and I took off and was headed for home.

Group photo of Tijuana firemen
[Forrest is in the center of the group shot]

B: And what time was that?

F: About 6:00, 6:30. We spent about an hour hanging out eating with the fire department, so about 6:30 or so we took off to go home. I got about a mile or so down the road, right as you get on the toll road, when Luis called me on the radio and said, "hey, the fire started up again." So, I backed up and turned around, and as I got back the fire department was coming back again; Luis had called them as well. They showed up with one fire truck and 2 pumper trucks.

Warehouse engulfed in flame The warehouse in the back that is owned by the landowner, that had caught on fire. By the time we could all get back, whatever was in there was so flammable the whole thing was totally engulfed.

B: The whole warehouse? And what was in there?

F: Yeah. He had a lot of supplies for the farm—generators and PVC pipe and he had a bulldozer that he used for clearing land.

B: Was that all destroyed? Is the bulldozer out of commission?

F: Yeah. Well, a bulldozer's just a big hunk of steel, basically, so if you could figure out how to rewire everything, I'm sure can't really burn the whole steel structure. But it's definitely cooked. And the whole building collapsed--burned down all around it.

B: How big of a building was it?

F: I'd say it was probably... 20 by 50 [feet]. It was wood-frame with corrugated-tin siding and roof. They worked on that 'til just about 8:30, before they were sure everything was out. As they were waving goodbye to go across the road a couple miles, there was a house on fire across the road. So they had not finished their evening.

B: But you had; you felt confident that everything was out. So you went home at that point?

F: Yes, I went home very stinky, my stuff still smells like smoke, and I was tired. But all went well.

B: Was any of Luis' property damaged?

F: No, luckily, nothing of Amor's—none of our caretaker's property, none of our personal stuff—was affected at all.

B: Was there any point at which you had to do some crowd-control with our groups staying at camp?

F: You know, I was amazed. Just because, I guess I project my curious nature upon others; but I only had one person from one of the groups come over and start poking around and trying to help and stuff. And just because of safety issues and concerns, I know that that would not be smiled upon by the administration. ;) I asked him to leave and he said, "that's fine, no problem, I understand." I thought it could have been much more difficult to get him to leave, but he totally understood. I'm just amazed that nobody came over to see more, because it was a big event.

B: I am surprised that you didn't have some panic.

F: Yeah. It was nice because the main view of the fire was out-of-view from where the campers' tents and stuff were set up. The shipping containers and a couple of large trees really blocked the view from where most of the major fire was happening. So they could see smoke, but they never really came over to investigate, which was very good.

B: Is this the first time we've had a fire out there? Is it a common occurrence?

F: This year it seems there have been a lot more fires than I remember. The last time I remember fires like this was about 10 years ago. I'm not sure whether it's because of the new area where we're camping, or if it had to do with so much rain we got over the winter and everything grew a lot more, and therefore there's a lot more to burn.

But that's the first time...well, we did have one fire experience 10 years ago when we were lighting off fireworks at the old camp.

B: (laughing) I remember that!

F: (laughing) but other than that...

B: Yeah. We don't use fireworks anymore, do we?

F: No, nope. Not anymore. :)

B: Well, I think you covered it all very well. Is there anything you want to add?

F: No, I don't believe so.

B: Okay, thanks a lot!


Permalink 09:12:58 pm, by fumanchu Email , 812 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Black & White

Fred Liddell, Tom Liddell, Josh Van Nortwick, and I made up a new pool game a few weeks ago. It's a lot of fun, and only has one glaring defect! :)

Black and White


Black and White is a pocket game. The "black" player must sink the balls numbered 1 to 7 (the "solids"). The "white" player must sink the balls numbered 9 to 15 (the "stripes"). The first player to sink all of their opponent's balls wins.


  • A standard set of balls (1 cue ball and 15 object balls)
  • A pool table where both the head spot and the foot spot have matching markers (typically a cloth circle about an inch in diameter)
  • A timer (the one glaring defect, since it isn't standard pool equipment)
  • At least two pool cues (sticks)


"White" player:

  1. Place the cue ball on the head spot.
  2. Place the object balls 1 through 7 on the head rail, behind the head spot. They must touch the rail, but do not need to touch each other (and probably shouldn't).

"Black" player:

  1. Place the 8 ball on the foot spot. This is your "cue ball".
  2. Place the object balls 9 through 15 on the foot rail, behind the foot spot. They must touch the rail, but do not need to touch each other (and probably shouldn't).

Table setup for the game "Black and White"


Normal play consists of both players shooting simultaneously from their own cue spot, in a series of "rounds". All shots during the game must take place from a player's own cue-spot marker. Each round proceeds as follows:

  1. Both players set their cue ball (the black player's "cue ball" is the 8-ball) on their own cue-spot marker. Their cue ball must touch the marker. If a player is unable to place their cue ball on the marker (because another ball is sufficiently covering the marker), that player's round must consist of dropping their cue ball from a height onto the offending object ball, thereby dislodging it from covering the marker.
  2. Each player indicates they are ready to shoot by saying, "Ready".
  3. Once both players have declared that they are ready, the timer is started. If a third person can manage the timer, 3 seconds is the normal countdown time. If no third person is present, 5 seconds or another time (agreed upon by both players) may be used. If no timer is available, a third person may indicate the shooting moment as follows: hold a cue stick by the butt with the tip pointing straight up, then allow the tip to fall and audibly strike the table rail.
  4. When the timer sounds, both players may shoot. Players are not required to shoot at the moment the timer sounds; they may delay their shot; however, if their cue ball is dislodged from the cue spot marker, they lose their shot for that round. [Optional: As long as a cue ball comes to rest on a marker, the owner of that ball may shoot again without a timer.]
  5. Repeat steps 1-4, unless a penalty shot occurs (see below).

Penalty Shots

During the game, whenever a player makes one of the following errors, their opponent may take a penalty shot:

  1. Sinks their cue ball in a pocket (a "scratch"),
  2. Strikes their own cue ball before the timer has sounded,
  3. Strikes their cue ball when it is not touching the cue spot marker,
  4. Contacts any ball other than the cue (interference)

To take the penalty shot, the opponent places their cue on their cue spot marker, and shoots normally. There is no timer, and the offending player's cue ball is not placed on the table. Errors committed during penalty shots also result in penalty shots.

If both players receive simultaneous penalties, they cancel each other, and neither player shall take a penalty shot.

Resetting Object Balls

An object ball will be repositioned against its starting rail, by the protecting player, whenever:

  1. It is knocked off the table,
  2. It is sunk by a shot made before the timer has sounded,
  3. It is sunk after a player has interfered with play (by making contact with any ball other than their own cue).

Note that each of the above errors also results in a penalty shot.

"Continuous Penalty" Shots (optional)

During the game, whenever a player knocks their own cue ball off the table, their opponent may take a "continuous penalty" shot.

The opponent places their cue on their cue spot marker, and shoots normally. There is no timer, and the offending player's cue ball is not placed on the table. The opponent may continue to place their ball on the marker and shoot, as long as they sink an object ball on each shot.

If both players receive "continuous penalties" during the same round, they cancel each other, and neither player shall take a penalty shot. If player A makes a "continuous penalty" error and player B makes a "normal penalty" error, player B shall take a normal penalty shot only.


Permalink 10:25:55 am, by fumanchu Email , 151 words   English (US)
Categories: General

36 hours of fun and sun

Our Covenant Presbyterian high-schoolers finally made it to Mexico! We worked on this house:

landscape of city with our house that isn't really very visible

Okay, okay, here's a better picture...we added on to this existing structure:

picture of existing house

Everyone worked very hard, and we accomplished much more than I thought we would. On the first day, we found that the previous group had poured the slab, and built two walls, so we built the rest:

Brandon sawing wood Girls making tar squares with flowers in their hair Brandon pushing a wall into place while Brent nails and Fred assists

(The flowers in the girl's hair came from the neighbor kids)

Then, it was back to camp for the night. During the day, someone had stolen a bag of marshmallows from our van, so Catherine and Ashley went looking for "spares" from another group at camp. Their triumphant return (plus more campfire pics):

high-five for marshmallows Alex covering his face from the heat of the fire Fun fire flare between Tommy and Brent

Next day, we returned to work more on the roof, and simultaneously wrapped the walls in wire, paper, and chicken wire, to get it ready for stucco:

Tommy moving plywood on the roofBrent walking on the roof Grace and Fred finishing the chicken wire

Then it was time for "official" pictures!

Brent taking a picture from the roof(From right) Alex, Fred, Emily, Ashley and 'extras'


Permalink 08:24:38 am, by fumanchu Email , 87 words   English (US)
Categories: General

People movers writ large

Fedex apparently moves 5.5 million packages every day. In 2003, UPS moved 12 million per day in the U.S. alone. Such companies have thousands of employees, vehicles, and buildings dedicated to moving Thing X from Place A to Place B.

When will one of them consider me a Thing, and move me from Home (A) to work (B) every day at a lower cost than me and my little Nissan?


Permalink 01:25:33 pm, by fumanchu Email , 38 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Rancho camp in June

During Spring 2005, I took a panoramic shot of our new "Rancho" campground outside of Tijuana. Here's a new pic taken in June (from the other end of the camp):

panoramic shot of rancho tj camp


Permalink 09:49:05 am, by fumanchu Email , 282 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Continuous partial attention


Notes from a talk by Linda Stone

In 1997 I coined the phrase "continuous partial attention". For almost two decades, continuous partial attention has been a way of life to cope and keep up with responsibilities and relationships. We've stretched our attention bandwidth to upper limits. We think that if tech has a lot of bandwidth then we do, too.

Or, as Lister's Law states: "People under time pressure don't think faster".

One of the great things about a Mission Trip with Amor Ministries is the isolation. For over 25 years now, we've been working in communities without phones, without the 'Net, without email. It's been liberating, in the sense that people can step out of their "partial attention" mode and really pay attention to what's important. You want a "focus on the family"? Spend a week building a house in Mexico, so that 1) the children don't end up in orphanages, and 2) you'll be able to really focus on ministry for once in your life.

The recent increase of cell-phone coverage in the poor communities of Mexico will soon turn into full email, web, and GPS-plus-Google remixing, I'm sure. Part of me hopes that progress is glacial—I'd hate to lose focus.

Attention captured by marketing messages and leaders who give us a sense of trust, belonging in a meaningful way. Now we long for a quality of life that comes in meaningful connections to friends, colleagues, family that we experience with full-focus attention on relationships, etc.

Another strength of ours: building meaningful relationships. Hope we can find more and more ways to make those full-focus and meaningful...connected.


Permalink 11:56:32 am, by fumanchu Email , 109 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Fires in Ciudad Juarez destroy Amor homes

On Saturday there was a house fire in the Colonia "Felipe Angeles". The Trevino Suarez family lost everything, and one of their children died. Jesus, age 7, died in the fire and his sister Lucia, age 6, is hospitalized in critical condition. The family has three other children. We will build them a new home July 8; please keep this family in your prayers.

On Sunday, in Colonia "Manuel Clouthier", there was another fire and 6 homes were destroyed; 5 of these were homes Amor Ministries had built this past Spring. I will be going to Mexico today for more information and to see the destruction.

Darrell Johnston
Field Manager - El Paso / Cd. Juarez

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