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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

A blessing in disguise

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  1. Vehicle engine is throbbing badly, bring to shop
  2. Sorry, sir, you need a replacement engine, something broke badly inside; this is understandable at 290k miles. Authorize repair.
  3. Repair completed. I’m very sorry, sir, we made a bad mistake, it was not the engine but the catalytic converter.
  4. Free engine! Catalytic converter back ordered indefinitely but go ahead and pay for it.
  5. Inspection and registration due; failed inspection. (I live in one of the 22% of counties in my state that require an emissions test.)
  6. DMV website allows for cases of (1) part not available and (2) repair attempted, but I do not quite fit either case.
  7. Show up at license office, sorry sir, we can’t help you until your registration is overdue (?!)
  8. Return to license office, sorry sir, I don’t know why they told you that, but you need to talk to the license and theft bureau
  9. Sorry sir, you need a second failed inspection to get the attempted repair waiver, even though we all know nothing has changed with your vehicle since your last inspection
  10. Second failed inspection
  11. Meet officer and receive waiver code
  12. Bring waiver code to inspection station; code does not work
  13. Delays waiting for DMV to return calls to inspection station
  14. License and theft officer works with inspection station and advises them I should take vehicle to license office
  15. License and theft officer advises me that I should work with inspection station
  16. License and theft officer advises inspection station that I should take vehicle to license office
  17. License office — sorry, sir, we can’t help you with a waiver code, you need to work with inspection station
  18. License office confirms with license and theft officer this is the case
  19. License and theft officer advises me to work with inspection station . . . oh, wait, that inspection station? You are good to go, I overrode your inspection manually.
  20. Pay registration at license office

Written by Scott Moonen

April 30, 2022 at 6:35 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Personal

Metábasis eis állo génos (3-13)

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Leading up to 2020, Asher was seeking something to own and do beyond keeping chickens, which he shared with Charlotte but was largely her domain. I rejected backyard goat–keeping, but bees were an intriguing option as our town allows you to keep bees provided you have taken a class. So we took a class (online, sadly) from our county beekeeping association over the winter of 2020-2021. We spent about 8 hours in class, and later in the spring several hours at a practical exam and a paper exam. Of all our time in class, the practical exam was the most beneficial. Several of the seasoned beekeepers conveyed to us a vision of what I call “low-anxiety” beekeeping. Excessive anxiety over questions such as whether and when you need to feed your bees, or whether and how you can head them off from swarming, is generally counter–productive and can steal a lot of the joy of beekeeping.

Late in winter we ordered all of our equipment. We spent a little more money on the nice–looking Hoover hives, got our initial frames, nails, foundation wax, and other equipment (feeders, hats, gloves, smoker, hive tool, wire embedder) from the local Bailey Bee Supply, and ultimately found cheaper frames (deep, medium) and foundation (medium) from Western Bee Supplies. By the end of the year we had the materials to equip three hives each with two deep bodies and two medium supers, and had spent about $1700 on the trio including supplies from Home Depot to make an elevated stand. Assembling frames is a time–consuming but satisfying task.

Deep frame and foundation

Placement of the hives was tricky! Our property has a lot of shade, but we found some space in the back of our garden that was relatively sunny, open, and also faced towards the south. This worked fairly well, although it is sometimes a little nerve-wracking to work in the garden. Generally the bees have kept to themselves; only twice have we had innocent bystanders standing near the garden get stung.

Starter hives

We started out with two nucleuses from our friendly local Garden Supply Company, at the time each costing $195. We had a much more exciting ride with our two hives than I ever expected for first–year beekeeping. Over the course of six months, we had: (1) one hive send off a swarm high in a tree, which Asher captured in the face of a coming rainstorm to form a third hive; (2) evidently we failed to capture the queen, or she later died, so we recombined this hive with the other hive; (3) which later sent off a swarm that we failed to capture; (4) a friend found a feral swarm in an abandoned hive of his, which we brought back to our house; but (5) in the dearth of fall I believe this hive robbed both of our other two hives, resulting in only one hive entering into winter. We purchased another nucleus this spring ($215) and are starting out our second year once again with two hives.

I remember remarking that it would be good for Asher to experience husbandry, to be responsible for something which was under his influence but not completely under his control. It turned out to be a great lesson for me as well!

Another thing that I didn’t expect as a first–year beekeeper was the degree to which we had to wrestle with varroa mites. Twice in our first year we had to treat our hives for varroa mites ($100 for two formic acid treatments and personal protection equipment) when at least one hive had extremely high mite load.

Some of the most interesting bee behaviors we observed were swarming, washboarding, bearding, and orienting flights.

Bearding

Written by Scott Moonen

March 26, 2022 at 8:29 am

Posted in Miscellany, Personal

He is found in human fashion

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Merry Christmas!

Written by Scott Moonen

December 24, 2021 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Personal, Worship

Home schooling

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Here is my philosophy of home schooling; if you are home schooling or are considering it, I hope you will find it encouraging.

  • I love the Christ Church statement that “Christian children deserve a Christian education. The problem with secular education is not so much that our children receive bad information, but bad formation. We desire education for our children that rejects the formational liturgies of secular schools, which include nationalist liturgies, radical environmentalist liturgies, sexual revolution liturgies, which all warp and twist them into faithful disciples of the state. We pursue for our children an education that will provide for them Christian formation, so that they will be above all disciples of the Lord Jesus.”
  • I’ve not read all the way through The Well-Trained Mind, but I have found the prologue to be very helpful and encouraging, something to come back to from time to time. We’ve also heard good things about Anyone Can Homeschool.
  • Most of home schooling is parenting. Curriculum is a context for working on obedience, self-governance, the fruit of the Spirit (in you and them!), scrappiness. When all curriculum is forgotten, those things will carry them through their adult life and its variety of vocations. This is a long and graduated process; some kids may need to do their work at the kitchen table for a long time, and everyone needs some amount of checkup and accountability even once they reach the point they are doing most of their own objective grading.
  • There are a lot of options and everyone does it a little bit differently. Don’t feel you must do it one particular way. In particular, some folks feel that you must supplement with online options or things outside of the home. Certainly that’s a fine option, but it’s not necessary—even for subjects that you don’t feel up to teaching. Your goal is to reach the point where they are self-motivated and self-coaching learners. Always feel free to experiment but also remember that curriculum choices aren’t likely to solve problems so much as amplify or dampen them.
  • Few things are necessary. Don’t be anxious.
  • Dad’s vision and desire needs to be the horse that drives the cart of home schooling.
  • Co-ops can be very helpful but aren’t necessary. I prefer a co-op that is administered by dads but that is hard to find. I personally think the cost-benefit of a co-op is better for older kids.
  • I’m a member of both NCHE and HSLDA and appreciate their work. They have good resources on how to do it in NC.
  • We’ve adjusted curriculum over time, mainly (1) to adjust depth and intensity as the kids get older, and (2) to seek for options that are less parent-dependent. We started with Sonlight when everyone was little and use Tapestry of Grace now (formerly with a co-op, now on our own). We like Apologia for science and Teaching Textbooks for math, primarily because they allow for a lot of student independence.
  • I require music (start with piano, move to something else if you like) and cross country (a sport that works well for a larger family) regardless of interest levels. Others do it differently! These last few years I’ve appreciated the freedom that home schooling allows for my older kids to pursue jobs. It’s been fun to work with them on time management and prioritization.

Written by Scott Moonen

August 14, 2021 at 10:04 am

Posted in Parenting, Personal

Baptism exhortation (2)

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Amos,

In the New Testament, Peter and Paul speak of two great old–covenant baptisms: the baptism of the flood, and the baptism of the Red Sea crossing.

In both of these, God rained water on his people, and drowned his enemies. Psalm 77 tells of God’s rain at the Red Sea crossing, and Psalm 68—the great battle Psalm of the Huguenots—tells of rain in the wilderness:

O God, when You went forth before Your people,
When You marched through the wilderness:
The world shook;
Indeed, the heavens dripped at the presence of God, the One of Sinai,
At the presence of God, the God of Israel.
A rain of gifts You showered, O God;
Your inheritance, though it languished, You Yourself established.
Your beasts dwelled in it;
You prepared it in Your goodness for the lowly, O God. (Psalm 68:7–10, James Jordan)

So you see that the waters of baptism are a rescue from judgment and death, and they are a source of life and refreshment. But they are also a commissioning, into a priesthood and into an army! As soon as Israel had crossed the Red Sea in battle array, they fought the Amalekites. Likewise, Psalm 68 continues:

My Master gives the word;
The messengers are a great army.
Kings of armies flee; they flee;
And those remaining at home divide the spoil,
Those remaining with the sheepfolds:
A dove’s wings covered with silver,
And her pinions with green–gold.
When the Almighty scattered kings there,
You made it snow on Black Mountain.
O mountain of gods, mountain of Bashan,
O mountain of ridges, mountain of Bashan,
Why your hostility, you mountains of ridges,
Toward the mountain God delighted for His dwelling?
Yes, Yahweh will dwell there endlessly.
The chariots of God are twice myriads,
Thousands upon thousands,
My Master among them,
At Sinai, in the holy place!
You ascended on high;
You captured a captivity;
You took men as gifts—
And even rebels—
In order that Yah, God might dwell. (Psalm 68:11–18, James Jordan)

The same thing happened when Israel crossed the Jordan into the promised land. God brought them safely through waters, circumcised them, and formed them into his own army to conduct a holy war.

Amos, God still has an army that wages holy warfare with the sword of the Spirit: the word of God. God has commissioned you into his service today. You are and will always be a soldier of Jesus. You belong completely to him, and it is good to belong to him. I charge you to serve him faithfully and fearlessly!

See also: Baptism exhortation

Written by Scott Moonen

November 16, 2020 at 3:50 pm

Pebbles

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Voting in a large-scale first-past-the-post election is not a statistically meaningful action. I didn’t vote in the United States’ 2016 election. I do plan to vote in our 2020 election, but I do so with a sense of proportion that I am not achieving something tangible or practical with my vote.

Far more important is prayer and corporate worship. We have a weekly audience with the king of the universe, a king who works all things according to the counsel of his will!

There is somewhat more significance to boosting than voting, since your words may influence many votes. I plan to vote for Trump in 2020 and I hope that you will as well. If you think this is a strange position for a Christian, Doug Wilson had some helpful thoughts that I encourage you to consider. Voting is, as Gary DeMar says, not a valentine.

Yet it is troubling that Christians are expressing support for Biden and Harris.

This is of course more obvious among liberal Christians, but folks like Greear, Keller, and Tripp are ongoing enablers as well with their smooth words. I was going to quip that it is not enough to be non-gnostic in America today. . . But, sadly, it turns out that these folks are gnostic.

As for Biden and Harris, they are not merely, er, non-life; they are actively anti-life.

Keep in mind, of course, that both the vote you approve and the vote you disapprove are insignificant. We do not put our trust in princes (they also are insignificant), and there is absolutely no need to be anxious about the future. We are full of joy! But it still matters before God what we advocate and embrace, and, since God’s world is not gnostic, it also matters very much how we live that out.

I really appreciated how Mark Horne framed voting recently. This seems to me a very helpful way to encourage folks to vote, yet without pretending that it has more tangible and practical value than it does:

My current voting philosophy:

1. Mathematically: voting is stupid. Remember all the science fiction stories about time traveling and the dire consequences that occurred when the past was changed? If you changed every ballot I ever filled out throughout my life to the opposite, nothing would be different. Voting, for an individual, is inconsequential to political outcomes.

2. God answers prayers, sometimes affirmatively. Lines of causation can be obscure just like any case of one friend asking another for a favor. But praying to God for a better future is not stupid, but wise.

3. But all prayer is not equally wise. Praying for a job promotion is usually superior to praying to get a million dollars in the next month. This is because, while prayer does involve wishing for a better future, it also involves interacting with God and how you see him working in the world.

4. So while I pray for a better political society in general, my more specific prayers are usually informed by foreseeable possible outcomes. Just like I pray for my current car to not break down rather than for a new car to appear in my driveway tonight, so I pray for a better candidate to win rather than a perfect candidate who I know is not going to win.

5. And if I’m really praying for a candidate in my district to win, why not express that by voting for him or her? It seems inconsistent to tell God I want someone to win an election and then not bother to express that preference in that election. (It certainly seems crazy to pray for a candidate to win but refuse to vote for him merely because he’s evil and stupid. If you’re worried that God might impose a worse ruler on you, and yet think you’re too “good” to vote for a better—if only less destructive—candidate, how are you not claiming to be holier than God?)

So voting, in my mind, can and should be a kind of prayer that complements the more regular verbal prayers.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 8, 2020 at 9:04 pm

Pentecost witness

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And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42–47)

Written by Scott Moonen

May 31, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Garden

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Go thee now and subscribe to Alan Jacobs’ newsletter, Snakes & Ladders. From today’s issue, “The Garlands of Repose,” these three beauties:

I’m proud of my young gardener and the firstfruits of her labors:

Written by Scott Moonen

May 25, 2020 at 8:19 am

Posted in Personal, Poetry

Various

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It is interesting to follow some Chinese flu naysayers and to see the diversity of opinions. The numbers naysayers are particularly interesting. On the one hand, how much did China underreport deaths (why the loss of millions of mobile subscribers)? On the other hand, how much are Western countries with empty hospitals scraping and pinching to come up with flulike death numbers, regardless of actual cause of death? Nassim Taleb reminds us that it is wise to be cautious, and together with Wrath of Gnon suggests that we wear masks until we are sure of the scope and long term effects of this. Ross Douthat agrees we should be cautious but also that lockdowns have gone too far. Alex Berenson has been calling attention to overlooked and misrepresented data. Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Knowledge was an early respectable platform to say we’ve likely been going too far. Doug Wilson provides help processing Romans 13; emergency powers sure are an interesting gray area for a constitutional government, aren’t they? Peter Leithart suggests we think of God’s judgement through the rubric of the ten commandments. And Reformed Books Online has a treasure trove of Reformational quotes on plagues and parishes and pastors and magistrates. What a wonderful concern for pastoral care!

The conspiracy theorists are also interesting. I find it impossible to believe in a global conspiracy. I don’t doubt that there are folks with global schemes, hard at work to take advantage of the situation, but I do doubt that their schemes could possibly come together successfully. For one, it is always the case that wicked men end up biting and devouring each other; no conspiracy can be maintained at such scale. But more importantly, God has declared that Satan would “not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended.” (Rev. 20) How then could the nations be collectively under his sway? So, then, any great global deception and anxious frenzy must instead be a direct judicial punishment from God, rather than being an organized work of Satan that is nevertheless being used by God. It really does seem to me that, far from working through a crafty plan, we are careening from one anxious face-saving measure to the next, each time overcorrecting for our last error lest we be forced to repent instead. But as Leithart points out, the fact that we see God’s hand in this is encouraging indeed.

It is a good time to remember Kipling: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . . you’ll be a Man, my son!”

I confess that I cannot say “Christ is risen!” without thinking of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and “Cheese toast anesti!”

Aaron Renn’s Masculinst newsletter is back! Be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already. He is always a stimulating read; often he has a different but helpful perspective on situations than my own first reaction. In his latest issue, he reminds us that “we can only go forward.” I believe we should evaluate this in light of Rosenstock-Huessy’s observation that the next phase after the oikumenical “big things” that outgrow themselves is a tribal “little and local things” phase. As such, even as individuals and families we should be strategizing how to shrink our dependency on global corporations and trade, and grow the fruitfulness of our homes and communities.

The big kids and I have been doing barbell workouts for a year now! While also continuing with the chin-ups and pull-ups:

Interesting links and reading:

Written by Scott Moonen

April 15, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Christmas books!

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Written by Scott Moonen

January 18, 2020 at 6:59 am

Posted in Books, Personal