Am I Happy? It Depends on Your Definition.

I was arrested and taken to the Wake County Detention Center. I’m not proud of it. But as my only arrest in 58 years, I’m not ashamed of it either.

So far, I’ve heard two public complaints about Mega Moral Monday, the occasion of my intentional arrest.
One, that we’re wasting the taxpayers’ money by tying up the law enforcement officers and the court system in getting ourselves arrested by committing civil disobedience.
Two, that we’re obviously not serious, because some of those arrested have been singing and laughing during the process.

Both are fair questions.

Are we costing Wake County money? Yes. In the short run. But we minimize this impact by being 100% cooperative (other than the initial order to disperse). The 151 of us who were arrested on Monday night said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ because there was zero reason not to. The officers from the General Assembly, the City of Raleigh and the Wake County Sheriff’s and Detention Center were professional and polite, without exception. And our issue had nothing to do with them. So we tried to expedite the process, costing no more overtime than needed.
More importantly, in the long run our protest is focused on getting local agencies the resources they need – a concept the General Assembly seems to have missed. Deliberately.

Second, how can we be serious if we sometimes laugh, applaud our fellow arrestees, and sing spirituals? While that’s hard to see from the other side, the answer seems obvious to me. It is an expression of joy in taking action, by the only means left to us. Are we partying? Look at my picture. No. I am tired. I am moderately uncomfortable after ten hours on steel benches, with zip-tie handcuffs for the first couple. No, I am not scared. I am well protected by professionals from the sad cases they deal with night after night. And I am secure in the knowledge that I will sleep in my own bed, even though it won’t be until after sunrise. But I’m not enjoying the physical experience. But I have to confess that I did enjoy the opportunity to meet dozens of like-minded individuals, who believe, like me, that this step was the only semi-rational option we had to call attention to the impending train wreck that is the result of the GOP’s agenda: a regressive tax structure, a denial of voting rights, cuts in unemployment and Medicaid, trashing of environmental protections, the list goes on.

So, we’re not ‘happy’. But we are taking strength by actually DOING something. And sometimes, that calls for a song.

Hitting the Wall in the Culture Wars

Long ago, mom taught me not to discuss politics or religion with people. Well, she told me that anyway. I can’t say that I learned the concept, though it made more sense to me in the days when there were liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats, and you didn’t want to start a fight to make things worse. But in recent years the two sides hardened their positions and culled their respective herds of ideologically questionable members such that nobody could talk to anybody on the other side, because there were no bridge-builders left. To me, that seemed a sure recipe for disaster, so I have tried over the years to engage in dialogue across the great divide. I have attempted to remain civil. In the heat of ‘battle’ I have failed at that more than once, never neglecting to apologize and mend fences. I failed again today. And decided I’m done with bridge-building in at least one area. Namely, trying to have a rational discussion with an evangelical Christian who feels that they are on a mission.

The following is an exact transcript (names redacted) of a Facebook conversation, which followed the passage of the North Carolina constitutional Amendment One yesterday, which outlawed any form of civil union other than a marriage between a man and a woman.

I admit that I picked the fight by weighing in on someone’s post, and that I became increasingly snarky.

My old friend “Anne” leads off with her post, soon to be joined by “Cathy”, a kindred spirit.

* * *

Anne: “The Lord is hearing the cries of HIS people and is healing our land! Praise the Lord for this victory!” (passage of Amendment One)

Anne: “For my brothers and sister who struggle with homosexuality I am committed to pray that the Lord will show you the truth that will set you free! I truly love you with the love of the Lord who created YOU and wants to know HIS truth!”

Me: “Despite the best efforts of our forefathers, yesterday we weakened that wall separating church and state. The ‘cries’ I hear are theirs, and those of tolerance-loving people of all faiths.”

Cathy: “The “separation of church and state” (which is wording that doesn’t even exist in the constitution) was to keep the affairs of government out of the church, not to keep morality and truth out of government. Just because people have a “right to choose” doesn’t make their choices right. If I “choose” to slap someone can I justify that based upon my individual “rights”? Yet everyday we murder thousands of unborn children and devise ways to live lifestyles that are Biblically wrong and we do it all in the name of “choice”. The champions of “CHOICE” would be quick to prosecute me for my violent behavior in slapping someone or tearing down a forest, but will justify their own murderous and devious behavior against an unborn child and the GOD-instituted way of marriage and the family. Choice is the biggest lie to be shoved down the throats of the nations of the world. And tolerance is really only tolerance if Christians are okay with the wrong, wicked, and immoral things the world wants to do. Tolerance is something liberals want to beat conservatives down with, but it isn’t something that liberals want to extend to conservatives. It’s such a double standard.”

Me: “You are correct that the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear in the Constitution. You should have stopped there. It is a concept espoused in the writings of Thomas Jefferson, interpreting the intent of the Constitution. The word ‘God’ does not exist in the Constitution either. And the separation was most certainly to keep religion out of government, thus the phrase: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”. You won a battle yesterday. You will lose this war.”

Anne (to me): “No…YOU have already lost the war you just don’t see it yet…but one day my friend, EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is LORD! And just because you don’t believe that does not make it any less true that YOUR knee will bow as well my friend. The sad part is that unless you come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ, you will not be a part of the miracle of heaven…and that breaks my heart!”

Cathy: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. AND WHOSOEVER WAS NOT FOUND WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE WAS CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE.”

“This is how the war ends. Christ is victorious. Saved, born again, believers will be found written in the book of life. All others who rejected Christ are not in the book. I pray that your heart will be touched with the truth.”

Me: “From the ALL CAPS, I suspect that you’d prefer me in the lake of fire. Let’s each keep a book. You can have the bible and leave me the Constitution.”

Cathy: “I would absolutely NOT prefer anyone in the lake of fire. However, God believes in choice also. We each choose where our eternity will be. The all caps was only to show the emphasis on the seriousness of our choices. There are choices that lead to light and life and there are choices that lead to darkness and death. I can assure you that the choice of a nation to forsake the Creator and kill unborn babies and defy God’s plan for marriage will lead to darkness and death. I don’t know why you believe that Christians are haters. Standing firmly on rock solid truth is not hate. It actually says: I love the Lord enough that I will not compromise what He has said, and I love others enough to try and show them that Christ loves them and wants them to choose Him. Not eternity in the lake of fire. The constitution is considered by God to be part of the wood, hay, and stubble that will all be burned away. The Bible is eternal. I’ll gladly keep it. And as twisted as the Constitution has become, I’d much rather keep the one that hasn’t changed ever and has no amendments to it. It is perfect in its entirety. I’ll gladly let you have the ever-shifting, ever-changing, subject to human interpretation from generation to generation constitution. I’ll keep the KJV!”

Anne (to me): “Your response to my last post is typical of so many liberals who read something and make it say what you want it to say…your words were strickly for affect and it does not work anymore. You obviously did not read the last past of the post as I said that it saddened me that you may not spend eternity in heaven…how do you translate that into “I prefer that you’d spend eternity in the lake of fire”? I have learned to expect this kind of anger from the left and those who support the things that are happening in our world that is causing it to crumble. As I have said so many times all I want is for you to know Christ…the one who saves and wants you to know HIM. Think what you want but that is the absolute truth…and by the way, the constitution belongs to ME as well…and the bible is yours too, maybe you should read it as much as you do the constitution.”

“There is way to much personal interpretation of the constitution and as Cathy said, it has changed so many times over the years that no one recognizes it anymore!”

Me: “OK. This conversation has become satire. Not a single word in the Constitution has changed. The original sits under glass for all to read. Amendments are equally documented, only added after a defined process and ratified by voters in 3/4 of the states. The Bible on the other hand was written in languages other than English, over hundreds of years, by dozens of writers documenting events decades in the past. After that, there have been translations and interpretations, some clearly done for political reasons, for example the KJV. Regardless, your interpretation is apparently the only true god that has ever existed, and he works through you, with the intent of gaining dominion over all of the rest of us.”

“I can no longer have a conversation with someone who is so convinced that her personal version of God needs to rule my world, that she is incapable of reason.”

‎Cathy (to me): “:( my heart is sad for you.”

Anne (to me): “What you don’t like is that I am incapable of YOUR reason…and that makes you so mad. I have no personal ‘version’ of God, there is only one…and I would never try to rule your world…That is the Lords job. No matter what I am going to pray for you!”

* * *

Is it asking to much to be able to have a conversation about the meaning of a constitutional amendment?

Apparently so.

Wallowin’ in Pollen

Crazy warm late winter here in central NC. It resulted in our fruit trees making it through without a late hard frost whackin’ the blossoms, as often happens. Below is a bit of video of the variety of pollinators busy on one of the plum trees. That clip merges in to another, showing what is really happening 24/7 this time of year, but hard to see when the sun is up. Tissue anyone?

A Hot Shower Is Overrated

For 99.99% of you: “Absolutely nothing to see here; keep moving….for God’s sake keep moving.”

But for the other 0.01%, here we go:

Items found at the scene of the crime are seen above.

Here’s the deal. This blog was originally conceived as a DIY (do it yourself) for the SIY* crowd. (screw it yourself*) – in other words, for folks like me who try to take care of their own home maintenance, but wind up taking twice as long and costing twice as much….) But hey, we try.

So the items above belonged to the Grundfos MQ3-45 pump that for the last couple of years has moved the rainwater-based water supply that we installed and use for everything in our rural piece of the world. At least until a few weeks ago, when the pump began delivering water like an old-fashioned oscillating fan, kicking in….and tapering off…..kicking in….and tapering off. In infuriatingly rhythmic cycles of 12-14 seconds. I consulted with Ed Crawford, co-owner of Rainwater Management Solutions, the source of my rainwater collection equipment and an all-around great resource. ‘Not sure’, Ed said on the phone a few weeks ago. ‘Let me get with Grundfos.’ A few weeks later, after returning from vacation, I have a package of replacement parts for the pump’s flow sensor, apparently the culprit. Ed assures me that, ‘any reasonably competent DIY type can install the package.’

So….add that to your list of phrases that should make the hair on the back of your neck signal: RUN!

In a rare wise moment, I chose not to install them on Monday evening after work, reasoning that: (1) I would be tired, (2) the hardware stores would be closed, (3) Ed would be unavailable for consult, and most importantly, (4) we would need water to get through the evening and off to work in the morning……So, I elected to postpone the assault until after my wife had showered and left for work on Tuesday AM.

(Insert: “THANK YOU JESUS!” here.)

With my wife scrubbed and off to work, and my faithful sidekick Patti lurking a safe distance away, I dissembled the existing pump’s control box. No problem. I found the deceased unit and determined that on the outside it appeared the same as the replacement unit. I removed same and compared the interior. Still seems to match……that’s strange. Now, you should refer to the photo above. (Frankly, at this point, the only poor sod who is STILL reading this, obviously has a Grundfos MQ3-45 pump, which is cycling every 12-14 seconds, and the godforsaken internets have offered him/her NO damn clue as to the problem or the solution. Yeah, as warned, I’m writing for the 0.01% here.)

So, everything matches….(an eerie calm descends)…so just replace the old with the new. Piece of cake.

Not so much. Refer to photo above. Stainless steel shaft supports white washer (the size of a BB) and the impeller in a vertical fashion, fitting into a 1/16″ depression in the pump housing and a matching 1/16″ depression in the top cover (seen in the photo), sealing with an “O” ring. Like….at the same time. As in…simultaneously. Making a clicking sound when you manage to line the two holes and the shaft up at the same nanosecond. Or…not.

I tried four different methods. They included Vaseline, monofilament fishing line, paper shims (v1.0) replaced by plastic shims (v2.0)…and a turkey baster. No shit. A turkey baster. For ninety minutes. No click. I could NOT get the top and the bottom to line up at the same time, accepting the two ends of the vertical shaft. At some point in the process, eyes filled with sweat and fingers cramping, I offered to accept Baal as my personal savior. Still no click.

At that point, I removed all the interior parts (shaft, impeller and washer) to ensure that the top and bottom would actually ‘click’ together without any intervening parts; just to be on the safe side. Err…no dice. They do not neatly slide together, despite the absence of anything that could hold them apart. Except…the “O” ring, all fat and juicy, fresh from the factory. And when I again incurred the name of Baal (and a ball peen hammer) the little bugger snapped together quite nicely. Yep, the now re-introduced shaft/washer/impeller has zero to do with the lack of ‘click’. I simply hadn’t beaten the “O” ring into submission properly.

Fifteen minutes later; I took a nice shower and headed into my day job. (after gargling so that the gin wouldn’t be detected….)


Following a rare Christmas Day snowfall, we’re tucked away under five inches of snow (so far). The power has flicked off a few times, so I fully expect that it will sign off soon. I’m glad that we’re in pretty good shape if that happens; the woodpile is pretty full, as is the propane tank for hot water and cooking. The kerosene lamps and flashlights are ready to rock and the cistern pump and UV water sanitizer can be unplugged from the house power and plugged into the generator in a matter of minutes. So, I can hopefully catch up on some reading and maybe even manage a blog post or two.

Happy Holidays to all.

Some scenes from central North Carolina.

One of the spring’s new pear ‘babies’.