Friday, August 23, 2013

San Francisco: Week One

Well, I am now in an apartment is Berkeley, CA, looking out at the campus and the hills.  I am here to do drafting for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.  They are replacing a bunch of their waterlines, digging up about six blocks at a time.  They have been doing this since 2003, and they are almost done.  Once this is complete, they have another project that is scheduled to take twenty-two years, or at least I think that is what they said.  Fortunately, I don't have to worry about the full scope of the project.  Right now I am just assigned to two of the sub-projects, a pipeline replacement along one street, and a waterline replacement on another street.  The work is easy.  Right now I simply have to show all of the existing utilities under the street so that the engineer will be able to avoid them when he designs the new pipes.  After I have finished drawing the existing utilities we will go out to the site and check them.  The engineer I am working for is a very nice, younger guy.  In fact, everyone in the Engineering Management department is quite chill.  They have been doing the same thing for a long time and their system just works.  This is a stark contrast to most of my projects, where we are trying to help clients do something they have never done before.  Moreover, the engineer has done all the research for me, he finds the utility drawings, I just have to draft them.  Usually clients just dump a bunch of data on us and say, "Hey, could you help us sort this out."  I'm not complaining, we provide that service gladly.  But it is reassuring to see that some agencies actually have a system that works.  So, work is going well, and I am happy.

Life-wise, the first part of the week was crazy, as I tried to feed myself from convenience stores, restaurants and a grocery store.  My plane was very late, it didn't arrive in Portland until well after it was supposed to drop us off in SF.  I got to the apartment in Berkeley at 8:30 PM after taking the wrong BART stop. After that, I walked a block to a 7-eleven and bought some peanut butter, milk, cereal, and some energy bars.  I called those items "Dinner" and "Breakfast" and I went to bed after consuming the former.  Monday morning came quickly, and I got to BART with lots of time to spare. Once I arrived at SFPUC I met with the CAD manager and he showed me their drafting standards.  After an hour of orientation, he broughy me up to the Engineering department and introduced me to the people I would be working with.  My engineer was not in that day, but they had me start on one of the projects anyways.  One of the drafters, a nice Asian gentleman who works for a company that is two links up the contracting chain from mine, showed me the restaurants around the SFPUC building and we bought lunch at a Subway.  After work I went to Berkeley Bowl, which is exactly the kind of grocery store you would expect to find here.  There were a number of Hemp products.  The display of bath salts caught my attention, but it seemed to be the normal kind.  One of the things I appreciated was the magazine rack at the checkout line. It had magazines that I would actually read, like Make. So I bought one, along with some chickens, more cereal, eggs, bread, green onions and a cucumber. (Cause cucumbers are awesome).

Tuesday was crazy in a similar way.  I made scrambled eggs for breakfast (the food bootstrapping plan was starting to pay off) and I met my engineer later in the morning.  I still had to go to Subway for lunch, but after work I made another trip to Berkeley Bowl so that I could buy jam and honey for sandwiches.  I also bought rice, and made this masterpiece:

Two chicken breasts and a bunch of rice

I'm still eating the leftovers.  That sums up my shopping experience.  I've still eaten at a restaurant once or twice since then.  But my life has settled down and I made it through the rest of the week.  Tomorrow 
I will probably explore Berkeley some more, particularly the campus.  Blessings to everyone back home.  On Bart today I saw a family with five little kids who had just flown in from Israel and it made me think of you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blog Introductions: What's Wrong With the World

From time to time I post links to articles I have read to my various social networking platforms. These articles often come from three blogs that I really like. So, I thought that I would give you all a proper introduction to these blogs and their authors.

What's Wrong With The World

This motley crew claims to write in the defense of "Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ."  The authors are all very conservative in the proper sense of the word, they want to conserve something.  But they rarely agree on what they want to conserve, and how to conserve it.  So you have Lydia McGrew who keeps us up to date on hate laws and abortion laws and Progressive progress.  The tone of her articles would be familiar to anyone who reads World Magazine.  Then there is Jeff Culbreath, who doesn't think that Capitalism is worth conserving (more on that later).  Another author is so conservative that he thinks we should have a king.  The discussions over there are raucous and serve as proof that Conservatism is far more diverse than one might imagine.

Up next: A blog introduction to The Distributist Review

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Herd of Cattle

The Herd of Cattle

Well perhaps you’ve heard me prattle,
Of when I got mixed up with some cattle,
Just a herd of eighty two,
That us kids were driving through,
A bunch of steers they sold for beef,
Never dreamed we’d meet a thief,
Would have sent along the men,
But they all were busy then,
You can bet us kids were proud of ourselves,
For the six of us were only twelve,
And to make us think that we were men,
They handed us our first guns then,
They were thirty twos I think,
With home made bullets made of zinc,
But they’d have to do they said.
As we had run out of lead,
We had about two hundred miles to go,
And were told to take it slow,
And as near as I can say,
We made twenty miles a day,
Our cook was a kid we all called fat,
But he was pretty good at that,
And he fed us good alright,
Kept our belt buckles good and tight,
But we had orders for to stay,
At a place we should reach on the ninth day,
They said it was a small frog pond,
With the water mostly gone,
But the grass that round it grew,
Would last the steers a day or two,
Well the steers had reached the bank,
And were filling up their tanks,
When five men were standing there,
They appeared out of thin air,
They told us kids to just skidoo,
That our cattle drive was through,
But we knew our men would come,
Then we knew there’d be some fun,
We hid up among the brush,
Hoped our men would make a rush,
We sent one kid back down the trail,
To meet our men he couldn’t fail,
And it proved to be the ticket,
They left their horses in a thicket,
So they approached the camp a walking,
And you bet they wasn’t talking,
The camp fire was burning down low,
Gosh I thought our guys are slow,
Then I heard our foreman cry,
Stick your paws up to the sky,
Then the guns began to bellow,
And I saw they had hit one fellow,
Three pair of paws went in the air,
But the fifth man wasn’t there,
He had made his bed alone,
Somewhere up among the stones,
But when he saw they’d lost they day,
He was coming right my way,
And when I yeld for him to freeze,
He couldn’t see me in the trees,
And his gun just started blazing,
And the under brush he was hazing,
And before I could even think,
I handed him a piece of zink,
Then our men came on the fly,
Threw a rope around the guy,
Told us kids we better run,
Not stick around to see the fun,
But it wasn’t too much fun I hope,
For the next day we were short of ropes,
Must have droped them on the ground,
Didn’t stop to look around,
Said we’d understand when we were grown,
But told us to skidoo for home.

A.D. Brown,
Aug, 9th, 1977

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Armistice Dance

One day I walked out on the street,
Where an old friend I chanced to meet,
Hadn’t seen the man for years,
Would have passed him by I fear,
But he stopped and turned around,
And asked me if my name was Brown,
He looked familiar in a way,
But who he was I couldn’t say,
His face was hid behind a beard,
So he had the advantage of me I feared,
Then he mentioned iSt, Marillion France,
And the night of the Armistice Dance,
Then his name to my mind came,
For I knew it was Hank Lane,
They held it in a vacant store,
And charged you two franks at the door,
So we thought we’d try our luck.
They let us in for half a buck.
The music was a harp and a fiddle,
But it could tease your feet to diddle,
There was chairs along the wall,
And a table in the center of the hall,
Upon which the fiddler stood,
So every one could hear him good,
Those french girls could cut it neat,
Though some were dancing in bare feet,
We had to mind our Ps and Qs,
For we were wearing army shoes,
Well every thing was going fine,
Until they opened a keg of wine,
And they said the wine was free,
So every one had a drink but me,
For I never touch the stuff,
When I’m sober I’m fool enough.
They all danced till three A,M.
Things were getting hectic then,
Though the harp was doing fine,
The fiddler couldn’t keep the time.
I felt sorry for the jerk,
But the wine had done it’s dirty work.
They didn’t know what to do,
And was afraid the dance was through,
But it seems I saved the day,
When I started in to play,
The harpest didn’t know my tunes.
But she cut in pretty soon,
And we got along quite fine,
And forgot about the time.
Untill we heard the town clock strike,
And we saw that it was getting light,
Then they started gathering round,
As I put the fiddle down,
Then the dance was at an end,
But I’d made a lot of friends,
They said they would pass the hat
But I told them none of that.
I told them I’d had fun,
And I thanked them every one,
It was then a little miss,
Came and gave me a big kiss,
But the harpest stepd between,
She was jelous so it seems.
And she said that we should go.
Well she lived in a Chateau,
So you see that she would be. To stuck up for one like me.
Then I thought of my friend Hank,
And I found that he got tanked,
And left the dance with a red head,
Well I guess enough is said,
I never ask him where he went,
Or just how the night was spent.
But as for me it was no riddle,
For I spent my time with a fiddle.

Sept. 30, 1979

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back in 2008, we often complained about the lack of candidates who were willing to take any kind of principled stand. This year, we have the incredible fortune of having two men running for national offices who actually are taking a stand. David Hedricks and Clint Didier are running for the House and Senate respectively. This quote from Didier's platform page should sound familiar.

I am pro-life – from conception until natural death. Our Declaration of Independence states our inalienable rights are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: and “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…” Therefore, it is the express job of government to protect all innocent human life. Taking a public policy position otherwise leaves all lives in jeopardy.

Hedrick's site lists a similar stand for life, as well as this in regards to the Second Amendment:

When the Second Amendment states “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”, it means, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Period.

When in Congress, I will never vote for any piece of legislation that infringes an American’s right to keep and bear arms and I will actively advance legislation that supports this right.

In addition to these, you can find many more statements were both men take obvious joy in the hallowed American tradition of government-bashing. With men like these to support, we would be fools to miss the Washington primary on August 17th.

Friday, July 02, 2010

A number of years ago, my Great Grandpa Brown put a lot of his experiences and observations into a series of poems. Last Thanksgiving, I scanned over one hundred pages which were held in a single binder. Grandpa Brown has two more binders, as well as some loose pages. Over the next several days, I plan to type up several of the more remarkable poems. I have already posted the first, titled, "The Rattle Snaker." You can also expect posts titled, "The Armistice Dance" and "The Herd of Steers." The latter might sound rather boring, but I can assure you that Great Grandpa was a master in the art of understatement.

The Rattle Snaker

When walking in the woods one day,
Off the path I chanced to stray,
And as I went a step to take,
I saw a coiled up rattle snake,
But the snake was playing fair,
He rattled to warn me he was there,
So I quickly regained the path,
And decided for to leave there fast,
For where a rattle snake is found,
Other ones may be around,
I told the farmer where I’d been,
And he said lets take care of him,
So he went out to his pig yard,
And got a sow that was fat as lard,
She seemed to know just what was up,
For she followed him just like a pup,
And when we got into the brush,
Ahead of us she made a rush,
And in less time than the telling takes,
She came back with mister snake,
And it was fun to see that beast,
As she finished up her feast,
Then back in the brush she run,
And came back with another one,
Well the farmer said she done quite fair,
For you can see she got the pair,
He had refused for to the market take her,
For she was a perfect rattle snaker,
He said he wouldn’t sell that sow,
For she had got two dozen now,
And she knew she’d have a snake dinner then,
Each time he took her from the pen,
For if there were any snakes about,
She would always smell them out,
It didn’t matter what kind of snake,
She’d take any breed or make,
Before he taught the sow to follow,
The place was known as rattle snake hollow,
But he had turned the old sow loose,
And of the snakes she made good use,
But one would show up now and then,
Then he would take her from the pen,
And she seemed to have it in her mind,
He expected her a snake to find,
And she would show it to him atleast,
Before she was set to have her feast,
Well you say she’s just a hog,
But pigs are just as smart as any dog,
You can take any pig you pick,
You can easely teach him tricks,
And he will follow you like a dog,
And you will tip your topper to that hog.

A.D. Brown, Sept, 7, 1977

Thursday, July 01, 2010

In the past several years, the arrival of fireworks season in Clark County has been accompanied by new restrictions. Several years ago, it became illegal to sell or use fireworks during New Years. This year, it is illegal to sell or use fireworks on July 5th, the day when retailers usually mark down their prices by fifty percent or more. But there is something unique about this latest infringement on our freedoms. On April 21st 2009, when the changes to the laws were passed, Tom Mielke was on the Board of Commissioners. This was the Tom Mielke who campaigned on a platform of small government. And yet, he sat in the hearing room and joined Marc Boldt and Steve Stuart in passing this measure unanimously. The minutes from that meeting only record a few short lines from Mielke, in which he implies that we are fortunate that they did not decide to abolish the entire season. This is how tyranny happens. When even the good guys take the side of big government on issues that seem too small to matter.

Now, you may be wondering why I am getting so upset by the elimination of one day in the fireworks season. I am disturbed precisely because this issue appears so trivial. It is true that there are many bigger problems in the world, with abortion and euthanasia claiming innocent lives daily. But this is a problem because it is a slow removal of one of the little joys that makes life worth living. When you read the accounts of people who lived in Nazi slave camps or Soviet countries, you read about many evils. You can discover a life lived behind barbed wire, with barely enough food to survive. But the victims of these barbarities did not long for freedom of movement as much as they longed for that swing under the big oak at home. The food doled out to a Russian child might have been sufficient, but it could never match the pink cake with white frosting which Momma made before the shortages began. When you remove silly little pleasures from someone's life, you actively destroy their joy.

Dog-stealer, horse-stealer, man-stealer--can you think of anything so base as a toy-stealer? -- GK Chesterton

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I don't think this picture needs much explanation. How are everyone else's peas doing?

Saturday, May 08, 2010


This year we started our garden on time.  These pea plants have been growing quickly ever since they were planted in February.  Faced with a lot of peas which were obviously looking for something to grow on, we decided to try a very stiff kind of fencing normally used for cows.  Our neighborhood feed store  had the fencing, and soon we were able to assemble some very sturdy trellis'.

The fencing came in 16'x52" panels.  We used bolt-cutters to cut them into sections that are roughly 5' long, with three sections that are quite a bit longer.  We used one of the longer sections to span this diagonal row of peas.

Here you can see last year's solution, which was shorter and far less robust.  Further back, you can see one of our new 12" boxes, where Hannah planted some carrots today.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Letter to My Senators

This is a short letter I sent to my senators regarding the current health care bill. It is written in the Social Contract style, with repeated references to the beginning of the Declaration of Independence and the three rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Thus it lacks any moral force beyond what is inherent the Declaration. Still, it should cause my representatives to realize that they may not be re-elected if they continue to be so devoted to alienating our rights.

According to the Declaration of Independence, I have a God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, the Health Care Bill currently being debated in the Senate is an assault on all of these rights. Firstly, it has no protections for the right of unborn babies to live. By actively encouraging and supporting the termination of one group of American's lives, this bill also threatens my own right to life. If it is acceptable for the government to fund the murder of thousands of American babies, why should it not fund the murder of Americans twenty-one year olds like myself? In comparison to the violation of the rights of Americans to live, the violation of the other two God given rights seem less important. However, your voting record leads me to conclude that you may not be concerned with the lives of your constituents. Therefore, I will discuss the topic of liberty, especially as it has to do with money. By forcing Americans to buy health care, whether they buy it from private or public entities, you actually force Americans. Do you comprehend this? You would actually force Americans to take an action. We could argue about the need for health care in this nation. However, it is not the duty of Congress to make this kind of choice for American citizens. It is a brazen affront to the rights of American citizens to make their own decisions. Which leads me to the final right discussed by the Declaration. This bill would tell me how I should pursue happiness. It would tell me that I can only be happy if I spend my money in a certain manner, unless I happen to enjoy tax prison. It completely ignores the fact that I may think that I could be happy by spending my money in some other pursuit than health care. Therefore, it infringes on my right to pursue happiness in the way I see fit. All in all, this bill is a sore offense against my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As my elected representative before the government of the United States, I ask you to defend my rights by voting against this tyrannical bill. There may still be time to act before America's freedoms return to the state they were in when King George III ruled our land.

Thank you,
Jeremy VanGelder

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Well, last night I took what ought to be my last trip down to Clackamas Community College before I obtain my AA in GIS. These past two years of instruction outside of my home have been quite interesting. I haven't had any raging arguments about politics or religion with my instructors, but that can be chalked up to my deferential manner with teachers. While being useful, the education itself has rarely challenged me. If anything, the quantity of the work assigned outweighed the quality of it. However, the job that I ended up with leaves me no right to complain. Now, as I pass this phase of my schooling, I look forward to a life of investigating God's world for signs of His glory and the order that He has built into Creation.

Monday, August 25, 2008

This grainy picture may not mean much to most of you, but it would not take long for anyone in my family to identify it. It is a picture of our car turning into our driveway, as recorded by the Google Street View car. But that is not the most of it. The context of the images reveal a large number of pine-needles and leaves beside a dry road. This means that the picture was taken sometime in the fall. The lighting suggests that it was taken during the late evening. Moreover, since the Google car has not been operating for very long, this event probably did not occur while our grandparents were living at this house and driving this car. In other words, it could only have happened last fall, during an evening. I have to conclude that I was driving the car home after school one day, only to be caught unawares by a very distinctive vehicle. No, I do not have any recollection of seeing anything that could have been it. Sure, I was only using the car in the evening during two or three days of the week last fall, but I am the most probable culprit. I can only conclude that I am not as observant as I thought myself to be.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Well, it has been awhile. I just wanted to tell everyone about a blog I found. While reading something by Dr. Grant, I saw that he likes "Architectural New Urbanism." This piqued my curiosity, so I searched for the phrase on Google. This brought me too a website named "Architecture + Morality." This is a website created by an architect from Dallas and a pastor. Both of these guys seem to be working towards excellence in their callings, and they have some really fascinating ideas about the convergence of their professions. I do not agree with every facet of their thoughts, but they are completely right on a surprising number of issues. Some interesting articles I would recommend are titled "Beauty and Waste: More Thoughts on Space and Worship" or "Modern vs. Contemporary: Language in the Church." In their study of architecture, it is possible that they might study the arts of the enemy too closely, just as Saruman did. However, I think that they possess both a balanced and Biblical view of the issues.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Little Project