Thursday, November 15, 2012

The adventures in Sven

Where do I begin with Sven?  Sven was my third Volvo, an orange 72 142 Coupe.  I was driving a very tired Chevy Vega at some point in my life, and one day I put the clutch pedal in and it broke away from the firewall, and that was the end of the evil Vega.

We already had Olga, our first Volvo as well as the Vega, so when the Vega went south, I started looking for a Volvo.  I saw Sven advertised in the newspaper for $ 500.00, back around 1990.  He was a 1972 142 coupe, two door four speed with electric overdrive, four wheel disk brakes, fuel injected, and in pretty good shape.  There was a catch, however;  Sven clunked when you shifted into the next gear.  The guy I bought it from said he'd driven it a long time with the clunk.  As it turned out, I drove it at least two years with the clunk, before I got it fixed.  The guy came down $ 10.00 on the price, and I paid him $ 490.00.

Sven ran great, and I barely did anything to it for a couple of years.  One day, I pulled off from a light, and feeling frisky, put the gas pedal to the floor, and hit second gear, when Sven shook his head, and gasped for air, and we drifted over to the side of the road.  I popped the bonnet, and looked about.  I popped the distributor cap and laughed.  There were points under the cap!  Burned to a crisp points, today.  I ripped some material off a matchbook, and stuck it under the actuator nub on the points to force them to open some.  I turned the key, and Sven started, but had little power.  I limped a little down the road and came to an auto parts store.  There, I got points, condenser, cap, roter, wires, plugs, and hand cleaner.  I limped home, about four miles.  Confident that to my casual observance, a tune up should take care of everything, I went to work.  Things changed quickly when I found all the slop in the distributor shaft.  Time for a beer and make a few calls.  While I was having the beer, I did locate a distributor at a junk yard, the next town over.  I brought my old one to make sure, and sure enough, it was a sure thing.  I went home with my new/old distributor, and went to work.  Things came to a screech when I discovered the hold down screw for the condenser was all buggered up.  I had to cut down a screw to fit and not interfere with the spin of the distributor.  Soon poured and roared into action! 

One night, very late and in a winter storm, no less, Sven cut right out and I had to push it to the side of the road with the aid of a passerby er.  Don't ask whey I did not flashlight or gloves, but I did not that night and I trudged through the blowing snow one block to an all night store where I got some cheap gloves and a cheap flashlight.  I had some cardboard in the trunk and spread it out under the rear of the car and crawled under with the flashlight.  The fuel pump was mounted outside the gas tank and I saw two wires going to it.  One wire was broke off the fuel pump.  I got up and from my tool box, got wire strippers and a cotter pin.  Back under, I stripped the broken wire bare at the end, and wrapped it to the eye of the cotter pin, then jammed the point of the cotter pin into the fuel pump connector.  I put the stuff in the trunk, and got in and said a prayer.  I turned the key and heard that familiar whine of the fuel pump, and knew it would start.  I drove home and to work the next day and left Sven at the shop next door for them to fix more "proper"

That's it for now.  Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Sven, including the drive shaft breaking out of town, and more!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Last month, we got another used Volvo, a 1990 240 sedan.  Theresa wanted to pass her Hyundai off to her son, and we were under the gun to get another car soon.  There was this used Volvo at a Volvo garage, where I had some work done before.  The work was very good, the guy knows Volvos backwards and frontwards, so I made the mistake of assuming this used car was somewhat kept up.  As it turned out, the mechanics there, took turns driving it for the winter, and fixed nothing.

The first issue was the door locks were frozen on both front doors.  They advised me they had another set of locks for $ 50.00 more.  I got him to throw the locks in for nothing.  The day we got home with it, I attacked the door panel, and changed the drivers side lock. 
It seemed to all go OK, but the next day, as soon as we started the engine, the locks went crazy, going up and down on all the doors, forcing me to pull the fuse.  I also found the battery dead the first morning!  I went out and bought a new battery, and stuff to tune it up, gaskets to stop the oil leaking, and got dirty. 

The second day, it was raining hard when we got in to go out, and we found the windscreen leaking near the rear view mirror, forcing me to grab duct tape to administer a temporary repair.
Yesterday, being beautiful out, I changed the hoses, thermostat, and coolant.  The new thermostat failed to open, forcing me to take it apart again, make a mess, and install a second new thermostat. 
Then I moved on the the windscreen leak, and applied silicone sealer to suspected areas.  As it has not rained since then, the outcome of that repair is yet to verify.
Then, I figured I'd attack the door locks again.  After getting back inside the door and removing the wiring harness from the lock, I discovered all the wires bared about an inch from the connector!  About one foot down the harness, I found more bare wires.  I cut the harness apart and used shrink wrap to try to insulate the bare wires at the connector.  Then I stripped back and connected the other end of the harness, using wire nuts.  That's when I discovered that I could not orientate the wiring connector back around the lock cylinder.  I spent all afternoon and seemed to get nowhere.  Finally, I snipped away a portion of the connector on the one side, hoping to gain the room I needed to orientate the connector around the lock.  It only fits one way before it locks shut and tight.  My little snip worked and I finally got it back on the back of the lock.  By then, it was getting dark fast and I still had to put the door panel back.  I was tired and had to take it back apart three times before everything went back correctly.

The doors now all lock and unlock with the master door lock at the drivers door!  I could put the fuse back in regain the inside lights, clock and radio!
Theresa just called to inform me it all works great and she got to work without incident!
Good ole Hedwig!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Computer Maintenance for better performance

I see some folks are commenting on FaceBook about log on issues and slow running computers so I thought I'd pass on a few tips I've picked up along the way.  There are many things you can do to lighten the load on your CPU and pick up speed as when your computer was new.

Things I do daily:

1.  Clear the browsing history.  On the home page find the tool bar that looks like this:
File   Edit   Favorites   Tools   Help
Click on Tools and look for Delete Browsing History.  A window opens up showing several categories to check.  Check all the boxes Esp. Active X Filtering and protection Data.
Click Delete.  Some operating systems show a pop up window while deleting, while others do not.  If you see a window performing the delete, you will know it's completed when the window closes.  On Vista, you won't see anything while it's deleting, until it's done, then a box pops up telling you browsing history is complete.  If you brows a lot, do it daily.

2.  Disk Cleanup  Again, depending on your operating system, the procedure may vary.  When you click on Start, you may see procedures that you do frequently.  Look for Disk Cleanup.  A sure fire way is to click start and select control panel.  Look for System Maintenance and disk cleanup or free up disk space.  Some systems start the procedure right away, while others, you may have to give authorization by clicking continue, then clear C disk.  If you have not done it in a while, it will take some time while it looks about on your hard drive.  When you see a window open up showing the many categories of things to delete, click OK.  Then a box will open asking you to delete.  Click OK, and it should whisk away all files you don't need any longer.  When you browse, many temp files browsing cookies are picked up, as well as error dump files and more.  They will clog up things after a while, slowing your performance up.  I do it daily, but even once a week should help dramatically.

Periodic Maintenance:
Disk Defragmentation;  This maneuver, moves files around on your hard drive, compressing them, resulting in making more wiggle room on your hard drive.
Click on start menu, then Computer.Single click Local Disk C and look for properties (not system properties!)That opens a window to show you the pie shaped graph, indicating how much used and free space your hard drive has.  Click on Tools, opening up a window with different options.  Look for defragment now and click.  The analysis takes a while, so be patient!  Then a box opens showing how much space you will save by defragmenting.  If you gain no extra space, close out.  My Vista operating system is configured to perform defragmentation periodically, so I don't usually have to do this.

Updates:  I've heard the pros and cons from many experts that you should not get updates from Windows and Microsoft.  My theory?  The updates are configured to keep up with security breaches to stay ahead of hackers.  I highly recommend getting them.  Click on the start menu, then all programs.  Look for Windows Updates and click on it.  It automatically goes to the Windows web site and checks your system to see if any updates are in order. A window may open giving the option: Express or Custom.  Click Custom and it searches.  If it tells you high priority updates are available, click on install.  On the same web site, look for Microsoft Updates and do the same.  Also on the same site, you can configure your system to automatically get them.  Some updates are optional and you can pick and choose whether or not to get them.  For example, if an update is titled Fax and Modem update, and you do not use a fax, then you don't need that update.

ToolBars:  A good friend of mine who fixes computers professionally, told me he does not let them get downloaded and they use a lot of unnecessary energy.  They seem convenient, but I limit their use with a grain of salt.

Freeware:  Any downloads, whether drivers, widgets, etc.  are to be taken with suspicion.  Look carefully while installing new free software, for it will almost surely download malicious problems.  Get used to looking in Control Panel under uninstall programs and try to recognize all the programs you have.  After you download a new program, look in the control panel and make sure you are not getting more programs than you anticipated.  the real ugly ones can enbedd themselves deep and be difficult to remove!

Don't skimp on your antivirus protection.  You've heard the saying, "You get what you pay for" and it's true here.  I know there are some free ones, but I'd check into them carefully.  I've used McAfee for a few years now and it's worth every buck.

When you update your browser to the latest version, again, watch to make sure they are not dumping useless tool bars you don't need.  Learn how to customize your browser home page to utilize only what you use, not junk you don't, for things you seldom use can clog up your operating system before you know it!

Desktop Icons:  They can be convenient short cuts, but only keep the ones you use frequently.  Remember, if you delete a desk top icon, you are merely deleting the short cut, not the program entirely.

Backup Systems:  When i bought my computer five years ago, the configured backup was partitioned on the hard drive.  The main problem with it is, if your hard drive goes south, so does your backup system!  Your hard drive should really have no partitions.  Use an external hard drive for backup or even flash drives. They are cheap and come with an amazing amount of capacity now.  If you choose to back up on flash or pen drives, you will have to remember to do that on a regular basis, such as once a week.  You only need keep the latest back up.  Delete the outdated backup, then backup on the flash drive.

That should take care of many common problems that slow you down over time!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We Will Never Forget

We all know this iconic image.  Marking the anniversary of what we simply title "9/11" we again see the posters and banners proclaiming "We Will Never Forget" 
This same scenario has repeated itself countless times over the centuries since man has roamed the earth.  The repetition is bound to rear it's ugly head again and again, till there's nothing or nobody left to blow up. 
Here's another example of hatred at it's peak; a scene from one of the Nazi Death Camps.  Another "We Will Never Forget" tragedy. 
Hatred knows no boundry; It's part of human nature.  We were given a rule book to live by, but nobody bothers with it.  Our rules of life are so simple, yet seemingly impossible to obey. 
When a terrible tragedy occurs to a people, we are great at responding with patriotic fashion.  Our way of preserving the tragedy is to exercise the mentality of "We Will Never Forget", in order to keep the flame alive of the memory of the people lost in the initiation.
We have come to the conclusion that history repeats itself, yet we can't recognize the nucleus behind why.  The why is as simple and plain as the nose on our face.  We fail to "Forgive"  Forgiveness is one of the most complicated commandments to obey. 
Here's yet another example of hatred and evil at work;  The "Day of Infamy"  I know people to this day that still utter the phrase "We will Never Forget"  over that day and the war that was to end all wars.  The Great War.  What exactly was so great about it?  Was it because we all turned to and returned the violence with the same till our ennimies were defeated?
One last iconic image and I'm sure there are those to this day who still use the "We Will Never Forget" phrase in response to our very own Civil War.

It's OK to remember and honor the memory of those who were taken from us.  But until we can come to the realization that the evil will continue to perservere until we learn to "Forgive" the hatred will remain King of the Hill.

Eggplant Parm

We're enjoying our fresh produce out of our gardens and last night we had eggplant.
I started by making sauce. 

1 Onion chopped
3 cloves Garlic
Olive Oil not extra virgin
1 Qt jar of our fresh Tomato Puree
1 Sm can Paste
2 Carrots cut up
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 Cup fresh picked Basil
1/4 Cup fresh picked Parsley
Tbs Oregano (I only had dried)
1/4 Cup Red Wine
1 Cayenne Pepper chopped
1 Tsp each Salt & Pepper

Start by heating the Olive Oil in a med sauce pan.  Add Onion & Garlic.  Saute to golden.
Add Puree and Paste.  Once it just starts to boil, add the remaining ingredients.  Simmer over very low heat for at least two hours;  The longer, the better.

Now for the Eggplant, fresh picked from the garden.  Wash and slice thin.  I leave the skin on.  In one bowl, beat two eggs.  In another bowl, combine 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs (We like Whole Wheat Panko), 1/3 Cup Grated Romano/Parm Cheese, 1/2 Tsp Salt, Pepper, Cayenne Pepper.  I add other spices too sometimes such as Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cinnamon, use your imagination!

In a big fry pan, heat up Olive Oil (Not Extra Virgin, for it will burn)
Dip sliced Eggplant in egg, then the breadcrumb mix and into the fry pan.  Fry for about 2 minutes and turn when you see it golden brown underneath.  It frys fast.  Drain on paper towels.

I used a glass bread pan to make the cassorole.  Heat oven to 350.
Ladle some sauce on the bottom of the pan and place the eggplant in a single layer over the sauce.  Sprinkle grated cheese.  Continue with the next layers till the pan is almost to the top.  Leave some room for bubbling and bake for 45 minutes to one hour.

Enjoy with a green salad and glass of wine!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Kitty Adventures in our Gardens

We love our gardens and really enjoy creating an inviting environment for the wildlife in the city.
Between our three bird feeders and now with the big sunflowers in the gardens, the birds eat well.  The bees are very happy here with the inexhaustible variety of flowers to choose from, and let us not forget our buddies, the Butterflies.  Between the flowers and the veggies, fruits, and bushes, we've created a haven.

We also have a Momma feral cat residing back here for the last two years that we know of.

Here's our inside room mate, Angevine, who is soon to be two years old.  We brought her in after Momma Puddy left her in our back stoop.

  Here's Momma Puddy, this past May, under the bird bath. 

She's raising a litter of four kittens now, and we see them scampering about the gardens, now that they are older.

This morning, two were up on our back porch, napping and taking in the views!

Sunday, August 26, 2012



 A recent FB post titled "Silly Christians" pokes fun at Christianity by outlining how our notable holidays were derived from pagan origins, like Christmas, Easter, etc.

How true is this

 This was taken from an article titled: Wicans Tired of being Misrepresented.
While it is true, Christmas and Easter do fall on or near the Solstice and Equinox, the rest of the mocking post has nothing to do with Christianity whatsoever.
Neither do the Yuletide log, mistletoe, Christmas tree or Easter Bunny.  These non-Christian fundamentals are ingrained upon us over the centuries.
Let us get back to our so called pagan calendar.
It's safe to say today is August 26, 2012.
I think it's safe to say, 2012 dates back to our present timeline that the entire world tracks.
It's safe to say the the entire world is not Christian.
However, we still keep track of time that is relevant to the year our Lord was crucified.
My calendar is not pagan, it's Christian.
No body's misrepresenting paganism. 
Christianity, paganism;  we are free to believe in that which is paramount to us as humans.
It is true that as Christians, we walk by faith, not by sight.  We walk by faith in the belief that after over 2,000 years ago, God sent his Son to reside here to invite us into a relationship with Him.
It is our own free choice as to whether or not we wish to believe that Jesus Christ came to die for the salvation of our sins.  This belief carries the promise of everlasting life.  There are no impossible conditions related to this belief except to conduct ourselves in a manner that is prescribed by our Manual of Life, the Bible.  In brief, all we are asked to do is love and go out and pass the word on.
So, pagans, I ask you, what promise do your gods proclaim?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Blog Stats Aug 16, 2012


Pageviews last month
Pageviews all time history
 So this morning, I happened to view the Stats of my Blogs.  Very cool, map of the world, indicating just where your blogs are being viewed, number of page views, etc.
I maintain three Blogs:
Buckyblublog, which contains posts of all natures.
Daily Readings of Faith, where I post the daily Scripture Readings from the Catholic Missal along with  my Psalm Compostions, and as the Blogs states, I post it every day.
And last but not least, I maintain a technical Blog: Repairs Rock, posting articles only about Stringed Instrument Repairs and Restoration.
The stats for the three blogs are pretty amazing.
Blog Title                         Number of Posts                      Number of Page Views
Daily Readings                           291                                        1792
Buckyblublog                              168                                        3118
Repairs Rock                                 29                                        3637
A bit lopp-sided results between my Daily Readings of Faith and Repairs Rock.
Just thought I'd share this!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Dumbing Down of America

It amazes and disturbs me to be witness to the incompetent, behavior of our elected government officials, from our President right on down.  I don't just mean the present officials, I mean the majority of the past ones too.  Hitler was right when he stated "Make the lie big and stick to it long enough, and they will believe it."  If our President or any other Politician claims to be working for the good of our country, then they are lying through their teeth. 

I've never seen so much back stabbing, cheating, bickering, corruption, and back sliding take place in my life.  It seems to me that it would be impossible to actually accomplish anything with a desirable outcome under the present circumstances.  The sin of it all is that nobody seems to think that time is running out for our great nation.  We're just not the United States of yesteryear.  We've evolved into a crumbling, sinuous, pitiful collection of some of the stupidest humans on this earth. 

I understand the reality of our two party democratic system with different points of view on either side.  The general idea is that the two parties, disagreements and all should be working together as as a single unit for the good of the nation and the people.  This is not happening. 

As the rich-poor gap widens drastically daily, it's pretty obvious to see through the brick wall, not to mention the writing on it.  Wealth and Power go hand in hand.  Wealth and Power in with the intent to create a positive environment for our country and world would be ideal.  The problem is that along with Wealth and Power, Greed is spawned.  Greed, puts the whole equation in a completely different light and consequence.

If we had a system of voting in where my actual vote really counted for something, it might be different, but we don't.  In today's world, the people who possess Wealth and Power, get elected by the people who control the Wealth and Power, and those people are better known or identified as Corporations.  The Corporations control, well, everything.  They not only control everything, but their main objective is derived from one thing only:  The almighty Bottom line of Profit.  The Corporation has become a created Monster that cannot be controlled any longer or stopped.  Our laws, our elected Government officials are all controlled by the Corporations. 

The real crux of the matter is that the Corporations, in their greed, can't see the forest for the trees.  They simply exist for themselves.  It matters not how they achieve their end results, only that they achieve it.  In the case of our country, the Corporations use the Government to enact the laws to benefit the proliferation and scale tipping irregardless of the consequences to our country and the American people.  Most jobs are now outsourced out of our country only to profit the Corporations and weaken our economy. 

Our so called elected officials are too busy behaving as children to even realize that our country is about to fall so hard and fast that we won't even know when we will hit the bottom of the abyss. If you thought the Civil War was bad, you ain't seen nothing yet. 

So, as you sip your nightly cocktail while watching the nightly news, on the commercial breaks which are only campaign attacks, you might consider some of what I just tossed out.  It's coming, just as sure as the nose on my face.

Drive Smart & Save!

As I grow older each year, I am aware that I am driving slower than I used to when I was younger.  Much of the change of my driving habits has nothing to do with getting older, but more so my interaction with the increasing traffic concentration on the roads.  This is what I notice now:

If I go the speed limit or even five miles over it, everyone behind me will pass if possible.  Almost everyone who passes me, I catch back up with down the road a bit further.  All the jockeying for position accomplishes nothing.  Those who passed me, merely wasted their gas and profited nothing for their efforts.  Conclusion:  You gain no time by going faster.  When everything's said and done, gaining a car length or two ahead of me, saves nothing.

If you are driving on city streets with traffic lights on most of the blocks, trying to speed up to make the next light will only result in you catching the red light after the one you passed.  The timing of the lights is so that you can't gain any time by going faster than the speed limit.  If you can see a red light ahead in the distance, let off the gas a bit and you probably will catch the light green by the time you reach it.  If you take off at a green light, and find the next light red, you probably were going too fast.  By keeping with the speed limit, you will find more green lights than red ones. 

Don't justify speeding by believing that you will anger the traffic behind you;  some folks are born angry and will pass you no matter how fast or slow you go.  I believe you should keep pace with the traffic but not if it means going more than 10 miles over the limit. 

Do not assume that taking the Expressway to your destination will get you there faster.  In reality, you may get there a bit faster, but for the most part, it is not that much time saved.  If you are driving during the rush hour (3:30 PM to around 6:30 PM) you will not save any extra time by taking the fast route.  What I really don't relish, is being on the Expressway and encountering a traffic stopped situation and having no place to turn off.  You are stuck there until the traffic resumes movement or you can creep to the next exit.  In the city, you have the option of turning off a street to avoid the stopped traffic and re-routing around the problem area.  Learn the areas that you frequent and find the detours you can take to keep rolling. 

Don't take off full throttle at a start and you will save a ton of gas.  If you notice the traffic slowing or stopping ahead, take your foot off the gas pedal and slow down rather than waiting to come up quickly and have to slam on the brakes.  Much of driving is coasting. 

One of my biggest aggravation is tail-gaiters.  Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front.  I believe the rule of thumb is a car length for each 10 MPH you are traveling.  That means at 60 MPH, you ought to have six car lengths between you and the car in front of you.  So many times, I look behind, only to see grill lights and bumper on my tail.  That means the car behind me will not be able to stop in time if I need to. 

By altering your driving habits, you will save a bunch on wear and tear on your ride, your gas mileage will increase, and you will not be in harms way half as much. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Demise of a Dream

A few of us remember when our country was strong and vibrant.  I remember, but the vision is tarnished and faded now, like old Plexiglases; opaque, dirty, impossible to see through.  My Dad held one job his whole life for 45 years.  The longest I held a job was 10 years.  Most of the places I worked at closed, caved in, forcing me to move to another place of employment.  32 years ago, when I moved back to Rochester, NY, I first heard the term "Temp Agency"  I found out that most places do not hire permanent staff any more.  You get to work somewhere, but with no benefits or stability.  At about the same time, I began to her tell of another new term " Outsourcing"  American corporations, utilizing China's cheaper manufacturing facilities.  From then on, I could see our American Dream crumble before my eyes.  No longer were products proudly made in the U.S.A.  Why?  The country is controlled by the powerful corporations whose only agenda is the Bottom Line.  In order to increase profits, the product is made elsewhere (as we all know) and the product is thinner, more disposable, and decidedly shoddier.  The good ole Government is run and controlled by the wealth of the world.  We've sold out at close out prices and we're spiraling out of control.  We're at war on more fronts then ever before.  We used to be governed by God fearing leaders.  Now, we're governed by the Evil One.  We have gone to hell in a hand basket.  1984's knocked the door down and the beginning of the end is in full throttle.  A few of us remember when our country was strong and vibrant.  Now, it's the Demise of a Dream.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Saint Benedict was born about the year 480 at Nursia, in the province of Umbria, in north central Italy, and that his family was probably of noble lineage. We also know that he had a sister called Scholastica, who from childhood vowed herself to God.

Saint Benedict was sent to Rome to be educated but he was quickly revolted by the licentiousness of his fellow students. He decided to go away from Rome to live in some remote spot. No one knew of his plan except an aged family servant, who loyally insisted on accompanying him to serve his wants. Benedict and this old woman made their way to a village called Enfide, in the Sabine Mountains, some thirty miles from Rome. In the Dialogues, Saint Gregory gives us a series of remarkable incidents associated with Benedict's life, one of them occurring at this time. While staying in the village, Benedict miraculously mended an earthen sieve which his servant had broken. Wishing to escape the notice and the talk which this brought upon him, he soon started out alone in search of complete solitude.Up among the hills he found a place known as Subiaco or Sublacum, beneath the lake. It was near the ruins of one of Nero's palaces. He made the acquaintance of a monk called Romanus, and to him Benedict revealed his desire to become a hermit. Romanus, who lived in a monastery not far away, gave the young man a monastic habit made of skins and led him up to an isolated cave.

According to Pope Gregory, the first outsider to find his way to the cave was a priest, who while preparing a special dinner for himself on Easter Sunday heard a voice saying to him: "Thou art preparing thyself a savoury dish while my servant Benedict is afflicted with hunger." The priest immediately set out in search of Benedict, and finally discovered his hiding place. Benedict was astonished, but before he would enter into conversation with his visitor he asked that they might pray together. From that time on, others made their way up the steep cliff, bringing such small offerings of food as the holy man would accept and receiving from him instruction and advice.

Saint Benedict had to struggle with temptations of the flesh and the devil. One of these struggles is described by Saint Gregory. "On a certain day when he was alone the tempter presented himself. A small dark bird, commonly called a blackbird, began to fly around his face and came so near him that, if he had wished, he could have seized it with his hand. But on his making the sign of the cross, the bird flew away. Then followed a violent temptation of the flesh, such as he had never before experienced. The evil spirit brought before his imagination a woman whom he had formerly seen, and inflamed his heart with such vehement desire at the memory of her that he had very great difficulty in repressing it. He was almost overcome and thought of leaving his solitude. Suddenly with the help of divine grace he found the strength he needed. Seeing near at hand a thick growth of briars and nettles, he stripped off his habit and cast himself into the midst of them and plunged and tossed about until his whole body was lacerated. Through those bodily wounds he cured the wounds of his soul." Never again was he troubled in the same way.

Between Tivoli and Subiaco, at Vicovaro, on the summit of a fortified rock overlooking the Anio, there lived at that time a community of monks. Having lost their abbot by death, they now came in a body to ask Benedict to accept the office. He at first refused, assuring the monks that their ways and his would not agree. They persuaded him to return with them. It soon became evident that the severe monastic discipline he instituted did not suit their lax habits, and in order to get rid of him they finally poisoned his wine. When he made the sign of the cross over the cup it broke as if a stone had fallen on it. "God forgive you, brothers," Benedict said serenely. "Why have you plotted this wicked thing against me? Did I not tell you beforehand that my ways would not accord with yours? Go and find an abbot to your taste, for after what you have done you can no longer keep me with you." Then he bade them farewell and returned to Subiaco.

Disciples now began to gather around Saint Benedict. At last he found himself in a position to initiate the great work for which God had been preparing him. This was the idea that had slowly been germinating during his years of isolation: to bring together those who wished to share the monastic life, both men of the world who yearned to escape material concerns and the monks who had been living in solitude or in widely scattered communities, to make of them one flock, binding them by fraternal bonds, under one observance, in the permanent worship of God. His scheme was for the establishment in the West of a single great religious order which would end the capricious rule of the various superiors and the vagaries of individual anchorites. Those who agreed to obey Benedict in this enterprise, he settled in twelve monasteries of twelve monks each. Although each monastery had its own prior, Benedict himself exercised general control over all of them from the monastery of Saint Clement.

The town of Cassino, formerly an important place, had been destroyed by the Goths, and the remnant of its inhabitants, left without a priest, were relapsing into paganism; the once-fertile land had fallen out of cultivation. From time to time the inhabitants would climb up through the woods to offer sacrifices in an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo, which stood on the crest of Monte Cassino. Benedict's first work, after a preliminary forty-day fast, was to preach to the people and win them back to the faith. With the help of these converts, he proceeded to overthrow the pagan temple and cut down the sacred grove. He built two oratories or chapels on the site; one he dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and the other to Saint Martin. Round about these sanctuaries new buildings were erected and older ones remodeled which was to become the most famous abbey the world has known. The foundation was laid by Benedict probably about the year 520.

It was probably during this period that Benedict composed his famous Rule. Gregory says that in it may be perceived "all his own manner of life and discipline, for the holy man could not possibly teach otherwise than as he lived." Although the Rule professes only to lay down a pattern of life for the monks at Monte Cassino, it served as a guide for the monks of the whole Western Empire. It is addressed to all who, renouncing their own will, take upon them "the strong and bright armor of obedience, to fight under our Lord Christ, our true king." It prescribes a diversified routine of liturgical prayer, study, and physical work, in a community under one father. It was written for laymen by one who was not a priest; only after some five hundred years were clerical orders required of Benedictines. Its asceticism was intended to be reasonable; the monks abstained from flesh meat and did not break fast until mid-day.

Benedict extended his solicitude to the people of the countryside. He cured the sick, relieved the distressed, distributed alms and food to the poor, and is said on more than one occasion to have raised the dead. When Campania suffered from a famine, he gave away all the provisions stored in the abbey, with the exception of five loaves. "You have not enough today," he said to his monks, noticing their dismay, "but tomorrow you will have too much." Benedict's faith had its reward. The next morning a large donation of flour was deposited by unknown hands at the monastery gate. Other stories were told of prophetic powers and of an ability to read men's thoughts. A nobleman he had converted once found him in tears and inquired the cause of his grief. Benedict astounded him by replying that the monastery and everything in it would be delivered to the pagans, and the monks would barely escape with their lives. This prophecy came true some forty years later, when the abbey was wrecked by a new wave of invaders, the pagan Lombards.

Totila, King of the Goths, had defeated the Emperor Justinian's army at Faenza and in 542 was making a triumphal progress through central Italy towards Naples. On the way he wished to visit Benedict, of whom he had heard marvelous tales. Totila now came himself to the abbey and was so awed by Benedict that he fell prostrate. Benedict, raising him from the ground, rebuked him sternly for his cruelties and foretold in a few words all that should befall him. "Much evil," he said, "dost thou do and much wickedness hast thou done. Now, at least, make an end of iniquity. Rome thou shalt enter; thou wilt cross the sea; nine years thou shalt reign, and die the tenth. Benedict did not live long enough to see the prophecy fulfilled.

He who had foretold so many things was forewarned of his own death, and six days before the end bade his disciples to dig a grave. As soon as this was done, Benedict was stricken with a fever, and on the sixth day, while the brethren supported him, he murmured a few words of prayer and died, standing, with hands uplifted towards Heaven. He was buried beside his sister Scholastica, on the site of the altar of Apollo which he had thrown down. His symbols are reminders of various incidents in his life: we see him with a blackbird, a broken sieve, a rose bush, a scourge, a dove, a globe of fire, or a luminous stairway up which he is proceeding to Heaven; occasionally he is depicted with King Totila at his feet. The order which Benedict founded has spread over the earth. It was mainly responsible for the conversion of the Teutonic races, and has left its mark on the education, art, and literature of Europe. Within its cloisters, always marked by an atmosphere of industry and peace, were copied and recopied the great writings of the past, to be cherished and passed on to succeeding generations.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hey!! Wake up and Raise your Kids!!

I understand our Greece Bus Monitor situation's gone nationwide.  It's amazing how shocked and disturbed folks are about it.  I am as well, but I'm not surprised.  This was just another indication of how sick our society's become.  Parenting's become a lost art.  Many families only involve one parent, and many of the single parents were raised in a single parent family and did not get the benefit of being brought up with the proper values.  We as parents, are denied the right to punish our children as in generations past.  When I was in school, teachers had wooden paddles and used them.  We did not have a bus monitor.  If there was a problem, the driver pulled right over and nobody argued with him.  Even this incident on the bus, some of the parents of the unruly kids are blaming peer pressure from other kids on their own childrens' behavior.  The simple fact is that if kids don't learn proper respect at an early age, they are uncontrollable by middle school age.  I'm a bit perplexed that a 68 year old woman is working in this position.  Whats more, what can the monitor do in this situation?  And why did not the driver pull over and help?  This should be a wake up call to parents.  Teach your kids proper respect or the end result is you have raised a monster.  If this is what can happen in middle school, think of the future of these unruly children!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Gustaff Marks 267,000 Miles

It's a great day in the neighborhood for Gustaff, my1989 Volvo 740 Wagon.Yesterday, at the 4 corners of Marbletown, he rolled 267,000 miles! 

The 2's a bit outa focus, but it's there.  I bought it with 183,500 miles in October 2004, so I've put 83,500 miles on in 7 1/2 years.  That's just over 11,000 per year. 

It's not been without his problems, as us people as we get old. 
It still has to go another 100,000 miles to top my Chevy Van, Vincent Van-go, who clocked in 368,000 miles!

I can't say I've ever had a bad car or so called lemon. 

Hey, change the oil, and try to keep up with the rest of the preventive maintenance, and they last. 
Gustaff's been  fair with me, letting me down a couple times over almost 8 years, but today, he's all gassed up and ready to take me to Seneca Lake tonight, where I'm playing one of the wineries.

I've had my share of most make of cars, including: Volkswagon, Dodge, MG, Rambler (A real dog!), Chevy, Ford, and now up to five Volvos.  They all had names, Olga, Hanna, Schven, Gustaff, and the not yet on the road 1979 245 Volvo: Helka.

Drive safe, people!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Meatloaf of the Grill

Last night, I tried a new twist on one of our favorite dinners:  Meatloaf.
With the meat in a large bowl, mix in a scrambled egg or two, 1/2 cup bread crumbs (We like whole wheat Panko), salt, pepper, Cheyenne pepper, an onion, chopped fine.  Mix well, and form into a loaf.  Chop at least three cloves Garlic into small slivers and poke into the top all over.  Brush 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard over the top and sides.  Sprinkle liberally with whole Peppercorns.  Have your fire on one end of the grill and place the meatloaf on the other side of the grill.  I added potatoes, split in two and brushed with olive oil, and covered the lid.  After 1/2 hour, rotate the loaf and bring closer to the coals.  the idea is to cook it slower than directly over the coals.  The Mustard coats the meat, sealing in the juices.  Theresa approved!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Build a Rain Barrel

I saw an article in a magazine with instructions of building a rain barrel.  I have wanted them since last season, thinking of the saving for watering the gardens.

The article advised to use a 55 gal. trash can (Plastic) to make the barrel.  Don't use them!  They are not strong enough!  I found 55 gal barrels for $ 12.00 each including the gas to get them.  I made two a couple weeks ago.  Since we've had a nice rain, I've made some changes to make them even better! 
The article advised making an overflow hole near the top with a 1/2 " outlet.  My barrel collecting water from the top back roof filled up quickly and the 1/2 " overflow will not handle the water from a 2 X 3 gutter. 
Today I removed the 1/2 " overflow outlet, cut a hole large enough to run a gutter out.  I silliconed the gutter where it exited the barrel.

I attached a flexible piece coming off the house gutter, angling it towards the barrel, a straight piece, long enough to reach the barrel, and an angled piece directing it over my screened inlet area.  The spiket was too high on one barrel, leaving too much water remaining in the barrel, so I bore another hole, much lower in the barrel side.  Instead of securing the bib valve with a nut inside, I used a # 14 O Ring and siliconed the threads good.  I plugged the original hole, using my 1/2 " Overflow outlet and filled it with silicone.
Here's how to build it and what I used:

A 55 Gal barrel, suitable for holding liquids.  Cut a hole in the top for your downspout, and screen to cover it.  I used tin snips to cut some flashing into strips.  I spread a bead of silicone around the edges of the screen, laid it over the hole, layed my flashing strips around the outer edges, drilled small holes through the flashing and screen, and secured it down with small sheet metal screws.  Rivets would work fine, too. 

Next, I cut a hole in the side near the top, to accommodate my overflow gutter.  I inserted an angled gutter spout in the hole and siliconed a seal around the seam.  I then configured the rest of the gutter pieces to move the overflow water away from the foundation.  Using a spade bit, 3/4 " size, drill a hole near the bottom of the barrel for your faucet.  I used a 1/2 " boiler valve, a # 14 O Ring over the threads, a bead of silicone, and simply screwed the valve slowly into the hole, making sure to keep the valve aligned straight.  The barrels sit on two layers of cinder blocks and a couple 2 X 4 's
That's about the size of it!