Technical difficulties resolved
8 August 2013
I made no changes to the web site for almost eight months. Part of that was being subsumed in work at Trinity, but the larger part was because I thought I had irreversibly deleted the source code! Luckily, my brother, the genius who set the site up, walked me through reverse-engineering the make script, so I can once again make content updates and changes without having to start from scratch. There's a new recording going up soon, as well as a couple of hymn tunes.
The Richmond Chapter Begins
22 January 2013
Well, we survived our move to Richmond. I never want to drive a U-haul truck again, especially not with a car in a sling tow behind it. The thing is as wide as a semi, and I found myself spending half my time looking at the rearview side mirrors, which were not adjustable and fixed at an awkward angle, and trying to make sure that I wasn't about to collide with a passing truck. We stayed for three weeks at the home of some very gracious people from Trinity before we found our own townhouse in the West End. It took a month to get all of the appliances working--for the first week we kept all of our food in the freezer, which only barely kept it cold enough. No ice cream, meat, or shrimps. It's amazing how much I take these things for granted.
Julie is still looking for writing work, and I am pleasantly busy at Trinity getting things organised, culling out music for the choir, and getting volunteers involved at the early service. I was bowled over last Thursday when two inches of snow cancelled all our evening activities, including the choir rehearsals :-( I didn't think Richmond was that far south!
I'm going to Dallas, my old stomping ground, this weekend to play for a children's choir festival. It might help if I could find the scores for it, which I cannot find anywhere!
This morning I awoke to find large flakes of snow falling like feathers, and the two cats huddled against each other for warmth right at the foot of the front door. They were almost in the door before I opened it, and they bolted for the food and proceeded to consume an entire bowl of food, between the two of them, at one sitting. I am surprised they didn't eat the bowl too, while they were at it. They have this trick of unhinging their jaws and shovelling up huge mouthfuls of dry food, sort of like a cross between a boa and a backhoe. When they are eating at the same time they stay out of each other's way by taking the shovelfuls outside the bowl and dropping them on the floor, and eating them there...
Moving day is Thursday. No matter how much we give away, sell, toss, burn or abandon, it still seems that we have too much. Mostly books, although electronic equipment and clothing tie for a distant second. Do we really need all of those books we have already read, even if they are wonderful and we might read them again someday? What about the ones I have read three or four times, like the Tolkien, or the ones I will most likely never read, like Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion? Not being able to part with useless stuff is the curse of the non-monastic life, I guess, and at no time is its evil more heavily felt than when relocating. I did manage to get rid of The Quest of the Golden Stairs, by Arthur Edward Waite, a friend of that maniac Aleister Crowley. I think it attempts to make their brand of occultism more palatable by wrapping it in a high fantasy dressing, but it really would have been better just served plain with roast vegetables (or maybe raw and drenched in blood?) The problem with it is that Waite has made no attempt whatsoever to construct a believable world in which to set his story, or characters with which to people it. I'm sorry I threw it out now, because I can't quote the despicably stilted phrasing to you. Don't go out and buy it, either, thinking it will be funny--it's just depressing.
Skyrim screenshots with the ENBSeries lighting engine
Skyrim looks awesome now--it's so much more colourful and dramatic with this lighting engine, and the FXAA post-process injector gives it an added boost. my framerates have dropped overall by about 40%, to an average of 22, but I don't mind, as they are still fast enough for fluid combat. The lighting of auroras and starfields is especially impressive. (Click an image to view full-size, 1440x900.)
If you play this game, you will probably notice that the starfield looks different. (Actually, if you keep scrolling, most of the textures will probably look different!) The starfield is courtesy of Skyrim HD texture replacement pack.
This is my character, Sigrid, under the old and new configuration.
And this is my house, Dragon Falls Manor, which is an add-on.
Good and Evil: from the Summa Theologiae
I found Thomas Aquinas' reasoning on the essential goodness of things, and the relative weakness of evil by comparison, very encouraging. Here are the relevant bits from the summary of the Summa by Msgr Paul Glenn, paraphrased by me.
From Question 5:
A thing has goodness in so far as it can be the goal of a desire or tendency. That is called good which answers an appetite or appetency. Now, a thing can be the goal of a tendency by the fact that it is a thing at all, that it has being: hence goodness is inherent in being. But logically there is a distinction between goodness and being, even though there is not an actual (real) distinction. A thing is good in so far as it has positive being.
And from Question 48:
Evil is known through goodness, for evil is only the privation of good. Evil is not a thing, an essence, a nature in itself; it exists by way of defect or failure in nature. Being, as such, is good; it is where being breaks off, or fails to be, that evil appears.
The subject of a thing is the thing in which it exists. Evil is found in things, which as such are good: hence the subject of evil is good. The absence of that good which the perfection of a thing demands is an evil. So, the absence of life in a stone is not an evil; but the absence of life in a plant, animal, or man is an evil.
From Question 49:
Only good can be a cause, because only good has the positive being which a cause requires. Therefore the cause of evil is good; not by the natural bent of good, but accidentally. When a cause of itself tends to produce an effect, it is called the direct or per se cause of that effect; when a cause, in the process of acting to produce this effect, incidentally produces another effect, the other effect is produced per accidens, and the cause is called the per accidens or accidental cause of that effect. So, a cow cropping grass acts per se to sustain its life; it destroys the grass per accidens. Even sin is the defect, rather than the effect, of free will, which is good in itself, and which acts for apparent good even in sinning. The sinner is like a hungry person who bites into a piece of wax fruit; what he is after is good, but he fails to find the good he is after. The sinner really knows better, if only he would consider, and he is guilty of fault; but what he wants is good, and he causes evil accidentally in his quest for good. Therefore, evil has no direct cause, but only an accidental cause.
There is no supreme evil principle which is the source of all evil things. The oriental doctrine of dualism, involving a supreme good principle and a supreme evil principle, is absurd. First, there cannot be more than one supreme being. Secondly, as Aristotle says, if there were a supreme evil, it would destroy itself, for, having destroyed all good (which it must do in order to be supreme evil), it would have in the process destroyed being itself, including its own being.
Strange quotes from "Their Eyes Were Watching God"
Some of the cryptic dialogue-connecting passages in "Their Eyes" can be mightily confusing and pretty funny when read out of context. And in some of them I really think Ms Hurston was trying to reinvent the English language. Try these:
"Time makes everything old so the kissing, young darkness became a monstropolous old thing while Janie talked."
"These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things..."
"So they chewed up the back parts of their minds and swallowed with relish."
A Blog is a Dangerous Thing
10 October 2012
This is my first attempt at a public airing of my opinions since the first year of my undergraduate degree, during which time I put out a weekly e-mail called the "Stuffletter". I often wrote parody pieces or wallowed in my own minority viewpoint, which put some people in a bad humour. However, I think it made more people contemplate and laugh regularly, so it probably did more good than harm. At any rate, since this web site gives me a sort of public presence, I am inclined to try it again.