Sunday, April 19, 2015

109. Prayer Hymn

Dear Lord, bend down your ear
In mercy full and free;
Our meek requests with favor hear
And answer faithfully.

For You are Love indeed;
Your children in all lands
Rely on You for every need,
Safe in Your trusty hands.

In Jesus' name we pray,
Who pleads for us above;
He gave a form of words to say
And bade us try Your love.

He who with You is one
Prayed often and with will;
If then our pattern is Your Son,
Our case is surer still.

In His high priestly prayer
He charged us to believe
All that by faith in Him we dare
To ask, we will receive.

Lord, exercise our trust
As, wrestling with our care,
We seize and hold Your honor just
And cling to You in prayer.

Lord, hear when feeble groans
Are all our hearts can speak;
Then let the Spirit's winsome tones
Assist the poor and weak.

Lord, lest we fail to ask
And thereby fail to gain,
Help us persist in this sweet task,
Nor let us toil in vain.

Our hearts by practice turn
From selfish wants and plans;
For all men's welfare let them burn,
All rulers and all lands.

From what is base and mean,
Lord, turn our hearts' desire;
To higher goods, though yet unseen,
Devote their fragrant fire.

And since You paid with blood
To free us from sin's snare,
What that is fruitful, lovely, good,
Would You withhold through prayer?

Unhindered by our guilt,
For which our Savior paid,
Our confidence on Him is built;
Our cares on Him are laid.

So, Father, hear our voice
When on Your name we call;
For by Your good and gracious choice
You gladly give us all.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Left on Layout Room Floor

Here are the photos I shot and captioned for today's issue of The Morgan County Press of Stover, Mo., but that never made it into print:

Kathryn Wahlers, left, signs in to vote with election judges Mildred Heimsoth and Sandy Welpman at about noon Tuesday, April 7 at the Stover Community Center. Heimsoth said only 37 people voted before Wahlers. All three ballots available at the Stover polling place had the race for Morgan County Health Center trustees. City residents also voted in non-competitive races for mayor and aldermen. A small number of Stover voters were eligible to vote in the Morgan County R-II school board election. With most rural voters only able to vote for the health center race, Heimsoth said she understood why turnout would be so low. “To me that’s important,” she said, “but a lot of people won’t drive into town for that.”

Joe Menning, left, and Scott Bauer are sworn in by Superintendent Steve Weinhold as members of the Morgan County R-I school board Wednesday, April 8 at the school in Stover. Fellow school board member Joel Clark, seated, looks on. The two incumbents were returned to office without an election because no other candidates filed, but procedure required that the school board be dissolved and reorganized after the Tuesday, April 7 municipal elections.

Bringing color to a rainy day: A house remains decorated for Easter on Wednesday, April 8 across Highway 52 from the G-2-M Supermarket in Stover. Winnie the Pooh, the Easter Bunny, and lots of giant eggs are on display.

It's just as well. We did print a virtually identical photo of a different polling place. The school board story took up half of page one without a photo. And of course, photos without faces in them don't sell subscriptions!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

108. Hymn for Misericordias Domini

The mass for the Second Sunday after Easter, or the Third Sunday of Easter, is named Misericordias Domini, meaning "goodness of the Lord," after the introit from Psalm 33, using as an antiphon the second half of verse 5 and the first half of verse 6: "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made." The traditional (pre-Vatican II, historic one-year series) Epistle for the day is 1 Peter 2:21-25 and the Gospel is John 10:11-16, from which the day gets its other name - Good Shepherd Sunday. Note, the post-V2 liturgical calendar puts Good Shepherd Sunday a week later.

Rejoice, you righteous, in the Lord
Who makes men righteous by His Word!
That very word the heavens wrought;
Their host His breath to being brought.
His brimming goodness fills the earth
And gives His people's praise its worth.

He gathered waters in a heap,
Laid up the garners of the deep.
His word is right; His work is true;
And righteous acts He loves to do.
Therefore sing Him a skillful song
With instruments and voices strong!

He brings to naught the nations' plans;
His own wise counsel ever stands.
Happy the land whose God is He,
Its people His posterity.
From heaven He looks; He shapes their hearts
And to their work His grace imparts.

No king is saved by column's length,
Nor mighty man by his own strength;
No horse's speed or mettle wins
Against the One who judges sins.
On those who fear Him rests His eye;
Who hopes in Him shall never die.

For Christ traced out for us this path
When saving us from heaven's wrath:
He did not pay back spite for spite,
But trusted Him who judges right;
Bore all our sin, nailed to a tree,
That by His stripes we healed might be.

We were like sheep, gone all astray,
When home to God He led our way.
No better shepherd could there be
Than He who died for such as we.
So shall we, heeding His dear voice,
Dwell safely, fed in pastures choice!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dialing Idea

I woke up from a dream this morning with an idea that, at least lying awake in bed in a haze of drowsiness, I thought was pretty clever. Though I don't remember what the dream was about, the idea goes like this.

You know how I've often complained about that loud beep the phone company plays in your ear when you incorrectly guess whether or not you should dial a 1 at the beginning of a phone number? Oh, how that annoys me. It might just be the pet peeve of my life. I've lived in at least two metropolitan areas where there are local numbers in three, four, or even five different area codes - and there are numbers starting with the same area codes that would be a long distance call from the same local dialing area. The trouble is, you only find out whether a particular number is long-distance (and so to be prefixed by a 1) or local (no 1 prefix) until the phone company screams a deafening tone in your ear and instructs you to dial again, with or without the 1. I ask you, as I have asked many times before, why a computer that can instantly detect whether a phone number should or shouldn't be prefixed by 1 can't interpret your intentions without complaint and simply connect the call. If it knows which way is correct, it knows where the number you are dialing is located and doesn't need to correct you, hurt your ears, damage your hearing or force you to spend more time dialing the same damn number. Sigh.

So here's part one of my suggestion: Just program the phone company's computers so that all regular phone numbers start with a 1. Period.

Basically, this would turn all 10-digit phone numbers into 11-digit numbers beginning with 1.

Now, carrying that thought further, suppose you used different prefixes to accomplish different things. "1" could designate a regular phone call. "2" could prompt the phone company to send you directly to the voice mail account associated with the number. Having an account set up to go with each number is another problem. Maybe at first it'll be on you to know whether there is one or not, at risk of having a tone blared in your ear followed by an error message. But if there is a voice mail account on the number, even the phone's user could dial directly into it and then punch in a PIN during the outgoing message to log into their account.

"3" could be to use voice recognition software to convert your voice message into a text or an email associated with the phone number, with the same caveat as to whether such a texting or email account exists. This prefix could also be used for TTY calls, text telephones for the hearing impaired.

I don't know what all the one-digit prefixes could be used for at this point. I imagine you might want to keep 0 for the operator, 4 for information, 9 for emergencies and 8 for toll-free calls. Maybe 7 could be pay-by-the-minute calls, like tech support hotlines, psychic advisers and telepimping. That still leaves 5 and 6 for unforeseen applications, or to catch the overflow of cell numbers. But with a whole prefix set aside for, say, information, you could bring a lot more research applications within the fingertips of a telephone user than just looking up listed land-line numbers. Each cell provider could provide listings of its users. Government agencies could have their own prefix, or maybe one for agency phone numbers and one for research hotlines available for their use only. There could be a prefix for reverse-directory lookups of a given phone number.

Maybe all these ideas are past their time. With smart phones and devices, people may soon learn to get by without dialing phone numbers at all. Everything will be a hot link, designed by their smart device's visual interface to look like a button labeled with the name of a person or organization; you poke that spot on the touch-screen and it dials for you without troubling you to note the seven, ten, or eleven digit number it just dialed. Phone numbers could be going the way of IP addresses - those strings of numbers that designate each device connected to the web. Unless one has a very technical web-related job, one rarely has to look up that number and would probably have to look it up if asked for it. The IP number is embedded in code most of us never look at, represented by graphic buttons and whatnot.

One day, maybe soon, your phone number could be like that. You'll share phone numbers the way people today send each other an email just so they have their address. But when all devices, including phones, become roughly equivalent, will there be enough numbers to go around? That's where planning to add prefixes to make sense of the chaos might make sense.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Inkdeath

Inkdeath
by Cornelia Funke
Recommended Ages: 13+

In the concluding book of the Inkheart trilogy, a blended cast of real-world and fairy-tale characters, brought together by a combination of an author's magical words and a reader's magical voice (well, three or four readers, actually), face the crisis that will determine whether the Inkworld lives happily ever after or descends into everlasting darkness and horror.

When we last left Meggie, Mo and all the rest, the situation was troubling enough. Dustfinger, the fire dancer who is really the heart and soul of the world Fenoglio wrote into existence, has made a bargain with death, trading himself for his young apprentice Farid, a refugee from the Arabian Nights who also happens to be Meggie's first sweetheart. But now that Farid is back, things are different. He seems to care more about getting Dustfinger back than anything, including Meggie. Dustfinger's wife and daughter haven't recovered from their grief.

But there is a bigger problem now. Fenoglio's attempt to rub out the evil Adderhead, also known as the Silver Prince, has misfired. The book Mo bound for the Adderhead, supposedly to make him immortal but really meant to destroy him as the book itself deteriorated, has not done the job. The Adderhead has discovered a way to arrest the book's decay by soaking its pages in fairy blood. This is gross enough, but with the Adderhead's body arrested at a comparable stage of decay and his temper nastier than ever, things start to get really unpleasant in the Inkworld.

The silver-nosed Piper threatens to round up the children of Ombra and work them to death in the Adderhead's silver mines. Orpheus, a selfish man-child who combines a lesser form of Fenoglio's writing powers with a mild version of Mo's silver-tongued ability to read people out of books and into reality, is starting to rewrite reality to suit his personal ambitions. The witch Mortola, who can transform into a magpie, still wants revenge on Mo for the death of her villainous son Capricorn, and she isn't above dropping poisonous words and berries where they can do the most harm. The Adderhead's daughter, pushed off her late husband's throne in favor of her father's Milksop brother-in-law, wants to enlist Mo's aid in killing the old man so she can be queen. And thanks to the power of Fenoglio's words in a series of ballads celebrating the deeds of a heroic robber that he modeled on the real-life Mo, Violante isn't the only one who thinks Mo is the Bluejay. The role is starting to play the man. Meggie and her mother Resa aren't sure what scares them more: the chance that Mo will perish trying to do what Violante expects of him, or that he might lose himself as the Bluejay continues to take over.

Having said this, I have only just set the stage for a complex, suspenseful, exciting adventure full of magic and danger and good people doing their best against seemingly unstoppable evil. It has glass men and giants and brownies and torturers and rainbow-colored fairies and a tame bear and a man whose words have the power to shape the world, especially when read aloud by certain people. Unfortunately that man has writer's block, and an evil plagiarist has found out how to use his words to bend the story in a different direction. It has two men returned from the dead on a mission to kill an immortal monster, but under the terms of their bargain with death, if they fail not only will they die again, but Meggie will die too. It has a book that will keep its owner alive forever, albeit in hideous torment, unless three particular words are written in it. It has a pregnant woman who learns to change shapes and a situation so fraught with danger that she risks it, even though she does not know how it will affect her unborn child. And it has a climax in which everything depends on the least trustworthy character in the Inkworld and in which, as I listened to Alan Corduner's audio-book narration at the wheel of my car, I found myself pounding the steering wheel and screaming, "Write it! Write it!"

Originally titled Tintentod, this book was translated from German by Anthea Bell. Funke is also the author of the MirrorWorld books Reckless and Fearless, a quartet of juvenile Ghosthunters books, and several stand-alone novels for kids, including the recent titles Young Werewolf and Emma and the Blue Genie.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

107. Agape Hymn

That's not the two-syllable English word "agape," meaning a facial expression with circular eyes and mouth. It's a transliteration of this Greek word. It means love; but Greek has several words for love, each describing a very different thing. Rather than explaining what this word for love signifies, I will let the hymn speak for itself. It is based on 1 Corinthians 13, a chapter often misapplied in the context of a marriage ceremony; it also traditionally serves as the Epistle for Quinquagesima, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. I'm thinking of setting it to Martin Luther's underplayed 1523 tune EIN NEUES LIED.
O lovely Jesus, Gift of love,
Beloved of the Lord above,
Who bore all things for love of men;
Kept faith till death and rose again;
Believed through all for all men's sake;
Endured in hope the prize to take;
So patient, humble, kind and meek,
Gave all for all, our good to seek:
Dwell in us! Form in us such love!

O gift of love, God's love to know
And likewise practice here below!
All other gifts will pass away
When dawns our resurrection day.
Faith, knowledge, prophecy and tongues
Without it are but noisy gongs;
Great works of alms and piety,
Apart from love, no profit see.
Lord, cause Your gift in us to grow!

O Lord of love, our way correct
Till we in truth Your love reflect!
Let childish fancies fall away
Before Your wisdom's piercing ray.
Bring faith and hope and love to light
Till faith and hope give way to sight;
Then draw us into You above
As You now dwell in us, that love
Our blest communion shall perfect!

106. Quasimodogeniti Hymn

Quasimodogeniti, which gave its name to the hunchbacked hero of Dumas' Notre-Dame de Paris, is the mass for the First Sunday after Easter, also known as the Second Sunday of Easter, depending on which liturgical calendar you follow. The name comes from the antiphon of the Latin introit of the day, which begins with a portion of 1 Peter 2:2, "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word." The antiphon continues with Psalm 81:8, and the introit may continue with other verses from Psalm 81. The Epistle for Quasimodogeniti is 1 John 5:4-10 and the Gospel is John 20:19-31. I believe the tune JUDICA, which I wrote for my "Judica Hymn," will do for this one as well.
Would that all Christians felt their need,
Like babes, on God's pure milk to feed;
For whom He fed with finest wheat
He would delight with honey sweet.
Yet some, to sate a richer taste,
Leave wholesome nourishment to waste.
O that the children of the Lord
Would thirst and hunger for His word!

Christ welcomed babes, was kind to youth,
And willed to bless them with His truth.
Bring them, forbid them not, said He;
All who would live must like them be.
The very pap on which they feed
Must also nourish all our need.
You souls that crave immortal food,
O taste and see that God is good!

O children, hear your Father's will:
"Open your mouth that I may fill!"
Believe the Spirit's cleansing flood,
By water witnessed and by blood;
Perceive in blest and broken bread
The Savior risen from the dead;
God's pow'r to strive with sin receive,
And be not doubting, but believe!