Filters

 

SONY DSC

Sitting at the Jeep dealership waiting for them to change the oil in my Patriot, I got thinking about various kinds of filters.  The quality and type of oil filter makes a BIG difference in how well your car’s engine will run and how long it will last.  The best filters keep out the most particles of destructive dirt and metal, preventing them from entering the engine where they could damage rings and bearings.  I like changing my car’s oil and filter myself, but I just don’t have the time or place to do it anymore.

A filter I don’t like to clean is the one on our vacuum cleaner.  We used to have a vacuum with a water tank filter.  That one could just be dumped without making much of a mess.  The vacuum we currently own is a different story; it’s bagless.  It has a transparent plastic canister with a foam element inside.  You can see the dirt and dust swirling around and building up inside.  If I’m not mindful of which way the wind’s blowing when I clean this filter, I can end up wearing the contents!  What kind of sadist would design something like this?

Furnace filters can also be kind of messy to change.  The brand I buy includes a little sticker.  The idea behind the sticker is, when I remove the old, dirty filter and install the nice, clean, new one, I’m supposed to write the installation and the “change filter” dates on the sticker and stick it on the side of the furnace.  I usually do that – then I forget about it.  That’s not really a problem.  When I hear strange noises in the basement and catch that “burning dust” smell every time the heat comes on, I think to myself “I wonder if the filter needs changed?”.

Computers use filters such as antivirus software and firewalls to prevent unwanted data from finding its way onto their hard drives and to prevent stored information from being stolen.

Even people have filters; or at least we’re supposed to.  Our livers and kidneys are filters, but I have a few other filters in mind; our eyes, our ears and even our mouths.  Remember that line from the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary when Mark Darcy tells Bridget “you tend to let whatever’s in your head come out of your mouth without much consideration of the consequences.”  There’s a lot of that going on these days.  The scary thing is, all that “static” is like a tidal wave of free radicals attacking our minds, our hearts, even our very souls.  If we don’t employ filtering mechanisms we can become emotionally, mentally and even physically plugged up with some destructive, and probably baseless, stuff.  Being informed is important, just like making sure an engine has enough oil, but your mental lubricant must be good oil, not snake oil.  Understanding is also important, but I don’t try to understand everything.  Doing so would be like dipping a furnace filter in wet cement and still expecting air to get through it.  The best filter I can employ these days for my eyes, ears and mouth is simply the short prayer from Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Tough Mother

Everyone has hearMother Jonesd of the power of maternal instincts; a set of behaviors exhibited by mothers especially, but also by nearly all women regardless of whether they are mothers or not; behaviors including nurturing, providing care for and, most prominently, protecting others – especially children.  Some refer to it as the “Mother Bear” syndrome.  Maternal instincts are stronger in some women than in others.  Feats of superhuman strength have been attributed to women trying to save their children, or others, from peril.  This is a brief account of one such mother.

Mary Harris Jones was born in County Cork, Ireland in approximately 1837.  During the Great Famine of the 1850’s, the
Harris Family left Ireland and emigrated to Toronto, Canada.  Mary left Canada in her early twenties and moved by herself to Michigan to become a teacher.  After about a year of that, Mary moved to Chicago, and then to Memphis a year later where she met and married George Jones in 1861.  This meeting introduced Mary to the labor union movement as her new husband was a member and organizer of what would eventually become the International Molders and Foundry Workers Union of North America.

After beginning to have children, she left her teaching profession and, on the eve of the beginning of the Civil War, opened a dress shop in her home in Memphis, TN.  Mary’s good life was shattered by the 1967 Yellow Fever epidemic in Memphis during which she lost all four of her children and her husband.  After a few years, independent and indominable as usual, Mary left Memphis and returned to Chicago where she started another dress making business.  Once again, Mary was struck by tragedy when she lost her home, her shop and all her possessions in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

After this fire, Mary joined other Chicago residents in the efforts to rebuild the city.  While doing this work, Mary witnessed the mistreatment of workers and their wives and children at the hands of the owners and managers of the companies they worked for.  This motivated Mary to become a union and community organizer.  Mary was not in favor of mothers working outside of the home or of children working in the mills.  The 1900 Census showed that nearly one in five children under the age of sixteen were employed; many of them in mills.  Mary believed that the neglect of motherhood was a primary cause of juvenile delinquency, and that children belonged in school, not in mills or mines.

As a labor organizer for the United Mine Workers Union, Mary Jones was so effective at calling for strikes and organizing marches by the wives and children of those workers that she became known as “The Most Dangerous Woman in America” and the U.S. Senate once denounced her as the “Grandmother of all Agitators”.  Marry didn’t mind these labels as she acted like a mother or grandmothers toward the mine workers whom she often referred to as “her boys”.  They gave her the nick-name “Mother Jones”, and it fit her.  Mary Harris Jones is the “mother” of many of the child labor laws and mine safety reforms we have today.  Her tenacity and her commitment to protecting the rights of children and working adults will never be forgotten.  She was one tough mother!

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Identity Theft

Heart Lock

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports there are an average of 15 million incidences of personal identity theft per year.  The bureau divides personal identity theft into three types; unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing account, unauthorized use or attempted use of personal information to open a new account and misuse of personal information for a fraudulent purpose.  They stress the importance of keeping a close watch on your financial statements and using some sort of credit monitoring service to keep track of activity concerning you as reported by the major credit reporting companies.

The first thing people think about when they hear the words “identity theft” is the theft or “hacking” of their financial or other personal information.  But, what about the theft, or loss, of their root – their personal –  identity; who they truly are?  “How can my personal identity be stolen?” you ask?  In a myriad of ways.  All of them have much to do with your view of self.

To begin with, we must understand our original identity in order to be aware of the point where it becomes compromised.  Who are you?  How were you made, or “wired” as they say?  I hear a lot of talk about people having “gifts” or certain personalities or abilities that make them “who they are”.  Where do you think those come from?  It was intentional; with purpose, that you were created with a certain set of personality traits and intelligences.  The identity in your design was no mistake.  To allow that identity to be compromised WOULD be a mistake.

Peer pressure is the primary method by which identities are lost.  The pressure to impress someone else by trying to become just like them or like someone they admire is intense.  I believe social media amplifies the desires for validation and approval and has itself become another form of peer pressure.  When we feel like we don’t “measure up’ to those around us, we can begin to doubt our self-worth.  Self-deprecation can set in as we devalue our abilities, qualities and identity in comparison to others.

Many times, lost opportunities prevent a person from “becoming who they were meant to be”.  The phrase “Life Happens” is used to justify why that dream was never accomplished, or why a person becomes someone quite different from whom they thought they would be.  Life does indeed “happen”, but the best way to get through your load of “happen” is to draw upon your beliefs and to continue to develop your strengths and abilities; your identity.  Unfortunately, many times the pressures weighing upon us from the expectations or treatment of others, or the weight of life bearing down on us, cause us to just throw our identities away.

In any case, just like leaving our passwords visible on the internet, we are usually the ones who allow our identities to be lost.  This is not to say we need be overly self-conscious about being ourselves.  It is as simple as the unattributed quote “Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken”. Or, as Judy Garland said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”  Ms. Garland herself tragically became a victim of “Identity Theft”.  Don’t let it happen to you!

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just as He Said

Sunrise Service 16 April 2017

“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”  Matthew 28:5-6.

As a man – Jesus was a man of His word.  When he said something, his word could be counted upon.  As a third of the Trinity, Jesus IS the Word.  (John 1:1)

What makes you believe what a person says?  A man I met in a gas station in Michigan many years ago told me “Never take advice from a person who hasn’t put it into practice themselves.”  This statement would seem to indicate we could take advice from Bill Gates about how to start a computer company.  But who could we take advice from about how to get to heaven?  I say there would be no one better than Jesus.  But many of us are cynical, or more specifically, skeptical no matter how much verifiable evidence we are presented with.  There are also some who are so gullible, they believe anything they’re told regardless of the evidence to the contrary.  It is true that the devil roams the earth seeking who he might devour.

So this leaves us with a question that we must grapple with; was Jesus who He said he was?  If the answer is yes, that poses a much more pressing, contemporary and personal question; is Jesus who he has told YOU he is?  Is he the Savior who died as a sacrificial payment for your sins?  Romans 4:25 says He is “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

Why would Jesus die for your sins?  Because sin separates us from those who love us; that includes separation from God.  Not because God stops loving us, but because sin cannot be present in the presence of perfect righteousness.  For us to be with God in Heaven for eternity we must be perfectly righteous like Him.  However, with unreconciled sin, and we ALL have sin in our lives, we cannot be righteous enough.  This is why Jesus came to Earth.  You have all probably heard the scripture verse John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life.”  Jesus has “become our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption” 1 Corinthians 1:30.

This is why Jesus couldn’t just stay dead after His crucifixion.  That would have made him the same as all the sacrifices that went before Him.  His offering would have been limited for a specific time.  Future sins would require further sacrifices.  The prophesies concerning the resurrection of the true Messiah would have remained unfulfilled.  Those who died even in faith would remain among the dead.

But Jesus DID come back to life because God His Father accepted Jesus’ sacrifice as perfect which gave that sacrifice eternal power – power for eternal life for those who would acknowledge their sins, ask for forgiveness and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior as Romans 10:9 says “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

God didn’t promise an easy life once a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior.  All our troubles don’t magically vanish.  Jesus himself told us  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  I noticed the scripture doesn’t tell me I can do all things “easily”.  I also noticed the scripture says Christ will “strengthen me” which infers I cannot “do all things” in my own strength.  Therefore – I certainly cannot save myself from an eternity in Hell – a result of the penalty of eternal separation from sinless God because of my sinful life.

This is our human condition as stated in the book of Romans So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:21-25.

Jesus had many opportunities to turn away from the cross, but that would have left us lost without hope of salvation and that would have gone against the will of God His Father as stated in John 6:39 “And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those He has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”

No; Jesus didn’t walk away.  Instead “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8.

And we can trust this resurrected Christ to be our Savior who helps us in all our struggles and delivers us blameless on the day of our salvation because after dying on the cross for our sins, he defeated death and rose again to life – just as he said.  If you are my brother or sister saved in Christ, I rejoice with you in the promise we have – a promise of an eventual end of the struggles of this world and then deliverance into eternity together.  If you have not accepted Jesus Christ’s work on the cross for your salvation and asked Him into your heart as Lord and Savior, let today be your Resurrection Sunday for this is the day of salvation!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus at Bat

baseball creation

It’s almost Easter and that means it’s also baseball season!  My daughter and I have tickets for some of the Pirates games this year and I can hardly wait!  There will be nachos and hot dogs and ice cream…and lots of baseball rules I’ve yet to fully understand.  We’re going to try to learn “score keeping” this year.  We got matching transistor radios for Christmas so we can catch some extra commentary to help us with that.  One thing I may never understand about baseball though is the sacrifice play.

Take the bunt for example.  A squeeze play happens when a batter lays down a sacrifice bunt in order to get a runner home from third base.  The ball must be tapped lightly and laid down in a slow roll along the first base line.  The perfect bunt remains in fair territory in the infield and comes to a stop about halfway to first base.  The runner on third must have enough confidence in the attempted bunt that he starts running for home as soon as the pitcher commits to the pitch.  If executed properly, this “squeezes” out all play choices except a throw to first and the runner scores.  This play is full of risk and is usually saved for late innings of close games.

Sacrifice bunts are exciting and frustrating for me at the same time.  I mean, sure – if it all works, it’s glorious.  The batter is a hero.  He earns an RBI even though he’s thrown out, and a runner who may have been stranded on base is brought safely home.  But, if it goes badly, it’s a double play and the inning – or game – is over.  Why would anyone want to settle for one RBI and a “non-hit” stat when they could’ve possibly crushed the ball into the seats and scored two runs?  They’d still be a hero right?  But, if the manager calls “bunt”, he can probably see something in the opponent’s defense that requires this special play.  The batter MUST go to the plate and do his best to make that happen because everyone, especially the runner on third, is counting on him.

I’ve never been one who liked decisions that just don’t make any sense to me – Mr. “I. Know Better”.  But sometimes, maybe a lot of times, I DON’T know better.  If life can be looked at like it’s a baseball game, I’m the guy who didn’t always listen to my “coaches” but did it my way instead; always “swinging for the fence” but seldom getting there.  Now it’s in late innings and, purely by God’s mercy and grace, I find myself on third base, but unable to get “home” unless God does something to help me get there.  Well – He already did; for everyone.

Jesus willingly going to the cross for me was the ultimate sacrifice bunt.  The Jewish people were all looking to Him to be their Home Run King – the guy who would hit that bottom of the ninth, bases loaded grand slam; the one who would rally them to beat their opponents and lead them to glory; He was certainly capable of that.  Instead, God called down the play.  Jesus followed His batting instructions by spreading his hands apart on that wood and laying down the perfect bunt, sacrificing Himself so this sinner could make it safely home, sliding into Heaven on a squeeze play; and the angels in the stands rejoiced!

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perspective

USCGC Rush

How we see things is determined by our perspective.  For instance, you can’t tell how long a pencil is if you’re staring at it from the eraser end.  You also cannot tell how large a room is if you’re sitting in that room in total darkness.  Have you ever stood at the edge of a high, scenic overlook and looked out over a large city?  The complexity of the street layout and the character of the neighborhoods is impossible to see from that vantage point.  In a jet flying along at thirty thousand feet, a person can see entire counties, but the horizon still conceals what lies just beyond the place where it meets the sky.

Have you ever held an 1,800 foot tall building in your hand?  How about the sun?  A favorite beach photo is one of me and my friends “holding up” the setting sun in an attempt to keep it from sinking into the ocean.  From the right spot in Lake Ontario, you can “hold” the CN Tower between your thumb and index finger.  The same can be done with the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty.  This is amazing considering when you’re standing at the base of the CN Tower, it’s so huge you can’t lean back far enough to see the top of it!

Maybe that’s it.  When we’re really close to things, they look bigger; maybe even bigger than they really are.  This can make intimidating things look absolutely life-threatening.  From 60 feet up on the navigational bridge of the ships I worked on, 30 foot seas looked big, but our ship was still bigger.  However, when I got in the ship’s small boat and was lowered over the side to go board another vessel, once in the water, those waves looked MUCH bigger.  As we piloted our Zodiac Rigid Hull Inflatable away from our nearly 400 foot ship, the ship got smaller and the waves got bigger; or so it appeared.  That’s because we were now bouncing through waves as big as we were!  We had changed our perspective in relationship to the waves, which remained the same size.  While flying over the same scene aboard a C-130 during a reconnaissance flight, everything below looked tiny and those 30 foot waves looked like ripples in a glass of water.  Unfortunately, the thunderheads that were very near us appeared MUCH bigger than they had seemed from the ocean’s surface.

What about an even higher perspective?  I wonder if God ever stretches out His arm, makes a “C shape” with His thumb and index finger and looks at our “planet-sized” problems between that thumb and finger the same way we look at the Washington Monument, the CN Tower or the Statue of Liberty while playing “tourist” when we travel.  Those landmarks look SO small when we look at them between our fingers, or when a friend takes a photo of one of us holding one of those landmarks in the palm of our hand.  It’s a fun perspective trick.  But with God, it’s no trick.  He really CAN hold our biggest problems between his fingers or in the palm of his hand because He is above all and sovereign over all.

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have a Slice of Pi

Einstein Pie

They say “Pi R Square”, but I’ve always found it to be round. I love pie, but Pi – not so much.  I cannot express my dislike of it.  You could say the thought of Pi makes me irrational.  It makes my thoughts go in circles.  Did I mention that I love pie?  Mathematicians like to express Pi as equal to C over D.  I would like Pi better if it were expressed as equal to ice cream over crust.  The area of a pie plate is in direct proportion to my appetite for pie.  The lack of notes in my geometry books is in direct proportion to my lack of interest in Pi.

Some of my math-smart friends are more into Pi than I am into pie.  They tell me “Pi” is the English spelling of the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet and that the symbol for Pi is derived from the first letter of the Greek word “perimetros” meaning circumference.  This makes sense since the number Pi represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.  The number Pi, which has a constant value that approximately equals 3.14159, is an irrational number; a real number that cannot be expressed as a common fraction and it has an infinite or endless decimal representation, without any repeating pattern.

People who love math and happen to have a lot of time on their hands have come up with something called the “Pi Code”.  I immediately thought they had cracked the code to the security system at Marie Callender’s, but I was incorrect.  The “Pi Code” is an alphanumeric (base 26 or base 27) system by which the digits in Pi, when taken out to a place value of several billion, can be converted in letters of the alphabet and thus reveal words – a giant word search puzzle if you will. The fictional character “Doctor Matrix” (introduced by Martin Gardner in 1960) used to say “properly interpreted, the number “Pi” contains the entire history of mankind.  On the other hand, I know Marie Callender’s contains a lot of pie.

I like to fly in hot air balloons and, like me, my balloon pilot friends like pie.  However, they LOVE their Pi Balls.  A Pi Ball, shot for pilot balloon, can tell you more about the precise launch site weather and winds than just about any app.  This low-tech tool is simply a helium balloon which is released prior to the balloons going up.  We watch the speed and direction of the balloon’s ascent very closely to gain an idea of where our balloons will go once airborne.

With all this love of Pi, it makes sense that March 14th, or 3/14 or 3.14 has become internationally known and celebrated as Pi Day.  On this day, love is all a-round, and a-la-mode.  It also happens to be the birthday of renowned theoretical physicist, musician, artist, mathematician and all-around brainiac Albert Einstein.  I have a theory that we would all gain a relative amount of energy from wishing Dr. Einstein a happy birthday whether it be by enjoying some pie, or some Pi.  Just be careful to keep an eye on your circumference and diameter because those can be affected by pie.

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment