Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Carol of the Drum

The Little Drummer Boy, originally titled The Carol of the Drum, is based on a traditional Czechoslovakian Christmas carol. The last line always brings tears to my eyes. Merry Christmas, ya'll. :-)

Lyrics to The Little Drummer Boy

Come they told me ( pa rum pum pum pum)
The new born King to see ( pa rum pum pum pum)
Our finest gifts we bring ( pa rum pum pum pum)
To lay before the King ( pa rum pum pum pum)
(Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum).

So to honor Him ( pa rum pum pum pum)
When we come.

Little baby ( pa rum pum pum pum)
I am a poor boy too ( pa rum pum pum pum)
I have no gift to bring ( pa rum pum pum pum)
To lay before a King ( pa rum pum pum pum)
(Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum).

Shall I play for you ( pa rum pum pum pum)
On my drum?

Mary nodded ( pa rum pum pum pum)
The ox and lamb kept time ( pa rum pum pum pum)
I played my drum for Him ( pa rum pum pum pum)
I played my best for Him ( pa rum pum pum pum)
(Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum).

Then He smiled at me ( pa rum pum pum pum)
Me and my drum.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Radical, Letterpress Printed, Christmas Card

"The Pecan Corner Press" is operational at last. The first big project is our Christmas card. When I asked Paul what he wanted, he said "I will never send a non-religious card again" and asked for something different than the usual Christmas tree or Santa Claus. What better than John 3:16?

This card goes to all we send cards to (some years we manage to send cards, other years we have good intentions!), without regard to faith or lack thereof. Christmas is not about a generic baby, or some vague non-religious "peace", but about the Son of Man that baby Jesus became.  We owe people the Truth, and the Truth is that:

"God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but will have eternal life."

 The paper is Strathmore Deckle Edge card, in Ivory, and the type is Goudy's Franciscan from Dale Guild via NA Graphics. The ink is copper metallic and black, both oil-based.

 As I learn to print again after a long haitus, I have:
* set type backwards (this means setting it left-right reading in my type stick causing it to print in reverse, instead of correctly setting it upside down and right to left)
* pied formes (this means spilling the tiny pieces of type and having to sort them back out)
* smashed type with the press grippers (this means letting the grippers that hold the paper get too close to the type, causing them to mash into it and ruin it)
* printed 5 out of 10 with some kind of error - mostly register errors where print is crooked compared to other elements (due mainly to that deckle edge!), but also a few scorches in melting the thermographic powder.

But I also learned some good things and am happy with the way they came out. I used dampened paper, and also used thermographic power to raise the print on the front. Between the damping and the heating, I had finally to steam the cards and put them all under the book press to straighten out again. I managed to get about 70 good cards out of 140 blanks that I started with.

Each card required 4 passes through the press, two sprinkles with thermo powder, one pass into the toaster oven, brushing to remove excess thermo powder, and a final steaming and pressing.

I also printed 200 on smaller, panel cards, without thermography, for the American Amateur Press Association December bundle. Because of their smooth surface (no dampening needed), straight edges (no register issues), and leaving off the thermography, I only ruined 4 of those cards. Good to remember for reducing waste in future projects! :-)

Oh! I am happy to be printing again! :-)

(By the way, if you like the idea of a letterpress printed Christmas card, check out G. Johanson's blog - linked from my sidebar. This pro-life printer has a lovely card based on a 15th Century woodcut of the three kings, and some cool Dala Horse designs.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saying "No" to The Affordable Care Act: A Real Alternative for Christians

For most of my life, I've been either been covered under my employer's health insurance plans or paid my own expenses out of pocket.  As a healthy person, the insurance companies made profit from the premiums they collected on me. During times when I paid for my treatments, I was able to do so even on a small income - but that was before the ridiculous inflation of the past 10 to 15 years that has made fees - not costs but charges - skyrocket.

For a couple of years recently, until we could not afford it any longer, we paid for private insurance - a whopping $1200.00 a month for two people in excellent health.

I have not had health insurance for about 3 years now. If I need treatment for something, I will get it, and will find a way to pay for it. I have great genes and expect to continue to have excellent health, so this does not worry me much.

But the provisions of the "Affordable Care Act" aka "Obamacare" do concern me. The law and its implementation are gross violations of religious freedom for millions of Christians. And I cannot acquiesce to such a law.

Plus, in recent years, I've had a growing recognition that "insurance" is unhealthy for our economy and our society in many ways - I've blogged about this before.

I also have increasingly nagging questions about how heavily a Christian should rely on insurance within the framework of our faith. It is wise to invest for the future, to guard against want, but at the same time we must not let Insurance become an idol and a false god (which it seems increasingly to be in America).

So I was interested last night to discover,in an article on the Generation Cedar blog, something I had never heard of before: "Health Care Sharing" - a sort of charitable co-op for medical costs. (Do not confuse this long-existing word "co-op", which is short for cooperative aka cooperation, with the Democrats' co-option of the word to define yet another government-fundwasting program called "Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans" - no wonder we are headed toward Babel, when words are redefined to ridiculous extent. But I digress.)

The Atlantic's "A Christian Alternative to Health Insurance" gives a good overview of how they work. Of course, the article has a negative slant, but for realists who comprehend the nature and principles of cooperative organizations in general, the supposed "negatives" are not only acceptable but desireable. To put it another way: what co-op organic food store would allow members to bring in DDT-laden veggies or demand daily access to Kobe beef and foi gras?

Consumer Reports responded to a question last year about signing up for a "health care sharing ministry" with some informative detail, and links to the three largest such ministries:  Samaritan Ministries, Christian Care Ministry’s Medi-Share and Christian Healthcare Ministries.

Here's the exciting part: author Nancy Metcalf says in the article that "Membership in a health-care sharing ministry in operation since 1999 (i.e. any of the big three mentioned above) will exempt individuals from the law’s controversial mandate to purchase health insurance."

Since I haven't had much time to study the pros and cons of medical cost-sharing ministries, I'll just share a few more links. Other articles include:
The Christian Post "Christian Health Care Sharing Requires More Than Religion"
 Charisma News "Alternative Christian Health Insurance Skirts Obamacare"
 USA Today "Health care sharing ministries offer insurance alternative"
 Christian Personal Finance "Medi-Share Review: A Christian Health Insurance Alternative?"

Paul will be eligible for Medicare in April, but I am seriously thinking of looking into this for myself. I'd love to hear comments and testimonies if you have been or are a member of such a ministry! 


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