LEGO 31032-1: Red Creatures, reimagined

So a discussion came up on /r/lego about doing 31032-1: Red Creatures in other colours, I decided I wanted to do one by replacing all the red with black

LEGO 31032 black MOC
LEGO 31032 black MOC 2

I ended up not being happy with the black spines on black body, fortunately these trans orange slopes had been on the pick a brick wall here in Indy recently and I had grabbed several hundred of them to fill empty space in a cup. I'll admit I'm biased as it's my creation but I really like the orange on black way better than The LEGO Group's black on red.

LEGO 31032 black MOC 3
LEGO 31032 black MOC 4

Becoming a Better Man

I'm currently working on becoming a better man. How am I doing this? Lots of ways! 

  • Drastically giving up television, I've currently divorced half of the currently airing shows I watch and am working on divorcing nearly all of them, I'll always enjoy some television though.
  • Reading more, I used to read a TON and I just kinda stopped. I've been reading an hour a night on average before bed and I want to increase that. Currently I'm finishing John Scalzi's Old Man's War series and have roughly 50 other, mostly hard science fiction, books queued up to read next, all multi-title series. I also want to start spending more time reading Masonic texts, shooting for at least a half hour a night before my science fiction reading.
  • Lose weight, I need to lose at least 100lbs and in the past week I've drastically reduced my portions, I've got granola at my desk at work that I can eat a pinch of when I want to go raid the vending machine and I've also been keeping some slimfast in my desk to keep me from ordering a foot-long and cookies from subway days I want something more for lunch.
  • Generally being more pleasant, I'm trying to be more cheery. Saying good morning to people, keeping my negative thoughts to myself etc.
  • Looking for a new Lodge, after writing Speedway Lodge No. 729, dead at 76 I've decided it's time to find a new Lodge. I'm visiting two next month, one of which I'm very very excited about!

That's all for now! 

Coalition to Save Freemasonry in Indiana

A group, or person, has identified as the 'Coalition to Save Freemasonry in Indiana' and have sent a letter out to WM's here in Indiana. The letter can be found below in this blog post. I'd really love if someone from this 'coalition' could reach out to me. Several things they addressed in their letter had me nodding or are things I've already thought/been concerned about. Freemasonry in Indiana is getting downright silly. The Powers That Be have been driving Indiana Freemasonry into the ground the decade and change I've been a Mason in Indiana and it's saddening. I want to see a return to our early roots as Freemasons in America. I want to see changes. I want to help bring about that change. I can't do it alone and I don't even know how to go about finding like minded Masons. 

This week my Lodge changes from Speedway #729 to Speedway #500 purely out of vanity. Seriously, we are getting a new charter so that we can take #500 because we are down the road from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway... membership declines in Indiana, ritual is stumbled through at many a Lodge, members regularly fail to return after they are raised... but the GL thought it was a good idea to offer us the ability to change from #729, after 77 years of history, to #500 for vanity. This means a new charter, this means a new signing, this means time wasted by dozens of Brothers to bring about this change. Then this letter surfaces bringing to light many far far more concerning issues. Please, would someone from the Coalition to Save Freemasonry in Indiana reach out to me, if anything it would be nice to have someone to vent to. 

Even if you aren't a member (or the sole individual) of the Coalition to Save Freemasonry in Indiana, and are just a like minded individual that is concerned by the above issues (or similar ones) and are a member of the GL of Indiana, please reach out. Lets talk, lets get together and have a cup of coffee or a bite to eat and discuss some of our concerns. Lets see if we can't start to be the change we want to see in Indiana Freemasonry. Maybe we can start a club and come together once or twice a month to be better Brothers and go to our Blue Lodges monthly and be the change. Comment here, or drop me a message via the Contact link in the top right corner of this site. 

 

Medical Care

Someone on a reddit thread was whining about already being at their 5k deductible this year and how they'd have to pay 400$ to their neurologist tomorrow for their appointment... this started as a reply to them but I decided to write it here instead

Why (all) medical care isn't a right, and why it cannot be with our current level of technological achievement:

Most medical care is a privilege. It is a luxury. Calm down calm down, just hear me out. Having someone set a broken bone should be a 'right', certain mental health care should be a 'right' as a mentally unwell person can be a detriment to society around them. If something involves a scalpel, cancer treatment etc is a privilege and should remain such.

Setting a broken bone is something a fairly unskilled individual can perform and leave the individual with the broken bone having fairly good functionality of that limb when it heals. Most surgery requires a half dozen or more people, a sterile environment, hundreds of thousands of dollars (or millions of dollars) of specialized equipment, all sorts of consumables (paper gowns, gloves, gauze, betadine, anesthetics, staples etc) and absolutely should not be free or subsidized.

We aren't to a technological point where all medical care, or even most medical care, is something inexpensive that can be a 'right'. In the next several decades, or century, this is going to change. There are now robots that can perform some surgical procedures with zero input from doctors (mostly sutures and the like), medical technology gets better and better and eventually will reach a point where it largely stops improving and then you'll start to see the cost come down as production methods allow the machines and instruments to be made cheaper and cheaper. THEN, most medical care starts to become a right as it becomes more and more automated and requires less and less education.

With the way the technology is now, demanding cheap or free healthcare for the masses is like demanding the top violinist in the world to come and teach every child that wants to play the violin for free. Or demanding that the best mechanics in the world work on your car for free. Or that the plumber, the electrician, the carpenter should come and work for free or for pennies on the dollar. Starfleet doesn't exist, these are not the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Society is not at a point where we can offer such services free to all because they are skilled trades with expensive equipment and lengthy educational requirements.

71012-0: LEGO Minifigures - The Disney Series

Another great start to a weekend, completed my Disney LEGO MInifigure series!

Interview with Masonic Author Julian Rees

Julian Rees is the author of Making Light : a Handbook for FreemasonsThe Stairway of Freemasonry: 30 Short Talks and QuestionsSo You Want To Be A Freemason?The Tracing Boards of the Three Degrees in Freemasonry Explained and Ornaments, Furniture and Jewels.

 

From whence came you Bro. Rees?

I know it sounds a little pretentious, but I know that I came from darkness.

How did you first become interested in Freemasonry?

A neighbour of mine was Worshipful Master of his Lodge, and suggested that I might be interested in Freemasonry.

How long have you been a Mason?

I was initiated in 1968, so that makes it 47 years almost to the day.

What do you feel is the most important or impactful things you’ve taken away from Freemasonry?

Insight. We seldom, in our busy lives, get down and study what the words mean. When I started to do that, some senior brethren in my Lodge told me not to bother: “Just learn the words as best you can – that’s all there is to it”. I persevered however and gained much Light and Insight as a result, leading to the Cornerstone Society and Canonbury Tower Lodge.

What’s your Masonic history?

  • Initiated in Kirby Lodge 2818 in London November 1968 – passed to FC February 1969 – Raise to Master Mason March 1969
  • Joined German-speaking Pilgrim Lodge 238 in London in 1972.
  • Awarded Silver Matchbox for ritual delivery without correction at Emulation Lodge of Improvement in 1972
  • Installed as Worshipful Master of Kirby Lodge October of 1976
  • Installed as Worshipful Master of Pilgrim Lodge December of 1978
  • Promoted to London Grand Rank in 1986
  • Appointed Grand Pursuivant of United Grand Lodge of England in 1996
  • Helped found quarterly journal “Freemasonry Today” in 1997
  • Appointed to precepting committee of Emulation Lodge of Improvement in 1999
  • Founder of The Cornerstone Society 1999
  • Re-appointed Worshipful Master of Kirby Lodge in 1999 for the centenary of that Lodge in 2000
  • Joined Old School Lodge 2001
  • Joined the editorial team of “Freemasonry Today” in 2003 as deputy editor under Michael Baigent (Author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail)
  • Delivered talk in Old Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 in New York “From Ritual to Enlightenment”
  • Founded Canonbury Tower Lodge 9772 working on spiritual principles in London in 2005
  • Promoted to Junior Grand Deacon of UGLE in 2007
  • Installed Worshipful Master of Old School Lodge in 2007
  • Awarded the Order Maconnique de Lafayette in Paris by the Institut Maconnique de France in 2008
  • Installed Worshipful Master of Canonbury Tower Lodge in 2009
  • Delivered talk in Alexandria, VA “The Spiritual Path of Freemasonry” in 2011
  • Resigned from UGLE when they stated that Freemasonry had nothing to do with spirituality in 2011
  • Joined International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women in 2011

Wow! That’s quite a Masonic career

Do you currently have any Masonic books in the works?

I am working on a book concerning Freemasonry for men and women.

Have you written any non-Masonic works for profit or pleasure?

No but there is a novel inside myself which will one day see the light…

What’s the most interesting Lodge you’ve ever visited, what made it stand out?

Pilgrim Lodge London. They work the Schroeder Ritual and preserve many features of very early European rituals.

 

 

I’ve recently been looking at Tracing Boards of the Three Degrees in Craft Freemasonry Explained and I’d like to ask you a bit about it, while writing this title what did you find to be the most interesting thing you discovered?

That inanimate objects hold great allegorical and spiritual lessons for us.

While writing the book, did you decide to leave any content out?

There must be twice as many tracing boards in the world than those I features – space did not permit more! Apart from that, I am amazed, reading it now six years after first publication, how focused it is. Had I rambled on, as I could have done, my readers would have fallen asleep.

It looks like you’ve released a 2nd edition, what made you decide to release a revised edition?

Strictly speaking, it is not a revision – it is a re-print. The original publisher, despite this being my best-selling book, did not wish to re-print it.

What was your original reason for writing it?

(1) the sheer artistry of these artifacts over the centuries. Starting from the earliest ones, one senses desire of the artists to communicate something – it is for us to find out what. (2) Freemasonry is about allegory, namely representing things in a way that cannot be communicated by words. In Freemasonry (despite our thousands of words of ritual!) we need to interface with these non-verbal aspects for it is they which will lead us on the path of (self) enlightenment.

If readers could only take one thing away from the text, what would you want it to be?

The idea that symbols contain/express allegories, and that to be true Freemasons we need to de-code, de-crypt those allegories and their power.

Is there anything you’d like to say about your other four Masonic works? 

Making Light‘ was conceived as the idea that a candidate who has passed through a ceremony will almost certainly be confused. He/she needs a guiding hand to hold his/hers as they tread the path. I know from what people have told me that they find it very helpful. ‘Stairway of Freemasonry‘ is conceived as study lectures, to be delivered in open Lodge, and then to be studied using the questions printed at the end of each chapter. ‘Ornaments Furniture and Jewels‘ is really an extension of the tracing boards book.

What charitable cause(s) are you most passionate about?

Amnesty International. We are all pioneers of something or other, in our lives and in our minds. Working for/with them is a therapy.

What book, Masonic or otherwise, do you find yourself giving the most as a gift?

Robert Harris novels. Also, for me the best novel of all time, “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Duerr.

Growing up what was your dream career?

To be a doctor. I daily thank T.G.A.O.T.U. that he did not let me succeed.

Have any hobbies you are passionate about?

Woodturning.

If you could have one wish granted, what would you ask for?

That more people, both genders, could see the glory of spiritual and philosophical Freemasonry.

If you could say anything to the Masonic community, and you can now, what would it be?

Work, and work hard, to make my answer to the previous question come true.

I think everyone has contemplated what super power they’d love to have at one point in their life, what power did you always want?

To always and unconditionally be able to love, setting aside my intolerance and prejudice. I am working on it…

 

This interview was conducted via electronic mail between Bro. Julian Rees Kirk White and Bro. Ryan Carl Mercer on December 3rd 2015 AD 6015 AL

7 non-Masonic books every Mason should read (and everyone else too)

 

The basic message here is to pay yourself first, solid financial practices will set you up to better tackle life’s financial challenges from surviving unexpected expenses to carrying less stress knowing you are preparing for your financial future.

 

You can apply the lessons in this book to any situation, not just war. It stresses to know yourself, know your enemy and only waste energy when it’s all but certain you’ll win your ‘battle’.

 

Relationships matter, this title will equip you to build better personal and business relationships.

 

At the turn of the 20th Century J.D. Rockefeller was the richest man alive and commanded the massive monopoly that was Standard Oil Company. While he sometimes gets a bad rap Rockefeller was a MASSIVE philanthropist. Rockefeller spent the last few decades of his life funding efforts that revolutionized medicine, education and scientific research. There are many great lessons to take from his life.

 


Here you find a series of personal writings, a diary, of Marcus Aurelius. It tackles his personal thoughts and ideas on Stoic philosophy. You’ll learn to analyze your judgement o fself and others and to develop a cosmic perspective. For Masons this will certainly equip you to be a beter man and Brother.

 


This text will teach you things such as self-reliance, generosity, brevity, to actually stop to enjoy life, it will stress loyalty and encourage you to be an example of how you want others to be.

 

Written by the CEO of Zappos this book is great even to those that are neither business owners or managers. It touches on concepts such as balancing profits/passion/purpose, building a long-term enduring brand (this can be applied to one’s personal life), how happiness can lead to increased productivity (apply this to your Lodge and personal life), how to deliver a custom experience that makes happier customers (can be applied to candidates and the newly raised Masons).