Tuesday, July 30, 2019

How to Make an Automatic Bird Bath

In a previous blog, I briefly described my Automatic Bird Bath, and I will give more details here, especially how to make one.

Controlled by a timer, any debris accumulated during the day (fallen from trees or left by birds) is flushed out of the bowl of the bird bath at the end of the day.  I recommend setting the time to late in the evening when it is highly unlikely that a bird will be using it.  We don't want a bird to be suddenly and forcefully swept out while bathing!

The force of the flushing operation will leave the bowl nearly empty; but overnight, the dripper will refill the bowl.  During the day, the dripper will not only make a sound that advertises a source of water for the birds, but will also keep the bowl filled as the sun evaporates the water and as the birds splash some of the water out.

The next photo views the bird bath from the side, labeling some of the parts.  We will detail the hardware parts later.

I have supported the parts with a "shepherd's crook" pole, the kind typically used to support a hanging flower pot.  But the bent "crook" is not used, so any sturdy pole will do.

A bent metal strap is fastened to the pole with U-hooks U1 and U2, and to the hose with U-hooks U3 and U4.  The hose is a sturdy watering hose,  The usual male connector at the end of the hose is removed by cutting the hose with a hack-saw.  Clamp C flattens the end of the hose so that the water comes out as a flat, fan-shaped spray.  Before you adjust the angle and position of the bent metal strap, you should experiment with this fan-shaped spray to find the best angle and position of the hose to sweep out the bowl, tossing some debris into the bowl as part of the test.

The dripper D is just quarter-inch hose, the kind used for drip watering.  The drip hose is fastened to the pole with twist-ties or plastic tape.  The valve V in the photo is used to adjust the drip rate.  You can buy the valve from places that sell drip watering parts.  The part of the drip hose that arches from the pole over the center of the bird bath needs to be stiffened.  I wrapped wire around a wood dowel to make a spiral, which I slipped over the drip hose.  One end of the same wire that was not wrapped around the dowel was wrapped around the pole to anchor the drip hose.  The drip hose should be high enough to give large birds enough room for splashing.  Then bend the stiffened part of the drip hose so that it will drip near the center of the bowl.

The hardware parts are shown in the next diagram.  I bought one-inch wide steel material as thick as a typical steel hinge at a hardware store and cut it to the lengths indicated here.  I bought the U-bolts and small straps used with them as-is at the hardware store.  The U-bolts must be large enough to fit around the watering hose, and this will generally be large enough to fit around the pole.

The long strap must be bent on an angle at its center.  The angle is needed so that the hose can pass by one side of the pole.  To assure yourself of the correct angle, make a 'dummy' strap of cardboard, then hold the hose at the desired angle alongside of the pole, and bend the 'dummy' strap so that one half is parallel to the pole and the other half is parallel to the hose.  Note the angle of the bend (about 50 degrees) and how far it is bent (about 80 degrees).

Use a sturdy vise mounted on a work bench to bend the strap.  Mark the location and angle of the bend, and clamp the strap in the vise with the bend line at the edge of the vice jaws.  Then hit the strap near the bend line with a hammer until it is bent the right amount by your best estimate.  You can adjust this later.

The short strap can be bent by a similar method.  I recommend drilling the holes after bending, as this will make it easier make the holes aligned.  Here it is more important that the bend is centered, so that the two ends will come close together.   So reversing the strap in the vice after partly bending it can help.  Also, because the strap will wrap around a partly flattened hose, we don't want the bend the strap too sharply.  Clamping a big nail or small bolt alongside the strap near the edge of the clamp will promote a 'softer' bend (more like a U, less like a V).  Try how it fits over the end of the hose, flattening the hose, but not so much that water flow is shut off.  Drill a hole through both ends of the strap large enough for a bolt to go through the holes.  The short strap should not be bent too much; the two sides should be about 1/2 inch apart, and it should need the bolt and a nut to pull the strap a little more to make the two sides of the strap parallel on either side of the flattened hose.

Here are the controls.  A Y-connector divides the water supply for the flushing function and for the dripper.

The flushing is controlled by a water timer to turn on at 10 pm so no birds will be flushed out of the bird bath.  Three seconds is sufficient to flush the bird bath, by most water timers cannot be programmed for intervals that short, so it is set for the shortest possible interval (one minute).  When on, the water flows at full pressure.

Drip systems are not designed to operate at full water pressure.  So on the right side of the Y-connector, we have a pressure reducer and an adapter that adapts the 3/4 inch hose hardware to the 1/4 inch drip hose.  You can also insert a flow-control button in the 1/4 inch drip hose line.  These can be bought where drip system parts are sold.

My bird feeders and bird bath are at the back edge of my back lawn, near scrubs and trees, an ideal location because birds want a place that feels safe from predators, at the boundary of a place to hide in foliage (but close enough to look for an opportunity to visit the feeders or bath) and an open area to flee if needed.  Because it is near trees, the bath tends to collect debris from the trees; and because the water supply and controls are near the house, the flush and drip hoses must cross the lawn.

My method of burying a hose under a lawn is fast and simple.  I thrust a flat shovel as deep as I can into the grass, and tilt it forward and back to wedge open a narrow trench, repeating this along a mostly straight line.  Then I push the hose down into the trench as far as I can, using a broom handle or long scrap of 3/4 inch lumber.  Then stepping on either side of the trench pushes the grass back into place, closing the crevice.  Within a week, all evidence of the crevice will disappear.  Winter freezing is not a problem when the water is turned off, because the hose is soft, not rigid like metal pipes.

I have acquired 45 patents during my 43-year career, all of which are expired by now.  But in my retirement, I am too lazy to file for a patent for my automatic bird bath.  I know how much work it takes, even with the help of a patent lawyer.  I have preferred to put it in the "public domain" for any one to use.

Not everyone has the tools and muscle to make the straps.  But if you are willing to make these or more parts of my design for others, leave me a comment with your contact information, and I will publish it here.  But I won't get involved with any financial arrangements.

One reader of this blog makes and sells his own patented design, which automatically cleans and refills, but does not include a dripper.  See http://selfcleaningbirdbath.com/ .

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Ingraham Circus

I was watching the Ingraham Angle last night, and in the introductory monologue, it was indicated that "transgender women" in sports would be discussed.

Now it may seem silly, but I feel that a review of basic English grammar is needed before I proceed.

English has nouns and adjectives.  "Women" is a noun.  "Transgender" is an adjective.  "Transgender Women" are women that are transgender.  People that are described as transgender are invariably confused about their gender.  So "transgender women" means gender-confused women.  In normal English, that is.

But when Laura Ingraham said that transgender women were a trouble in women's sports, I suspected that something was wrong, because I knew it was the transgender, that is, gender-confused men that were making trouble in women's sports.  It soon became apparent that Laura was speaking in Gender-confused English.

In Gender-confused English, the word 'transgender' is a special adjective that triggers novel rules of grammar never seen before in the long history of the English language.  It has the power to reverse the gender of any noun to which it is attached.  Moreover, it has the power to not only modify the grammar of sentences, but even paragraphs, because the gender of all pronouns that refer to such a gender-reversed noun must likewise be reversed.  In short, when you speak Gender-confused English, you sound like you are pretending to be as confused as the transgender people you are talking about.

The show became more interesting, astounding I thought, when Laura began to interview Martina Navratilova on the subject.  Martina was speaking normal English while Laura spoke in Gender-confused English, one saying "men" and the other saying "transgender women" to refer to the same trouble-makers.  They must have understood each other in spite of this, because they acted like they heartily agreed.  It was quite a circus, more entertaining than the traditional bearded lady.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

How do you write "Jim Clark" in Chinese?

I have a funny story about a Chinese friend that I knew where I worked before I retired.  I knew that Chinese writing is "ideographic", meaning that the symbols represent ideas, not sounds.  For example, the symbols for 'sun' and 'moon' are combined to make the word  for 'light'.  So one day I asked him how do they write a name like "Jim Clark" in Chinese, because who knows what 'Jim' and 'Clark' mean?

He said that they find Chinese words that sound like the name, and combine them.  He thought for a minute, and thought of Chinese words that sounded to me like 'jin', 'kar', and 'lok'.  He told me what the words meant, but I forget, except that one meant a small dish used for offerings to idols.  He wrote it on the blackboard, and I asked him to teach me how to write it.

He told me to first see each stroke in my head, then write it with a quick, chopping motion.  I memorized it, practiced it, and wrote it on a small slip of paper so that I would not forget it.

About a week later, a couple of engineers were in my office, and we started talking about languages.  I told them  that I knew a few words of German, Greek, and Latin, and that I could write my name in Chinese.  They said that they could believe me about the German, Greek, and Latin, but about the Chinese, I was a bragging liar.

I protested, "no, I really can".  I wrote it on the blackboard with quick, confident strokes.  They still did not believe me.

They said, "It LOOKS like Chinese, but it is fake.  We can prove that you are a liar.  We will go get an expert."  They left the room, and a minute later came back with their 'expert'.

As they entered, I saw that the 'expert' was my Chinese friend.  He gave me a quick smile when they were not looking.

"Don't say one word", they warned me. Then pointing to what I had written on the blackboard, they asked the expert, "What does that say?"

He answered, "It means Jim Clark", and their mouths dropped open.  Then my Chinese friend and I laughed, and we explained how he had taught me a week ago.

Unfortunately, I have lost that small slip of paper with my name written in Chinese.

Does someone know Chinese well enough that they can tell what "Jim Clark" looks like, as my friend probably told me?

Friday, January 04, 2019

The Geometry of the Times Square Ball

After watching the traditional New Year's Day ball drop in New York City (on television; I wouldn't stand in the rain for hours even if I were capable of doing so), I became curious about the construction of the ball, and did some research on the Internet, finding https://www.azocleantech.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=311 and other descriptions.

[Images derived from Times_Square_Ball_2010.jpg by Susan Serra, CKD from Long Island, USA - 222 (2), CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23313305]

It is described as having "a diameter of 12 feet and weighing 11,575 pounds" and is "covered with 2,688 Waterford Crystals", also called "triangular crystal panels".  It has a total of "32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel energy-saving LEDs", and from this I figured that there are 12 LEDs per triangular crystal panel.

There are 672 "LED units", each having 48 LED lights, 12 each of "red, blue, green and white colors".  672 times 48 is 32256, confirming the total LEDs.  We can also conclude that each "LED unit" has 4 triangular crystal panels, because there are 12 LEDs per crystal panel.

In the photo of the Times Square Ball, we can see triangles framed by the black aluminum struts; we will call these 'frame' triangles.  Each frame triangle is divided into four 'color' triangles which apparently have independently selectable colors.  And if you look carefully, each color triangle is divided into four 'tiny' triangles.  So which of these triangle sizes is a "crystal panel"?

Geodesic spheres are nearly always based on the geometry of an icosahedron, generally by dividing its triangular faces into smaller triangles.  There are 20 triangles in a icosahedron; 12 vertices, and 30 edges, and 5 edges meet at each vertex.  A typical geodesic sphere is full of triangles, and in most places, a cluster of six triangles around a vertex form a hexagon.  But in rare places, a cluster of five triangles around a vertex will form a pentagon.

Finding these pentagons is the trick to discovering the icosahedron from which the geodesic sphere was formed, because the centers of these pentagons are the vertices of the icosahedron.  You can impress your friends by 'counting' the number of triangles in the complete 'sphere' that you see (even though it is not actually complete or not all visible) in two or three seconds, as follows:  Find two pentagons and along the line that connects their centers, count the number of edges of the small triangles.  Square this number and multiply by 20.  That's it.  If you counted 10 edges, the answer is 10x10x20=2000.  In a few seconds, you have 'counted' 2000 triangles!

In the photo at right, we have located the centers of three pentagons, and thus one triangle of the icosahedron.  Three struts make one side of this triangle of the icosahedron, making 3x3=9 frame triangles in  one triangle of the icosahedron, or 9x20=180 frame triangles in the complete geodesic sphere, not enough for "672 LED units".  But there are four color triangles in each frame triangle, so there are 4x180=720 color triangles in the complete geodesic sphere, 48 more than the "672 LED units".  But there must be two holes in the sphere to allow it to slide down the supporting pole, so we can guess that each hole must account for 24 color triangles, or 24  "LED units", or 24/4=6 frame triangles.  A hexagon of 6 frame triangles is marked on the next photo below, which looks plausibly the right size for a hole.  A study of the symmetries of the icosahedron confirms that such a hexagon is matched by one on the opposite side of the sphere.

So we conclude that each color triangle corresponds to an LED unit, which has 48 LED lights.  And each tiny triangle must correspond to a Waterford crystal panel, which  has 12 LED lights, 3 LEDs of each color, which can be neatly arranged in a triangle.  I have seen a number of products using LEDs which embed LEDs in a plastic sheet to distribute the light over the area; so I guess that LEDs are similarly embedded in the Waterford Crystals.

We have been ignoring one small but interesting detail.  When a flat triangle of an icosahedron is divided into smaller triangles (144 Waterford Crystals in this case) by dividing the edge length by an integer value (12 in this case), the big triangle remains flat.  What is actually done is that the smaller triangles are made a tiny bit larger; making the big triangle bulge out just enough so that all the triangle corners (vertices) lie perfectly on a spherical surface; which is how geodesic spheres look almost like real spheres.  The calculation of this adjustment involves trigonometry; need I say more?

Friday, June 01, 2018

Trellis Project

The Situation

When a former owner of my house decided to add an extension at the back, he decided to minimize the cost by using a corrugated plastic material for the side wall of the unfinished space below the new master bedroom.  Over the years, this material became grimy-looking, which became more evident when new siding was put on the house.

The Plan

I didn't want to paint this wall, because the material is translucent, and allows daylight to illuminate the storage and shop area inside.  Instead, I decided to hide the ugly wall and the air-conditioner compressor behind a trellis.  Garbage cans could also be hidden behind the left side of the trellis. This was also an opportunity to make a raised bed for an herb garden.  The trellis would rest on the back edge of the raised bed.  Clematis could also be planted in the raised bed and allowed to climb on the trellis.  Hinged 'gates' at either end of the trellis would allow access to the garbage cans and to the AC compressor.  (The white space at the bottom right of the diagram represents the neighbor's fence.)

Notice that the gates at either end of the trellis are co-linear with the angled ends of the raised bed, both at 45-degree angles.  (The angle of the lawn edge is parallel to this angle on the right side.)  The trellis has five panels: two gates, two wide panels, and one narrow center panel.

Phase One

The first phase was to re-locate the step-stones further away from the house and to re-shape the lawn edge to make two 45-degree turns instead of one 90-degree turn.  The white stones were washed, and new weed-stop fabric was installed under the white stones and step-stones.

Phase Two

The second phase was to build the raised bed for the herb garden, filling the bed (including two feet deep below ground level) with good loam-rich soil mixed with plenty of sand for good drainage.

Phase Three

The last phase was to build the trellis, fastened to the back edge of the raised bed, and kept from tipping over by braces fastened to the bottom of the siding..  Notice that the holes in the trellis are larger at the top and sides. Next, we will describe this phase in more detail.


The frames of the various panels were pre-assembled from 2-by-3-inch lumber and painted before the final assembly. There is no pre-assembled frame for the narrow center panel because it is just the space between the two wide panels.  (It only needs top and bottom frame pieces.)

After painting, the vinyl channel strips were screwed onto the wood frames, holding the vinyl trellis panels in place.  The channels are supposed to allow for the expansion and contraction of the vinyl trellis panels due to temperature changes.  But adjusting the channel positions is tricky: Where is the current temperature relative to the minimum and maximum temperatures?

Tip-over Bracing

The trellis is kept from tipping over by braces (made of 3/4-by-2-inch wood) fastened to the top of the trellis and the bottom of the siding on the house, as shown here.

The Center Panel

The center panel only needs top, middle, and bottom horizontal frame pieces, because it shares the vertical pieces of the wide panels on its left and right. These horizontal pieces are fastened on the back side by metal straps with built-in 'nails'.

The Gate Hinges

Each gate is allowed to turn inward by 45 degrees by rip-cutting a 2-by-3-inch piece of lumber on a diagonal, making two 22.5-degree wedges, and adding a wedge to the hinge side of each frame.  This photo also shows the ends of two channel pieces, and the strap fastening one end of a brace.

Each strap hinge is positioned to allow the gate to swing open all the way (180+45 degrees). The straps were too long, so each strap was cut shorter and a new beveled hole added.

Square-angle Bracing

To keep each rectangular panel 'square', that is, with square corners, heavy wires were installed diagonally, anchored by eye-screws, to pull opposite corners toward each other.

Since each gate is supported only on the hinge side, only one diagonal wire was installed, to keep the outer edge from sagging.

The tension of the bracing wires will be more easily adjusted by using a tension adjuster like that shown here.  Left- and right-handed threads enable turning of the joining part to change the tension without turning either end of the device.

Gate Latches

Each gate is held closed by a latch-bar, seen here at the top of the gate.  Lifting the end of the latch bar releases the gate. The latch bars are made of the same material as the bracing bars.

A piece of wedge material is added to the top of each gate, the wide side of the wedge toward the outside.

The latch-bar is notched at the bottom to catch the wedge on the top of the gate, and an eye-screw is positioned on the bottom of the latch-bar to prevent the gate from swinging inward too far.  The bottom of the latch bar is beveled at the end to help ease the latch bar over the wedge on the top of the gate.

Each latch bar crosses a brace bar, and they are fastened at the crossing point by a screw.  The flexibility of the latch bar is used to apply pressure at the notch.  A natural bend in one of the latch bars was used to choose and adjust the position of the latch bar.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Someone gave me the following link to an article listing "Seven mind-scrambling science ideas only geniuses can understand". 

The article said that "The world’s scientists don’t just sit around doing really hard maths for fun – they also believe some truly crazy ideas."

My comments on these seven ideas follow. but first, keep in mind that science does not explain everything; we must also deal with metaphysics, philosophy, and theology here.  Science has been defined as the study of all that is material (mass-energy-space-time), so only materialists, those that ascribe to the metaphysical notion that everything is material (non-material things are imaginary) -- only materialists believe that science can explain everything.

In this modern era, we also study information just as intently, but information is not made of mass-energy-space-time -- mass and energy are only used in arbitrarily different ways for tranport of information through either space (communication) or time (storage).  Information is observed only where life is observed.  This frustrates the materialists, who resort to all kinds of stupidity trying to explain life.  (For more on this, read my blogs such as http://jamesmclark.blogspot.com/2005/07/in-beginning-was-information.html,
http://jamesmclark.blogspot.com/2007/06/is-encoded-information-essential-part.html, http://jamesmclark.blogspot.com/2008/09/life-is-more-than-chemistry.html, and.http://jamesmclark.blogspot.com/2010/03/digital-control-of-life.html.)  To define information theory as part of science, you either have to change the definition of 'material' or stop being a materialist.

1. Time goes slower on the Space Station

"This isn’t just theory – it’s actually measurable."

A proven fact.  From working on GPS, I know that when we make and test the time-keeping system of a GPS satellite on the ground, we have to 'set the clock' a little faster on the ground so that after it is launched, it will agree with our global time-keeping system on the ground.  The 'correction' is mostly to account for the speed of the satellite (a 12-hour orbit), but also to account for the decreased gravity (altitude).

2. We are almost certainly living in the Matrix

"British philosopher Nick Bostrom claims that we are probably living inside a Matrix-style simulation."

A conjecture.  I think that if Nick Bostrom studied complexity theory, he would change his mind.

3. In a class of 25 children, two will probably share a birthday

"But it’s actually more likely than not that two will share a birthday – a chance of 57%."

Yes, the probabilty is closest to 50% for a class of 23; for 25, the probability goes up a little.  As I recall, it is a difficult calculation requiring surprisingly high precision. 

4. There is more than one universe

"There are billions, according to a theory which is accepted by ‘nearly all’ cosmologists."

A conjecture.  This is based on the accepted fact that the universe that we observe is finite.  Most people would think that this requires that the universe has an edge, or boundary.  But topologists know that a 3D space can be folded on itself edgelessly, like the 2D surface of a sphere, for example.  So, some far-away galaxy might be our local galaxy (the Milky Way) many, many years ago.  This conjecture is scientifically unprovable, but many Christians assume that heaven is in another universe.  (We really don't know.)

5. There are more than four dimensions

"...there are either dimensions too small for us to see, or that our 4D world exists on a ‘brane’ which floats in another, higher-dimensional world."

Only in subatomic physics.  The extra dimensions 'fold up' within the tiny spaces of atoms.

6. No one knows what a computer is

"Computing professors worry about this stuff. Is an abacus a computer? Is a sundial?"

This is really just saying that there isn't yet a universally agreed definition of a computer, especially of very small ones.  I once designed a computer with only one bit of internal memory and unlimited external memory, which I started to build but never finished.  It would have been practically useless, taking a very long time to compute something very small.

7. The universe should not exist at all

"The universe may not have started with a Big Bang", the article says.

"Prof Mersini-Houghton’s calculations seem to prove that when a dying star collapses in on itself, it does not shrink down to become a ‘singularity’, ... what we know as a black hole.

Instead, the radiation that escapes from dying stars robs them of their mass, so they never have enough gravity to form black holes.

This creates a major problem. The ‘fuse’ that lit the Big Bang is supposed to have been a singularity – something which has now been proven not to exist."

I think this conundrum is a consequence of relying only on science.  In other words, it results from an inherent limitation of science.  It demonstrates a fundamental question that science alone cannot explain.  All you can conclude is that something outside of science created the universe.  If you add information theory to your thinking toolbox, you can conclude that 'that something' had an enormous amount of information, since we know that the material universe can destroy information but can never create it.  And since information is observed only where life is observed, we can also conclude that 'that something' is living.  It takes theology to go further than that, and the Bible to go in the right direction.

Monday, June 02, 2014

How to use the "WHAT IS NUMBER" T-shirt

I have created T-shirt designs with a mathematical theme, and I sell them on http://www.zazzle.com/mathart.  Lately, I created a magic trick using mathematics and some other tricks for 'guessing' a number that a volunteer has secretly chosen.  Then I adapted this magic trick, in a simpler form, for a T-shirt design.  For those who buy the "WHAT IS NUMBER" T-shirt (or receive one as a gift), here is an explanation of how to use the T-shirt as a magic prop.  To buy the T-shirt, go to http://www.zazzle.com/what_number_magic_shirt-235678841307212061?rf=238851269352169293 (you can customize the shirt.)

You ask a volunteer to choose a number in the range 1 to 144, but to keep it secret. You ask him to find his number on the front of the shirt, and to tell you the letter in the same box as his number. For example, he tells you "U". You ask him to also find his number on the back of the shirt, and to tell you the corresponding letter. While he is finding his number on the back, you translate the "U" to 4, using the mnemonic "foUr", and multiply the 4 by 12, getting 48. He reports "S" for the back, and you translate the "S" to 6, using the mnemonic "Six", and add the 6 to the 48, getting 54. You tell him his number is 54, without (of course) telling him how you derived that number, and he is amazed.
Optionally, you may ask the volunteer to write down his number on a card and to show the card to others nearby.  This allows others to participate by verifying that your 'guess' is correct.  It is obvious that you cannot see the back of the T-shirt, but you should not look down at the front of the T-shirt, either.  Look straight at the volunteer, or the audience, or look up, or close your eyes, or be blindfolded.  The audience may think you have the entire shirt memorized, but that is not necessary.

What is the complete method, and how does it work? The method is based on the following matrix and the cipher that follows.

Matrix of numbers 1 to 144 with rows and columns labelled


The front of the T-shirt indicates which row, and the back of the T-shirt indicates which column. The letters are translated to numbers according to the following cipher. The mnemonics are an aid to memorizing the cipher.

Cipher and mnemonics:

tWo, first spelled number with W
tHree, first spelled number with H
sounds like Ate
Ten, fourth spelled number with T
I looks like 1
Six, first spelled number with S
NiNe, first spelled number with two N's
foUr, first spelled number with U
eleven – Melvin (similar sound)
B00, surprise, O looks like 0
sEvEn, first spelled number with two separate E's
fiveR, slang for 5-dollar bill

After translating the front and back letters to numbers Fr and Bk, calculate this in your head:

Result = 12 * Fr + Bk

You can calculate the 12 * Fr part while the back number is being found.

EXCEPTION: If the Result is zero, change it to 144. 

The Reverse Trick

You can do the magic trick in reverse.  That is, given 54, for example, you can determine where it is found without looking.  You divide 54 by 12, getting the quotient 4 and remainder 6.  Using the cipher, you convert the quotient 4 to U, the position on the front of the shirt, and you convert the remainder 6 to S, the position on the back of the shirt.

Another Trick

For any letter, there is a number that appears under that letter on both the front and the back of the T-shirt.  So you can ask a volunteer to choose a letter, and then you choose a number that appears under that letter on both the front and the back.  To do this, it will help to be familiar with the multiples of 13.  (Most people are not, and as a result, think that 91 is a prime number.)

Given a letter, use the cipher to convert the letter to a number, then multiply the number by 13.  For example, suppose the letter is E.  According to the cipher, the corresponding number is 7.  7 times 13 is 91, so you declare that 91 is found in box E on both the front and the back of the T-shirt.

The equivalence of 0 and 144 applies to all tricks.

Friday, January 20, 2012

God Is On Facebook

I know, He doesn't have a profile with "Work and Education", "Philosophy", "Arts and Entertainment" interests, etc. He doesn't have a friends list or photo albums; but He definitely IS on Facebook.

When Christian friends share their hopes, concerns, blessings, problems, questions, and opinions on Facebook -- whenever the Bible is quoted or referenced, then God's viewpoint is heard. Sometimes it is a doctrinal issue that is discussed, and obviously God's Word must predominate. But it can be ANY kind of situation that comes our way along life's journey, and there is always something in God's Word to provide guidance and a foundation for understanding and dealing with the situation.

God's Word itself claims that it is relevant for all kinds of things:

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

"...the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." (Romans 15:4)

"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. And take ... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:13, 17)

"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation." (Psalm 119:99)

I have found that when there are discussions (yes, even arguments) on Facebook, it is often just one opinion vs. another opinion. And when I feel the urge to offer my opinion, I think, "Why should they listen to me? I'm just another opinion. I'm not an authority." Then my mind turns to The Authority, The Creator, The Lord of Lords and King of Kings (MY Lord, my Creator, and my Authority), the One that challenged Job with questions like these --

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements?" (Job 38:4-5)
"Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?" (Job 38:36)
"Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, and spread its wings toward the south? Does the eagle mount up at your command, and make its nest on high?" (Job 39:26-27)

-- and many others in chapters 38 and 39 of Job.

And so I quote the Bible, and let God interject His opinion into the conversation. And I encourage others to do the same, and many do, without my encouragement.

And so, God is on Facebook.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

When I Disappear

If you find that I, and many other Bible-believing Christians, have disappeared from the earth, leaving behind all our earthly possessions, even the clothes we wear, you will wonder what has happened. What has happened is the Rapture (snatching away) of believers that the Bible has predicted. Believers that have died will be resurrected and joined by those alive, all receiving new bodies in an instant, meeting Jesus in the air and going to heaven with Him.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 --
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep [dead].
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 --
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed --
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

We believe this will happen shortly before God pours out His wrath to judge the earth, because the Bible says:

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 --
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.“

Those resurrected and raptured will include all those that trust that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross is entirely sufficient to pay for all their sins, not relying on anything that they do; not those that call themselves 'Christian', but follow the traditions of men rather than the Word of God, the Bible.

Some time later (perhaps a few weeks), a leader in Europe will come to prominence and confirm a covenant with Israel for seven years, bringing peace to the world. He will be welcomed as the Messiah by many 'Christian' leaders, and as the Mahdi by Muslim leaders, but the Bible says he is the Antichrist (false Messiah) and also calls him “the beast”, and the Bible calls the leader of the 'Christian' world that endorses him the “false prophet”. The real Messiah (Jesus Christ) will not come to the earth until after the seven years. In the middle of the seven years, the Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel, and world calamities will increase greatly as never before, as God judges the earth. The Antichrist will do miraculous things, but he is controlled by Satan, not God.

It will be far better to trust the real Jesus and die (but have eternal life after resurrection) than to worship the image of the Antichrist or to accept the mark that the Antichrist will require:

Revelation 13:15-17 --
“He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,
17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

Revelation 14:9b-11 --
“If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand,
10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

Revelation 20:4b --
“Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

As Jesus said in Matthew 10:28 --

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Call on the name of Jesus (the name means savior) for salvation:

Romans 10:13 --
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Ephesians 2:8-9
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that [grace] not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

If you read this before the Rapture, trust Jesus now to save you.

If you have questions, see http://www.GotQuestions.org .

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Science and the Bible

A Christian friend asked me, "What are the boundaries between all science theories and the Bible? As a Christian, to me, the Bible is the truth. So what position and conclusion do we give to these theories?"

That's an interesting question, and I'll try to answer it here.

A Christian scientist (not the cult that calls themslves that) realizes that he is examining God's creation. The facts never contradict the Bible, but give glory to God. It is the theories that are sometimes the problem. When the theories are based on non-biblical principles, the Christian should doubt them. So we must know what is the basis for the theories and put biblical principles first.

In my blog, Thinking Outside the Box, I said "Evolutionists don't want to think outside the box of materialism." They like the definition of science as "systematic knowledge of the physical or material world", because materialists believe that everything is material, and that science explains everything.

But there is a broader definition of science: "a study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws". Science actually includes immaterial things like information, and abstract mathematical concepts.

And Christians know that there is a spiritual realm that is part of God's creation, but beyond the reach of science. And of course, God is also beyond the reach of science, because He exists outside of His creation. Yet He can reach inside His creation to communicate with His creatures and to intervene in our affairs. The epitome of that was when He made himself a human body in the womb of a virgin, and putting aside His power and glory for a while, indwelt that body as Jesus.

So Christians see science as an incomplete study of God's creation -- we can study some parts in enough detail that we can partly understand and thus enjoy and use.

We realize that science doesn't explain everything. We don't even claim that it potentially could explain everything, given enough time for study. We realize that there are things outside the scope of science, even important things that our Creator has revealed to us.

The Bereans were commended for comparing the apostle Paul's preaching to the Scriptures, to check whether they should believe what he said (Acts 17:10-11). And Christians today should also check Bible teachers against the Bible. Likewise, Christians should check scientific ideas against God's Word, knowing that science is incomplete and developed by fallible men, but the Bible was inspired by God. In fact, scientific theories should also be checked against scientific facts, because some theories are inspired by political or philosophical agendas.