Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

31 January 2006

Scientific Cultural Theory Test

For once I picked up a test from someone other than Mike Wilber. This test was taken by Fr. Jim Tucker author of the Dappled Things blog.

You scored 44% individualism, 40% fatalism, 48% hierarchy, and 44% egalitarianism!
You scored low on all four cultural types. This means that you subscribe to Autonomy. Autonomous people are hermits who don't want to get involved in the world or entangled with other people.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
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You scored higher than 34% on individualism
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You scored higher than 78% on fatalism
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You scored higher than 73% on hierarchy
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You scored higher than 19% on egalitarianism
Link: The Scientific Cultural Theory Test written by Stentor on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

27 January 2006

The Mike Wilber Robot

At work there is a developer by the name of Mike Wilber [blog] who is famous for both his mad coding skillz and for his impromptu robot dance. So far his has done the robot dance twice, but lacking advance warning we have failed to capture it to video. I was watching Frederator Episode 14 on Thursday morning while waiting for my tea to push back my cold symptoms. The first video was "Hell Yes" by Beck. This version employed the four QRIO robots from Sony. The stood on stage doing a beautiful, coordinated dance with fans. Suffice it to say that I nearly screamed out "Wilber!"

On returning to work on Friday I showed Mike the video. His response, other than "this is awesome," was to say "they are smoother than I am." Need I say, more gales of laughter? If you have yet to see this, check out the Frederator Episode #14. Apparently, it took programmers three weeks to program the movements for the dance, so take some time and watch the excellent results of their labors.

26 January 2006

Support What Ribbon?

Truck with a strange ribbon #1
Originally uploaded by cratliff.
On Tuesday I was working remotely at the South Portland Public Library. As a walked back home to have lunch I noticed the oddly colored ribbon on the back of this otherwise ordinary Nissan truck. On closer inspection I pretty much laughed out loud. I guess men never get too old for potty humor!

After lunch the truck was no longer there, but it did inspire me to investigate the issue later that night. I found a Yahoo! Store "Magnetic Car Support Ribbons" with ribbons for nearly every cause, as well as some fairly obvious non-causes. The best of the lot is probably the nihilistic "Support Absolutely Nothing." The "Just Say No To Drugs" ribbon is $1.00 off. So, does the price go up after your first ribbon? Hmm.....

22 January 2006

Masters Swim Meet

Tandy with Jason and David
Originally uploaded by cratliff.
Tandy went to her first swim meet since high school. It was held at the 25yd pool at the Alfond Youth Center in Waterville, Maine. She had a great time, placing 1st twice and 2nd once for her age group (women 35-39). She has been participating in the Masters Swim program for several years. It is helped her with conditioning for the triathlons she has participated in.

The events she participated in this time were the backstroke at 25yds (18.00), 50yds (40.60) and 100yds (1:28.50). I know little about swimming, but the conversation between Tandy and David seemed to indicate that there was some time being lost in the turns.

Even though we spent nearly five hours at the meet, the girls were really great. They colored, ate snacks and played with Polly Pockets. My oldest still rates the swim meet as "really boring." A fair assessment if you aren't particularly into swimming.

08 January 2006

MMC: The Essence of Irony

How is this for ironic. I was invited to participate in the Installation of Officers at Acacia Lodge in Durham, Maine. It was my task to deliver the candle charge to the Master and install the Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, Secretary, Chaplain and Marshal. I was laboring under a cold at the time so the quality of my ritual was only so-so. Here is the irony. As I installed the Marshal I said, "You are appointed Marshal of this lodge. I invest you with this jewel, and place in your hands this baton as the badge of your office. It is your duty to organize the lodge, form and conduct all processions..." and then I was stuck. I simply could not recall the next line. Fortunately, V.W. Bro. Tim Herling saved me with a quick prompt, "...introduce and accommodate visiting brethren...". After posting the "Conflicting Duties" question I forgot the line I had been writing about so often lately.

See Other Posts on [Freemasonry], [MaineMasonicCollege]

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05 January 2006

MMC: A Bibliogtaphy of Masonic Ritual

Here are some of the books I am using to prepare for the class along with a short description of each:
  • "The Early Masonic Catechisms" by Knoop, Jones, and Hamer (1943)
    The eighteen catechisms detailed in this text make it invaluable for the historian of Masonic ritual. If you have never read this text, take pains to find it.

  • "History and Evolution of Freemasonry" by Delmar D. Darrah (1954)
    This is a classic text which had aged a bit, but still covers all the basics.

  • "History of Masonry" by George Thornburgh (1914)
    This text includes an intriguing mention of a book called "The Ritual of Operative Freemasons" by Thomas Carr, M.D.. I hope to be able to read Carr's book at some point. I have not yet

  • "Masonry Dissected" by Samuel Pritchard (1730)
    This is the text which first exposed the Master Mason degree and was a valuable resource to Freemasons evidenced by its numerous reprints. It also spawned the second rejoinder text titled, "The Perjur'd Free Mason Detected". Can you get better than this?

  • "The Old Gothic Constitutions" by Wallace McLeod (1985)
    This text contains reprints of the Roberts (1722), Briscoe (1724), Cole (1729) and Dodd (1739) manuscripts, along with an excellent overview of the text families (including a great classification) by McLeod. This text contains one of my favorite commentaries.

  • "The Origins of Freemasonry" by David Stevenson (1988)
    I have read one of Stevenson's other books titled "The First Freemasons", which I found to be a thrilling ride through the minutes and history of the early Scottish Lodges. This book is more focused on the people and events of early Scottish Masonry rather than particularly lodges.

  • "Richardson's Monitor of Freemasonry" by Jabez Richardson
    This post-Morgan exposure is essentially a copy of Morgan's own text, but this was the first ritual exposure I ever owned. It has a special place in my heart.

  • "Speculative Masonry" by A. S. MacBride, J.P. (1924)
    This work remains quite useful despite its age, but it may be better to read Gould's work instead.

See Other Posts on [Freemasonry], [MaineMasonicCollege]

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MMC: Conflicting Duties

I remember being Senior Deacon for the first time. Learning the opening my opening lines, only utilized in the Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft degrees, was not difficult and first cemented my sense that the ritual teaches us our duties. As a Senior Deacon you utter this line:
To carry orders from the Worshipful Master in the East to the Senior Warden in the West and elsewhere about the lodge as he may direct, to receive and conduct the candidate, also to introduce and accomodate visiting brethren. [1]

This places in the hands of the Senior Deacon three tasks. First, he must respond to the requests of the Worshipful Master, which he often does in the ritual. Second, he takes control of the candidate within the lodge room itself, this too occurs often in the ritual (except in the presence of multiple candidates). Finally, he introduces visitors to the lodge, which we often see in the process of receiving first time visitors. This is all quite straightforward until we arrive a the installation of officers.

I first installed a slate of officers at my own installation as Master. Since these men were going to work on my behalf for a year I felt I owed it to them to show my respect for what they were about to do by learning the installation. I was installed by R.W. Bro. Alfred E. Neff, who has since passed to the celestial lodge above, and then proceeded to install all of the other officers. It was the installation of the Marshal which puzzled me:
You are appointed Marshal of this lodge. I invest you with this jewel, and place in your hands this baton as the badge of your office. It is your duty to organize the lodge, form and conduct all processions, introduce and accommodate visiting Brethren, and attend to such other interests, in the practice of our rites, as the Worshipful Master shall direct. [2]

In the installation the Marshal introduces visitors and in the opening the Senior Deacon introduces visitors. How does such an obvious conflict occur? The first step is to discover the history of the Installation of Officers. There are some mentions as old as Anderson's Constitutions, but the first full text is contained in "Illustrations of Masonry" by William Preston [3]. This ceremony is not the same as the Installation here in Maine, but it is quite close. By way of example, the sixteen charges and regulations to the Master, which begins with "You agree to be a good man and true and strictly to obey the moral law." are the same in both. The only difference is that Preston splits them into nine charges and six regulations. There is no installation of the Marshal in Prestons work. The "Ahiman Rezon," a ritual monitor from the Antients Grand Lodge, also does not contain an installation for the Marshall even in the 1873 edition. [4] It does, however, share the same list of 15 charges and regulations and carries an installation of the Grand Marshal [5].

Here are the research tasks:
  • When did the Installation of the Marshal first appear in the Maine Masonic Text Book (originally Drummond's Monitor)?
  • Based on the first written installation have the Marshal and Senior Deacon always had a conflict of duties?
  • Where did our form of installation for the Marshal come from (hint, not the Ahiman Rezon)?

1. Correct Work for Maine 1982, pg. 5
2. Maine Masonic Text Book 1942, pg. 71
3. "Illustrations of Masonry" by William Preston ( http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/preston_illustrations_masonry.html )
4. "Ahiman Rezon" by Daniel Sickels (1873), pg. 252-253.
5. ibid, pg. 276.

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02 January 2006

Holiday Books

Every holiday finds more books being added to my bursting library. This year was no exception with Tandy and the girls buying me:
and I picked up these for myself at Old Sturbridge Village (go there!!):
Of course, no list of my holiday books would be complete without the gift from Tom and Nancy. They gave me a gift card to Home Depot, for my table saw fund, and a particularly useful text from Lee Valley: