Monday, May 25, 2015

Parsonage Flippers

The Captain has a reputation.

No, not that.

Okay, maybe that too.

The Captain and First Mate are known for flipping parsonages. 

Given a church-provided house in poor repair, we devote untold hours making improvements to the house while at the same time serving the congregation.

Even the nicer ones have needed some tender loving care along the way.

Our goal is to “Always leave it better than you found it.”

As opposed to a colleague we have just recently heard about that caused so much damage to his parsonage that the Trustees have decided to sell that house and buy a new one.


Little is beyond the combined capabilities of the Banana Wind’s Krewe.

Paint. Electrical. Plumbing. Tile. Hardwood. Sheet-rock. Trim. Lock-smithing.

So the Banana Winds is sailing again. We’ll be dropping anchor in our new port sometime next month.

Life as a Pastor/Captain is always interesting.

Now, it could be worse. Traditionally, in my denomination, a pastor moves out in the morning and the new pastor moves in after lunch.

Successfully maneuvering this dance can be maddening.

But the Krewe of Banana Winds has been fortunate again to have access to the new home port in advance of moving day. The house was previously rented instead of being occupied by another pastor, so we were able to remove the renters in advance of Moving Day and, thanks to a cooperative Trustee, we have access to the house already.

CAPTAIN’S NOTE: Miraculously, the renters were preparing to move to a new city at about the same time they were asked to move out.

God is good!

Which is a good thing. Although the carpets have now been professionally cleaned and a service was hired to do a deep-clean on the kitchen and bathrooms, there is still much work left to be done before we occupy the house.

Which brings us to this letter.

Dear Renters,

Good luck in your new location!

You have occupied our parsonage for three years. I hope you enjoyed your stay.

During you time here you painted every room in the house.

With semi-gloss paint.

Here’s the thing, dear Renters. While semi-gloss is incredibly “washable” – I understand, you have three young boys – it is way too shiny for most civil purposes.

Think “institutional”.
Jails. The military. Asylums.

I don’t mean to judge your choices or your tastes, but semi-gloss is harder than hell to paint over!

Semi-gloss paint also shows every imperfection in a wall.

And in this case, there are many.

By the way, what did happen in the bathroom? Did you lock an ocelot in there for a weekend?

And I can appreciate you not wanting your fine art falling off the walls, but did you really need to use auger-type anchors to hang your stuff?

Half-inch holes all over the house!

And dozens more smaller holes!

Down the hallway you apparently stapled something the entire length along one wall.

Staples leave holes too, my friends.

Twice as many.

And harder to find.

Did I mention this was paneling?

Yes, the hallway and den are paneled. Painted, but paneled.

So the holes are bigger.

And more obvious.

"A little spackle will fix that right up!"
In fact, after more than a day of scouring the walls looking for holes to patch, even more holes emerged as we began to paint.

After five days, we’re almost done with two rooms.

But let’s move on to another concern.

By chance, did you read the rental agreement?

It said “no pets”.

Yet you had a dog.

And from the smell, maybe a hamster too.

I’m guessing the mice are just a bonus.

Although the cleaning services have tried to mask kill the smell, we know the truth. As the horrendous deodorizers fade, we can smell your pets again.

You even tried to mask the smell with a mysterious cinnamon-flavored air freshener secreted in an air duct.

We found it.

Along with a dozen pencils, pens, and crayons dropped down said air vent.

What were you doing? Running your own preschool?

All of this is to say that during a period in which we should be packing, saying our good-byes, and learning more about our new churches, the Captain is spending every spare hour trying to make this new home livable.

I won’t even mention the “do-it-yourself” bidet we found in the master bathroom.


So although we were granted early access, due to the amount of work needed, our new home will be a work in progress.

We’re thinking new tile and hardwood floors.

Of course, before that, the Trustees will have to address the uneven floors.

Hopefully we can whip it into shape quickly and get on with real ministry.

And the next pastor who occupies this house will have the Captain to thank.

Monday, May 18, 2015

In a Mood...

Early in the days of Facebook, the Captain was the self-appointed “Bullshit Police”, calling out my “FBFs” on all the bullshit they were posting.

Much of it was just ignorance. Some of it was political. But I just can’t stomach outright lies!

I don’t think I convinced anyone, and it usually just pissed people off. So I stopped.

Until recently.

Last week a FBF shared a link to someone else’s post about a missing child. An Amber Alert of sorts.

Which is all fine and good. Finding missing children is important. And Facebook can be a vehicle by which to get word out and maybe find that missing child.

The problem was, the original post was dated 2013.

So I Googled it.

Turns out the missing child case was quickly resolved, and the girl is back home with her family.

And my friend would have known this too had he checked it out before mindlessly clicking the “Share” button.

A few days later another FBF shared a photo of a house painted with red and white stripes and blue stars. The caption that accompanied this photo explained that the homeowner was a vet who had been denied the privilege of installing a flag pole in his front yard. Since there was nothing in the rules about what color his house could be, he took it to the extreme.

Up yours, Home Owner Association!

But again, a quick Google search revealed the truth. The man’s battle was not with a HOA over a flag pole but with an overzealous city inspector over renovations to his home that was in area zoned for historic homes.

Yes, replacement windows. *Yawn.*

A quick and simple internet search would have revealed the truth.

What really concerns me is that both of these friends have graduate degrees!

The last straw was another FBF who posted an article about “15 Reason [sic] To Stop Drinking Mountain Dew”. This was posted as a dig at her husband, who apparently enjoys Mountain Dew too much.

I personally don’t care for Mountain Dew, but I do care about the truth. So let’s review the “15 Reason” [sic] and see if this is a real concern:

1-Dental Health. The article warns that MD is one of the most acidic of soft drinks, with a ph level of 3. It notes that battery acid has a ph of 1, and acids erode the enamel on your teeth.

Truth: Most soft drinks contain phosphoric acid, and some contain citric acid. Even orange juice contains acids that will erode the enamel off your teeth. And as the chart below shows, MD is not the worst soft drink for acid levels.

Here’s a suggestion: Drink sodas with meals, or occasionally brush your teeth.

2-Infertility. The article accused BPA found in the plastic bottles of causing “severe hormone imbalances”.

Truth: Again, MD is not alone in the use of BPA. The chemical is found in most plastic bottles and as linings in tin cans and underground water pipes. You’ll even find it in thermal paper, such as a printed store receipt.

Don’t eat that.

BPA has been found to mimic certain hormones, but there is no connection to infertility and no real link to increased estrogen levels. So far it has only proved dangerous to fetuses, infants, and small children. In plastics, small amounts of BPA can be released if you overheat the bottle or wash it with a harsh detergent. However, a healthy adult body is able to process and expel most of this without consequence.

3-Bad Marketing. Like most highly-caffeinated drinks, MD is marketed toward teens as a “super fuel”.


Full Disclosure: The Captain is drinking his daily Red Bull as he writes this.

Nuff said.

4-Diabetes. The article argues that MD has one of the highest sugar contents of all the soft drinks on the market, and this can contribute to Type 2 Diabetes.

Truth: First we must read the labels. A 20 oz. bottle of MD contains 77 grams of sugar. Pepsi has 69 grams and Coca Cola has 65 grams of sugar in a 20 oz. bottle. That’s not a significant difference.

Furthermore it needs to be said that a “serving size” is 8 oz., not 20 oz. If you limit your soda intake to “one serving”, you limit your sugar intake to 31 grams. So the real concern here is not MD itself, but the amount someone might drink.

Sugar intake is linked to Type 2 Diabetes, but so are a host of other factors as well, including genetics and obesity.

5-Obesity. Empty calories, blah blah blah.

Truth: Yes, excessive soda consumption (of any kind) can contribute to obesity. So will eating an entire large pizza in one sitting.     

Or whatever it is this guy's about to eat...
6-BVO. “Brominated Vegetable Oil”, an ingredient found in MD, is banned in several other countries, and is also used as a fire retardant chemical.

Truth: First, just because it is used as a fire retardant doesn’t make it bad. Water is a fire retardant.

Second, BVO is also used in Fresca, Squirt, Powerade, Fanta Orange, and Snapple… just to name a few. The FDA limits its use as a food additive to 15 ppm (parts per million), and most soda makers limit its use to half that amount.

Third, it is banned in Europe… where they substitute glycerol ester of wood rosin. Feel better now?

7-10-Nerve Disorders, Skin lesions, Memory Loss, Muscle Problems.

CAPTAIN’S NOTE: These were combined like this in the original article. I suppose it sounded more impressive to have “15 Reason” [sic] instead of just “12 Reason”.

The article points out that these conditions may occur “After a few extreme soda binges…”

Truth: Well, duhhhhhhh!

The same symptoms can be experienced after an extreme Rum binge as well.

Just sayin'...

11-It’ll Dissolve a Mouse.

The Captain is appalled that someone would even attempt this! 

To be fair, even water will eventually dissolve dead flesh.

Children, please don’t try this at home.

12-Thyroid Issues. “Mountain Dew essentially wears your thyroid out…”

Truth: There is a nugget of truth buried in here somewhere. This concern points back to the BVO concern (#6). A high intake of Bromines can reduce the iodine in your body which can lead to hypothyroidism.

But Bromines are found in pesticides, plastics, baked goods, medications, fire retardants, hot tub treatments, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, hair dyes, the air we breathe and the water we drink. And until 1975 it was a key ingredient in Bromo-Seltzer.

Reducing your exposure to Bromines is a good thing – good luck with that! – but a good counter to this is increasing one’s intake of iodine – i.e. iodized salt, eggs, fish, and sea vegetables.

13-GMO Ingredients. The high fructose corn syrup and soybeans used to make the BVO are made from genetically modified crops.

Truth: While GMOs have received a bad rep in the court of public opinion – mostly from inflammatory articles like this – they have not been proved to be dangerous to human consumption.  

14-Preservatives. The combination of sodium benzoate and vitamin C creates a carcinogen.

Truth: Again, a nugget of truth here. The combination of sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid can create benzene, a known carcinogen. Benzene was once used to decaffeinate coffee, and was found in Liquid Wrench, paint strippers, rubber cement, etc. It is still found in gasoline.

Is that a concern?

CAPTAIN'S NOTE: Don’t drink gasoline.

I can give you “15 Reason” [sic] for that if you want me to…

Studies by both the FDA and World Health Organization have concluded that the amount of benzene found in sodas is so low that it does not represent a real health risk... unless consumed in large quantities.

Does the Captain detect a theme here?

15-Dyes. The article ends with the scary assertion that the Yellow dyes that color MD are make from coal tar.

“It is one of the single most toxic things you can ingest.”

Truth: The Captain loves it when they say, “one of”. Yes, there are several more toxic things one can ingest. 

Like gasoline. (See note above.)

Food dyes fall somewhere on the list.

Originally, many food dyes were made from the processing of bituminous coal. But modern synthetic dyes are cheaper, more stable, and have few (if any) government regulations attached, making them today's dyes of choice.

Certain food dyes have been linked to hyperactivity in children, especially those who suffer from ADHD. But this has not been definitively confirmed.

Now, if the Captain might add a #16 to the list:

Truth: There is a proven link between a high intake of sodas (not just MD) and medical concerns like Chronic Kidney Disease and Kidney Stones.

But hear me when I say that the key to all of this is not the brand of soda or the various ingredients in the mix but the amount one consumes.

Even water, when consumed in large volumes, can kill a person. In 2008, Jacqueline Henson, a 40-year-old British woman, died after drinking four liters of water in under two hours as part of her LighterLife diet plan.

Look it up if you don’t believe me!

The Captain has three simple points to make today:

1-Don’t be gullible. Before repeating what someone else has said or posted, check it out first.

This will prevent you from looking like an idiot, and it will save me from the headache that comes after banging my head against the desk.

2-Everything in moderation. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. 

Whether it’s water or Mountain Dew or even Rum…

A little is fine.

Too much will get you into trouble.

3-Take responsibility for yourself. Don’t blame Mountain Dew or Bacardi or anyone else for what you put in your body. You’re an adult now, so act like one.

Or be willing to face the consequences.