Saturday, May 19, 2012

Building a Washtub Bass

Lexa plays the washtub at the lake.
Like to get some of the kids playing along with the Sabbath School song service?  Here's an easy to play instrument that can be easily mastered by a kid that has an ear for music.

A washtub bass will set you back less than $30 if you have to buy the washtub and all the gear.  I like to use the larger tubs because they make a bigger sound and are more forgiving if the kid has a tin ear. Much of the music is in such a low register it is felt rather than heard.

The musical sound of the tub bass carries very well, due to it's very low resonance. The deacons will surely come stick their heads in the youth room door to find out what that deep rhythmic thumping is all about. Once they see you've got a seven year old playing bass with the Sabbath School band, they usually just smile and go away.

It's a great instrument for providing an element of rhythm to your song service music as well - kind of a big thumpy metronome. Useful if you have a lot of new guitar players with you (which I highly recommend that you do).

Sarah works on getting her foot placement right.
[ This link ] lets yo download a one page PDF file with the basic instructions for making a washtub bass. You can get all the parts for it down at Ace or one of your local hardware stores. Call first. They don't all carry the good steel washtubs anymore .  The picture above shows Lexa Arante playing the washtub bass I made for the Tyler Youth  To the left, Sara tries her hand at it to back up the Sabbath School band. We were out by the lake and people in the nearby houses came out to see what was thumping. Some of them sat down on their porches to listen to the singing.

Making instruments is fun. We also bought a gym bag and filled it with tamborines, triangles, maracas and other percussion devices and had the kids help us with any song that seemed to call for a little percussive rhythm.

The project takes about an hour. The instuctions for making a washtub can be had if you [ click here ].

Have fun.

Tom King

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On the Practice of Decisive Christianity

"The cause of God demands men who can see quickly and act instantaneously at the right time and with power.  - E.G. White (Gospel Workers, p. 133)

David Gates & Bob Norton with AMA mission plane.
I just finished a book called "Mission Pilot: The David Gates Story" by Eileen E. Lantry.  One of the things that struck me about the book was the utter courage with which Gates faces the challenge of being a mission pilot in remote areas of the South American jungle.

People don't appreciate how brave missionaries are. To do what they do, day after day in the wild places of the world would stretch the nerves of most of us living here in the civilized bits of the United States. What I particularly like about missionaries is that those who work on the front lines of Adventism have that rare ability to decide what needs to be done and then to go out and do it.

A preacher friend of mine once told me, "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

I have found this to be true. A decisive personality, however, gets one into a lot of trouble and not just with local witch doctors and drug runners. One of the sure signs that you are doing something God wants you to do is when some church member calls you up before the church board or a conference committee.

If you purpose in your heart to do right and to go where God leads, someone will inevitably question your motives. I can't tell you how many times someone has poked a finger in my chest and demanded to know why I was doing something on my own time, with my own money for some cause that I was not going to make any money on that they could see.  "What's in it for you?" they always demanded.

Sinful mankind cannot imagine why anyone would do anything decent and good without having an ulterior motive. After all, they themselves wouldn't, so why would you?  Mark Twain, a keen observer of the human condition once quipped, "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

If you have a son or you are a mentor to young men, teach them to be decisive. Prepare them to think clearly in an emergency. Train them for the mission fields, even if they never go outside their home county. Skills like first-aid, CPR, camp cooking, knot-tying and simple carpentry are handy to possess in an emergency when everyone else is losing their heads. Learning man-skills helps a boy learn to make decisions based on evidence and logic. And we certainly need those skills in today's world.

My wife and I were reading in our little devotional book today and came upon this text:  "If they serve Him obediently, they will end their days in prosperity and their years in happiness."  Job 36:11 

I smelled a rat and looked it up. Sure enough, the text was quoted from Elihu's speech to Job telling him why he must have committed some sin or other and that's why God was punishing him.  In the story, Elihu was wrong.  If Job teaches us anything, it's that being a good guy can get you into as much trouble as being a bad guy.  The devil doesn't like good guys and makes it his special work to attack them at every opportunity. 

Jesus warned us that things would get rough.  "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me.  Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  Matt. 5: 11-12
We need to prepare our sons for that sort of challenge. We need to provide them with life experiences that train them in body, mind and spirit to be ready so that when God lights their way, they have the strength of character and the decisiveness to act quickly and with power. We are soldiers in God's Army. When we are called to stand in the breach, we should recognize the threat or the opportunity and step forward as Samuel, Deborah, Joshua and Isaiah did and say, "Here am I, send me."

If there were more Adventist men of that character, board meetings would be a whole lot shorter and far less miserable for our pastors. Adventist men, rightly trained should press forward whenever there is a call for someone to help so that there are more hands than are needed. When there is a need or an opportunity, there should be more than enough to help. The pastor and the nominating committee should have to pick and choose, not dig and scrape.

Our women-folk should not have to drag us out of our easy chairs to get us to do the work of the church. I was reminded of that yesterday when I was asked to take, not one, but three jobs at church by the nominating committee. My truck is in Texas and I have to walk or bum rides until I can save up enough to go get it. I almost turned down the call because of I lack transportation.  God kept poking at me while I was on the phone, nagging me to take the jobs.  So, I did.

I read David Gates' story today and realized something. In my weariness (the devil has been waging a fierce round of infernal guerrilla warfare against me lately), I'd almost forgotten who I'm working for. 

This is all God's work. My job is just to show up when called and use the tools He has given me to do the job He wants to get done. God will handle the logistics. If I need transport, He will provide it.

In the meantime, I think I'll go do some stuff to really aggravate the devil. 


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Blowing Up the Dog - Adventist Boys Will be Boys

Grandpa King and Old Bob (left)
I grew up in old oak trees in my yard in Keene, Texas, the home of Southwestern Adventist College. My great great grandpa's name is on the Keene SDA Church Charter and he helped establish the town and the college which was originally known as Keene Industrial Academy.

I must have terrified my mother who finally quit looking out the kitchen window. My brother and I used to swing from the top of one tree to another on those brittle old oak limbs. It was a wonder we didn't fall. I'm sure out angels got a workout.

I blame it on my ancestors. The gene for risky behavior runs strong in my family and we have all these great stories that we don't tell our mothers except on Mother's Day if we want to make them go pale. It's not like they probably don't know, but sometimes pretending you don't know helps mothers maintain a passable blood pressure.

My Grandpa was a great storyteller and he told "this story ". It sounds a bit like an Australian short story called the Exploding Dog, but I figure there's no way this incident hasn't happened before, especially in the days before they invented Child Protective Services and made farmers quit letting their 8 year-olds drive the combine.

Enjoy "the story".  And never let it be said that Adventist Moms raise sissy boys. But do make sure you lock up the dynamite.

Tom King
(c) 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

The "Get Home" Bag - Companion to the "Bug Out" Bag

Creative Commons License: Some rights reserved by RickC
TV Tech guru James Kim found himself trapped in a snow drift in Oregon while on a family vacation. Kim had his family with him and after two days, decided to go for help. He didn't make it and froze to death. His family survived. These kinds of tragedies happen all the time, largely because we are box people and poorly prepared for emergencies.

By that, I mean we live in boxes, we work in boxes and we travel back and forth in boxes with wheels on them. Living in boxes gives us a false sense of security. The world is a precarious place and all it takes is a little slip along a fault line, a rotating storm system or a large ocean wave rolling ashore to take down the thin threads that hold together our safe little world. At any moment we can be placed in unexpected peril.

A "Get Home" bag is exactly what it says. Whereas a "bug out" bag is for escaping if your home is threatened, a get home bag for getting home if you get stranded somewhere in a crisis. If for some reason you get swept up in a disaster, trapped in a snowstorm or whatever, with a get home bag you'll have what you need to get you home hopefully.

Here's a much better design for a get home bag than the ratty old fanny pack I used to carry around in the trunk of my car. I carry a modified version in a fanny pack similar to the one above for when I can't get to the backpack-sized get home bag described in this article. Here's what I put in my fanny pack version.

  1. Multi-tool
  2. Small AA halogen flashlight and spare batteries
  3. 2 bandanas (head protection, first-aid, lung protection)
  4. Dust mask
  5. Cigarette lighter
  6. Small roll duct tape
  7. Package of energy bars (6-8)
  8. 1 liter water bottle (remember it's refillable)
  9. Parachute cord 25-50 feet
  10. Plastic Camo Pancho (can be rigged as a tent)
  11. Cotton work gloves
  12. Crushable jungle hat
  13. Compass
  14. Small pocket first-aid kit
  15. Cash (credit cards may not be usable)
  16. Acme Thunderer Whistle (accept no substitutes)
  17. Bar of soap/toothpaste/toothbrush (to make you feel human again)
  18. Tube of Neosporin
  19. Pair of dry socks
  20. Pocket Bible (probably should have listed that first) I usually have one in the car somewhere.
  21. Compass
  22. Sealed can of Sterno for emergency heat and cooking
Believe it or not, all that will fit in a fair-sized fanny pack or small carry-on bag. The rest I carry loose in the trunk of the car or attached to my body including:
  1. Smart phone on my hip (has radio in it)
  2. Writing implement and small notebook (shirt pocket)
  3. Watch (on wrist)
  4. Swiss Army Knife (in pocket)
  5. Pair of sneakers or hiking boots (in the trunk)
  6. Machete and/or pistol (weapon in the trunk, shells in the glove box to satisfy law enforcement)
  7. Jacket
  8. Crankable portable emergency radio (Radio Shack - about $40)
  9. Wool blanket
For a full up "get home" backpack capable of an "Incredible Journey sort of check out the Art of Manliness article on the subject. There's also a contest to win a copy of the author's survival book.

Have fun putting your pack together. Get the kids to help you. Explain what all the bits in the pack are used for and let the kids help make decisions about how to arrange the gear in the pack.What items should go on top?  Which ones are seldom used and can go on the bottom?

Remember, this is designed for a situation in which car travel is dangerous or impossible. In a disaster, even if you try to get home in your car (assuming you have four-wheel drive like my truck does) get your pack and supplies out of the trunk before getting underway.  Put everything in the front seat before starting to wend your way home through the devestation in case you get stuck or have to render aid to someone in a hurry.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Staying Upright in a Canoe

Keep the weight low and the boat is more stable - period
One of my favorite websites for testosterone-infused information, "The Art of Manliness" posted this link this morning describing what canoeing instructors call the "nose over..." rule for remaining upright in canoe. This is an important skill to learn as falling overboard when you're the supposed leader of the canoe trip, really damages your reputation (not to mention making you the target of interminable bad jokes for the rest of the trip not to mention an unfortunate hit video on Youtube given the number of likely cell phones present).

The classic "knees above gunwale" position
The boys in the picture to the left (Noah, Eric and Kirk) are doing it wrong. I used this photo to show what I mean about high knees.  Fortunately, they were doing it right out in the deep water, but got loose in their technique once they were in just a foot of water. Also, Eric sitting flat on the bottom of the canoe helped stability immensely. Also note they are perpendicular to the Earth if you draw a vertical line from nose to navel to that special spot between the knees. If you can figure out the "nose over..." rule and learn to religiously keep the weight low in your boat, a canoe is quite stable.

As Darren Bush, the author of the "Art of Manliness" piece points out, "There are no tippy canoes, only tippy paddlers.  It's really worth spending a few minutes reading this article.

You'll thank me later.