Happy Mousegiving

Let it be known that the Root Simple cat team, most often seen snoozing, scored a small victory in the war on mice last night. The video above represents a simulation of what happened sometime in the early hours of Black Friday eve.

Measuring With a Shaft Key

Need to make a precise measurement or adjust a tool? Get yourself a set of square shaft keys.

Shaft keys are used in the world of machinery to connect a shaft to something that rotates but we won’t be using them for their intended purpose. Rather, we’ll make use of the fact that they are made in precise metric and imperial sizes to use them as a measurement aid.

Shaft keys come in different flavors and shapes including curved, square and tapered. We’re looking for the square ones. Every hardware store has a set of shaft keys in a dusty, seldom opened drawer. My local store carried shaft keys between 1/8″ and 1/2″. You can buy a whole set for mere dollars. I used a sharpie to mark the dimensions of my set of shaft keys.

I use them mostly for setting the depth of my router and table saw. Using your sense of touch, aided by a shaft key, is much more accurate than using your eyeballs and a ruler.

But I also found them handy for assembling a new fence over the weekend. I wanted 1/4 inch gaps between the fence slats and used a shaft key as a spacer when I assembled the fence.

Stuff the stockings of the accuracy challenged housemates on your Christmas shopping list with a set of shaft keys!

Thank you to Bob Van Dyke for initiating me into the mysteries of the shaft key.

Saturday Tweets: Beasts

127 Apocalypse Now with Father Mark Kowalewski

This podcast conversation with Fr. Mark Kowalewski, dean of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles, needs a longer introduction than usual because it might, at first, seem off-topic. But I think it’s safe to say that within the DNA of the urban homesteading, permaculture and ecological movements is a concern with how the world might end and the possibility of either hastening, postponing or avoiding the collapse of human civilization. Then there’s the fact that a significant portion of U.S. government officials believe in some form of a “rapture.”

Of course there are many divergent opinions on the nature of this end, everything from climate change, to energy depletion, to nuclear war to more fringy ideas such as near term extinction. I’ve always been interested in the stories that our cultures tell about the end of the world and what those stories say about present realities. Behind, on one end, the grim future of Mad Max, to another extreme, the techno optimist Mars colony fantasies of Silicon Valley executives is a ghost that haunts our imaginations about the end of things. That ghost, at least in the West, is John of Patmos and his hallucinatory book of Revelation.

Fr. Mark Kowalewski

I think it’s unfortunately too rare in our culture these days to consider the theological underpinning of the stories we tell. In this conversation Fr. Mark discusses everything from mainstream, orthodox views of apocalyptic literature to fundamentalist and evangelical notions of a “rapture.” We conclude with what these stories tell about our relationship to creation and to human culture. During the podcast Fr. Mark references:

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected] You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. Closing theme music by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Choral Evensong as Meditation

St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Los Angeles.

Fellow thoughtstylist Rupert Sheldrake has helped create a website to promote the nearly 500 year old Anglican service of Choral Evensong. Sheldrake sees Evensong as a user-friendly form of meditation for those who might not normally cross the threshold of a church door.

Choral Evensong is a 45-min long peace-inducing church service in which the ‘song’ of voices sounding together in harmony is heard at the ‘even’ point between the active day and restful night, allowing listeners time for restful contemplation – Church members, agnostics and atheists alike. It is both free of charge and free of religious commitment, and its 470-year-old choral music tradition – established around 1549 – is performed live and often to a very high standard.

The Choral Evensong website lists places around the world where you can attend a service. If you’re in Los Angeles there is a Choral Evensong performance this Saturday November 17th at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral at 5 p.m. I will, likely, make an appearance as the Verger. The choir is magnificent and St. John’s is one of Los Angeles’ hidden architectural masterpieces.

You can also listen to Choral Evensong on the BBC via the website and app. It’s the longest running show on the BBC.