Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Eat more ham loaf

poster of Uncle Sam encouraging to eat more ham loaf

Central Presbyterian Church will have a Ham Loaf Dinner on Saturday, March 29, from 4:00 PM until 6:00 PM.

The long-awaited first ham loaf dinner of the year at Central Presbyterian Church of Tarentum will feature the traditional menu of ham loaf, parsley potatoes, green beans, cole slaw, apple sauce, and an array of cakes and pies. $7.50 for adults and $3.75 for children 12 and under. Take-out and delivery are available.

Central Presbyterian Church is located at 305 Allegheny Street, Tarentum, PA.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Stained glass window of the victorious Resurrected Christ in the chapel at the Greenwood Memorial Park, Lower Burrell, PA

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What do you think is the answer for the Tiger Ranch?

The local news here in Tarentum has been filled with coverage of the nearby Tiger Ranch. The Valley News Dispatch carried the story on Friday of the raid on the local no-kill shelter, and it has been in the paper daily since then.

The owner, Linda Bruno, is facing charges, but she before she gets to trial she is also being tried in the media. The information in the initial coverage of the story has been inaccurate and slanted. When the raid first happened we were told that almost 700 pets were being abused. It turns out that the total number of pets seized is about half that, and it is yet to be established how many of the seized animals were actually neglected.

A Chicago Tribune story tried to make the Tiger Ranch seem like something sinister, describing it as "fortress-like." As if no other animal shelter tries to maintain the security of the animals it is holding.

Many of the animals seized were sick. As if other well-run shelters never have to deal with viral outbreaks.

There are facts that still need to come out, but in the meantime the news does focus attention on the plight of unwanted pets.

So I invite you to participate in my poll. I am interested in learning what you think is the answer for unwanted pets.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Working through the storm

painting from the series "The Challenge of Noah's Ark" by Maritza MorganOver the last weekend I attended a six-day meeting (March 6-11) of the Advisory Committee on the Constitution of the PCUSA, in Louisville, Kentucky. I was in the unusual position of having been appointed to a vacancy on the committee by Moderator Joan S. Gray. The vacancy was created by the death of the Rev. George T. Adams. Subject to confirmation by the 218th General Assembly, I am filling Rev. Adams' space on the the committee (although certainly not his shoes).

The meeting was a positive experience, working with a small group of people who care deeply about our Presbyterian polity, and who are energized by discussions of what some might consider constitutional minutia.

While we were in Louisville, we started our meeting in a conference room at the Presbyterian Center. When the storm that ended up paralyzing the city started dump increasing amounts of snow, we moved our meeting earlier than planned to conference rooms in the hotel where we were staying.

It was rather ironic that many of the people at Central Presbyterian Church before my trip kept telling me they hoped I'd have good weather. My response was that the weather was going to be irrelevant because we would all be focused on our task. Even with the significant storm that blew through, that turned out to be true. Once we relocated there were a few conversations about where we would be able to find meals to be brought in to the hotel where we were working, but otherwise the storm outside had no real impact on us.

On Monday we were able to move our meeting back to the Presbyterian Center, as planned. And there we finished up our work.

In the lobby of the Presbyterian Center I noticed a series of paintings by Maritza Morgan. They reminded me of paintings I have seen in the lobby outside the auditorium at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary's Hicks Chapel. The series in Louisville was called "The Challenge of Noah's Ark." The painting shown above is one that I think is entitled "The Flood", showing Noah with his family and all the animals packed into the ark, while the waters rise outside. I was struck by the depicted serenity of those inside the ark, who are shown as trusting that God is saving them from the flood. The claws of the bear are clearly visible, yet each of the creatures seems to be weathering the flood with a happy, peaceful attitude. This became a picture that I thought about a lot during the remainder of my time in Louisville.

I wonder what would it take for people in the Presbyterian Church to be so certain and so aware that we are being saved, that it would feel totally natural to be at peace with one another across the theological spectrum.

We ended our work on Tuesday before noon, having drafted all the advice we would have to give. We have already made sure that we didn't use the word "hermeneutic" too many times, and we think we caught all the misplaced commas. An explanation of the legal term "cy pres" will be made available in the appropriate report. After final proofreading the advice is going to be posted on PC-biz, where the commissioners and observors will be able to follow the complex collection of documents that will make up the business of the 218th General Assembly.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

A few notes on how the content of this blog has changed

Over the past few months there have been a number of changes in where I post certain things that used to appear on this blog.

I have still been attending Tarentum Borough Council meetings, but posts on this blog about what happened in those meetings have been infrequent. I have been posting news stories about Tarentum at If I want to add my opinion about that news I may post it as a comment to the news story or on this blog. Topix gathers news from lots of different sources, and occasionally my reports there have filled a void.

I also have been posting announcements of upcoming events less frequently on this blog, but I have still been using the web to get the word out. I've learned something about the hCalendar microformat that I had been using on this blog for those announcements. This microformat provides a way to add some extra code to a description of an event so that the information can be more readily processed by other programs that gather information about events. It is used in a lot of different places. For example, the event pages on Facebook are in the hCalendar microformat. Listings of events on are also in the hCalendar microformat.

There are also a lot of search engines and services that use this microformat to identify events. Last year when I was looking for information on an upcoming community event, I was gratified to discover that the "news swicki" had already found and processed the information I had posted on the internet using the microformat.

Among the nice features of is the ability to send the event listing to other sites such as Upcoming that publicize and track events. At the same time, eventful gathers information from other sources than its own users' submissions.

Another nice feature of eventful is the ability to maintain a calendar, and to create a widget for the calendar that can be posted on other websites. On the sidebar of this blog under the title "Events in and around Tarentum" I have a widget with the next few events on the eventful calendar for Tarentum. I have used a similar widget to post events for the Central Presbyterian Church on the church website.

The hCalendar microformat is so useful that I am quite surprised that many of the web services that offer to maintain website calendars don't use it. It takes so little extra code to make one's calendar readable by a robot or spider. Often the reason people post calendar information on their websites is that they would like to invite other people to attend. But without using code such as the hCalendar microformat they limit their audience to the people who find their website.

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