A Masonic Tie Pin Present

In the Beginning was the Craft

My father has been a Freemason for over seventeen years. Now I know that all masons start in the Craft freemasonry, that’s my limit I’m afraid. And I know that there are steps to becoming a Master Mason. And also know that from time to time you get to become a Worshipful Master – someone that’s in charge for one year. My father has been worshipful master three times.

There’s more information about craft lodges here.

My father’s lodge gathers four times a year, twice before Christmas and twice after. Where they meet to have a meeting, then a nice dinner together and then finish off in the bar. My father gets home very late and is a bit worse the wear for alcohol consumption.

But somehow the four times a year has gone up to about twenty or more meetings a year. My father tells me that he now belongs to several different orders with wonderful sounding names and is a guest to several other lodges. He does tell me the names of those other lodges but I’ve forgotten most of them.

So it’s safe to say that freemasonry is in my father’s blood now.

The Missing Freemason Tie Pin

All the times he been going to these lodges he’s always had a tie pin. But not an ordinary tie bar, a masonic tie pin. This tie pin was gold in color and had some masonic symbols on it.

I remember being quite impressed when I saw it shining on his dark gray/black tie. It looked very regal.

Then I noticed that he’d stopped wearing it. I didn’t notice at first, not precisely. I just noticed something was different. When I did notice, I asked him why he’d stopped wearing it. I thought it might be because he was at a highly level in freemasonry. But No, he had just lost it some place.

A New Masonic Tie Pin

I thought that was quite sad, he seemed a little undressed without his smart tie bar. So I decided to get him a new one. But his birthday was real soon. So it had to be a new freemason tie pin.

I new it had to be gold in color but I wasn’t sure about the rest. I asked my mom and she called one of his freemason brothers and he said get a one that has a compass and square. He told us to go to this site for our masonic tie pin.

That’s exactly what I did and it had two really nice gold plated tie pins to choose from and it came really quick too.

The Present was a Success

My father’s birthday arrived and whole family went out to his favorite restaurant. That’s where we gave him our cards and presents. And boy was he pleased when he opened mine.

The tie pin wasn’t that expensive, less than $10 but it made such an impact. He was very pleased. That website https://ashlarmasonicgifts.com has other great gifts for freemasons. The next time I have to get him a present I’ll go to that same site.

variable temperature kettles for Christmas

My Wife’s Christmas Present

I’ve been thinking what to get my with as a gift for Christmas? I shop early because my wife is the most difficult one of our family to get right. I spend more time chewing over what I should get her, what she’d like, what make sense and what doesn’t. I spend too much time on this one present and always ends up as a last minute dash.

Wife's Christmas presentSo I’m on the case and I’m determined to get my wife’s present done and dusted and under the tree as soon as I can. Nice plan but executing that plan was becoming something I kept putting off. That is until today.

With a day off from work and my wife out all day I could and did muster the energy to get that present. I set myself a goal of getting this done by the end of the day before my wife arrived with all the kids, that she picks up from school, most days.

What to get my Wife for Christmas

So I started with the obvious queries on Google, like “Christmas gifts for women”. After spending an hour doing this I realised I was just wasting time and I ended up searching for things that appealed to me. What I really had to do was get inside her head, use a bit of psychology. What does she moan about that isn’t to do with my bad habits, what would she change or fix.

A Kettle – She’ll love it

stove kettleThe answer came to me when I walked down into our kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee. Waiting for the kettle to boil, that’s when it hit me. The present had to be a “kettle”.

Now I know what you’re thinking “If someone gave me a kettle for Christmas, I’d probably hit them with it”. If those are the types of thoughts you’d have, then I’m right with you. But stay with me a moment longer.

A nice Christmas variable temperature kettle

But this is no ordinary kettle for Christmas. It’s a variable temperature kettle. You see with one of these you can heat the water to any temperature you want. Of course that also includes boiling the water if that’s what you want. This makes it a versatile kettle that does more than just boiling water.

making teaHow to make Oolong tea
How to make Jasmine tea

I can see your still not convinced. Well my wife is called Angela and Angela loves Chinese green tea. There’s several different types, but her favorites are jasmine and oolong. And your not supposed to use boiling water to make these green teas but you can’t use water that’s not hot enough otherwise it will taste just tasteless.

Perfect Tea

Now the penny must be dropping? A variable temperature Christmas kettle makes perfect sense if your spouse likes tea. Buy them a variable temperature kettle and they can heat the water to the perfect temperature for making tea.

So that’s the present sorted out or at least I know what I’m going to buy. But that leads to the next problem. There are a lot of variable temperature kettles to choose from. But which one is best? Well I found this web site where they pick their five best kettles. That makes the choice easier Five Best Variable Temperature Kettles

Better still that same website had an ideal variable temperature kettle for Christmas page. Perfect, and that’s the one I chose. On the basis it was super simple to operate and it didn’t break the bank.

Does she like it?

Well I won’t know the answer to that question until Christmas day. I’ve ordered it, its still yet to arrive but it was bought through Amazon so I have ever faith that it will be here in a day or two. Then wrap it and put under the tree (when it’s put up and decorated. And that’s my most difficult present sorted.

I’ll let you all know if you she clouts me round the head with it on Christmas day. Watch this space.

The Benefits of a Water Softener

Do I need a Water Softener?

The power of fresh waterThere are times when a new gadget comes along that has to be seen (or experienced) to be believed. Most often new gadgets have an initial novelty appeal, which wanes over time. Finally it (whatever it is) gets consigned to some long lost cupboard in the house and ultimately dumped. Not so the product I’m about to introduce here.

Enter the domestic water softener and here I want to introduce you the benefits of a water softener. Of which there are many. But first what is a water softener and what does it do?

The Home Water Softener

metal water filtersMost domestic water that gets piped into our homes is what’s referred to as hard. This means that, on its travels to us, the water has picked up mineral salts from rocks and the soil. These dissolve into the water which is collected, filtered and purified, then piped to homes all over the country.

The filtration system fails to remove the minerals in the water as they’re dissolved in the water at the atomic level (to small for any filter to catch). But at the same time they’re harmless to us and so drinking this “hard” water has no effect on us.

So what are the Benefits of a Water Softener

benefits of a water softenerHowever hard water is a problem for for all other uses of water around the home. The biggest problem with hard water is that the minerals dissolved within can and do leach out. The effect of this process is a substance called Limescale. This is the chalky white substance that you see around taps, around baths and around shower heads.

This chalky white substance looks unsightly but there’s worse to come. It’s the limescale deposits that you don’t see that take their toll on domestic hot water systems, washing machines and dishwashers. The life of these expensive appliances is severely reduced and that costs you money.

For heating, these limescale deposits that you can’t see, are being laid down over the years and the deposit gets thicker and thicker. But it’s worse than that, the limescale acts as an heat sink and insulator. Which means that you house get cooler – So you turn the heating up. Which is more cost to you.

Thee are ways to remove limescale here’s one and here’s another. But the best approach is to remove the hardness before it enters the home.

home water softener to the Rescue

The solution to the hard water problem is to convert the hard water into soft water. That is water with the mineral content (ions to give it it’s correct name) removed. This can now be down very easily. Take a look at this website to find out more benefits of a water softener.

Where the municipal water supply enters your home, you have fitted a small water softener device. These devices are quite simple in principle and use ion exchange to remove the calcium and magnesium minerals from the water. Once fitted hard water goes into the device and soft water comes out of the device this all happens as if by magic. However the soft water device has to regenerate from time to time – This is where the device just flushes out all of the accumulated calcium and magnesium out through the drain.

This removal of minerals (called regeneration) happens automatically. This regeneration requires ordinary salt, blocks of salt. This then is your only task to replace the salt blocks when needed. And if you do forget to add salt – no problem. Nothing will break, you will just stop getting soft water (you’ve gone hard water again).

These salt blocks are made from ordinary salt, the type you use at the table. Salt or sodium chloride, is one of the most abundant minerals on the planet. So these blocks are relative cheap too. Which means your going to save a lot of money and the cost, after installation, is just blocks or salt.

But is My Water Going to Taste Salty?

Benefits of a drinking water filterIn a quick answer – NO. Although salt gets used in the regeneration process the by-product is not salt. And this water gets flushed away, so the water is just fine.

However we would always recommend a drinking filter system in the home as these remove things that might be in the water which you don’t want to be drinking. Such as traces of pesticides, fertilisers and heavy metals that might be in there. There’s more about water filters here.


life's journey to enlightenment

What is religion?

Within religious science, that is, the scientific discipline that studies religion scientifically, there are a variety of religious definitions. That means there are many ways to describe what religion is and how it affects people and society.

Many different definitions

Religious scientists at universities and representatives of different religions and philosophies give us different answers to what religion means.

What definition of religion one derives from simply depends on the point of view of a religion from outside.

The very word religion comes from Latin and means reverence for the holy or god worship.

In many societies, religion has been used as part of life. It has been as obvious as eating and sleeping, therefore the word has not been found in all cultures and in all languages.

But what is religion in practice? Is there always a belief in God or gods? It’s actually not obvious. A religion that places this at its peak is Buddhism . Folk Buddhism, like Hinduism, is both an experience and thought system with many gods and a belief in spirit and demons.

Beside this popular Buddhism there is a philosophical Buddhism that does not have a goddess. Nevertheless, this part is also included in the major world religions.

Can there really be religion without a religion? In that case, some definitions of the concept of religion may not fit here. But a definition or description is always a conceptual design that can be interpreted differently by different persons and intellectuals in different ways. Therefore, the question of what religion is under constant discussion.

There is no comprehensive definition of what religion is. Religion descriptions are instead divided into two main categories: substantive and functional.

Substantial religious definitions

Substantial definitions describe what religion is .

This way of describing religion is often close to what many first think about when they hear the word religion. It is also often close to religious beliefs’ using our own thoughts about what religion is.

It is about what you believe in – gods, gods, spirits and so forth – or what rituals are performed and what they mean and the experience of contact with supernatural reality.

This way of describing religion does not fit into all religions. Theravada Buddhism also counts as a religion, but it does not contain faith in God or God. Therefore, this description does not fit into all religion. Substantial religious definitions become too narrow in this way.

Functional religious definitions

A functional religion definition describes religion based on what religion does , what function fulfills an individual, a group or a society.

One function that religion has is that it has to make sense for people.

A functional definition of religion is thus broader, and then there is also the use of Theravada Buddhism within this. But even other things that people adhere to to give life meaning could also count.

A functional religious description, instead, risks becoming too wide or broad in its definition. Among other things, people who feel meaningful to sport and music could fit into a functional religious definition. The risk of such a broad religious definition is that too many pursuits in our society could be seen as religion.

Martin Luther, who broke with the Catholic Church in the 16th century, wrote: “Who is your God? The one you trust in. ”

Different images of religion

We understand religion differently depending on the point of view we study religion from outside of it. Is it the religious religion of any religious community represented by priests, Brahman, Imams or other leaders? Is it the religion of the different members and ordinary people? Is it organized or a form of private religion ? Is it religion as described in holy books or as religion looks for those who live and practice it? Is it religion as we see it in cultures?

Depending on our chosen view point, we will get different images of what a particular religion stands for.

The systematic study of religion

During the historical period called the enlightenment, they began to systematically map different religions. Just as Carl von Linné classified plants and animals then divided them into related groups, they began to chart religions and their relationship with each other.

This happened for example with what we today call Hinduism when the English colonized India . In India there were many religious systems with similar content and structure, there were many gods and different temples with different kinds of cults. They were all different, but there were similarities. With the help of Indian intellectuals and western researchers, they began to map these systems in upper and lower categories. These different beliefs later came to be called Hinduism. Hinduism was therefore not a religion before, but as a variety of local religions with great similarities. A relevant question that can be discussed is why it is a religion when it was an amalgamation of many sub belief systems.

Judaism , Christianity and Islam , unlike Hinduism, are more coherent religions and stem from common writings – the Old Testament of Jews, the Old and New Testament for Christians and the Quran for Muslims.

Despite holy writings, there are usually many different branches and interpretations within a religious system.

Everyone – within what we call a specific religion – does not agree on what is typical of religion. Perhaps not even how to perceive God or how people should relate to God.

When theologians and intellectuals begin to systematize the thoughts and create definitions, this influences our way of thinking and interpreting. When religious researchers and theologians define a religion, it is not certain that everyone is fully aware or in tune with this.

A religion could also be seen as an umbrella designation for different or similar thought systems.

Religion as a theological system

The concept of theology comes from Greek. It means the doctrine of God, or the word of God.

Adhering to theological thinking requires education and ability to think and reason abstractly.

Theological ideas and discussions have been taught by scholars for many thousands of years and the boundary between theology, philosophy and political systems is not always clear. Those who have had the knowledge almost exclusively been men. It is only in modern times that women also trained in theology and religious studies.

Theology contains ideas that explain the world and have evolved as the religion in question has evolved. Questions asked include: What is the correct interpretation of a religious text? What do we believe in?

These discussions have both built up a consensus within religions but also created debates and battles that made religions divided into different groups.

The difference between theology and religious studies

An idea of ​​theology is that it is a way of describing faith from a belief system, meaning that the religious doctrine is interpreted by the people who embrace the religion. In the subject of religious studies at upper secondary level and courses in religious studies at universities and colleges, different religions are studied from a non-religious perspective.

Within religious studies one can study one or more religions without being a believer. You study and use different scientific methods for carrying out those studies. Examples of such methods are historical, critical, behavioral, religious psychological and religious philosophical methods. It is also possible to study religious books based on literary perspectives.

Those who train priests and pastors usually also supplement their education programs in their own community.

Religion as a practical exercise

Religion and theology need not be the same either. Many religious practitioners are not theologically savvy and sometimes there is a gap between the theologians’ ideas and how religious people practice their religion. Understanding a religion is not enough to understand its theological systems. We must also understand how it is practiced.

Religion as a myth

In common terms, one usually uses the word myth about something that is not true. In religion, the word is used in a different way. The myth within religions is often life stories that try to help those who believe in understanding the big life issues. The word myth is Greek and means “saga” or “speech”. In religion, therefore, the emphasis on “speech” becomes more important than the story, when the story is most often relates with a shared experience.

Myths have things to say about the meaning of life, how it arose, why we’re alive, about the struggle between good and evil, and how evil came into the world. But myths can also provide moral guidance.

In what way people believe in the religious myths vary. Sometimes they have been interpreted literally and sometimes symbolically.

the journey