Better Than “Doing What’s Right”

A year ago, while working my part-time custodial job at my church, I met a young man who was waiting for a bus to pick him up. He had just been released from jail and was headed back to Caledonia to resume his old job. He told me he owed child support money, and while in jail, he had realized that he needed to get back to the Lord and "do what's right."

I've heard that saying often enough: "Do what's right." And there's a lot to be said for doing what's right. Good for that young man, who wants to do the right thing. The world would be a far better place if we all could consistently pull that off. But realistically, we don't. And it's not what the gospel is about. The gospel is not about behavior modification; it is about heart transformation. It is not about our doing well but Christ's doing well for us, in us, and through us. The gospel is about experiencing a change in our source of life, from what the Bible calls the "flesh" to eternal life that resides in the Son of God.

Jesus in us and we in him: that is the arrangement God offers us out of his great, great love for us. We are no longer on our own, striving to meet the quota on an endless moral assembly line; instead, those of us who are exhausted by our efforts to get it right, and beaten down by our failures, can rest in Someone who got it right for us; who loves us beyond anything we can imagine; and who doesn't stand outside us as a taskmaster but lives inside us as our very life, producing the fruit of his own character in us as we walk with him.

John 1:17 says, "The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." No more doing what's right in order to become righteous; instead, doing what's right because we are righteous, and by nature we want to do those things that please the One who loves us. That is one way of looking at Christianity.

August 17, 2017, Thumb-Area Storm Chase

A wall cloud tightens up southeast of Chesaning, Michigan.

I have been chasing storms for twenty-one years. That's a side of me I rarely talk about in this blog. I have another blog, Stormhorn, devoted to that subject and jazz saxophone, but it developed problems with the image gallery that have seemed insurmountable, given the time it would take to fix the mess. Maybe one day, when wealth overtakes me and I don't have to work for a living, I'll repair my Stormhorn blog, as it really is a worthwhile site.

Low-top supercell displaying classic structure.

Right now, though, Fox's World is a fine place to post about my chase last Thursday, August 17, in the Saginaw, Michigan, area. Specifically, I intercepted a low-top supercell in Chesaning and tracked with it to SR 24 just north of Millington Road, south of Mayville--a distance of fifty miles and roughly two and a quarter hours of chasing, not including all the driving it took to first intercept the storm.

Weather weenies, particularly those who live in Michigan, will appreciate that an isolated, photogenic supercell that displays such classic structure, as opposed to a rain-wrapped mess, is rare in this state. Echo tops maxed out around thirty thousand feet--hardly a towering supercell but obviously one with enough of the right stuff to make for

Watching the storm south of Mayville with fellow Michigan-based chaser Chuck Russell.

an interesting chase. Moisture, bulk shear, low-level helicity, and instability came together sufficiently to create an organized storm with impressively rotating wall clouds, funnels, and eventually, a weak tornado in Kingston.

Oddly (well, I thought it was quite odd), this storm didn't produce a solitary lightning strike during its long career from its inception by Alto to the point where I dropped the chase south of Mayville. Just twelve miles from there as the crow flies, the storm went tornadic. At the time, though, as I watched with fellow chaser Chuck Russell by the side of SR 24, the supercell began to look anemic visually (though inflow still was decent) and all but dead on radar. It had been cycling all along its 110-mile course, powering up and then down, up and down, but this time

Nice, steamy-looking wall cloud with clear slot wrapping in.

I figured it was just a matter of time before it tanked completely, and I had a long drive back home to Hastings ahead of me. So I decided to can the chase.

"Of course, now it'll tighten up and drop a tube," I told Chuck as I left. Ha, ha, ha.

That's exactly what happened.

But I'm not complaining. Catching a tornado in Michigan is largely a matter of serendipity--not to detract from the skill and persistence it took for one chaser to get footage of the Kingston tornado, but then, so did a housewife who got the best video clip I've seen by simply stepping out of her back door and capturing the thing on her smart phone.

If you want to see the actual motion of the storm--and I recommend that you do--see my YouTube video at the very bottom of this post. It features chase highlights including a funnel cloud, structure shots, and close-up of a dramatically rotating wall cloud.

Evening sky after the storm.

Storm chasing is therapeutic for me. It both energizes and relaxes me; few things make me feel so alive as chasing storms, and this slow-moving supercell--moving in the neighborhood of 20 mph--was easy and fun to track with. Short of seeing a tornado, I couldn't have asked for more.

The sky on my journey home was a canvas of sunset colors, of vanilla custard cumuli transfigured by the sunset, sailing like tall ships in the blue-ocean troposphere. Behind me, a magnificent double rainbow arched over the east. I leave you with its image as a closing salute.

A rainbow arching across the eastern sky in in Michigan's thumb provides a beautiful conclusion to an enjoyable storm chase.


Messing Up Ant Pheromones

Lying on the floor reading several days ago, I noticed a tiny ant traipsing along, proudly waving some kind of delectable twice its size overhead like a banner. Then I saw another...and another...and...good grief, they were everywhere, scurrying to and fro, carrying unidentifiable forms of ant food. Apparently they've established an outpost in my living room, and the carpet in my workspace is heavily trafficked. They're so small and the carpet camouflages them so well that I never realized how many there really are.

So today I got down to business. I began by vacuuming the carpet thoroughly with my Hoover vacuum cleaner, which is powerful enough to ingest anything within three feet of it that isn't bolted to the floor--but no, not good enough. In short order the ants were back, parading their foodstuff in triumph.

This could not be allowed to continue. After researching about ant control online, I misted the carpet with white vinegar, which messes up the ants' pheromone trails so they don't know which way they're headed and they lose all sense of meaning and purpose in life. Many grow depressed. It's a weird thing to hear scores of despondent ants weeping, the sound of their lamentations drifting up faintly from the floor.

The carpet now smelled like a giant foot, but that was a small price to pay for messing with an ant colony's pheromones. Now for my next step. I headed to the store and purchased ant spray, borax, and a bag of diatomaceous earth, a powder so fine that it sifts inside an ant's exoskeleton, slices it up, and desiccates the ant. Picture hundreds upon hundreds of wee little mummified ants. Or don't. It's up to you.

Back home, I took the can of ant spray and sprayed all around the baseboard and door frame inside, and outside along the patio. Then, following the directions on the bag of diatomaceous earth, I sprinkled handfuls of the stuff all over the carpet in the ant-infested area. Heh, heh! I thought. This ought to sort the little buggers. I just, according to the directions, needed to work the powder into the carpet with a broom.

Did you know that diatomaceous earth is so incredibly, almost molecularly, fine that it acts like mud even when it's dry? It doesn't "work into the carpet"; what it does is sort of smear all over the place in big white blotches and streaks that do not, no matter how hard and long you sweep, go gently into that good nap. Nope. Once those blotches are there, by golly, there they are. Only time and repeated vacuuming will make them go bye-bye.

Ah, well. The ants are in for a time of it, anyway. Now to complete the job by mixing up a paste of borax and corn syrup. Supposedly ants love the stuff, and they'll cart it back to their nest, where it will slowly poison the whole colony.

Ant spray, diatomaceous earth, and borax--three-pronged hell descends on the ants in my living room. This better work, that's all I can say. Gadz, the carpet looks like a disaster.