Ok, so I’m suffering through a very . . . bad . . . cold right now. I’m quite fuzzy in the head, tired, have a very bad soar throat (off and on), am stuffed up, etc., etc. I’m typing this because, I guess, I’m so tired of sitting around doing nothing. This cold was coming on for a while, and the last couple of days were unpleasant, but this is the worst. Still, I feel like doing SOMETHING, and, this tea I’ve been making and drinking is great and I wanted to share it with you.
Let me also say, first off, that I was using one of those sore throat sprays and it was doing nothing for my throat this time. Nothing. I don’t think I have strep throat, either, just a nasty sore throat. But this tea has helped. With a small mug, I used about one teaspoon of fresh ginger (well, grated ginger in a jar that you can get in some stores), one heaping teaspoon of honey, and a bag of Good Earth Lemon Grass Green tea. (I put the ginger in a metal tea holder so that it’s not all loose in the liquid.) By the way, honey has been clinically tested and found to control a cough better than cough syrups can (“10 Home Remedies that Work, AARP Bulletin, November 2011), and ginger seems to be somewhat of an anti-inflammatory.
The second part of this post’s title speaks of hose and plantar warts. For some time I’ve wondered if I should write about my experience with plantars warts. It’s weird and embarrassing, and I don’t actually know if it would help anyone or not (!). I praise God that my plantars warts had finally been cured, and if God is the one who did it, then prayer is what is needed. In any case, I’ll let you know how mine went away and perhaps you might try it if nothing else has worked.
After I got married, many many years ago, I had developed a plantars wart on the bottom of my foot, though I didn’t know what it was. I mention my marriage because my husband had plantars warts – I found out – and so did his family. They can be spread by sharing moist environments. Anyway, so I didn’t do anything about it, since it was small and I thought it would just go away. But it didn’t, and eventually another one formed next to it. I tried the over the counter liquids and patches, but they didn’t do much (tip: the liquid for corns is the same acid, but stronger and more effective). The patches never stayed on my moist feet, though there’s one made with 40% acid that can be prescribed, and they stick better.
I finally had to go to a podiatrist. He did the freezing treatment for about 9 months, I think, and it was hell. He used the dry ice on the warts until they would bleed a little, which he said was what would actually get my body to fight the virus that causes them. I couldn’t walk on that foot for a couple of days, really, after treatment. But that didn’t work either, and the only other option, which he seemed loathe to do, was surgery. I can understand not wanting to do that surgery, since it is by no means 100% effective and there are always risks. After my doctor moved, I just stopped treatments. Eventually I asked again about surgery, but my doctor at the time prescribed me the strong patches instead (mentioned above). These helped a little, but did not make the warts go away. At this point, I had the warts for about 10 years.
What cured me of my plantars warts, however, was getting a temporary part-time job where I wore hose, both the whole leg type and the knee high type. (I live in Southern California and wear hiking/walking sandals most of the time.) I actually was concerned when I took the job because I thought, based on my research into plantars warts, that having my feet in shoes with hose would only make the warts worse (heat + moisture = growth), and they can be pretty painful. However, counter to all that I had read, after the four months of working like that, my warts were gone. Praise God! And they have not come back.
Thanks for reading . . . need some more of that tea now . . .
The “Dragonborn” addition to the Skyrim video game, which came out earlier this month (December 2012) for XBOX, has – I think – the most “Christian” oriented content overall (in Skyrim, not the other Elder Scroll games). I wish I had written down certain dialog as I played it with my high-level character, but I simply wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary to takes notes on! (If I start a new game, it will be some time before I can get to those dialogs again – for now, this commentary without quotes will have to do.)
This latest DLC adds additional land mass via a large island known in the Elder Scroll series as Solstheim. (Update of Dec. 24: it appears to be playable from the beginning of a new game, as I went to Soltstheim at level 6, after I fought my first dragon and made my way to Windhelm). It is no doubt loved by Elder Scroll fans since it brings in elements from Morrowind (the home of the Dunmer, or Dark Elves), and indeed, the flavor of the place is quite a bit different from Skyrim (the home of the Nords). There are various quests to be found and accomplished, but the main quest involves the defeat of the first dragonborn, Miraak, who still exists after ages because of his service to Hermeus Mora, the powerful spirit being of knowledge and fate. Miraak desired power and thus made a “pact with the devil” – a safe allusion to Mora and his top minion. The DLC takes place when Miraak has used his powers to enslave the sleeping minds and bodies of the denizens of Solstheim, whom he is using to build a temple to himself. Miraak has only a small amount of dialog, but that small amount sounds an awful lot like satanic desires and promises. In addition, he has his hypnotized followers say things that are a copy, and thus a sick mockery, of true spiritual expression.
What’s interesting, from a Christian-in-the-current-world point of view, is that Hermeus Mora’s realm is called Apocrypha. (“Apocrypha” are extra-biblical writings of various qualities some are legitimate but have some textual or factual issues, while others are outright forgeries with false “witness”). It is dark and hazy and is made up of books (literally – the walls are made of books), and all underneath and around walkable areas is a very black sea. This “sea” has black slithery arms coming out of it all of the time, and they will whip you and hurt you if they can. The most dangerous creatures that stalk the place look very much akin to the old “creature from the black lagoon.” The other dangerous creatures are “seekers,” whose hideous appearance includes a lamprey-like mouth where their stomach is. These seekers of “knowledge” are never satisfied, but devour what their gut desires and not what their heart and mind discerns as true. This is my take on them, anyway, which I see as the problem with seeking and using secret – usually false – knowledge, and which is the point of this dark and eery place.
When it comes to Christianity, God chose to communicate with man and it was His desire to be known and understood. Those who purport to have “secret” knowledge of Him in order to steer someone away from God’s revelation, are not working within God’s desires for mankind.
On the other side of the coin are the Skaal of Solstheim. They are Nords of the ancient way and claim to have been given Solstheim by the All-Maker. They believe in one creator God, and the way they talk about creation and how we are to be in it, generally fits in with the Judeo-Christian biblical message. You can have an interesting conversation with Wulf Wild-Blood of the Skaal, who asks you if you can find his run-away brother whom he believes turned into a werebear (like a werewolf, only a bear). His brother could go down that path only be rejecting the call of the All-Maker. While the Skaal have beliefs that mesh with scriptures, they have others that do not – they believe in reincarnation. Conversations with fellow Skyrim players about how reincarnation doesn’t at all mesh with a loving creator God, and how it is wholly incompatible with Christ’s message and work, is a possible real-world benefit of playing this game.*
If, as a Christian, you will only play games that have pure Christian messages and signs, then Skyrim and Dragonborn aren’t for you. But if you want to play a game that actually gives a nod to God and certain Judeo-Christian beliefs and virtues in today’s world, then Skyrim is an OK game for that. I wrote about Skyrim earlier, here. That review by no means covers all the aspects of Skyrim. There are things about the game I don’t like and scratch my head at, wondering about the game maker (Bethesda) every time I think of them (there are aspects of the game you can only play if you decide to do bad and dishonorable things).
Hopefully I’ll be able to flush this review out in the future, with quotes and such. In the meantime, enjoy the Dragonborn and listen to the new leader of the Skaal: do not follow Hermeus Mora, but follow the path laid out for you (and to the Skaal, this would be by the All-Maker).
* These last two sentences were edited in after the initial posting of this review (12-20-12).
How utterly sad and unfortunate. People need to be more involved with their families. Why was Adam’s brother (and father, apparently) so aloof? Why did the mom have to take this all alone, and support Adam all alone? No doubt the family dynamic influenced Adam for the worst. In any case, here is another reason why we need to change the way dangerous mental health issues are not dealt with in this country. Adam’s mom should’ve been able to do something sooner, before Adam had time to smoulder about it. (All this is said with the idea that the information in this article is true. There has been so much misinformation made public in this case that I don’t fully trust anything about it anymore.)
Yes, so glad to see some perspective on this and past violence by those with mental challenges. US – please lets wake up and get these people some care BEFORE they kill people and end up in prison. It’s SO absurd that families and communities are having to deal with this alone, and even sacrifice their very lives.
I wish I could write more about Jackie Angeles and her family, but information is pretty minimal. Two very short articles about her are provided below, but basically, this 11 year old girl has been through a great deal for her young age, especially for someone living in the U.S. She had lost her mother quite some time ago, but then she got bone cancer and much of one leg was amputated. Because of this, she missed a great deal of schooling. Then just recently, her dad died in his sleep – while waiting for a kidney transplant.
Jackie didn’t stay at home with relatives after her father’s death, but went right back to school. She’s an inspiration to those around her. She has a brother but he is hardly mentioned, so I don’t know how he is handling all of this (he may be an adult). Please pray for Jackie and her brother, and if you feel led to donate any money to a fund for Jackie, the location of the fund is: Orange County’s Credit Union, PO Box 11777, Santa Ana, CA 92711, Account #92603984, Routing #322281989. Write the check to Jacqueline Angeles.
When something like this happens, it makes me wonder if the people had lived in an area where something existed that caused all these cancers and bodily failures. It seems like more than coincidence that cancers (I do not know why Jackie’s father needed a new kidney) like this should effect so many people in the same family. In any case, I pray that the Lord draw Jackie to Himself, keep her, and that He bless her desire to become a doctor.
The newest Skyrim DLC is a mini one, called Hearthfire (this review is based on the XBOX 360 game). It allows the player to build up to three houses on property outside of the cities or towns, and to adopt one or two orphaned children. The trailer promised more flexibility in building, in my view, so at first I was disappointed in Hearthfire on that ground. But, after playing it for some time and building all three homes, I am disappointed and annoyed even more. Not totally disappointed, mind you, and I’m not advocating not buying it and trying it out, but I do want to present what is annoying and what needs to be fixed. HOPEFULLY, Bethesda will get around to making some fixes and making some additions to this DLC.
Let’s take a look at adoption first. Instead of simply allowing you to adopt the children already orphaned and being forced to live in the Riften (yuck!) orphanage, you have to decide amongst the four new orphans in the towns and them. There are now more orphans than ever to choose from . . ! No matter what you do, there will always be orphans. When playing Skyrim before, I wanted only to adopt some out of the orphanage, but now there are others – it just never ends and you are not allowed to adopt more.
Anyway, the kids are a nice addition for the most part. (If you don’t want children bugging you to play with them, maybe you should forget about adopting any in the first place, however.) It’s fun giving them things, and they will give you things once in a while, too. One day my son gave me a unique and odd green robe to wear. They love when you give them daggers. You can improve and enchant their wooden swords, and duel wield them yourself if you want a bit of a fun challenge. A problem with giving them items, to me, is that you are very limited in what you can give.
Now, for the building bit – I’ll get to the hunt for butter after this. The three homes you can build are on three specific pieces of property you can buy from the Jarl’s or their stewards. One is near Whiterun, although it’s part of Dawnstar hold. Another is outside of Solitude, with a view of the land bridge that is that city, though it is a part of Morthal hold. The third is close to the lake south of Riverwood – a beautiful area that is like having a vacation home in the woods – and is a part of Falkreath hold.
I am not going to go through all of the addition choices, but will mention a few that give notice for some reason. You can build what is in a provided list for each room/addition, but you don’t have alternate choices within the list. You don’t have a choice between a bed and a table for a certain spot, for example – there’s is only one thing designated for that spot – you can only add it or leave it open. And, you cannot demolish a wing later in case you change your mind about the kind of house you want.
All the homes start off with a small starter room (home!), and in order to add the specialty wings, you must build the main hall attached to the first starter room. The starter room has a bed and fire pit in it, and so it is livable as is. However, if you hire a steward – very advisable since not all the mill owners will sell you wood, as the add-on claims – then where do both of you sleep? This is actually more of a problem later.
You will have the ability to add two small beds and a double bed in the main hall for you and your spouse, and your kids (forget “choice” – there is no other options for this area, nor any other, in these Hearthfire houses). However, the steward and housecarl always sleep in the beds that are for the kids, or one of them may sleep in your own bed. This is a problem with the game. If you choose to build the bedroom wing, this is not a problem. But if you choose to build a different wing and use those main hall beds, then good luck! The problem is only compounded by the fact that there is only one bed left in the original building for both the steward and the housecarl. This obviously was not thought through by Bethesda, and I find it quite astonishing.
The storage room was a very major disappointment. Seriously, Bethesda couldn’t spring for a dragon claw holder and some other holder for specific items – like the various named jewelry you can find – especially since everything always pops out of display cases and off of shelves? This really fries me! Come one, Bethesda . . . really!?! Give us something for the money. The cellar is a bit interesting in that way: you can build a shrine holder and all the shrines to the gods. But a storage room that doesn’t store all those specialty items? Wow and weird.
The homes do not incorporate anything from the Dawnguard DLC. It seems like the ability to add new plants and new creatures, like from the Soul Cairn and the Vale, at least, should have been designed into this new DLC. It becomes obvious that this add-on was planned from the beginning. Skyrim had orphans and they asked to be adopted, yet you could not adopt them. There is no Dawnguard content in Hearthfire, except for one thing: you can give your child an armored dog from Fort Dawnguard (a nice surprise). So, why wasn’t this simply part of Skyrim to begin with? My “other half” is really into the Elder Scrolls, though Morrowind specifically. He told me that in the past, an add-on such as this would’ve been free. It seems Bethesda held some of the content out in order to make some more cash, while providing a not so great product.
Which brings us to the butter quest. There’s not a formal quest for butter, of course, but there is an actual one. Butter is as hard to find as gold- if not harder – as far as I can tell. You will want butter if you build the kitchen wing (it probably has the best looking wing interior), which has an “oven” for baking. Butter is an 0ft-needed ingredient, but good luck finding it!!! You can’t make it, even though you can own cows now and there is a butter churn in the kitchen. So far I have only received one butter out of the churn. I have searched high and low for butter, looking to find it in various places, and to buy it. I never find it (it isn’t laying around like soup or stew), and have been only offered it to buy about three times from various vendors. Wow. Who knew baking could be so hard?
So if you want to have something new to do in Skyrim before the next big DLC comes out, and you like having children, then Hearthfire would be worth the $5, in my opinion. But otherwise, the choice is of course up to you, especially if you want to bake but don’t feel it worth hours of your time in a quest for butter!
November 9 Update (XBOX): After months, the churn finally had a new bowl of butter in it. BUT, within a short time, it had butter in it again. Perhaps there was an update that loaded that we didn’t notice, or perhaps it’s very random! Also, the best places I’ve noticed to buy butter are from the town stands, from the vendors selling vegetables and other foods (that is, the dark elf in Riften and the two humans in White Run and Windhelm).
This post could be opening up a whole can of worms, but so be it. Why all the possible worms? When my son was very young I thought – based on so much of what I read and heard from Christians – that video games were just all from hell and will lead to hell. In more recent times, I have posted online with some Christians who still feel the same, though I’m hoping they don’t really think “Harvest Moon” or “Hello Kitty” games provide a direct ticket to the brimstone dungeon. There are nasty games out there for sure, games that relish dishonesty, crime, blood, gore, and killing. But does that make all video games bad? Putting aside the issue of time spent by the Christian on past-times (hobbies, entertainment, etc.), are certain video games not only fun and cathartic, but also potentially useful for stretching the mind and for witnessing? I think yes, so let’s take a look at Skyrim with its Dawnguard expansion (Hearthfire, added September 4, 2012, adds pleasantries to the game).
The time frame in Skyrim seems to correspond nicely with the Iron Age in Northern Europe and/or France and the British Isles. Skyrim refers to a region in the continent of Tamriel, and is one of a number of games in the Elder Scrolls series. The region makes up the north central part of the continent, and its Nordic inhabitants are akin to the real world Norsemen (Vikings). For example, what is like heaven to the Vikings was called Asgard, and the honored hall Vahalla. In Skyrim, these are referred to as Sovngarde and Shor’s Hall (Hall of Valor), respectively. The Imperials, which very obviously correspond to the Romans, have kept order in Tamriel for some time, though they are present in Skyrim now in order to crush a rebellion. This isn’t just a little rebellion, but a power play that would affect all of Skyrim and its relations to the rest of the Empire. Spoiler alert: In typical historic fashion, the son of a king killed his own brother in an attempt to be high king. Each region in Skyrim has a king, and these kings choose a high king from among them. This was a spoiler since only one or two characters in the whole game actually tell you that the king killed was the usurper’s brother.
The point about this power play, however, is that the usurper, Ulfric Stormcloak, had gotten many in Skyrim behind him because he claimed that his primary goal was to reestablish the free worship of the god Talos. Talos used be just a man (Tiber Septim), but was made a god by the other gods (somehow – how this happened is unclear) and thus became worshipped, not just revered as a Dragonborn or for uniting Tamriel in the distant past. Why was the worship of Talos banned? To end a major war the Imperials and other leaders had signed a treaty with the High Elves, and part of this treaty prohibited Talos worship, as the High Elves considered Talos to be a false god.
Despite the treaty Talos worship was going on quietly, but Ulfric’s uprising changed that. Because of the rebellion, the High Elves began persecuting Talos worshippers, thus giving the Stormcloaks fuel for their fire. There are subtle complications added to the game to make the decision regarding which faction to follow not necessarily an easy one; it certainly shouldn’t be rushed. While most people in Skyrim revere Talos, there are some things said to make a player wonder about him. For instance, the self-proclaimed mouth-piece of Talos in Whiterun is annoying and may seem mad (he definitely is depicted as a melodramatic street preacher), and indeed, his feverish support of the Stormcloaks ignores both the reality of what is going on behind the scenes with the Imperials (many of whom also worship Talos) and the conniving and tyrannical nature of Ulfric and his Stormcloaks.
The Stormcloaks are pretty nasty, saying that if you don’t join them you’re against them (an enemy), yet the Imperials say no such thing. There is much more to seemingly righteous rebels behavior vs Imperial behavior, but I’ll leave that for your exploration. The Stormcloak rebellion is one of the two major plots/quests of the game, the other being Dragonborn’s (the player is the Dragonborn) destiny to rid the world of Alduin, the world-eater dragon. The quests are not totally separate. Without paying close attention, a player may totally miss that Alduin and Ulfric are intertwined.
For the Christian, Alduin is of great interest since he is a Satan figure (without the Satan figure, one could maybe take Talos to be a pagan mythological man-god). He claims to be the first born of the great god Akatosh (and some even worshipped him as Akatosh himself), but in reality he was created, and for a specific purpose. He defies Akatosh regarding his purpose, interferes with man, and is arrogant. Skyrim is full of hints and references to religion, folklore, history, and literature, although much of these are not wholly analogous. As might have been inferred by now, talking with someone about Skyrim can be a starting point to talking about Christ and even the existence of Satan.
An inquisitive player may decide it’s worth his or her time to look into the real-world peoples and such in the game. Besides the examples already discussed, there is the goddess Mara, who quite obviously corresponds to Mary, mother of Jesus. Elves are of course derived from folklore (as are the Dwarves), and their demise followed the acceptance of Christianity in European areas. The magical High Elves came from a large island to the southwest of Tamriel, and so this alludes to Atlantis. There are Bretons in the game and there are real world Bretons.
As with much fantasy in modern times, the game includes Orcs. Where did Orcs come from? Well, from the mind of JRR Tolkien (author of Lord of the Rings)! In Skyrim they are not just like Tolkien’s Orcs, but they are still a corrupted form of Elf. Without getting into a lot of detail, I was disappointed with the game in some ways. Skyrim seems to favor doing bad things, despite the character played being the Dragonborn, a person who brings good and who is in line to become Emperor. The game has achievements, and many of these involve doing evil things. This is unfortunate, and while a player is not at all required to do these things, some aspects of the game are closed-off if a player ignores these activities. The new expansion of the game, Dawnguard, seems to make up for this somewhat.
Most of the hype was directed towards the evil side of this expansion, involving vampires, but really, as far as I can see, the “good side” gains here. I also have to pat Bethesda (the game maker) on the back for making the vampires in fact gross and bad. Some may have a problem with the main vampire character being “good,” but at least they included dialogue for you to choose that shows your disdain for the whole idea, if you so choose to use that dialogue; there is also the possibility that this character will willingly give up her vampirism (become cured).
These games are made for the masses and they are not in business to lose money, so one has to take the good with the bad and make the most of it; in real life this is often murkier and harder to do than in games like Skyrim. That being said, the Dawnguard include in their ranks a witty, funny, smart, and spiritually active ex-priest. He adds a positive spiritual character that is a counter to the street preacher that so many players actually want to kill. Finally, I’ll leave you with basic good and bad points of Skyrim/Dawnguard/Hearthfire, and this quote from John Battle-Born of Whiterun.
This statement may very well be Bethesda’s commentary on the gaming world and not Skyrim, since there appears to be no connection to it and anything in the game–except perhaps that everyone that you encounter in the wild seems to want you to kill them!: “You know what’s wrong with Skyrim these days? Everyone’s obsessed with death.” Good points:
Truly beautiful to look at and wander around in: HUGE. Our world beautiful, not abstract, though there are awe-inspiring places that mix underwater concepts into air-breathing spaces.
Complicated main quests and min-quests that require you to listen to many characters to decide what’s best (if you do it right).
Religious and political aspects and some real-world history, along with the fantastic. Real world lessons in deciphering the truth, in seeing through people’s blind ideologies or loyalties.
No sex and little swearing.
Fun and rewarding; tons of play time and things to do including blacksmithing, mixing potions, exploring, etc., besides fighting bandits and doing the quests.
Absolute loads of books, notes, recipes, etc. (I believe there are over 1,000), promote reading and the value of the written word.
The new Hearthfire expansion allows the player to – finally – adopt children, as well as do some fun housebuilding.
Passive goriness along with some slow-mo killing scenes (however, using magic makes for really awesome slow-mo scenes).
There is much fighting, which might not appeal to some. Play yourself to decide (use the Dawnguard crossbow and you just might get hooked – forewarning you).
In Skyrim, the bad seems to be rewarded more than the good. The new Dawnguard and Hearthfire expansions seems to even this out some.
The longer you take to finish the Vampire quest, the more citizens die in the towns – regular citizens, not just stand-ins.
Glitches, apparently the more you play the more there are.
This isn’t BAD, but just saying – it could’ve used more humor (there is some subtle dry humor in the game).
For more thoughts on Skyrim, particularly regarding its darker aspects and dealing with them with your children, see On Skyrim: A Vent from a Christian Parent (a mom who plays). November 5, 2012. I just found this out so I thought I’d pass it along, from the Bethesda Softworks site on October 26, 2012:
Earlier today, Skyrim came away as the big winner at the UK’s most prestigious gaming award show, The Golden Joysticks. The game captured the night’s biggest award, Ultimate Game of the Year, as well as awards for Best RPG and Best Moment (visiting the Throat of the World).