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Brad Barker
Works at Carroll County Public School District
Attended Surry Community College
Lives in Cana, VA 24317
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Brad Barker

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TBT - Any old gamers out there who had kids in the early 90's might remember this.

#throwbackthursday
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Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--And Doesn't by Stephen R. Prothero

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First of all, one should know before reading this book that it's NOT the go to source for religious literacy. I think the main message of the book is the fact that American's are generally religiously illiterate. Not just about other's religions, but their own more often than not. Along with the main focus, the author shares some ideas of what is needed to overcome that illiteracy.

We do get some religious content here. Very basic histories on many of the major religions, how prayer was actually removed from the classrooms be the religious right, and how we got to where we are now, religiously illiterate. A large portion of the end of the book is a glossary of religious terms.

While I agree with the author for the most part, I wonder if the solutions he posits are at all possible in our current culture. I think it's reasonable to teach religion in schools, (religious history, religious literacy, etc.), but I doubt as a society we have the ability to teach about religion, without succumbing to the urge to teach of religion. I think it's a goal worth striving for though since religion permeates every facet of our lives. Our governing bodies are nearly 100% populated by religious persons of varying degrees and religions. World politics are driven by religion. School textbooks often can't be adopted without religious argument coming into play. With so much at stake, I think it's important for every American to know as much as possible about all the religions that affect them and the pressures they bring into play every day. I just wonder if that's possible.

I would recommend this book to anyone with these sorts of questions, or anyone who hasn't given it any thought at all. It's a wonderful book for a first glimpse into this American problem. If you're looking for a one stop shop of in depth knowledge of the world's current religions, this isn't the book for you. :)


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Brad Barker

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#BigFinish,#DoctorWho

Doctor Who Unbound: Full Fathom Five by David Bishop

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“If I told you the truth, I’d have to kill you...” What if the Doctor were a bit more inclined to follow through with such a cliche? Definitely not a Doctor we've seen before, this incarnation of the Doctor get stranded on Earth for 27 years, his T.A.R.D.I.S. at the bottom of the sea, where he left it in an attempt to protect the world...at any cost. Now he's coming back to retrieve his T.A.R.D.I.S. finish what he started.

This Unbound audio drama is truly a What if?.. This Doctor isn't any doctor we've seen, and as far as I can tell, never will. I'd chalk it up to an alternate universe. In 2003, when this was first released, before we ever saw the 9th Doctor, this was a possible future Doctor, but having witnessed all 12 of the Doctor's regenerations, (and one into a new cycle of regenerations), we can safely say in the context of this story, it's an alternate universe. However, I supposed one could argue it's a Doctor from late in this cycle of regenerations. :) However, it's an Unbound story, so it's a moot point anyhow.

It's a good story, with a darker Doctor. Worth a listen to any Doctor Who fan, I would think. David Coolings plays the Doctor and does a convincing job of it. Especially playing a Doctor we haven't see yet. I won't give away the ending, suffice to say, it was unexpected. :)



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Review: Doctor Who Unbound: Auld Mortality
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No Frills Blueberry Liqueur
  Today I started a new batch of Blueberry Liqueur.  The first of any libations I've made in 4 years.  I figure 2015 is the year for me to get back into one of my oldest and favorite hobbies.  Brewing and Wine-making.  I won't get into the distractions that caused me to take a break…
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#Audible,#History,#JohnTelfer,#MartynWhittock,#MiddleAges

A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages by Martyn Whittock

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Primarily focused on Britain, this book delivers what the title, and the "A Brief History Of..." series promises. Pretty much. This book briefly covers the years spanning the 1050's to the 1530's, (if I recall right), and in covering that much material, I think it does a good job over all. It's very accessible and written in a style that's enjoyable and keeps the material interesting.

As the series name implies, "A Brief History Of...", this is a brief history. There's 500 years of history here, so your not going to find a whole lot about anything in particular. It's a good primer for those interested in beginning to learn about the middle ages, or a good quick read for those who maybe are interested in a refresher. If your well read in the history of the middle ages, there's nothing here for you. :)

If you enjoy this book, you may also be interested in other "A Brief History Of..." titles, A Brief History of Britain 1066-1485, A Brief History of Britain 1485-1660, A Brief History of Life in Victorian Britain, etc.

I listened to the audio book from Audible for this, and found the narrator John Telfer simply natural for this work. British himself, his narration brings out the best this book has to offer, and left me wanting more at the end. You can't ask for much more than that.

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#BigFinish,#DoctorWho

Doctor Who Unbound: He Jests at Scars... by Gary Russell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What if the Valeyard had won? Fans of the classic 6th Doctor episodes will know the significance of this question, and this Unbound explores that possibility. And it's fairly grim...as expected.

With this Unbound, to understand the gravity of it, it would help to have watched the "Trial of a Timelord" story arch from the 6th Doctor's days way back in 1986. That said, and a fan of that season, I did enjoy this audio drama exploring the possibility of the Valeyard winning over the Doctor and what he would do with his new lease on life. I did find myself slightly confused a couple of times as the scenes bounced around a bit from "time to time", but in the end, it all tied together nicely...for me anyhow. :)

As usual, I recommended any of these Unbound audio Dramas from Big Finish.



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Brad Barker

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#HomeBrew,#Homebrewing,#MidwestSupplies,#SundayAfternoon
Update Feb. 1, 2015.  Racking day! Click here to skip to today's update!





The weather was fair today, so I decided to boil my latest batch of home brew.  It's an Irish Red Ale from Midwest Supplies, and it makes a great beer.  Mind you...it's been 4 years since I made my last batch, but this was one of my my standard brews before I moved.  Now that I'm getting back into the groove, I wanted to start out with one of my comfort brews.  :)  And, I thought I'd share a few photo's of this batch along the way. So, here's my kit.  As you can see, it's an Irish Red Ale from Midwest Supplies.  Years ago, back in the 90's I think,  I used to buy from Austin Homebrew, but the shipping from Texas was just to far.  I found Midwest, and didn't look any further.  If any of you know of a supplier closer to Virginia that's on par with Midwest in service and supply, let me know.  I'm always looking out for more local suppliers. I'll not get into the details of the kit...primarily because I didn't think to take a photo until after I already had everything on the boil.  As you can see, I brew using all my water, not a small batch, because I find that small water boils tend to want to burn the sugars.  I have a big propane burner I use for this.  And a big 6 gal. stainless steel sauce pot. After an hour of boiling, it's ready to cool.  I learned early that a wort chiller is worth the money.  Or make your own of the you have the materials laying around. Cooling the wort quickly improves the flavor of the beer, and, a wort chiller is the quickest, easiest way to cool it as far as I know.  I wouldn't brew beer without one. Here I've got everything cooled to under 80º, in my sanitized fermenting bucket, and my brewers yeast sprinkled on top.  There's a blue million options with yeast, and I used to use liquid yeast, (and I probably will again in the future..just my preference), but I wanted simple for this first batch after such a long break.   And dry yeast is simple and generally dependable. If I wasn't using a kit, or I was experimenting with ingredients, I would have measured the specific gravity before I added the yeast. But for these kits I generally don't.  I used too, when I first started brewing beer.  (I always do when I'm making wine.)  But these kits are fool proof pretty much.  As long as you follow the directions, most of the time, nothing will go wrong.  I've never had a kit batch go bad...well...not so bad I didn't drink it anyhow. :) And here we are, all settled.  Here it'll sit for one week, fermenting.  Next Sunday I'll rack it over into a glass carboy so it can both complete the fermentation of any sugars left, and the clear up.  In about 2 or 3 days I should see it begin working pretty good.  I'll pop back in here next week and update the post when I rack it.   See ya!!!









Update Feb. 1, 2015. Racking day!

OK, so here we are a week later and ready to rack our beer!

First things first.  I got all my equipment and carboy out, cleaned and sanitized.  Just like cooking, good prep work makes the task a lot easier.   All I'm using today is some hose, my siphon, and a Betty Crocker cookbook to tilt my fermenting bucket.  :)

Got the siphon going here.  Had this been Summer or Fall, I'd have had a towel over everything.  Gnats come out of the woodwork during this phase of the job.  I don't care if you never see any gnats in your house, when you start this, they'll be all over you.  And you don't want that in your beer contaminating it.  Generally you want to fill the carboy up enough so that there's very little exposed to air in the neck, but leave enough that if you happen to have had some sugars not fermented yet, they can finish up without overflowing and making a mess.

All done now, and with a fresh clean air trap.  The color doesn't look that good in these photos due to the flash, but it's a nice dark red, and next week when we bottle it, it'll be cleared up real nice.  This part of the process is really quick and painless.  Other then the cleaning up part.  :)

So, that's it for this week, next week, it's bottling time!!
Update Feb. 1, 2015.  Racking day! Click here to skip to today's update!   The weather was fair today, so I decided to boil my latest batch of home brew.  It's an Irish Red Ale from Midwest Supplies, and it makes a great beer.  Mind you...it's been 4 years since I made my last batch,…
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Brad Barker

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The weather was fair today, so I decided to boil my latest batch of home brew.  It's an Irish Red Ale from Midwest Supplies, and it makes a great beer.  Mind you...it's been 4 years since I made my last batch, but this was one of my my standard brews before I moved.  Now that…
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Brad Barker

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Review: Doctor Who: A History
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Review: Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories
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  • Surry Community College
    Information Systems, 1998 - 1999
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  • Carroll County Public School District
    Computer Network Administrator, 1999 - present
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Cana, VA 24317
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Mount Airy, NC 27030
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