Friday, December 26, 2008

From Sabbath to Sunday Theologian, Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi Died Age 70

I have some sad news. Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi died from his battle with 4th stage liver cancer shortly after midnight on Saturday December 20, 2008 — one day short of his 47th wedding anniversary. He died surrounded by his three children and his wife Anna.

Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi was one of the most well-known scholars on the topic of the biblical fourth commandment, the seventh-day Sabbath.

Best known for his work, From Sabbath to Sunday : A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity, Bacchiocchi added scholarly support that the Ten Commandments, which includes the seventh-day Sabbath commandment (Saturday), is still valid today since it was etched in stone by the hand of God.

Dr. Bacchiocchi was a retired Professor of Theology and Church History at Andrews University where he taught for 26 years. He received his college education at Newbold College in England, his seminary training at Andrews University in Michigan, and his Doctoratus in Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Pope Paul VI awarded him a gold medal for attaining the summa cum laude academic distinction. He authored 17 books and hundreds of articles.

It is my hope his family will continue his ministry and drive the biblical truth behind man's attempt to change God's laws.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas and Recession

Merry Christmas to all!

In times of economic hardship and when we are limited on what we can buy our love ones, Christmas can still be special. I would argue that it is better in hard times because our gifts have more meaning, and our thoughts are more pronounced.

In recessions, Christmas is less commercialized. It isn't about the newest gadget, or the coolest new toy anymore. It is about the spirit of giving, and the spirit of shared sacrifice. So Merry Christmas to you and your family, celebrate these holidays even when you had bad luck because you are rich in love with your friends and family.

God bless,

Don & family

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Philippines Aquaponics: Self-Sustaining Agriculture and Aquaculture

Believe it or not...I did this on accident.

Labor Day 2008: I have nothing to do on my vacation. I'm 10,000 miles away from the United States, sitting idle on an island, one out of the 7,100 islands in the Philippines. As I went through my normal selfish list of what to do on Labor Day, I thought to myself, maybe I would do something different this year?

Then I realized...the house I'm renting has an empty unused pond with a small idol of Mary. Maybe I could put fish in the pond and my baby girl could enjoy watching it? (My advice to Catholic friends: Mary was a respectable woman, but don't worship humans, especially human idols. Please read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them." You now have been taught the correct doctrine. You are now accountable to it.)

Summary 1: Laziness Breeds Ideas

As I thought of what type of fish I could put in the pond, I then remembered my teenage years when I owned an aquarium. It was a disaster. My laziness killed my pet goldfish in the past. I didn't change the water and they all died. Why in the world would I try that again? I certainly don't want to change the water in a 300 liter pond (400 liters with other additions)! But I still want my baby girl to see fish swimming about. Hmmm.... How to grow fish without doing much maintenance work...

Summary 2: Looking at Nature/Science

I started researching what type of filter could automatically remove fish waste (ammonia/nitrite/nitrate) from my pond without me having to change the water. Alas, there was none! A water exchange was still necessary with most mechanical filters. Then I turned to biological filters ... this is when I found aquaponics, the combination of fish farming (aquaculture) and growing plants without soil (hydroponics).

In nature, we see it all the time in swamps and ponds. Plants that grow near the water or on the water absorb the nutrients from the fish waste and help clean the water.

Fish can even survive in closed loop environments because of this natural occurrence. For example, bass in many of Florida's lakes and ponds which have no natural springs.

Summary 3: The Build

When I mentioned to my family I was going to start a project that would grow fish (tilapia) that could be harvested plus it would grow plants that required no soil -- they thought I was crazy. But I wanted to create a project that would be productive, something cool for my baby girl to play with, and at the same time, help reduce the cost of food.

I initially bought two aquarium pumps, one aerator, two hoses, and some plastic bins as a growth bed. I planted Chinese upland kang kong and they grew fine. I then upgraded it to a bigger growth bed and even added two rain gutters to test out the nutrient film technique (NFT). Hydroponic growers use NFT systems and introduce small trace elements of nutrients to grow their plants -- I'm doing the same thing except my nutrients come directly from fish and they clean the water for the fish to continue to live and reproduce.

Summary 4: No Fish Kill w/ Zero Exchange in Water!

I have so far introduced 160 fish and the only kills I got were during the transfer process. My tilapia fish that died was due to the rapid change in temperature, but once they were in the pond and initially lived through the shock of being taken away from their previous environments, they lived and grew big! No fish kills post-transfer and I didn't do any exchange of water. The plants reduced the fish waste by themselves without me having to exchange the water! The only water added are the ones lost in evaporation (estimate about 10% of the volume a month).

Summary 5: The Bacteria Cycle Took About Two Weeks

There's a natural cycle when bacteria starts growing and it starts breaking down the waste products of the fish into usable trace elements that the plants could eat. It took roughly about two weeks. Thankfully, tilapia are tough fish and they survived fine through this cycle.

Summary 6: The Plants Bear Fruit Early and Grow Fast

I planted two sets of upland kangkung plants, one on the ground and one on the growth bed. The ones on the growth were 2x-3x taller than the ones on the ground, suggesting this little experiment might actually work. (Why couldn't I think of this during high school, I would have won so many science fair awards?)

Summary 7: What This Experiment Means For Farmers

This is doable commercially. Imagine growing crops on an entire field without chemical fertilizers, growing without being infected by soil based diseases, and at the same time, you have a fish farm that requires no additional water and it doesn't pollute the water in your area. It is a self sustaining system. You can also introduce solar pumps and solar aeration, something I did recently to reduce my dependency on electricity.

Plus it's a cool thing to show to my 2 year old daughter -- she feeds the fish with plants from the growth beds every day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why I Still Don't Eat Pig

New discovery: Ebola in pigs

The Ebola virus scare people to death.

What if I told you there's a possibility you ate a certain strain of this virus when you ate pork? Just north of Manila, Philippines, scientists recently discovered that pigs may be a potential reservoir for this virus among other diseases that we already know pigs are known to carry. Its African strains are notorious for wiping out people, and now we are finding it maybe found in pigs.

Sometime ago I created a blog post about an ancient diet in the Bible that promotes long life. I also posted how science is starting to catch up.

Folks that do follow through with the diet are healthier and are proven to live longer. Better cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, less cancer, etc.

More findings to support God's wisdom

In Leviticus 11:7, God said not to eat pig. He said it was unclean meat. This isn't a moral law such as don't murder people but rather God's advise to man:
"hey, I created this stuff, don't eat the recycling bins of nature."

My colleagues that love pork would often say, "well I eat my pork from safe farms" -- but I still don't know why they think that's reasonable when nature's trash will continue to be nature's trash wherever you put it. Even the cleanest human being will still continue to have genetic defects, diseases, and inclinations because it is stamped in his DNA. How much worst is a pig, that's crowded in together and catch diseases quite easily from each other.

The healthy vs. the unhealthy

Transport yourself back to 2600 years ago in Babylon, the most powerful country on earth. A God believing man named Daniel and his three friends were forcibly removed from their home land and was asked by their conquerors to eat the meat outside of the biblical diet. According to the Cuneiform Texts from Baylonian Tablets, the Babylonians were known to eat pork as their primary source of meat.

As recorded in the Book of Daniel, ch 1, the four Jews refused to eat the king's meat and was only going to eat based on God's wisdom. They told the Babylonians to wait 10 days to see who is healthier. You can find the excerpt here:

Daniel 1 Excerpt
15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in the flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.
16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.

They were found to be the most intelligent and healthiest out of the kingdom.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Transporting golf clubs internationally

I'm attempting to pick up golf and will need to transport my clubs internationally. I will be flying out on Northwest Airlines soon but I have one issue -- I don't know where to get golf cases. Thankfully, I found this on Amazon!

We will see how well this performs when I fly out.

Update 12/8/2008: The golf clubs arrived with no problems and the case was locked all throughout the journey, thanks in part to its TSA approved lock. Spectacular! Because the weight of my golf clubs plus the case were less than 50 pounds, I was able to check it in on my Northwest (now Delta) Airlines flight with no extra charges. I was even able to put in a small fishing pole.