Lighting Test for the Select Master Degree

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This is a lighting test that I am working on with a [“JUNOLUX” light bulb.]( The bulb is about $30, and is comprised of about 100 individual LEDs that turn on and off in order to simulate a flickering flame. The bulb looks kind of odd without a lampshade or cover, but once covered, or hidden behind an object, it looks fairly realistic.

[Link to Youtube video of lighting test.](

There should be mystery in Masonry, and the degrees should be a wild, intense experience. One of the things that we can do to help achieve that is to set the mood with a well-thought-out ambiance. Without giving too much away, the Select Master degree is supposed to take place in a very dark, very secluded area. I talked with a member of the Grand Chapter & Council Committee on Work (the committee which writes our ritual and figures out how degrees should be performed) who explained that the degree should, ideally, be done in almost total darkness.

However, doing it in the dark can be pretty impractical. Nobody can see, there’s an increased fall risk, etc. How do we address this issue? My answer is that we should look at the idea of targeted low-lighting that is “lore friendly.” What kind of lighting would have been used in King Solomon’s time? Workers on the Temple would most likely have used torches, candles, or braziers of coal. Those are all pretty cool – but none of them are really okay in regards to my Masonic temple’s policy regarding flammable materials in the carpeted rooms. We have to look at special effects instead, in the form of LED bulbs.

These are the next few questions that I am going to try to find the answers to:

* Where is the best light placement in the room to increase lighting without using too many bulbs, running too many cords, etc?
* How much light is too much light?
* Will props used in the degree be an issue for lighting?
* If more bulbs are needed, are the cheaper versions as reliable?
* What is the most practical and lore-friendly way to house the light (lamp stand, fake firepit, prop torch, etc)?

Needless to say, I have some experimenting to do.

The Rollercoaster Ride Continues

Time for a life update. It’s been a good while since I last posted something regularly, hasn’t it?

Life has been pretty good – if somewhat challenging – since I last made a normal post (instead of a podcast outline). In terms of my career, personal life, and Masonic involvement, everything is pretty different. Let’s talk about that. One big update, all at once, to get things out of the way.

Career Stuff

I’m unemployed at the present moment. I got laid off at the end of this August and have been job hunting since then. Well, actually, I started job hunting well before then, but you get the idea. I got a nice severance package, and I have savings, so I’m okay.

The main challenge that I have been experiencing is just getting to the job interview. A lot of times, it doesn’t go any further than the application – and then the inevitable rejection comes. The second challenge lies in the fact that I majored in a few narrow field of study – petroleum engineering. Granted, my career experience is primarily computer simulation engineering, which is a pretty transferable skill, but I think a lot of non-Oil & Gas companies see “reservoir engineering” and “petroleum engineering” and figure that they’re better off with not having to train a guy from scratch. It’s a misconception that I can’t really fault them for.

I’m staying positive and I’m continuing to work hard. The simple reality is that in the 2010s, it is taking people longer to find work after a layoff than ever. The key is persistence and patience. I’ve had a few good job interviews recently – let’s see where this goes.

The most important thing about the whole experience is how much love and support that I’ve received, which has made a huge difference. This leads me to…

Personal Stuff

I’m dating a wonderful gal right now. Sarah and I started dating in February, and have been going steady ever since. She’s just as much of a nerd as I am and I’m crazy about her. She has been incredibly supportive during this period of unemployment, and I honestly think I wouldn’t be doing nearly as well (mentally) if I didn’t have her to lean on for support. I owe her a ton of thanks. The guys at Lodge keep teasing me about how we’re gonna be the lodge’s “2018 Marriage.” I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a betting pool of some kind going on. All I’ve got to say on the subject is that it’s a little too early to talk about it, but that I’m totally fine with keeping her around for a long time (and I hope she feels the same way).

My father hasn’t been in the best of health. He’s doing much, much better now, but he’s been fighting cancer. He developed a bizarre form of appendiceal cancer which herniated and grew all the way to his knee – the doctors had never seen anything like it. They hacked most of it out from his leg and abdomen, but they had to leave a bunch of it in his hip. Right now, they can’t take what’s in his hip without an at-the-hip amputation, which Dad understandably wants no part of. Fortunately (thanks be to God) the cancer isn’t growing or metastasizing. It’s just kinda…​ there. For now the game plan / best reasonably possible outcome is that Dad goes in for a scan every few months, the cancer never grows, and Dad simply just has cancer until he dies in a freak Christmas tree accident at the ripe old age of 103. I pray for him and my mom often. She’s a saint, for a host of reasons.

I’m surrounded by new friends. Hopefully they last a lifetime. I knew that I’d be meeting people through Masonry and make a few friends – but I didn’t’ expect to make so many. It goes without saying (as anyone in the Fraternity knows) that there’s too many of them to list on here. All I can say within a reasonable amount of time is: my brothers, it’s been a pleasure to get to know y’all and I love y’all. I am excited about all of my adventures to come.

I’m also surrounded by old friends. One of the things that I will never not be thankful for is the Internet. Without it, my friends from college and I wouldn’t be able to stay in touch as well as we do right now. It’s so comforting to be able to reach out to them and talk – it’s like they’re just on the other side of town and we’re texting to hang out later. I have a few pilgrimages I need to make to the Houston area – it’s been a while since most of us were physically present together. Time to fix that!

I’m also grateful for my closest canine companion, Lyra. She’s my little old lady (11 years old). She’s a black lab with a heart of gold. During the summers, she’s been an excellent companion for long, leisurely walks, and now that it’s the winter, she’s a great companion for brisk, determined walks. Right now she’s hunkered down on my bed, enjoying the warm comforter. In a bit, I’m going to go grab a cigar and we’ll go for a nice walk, after which we’ll both retire to the couch and cuddle up for warmth. I love this dog.

Masonic Stuff

Hoo boy. There’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s break it down into categories.

Symbolic Lodge

I am not an officer in my Symbolic Lodge, but I’ve been having a blast. I do a lot of our degree lectures, and I often pro-tem the Senior Deacon position for degrees and Stated Meetings. I didn’t accomplish my goal of learning the A-certificate material by the end of the year, because although I know all of the C-certificate material (trial lectures, opening/closing) and I know the lectures, I still haven’t learned how to confer. My goal is to learn to confer the degrees, and start helping our degree team even more by increasing my versatility.

Chapter & Council

Wow, where do I start here? “Hold my beer” is super applicable in this case. I started this Capitular/Cryptic year by being installed as an appointed junior officer – Master of the 2nd Veil in Chapter, and Steward in Council. Then, our 2nd-in-command (Excellent King in Chapter and Right Illustrious Deputy Master in Council) had to move to West Virginia. This left us with a gap…​ and I got promoted to fill it. By dispensation from the respective Grand bodies, we held an election and then installed several officers out-of-time. I am now serving as the Excellent King in Chapter and the Right Illustrious Deputy Master in Council, and am preparing for the year that I serve in the East. It’s been a blast, and I’m nervous, but I have a lot of great guys to rely on. One of the things that I am trying to implement is a five-year plan agreed on by the Chapter/Council as a group, so that all the guys that come after me can continue working on something they were a part of designing. The year that I serve will mostly consist of setting up the dominoes for other Companions – and I’m okay with that. Seeing the continued success of our Chapter/Council is an exciting prospect.


Yesterday, I was installed as the Junior Warden (5th in command) of Worth Commandery #19, Knights Templar. I’m honored to have been elected and installed, and I hope to serve my fellow Sir Knights as best as I can. The Junior Warden part is really a crazy mountain to climb as brand-new SK, but the mountain is there, so I must climb it. I am very excited about bringing the Christian Orders of Knighthood to my Brothers and Companions. Commandery is a very meaningful organization to me. The ritual is so striking, and resonates so strongly with my faith, that I can’t help but love it. I am very excited to continue exploring the Christian side of Masonry.

Scottish Rite

I’m a Scottish Rite Mason now! I went through the Fall 2017 Reunion and am now a proud Master of the Royal Secret and member of the Fort Worth A&ASR-SJ Valley. It was a grueling 3-weekend process, and I’m still digesting. Fortunately, I have plenty of reading material to catch up on… and another degree to learn! I got together with some other brothers and we’re assembling a degree team for the 13th degree – the Royal Arch of Enoch. I’m excited about it!

I did, however, turn down a petition for the Knights of Saint Andrew. Right now, I want to focus on the York Rite (Symbolic lodge inclusive), and I know that if I get involved with KoSA, I’ll get carried away. I’d like to get through the East in Chapter/Council at least, first. This is one of those inevitable things, so never fear, Knights.

The Fort Worth #148 Podcast

Man, oh man, has this podcast been a blast. I’m super thankful that we’re on holiday break, though. I love the podcast, but it has definitely been taxing time-wise. This has been such an amazing opportunity for self-education and excellent conversation – I love it. I’ve been really getting the art of editing the podcast in a timely manner down as a strong skill, but I need to work on it – can’t stay up late all the time! I am looking forwards to next year. We’ll be cutting down our releases to two episodes per month. This way, we can focus on bringing higher-quality content to our listeners, while giving ourselves some breathing room. I’d rather release two great 1.5 hour episodes per month than 4-5 okay ones. It’s gonna be great, so stay tuned.