Episode 3 (Five best tools for opening wine and guest Natalie Hart)

Spark My Muse – Episode 3 (5 best tools for opening wine and guest Natalie Hart)


Spark my muse is The podcast for curious creatives types, wine newbies, and those willing to put up with my occasional silliness. Thank you so much for sharing your time with me.

This episode is brought to you by:
Life As Prayer:
Life As Prayer: Revived Spirituality Inspired by Ancient Piety

Today’s wine segment!

I open dozens of bottles of wine per week as a manager of a wine tasting room at Spring Gate Vineyard. We use a simple tool, I hadn’t seen before to make it quick and simple with very high levels of success.

BASICALLY only the cork should get screwed.  No broken corks, no puncture wounds–for you!

Cork screw is also called a wine key, or a waiter’s pry.

There are a few tools that are poor choices for opening bottles….

There are the best tools which may include some you may want to avoid.

These (affiliate) links will get them for you at a good price.

• Basic lever corkscrew – very inexpensive, small and portable, comes on an army knife. (There’s a better option below…keep reading.)

• Electronic one – large, slow, overly complex for my taste. It can be glitchy, run out of power…

• Winged or butterfly…It has arms that go up as you twist it down into the cork…Easily can cause broken corks when not done right. (Tip: hold the arm down tightly until you get it firmly pinned down to the cork and begin twisting straight down.) It’s slow, and has higher failures.

• The rabbit style. Large, more complicated than necessary. Table mounted options. If you have the room, like a full bar in your house…go for it.

• Air pressure bottle opener. It uses a needle CO 2 80 bottles…meh.

What’s the best tool?

The 2 lever waiter’s corkscrew!
It’s portable,fast, and low tech. The secret is the double hinge. It only takes about three rotations. (TIP: Go straight down and use the lever to pull the cork straight up. Don’t crank the cork to the side. First you use the top lever and then you switch to the bottom one.)

Here’s a video of the same tool I use at work and how to use it. Skip to minute 1:00.

Spark My Muse guest:
Writer – Natalie Hart

Natalie’s Webiste
• Her book: The Giant Slayer

We discussed:

• Biblical fiction genre

• Her favorite way to get unstack creatively

• Identity (David’s, and the rest of us.)

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Are you Skipping “Brain Pain” but picking the Plague?


Professor Bop via Compfight

Most of us don’t realize that we spend a bunch of time avoiding a familiar “Brain Pain”.

Just below our radar, but deeply connected with our emotions is an unsettling sense that something isn’t right.

That’s because it isn’t. Though it’s a normal sensation it’s not well-received.

We order and reorder things to avoid this feeling. But, it persists. And, it’ll make us do the strangest things.

Simply put: This “brain pain” happens when we try to hold two or more conflicting ideas together.

It’s officially called cognitive dissonance.

Unidentified, you don’t like it either.

But, in fact most of life and love is full of paradox and contradictions. All the great thinkers and spiritual masters speak of it.

The big problem?

Our cognitions don’t live together in a good jive and comfortable harmony. Our ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions have pointy and mismatched edges and we keep wanting things to piece together nicely like a glossy jigsaw puzzle.

Instead of feeling and living with dissonance, we try to avoid it or reduce it. Anything from changing our beliefs to be in keeping with the situation (to make it bearable), to reducing our regret through irrational justification, to reaffirming our bias even if a logical reason is absent. We are very irrational creatures and the more we think we are NOT the more irrational it is.

(It’s dissonant to be a partially rational creature, see?)

In wanting everything to “make sense” we pick fiction and live by figments instead.

You do it. I do it.

What’s worse?
The social pressure to relieve this sort of brain pain will blast toward us from everywhere. Maybe nowhere more powerfully than from our leaders. People in the pulpit, or the podium, power players in the board room or on news and media outlets they let the zingers fly that force you to inconsistently choice a faulty form of consistency. On cable television and radio of all stripes it’s a full-blown-plauge.

Everyone will try to sway you to give up the dissonance and see it their way (which they call “the right way”). It makes them feel better. But, the dissonance is part of reality just like it is part of jazz music. Not every note sounds just right or fits together seamlessly. It’s off-pitch and off-tempo. It’s very hard to predict.

How tricky! How disconcerting.

It is a mark of maturity to accept that reality is chock-a-block with inconsistency and incongruence. (That’s worth reading again.)

Though it can be unnerving, an abiding peace can yet remain in what seems a spongy place. This place is a good and useful tension of balance. It’s very hard to find and even harder to keep.

So, what about you?

Think about the things that create the discomforting feeling of dissonance for you.

• What are they? (relationships, finances, politics, tragedy, redemption?) Narrow it down to one or two big ones, for now.

• Have you been dodging logic or minimizing regret for the fantasy of consonance because you want to avoid the pain (and reality) of dissonance? Let’s be honest.

What could you hold in dissonance and balance that you haven’t been?

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How New Advancements in Neurology are Changing our Minds

Annotated Sagittal ATECO MR Venogram

Reigh LeBlanc via Compfight

New 3D brain scan technology has changed even recently-held theories about how the brain works.

On the positive side, many brain injuries, learning disabilities, paralysis from strokes, mental disorders and addictions can now be treated with targeted exercises that cause brain re-mapping. The subsequent brain scans evidence the improvement.

Also proven: Things like prayer and meditation are verifiably shown to improve not only health and well-being but to alter brain mapping not just down to the cellular level but to the level of DNA itself.

The area of study is termed neuroplasticity.

Even into very old age, the brain now shows us its ability to continually adapt to the environment, and improve depending on how it’s utilized. Certain thoughts alter us. The proof is empirical.

On the negative side certain things the brain engages in make future change very difficult because chemical changes from events can permanently alter the brain’s structure. Nevertheless, the idea that the brain works like a computer or that it “hardens” like wet cement at around age 6 have been debunked.

Of course most of us already knew at some level. In spiritual formation we study this historically as well. The anecdotal evidence has always been there.

Proverbs 23:7a “For as a man thinketh in his heart [mind+will], so he is.”

In his book, Dr Norman Doidge gives us many case studies that appear simply miraculous at first blush. It’s worth the read.

• An eye surgeon paralyzed by a catastrophic stroke is give a rehabilitative treatment that allowed him to be a successful surgeon again.

• People born with congenital blindness are able to re-map their brains and perceive vision through through–of all things–their tongues!

• Wounded soldiers with phantom limb pain find relief for the first time.

(and much more)

Re-mapping is not science fiction nor is it fluffy positive thinking. Re-mapping just requires effort and specific therapy.

So if you could re-map your brain what would you like to change?
Don’t give up.

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