Apr 232014

A Little Background

My Studies

I am preparing for a new series of sermons and leading a small group through the Gospel of Luke. Right now I’m refreshing my big picture understanding – so I’ve just finished reading through the entirety of Luke in J.B. Phillips’ translation.

JB Phillips' The New Testament in Modern English book cover for the Revised Edition.

JB Phillips’ The New Testament in Modern English book cover for the Revised Edition.

It occurred to me that this translation is quite good but not well-known and so I wanted to share it with you. :)

In my personal studies of Scripture I have found I can sometimes go into “automatic” mode when reading Scripture – a mode that feels like it already knows what the text is saying or even worse that just wanders off elsewhere while my eyes still parse the text.

To overcome this dilemma I frequently use different translations of Scripture. I tend to do devotional reading in a single version over a period of time – till it has become familiar and then move to another translation – and so on. After a while away from a translation I find the words are again crisp and fresh.

When I’m preparing a sermon I like to read from as many different translations as possible. While there are various levels of literal fidelity to the original languages in translations, every translation is to some extent an interpretation or commentary upon the Scriptures. Reading different versions highlights the different ways different individuals have thought about these particular passages in a concise way which can then be further explored via commentaries and other resources.

J.B. Phillips

J.B. Phillips was an Anglican clergyman who began translating some of the Scriptures into “modern” language during World War II. His ministry was in a heavily bombed area and the translation occurred under this recurring threat.

His translation was well-liked, among his admirers being C.S. Lewis. He also saw his translation being used “authoritatively” and felt that it was not good enough so he went about retranslating it.

Phillips completed the entire New Testament as well as some books of the Old Testament. His NT is best known.

Throughout his life he struggled with depression and reflects a theological perspective more reminiscent of William Barclay’s “liberal evangelical” than fundamentalist or evangelical generally.

You can read more about his life on Wikipedia.

Michael D. Marlowe has written a fairly extensive review of the translation along with some analysis of Phillips’ more heterodox views for those looking to evaluate a little more deeply the merits of the man and the translation. Another interesting article on the same topic is available from the Tyndale Society and authored by Hilary Day.

Why Phillips Translation?

As I noted earlier, I read from numerous translations – I’ve spent time with the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT, ESV, HCSB, LEB, The Message, The Living Bible – and the list could go on for quite some time.

I do not necessarily see one translation as superior to the other but each providing insights that another may not have been able to highlight. I use the ESV, LEB, NASB when working with the details, but utilize the NLT and NIV[1] when working more big picture.

So, I am not suggesting this should be your bible – but that it is a good bible. If you come across passages that sound different from what your more literal bible says – compare them, do some research – one often learns fascinating things because of the differences in translation.

I find Phillips’ translation to be fairly literal overall but at times it strays significantly into thought-for-thought territory. The language is contemporary and has that British flare to it which brings a different taste than our American translations.

Phillips’ is good at making the text flow and showing the connections between texts. If your translation feels a little stale – give it a try – or any one of the numerous other excellent translations/paraphrases out there…just know what you are getting (e.g. The Message is a very free-from paraphrase, I still think it has a place, but it is for that place and not every place).

For Free

You can read the Phillip’s New Testament online for free, though I am unsure that this edition is the same as the translation I read (1972), it may be the earlier and looser translation he made. It is available from both the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and Bible Gateway. You can also purchase a newer edition (the one I read) from Amazon.


  1. [1] The NIV and the HCSB are both mid-way translations, somewhere between the fairly strictly literal approach of the ESV/NASB and the dynamic/thought-for-thought translations like the NLT/Living Bible.
Apr 182014

I can’t remember when but a few years back I bought a Hoover Nano-Lite[1] from Target. It has served me extremely well but recently broke down and died. I needed a new vacuum – and I like to research before I make these sorts of purchases. Not so much to save money as to find a really solid product. I don’t mind paying a little more, I do mind products and services that waste my time.

The Bissell CleanView 9595.

The Bissell CleanView 9595.

The first thing I did was see if the Hoover Nano-Lite was still available (it isn’t). My next step was to hop on over to Target and browse through their selection of vacuums. Why Target? Because Target tends to offer a decent range of the most popular products representative of the market as a whole – yet doesn’t offer anything. If I go onto Amazon I will give up researching – there are simply too many choices, so Target is a good way to narrow things down (and this is where I think places like Target still have a lead over Amazon).

Even using Target I ended up with a fairly vast list of potential vacuums. So I narrowed it down by seeing the features that the Nano-Lite had that I really liked and then finding the models that best matched or exceeded these features at a reasonable price point.[2]

In the end I came down to two models – the Bissell CleanView 9595 and the Hoover Sprint UH20040. I’ve included a table below comparing the two models.


Company Name Model Price Roller Tools Cord Hose Bag Washable
Capacity Weight Warranty Path Rated Handheld Amps
Hoover Nano-Lite U244-0900 $50 Y Y 20′ ? N Y ? 11 1 11″ - N 10
Bissell CleanView 9595 $75 Y Y 25’ 6’ N Y 1.7 L 15.1 2 ? 4.5 N 10
Hoover Sprint UH20040 $53 Y Y 23’ 7’ N Y ? 12.5 1 12″ 4 N 10

The Bissell was slightly more expensive but had a 4.5 rating on Target as opposed to the Hoovers 4, its cord was 2′ longer than the Hoover, and it came with a 2 year warranty. On the other hand, the Hoover was less expensive, had a 1′ longer hose, and weighed 2.6 lbs less.

The Hoover Sprint QuickVac UH20040

The Hoover Sprint QuickVac UH20040

In the end I decided to go with the Sprint primarily because of the lower weight (though still higher than the Nano-Lite). For me, weight had been one of the biggest factors in buying the Nano-Lite – I really love a vacuum I can easily maneuver/carry. I’m also a sucker for system monitoring (where the device monitors its own health)…oh, and the lower price didn’t hurt.

The vacuum should arrive in the mail tomorrow and I’ll be sure to give an update to everyone if I decide I made a mistake. Before I close this post let me just highlight a few items about vacuums generally you might want to know:

  • Not all vacuums have roller bars. I saw several nice, less-expensive vacuums but they didn’t have roller bars. These work on hard floors but really aren’t great on carpet.
  • By “tools” I mean essentially the detachable hose – some of the less-expensive models, especially stick vacuums don’t have a detachable hose – which to me is silly. Why would I want a tiny vacuum if in order to clean I now need to use two devices?
  • Some vacuums are bagless (like all three above) while others have bags. I’m torn over which is better. The bagless are less expensive to maintain (no need to buy more bags) but I’m not a big fan of the way dust sprouts everywhere when you dump them out.
  • A washable filter is nice, but you probably aren’t talking about a HEPA quality filter. I made this trade-off, but it isn’t one everyone will want to make. If you have allergies you may want to pay more to get a true HEPA filter…just remember these will also cost more to replace.
  • Capacity is important. These lite little vacuums are great for mobility, but their waste area isn’t huge. If you are coming from a more traditional vacuum, I’d guess that the waste disposal is 1/3rd the size on one of these little guys. I never found this to be problematic (and I had four cats), but you may.
  • By “path” I mean how wide the area that sucks up waste is on the vacuum. This is important to note. Some vacuums have much smaller sucking areas – such as 8″. This means that you’ll have to do more passes to cover the entirety of a room. On the other hand, if the path is too wide it will make it difficult to fit into narrow areas and require more moving of furniture.
  • You’ll also notice that none of these units are handheld. One of the nice features of the stick vacuums (which didn’t usually have tools) was that they detached to become handheld units. I decided that this wasn’t as important as the tools…though I’d really like to see an affordable unit combine these two aspects.
  • Finally, you’ll note that the ampage on these units is 10 amps each. The amps are the power of the motor. Some of the smaller, cheaper vacuums have significantly lower ampage – like 1.25-2 amps. I haven’t used a unit with this little ampage but I have a hard time believing the motor will be able to suck up waste effectively with so little power behind it.

Here is hoping that my research may make someone else’s research a little less extensive. :)

  1. [1] For those who care, Model # was U2440-900.
  2. [2] A reasonable price point is always a compromise between feature set and quality versus cost for the feature set and quality. For example, one may only pay a few dollars extra to move from a flaky product to a good product, and a few more to move to a really good product – to move into the top echelon of great products there is a huge price premium – and so the price per feature/increase in quality becomes significantly greater than at lower levels.
Apr 152014


I have a number of health complications – both physical and psychological.[1] I struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD),[2], Dysthymic Disorder,[3], Major Depressive Episodes,[4], Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD),[5] Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, and Insomnia. On the physical side I’ve had some severe issues with my legs which lasted for several years as well as pain and weakness which has extended throughout my entire body.

The Zen Water Vitality 4 Gallon Water Purification system.

The Zen Water Vitality 4 Gallon Water Purification system.

Quite the mouthful right? Thankfully, with the assistance of good doctors, friends, family, and lots of research many of these issues are fairly controlled and don’t destroy my life as they have at times in the past. Still, there is always elements of them hanging around – they never seem to vanish entirely, and there is still the occasional flareup…and in the case of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness/Insomnia, I am still struggling to find any effective method of treatment.

For these reasons I pursue various health measures which may seem somewhat unnecessary to others, but which help me manage these symptoms – or at the least help me eliminate potential causes/contributors to my health issues.

One of these measures was acquiring a Zen Water Filter Purifier. In this article I will discuss and review the Zen Water Filter Purification System – specifically the Vitality 4 Gallon product.

Product Presentation

The Zen Water website is nice enough and the assembled purifier looks presentable enough, however, Zen Water could make some small improvements to their presentation which would add considerably to the professional appearance of their company.

Namely, when I received the package and opened it up I was greeted by a confusing mass of components, especially the various filters in flimsy, dilapidated, and disintegrating boxes. Spending just a little more to make these boxes stronger would go a long ways towards improving first impressions.

Besides this there was some “dirtiness” to the entire unit – including plastic shavings (apparently from the machining process) and what appeared to be a layer of mineral dust (caused by packaging the filters in flimsy boxes).

The instructions are one, laminated, double-sided page and while they include some images, it is unfortunate that they decided to include multiple models assembly instructions instead of just sending the instructions for the selected model. How much more will it cost to print a single-sided page for each model instead of lumping them together?

Product Assembly

The product was not too difficult to assemble, but there are a number of steps which aren’t entirely intuitive and which one can easily overlook – for example, you should not wash the ceramic filter with hot water – but this isn’t stated in a bold and attention grabbing way and many will utilize (naturally) hot water in scrubbing the ceramic filter down before noticing (if ever) those instructions.

Product Quality

The product looks nice once assembled and from a distance, but it has several distance weaknesses. First, the plastic tanks and lids don’t seem to fit perfectly – which to me indicates that various airborne nasties will enter into the tanks. I’m sure this isn’t a huge deal (I’m breathing them) – but making sure that the tanks and their lids had a perfect fit would be really nice.

If making them fit perfectly is difficult for Zen Water to accomplish with their currently manufacturing equipment, I’d suggest making the lids a little larger so they slide down over the tank, sealing out air in that manner.

Ideally, I’d also like to see some sort of “snapping” mechanism between the lids and tanks – the purification system is too prone to spills when children are utilizing it.

Additionally, the bottom tank is not done with a smooth plastic surface (the top tank is) which makes it very hard to tell how much water is left in the tank. I’m not sure why this design decision was made – I don’t think it has any functional purpose and I would suggest it be replaced with a smooth (or at least smoother) design that allows better visibility.

Finally, the magnetic faucet feels like a piece of junk plastic and I am concerned that with time this component will break down. Using a stronger material might add slightly to the cost – but overall the Zen Water looks like a “premium” product (from a distance) – but that impression is ruined up close as soon as you touch the magnetic faucet.

Ohh, and I forgot, according to the FAQ page there is no BPA in their products, but this is b/c Brita (a competitor!) says there is none in styrene acrylonitrile. I’d like to see some better sourcing than a competitors promotional claims!


The most important part of the system is the filtration. How does it work? Is it better than other products of comparable price? The filtration system consists of six steps

Ceramic Filter

The Why page of Zen Water states that this filter “Traps contaminants, bacteria, spores, cysts, and parasites. Reduces organic chemicals, pesticides and herbicides.” The 8 Stage Filtration System page tells us that the ceramic is “highly compressed” and has “diatomic properties.”

When I googled for “diatomic properties,” “diatom,” “diatomic,” “diatomic filter” and so on the results did not provide clarification as to what exactly having diatomic properties has to do with filtering. Most of the results seemed to have to do with fish aquariums!

The site also states that the dome “consists of millions of pores that measure 0.2 to 0.5 microns in diameter, while most bacteria is 0.5 to 1.0 microns in size.” For the time being, I’ll take their word on that…Though I’d like to look into what sort of bacteria are smaller than 0.2 microns – it is great if it filters out lots of bacteria – but does it filter out the ones that are most harmful?

Silver Impregnated Granular Activated Carbon

The 8 Stage Filtration page tells us that this filter is “extremely effective in the removal of chlorine, bad tastes and odors, radon, solvents, pesticides and herbicides, volatile organic chemicals and hundreds of other man-made chemicals found in water.” I don’t really doubt this, as carbon is used in almost every water purification system I see sold to consumers.

The page continues, “Our activated carbon is impregnated with silver to disinfect and inhibit the growth of bacteria in the water filter system.” Wikipedia says the powers ascribed to silver at true.

Mineral Sands

The 8 Stage page states that these sands “have superb absorbent qualities to removal granular impurities.” So, I know that absorbing impurities is good and I know that granular means very small – but what exactly sort of impurities are we talking about? I have no clue.

Ion Exchange Resin

I could be incorrect placing this under Mineral Sands – it isn’t mentioned on the 8-Stage page but is mentioned on Why Zen Water. Supposedly “[s]oftens and purifies water by removing toxins and heavy metals.” Wikipedia says Zen Water’s claims are true.

Silica Sand

Again, this doesn’t appear on the 8 Stage page but does appear on Why Zen. Supposedly “[a]ids in digestion and boosts metabolism. Improves circulation and immune system. Helps strengthen collagen for radiant skin, shiny hair and stronger nail[s].”

Wikipedia seems to indicate some positive and negative effects from silica sand – though the negative appear primarily through air exposure and the positive primarily from water exposure. The emphasis from a Google Search seems to be on the dangers of air-borne silica sand rather than any benefits. Further research needed.


In addition to purifying, the mineral sand and stones also “[i]nfuses water with micro-nutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.” I believe this claim is true based on my knowledge of minerals and their presence in water (growing up I experienced the strong presence of both sulphur and iron at times in the water I drank).

Far Infrared Balls

The 8 Stage page claims that these balls “ionizes and helps activate water molecules in human cells and blood.” A search of Google Scholar did not readily turn of research papers on this topic and most of the regular Google Results appeared to be selling the products and not providing substantive information about the balls.

These balls apparently do emit infrared, but whether this is something that actually has an effect on the water or human health, I do not know.

Natural Zeolite

According to the 8 Stage page, natural zeolite is “formed when volcanic rocks and ash layers react with alkaline groundwater” creating a “highly porous structure” which is capable of capturing particulate contamination down to 4 microns in size. This sounds well and good – but didn’t the ceramic already take care of everything down to 0.5 microns?

It “has a negative natural charge which gives it the capacity to absorb cations, such as heavy metals and ammonium, and some organic contaminants and undesirable odors.” Further “[i]t has been widely reported that zeolite reduces radioactive elements.”

I wish Zeo Water could include citations for these claims – but a search of Google Scholar does show that zeolite appears to have some filtration properties including reducing radioactive elements. I searched for “zeolite radioactive” and same up with results from articles from the Journal of Hazardous Materials (2,006, 2009), The Journal of Geology (1982), Applied Radiation and Isotopes (2000), and so on.

Mineral Stone

There isn’t a lot of information on their site about the mineral stone I could find, but on the box there was a bunch. Here is the information from the box (don’t ask me what all of it means, but feel free to tell me :)):

  • Contains over 40 kinds of inorganic substance with high absorption.
  • Bionic (?) capacity makes water tasty and generates minerals.
  • Ingredients:
    • SiO2 – 70.44 ratio
    • AI2O3 – 14.47
    • Fe203 – 2.01
    • FeO – 0.75
    • MgO – 0.83
    • CaO – 2.19 – “Neutralization of acidic blood”
    • Na2O – 4.59
    • K2O – 2.69 – “Balancing for the saturation of cell, contraction of muscle, reviving for the paralysis of nerves, balancing for the acid/akali humors”
    • TiO2 – 0.47
    • (P2O)5 – 0.09
    • MNO – 0.09 – “Prevention of anemia, controlling for the oxidation of fat, activation of enzyme, balancing for the oxidation of fatty acid”
    • (H2O)+ – 1.37
    • (H2O) – .41
    • GE 11.22 PPM
    • pH 7.3-7.8
    • Zn – “Activation of ferment, promotion of reproduction, tranquility and stimulation of brain cell”
    • Fe – “Activation of insulin in pancreatitis”
    • F – “Becoming strong teeth, prevention of [and here my writing fails me], activation of ferment and physique growth”
    • Se – “equilibrium of pulsation, calmness, prevention of cancer, cure of neuralgia and skin disease, promotion of vigor”
    • HCO2, Free CO2 – “Removal of headache, promotion of digestion”
    • Ri – “Prevention of cancer”
    • Ra – “Activation of physical function-stimulation of the inform cell”
    • Ge4+ – “Germanium, prevention of cancer, bio vigor effect”

Magnetic Tap

I did find an article entitled “Water Purification Using Magnetic Assistance: A Review” in the Journal of Hazardous Materials (2010) but I really haven’t done enough research to know if this article even applies.

Ongoing Costs

The initial purification system which includes the filtering components runs around $80. You have to replace each of the filtering components on occasion – the micro-ceramic filter dome around once a year, the 5 stage mineral filter cartridge every six months, the mineral stone case every 3-5 years. Not horrible – but how much will it cost? In the same order as they are listed above: $14.95, $17.50, and – who knows? The mineral stone case isn’t listed on the site! I’d say the costs aren’t bad, but I sure would like to know where to get replacement mineral stone cases and how much they will cost.


I’d like to write more and refine this article – but it has already consumed too much time – so I’ll put it out as-is. I think I’ve been able to include enough information to make it useful.

Let me conclude by noting that I am satisfied with the product – though there is certainly room for improvements. It does filter very slow, you basically need to leave it filtering overnight, but it is all gravity fed and doesn’t use electricity or make noise.

The water that comes out tastes good (in that pure/mineralized sense) and unlike water left alone in a cup for a few days, it doesn’t begin smelling like dead fish (at least that is what I think stale water smells/tastes like).

I’d love to hear from others who have/are using this product and their thoughts. It is available via Amazon and has an average review of 4/5 stars from 367 customers – pretty good.

P.S. I’m really confused as to why their site has an “8 stage purification” page but then on the actual page says “6 stage” and only includes six stages?

  1. [1] Ewww, that sounds bad.
  2. [2] Particularly scrupulous elements and including features of other disorders like trichotillomania.
  3. [3] An underlying, low-level, long-lasting depression.
  4. [4] I don’t think I’ve had one of these in a number of years though…other than struggles in 2013 related to life circumstances.
  5. [5] I do not struggle with ADHD, which includes the Hyperactive component.