Sunday, November 30, 2003

#114 End of the month round up, November 30, 2003

Our senior pastor had colon surgery this week. The mass was benign. One of the associate pastors is calling him “Semi-colon.”

Columbus Bar Briefs”suggests legal writing needs more periods, fewer commas. Strive for an average of 18 words per sentence. Good advice for non-lawyers, too.

First Sunday of Advent at our church. So many things planned. Our Visual Arts Ministry had four items in the weekly reminder handed out this Sundays. Hope I remember.

In the last 7 days we celebrated two birthdays on Sunday and one on Saturday, went out for lunch with a visiting friend from San Antonio on Tuesday and then enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving dinner at our daughter’s home on Thursday. This has caused me to search the closet for the next size up pair of slacks.

We watched the DVD Bruce Almighty on Thanksgiving Day. Funny and thought provoking. Seemed appropriate for our family.

Best quote seen this month: WSJ Nov. 20 p. D8 “[Al Green] put the afro in aphrodisiac, writing songs that inspired a generation and helped create another.” Ashley Kahn

After finishing "In the Beginning” the story of how the Bible in English came to be, I walked through the house and counted Bibles: 22. Only one was King James. And to think that people were exiled, imprisoned and executed for translating the Bible into English!

Today we put up the Christmas tree. So far, the other half of “we” has been doing all the work, while I write my blog.

#113 Can hardly believe it

Could a teacher, someone with a college degree, really say this?

#112 Finished the Beginning

Book club meets tomorrow night, and I finished the selection, "In the Beginning; The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture," about 15 minutes ago. I learned many interesting details which I may comment on later, and in general thoroughly enjoy the book.

There were two things about this book that did not please me. I can't put my finger on it, but somehow there are sections that don't seem to hang together--like McGrath dropped his note cards or misplaced a document on his computer. Also, the documentation consists of a very large bibliography pp. 317-328, but no notes. The author of "Seabiscuit" who is an editor of a horse magazine and suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome compiled the most incredible, detailed, unobtrusive notes I've ever seen in a non-scholarly work. McGrath could have at least tried with a far more important topic.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

#111 [In the] Black Friday

I never shop the two days after Thanksgiving. I always look at those six hour specials that I see in the fliers on Thanksgiving Day. This year I even noted that there was an $88 digital camera at Target and my daughter’s Christmas china was 50% off at Lazarus, but still I didn’t venture out on Black Friday.

I hear that the economy is depending on me! It’s the cost of freedom I heard on a talk show this morning! It’s just too much pressure! What ever happened to the good news, that God in Jesus Christ humbled himself and became one of us?

This year I’ll again take the time to write seasonal checks to Nurturing Network (saves unborn babies by helping the mothers), Lutheran Bible Translators (380 million still waiting for a Bible in their own language), Cat Welfare (caring for homeless cats), Samaritan’s Purse (outreach to children), and our church, which needs to retire a large mortgage. It still puts money into circulation, even if it doesn’t benefit the retailers

#110 Penmanship

Last night we went to the dollar theater to see Freaky Friday, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan. It really was a cute movie, very well acted, with only the wooden performance by Mark Harmon spoiling it. But then, maybe he was supposed to be that way and is really a fun guy who had to tone it down?

In one scene, Annabell the daughter (in the body of her mother) goes to a parent teacher conference and gets to read an essay her brother Harry (played by Ryan Malgarini) has written about her--expressing his love and admiration. (They had been squabbling throughout the movie.) The essay is in cursive writing (the audience gets to read it, too).

However, I've been told that cursive is no longer taught in public schools. Recently a senior in high school filled out a form for an art show, and I had to ask her about the word, "Paradize." She spelled it aloud for me, correctly, when I asked. I think she didn't know the difference between a "z" and an "s" in writing but is very bright. Probably only uses a computer. So I asked her if writing was taught in school, and she turned up her nose--"we never use it."

This private school in Houston is proud of teaching first graders cursive. Perhaps the boy in Freaky Friday went to private school.
Kimberly at Number 2 Pencil had these comments on "fancy writing."

Friday, November 28, 2003

#109 Harry Smith radio talk show host?

Harry Smith was named an anchor of CBS’ The Early Show in October 2002. He has served as the host of A&E’s “Biography series since 1999 and continues in that role while co-hosting The Early Show. I’ve always felt a bit sorry for him trying to be a respected journalist in that female dominated gossipy, gabby Early Show. Which came first, The View or The Early Show? Harry is handsome, charming and articulate, and his talent is totally wasted with his vapid co-hosts.

I think Harry secretly wants to be the host of that phantom and fantasized left-of-center talk show the Democrats are trying to fund and place on the radio waves to combat the popularity of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Dr. Laura, et. al. I watched Harry interview Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the President’s National Security Advisor, this morning about President Bush’s surprise Thanksgiving Day trip to Iraq, which included her.

To the troops Bush said: "You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq so we don't have to face them in our own country." We’ve heard it many times.

And Harry couldn’t pass it up. “Why does he say that when everyone knows Iraq wasn’t behind Al-Qaida and wasn‘t a terrorist threat” is a paraphrase of what he said, trotting out the liberal media line. Did his bosses insist he turn an interview into a high school debate, or was it his own idea? Or perhaps, it was a set up by the President’s speech writers to allow Dr. Rice to reiterate all the administration’s reasons for taking the war to Iraq? I’m not sure she made it through the 10 reasons the war helps fight terrorism, but she’s good--and fast. If Harry had a two hour talk show with commercials every ten minutes, he could have done better.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

#108 A cup of coffee on Thanksgiving morning

Many employers really do give Thanksgiving Day off. This morning I had quite a search to find an open coffee shop. Panera’s, Caribou, Starbucks, Bob Evans, Tim Horton’s, Wendy’s, McDonald’s. All were closed so employees could enjoy time with their families, or time to sleep in, or time to clean the garage.

Finally I saw an open White Castle and pulled in. I’d never been in one. No house newspaper or classical music, just big windows and small booths, but the coffee was excellent. Perhaps because it was a holiday with no baggage for them, there were two Hispanics, an Asian woman, a developmentally disabled man, and a Canadian supervisor (I don’t know that, but his haughty attitude and countenance reminded me of Peter Jennings, so I’m calling him a Canadian) working the pre-dawn hours. I’ll have to stop back tomorrow--they wouldn’t take a $20--and said I could pay next time.

I found a turkey stuffing recipe using White Castles. I think I'd sub the
sausage sandwich.

10 White Castle hamburgers, no pickles
1 ½ cups celery, diced
1 ¼ tsp. ground thyme
1 ½ tsp. ground sage
½ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
¼ c. chicken broth

In a large mixing bowl, tear the burgers into pieces and add diced celery
and seasonings. Toss and add chicken broth. Toss well. Stuff cavity of
turkey just before roasting. Makes about 9 cups (enough for a 10- to
12-pound turkey). Note: Allow 1 hamburger for each pound of turkey, which
will be the equivalent of ¾ cup of stuffing per pound.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

#107 The Great August 2003 Blackout

I was sitting in a music class at Lakeside that day in mid-August when shortly after 4 p.m. the lights went out. We assumed it was local, and the instructor continued. When I got home about 5 p.m. I heard it was northern Ohio. I removed our uncooked dinner from the oven and we went out to eat at a local restaurant that had gas stoves. Only coffee wasn’t available.

Even though we were then at the start of what later was known as the great blackout cascade affecting huge areas of the United States and Canada, our power returned in 4 hours. Other areas of the country suffered for days. Now the interim report “Causes of the August 14th Blackout in the United States and Canada” (November 2003) provides some interesting analyses, conclusions and a good look at possible security problems.

C/Net found this quote within the report: "While the very largest provider networks--the Internet backbones--were apparently unaffected by the blackout (in North America), many thousands of significant networks and millions of individual Internet users were offline for hours or days," the report stated. "Banks, investment funds, business services, manufacturers, hospitals, educational institutions, Internet service providers, and federal and state government units were among the affected organizations."

Related stories at C/Net.

106 Wenger, Wanger, Winger, Wingert--you may be one too!

My grandfather was only 16 and living on a farm in Montgomery County, Ohio, when his widowed mother died. Consequently, her surname, Wenger, wasn’t in my consciousness until I took a mild interest in genealogy. Once I learned to look for Wenger, I noticed a huge book (over 1200 pages) at a used book store, “The Wenger Book; a foundation book of American Wengers,” Samuel S. Wenger, Ed. (Pennsylvania German Heritage History, Inc., 1978). So I bought it. The book chronicles the descendants of one Christian Wenger who arrived in the United States from Switzerland in 1727 with his wife Eve Graybill (Kraybill, Krabill). I think by 1900 they had about 200,000 descendants, but as many of them as there were, they are not my Wengers.

My Wengers are descended from Hans and Hannah according to "Hans and Hannah Wenger, North American Descendants," a four volume work by Daniel L. Wenger. They didn’t come to this country until 1749, but they were also Mennonites. This information is available on CD and an on-line database which makes it easy to search.

Three of their sons and Hannah immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1748 and 1749. Hans apparently died shortly before the trip. Their descendants have spread across the country and the world. Many other families are also included in the database, including other Wenger lines, in particular many descendants of Christian Wenger, immigrant of 1727 (of the book I can‘t use). There are over 100,000 names of individuals who are not connected to the Hans and Hannah Wenger family. These names (like my father’s parents) were collected in order to assist in identifying possible other ancestors of Wenger descendants and possible other Wenger descendants.

The DLW genealogy database contains over 232,000 names (last updated Oct. 1, 2002) of individuals, mostly descended from 18th century Mennonites, River Brethren (Brethren in Christ) and German Baptist Brethren (Church of the Brethren) who settled in Lancaster, Lebanon and Franklin Counties, Pennsylvania, in Ontario, Canada and in Washington County, Maryland and Botetourt County, Virginia. In the 1800s a number of the families moved to Darke County and Montgomery County, Ohio and to Iowa, Indiana and Kansas. In the early 1900s there was continued migration to Upland and Modesto, California.

The database can be searched at RootsWeb. If you are a descendant of Hans and Hannah and known to the author, you will have a unique number in this database. And that would make us cousins.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


#105 Low fat, sugarless, high carb and delicious

Yesterday I bought a huge amount of raisins at a low price. We eat raisins on our oatmeal, but I think these would last until 2005 at the small sprinkling we use. So what to do?

Last Friday a widower walked into the watercolor workshop at the senior center (all women) and jokingly said, "Where's the food?" People who live alone have a struggle finding good nutrition and socializing. So many senior centers, including ours, provide lunch for a reasonable fee and friends to share it with. But still, there is that hankering for something special, something home made. So I thought I'd make a raisin pie and take it to the senior center for snacking.

I haven't tasted raisin pie probably in 40 years, so I'm thinking it was probably something popular when dried fruit was used in place of fresh. I didn't find what I was looking for among Mother's recipes, or in my cookbooks. Not even "Granddaughter's Inglenook" had one. So I googled the following at, using Splenda in place of sugar, and a peanut oil pie crust. Smells fabulous. Maybe I should taste it first--you know, just to be sure it is OK to share?

2 cups raisins
1 cup orange juice
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (Splenda works)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
pie dough for double crust

Cook raisins in o.j. and water for 5 minutes (I wash mine first). Reduce heat. Combine sugar, cornstarch and allspice; stir into raisin mixture. Cook over medium heat until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in nuts and lemon juice. Cool 10 minutes.

Pour into unbaked pie shell and cover with top crust. Cut slits for steam. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

#104 Tyndale and the King James Bible

As a Christian, I’ve experienced distress and amusement at the battles that rage among other Christians over the King James Bible (see King James Only and responses ). At our next Book Club, we’ll be discussing “In the beginning; the story of the King James Bible and how it changed a nation, a language, and a culture” by Alister E. McGrath (New York: Doubleday, 2001). As usual, I’ve left it to the final week to read, so have divided it into equal parts and am trying to discipline myself to read (I’m a slow reader). Much of the information is not new, particularly the influence on the English language because a few years ago I read and thoroughly enjoyed “The story of English.”

Peggy, the leader of December’s meeting sent 3 pages of discussion points for us to consider ahead of time, and I noticed this interesting aside (I’ve added the links) :

“There is a group called the Tyndale Society which promotes the works of William Tyndale. The founder of the Society is David Daniell, who has issued Tyndale's New Testament and Old Testament translations unaltered except for modern spelling. He and members of his society think that the credit for the accurate and memorable phrasing of the KJV should really belong to Tyndale. According to their analysis, 83.7 % of the KJV New Testament comes from Tyndale; 2.4% from Coverdale, 2.2% from the Great Bible, 4.7% from the Geneva Bible, 2.2% from the Bishops' Bible, 1.9 % from the Rheims Bible, and only 2.8% is original to the King James. Of the Old Testament books that Tyndale translated (Genesis to Chronicles), 75.7% of the KJV comes from Tyndale, 6.1% from Coverdale, 9.6% from the Geneva Bible, and 8.7% is original to the KJV.

Daniell writes: "Astonishment is still voiced that the dignitaries who prepared the 1611 Authorized Version for King James spoke so often with one voice--apparently miraculously. Of course they did: the voice (never acknowledged by them) was Tyndale's." Furthermore, Daniell maintains that many of the changes that were made in Tyndale's translation by the KJV were inferior to Tyndale's in that the KJV smoothed off the freshness; made it more Latinized than English; were less true to the Greek or Hebrew sense; and made it more formal, majestic, and to remove it from the people and promote Anglican church hierarchy. We do not have the materials to debate Daniell's claims, but I bring it to your attention, and I will give some of his examples.”

I do not doubt that the KJV committee could have used Tyndale’s translation, nor that God could have used this for his own purposes to get his word out to the world through a political power that he used for that purpose. Oh, that the 3,000+ translations into English would just be read and believed. Click here for chronology.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

#103 Rand Beers and national security

Can a man who until March worked for Bush and since July is working for a man who wants his job, say his former boss is doing anything right without damaging his current boss?

“Rand Beers, most recently special assistant to President Bush and
senior director for combating terrorism at the National Security
Council, will discuss "The War on Terrorism: Are We Safer Today?"
He is now national and homeland security issue coordinator for the
John Kerry for President campaign. Beers will discuss Afghanistan,
Iraq, weapons-of-mass-destruction terrorism, the United Nations, the
United States approach to the Islamic world, and homeland security and
civil liberties. The talk is at noon Monday (11/24) in 120 Mershon
Center and is part of the center's National Security Speaker Series.” [OSUToday, Nov. 21]

In a July article in the Washington Post, Beers is quoted as saying, “"Counterterrorism is like a team sport. The game is deadly. There has to be offense and defense," Beers said. "The Bush administration is primarily offense, and not into teamwork. . .The difficult, long-term issues both at home and abroad have been avoided, neglected or shortchanged and generally underfunded."

If I were a Democrat, I think I’d probably be looking at Kerry. However, it’s unlikely Kerry can beat out Dean, but this job is a good way for Beers to get his message out.

#102 Inspired by tzungtzu, Chinese dumplings

Dora Hsiung, my college roommate, has an exhibit at a theater lobby in Harvard Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA. There's a review of her show and the play "Snow in June" by Charles Mee inspired by a 13th century Chinese drama at the theater website. If you are in the area, stop in.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

#101 The big lie

My Kroger grocery receipt for 11/21/03 says I saved $9.61, and that my total Kroger Plus Card savings to date is $659.22. It’s a lie, of course. First of all, when I occasionally drop in there to shop (where I used to shop often), I use a friend’s card. So she’s the one with the $659.22 “savings.” Second, the prices on everything in the store have been jacked up to cover the cost of the data mining for this phony savings plan.

In our community, Giant Eagle, Big Bear and Kroger all offer loyalty cards--Big Bear and Giant Eagle are struggling and will probably go out of business. Behemoth Wal-Marts will be moving in, although none close enough for me to shop there. I can save a lot more by going to a Meijer or a Wal-Mart that sells groceries. I can get much better service and more interesting choices by going to my non-chain, neighborhood grocery, Huffman’s Market, which also doesn’t ask me to show a plastic card linked to my personal information.

Anecdotal and survey evidence indicates you’ll pay 25-70% more by using loyalty card stores. I realize I’m spitting into the wind here--it is virtually impossible to convince an American consumer that businesses that give away their products don’t succeed. I used to be a loyal Kroger shopper. I occasionally return to “my” store (carries the kitty litter brand I need) and have watched everything in the store go up in price to cover the cost of the program.

These plastic card loyalty plans are just newer forms of sweepstakes, green stamps and coupons that were ubiquitous in the 60s through the 80s. Just as coupons were sized to the dollar bill, these are sized to look like credit cards, updating the consumer scam with the times. The first coupon was a wooden nickel around 1900. But that wooden nickel couldn’t track you--loyalty cards can.

I have no idea if CASPIAN is just another front for some anti-business protest group, but they are against loyalty cards and the invasion of privacy they represent. Nor do I think John Ashcroft has time to worry about what brand of toilet paper I like. I am so sick of being asked to carry around a bunch of cards for footwear, office supplies, airlines, pharmacies and any other commodity, I’m about ready to take to the streets with a placard.

#100 Career track protestors

If you check on the Volokh Conspiracy, a group of lawyers who blog together (see link on the right hand side), you’ll find an entry about how few people turned out for the Bush protests in London. The writer said, “The crowd is a little bigger than the crowd two days ago, who were protesting the ban on feeding the pigeons, but certainly smaller than the crowd last month, who were protesting tuition hikes at universities.” A look at the stop the war web site clearly shows the same Communist and Socialist groups who were protesting 35 years ago, with a few newer Muslim groups thrown in. And they aren’t shy--big red star.

The Cincinnati Post editorial said, "Rather than damage British Prime Minister Tony Blair's shaky public approval rating, the Bush visit might actually improve it."

Frederick Forsythe in the British Guardian reminded us, “The British left 70 years ago opposed mobilization against Hitler and worshipped the other genocide, Joseph Stalin. It marched for Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Krushchev, Brezhnev and Andropov. It has slobbered over Ceausescu and Mugabe. It has demonstrated against everything and everyone American for a century. Broadly speaking, it hates your country (U.S.A.) first and mine second.”

#99 Desperately using Susan

Susan Sarandon on the cover of Heifer International catalog? And other actors on the inside? The organization was organized by Dan West in 1942, and supported by a pacifist denomination, Church of the Brethren. For a $50 gift you can give a heifer worth $500 to a family in need. But having a collection of Hollywood actors, most active in far-left, anti-administration activities doesn’t provide any prestige or credibility for its reputation, as far as I can see. I have supported this organization in the past, but no more. If you’re interested in both peace and relief services, try the Mennonite Central Committee.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

#96 Where was your money during the slump?

Which companies are Web smart? Do you know what your investments were doing during the slump? The bust is over--according to BusinessWeek Online (and just about every other source). The 50 companies featured in this article are not necessarily tech companies, but those that know how to use the web to their advantage, like Stop and Shop, Krispy Kreme, and Wal-Mart.

“The Web Smart 50 profiles the most innovative projects within corporations. The trends that cut across industries are distilled into six categories, from collaboration and customer service to management. It makes for a diverse crew of companies, with plenty of surprises. Dell Inc. you would expect. But Whirlpool Corp. and the FBI? They offer innovations of their own.” With links to stories about the companies.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

#95 Poor writing

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article on poor academic writing in the (free) Oct. 24 edition. It is so poorly written and so difficult to wade through, I’m wondering if it is a parody.

#94 What you believed at age 13

“Adults essentially carry out the beliefs they embraced when they were young,” he explained (George Barna). “The reason why Christians are so similar in their attitudes, values and lifestyles to non-Christians is that they were not sufficiently challenged to think and behave differently – radically differently, based on core spiritual perspectives – when they were children. Simply getting people to go to church regularly is not the key to becoming a mature Christian. Spiritual transformation requires a more extensive investment in one’s ability to interpret all life situations in spiritual terms.” Read the rest of Barna’s report here.

He points out that upon comparing data from a national survey of 13-year-olds with an identical survey among adults, the belief profile related to a dozen central spiritual principles was identical between the two groups. Those beliefs included perceptions of the nature of God, the existence of Satan, the reliability of the Bible, perceptions regarding the after-life, the holiness of Jesus Christ, the means of gaining God’s favor, and the influence of spiritual forces in a person’s life.

So at least statistically, what you believed at age 13, you will believe when you die. Scary isn’t it? This is not true in my case. I grew up in a liberal Protestant denomination and knew nothing about sin or grace or the deity and saving work of Jesus. However, I don’t doubt that in a survey of large numbers it would be accurate. I’ll have to reevaluate my opinion of the value of various children’s ministries. Having the church form the attitudes and beliefs rather than the family doesn’t seem to be Biblical, but I’m willing to take another look.

And I still may be correct about the time, effort and money that go into children’s programming. In an earlier report, Barna stated that “For most teenagers who have spent years attending church activities their faith is not integrated into who they are and how they live. Most of the young people who claim they developed an understanding of the Bible that enables them to make decisions based on biblical principles show no evidence of using that understanding in relation to the core beliefs and lifestyle choices that we studied.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

#93 Civil War ties

My great aunt Ada’s father was born in 1862. I think that is quite remarkable. It seems like more of a tie to the past than just having an old photograph or photocopy of a Civil War enlistment. So maybe I’m a sucker for ties that stretch back.

One night back in 1989 or 1990 I was awake and watching Charlie Rose’s middle of the night interview with Alan Gurganus. Between the two of them, it sounded as though “Oldest Living Confederate Widow” would be a really great story. So I put it on my list and received it as a birthday gift. I don’t think I made it through even one chapter. It was dull and unbelievable--the voice just wasn’t that of a woman. It gathered dust on my bookshelves for years, and when we moved to the condo, I think I donated it to the library book sale.

When they came out with the TV movie version in 1994, I tried sitting through it and fell asleep. Really boring. Four hours seemed like four months. Now I read a review in Nov. 17 USAToday that Ellen Burstyn is bored in a one woman play based on this novel. Even this talented actress can’t breathe any life into it, and the reviewer noted that, “at one point during the performance, the person seated behind me gave a soft moan and slumped forward heavily. . . I turned around, worried for a moment. Luckily, she had only fallen asleep.”

#92 The house mouse, pest not pet

I was quite surprised last week on our first really cold day to see a mouse scurry into the garage when I pushed the door opener. We see a lot of chipmunks around here, but I’m sure this was a mouse. Mice can get through a 1/4” opening, so he was probably just interrupted on his usual route and didn‘t need to have me open the door.

It made me think of the pet mouse I had in first grade. For some reason I took her to school in a matchbox. My friend “Tommy,” who is now a well-known professor of philosophy at a large Midwestern university, asked if he could hold her. I carefully opened the box and looked at those terrified little eyes. I handed my cute little pet to Tommy, who then squeezed her, and poof, my little mousie was gone.

Mice can jump up to 12 inches from the floor and down eight feet to the floor. The house mouse is the second most adaptable animal on the planet, with man being the first. They are native to Central Asia and arrived here with the European immigrants. They eat a lot and damage even more with their contamination of food stuffs. One mouse can have 5 to 10 litters a year (its life span). One mouse, up to 60 babies a year. If each of those 60 has 60 babies, and they each. . .and that was 1946. . .

So, I guess Tommy did the world a favor.

Monday, November 17, 2003

#91 Index to themes, topics, passing thoughts, and ideas, updated

academe, libraries 10, 26, 29, 38, 54,67, 70, 75
art and artists 54, 66
blogging 1, 32, 46, 56
books and journals 2, 29, 31, 47, 51, 53, 57, 74, 90
condo living 40, 42
culture 31, 41
economy, finances 7, 13, 33, 43, 61
entertainment 72, 90
faith and values 14, 30, 31, 32, 37, 46, 50, 63, 62, 68, 69, 87
family 2, 4, 6, 21, 24, 28, 34, 36, 39, 55, 59, 67, 79, 80, 82, 86, 89
fashion 21, 55
food, recipes, eating out 3, 8, 10, 11, 25, 35, 36, 42, 56, 59
friends 9, 10, 21, 50, 54
genealogy 19, 20, 24, 44, 67, 71, 73
health 23, 25, 36, 39, 48, 53, 61, 60, 81, 83, 88
history 85
Illinois 44, 54, 63, 67
Internet, Usenet, computers 26, 32, 33, 37, 62
nature 31, 42, 58, 57
observations, misc. 5, 12, 15, 49, 52,
Ohio 20, 40
pets 27, 39, 56
poetry 14, 22, 44, 55, 63, 80
politics 9, 43, 70, 76, 78, 87
science 2, 16, 29
women 20, 23, 44, 63
writing 19, 62, 65, 67

#90 A movie worth seeing?

I don’t see many first run movies, and thus rarely look at what is available as promotion on the internet. But today I did look at the official site of Master and Commander; the Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe. The movie is based on the Patrick O’Brian series of twenty Aubrey/Maturin novels covering 1801 to 1815 which has a cult level following. Russell Crow plays Captain Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany is the doctor, Stephen Maturin.

If the movie is as impressive as the site, it should be well worth the money. Music, video clips, a voyage you can start at any point on the map, background on the film, and links to other sites. The website is also available in Spanish, French, German, Chinese and Japanese. I read through the diary in Spanish (with a dictionary) just for practice, although the video clips of episodes were in English. If you’ve loved the book(s), usually the film version is a disappointment. Here’s what the author of the POB web page says about the film.

“Having waited ten years for the mills of Hollywood to grind out a cinematic interpretation of the novels I've spent so much time reading and listening to, I was anxious that the experience just not be too awful. As it turns out, it was a true delight; what Russell Crowe, Peter Weir and friends have done is an amazing accomplishment. They have grafted another branch on the evolutionary tree of the Aubrey-Maturin novels. The analogy is like chimps and human beings - they are different branches from the same ancestor, but we are not direct descendants of chimps, nor are we exact copies. The film is good, very good, but it is not the books brought to life, nor is it a logical progression of the series. It is two hours and twenty minutes of damned fine film, using the characters, settings and ideas created by Patrick O'Brian but molded by Peter Weir into something that stands on its own.” Tony Townsend.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

To a real swell guy

There's a nice article on yearbooks and Darilee Bednar, a woman bookstore owner who collects them here. I look to my right and see on my office shelves our little collection of yearbooks, four Arsenal Cannon from my husband's high school, four Mounder from my high school, one from Manchester College which I attended one year, The Aurora, two Illio from the University of Illinois which we both attended, three Life from Mt. Morris College, where my parents, grandparents and uncles attended, as well as the parents of many of my friends, a First Fifty Years 1912-1962, for my husband's high school published in the mid-1990s, and a War Record of the people from my home town from Alberts to Zumdahl who served in WWII, with single page biographies and photos, published in 1947. Yearbooks are a treasure, and I'm glad to learn that someone is making a special effort to preserve them.

On Father's Day this year we had dinner at our son's home. I brought along my husband's high school yearbooks to read to the children what his friends had said about him 46 years ago. We got the giggles reading how many times someone wrote "to a really swell guy," or "hellava swell guy," or "real swell fellow," or "it has been swell knowing you." In my school, we translated "swell" as "dill" and "dilly."

#88 Inspiring

Losing weight isn't rocket science--it's eat less, move more. No success story ever differs from that--even gastric by-pass. In this morning's paper was the account of Chelsea Carter, a reporter who lost 105 lbs. over a year's time, and the change in her health level. She started at 268, but as she went along, she described what she was losing: 10 lb sack of potatoes; a toddler; a fourth grader, and finally a Hollywood actress. See her story.

I stepped on the scale this morning and realized I only need to lose my birth weight to be more comfortable and have more energy. Believe me, I was a very BIG baby.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

#87 How do they get away with it?

Yesterday my jaw dropped as I watched Ted Kennedy call President Bush’s nominees for judgeships, three women and a man, “Neanderthals.” Then Susan Estrich, a liberal law professor from California who regularly appears on Fox News, said not once but twice, the second time with a sneer, that Bush had only selected African American Janice Rogers Brown because she was black. Affirmative action at its worst, I believe is the phrase she followed with. If I had only heard it reported, I would thought it was “spin,” but I watched them both saying it on screen. Can you imagine if Republicans had said something even remotely similar? Maybe it only matters if they say it on ESPN.

Note: I tried to find a link to Susan Estrich's comment, but could not, since she apparently isn't important enough to make the various pundity columns. However, Google did ask me: Do you mean "Susan Estrich judges Foxy Brown?"

Friday, November 14, 2003

#86 Wrapping Christmas presents early

Throughout the year I've been stashing various children's items away to pack this time of year for Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child. When I see an out of season pair of pants or t-shirt on sale, I buy it, or school supplies when there are sales in August. This year I purchased clear plastic shoe boxes for $1 each when they were on sale at K-Mart. It is getting hard to find a decent shoe box, and I think these will be more useful to the family. But I'm short on a few items--like hard candy and toys, so I'll make a last minute trip to the store before I start wrapping.

I've always thought our church's newest location looked a little like a warehouse--post modern, bulging sides and angles. But this week-end it will really look like a warehouse because it is a drop off location for the shoe boxes packed by hundreds of churches in this area. When I see the narthex and fellowship hall fill up with thousands of boxes, all lovingly packed and prayed over, it just takes my breath away.

Last year I went to a presentation by the organization for the reps of the various churches in our area who gather these decorated shoe boxes. The woman who spoke was very interesting--from West Virginia and I'd guess she wasn't over 35 but had lost a lot of her teeth. She travels all over the World with the Samaritan's Purse organization and has been to Africa and Kosovo. She was a very effective speaker, truly "anointed" although we don't use that term in the Lutheran church.

She told a story about being offered a place to sleep in Kosovo where the family had a 6 x 6 carton to live in. She looked at the space and figured they planned to sit outside if she took up for floor space.

Then she told us that back in W. VA. she has a trailer worth about $12,000, and she had been too embarrassed to offer her place when there were funerals. (She says there are no hotels around, so when someone dies the members of the church put up the visiting family). But after seeing how generous these people were who had nothing, she now invites people to stay with her. The last time she said she had 21 people sleeping on the floor.

Someone asked about the fact that the boxes vary so in size and content. She said that comparing the size or contents is an "American" thing and the children she sees never do that, in fact, they will try to share their candy with the volunteers.

#85 The death of conspiracies

We stopped by Bill and Sandy’s apartment after church. The TV was on, as it was in almost every home in America that day in late November 1963. When we thought we couldn’t be more shocked, grieved or terrorized, Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald as we watched.

The anniversary of that terrible time is coming and cable Court TV will be showing 9-10 p.m. est, Wednesday , November 19, on its “Forensic Files” program “The JFK Assassination: Investigation Reopened.” Apparently, new sophisticated technology shows it happened pretty much the way we watched it unfold in 1963. No conspiracy. The truth is usually less interesting than fiction, even if it is stranger, despite the conventional wisdom and old wives (in Hollywood) tales.

Each day we seem to hear or read of more conspiracy theories about 9-11. Anything as simple as one demented lone gunman or a small bunch of hell-bent martyrs flying airplanes into high profile buildings really disturbs our sense of safety and complacency. We’d much rather fall for the big plot idea, possibly huge forces manipulating an evil U.S. government, or Israel working behind the scenes.

On November 23 we will meet for church and gather here for a family dinner to celebrate the November birthdays of our children, for whom this is all ancient, and much abused history.

#84 A message from Indian Christians

Poverty is a socio-economic phenomenon which defies any precise definition; its concept and content varies from country to country depending upon what the particular society accepts as a reasonably good living standard for its people. Thus, in California, U.S.A, it would not be surprising if a family owning less than two cars may be dubbed as poor. But in India, poverty manifests in its starkest form: as a visual of semi-starved, ill-clad, deprived millions of countrymen, thousands of them dying everyday from malnutrition, ill health, lack of basic amenities; this is a picture which is both appalling and agonising from any standards of human existence. Read the rest of this excellent paper and the letters of response here.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

#83 High tech, high fat, low common sense

The push from the Health Information Management folks to make everything electronic in order to insure the privacy requirements of the new HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 (August 21), Public Law 104-191, which amended the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986) would be a bit more believable if I hadn’t been in doctors’ offices since HIPAA’s implementation in April.

The new rules require 1) standardization of electronic patient health, administrative and financial data, 2) unique health identifiers for individuals, employers, health plans and health care providers and 3) security standards protecting the confidentiality and integrity of "individually identifiable health information," past, present or future.” A full employment law for the computer folks since these systems have to be continuously upgraded.

We, the patients, have signed innumerable forms saying we’ve been informed. They’ve changed the cubicles at check-in for the waiting rooms, and built fancy stalls to separate us at the pharmacies. Our surname is no longer called out in the waiting room--too bad if your name is Bob or Bill. No more sign in sheets--you might see who arrived at 8:15. But you can’t regulate common sense apparently.

This week I was left alone after a high-tech test in a room with really fancy information equipment, the kind AHIMA wants all medical facilities to have. Up on the computer screen was a list of names, birth dates and ID numbers in the section of the alphabet for my name--records in this database were linked to the records for my testing--and everyone else’s. The password to the equipment used for my test was on a yellow-sticky on the front of the machine. Oh yes, and scattered on the counter were packaged hypodermic needles and an open package of sealed vials (didn’t recognize the medication, but someone else might).

Last spring I was in this same new, state-of-the art facility sitting by myself in one cubicle, with information about the last patient still on the screen. When paper files were being used, I don’t recall ever seeing someone else’s file.

I also noticed that the staff working directly with patients in the back rooms where testing is done, were walking around the halls eating snacks out of open bags. When it was my turn, I was ushered into another area where the technician had her breakfast coffee and muffin on her desk. On my way out, I noticed a lovely staff lounge, with sink, microwave and seating, but why use it when you can eat all day long at your desk while manipulating carefully shielded patient data?

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

#82 An add on thought

In Blog 79 I wrote about the Mom vs. Mom show done by Dr. Phil. I missed this excellent article in the New York Times Magazine. It is not on-line but is summarized and critiqued here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003


Is Terri Schiavo Dead? Eat, drink, and vegetate

Ronald Bailey at believes because Terri Schiavo is severely disabled, cognitively impaired, will never return to normal or be useful to society, she should have her feeding tube removed to starve to death.

I volunteered for a number of years with a woman who had a brain aneurysm which left her completely paralyzed, blind, and unable to generate thought. Like Terri, she has only involuntary movements. She is tube fed a balanced diet like Terri. However, unlike Terri, she has had physical therapy and a lot of attention from volunteers and family who feed her, wash her hair, put on make-up, do her nails and talk to her. She enjoys TV and being read to, particularly mysteries. Although she can't generate thought, she can respond to it. She is not unhappy--although those who love her have suffered terribly for 25 years from her condition.

If you read the accounts of Terri's story, her husband won a large malpractice settlement so she could get the proper care, but she didn't get it. My friend, with whom I volunteered, is able to take food by mouth, like ice cream, mashed potatoes, Jell-O, etc., but it is done only for her enjoyment and to maintain some limited ability. Caretakers are extremely careful, because the food has to be placed in her mouth and then you have to wait for involuntary muscles to allow her to swallow. If you go too fast, the soft food can be inhaled causing choking.

The surgically inserted tube is for the convenience of the nursing home staff. It would take hours to get enough nutrition in a severely brain injured person by mouth. But Terri's husband didn't and wouldn't allow her to receive even water by mouth so she could learn.

Frankly, I'm not sure why the method of nutrition matters so much to people in determining Terri’s value as a human being, but if she were being fed by mouth and still in the same condition otherwise, would Bailey still want her starved to death? No one expects her to return to her 1990 self, but she is a sentient human being who is not without value.

The best solution in my opinion is to have Mr. Schiavo get a divorce and let her parents restore some dignity and privacy to her limited life. This would be best for her and for her husband who wants to get on with his life with his girlfriend and child. (Although if I were the girlfriend, I’d think twice before going to the altar with this guy.) The settlement money is mostly gone anyway.

80 Veteran’s Day, November 11

When I was visiting my father in May 2000, I painted a watercolor of his right shoe, black leather high-top and well-worn, surrounded by dandelions. It was an instant hit with the family, because those shoes and Dad’s hatred and attacks on any dandelion that would have the audacity to appear in our yard were legend. He died in May 2002. For his 90th birthday I wrote the following verses to go with the watercolor which I had scanned to notecards. The second verse is based on the last line from the Marine Hymn.

“If the Army or the Navy ever look on heaven's scenes,
they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.”

March 2003

My Daddy hated dandelions
They seemed to like our lawn,
Soon their little yellow faces,
Were destined to be gone.

My Daddy was a brave Marine,
at eighty-nine he died.
I know Dad guards the gates of heav’n--
No dandelions inside.

Monday, November 10, 2003

#78 Miller's book reviewed

In blog 70 I mention Zell Miller, a Democrat, who is supporting President Bush. There is a review of his book at Greg's Opinion, a blog about which I know little except it is based in Houston. As a Southerner and a Democrat, he has some advice for Miller, also a Southern Democrat.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

#77 A child’s viewpoint

In August we traveled by Amtrak from Toledo to LA and back, stopping also at Flagstaff, AZ and East Glacier, MT. Before we got to Chicago the first day, the train had stopped to let another train pass. It was a beautiful day and we were traveling coach sitting near a large family. I overheard the pre-school boy and his older teen-age brother talking as we sat in the observation car while the train was paused beside a very lovely cemetery in Indiana with beautiful old trees and statuary.

“What’s that?”
“It’s a cemetery. Where they bury dead people.”
“What happened to them? Why did they die?”
“I don’t know. They just died.”
“Well, maybe. . maybe. . . maybe they all got together for a picnic here, and someone started a war, and everyone died, so somebody else came and buried them.”

#76 A response to blog 70 or

“Why I am a Democrat” by

Well, I certainly recognize that having children changes perspectives. I remember holding my daughter, my first-born, in my arms the first time, and having an overwhelming sense that my beliefs in her self-determination, and freedom over her own body were more important concerns for me now more than ever.

I believe this self determination should also regulate any relationships she has (she should have too much respect for herself than to be exploited by anyone) as well affording her the ability to make her own decisions about how to manage mistakes she has made or hardships life has brought her. As a parent, I see that it is my responsibility to infuse her with as much confidence, self esteem and self respect as I can. But, I don't want the govt. coming along when she is 18 or 20 and suddenly telling her that her judgement over her own life and body is not good enough. (Nor do I want some guy doing that for her.)

Perhaps legalizing abortion has not done great things for society...but it has provided more self determination for individuals. Having multi-billionaires in our society while others are starving has done nothing to better society, and yet no one is curtailing these individuals rights to accumulate beyond all possible semblance of justice.

I also can't characterize George Bush as being "smart" in his handling of this dilemma we face with terrorism. I am not demoralized or angered because I think he is showing strength I didn't expect of him. On Sept. 12, 2001 he had me in the palm of his hand. I was ready to follow. I was prepared for him to be strong.

When he asked me to go shopping as a sacrifice for my nation I felt terribly disappointed that I was not needed for anything other than consumerism. When he took us into a war and my nephew into Iraq I felt sad, scared, and wondered if this was really necessary. When I found out that in fact there were no weapons of mass destruction, and that in fact he realized the threat was not as imminent as he portrayed I felt betrayed.

When I was told I should be happy anyway because a horrible dictator had fallen and we had freed a people, I wondered why I was not trusted enough to be told that was the reason we were going in the first place. When I was told this would be easy I thought these people in Washington were full of arrogance and ignorance to think that simply by removing a dictator (with no weapons to speak of) you could build "America light" in a region of the world where the culture is completely different from our own. When he asked for $87 billion I wondered how much debt we were going to pass on to our children and how much assistance we were going to deny our own impoverished citizens and educational systems. (And how much of this money is going to Halliburton?!)

My sister owns a small business, so I understand the tax burden of which you speak. I agree that small businesses should get a break. However, why should the multi-billion dollar corporations who are taking all their jobs overseas get a tax break? Why is it so wrong for them to support the infrastructure of this nation (the phone lines, electric grids, educated masses, highways, middle class consumers, etc) that has allowed them to accumulate beyond belief? Why is it so wrong for them to handle the financial spending our govt must do now...rather than requiring that my children and their children should pay for things they never saw or enjoyed the benefit of?

I send my kids off to Columbus Public Schools every day. I want my tax dollars to go toward making those schools better, not siphoned off to the Catholic church to propagate their dogma in the name of halfway decent education. Why can't education in public schools be halfway decent? We want immigrants to this country to blend? How are we going to do that without public education? That is how all the generations before us were assimilated. How will my children learn about differences among people if they are not led through the public halls of society?

And while I long for a truly color blind just ain't reality. A people that has been enslaved and exploited for 300 years (what is that...5,6,7, 10 generations?) who have never been given any sort of proper restitution for this atrocity is just supposed to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and move on in one or two generations?

And even so, it's not like they are taking over the country. The percentages of African Americans who graduate from college is actually slipping in recent years. The percentage of African Americans living in poverty is still higher than the percentage of whites. Affirmative Action is not about enabling unqualified or lazy people. It's about putting in the minds of people to reach their own true potential. Making it doable. It's about diversifying schools and workplaces so all cultures can learn from each other. OSU has created a more diverse AS WELL AS more prepared class of entering freshman than ever before. It didn't happen by chance. It was planned and worked for.

However, if George Bush has done one thing for me, he has made me a more political being who can not keep quiet. All this and I am not a secular humanist. I'm a deacon in a Presbyterian Church...full of like-minded souls I might add.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

#75 Librarians miss the obvious danger.

The subheading on an ALA (American Library Association) page is taken from an article in the New York Times, “Ashcroft Mocks Librarians and Others Who Oppose Parts of Counterterrorism Law" (September 15, 2003)

So I went to the source. John Ashcroft speaking at a meeting of the National Restaurant Association presented a fictional hyperbolic scenario. His little story was no where near as hysterical as some I’ve read on the blogs of the pundit-left and library professionals who are offering Patriot Act workshops to worried library staff.

Ashcroft said: “If you were to listen to some in Washington, you might believe the hysteria behind this claim: "Your local library has been surrounded by the FBI." Agents are working round-the-clock. Like the X-Files, they are dressed in raincoats, dark suits, and sporting sunglasses. They stop patrons and librarians and interrogate everyone like Joe Friday. In a dull monotone they ask every person exiting the library, "Why were you at the library? What were you reading? Did you see anything suspicious?"

He continues: “According to these breathless reports and baseless hysteria, some have convinced the American Library Association that under the bipartisan Patriot Act, the FBI is not fighting terrorism. Instead, agents are checking how far you have gotten on the latest Tom Clancy novel.”

“Now you may have thought with all this hysteria and hyperbole, something had to be wrong. Do we at the Justice Department really care what you are reading? No. The law enforcement community has no interest in your reading habits. Tracking reading habits would betray our high regard for the First Amendment. And even if someone in the government wanted to do so, it would represent an impossible workload and a waste of law enforcement resources.”

Ashcroft never actually says the hysteria is from librarians, as the web page reports. He says “some in Washington.” He uses ALA's statistics of over a billion people visiting the libraries in a year to point out that it would be a poor use of manpower to focus his 11,000 agents on libraries.

After all the hysteria Ashcroft’s speech generated, librarians were “shocked” to find out 3 days later the Patriot Act had never been used in connection with a library. Zero, zip, nada. And here they’d been busy wasting tax dollars organizing opposition and destroying records. Somehow, I wasn’t shocked at all. I was pretty sure the Justice Department didn’t want to know that yesterday I checked out a book on American lighthouse inns and one on the China Burma India theater of WWII.

If libraries want to thwart the federal government, they might start by removing our social security numbers from our patron record! It would sure make me feel better about identity theft potential.

#74 Get over it. It’s not going to change.

It is such a little thing. Why does it bother me? The title of the research journal published by the American Medical Association is "JAMA.” That’s it. Four letters. An acronym. Officially, the title changed over 40 years ago. But it still is listed incorrectly in many medical sites on the Web.

For instance: “Researchers find that a gene involved in the size of cholesterol particles may be associated with human longevity. The study appears in the October 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.” [Oct. 31, 2003]

In libraries that arrange their journals by subject rather than title, it is not a terrible problem--but alphabetically, JA is a long way from JO when you consider how many titles begin with “Journal of. . .”

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association is referred to as JAVMA, and that is the boldest word on the web site. However, that isn’t its actual title, and you would be incorrect if you cited an article in “JAVMA.” But JAMA is JAMA--a meaningless word that is gibberish to anyone outside the medical field. Which probably explains why in consumer literature or sites like Heart Center Online it is called “Journal of the American Medical Association.”

Friday, November 07, 2003

73 Photographs and memory

In my genealogy group yesterday the discussion was about photograph albums and scrapbooks with a review of the book Suspended Conversations; the Afterlife of Memory in Photographic Albums by Martha Langford. The publisher's abstract states: ". . . photographic albums tell intimate and revealing stories about individuals and families. Contrary to those who isolate the individual photograph, treat albums as texts, or argue that photography has supplanted memory, she shows that the photographic album must be taken as a whole and interpreted as a visual and verbal performance that extends oral consciousness."

We were asked to bring along our own albums as an illustration of the author's thesis that albums are for the retelling of family histories and traditions. One woman brought along an album that contained photos and memorabilia of her parents (born in the 1880s) and grandparents. Showing us the wedding photo of her grandparents, she told us the story of how she almost didn't come into existence.

After their marriage (her grandmother was about 16) her grandparents walked with other pioneers from southeastern Wisconsin to Minnesota, with all their belongings in a horse drawn cart. The horse was owned by another man, and he left them stranded on the road when he took the horse and went on without them when her grandmother was about to give birth to her first child. Her husband went in search of help and found a family to take them in. Meanwhile, the group that had left them stranded were all killed in the New Ulm Massacre.

Her grandmother gave birth to a healthy baby, and five more through the years, and they married and had families (many photos), and finally one of the youngest of the grandchildren of this couple who had married during the Civil War and missed a massacre through the thoughtlessness of others, retold the story through a photograph album.

#72 Artistic freedom

Speaking of Reagan (blog #71), I didn’t give up a lucrative career to blog on the internet, but Barbra Striesand has. And she is screaming “artistic freedom” over CBS’s decision to drop her husband’s comeback movie about Ronald Reagan. I won’t give you her website because it is not that hard to find by googling it.

Can you imagine her rant if a bio pic (just a movie, as she says, not a documentary) chose Britney Spears, who looks just a bit WASPish, to play the famous Barbra, then having the character mouthing anti-Israel hate speech, also depicting Barbra’s son Jason (with husband Elliot Gould) as homophobic, and her performing as an off-key alto with no nasal tones? And the final insult. Law suit big time--if the producers put the “A” back in her name just for authenticity and balance.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

#71 When Howard met Ron

My father grew up on a tenant farm in an unincorporated area called Pine Creek, Illinois, just a few miles from Dixon. When he was at Mt. Morris College, he played football against the future president, Ronald Reagan, and enjoyed saying, “and we beat ‘em too!” I’ve just looked at the college yearbook and see that on November 15, 1930 MMC beat Eureka 21 to zip. The next year on November 14, neither team scored.

MMC had a disastrous fire on Easter of 1931, struggled to stay open for the 1931-32 school year, and then closed. Technically and legally it merged with Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana, which retains MMC‘s archives and student records. Dad was very smart, but not a very good student. However, he was also very poor and he could play football--thus he was on scholarship. My mother was an excellent student from a formerly wealthy family devastated by the Depression, so she didn’t have a scholarship and worked in 1932 as a domestic in Chicago.

The small college gridiron wasn’t the first place Howard and Ron met. When Dad was in high school a neighbor took an interest in his future--Dad had worked on his farm. Dad had a loan from the Polo Women’s Club (for the worthy poor, he told me, and he paid it all back) to go to college but hadn’t decided where he wanted to go. I doubt that he had ever been out of the county. He was only seventeen years old and that year (1930) had seen a bathroom for the first time in a private home while visiting a town friend. The neighbor took him to Dixon to meet nineteen year old Ronald Reagan, who was at Eureka. Apparently there was no spark, and besides later in the summer he met my mother on a blind date and she was planning to go MMC.

I don’t recall that my father, a life long Republican, was ever enthusiastic about Reagan. To him I suppose it was a “can anything good come from Nazareth” bias. Or it could have been the Hollywood stigma. Or remembering that Reagan had once been a Democrat. Or that he wasn’t a very good football player. No, I never heard Dad say anything about Reagan except “and we beat ‘em too.”

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

#70 Why Today I’m not a Democrat

Journalists and public figures like Zell Miller are paid to tell why they switch parties. No one cares why a retired librarian in 2002 registered as a Republican for the first time. It was a long time coming--about 15 years.

In Al-Anon in the 80s, I learned our well-intentioned plans to change others for their own good are damaging. We kill initiative, ambition and make people resentful. The fall of the Soviet Union and most of eastern Europe sinking into a hopeless morass in the early 90s unable to stave off the criminal element also contributed to my changed thinking. Then the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings demonstrated what a mess our race and gender policies had become.

Safe, legal abortions (which I never supported but the Democrats did) were to “give women a choice.” Well, by 1991 we'd aborted 25 million babies and 58% of women with children under 6 were in the labor force. In 1950, only 12% of women with children under 6 were working. Were families really better off with women out of the home, I wondered? By the 90s there was more violence against women, more child abuse, and the surplus of women in all age groups was shrinking, not because men were living longer, but because women were dying at a faster rate than they used to.

In September 1992, I was a Democrat who was considering George H. W. Bush, for three reasons: abortion, Communism’s defeat, and Bush‘s resume for international politics was superior to Clinton‘s. But I lost confidence in Bush--his staff seemed in disarray, nothing had been said about the mess in the Balkans, and there was actually good news about the economy, but he seemed unable to address it. Anyway, I ended up voting for Clinton. In the next election I didn’t make that mistake. I was not a True Believer.

The Democrats continued to break up Americans into special interest groups--blacks, Hispanics, gays, Asians, Native peoples, etc. What we fought for in the 60s and 70s, being blind to race, is now reversed and called affirmative action. Our schools were held hostage by teachers’ unions and procedures and rules that encourage chaos.

Rich Democrats bankrolled liberal policies in environmentalism and animal rights that actually hurt the poor, like land restrictions which deprive the poor and minorities of housing in the cities and drive small farmers off the land. A Jessie Jackson or a Ted Kennedy can send his kids to private schools, but Democrats don’t want a poor or minority child given the same chance through school vouchers.

Working in the academic world where the 70s radicals were in power, also turned me against many of the liberal/socialist policies of my party. The political correctness, the lack of intellectual freedom, the blather and holier-than-thou attitudes, and layers of bureaucracy were stifling. But starting our own business in 1994 and actually experiencing the chunk of taxation we have at the local, state and federal level was the real wake-up call.

I was not particularly enthusiastic in 2000 about George W. Bush during his candidacy, but thought Gore was tainted by Clinton. Neither were effective campaigners. Now I believe Bush is far more in-charge, smart and tough than his detractors could ever have imagined. It has demoralized and angered the Democrats. I believe President Bush is doing the right thing in going after Saddam Hussein because we made promises to the Iraqi people and to the American people when we won the Gulf War. These promises were not kept, and we’re paying now. Hussein is another Stalin or Hitler or Mao, a leader who murders his own people. More Iraqis’ lives would have been lost if he had remained in power than through the 2nd Gulf War.

Miller, a Democratic Senator from Georgia, said, “This is a president who understands the price of freedom. He understands that leaders throughout history often have had to choose between good and evil, tyranny and freedom. . . . This is also a president who understands that tax cuts are not just something that all taxpayers deserve, but also the best way to curb government spending. It is the best kind of tax reform. If the money never reaches the table, Congress can't gobble it up.”

I agree with a Democrat for the first time in years.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

#69 With the water of false doctrine

At five points this morning all traffic stopped. A fire engine’s siren could be heard in the distance. We waited, it passed, we proceeded with our day. Safe. When the Unification Church rolls through, blowing a whistle, sounding an alarm, Christians need to stop at a respectful distance and let it pass. This particular siren might be clearing the way to hell with the water of false doctrine that won‘t put out the fire. The man who wants to be Jesus for our generation now wants Christian churches to take down the cross. Over 200 pastors who claim (I assume) to be Christians actually got taken in by the oldest trick recorded in the Book--“Indeed, has God said. . .?” And on Easter, no less.

Moonies and the cross: “Christians have traditionally believed that Jesus’ death on the cross was predestined as the original plan of God. No, it was not! It was a grievous error to crucify Jesus Christ. Death on the cross was not the mission that God had originally intended for Jesus, his Son" (Outline of The Principle: Level 4, pp. 79, 81).

John Calvin and the cross: "Therefore, although the preaching of the cross does not agree with our human inclination, if we desire to return to God our Author and Maker, from whom we have been estranged, in order that he may again begin to be our Father, we ought nevertheless to embrace it humbly." --Calvin, Institutes, 2.6.1

Luther and the cross: "Luther's theology of the cross assumed its new significance [after the Second World War] because it was the theology which addressed the question which could not be ignored: is God really there, amidst the devastation and dereliction of civilization? ... Rarely, if ever, has a sixteenth-century idea found such a powerful response in twentieth-century man." --Alister McGrath, Luther's Theology of the Cross, 179-180

#68 Vote today!

Today we go to the polls. It is really low-key around here. A few judgeships (Tweedledum running against Tweedledee) are getting most of the TV ads. There is a jobs program our Republican governor wants to have passed. It is to bring high tech jobs to Ohio--the third frontier he calls it, agriculture being the first, and manufacturering the second.

In one of the races I noticed "non-practicing Methodist" listed beside the Religion category for a candidate. It seems a little odd to list religion in secular election bios, but if you have to put something, I don't think "non-practicing" sounds like a good recommendation for a politician. Sleeps in? Hasn't paid his pledge? Doesn't like the choir? Got mad at a committee meeting because he couldn't have his own way?

Monday, November 03, 2003

67 The ghost of William B. McKinley

In #65 I said I don’t believe in ghosts, however, Mr. McKinley seemed everywhere when I was at the University of Illinois. I lived in Hannah McKinley Hall (see blog 54), attended McKinley Presbyterian Church, recovered from mono at McKinley Hospital, walked on McKinley Avenue, and taught Spanish at Urbana High School which had a McKinley field. Who was this mysterious McKinley whose name was everywhere?

William B. McKinley was the son of a Presbyterian minister who made his fortune in public works. After learning the banking business with his uncle, in 1884 he entered the field of public utilities, building the first water works to supply Champaign and Urbana. Soon after, he also built the first electric lighting plant for the two cities, housing the generators in the water works buildings. In 1890, he bought, electrified, and expanded the horse car line between Urbana and Champaign. He also bought the gas and electric plants in Defiance, Ohio, and built a street railway there. In 1892, he sold his utilities holdings in Champaign-Urbana, and bought and electrified horse car lines in Springfield, Ohio and Bay City, Michigan. He became involved in rail lines in many Illinois and some Indiana cities.

In 1902, William McKinley running as a Republican was elected to a seat on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. He served in that post until 1905 and first ran for Congress in 1904. The Champaign and Urbana newspapers supported him, and he was elected easily and then reelected three times. McKinley ran the re-election campaign of William Howard Taft in 1912 against independent candidate Teddy Roosevelt and Democrat Woodrow Wilson. He served seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (59th through the 66th Congresses, missing the 63rd). In 1921 he was elected to the Senate.

William McKinley believed that the wealthy had an obligation to pay back to the community in both service and dollars. He donated nearly $1 million for the hospital, the University YWCA McKinley Hall and the McKinley Presbyterian Church, 809 S. Fifth St., Champaign, to honor his parents, according to an article in the Daily Illini. McKinley Foundation at the Presbyterian church had speakers, retreats, dinners and activities for students.

McKinley Health Center was named for his father after he donated $250,000 in 1925 to build and equip a hospital for students and staff. McKinley Athletic Fields at both the Urbana and the Champaign High Schools were named for him and there is also a Champaign street named for his father. There is a chair in economics named for William B. McKinley at the U. of I. funded by an endowment.

Senator McKinley also donated money to Blackburn College in Carlinville, IL. When he died in 1926, several months away from completing his Senate term, McKinley's gifts to Blackburn totaled $150,000. His last gift was the money to build the charming brick home found on the corner of Nicholas Street and College Avenue where the President lives. He also donated the pipe organ at the Presbyterian Church of Petersburg, IL in 1917 in memory of his father.

It's a stretch to call him a ghost, especially since I don't believe in ghosts, but an assignment is an assignment. Besides, he sheltered me, took care of me when I was sick, ministered to my spiritual needs, walked with me, and hung around when I was teaching. Perhaps he qualified as a ghost.

Sources: Twin Cities Traction by H. George Friedman, Jr., 2001
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress 1774-present

Sunday, November 02, 2003

#66 When your still life stinks

I went to watercolor workshop Friday morning. I haven't picked up a pen or brush since August 21 at Lakeside. Elaine called Thursday night and said, "where have you been girlfriend?" So Friday morning I put on my black cat apron, packed my bag with way too many things, and I was out of here at 9 a.m.

During the summer I had seen a painting in an art book of a still life of an eggplant, turnip and pepper placed on a cutwork doily. The rich purple, delicate pink and green appealed to me, so I went to the store and bought similar vegetables.

They all rotted in the garage refrigerator before I got around to painting them. So this time, I just copied the exercise from the book. I'm supposed to be in an art show November 15. I could title this: "My vegetables rotted, so I made this copy." Aggravates me when artists enter copies in shows unidentified. Especially if they get the blue ribbon or best of show.

#65 Ghost in the family

Four new people showed up in writing class, so the instructor said, "Let's all go around and introduce ourselves." I was first, said 2 sentences (I know that is hard to believe, but true)."My name is Norma and I'm a retired OSU librarian. I write essays and poetry." This group is full of a lot of wisdom and life experience, and more than a little loneliness. Each person told a little bit more, then the next one more, and it took 50 minutes of a 2 hour class to get through the introductions.

After a few readings of the former assignment, which we didn't have time to finish in that class, we did a few of this week's (my Rachel and Nancy story in my blog, #20 I think). We worked right through the rest room break!

Then there were 2 minutes left and she said, "Write about a ghost in your family." Yes, that's our next assignment for writing class. Don't have one. Don't believe in it. Not into that spiritualism, navel gazing, seance stuff. So I'll stretch the boundaries a bit and write about someone who was everywhere I went and lived.

#64 Index to themes, topics, passing thoughts, and ideas, updated

academe, libraries 10,  26, 29, 38, 54,67, 70, 75
art and artists  54, 66
blogging  1,  32,  46,  56
books and journals  2,  29,  31,  47,  51, 53,  57, 74
condo living  40, 42
culture  31, 41
economy, finances  7, 13, 33, 43,  61
entertainment 72
faith and values  14, 30, 31, 32, 37,  46,  50,  63,  62, 68, 69, 87
family  2, 4, 6, 21, 24, 28, 34, 36, 39,  55, 59, 67, 79, 80, 82, 86, 89
fashion  21,  55
food, recipes, eating out  3, 8, 10, 11, 25, 35, 36, 42, 56,  59
friends  9, 10, 21, 50,  54
genealogy  19, 20, 24,  44, 67, 71, 73
health  23, 25, 36, 39,  48,  53,  61,  60, 81, 83, 88
history 85
Illinois  44,  54,  63, 67
Internet, Usenet, computers  26, 32, 33, 37,  62
nature  31, 42,  58,  57
observations, misc.  5, 12, 15,  49,  52,  
Ohio  20, 40
pets  27, 39,  56
poetry  14, 22, 44,  55,  63, 80
politics  9, 43, 70, 76, 78, 87
science  2, 16, 29
women  20, 23, 44, 63
writing  19, 62, 65, 67

#63 Today is All Saints' Sunday

Today is the day Christians celebrate that those who have died in Christ live forever. During "pass the peace" in church today we were asked to share who we were remembering. The ones I shook hands with were remembering their mothers, or parents. In the 1990s I realized I was losing many of the "mothers of my childhood," although my own mother was still living (she died in 2000). I wrote this poem in memory of these precious saints.

The Mothers of Our Childhood
February 20, 1997

I have filed a report
and sounded the alarm.
We are missing the Mothers:
They're nowhere to be found.

Strong women disappeared while
I was living away.
Perhaps a moment ago,
a year or a decade.

Housewife, retailer, artist;
teacher, farmer and clerk.
Secretary, volunteer;
No doctor, lawyer, chief.

Velda, Gladys, Marian, Millie;
Rosalie, Reta, Rose, and Ruth;
Alice, Hazel, Ada, and Esther:
Born during the century's youth.

Finish this list of Mothers
while I go look around.
No, the veil closed behind them;
they're gone. We are alone.

* * * *

For Rosalie Balluff, Ruth Crowell, Rose Fleming, Gladys Johnson, Mildred Lamm, Esther Masterson, Marian Miller, Velda Plum, Hazel Potter, Ruth Rothermel, Reta Saunders, Ada Thomas, Alice Zickuhr and all the other Mothers of unwritten verses.

One had no children.
One was my scout leader.
One was my employer.
One reached out in sorrow.
Two were sisters-in-law.
Two were sisters of my father.
Two had daughters married to the sons of two others.
Three lived on our block when I was a pre-schooler.
Three died before I was married.
Three died this past year.
Four were members of my church.
Ten were mothers of my classmates.
Thirteen lived in Mt. Morris.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

#62 Paul predicts chat on the internet

“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women. . .” 2 Tim 3: 2-6 NIV

There are many ugly words to describe some of the functions on the Internet. Web, spider, virus, abort, hack and worm being the first to come to mind. Even the word World (as in world wide web) is used in scripture as the term for Satan’s kingdom. The internet is a wonderful source of information, but has contributed to all sorts of criminal, illegal and immoral behaviors, by making them easier to hide and perpetrate, like pornography, pedophilia, infidelity, identity theft, financial scams and the destruction and theft of intellectual property.

As downloads become faster and appetites increase for larger and more instantaneous files, the internet has contributed personally to my shorter attention span, growing impatience and weight gain, with broadband being aptly named for the spreading hips and thighs of long sessions surfing the net.

A peek into any chat room, discussion group or usenet forum reveals rude behavior, trash talk and ugly feuds beyond anything we find in real life. Even religious and hobby forums have this problem. This level of conversation is spilling over into the commons of every city and town in the world.

I like to write and frequently contribute to a writers’ group on Usenet. I started in 1994 or 1995, left after about two years, popped back in once in awhile, participated in 2002, stopped for a year, and started up again this fall. Only occasionally are there writing discussions from which I can learn. Often the most casual remark turns into a flame war particularly among regulars.

Although I like to write, I get little out of the squabbles and personality conflicts in the group, whether they are debating the war in Iraq or Harry Potter. Still, I get suckered into arguments and drawn in to taking sides. Then I can be as careless with my words as the next person who is talking to a faceless group. Beth Moore says you have to put down the stones (you plan to throw) in order to have your hands free to accept the good things God has to offer. So I’m signing off. . . again.