Friday, December 31, 2004

682 Nebraskan chosen Poet Laureate

Next to my own family, I've known Nelson (Tom) longer than just about anyone else on my Christmas card list. We used to ride our tricycles around the block together, and had our photo taken together at graduation for the school yearbook. His Christmas letter this year mentioned that 26 years ago he asked a friend, a local poet, to write a wedding poem for him and bride Kathy (a librarian). Now that friend, Ted Kooser, has been appointed Poet Laureate of the United States. I'd say Nelson had a good sense for poetry (he is a philosopher) to recognize this man's talent a quarter a century ago. Library of Congress announcement here.

The Washington Post article states: "Kooser, says former poet laureate Billy Collins, "is a poet who has deserved to be better known. This appointment will at least take care of that problem."

Collins says Kooser is distinguished from the rank and file by two things. First, Kooser has spent most of his life in the corporate world. "I won't be the first or the last to compare him to Wallace Stevens," says Collins, referring to the sublime Connecticut poet who was also an insurance executive.

And Kooser is from the Midwest. Collins suggests that Kooser's appointment is "an intentional pick." He says, "The middle section of the country needed greater poetic representation."

Kooser, he adds, "is a thoroughly American poet laureate."

Enjoy three poems by Ted Kooser.

Most Disgusting Story of 2004

The worst story I've heard this year was on the last day and I heard it on the radio this morning--tourists have returned to the beaches in the area where thousands have died from the tsunami on December 26. So, maybe their tickets won't be up for awhile, or they've paid for the hotel room. How about putting on some rubber gloves and helping with the clean up? Money. Sometimes it rots brains and metastacizes to their hearts.

Checked it out when I got home. Yes, it's here and here.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

680 Beautiful winter scenes

If you live in central or northern Ohio or Indiana, you've probably seen more snow this past week than you care to. Anvilcloud, a retired Canadian teacher who has been taking a Christmas break in the country, has posted some lovely winter photographs on his blog.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

679 Dear Preferred Former Member

Considering the letter I sent them some years ago, I'm really surprised they want me back. It was a "record club," although I guess that is a cd club now. I'm old enough to remember vinyl. But here's what I told them:
Please discontinue my membership for the following reasons:

Your mailings are omnipresent, never-ending, stuffed with things I'm not interested in. If I'm interested in music why assume I want new checks, skin care products and Disney junk?

Your bills are confusing, hard to read, and difficult to find in the envelope.

The due date is so small and hard to find in the mailings, one needs a magnifying glass. If it is a good service/product there is no need to trick the unwary and careless into buying it.

The offers are monotonous. Although I expressed an interest in a type of music, "Christian," that is all I hear about and they all sound the same--like boy bands.

Your shipping charges are so high that after having ordered only 2 disks and 2 tapes, I owe $31.46. That is no bargain. I can do better at Kroger's.

Thank you for removing me immediately as a member of whatever it is this company is called. You may keep my free points and the free subscription bonuses--they are too expensive to cash in.

As I said, why would they want me back? Why would I rejoin? This letter is from the "Office of the President." He says he's serious about wanting me back. Wants me to test the music at his website. 100,000 sound samples. 12 CDs for the price of 1. Sure, sure. Tell me another story. And how did they find me? I've moved since I took this scam the last time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

678 An expensive vote count

The recount bill is in--$1,500,000 for the Democrats to gain 300 votes. $5,000 per vote we Ohio taxpayers have shelled out. Story here.

Captain Ed comments: “That certainly proved a productive use of Ohio's resources. The Secretary of State estimated that Ohio's taxpayers will eat about $1.5 million for the complete recount, far outpacing the $113,000 the Greens and Libertarians paid for the effort. When that money isn't available for more voting machines or a few workers get laid off because of the budget crunch, perhaps Buckeye State voters will remember that this useless bill was brought to them by the Democrats and fringe parties.”

677 Insurers to Natural Disasters--"Stop It!"

``The terrible effects spreading all around the Indian Ocean and reaching as far as the Horn of Africa are a further reminder of the global threat from natural catastrophes,'' executive board member Stefan Heyd wrote in Munich Re's annual disaster report.

"They underline our long-standing demand for prompt and rigorous measures against global climate change. After the disappointing outcome of the recent climate summit in Buenos Aires, time is running out." Reuters Story here.

2004 will be the second most expensive disaster year for insurers, second to 1995 which had the devastating Kobe earthquake.

And how about that Jan Egeland of Norway who first called the US stingy in its response and now is backtracking. I personally wouldn't give a nickel to the United Nations after the way it misused the oil for food program. Find a good church agency like Mennonite Central Committee or Lutheran World Relief that has low overhead and a small administrative staff and put your relief money there.

676 Fetus starts kindergarten?

The St. Louis Post Dispatch is still calling that baby girl Stinnet who was removed from her dead mother's womb a "fetus" two weeks after she was brutally "born." I can see the headline when five years from now this precious little one starts school. Past, present, future. A human being.

Monday, December 27, 2004

675 Christmas Surprise

Of course, gifts should be a surprise, but when you make lists and check them twice, you sort of know. However, my husband surprised me BIG with a lovely painting of my mother working in her garden, a scene that everyone in the family remembers so well. Her motto was, "I can't change the world, but I can change four acres," and her family farm property looked like a well kept park. This format is too small to see how lovely this painting is, but even though her face is hidden by the sun hat, I'd know this lady anywhere.

My Office

674 Celebrating with Baby Jesus in many shapes and sizes and nationalities

The list of nativities and creches ran to over 20 pages as we toured yesterday the 19th century home of Donna and David, friends of ours from church. Providing four viewing times on three days near Christmas, they helped us enjoy their wonderful collection with personal reflections on the history, collectibility, value and meaning of each piece and set. They ranged from 19th century Russian paintings to carved wood from the Philippines, metal from India, ceramic from Peru, and porcelain from Hallmark. From kitschy-tourist trinkets to handmade by their children, to valuable sets by known contemporary designers and craftspeople, each piece is loved and receives pride of place in windows, walls, chimney columns, corner cupboards, tables, buffets, refrigerator, and doorways. Some of the most loved and precious were those played with or selected by their daughter who died 8 years ago in an auto accident. Glancing through the cataloged list I see:
  • Holy Family by Josef Ammann, wrought iron, 1998, purchased in Erfuhrt, Germany, July 2002.
  • Nativity Figures by Kim Laurence, Christmas present for David, 1999.
  • Papier mache and plastic, hand painted Fontinini. Italian. Gift from Donna's mother, 1974.
  • Painting with cactus needle, Elvis Castillo, Mexico. Purchased in San Antonio, 2003.
  • Straw Madonna Plaque, East Germany. Purchased York, England, 1989.
  • Precious Moments, Cloth. Lil's Hallmark, 1986.
  • Neapolitan Santons, Chalkware. Naples.
  • Sarcophagus relief from Catacombs in Rome reproduction. Vatican Museum Shop, Rome 2003.
  • Italian Crucifix, wood, 18th century. Colorado Springs, 1970.
  • Miniature Pewter, Spoonbill Pewterers, Massachusetts. Purchased from Columbus Cancer Clinic Shop, 1987.
  • Baby Jesus, redware, Ann Entis. A show of hands. 1988.
  • Nativity plaque, enameled brass. Israel. 1987.
  • Wire in Goose egg, Slovakia. FOTC convention, 2003.
  • Holy Family Figurine, Christopher Radko, 2004. Curio Cabinet, 2004.
  • Peaceable Kingdom Christmas Plate 1989, Edna Hibel. Gallery Art Center, 1991.
  • Linen needlework, early 16th century in 19th century frame.
  • Nativity figures, Kenyan soapstone. Imported by 10000 Villages, 2004.
  • Peanuts Holy Family, Hallmark, 2001.
  • Flight into Egypt, Peru, Ceramic. Augsburg, 1993.
And hundreds more. But each set and piece announced the first coming of Jesus in its own unique way. After the tour and our hosts' comments we gathered around Donna's kitchen table for wonderful homemade refreshments and memories appropriate for the season--and even the kitchen window spaces were filled with scenes of that first Christmas.

    Sunday, December 26, 2004

    673 Christmas for new Christians

    According to my FamilyTreeMaker genealogy software, we are step-relatives, but I've only seen him once--at the wedding that put us in the same database. However, I do know that this year Christmas has a whole new meaning for him and his family. And for others refreshed, renewed, or newly aware.

    James Davis, Religion Editor of the Sun-Sentinel (Florida) had a unique Christmas story to share for the Christmas issue, "A Newly Found Faith," stories about new Christians and how Christmas this year was going to be different. Instead of "Giftmas" or parties until they dropped, or an occasion for huge family get-togethers, this year it was going to be about Jesus Christ.

    Story tip from Terry Mattingly at GetReligion. This site is not always kind to Christians (covers all faiths), but has had good coverage of the "Christmas culture wars," even the accusations that the stories we hear amount to summer "shark attacks" news stories--i.e. overblown.

    Friday, December 24, 2004

    Looking forward to 2005

    Karol has had a really, really bad year, and is looking forward to things getting better in 2005. She writes very movingly, particularly about her grandmother's death. Read the whole essay here.

    671 Christmas--the Word

    The disappearance not only of nativity scenes and wise men but even the mention of the word "Christmas" has been quite a story this year. I saw a news item about a pastor (in Atlanta?) who was telling his flock not to buy at stores unless the word "Christmas" was mentioned in the promotions. It is sort of an odd backlash for Christians, who for years have been telling each other that Christmas is way too commercialized and losing its meaning. There is an old tradition of Christians attempting to put the skids on the commercializing of the holiday.

    Mark Roberts writes: "My own theological ancestors, the Reformed Puritans of Britain, attempted to get rid, not only of Christmas carols, but also of Christmas itself. They attempted to “purify” the church of both secular and Roman Catholic elements. When they were in power in Britain in the middle of the 17th century, the Puritans actually succeeded in making the celebration of Christmas illegal. No carols, no fun, no Christmas! The earliest Europeans in America, coming from English Puritan stock, did not celebrate Christmas, and in fact made a point of not doing so. In fairness to these folk, however, we should understand that the secular and pagan celebrations of Christmas were often filled with drunken excess, rather more like Mardi Gras in New Orleans than most secular Christmas celebrations today (except, perhaps, for office parties run amuck)."

    Little did we know that the valiant and ever ready ACLU would help us with that problem by taking the holiday away from us! However, I saw a story in the Washington Post, "Money Is Not Enough at Christmas; Many Filipino Immigrants Ship Presents Overseas," By Phuong Ly, Washington Post Staff Writer, on Friday, December 24, 2004; Page B05, in which "Christmas" the word is in the headline, and used 5 or 6 times in the story. The writer may not chose the headline, but it could be that WaPo watches the news too. Anyway, I wrote Ly expressing my appreciation for the acknowledgement of the reason we have this celebration each December.

    670 Kittens

    Can't decide if I like this. Opinions?

    669 Festive Christmas Salad

    The family gathers here tomorrow for dinner and gifts. The table is set and most of the food is prepared. I'll pop the meat in the oven before we leave for church. I'm not using the "good" china, but rather my colorful blue and white color scheme with special Christmas plates and mugs.

    Snowflake by Debbie Mumm

    I'll be serving a festive red, white and green salad. In my recipe box it goes by the name, "Broccoli Salad," but its colors are so seasonal I've renamed it. I think the original (before my revisions) came from the premiere issue of Taste of Home.

    1 bunch broccoli, separated into florets
    1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
    8 bacon strips, fried and crumbled
    1/3 cup chopped onion
    1 dry pint grape tomatoes
    2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
    1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
    1/3 cup sugar (I use Splenda)
    2 tablespoons vinegar

    In a large salad bowl, combine broccoli, cauliflower, bacon, onion, tomatoes and eggs; set aside. In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar; mix until smooth. Just before service, pour dressing over salad and toss. Yield: 6-8 servings.

    Tips: Amounts are quite flexible. Use any amount of broccoli and cauliflower you have on hand. Doesn't seem to make much difference--same with bacon. I don't use the onion. Added a little crisp celery for some extra. I don't use that much sugar/Splenda, but doesn't seem to change flavor much. Serve in a clear glass bowl to show off the pretty colors of the season. And oh yes, I use a small red bowl of my mother's to mix the dressing--that's just an extra touch for memories.

    Thursday, December 23, 2004

    668 Winter Wonderland

    Yesterday it rained; then it snowed 6 or 8 inches; then early this morning at about 34 degrees, it started raining again; now the temperature is dropping and it is turning to snow. Icicles are dangling from the trees. I'm watching the weather channel, and the change from snow to rain runs right through our county, north to south. Going out this morning doesn't look like a good plan.

    Wednesday, December 22, 2004

    Still scoring pretty low

    You are 27% geek
    You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

    Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

    You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

    Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

    You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

    Take the Polygeek Quiz at

    666 Library Dreaming

    Yesterday I attended the Departmental Librarians Christmas luncheon at a local restaurant. I sat next to one of the assistant directors of OSUL who had been my former boss. We spent a lot of time discussing the plans for the renovation of the Main Library.

    These plans had begun before I retired in 2000. They will include the relocation of the Education, Psychology, Social Work, and Human Ecology collections to Main from Sullivant Hall which my husband worked on in the 1980s (the space that now houses that library will be remodeled to house Technical Services, the Information Technology Dept., and lots of public PCs with production software in addition to library resources; the Music/Dance Library will stay),

    the closing of the Main Library for several years, and the demolition of the 1970s addition to the Thompson Main Library to which I returned professionally in 1978.

    It must have weighed heavily on my mind (or it was the onions in the soup), because I dreamed Pat came to my house to ask me to come back to work. Except, it wasn't Pat, it was Barb C. from our Lakeside summer community, whose Christmas card label hasn't been used because she and her husband have moved and we don't have the new address. But I told Pat-morphed-into-Barb, "No," because I was having too much fun being retired.

    Then our calico cat decided it was time to be fed. (She has issues from having been homeless.) First she jumped atop the dresser and adjusted the blinds, then she returned to the bed and sat on my chest, with her tail in my face watching the bedroom door. If I move even slightly, she uses my body as a springboard to rush out of the bedroom into the bathroom where she waits to hurry me along in my morning routine.

    Consequently, I never found out if Pat, the assistant director, was disappointed or relieved that I turned her down. Or was that Barb? Or Lotza Spotza?

    665 A picture is worth a thousand ACLU lawyers

    Two large photos in two different newspapers caught my eye today. In the Columbus Dispatch it was a photograph of a fabulous, elaborate, snow-sculptured Santa Claus in northeastern China. Originally the Anti-Christian Lawyers Unrelenting just went after the nativity scenes, now it is red and green, Santas and Christmas trees, all of which are pagan in origin. Anyway, in this regard, the non-Christian Chinese have more freedom of expression than we do.

    And in the USAToday there was a photo of another non-Christian nation and peoples celebrating Christmas without the assistance of lawyers and school principals. This one was of blind Palestinian children having a Christmas party at the YMCA (which if it has parties in the USA for American children probably calls them "holiday celebrations"). The party is sponsored primarily by the Mormons, the Jews, and the Presbyterians.

    664 Another baby sleep story

    A few days ago I gave my advice for getting children to sleep. Here's a great story about what a little one needed and what we need, too.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2004

    663 Frivolous vote challenge thrown out in Ohio

    Overlawyered has the story about the challenge to the Ohio election results.

    "The Ohio Supreme Court's Chief Justice threw out a lawsuit backed by Jesse Jackson and funded by a partisan Massachusetts election monitoring group. The lawsuit claimed that Pres. Bush unfairly won Ohio due to some indescribable fraud by his supporters. . .[w]ithout listing specific evidence, the complaint alleges that 130,656 votes for Kerry and John Edwards in 36 counties were somehow switched to count for the Bush-Cheney ticket."

    662 The Perkins Cat

    The Ohio State University Libraries used to have a departmental library at the Perkins Observatory in Delaware, OH. For 63 years the University had an arrangement with Ohio Wesleyan to maintain the Observatory and that ended in 1998. I believe HUDL (Heads of Undergraduate and Departmental Libraries) met there shortly before the astronomy collection was disbanded and moved to Ohio State. Perkins had a library cat named CAT. CAT was in charge of rodent control and really didn't care much for visitors, according to this story. There are a number of libraries that have cats, the most famous were Baker and Taylor, two Scottish Folds named for a book distributor. When I was the veterinary librarian, I had their poster on the bulletin board. There was even a documentary made about library cats, called Puss in Books.

    660 Letter to Santa

    This is the most beautiful letter to Santa you'll ever read.

    And here is a heart warming story by a Florida librarian.

    My December 21st poem (posted last year on the 21st).

    Monday, December 20, 2004

    659 Step Grandchildren

    At the family Christmas in Indiana I was watching Brandon and Christopher interact. Both beautiful young men in spirit and body, well over 6’ tall, towering over their parents, now both dark haired although both were blond as little boys. It seems like yesterday that I was watching them through the window run around outside when they were about 12, trying out the new helmets and swords and camping gear their grandparents had given them for Christmas. They are first cousins. Sort of. One is my sister-in-law’s biological grandson, and one is her husband’s biological grandson, but in this family they are simply “the grandchildren” and there is absolutely no difference. My sister-in-law has a step-daughter from her first marriage who also has children, and they too are “cousins” and “grandchildren, ” with no distinction, at least not that I can see. Their photos are framed and on the end tables along with the rest of the grandchildren.

    Blending a family isn’t always easy at holidays. This family has made it work with love, a sense of humor, prayer and hard work. I liked the advice on this page. They could have written it.

    And just because it is Christmas time and I'm thinking about family, here is an excellent letter written by a Professor at George Mason University to his parents about his thoughts on freedom. Don't miss a word--it is outstanding and shows that giving a child material things isn't what teaches the best lessons.

    658 Hmmm, smells like apple pie, he said

    Maybe it smelled like apple pie, but it looked like sewage from the bottom of a broken garbage disposal. This morning I decided to slice and cook some withered, soft apples. So I put a bit of margarine in the cast iron skillet and sliced the apples into it. But they were dry, so I added a bit if apple cider. Then I got really creative and sprinkled over it some cinnamon and old fashioned oats. It was smelling quite lovely, so I decided to add some walnuts. The whole mess turned charcoal black.

    After I threw it out, I decided to turn the kitchen into a chemistry lab. I heated up a bit of apple cider in the cast iron skillet and added walnuts. Turned the liquid black. Then I put some apple cider in a stainless steel saucepan and added walnuts. Turned darker brown, but not black. Then I took that brown mixture and added it to a different, smaller cast iron skillet, one with more baked on black gunk (I like to call it seasoning). No change. Then I moved it to the other cast iron skillet, which probably needs to be reseasoned, and it immediately turned black.

    From the kitchen I went to Google, and tried all manner of combinations, finding lots of recipes that use both cider and walnuts, and lots of advice on how to properly season a cast iron skillet (this one is 45 years old). But nothing about turning out a black porridge that looks like I scraped it off the garage floor at the end of winter in Ohio.

    So if anyone with more lab experience or more cooking experience knows why an improperly seasoned cast iron skillet turns cider black when walnuts are added, I'd like to know about it. Just don't ever try this unless you've got a lot of extra ingredients so you can start over.

    657 Where is Miss Beazley, the latest Barney film

    Here is a nice Christmas card from the Bush family, "Where in the White House is Miss Beazley?" featuring their dog Barney, who is looking for Miss Beazley, the new puppy. Lots of fun, including some great shots of the White House decorated for Christmas.

    Safe for children and Democrats.

    Sunday, December 19, 2004

    656 New Writer on my List

    I've added The Zero Boss to my Writers' Links down at the bottom left. I think he writes mostly about parenting, as well he should--he's 30 years old and has 6 kids! Through him I discovered an e-journal for Ohio State that I'd never heard of--not sure if it has actually had its first issue yet. I found him through Paula, who is a writer discovering other writers (instead of writing), and has just composed a really cute 12 days of Christmas verse about other bloggers.

    Update: 3 years later and all three of these links are dead.

    655 The Killing of Expectant Mothers

    When I heard of another expectant mother being killed and her baby removed from the womb and kidnapped, I immediately thought of the Scott Peterson case. I again wondered why he was the only suspect, since apparently this horribly, brutal type of murder happens more often than we want to remember. Now the Washington Post is running a series:

    "Their killings produced only a few headlines, but across the country in the last decade, hundreds of pregnant women and new mothers have been slain. Even as Scott Peterson's trial became a public fascination, little was said about how often is happens, why, and whether it is a fluke or a social syndrome."

    "A year-long examination by The Washington Post of death-record data in states across the country documents the killings of 1,367 pregnant women and new mothers since 1990. This is only part of the national toll, because no reliable system is in place to track such cases. . . Homicide accounted for 50 of 247 maternal deaths in Maryland over a six-year period -- more than 20 percent. It had caused more deaths than cardiovascular disorders, embolisms or accidents."

    Most of these homicides were committed by boyfriends or husbands unwilling to become fathers or afraid of child support. But not all. When the latest story was reported locally, other killing/kidnapping cases were also reported. Enough for me to question the death penalty for Scott Peterson--again--because the media and police never seemed to look beyond the husband for a suspect.

    654 The UCC ad

    The other night I saw the UCC ad on a cable station. I think it probably needs to be bumped, or at best, ignored because it depicts other Christians as white, skin-head bouncers. UCC has suffered from declining attendance and membership in recent years, as have most main-line denominations. I don't think it can shore up its sinking ship by throwing water on other Christian groups. Conservative denominations are more integrated and diverse than liberal, not because of lobbying or committees or white papers, but because they preach the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ instead of preaching Good Works gets you to heaven. It always helps if you have a reason for people to darken your doors.

    Saturday, December 18, 2004

    653 Prayer Job Jar December 18

    At least now I have an actual jar--my sister gave it to me when I was about 16, and I think it contained bubble-bath. For years, it was a cookie jar, then it just sat around feeling useless for a decade or two. This week's list is a bit full, but that's how prayers are if you actually sit down and note the requests you've heard or received in e-mail or read on a blog. Listing them has the additional benefit of making you feel things are really pretty good at your own address. That could be the primary benefit of intercessory prayer--helps stomp out navel gazing at pity parties.

    I'm using up old card stock with our former address, and we include the requests with our table grace. It certainly improves that routine! We'd gotten a bit sluggish with the same words, night after night.

    For Chuck, healing; special comfort and peace for his parents and sister whom we've known for so many years.
    For Beverly's brother, the same problem, same request.
    For Phil, the best possible job for his skills and temperament.
    For Keith, a position with tenure.
    For Danny, good contracts for his construction firm.
    For Robert Jr., a position closer to home so he won't miss the kids.
    For Melissa's Dad, wise doctors, skilled testing, and healing.
    For new babies of friends and family, God-fearing, loving, mature parents.
    For Vicky's family, God's comfort in sorrow.
    For our four pastors, a clear, glorious Christmas message.
    For Mary, speedy adjustment in her new home.
    For Dad (father-in-law) and all in nursing homes, loving caregivers.
    For Kate, healing from back surgery.
    For Sue and all volunteers in home-bound service, perserverance.
    For a mother and daughter, a new way to commumicate.
    For Marylyn, skilled doctors and accurate diagnosis, and a quick return home.
    For Joe and Julie, blessings on their new house.
    For Jean and Bob, safe trip to Florida and lots of company.
    For my wonderful husband, his greatest desire.
    For all travelers, visitors and guests this season, travel mercies.

    652 Faith informed by Reason

    Mark Roberts has just finished up an excellent 9 part series answering the Christmas cover stories of Time and Newsweek. Meacham, the writer for Newsweek has no where near the credentials or experience that Roberts has, but the complaint from most believing Christians is that he didn't even attempt to present the other side (often the case with liberals, whether in politics or religion). Roberts takes great care to explain and be fair to the case of the scholars with whom he disagrees. Meacham just pretends that being a liberal Episcopalian makes him some sort of expert on Biblical doctrines and faith. Roberts concludes:

    "If I believed as does Marcus Borg and others like him, that vast portions of the gospels, including the Nativity narratives, were made up, I honestly don’t know whether I’d still consider myself a Christian or not. And if I believed that the resurrection was merely a meaningful symbol and not a historical fact, as Borg believes, I expect that my faith would be insipid at best.

    On Christmas Eve I will stand up before a packed sanctuary and proclaim the good news of Christmas. And what is this good news? It’s more than the virgin birth. It’s even more than the fact that Jesus is light and Lord. The core truth of Christmas is that God has entered human life in they baby Jesus. By a mysterious process that we won’t ever understand, and that Matthew and Luke don’t even try to explain, God became human in the womb of Mary.

    This is the core truth of Christmas. If I didn’t think this really happened, if I thought that the early Christians invented this crazy idea, then I wouldn’t be able to preach the good news on Christmas Eve, or at any other time either. Of course I can’t prove that the Incarnation really happened, but I can show that it’s reasonable to believe it. Ultimately, however, it is a matter of faith, not faith without reason or faith opposed to reason, but faith informed by reason."

    Friday, December 17, 2004

    651 Tell us how you really feel, Professor

    Professor David Mayer of Capital University Law School writes in his blog:

    "The so-called “intelligence reform bill” that passed Congress last week is the most ridiculously stupid legislation coming out of Washington, D.C., since the USA PATRIOT Act and the legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. Like those misguided policies hastily enacted in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the bill revamping the United States’ intelligence bureaucracy is a classic example of the great fallacy of the regulatory/welfare state: the assumption that social problems can be solved by creating a government agency to deal with them, as if bureaucrats can just wave their wands and do magic."

    650 Sleep consultants for babies' parents

    More outsourcing. Now there are social workers, PhDs and counselors who hire out as "sleep consultants" for parents of babies who have erratic sleep patterns (saw the story in the Wall Street Journal). Anything from $100-$300 an hour. Probably a lot has to do with the personality and energy level of the baby, but could any two children be more different in temperment and personality than our two babies were (12 months difference in age)? And they always slept through the night with no problem. One bounded, marched, ran and screamed throughout toddlerhood and the other sat and watched, or browsed books and didn't give up naps until kindergarten.

    For this you don't need to pay me. Norma's sleep advice for parents of babies and toddlers.

    #1. Keep the activity level very low and quiet after supper. If bath time is a battle, do it earlier. Warn babysitters not to play chasing, hiding games with them (the only time we ever had a problem was with sitters who had learned the "wear them out" method).
    #2. Make bedtime routines brief and boring. A back pat or two, a short story and a prayer. No rocking. No back rubs. No explanations of how the world came into being or what is under the bed or in the closet. You're not raising a dummy. The more you succumb to their tricks, the trickier they'll become in ways to keep you in their room.
    #3. Don't run in to check at every whimper or snuffle.
    #4. Don't sleep with your child--her bed or yours. I know it's done in some cultures, but those mommies probably don't have to do a 45 minute commute.
    #5. Early to bed. Sure it's difficult if you are working all day--you want that time with them. Ours didn't know life went on after 7 p.m. until they were about 8 years old. Keeps them away from playing outdoors (stimulating) and watching inappropriate TV.

    The tough part is that when they are bathed, smell really good, are wearing those cute jammies gramma sent, and are sweet talking you, it is tempting to sit on or near the bed and chat. Keep your goal in mind. Seven or eight hours of sleep (ours usually slept 10, but mileage will vary).

    Here's a parent who read all the experts and incorporated the best of all of the advice into one big sleep package. But keep reading, they do continue to struggle--but by December little Ben seems to be managing to sleep in his own room. Also, the blog owner/writer focuses on interesting technology stuff and tries to make it comprehensible for people like me, so also click to Main page.

    Thursday, December 16, 2004

    649 George Lopez represents all the Hispanics?

    We watched "Naughty or Nice," a new Christmas movie the other night with George Lopez. The main characters didn't need to be Hispanic, but the husband, wife and daughter in this movie are. George's character, Henry Ramiro, was a "mean" sports talk show host in Chicago. A young man (not Hispanic) was a fan and called in and asked him to be "nice." The kid was sick (CHF), and died, but Henry, the Shock Jock, didn't know that and strikes up a friendship with him (he's now an angel). Henry ruins his career by being "nice" for this kid. I think I dozed off, because I don't remember how it ended. I did recognize a few Chicago landmarks in the movie.

    I read in one of the papers today that according to a recent study Latinos are 13% of the population, and Lopez's Friday night comedy show has 14% of the Latino characters on eight of the 2004 primetime series set in LA. His show corners the market on Latinos. It probably also corners the market on loud-mouth, incompetent, rude fathers, and nasty adult sons (his Friday night ABC character). Is he the only working Latino comic?

    Wednesday, December 15, 2004

    648 Ophelia, please darken my door

    Ophelia, please darken my door.

    Was it somethin' that somebody said?
    Mama, you know we broke the rules
    Was somebody up against the law?
    Honey, you know I'd die for you
    They got your number Scared and runnin'
    But I'm still waitin' for the second comin'
    Of Ophelia
    Come back home

    Last night we watched The Last Waltz, the final concert of The Band in 1976. The film by Martin Scorsese was released in 1979, and re-released in 2002 on DVD, probably to a whole new audience, like me (the Band is our contemporary, but we weren't paying much attention to popular music in 1970s, or today for that matter). Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Robbie Robertson who says in the filmed interview, "The road--it's an impossible way of life," is still in the business as an arranger and song writer, and at some point the others regrouped and continued to play. Two of the original members have died.

    Tuesday, December 14, 2004

    647 Why I became a librarian

    A very frustrated librarian is asking his fellow workers at why they became (and remain) librarians. The pay is poor; the institutional budgets are usually strained; and sometimes the people you work with are, well, difficult. There wasn't room to answer him on that discussion board, so I thought I'd post my presentation for "Take a Daughter to Work Day" in 1997. I was extremely surprised when about 25 young people showed up for this discussion--I had no idea young people even picked up on library science as a career choice. When reading this, keep in mind that I'm speaking to elementary and junior high age people.

    Take a Daughter to Work Day
    Ohio State University Libraries
    9:30 Room 122 Main Library, April 24, 1997

    Some times choosing a career can be happy thing. In my case, I chose Library Science back in the winter of 1965 because of a terrible tragedy in my life. Everything I thought I was going to do in life had completely changed and I needed a new direction.

    I wanted a “real” career to give me a sense of purpose. I already had a teacher’s license, but we lived in a university town overrun with school teachers. What I already had was a degree in Russian, a residence in a city where a very famous library school at a large university was located, a husband who could support me while I attended school, and a history of working in libraries. I was also a reader, which at the time, didn’t seem significant.

    Library Science seemed a logical choice for a fresh start. It only took one year and I was sort of impatient. There was a large Slavic department at the university library where I could learn about libraries and foreign languages. I already knew many of the people in that department.

    So I had an interview with the Dean, enrolled, took the prerequisites my first semester and then began graduate school and finished in June 1966. The next year we moved to Columbus, Ohio, where I only worked a few months and then stopped for 10 years to raise my children. When I got ready to go back to work, I didn’t remember any Russian, nor was I interested, so I took a temporary job in the agriculture library working with foreign economic material. Then I worked awhile with Spanish language material, and eventually applied for an opening in the veterinary library 9 years after taking that first job in agriculture.

    Looking back, everything fits together like a neat puzzle, but it certainly didn’t look that way as it was unfolding. I love the veterinary and agriculture fields. And even though I grew up in a rural area of the United States, when I was your age I certainly had no interest in the insides of animals or their diseases. What I did have, even when I was your age, was a love of reading and a strong curiosity. I was a student who really loved school--I couldn’t wait for September. I also liked art and writing when I was in junior high school. I had lots of pets--even had a horse. I probably also had, without realizing it then, a sense of how things should be ordered. By that I don’t mean I am neat or tidy, but I do see that certain things belong together or have a relationship that other people may not see, or wouldn’t find interesting. I really enjoy finding information for people.

    In the 10 years I didn’t work, the library field began to change dramatically. Ohio State became a leader in using the computer for a catalog, so when I returned to work in 1977, everything was different than what I learned in school. And now, also because of the computer, everything is different almost every week, and I am constantly on a very steep learning curve. I use the Internet everyday, but it is not a library. It is a key to someone else’s garage--and much of it is a mess. Librarians are going to help bring some order to that messy storage place.

    The other day a veterinarian came to me and told me 350 pigs had died from being exposed to manure gas. She wasn’t able to find any information in print even though she understood how toxic the fumes are from manure pits in large animal holding areas. We sat down together at the computer and I was able to find 4 or 5 really excellent, recent articles for her to look at. While we sat there she told me more about the situation and the seriousness of it--even for people, not just baby pigs.

    I love learning, even when it is something as peculiar as this. Everyday in my job there is something new to learn. It is just fun to go to work.

    There are some things about my work that I wasn’t told about in school, so I’ll tell you. First of all, some of the extracurricular things you do in school, such as the organizations and clubs, will be as important as your classes. Attending meetings, committees and conferences is part of my job. Being the president or secretary or treasurer of an organization and a willing committee member is important experience, so learn to do that. Frankly, that’s the part that I don’t particularly enjoy, and sometimes I wonder if I’d done more of it in school, would I like it better.

    Volunteering in book or library activities can also be useful experience. Perhaps volunteering in your church or school library, or at Friends of the Library Book Sale, or becoming a story teller for children’s groups. Writing book reviews for your school paper would help you learn to be critical of how a book communicates.

    I probably don’t have to tell you to learn all you can about computers. If you look around libraries today, you’ll notice them everywhere. You might even create a homepage featuring special book related items.

    * * * *
    Each participant received: sample journal, 2 library newsletters, library guide, copy of Scientific American article March 1997 “Going Digital.”

    646 Solomon is a wise blogger

    Solomon, a secular Jewish Bostonian, was raised and lived as a liberal Democrat, then made a change after 9/11. He has a blog called Solomonia, and on Dec. 11 he fantasized what Colin Powell might have said to the Muslim world when accused of favoring Israel.

    “In my imaginary, perfect fantasy world, Colin Powell would seize the mic and say the following:

    "OK, it's true. We do favor Israel over you, and I'm going to be very frank with you and tell you why.

    We favor Israel over you because Israel is a democracy and you are not.

    We favor Israel over you because Israel has a free press and you do not.

    We favor Israel over you because Israel enshrines freedom of speech and expression and you do not.

    We favor Israel over you because Israel practices freedom of religion and you do not.

    We favor Israel over you because Israel does not persecute its homosexual citizens and you do.

    We favor Israel over you because Israel has Nobel winners in the Sciences and Universities that foreigners consider attending. You have none of either.

    We favor Israel over you because Israel's press, government and religious establishment do not incite hatred against us and yours do.

    We favor Israel over you because you broadcast and publish statements that remind us of the Holocaust - an event we shed blood ending and built a museum to remember, and we know that Israel is the Jewish State.

    We favor Israel over you because you have tried repeatedly to wipe Israel off the map while Israel has not tried to do the same to you.

    We favor Israel over you because Israel supports our foreign policy efforts and you oppose them - in Iraq and elsewhere.

    We favor Israel over you because Israel respects Women's Rights and you do not.

    We favor Israel over you because Israel's economy is larger than all its immediate neighbors combined.

    We favor Israel over you because Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin, has one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed, as well as the highest per-capita level of citizens with university degrees. You are all far, far behind.

    We favor Israel over you because relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth - just like us...and unlike you.

    I could go on, and on, and on, and on with all the reasons why it's natural and beneficial and obvious that we would be closer to Israel than to you, but I need to give the mic back at some point.

    We welcome you to join us. My hand is out.

    But it is up to you. Not us."
    In my dreams.”

    Solomon is a blogger to watch.

    645 Skipping the middle man

    This year, I'm going to eat the chocolate chips right out of the bag--not bother with mixing dough and baking cookies. Have you seen or tried the new chocolate swirls that Nestle Tollhouse has developed? Cute and tastey. However, the package is 10 oz. not 12 oz., so don't be fooled by pricing or calorie counts.

    Nestle swirled chips

    Also, instead of buying "lite" salad dressing at a higher price than regular, I'm just adding my own water and shaking--it is cheaper that way.

    644 Good News for your brain

    Multi-tasking isn't good for you! Finally, I've seen in print what I've experienced.

    ". . .a growing number of studies show that trying to juggle jobs rather than completing them sequentially can take longer overall and leave multitaskers with a reduced ability to perform each task. In addition, the stress associated with multitasking may contribute to short-term memory difficulties. The combination results in inefficiency, sloppy thinking and mistakes--not to mention the possible dangers of divided attention . . ." p. 63 "The limits of multitasking," Scientific American Mind, Premier Issue, 2004.

    So take that cell phone off your head, snuff out the cigarette, stop eating, take a deep breath and drive like a sane person.

    Monday, December 13, 2004

    643 Christmas Party Night

    Snow fell today--quite vigorously in the morning--so we have a light dusting on the ground. The neighbor's colored lights are festive, about 20 feet from my office window. Tonight is the art league's Christmas dinner at Ciao Restaurant. It's a group my husband help to establish about 35 years ago. We're all aging, so a restaurant was the choice rather than a pot-luck dinner as in years past. We no longer have workshops or demonstrations. Pay your dues and get in a show.

    Window scene

    Friday night we had a dinner party here for our Visual Arts Ministry. Just a comfortable size for our dining room, and everyone stayed until almost 11 p.m. It wasn't too many years ago it seems we had eight or ten parties and gatherings to fit in. Church groups, art groups, concerts, professional groups, parties at homes. Next week-end we'll drive to Indiana for the family Christmas--there are always little ones and babies still starry eyed with excitement. My sister-in-law now has three great-grandbabies, so we shouldn't run out of children for awhile.

    Sunday, December 12, 2004

    642 Who has more fun than a librarian?

    If you "Google" your own name, it is hard to tell what might come up and where. Recently I found a short review of a book that I think I may have written in the 90s for a veterinary medicine library newsletter--can no longer remember. But today I found it on a Target book sale site. It is possible that I sent a copy of the review to the author and she decided to use it in marketing. I'm credited for it--but I didn't write it for the purpose of selling books through Target, but for librarians in selecting titles for special collections. It even reads as though I'm writing for other librarians, because only a librarian would know how much fun it is to be one--a well kept secret, and I also tongue-in-cheek poke a little fun at the general public's view of us as sensibly shod shushers.

    Complete Guide to Horse Careers

    "Does anyone have more fun than a librarian? First we get to spend money (not our own) on books; then we get to look at them while they still smell good and are clean; then we get to admire and benefit from all the hard work that went into making a product that delivers (most of the time). Such is the book, "The Complete Guide To Horse Careers" by Sue Reynolds who, after she steps out of the saddle, surely must put on her practical sensible shoes and glasses and step behind a reference desk, because this lady knows how to put information together . (The cover says she has a masters degree in education and is a reading specialist who is a horse enthusiast and freelance writer---close enough.) Although she introduces the Internet on page 2, every chapter has a resource list of associations, people, e-mail addresses, articles, books, and websites. She keeps the reader interested with check-lists, line drawings, photos, boxes of tips from experts in the field, career profiles and economic forecasts."

    Saturday, December 11, 2004

    641 The Good-bye Letter

    We were surprised to see our former home for sale again--50% more than we sold it for just three years ago. We don't know why they are selling--I hope it is for happy reasons like a new job, and not for something unhappy like debt or divorce. I couldn't resist going on line at the Realtor's site and snooping through the rooms. Oh my--the pink stripe and floral wallpaper is still in my daughter's bedroom. That junior high age boy must not be happy about that even with the red football bed spread. The new kitchen is wow-worthy, but too bad they got rid of the formal dining room to do it. In blog 640 I wrote about Christmas letters. The Christmas of 2001, I wrote a letter about the house, called "Good-bye Old Friend," which I repeat here.

    Yes, I know. We were going to be faithful to the end. But we can’t say a relationship of 34 years was exactly a failure, now, can we? I saw you the first time in January 1968--it seems like it was New Year’s Day, but who would have an “open house by owner” on a holiday? Anyway, it was in a cold January snow storm. We must have been the first people through, and then we went home to our apartment on Farleigh Road to discuss it. We were both so excited. Even then, we knew if we both liked something we should grab it because we almost never were able to compromise--one or the other had to give in.

    You were more fabulous than we had ever expected--3 bedrooms, a bath and a half, a kitchen with eating space, dining room, big living room with fireplace, and a cute little den with a walk-out deck as its roof. Your redwood siding was painted white and big black shutters guarded every window. Heavy wood storm windows hung on every window. Just about everything inside was white too except the dining room which had wild blue and green and white flowers. Not as white as it looked, however. They had freshened the paint only up to their furniture--huge antiques.

    In spite of the weather, we could see that the street was gorgeous with huge 30 year old trees. Even without leaves, the street announced it would be lush in the summer. There was a creek at the end of the street and stately, well designed, more expensive homes all around. You were about my age--28--and that seemed an “old” house, yet newer than the ones we’d owned on White Street and Charles Street in Champaign, Illinois. I wasn’t sure about a standing seam metal roof, but my husband said they were wonderful, and shouldn’t an architect know? He didn’t notice that one had to walk through the laundry room and bathroom to get to the den. “I can’t believe that,” he said when we were back at the apartment and I was pointing out some minor flaws. “I surely would’ve noticed that.” But I was right, and it was our love at first sight that blinded us to your shortcomings (fixable as we learned).

    The owners had just replaced the furnace in December. We knew that the only reason you were affordable was the lack of a basement--but our previous homes’ basements weren’t too great. White Street had a partial dirt floor--and a slab seemed an improvement over that! We made an offer and it was accepted--the sellers even had to pay us a little rent because we wanted it before they were ready to go.

    You see, we were in a hurry because of the baby. A friend (who just died this year) came by to baby sit on Farleigh while we went to the closing. You seemed to like the baby--she almost never cried in the bright southeast bedroom where we put her green crib and dresser and the extra double bed. In fact, we used to wake her up when people came to visit because she slept about 20 out of 24 hours. Then in a year, February 1969, there was another baby for the northeast bedroom, and the house was never quiet again for 18 years.

    Yes, we did almost split up a few times, like in 1977 and 1987 and 1994. I went through a stage of lusting after newer homes and more conservative school districts, and once we came close to buying a new two-story in Dublin. Our daughter's social life in fourth grade wasn’t the greatest, and our son needed a different kind of school. But we decided to stay. Did you know I used to sneak out to open houses regularly on Sundays? Once the kids were in high school, it was really too late to move. Instead, we remodeled the kitchen in 1978 and the bathrooms in 1980 and added a family room. That stopped the itchy foot for awhile.

    But in 1986 the family split up. Like me, you may have felt abandoned by the children. I had empty nest syndrome big time, so I thought I’d move away--if you can‘t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I looked through the real estate ads, even some places in the country. I wanted something different; something with no memories; something NOT home. Then in 1988 we bought our cottage on Lake Erie and were busy fixing it up and falling in love. Perhaps you felt doubly abandoned--all we could talk about was our cutesy, cutesy new love.

    After the big blow-out 1993 wedding parties here on your new brick patio and all freshened with new paint and wall paper and wonderful new big closets, you were probably surprised to hear me once again talk of moving in 1994--and to a condo no less. We covered you up with vinyl siding, preserving the trim for authenticity. The art studio added in the early 70s became temporarily an office when my husband left the down town firm in 1994.

    In 1995 we had just converted the family room built in ’79 to a big wonderful office, and probably you thought we were set until his retirement. He dutifully went over to Mill Run to look at the new builds and promptly noted that he didn’t want to live in the kitchen (called a great room in modern real estate speak). We continued to look off and on, but usually couldn’t get any agents to take us seriously.

    After I retired in 2000, I decided you were just the perfect house, after all. Something I hadn’t said the previous 33 years. You had location, location, location, and for retirees, it turns out that is pretty good stuff for people who don’t enjoy spending their waking hours behind the wheel of a car. For two years our names had been on a Lane Woods condo, a mile from here, in the site of a former gravel pit, now hoity-toity with new expensive houses. When it came time to sign the dotted line, I couldn’t--price seemed about $100,000 more than when we first signed up. So I refurbished the master bath in 2001.

    But one day last summer, almost a fluke, we saw a condo on a beautiful lot, where they still put the mail through the door slot and it is still in our community. We made an offer and then put you up for sale. Now a new young family with three children are as thrilled as we were 34 years ago. You probably won’t even miss us in a heart beat. We had a great final Christmas with the kids here opening presents and laughing and teasing like old times.

    Last Christmas in the House

    Please be good and don’t leak or creak. It’s OK for your metal roof to sing during rain storms or when the squirrels throw acorns, however. Most people aren’t used to 32 windows, so watch out and don’t blind anyone with the occasional Ohio sun. There will be lots of children playing in the yard now, so please hang on to the grass for awhile, or until the new owner can work his magic. (I hear he is a specialist in weeds, which might be good.)

    Always know we love you and will have fond memories.
    Love, Norma

    640 Don't let the Grinch steal your Christmas letter

    It is that time of year when pundits, pastors and PollyAnnas remind us to save money, time and paper and not send the ubiquitous Christmas letter. Who are they to diminish our fun? We've already had 2 or 3 wonderful letters (so, they not only HAVE grandchildren, but they speak French or Italian) and two family photos of weddings/reunions. I love this stuff. The letter today we got from Dave and Gina brought back some wonderful memories of when we lived together in 1963. (They lived in the upstairs apartment and we lived downstairs.) And after 50 years of a buzz it looks like Dave has let his hair grow out and he has curls! Tim, a widower, is planning to move out of his home and just start travelling across the country in an RV. I look forward to hearing the rest of the accounts of 2004 and the plans for 2005. With blogging, I have no more secrets to tell about my life, but I'll probably put a letter together if my husband can get one of his paintings on to a card. I'm not sure some of my cousins twice removed have internet access.

    Friday, December 10, 2004

    639 Title Inflation and the Big Cheese

    Some companies inflate titles instead of paychecks. If they can't or won't give a salary increase, they assign a new title to the old job. Publishers predictably pile on plump pro-bono promotions. Look at the list of "editors" for Wired Magazine.

    Editor in Chief
    Executive editor
    Managing editor
    Deputy editor
    Assistant managing editor
    Senior editors (7)
    Products editor
    Senior associate editor
    Assistant editors (2)
    Copy editors
    Research editor
    Assistant research editors (3)
    Editorial assistant
    Assistant to the Editor in Chief
    Editorial interns (4)
    Editorial projects director
    Editor at large
    Contributing editors (31)
    Photo editor
    Deputy photo editor
    Founding editor
    Editorial Director

    The marketing side of the business is almost as bad as the editorial side.

    Advertising director
    West Coast advertising director
    Travel and Spirits director
    LA director
    Detroit director
    Southeast director
    Executive director, Marketing Services
    Creative services director
    Promotion director
    Sales development director
    Strategic marketing director
    Marketing research director
    Marketing design director
    Associate marketing design director
    Advertising services director

    Once you move to the Publisher listing (Conde Nast Publication, Advance Magazine Group), everyone (21 people) on the masthead is either a President or Vice President except for the Chairman. The Chairman stands alone. Like the cheese. Big cheese.

    Thursday, December 09, 2004

    638 Scott Peterson and Terri Schiavo

    I don't believe in the death penalty--not for Scott Peterson, who has been convicted of killing his wife because he is worthless as a husband, or for Terri Schiavo, whose husband is attempting to kill her with the help of the State of Florida because she is useless as a wife. It really makes little sense. Mr. Peterson, who had a girl friend when his wife was 9 months pregnant, is obviously not a very nice man, but the evidence against him is really paltry and uncompelling. The evidence against Mr. Schiavo who wants his wife dead and has had a girlfriend most of the time she's been ill is overwhelming, and he will go "scot" free.

    Terri in better days

    Scott and Laci in better days

    But imagine this. If Scott Peterson had been a homely, short, fat, toll booth operator, we never would have heard of him, and I'm betting he never would have been charged. Women are killed by their husbands (and husbands by wives) everyday, and the media never get involved. His story became a media obsession--most likely because he is photogenic.

    637 Deadly Damage

    "COLUMBUS, Ohio(AP) It looked like something out of a macabre heavy-metal video: The lights dimmed in the smoke-filled nightclub, the rock band Damageplan launched into its first thunderous riffs, and then a man in a hooded sweatshirt ran the length of the stage and opened fire, shooting the lead guitarist at least five times in the head.

    In just minutes, the gunman had killed three others before being shot to death by a police officer."

    A local man remembers playing at that club.

    Damageplan from BBC story

    Wednesday, December 08, 2004

    636 Job for Super-Nag

    No one wants to be nagged. I'm the exception to that rule. I need a first class, non-stop nagger, to start immediately. No pay. You don't need to DO these jobs--just nag me until I get them done.

    1. Have to get my eyes checked. Can hardly see. I'm actually dangerous on the road at night. I'm assuming it is cataracts--but glaucoma runs in the family. They also itch.

    2. Have to call about my new Whirlpool refrigerator. It has one temperature--super cold.

    3. Have to have my laptop checked. Can only get the logo. No programs come up. (Could call the guy at Chem Abstracts who fixed my PC the last time, but I don't.) Mouse on the PC is also being cranky.

    4. Have to check on my health insurance. I understand nothing about Medicare and my Supplemental STRS, and have no idea if I have the right thing (possibly can outsource this nagging to my daughter, a medical office manager who understands insurance).

    5. The van needs an oil change, and it's beginning to look like trash bin and I need to clean it out so I'm not embarrassed if I offer someone a ride.

    6. Attic over garage got dirty when the roof was replaced. Need to find someone with a commercial vacuum to clean it.

    7. A letter I promised to type (and edit) for my husband has been on my desk for four days. He's a patient man but. . .

    8. I need to finish the books I've started, or return them to the library.

    9. I'm several months behind in my magazine blog. I should either get busy and write, or stop buying new magazines.

    10. I need to have the white living room rug shampooed and reversed. (Why do they put coloring in pet food--dogs and cats are color blind.)

    Tuesday, December 07, 2004

    635 The Long Good-bye--to Academic Libraries

    The Chronicle of Education has an article on the coming disappearance of the academic library. Not tomorrow or next year, but soon.

    William Oxley Thompson Library, Ohio State University

    634 Today's quiz

    At my "other, other blog" (I have five), Church of the Acronym, I pose this challenge, "Name a large evangelical church with female pastoral or board leadership."

    Over at LISNews, the discussion getting the most attention is about Sunday night's TNT Made for TV Movie, "The Librarian." The question is, Is it possible for librarians to ever enjoy a romp through an outrageous story, or must they always get mired down in reality? Read the review plus 27 comments (as of 11 a.m. on Tuesday).

    Here in Ohio, it's now official. All ballots have been counted. George W. Bush won the election. (One third party candidate who received one write in vote, is demanding a recount). My question: Will the Democrats ever accept the count?

    Monday, December 06, 2004

    633 The Chapped Baby

    Not really. This is my great-nephew (my brother's grandson) wearing his "chaps" that his mommy made for him. Mom and Dad love to ride horses. Isn't this just so cute!

    Chapped baby

    The term "Chaps" comes from the Spanish word chaparajos from chaparreras and means leather leggings joined together by a belt or lacing and worn by ranch hands.

    With this cute baby photo, I announce I've joined "Homespun Bloggers" and you'll see the hot button all the way down on the left. This is a group for bloggers who are not professional writers, who just like to blog, and are "family friendly." One requirement of joining is you feature other Homespun bloggers (I do a lot of that already), and the main page also features a "best of Homespun" group. I've looked through several, and they are indeed wholesome and good natured. Click on the button. You too might be homespun, even if your nephew doesn't wear chaps.

    Sunday, December 05, 2004

    632 Adult Attention Deficit Disorder

    The current issue of FDA Consumer has an article on adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

    FDA Cover Nov/Dec 2004

    "It seemed that the harder he tried, the worse things got for Robert Jergen. As a child, he was always being scolded by his parents and teachers. As an adult, his bosses reprimanded him for missed deadlines and his attitude problem. He got fired from jobs, drank heavily, and lost his fiancé.

    But Jergen wasn't a slouch, a drunk, or intentionally obnoxious. He had a condition called attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    "I wanted to be a good kid, but I frequently did things without thinking or without even realizing that I did them," says Jergen. Problems with concentration continued to plague him as an adult. In college, Jergen would stay up all night trying to finish his schoolwork. "I could not focus my attention on the page long enough to read a paragraph. My thoughts raced round and round in my head. It's like my mind was a pinball machine with five or six balls smashing into each other." "

    There are drugs that can help, but it may take some trial and error to get the right one, and there are side effects.

    631 Premier of Christmas at Maxwell's, a Christmas movie

    Busy day yesterday. We hung two art shows, one at the Church at Mill Run (photography by Joe Wagehals) and one at the Church on Lytham (Members All Media Art Show V), both of which will run from December 4 to January 8, 2005. Some of our Visual Arts Ministry members were out of town, but we got the job done, and were packed and on the road by 1:15.

    We had reservations for the big Christmas dinner at Wesley Lodge in Lakeside, where we have a summer home. After a dinner of 28 turkeys (to serve over 300 guests) and every imaginable dish-to-pass from corn pudding, to cranberry jello to German Chocolate Pie we all trooped down to the local theater, Orchestra Hall (the only movie theater in Ottawa County, Ohio) to see Christmas at Maxwell's. We were all given evaluation forms, and there may be some changes made based on audience input. The movie should be out for next Christmas, and the DVD will have two different endings, both of which we saw (everyone we talked to like the second ending better). The big thrill for the locals was seeing the Lakeside shots, because much of the story takes place at Maxwell's Bed and Breakfast at Third and Walnut. Too bad there wasn't any snow for the shooting--just our gray Ohio skies, but it was fun anyway, and I'm sure all Lakesiders will buy the DVD when it comes out.

    Orchestra Hall in the summer

    Maxwell's in the summer Posted by Hello

    Saturday, December 04, 2004

    630 Sweet Kitty Christmas

    Paula, a writer on my blogroll, has recently been adopted by the prettiest cat--looks part Siamese like the sweety we used to have. This Kitty Christmas Card is for Paula and all cat lovers. (Be sure to look at her Friday, Dec. 3 for a photo.)

    Friday, December 03, 2004

    629 Profile of Terrorism

    "Most people think that terrorism comes from poverty, broken families, ignorance, immaturity, lack of family or occupational responsibilities, weak minds susceptible to brainwashing — the sociopath, the criminals, the religious fanatic, or, in this country, some believe they’re just plain evil.

    Taking these perceived root causes in turn, three quarters of my sample [400 terrorists, members of Al-Qaeda] came from the upper or middle class. The vast majority — 90 percent — came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5-6 percent that’s usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways.

    Al Qaeda’s members are not the Palestinian fourteen-year- olds we see on the news, but join the jihad at the average age of 26. Three-quarters were professionals or semi- professionals. They are engineers, architects, and civil engineers, mostly scientists. Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had any background in religion. The natural sciences predominate."

    Read the rest of the terrorist profile in Understanding Terrorists Networks by Marc Sageman

    628 I cry along with Natalia

    You know of my fondness for beautiful poetry, for Russians and for women writers (see my blogroll). So here is Natalia Zaretsky, a New Yorker, a Russian immigrant (1980), a former Physics teacher, and now a poet in her retirement--and she has published not only in e-zines, but in paper! See if this doesn't touch you.


    In Central Park along the lake,
    I used to speed like that girl with the earphones,
    and my T-shirt was tight on my waist.
    Now the geletin of age slows my life.

    I used to walk along Jerusalem streets,
    laugh under the waterfall in Ein Gedi,
    breathe in the aroma of Galilee orange groves.
    Now my feet are laden with lung illness.

    My father, tall, strong, used to visit me
    from the city every weekend, not knowing
    a word of English -- and never get lost.
    Now he stays home -- Alzheimer's
    acids away his Russian words.

    I see my talented daughter on stage,
    the audience in one breath with
    every staccato, every trill.
    I fancy her daughter on my knees,
    trying not to squeeze her too tight,
    afraid my heart will stop.
    I cry -- I don't have a granddaughter.
    [published in the e-zine, Moonwort Review #8]

    Her first book of poetry entitled AUTUMN SOLSTICE has been published by Windsong Publishing Co., CA. Her manuscript MEMORIES BELOW THE BRIDGE will be published by the same publisher by the end of 2004. She is working on a manuscript on her Jewish identity, anti-Semitism in Russia, and her love for Israel, which she has visited several times.

    Natalia Posted by Hello

    Welcome, Natalia, to my blogroll.

    Thursday, December 02, 2004

    627 Optimism and Good Health Care in America

    Babs, the new mother of a Russian baby, has been sick and also has been watching movies while decorating the Christmas tree--Dr. Zhivago and It's a Wonderful Life. She has some good things to say about optimism--USA vs. Russia, and getting well after a strep infection.

    She writes:

    "You want to go to high school beyond the age of 16? Show up. Wanna go to college but can't afford it? Borrow the money from the government (eg: your neighbors). Lost your job? Call the unemployment/welfare office. Don't want to go into the military? Don't go. Welcome to America.

    Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the beginning of controlled capitalism, there's still pervasive fatigue and scepticism. As America's population continues to climb in part due to immigration, Russia's is declining. People can leave so they do. It's hard to keep your nose to the grindstone if there's never any hope of it leading to you putting your feet up and drinking a toast to your success."

    626 Elinor Burkett's So Many Enemies, So Little Time

    She was an ardent 60s Leftist, a True Believer, you might say. She had helped establish two Women's Studies programs and had taught women's history. She had little use for Liberal Democrats, whose programs she thought of as band-aids. I can't remember why I checked out her book published in July, So Many Enemies, So Little Time; an American Woman in All the Wrong Places. However, it is a real eye-opener, regardless of your party affiliation or religion. She discovered in the post 9/11 years travelling and teaching in a former Soviet Republic, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, that her gender shaped the reality of everything she saw and experienced. Being a woman, she was usually where she shouldn't have been. She was sure the Feminists back home would applaud what the Bush Administration was doing abroad--freeing millions women from slavery, early death, illiteracy and imprisonment in their own homes--even if they had complaints about his domestic policies. Boy, was she wrong!

    In an interview with FrontPage, she says: "So when I came home, I fully expected the feminist movement to be up in arms, demanding that the U.S. government do more to defend these women, marching on the United Nations in defense of their sisters.

    Instead, I found NOW working on its annual Love Your Body Day. And if I didn't hit a wall earlier, I hit it several weeks ago during the March for Women's Lives. Whoopi Goldberg declared that "there's a war going on, a war against women." I agreed. Unfortunately, we were talking about different wars.

    The marchers insisted that George W. Bush is the world's greatest threat to women. What I'd seen and heard during a year's travels was that Muslim fundamentalists were the world's greatest threat to women. That's certainly what the women I met - on the street, in the market, in the classroom, on buses and during interviews - told me. They weren't worried about access to abortion. They were worried about access to jobs, about the right to work, about the right to run to the store without having to cover themselves, about the right to select their own husband, the right to educate themselves and their daughters.

    And a march focused on George Bush and access to abortion belittled their situations and their struggles. How can you care about women, as the feminists insist they do, and not care about the actual threats to their lives?

    Fortunately, I discovered shortly after I returned home, the current administration didn't need NOW and the Feminist Majority to march down Pennsylvania Avenue in order to reach out to women who live under the threat of Muslim fundamentalists. They understand that we - Americans - share an enemy with these women. By defending them, we defend ourselves."

    Writing about her time in Kryrgyzstan teaching basic Journalism, she takes aim at NGOs (practically a cottage industry for Americans and Europeans who want to live abroad on easy grant money) and Christian missionary groups. Before you donate that next dollar, do take a look at what is going on in the name of "modernization" and/or Jesus.

    My copy was checked out through OhioLink from Southern State Community College, but this is a title that needs to be more widely available, and a woman who needs to be on the program at a college near you.

    Burkett's new book Posted by Hello

    Chapter One of So Many Enemies, So Little Time (HarperCollins, 2004).

    Wednesday, December 01, 2004

    625 Six Reasons to be Late to the Party

    Recently an acquaintance of my husband and me asked if we could provide transportation for an event we all attend once a week. I paused a moment before I agreed, because I had noticed that she always arrives about 5 minutes late. However, she is an interesting person, and I'd been looking for opportunities to meet new people. To pick her up was only 5 minutes out of our way. I told her I would be happy to help, but noted that I would pick her up 15 minutes before the hour because we like to arrive early so that we are not rushed.

    The first night wasn't too bad--she was 5 minutes late getting to the car, and I could see through her front window that she was bustling around getting ready, but I still had time to get to the event without walking in late. The second week when I pulled up in front of her house, she came out to the car and told me she had another ride. The third week the phone rang as we were putting on our coats, and she said she would be ready at 10 minutes before the hour.

    My husband went ahead in the other car, and I pulled up to her house at 10 minutes before the hour. Her son ran out and held up 5 fingers saying she would be out in 5 minutes. At 3 minutes before the hour I went up to the door and knocked--but no one came. At 2 minutes before the hour I honked and then left and went to the event, arriving late with no time for preparation.

    Obviously, this transportation arrangement won't work. But it has caused me to think about people who are habitually late. We all have acquaintances and friends with this habit, and if we value and enjoy their friendship, we grumble and accept the behavior that inconveniences so many people.

    One dear friend was always 20 minutes late for our weekly get-together some years ago. The reasons she gave varied from traffic on Rt. 315, to a faulty alarm clock to a crazy work schedule. We changed our time by 20 minutes, but she then was that much later. She assured me that it was OK for her occasionally to be late to work because she worked harder and better than her co-workers which made up for a few missing minutes at the front of her shift.

    Another friend often arrived late to our planned get-togethers and meetings, whether breakfast, lunch, professional or club. One time a whole group changed the day of the week that we met to accommodate her schedule, but her attendance was still spotty and she still arrived late.

    Are they just being rude?

    I don't think of tardiness as rudeness, but rather a learned behavior that could be overcome if there were good reason to change. It may be caused by the following:

    1) For some, it is a control issue--particularly if it involves their spouses or children. They may not have any other control over their lives, but they can hold up a whole family or occasion just by "finishing this one last thing," or losing a favorite necklace, or needing to let the dog out. Tardy wives are usually married to overbearing, bossy husbands, and always being late is a good way to grab back some of the power he has assumed over her life. If children are holding up the whole family, they probably learned that power struggle by watching Mom or Dad.

    2) Some people enjoy the extra attention they receive, even if it is negative, when they rush into a room with hair askew, scarf and gloves being whisked off, papers rustling. All eyes turn to them instead of the speaker or leader.

    3) There are cultural norms at work in the perception of tardiness. My ancestors came to the United States from Germany and England in the mid-1700s, but Americans of Asian, Indian, African, or Island heritage or other areas of Europe may perceive time very differently. We once belonged to a group where arriving 60-90 minutes late was considered appropriate for some of another cultural group. My Appalachian relatives also move to a different beat. We use many of the same English verbs with time concepts that we use with money: we save time, we invest time, we spend time, etc.

    4) Metabolism or health may be the trigger for sense of time. I haven't known very many high energy, thin people who are also habitually late. People with a sluggish metabolism may need the pressure of being late to make the effort to speed up and move more quickly.

    5) Some people enjoy the appearance of being extremely busy--too much on their calendar, too much to do, "too many people want my time, so you are lucky to have me at all." Every snap of the briefcase and sigh of relief as they slip into place 10 or 20 minutes late build their egos.

    6) But perhaps the biggest reason for being late is that tardy people enjoy the "rush" of adrenaline, that down-to-the wire frantic feeling when they can't possibly meet a deadline. It's a high that is better than a drug, and it is addictive. They find it very energizing--being on time doesn't provide that feeling. Some procrastinators need to pile everything up at the end in order to feel the energy to actually accomplish all the tasks they have left to the last minute. However, others overstep that and just fall into the sloppily-late group and will be decorating the tree or shampooing the dog when the guests arrive.

    When the Prompt People and the Tardy Troopers are trying to plan something, the first thing to agree on is that the Tardies will continue to be late regardless, because their tardiness has nothing to do with time, date, schedule or location. Then, after there is an agreed upon time and date, both will agree that the Prompt will start (or drive off) without them.

    Buy Me a Puppy Daddy

    This is a rhyme about my parents--although it could be about anyone's. I don't remember why or when I wrote it, but I came across it in my draft file today. It reminds me that I'm so grateful that I had wonderful parents. But so often these days when I see what others my age are experiencing, I'm so grateful to God that he allowed them a dignified, peaceful and "healthy" home-going with family by their sides.

    Buy me a puppy Daddy
    Give me a horse, pretty please!
    "Save your dimes and dollars, Baby,
    Animals don’t grow on trees."

    Tell me a story Mommy,
    read me a volume or two!
    "Write your own my dear daughter,
    Read it to me when you’re through."