Friday, April 30, 2004

318 Macho-fashion

The Wall Street today featured an article on the clothing style I mentioned in #316--ultra-masculine dressing for women. It's not called "dress for success" as 25 years ago, but "dual gender" dressing.

It is Annual Report time for our investments. I always flip through and look at the names and photos of the officers and board members. No matter how women dress (and usually they look more casual and cutesy than the men of the same level), they are poorly represented or stuck in the feminine ghetto of PR, HR or "consultant." I've already tossed some, but here's the current batch results.
AMBAC has many women in the photos, but none in the Directors' offices, one out of ten in the executive suite, and eight out of thirty-nine among senior officers.

ManorCare has thirty-eight Directors and Officers, six of whom are women.

Fording Coal Trust identifies all officers by initials, but includes Mr. or Dr. before the name. No women in the photos, except for Jackie Gentile, who operates some coal machinery.

Home Depot has twenty seven on its Leadership Team, with four women; the Board of Directors has eleven white men and one black woman, a two-fer. Photos that include women staff (about 1 in 4) show them either wearing the orange apron or doing volunteer work on behalf of the company.

ExxonMobil lists all officers by initial (with no Mr.), but the Directors' photo shows nine white men, two white women, and one black woman.

Nextel has nine men and two women on its Board of Directors, and two of the twenty-one Officers are women.

Apache's cover shows eleven men in hard hats in Qasr, Egypt, who are various geophysical experts and operations managers. The leadership photo shows two guys, the Founder and the CEO.

Everest Re Group has seven men on the Board of Directors and sixteen male Senior Officers. This company is in the reinsurance business, so I'm not sure why it is such a tough area for women.

Healthcare Realty Trust has eight on the Board of Directors, the one woman is a consultant. Of the other twenty four corporate officers, seven are women.

Pactiv has sixteen Directors and Officers, only five of whom, all men, showed up for the class photo. Two are women, and one of those is an "advisor."
My church has thirteen on its leadership team--all men.

317 The New Life Crisis

Today's Wall Street Journal called it a second mid-life crisis, but you can't go through the middle years twice, so it is either another transition, or it is a "new life" crisis--i.e., retirement. Apparently, seniors are getting face lifts, buying Harleys, and finding themselves. Silly.

However, we are looking to buy a Mercedes, a luxury car--leather interior, etc. Ok, so it is a 1970 and doesn't have as many perks or bells and whistles as my Dodge mini-van. See? If you wait long enough, the standards of luxury of a previous generation will become common place.

It is also called SKIing--Spending the Kids Inheritance.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

316 A Teacher by any other Name

IBM had a huge 2 page spread in today's Wall Street Journal. On the left was Nancy DeViney, a "cross-industry learning innovator." She also looked like a cross-dresser. The handsome pants suit appeared identical to a man's dress suit, but also she was sitting on the edge of a desk, one leg dangling, the other touching (barely) the floor. The typical, casual, guy pose. Thinking they were trying to impress readers with a female executive (and she is the head of a huge division), I then read the large text on the second page. A "cross-industry learning innovator" is an educator--in the corporate setting--she helps businesses train their staff.

Women teachers. Who knew?

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

315 Bloom along the bough

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough.
A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

It’s beautiful walking around the condo complex. The mature flowering trees (some probably 25 years old) are so graceful. Their petals are building snowdrifts where I walk. After 20 minutes, unpleasant work called inside the house. A painter is coming tomorrow to give us an estimate, and it is time to do something about the electric yellow guest room with the black carpeting, and mountains of drapes. We took down the drapery material fastened to the wall and measured it: any ideas for 10’ x 17’ of lined black and forest green check fabric, completely lined? E-mail me.

314 Such a wonderful description

Joseph Epstein, who wrote Envy (2003) has an article in the WSJ today about the gloom and doom attitude of many Conservatives. He describes a speaker with the following wonderful sentence:
So devastatingly gloomy was his prognosis that it could have plucked the smile out of Christmas, the cliches out of the Fourth of July, the joy out of a beagle puppy.
And later he mentions "double parking at the wailing wall." Isn't that great--the writing, I mean, not the speaker.

313 Exercise and mental fitness

A small note in USAToday and a long article in the Columbus Dispatch today noted that Ohio State researchers have determined that exercise helps older people maintain mental sharpness. The study involved people with COPD and it is assumed the results will translate to healthier older people. Still, I was a bit surprised to see the juxtaposition of skills listed:
  • follow a recipe
  • keep track of pills
  • learn computer programs.

    So I went home, took my pills, walked for 20 minutes, then turned on the computer.
    On-line version of USAToday article.
  • Tuesday, April 27, 2004

    312 A Plug for McDonald's

    While on the road last week, specifically at an exit near Brighton, MI, I had the new McDonald's Cob Salad with grilled chicken. Pillowed with field greens, the chicken, blue cheese, bacon, chopped egg and grape tomatoes with a peek-a-boo sliver of carrot was a tasteful $3.99 in a nice plastic salad bowl with cover and a choice of dressings by Paul Newman. It was so good, I ordered it on the return trip. The greens were fresh and the chicken was hot, and it felt so good to get out of the car. It has 270 calories (I assume without the dressing), 9 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of fat, and 33 grams of protein. I use only about 1/4 of the dressing package.

    To be accurate, this is the description on a McDonald's site
    Grilled Chicken Breast Filet: Boneless, skinless chicken breast filets with rib meat containing: up to 12% of a solution of water, seasoning [salt, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, spices, whey, flavor (maltodextrin, natural flavors (vegetable source), dextrose, monosodium glutamate), partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils, Romano cheese (Romano cheese {milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, calcium chloride}, nonfat dry milk, disodium phosphate), parmesan cheese powder (enzyme modified parmesan cheese {milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, calcium chloride}, nonfat dry milk, disodium phosphate), xanthan gum, cheese flavor (dehydrated cheddar cheese {cultured pasteurized milk, salt, enzymes}, maltodextrin, autolyzed yeast extract), extractives of paprika (color), potassium sorbate (preservative), citric acid, and less than 2% silicon dioxide added to prevent caking], partially hydrogenated soybean oil and partially hydrogenated corn oil with citric acid (preservative), sodium phosphates. May contain wheat from contact with Crispy Chicken Breast Filet. Salad Mix: Iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, spring mix (may contain baby red romaine, baby green romaine, baby red leaf, baby green leaf, baby red swiss chard, baby red oak, baby green oak, lolla rosa, tango, tatsoi, arugula, mizuna, baby spinach, radicchio, frisee), carrots. Bleu Cheese: Bleu cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), powder cellulose to prevent caking, natamyzin to protect flavor. Bacon bits: Cured with water, salt, smoke flavoring, sodium phosphate, seasoning [gum acacia, smoke flavor, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed corn protein, natural flavor (vegetable source), autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed corn, wheat, and soy protein, modified cornstarch, contains less than 2% of disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, natural flavor (vegetable oil), salt, succinic acid, xanthan gum], sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite. Chopped boiled egg. Grape tomatoes.

    Newman's Own® Cobb Dressing:
    Water, soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, distilled vinegar, blend of parmesan, Romano and granular cheeses (part skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, whey, lactic acid, citric acid), corn syrup, corn starch, salt, spices and natural flavors (fruit and vegetable source), egg yolks, olive oil, anchovy* (dextrin, anchovy extract, salt), maltodextrin, xanthan gum, basil, lactic acid, garlic*, red bell pepper*, parsley, oregano, molasses, Worcestershire sauce {distilled vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, water, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, tamarind, natural flavor (fruit source)}, onion*, yeast extract, oleoresin turmeric, oleoresin paprika. *Dehydrated

    311 Why Women Like Kerry

    In today's USAToday (April 27) is the snapshot "Who Would Do a Better Job of Managing the Economy Over the Next Four Years?" 35% of women say Bush, and 48% of women say Kerry. I wonder why that is? Maybe they can identify with him.

    He hasn't owned a business or been a CEO of one, or been part of a management team in business.

    His spouse has more assets than he does.

    He believes that reassigning money he hasn't earned to "do good" is the best way to solve societal problems.

    He likes to change his mind on issues and can talk both sides of an issue without coming to a conclusion.

    He's got great hair.

    Monday, April 26, 2004

    310 Magazines look at bloggers

    While researching one of my other blogs In the Beginning about premiere issues, I noticed this tid-bit in Folio about trends in magazines and how the net is affecting everything from content to design of print magazines.
    But the new news on the Net is blogging, which fills an evident need for storytelling (on the part of the reader as well as the writer). Maybe magazines will take the hint and return to telling stories. The New Yorker, once commercially dubious, has roared back to life with the narrative form. Now all we have to do is attach an art director to this idea. To tell picture stories. That might get people to pick up more magazines. Here's another novel solution to the newsstand (and subscription) problem: originality in design. "The Trend is--there is no Trend," by Roger Black, Folio, March 1, 2004
    The entire March 1 issue deals with design, attractive, functional and inviting. The articles are well worth reading because the principles apply in other areas too, particularly buildings and landscape.

    Sunday, April 25, 2004

    309 Festival Report #3

    I went to two presentations by Lauren Winner, author of “Girl meets God,” an autobiography by a 24 year old Orthodox Jew who converted to Christianity. She was the only presenter (of the sessions I attended) who prayed publicly before her presentation, and despite her young age (I think she is under 30) was the only woman presenter (of the sessions I attended) who dressed like anyone would care about her appearance. She is now Anglican, so perhaps her modest appearance is from her Orthodox life. However, when she was paired with a rather bombastic male author, Stephen Bloom, author of “Postville,” and a former press secretary for a politician, she seemed to quietly disappear from the stage as he took over the discussion.

    Notes for writers (of memoir): Your siblings will remember it differently. Notes about life: On balance, protecting family and friends outweighs historical accuracy--and don’t forget about the lawsuits.

    James Calvin Schaap (pronounced SKOP) was chosen because I got lost and couldn’t find the presentation I had marked. (Lovely campus; horrible signage) What a wonderful serendipity. He is a professor of English at Dordt College in Iowa and explained how he used ideas from his career as a journalist to be fleshed out in his fiction. If you are homesick for Iowa (or any of those flatter Midwestern states) we were treated to a 12 minute CD of his photography called “Chasing the Dawn; a Meditation,” which I think is available through Dordt College Press.

    Notes for writers: “Great stories are in your neighborhood--use experience and imagination.” Notes about life: He is currently writing a book about Laotian Christians, relocated in the USA. Working through a translator, he interviewed a Laotian woman about her job in an Iowa meat packing plant, a job he thought too terrible to even imagine. She told him she loved her job because, “In Thailand I had to butcher the entire cow.”

    I went to two presentations by Laurie R. King who read an original midrash which she said will be part of a collection of stories--readable, but which will contain source material. She also appeared on a panel with two other mystery writers, Michael Malone and Terence Faherty. I almost never read mystery fiction--King's being the exception because of book club--but after listening to these three I just might start.

    Note for readers: Readers go to mysteries to get the great novels of the 19th and 20th century. . . You can bring the world in. . .moral, social concerns. Note for writers: many mystery writers on the best seller list.

    These three probably had the best advice for writer-wannabees of any of the authors I heard. Malone was the head writer for "One life to Live," a day-time soap, which is how he supported himself between books. Fans keep the memories alive. Faherty keeps two series going, the Owen Keene series about a failed seminarian and the Scott Elliott books, set in post WWII.

    I also attended a presentation by James Ransome, the illustrator of children's books who visited Highland School here in Columbus a few weeks ago. Nathan Bierma, who appears on my blog roll gave a presentation on blogging which was well attended. My goodness, he is young!

    308 Festival Report #2

    There were some heavy hitters for the presentations at the larger facilities which drew the largest crowds. The Field House was not a comfortable spot to sit for 2 hours, as you can imagine, although sports fans seem able to tolerate it. We also attended some larger gatherings at the Sunshine Church, off campus, but definitely designed for comfort and communication, with comfortable seating and good acoustics.

    Thursday night we enjoyed Katherine Paterson, a popular children/young adult writer, whom I’d never read, but she had a huge number of fans there from the college and surrounding communities as well as attendees.

    Notes for writers: “Tell the truth,” she said. Notes about life: She also commented on a writing workshop she did for prisoners. She has been a foster mother and has also written about a boy who had been in foster care. “I asked the roomful of prisoners how many had ever been in foster care, and every one of them raised his hand.”

    Friday was definitely the heaviest day--with so many concurrent sessions that it was difficult to choose. The Friday evening session at Sunshine was given by Joyce Carol Oates. Neither of us was interested in that, so we went to a local shopping center, found a Naturalizer store where we could buy sensible librarian shoes, and ate at a pleasant restaurant with huge portions and reasonable prices. The reason we skipped this one was simple--we’ve read her.

    Saturday had two large gatherings at the Field House--in the morning was Barbara Brown Taylor, an Anglican priest who is now a college professor and in the afternoon the delightful Leif Enger, who wrote “Peace like a River,” and who lives on a farm in Minnesota and appears on NPR. Rev. Taylor loves words and is a wonderful writer/speaker. Her faith, although beautifully expressed, is where I was 30 years ago and I don’t want to go there ever again.

    Notes for writers: “Words are meant for the ear. The page is where they audition.” Notes about life: “People who won’t go to R-rated movies often come to pastors about their own R-rated lives.”

    Enger wrote poorly received mystery novels with his brother that he seems a bit embarrassed about now, and then developed his acclaimed novel because his son is asthmatic and he started from the perspective of a boy who had asthma. Even from a bit of a distance, you can see the twinkle in his eye, and the women swooning over his good looks.

    Notes for writers: “Write with passion.” Notes about life: “Gratitude defeats despair.” Enger read aloud from his favorite book, “Wind in the Willows.”

    A third large gathering on Saturday (I assume it was large, but I wasn’t there) was at Sunshine Church given by Frederick Buechner, who has written more than 30 books of fiction, non-fiction and auto-biography. Again, I’m not familiar with him and didn’t attend, but I could see his books were selling well at the publisher’s exhibits. By the time he spoke I was eating a hot-fudge sundae somewhere around Rt 30 and 23 in Ohio, ready for the last leg home.

    307 Festival Report #1

    “Are you a writer? Not really. I’m a reader.” I heard that a lot at the Festival of Faith and Writing last Thursday through Saturday, and truly, if you love to read, write--even in a journal (one session was on blogging)-- or you are connected in some way with library or publishing work--this is the dessert table at the banquet of books. The next Festival will be in 2006, so save your nickels and dimes and vacation time.

    The campus of Calvin College is beautiful with sensible parking plans, also a visual, well-endowed feast of 70s and 80s architecture (campus relocated around 1960), the young student staff who manned registration and snack tables was polite and helpful, the English and the Communications faculty who introduced all the speakers were articulate and knowledgeable, and the schedule was full and tight but manageable with shuttle service.

    However, most importantly, the programming was planned to please those interested in a variety of genre and writing styles--criticism, drama, publishing, music, fiction, writing for children, poetry, non-fiction, story-telling, memoir, e-media, and traditional media. There were a variety of formats including workshops, panels, lectures, readings by the authors, musical performances, stage productions, “conversations with. . .” and lots of opportunities to meet with the authors at book-signings.

    Founder Dale Brown writes: "We come to this place with hope for more good ideas, more good words, more ways to think about the lives we lead. . . Imagine a gathering that combines the erudition of a literary conference with the heat of a Billy Sunday revival." (Conference program)

    Saturday, April 24, 2004

    306 Great weather continues

    This is the final day of the festival. Some long walks today, but gorgeous weather. I'm passing through the lovely library on my way to the chapel to hear Lauren Winner and Stephen Bloom talk about their faith. I've just left a wonderful presentation by James Calvin Schaap of Iowa. He read some of his non-fiction journalism material to show how he reuses some ideas and events in his fiction. A fantastic presentation--I think the best I've heard.

    Friday, April 23, 2004

    305 Festival Thoughts

    I'm here in Grand Rapids at the Festival of Faith and Writing. I've heard some great speakers/writers and am taking a break until I hear Nathan Bierma at 4:30. What a lovely city. And this looks the way a small campus should look.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2004

    304 A lovely bed and breakfast

    While we were in Oregon, IL over the Easter week-end, we walked up the hill and around the corner and visited the Pinehill Inn, a bed and breakfast with a variety of rooms and prices. The hostess gave us a tour of the lovely Italianate country estate, built in 1874. I'm wondering if at that time, it might have had a view of the Rock River, which now would be obscured by the town. The owner also showed us the cook book that contains some of her recipes. Until August she has a wonderful picnic special thrown in for week-end guests. Check it out at The web site shows a view from the rear, which is even prettier than the street side.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2004

    303 Which city?

    Take the quiz: "Which American City Are You?"

    San Francisco
    Liberal and proud, you'll live your lifestyle however you choose in the face of all that would supress you.

    The choices are a bit limited. If you like to drink coffee with your friends, you'll probably be in San Francisco--with me.

    Monday, April 19, 2004

    302 Who's to blame?

    You've got to laugh--or weep. The Car Talk by Tom and Ray column in Saturday's paper carried a question by a mother of a teenager who'd had a small disaster with the car. The teen was driving the 1995 Dodge Neon to school and a sudden thunder shower flooded the parking lot. But the girl drove into the parking lot in deep water and cracked the block. The mother's question: Who is responsible for the damage? Dodge or the school? I think you can figure out who Tom and Ray thought was responsible.

    Although I can't find the actual column at their website, it has a lot of useful information--safety, financing, shopping, insurance, etc.--so bookmark it.

    Saturday, April 17, 2004

    301 Church of the Holy Amyloid

    Sharon Begley seems to be fighting a one woman science journalist battle--two articles in the Wall Street Journal about the amyloid hypothesis and Alzheimer’s. She points out in her first article on April 9 that after 20 years of following the theory that the disease is caused by the accumulation of sticky plaques made of beta-amyloid, maybe it’s time to look at alternative theories. Brain autopsies of many elderly that have amyloid plaques do not have any symptoms of Alzheimer’s--some normal brains have more amyloid than Alzheimer brains. She writes quoting a researcher: “Powerful people in this field think that amyloid causes Alzheimer’s and won’t consider research that questions the amyloid hypothesis.” Results of alternative research was published in the journal Neuron.

    Her second article on April 16 concerns the difficulty of funding research and then publishing anything that goes against “Church of the Holy Amyloid.” In the Journal of Neural Transmission Glenda Bishop published her research that showed rat brains injected with beta-amyloid suffered no more cell death than brains injected with salt water. Researchers looking at other possibilities have seen their grants evaporate. The challenges rest on solid science, claims Begley, but because amyloid research has dominated Alzheimer’s research for so long, almost all the experimental drugs and vaccines in the pipeline are predicated on that.

    Friday, April 16, 2004

    300 Bloomed where he was planted

    Over at Boogie Jack’s Amost a Newsletter there is a story about his brother, who has been named Volunteer of the Year in Iowa. Dennis’ brother began beautifying his home town of Marshalltown, Iowa with hanging baskets of flowers, grown by him in his own green house and maintained by him--all without government funding. Boogie Jack’s newsletter is about designing web pages, and I started reading it when I had a web page at the university. Now I read it because Dennis is always positive and upbeat about life and technology, and even has an advice column about personal problems since his readers ask him everything. Take a look--you’ll become a fan, too. Many of his offers are free and he has great suggestions for making the web a more readable, interesting place to hang out.

    299 Room with a View

    One of my favorite cable TV channels is HGTV--Home and Garden, especially the make-over and real estate search programs. I was surprised this week to see what is considered "a view" in California real estate.

    An artist who owned a 1 bedroom home with a small studio for her painting was looking for a 3 bedroom with a studio, but with a view and good light, something she could afford as she became increasingly successful in selling her paintings.

    We saw her and the realtor trudging up many hillside steps and investigating several homes, the first two too small. The third seemed to be perfect, because she thought she could add a studio either over or behind the garage (this would never fly in our zoning here because of coverage rules). However, what surprised me was "the view" for all those homes. The houses for sale were on a hillside, therefore overlooked a valley--the view was roof tops. In all cases, they admired the view as the camera panned. Maybe you had to be there. Maybe there were mountains when the smog lifted. I like trees and open spaces and creeks in my view.

    I noticed an ad in USAToday for a home in Bozeman, MT, which I believe is one of the prettiest states in the nation. For $519,000, which was probably the price range of the tiny hillside California suburban home with a view of roof tops, this artist could have purchased 2.54 acres, overlooking a stream, a contemporary log home with 3,700 sf, 5 bedrooms, and 3 baths--and a spectacular view. You can paint anywhere--why not in Montana?

    Thursday, April 15, 2004

    298 Keep your mind sharp

    Having just spent a few days with friends and family, some of whom I've known for over 60 years, I heard a lot of regrets about misremembered or forgotten names, faces, and facts. Today the local paper had a syndicated article on how to keep your older brain sharp. The author only listed nine things, but I think there are more, so I’ve added numbers ten through twenty. I think there must be thirty, so e-mail me if you think of any more and I'll add them to the list. Actually, I would put my number ten at the top of the list to start the week out right.

    1. Socializing--listening as well as speaking.
    2. Music--listening as well as performing.
    3. Puzzles--crossword is good; jigsaw too.
    4. Games--even the old standards like checkers and chess
    5. Activities like Toastmasters--helps to organize your thoughts
    6. Visit museums and art galleries
    7. Reading--try a genre you don’t like (mysteries, science fiction)
    8. TV (this some seems a little weak to me)
    9. Volunteerism--mentor, nursing home, animal rescue, environment, food pantry

    10. Corporate worship, listen, sing, kneel, shake hands
    11. Physical activity like dancing, hiking, aerobics, walking
    12. Attend City Council and school board meetings
    13. Attend support group meetings--Al-Anon, Tough love, Over-eaters, Visually impaired, COPD, etc.
    14. Become a fan and supporter of a lesser known sport--women’s lacrosse, volleyball, crew
    15. Write your memoirs in a group where you listen and share the discussion
    16. Learn some introductory phrases in a foreign language
    17. Become a conversation partner or reading volunteer
    18. Try one new recipe a month and invite a guest for dinner
    19. Learn the names of all the bushes and trees in your yard, then your street, then your neighborhood
    20. Choose a long standing problem and solve it in 30 or 90 days

    297 The Silk Road Redevelopment and Highway 64

    The Wall Street Journal April 14 carried a story about the pain of redevelopment along the Silk Road in China. The Nighurs are seeing their markets and towns disrupted and the rents are soaring. The Han workers and retailers are taking over their bazaars.

    It made me think of the reconstruction going on along Routes 2 and 64 in northern Illinois, through the little towns of Oregon and Mt. Morris. In Oregon the townspeople have tied ribbons around the huge trees they want to save. In Mt. Morris, it is too late--it looks like Hitt Street has taken a hit indeed--like a tornado or bomb practice has wreaked havoc on a town already suffering losses in business and closed schools from fire and consolidation. At the IDOT website the map shows a tiny smear of orange right through Mt. Morris--no other "improvements" on that main artery. The Oregon project, which is still being developed, doesn't show at all.

    It makes one wonder who in IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) never lived in a small town graced with 150 year old trees, where the homes may be the only asset many people have, where the townspeople stay because of their neighbors and values even when the employers and retrailers leave them. I'm guessing these IDOT bureaucrats live in protected cul-du-sacs in tree lined suburbs of Chicago and Springfield. It makes one want to follow the money to find out just who dreamed up this scheme which must be benefiting someone who obviously doesn't live in either town.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2004

    296 New URL for Church of the Acronym

    I have four blogs. I have made changes in templates and URLs and names over time as I learn this system. I haven't been able to figure out how to take down the old URL without eliminating the whole file, so this is a reminder to change your bookmarks to While that site was closed for repairs, I noticed an ad for new floors (I have not control over the ads).

    295 The Widows of 9-11

    The Wall Street Journal has an editorial by Dorothy Rabinowitz about "widow fatigue."
    "Out of their loss and tragedy the widows had forged new lives as investigators of 9/11, analysts of what might have been had every agency of government done as it should. No one would begrudge them this solace.

    Nor can anyone miss, by now, the darker side of this spectacle of the widows, awash in their sense of victims' entitlement, as they press ahead with ever more strident claims about the way the government failed them. Or how profoundly different all this is from the way in which citizens in other times and places reacted to national tragedy. . . " And she goes on to describe the horror of the bombings in Britain in 1940 and 1941.
    As I've watched and listened to the hearings, and read the criticism of both the Clinton and Bush Administrations I'm wondering if in the long run they won't benefit President Bush.

    Afterall, the most hateful critics of Bush seem to be crying, in hindsight, that he should have been aware of how to stop 9/11 even on vague, poorly worded intelligence summaries. These same people wanted him to take preemptive action, like racial profiling of Arabs in the country legally, taking legal flight classes. On the other hand, they didn't want him to take preemptive action when he had very specific intelligence on WMD, which haven't been found yet. They wanted him to take action against terrorists in the summer of 2001 without any support from allies, but didn't want him to take action in 2003 when allies who were in cahoots with Sadaam wouldn't support him.

    The 9-11 hearings are so political they are starting to smell really bad. And the widows are diminishing the memories of their loved ones, behaving as though the lives of the rest of the nation have no meaning at all as they play into the hands of the terrorists and set us up for more tragedy.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2004

    294 The Older Moms

    When I watched the mothers come in with children today at Panera's (after 11 a.m.), I sometimes was unsure if I was seeing young grandmothers or older mothers. They appeared to be in the 40-50 age group but had toddlers.

    There are many safety precautions in place today. When I asked at the grade school about the traffic tie ups, I was told no one lets her children walk to school nowadays--it's not safe. When I asked about the draconian child safety procedures at our church, I was told child safety is a top priority. My children never wore bicycle helmets or were strapped into child safety seats as infants--they sat on my lap. Today I would be severly reprimanded and ticketed for such a lapse.

    So have all these safety regulations that don't require exercising common sense addled the brains of today's mothers? Here's what I saw today. I like to sit next to the open fire. One middle-age-mother-of-toddler was letting her little girl dance on the 18" concrete raised hearth of the open fire place, next to the white hot glass doors. Another older Mom let her 3 year old lay her coat down on the floor so she could put it on "like a big girl" without help, as people stepped around and over her with their hot soup and coffee. Another Mom set her infant seat down on the floor so she could put her trash in the bin where people were walking up to the counter to place orders.

    After watching this, I decided there were no grandmothers, only older mothers in this crowd. Women who had grown up saying, "someone should do something about this."

    Monday, April 12, 2004

    293 The deer dilemma

    On our trip to Illinois last week we saw 12 dead deer in the median strip between the east and west lanes of Interstate 70 within the first hour (about 60 miles). The 13th we actually saw run across the east bound lanes missing the traffic and leap on to our west bound lanes where it was hit by a semi truck in front of our van, tossed about 20 ft. into the air like a rag doll, to land in the grassy median. It was a terrible thing to see, ruining the rest of the trip. But we knew what would have happened had a sedan or van hit it--a serious accident involving many cars.

    So I looked on Google for “whitetail deer automobiles” to see how serious a problem this is. An article in a 2003 Cincinnati paper reported that the deer population in Ohio is soaring and that in 2001, the state recorded 31,586 deer-car collisions, about 17 percent more than in 2000. Insurance officials said the crashes caused about $63.2 million in damage. I learned as I continued browsing Google that it has its own acronym, DVC, deer-vehicle collision.

    Reading other sites, I learned that does live twice as long as bucks, because bucks waste their body fat and become weak and kill each other in fights with other bucks. Another area of behavior we humans share with the animals. I learned that there is a disease spreading among deer called chronic wasting disease. CWD is one type of a broad group of neurological diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), the most famous of which is bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or "mad cow" disease. TSEs are always fatal.

    One web site figured half a million deer are hit by autos (and obviously by trucks), but that more are killed in fences. Dogs, feral and loose running, may kill as many as 10% of the legal harvest according to that author. I saw the half a million figure at several websites, but no one sited a source.

    I thought the animals I saw were does, however, the websites I read mentioned that bucks lose their antlers in December and January and have nothing until April when the base starts to swell and grow. Every web site I read said they vary in color from reddish brown to very dark, almost black. But all the animals I saw were a pale blonde.

    The heavy truck traffic, and large deer population in central Ohio combined with growing suburban developments between Columbus and Dayton on Rt. 70 obviously are a lethal combination. I didn’t see dead deer anywhere else on the trip.

    Sunday, April 11, 2004

    292 The gift and flower shop

    The weather was balmy so we walked to Merlin's. There were lovely displays of antiques, framed prints, seasonal silk flowers, scented creams and lotions, and air fresheners. I stopped. Could hardly believe my eyes. Artificial dandelions. How perfect! A garden shop filled with articificalness had an artificial weed!
    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;
    Those dandelions can't hide.

    Friday, April 09, 2004

    291 Along the Way

    We saw a wind farm near Paw Paw, Illinois with about 100 wind mills. They look like huge chicken legs sticking up out of the ground.

    We think we saw a drug bust as we entered Ogle County--police had stopped a car. There was a huddle of people, at least one a woman, shivering in the wind whipping across the fields. We noticed the dog, anxious to start doing his work of sniffing out illegal stuff.

    At an intersection on Rt. 64 we noticed a half grown brindle pup, dragging his broken chain, tail down and frightened. I don't think he'll last long in that traffic.

    Wednesday, April 07, 2004

    290 Dark rooms can be so depressing

    We had our neighbor over for dinner last night--she hadn't been in this unit since the decorators lived here in the early 90s. As I've mentioned before, the living room was about 5 layers of faux glaze that resulted in dark brown, the dining room was faux orange, the guest room was a deep faux forest green and black, and the family room and halls were faux red/coral. These colors included the ceilings. This unit is fortunate to have a window or two in every room--some do not. But the windows were pretty much covered up with very heavy, fringed and tassled drapes. Yards and yards.

    As she walked around admiring the lighter look she commented that the decorators told her they were selling because the unit was so dark and they were getting depressed!

    289 Resetting the clocks

    It is probably an urban legend--the one about Martha Stewart deciding it was easier to buy new clocks and a new car rather than try to reset the digital clocks for the time changes. My 2003 van is easy. H means hour and M means minutes and you push. But my previous van--which also lost a few seconds every month or two--was very difficult to reset. So for about 6 months of the year it was one hour and 5 or 6 minutes off. Keeps the brain cells active.

    Tuesday, April 06, 2004

    Sunday, April 04, 2004

    287 My basketball injury

    My right shoulder really hurts. It is a basketball injury. During the NCAA Tournament, I've been watching a little TV in bed propped up on pillows because the tournament is on in the living room. I fall asleep in that position in about 2 minutes even if it is a good movie and fund raising time on PBS. Yesterday around noon I was chatting with a friend on the portable phone, and felt something go zing snap pop behind my right shoulder. I know what caused it--the basketball tournament.

    Saturday, April 03, 2004

    286 Preparing for book club

    The sun is shining and it is a nippy 40 degrees in Columbus, but there was a man sitting on the outside patio at Caribou this morning reading a textbook, Corrosion Basics. I was on the inside reading Monday night's bookclub selection, The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. I wondered if he'd be willing to trade.

    There are some very interesting, well-written sentences in this book--unfortunately none of them seem to be in the same paragraph. I use my Dostoevsky method--write down every name with a brief description so you can tell the dog from the grandmother from the town.

    I've tried starting at the beginning. I've tried starting in the middle. The story lies beyond my grasp. Has life so passed me by, comfortable in my condo and retirement, that I can no longer read a "national bestseller," one that received glowing remarks in the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post Book World?

    Every page I turn to seems to include defecation or the male's lower body parts in their purest Anglo-Saxon simplicity. I find myself longing for the participle driven, acronym laden sentences of a library task force report, or something of comparable clarity.

    Friday, April 02, 2004

    285 Visiting

    Today we visited Highland Elementary to meet James Ransome, illustrator of children's books. He was speaking throughout the day in the library, so we sat through his presentation to kindergarten age. He did a wonderful exercise with the children and they all learned new words and how a book is put together. All the children in the school had been primed for this visit and to the smallest, they were so excited and well-prepared.

    The building is very old--probably over 100 years--and the student body comes from many ethnic, religious and income groups, Somali, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and white. There are many "real" windows in the building--not walls of glass--even in the halls, the doors to the classrooms have half lights and transomes, the ceilings soar. So different than the squashed, absent-minded look of the late-20th century with flat roofs, endless dark corridors, and regimented lockers. Wonderful murals were everywhere, some based on the faces and bodies of the actual students, paintings of quiet and well behaved children waiting in line, for instance. We saw them changing rooms everywhere--no pushing, shoving, shouting. We peeked in at the physical ed class in the gym. Teachers didn't raise their voices, but talked to the students very quietly. Respect for others builds a wonderful learning environment.

    Every child in the building got a book autographed by Mr. Ransome--for some, it may be a first--paid for by donors. For large families, they will have many.

    When I was in elementary school, we had no library. This library was in the basement (but had windows), but was very well organized and stocked, both fiction and non-fiction, and I believe there were 4 computers, but with all those wonderful books, I really didn't pay that much attention.

    Parents and volunteers were everywhere. Children at Highland Elementary have the most basic foundation for an education--people who love and respect them.

    Thursday, April 01, 2004

    284 Ironing Update--Three have to go!

    I ironed again to day. This time they were all pre-Bush administration, and two may have been pre-Reagan! Sri Lanka, Philippines, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and 2 USA. However, the gray plaid, the pale flesh tone, and the gold are going into the missionary barrel. My husband is very pale, even when he has a sun tan, so at the end of winter--those colors don't look too great on him. They make him look either dead, dying or diseased. His birthday is Monday, so I told him today he would be getting some new shirts. (He loves surprises, but I don't.) I'll look for USA made, but am not hopeful. I will definitely look for blue, green or brown, however, in the deeper tones.

    Update: April 4--He sneaked those three shirts back in the closet--even the one of folded up and put in the furnace room with his work clothes! The selection at Kohl's was a little limiting, but I bought 4 new ones. Most shirts seem to be made for wrestlers and basketball players, so it took a little time.