Thursday, June 30, 2005

1203 A gathering of Skeptics

When bloggers gather for a party whether they are Homespun or Cotillion, you can find some interesting posts. Here is the 11th Meeting of the Skeptics' Circle, hosted by Anne's Anti-Quackery & Science Blog. Just because I'm a 6 day creationist doesn't mean I can't enjoy a few good scientific studies.

Here are some of the topics:
Table of Contents

- Quackery and Medical Misinformation
- Intelligent Design and Creationism
- Other Pseudoscience
- Urban Legends
- Critical Thinking
- Religion
- Astrology
- History
- Science and the Scientific Method

If you are interested in the topic of autism and vaccinations, the Orac series on the topic should not be missed. And you probably saw that hydrogen peroxide cure on TV--there's some blogging on that.

Anne does one of the best summaries of a topical group that I've seen.

1202 Even I'm not horrified

It's no secret I wish people would be a bit more careful about language, but even I'm not horrified by carefully placed, body parts scattered appropriately through a story, like this guy, Jaspan.

Hat tip Neo-neocon.

1201 When it all comes together at Lakeside

Poetry magazine doesn’t need my subscription dollars. In 2002 it received a $100 million grant from Ruth Lilly. Still, I enjoyed seeing the envelope fall out of the June 2005 issue that my friend Lynne sent me. So here’s a loosely woven group of threads about that particular gift.

1. The address on the envelope is

Poetry Foundation
PO Box 575
Mt Morris, IL 61054-9982

That’s my “home” town; I rode my tricycle on the sidewalks; graduated from the public schools; wandered the campus where my parents and grandparents had attended college; and was baptized and married there in the Church of the Brethren. It is a town that was birthed by education, built by the printing industry, crippled by a union strike, and kicked into the corner by a fire that virtually closed its schools. There is still a subscription agency there, but not a lot else.

2. The magazine, Poetry, was founded by Harriet Monroe in 1912. She nurtured a couple of generations of 20th century poets, maybe because she loved John Root, who didn’t marry her but married her sister. Poets were her legacy, not children. She is one of the sources used by Erik Larson in his book The Devil in the White City. John Root was a Chicago architect who helped plan the 1893 exposition, but died before it opened. Monroe wrote his biography, John Wellborn Root; a study of his life and work, 1896. I had never heard of Root or Monroe, but was reading the book when I opened the gift from Lynne from which the envelope fell.

3. Larson’s book may be only the second “true crime” book I’ve ever read (In Cold Blood was assigned in Library school), but I’m married to an architect and loved the architectural detail and how the author wove all the disparate pieces together. My grandmother attended the Exposition and I recall souvenirs of it in her home. And because Grandma was a thoroughly modern lady who began subscribing to Ladies Home Journal when she was 12, I’m betting I could find some of Monroe’s poems in her scrapbooks of clippings if I wanted to go back to Columbus and dig them out of storage.

4. I finished reading the book at Lakeside where I’m attending a lecture series on the Mind. The instructor had a model of the brain on the table, which she dismantled and described the details to us, including its weight. In the June 2005 issue of Poetry, there is a poem by Kathleen Halme III, “The Other Bank of the River.” The final thought is “Again I apologize for the three pound storm that is my brain and me.” Isn’t that a wonderful line?

5. Also in the June 2005 issue is an article by the poet Peter Campion (no, I’ve never heard of him either) complaining about poet bloggers--as one blogger called it, “an attack of the haves against the have nots.”

Isn’t it amazing how this all fits together?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

1200 Buried alive

This story of Gitmo probably deserved a better placement, since so many people are concerned about the treatment of terrorists. JustOneMinute says it was p. A15.

1199 Desperate Dressing

For at least 30 years, I've been paying attention to how middle-aged women dress. Based on longevity, middle-age starts about age 35, and I'm figuring to stay here until about 70, when I'll be old for oh maybe 20 years, and old-old for another 5. Maybe. It's in my genes, you see. Either way, nobody gets out alive, and because I'm Lutheran, I don't even have to make a stop in Purgatory like Vox Lauri. Jesus offered me a deal I couldn't refuse.

Anyway, I'd been drafting a blog about the effect of the Desperate Housewives TV show on the appearance of mid-life babes. I've never actually watched an entire episode, but I get the drift, and I've noticed the clothing as I've clicked through and on to something, um, more uplifting. I think the show, I say in my draft essay, has really improved the way the ladies look, at least around here (summer vacation community). No more wrinkled shorts, dirty athletic shoes, and t-shirt from a lumber yard in Pennsylvania. Now it is trim cammies over tube tops or colored push up bras over little low slung skirts brushing the knee over the sweetest little sandals you'll ever see at the bottom of shaved legs. Really. I'm not kidding. I was so pleased to see women finally looking feminine again after, what, 25 or 30 years, I didn't even care if it was because of a smarmy, put down of that wonderful profession, housewivery, that created the demand. I'm not sure it is even the clothes, or their new sense that maybe there really is a gardener out there for them.

Then the New York Post came out with a story that really burst my bubble. I won't link to it, so sad, I don't want to be an ambulance chaser. Ladies in NY are apparently still tumbling out of their tight, dirty jeans and showing off their NVL undies. They should stay home and watch more TV. Ruined a perfectly good draft.

1198 Moscow Nights--ochen khorosho

Last night's program was Moscow Nights and Golden Gates Children. I thought incorrectly that they were immigrants, but they are visiting from Russia playing and singing Russian folk music. Lots of audience participation--even my husband ended up on stage smacking a tambourine.

Most of their concerts are in Ohio--I think they have 30 in one month. The costumes looked terribly hot, although delightful. We'd had a drop in temps with some rain and wind, fortunately.

1197 Unattended children will be sold

Shoe doesn't really mean it, but she'd like to announce it. She writes about unattended children in libraries. That wasn't a significant problem in an academic library where I worked from 1986-2000--although I did keep coloring books and crayons in my office for children of the occasional negligent parent who would lose herself in the stacks reading about nematodes or cryptorchidism.

1196 Borderline problem

I scored a 49 on this internet addiction quiz. That's end of the range for average. "You are an average on-line user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage." Check yourself at Center for Online and Internet Addiction, just another site in pathologizing our fun!

Tip from Ilyka who's way beyond me.

1195 Stereotypical behaviors

Speaking of stereotypes, (we were weren’t we?) Ilyka Damen has a few choice words for feminists who are cranky that conservative women are blogging together at The Cotillion. It has always been annoying to me that feminists think only their sisters and daughters should be the judges or senators or CEOs, and apparently that has splashed over to blogging. If you think unborn babies are actually part of the human race, not a disposable scab on a woman’s body, or that capitalism is a force for good and not a pox on our flag, you are suspect of being anti-woman in many circles. She writes:

“Yes, some conservative women don't see anything to "gloat" about when it comes to sexual promiscuity. Yes, some conservative women like pearls and pumps. Yes, some conservative women do have copies of The Surrendered Wife at home. Yes, some conservative women have the awfully annoying habit of simultaneously reaping the rewards of feminism while denigrating the progressive women who blazed that trail for them in the first damn place. I'll back you up on that last particularly.

And some liberal women do have overgrown armpit hair and do wear no shoes but Birkenstocks and do smell horrid from bathing in environmentally-friendly "natural" products that don't contain any actual "soap" and do view men with suspicion and mistrust, if not actual loathing . . . but it wouldn't be very helpful of me to harp continually on that stereotype, so guess what? I don't.”

I get irritated that both groups of bloggers--liberal and conservative women who should have better vocabularies--think they need to write and sound like street walkers to get their point across. But oh well, isn’t that part of being included in the old boys club, and that‘s what they all really want? Male approval? Really, sometimes you just gotta move on for all the cursing and cussing and sexual topics. Hey, when you've spent your best career years in a veterinary library, you've heard enough of reproductive body parts! Even some Christian conservatives are potty mouths.

Or is it just that I’m old enough to be their grandmother? ‘Spose?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

1194 The Unfiltered Library

Stop by Greg's site Shush [June 26]and learn all about pimps and hoes. So even if you watch what games your kids play at home, they can learn the economics and values of the underworld at the local public library. Sweet.

1193 Water and the brain

Before I forget what I learned in memory class today, let me tell you. Sally Kriska, the instructor, is a visual and physical learner/teacher, so she demonstrates some of her basic principles and she has us doing little memory exercises. To show us this morning the importance of water to our entire system, she asked for a volunteer from the class who had not yet had any water today (it was 11:30 a.m.). A gentleman using a cane came forward. Sally had him extend his arm while she exerted force to push it down. She had no problem. Then she gave him a glass of water, and he drank about 6 oz. I'd guess. Then he extended his arm and she could not push it down. Less than 30 seconds, and the water had affected his body that quickly. While this was going on a woman was adding teaspoons of sugar to a glass of ice tea to record how much sugar the average person takes in drinking and eating a typical American diet. It was truly appalling, even when you already knew it.

Yesterday she did the arm extension demo with a woman thinking sad and stressful thoughts, and then thinking powerful thoughts (I am woman hear me roar, etc.) Same thing. While thinking negative stressful thoughts, Sally could easily push her arm down, but by switching to positive thoughts, Sally couldn't move her arm.

We also did a "heads and shoulders, knees and toes" type thing to learn a healthful grocery list, starting with blueberries on our heads and tomatoes between our toes. Sally was a principal for 15 years and says that often when a child was having behavior problems, they learned the family didn't eat breakfast, and he might have a coke and chips for lunch. But apparently, the school breakfast programs aren't all that good either.

To stay awake during class or the sermon, eat the protein portion first, Sally told us. I did see someone sleeping during the class--she must have started the day with a hot, fresh cinnamon cake donut from the Patio Restaurant, which so far I've avoided.

1192 Burn Out!

Stop by and read what Elizabeth Elliot has to say about "burn out," but then promise to come back. She's a very wise lady who raised her child in the jungles of S.A. after being widowed.

But for some reason, maybe 5 years of retirement, I can't recall much "burn out" in my life. I'd like to say it's because I followed a plan like hers, but I think it was really that I have an extremely well-developed, or over-developed ability to say, "NO." Can you join this organization that will only take one more evening a month? NO. Would you take my turn for 3 weeks in the car pool? NO, but I'll do one day. Would you add this task force to the three you're already on? NO. Could you watch my kids for me while I go (do silly things I didn't believe in). NO. Would you "loan" me money. NO, but I'll give you what I can. Would you bake a cake for the fund raiser? NO, but I could do a pie. Would you walk down to the lake? NO, I'm blogging.

Many people can't say NO because they are afraid--of being disliked, of not being needed, or missing all the fun, of losing power. None of that mattered more to me than not being at peace (instead of in pieces). So, although I'd like to say with Elizabeth, it is the yoke of Christ, it isn't. It is the personality I was born with.

1191 Where do you cut costs?

A very frugal school teacher has left his alma mater a gift of over two million.

"Whitlowe R. Green, 88, died of cancer in 2002. He retired in 1983 from the Houston Independent School District, where he was making $28,000 a year as an economics teacher.. .[He] was so frugal that he bought expired meat and secondhand clothing left $2.1 million for his alma mater, Prairie View A&M -- the school's largest gift from a single donor." CNN story.

Everyone seems to "cut costs" in different ways. Here's my list of non-cuts.

Economically, it makes absolutely no sense for me to leave the house every morning at 6 a.m. and drive to a coffee shop. If you don't do this, you could exclaim, "But that costs you nearly $600 a year, when making it at home is about five cents a cup." Very true. But I read 2 or 3 newspapers, and see 4 or 5 people I know, chat with various folk, so as a social informational event, it's pretty cheap. Compare that $600 to a golf hobby, and you can see it is really pretty cheap.

We eat out about once a week--it's called our Friday night date. When my husband started his own business in 1994, this is one thing we cut for awhile, until we could see how our finances would be, but reinstated it quickly. Sure, I can fix the same thing at home for about $3.00 that costs us $30.00 at the pub, but again, it isn't food, it is R&R and time to focus on each other. It is also a line in the sand dividing the work week from the week-end, and when your office is in your home, you definitely need to keep this ritual (he also dressed for work each day, including a tie). About $1500 a year just to eat one meal. Ridiculous!

I could save about $400 a year if I stopped coloring my hair. That will come, but for now, I prefer to fool Mother Nature and the clerks who ask for ID when I request a senior discount. Brown hair turning gray is not pretty like a brunette turning gray (but prettier than a blonde or red head going gray--just a tip).

We usually get a glass of the house wine (red for the cardiovascular system) with Friday night dinner. I suggested to my husband that we just drink a glass of wine at home afterwards--saving Oh, maybe $500 a year (cheap wine), but he didn't go for that. Frugal, but not romantic.

We really don't need two cars now that my husband is retired. I suggested we get rid of his Explorer and keep my van, but since both cars are paid for (and he really likes his better than mine but his hurts my back). That would be a one time boost to the income, of say $6,000 (resale is the pits even on nice, well kept autos) plus a savings of maybe $300 a year in insurance and $200 in maintenance.

Pets are expensive. Kitty litter, cat food, vet bills, etc. I've not looked at the figures recently, but I think it is something like $6,000 over the life time of a cat, and more for a dog. If your daughter or neighbor won't stop by and look after the sweetie-pie when you're gone, you've got to add in huge boarding bills. But I'm not even going to think about that savings. Pets are good for all sorts of health benefits.

So you see, I could be saving and investing this to leave to our Alma Mater, The University of Illinois, but they didn't graduate any dummies, so we're spending wildly while we've got the chance.

1190 The Mind and Memory Class

Yesterday I went to Sally's Mind and Memory Class. It was very good. She's a great teacher--comes alive in front of a group. I think she used to teach theater. About twice as many people showed up as she had prepared for, but that often happens early in the season, early in the week. By Friday there will probably be only twenty or so.

Met Mary, an aspiring writer. They are everywhere, aren't they? She told me the basic idea of her novel. I gave her the same advice I'd give anyone my age--don't wait to be discovered, self-publish. Helen Santmyers don't come along often.

Off to the coffee shop and the morning news.

Monday, June 27, 2005

1189 Rove v. Durbin

"Why would the press ignore (for several days) a speech by an elected US Senator [Durbin] comparing American detention facilities to Nazi concentration camps on the Senate floor, while a minor speech by a White House staffer [Rove] to a state-level political action group drew immediate national attention?" Captain's Quarters
Yes, why indeed.

1188 The do not call list

I'd forgotten how effective that do not call list really is. Since we arrived around noon on Saturday the phone has rung about every two hours--and since we have no answering machine, we don't know what is happening when we're out for dinner, or walking along the lake front, or attending a program. I've been offered a subscription to the Toledo Blade, a summer resort vacation package, several new phone plans, a lower mortgage rate, and possibly waterproofing something, but I hung up too quickly. We never added this phone to the list--indeed, we may get rid of the land line altogether and just use the cell phone, as many do here. We're probably getting a huge share of the calls, since so many people's numbers are not accessible.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

What is wrong with today?

At one site I couldn't leave a comment because of "content." The objectional word was "32" in my e-mail address, so I used an old one that's a spam bucket. Another block was the word "mus" which I hadn't used, but I did use "must." So I changed that, then it objected to "the". I give up. No comments today.

I'd ask you if you're having trouble, but I probably wouldn't be able to get the comments.

1187 Abysmal savings rate

Jane Galt always has interesting things to say at her blog Asymmetrical Information. This one about the savings rate of the average American is very telling, not so much for what she writes, but her readers' comments. There were 71 comments when I read them. One person (a woman I presume) took a home equity loan to pay for her wedding. How's that for short sightedness? Or how about the one, "I used to be poor and now I'm in the upper 5% and want all the toys" (my paraphrase).

Like many sites, she is recommending Castle Coalition concerning that recent Supreme Court decision on eminent domain. It's the only decision I can recall being villified by both the right and the left.

1186 A Lakeside Wedding

This is a lovely spot to have a wedding--if you don't mind strangers gawking wearing bikinis and towels. After we parked our bikes yesterday and strolled along the lakefront, we noticed a photographer taking photos of a wedding party in front of the hotel--in the fountain! True, the temperature in Toledo was 98 yesterday so it was probably near 96 here when I saw them, but I sort of shuddered when I thought of the extra charge for cleaning those rented tuxes. But they did take off their shoes and socks and roll up the pant legs. Even the bride in a fabulously beaded gown was in the water.

The bridesmaids were wearing scarlet red gowns and the groomsmen all wore scarlet vests and ties. So what's a little water in a party that spectacular?

1185 Librarian unhappy with MSM

Bryan (Off the Wall) says he is a former systems analyst and lingerie salesman working as a reference librarian. So he knows the inside of a lot of topics. I thought his article on "Top 4 reasons I'm disgusted with the MSM" pretty much reflected my own thoughts (although I didn't have the specific articles to quote and he does). He cites: 1. Anonymous sources, 2. Overuse of "allegedly," 3. Repeated denials of bias, and 4. Inability to learn. To that I would add hostility to people of faith and snobbery. And all the media folk, left, right and center, seem to build stories on anecdotal evidence instead of taking the time to go the library and do some solid research.

1184 Spectacular Week One opening at Lakeside

Last night's program, Mark Nadler, was fabulous--even his publicist couldn't have prepared us. Such energy. In a tux and tails, and it was sooooo hot. I'll bet he lost 10 lbs. It's hard to explain what he does, but as a closing he sang 'S Wonderful (Gershwin) while he played Rhapsody in Blue. There was a reception after the show at the Hotel but we didn't go. We'd already had ice cream (Moose Tracks) at the new coffee shop. Of course, I could have passed on the dessert and just stood in line for 30 minutes to meet Mr. Nadler, but I knew I wouldn't. If you ever get the opportunity to see him perform, be sure to go. Lakeside Schedule here.

Looking through the weekly newspaper, I see Sally Kriska is going to offer a class on memory and aging called "Mind Matters." I might go. I knew Sally when we had kids in pre-school together and we were all members of First Community Church. No art classes this week that look good to me: glass painting; marionettes; rose soap petals (??); chair caning; 2 different stained glass classes; and scrapbooking for rookies. But Neil Glaser is doing a watercolor workshop on Tuesday evening only that we'll probably go to. We bought one of his paintings last summer. "Women Working out with Weights" is offered 3 mornings, but it looks like you need your own weights. That's not something I ordinarily travel with. This looks like it might be on-going, so if you're coming to Lakeside during one of the other weeks (there are 10 weeks in the season), bring along weights.

This morning we'll attend worship overlooking the lake. I'm not particularly fond of informal, happy, clappy church, but in a camp-like setting with sea gulls and bugs, it is just perfect for praising God.

I'm heading out to watch a sunrise over Lake Erie and get a fabulous cup of coffee at the new coffee shop.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

1183 We're finally here

We're finally in Lakeside, rolling in about 11:15. And the cat didn't poop or puke. Good trip! The gates are down, the lines are long, and it is hot, hot, hot--about 94 I think. One more hour and our flowers would have been dead. We've watered twice, and they are starting to perk up. Dehydration is a painful way to die.

Tonight's program is Mark Nadler, described as a "young Victor Borge," outrageously entertaining and funny. Hoover is not air-conditioned, so I think the crowd will be light. I'll wear a dress. Much cooler than slacks.

We took a bike ride and sat in the shade and watched the swimmers. The haze was so thick we could hardly see the islands. Took a stroll through the business district--all three blocks--and stopped in the book store. My husband's paintings are hanging at the Patio Restaurant--they look really nice.

Friday, June 24, 2005

1182 Down memory lane

Shelly is a 50-something librarian who has a number of blogs (more even then me) and devotes one of them to nostalgia. She does a very nice job, too. She calls that blog Retro-Spective, but if you check her "about me" link you'll see she also has some nicely formated blogs about books. Can't tell for sure but she might also have blogs at Live Journal.

1181 Dancing with the Stars

We've never gotten into the reality TV mode. Most of them look pretty silly--eating bugs in the jungle, picking spouses in mansions, etc. But when Dancing with the Stars began on June 1, we were definitely tuned in. By the third week, the rest of America had discovered this delightful show and 15.7 million viewers were watching, according to USAToday.

Our first date was for the St. Pat's Ball at the University of Illinois. That's when he told me he planned to marry me. And I told Sally, when I returned the red lace dress I'd borrowed, "You won't believe the line I heard tonight." On my to-do list for retirement was ball room dance lessons, which we did, two or three sessions I believe. We've tried a few new moves for the jitterbug and I think we can move around the floor in a fox trot, but unless you have a place to dance and go frequently, you lose it pretty quickly. The learning curve and physical demands for the non-pros in this reality show must have been incredible.

Armory House Spring Dance, 1959

1180 Friday Feast 53

These questions come from Friday Feast and you're welcome to answer them and then let the site know.

What time do you usually wake up each day? If you could choose your wake-up time, when would it be?
I wake up about 4:30-5:00 a.m. I never use an alarm clock (keeps me awake), so it must be perfect for my internal clock. Even as a young child, I was always the first one up.

When was the last time you bought groceries? What store did you go to? Name 3 things you purchased.
I usually buy groceries on Monday morning at the Meijer store, because it doesn't have loyalty card silliness. Apples. Cat food. Cheese. Also stopped at Trader Joe's which is near by. When I'm in my "old" neighborhood I enjoy using a family owned, neighborhood grocery store, Huffman's Market.

How many books have you read so far this year? Which was your favorite and why?
I've probably read 6 or 7 this year. So far, Alexander Hamilton is my favorite. However, Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder was also wonderful. Hamilton is probably our most amazing "founding father," and one can't imagine the United States without his influence. Ship of Gold was just extremely well written with an amazing wealth of information about the ocean, American history and the odd way some people have of drawing others into their plans.

Main Course
What is something you consider to be very elegant? In particular, what about that item/place/person conjures up the feeling of elegance?
Although I'm certainly no fashion expert nor do I worry much about my own clothes, I'm always very impressed by the elegance of the women's fashions in the 1930s and 1940s movies. They really put today's fashions to shame.

Who taught you how to drive?
My mother was the first. However, I did take Driver's Ed in high school, and I believe the teacher was the P.E. instructor. I've never had nor been in an accident. I've had two speeding tickets, both for going 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. My father drove from age 14 to 88 and had one accident, and that was caused by the other person.

"This makes it all worth it"

That was my husband's comment as he came in the door, and handed me this piece of paper, completing his week as a fourth grade Bible School teacher. He said virtually every one of his 16 students came up to thank the teachers today. Yesterday they were chosen to lead the Lord's Prayer in American Sign Language for the entire VBS (his co-teacher interprets for the deaf). Every year he tells me it was his best class. Same for this year.

Thank you note from a fourth grader

1178 Facial lipoatrophy

Sometimes I get to be both a Mom and a Librarian at the same time. I've just had a rush call from my daughter for research on five products for lipoatrophy. That means the fat on your face has fallen to your waist or thighs, and those ugly little lines can be filled in with Sculptra, Restylane, Perlane, Captique, or Hylaform. She's giving a presentation this week-end. I've never used a filler. Right now I'm just using the 15 lbs. I've picked up in retirement to fill out the wrinkles. Cheaper. More fun.

1177 Real Estate Bargains

Yes, there still are a few. I scan the pages for you each week for opportunities. I noticed that home prices in the 19106 zip code (Philadelphia) went up 44% in one year and in 85044 (Phoenix) 30%. So, I'd stay away from those areas!

But elsewhere, "close to Lake Superior" (could be 10 miles I suppose) you can buy an adorable 2 room log cabin on 20 acres with a 2 car garage for $125,000. That is a very long way from here, but maybe it is close to you if you are in Minnesota or Wisconsin. If you like hunting, fishing or snow mobiling, it might be just the thing, or you could share the cost with a few other families. Call Apostle Islands Realty, 715-779-5807.

But if you want to be closer to Cleveland or Buffalo (hey, some people do!) "Grandma's House is for sale" near the Allegheny National Forest, just 2 hours from Buffalo. It is being used as a B & B and has 8 bedrooms, four porches and an oil well on the property. Garden and ponds. $284,900. Call 877-723-3910 x23.

Also today in the WSJ I read that the "median price of condominiums and co-ops hit a record in May, rising about 15% to $221,000--$21,000 above the price of a single family home," according to the National Association of Realtors. I think this reflects that DINKS want to live in NORCs and have someone else mow the lawn and trim the trees. Boomers are starting to retire, and they like grass for golf, but not for maintenance.

Our front door condo view

1176 Reduce, reuse and resell

That seems to be the latest in decorating for rich people according to an article in today's WSJ. "Architectural salvage" is the fancy name of this decorating style. Big deal. I've been doing that all my life. Last night I ironed a white table cloth I got for a wedding present in 1960. It fits the glass top dining room table I bought in 1993 to go with the six chairs I bought at a yard sale. I knew when I opened the gift 45 years ago that it couldn't match the quality of my mother's linen table cloths. Those were government issue and of exceptional quality. When my father's ship was decommissioned after WWII he noticed that things were being dumped. So he brought home a very long linen table cloth--I think if you looked closely at the woven design you could see either a Navy or Marine emblem. Anyway, my mother cut it up and hemmed it into three very nice full size linen table cloths. She also cut up my father's uniforms and made clothes for my little brother. That was in the days of "use it up" values.

As I look around the house I don't see much of what the article described, except I'm using a South Hannah Avenue street sign in the guest room as a childhood memento and some children's books from the 1930s as artistic displays. My brother-in-law Bob is a dumpster diver. On trash day he rides around the neighborhood and picks up small appliances, old bicycles, lawn chairs and boom boxes, takes them home and fixes them, and usually just gives them away. I wonder if he's ever thought of selling anything?

1175 A tune up for your memory

Yesterday I watched the Jane Pauly Show. She's that cute, other perky newslady from Indianapolis who now does a talk show. Her guest was Dr. Gary Small who has written ""The Memory Prescription: Dr. Small's 14-Day Plan to Keep Your Brain and Body Young." I'd like to tell you that I remembered his name and book, but I didn't and had to Goggle it. There are just not enough memory cells unused in my brain to take in details like that and remember them for 24 hours.

However, it was an interesting interview with video clips of real life situations involving women who were fearful that their memories were deteriorating. He offers a 3 week boot camp with attitude adjustments, memory tricks and menu planning. I was happy to learn that prunes are good--it's their antioxidants, which are about 16 times the amount in apples, bananas and oranges. So if you see old people ordering prunes in a restaurant, don't assume the worst. They may be enhancing their brain cells.

The program was so interesting I forgot it was my day to do the mail run for the church, and left the house 10 minutes late. Not to worry--there was only one piece of mail at each location because VBS is keeping everyone in the classrooms and halls instead of their offices. Then the gasoline light came on. It was $2.25 across the river, so I swung by a BP closer to home where it was $2.10 and bought $5.03, enough to get me to the campus and back to pick up a book I'd ordered. On the way there, I heard a strange noise. I looked in my side mirror and I'd forgotten to screw the cap back on so the flap was open and the cap was dangling by its safety net cord. I don't think I'd ever done that.

So much for memory enhancing programming.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

1174 Pray behind someone's back

The Off Shore Fisherman reminds us.

1173 I'll have what she's having

Over at Rebecca's blog I noticed the AFI's 100 greatest quotes from the movies. I'd been listening to snatches of this list on the radio, and knew that "Frankly, my dear. . ." from Gone with the Wind was number one. So here is the link for your memories and enjoyment. How many of these movies (fewer than 100 since some movies get counted more than once) have you seen? I think I counted 41 or 42.

1172 The gap between rich and poor--the series

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal had another in its series about the growing gap between the rich and poor. It really fell flat for me. It is beyond anecdotal, moving quickly to fairy tale. Could the author (whose name I forgot to write down) not find better examples than a 58 year old man who had a GED and a single woman who has three children and had her first baby (unwed) at 18? What really frustrated me is that Ron Larson, 58, the guy with the GED, was making the same as I was in 2000 when I retired, and I had a master's degree, 24 years experience on the job, and had rank of associate professor. The solution, if I caught the drift, is more education. Why?

After you read through the meaty paragraphs with filler of concern and pity, you get to the little morsels, particularly mistakes made in youth that come back to bite later--like an arrest that unhinges a security clearance years later; failure to finish high school; and an out of wedlock baby or two. I can think of no government program or change in evil corporations that will turn that around.

The examples of success included a "lucky" 20 year old, son of Puerto Rican immigrants, who really hustled, took extra training in-house and moved from the kitchen to the operating room as a surgery assistant. The other success story was a young man whose parents had worked hard and helped him with good values and financial support for his education. He was having no problem exceeding his parents' standard of living.

Go figure.

1171 Playing the race card in Columbus, Ohio

You know the lawyer's hand is really weak when he pulls out the race card when: Columbus has a black mayor; Columbus has a black female Superintendent of Schools; Columbus has a black female school board President; and Columbus has a black Chief of Police. But when Regina Crenshaw, a black female middle school principal, is fired after a black female disabled student is sexually assaulted on her watch, her lawyer says it is because she is a black female.

Regina Crenshaw claims she acted appropriately and had reported problems in the past which the district had not investigated. I can go with that. Why not defend her on that evidence, if it exists? But race and sex? No, not this time, not this case.

Heard on radio 610June 15th - With her attorney, husband, and minister by her side, Regina Crenshaw entered a not guilty plea for failure to report the alleged sexual assault on March 9th. Outside the courtroom, Crenshaw said it's time for closure. The charge against Crenshaw is a misdemeanor and if convicted, she faces 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. Crenshaw also plans to proceed with a public hearing to get her job back. A date for that hearing has not been set.

June 22nd - The attorney representing the former prinicpal of Mifflin High School has filed a motion to dismiss. Toki Clark points to affadavits she says prove other teachers and administrators, faced with potential abuse situations, took the same course of action as her client. Clark says she can only conclude that Regina Crenshaw was prosecuted based on race and gender.

Update, April 28, 2006: "Regina Crenshaw was found not guilty Friday afternoon by a Franklin County Juvenile Court jury. She’d been charged with a criminal misdemeanor for not immediately calling police after the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl at Mifflin High School, where Crenshaw was principal last year. The Columbus school board fired her because of the incident. But today’s verdict may play a factor in future litigation.

Crenshaw wept when she heard the jury’s verdict. Later she told reporters she felt justice had been served."

1170 All over the world

Kids are fans and will stand in line forever. Pics.

1169 Blogging bathrooms

What can you say about bathrooms? They occasionally come up in my stories--like the one I did about cats and the one about books. But photos--that's different--there's more than meets the eye and this photoblogger has done a series of bathroom shots that is just amazing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

1168 When will politicians learn?

It is NOT an apology when you claim the people who heard what you said were 1) offended without cause by what you said (i.e. blame the victim), 2) misinterpreted your comments. This is what Durbin has done twice. First on Friday, and then on Tuesday.

“Let me read to you what I said [on Friday]. ‘I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said causes anybody to misunderstand my true feelings. Our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support.’”

“Mr. President, it is very clear that even though I thought I had said something that clarified the situation, to many people it was still unclear. I'm sorry if anything that I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust, the greatest moral tragedy of our time. Nothing, nothing should ever be said to demean or diminish that moral tragedy.” Durbin's most recent apology
Now ladies, let's assume your husband compared you to a fat cow in front of his friends. In his sincere apology he says, "I sincerely regret if what I said about you being a fat cow causes you or my golf buddies to misunderstand my true feelings. You deserve my respect, admiration and total support."

He wouldn't be sleeping on the couch; he'd get a one way plane ticket home to mama, who'd probably make him sleep in the basement. Come on, Illinois Democrats. Someone teach this guy how to apologize! If he were a Republican, he'd be applying for unemployment, a la Trent Lott.

1167 Perpetual adolescence of the Left

Dr. Sanity does a good job of analyzing the Left, their state of denial, and their adolescent mind set.

She started blogging about a year ago with an MSE on the Democratic Party. She found them to be paranoid, with flawed short term memory, with extremely poor judgement focusing on trivialities, with Major Depressive Disorder with psychotic features and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (with paranoid features). Of course, that was during the campaign, but not much seems to have changed.

1166 Statistics

About once a year for one week we'd have to track all our questions in the library. I'm not sure which black hole these are tossed into, but I think ours were repackaged and sent to ARL or maybe ACRL. They have categories like "ready reference," "directional," "telephone," "e-mail" and so forth. You'd get a huge sheet, one for each day and one for each staff person, and you'd make hash marks in the appropriate column as inquiries were made. Sometimes you'd get a trifecta or even a quadfecta with several questions chained together. "Hi, do you remember me?" (one slash mark). "Have you heard about the science fair my son wants to enter?" (two slash marks), etc. The cartoon "Overdue Media is running a series on reference stats. If you don't think it's funny, then you've probably never worked in a library.

1165 Let's send in Dick Durbin

The Illinois Democrat needs a dose of reality. Looking at the world's developing hot spots, not yet blamed on Bush, let's send him on one of those Congressional fact finding missions to Zimbabwe where the leaders are in the early stages of a Cambodian killing fields. Maybe he can talk it out of existence with exaggeration, crocodile tears and puffery. Get G. Voinovich (R-OH) to help with the tears, just to make it bi-partisan.

"The current attacks on urban centers are part of a corrective strategy to drive perhaps two million people back onto the land. Once there, they will be cut off from the rest of the country and at the mercy of government-controlled food supplies. It is more difficult to starve people in urban areas where the outside world might catch wind of what's going on. As one displaced farmer puts it: "The people don't want to go back to the rural areas because they are afraid and also they know the hardships they will face. In summer, it would be easier for people--even those who have lost the skills--to live off the land from berries and wild mushrooms--but it's the height of winter now and there is nothing."

But controlling this population becomes easier all the time, as millions have fled over the past few years, over 3,000 people die every week of AIDS, and most college graduates, many of whom are activists, leave the country. The result has been an astonishing decline in the population, which is down to around 10 million from over 13 million a few years back. Not that the government minds. In August 2002, Didymus Mutasa, today the head of the secret police, said: "We would be better off with only six million people, with our own people who support the liberation struggle." "
The killing fields of Zimbabwe

1164 Tagged by R Cubed: Books that Matter

R Cubed, who has been blogging since January has tagged me to write about books. I have no idea who she is, but she apparently found my blog and whispered sweet nothings to me so I would write this and tag five others. I think I may have done this exercise, but if so, here it is again, and probably different. What matters on Wednesday isn’t what you cared about on Sunday. It’s a myth that librarians read a lot (and if you see them doing it on the job, that is a job assignment). I don’t read nearly as much as my non-librarian friends.

What is the total number of books you have ever owned?
I have no idea, but several thousand would be a good guess. I pick up a lot of books at sales and give-aways. I’ve also inherited books from my mother, grandmother and great-grandfather. Because all our shelves are full, I try to donate to the Friends sale when I bring a batch in. Right now I have 13 books lying on their sides waiting for me to take some sort of defensive action so they can stand up.

What is the last book you have purchased?
I don’t buy many books except at sales, but I think the last new one was “In but not of” by Hugh Hewitt in May which was on our book club list and not available at any of the libraries I checked. It’s an advice book, really more suitable for new graduates, but interesting. Of course, I did everything wrong, and that’s why I’m not rich and famous or powerful.

What is the last book you have read?
I haven’t finished it yet I’m on p. 167 (I’m a very slow reader), but it is The Devil in the White City (2003, Crown) by Erik Larson. I just blogged about it a day or two ago.

What are 5 books that mean a lot to you?
I have a miserable background in literature, so I can only cite non-fiction. I don’t know when the golden age of American education was, but it certainly wasn’t during my schooling. I never had a high school or college course in American or British literature and I‘m a liberal arts graduate. Not that I couldn’t do this on my own, but life happens--kids, work, church, stuff--and the books don’t get read unless I have to for some project or group. So here’s a list.

1) I’d like to say I’m a Bible scholar, but I’m not, but that seems to be the book I open most often. Right now, the NIV is my favorite translation. I probably have 10 translations.

2) “The Story of English” by Robert McCrum et al (Viking, 1986) really expanded my horizons. It was a tie-in to a PBS show I thought was sort of dull--but I loved the book based on the show.
3) I’m very fond of Frank Luther Mott’s multi-volume work on “History of American Magazines,” and I used it when working on one of my own publications and would read it again just for fun, but of course, that will never happen.

4) How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill made me proud of my Irish roots and it‘s always fun to discover some part of history you knew nothing about.

5) “Seabiscuit; an American legend by Laura Hillenbrand was awesome on many levels--the author’s detailed research, her own illness while writing it, the wonderful story, and reading it on Amtrack while traveling across the country. And I love horses. As a kid, I only read horse and dog stories.

So, I'm tagging Family Man Librarian, Matthew, Tomeboy, Sal, and Jordan.

1163 Site meters can enslave

Some bloggers become slaves to their site meters. Not me. I only check, oh, 4 or 5 times a day. I'm too cheap to pay for one, so I have a freebie with limited features. If I don't check every 100 visits, I'd miss all the fun. I don't get the really wild questions like Vox Lauri or Paula, but I do have some persistent favorites. Three out of every 100 queries are people wanting to know how to fix a broken zipper, something I asked last October, but no one could tell me. Now my own question has corralled others, as though I am the guru or maven of broken zippers (the pants were 20 years old for goodness' sake).

About four out of every 100 are visitors who have found the photo of the kittens belonging to the Agricultural Librarian at Ohio State. I saw the photo in her office and thought they were so adorable I asked if I could scan it, and she gave me one. (I've heard that some photographers use freeze dried animals to get those cutsy poses, but these kittens were alive and well.) And as the weather has warmed, I'm getting about three clicks a day to my own painting of my children sitting in front of the Marblehead Lighthouse.

The other day someone read 45 of my entries spending an hour and a half, and I hope she comes back and helps the stats again. Many readers seem to start at Shush's or Conservator's blogs, can't leave a comment there, so I think they come on over here. The best way to get visitors is to leave comments at someone else's blog, but most of the time I can't think of anything to say. Especially if I think it is really awful.

And I have many ethical people visit here. My stats are highest over the lunch hour, so they aren't reading during work time. Peak days seem to be Wednesday and Thursday. By Friday my readers are in TGIF mode and who wants to read a retired librarian when leaving work early for the bar?

So here's the formula for breaking 90 visits a day: zippers, kittens, lighthouses and comments. I've looked at some of the blogs drawing 1,000 or more visitors a day, and I'd need to be much saucier, sassier and younger than I am. I give up a lot for my craft, but I won't be anyone but me.

1162 Teaching English ain't easy

Nathan Bierma loves the English language, but he has discovered that teaching grammar is different than using it professionally. Here's his English 101 story from the Chicago Trib. I occasionally try reading the blogs of college young people and have definitely experienced his #1, #2, and #4.

1161 What children ask for

Yesterday's question in VBS was something along the lines of "If you could have anything you asked for, what would it be." Apparently, only one little girl (probably watches beauty pageants on TV) thought beyond material needs and did indeed ask for world peace, according to my husband who teaches the class. Most asked for material things, but not a bike or a pony like my generation would have done (we were self-centered too), but a house! One little girl asked for a shopping mall! Now THAT is materialistic. "What do you suppose children in Third World countries ask for," my husband mused.

1160 Give them the gate before 2008

"Opinion polls suggest that John McCain and Rudy Guiliani are the two favorites for the Republican nomination in 2008." WSJ 6-21-05. Why not just hand the presidency to Mrs. Clinton and save all the expense and rancor of an election?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Stories from Lakeside

At the end of the week we’ll be heading for our summer home at Lakeside on Lake Erie, a Chautauqua community. We’ll be reversing the days of summer that we had all those years when we were both employed, which was work four days, take a day of vacation and spend three at the Lake. Now we’ll play three weeks, come home to attend to details for a few days, and go back to more play. It's a tough life being a DINK living in a NORC.

Lakeside Summer 2004

Memorial Day Week-end, 2004
All about Mayflies
Thoughts on July 4
Week-end entertainment
Friends of the Hotel Sale
The week’s entertainment, mid-July
Art Show Opening
Pleasant surprises
First Donut of the season
Complementary colors
Entertainment just steps away
The Last Day of July
Client Appreciation Party
Week Eight at Lakeside, 2004
Colors of SummerCottage Decor
Week Nine at Lakeside, 2004
Packing to go home

And for 2005

Week One, 2005
A Lakeside Wedding
Mind and Memory class
Blueberries are brain food
Perfect Day at Lakeside
Lutheran Chautauqua
The Secret is Out
Another perfect summer day
Lake Erie Cruise
Thirty years ago at Lakeside
First time visitors
Our Town
Apple Pie Sailing Weather
Peace Week
The Big E
Sailing the Front Porch
Resurrection Lilies
Baby in the hotel dining room
Lakeside art class
Kelley's Island
What I haven't seen this summer
Photo Album at the Antique Sale

Summer 2006
Yard Saling
Walk along Lake Erie
Remodeling at Lakeside
Our Lakeside cottages over the years
My office nook at Lakeside
Wooden Boat Show
First week's programming
Chinese Acrobats
July 4, 2006 at Lakeside
Lakeside archives
Tram Tour
Kids' Sail
Week 8 at Lakeside
Lakeside dock scenes
Purple Martins at Lakeside
Antique Show, pt. 2

Summer 2007
Tony Campolo preaches at Lakeside
First time visitors
Lakeside is open
Fourth week visitors
Third week programs and activities and
class on geology of the Great Lakes and
art show opening
Flowers of Lakeside

1158 I love my mom, but. . .

My husband is teaching Vacation Bible School this week. This is an enormous undertaking for our church--I think about 3,000 kids are enrolled for one week sessions over a two week period. There is even a special VBS class for developmentally disabled children. Anyway, yesterday at lunch he told me that in his fourth grade class he has 17 children from 15 schools, and one of those schools is about 70 miles away. I think that is amazing. When I went to VBS back in Forreston, IL, we had town kids and country kids--two, possibly three schools and probably 4 or 5 churches.

The theme is something about Africa, and one of the questions was "if you were lost in the jungle on safari, what one person would you want to have with you?" Most of the kids said their dad, a few said their mother, but one little girl said, "Well, I really love my mom, but she's always getting lost, so I'll say my dad."

Of course, I would have asked why we were lost if the dads were so great at asking directions.

1157 Words and phrases for pundits

Words mean something, unless they are overused. Then they become posters, or occasionally poetry. I'm working on a list of the typical words and phrases used by the left or right about the right or left. On this first day of Spring I'm just taking them out of my word safe, holding them up to the light and deciding if they can be strung together as an essay, a poem, a joke or an obituary for discourse. Here are some of my jewels found along the way. Step lightly.

Democrats' favorites include:
rich buddies
coalition of the rich and religious
high-profile fundraiser
stolen elections
Bush lied
Nazis, Hitler
Gulag, Stalin
polls show
right wing spin
fake but accurate!

Republicans are currently using these treasures:
anti-gun ownership
baby killers
Moore lies
high-profile fundraiser
tax and spend
tin-foil headgear
fake but accurate?

1156 Noonan's plan to save PBS

Peggy Noonan has a plan to save PBS that is so sensible and so good, that I just know no one will take her suggestion. Congress seems incapable of coming up with these ideas.

"Why, then, doesn't Congress continue to fund PBS at current levels but tell them they must stick to what they are good at, and stop being the TV funhouse of the Democratic Party? Nobody needs their investigative unit pieces on how Iran-contra was very, very wicked; nobody needs another Bill Moyers show; nobody needs a conservative counter to Bill Moyers's show. Our children are being raised in a culture of argument. They can get left-right-pop-pop-bang anywhere, everywhere.
PBS exists to do what the commercial networks should and won't. And just one of those things is bringing to Americans who have not and probably will not be exposed to it the great treasury of American art, from the work of Eugene O'Neill (again, ABC won't be producing "Long Day's Journey" anytime soon), outward to Western art (Shakespeare) and outward to world art.

And science. And history. But real history, meaning something that happened in the past as opposed to the recent present, with which PBS, alas, cannot be trusted.

Art and science and history. That's where PBS's programming should be. And Americans would not resent funding it."

Complete essay here.

Monday, June 20, 2005

1155 Letters from Gitmo Dick

Iowahawk has uncovered some of Dick Durbin's personal letters (D-IL).

1154 More exceptions for faculty women . . . and a few guys

OnCampus, the Ohio State Newspaper for faculty and staff, had this interesting item about the need for even more exceptions for part time female faculty, who can’t meet the expectations that promotion and tenure might involve 60 hour work weeks.

"In Ohio State’s 2003 faculty work/life survey, one-third of female assistant professors and 20 percent of male assistant professors expressed interest in reducing their work hours to have more time for family and personal needs. While the university has a provision in its faculty rules for part-time tenured and tenure-track appointments, fewer than two dozen of the nearly 3,000 regular, non-clinical faculty currently take advantage of this option and this mismatch between policy and behavior may be hampering not only retention but the recruitment of talented faculty."

"Institutional culture plays a key role in fostering acceptance of those who wish to take advantage of a part-time appointment. The work group found that most chairs, many deans and faculty governance leaders weren’t aware of the provision in Ohio State’s policies. “But the biggest issue is the cultural norm — the expectation that people must work 60-plus hours a week or they don’t get anywhere, and that unit excellence depends on 150 percent effort by each faculty. That is the cultural norm in academia, and that is the norm we have to break if we are going to embrace part-time tenured or tenure-track faculty,” Herbers said." OnCampus June 8, 2005

Call me crazy, but it would seem to me that if you are working part-time AND given more time to complete your research, you have waaaay more time at the library, lab or computer than the woman who shows up at work every day on the usual tenure clock. What am I missing here? Women who work full time and who have teen-agers in the home could teach these new mommies something about time management. I recall interviewing a faculty woman applying for research funds who had eleven children and was home schooling!

One of the ideas is to grant automatic extensions to the tenure clock for each baby (by birth or adoption) instead of making people request it. Come on. These are grown-ups! They need to read the rules and see what applies to their case. The baby rules are nothing compared to facing a panel of peer reviewers to get published. Women already get opportunity to purchase retirement credit for time off work when having or adopting a baby, although my case was a loophole because my tenuring unit (Libraries) changed retirement systems (from PERS to STRS) while I was off work in the 1960s raising my babies, and neither system would let me claim the time their own silly laws said I had coming to me.

Having been there, I have some advice for 18-19 year old women who are thinking of an academic career. Complete your education in a reasonable 6 year time table. Don’t live with your boyfriend before marriage or try to live in Europe or Asia just having fun--it really messes up the time schedule. Marry and have your babies (reversing that REALLY messes it up). Stay home, enjoy them and raise them to school age. Go back to work part-time. Ease into full time. You really do have enough time to do it all as long as you don’t extend your adolescence by 15-20 years with loans from daddy and Uncle Sam, messy relationships and out of wedlock babies. Also, without social security reform, you’ll be working until 75 anyway, so there’s plenty of time.

1153 Durbin needs to talk to this Illinois Chaplain

Kent Svendsen is a military chaplain and a pastor of a United Methodist Church in rural Illinois. This is his bio, and you’ll see he hasn’t come to his faith position lightly. According to a Google search on his name, his church is near Forreston, IL where I used to live.

Here is his advice to anyone investigating (or protesting ) the Gitmo “torture” stories, as a chaplain who has been there.

1152 The Fair that changed America

Columbian Exposition 1893

In 1992 I attended a library conference in Chicago and had the opportunity to visit a display of the photos of the Columbian Exposition held there in 1893. My grandmother was a young teen-ager and attended with her parents, probably getting on the passenger train that passed through their farm near Ashton, IL. Later they would probably follow the trial of the serial murderer who had stalked his innocent victims in the White City. I'm reading a fascinating book about it and mention it at Coffee Spills.

1151 The Dean or the Dick?

Which Democrat will drive more people way from the party? Diarrhea-of-the-mouth Dean or Tokyo-Rose-in-Drag Dick? It's been many a year since I lived in Illinois, but my recollection of those days is that about a third of Chicago was Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Ukrainian, Belorus, Slovak, Czech, Hungarian or European Jew. About half my classmates at the U. of I. were children of the escapees from Hitler or Stalin. Some had lost their accents, but they never lost their memories of starvation, forced marches, refugee camps, and grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins they'd never see again. And if their memories ever did dim in the usual frivolity of the teen years of dating, music and partying, you can bet your ass mascot their parents would remind them.

Mark Steyn says he doesn't question Durbin's patriotism. Well, why not? He's insulting the children and grandchildren of first generation Illinoians, many of whom are probably in the military being demoralized and humiliated as he spews his ridiculous insults.

"Just for the record, some 15 million to 30 million Soviets died in the gulag; some 6 million Jews died in the Nazi camps; some 2 million Cambodians -- one third of the population -- died in the killing fields. Nobody's died in Gitmo, not even from having Christina Aguilera played to them excessively loudly. The comparison is deranged, and deeply insulting not just to the U.S. military but to the millions of relatives of those dead Russians, Jews and Cambodians, who, unlike Durbin, know what real atrocities are. Had Durbin said, "Why, these atrocities are so terrible you would almost believe it was an account of the activities of my distinguished colleague Robert C. Byrd's fellow Klansmen," that would have been a little closer to the ballpark but still way out." Durbin slanders his own country

The name "Durbin" doesn't have a Slavic or East European ring to it. Sounds sort of Irish. Maybe next time in the voting booth it should be NINA Dick.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

1150 A brief history of UnAmerica

Eamonn Fitzgerald tells the story of the short lived nation known as UnAmerica.

"Future historians poring over the records will note that as far as longevity goes, the nation known as unAmerica was remarkably short lived. After all, it lasted a mere two years, which is all the more noteworthy given the popular support it once enjoyed and the resources available to it. But just as the great Aztec and Incan civilizations crumbled in the face of change and left puzzling ruins for coming generations to wonder at, unAmerica fell as dramatically as it had risen."

Essay here.

1149 The Father's Day Card

On May 18, 2002 I was at the Columbus Museum of Art waiting for an exhibit guide, and selected a Father's Day card for my Dad at the gift shop. When I got home that afternoon, I learned he'd died about the time I was selecting it. Here's part of the essay I wrote about that, and the pastor included it in his memorial service.

"Picking out appropriate cards for a no nonsense, tough old bird like my Dad was never easy--he didn't golf, or fish, was never gushy or lovey dovey, didn't do any of the stuff that Hallmark Dads did year after year in muted masculine colors. But this card, without giving credit, superimposed a Bible passage over a newspaper stock report, "spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge." I recognize that this passage refers to the Spirit of the Lord resting on the shoot from the stem of Jesse in Isaiah 11 because it is repeated in baptism in the Lutheran service. Still, it seemed to fit--particularly since I saw him many times pouring over the newspaper business section or working cross word puzzles. The words and art. I thought, I'll take it along to Illinois and slip it into the casket.

Most of us are "adult children" of our parents for many more years than we are "minor children," therefore it is never too late to be a good parent, or a grateful child. As a child I yearned for a dad that would give me a hug or attend my school functions or praise me for good grades (although I don't think I knew any fathers like that). Although I noticed he worked 12 hour days, visited his parents every Sunday, never missed church, and treated my mother with respect and love, it doesn't mean a whole lot when you are a typical, self-centered, moody adolescent. As an adult, it gives you strength and comfort.

It never occurred to me in the 1950s that he probably didn't enjoy driving a car-load of screaming teen-age girls to the White Pines roller rink on his only day off, or that he didn't have to let me pasture a horse in our back yard (which he personally road home from the farm where I purchased him to be sure he was safe). And having my mother be the primary parent means I still remember the occasional ice cream treats he'd bring home, or that he would drive us 40 miles to see a movie in Rockford once in awhile.

But the memory that brings the tears is Dad with my sister Carol: first, carrying her out of our quarantined house to be admitted to the hospital for polio 53 years ago, and then standing beside her hospital bed to support her own children as the life support was removed after a stroke many years later.

No, it is never too late to be a good parent or a grateful child.

1148 Funniest interview of a Christian I've ever read

Tears rolled. I choked on my coffee. Barb Nicolosi is a writer for various organizations and writes the blog, Church of the Masses. She has a paraphrase of an interview she did with a NYT reporter who was trying to sniff out links between the vast right wing conspiracy, the Christians, and Hollywood and wouldn't take "Ain't one" for an answer. It is an absolute hoot--and unfortunately, it really did happen.

Thanks to Fr. Japes.

1147 This is your brain on a political hot button

The May issue of Scientific American has an article on the brain differences between men and women, “His Brain, Her Brain.”

Before getting into differences, the male author makes the obligatory, law-suit protecting statement that . . . “no one has uncovered any evidence that anatomical disparities might render women incapable of achieving academic distinction in math, physics or engineering.” (That’s sort of a straw woman, because I don’t remember Summers saying women were incapable of achieving academic distinction, only that they were different in achievement, and it’s the Summers flap the author probably is referring to.)

Then he goes on to list all the research on brain differences, the hypothalamus, cognition and behavior, including memory, emotion, vision, hearing, the processing of faces and the brain's response to stress hormones, the size of cortex and amygdala, the orbitofrontal-to-amygdala ratio, differences in utero, and differences in behavior in the nursery on day one. And he also provides a lot of animal studies of differences in male and female brains.

I’m a little surprised people are allowed grants to study the differences in men and women’s brains. I hope he hasn’t ruined his career. This puts feminist hard-liners in a tough spot. If they continue to insist there is no difference, they deprive women of important research on how medications affect the brains of men and women differently and thus condemn women to treatments that work for men but not for women and vice versa.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

1146 Here comes the bride. . .who?

I went to a wedding today. The groom is a friend--his wife died about two years ago. I was sitting with a guy from our church, and he didn't know the groom but knew the bride. I'd never met the bride, had never heard her name until receiving the invitation, but I'd heard our friend talk about her. Can't remember exactly the last time we talked, but apparently the situation changed some. Actually, a lot. As the bride and groom processed, following their children and grandchildren down the aisle, it was a different woman. Boy, was I surprised.

1145 Talking to Number One

Here's your chance to follow Michael follow around the number one guy on his "talk to list", the Command Sergeant Major of Coalition Forces in Iraq. Michael Yon online.

1144 Will the liberals change?

Rob Paulsson is just an ordinary guy blogging at He's finished an analysis of Paul Starr’s gloomy American Prospect article, “The Liberal Project Now.” He concludes that there is a cottage industry of liberals who disagree with Starr‘s assessment:

“The presidential election in 2008 will put this thesis [that the last two presidential elections were flukes] to the test. For the first time since 1968 the race will not include an incumbent president or vice president which should make it evenly matched. If the Democrats win the White House with a left of center candidate, Starr's obituary of American liberalism will be proved premature. If, on the other hand, Republicans win again it will be increasingly difficult for the left to sustain its belief that there really is a progressive majority in America just waiting for the chance to express itself electorally.”

Starr wrote: “The liberal project of the post–World War II era was to awaken the public to long-ignored problems, to make liberal government bolder, and to get its leaders to take political risks. In the public mind, liberalism was the innovative and outward-looking force in American politics; conservatism, the stodgy and parochial source of resistance. Under those circumstances, liberals had power to the extent that they could bring about change, while conservatives had power to the extent that they could stop it.

Now the relationships have been reversed, and liberalism risks getting defined, as conservatism once was, entirely in negative terms. Liberals certainly need to defend liberal accomplishments and oppose conservative measures, but they cannot allow themselves to become merely defensive and oppositional. That, of course, is how the right would like to cast them. The liberal challenge today is to avoid this trap, to make the case for liberalism’s first principles, and to renew the project of liberal innovation.”

Starr is a good writer, as Paulsson points out. Yes, that’s sort of how I remember the 60s and 70s and being a Democrat. Positive change. And the right isn’t just “casting them as defensive“--they are defensive and oppositional. Name one positive thing a Democrat has proposed about Social Security reform, or education, or health care, or illegal immigration? What’s their solution for Iraq--withdraw so we can have as many Iraqis murdered as Vietnamese back in the 70s when we withdrew and left our allies to be slaughtered? "Death and taxes"--could be the party‘s motto.

Other than abortion, which in a weird way reduces the problem, what comes up consistently in every election? Fewer babies = fewer old people. Even in the “old” days I was never pro-abortion--I always stepped away from the party on that one. It’s just too hard to bury two of your children and then watch other women throwing theirs into slop pails, even if it did take me 30 years to call it quits with the party. Call me Mommy One Note, but it just became the party of death, disaster and dread by making abortion a key plank in every platform.

1143 Changing the Template

If you ever visit this site and get some sort of message about not being available, or Norma is dead or something, I'm probably changing the template. This takes much more time than posting. When I've finally settled on something, deposited the correct html, previewed it and then hit "publish," it grinds through the back room of very slowly, blinking 0%, then 2% then 10% and it may hover over 99% for awhile. So I've developed a list of tasks that can be completed (one, not all), because a watched template never loads.

1. Reheat my coffee.
2. Floss.
3. Put a load in the dryer.
4. Brush up cat hair from the couch.
5. Wipe off kitchen counter.
6. Load cereal bowls in dish washer.
7. Reposition my artificial hydrangea blooms (outside my office window on a real bush).
8. Go around and turn out lights I've left on.
9. Blow dry the kink in my hair, just above the right ear.
10. Scoop the kitty litter.

I'm sure you could add to this list. Feel free. This morning I drug a kicking and screaming (metaphorically, because I had an html problem) Jesuit to my growing list of blogging instructions. Fr. Japes I think is his name, but I've called it "Blogging Religiously."

1142 So much for "confidentiality"

The Chief and his clerks gather for a reunion, maybe their last, but a reporter is there to ease them through breaking their vows of confidentiality.

"The bond between Supreme Court justices and their law clerks is forged from shared in-chambers experiences that are as confidential as they are intense. Half a dozen sources who agreed to discuss the event with The Washington Post cited that relationship in insisting on anonymity." WaPo

Friday, June 17, 2005

1141 We knew this, didn't we?

A writer who claims to be a teacher (lecturer) at Northwestern, Bill Savage, has proudly admitted to the bias, evangelizing and missionary zeal of the left in the college classrooms of America. And they think there's a problem at the Air Force Academy?

"I don't need to have kids to create mini-me voters: I get classrooms full of other people's kids, most already of voting age. And I'm not alone. As right-wing hysterics have recently noticed, universities in America are dominated by lefties like me." Here's a link to a link, because I don't want the scrummy page on my links.

The whole article sounds like a vicious hoax to discredit leftist professors to me--especially the illustration that looks like paper doll clothes for a farm kid, complete with red meat stamped USDA, and the WWJD baseball cap. No left wing nut is that stupid. . . OK. Maybe there is a real Bill Savage, I mean, we know he's real because if you've been on any university campus or sent your kids off to college, you know he's real. But I mean really real, as in a flesh and blood human being with identification and credentials that will soon be pulled.

1140 Friday Feast 52

What's one word or phrase that you use a lot?
“For Pete’s sake,” (also "for pity's sake") and “by Jove,” both of which are substitutes for swearing, but I didn’t know that when I picked them up from my mother.

Name something you always seem to put off until the last minute.
I’m pretty bad about returning phone calls, or calling to make or change appointments.

What was the last great bumper sticker you saw?
I heard about one yesterday, but didn't see it. Rush had just done a stinging report on Durbin whining about Hummers slurping gasoline (the implication being it was Bush's fault, war for oil, etc.). A caller reported that he was on the free-way following a Hummer with a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker.

Main Course
If you could be invisible for one day, how would you spend your time?
I would follow President Bush around, just to see if he is as evil as the Dems think and to learn if Karl Rove is really running the country.

Describe your hair.
I have medium brown hair with blond highlights, short, wavy, with bangs. All of this is thanks to Melissa, my hair dresser. Only the slight waviness is natural.

1139 Do the math

"Wal-Mart wields its power for just one purpose: to bring the lowest possible prices to its customers." Fast Company article about pickles

Why do the anti-success people give Wal-Mart such a hard time? I'm really sick of it. Always whining about their employment practices, benefits, size and quality of merchandise. This guy from Limited/Victoria Secret quoted at CircuiTree (have no idea what this is--Google found it) has it all wrong:

"Is a $100 Victoria's Secret bra ten times better than a $10 one from WalMart? Sure it has better fabric and better stitching, but how is it that it could be ten times better? It's worth it if it makes the wearer feel special.... Remember, we are trying to get beyond mere money math. Spend $100 on giving your wife ten WalMart bras for Valentine's Day, and what have you given her? Grounds for divorce."

I would love to buy $100 of Wal-Mart bras. I have six of them, costing $2.50 each, and bought them back in the late 1990s. Eventually they will wear out, and I'll have to wear one of those God-awful things 1) lined in foam or 2) girded with metal tubing and stays, or 3) cut from stretch t-shirt fabric with the support of a butterfly's wing. The women of the mid-19th century fought a battle to get out of stays and corsets, and now the women of the 21st century meekly submit to these torture instruments. I'm guessing the designers are misogynists.

I checked at Wal-Mart the other day, and they are still there for $2.50--or it looks like the same design--at that price there is no foam and no metal. However, I tried one on and the design has changed ever so slightly--probably to compete with the $100 name-brand kind (also made off-shore). I wasn't fooled. However, if I ever decide I want everything shifted backwards and resettled under my arm pits, I know where to go for a bargain.

1138 Is it a sack race if it's not burlap?

My eye caught the color photo on the front page of our community paper of three children in a summer recreation program participating in a "sack race." In plastic bags! I was horrified. Everyone knows you must have a gunnysack for a sack race. And I don't mean those teensy imposters made of high tech fabric that walkers strap around their middles. Real gunnysacks are made of burlap or jute. They have advertising. They are stinky from half rotten potatoes. They are dirty and the crude falls in your shoes. They scratch the heck out of your legs, naked in summer shorts, so that you hop even faster to get it over with. At least, that's how I remember it. Plastic bags indeed!

1137 The Democrat's Diversity Dilemma

Ruben Navarrette Jr. writes in his syndicated column about his frustration of being either deferential or defective in the eyes of the Democratic Party. He also appears occasionally on radio discussing Chicano/Latino issues. Bio.

"So this is the Democrats' dilemma. How are they supposed to market themselves to minorities as the one-and-only party of opportunity when Bush is putting nonwhite faces in high places? Better to try to paint the Republican Party as a restricted club, as Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean did recently when he described the GOP as "pretty much a white Christian party." And minority Republicans as aberrations.

I bet all this would come as news to Janice Rogers Brown, who attends church regularly. Just as I bet it would come as news to Miguel Estrada, the Hispanic gentleman who, at one point, seemed headed for the D.C. appeals court for which Brown is now confirmed — until his nomination was unfairly derailed by rank racial politics.

Estrada is a top-shelf Washington lawyer who had, after coming to the United States from Honduras and graduating with honors from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, worked as an assistant U.S. attorney and an assistant solicitor general. Yet none of that prepared Estrada for the meat grinder of the judicial confirmation process. Before long, Estrada was — in an experience that must have seemed surreal to him at the time — fending off accusations from white Democrats that he "wasn't Hispanic enough." That was Estrada's defect. It was also complete nonsense."

Article here.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

1136 What, me worry?

Usually, I record my coffee shop observations over at Coffee Spills And I'll probably double post this one, but it made me laugh. Hope you like it.

"Are you worried about something?" the friendly clerk inquired when the woman picking up coffee while her husband waited outside in the car mentioned that she hadn't slept well last night. "No, nothing," she shook her head with a puzzled expression. Then added, "Well, I have one daughter having a baby and the other is getting married."

Gracious, lady, I'd be tossing and turning too, and you don't know why you're lying awake staring at the shadows on the ceiling counting all the what ifs . . .?

1135 Vanity, your name is. . . man!

You're not going to see these stats on just any blog, so it's my responsibility to inform you. Since 1997 there has been a 385% increase in tummy tucks for men (343% for women); a 932% increase in lower body lifts for men (583% for women); a 1409% increase in buttock lifts for men (262% for women); a 1489% increase in thigh lifts for men (349% for women); and a whopping 8977% increase in upper arm lifts for men (551% for women).

Upper arm lift? I didn't even know they existed, yet 17,052 procedures were performed in 2004 and 10,595 in 2003 (total, both sexes). I wondered how some of these do-wop stars still looked so good on stage at Lakeside.

All figures from American Society for Aesthetic Plastic SurgeryStatistics, 2004

1134 Tonight's Finger Foods

Our condo association is having the Spring party tonight, and instead of a dish to pass like the fall event, each unit brings finger foods (appetizers). I don't have a lot of success with this, and PJ's recipe blog is on hiatus, so I googled a few things. Found a yummy taco dip, but it looked so good I thought I'd be camping by the table eating it all evening. So instead, I made a delicious fruit dip and will serve it with fresh fruit of the season. It looks very pretty and festive. Here's the simple recipe.

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
Fresh fruit

Combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugars and syrup; beat until smooth. Chill until serving. Serve with fruit. Yield: 2 cups.

My serving plate has the built in dip container, and it wouldn't hold quite 2 cups, so I'm eating it right now with some sliced apples. Yummy. For the fruit I'm using large red strawberries, cantaloupe and white grapes, alternating, so it is very pretty. I used Splenda and sugar-free syrup, and I suppose you could use low-fat cream cheese and sour-cream, but I didn't.

It costs more and takes more time than making my fabulous, world famous pie, but they didn't want that. Oh well.