Saturday, April 30, 2005

1002 The Waffle Maker a.k.a. Waffle Iron

Where to start? I came home from Illinois with an extra Waffle Maker, a Toastmaster, which I'll eventually take to our lake house for leisurely summer brunches on the deck, with sides of fresh fruit and sausage. My husband loves waffles, and will order them at Abigail's (Lakeside, OH restaurant) if I don't fix them at home.

The reason I have an extra waffle maker is because its previous owner managed to cement the first waffle to the plates and finally had to pry it open with a screw driver. After numerous soakings, the waffle was dislodged by me, and I got the crevices clean and fixed waffles. But by this time, the original owner had already notified Toastmaster of the problem (instructions said to wait for green light, but this model had no green light), and the company sent him a new one.

Today I thought I'd surprise my husband, and I got out our Oster Belgium Waffle Maker. I purchased it in 2001 at an after-Christmas sale as a nice gift for me from me. For about two weeks we ate wonderful, fluffy waffles, and then I put it away. Then I think the last time I used it was for a luncheon with our son and his step-daughter on the deck of our condo in 2002. Well, that's another story too that makes me weep--she, our only chance at being grandparents, now lives in California, and probably doesn't remember eating waffles with us, or even us for that matter.

Meanwhile, I have hunted through all my recipe caches, shelves, books and folders, and little wooden and metal recipe boxes, but I can't find the manufacturer's recipe book and instructions. "Just use another recipe," my husband suggested, but it isn't that easy. It is the booklet that tells you the appliance's whims and secrets so you don't cement the plates together. Does it want the batter dumped in the middle, or evenly distributed into the 4 squares; do the plates remove for cleaning; what sort of signal will it give when ready to accept or disgorge its contents; and most importantly, it has the notes I wrote along side the printed recipes.

In my hunt for the illusive instruction booklet, I opened my "Household Slips 'n Clips" and found the warranties for my children's yellow 20" Schwinn bikes they had in the early 1970s; a user's manual for a GE portable record player purchased in Nov. 1973 (must have been for the children's birthdays); assembly instructions and safety manual for a gym set for the back yard; the payment ($6.82/mo) booklet for my Singer sewing machine purchased in August 1960; instructions for my portable electric typewriter which got me through graduate school; information on storing an electric blanket possibly from the 1970s; warranties for a trash can purchased in 1978 and a bathroom vent-light for a remodeling in 1974; washing instructions for bedroom curtains purchased in 1964; a plan for a linen closet we installed in our first house in 1962 in Champaign, IL; and operating instructions for a Telectro 2 speed tape recorder model 1970 from the late 1950s.

We no longer have those products, but now I have two waffle makers and no instruction book for either one.

Friday, April 29, 2005

1001 Gasoline prices

Earlier in the month when we took a trip to northern Illinois, starting from Lake Erie, gasoline prices were about $2.43. We filled up around Gary at $2.23 and were thrilled to get it. Starting for home eight days later, we bought gas for $2.16 in Oregon, IL, $2.06 in Indianapolis suburbs, and then saw it was $1.98 when we got back to Columbus. The next day when we filled up, gasoline was $1.91. I don't recall any major news stories on this; no one was being interviewed filling the tacks of SUVs. Now gasoline prices are back up again--I think about $2.24 around here. The other night on national news, I think multiple minutes were spent decrying gasoline prices and consumer frustration, and the wagging fingers pointed, of course, to President Bush. The President that day had been hustled to a secure place as security was compromised in Washington. That story got about 2 seconds.

Now that I've passed the 1000 entries mark, I've debated on whether to continue numbering. Blogger's function that counts long ago died--around 520 I think. And or course, with six blogs, I have a lot more than 1000 entries--probably about 1700. Somehow, it just feels right to number them. I haven't put them into subject categories for a long time. That was really tedious. Like work. Besides, someone made fun of me--called me a compulsive, sensible librarian or something for creating an index.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

1000 Do you know why Canadian drugs are cheaper?

“It is imperative we all clearly understand why such a significant price disparity exists between U.S. drug costs and those in most other developed nations. If we don't understand the factors underlying the price gap, we might support the pending irrational Senate legislation -- sponsored, among others, by Sens. Byron Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, and John McCain, Arizona Republican -- which would cripple the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, regarded as the world's most innovative. This would deprive us, and our children and grandchildren, of the blockbuster drugs of the future.

Today's new lifesaving, life-enhancing pharmaceuticals, almost all developed and produced in the U.S., are cheaper in Canada because international law treats prescription drugs differently than other consumer products. U.S. pharmaceutical companies are required under a 1994 treaty to sell their drugs at drastically cut prices to countries with drug price controls. Any pharmaceutical company that fails to comply risks losing its patent protection -- its drugs can be stolen and copied.” Elizabeth Whelan, Washington Times, April 18, 2005.

Do some research. Look at other industries. When have price controls (including rent controls) ever helped the American consumer in the long run? The end result is shortages. What if you produced a product, were then required to sell it below profit to another country in order to stay in business, and then required to stand by as it was illegally imported, cutting into your American market? How long would you stay in business? You should be particularly concerned if you or a member of your family will have any future health problems that might benefit from drugs now being developed. And of course, you have no way of knowing, do you, what might turn up at your next annual check-up.

999 Incontinent

I thought Glenn Beck would wet himself this morning, he was so estatic over Mayor Coleman's hosting the Black Mayors Conference here in Columbus. All he had to do to get hysterical was 1) play clips of Coleman denying he had anything at all to do with school policy, then 2) read the outline of the conference which included a program on the role of mayors in school policy, then 3) read the lyrics of rapper Ludacris who will be appearing at the conference. Ludacris' opus-pocus includes a paean to assaults in the classroom and other places in the schools like the rest rooms and athletic field. Really, Glenn says he hopes Mayor Coleman is elected Governor, because he will provide him with unlimited comedy material for years to come.

To catch you up here in the event you don't listen to Beck or read the Columbus Dispatch, a developmentally disabled girl was assaulted at one of the Columbus schools, and Glenn Beck, who incidentally brought the world's attention to Terri Schaivo 5 years ago, called our mayor to discuss how the incident had been handled (badly). It turned into an unbelievable shouting match on the airways, which Beck has now cut, chopped and clipped for rebroadcasting and ridiculing. He is appearing in Columbus tonight to raise money for the family of the girl, and for scholarships to get kids out of CPS into private schools. The Conference is at the same time as the Beck appearance (sold out).

998 Hillary Clinton's Chicken and Rice Deluxe

Politicians' wives recipes are popular for fund raisers and campaigning. This recipe apparently appeared in Recipes from Hope, Arkansas (1992) and was requested by a reader of the Columbus Dispatch. I noticed it yesterday (food section is on Wednesday) and noted that I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I fixed it for supper last night. Incidentally, I think Senator Clinton is doing a fine job representing New York.

Remember the flap about Mrs. Heinz-Kerry's cookie recipe? Not only was it not very good, but it wasn't even hers by her own admission--after it was published. But I think this one looks like a recipe that a busy lawyer whose spouse also worked might fix, because it has so many short cuts popular with today's cooks--packaged rice, mayonnaise and cream of celery soup in place of a cream sauce, and canned beans. I had to make a few minor substitutions--didn't have long-grain or wild rice, so I used white. Also, I'm wondering if a 6 oz. can of green beans is a misprint, but I did have the small can on hand. Small broccoli would probably work well too. I don't add salt because the canned soup has a lot, and I used RealLemon, not juice of a lemon. But, with too many adjustments, it wouldn't be Hillary's recipe, would it?

1 package (6 oz) wild rice or long-grain and wild rice mix
2 TBS chopped green pepper
2 TBS chopped onion
2 TBS butter
2 cups cooked chopped chicken
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 can (6 oz.) French-cut green beans, drained
1 can (10.75 oz) cream of celery soup
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
1/4 tsp. salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup shredded cheese

I served it with toasted, buttered rolls and fresh strawberries topped with Cool Whip.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

997 A heartfelt thank-you from Iraq's President

"Iraqis sometimes wonder in amazement what the debate abroad is about. Why do people continue to ask why no WMD was found?

The truth is that Saddam had, in the past, used chemical and biological weapons against his own people, and we believed he would do so again.

Of course Saddam himself was, in the view of those who opposed him, Iraq’s most dangerous WMD."

Letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair from President Jalal Talabani of Iraq

Seen at Roger L. Simon's blog.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

996 A remarkable story

Rebecca writes from Whitehorse, Yukon and is about to become a Canadian (don't know from where she immigrated). I return to her site because she offers two things I enjoy--hymn stories and personal stories. Recently, Scott Gilbreath was the guest blogger, and he told his faith story. It is one of the more remarkable and unusual ones I've read. It is a reminder that if you are reading this and think, well, this isn't for me, God might have something else in mind entirely.

Monday, April 25, 2005

995 Finding a Founding Father at Meijer’s

My grocery bill would be more reasonable if I stayed out of the non-food section of Meijer’s. This week I took a stroll through the book section--some weeks it is towels, other times it might be CDs. Anyway, I came across Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton and couldn’t resist. In paperback and with the 25% discount, it was $13.50.

“Hamilton's was "the most dramatic and improbable life of any of the founding fathers" (p. 713), a life "so tumultuous that only an audacious novelist could have dreamed it up" (p. 4). He grew up on St. Croix in the West Indies and by age fourteen his life was a tragedy of Dickensian proportions: his father deserted the family, his mother died, his cousin who was supposed to care for him committed suicide, and his aunt, uncle and grandmother all died. Family assets were auctioned to pay debts. He never finished high school or college. At age seventeen the orphaned, penniless Hamilton sailed to New York City, which would become his home, and began to evidence traits that would characterize his entire life—unrelenting drive, superhuman stamina for work, and a prodigious intellect.

By age twenty-two he was Washington's de facto chief of staff. After distinguishing himself as a hero in the Revolutionary War (he fought in the front lines for five years), he eventually became a key contributor to the Constitution, the primary energy behind the Federalist Papers (he wrote 51 of the 85 articles), and the first Secretary of the Treasury at age thirty-four. He founded our first central bank and financial markets, and articulated a prescient, entrepreneurial vision for a vibrant, capitalist, global economy (in contrast to Jefferson's backward-looking dream of a bucolic, agrarian America). He organized the Coast Guard and wrote plans for a military academy to train a standing army. He practiced law as one of the country's leading attorneys and started a newspaper. His published, collected works of legal, political and personal papers run to over 30 volumes.”

Although I’m not looking forward to reading 800 pages, I think he is an amazing man, and the obstacles he overcame are stunning. If I can get it read by next Monday, I’ll recommend it for next year’s book club reading list. Several years ago we read John Adams by David McCollough and it was one of our most interesting selections. But it would need to be September’s selection so people could get it read over the summer!

994 Cannabis Use a Predictor for Schizophrenia

Whether caused by alcohol or drugs, messing up a teen-ager’s developing brain seems to have life long effects. Such a pity, since they know everything by 16, right?

“Per Dr. Murray, individuals with psychotic symptoms use 2 to 3 times as much cannabis as the general population. There is, however, a question of cause vs effect: that is, does cannabis use increase the risk of psychosis or do those with psychosis choose to use cannabis in order to reduce the impact of their psychotic symptoms?

Dr. Murray quoted prior research supporting the concept that cannabis use is a cause for schizophrenia. In one study of Swedish army recruits followed over 15 years, high consumers of cannabis were 6 times as likely as noncannabis users to develop schizophrenia. This included analyses adjusting for other psychiatric illnesses and social background.[9] Also, in a recently published study of a birth cohort of children followed over 25 years, daily users of cannabis had 1.6 to 1.8 times the rates of psychotic symptoms compared with nonusers.[10] In another study, those who were cannabis users by age 18 years were 1.65 times as likely to have schizophrenia by age 26 years.[11] If they used cannabis by age 15 years, they were 4.5 times as likely to develop schizophrenia by age 26 years.”

Highlights of the American Psychopathological Association Meeting, March 3-5, 2005 as reported at http://www.medscape.com/.

993 Anybody here read Hungarian?

I used to work for a woman whose native language was Hungarian. She had little respect for English, although her command of it was awesome. She said English just didn't have any good swear words, like Hungarian. She thought Hungarian was absolutely the finest for insulting people, their ancestors, their sexuality, their integrity, God and animals. One day she got very mad and threw the telephone through the window in her office. That was back in the days when phones weren't made of light weight plastic, when they had some heft. Then she pulled it back in through the window; that was back in the days when telephones were connected to walls by wires. Then she threw it through a second window. There are things you just can't do with cell phones, like breaking windows and terrifying your staff. Perhaps she had forgotten her Hungarian and English just didn't do the trick, so she used the phone. And you probably thought nothing interesting ever happened in libraries.

I thought of her today when I saw this sign, and wondered if someone was swearing in Hungarian.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

992 If there were no ALA tomorrow

it would make absolutely no difference to anyone, not librarians, not library boards and trustees, certainly not library users (also known as patrons, customers, and clients). Just for jollies, type (aka key) "Laura Bush ALA" into Google for a romp through left-wing rants on "how-dare-ALA-award-Laura Bush-anything-because-it-might-mean-she-isn't-interested-in-libraries-but-she supports-the-President's-policies." Oh, the pixels wasted by these petty tyrants who populate every ALA committee--and you thought they just walked around in sensible shoes and modest blazers, reading book reviews and restarting your computer in the reference rooms of America.

'Scuse me, you say softly, I haven't a clue what an ALA is. I'm not surprised. It is the acronym for the American Library Association. I'm not sure what it does--except collect over priced dues from members, because I had a wonderful career as a librarian and never joined. Even in the days when I was a humanist and a liberal and a Democrat, I had no use for this organization. It can't do the single most important thing a professional organization absolutely must do--get its members' salaries to a decent, 21st century level by convincing the general public and its membership that librarians are worth a living wage, that they contribute to society. It also can't get library bond issues passed--libraries are either closing or struggling on limited budgets and hours all over the country. That's probably because ALA is fixated on the federal government, although I haven't researched just where it has gone wrong.

Perhaps to keep the organization from looking downright silly, the president has had to remind these pouters on the left that in the past ALA has honored:

President Lyndon Johnson
President Jimmy Carter
Rosalyn Carter
Barbara Bush
Sen Mark Hatfield
Sen Nancy Kassebaum
Sen Claiborne Pell
Sen Paul Simon
Rep Pat Williams
Sen Al Gore
Sen Robert Kerrey
Sen Jack Reed
Sen Edward Kennedy
Sen Robert Byrd
Sen William Cohen
Sen Thomas Eagleton
Sen James Exon
Sen Tom Harkin
Sen John Rockefeller IV
Sen Olympia Snowe
Sen Ted Stevens
Sen Ralph Yarborough
Sen Lister Hill
Sen Hubert Humphrey
Sen Wendell Ford
Rep Sid Yates
Rep Vic Fazio
Rep Daniel Flood
Rep Don Fraser
Rep Sam Gibbons
Rep William Goodling
Rep Edward Markey
Rep Pat Roberts
Rep Edith Green
Rep John Fogarty
Rep Verne Ehlers
Rep Carl Elliott
Rep Silvio Conte
Rep Duke Cunningham
Rep Ralph Regula
Rep Pete Hoekstra
Rep Major Owens
Rep John Porter
Rep William Ford
Rep William Natcher
Secretary of Education Richard Riley
Secretary of Education William Bennett

Sigh. What a bunch of whiners and babies the left is.

991 Weather Report

A blog is a "web log," a diary you keep on the internet. Therefore, it is OK to place an entry in your very own personal diary about the crazy weather. It is April 24, 2005, Dear Diary, 3:30 in the afternoon, and snowing. Even in Ohio, I think this is a record. My daughter called from Cleveland last night to check on our weather. They had gone up to help her in-laws and she had become quite ill and was checking on travel conditions for the trip home. They already had an inch on the ground in Cleveland, but we just had a mist, I told her. By 6:30 this morning, I looked out over stretches of white. But I must say, a coating of snow on the bright green grass, the flowering crabs and the yellow and red tulips is an awesome sight.

Occasionally, I look at my mother's letters, but only for her hand writing. Mother was a saint, everyone says so, but even reading between the lines I can't find her. Her letters were crop and weather reports, and somehow, re-reading how the garden was doing and what storm had just passed on June 14, 1973 isn't terribly fascinating 30+ years later. Except to recall how she looked in the garden in her straw hat, her fingers twitching in wet leather gloves waiting for me to finish talking so she could get back to the weeding. And the storms are lovely to recall, because here in the city we might see something coming up over the trees suddenly, but staring out over the soybeans and corn in Lee County Illinois, the storms are magnificent, rolling, boiling, and sometimes fooling you and skipping on over to Amboy or Rochelle.

One time back in the 1950s we children found my father's letters written while he was a Marine in WWII. Daddy had won an award for typing at Polo high school--30 wpm I think I saw on the card. It was that, or possibly his age (30 when he enlisted) or number of dependants, that probably kept him out of combat to return home to his wife, four children, large extended family, and job at the end of 1945. The letters were tied with a pink ribbon and tucked under blankets in the attic chest, so of course it was an invitation for little folks to read them. Mother was a calm, reasonable, rational person who rarely raised her voice or scolded, but she decided that those letters then must be destroyed. Our discovery in the attic may be the reason her own letters were about temperatures, soil, root crops and compost. It's possible she may have written about snow in April. Some day I'll check.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Unintended consequences

If you read no other article on gay marriage, read this one (it's long). After laying out the history of what major reforms in income tax, welfare and divorce have done to society in general, with everything coming home to roost that the reformers assured us wouldn't happen, she says she has no opinion or advice, but. . .

"My only request is that people try to be a leeetle more humble about their ability to imagine the subtle results of big policy changes. The argument that gay marriage will not change the institution of marriage because you can't imagine it changing your personal reaction is pretty arrogant. It imagines, first of all, that your behavior is a guide for the behavior of everyone else in society, when in fact, as you may have noticed, all sorts of different people react to all sorts of different things in all sorts of different ways, which is why we have to have elections and stuff. And second, the unwavering belief that the only reason that marriage, always and everywhere, is a male-female institution (I exclude rare ritual behaviors), is just some sort of bizarre historical coincidence, and that you know better, needs examining. If you think you know why marriage is male-female, and why that's either outdated because of all the ways in which reproduction has lately changed, or was a bad reason to start with, then you are in a good place to advocate reform. If you think that marriage is just that way because our ancestors were all a bunch of repressed bastards with dark Freudian complexes that made them homophobic bigots, I'm a little leery of letting you muck around with it."

989 Self-Esteem--were we all duped?

This article on self-esteem was published about two months ago, but I just came across it. Written by John Fischer, "Forget about Self-Esteem" points out that there is no research to support that the mantra of the last 30 years about the importance of high self-esteem is at all valid.

"I read this article with jaw-dropping amazement at the matter-of-fact nature in which all this was stated. “A generation — and many millions of dollars — later,” Baumeister writes, “it turns out we may have been mistaken.” That sounds awfully hollow after thirty years of a lie. If psychologists are the secular priests of our generation, then it’s as if they are confessing to us they’ve been following the wrong god for the last thirty years, and are now recommending we switch religions with about the same level of compassion for leading us astray as Britney Spears expressed in her early hit “Oops!... I Did It Again.” "

Fischer concludes that our own realization of the hollowness of this "religion of self-esteem" may account for the success of Rick Warren's book. "It's not about you," Warren asserts.

"The central message of Purpose Driven Life is that true meaning in life is found in discovering we were made to worship God and serve one another, and the happiest lives are going to be spent in focusing outwardly instead of inwardly. It’s as if a generation has been trying to find itself and someone has come along and said: Listen up folks. You’re looking in the wrong place. You don’t find yourself by looking inside, you find yourself by looking out, and finding your place in the wider scheme of what we know as God’s will. Or, to put it in Jesus’ words, “He who would lose his life for my sake will find it.” "

988 Suggested state mottoes

This is going around the Internet. Hugh Hewitt says he doesn't know the source, and Release the Hounds cites, Hugh, so I don't know where it started. But to look at Florida and Washington's slogans, it must be pretty recent. Minnesota's is funny. Ohio's could be worse, considering we rank 50th in the governorship battle, and have recently made the news 3 days in a row on the Glenn Beck show for an inept gubernatorial candidate (Mayor of Columbus) who sounds like Jesse Jackson in reverse.

Alabama
Hell Yes, We Have Electricity.

Alaska
11,623 Eskimos Can't Be Wrong!

Arizona
But It's A Dry Heat.

Arkansas
Literacy Ain't Everything.

California
By 30, Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda.

Colorado
If You Don't Ski, Don't Bother.

Connecticut
Like Massachusetts,
Only The Kennedy's Don't Own It Yet.

Delaware
We Really Do Like The Chemicals In Our Water.

Florida
Ask Us About Our Grandkids
And Our Voting Skills.

Georgia
We Put The Fun In Fundamentalist Extremism.

Hawaii
Haka Tiki Mou Sha'ami Leeki Toru
(Death To Mainland Scum,Leave Your Money)

Idaho
More Than Just Potatoes...
Well, Okay, We're Not, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good

Illinois
Please, Don't Pronounce the "S"

Indiana
2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free

Iowa
We Do Amazing Things With Corn

Kansas
First Of The Rectangle States

Kentucky
Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names

Louisiana
We're Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos,
But That's Our Tourism Campaign.

Maine
We're Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster

Maryland
If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It

Massachusetts
Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden's
And Our Senators Are More Corrupt!

Michigan
First Line Of Defense From The Canadians

Minnesota
10,000 Lakes...And 10,000,000,000,000 Mosquitoes

Mississippi
Come And Feel Better About Your Own State

Missouri
Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars At Work

Montana
Land Of The Big Sky, The Unabomber, Right-wing Crazies,
and Honest Elections!

Nebraska
Ask About Our State Motto Contest

Nevada
Hookers and Poker!

New Hampshire
Go Away And Leave Us Alone

New Jersey
You Want A ##$%##! Motto?
I Got Yer ##$%##! Motto
Right here!

New Mexico
Lizards Make Excellent Pets

New York
You Have The Right To Remain Silent,
You Have The Right
To An Attorney...And No Right To Self Defense!

North Carolina
Tobacco Is A Vegetable

North Dakota
We Really Are One Of The 50 States!

Ohio
At Least We're Not Michigan

Oklahoma
Like The Play, But No Singing

Oregon
Spotted Owl...It's What's For Dinner

Pennsylvania
Cook With Coal

Rhode Island
We're Not REALLY An Island

South Carolina
Remember The Civil War?
Well, We Didn't Actually Surrender Yet

South Dakota
Closer Than North Dakota

Tennessee
Home of the Al Gore Invention Museum.

Texas
Se Hablo Ingles

Utah
Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus

Vermont
Ay, Yep

Virginia
Who Says Government Stiffs And Slackjaw Yokels Don't Mix?

Washington
Our Governor can out-fraud your Governor!

West Virginia
One Big Happy Family...Really!

Wisconsin
Come Cut Cheese!

Wyoming
Where Men Are Men... And The Sheep Are Scared

&
The District of Columbia
The Work-Free Drug Place!

987 Escape and Acquisition

Library Dust is probably one of the finest blogs about books and the experience of becoming a librarian that I've read. I don't know if he has finally found the job of his dreams, or if he is still looking, but he always has thoughtful, wandering essays that take you to places you didn't expect. Recently he has written about a childhood made less painful by reading what was available in the library.

"By way of escape I mean that the experience of reading transported me to other places, and not so much that as it kept me from inhabiting, at least consciously, a world that was by turns dull and disappointing. I do not recall a single day of elementary or middle school that rose above the level of boredom; the days seemed to last forever and be filled with nothing, the journey from Monday to Friday being an interminable passage over a becalmed sea in deep fog. I do not recall inspired teachers, only rote and routine. Very early in the game I got into the habit of reading my own books in class; pretty soon this got me into trouble because of what I wasn’t doing, which is to say, the assigned work. I filtered downward into the classes for the lazy and less-intelligent students, and rather preferred the lack of challenge. There, in the land of the dumb, the boy who read books was a relief from the usual recalcitrant or slow child, and I was left largely to my own devices. In the rear of every classroom sat a large set of encyclopedias to which I could refer when my own book was finished; I went from Aardvark to Zenith and back again, over and over. I was the best behaved bad child in the school; my brother chose a more conventional path of disobedience and suffered for it. Not me: I learned that the most important thing is not to cause audible trouble. I can count on one hand the homework assignments I completed on time, but I never went to the principal’s office once. I presented a confusing set of signals and my teachers, being busy people, chose to deal with the reader rather than the rebel. All of which was good for a young book addict."

Having loved school myself, I can't imagine the kind of classrooms and teachers he describes. I lived in tiny school districts, Forreston and Mt. Morris, Illinois, but with the exception of a few total losers (a man fired before the classes started who was a pedophile who had submitted false credentials, a music teacher we ran out of town because we were so rotten, and a coach who was fired because he exposed himself), I had outstanding teachers totally committed to making learning, self discipline and common decency important to children. Even my first/second grade teacher (who may still be alive: she was over 100 the last I heard) who was mean as dirt, taught me to read with phonics, spell, figure out paragraphs and made a huge display of my art work. However, little girls did have it easier in school than noisy, smelly, sweaty little boys, so your mileage with school memories will vary depending on gender.

Michael then continues with his unhappy recollections: "Escape also had to do with home life, which was usually just as boring as school but had the added feature of a father who swung between the poles of depression and anxiety, and who learned fatherhood in the “don’t make me hit you” school of parenting. The lighter forms of discipline meted out in my house would get a kid removed to a foster home these days; the heavier ones would land you in the emergency room. My father snarled when he was upset, and it took very little to disturb his equanimity. He was in fact an alcoholic who never drank, who suppressed his cravings with work, and indeed, overwork. When the Old Man had drunk his fill of teaching, he went to a school board meeting or political function. He never did anything halfway except raise kids; he tossed occasional scraps of caring to his two sons and left us to fight over them. My brother became an alcoholic and drug addict about the time I was burying myself in books, and for the same reason. Neither of us has changed habits much over the years."

Although I had the usual disagreements with my parents, particularly because I was a real smart-mouth teen-ager who knew everything, I'd give my parents a gold medal. Reading accounts of childhood like Library Dust's makes me grieve for the little guy he was, figuring out life through books instead of observing adults. My parents didn't drink, smoke, scream, or embarrass the family; they weren't lazy but weren't workaholics either; they were active in church and community; I could count on one hand the number of times I walked into my house and one of my parents weren't there; they were frugal and giving both; they weren't particularly social folks having large extended families instead of close friends; and perhaps most important for a child to feel secure, they loved and admired and respected each other.

I read a lot as a child too (mainly horse stories, dog stories and history), and often visited the library, but mainly as a place to hang out with friends--afterall, there are no malls in towns of 2800. Books didn't really begin to matter to me until I was about 25--and it took library school to open those doors for me. Today's librarians are increasingly computer geeks, interested in manipulating and managing "information" and "knowledge." Not much solace in that, now is there?

986 As the weather turns nasty in Ohio

The artificial floral arrangement I have on the outside wall next to the front door is looking springy and welcoming. I bought it at Merlin's in Oregon, IL when we visited there earlier in the month. It has to be one of the nicest foral/gift stores in the midwest, so if you're ever in the area, stop for a visit or call (815)732-2969 to send flowers in the area. However, even this attractive basket can't cover for the cold, sloppy turn our weather has made. Last week the 80s, and now snow is predicted, at least for the counties north of us. It may be the latest snow we've had on record.

While at Caribou this morning I noticed two moms dressed in their black and gold "crew" sweats. Recalling the times I've seen the chilled and wet supporters along the river when I went to McDonald's along Rt. 33 years ago, I said, "Is there ever good weather for Crew events?" They laughed and said they had actually been on their way to Cincinnati when they got word that the weather was so bad the event was cancelled. "So we stopped for coffee and thought we'd go stand in the rain to drink it," they laughed. They were soon on their cell phones consoling their kids who were already there and terribly disappointed at the cancellation. Moms. Aren't they just the greatest?

985 "Broader" clothing line for Latinas?

In keeping with my occasional highlighting of women bloggers of quality, today's feature is Latina Lista, who notes the unfortunate headline in the Chicago Sun Times business section that ""Sears partners with Latina magazine to sell new, broader fashion line." Her complaint is much the same as any other American woman--clothing is designed for tweens, teens and twenties, and the rest of us just look silly putting on that junk (and so do the kids much of the time).

Marisa TreviƱo is from Texas and tracks articles of interest to Latinas. I noticed her on the Media Bloggers list and right away picked up on her excellent and lively style. And no wonder! Can I spot them or what? When I read her bio I see she is a professional journalist and radio personality who has added blogging to her portfolio. She has also written plays.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Do you like fly fishing?

On Fridays I like to browse the real estate ads in the Wall Street Journal. I get my jollies wondering about people who sell $25 million dollar homes in the desert. But today I saw a cottage on the AuSable River in Michigan for $179,900. The photo looked pretty sweet--a log cabin built in 1930 with 700 ft. frontage and a private trout pond and boat house. Nice little porch--looked to be a smallish 2-3 bedroom, one bath summer place. Probably not the best kitchen or bath, but you can't beat the price and location (if you like to fish, and I don't). So I looked it up on the internet and found it after two or three clicks, despite not having a URL. Really cute. Go in with another two families and have yourself a nice fishing retreat.


AuSable River Cottage

Call Chad at 231-499-8292. Full info here.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

983 For Grieving John Kerry Fans

Recently we heard that a woman in our former neighborhood sunk into a deep depression after the election, is getting a divorce, moving and selling the house. I thought some of those stories of post-election depression were a bit overblown, but I guess it really happened. In Boogie Jack's lastest Newsletter 124, he refers to a site called CDBaby; a little CD store with the best new independent music. This site includes album art, which I always enjoy browsing, and in it I found Independents 4 Kerry. You can sample all the songs, and if you are still depressed, I recommend "One of those days" by Doug Segree which is a foot tapping and happy song. The CD includes 2 hours and 20 minutes of executable video and streaming media, so depending on your state of mind, view at your own risk.

Now if you were pleased with the results of the election, the site also has a CD of comedy routines that includes hip-hop, disco and R & B called Kerry Waffles by Burt and Kurt.

It's really a very interesting site, and if you are a struggling but talented musician, it could be the place to sell your art. Thanks for the tip, Boogie Jack.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

982 Not Catholic

James Lileks says it best, although I've seen this thought on a number of Protestant blogs:

"I have no stake in the matter of who’s the Pope – or do I? Choose a cardinal who issues a homily titled “On the Need to Gas Grandpa When He Starts Crapping Himself” – I’m sure it would sound better in Latin – and this might have an impact on the society where I hope to find myself in 30 years. The selection of Ratzinger was initially heartening, simply because he made the right people apoplectic. I’m still astonished that some can see a conservative elevated to the papacy and think: a man of tradition? As Pope? How could this be? As if there this was some golden moment that would usher in the age of married priests who shuttle between blessing third-trimester abortions and giving last rites to someone who’s about to have the chemical pillow put over his face. At the risk of sounding sacreligious: it’s the Catholic Church, for Christ’s sake! You’re not going to get someone who wants to strip off all the Baroque ornamentation of St. Peter’s and replace them with IKEA wine racks, okay?" Read it here.

Homocon has a few choice words for liberal Catholics, like Andrew Sullivan, who claim to be political conservatives:

"Cruising by Andy's website of late has become akin to slowing down the car and craning for a better look at the bloody wreck by the side of the road -- it's messy, it's ugly and thank God it's not me.

From his petulant, foot-stomping dislike of the current President (and Karl Rove), his outright campaigning for John Kerry (who represents the worst sort of excesses of the Democratic Party), his Eeyore-ic mutterings regarding the necessary political and cultural revamp of the Middle East (starting with Iraq), and now his flailing, spittle-flecked tantrums over the Catholic Church's selection of a Pope who embodies the moral, social and political philosophies of, well, the Catholic Church, I think we can all safely assume that little Andy's "I'm a Gay Conservative . . . really!" charade is long past over."

981 Majoring in minors

Roger Simon wonders about whether the Committee has grasped the major concepts of UN dysfunctional family in this Bolton discussion: "I have no personal knowledge of John Bolton or of the degree to which the administration's nominee for UN ambassador is a hothead who mistreats subordinates, but color me suspicious he is much worse than the clowns who sit in judgment of him on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee." Read the rest here.

980 First they drank my soda pop

Now they are watching my movies! Those average Americans are at it again. This dentist says there are enough carbonated soft drinks consumed in this country each year for each American to drink 53 gallons, so since I drink two or three max, someone is drinking my pop! (There is enough sugar in one can of pop to get the maximum for one day, and even the diet pop has enough acid to eat the enamel on your teeth, so you can have mine.) Now USAToday says that in 2000 Americans spent 57 hours a year watching videos and DVDs, and now it is up to 83, and projected to be 98 for 2007. So far in 2005, I've watched one Blondie DVD, or about 80 minutes, and last year I think I had a few videos on Spanish verbs and one on train travel from the library.

979 What does he say about authors he dislikes?

About five years ago, Harold Bloom, defender of the Western Canon, offended millions of fans by calling Harry Potter a total waste of time and energy. “And yet I feel a discomfort with the Harry Potter mania, and I hope that my discontent is not merely a highbrow snobbery, or a nostalgia for a more literate fantasy to beguile (shall we say) intelligent children of all ages. Can more than 35 million book buyers, and their offspring, be wrong? yes, they have been, and will continue to be for as long as they persevere with Potter.” (Wall Street Journal 7-11-2000). Here.

In today’s Wall Street Journal he writes that “J.K. Rowling and Stephen King are equally bad writers. . .” and advises one to reread Hans Christian Andersen, Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear for the real thing rather than Rowling and King. And although he admires Andersen’s stories (I think) and recommends him for “children of all ages,” he certainly doesn’t think much of the man. He calls him a narcissistic pagan, prophet of annihilation, blithely insouciant, sadistic, endlessly wandering to Byzantium, a theorist of seduction, monument of narcissism, self-obsessed monomaniac, of solipsistic vision, sexually frustrated homoerotic, a pagan in his art, driven by fame and honor and animistic.

The article is a messy stroll through the Western Canon, and either Bloom is not a particularly fluid writer himself, or some WSJ editor had to hatchet his way through it to reduce its size. In a marathon of name dropping he mentions: Nietzsche, Whitman, Kierkegaard, (Rowling, King, Dickens, Carroll, Lear), Heine, Hugo, Lamartine, Vigny, Mendelsohn, Schumann, the Brownings, Hoffmann, Gogol, Kleist, Lawrence, Kafka, Shakespeare, Blake, Tolstoy, Freud, Byron, Hemingway and Schopenhauer. That’s a lot to pack into an article about a guy who is famous for kids’ fairy tales.

And to think that the very first book I was given as a child was “The Ugly Duckling.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

978 Pope Benedict XVI

Eamonn Fitzgerald summarizes and collects comments on the new pope here.

977 Democrats don’t want young workers to benefit?

The calculator being used at 16 Democrat websites to figure the Bush overhaul of Social Security is inaccurate, according to Fact Check.org.

“Democrats have been using a web-based "calculator" to generate individualized answers to the question, "How much will you lose under Bush privatization plan?" For young, low-wage workers it projects cuts of up to 50% in benefits. And a $1-million TV advertising campaign is amplifying the claim, saying, "Look below the surface (of Bush's plan) and you'll find benefit checks cut almost in half."

In fact, the calculator is rigged. We find it is based on a number of false assumptions and deceptive comparisons. For one thing, it assumes that stocks will yield average returns of only 3 percent per year above inflation. The historical average is close to 7 percent.

The calculator's authors claim that they use the same assumption used by the Congressional Budget Office. Actually, CBO projects a 6.8 percent gain.”

Everyone agrees that as the boomers age and there are fewer and fewer workers to support them, someone’s going to have to water down the soup to make it go around. That’s how my grandmother managed when poor neighbors showed up at the door close to dinner time during the Depression. Add a little water to the gravy.

It won’t matter to me--I’m not eligible for SS, but who will be there for my children, now middle-aged? Democrats really don’t want any Bush administration plan to work, but especially not this one. It takes some of the control away from the government and hands it back to the worker--especially that choice and inheritability thing. Ohhh! That’s so scary. A constituency that doesn’t need the party for favors is one that might vote libertarian or Republican. It cuts into their base.

And Republican congress people are really lackluster in their support, too. In yesterday’s WSJ Ed Crane of Cato Institute commented that inheritability and personal control, which he considers the best features, are rarely even mentioned, even by Republicans. And Democrats NEVER do--but that’s no surprise at all, now is it? Choice is OK to kill a baby (although not for your breast implants), but not OK for your money.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Cell phone follies

My husband has a cell phone which I rarely use. It's hardly ever turned on, so consequently the messages build up. But we don't know how to access them. In 2001 we loaned the phone to our son, so the message is his voice and 4 years old with all the wrong information. During our trip to Illinois it began beeping whenever we had it on, so we turned it off, which meant anyone who tried to call us, got the 4 year old message. When you've been married 45 years, it's the little things that start to bug you--like why don't you just go to the local office and have them show you what to do?

Today I left the house with the cell phone in my purse and was determined to find out how to listen to a message. They were nice at the cell phone office, but since he hadn't listed me as an owner on the account, they wouldn't give me the password which is needed to get the messages. They did offer me a nice deal on new service with 2 phones, however. Each person who looked at our cell phone said something along the order of, "my, this is so old I've never even seen one like it." Reminded me of the time I took my camera that still had film in it from 1957 to a shop in 1975 and the camera was older than the clerk.

My husband didn't know his password, so finally we called the 800 number which instructed us in the 337 numbers we had to enter to change the password. Finally I got it figured out. There were about 5 messages from a female Indian or Pakistani doctor who had been paged, supposedly from our number. There were a couple of hang-ups and one with people just talking in the background. Then 3 from my brother-in-law telling us about a detour, and then from Duke inviting us to stay for lunch on Saturday.

I'm still thinking about the offer of new service and phone. Sounded like a good deal. And no one would laugh at our poor little phone.

975 What I heard about you

If you've ever lived in a small town, you know exactly what this poem is about, and if you haven't, you just wouldn't understand. And speaking of small towns, this trip we did manage to see Brownsburg, Indiana and Plainfield, Indiana, both under 20,000. Until Saturday, Brownsburg was a place to buy gas. Plainfield has a new library that looks really terrific; easy access to Indianapolis if any librarians are looking for a good spot for a dual income family. I checked to see if a photo was on the web, but didn't see one. The closest I could come is the history site.

What I heard about you
by Norma Bruce

I heard you’d gone to Canada;
I heard you’d crossed at night.
I heard you loved the open space,
and spoke their English right.

I heard you’d moved to Oregon;
I heard you’d gone for good.
I heard you took your saxophone,
and a wore a woolen hood.

I heard you’d flown to Arkansas;
I heard you’d sold your horse.
I heard you sang the old sad songs,
and found your twang, of course.

I heard you’d camped in Alabam;
I heard you’d snared a crook.
I heard you set a clever trap,
and then you wrote a book.

I heard you’d traveled Iowa
I heard you’d hired a boat.
I heard you bought a soybean farm,
and that was all you wrote.

I heard you’d biked to O-hi-o;
I heard you’d tried to call.
I heard you lost your BlackBerry,
while browsing Tuttle Mall.

I heard you’d entered Mexico;
I heard you’d seen the Rio Grande.
I heard you searched for ancient tribes,
and all you found was sand.

So nowadays I don’t pretend
the tales I hear are strange;
if anyone your name brings up--
my plans don’t rearrange.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Home again speaking 85% General American English

We left town on April 8 and got back last night around 6:30. The cat looked at us suspiciously--she enjoyed being spoiled at our daughter's home.

At Jen's site this morning I noticed a link to a quiz for the type of American English. Perhaps it was just the trip to Illinois and Indiana, but I came out 85% general American English, and midwestern with a smattering of southern. That's probably because we had lunch with Duke and Kinga yesterday and they lived a spell in Kentucky before moving back to the Indy area. The quiz didn't ask how I pronounce Warshington D.C. or dish warsher.



Your Linguistic Profile:



85% General American English

10% Midwestern

5% Dixie

0% Upper Midwestern

0% Yankee


Saturday, April 02, 2005

972 Spring Break

Taking a break to write some poetry, paint watercolor and clean up the art room, take a brief trip, and work on a pile of books. If I blog at all I will try to catch up on my hobby at In The Beginning.


Spring Break


April is National Poetry Month
By Norma Bruce 2003

April is National Poetry Month
So gather your poems today!
Take out your favorite paper and pen
And let words on the pages play.

Stop VCR, TV and DVDs,
Store heavy coats and woolen clothes,
Write a happy or serious poem
Put away winter’s weather woes.

Any meter, form or period,
Free style, irregular or rhyming,
Sit in the sun or watch the birds,
April’s best for the poet’s timing.

Lavender lilacs, yellow daffodils,
Buzzard to Hinckley, dove or wren,
Housecleaning, grass seed or garden,
All lovely topics--’cause it’s Spring again.

Friday, April 01, 2005

From the archives

If there's anything worse than cleaning out the garage, it is cleaning out computer files--drafts, quotes, used-up, moved-on, out-of-date, etc. While on my blogging break, I'm browsing files to see what can be thrown out or recycled. Very tedious. I can't find that I ever posted this one about the product called Octavo. I was alternately impressed and depressed as I read about this wonderful opportunity. According to the file date, I wrote this in January 2004:

Digital editions of famous, beautifully illustrated, ancient and old texts are available from Octavo. For instance, Josiah Dwight Whitney’s Yosemite Book is a spectacular record of a 19th century survey with 28 photographs--a book that helped convince the Congress to preserve Yosemite is available for only $25, a digital Wycliffe New Testament in Middle English could be mine for $40, the Gutenberg Bible in Latin for $80, and a Latin Mercator Atlas for $65. Even for personal use, these digital editions are affordable.

However, my concern would be the next generation or three of computer technology. I now own three, built in 1994, 2001 and 2003--less than a decade. Octavo has already issued three versions corresponding to the abilities of Adobe Acrobat. None would work in my oldest computer, and maybe someday, a version wouldn’t work in my 2003. To work back and forth is a headache if it were even possible.

What I buy digitized today, will it work in 3 or 5 or 10 years, or sit in the back of the cabinet with the old “floppies,” fat cables for printers, switching boxes, early USB cables, photo imaging software? When I look at my book shelves, I can pull off books owned by my grandparents and great-grandparents and immediately access.

From the archives #2

While I'm noting changes in computer software (see previous post), might as well include this one about your homemade CDs and DVDs I wrote last June.

Although I think librarians have known about this guide for some time, the Wall Street Journal in June 2004 featured a story about Dr. Disc, mild mannered Fred Byers of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He’s promoting a seal of approval for a disc’s longevity.

Home made CDs and DVDs are coated with dye, and the laser burns a pattern. But the dye can fade, particularly in the sunlight.

The guide http://www.itl.nist.gov/div895/carefordisc/ is dated October 2003 and is 50 pages, or try thenice one page summary, http://www.itl.nist.gov/div895/carefordisc/disccare.html