Monday, December 31, 2007


I've been tagged--7 weird/random things about me

Here are the rules: Link to the person (Dancing Boys Mom) that tagged you.

Post the rules on your blog.

Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog.

Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.

Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

[I'm pretty sure I've done this one before--but here goes. The fact I'm doing this means I'm out of topics.]

1. I have 11 blogs, or 10 if you don't count the one that is completed and never added to, or 12 if you count the one that isn't at

2. [deleted] I hate to exercise, sweat, or breathe hard. I know it's good for me, but I've never liked it, and guess I never will. But right after I wrote this I went outside and walked a mile because the sun is shining. When I was 43 I joined an aerobic dance class and lost 20 lbs. But I still hated it.

3. I was an excellent student--mostly A's, and I loved school, but I think I withdrew from college 4 or 5 times. I've sort of forgotten the details. Rather than get a bad grade, I'd just withdraw.

4. I have all my permanent teeth, even four wisdom teeth.

5. I never worked in the first profession for which I trained (teaching).

6. I had grandparents until I was 43.

7. I do not like to be "overscheduled" (busy), so I plan accordingly. My theory is that people are as busy as they want to be.

My tags:

1. Matthew
2. John
3. Lady Light
4. PJ
5. Janeen
6. The Laundress
7. Emelou

The Christmas Exchange

The mirror looks nice in the bathroom--it was an exchange for a cast iron utensil too heavy for me to use. But the good news is, I found the itty-bitty Martha Stewart roaster I wanted at K-Mart--about $8.00. Then I exchanged the flannel pj's, fuzzy slippers and red dressy t-shirt for two jackets I am wearing for parties. Both with a wine or cranberry color backbround. While at K-Mart I found a nice T that would go with both--$4.00. The paisley print must have 10 colors, but I'm thinking only gray or wine/rust will work; the longer jacket with mandarin collar and side splits is wine (shown here in loden).

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Generate your own jargon

With just a click, this little ap will provide the verb, adjective and noun you'll need to write that important grant proposal, or just stupify your friends. Educational Jargon Generator. I saw it at Joanne Jacobs blog and she saw it somewhere else. I've seen print versions for political speeches.

I wonder if Joe Morgenstern uses something like this to write his film reviews for WSJ? Friday he reviewed "There will be blood." As usual, by the time I worked my way through the complicated phrasing and multiple layers of performances by which actor played who in other films I didn't see, I had no idea why Daniel Day Lewis should have an Oscar for this. Four and five clauses per sentence using commas and dashes followed by parentheses just make my eyes swim.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Eco-friendly rich

It's easy to be kind to the environment if you are over 65 and living on a teacher's pension and social security. We need less; buy less; budget more; conserve more. Plus we've learned that more stuff is just a burden to store and move around. But it's not so easy if we're rich with a "I deserve it" attitude. Last week USAToday featured a boomer couple using a solar powered water heater for their swimming pool. What sacrifice!

One of my favorite indulgences of opulence is Architectural Digest--you really see how the rich live in that magazine. And the green ads! What a hoot. The January 2008 issue has a special advertising section for just green money makers. Green renovating? Be eco-luxury and eco-gorgeous with the SBS-245 from Liebherr which combines your wine and food storage with 5 temperature zones in one eco-friendly unit! Of course, you'll want a refrigerator in your home office, your media room, your guesthouse too, so everyone will be happier with chilled drinks near by. A wine cooler in the pantry or bar is especially convenient, but when selecting these appliances look for the ENERGY STAR label so you don't waste energy.

Then you'll want to upholster your furniture with Edelman Leather, tanned with ancient techniques without chemicals (everyone knows that old ways are more natural and eco-friendly, right?) using vegetable dyes. You can even have that exotic jaguar, zebra or leopard print silk-screened onto cowhides to complement your new decor. Not to worry about the animals though, every hide is a by-product of the food industry, so you are actually preventing waste!!

And what could be more eco-friendly than a 65" flat screen LCD TV from a plant in Japan that has reduced its CO2 emissions by 76,000 tons per year!

Don't forget to rip out the HVAC system and replace it with a radiant heating and cooling system by Uponor (formerly Wirsbo)--eliminate allergens, use pipes (embedded in your wall$) made of polyethylene tubing, which unlike copper will not corrode (whatever happened to natural?) and enhance your indoor air quality.

And why not build a New England style home (originally designed by hardy folk to battle wind and snow on the east coast) along the windwept dunes of Malibu? Or a huge mansion in Palm Beach, FL that is inspired by jungle houses of Southeast Asia (designed by primitive peoples to work with that environment). Ah, the rich grow green. I'd love the irony if they weren't liberals trying to shove a limiting lifestyle on others while they merrily spend away.

And for the rest of us
    hybrid cars which will take years to pay for, or ethanol spewing God-knows-what into the atmosphere while raising food costs

    energy efficient bulbs containing mercury, made only in China in dirty coal burning factories, soon to be required by federal mandate, even though there are dozens of appliances that won't accept them

    reusable cloth bags to carry into Trader Joe's to buy frozen fish from Indonesia and nuts from the Philippines

    sale of carbon off-sets so we don't need to do with less, while cutting down trees in the midwest to grow more corn for ethanol

    donations to "green" groups (with no track record)

    public transit campaigns in suburban areas where it is a tax boon doggle for politicians, mostly Democrats who have grabbed the top 20 earmarks in the current Congress

    employment in marketing firms that are now producing self-laudatory brochures and advertisements promoting green products

    brands that say "organic" but not "grown in the USA."

Friday, December 28, 2007

Martin Luther's Christmas Book

Several weeks ago I checked out this title from our church library and forgot about it. Because of its seasonal topic I was only supposed to keep it one week! Now I'm reading it, and think it is so wonderful, I want to buy a copy. Luther's writing is timeless, and he wrote on every imaginable topic.

If I'm reading the publication data on the verso correctly, the editor, Roland H. Bainton, put it together with selected woodcuts from German artists of the era in 1948. This paperback is by Augsburg Fortress, 1997. Unfortunately, Bainton is a bit vague on where to find the originals, citing "the index to the sermon on the Gospels in the Weimar edition of Luther's works, vol. XXII," and suggests the stories are more beautiful in the original German. The back cover tells us that this little devotional contains 30 excerpts from Luther's Christmas sermons and that Bainton, a renowned Reformation scholar, translated and arranged them into eight topics. A reviewer at says that this represents 1/20th of what Luther preached and wrote about Christmas.

This is from the first chapter, "Annunciation."
    "Our Lord Jesus Christ was born of a line of ancestors whom the Evangelist Matthew arranges with artistry into three groups of fourteen patriarchs, fouteen kings, and fourteen princes. Among the latter were a number of disreputable characters, as we learn from the book of Kings, and there were no savory women. God holds before us this mirror of sinners that we may know that he is sent to sinners, and from sinners is willing to be born."
So much of today's emphasis in evangelical churches is on Jesus as a friend and buddy, a close relationship, personal self-worth and happy, clappy, feel-good worship services, and service to God in order to feel good. Many of the songs are "I, me, my, mine" or "we, we, we." Luther never loses the awe and majesty of God come in the flesh, but also he doesn't let us forget why we need a savior. And as with all presentations of the Gospel, if you don't start with sin, you have no climax or ending either.

He takes the smallest part of the story and builds a sermon--like the birth of Christ taking place during a census and uses it to explain the Christian's relationship to government, or why virginity is not superior to marriage, or what low-down grubby work sheepherders had to do, or why the Wise Men, whom he called the sons of Abraham, were just learned, honorable men and not kings or princes. Always, Luther asks us to return to scriptures.
    Why did the star not take the Wise Men straight to Bethlehem without any necessity of consulting the Scriptures? Because God wanted to teach us that we should follow the Scriptures and not our own murky ideas.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thirteen Little Things

When we are children we learn life time lessons from our parents, some by their words, others by actions. Today I'm jotting down 13 habits, techniques, behaviors, attitudes, etc. learned from my parents that are still with me, some without thinking about them, some throw aways, in no particular order. Chime in with a few of yours.

1. If you are with someone, always open the door and let your friend(s) walk through first.

2. Make a square, military corner on the bottom sheet (when I was a little girl there were no fitted sheets) to keep it from pulling loose. Stop to admire your effort. Although I don't do this now, the principle of doing something right the first time and taking pleasure in it is a good one.

3. Always wear an apron in the kitchen. Aprons certainly aren't what they used to be, and it seems to me food splashes more, so when I put one on, I often think of my dad who always reminded me, even as an adult.

4. Turn housework into a game (usually against the clock). My mother was big at trying to make "work" into "fun." This usually got an eye roll from me and a whine.

5. Respect others with your appearance. Both my parents would "fix up" for the other after their work day, and we always ate as a family with properly set table, pleasant conversation.

6. Clean up the kitchen after the meal; never leave dirty dishes on the counter or in the sink. I often fail with this one--maybe this would be a good New Year's resolution.

7. Start the week right with church attendance.

8. A gentleman always comes to the door to pick up a lady for a date. First timers meet the parents.

9. Sit like a lady (this was back in the days when girls and women usually wore skirts or dresses). Corollary: don't slouch.

10. The proper way to answer the phone. We often had to take orders for my dad, so this greeting I no longer use. However, I still keep paper and pencil by the phone, and I try not to mumble. I also overheard how dad spoke to his customers and even today I expect this from business people.

11. "A soft answer turns away wrath." This is my mother's from Proverbs 15:1. Never quite grasped this one, but it worked for my mother, who lived it and often quoted it. I can't remember her ever raising her voice.

12. The person who feeds the puppy is the one who will be loved by it. Usually this was Mom, because despite all our promises to care for it, she's the one who usually took pity on the poor thing. When I was growing up the dogs and cats lived outside. If it got bitterly cold, they could stay on the porch or in the basement.

13. In your lifetime you will probably have three really good friends. I'm still thinking about this one. Life has different stages--friendships vary--but the number seems pretty accurate.

Banner by AmandaF

Christmas Returns

Yesterday I heard on the radio that 40% of the gift receivers return something. Usually, that isn't me. I hardly ever return a gift--primarily I suppose because I'm pretty specific about size and color or type. This year I had no ideas, so a lot is going back! On Friday I asked my daughter if she'd already bought me something, and she said not everything. So I mentioned that my little (ca. 3 lb) roaster was starting to look a bit shabby and chipped. I think I bought it at K-Mart maybe 5 or 6 years ago for $5.00. It's just perfect for a small roast and I use it a lot. She shopped and shopped and shopped, and couldn't find anything. . . except a 5.25 quart ceramic covered cast iron pot in lime green with Rachel Ray's photo on the box. It was so heavy I could barely lift it. Keeping in mind my small kitchen, marble counter tops and glass oven top, I told her I couldn't risk using it (dropping it). She's very organized, so she had the sales receipt taped to the box, and a $20 "same as cash coupon" for the store. So yesterday, expecting the worst, I was off to Kohl's to exchange it. It wasn't at all crowded and the staff was very helpful. I couldn't find anything in cookware, but did exchange it for a new mirror for the bathroom, new cotton flannel sheets in sage green, and I still have over $40 left on the temporary credit card they gave me. And it was 15% off for seniors.

My husband bought me some things that are too small and the wrong color, from a store I never use, so they will go back too. So I'm off to shop. Next year, I'll be more specific to save myself some post-Christmas shopping.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Checking out the new blogger features

Today I was browsing the blog and discovered, or rediscovered, some features. I'm trying out the new template format that doesn't require knowing any html to change your template. I tried it first on the blog with the fewest entries, Growth Industry, since I wasn't sure the changes and revisions would hold. I also learned that because of the objections of people who use for their blogs, the comments by non-blogger users has been changed. I think everyone hated it. Works much faster than writing your congress representative!

Me? If people have revised their template to include videos, pod-casts, flickr and ads, my computer locks up, or I can jog around the block while it loads. I am restricted to leaving comments at the more simple designs. But my main blog (this one) is pretty busy too, mainly with links to things I like, such as library databases, on-line newspapers and magazines, and political blogs. Also, it is always a shock to see what my blogs look like on another screen, since on mine I have only a very tiny, discreet border.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Photo by Matt Carbone used with permission,

This lovely photo of Matt Carbone's black lab, Mr. Cooper, will remain at the top through December 25. Scroll down for current entries.

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the day before Christmas
and all through our house
all of us were bustling
even my spouse.

Our children are adults now,
happy and busy
with final shopping, all
in a tizzy.

With potatoes and cole slaw,
cranberries, pork roast,
apple bacon stuffing,
dinner we'll host.

Silent Night, Joy to the World
the carols we'll sing
9 p.m. service to
Jesus our king.

I ponder all my blessings,
read each Christmas card,
and thank the good Lord as
I pray so hard

for all my loved ones who will
gather around our tree,
in two thousand and eight
happy will be.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Second day of Winter

It is black as pitch at 7 a.m. in central Indiana this time of winter! We left our hosts still snuggled in bed (they leave for Florida tomorrow) and made our way down a windy 38 on to Mt. Comfort Road and the Rt. 70 exit.

"Oh, look at the lovely RVs," I sighed, as the bright lot lights lit the whole exit with the fancy paint designs of a huge RV sales lot. "Maybe we should spend $80-$100,000 and just take off across the country visiting little RV parks."

"If you're ever a widow, ask your next husband," he said, and a strong tail wind pushed our little mini-van home by 10.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A sober diet

Although I said I wouldn't browse when I returned my books to the library, I lied. Poor Richard's Almanack [Ben Franklin], December 1742, had this to say about eating a sober diet:

    "A sober Diet makes a Man die without Pain;

    it maintains the Senses in Vigour;

    it mitigates the Violence of the Passions and Affections.

    It preserves the Memory,

    it helps the Understanding,

    it allays the Heat of Lust;

    it brings a Man to a Consideration of his latter End;

    it makes the Body a fit Tabernacle for the Lord to dwell in;

    which makes us happy in the World,

    and eternally happy in the World to come,

    through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour."

Today's 10 Tasks

1) Return 3 volumes to the OSU library on Ackerman Rd. DO NOT STOP TO BROWSE!!!

2) Pick up the dry cleaning.

3) Make dessert to take to Indiana.

4) Walk at least a mile. It's NOT cold.

5) Read my health care plan.

6) Open up the box with the new computer and read the instructions.

7) Clean my desk top.

8) Let everyone know the Monday-Tuesday schedule and check supplies for dinner.

9) Type VAM minutes.

10)Go out for dinner with friends and swap Ireland stories (they've been there many times).

Huckabee's Merry Christmas

The hysteria about Huckabee's "Merry Christmas" ad is amusing--is it political (yes), is it about Jesus (yes), are there cross shapes in bookshelves, venetian blinds, floor tiles, building plans and airplane wing spans (yes), does the birth of Jesus Christ come before his death on the cross (yes), are there pagan, non-Christian elements in the ad, such as a yule tree (yes), do other religions have celebrations that involve light (yes), is Huckabee wearing a red sweater which could possibly symbolize his party, his faith, or the Christmas season (yes), is he a former Baptist minister (yes), is he a candidate for President of the United States (yes), is the U.S. a nation where the majority of the citizens report being Christians (yes), are the media looking for reasons to bring him down (yes), do the media and the entertainment industry regularly look for ways to demean Christians and their faith (yes), is this controversy a way to sneak the word "Christmas" back into the winter holiday (yes)?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Thirteen--13 Employment Strategies

Although I'm retired, there was a time in my life 25 years ago when I worked in the employment field. Yes, I was unemployed, couldn't find a job in my own field (libraries), so I went to work for the state government of Ohio, using federal funds (JTPA), helping other laid off or unemployed people find jobs. A sweet deal for me, although my colleagues and I in the program may be the only unemployed people who actually benefited. I loved my co-workers and the tasks--I did research, wrote publications, put on workshops, travelled, wrote speeches for bureaucrats, learned a lot about government, and was on a steep learning curve, something that has always been the joy of working in libraries. Your tax dollars and mine hard at work.

So when I saw this in today's Wall St. Journal in Sue Shellenbarger's column, I just couldn't resist. A recent graduate with an MA in Art History can't find a job in the Memphis art community. I immediately attacked the problem with my own on-the-job training of 25 years ago, plus my 23 years in the library field, and 18 years of hands-on parenting skills dumping loads of unheeded advice on my own 2 children.

1. Although it's too late now, don't pursue a degree in art history. And you certainly shouldn't have gone on for a master's. Do your parents have a money tree in the back yard? This degree is for rich kids who just want to say they went to college or average income, scholarship students who get bumped from their first choice when it's time to declare a major. This field employs no one except the faculty who teach it.

2. Move away from Memphis. If there ARE any jobs in art history, you have to go where the jobs are. They don't come to you. This also applies to librarians, lawyers and linguists. Just don't come to Columbus. We have a terrific art college here (CCAD), plus OSU, Franklin, Otterbein, Capital, and Columbus State, and their graduates are looking for work, too.

3. Whatever computer classes or skills you have now, get more. If you're lucky, the left and right sides of your brain are on speaking terms. If they're not, get used to hating this aspect of your career because it isn't going away. Deal with it. No one said life is fair.

4. Spend 40 hours a week looking for a job. That was the primary take-away I learned from my own JTPA contract in the employment field. Your job today is getting a job. If you can't bear the thought of one more interview or sending out one more resume, you're sunk. (Keep in mind, however, that most people get jobs through people they know who know people. So make part of that 40 hours telling everyone you know that you're looking.)

5. Research each place you apply to, and that includes the "culture," especially (if you're female) what they wear to work. Sounds trivial, but if you show up looking like a bank executive and the boss is in a t-shirt and ball cap, you won't put on your best performance, even though he probably won't notice your outfit. Green or purple hair and tongue studs almost never work on an interview. Drool is so tacky. Wouldn't hurt to know what they do to please their board of directors and donors, either.

The next suggestions are from the WSJ column, but I have to tell you, if these worked, no one would be getting the tougher degrees, they'd all have art history degrees. Shellenbarger suggests expanding the job search into these fields--

6. marketing and advertising
7. design
8. photography
9. web-site architecture

(these are all art related, but look what CCAD expects of high school graduates to have in their portfolio)

10. publishing
11. teaching
12. writing

and then

13. hiring a job coach to work on your interviewing skills.

Pork Cracklings

Whether you call them scrunchions, scratchings or cracklings, they are fried, salty, fatty bits of pig skin. And Congress loves its pork.
    "President Bush signed into law historic energy legislation Wednesday that will shape U.S. energy policy for decades to come. The law seeks to dramatically reduce U.S. energy consumption over the next 25 years by applying the AIA's 2030 carbon-reducing targets to federal buildings, increasing fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, and establishing new energy efficiency standards for appliances." AIA Angle Dec. 19, 2007

Not much new here. Move along.

Emergent or emerging, we were doing this EC stuff 35 years ago at another church--before we were believers. We sat in the dark, stared at candles, listened to strange music with no theology, and talked churchy-talk and psycho-babble. Nothing or little about Jesus. Just churchiness. Community. Feel-good service. Relevancy to the culture. I'm really surprised that young Christians (although their Pied Pipers aren't all that young--aging boomers) are falling for this. PBS seems to get it better than some evangelical pastors.

Oldie but goodie

This has been around the net many times, but it popped up in my e-mail this morning, sent by a friend of my husband from his high school years. I got a chuckle, maybe you will too.
    A woman in a hot air balloon realizes she is lost. She lowers her altitude and spots a man fishing from a boat below.

    She shouts to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

    The man consults his portable GPS and replies, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degree s, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

    She rolls her eyes and says, "You must be a Republican!"

    "I am," replies the man. "How did you know?"

    "Well," answers the balloonist, "everything you tell me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you're not much help to me."

    The man smiles and responds, "You must be a Democrat."

    "I am," replies the balloonist. "How did you know?"

    "Well," says the man, "You don't know where you are or where you're going. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and now you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but, somehow, now it's my fault."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Can WSJ writers find a real victim?

I've complained here many times about the "news" stories in the Wall St. Journal, WaPo, and NYT. Most of the "social concern" stories belong on the editorial page, except that's what intelligent, well educated people read. But the one on Dec. 6 in the WSJ titled "House of cards; how the subprime mess hit poor immigrant groups" written by Jonathan Karp and Miriam Jordan really takes the cake for biased, bad reporting. What school graduated these incompetents? We really do have a subprime mess--but using one woman, Naira Costa, to make a blanket statement about immigrants, and she an illegal immigrant who used someone else's credit card to inflate her credit score, gets a home loan for $713,000 (on a cleaning job salary of $2,000/mo), never made a payment, and she's suing the broker? Oh PULEEZE! Just for good measure, they throw in her Pentecostal church as one of the bad guys, and in today's WSJ reader section, the pastor says she wasn't a member and besides he has no control over what members do. Karp and Jordan must have really been trolling the dregs to find this story.

I'm a Mandarin!

You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

Talent: 49%
Lifer: 38%
Mandarin: 54%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.


Bad dreams

We rarely see Law and Order in a current season, so we didn't see the 2005-2006 season finale until last night. It was really awful. I left the room and went to bed it was so brutal and vicious. Checking the show blogs and story lines this morning, I see that in April, 2006, Annie Parisse, who was playing Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Borgia, gave her notice because it looked like the show wasn't going to be renewed--or possibly, she was just tired after 34 episodes of the dumb lines and ugly clothes they always write for the ADA who does all the grunt work for McCoy, no matter who plays the part--Jill Hennessey, Angie Harmon, Carey Lowell or Elizabeth Rohm. Like a lot of series where women play the second banana, they are expected to look good if they peel. I never thought Elizabeth Rohm (the ADA before Parisse) was a very good actress, but she was stunning. I'm sure it was a surprise to her in her final episode to discover she was a lesbian--sure was to me. Smack her around a bit, Mr. Wolf; make sure the audience will always remember that just in case anyone casts her in a romantic lead. Sam Waterston and Jerry Orbach aren't pretty guys, how come they don't have beauty standards for men?

Annie Parisse (whose brother married Sam Waterston's daughter, according to Wikipedia) is not just brutally and graphically murdered in the final 2006 episode, but is found in a dumpster, not unlike the usual opening scene, mouth duct taped, having aspirated her own vomit and with her face bashed in. I hope they used a mannequin, because if it had been me, I would have refused that scene. Man, they were really mad at her!

I think it is time for Law and Order, all versions, to close up shop. Women, conservatives, anyone religious but especially Christians, and all honest and ethical law enforcement personnel should change channels; those are the folks either ridiculed, besmirched or written off as evil. No more reruns for me.

Everybody knows

that diets aren't the answer; that it's a lifestyle. Or do they? I was reading through the comments at a blog the other day. Both the blog writer and reader were commenting on their own obesity. The reader said she had successfully lost 60 pounds, kept it off for six years, been a counselor in a commercial weight loss program, and then gradually all the weight returned as she realized that without spending all her day thinking about what she would eat, there was no way she could maintain her weight.

And the thought occurred to me that most people of "normal" weight probably do just that--think about what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat, and how the calories will be expended if overeating does occur. I do. So do others who are not overweight. I just finished breakfast (fruit and walnuts); I'm already thinking about lunch (4 or 5 vegetables). In fact, my husband is the only person I know who seems to have built-in signals that keep him from over eating, but if he does decide he's "packed on" 5 lbs., he stops eating crackers and peanut butter in the evening, and in a few weeks, he's back to normal (ca. 155 lbs.)

My great-grandmother Nancy (1833-1892) had nine children, as did her mother-in-law Elizabeth (1791-1878), who lived with her after her husband's death. You don't think these ladies spent most of their day figuring out how to bake enough bread or slaughter and stew enough chickens to feed a bunch like that? This is nothing new for women--what's new is abundance instead of scarcity, choices instead of physical labor, and we haven't learned the new game plan.

We went out to eat Friday night with friends we've known (but not well) for about 30 years. She's thin and toned. She's probably in her early 70s, but has looked this way to me since her 40s. For dinner she ordered a turkey wrap and a salad. She took half the wrap order home. The next day she was going to be biking 20 miles to have breakfast with friends. The temperatures here were about 30 degrees, and it was windy. She's also a swimmer. We then went to their home where she served a wonderful warm pumpkin tart made with Splenda topped with sugar-free Cool-Whip. You don't think she plans, computes and calculates everything that goes in her mouth and how many calories are burned in biking and swimming?

Oddies, Endies, and Undies

Yesterday I noted that my husband squeaked through on registration to tour the new Dublin Methodist Hospital to get 3 credit hours in health, safety and welfare for his continuing education requirements. At supper last night (homemade pizza) he couldn't stop raving about the design, creativity and planned well-being for patients. So it is definitely a winner, all around. You folks who live in Dublin and surrounding areas are going to have one super community hospital.

As I was settling in for a nap (one of my favorite events of the day) about 2 p.m. I heard a loud crash. I was a bit groggy, but realized the roof was not above me--the master bedroom is there. So I walked upstairs carefully, thinking perhaps a mirror or painting had fallen. When I got to the master bath, I saw that all the marble trim tile had fallen off the edge of the vanity. If anyone had been standing there in bare feet, he would have had a broken toe. I walked downstairs and told my husband (he uses that bathroom), and he said he wasn't surprised, that it was noted in the inspection in 2001 when we bought the condo, but hadn't been fixed.

So I settled in again for my nap. The phone rang and my husband picked it up from the kitchen. I opened an eye and looked at the TV screen. A name and phone number appeared. The conversation was with the buyer of one of the condos that has been for sale for a year. My husband is president of the association, and this purchase has involved many meetings of the board. When he hung up he said the purchase was final. I asked the buyer's name, but he couldn't remember. Was it--and I mentioned the name that had appeared on our TV screen, and he said Yes. Now that's weird. We assume it is something in her phone, because to our knowledge, this has never happened before. Has this ever happened to you?

A nap was definitely out of the question after two interruptions, so I decided to go Christmas shopping. I had four cards from Macy's. Two for $15 off a $50 purchase, and two for $25 off a $100 purchase. The problem was Macy's was also having a one day sale--something like "take another 20% off the already 50% markdown." I'm math challenged. So when I got my carefully totalled gifts (in my head) to the head of the check out line (waited 10 minutes), they only came to $82. So I'm refiguring what we'd agreed on, and go back and pick up an item that was $18 (although the $9 would have done just as well). See, that's how they trap you. In my head, I'm deducting the $25 off my son's gift, so it evens out with my daughter's and son-in-law's, but the receipt shaves each item--and actually totals $26 and not $25. I'll stick with my head on this.

I still have two cards left, so I browse the ladies lingerie department--not for a gift, but for me. My favorite brand of undies (which always seems to be on sale) has a buy 3 get one free (ca. $18), although because of the sale, I have no idea what it will be when I get to the register. So I go down stairs and look at shoes to see if there's something in 8.5 AA, and I select 2 Naturalizers and take them to the desk (no one comes to you these days). You would have thought I'd asked for the moon. "We have no narrow sizes in any style," she sniffed (She was quite large, and I think that's why narrow sizes are disappearing). You see, I thought if I bought a pair of shoes I didn't really need, I'd get the panties I didn't really need almost for "free." Saved from consumer hell by a shoe width.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 37.
What is your score? Get it here.

That was close!

As an architect, my husband needs a certain number of continuing education credits each year to keep his license, and he has plenty, but was .5 short in one category--health, safety and welfare. One of the problems with finding anything out is that he doesn't use a computer, and all his newsletters have gone to e-format. So I'm the one who glances through them, and mentions things to him. (Like the architect his age who died when he fell off the ladder cleaning gutters.) But because he didn't know until 2 days ago about the 1/2 missing credit, I haven't really been paying attention. So yesterday I scanned the last few issues to see if we missed something, and at 4 p.m. an e-mail popped up about "only 4 spaces left." I thought maybe it was spam because I didn't recognize the sender's address, but I clicked on it. There it was: 3 credits for something today at 3 p.m., near-by, and inexpensive! I hollered downstairs, "I found something, but it's tomorrow!" I printed it off, he called, and the office was closed. So this morning about 9:15 he called--got an answering machine. She calls back in 5 minutes, and said she'd just had a cancellation (it was full). So he's in, and should have a good time previewing a new hospital in Dublin, Ohio.

Books are such wonderful things

My mother wanted to be a librarian. She worked in the library at Mt. Morris College when she was a freshman there in 1930-1931 (the college had a disasterous fire in the spring and closed the next year). The Depression, then marriage and motherhood ended any career dreams, but she briefly worked as a clerk in the town library in the late 1950s. She was quiet, well organized, determined and tenacious; if anyone ever said a negative word about her, I never got wind of it. She drove to Rochelle to teach migrant workers to sew, held Bible studies in her home for years, ran a retreat center on her family's farm, and looked after innumerable relatives. For the most part to fulfill her dreams, she just read, researched and collected. We always received books or magazine subscriptions as gifts at Christmas from my mother and grandmother. Shortly before she died in 2000 she was still walking to the town library, which had become a public library while she was in college, and she had card #14. When she was in high school, she won an essay contest at the Dixon, Illinois public library, the nearest library to their farm. I think this was written when she was 15 or 16 and was published in the paper, so I only have the clipping and not the date.

Books are such wonderful things

There is one place, above all others, that holds a fascination that is not to be dimmed by frequent explorations. That place is a library. Rows on rows of books reaching to the ceiling. Some are nicely bound, clean and little used; others are shabby, worn out by loving an d unloving hands. They are there waiting for me, quiet and orderly from the outside, as they rest in neat lines on the shelf. Inside of the multi-colored covers is action, teeming life, successes and failures, tragedy and comedy.

To prepare for a trip is a different task, especially if it would be a journey that would reach around the world, turn back the centuries and allow me to live with the world from the earliest time to the present day. Such a journey is, of course, impossible, although extremely pleasant to dream of taking; time has never been known to stop or turn back. Out of the years has come something better for men. People of all times have written or recorded their thoughts on stone, parchment and paper. Only the best is left to us, and we may have a microscopic, yet comprehensive view of the world.

Only a slight motion of the hand is necessary and the cover of a book is opened; a kingdom waiting to be explored. Perhaps in this lies some of the wonder of a book. One need not leave the room to enjoy adventure or learn what is going on in other countries. What has happened hundreds of years ago is as close at hand as the present day. We may know more about Mary, Queen of Scots, than the “first lady of the land.”

A book is for relaxation of tired minds and bodies, inspiration through the actions of some ancient hero of mighty deeds. It has the power to lift the reader from surroundings that are familiar to places of dazzling splendor or trouble or squalor. A book will take you farther and faster than Mercury’s wings.

One summer day I sat down to read. The air was heavy with heat; only by reading could I forget the uncomfortable weather. My book was an Alaskan story. I climbed snowy mountains and crossed bleak valleys with the lone traveler. As the story proceeded, the traveler crossed a supposedly frozen lake but disaster came upon him. The ice was thin and gave way. I sailed through the icy waters with no hope of rescue, with the unfortunate man. It was terrible for life to end this way--no friends to weep, just lost. I shivered as the awful desolation of the north held me in its power. With a dry throat and my heart pounding wildly I stopped at the end of the chapter to find myself shaking with cold under the rays of a scorching sun.

A book is so wonderful, if it is truth from the author’s heart. It can do more than dazzle the brain with facts and fancies. It will reveal the vision of life as the author sees it. It may be ugly or it might be beautiful, joyous; it might be merely silly. Through the thoughts of his characters will run his own thoughts, their actions, what he himself might have done. Their philosophy of life is his, though it may not appear so on the surface. The author cannot keep himself hidden no matter how he tries.

Through the ages, men have attempted to tell realistically of the actions and lives of others. No matter how they failed or succeeded, they left a true picture of themselves--an example of the real feelings of that time more exact than any attempted story. That is why books are such wonderful things.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Memories--A special Christmas

Christmas is a time to bring out the memories, isn‘t it? This one is quite fresh--last night, in fact. It is so easy to let special times slip by without mention--we think we'll always remember. That’s why a diary (this blog) is so useful when the memory track becomes so jumbled, scratchy and full--and a thesaurus might help too, because some superlatives can be overused.

Our couples group from church, called SALT (Serving and Learning Together), met for dinner at members’ lovely, traditional home in south Arlington. Treasures collected over many years of marriage--through lean and plenty--decorated every room. Nothing splashy or over done, but lovingly displayed each year--a framed needlepoint, tiny ceramic Santa Claus, an angel. Each one precious with stories to tell. Our hostess provided a delicious pork loin, and the other couples brought appetizers, salad, potatoes and dessert. Every morsel was prepared lovingly and to perfection--the wonderful smells wafted throughout the house. However, it was the Christian fellowship that made the night so special. The five couples sat around the dining room table, beautifully set with seasonal treasures, with just the right touches of holiday greens and red candles, china, silver angel napkin rings and goblets.

After catching up on our activities since we last met in November, the talk easily flowed to Christmases past and what was special “in the old days.” Many of us had parents born in the early years of the 20th century (my parents were born in 1912 and 1913, as were those of several others), and we told what modest celebrations they had--perhaps an apple or an orange, a plate of cookies or a new outfit. In the case of my mother, nothing, because Christmas wasn’t observed in her family when she was small except to go to church. Then we moved along the years to our own childhood Christmases, then our children’s, and now the grandchildren’s--with the bag of gifts growing with each year. It’s probably our age, but we all seemed a bit nostalgic for a time when we had less! There were funny stories, too--one man told of carefully slitting the wrapping, peeking inside the boxes, and then meticulously rewrapping the presents; another recounted the time his little brother unwrapped all the beautiful presents their mother had so artistically wrapped and placed under the tree--the day before Christmas. One woman told of an uncle who would come by with sleigh bells, circle the house, jingling them outside while the children were in bed (but still awake), banging on down spouts if someone had already fallen asleep. Was it the laughter, the candles, the sharing--but something felt like a warm cozy blanket in that room.

Then we moved to the living room to sing carols--our hosts have a gorgeous piano and a room that complements it in color and size. One of our members is an accomplished pianist and church musician. I love to watch her play--the graceful hands, the studied, far away look on her face, so I stood by the piano (Oh, it was beautiful!). We shared more stories and then prayer concerns. I’ve been in many groups over the years, but this one seems the most spiritually mature, the most dependent on God for strength and comfort through prayer and service.

I was opposite the tree. The lights in the room were dim--or seemed that way--and as the evening progressed, the tree appeared to glow. The lights reflected against the silvery roped strands, sending reflected light from the ornaments into the room. I’ve seen hundreds of Christmas trees in my life, but on this special night with friends, celebrating the first advent of our Lord, this tree was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. About 9 p.m. we held hands and prayed, then moved out into the starry, crisp night. Yes, a wonderful Christmas memory to pack away and treasure.

Maybe there’s a volcano or other hotspots?

Scientists have discovered what they think may be another reason why Greenland's ice is melting: a thin spot in Earth's crust is enabling underground magma to heat the ice. They have found at least one “hotspot” in the northeast corner of Greenland - just below a site where an ice stream was recently discovered. The researchers don't yet know how warm the hotspot is. But if it is warm enough to melt the ice above it even a little, it could be lubricating the base of the ice sheet and enabling the ice to slide more rapidly out to sea. “The behavior of the great ice sheets is an important barometer of global climate change,” said Ralph von Frese, leader of the project and a professor of earth sciences at Ohio State. Read the news release at Ohio State University Research

Green pork

    Green, green, grant green they say,
    On the side of Capitol Hill.
    Green, green, not goin' away
    'Cept where the grass is greener still.
"The House Committee on Education and Labor recently approved legislation that would create a new grant program for colleges and universities to promote sustainability. Originally reported in the AIA Angle in October, the Higher Education Sustainability Act of 2007 (H.R. 3637), drafted by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would allow institutions of higher education to apply for federal funding for the development of programs and initiatives that address sustainability, specifically in the areas of green building, energy management, and waste management.

Education Committee Chair George Miller (D-CA) included The Higher Education Sustainability Act in a comprehensive higher education bill, The College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 (H.R. 4137). The committee unanimously approved the legislation, and it is expected to be debated on the House floor before the end of the year. And on Tuesday, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced a version in the Senate (S.2444) . The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Jeff Bingman (D-NM); Christopher Dodd (D-CT); Edward Kennedy (D-MA); and John Kerry (D-MA). The House and Senate hope to finalize the bill and send it to the president by early next year." From AIA Angle, December 13, 2007


The repetition of initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words is called alliteration. I wonder how long it took the author to come up with this title, "Commercialization, Commodification, and Commensurability in Selective Human Reproduction: Paying for Particulars in People-to-Be." It's almost too cute for a very serious subject, selective reproduction (also called "offspring enhancement") by author Dov Fox, of Yale Law School, appears in the Journal of Medical Ethics. This type of enhancement looks a bit more troublesome than rich athletes using steroids, don't you think? Other than taxing it or regulating it, I'm guessing Congress won't do much. Once God's been kicked out of the public square it's hard to invite him back in. As a nation we've decided that the less-than-perfect products of conception deserve a pre-natal death; so designing the uber-perfect baby is probably the next step in our moral decline.
    Pre-natal screening and genetic modification may one day enable parents to pick individual traits for their offspring from among a range of available options. If Americans already enhance themselves at a cost of $50 per orgasm, $500 per patch of hair, $1,000 per SAT point, $2,500 per cup size, and $50,000 per inch of height, and if the unlikely prospect of biological design nevertheless became possible, why wouldn’t parents opt for mathematical aptitude, a witty disposition, or straighter teeth for their children-to-be? Fortune magazine gauges the prospective U.S. market for preconception sex selection alone at over $200-million-a-year annually.Abstract here, with links to downloading

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Is she kidding?

Ellen Goodman claims the Democrats are suffering from an embarrassment of riches, and the Republicans just an embarrassment.

I know she's a liberal, but blind, deaf and dumb, too? How does this woman survive with so many talented pundits trying to get her job? [She's not in this magazine--I just liked the cover.] The Republican roster, even including the ones I don't care for, like Rudy and McCain (mainly because of their messy personal lives), so far outshine the troika of Hillary, Obama and Johnny there's just no match. Hillary claims "change and experience." She's a has been before she gets to the gate. Who wants to go back to Bill running things and calling it a change? Edwards keeps whining about 2 Americas trying to paddle that canoe in the Great Society swamp, and Obama can't quite get the black folks to believe he's one of them (for very good reason).

Was I this silly when I was a liberal? Don't think so. I probably held my nose when voting for Bill.

Global Warming; the origin of the consensus

Let's look back a few years--to 1992. I'm not sure I was even aware of global warming in 1992--I probably was still under the influence of the global cooling theories. 1988 was the hottest summer I can remember, but then I wasn't around in the 1930s, although my parents could tell the stories of the dust bowl and the ghastly hot summers. I had watched Lake Erie rising and had seen the huge boulders they were bringing in to keep it from destroying the lawns that led down to the flat rocks. I could see from the old photographs of Lakeside that the lake was much higher in the 1970s than it was in the 1950s or the 1920s. Of course, all that has changed now--the lake is low again, and would be even lower if it weren't for the other Great Lakes draining into it. The boulders look a bit silly and lonesome now.

Check out what Richard S. Lindzen said about the origins of the "consensus" in 1992, and then what he said in 2006. Then browse a bit of history--like how cold it was in Europe in the late middle ages--how people froze from the cold, or starved because the growing seasons were so short after experiencing a balmy period in the 11th and 12th centuries. Then ask yourself, why should the world always be only the way I remember it? (Of course, Ohio used to be covered with a glacier, so I know it is getting warmer, and I'm so glad it did.)

And then pause to remember the Chinese, yes, the billions and billions of Chinese, who are just on the cusp of wanting what we in America and western Europe already have. They could sign 10 Kyotos, and it won't make a snippet of difference (following a contract is not in their tradition), while Al Gore and friends try to shut down the American economy in hopes of cooling the planet. Yes, think about China as you screw in your energy-saving, mercury filled bulbs made in coal fired factories in China and congratulate yourself for being so careful with fragile, elderly Mother Earth.

JAM says he could take global warming more seriously if only the people warning us about it were acting out their concern or behaving respectfully toward the environment in their daily lives. He's a bit more generous. I might take it more seriously if they weren't the same folks who say it took millions and millions of years for humans to develop a brain and walk up right, owls to learn to eat field mice, and terns to learn to navigate to their nesting area over thousands of miles, but now we're going to hell in a handbasket in just a couple of hundred years. How did evolution ever succeed without Al and his oversight committee of the IPCC?

Do your part to save the planet:
    lose weight,
    stop smoking,
    pick up trash along the road side,
    conserve resources,
    plant a garden,
    pick up after your dog poops in someone else's yard,
    keep your cat in the house,
    don't put out bird seed or throw bread to the ducks,
    don't take down the fence rows on the farms,
    put up a purple martin house,
    don't drive like a drugged jack rabbit,
    and be nice--reduce hot air by using your common sense.

Wild turkeys

couldn't keep me away from browsing "deepwoods" photos over at Weather Underground photo blogs.

She writes (but I can't find a place to comment and tell her how much I've enjoyed her photographs): "I am a lady who is now a stay at home homemaker. I live in the woods on the rocky coast of Maine. There are many opportunities to snap some great nature and wildlife scenes, as well as whatever else catches my eye as being interesting or a little different. I also love to bake, and do bake all our bread. Reading is one of my favorite pasttimes, non-fiction only. I am working on a book about my dog, Ridge, who also appears in many of my photos, as he is my constant hiking buddy, and my best friend. My firm belief and hope is that everyone will one day make a visit to the great state of's not called "Vacationland" for nothing!" Sounds like a great life, doesn't it? I spent a summer session at a college in Maine, and we went there to see some fall color in the late 1970s. It is truly a gorgeous state. And winter doesn't look too shabby either!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Don't you need a kitty to love?

Capital Area Humane Society is looking for you. 3015 Scioto-Darby Executive Court, Hilliard, OH 43026 (614) 777-7387 FAX (614) 777-8449.

Where do you display your Christmas cards?

A survey at USAToday reported 46% on a table, 22% on the fireplace mantel, and 17% on a bookshelf. It's the 15th of December. My credenza is full; we need to find a new spot. In our other house, we wrapped red ribbon around the hall closet door, and taped the back side of the card to the ribbon so it sort of became a bulletin board.

See the photo of the boys on the far right side of the mirror? I nearly cried when I saw them. Could not believe how grown up they are. They now live in Texas, but their parents lived here when they were pre-schoolers--they are now 17 and 20 and the younger one is taller than the older. Our guys met on a job interview; architecture was so slow in Texas, but my husband's firm was unable to hire this promising, young Tejano architect. We invited them to church and became friends. When they moved back to Texas two years later when the economy improved, we were sorry to see them go.

This year birds are the winners--probably 4 cardinals in the snow cards with several other species, then kittins, then lion and lamb, maybe two dogs. Only a few snowmen, and really not very many baby Jesus cards either.

The weather outside is. . .

Snowing in central Ohio. Grab a camera. I've just been browsing Weather Underground and the superb photos posted there. I think you join, and post weather related photos. The horse photo was posted after the December 13 ice storm, and the barn in Missouri earlier by idzrvit (I have no idea who that is, but I just liked the photos). In the search window enter, "ice storm." With some 300,000 people without power don't talk to these folks about global warming.

How Google can help clean your bathroom

The Internet isn't a library, but like library stacks, it can be a lot of fun to browse. Ten or twelve years ago when I would attend a professional conference, we'd hear comments like "The Internet is like having a key to someone else's garage," or "The Internet is like a library with everything on the floor." It's come a long way with incredible finding tools, especially Google. But I still love serendipity and browsing, the same thing I do in libraries. Here's this morning's trip and I started with a book:
    For morning devotions I've been reading "Keep a quiet heart" by Elisabeth Elliot. Flipping through the back I noticed the 266 essays are actually culled from Elliot's newsletter, "The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter" published 6 times a year, for $7.00/year. I flip to the front and see that my paperback copy was published in 1995, so I figure it's unlikely the newsletter is still in publication. I've actually met her when she gave a talk at our church many years ago on finding God's will for your life. But I get up from my comfortable chair and sit down at the computer--for two hours!

    When I Google "Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter" I find a website for AA, Alcoholics Anonymous bibliography, that had quoted her newsletter's mention of Gertrude Behanna, who is apparently a well-known star among speakers on alcoholism, and I stop to read her autobiography, "God is not dead." It's really super, and I strongly recommend it if you have an alcoholic or druggie in your life.

    I see that her life story was made into a movie starring Anne Baxter, The Late Liz, but skip over that tucking it away to check our library's excellent video collection (assuming it hasn't been rejected because of spiritual content).

    But I got interested in her sons (of different marriages)--one a recovering alcoholic who is not a Christian and the other a priest who isn't an alcoholic, so I Google "son of Gert Behanna" since she didn't mention their names. This just brings up more references to the movie, but does link to the 27 page pdf list of videos by the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. This looks like something our church librarian might like, so I print it in draft, and the printer spits the 27 pages all over my office while I'm in the basement putting a load in the washer.

    The last page I pick up is p.1, since it prints backwards, and my librarian's obsessive spirit asks, "Well, just how difficult could it be to check a few of these titles on the Internet to see if they are available for purchase?" The first title is "The gift of the creed," by Dr. Timothy F. Lull and Rev. Patricia J. Lull, presented to the 1993 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA (our synod). Although I find a reference to it, I don’t see availability, so I then Google “ELCA DVD” browse its list of available video products and decide it’s either too old, or was a very limited production only sent to churches.

    Then I Google “Timothy F. Lull” and find out he died in 2003 after surgery. However, he was such a popular teacher at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, some of his students put together his lectures on Luther and Lutheranism and published it on at “The Press of the Society of the Three Trees” dedicated to the study of the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. This press has published 5 titles, plus a journal, Christus Lux.

    Because I collect first issues of journals, I decide to Google Christus Lux to see if it might be worth buying Vol. 1, no. 1. (It’s $15--a bit out of my range).

    I notice another book by this press titled, “What’s wrong with sin,” by Derek R. Nelson--and I wonder if our church library might want this so I google the author, and find out he is now at Thiel College in Pennsylvania, a college with Lutheran ties I’ve never heard of. So of course I have to check out its web page, stopping at its library to look at an art show by a Kenyan. I stop to e-mail the author to ask if he thinks it is appropriate for a parish library of a very evangelical Lutheran church.

    Then I notice it is about 6:45, so I take my printed and reassembled pdf list of the videos of the Eastern Synod of Canada and go to Caribou. While drinking coffee, I note many other videos I think would be good, like The joy of Bach (Gateway Films), The Great Mr. Handel (Gateway Films) and an interesting video on the art of choral directing by Lloyd Pfautsch of Southern Methodist University produced by Augsburg Fortress in 1988.

    When I get home, I carry the laundry up to the bedroom where my husband is getting dressed. I recount to him all the fabulous things I found on the Internet this morning starting with Elisabeth Elliot’s book. His eyes glaze over.
While I’m hanging up his towels, I see the bathroom needs a good scrubbing.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Why marriage matters

If marriage weren't so important to the survival of society, it wouldn't be worth saving. We are not a society of rich and poor; we're married and unmarried.
    "There is a reason that all cultures treat marriage as a matter of public concern and even recognize it in law and regulate it. The family is the fundamental unit of society. Governments rely on families to produce something that governments need—but, on their own, they could not possibly produce: upright, decent people who make honest, law-abiding, public-spirited citizens. And marriage is the indispensable foundation of the family. Although all marriages in all cultures have their imperfections, children flourish in an environment where they benefit from the love and care of both mother and father, and from the committed and exclusive love of their parents for each other.

    Anyone who believes in limited government should strongly back government support for the family. Does this sound paradoxical? In the absence of a strong marriage culture, families fail to form, and when they do form they are often unstable. Absentee fathers become a serious problem, out-of-wedlock births are common, and a train of social pathologies follows. With families failing to perform their health, education, and welfare functions, the demand for government grows, whether in the form of greater policing or as a provider of other social services. Bureaucracies must be created, and they inexorably expand—indeed they become powerful lobbyists for their own preservation and expansion. Everyone suffers, with the poorest and most vulnerable suffering most."
And much more here.

What liberal bias?

Seen at a library digitization publication, Digital Document Delivery:
    A 2005 cartoon by Pat Oliphant depicts God working at a drawing board, with a bearded angel looking over His shoulder, and ascribes to God the words,

    “I’ve been trying to perfect some kind of intelligent design, but all I keep coming up with is a bunch of simple-minded, right-wing, fundamentalist, religious fanatics. I think I’ll just let the whole thing evolve.”
They don't mind insulting millions of Christians and Jews who think evolution is a pile of horse pucky, but they are careful to note that they are not reproducing the cartoon out of fear of copyright violation.

Two out of three isn't bad

Yesterday I had lunch with a home-schooled eleven year old. After our Advent services at church we serve lunch, and when I was finished, I sat at a table with Mom, her son, and her male friend. The young man was so articulate and well-behaved I was amazed. He held his own offering opinions on a law suit about a gas line issue here in Columbus. His mom told me that every day she drives him to the east side so he can participate on a swim team. Obviously, she turns off her cell phone and connects with her kid during the 30 minute drive time.

I also met one of our new part-time pastors on our care team. He visits the sick, elderly and shut-ins and helps out in other areas as needed. He has relatives here, so he had actually been visiting our church for years before his retirement. We served communion together, with me giving him a few tips on how we do it, because I don't think he'd served before in our Lutheran church. He is a Southern Baptist.

Then in the evening our Visual Arts Ministry spent an hour or so shifting our supplies and equipment from a first floor phone closet, to a larger storage area on the upper floor near our hanging space. We chatted briefly with the security guard, a handsome young man named Muhammed. I'm still digesting that one.

Dear Mr. Hotz

I noticed your science column today in the Wall Street Journal--your faith in global warmists is admirable, if misplaced. I'm certainly no scientist, and don't have your credentials. However, if I were going to measure CO2 I probably would not be doing it above the world's largest volcano, as you report. I'd also assume that equipment for measuring it in 2007 was a bit more sophisticated and sensitive than it was in 1958, when it was started, therefore certainly showing big increases. I watch the nightly weather reports, and I'm surprised that even in 1958 when there were no records, that people predicted backwards coming up with a model that just fit their need for grants and publication. Why just last night, I watched today's prediction change from what it had been 12 hours before.

And hundreds of sensors? Where would that be exactly? In countries that can't maintain a government or a road, and where women are covered head to toe and they haven't figured out why AIDS is on the increase?

Sorry, Mr. Hotz, you're not even warm on this. We don't control the earth, the sun or the moon. We gave up trying to figure out what to do with abandoned TV sets, disposable diapers, and old tires, so we decided to change the climate. Now, isn't that a bit silly?

This is your gravy train, so keep it up. Excuse me if some of us aren't buying into it.

Librarians and privacy

What were librarians, the guardians of privacy when it comes to the Patriot Act and pornographers on the internet, saying about Facebook, the social networking site. Well, if you google "librarians Facebook privacy" you'll find they were practically wetting themselves in their eagerness to be relevant.

In today's Wall Street Journal Randall Rothenberg calls the news of the shutdown of Facebook's Beacon program, a victory for "market forces."
    Within the space of a month or so, Facebook launched and then shut down an advertising program called Beacon that alerted users to purchases and other activities their "friends" made outside Facebook. The episode has been called many things: "annoying," "upsetting," "creepy," a "nightmare," a "privacy hairball." I call it proof that when it comes to the evolution of the Internet, market forces work.
Apparently, Facebook subscribers didn't like their friends being exploited, even if they didn't think of it in privacy terms. When the internet users respond quickly, and massively, it saves us all from more government regulations, says Rothenberg.

The internet is not free. It's supported by advertising. The advertisers using interactive technology is estimated by Rothenberg to be at $20 billion in 2007, growing to $62 billion by 2011. But they overreached, and alert subscribers said NO.

Still, I've got to wonder where were all those librarians who wanted to keep terrorists' library patterns private and fought the Patriot Act, and not put filters on library computers to protect children because it might interfer with "information gathering." Interesting concerns, these liberals.

It's all the same players

Usually I'm a big fan of the entrepreneurial spirit, the cottage industry that takes off, the bootstrapper who makes it big. Not in this case. They are part of the scam industry of the ages. Along with alcohol, tobacco, electric chairs and viaticals, I'm telling Dave, my investment guy, I want nothing to do with these companies. They are the new snakeoil salesmen. Are you emitting something dirty into the air. Just call your good old "green and clean" representative and they can make it all go away--on paper. Of course, it will cost you.
    Green Exchange

    Global Change Associates

    Nymex Holdings

    Evolution Markets

    European Climate Exchange

    Chicago Climate Exchange

    CME Group Globex
It's already a $60 billion dollar business from the folks who brought us the subprime mortgage meltdown. Yes, it's the same players.

Let it snow!

Snow is in the forecast to begin tomorrow around noon. Columbus usually gets less than predicted, Cleveland more. Yesterday I was listening to 700 a.m. (Cincinnati) and Mike was gleeful at the prospect of 4". I think that has been downgraded to about 1" or rain. But over at A Gentleman's Domain, a Floridian who has lived in Canada, comments about snow. It's pretty funny--a month's diary of snow. Our daughter stopped by last night and the 3 of us were remembering getting stranded at different times by the weather between Indianapolis and Columbus. It's just not amusing being trapped by a plow on a rest stop access road when he's coming from the other direction pushing mounds 7-8' high. But it makes for a good story 15 years later.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Faulty weather data

Would you drink water that was as contaminated as the climate change/global warming data?

data from weather satellites
data from weather balloons
equipment changes
poor countries with sparse weather-stations
fewer than 1/3 of the 1970s weather stations are in operation
urban center bias
time changes for measuring
different countries use different models
ignore counter-evidence
slanted language in reporting
    "This is no mere tiff among duelling experts. The IPCC has a monopoly on scientific advising to governments concerning climate change. Governments who never think to conduct due diligence on IPCC reports send delegates to plenary meetings at which they formally "accept" the conclusions of IPCC reports. Thereafter they are unable -- legally and politically -- to dissent from its conclusions. In the years ahead, people around the world, including here in Canada, could bear costs of climate policies running to hundreds of billions of dollars, based on these conclusions. And the conclusions are based on data that the IPCC lead authors concede exhibits a contamination pattern that undermines their interpretation of it, a problem they concealed with untrue claims."
Read the report and graph

Thirteen Reasons I'm not stressed at Christmas

There seems to be a lot of stress in the air this time of year. Here's 13 reasons I'm not part of it.

1) I'm volunteering at the weekly (noon) Advent services at our church. This allows me a mid-week opportunity to reflect on what this season is about. If they were at night, I'd probably stay home.

2) Because of my career, I didn't do much of the hands-on work like serving lunch or helping in the kitchen. Although working in the kitchen is out of my comfort zone, it is a pleasure to mingle with the saints who can now take a bit of a rest. Wonderful music by our fabulous church organist, and great food and fellowship.

3) Then I slip on my robe and help with communion. Nothing says what it is all about like placing a piece of bread in the hand of a person who has struggled to come to the communion rail to be refreshed by the body and blood of our Lord.

4) My husband painted a watercolor of a wonderful scene with a man and child walking through the snow with a cut tree for our annual Christmas card. This relieves me of any pressure to go to a store or look through a catalog. He even sorts, stamps and puts the return address label on the envelop.

5) I write the letter that goes in the envelop with the card. This gives me an opportunity to sift through the year's events and decide what's worth keeping and what gets thrown out. I enjoy thinking about the family and many friends--some we haven't seen since the early 1960s, and this is the only time of year we're in touch. I keep a scrapbook of all the old photos and have been watching their children grow up, now their grandchildren.

6) Although I sighed when the computer crashed right as I was getting ready to run address labels, handwriting the envelopes wasn't that bad--did about 25-30 at a time and then would do something else.

7) In late November I decided to have a simple open house on the last Sunday afternoon in December. Close church friends, easy menu. Plenty of time to clean and prepare. Maybe the carpet will be cleaned in January, so I won't even look down at what gets tracked in (white carpet). If you keep the menu simple, you have more time to enjoy your guests.

8) I'm running recipes through my head and counting plates--decided not to use paper. Will polish the silver soon while listening to Christmas carols. While I do this I think about the joys of friendship and other Christmases, like when Daddy came home after the end of WWII (and Mom went all out and got us children a sled and a doll house, to be shared by four).

9) I spent a few minutes thinking about some awful Christmases, too--like 1963 and 1964 and 1986 and 1987. If you don't give the bad times their due, they might try to knock on the door and slip in to spoil the day. Now they've been examined and packed away.

10) We'll have the opportunity to spend the week-end before Christmas with my husband's family in Indianapolis. The calendar only cooperates on certain years, since they have this gathering the Saturday before Christmas. So unless Christmas is Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, it usually interfers with our Columbus at-home activities. All we do in the way of preparation is buy and wrap 2 exchange gifts, bring a dish to pass and show up at a niece's home.

11) I bought a new Handel CD which I'm playing during the day, and I'm reading a new (to me) book by Elisabeth Elliot, "Keep a Quiet Heart," for morning devotions.

12) We've had just about the right number of invitations for the Christmas-New Year season. We had a dinner at friends' home 2 weeks ago, a few restaurant dates with other couples, followed by dessert at their homes, and an invite to a New Year's Eve gathering. Nothing frantic, but we don't feel left out, either.

13) We talked about a budget for Christmas in November and won't be hit with big bills in January. My husband's gift was ordered from a catalog and should be arriving any day. Of course, there's the new computer and tires for the van, but we can't call those Christmas related even if the bills show up in January.

So that's my stress-free Christmas. How's yours going?

Big thank you to Amanda for the pretty Christmas banner.

Shelby Steele on Barack Obama

Shelby Steele's new book, "A bound man; why we are excited about Obama and why he can't win," suggests that black voters may reject him, not whites. I think you might want to buy the book because like the "Dewey defeats Truman" headlines in 1948, Steele might be wrong.
    ". . . Today we blacks have two great masks that we wear for advantage in the American mainstream: bargaining and challenging.

    Bargainers make a deal with white Americans that gives whites the benefit of the doubt: I will not rub America's history of racism in your face, if you will not hold my race against me. Especially in our era of political correctness, whites are inevitably grateful for this bargain that spares them the shame of America's racist past. They respond to bargainers with gratitude, warmth, and even affection. This "gratitude factor" can bring the black bargainer great popularity. Oprah Winfrey is the most visible bargainer in America today.

    Challengers never give whites the benefit of the doubt. They assume whites are racist until they prove otherwise. And whites are never taken off the hook until they (institutions more than individuals) give some form of racial preference to the challenger. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are today's best known challengers. Of course, most blacks can and do go both ways, but generally we tend to lean one way or another.

    Barack Obama is a plausible presidential candidate today because he is a natural born bargainer. Obama--like Oprah--is an opportunity for whites to think well of themselves, to give themselves one of the most self-flattering feelings a modern white can have: that they are not racist." Steele, The identity card
Review by Jason Riley here.

Christians who expect the government to do their job

Chuck Baldwin writes about Christians who want the government to do the heavy lifting.
    The idea that James Madison and the other authors of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights intended to prohibit children from praying in school, or state and local governments from posting the Ten Commandments and from erecting Nativity scenes is the invention of modern-age humanists, whose real goal is to eviscerate America's Christian heritage. Such reasoning is a complete inversion of the real meaning of the First Amendment. All the First Amendment was designed to do was recognize religious liberty, something Americans enjoyed until the infamous Supreme Court decisions in 1962 and '63.

    That said, it is equally apparent that many Christians and ministers today have developed the attitude that somehow the federal government is supposed to enforce by law what only the Spirit of God can enforce through grace. Let's be plain: the federal government cannot do the church's job.
I suspect Baldwin is a libertarian by politics, because he states that although the government has the right to regulate pornography, prostitution and drugs, it shouldn't be in the business of legislating morality. I wouldn't go that far, because I see much of that as a mental pollution linked heavily to organized crime. But if he's talking about Christians who support it with crossed fingers hoping no one will find out, he's right. These businesses would probably collapse if all the Christians withdrew both their investments in these businesses and their patronage. Christianity Today a few years ago did a report on the millions of Christians addicted to pornography and gambling. Unbelievers like to think that Christians are smugly pointing fingers, but if they are, it isn't in my church, where in 30+ years I've never heard a sermon on any form of public or private morality.

Baldwin goes on to relate this to the upcoming election. And I do agree with him. You can't wedge a piece of dental floss between the theology of Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee--they are all Baptists and believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. I don't doubt their faith for a minute. If I don't meet them in this life, I know I will in the next. How they will translate their personal and political beliefs into policy, however, is very different. Gore and Clinton technically aren't on the ballot, but Clinton's persona, fake and flip-flopping as it may be, is very much a part of the campaign; and Gore's wingnut beliefs are invading every follicle and hair of our lives. Don't let the MSM frighten you about Romney or Huckabee. Look at policy and issues:
    Therefore, instead of looking to presidential candidates who will use the federal government to accomplish everything we want done (even the good things we want done), we should support only those candidates who recognize the proper role of the federal government as being limited and narrowly defined (by the Constitution). And then, it behooves us to look to ourselves to be the parents we should be to our own children at home, and to look for pastors and churches that are not trying to be popular, but that are courageous and faithful custodians of the truth.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Greenspan bursts some bubbles

Demand driven by expection I think is a fancy phrase for greed
    "I do not doubt that a low U.S. federal-funds rate in response to the dot-com crash, and especially the 1% rate set in mid-2003 to counter potential deflation, lowered interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages and may have contributed to the rise in U.S. home prices. In my judgment, however, the impact on demand for homes financed with ARMs was not major.

    Demand in those days was driven by the expectation of rising prices--the dynamic that fuels most asset-price bubbles. If low adjustable-rate financing had not been available, most of the demand would have been financed with fixed rate, long-term mortgages. In fact, home prices continued to rise for two years subsequent to the peak of ARM originations (seasonally adjusted)." in Today's Wall Street Journal

When is an increase a decline?

When journalists look at job figures and the economy. My friend A.Z. and I were reminiscing about housing prices this week. We're old. We don't remember the Great Depression, however, so we can't tell the stories our parents told us. But like our parents, we wish our children had some perspective. She remembered when they sold their home in south Arlington in 1980 the interest rates were 17%. I recalled paying 10% in 1988 when we bought our summer home in Lakeside, and we were happy to get it. Thirty years ago the unemployment rate was around 7.8%; today it is 4.7%. No matter. It is always gloom and doom when the media get ahold of the figures. Sort of makes me happy I didn't read the economic news in the 1970s.

Kelly Evans at the WSJ reported "little cheer" in the job report for November. Employment ROSE by 94,000 in November (it was 44,000 in September), and unemployment stayed at 4.7% for the 3rd consecurive month. And consumer expectations have "slipped" according to a Reuters/University of Michigan survey (can't imagine a worse state for economic news if that's where the survey was taken). Its index of current economic conditions rose in December to 92.1 from 91.5 in November, but consumers (who have to listen to a constant roar of negative news from the MSM) found higher gasoline prices and are not happy (let's reduce taxes on gasoline and make the consumer smile). Evans' article also mentioned low inflation, and the fact that the average hourly wage earnings jumped to $17.63, up JUST 3.8% from a year ago, and a resilient labor market. Oh woe is me. Can you stand the pain?

I don't know where

Florida Cracker finds her news stories, but she's always entertaining. (She's a librarian.) Women are apparently making some headway in areas formerly reserved for dirty old men.

Mike addresses the immigration problem

Sure, it would be nice if he'd jumped in earlier, but this is workable, certainly better than what we have now, which isn't even being enforced. - I Like Mike!