Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Notes for bookclub on McCullough's 1776

Non-fiction books don't usually bring me to tears (well, the documentation and notes for Seabiscuit did), but there were times I had to stop reading David McCullough's breath taking 1776 and go for a walk--even the second time around this week. And this morning, I went out and bought the new boxed, illustrated, coffee-table 1776 with 140 images and 37 removable replicas of the sources he used. I had planned to loan it out, or donate it to the church library, but it is such a treasure, I may just hug it for awhile.

First a note about reviews and questions. Unlike most of the other books I remember reading for bookclub over the years, I couldn't find any questions for club discussions on the internet, although I found many clubs reading it and interviews with McCullough that included questions. Second, there are wonderful reviews available on-line, but I want to point you to two that are not so wonderful--one on the right and one on the left. Their distain for anything patriotic and dislike for a book about politics and war which isn't anti-war, political or flag waving is quite apparent--at least to me.

The first is "With God on our side," reviewed by Preston Jones for Christianity Today, in July 2005. Jones teaches at John Brown University, a small Christian college in Arkansas. This vacuous and inaccurate comment really turned me off:
    "Either you like this kind of history or you don't. Of course, it's possible to enjoy a well-told, well-documented tale while yet recognizing that it's couched in fluff. Even leisured academics, one hopes, can see that if books like McCullough's pull people away from the tube, then a good thing is happening."
And then he goes on to ask some "interesting questions" that make you wonder if the 18th century was even covered when he went to school. What was the editor thinking when he accepted this piece?

The second is the review that appeared in The New Yorker, also in 2005, by Joshua Micah Marshall. He is best known as a blogger, who early on saw possibilities for moving from cyberspace to print, as long as he hung way left of center. 1776 is completely built on the character and leadership of George Washington, whom Marshall decides was half marble, a man who invented his own persona by copying "101 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior," as a child and reading deeply in the classics and history. God forbid that a gen-xer steeped in gaming, downloading and digital wing-dings would think books could improve a man! Apparently no one told him that most children for several centuries, even in the 19th century, used something very similar for learning good manners and deportment. There are several versions, and I think some homeschoolers (the kids who are beating the pants off the public school grads) are still using them. So far, no more Washingtons have emerged from exposure to these rules that I know of.

I also want to refer you to some important maps which you can find at Military.com. I printed The battle of Long Island, the Northern campaigns, Operations around Trenton, and the Battle of Trenton, and the Christmas Campaign. You'll see multiple maps on one page, but it only takes one page to print each selection, so I had 3 printed pages. They will be useful in following the important battles of 1776.

Finally, we have read McCullough before (John Adams) and most of us are acquainted with his works. If we had a national historian, it would be him because his writing is so accessible to the layman and the envy of the academic whose prose eludes most of us. One of the best sites on McCullough I found was "The Glorious Cause of America," where he lectures without notes on Sept. 27, 2005 at Brigham Young University. This is reprinted at http://magazine.byu.edu, and if you don't have time to read the book, I'll give you a pass and let you in with this article. If you read nothing else, it's worth it.

See you at Peggy's on November 5.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Where's the down side?

One of the unintended consequences of the crack down at the border is fewer illegals coming in and a reduction in illegal immigrants being used as "mules" for drug smuggling. But there is an increase in the professional drug runners. So apparently, the guys who we were told just wanted to work, were bringing it in before and now the pros have to do it. More drugs are being confiscated as they crack down on the dealers and drug cartels. [story in WSJ 10-25]

Message to Mexico: Keep your poor at home, improve your job opportunities and infrastructure at home; you're a wealthy country. Arrest and jail your own drug dealers--again, at home--our jails are full. Both countries will benefit and you won't be emptying your small towns of their young generation.

See Hillary Run

Last week I saw something about the election that stated about 45% of the voters will line up for the Republican candidate no matter who he is just because it's their party. Same with Democrats. That means everyone is going after the currently undecided, or the so-called moderates and independents--or maybe 6% of the voters will decide whether Mrs. Clinton returns to the White House. If you aren't registered to vote, or you sometimes don't bother to go to the polls, you'd better start thinking in that direction. Obama has nothing to offer--especially not African-Americans (have you ever seen the photos of his supporters--they're whiter than my suburb); Edwards is coming across as a whiny rich kid-lawyer with good hair. Mrs. Clinton has the money, her husband's base, and gaggles of feminists clucking and ducking. Never thought I'd say how good Al Gore is looking these days. Whatever few successes the Clintons had during their 8 years, he was behind a lot of them, and then they stabbed him in the back when it was his turn.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


A good rule of thumb

If it sounds too good to be true, someone's going to print it anyway. Peggy Noonan commented on The New Republic getting snookered by Scott Thomas Beauchamp (pseud. Scott Thomas, author of "Shock Troops" his diaries) in the week-end edition of WSJ. She says she smelled a rat early on, as she did when TNR published the Young Republicans piece by Stephen Glass in 1997. OK. Hindsight. But apparently there was an actual investigation and nothing he wrote--places, people, events--checked out. TNR begged him to confirm, but he's abandoned them, just as he did his fellow servicemen. Now TNR is getting all rathered. According to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz
    "The soldier whose New Republic article about military cruelty in Iraq was labeled false by Army investigators refused to defend his accusations when questioned by the magazine, even after being told that the editors could no longer support him unless he cooperated.

    In a recorded Sept. 6 conversation, the writer, Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, said from Iraq that the controversy had "spun out of control" and had become "insane" and "ridiculous" and concluded: "I'm not going to talk to anyone about anything."
TNR has pulled his comments from the web, so I couldn't check it. Even Wikipedia, which I don't usually check because it is written by biased users, is blocking any further editing of the story, waiting for some confirmation.

Michael Yon, one of the best known journalist/photographers of the Iraq War wrote on Oct. 25
    I was in Iraq when it first hit the stands and someone asked me about the plausibility of the events described in the article. I skimmed the story but it did not even pass a simple sniff-test. With a shooting war going on, there is no time for trivial pursuits, so my only comment was something like, “It sounds like a bunch of garbage.” Turned out it was.
Someone at TNR needs the journalist's version of gaydar. But it's just more sad evidence of how desperately the left wants the U.S. to lose this war. They say they just want the truth; no, this story will never go away. If the Dems won't cut the funding or set a deadline, the media will just lie. Fellas, war is hell; people die and those who don't do awful things. Young people have their lives changed forever, if they survive. Let's not make it worse than it is.

Checking the stats

They are way down. Don't know why, but there's been about a 1/3 drop since last fall. I know I'm tough and I don't write about comfortable things, but that has always been the case. Certain topics always bring people in--like the Dodge Magnum. Yes, that's one of my most popular entries; and fixing broken zippers, opening frozen door locks and my Fornesetti Julia plates.

Lately there's been an uptick on Agnes Sanford. Maybe she was mentioned on a Christian talk show and people have been googling her (she died in the 1980s). I wrote about her maybe 1.5 years ago, and here's a rerun, just in time for the Halloween stories of spirits and vibes.
    Agnes Sanford belongs in a public library

    but not in a church library. I was browsing our Mill Run campus library today (I volunteer at and use the church library at our Lytham Road location) and saw her autobiography on the shelf. I don't know why Christians think Sanford is a Christian, but they do (God has the final say, but I don't think she recanted her writings). Even pastors who don't appear to make serious errors about other teachings see no harm. Sure, she was a sweet, dear lady (died in 1982) who said and wrote "spiritual" things, but if you get a paperback of one of her titles and underline the nonbiblical drivel in red, and the Gospel based material in green, you'll see my point. About 25 years ago I actually did that, and hid her books in my laundry room packed inside an old briefcase. And although I don't believe her nonsense about vibrations, and auras and spirits, I could swear I felt a heaviness unrelated to the ironing basket when I entered that room. So I threw them out. Better she should give off her vibes at the dump rather than inside my house or the church building--if you believe that sort of stuff, and she does. What makes her so harmful is that she has so many spiritual descendants who are still speaking and writing on the inner healing circuit. It's snake oil folks. Don't be taken in.
I'm thinking that there are just fewer people looking for the Dodge Magnum, but it still gets my vote as the best looking car on the road. It's being "refreshed" for 2008--hope they don't ruin it.

Fellowship of the Cane

If you read no other blog today, stop by Arkansas and read Hokulea's Fellowship of the Cane, or what she learned after breaking her foot. It's better than anything I ever heard at a "sensitivity training," disability workshop and she speaks directly to all of us, able-bodied or not:
    "I found myself saying that I don't think I could do this forever, and whining about my little issues. I have learned what a wimp I am in general and as this episode winds down and my mobility is returning . . ."
Then hang around a bit and look through her beautiful photos of Arkansas and Hawaii, as well as other travels. She's a writer with an artistic eye and a sensitive soul.

St. Paul to Richard Dawkins

Yesterday when clicking through the channels I saw Richard Dawkins for about 10 seconds--probably a C-SPAN rerun. Nothing new here--someone or other has been saying the same stuff for 2,000 years. Including Paul, the author of most of the New Testament. He too was an educated man persecuting Christians, probably saying the same things as Dawkins, although he didn't have the benefit of C-SPAN to spread his views, or the internet for people to down load it.

Here's Paul writing to Titus, which just happens to be the Oct. 28 selection in my One Year Bible (NIV), but he could just as well be writing to Dawkins (all Christians could be praying that Dawkins have a Damascus Road experience). He would be a terrific Paul Jr.:
    At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and peasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Community Theater

Last night we drove 62 miles (round trip) to see the premiere of David Meyer's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Condominium Association, Inc." performed by the Pickerington Community Theatre at the Violet Grange in Pickerington, Ohio. It takes a lot to get me out at night, and Pickerington seems like we're driving almost to Wheeling. Only for a friend. However, we had a good time and enjoyed the show. I think community theater is great fun, and I love seeing people I know on stage (David had a cameo appearance at the end). It's a perfect Halloween vehicle, too, with all the Sleepy Hollow stuff and Rip Van Winkle and a headless guy. Auditions for the next production, Godspell, will be January 4,5, and 6, for performances March 21-31 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

One performer, Karen Haueise, who played Madame Perdieu/Roz Purdy was so gifted and natural I inquired about her and was told she had never been in a theater production before. I think some people can fill a stage without overdoing it or stealing attention from other actors and yet make it all seem real. I hope she continues to do community theater.

OCLC has a new logo

Let me just say for starters, congratulations OCLC on your 40th birthday. It's probably a good time to put out a new corporate logo. The concept (news release) has a nice, trinitarian feel to it, not exactly Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but close.

    Connecting libraries at the local, group and global levels
    Connecting people through libraries to knowledge
    Connecting past, present, and future through access to library collections
Saying things in threes is just so . . . rhythmic. "OCLC. The world's libraries. Connected." "Enhance processes. Extend collections and access. Strengthen your users’ experience." "Establish, maintain and operate a computerized library network." "The evolution of library use, of libraries themselves and of librarianship."

This knowledge thing is inaccurate, however. "Information" is not "knowledge," and that's what giant corporations like OCLC have--it harvests, stores, compacts, reconfigures and distributes information, not knowledge. You wouldn't say wheat is bread, or sugar is candy. Don't say information is knowledge. Nor is it necessarily power. Of the top 15 management posts at OCLC, 4 are held by librarians, who should be the most powerful people in the world if that old saw were true.

I think I know what a local level is and possibly what a global level is. However, level is one of those squishy overused English words that is forced to work overtime at low pay--tool, device, line, measurement, equal, balanced, surface, magnitude, calm, proportional, governmental body--so you almost can't go wrong by using it.

When I arrived in Columbus 40 years ago to catalog Russian books at The Ohio State University Libraries (I also had to type the cards on a manual cyrillic typewriter), the Ohio College Library Consortium (54 libraries) had 3 employees, one of whom was the founder and visionary, Fred Kilgour, and was located on the 3rd floor of Thompson Library. I used to go to lunch with one of them whose name I've forgotten, because we were both new in town and didn't know anyone. Then it moved over to Kinnear Road for awhile, eventually changing "Ohio" to "On-line," and "College" to "Computer," and then to Dublin, Ohio, changing its legal name to an acronym, serving 60,000 libraries in 112 countries.

Observing All Hallows' Eve

Although Halloween looks pagan, especially considering the slutty costume you can buy for $30 to make your 5 year old daughter look like a slutty prostitute, its origins are Christian according to Fisheaters website:
    The Vigil of All Hallows' ("Hallows' Eve," or "Hallowe'en") came, in Irish popular piety, to be a day of remembering the dead who are neither in Purgatory or Heaven, but are damned, and these customs spread to many parts of the world. Thus we have the popular focus of Hallowe'en as the reality of Hell, hence its scary character and focus on evil and how to avoid it, the sad fate of the souls of the damned, etc.

    How, or even whether, to celebrate Hallowe'en is a controversial topic in traditional circles. One hears too often that "Hallowe'en is a pagan holiday" -- an impossibility because "Hallowe'en," as said, means "All Hallows' Evening" which is as Catholic a holiday as one can get. Some say that the holiday actually stems from Samhain, a pagan Celtic celebration, or is Satanic, but this isn't true, either, any more than Christmas "stems from" the Druids' Yule, though popular customs that predated the Church may be involved in our celebrations (it is rather amusing that October 31 is also "Reformation Day" in Protestant circles -- the day to recall Luther's having nailed his 95 Theses to Wittenberg's cathedral door -- but Protestants who reject "Hallowe'en" because pagans used to do things on October 31 don't object to commemorating that event on this day)."
On All Saints Sunday, which this year is November 4 (first Sunday after All Hallows'/All Saints Day, Nov. 1) our church remembers/memorializes the Church Triumphant, saints of the church in heaven, by reading the names turned in by members. The other day while delivering the intercampus mail, I picked up a stack of cards so the names of my deceased family members and friends (the saints) could be read at the 8:30 service at Lytham Road. Then I noticed the cards are for Mill Run services. So forgive me, dear ones, if I scribble on your cards. It's the thought. . .

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Family Photo

This portrait was probably taken 120 years ago in 1887 when Stanley C. Byrum was about a year old. It hangs in our cottage, in a fragile old frame coated with thick paint. I was the only one who wanted it when my in-laws' home was being sold after their deaths. He was my husband's grandfather, and the single most important adult in his life. "Biggie" is always in my husband's conversation when values, character or family come up. I never met him; he died in 1955 at 68 while my husband was still in high school. The little face is amazing--it has reappeared in several generations. My mother-in-law had this face, but not her sisters; his great-grand daughter Julie, but not her sister, had this face as a baby, as did her daughter Erin.


I'm a sucker for qualifiers--"sort of," "rather," "just," "quite," and "too." And I'm crazy for dashes. Every editor wants to chop my adverbs. Zinsser says,
    "Most adverbs are unnecessary. You will clutter your sentence and annoy the reader if you choose a verb that has a precise meaning and then add an adverb that carries the same meaning. . . "blared loudly," "mostly flabbergasted," and "moped dejectedly."
But then, Zinsser doesn't think much of adjectives, either--"stately elms," "frisky kittens" and "hard-bitten detectives.' He likes strong verbs. At nHumanities it was suggested
    "Kill the modifiers. This is machete work, so wrap a bandanna around your face and grab some shop goggles. No reader is going to believe that your process is innovative or your product is world-class just because you say so, so kill those adjectives. Don’t feel sorry for them. They have no feelings."
So I struggled with film critic Joe Morgenstern's article today on Dan in Real Life, and the new Jimmy Carter documentary. There were so many adverbs (and adjectives), I was mostly and dejectedly flabbergasted.
    strives desperately
    romantically involved (if a man and woman are involved, doesn't that mean romantically?)
    awfully heartily (adverb modifying an adverb--double whammy)
    singularly unpleasant
    notoriously homely
    inexplicably awful
    terribly tedious
    extremely small (how about tiny?)
    quite disarmingly
    genuinely sweet

    unquenchably energetic
    singular passion
    slightly stooped
    essentially undiminished
    mostly calm
    patiently didactic
    uncomfortably admiring advertisement
    narrowly focused
    mostly uncritical view
    uncritical but not unaffecting
    peregrinating conscience (I had to look this one up--means traveling)
Whew! Is it just me? Maybe he's British. They like their sentences fully and heartily packed.

Pumpkin ice cream

This is one of my fall favorites (Sept-Nov), and it's only available a limited amount of time. Today I bought two half gals of Edy's. Well, not really 1/2 gallon, because they are all cheating on their measures (1.75 qts), but you know what I mean. And technically it isn't ice cream because Edy's calls it "frozen dessert." I take one of these, softened, and mix it with a small carton of thawed sugar-free Cool Whip, then refreeze. This reduces the sugar content, lowers the calories, but hardly affects the flavor or texture, because it is the fat that makes ice cream wonderful. Edy's also makes an apple pie flavor and a peppermint flavor that are seasonal.

INGREDIENTS: Whey (Dairy), skim milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, pumpkin, maltodextrin, spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger), salt, guar gum, Propylene Glycol Monostearate, citric acid, monoglycerides, Yellow #6, carrageenan.

Propylene Glycol Monostearate. Isn't that C21H42O3 an ingredient in antifreeze, solvents and detergents? On second thought. . .

Are Georgians an endangered species?

I sure hope not. We University of Illinois Alumni (plus one IU) spent a lovely 10 days with University of Georgia Dawgs in September touring Ireland. Midwesterners are so practical and blunt; in Georgia they know how to sweet-talk-ya'll. I loved it. Anyway, to the point. Did you see the article in today's WSJ about that little mussel that's protected by all the government agencies, but who's looking out for the people?

The Amblema neislerii, or as it is widely known by a more unflattering name, the fat threeridge mussel, is on the endangered species list according to Ann Carrns, "Atlanta is flexing muscles," p. 1, WSJ, Oct. 26, 2007. Georgia has filed suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which controls the reservoir, Lake Lanier, from which Atlanta gets its drinking water. It's a busy little lake--sending water also to rivers downstream including one in Florida where these endangered mussels live--and it cools 2 power plants and freshens the spawning grounds of Gulf sturgeon.

In a drought year (it's Bush's fault that we got too much rain in Ohio and not enough in Georgia), that's a lot. Not only do you have several state governments involved--Georgia, Alabama and Florida--but also FEMA, the Corps, EPA and Fish and Wildlife. Not to worry! There's 9 months of water left!! Florida (pot to kettle) is accusing Atlanta of over development, squandering its water resources. Well, ggggolllleeee, like we've never seen the countryside and drained wetlands eaten up with housing developments in Florida!

This is why I don't like burning corn in our cars, Mr. Gore. The inputs including fertilizer, water and herbicides are humongous--it's a negative energy balance. We on the Great Lakes (11 states and provinces) can see the rest of you eyeing our water. Stop it!

After thoughts: Isn't it scary that there are some willing to fight for the mussel which needs a flow of water to survive who think it's OK to stop the survival of a baby moving down the birth canal ?

The Left never gets it right

but sometimes the Right doesn't either. The very first people I heard politicizing the California wildfires were the conservative talkers on radio. Now, maybe that's because I don't watch the MSM, but I think they jumped in first on Monday, without naming names, designating parties, or blaming anyone. They simply pointed out the difference between the Katrina rescue efforts (local Democrats) and the California rescue efforts (local Republicans). By the time I heard the lefties, they were off-topic and screaming global warming (Bush's fault) even though 1936 was a much hotter year with worse fires and environmental regulations have made the state a tinderbox, and not enough resources (War in Iraq, also Bush's fault) even though Schwarzenegger all but called Barbara Boxer and her bag ladies liars and alarmists.

Then Nancy Pelosi looked like she had a heart of ice and a freshly botoxed face in explaining why she just had to ram through another SCHIP bill while the California people had gone home to check out the situation. Bush actually took longer to go out to look than he did in Louisiana (remember, until the levees broke after the hurricane, people thought they had escaped the BIG one) and Blanco didn't call for help from the feds until it was way too late. (Must be a woman thing.) Two years and billions of dollars later, Katrina's devastation has shown the total incompetency of Nagin and Blanco, not George Bush or FEMA, with the only bright spot being Bobby Jindal's election.

Then today a letter writer to USAToday smugly says: "Did the residents of Southern California benefit from their economic status and race?" Actually, she's on to something, because the Democrats in New Orleans had so demoralized and weakened its poor black population with government handouts and a soaring crime rate over the years, they couldn't even help themselves. Middle-class, educated NOLAns, black and white, didn't have a problem getting out and fleeing to Texas, Ohio or Calfornia. People who are accustomed to looking after themselves and their neighbors know how to take action. When it's too smokey to breathe, or someone drives through the neighborhood telling them to leave, I'm sure a certain amount of learned self-interest goes a long way. It's a shame that buses were swamped in New Orleans that should have transported the poor, but that doesn't make people driving SUVs down a burning hillside more fortunate because of their income or color.

More young Dems seek love on the internet

According to a story yesterday in TechNewsWorld,
    Twenty-four percent of respondents to an online poll said the Internet could serve as a temporary replacement for a significant other. "Some view the Internet as their new best friend, others as an increasingly powerful tool that can infect our youth with harmful images and thoughts and therefore must be controlled," said Tom Galvin, a partner in 463 Communications, which conducted the poll with Zogby International.
Wow. I like the Internet, but it's not "my best friend," it's an information source and a place to write into a template which then publishes itself. It seems Democrats are even more sucked in than Republicans (who are probably a bit less emotional and fuzzy/wuzzy). I know the left has far more wacked-out blogs than the right, and they love those social networking sites, according to this poll.
    "Among the poll's other findings was that more than a quarter of Americans currently have a profile on a social networking site such as MySpace or Facebook . That varied widely, though, depending on age -- a full 78 percent of those aged 18 to 24 have profiles -- and political tendencies, with Democrats outpacing Republicans by 10 percentage points."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chikungunya Fever and Elephantiasis

Thanks to Rachel Carson and her misguided, unscientific book Silent Spring, these two diseases continue to cripple and kill millions in developing countries, after having been virtually wiped out in the 1960s and 1970s. They used to be controlled by DDT. Chikungunya, a virus spread by mosquitoes, means "bent over and unable to walk upright" has turned up now in the Ravenna area of Italy. It is endemic in some areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. It is spread by mosquitoes.

Elephantiasis is caused by a parasitic worm, and affects more than 120 million people in 80 countries, and more than 40 million of them are severely incapacitated and disfigured by the diseases. A team of scientists seem to be close to mapping the genome of the worm. [both stories from JAMA, October 17, 2007]
    "Some of the diseases controlled by DDT included typhus, plague, malaria, yellow fever, sleeping sickness elephantiasis, leishmanisasis, river blindness, Oroya fever, other fevers and dysentery (transmitted by domestic flies). Many kinds of animals were protected by DDT from envenomization and parasitism by arthropods. It also killed blood-sucking parasites of birds, thereby reducing deaths from avian malaria, encephalitis, and Newcastle disease. It also prevented the deaths of hundreds of millions of forest trees, by killing the caterpillars of the gypsy moths, Tussock moths, and other forest insects. In killing insects which destroyed crops, food shortages have been minimized and food prices held relatively affordable.

    Millions of trees were lost during the infestations of the gypsy moth and Tussock moths. Greens predictably opposed the use of DDT to save these trees. Political correctness and loyalty to their causes must never be challenged. The same crowd which once refused to save trees now supports saving the trees, the planting of trees, without embarrassment, without noticing the double standards." Hawaii Reporter

Apples help with weight loss

Every day, yes every day, I eat an unpeeled apple and a 1/2 cup of walnuts for breakfast. That way I don't get hungry. If I eat something with grain or dairy, I'm famished within an hour. My favorite breakfast is two pieces of toast covered with thick slices of cheese, topped with peanut butter, but those days are definitely over. And this time of year, I can get Honey Crisp apples. Monday I paid $9 for 8 apples, and one was bad when I sliced it, so it was $9 for 7. I was happy to get them. Last week they were $.30 a pound cheaper, but the store only had 4. Here's a story from the Chicago Tribune that will explain why this apple is so wonderful. Once you eat one, you'll be spoiled for anything else.

The Obesity Society reports that eating an apple before a meal will help curb your appetite.
    "A new study shows an apple a day keeps the calories at bay. People who ate an apple about 15 minutes before lunch consumed almost 190 fewer calories than when they didn't have the apple. The research was presented Tuesday at a meeting of the Obesity Society, an organization of weight-control scientists and professionals." USAToday
I'm not sure why this is breaking news, because apple growers have been praising the apples' low calories and health benefits for years. But, the Obesity Society apparently also reported that walking briskly for an hour a day is key to weight loss. Who knew?

The Jena 6 myths

Sunday morning I was preparing lunch and tuned in a local church program. The black preacher had a good sermon going about St. Paul, when all of a sudden he was off and running with the Jena 6, repeating every preposterous story that could be concocted. Where's he get his news, I wondered; the local barbershop? So I changed channels. That much ignorance is a shame for a man of the cloth. Even so, the story written up in the Chronicle of Higher Education added a few bits I didn't know about, and it makes you wonder how this story got legs that led all the way to DC, even with Jesse and Al whipping the horses. Truly, there are Americans who want racial hatred to never die, or they'd be out of work.
    Myth 1: The Whites-Only Tree. There has never been a "whites-only" tree at Jena High School. Students of all races sat underneath this tree. When a student asked during an assembly at the start of school last year if anyone could sit under the tree, it evoked laughter from everyone present – blacks and whites. As reported by students in the assembly, the question was asked to make a joke and to drag out the assembly and avoid class.

    Myth 2: Nooses a Signal to Black Students. An investigation by school officials, police, and an FBI agent revealed the true motivation behind the placing of two nooses in the tree the day after the assembly. According to the expulsion committee, the crudely constructed nooses were not aimed at black students. Instead, they were understood to be a prank by three white students aimed at their fellow white friends, members of the school rodeo team. (The students apparently got the idea from watching episodes of "Lonesome Dove.") The committee further concluded that the three young teens had no knowledge that nooses symbolize the terrible legacy of the lynchings of countless blacks in American history. When informed of this history by school officials, they became visibly remorseful because they had many black friends. Another myth concerns their punishment, which was not a three-day suspension, but rather nine days at an alternative facility followed by two weeks of in-school suspension, Saturday detentions, attendance at Discipline Court, and evaluation by licensed mental-health professionals. The students who hung the nooses have not publicly come forward to give their version of events.
Craig Franklin, a local Jena reporter, then adds 10 more myths. Indeed. This is an amazing story and you wonder why anyone, even a professional organizer who draws his income from stirring the pot, would want to put a community through this.

Borkiversary 20

In my lifetime I date the viciousness of political smearing to the confirmation hearings of Robert Bork. It got nasty during the Clinton years, and crescendoed with Bush, but Bork was a foretaste of things to come. A training camp for liberals and conservatives both. A new verb entered our language, "to bork" or to destroy a man while smirking and posturing in front of a TV audience. Gary L. McDowell wrote in the WSJ this week:
    "The issue that united the judge's critics in their fiery, scorched-earth opposition was never his ability or reputation but rather his theory of judging. Mr. Bork's belief was that judges and justices in their interpretations of the Constitution must be bound to the original intentions of its framers."

    "At its deepest level, Mr. Bork's defeat was the result of the very public affirmation by the Senate of a dangerous theory of ideological judging that had been developing for quite some time. It was the idea of a so-called "living" Constitution, one that various scholars have said means there need be "no theoretical gulf between law and morality," and that ordinary judges are empowered to interpret the fundamental law in light of their own "fresh moral insight" in order to effect a judicially mandated "moral evolution" of the nation."
Some say it was about abortion, but I think that was just the tossed bone used to whip up the masses--mainly women, because men really don't care. It was about judges taking over the responsibilities of the law makers--although why our linguini spined elected officials desired that, I can't imagine. Even Clarence Thomas says his "lynching" by liberals, black and white, was about abortion. You would almost hope that was it. In his case, I'd say it was pure racism, ugly and vile, with little or nothing to do with abortion or constitutional interpretation.

For all his other slip-ups from immigration to not fixing social security, Bush has at least given us Roberts and Alito.

Now what holiday exactly would that be?

Our local suburb, Upper Arlington, is about as lily white and predominantly Christian as a town could get and not be lodged in the 1950s, but we have an "Upper Arlington Winter Festival and Community Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony" sponsored by the city. Whenever I see that, I ask myself, "What holiday exactly?" Turkey Day? Halloween? Ground Hog Day? MLK Day? Of course not. Everyone knows it is Christmas, but our city fathers (and one or two mothers) don't want to offend anyone--not even Christians who probably think the consumerism is totally out of hand. They don't light the Christmas tree, it's a holiday tree. They just aren't honest, and I think they should just drop all the happy, clappy, let's-all-just-get-along nonsense, forget about the birth of a Savior, the reason it is a joyous time, and go shopping. If it is offensive to use the word Christmas, then it is just a slap in the face to believers to play games with a religious observance. Please don't remind me that the Christmas tree has pagan origins--everyone knows that. All Christian holidays have pagan symbols--it was good marketing in the early days for mass conversions. That doesn't mean we are ready to give it back to the 21st century pagans.


USAToday had a similar problem yesterday with an article about a shortage of retail help for "the season." Here's the euphemisms in just one short article:
    holiday season

    holiday challenges

    holiday marketing

    holiday jobs

    seasonal hires

    holiday hiring

    during the holidays

    holiday cheer

    seasonal workers

    holiday season employees

    holiday workers
However, when push came to shove, USAToday had to use the dreaded word, "Christmas," because of the phrase, "would get Christmas day off," and "Christmas Eve." It's really hard to get around it by saying the workers would get "the holiday" off, or would have to work "holiday eve." Sounds about as goofy as leaving Christmas out of the holiday season, doesn't it?

Thursday Thirteen--13 places my purse spread germs before 7 a.m.

Yesterday I was listening to a local radio talk guy discuss germs on a woman's purse, although it also applied to briefcases, backpacks, and bookbags. Women's purses are probably the worst, because women eat, handle food and use make-up, all of which create germ growth. So I checked Snopes because some of this was going around in e-mails about 2 years ago, and was being reported on TV health shows. What I found seemed to confirm it, although I didn't track down the original research.
    "According to researchers at Nelson Laboratories in Salt Lake City, Utah, women's purses may be not only high in overall germ counts, but especially prone to carrying some of the most harmful varieties of bugs. Among the nasty bacteria found on purses were salmonella and E. coli, which can cause food poisoning and gastrointestinal problems, and pseudomonas, which causes eye infections. Perhaps even more cringe-worthy: researchers found evidence of trace fecal contamination on the majority of the purses tested. Results of the study were reported in a recent piece by the local news affiliate KUTV." Lifescript
Here are the places my purse landed before 7 a.m. this morning.

1) My side desk at home (I don't work here; just pile things on it).

2) My office chair while I was gathering my coat, notebook, etc. to leave for the coffee shop.

3) Counter top in my office bathroom where I went to put on my lipstick.

4) Table top in the kitchen while I looked for a pencil.

5) Passenger seat of my van while driving.

6) Counter top at Panera's where I ordered, paid for and picked up a coffee cup.

7) Counter top where I poured the coffee and added cream.

8) Table top where I sat to drink my coffee and read.

9) Hearth of the fireplace next to my table.

10) Door hook in toilet stall of the ladies' room.

11) Sink top in the ladies' room when I washed my hands. Keep in mind you handle your purse before you wash your hands.

12) My lap, and the underside of the table, when I returned to the table.

13) Kitchen counter top when I got home.

My purse is fabric and not easy to clean; plus it's black and I can't see the soil. I'm guessing the handle is much dirtier than the bottom. The three worst places to put a purse, according to the research, were in my own home--the kitchen table, kitchen counter top, and the bathroom counter top. But think about that stall door in the ladies room at the restaurant. A power flush toilet with no lid--a door that is never cleaned but within spray range. Yuk. The door probably isn't much better than the floor, which at least might be mopped once a day.

What about your purse/briefcase? Where has it traveled today?

Visit or join other Thursday Thirteeners.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Totally Optional Prompt

Today's prompt is a poem by Ted Kooser about the horse, "its hide a hot shudder of satin/ head stony and willful. . ." For this I pull out an old one, written on the occasion of Lou Ferrigno's 50th birthday in 2002. He is the actor who played "The Hulk." The photo is me with my horse at a trail ride. The poem is about noticing the changes as I went from being a straight and skinny child to a more adult figured young woman.

Happy Birthday, Lou Ferrigno

Today it was announced
with little surprise
That the Hulk had turned 50;
so did my thighs.

Yes, back in ‘52
I fell from a horse,
Noticed my body shifting--
southward, of course.

Legs that outran all the boys
in school races,
Now slowed down and waited
for a few paces.

The limbs that scrambled up and
were scraped on trees
Became pudgy, dimpled
soft above the knees.

The body so straight and slim
looked like a rack,
Now grew fat and fleshy
I knew for a fact.

So it’s with mixed emotion
and a few sighs
Eat cake and ice cream,
“Happy Birthday, dear thighs!”


Why I never voted for Ronald Reagan

I was a Democrat in the 80s and 90s. Simple as that. Even though I grew up a few miles from his childhood home, and my dad played college football against him, he was just another aging movie star to me. I didn't appreciate him until he was long out of office. Bill Clinton did that for me. Sigh. Today I came across this Elizabeth Dole item written at his death, and thought it was appropriate as we think about the qualities we want in the next President.
    Ronald Reagan knew why he wanted to be President—he came to office with the clearest of vision, a passion for achieving his goals, and in conveying them, an eloquence almost unsurpassed. Ronald Reagan made us…all of us, the American people, believe in ourselves again.

    He literally changed the world. Despite conventional wisdom, he determined that Communism had to be defeated, not tolerated. He rejected the Iron Curtain, he rejected the status quo, and his legacy to the world is freedom. His strength of character and bedrock belief in right and wrong ended the Cold War, and his leadership unshackled the yoke of tyranny for millions upon millions of people who had known only oppression. . .

    And you know one of the things that will really be an inspiration to me the rest of my life is a conversation I had with the President when the two of us were alone. We were waiting in a holding room for him to give a speech. And you don’t often find yourself alone with the President of the United States, but on this particular day we were waiting for a speech and I said, “Mr. President, I just can’t resist – I had to ask you – how in the world when you have the weight of the world on your shoulders are you able to be so gracious, so thoughtful, so kind? I never see you flustered or frustrated…how do you do it with such weight on your shoulders?” And he kind of leaned back – and he loved to tell a story and to reminiscence and he said, “Well, Elizabeth, when I was Governor of California it seemed like every day yet another disaster would be placed on my desk, and I had an urge to hand it to someone behind me and help me.” He said, “One day I realized I was looking in the wrong direction. I looked up instead of back.” And he said, “I’m still looking up. And I couldn’t go one more day in this office if I didn’t know I could ask God’s help and it would be given.”
Speaking as a former Democrat, I think Al Gore is much more presidential, experienced, honest and grounded than Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or John Edwards (even though I think he's wrong on humans being able to control climate), and I hope the Democrats wake up and choose him. Also, I hope Republicans select someone strong enough to beat him.

What part of NO amnesty do they not understand

Couldn't have said it better myself, although I think I did. Read John Lillpop who writes:
    In short, we the people are:

    FED UP with plans to merge the United States into a North American alliance with Canada and Mexico. Such a plan would destroy American sovereignty and is totally unacceptable.

    FED UP with the refusal of the federal government to secure our borders at time of war.

    FED UP when armed Mexicans illegally cross our borders and assault Americans, yet our government takes no action, and refuses to even protest.

    FED UP when Americans defending the U.S. from drug smuggling illegal aliens are sent to federal prison, while invading criminals are to be forgiven via amnesty for violating our borders and laws.

    FED UP with the fact that upwards of 38 million illegal aliens are currently in America, and cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year. . .[includes many other points]

    Finally, Mr. President and members of the U.S. Congress, we the people are FED UP with those who consistently work on behalf of illegal aliens and the state of Mexico, and against the interests of the American people!

    Please do not underestimate the dissatisfaction and rage swelling in the hearts of patriotic Americans on this vital issue.

    We the people DEMAND our great country back.

DREAM Act is our nightmare

Welcome to Amnesty via the Defense bill. When thinking, tax-paying Americans defeated the Bush administration, the RINOS, and the Democratic left on Amnesty, they just circled the wagons and came up with another plan--The DREAM ACT, "Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2007".

If this is successfully attached to a Department of Defense authorization bill (HR 1585) illegal aliens will receive amnesty and be able to receive in-state tuition, with only claiming to be here before they turned 16. Whoopee do. And no one who entered the country illegally, who violated our laws in the first place, would ever think of lying, would they?

And the wigged out Kos calls Tom Tancredo crazy for threating to call the ICE on any illegal paraded by the Dems for the sympathy vote at the press conference? Call the authorities empowered by law to stop it? I'd call that brilliant. If you can't keep the illegals out of these phony rituals "for the children" that the Dems seem to love, where are they not welcome?

Update: I have contacted my Senators. Have you contacted yours? No matter how they try to sneak this in, the American people do not want amnesty for illegals. They will self-select to go home to their own country and families, to build up their own nation and obey their own laws, when opportunities for them here are closed down.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Flash flooding in Columbus

California would love to have our rain right about now. It was dark when I left the house this morning, and I realized the car would hardly move but I couldn't figure out why. One of the drains was clogged with leaves in the condo street, and I was plowing through about a foot of water. Some parts of Columbus have had 3-4" of rain today and underpasses are flooded, as well as some homes. I've notified the president of the condo association that he needs to get those leaves away from the street drain. That'd be my husband.

Then as I took my usual spot at Panera's, there was a drip, drip on my newspaper. Their roof drain seemed to be clogged too, and water was coming in through the ceiling tile.

Facebook and Myspace face off

Eric Schnell a librarian at OSU has an interesting entry about the stats for these sites and who is using them. Check it out here.

Forest fires and environmentalists

Several years ago when we were in Arizona I asked our guide why dead brush and diseased trees weren't being removed. He told us that environmental regulations prevented that--they don't want to encourage anymore home sprawl into the mountains and canyons. "Sure looks like a fire hazard," I said. "Exactly," he said.

So now California, home of the left wing branch of everything, is burning. It's not the worst we've seen, by any means. Remember the early 90s when the suburbs were burning? I have no idea if California has the same rules, so I googled, and found this item from 2003.
    America's national forests have for decades been a battleground between forestry's desire to engage and environmentalism's need to protect. From 1950 to 1990, commercial forestry and timber production won out. In recent times, the environmental movement turned the tables, using litigation and the government's own bureaucratic tendencies to bring forestry to its knees.

    Environmentalism's success in taking control of our national forests, though, led to problems. Whereas in 1990, environmental activists sued to protect old growth and stop clear-cutting, by 2000 they were aggressively appealing and litigating forest thinnings and even thwarting attempts to clean up flammable dead, downed timber. The results, predictably, have been growing incidences of unnaturally hot, catastrophic wildfires. From Mercury News
I hope the people of California are better prepared than the people of New Orleans were, because evacuating 250,000 people sounds vaguely familiar. I'm sure they'll [environmentalists] find a way to blame President Bush, because we all know it would have rained if only Al Gore had been elected.

Update: Right on call. Despite all the assistance that the feds are sending (this is between the governor and the president) Barbara Boxer is blaming a lack of National Guardsmen (which isn't true, and I suppose she wants to throw them bodily into the fire to stop it even though she won't let them recruit on campus); and dirty Hairy is blaming global warming, so you see, it is all Bush's fault.
    California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer complained on Capitol Hill Tuesday that the ability of the state's National Guard to respond to disasters like the fires has been compromised because too much of its equipment and personnel are committed in Iraq.
    "As you know, one reason that we have the fires burning in Southern California is global warming. One reason the Colorado Basin is going dry is because of global warming." Reid said it, then denied he said Cal was burning because of global warming. Looks like you needed those foresry companies, Harry.

Second painting of Ireland

At first glance, you might think this painting by my husband has no focal point, but in fact, the bottom 1/3 shows the Ancient Burren of Ireland, some of the most unusual topography you'll ever see and worthy of being a focal point.
    "After two days' march we entered into the Barony of Burren, of which it is said, that it is a country where there is not water enough to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him; which last is so scarce, that the inhabitants steal it from one another, and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in tufts of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing". Edmund Ludlow, 1651
By the way, my husband will be teaching an architectural drawing class in February 2008 in Ouanaminthe, Haiti, on a mission trip. Last year he taught perspective, but supplies were whatever he could bring in his suitcase. This year, he'd like the students to have something on which to draw and is raising funds for 12 drawing boards, t-squares, scales, angles, etc. He has enlisted the help of some local art groups, artists, an art store, and a few friends interested in the mission. If you'd like to help, you can send a contribution to Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, Haiti Mission 08, 2300 Lytham Road, Columbus, OH 43220, and stick a note in the envelope that it is for the drawing class. Here's a sample of what he's got, which will be shipped to Cleveland to then be shipped to Haiti in a container with construction materials used by the mission. All the equipment will be left at the school, Institution Univers. It costs about $50 to outfit one student--but any amount will help.

Boards for Haiti

Teaching Feb. 2007. He was very impressed by the dedication and aptitude of his students

A mother's example

Today at Coffee Spills I hear about Tigger and the rude mama.

New exhibit at Mill Run

On Saturday, five of us spent six hours hanging a wildlife photography exhibit at the Church at Mill Run, 3500 Mill Run Drive, Hilliard, OH 43026, the newest campus of Upper Arlington Lutheran Church. We drafted our daughter and son-in-law to help us since so many on our committee were busy with other projects. It's really spectacular (219 pieces), and the photographers, Drs. Charles and Sharron Capen, will be discussing their travels and hobby, this Sunday October 28, 2-4 p.m. at MR. I've just finished preparing the show booklet to send to the printer, so here's a sneak preview.

III. Denali National Park, Alaska
    Denali Reflections in Wonder Lake
    Grey Wolf Hunting
    Hoary Marmots on Alert
    Arctic Ground Squirrel
    Moose Feeding in Pond
    Male Caribou in Arctic Tundra
    Mountain Goat Kid
    Autumn Foliage: Willows and Mushrooms
    Autumn Foliage: Bear Berries
Charles and Sharron Capen are both veterinarians and are members of the faculty at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. I worked with both of them when I was the librarian for the college. Charles is a Distinguished University Professor and former Chairperson (1981-2002) of the Departments of Veterinary Pathobiology/Veterinary Biosciences. Sharron is Professor Emeritus of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. Their shared hobby is travel and nature/wildlife photography. They have traveled to all seven continents, nearly fifty countries, and all fifty states.

Blogger's new feature

This morning I noticed I lived in Afghanistan, according to this blog. It seems blogger.com added a new, automatic feature (location), and if you don't select a country, you get the first one on the list. So, if you find out you've moved, just go into "edit profile" and select a country that works for you.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Peggy Noonan on Mrs. Clinton's White House bid

Meow comes to mind.
    She doesn't have to prove she's a man; she has to prove she's a woman

    Her problem is not her sex; but to work, she has to seem like a woman

    No one doubts her ability to make war; she invented the war room

    She doesn't have to prove she's tough; she has to prove she isn't a bull dozer always in high gear

    No one has doubts about her toughness; many have qualms

    She has gone beyond her comfort zone in seeking to be "authentic"--how not to be herself

    The broad, fixed grin is the smile on the jack-o-lantern who knows the harvest is coming

    She's the tea bag that brings the boiling water with her

    The question is not whether America is ready for a woman president; it's whether it's ready for Hillary
I'm just saying . . .

From the week-end WSJ.

This would be bad because?

The screen writers are threatening to strike? Well, goodie.
    The Writers Guild of America wants studios and networks “to take a serious look at the Guild proposals — which seek a doubling of DVD residuals, spelling out terms of new media work and broadening WGA jurisdiction over new media, reality and animation,” wrote Dave McNary of Variety. Reported in NYT
It won't affect movies much because of the long lead time, but could hold up some TV shows. Whoop de do. That would be such a loss.

Mike Huckabee for President

Could Hope do it again? Send this man to the White House. Check out the issues here.

Keep the Clintons from doing more damage in DC. We need a very clear alternative, and I think Mike is the guy who does that.


Librarian's call

His North Carolina National Guard unit will be called up in January, and he's relieved to finally have something concrete rather than rumors. "Please note that I don't mean that in a "gung-ho" or false bravado sense. I'm fully aware of the risks and have no wish to be killed or maimed. I will be the last one to complain if this turns out to be a thoroughly boring and uneventful tour. However, the cause of defeating both al Qaeda and Iran and its surrogates, while helping the Iraqi people build a country that can become a decent, pluralist model for the rest of the region, is important enough that I'm willing to take the risk. We have to win this fight, and I'm ready to do my part to help us do so."

He also says librarianship is a job; the Guard is a calling. David Durant

Monday Memories--Dad's VCR

My father had no mechanical ability, and he passed it along to me. My mother knew it all, so why should he learn--carpentry, plumbing, wallpapering, gardening, etc. We used to joke that he'd trade cars rather than change the oil. After my Mom died and he moved from the retirement apartment into the Lustron (which had been built by his parents in 1949), someone, probably a grandchild, decided he needed a VCR to keep him company. He probably had a few movies and some homemade videos, like my sister in concert, or a family event. Keeping in mind that he would probably never learn to record anything, he was given a Daewoo play-only VCR [if he bought it himself, I'm sure someone will know]. Somehow, we ended up with it when his home was cleared out after his death in 2002. Two weeks ago I rediscovered it in its hiding place under the TV and decided to take it to Lakeside to see if it would work with our broadcast-only TV up there. I took along the movie "Dirty Dancing" as a test tape.

Keep in mind my technical knowledge and ability. Although I noticed every light on its tiny dashbroad came on when I attached it, and I couldn't find any play or eject buttons, I put the tape in anyway. By the time I found the buttons (lift the little lid, dummy), the tape was stuck. Smacking it didn't work (which was probably dad's method). So I brought it back home.

Last Tuesday evening we were looking at our 3 remotes, the TV and the DVD player, clueless how to play the DVD of Ireland photos we'd been sent, so our daughter came by after work to explain it for the umpteenth time. After rereading the instructions she told us we'd have to use a newer TV. Fine. But then I told her about daddy's Daewoo. It will never work again, but after about 30 minutes, she did get it to give up the tape. She's a genius with a screw driver, having rewired ceiling lights and installed an attic fan for her in-laws; however, there were two screws left over when she finished.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bobby Jindal--Hope for Louisiana

Thank goodness. He'll be the next Governor of Louisiana, beating out 11 others.
    "Jindal, whose given name is Piyush, is the American-born son of Indian immigrants; his parents moved from New Delhi to Baton Rouge so his mother could take graduate classes at Louisiana State University.

    But the son charted a new course in the new country.

    When he was 4, he decided to call himself Bobby -- after the youngest son on the "Brady Bunch" television show. In high school, he gave up Hinduism and became a Christian; and during his first year at Brown University, he was baptized as a Roman Catholic. His wife, Supriya, is also a Catholic convert." WaPo story here.
Times of India story.

The trees are preparing for a long sleep

From a review of Republic of Shade by Thomas J. Campanella, Yale University Press, 2003 which includes the following:

"In typological terms, trees in Scripture act like giant words, expressing not only the general glory of God but also more specific themes. Both trees and saints come out of the ground. Both grow on riverbanks (Ps. 1) and bring food and medicine to the world; "their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing" (Ez. 47:12; cf. Rev. 22:2). Jotham preached "the trees once went forth to anoint a king over them," and the blind man healed began to see men as trees walking. Trees are images of humans, and they reflect our own fruitfulness, hubris, and decay.

Lakeside, OH, October 2007

And God manifests himself at trees—"arboreal theophanies," [James] Jordan says—like those in Eden and in front of Moses but also in the careful wood of the Tabernacle and Temple, which create grand images of God's people gathered around him. The entire Davidic line is pictured as a tree, a root, a stump, a branch (Is. 42; 6:13; 11:10) that ultimately develops into Christ, the vine, the tree of life, executed on a tree, having threatened fire to "every tree which does not bear good fruit" (Mt. 3:10). Christ Himself doesn't hesitate to urge us to read trees wisely: "Now learn this parable from the fig tree" (Mt. 24:32).

Our condo yard today

Learn from the tree? Why does that directive not show up regularly in seminary hermeneutics courses? We go to great pains to teach seminary students about exegeting Scripture and secret Foucauldian power structures, but we leave them largely clueless about exegeting nature." Douglas Jones, Reviewer

OSU golf course maple

It may be vegan, but it's delicious

Oddly, it was given to me by a veterinarian. Alternative Baking Company of Sacramento, CA, makes a fabulous cookie with no dairy, no eggs, no honey, no hydrogenated oils, no cholesterol, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients or refined sugars. Wow. If this catches on, some food animal vets will be out of work, to say nothing of farmers. Right now I'm eating the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. Yummy. I thought there were 2 others--they seem to have disappeared from the kitchen.


is a first season thriller series on FX cable with a stunning cast and a heart in your throat story line that is as current and biased as today's headlines. I saw it for the first (and I hope last) time on Oct. 20 when the entire season was on a marathon, with the final episode next Tuesday. The cast includes Glenn Close and Ted Danson, both at their evil best. I've seen both of them in TV series and movies, and they've never been better.
    This Saturday, FX is running the entire first season (up to now) of its legal thriller Damages as an all-day marathon, which means theoretically there will be viewers who will get to experience this show the way it might work best: as a rock ’em, sock ’em miniseries, compounding all of the story’s elaborate and sometimes preposterous shocks and twists into a roller-coaster ride that doesn’t require waiting a week between chapters. TV Guide blog
Yes, I tuned in during the episode where one of the main characters (also evil) blows his head off. Messy stuff, both his personal life, and what the make-up guys had to do. So of course, I had to google it and watch the next episode. But it did cause me to do some heavy thinking about how we use our leisure time in our comfortable living rooms or home theaters.

This may be the one area where I agree with the fundamentalist Muslims--our entertainment culture (TV, music, gaming, movies, theater) in the west is the most God-awful, slime pit you can imagine, and it is addictive, sucking in even those who know it is bad and soul-rotting--people like me, little old ladies who grew up in the 50s without a television set and never missed it. The sides of this pit are cascading body fluids, diseases, feces, drugs, money, evil intentions, violence, putrid souls and blood, a thick goo that has been building up well over 50 years on walls sloped to make it impossible to climb out or return to a safer era. Even a terrifically performed ensemble cast like "Ugly Betty" filled with surprise and charm, and a delightfully innocent and pure main character, has at its base wild sexual escapades and power-driven, one-dimensional characters, formed by their own excesses, but with enough redeeming qualities that the viewer soon gets sucked into the story line. All the versions of the decade old "Law and Order" feature not only incredible violence and evil, but the most evil characters are often those most religious or most loving, such as a parent, spouse, or child--a poster for family violence and evil Christians.

So today, in my One Year Bible, October 21, I read in Paul's letter of advice to Timothy, a young pastor:
    "But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. . ."
All Christians, whether baptized as infants and confirmed before witnesses later, or baptized as a believer before witnesses, have made a confession to follow Jesus' teachings. This trash we call entertainment could not survive without the support of Christians (however they call themselves--liberal, conservative, evangelical, main-line, fundamentalist). We make another confession to the entertainment god when we tacitly and often eagerly agree to worship heaps of stinking garbage on a daily basis.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Fun with Al

From a commenter at Tim Blair's blog.
    Dear Meester Gore,

    As chairman of de Nobel Peace Prize Committee, I haff de unpleasant dewty to inform yew dat, because of certain errors and inaccuracies in yur movie, An Inconvenient Truth, ve are havin’ to cancel yur avard. Ve are distressed at de necessity of doin’ dis, but, yumpin’ yimminy, Meester Gore, yew really stepped in de cow pewp dis time, vit all dem mistakes.

    Ve hope yew vill take some comfort in de Committee’s decision to gib de avard, instead, tew dat Iranian feller, Ahmadinejad, in token of hiss not yet blowin’ de beyibbers out of de whole goldurn vurld.

    However, ve don’t vant yew do go avay mad, so ve are sendin’ yew a consolation prize – a maus pad vit a picture of a reindeer on it.

    Ve be seein’ yew sometime, I bet. In de meantime, “Ha det bra!” from yur friends in Norvay.


    Ole Danbolt Mjøs

Friday, October 19, 2007


Can't blame MRSA on illegal immigrants

That's not a rumor you want to start, but I heard Laura Ingraham mention it right after talking about the TB guy who's made a number of flights legally from Mexico into the U.S. A whole alphabet soup of government agencies have dropped the ball on this one, and it's not an illegal immigrant issue.

Neither is MRSA (what I heard: as an aside she asked where these germs were coming from right after talking about the TB infected Mexican . . . like we can't grow our own!). It's a problem which started in the 1970s with hospitals overusing antibiotics, patients having shorter stays, and the staph bug moving on out to the community. In 1998, the CDC reported on the problem with nosocomial infections (infections that originally preyed on the weakest and sickest in hospitals)
    By the late 1980s and early 1990s, several different classes of antimicrobial drugs effective against gram-negative bacilli provided a brief respite. During this time, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) emerged, signaling the return of the "blue bugs." In 1990 to 1996, the three most common gram-positive pathogens—S. aureus, coagulase-negative staphylococci, and enterococci—accounted for 34% of nosocomial infections, and the four most common gram-negative pathogens—Escherichia coli, P. aeruginosa, Enterobacter spp., and Klebsiella pneumoniae—accounted for 32%
The most recently updated MRSA page at CDC was done this week--the earlier one was from 2005, but the recent concern apparently caused them to revise it.
    Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph that is resistant to certain antibiotics. These antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin. Staph infections, including MRSA, occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities (such as nursing homes and dialysis centers) who have weakened immune systems (see healthcare-associated MRSA).

    MRSA infections that are acquired by persons who have not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis, surgery, catheters) are known as CA-MRSA infections. Staph or MRSA infections in the community are usually manifested as skin infections, such as pimples and boils, and occur in otherwise healthy people.
The most recent guidelines run to 219 pages, but to sum it up, WASH YOUR HANDS, PEOPLE, and don't let a medical staff person touch you until they do. "Improved hand hygiene practices have been associated with a sustained decrease in the incidence of MRSA and VRE infections primarily in the ICU (p. 49)"

The Democrats' Hissy Fit

Although I'd never thought about it, I didn't know southern girls had hissy fits, too. Kyle-Anne Shiver describes what she saw the Democrats doing about SCHIP in Congress on C-SPAN as a "Southern belle hissy fit," or taking the argument to a level of pure emotion:
    used when the opponent held a significant power advantage
    perfectly acceptable because
    it is used when you don't get your way with facts
    or with reasoned argument,
    totally unencumbered by rational thought
    afflicted can accuse the opponent of being “vicious,” “mean,” “unreasonable,” “vile,” “cruel,” “a bully,”
    and ride the emotional wave of perfected guile to victory

    In other words, you get your own way in the matter.

The female hissy fit--is definitely national, and obviously not limited to women.
    Shiver concludes: "When the leaders of Congress wish to propose a socialist encroachment upon another segment of the private economy, it would serve them well to abandon the tactics of emotionalism and deceit. If they are the stalwart proponents of the free-will, free-thought democracy that they incessantly claim to be, then there should never be just cause for the kind of emotional trickery demonstrated by a parade of the victims* of American “injustice.” A straightforward argument based upon sound reason is what a free people should demand from her leaders. In every instance."
*I can't be sure, but this may be a reference to one Graeme Frost, the 12 year old boy the Democrats used to plead their case for expansion to the president. However, he was already on SCHIP, middle class and attending private school--which is the direction the Democrats are going with this. When bloggers and conservatives pointed this how, they were accused of cruelty, harassment, and God knows what else.

Subprime late payments

A chart in today's WSJ showed the number of people keeping up with mortgage payments on subprime loans is improving. During the last quarter about 7.6% were late and that's dropped to 7.2% (this compares to .8% and .6% in prime). Missed payments were high in mid-1999, then dropping way down to under 2% in mid-2003. Obviously, the reasons for this have yet to be sorted out. But it must not be the economy, or how much was loaned to poor people vs how much to speculators. Subprime loans went to low income people who were poor credit risks and to high income people with high debt in relation to their income. The rest of us went the standard route--10 or 20% down and fixed rates.

But here's what's interesting. After 9/11 there was a drastic drop in late payments for both types of loans. As the economy soared, so did late payments. Seems to be psychological, not financial.

When will Harry tie up the Senate complaining about Stark?

Congressman Stark (D-CA) says, "Ladies and gentlemen, the axis of evil is not just in the Middle East, it is right down here on Pennsylvania Avenue" and that the President of the United States, the man we elected, wants to blow people up for his own amusement. Harry, I think that's a bit more serious, and tougher on the troops than a private citizen calling a guy who didn't make it past basic training but who poses as a veteran, a 'phony soldier."
    "You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."
One thing about Democrats, they are hell bent on losing this war. I tried to send Stark an e-mail, but his contact page won't take messages from Ohio. Old Pete's a chicken as well as a traitor. All this because he didn't like the President's veto on the expansion of health care to 25 year old, middle-class children who already have private insurance.

Jessica Seinfeld on feeding kids

Maybe I should've written a book. Although since some other author (Missy Lapine) whose book is further down the best seller list is crying foul, I think it has a bit to do with being Jerry's wife, and sitting in on the Oprah show. Do you think? Anyway, I never had a problem getting my kids to eat, or to go to bed at a decent hour. Most of my tips for eating don't involve food.

1. Eat as a family--this is the key.

2. Set a nice table, both attractive and easy for children to use.

3. Have regular meals--my husband was usually home by 5:30 or 5:45, so this wasn't hard for us. We still eat early.

4. When children are small, use a booster seat, or put them on their knees on a regular chair, but put them at the table with the adults. Counters and stools are death to good eating habits, in my opinion.

5. Eat out only occasionally and/or for special events. You just can't compete for their taste buds with the high fat, high salt, high crunch of fast food.

6. Don't tolerate misbehavior at the table which spoils everyone's dinner, including the kid's.

7. Let the children help--but not too much. You want them to see that food preparation is an adult task--a big deal!

8. Clean plates are optional, but whining, complaints and dessert aren't.

9. Children in Haiti get beans and rice every day at school (according to my husband who has been there). Don't give very young children so many choices that you confuse them and numb their taste buds, which are much more sensitive than yours.

10. Desserts should be occasional and can be fresh fruit or yogurt to be special (it's a mind game, folks).

11. Don't be coy. We used to have mystery vegetable night, but really, the kids didn't like it. However, it makes for great family stories 30 years later.

12. I never snuck vegetable puree into anything (probably didn't have a blender then), although today I put pumpkin into peanut butter pie and you can't tell the difference. My children learned to appreciate vegetables for what they are, and usually raw. Raw carrot slices or cabbage was a BIG treat, as it was in my home when I was growing up. Raw potato slices were another big favorite.

13. My kids loved casseroles. However, my son-in-law (family of 7) hates them, so I think you need to go lightly here. Lasagne, spaghetti, mac and cheese--all that stuff we like, he will only have 2 helpings. He doesn't want his food "to touch."

14. Good luck keeping the sugary, high fat, high chemical and colored food away from your kids--as soon as they do an over-night or an after school play date at a friend's home, you've lost that battle. I baked whole wheat bread and lasagne with spinach noodles, but you can't fight the whole neighborhood unless you want your kid to have no friends.

Note to purists: No one seems to know where the word "sneak" came from, but its past tense "sneaked" is rarely used in the U.S. Most Americans (unless they majored in English or are over 65) use "snuck," but all forms sound pretty silly.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Thursday Thirteen To-Do List

Last week I mentioned I'm not a good list maker, which is why TT works for me--sometimes. Here's my TT, and I only cheated a little, but it's finished.

1. Clean my office. It was out of control. In order to do #4, I needed to find the insurance papers which were at the bottom of the pile, but I found them.

2. Finish the laundry. I even did the ironing--what's one or two fewer blog entries?

3. Clean the bathrooms. Sort of--did one. In doing #8 I did wonder what 60,000 people gathered to watch the King did for restrooms in the 18th century. Do you ever think about that?

4. Make an appointment for the dentist. It's been almost 2 years since I fired my dentist, so I'm trying a new one. 8 a.m. Friday--must have had a cancellation--wasn't expecting it would be so soon.

5. Make an appointment at the vet for the cat. 9:45 Monday. She's a "cats only" vet, but kitty still doesn't appreciate it. She becomes 7 lbs of irritability.

6. Mail run for the church. We have several locations and on Thursday it's my turn to deliver the inter-campus mail. Fortunately, there were no heavy boxes this time and the wind wasn't blowing. At Mill Run there are usually gale force winds.

7. Flu shot--at the church next door. I was the only one at my time slot, so there was no wait. Pleasant young lady who caused no pain.

8. Read a few chapters of David McCullough's 1776. I'm leading the discussion for bookclub in November and need to refresh my memory and write up the questions. I only reread 2 pages, though, stopping at the amazing description of the London opening of Parliament and George III in 1775, which sets the symbolic stage for the hopelessness of the battle the Americans were in for. Hint: The Americans win, but it takes many years and a huge loss of life.

9. Write up the Visual Arts Ministry minutes. It would be a lot easier if I'd do this immediately (like last Friday), but a week late is better than the night before the next meeting.

10. Walk a mile. Counting walking to get the flu shot, I probably got 1.5 miles. Beautiful day--should have done 5.

11. Get prescription refilled. Not on that $4 list that all the big stores are offering. Wal-Mart started it, and now Target, Kroger, etc. have followed.

12. Buy my son-in-law's birthday present. He always gets the same thing. A gift card for Best Buy because then he can go wild buying movies he likes. They have a fabulous collection.

13. Buy snacks for Sunday's meeting. Didn't get this done, but did try a new recipe (the one with peaches that I noted in my blog in September), that I might make with apples for Sunday.

Visit or join other Thursday Thirteeners.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Another great line

Good thing an Obama aide said it. Democrats have no sense of humor and would have sought an impeachment. "Every family has a black sheep." Obama and Cheney share a 17th century French ancestor and are 8th cousins.

Here's a great line

Randall Bloomquist of WGST, Atlanta, reviews Graig Havighust's book, "Air Castle of the South," (U. of I. Press) in today's WSJ. It's about the rise and fall of WSM, an AM station in Nashville, which was created by National Life and Accident Insurance Company in 1925 to sell insurance to rural folk and ended up creating and spreading country music and the Nashville sound. I'll probably never read the book, but I loved this line:
    "As history it is engaging but less than definitive. . . demanding that WSM [now owned by Gaylord Entertainment] live or die by the media economy's new rules feels a bit like asking your grandmother to work at Burger King to make ends meet."

Totally Optional Prompts

Alumni of Poetry Thursday have started up Totally Optional Prompts, 1) the prompt will be posted on Saturday evening, 2) you write/post a poem at your own blog, and 3) the following Thursday you submit a link to that poem only (not your blog site URL) at T.O.P., 4) you leave comments (not criticism) after visiting/reading the poems of other T.O.P. participants.

The prompt for Saturday, Oct. 13, was from a Chinese poem, translated into English, "On Hearing a Lute-Player," and I selected one line for my prompt, "Singing old beloved songs." The back story: I'm a member of a Christian congregation with multiple worship styles (4 in 10 services) swinging from liturgical to beat driven rock. I wrote this in a few minutes after reading the prompt. I probably won't polish it--it's a bit cranky. Just needed to unload.

Singing old beloved songs

There was a day, maybe twenty years ago
(and I miss those times)
when we could quibble
about end times
or transubstantiation,
the length of sermons
or gay marriage,
paraphrases of Holy Scripture
or what happens to
the real presence when
the wine isn't consumed.

That was a simple time, light years ago
(I miss the challenge)
when we could argue
with Presbyterians
or Roman Catholics,
Pentecostals, Baptists
or Missouri Synod Lutherans,
children of the Puritans
(what happened to them?)
Now fights are in house . . .
worship form and music.


Use of the word "elite"

Nonfiction Readers Anonymous (a terrific blog by the way) thought it was amusing that Laura Ingraham, a conservative talk show host who has a law degree, has clerked at the Supreme Court and graduated from Dartmouth, would use the word "elite" when writing about agenda-driven liberals who look down on the little guy in fly-over country (her audience). Perhaps she thinks Laura is a member of "the elite." Not according to the dictionary, or the way conservatives use the word.

Here's the meaning of elite, from Webster's 9th:
    the choice part or segment; especially a socially superior group; a powerful minority group, as inside the government;
Today, the elite may be "new money," or "land rich, piss-poor," but they are more likely to be academics who have tenure but not much else, or Congressmen who have been strapped onto the Beltway longer than most voters have been alive, or they may be a spouse of a former President (now making millions), accustomed to a sense of entitlement, or journalists making $40,000 a year and all the turnips they can eat, or former Presidents wandering lost around the world, or fabulously rich entertainers and celebrities who believe their own press, like the Dixie Chicks or Barbra Streisand. Attending Dartmouth and being a lawyer, gets you no points at all, near as I can tell. Nor does writing a few books, even those that get to the best seller list. Nonfictionanon, a librarian, even admits she'd never heard of her.

The word elite has little to do with wealth or where you sat out your 4-6 years of undergrad work. The way conservatives use the word, the elite may have no family pedigree at all, or they may have bunches, like John Kerry a man with a genealogy who married a widow with money. Today's elite are smug, self-appointed divas and web-site owners, some immigrant millionaires or billionaires like Soros and Huffington, or place holders on boards of NGOs who are massaging their guilt because they have so much money, or formerly useful people who have outlived their usefulness.

The elite used to have class; now they are just crass.