Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thursday Thirteen--13 discussion starters

In the margins of my Serendipity Bible for Groups (4th ed. NIV) there are "warm up" questions of a personal nature to get members of a small group talking. Most are non-threatening and deal with childhood, the thinking being I suppose that the members stay off the topic of co-workers or current relationships. I'm not fond of "ice-breakers," but I've enjoyed looking through these and thinking about them. Here are 13 from the margins of Romans in the New Testament. Can you pick one to answer?

1) When you write a letter are you more likely to write until you run out of paper, or keep it short and to the point? They got me on this one. I definitely use up the paper, even if I have to add an afterthought. Then I'll write in the margins to keep from using another sheet, because I'd have to fill it!

2) When you were growing up, what chores were you expected to do around the house? Dishes--rotated with my two sisters, and lawn mowing--and my brother was in on that rotation.

3) What is the biggest scam or junk mail offer you have fallen for? It was either the life-time free ink cartridges or the 15 sex crazed 3-legged mountain climbers. Just kidding.

4) In your family, who tried to keep the peace? Mom or Dad? Mom.

5) Who do you take after in your temperament, your mother or your father? Father.

6) What about abilities, like music or art? Most likely my mother, but for those we'd probably go back to grandma.

7) What is the closest you have come to losing your life? I almost drowned as a child, and another girl who really didn't swim well saved me.

8) In your first real job, was your boss easy to work for or a slave driver? Not easy, but then who would be with a bunch of teens? I see it differently today.

9) What New Year's resolution have you made only to have it fizzle? Could I just list the one or two I've ever kept?

10) What signs of aging or weathering are you starting to feel in your bones? Ah, let me count. How much time do you have?

11) What was one thing about which your folks used to say, "Wait 'til you're older, you'll understand then?" I can't remember this specific phrase, but it undergirded every lecture from my mom I heard (and ignored). The woman had advice on absolutely everything--the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

12) When you were a child, what did you do to earn your allowance? At least when I was little, my allowance wasn't tied to anything. Family chores were not connected to money, just expectations and maturity level. As a teen-ager, the allowance was supposed to cover my clothes (except shoes and coats).

13) Describe briefly your first best friend. Are you still in touch? Smart and sort of goofy, but deep thinker, even then. Yes, we're still in touch.

Dear IRS

I hardly ever buy a T-shirt with text, but this is tax time and I thought this one for the Internal Revenue Service was cute: "Dear IRS: I would like to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing."

On or before the first Monday in February, the President of the United States is required to submit to the Congress a budget proposal for the following fiscal year, beginning in October. The Congress reviews it and makes changes, setting its own priorities. In fiscal year 2006 (Oct. 1, 2005 - Sept. 30, 2006) here's what they did with $2.655 trillion (income of $2.407 trillion, deficit of $.248 trillion).

1. Social security, Medicare and other retirement took 36% of the income.

2. Social programs like Medicaid, food stamps, needy families, health research, public health, unemployment compensation, assisted housing and social services got 13%.

3. Physical, human and community development--agriculture, national resources, environment, education, commerce, energy, community development, science, etc. got 12%.

4. National defense, veterans and foreign affairs takes about 23%, most of that for the war on terrorism, or 19% of the government's income, and the rest for veterans, economic assistance to foreign countries, and embassies abroad.

5. Interest on the debt eats up about 8%.

6. Law enforcement and general government gets 2%.

The above percentages are from p. 33 of the 1040EZ booklet, which despite 35 pages, contains no forms. The government figures you will use 26.4 hours ($207 average) to do your taxes--most of that in preparation and gathering information. (p. 32)

Most of the taxes in the United States are paid by the wealthiest income earners--the people in the top quintile. Many people at the bottom receive from the government, they don't pay the government--except gasoline taxes, cigarette and other sin taxes, but those are called "miscellaneous," not income taxes. (This is not true at the local and state levels because even the poor pay real estate taxes, sales taxes, etc.--often far beyond a reasonable percentage of their income). Ohio doesn't charge sales tax on food, but many states do. Now, I've never been in the top group, but for awhile in the 80s and 90s, when we were "DINKS" double income no kids, we did make it to the 4th. Now, being retirees, we're back in the bottom quintile like when we were first married. Income, however, does not mean assets, so therefore, many retirees are very well off because we're in good health, saved when we were younger, sheltered some of our income when we worked, inherited from our parents, or just had good luck.

At my age, true wealth is figured in how healthy you are, your relationship with God, and what is the status and proximity of your social and family network.

Dana Jacobson

If she'd been this insulting to blacks as she was to Catholics, her bosses wouldn't be excusing her for being drunk. She would have been fired. People who customarily drink too much should always bring along duct tape to public functions as well as a driver. And why didn't the people at her table or in her party just take her home? Women get drunk on less alcohol than men, BAC chart.
    “My actions at the roast were inappropriate and in no way represent who I really am,” she said. “I have personally apologized to many of the people involved. I won’t make excuses for my behavior but do hope that I can be forgiven for such a poor lack of judgment.” MSNBC
You are forgiven. Now get help.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

When I'm 64

We're going to a "When I'm 64" party this week-end (Beatles song) for a married couple who are both turning 64 in the same week. Maybe eventually, insurance companies will be insuring your children under your policy to 64. Jim Raussen-R, Springdale, has launched HB 456 to cut Ohio's uninsured population--insurance companies will need to include "children" up to age 29 on family policies.

When I was 29, I had a master's degree, 2 children, had owned 3 houses and rented several apartments, had owned several cars, and paid my parents back for college loans. My health care was pay as you go. What parent insures a child through age 29, and why stop there? Why not 64? There are families who will always need to protect fragile members, but I think we already pay into social security and medicaid for that. This is one more income transfer from the low income worker to the higher income worker.

With Republicans like Mr. Raussen, who needs Democrats? Ohio faces a budget shortfall of $1.9 billion, and the "starting point" health care legislation he's proposing (it contains lots of other goodies) is estimated at $150-$500 million but who's counting? We know it will be much, much higher.


Next to diphtheria and ophthalmology, I think entrepreneurship is one of our most frequently misspelled words--I misspelled it about 5 times drafting this. Now this book will shatter a lot of myths, "The illusions of entrepreneurship," (by Scott Shane, Yale University Press). Reviewed in today's WSJ by Nick Schulz. My take aways (not quotes):
In the U.S. each year more people start a business than get married or have children.

A typical U.S. entrepreneur is a married white male in his 40s who attended but didn't complete college, and he lives in a city like DesMoines or Tampa, not in California or Michigan (where they chase people out with high taxes and regulations).

The richer the country, the lower its rate of business starts.

Entrepreneurs earn less than those who work for established businesses.

Encouragement by the government to go in to business through the use of protectionist subsidies and tax breaks actually encourages people to enter highly competitive fields, making them more likely to fail.

The surrogate mother

I'm baffled that either feminists or Clintonians are happy with Hillary hatching Bill's third term. He just gets more bizarre and brazen the longer he's on the campaign trail. It happens with real babies and real people, it can happen to plastic people candidates who run as a team for the same office. Sometimes the surrogate says, "I did all the work and had all the pain, now it's my baby." These are not nice, let's-play-fair people. People die. Careers are shattered. Women are violated. The battle of the sexes and ex-es has been the story of their marriage and careers. Let's not put them back in the White House.

CNET and the new media

Years before I'd heard of WWW, hypertext protocol, and linking (just struggling to ftp and code some e-mail), I subscribed to CNET at work. I can't remember when I stopped reading it or looking for comfort there in an IT world fast spinning out of my control. And I'd never heard of blogging before 2003 and now I'm in my fifth year with eleven blogs. But, you don't see any ads here, do you? Or winky, blinky, noisy things. No, I'm no threat to CNET. But Kevin Delaney of WSJ yesterday wrote about CNET's competition--and blogs are a part of that. Blogs and their ads. When I subscribed in the early 90s I think CNET was about pretty serious stuff, but it has moved on (without my help or support) to gaming, entertainment, and news (I'm not denigrating the billions invested, but for me it's the same appeal as viaticals). I get a tech/business combo with cheese now and sometimes dump it before I read it. Delaney writes
    "The investor battle raging over the iconic Internet media company offers an object lesson in how high-tech Web firms that miss a beat can be vulnerable to succeeding waves of Internet technology. With the Web in its second decade as a popular consumer medium, some well-known companies that arose in its first decade, like CNET and Yahoo Inc., now face heightened competition. . . As tech blogs proliferated, CNET's and ZDNet tech sites lost 27% and 4%, respectively, of their U.S. readers over the past year, according to comScore Inc."
It has sold off some underperformers and does have its own blog now ( but I don't think I've ever stumbled into it (which is how I get to most technology blogs). Delaney will explain how this working for investors.

Three word Wednesday

Each week Bone posts three words and writers choose to use them in an essay, poem, story. Words you use every day, but perhaps not together. Then you leave a comment at the 3WW site letting people know they should visit your blog. This week's list for January 30 is

The approach

Pour the truth of the moment
from a bottle of pragmatism,
or smooth this rough patch
with comfort words?

The approach is obvious.
No one’s been maimed and broken
to die along the roadside
by a bottle unopened.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I asked the same question

when we were in Russia in 2006. Where did all these gorgeous Russian women come from? Now we know. It's market forces.

Poverty and crime

We used to visit prisoners in the honor dorm of the Ohio State Penitentiary as part of a church program. Somewhere we have this album--we were probably there the night it was recorded. In fact, one career criminal with whom we developed a relationship we visited in 3 or 4 different facilities. I remember a charming, handsome young man in his mid-20s--Jack, I think--who told me he was there on his first offense. Before I could shake my head at the cruelty of the system (because O.P. was indeed an awful place with a reputation of terror and abuse), he chuckled and assured me it was just his first conviction. He had been leading a financially successful life of crime since before his teen years, and when business was bad, he pimped for his wife. She didn't visit, so he was always happy to see the "church ladies."

There's a very disturbing article in today's (Jan. 29) USAToday about the pattern of crime and incarceration that runs in some families. At least I hope it is disturbing to journalists, social workers, and politicians who seem to track all of society's problems to poverty and not sin. The article leads with a pathetic story of three brothers, all in jail, all abused by their violent father and abandoned by their mother. But the final disturbing truth is buried at the end. There was a study done in Boston in a crime plagued neighborhood of 19,000 that showed 457 of the residents were responsible for 12,000 "law enforcement contacts" (i.e., crime). Some crime families were 5 generations deep. If poverty were the cause or major contributing agent, what miracle happened to the other 18,500 residents who don't commit crimes? Indeed, I often think the media regularly insult poor people by predicting horrendous outcomes based on their financial condition, when in fact, the crimes of upper classes are the ones most likely linked to their financial sins--greed, avarice, risk, gambling, and envy.

Update: Maybe I should go look for that album. I think we probably sold it in a yard sale or gave it away.
Update 2: Found it. Still shrink wrapped. Autographed by all the band members. I started to check a few names. At least one still in the system in 2001. Think I'll have my son put it on e-bay; if I haven't listened to it in 36 years, I probably won't start now. I think it was pressed in 1972, at least that's when I bought it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Vivian and Johnny Cash

Today I had a stack of books and CDs to return to the library, so I was browsing the new book shelf and came across the memoir of Johnny Cash's first wife, Vivian. I'm not much of a Cash fan or even a celebrity hound, but I love to look at the old photos, and I could see the book was full of them. I took it to a lounge chair and read most of the text that wasn't photocopies of the letters (I think I read at another site that they had written about 10,000 pages--a regular John and Abigail Adams, they were) or photographs. After (or during) his drug problem and affair with and later marriage to June Carter, Vivian pretty much retires from public view and leads a quiet life with her second husband. I think they were married 12 years and had four daughters. But June died before John, so Vivian and John sort of make up and they agree (according to her) that she should write "their" story. If you've known any of these "I had nothing to do with the divorce" second marriages, you'll probably believe Vivian.

But what makes this interesting is a few lines in the book about "Ring of Fire," which she says was written by Johnny while they were still married, and that he told Vivian he planned to give June (just a friend and performer) one-half the credit because she needed the money. He also told her it is about a woman's vagina. Based on the memoir, the story about who wrote it was tracked to witnesses (it was written on a fishing trip), and apparently now there is a law suit by his four daughters (and maybe by Vivian's second husband, since some of the millions would have been hers). It wouldn't be the first time good old dad neglected the children of wife number one when it came to the estate, but in this case it involves millions in royalties, and his son by Carter has control of that.

Again, I have no dog in this fight, I'm not a fan. However, based on the fact that Vivian stayed completely quiet and out of his life all those 40 years when she could have made things really difficult for the famous pair, I'd go with her story. Vivian died before the book was published last fall.

Good economic news

if you're a landlord. But doesn't this sound just a bit . . . greedy? Opportunities exist. . .
    Apartment builders and operators are preparing for a busy year. Approximately $216 billion in subprime and Alt-A mortgages will reset for the first time this year, which could ultimately push 3 percent of all outstanding mortgage debt into default. As a result, a large number of households will return to the renter pool throughout 2008. To compensate, builders are expected to expand existing apartment inventory by 1.1 percent, or more than 100,000 new market-rate units. Apartment developers are concentrating much of their efforts in metropolitan areas with above-average job and population growth; however, opportunities exist across all regions of the nation. Buildings, Annual Industry Forecast, 2008.

The economy is fine, really

says Brian Wesbury in today's WSJ. I went back and checked his other articles during various gloom and doom (usually media driven) periods in the last seven years. He's always been right--let's hope he is this time.

There's a lot of squabbling about the stimulus package, and I really doubt we can or should spend ourselves out of this problem. Each party wants to look like a savior and is afraid to look like the bad guy. The Democrats aren't the liberals they say they are (if they really cared about the weakest and smallest they'd be pro-life) and the Republicans aren't the conservatives they claim to be during election years. If they were, they wouldn't always be looking to the government to be the sugar daddy of big business, farmers and the military.

So why not take a look at what an economist says? He says the $100 billion loss on subprime loans represents 0.1% of the $100 trillion in combined assets of all U.S. households and U.S. non-farm non-financial corporations. Feel better? Exports on the other hand are 12% and growing at a 13.6% rate.

He says that the Great Depression deepened when Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt tried to fix the economy. President Hoover's tax hikes in 1932, and FDRs anti-capitalist government activity (remember all the alphabet soup of government programs you had to learn in American history class?) killed the American economy and drove unemployment to 20%. We know the Democrats plan to raise taxes--the worst thing they could do; then they'll add all sorts of new programs and regulations. This is not the way to go.

Read the article. You'll sleep better tonight--unless you plan to vote Democratic.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Bush's Legacy

From 2002-2004 the median net worth of Americans rose 25.8% nationwide, doubling for minorities, but net worth jumped 76.7% for women. (CFED report) Not only did President Bush free the women of Afghanistan and Iraq, he was good for American women. The subprime mess has changed many of those figures, I'm sure, since they included real estate assets. Many low income people were encouraged to buy into "the American dream," when they would have been better off renting. Still, many didn't lose anything because they didn't build equity--but the damage to their neighbors is awful, and that will show in the next report--perhaps for many years. Because of the housing slump and home values, you'll be hearing a steady drum beat from the candidates about the fragility of the poor and the awful Bush years. (Although we heard it in 2004 until the day after the election.)

In 1997 the federal government started a big program with three mandated summits to insure that Americans start saving more for retirement. The boomers are starting to retire, and if they didn't do anything proactive 25 or 30 years ago, I'm not sure even a government summit will help. We all know what happened to Bush's plan to save Social Security--not even Republicans supported him, joining with Democrats to make sure nothing got privatized.

[From the 2002 SAVERS Summit] 90% of people over 65 receive Social Security, and it is 38% of their income; 41% have retirement plans which are 18% of their income. That leaves a lot dependent on savings and investments, and 59% of seniors have that. Another 22% of over 65 year olds are still in the labor force.

Americans United for Change, a liberal lobbyist group (change seems to be the word of the moment) plans a year long campaign ($8.5 million) to besmirch Bush's record so he can leave office without claiming a legacy. Story. Since Clinton couldn't earn one (he's trying again), Bush's has to be taken away. Everything's about the gap and envy, isn't it? They are raising funds to do this. Even if I hated Bush, I think I'd want my money to go into something a bit more productive. But then, I'm not a rich Democrat.

How can I tell?

A customer satisfaction questionnaire that pops up before I've been able to read anything is a bit off putting. For instance:
    "Thank you for visiting US Census Bureau

    You have been selected to take part in a customer satisfaction survey. This survey is conducted by an independent company.

    The feedback obtained from this survey will help us to enhance our website. All results are strictly confidential."
I was visiting the U.S. Census Bureau site for mining, manufacturing and construction statistics. I selected a newsletter that I thought looked interesting. No longer published. So I moved on to a pollution abatement survey that hadn't been updated in 18 months. Then I looked at a 2003 Remodeling Data Research report that said it was published every 2 years, but I didn't see any for 2005 or 2007, and the report said the data for 2000/2001 wasn't correct and there would be information reissued in 2004. Didn't see it.

Our tax dollars at work. I'll pass on taking the survey until I find something to read.

Is Juno really a comedy?

The first thing that isn't funny is the cost of Saturday matinee tickets at the Lennox--$7.00--and a small bag of popcorn, $4.50. If the theatre weren't 5 minutes from our house, I'd add travel costs and call it a $20.00 date. And then there's the movie. Not funny, folks. If this is what Canada and the Academy call a comedy, I'd hate to sit through a tragedy. The cast, however, is outstanding as is the writing ( says Cody is a former phone sex operater--is that a joke?), directing, the setting, and the graphics. Music not so much.

Spoiler coming, from a member of the Triad, so don't look if you want to be surprised. The plot is about a nerdy, smart-mouth, cursing/cussing teen who gets pregnant by seducing her best friend, a blank faced guy in her band. The sex act isn't explicit, but you certainly get the idea. We see mostly his skinny legs and his love-sick, droopy eyes because he runs track during all seasons and really loves Juno, who never lets him in on a single decision she's making about their baby. The fact that it involved a lounge chair (which she dumps in his front yard when she tells him) is a joke that must appeal to the young. I heard loud guffaws. Same with the toilet scene pregnancy test. I didn't even smile.

Juno and her best (girl) friend first pick out an abortion clinic, which fortunately she rejects while in the waiting room with really obnoxious people, and then together they find an adoptive couple in a fish-wrapper newspaper. This is why the reviewers call her whip-smart and "mature." Again, it didn't impress me.

Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner are outstanding as the mismatched adoptive couple Juno finds in an ad--he hungering for freedom and her longing for a baby. Their part of the story line is also the saddest, in my opinion. Juno will go on with her life (we hope), but that mommy will be raising a baby alone. As far as maturity goes, Juno is way more mature than the father she has picked, who initially she likes more than the would-be mother because they can talk about alternative music (I don't know the genre--what would "Moldy Peaches" be?). Are you beginning to grasp what mature means in today's films?

The one, true, "real" mother in this movie is Juno's step-mother, Brenda. Juno's own mother abandoned her years ago--part of her motivation to find a true family for her baby. The scenes between step-mom and daughter are just delightful. I really did laugh in the scene of the ultrasound, where Bren tells off the tech. Dad (J.K. Simmons) is OK--good lines, but he's about as casual as he is on "The Closer." Always seems to be playing himself.

Would I see it again? Yes. I'd like to catch some of the lines I didn't hear during the inappropriate laughing because people think it is so hilarious when a tiny 16 year old pregnant girl swears like a Marine.

Who is anti-women and children

A commenter said I hated women because I pointed out the obvious about women and poverty in my recent post about Clinton and Schwarzenegger's WSJ article on payday loans. Male heads of household have about twice the household income as female heads of household, and the biggest reason isn't the economy, or gender bias, or President Bush. It's the marriage gap. Women who didn't marry the father of their children are a large part of that gap. Divorce, for what ever reason, down the road hurts women economically more, too. You can just about track from the early 1970s the women's movement rise as marriage was denigrated and the corresponding financial slump for children--although I can't actually point to such a graph. I'm sure a pro-life, pro-marriage site has one (and my commenter, a Democrat, would find something wrong with that, too). But if that makes me anti-female, I guess that means the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth hates women too. For sure, it's not impossible for a child to climb out of the mess her parents created, but 56.7% of your life below the poverty line probably isn't fun. Opening more banks so mama can get a "real" loan at a lower percentage rate and a credit card probably isn't going to change a single child's life.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Are you really ready to podcast?

Every time I hear the voice of Bob Connors, John Corby, (610 am) or my son, I am reminded that not everyone has a voice for radio. These men are magnificent--a pleasure to the ear (yes, ladies, I'm still taking applications for a daughter-in-law). Now with so many experts, journalists and bloggers going to podcasts I have at least two problems. Oral/aural comprehension is my disability. While my brain is sifting through your prepositional phrases pondering how they fit with the subject and predicate, you have moved on a few paragraphs. But also, it's your voice. Mumbly. Nasal. Slurred. Muffled. Too high. Too low. Ticks of speech. Inappropriate laughs. Microphone noises.

I tried to leave this comment for a woman blogger who was interviewed at a podcast, but her spam filter screened me out, I think. At least it asked several times for the secret code, and I never did see a message that reported success. So here it is, and it's for all you folks who would be shown the door if you applied to do voice-overs.
    I listened to the first few minutes. I much prefer to read information, but do occasionally click to a podcast. I have a suggestion that will make this easier for listeners. I'm not sure when it started (1980s?), but the habit of speakers and lecturers raising the voice at the end of a sentence or phrase as though it had a question mark, is so difficult for the listener. That's our cue for "question?" Perhaps a little practice with play back could fix that. Women seem to do it more than men, and I suspect it began as an attempt to sound more tenuous, less threatening and not so assertive as women moved into positions of power and management. Now, it's just a habit.

Ylvis lives!

This morning I was reading hymns for my morning devotions, using the 1995 "With One Voice" by Augsburg-Fortress. Our congregation (ELCA) doesn't use it, although some of the newer hymns do appear from time to time on the screen, and I can see from lightly written pencil marks (I used the church library copy), that a musician has used this copy. I came across one of my absolutely most favorites, "I was there to hear your borning cry," which is sometimes used at baptisms, sometimes funerals. It brings tears to my eyes each time I hear it, therefore I had no idea is was "new," with a copyright date of 1985. Believe me, in hymnbooks, that's new.

It's against copyright to jot down all the verses (there are only 3), but it's about God's love at all stages of life--birth, baptism, confirmation, wandering away from the faith as a young person, coming back in mid-life, and finally,
    "When the evening gently closes in
    and you shut your weary eyes,
    I'll be there as I have always been
    with just one more surprise."


    "I was there to hear your borning cry,
    I'll be there when you are old.
    I' rejoiced the day you were baptized,
    to see your life unfold."
In other words, this hymn is about me! And maybe you. So I googled the author (text and music) and found all this stunning information about John Ylvisaker (pronounced like Elvis) an accomplished Lutheran musician, hymnist and writer about my age. Here's the story of how this hymn was "birthed." I also discovered websites that discuss vintage Jesus vinyl of all things (see Heavenly Grooves), and a lovely journal from Luther Seminary (St. Paul), Word & World, which I've linked to on the left. I've printed off to read at the coffee shop today, "Imaginative use of the arts; music and audio: 10 steps toward responsible innovation," (5/3 1985) and "Which way are you leaning?" (12/3 1992).

God is alive and on the Internet, battling the forces of evil, as he has been doing for eons.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Park and walk

As researchers looked for the cause of the growing obesity epidemic, maybe they should just look at the obvious. Park your car as far away from the door as possible, and walk. Take the stairs. Get up to change channels. Be less efficient in running your errands, even inside the house.
    "Consumers who pick up their prescription medications at a pharmacy drive-through window might be jeopardizing their own safety in the name of convenience. A new OSU study indicates that pharmacists who work at locations with drive-through windows believe the extra distractions associated with window service contribute to processing delays, reduced efficiency and even dispensing errors. The study suggests pharmacy design should emphasize minimal workflow interruptions but it also offers a caution to consumers to check their prescription medications, especially those obtained from a pharmacy’s drive-through window, said Sheryl Szeinbach, the study’s lead author and a professor of pharmacy practice and administration at Ohio State."
From OSU Research.

Do you need a pet sitter

in the northwest Columbus, Upper Arlington or Grandview area (Henderson Road to Goodale)? Actually, this gal will run with your big ol' dog! She's very athletic. I saw her notice on a bulletin board at church and called. Turns out we know her, which makes me glad, because now I can recommend her to you, since she has worked for us (in another capacity--we don't have a dog). She's a member of Central Ohio Professional Pet Sitters and the Pet Sitters International. She'll watch your pet when you're on vacation, or if you need someone to come in while you're at work. Call 614-378-6706 for more information or to negotiate a time and place for her to meet your little sweety. She can water (or talk to) your plants and take in your mail too. As much as I enjoy having a pet, what to do when we're out of town is always a problem, so we depend on family and friends. But maybe that doesn't work for you. Check her out! A great gal.

Pay day loans--more guilt from the rich

“The American dream is founded on the belief that people who work hard and play by the rules will be able to earn a good living, raise a family in comfort and retire with dignity.”

How many times have you seen a version of this? The latest was January 24, and the authors were Bill Clinton (a very rich man demanding thousands for his personal appearances who struggled to the top from nothing) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (also extremely rich who came to this country from Austria, also with nothing, and who married a Kennedy).

President Clinton's dream: play hard, hardly work, don’t follow rules for a good life--or any rules, don’t support my idea of what constitutes a family, live way above the level I would define as comfortable, and refuse to retire with dignity, running around trying for a 3rd term, embarrassing the country and his wife. President Clinton lives a different dream, and tries to pass it off as ours; but it's certainly our nightmare.

Now Clinton and the Governor of California think short term loans are THE problem for the poor. Lack of access to some things we middle class take for granted may be a problem for some--but the poor also don't use the interstates, suburban libraries, private jets or farm subsidies. That's not why they are poor (women who don't marry the father of their children are a major cause of poverty in the USA) and these quick-serve loans serve many outside Clinton's target. There is no shortage of BMWs, Mercedes and Cadillacs in front of pawn shops and loan stores. Some people do not use bank services for very pragmatic, personal reasons--hiding assets, living on the edge, gambling debts and bad money management, to name just a few. There is also no shortage of private and government agencies already set up to assist the poor who want to break out of this bind (see CFED, for example, which has a 25 year record).

A socialist/progressive’s version of the American dream includes the above, but inserts a phrase about the gap between groups and leveling differences. We have a marriage gap, not an income gap. Male heads of household have net assets of $82,400 compared to a woman head of household's $48,500. Hello! He's married; she isn't. If liberals really care about poor children, they would encourage marriage.

No article on poverty these days talks about housing, food or automobiles because the American poor have those--it’s only about inequality, the gap between classes. We import poor to use our services. They are called illegal immigrants. Then the Conservatives say the American dream has died because government regulations, taxes and labor unions have destroyed initiative, steal from the people who work hard, and ship jobs overseas.

The term “American dream,“ first appeared in a book written (according to Wikipedia) by James Truslow Adams entitled The Epic of America (1931).
    "If, as I have said, the things already listed were all we had to contribute, America would have made no distinctive and unique gift to mankind. But there has been also the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement." [p. 404]
Martin Luther King, Jr. said the substance of the American dream could be found in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by God, Creator, with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Today's liberals think that Happiness is the right. That "no gap" is the right. MLK said “The American dream reminds us that every man is an heir of the legacy of dignity and worth.” It’s a long way from Adam’s and King’s dream to a poor man’s store front payday loans and an even longer road from that to a foundation being set up to shelter a rich man's money.

Clinton’s article says poor working people are paying $40 to payday lenders and pawn shops to cash their checks. He wants to put a stop to this by opening up more banking opportunities (with money from his foundation). Wasn't it about 3 years ago that all the social, economic and political wisdom colluded to encourage poor people, including immigrants with false documents, to buy homes without investing anything, because owning real estate was supposed to be part of "the American dream?" We now call that dream the subprime nightmare. Now Clinton thinks the money not spent on payday loans will be invested in the stock market. Wow. That’s a huge stretch even for Bill--but doesn't it have a nice capitalistic ring to offset his socialist wife taking over healthcare? Then after we get them paying checking account fees, let’s issue them credit cards, "another day older and deeper in debt."

WalMart probably charges under $5 for the same service. But Democrats don’t like WalMart because it is successful, the real American dream. Some city councils and zoning boards work very hard to keep them from building in their jurisdiction especially if they provide jobs and services for low income people--like inexpensive clothing and appliances and banking services. Some states have passed special laws to keep WalMart out of the banking business.

I'm sure glad I'm not rich. I don't think I could carry around all that load of guilt--and BS.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

2.7 million receive incorrect SSA-1099 form

Alert seniors were catching the problem before it came out in the press, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin. I first heard about it from a high school friend who usually sends out jokes and local news. He said his 1099 overstated what he'd received. He and a lot of others.
    "Corrected forms will be sent to all affected Social Security recipients and to the IRS by the end of the month, Lassiter said. Because corrected information is on the way, he said the Social Security Administration decided not to tell the public about the mistake until asked about it by a reporter.

    The bad forms over-reported the amount of benefits received by some Social Security beneficiaries who purchase Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plans under Social Security parts C and D, Lassiter said. The incorrect information is in Box 3 of the form, "Benefits Paid."

    In some cases, Social Security computers preparing the 1099s included premiums for those plans paid in 2006 as part of benefits received in 2007, leading to the error, Lassiter said.

    In Wisconsin, 61,511 bad forms were sent out. Florida had the most, 196,742, followed by Texas at 188,361, California, 157,288, and Illinois, 124,707. In all, the Social Security Administration sent out about 57 million 1099-SSAs."
I didn't see anything about Ohio. Our SS numbers have been stolen so many times by inept state and OSU employees, maybe the error-angels just by-passed us this time. They say it will cost $1 million to fix it. That's impossible, unless they think because they don't use stamps on the envelopes, it doesn't cost anything. I guess the additional forms and labor is just funny money. And of course, no one will figure the cost the citizens will pay their accountants to refile. You don't ever want to have mismatched numbers and give them cause to audit--that's really a big expense.

Why we eat "healthy" and just get fatter

There's an interesting article in the NYT Magazine called "Unhappy meals" about how we eat, focusing on nutrients instead of real food. In our house, we eat real food as much as possible (fruits and vegetables that haven't been canned or pickled or plasticized or dehydrated), but still rely on frozen for variety, and canned for sauces, beans, and those rarely consumed items. We eat bakery bread that is firmer and tastes better than either of my grandmothers could make. We eat small portions of meat, but do eat meat every day. I wouldn't dream of purchasing something labeled a "healthy snack." Read the label! It's like a chemistry text book. We aren't fat.

But what is the problem? Nutritionism may be the culprit, says the author. There are more government regulations, more nutritional studies, more diets (low fat, low carb, etc.), and there's a huge industry of journalists and authors (including the one who wrote the above article) who do nothing but write articles or publish books about what to eat and how to eat it. One nutrition/exercise/health web site I read recently said we are spending more on obesity per day than on the war in Iraq. I haven't crunched the numbers, but that's scary! Read the article (recommended by Janeen who combats food allergies daily in her family) and see what you think.
    On the Women's Health Initiative: "But perhaps the biggest flaw in this study, and other studies like it, is that we have no idea what these women were really eating because, like most people when asked about their diet, they lied about it. How do we know this? Deduction. Consider: When the study began, the average participant weighed in at 170 pounds and claimed to be eating 1,800 calories a day. It would take an unusual metabolism to maintain that weight on so little food. And it would take an even freakier metabolism to drop only one or two pounds after getting down to a diet of 1,400 to 1,500 calories a day — as the women on the “low-fat” regimen claimed to have done. Sorry, ladies, but I just don’t buy it.

    In fact, nobody buys it. Even the scientists who conduct this sort of research conduct it in the knowledge that people lie about their food intake all the time. They even have scientific figures for the magnitude of the lie. Dietary trials like the Women’s Health Initiative rely on “food-frequency questionnaires,” and studies suggest that people on average eat between a fifth and a third more than they claim to on the questionnaires. How do the researchers know that? By comparing what people report on questionnaires with interviews about their dietary intake over the previous 24 hours, thought to be somewhat more reliable. In fact, the magnitude of the lie could be much greater, judging by the huge disparity between the total number of food calories produced every day for each American (3,900 calories) and the average number of those calories Americans own up to chomping: 2,000. (Waste accounts for some of the disparity, but nowhere near all of it.) All we really know about how much people actually eat is that the real number lies somewhere between those two figures."
There are good ideas and points in this article--many we've heard before, but cherry pick. We are bombarded by anti-western this and that, and eco-friendly tidbits by the same journalists who wrote us into obesity! You need to be selective. In the 1970s women were literally pushed out of the home and kitchen; we've been getting fatter since. Now we're being reeled back. Barefoot and pregnant probably won't fly these days. But do try to eat real food.

If you can find it.

Theistic Evolution

Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man, says the banner of theistic evolution that many Christians wave (God used evolution as His method for creation) makes as much sense biblically as the phrase flaming snowflakes.

You've probably heard of Lyme Disease--nasty stuff. Starts out as a rash, then fatigue, chills, fever, headache, and muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes, moving right along to painful neck, dizziness, heart palpatations, arthritis in the knees, sleep disturbances and fatigue (according to the CDC site). You get that from a tick bite--but what you really get is an infection from a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. You see, the tick doesn't just grow a bacteria--first it bites an animal like a deer or mouse that has it. Ticks don't fly, they can't jump on the deer, and they rarely move more than a yard from where they are hatched. So they have to wait for the "host" animal to brush up against the weed where it has spent its little smarmy life just waiting. Ever wonder how it (or other bacteria, viruses, microbes, etc.) developed over millions of years if the deer or mice or weeds weren't also evolving with the same plan in mind? Sort of like those little methane microbes under the ocean I mentioned yesterday, without which our global temperature would be 50 degrees higher.

I can see why atheists want to believe in evolution. But Christians? It really isn't even rational that an omnipotent God would bumble through billions and billions of years of mistakes and trial and error just so a deer could brush up against a piece of grass waving in the wind with a tick who never left home. To say nothing of the fact there was no disease until Adam sinned. So what were the little buggers passing along?

Dinner Menu

This was last night's, but was so yummy, I thought I'd post it in case I'm standing in front of the refrigerator some day at 4:30 wondering what to fix, and need to check my blog.
    Oven baked, wild-caught salmon
    Fresh greens, tossed salad
    Freshly sliced cantaloupe
    Peanut butter chocolate pie
The salmon was frozen from Trader Joe's (yes, of course, fresh would be better, but we live in Ohio, not Seattle). After it thawed (a bit--don't let it go all mushy on you), I set the oven for 375, sprayed a glass 8 x 8 dish, arranged the salmon in it, and put a light coating of mayonnaise on the salmon pieces, which I then sprinkled with some dried onion flakes, garlic salt, dill and parsley. Why not fresh herbs, you ask, but I never have those on hand.

While the salmon was baking (about 20 minutes) we had a small glass of wine and watched the evening (local) news. I don't like white wine, so we had Charles Shaw (3 buck chuck) Merlot, in my pretty 4 oz. stemmed glasses, which is just a perfect size for me. I get light-headed with 5 oz. I never drank wine before my heart surgery in 2002, but think it's probably much healthier than the chemicals in drugs. At least it's natural. In California this is called "two buck chuck;" in Ohio we pay import fees so it's $1.35 more per bottle. I can always tell the expensive stuff--doesn't taste nearly as good.

For the salad I used chopped red leaf lettuce for the base. Lettuce doesn't have much nutrition, so the darker the better--then grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, chopped organic mushrooms, fresh broccoli (and I use that term loosely, since I think it's been in the frig 2 weeks and God only knows when it was harvested and shipped) and sliced olives. The cantaloupe was cut just before I served it, but January isn't the best season for this fruit, so it wasn't like getting an Indiana cantaloupe in the summer.

Sounds really healthy. But ah, the dessert.

I used a purchased 8", chocolate crumb crust (Keebler), ready to use. The filling was made with 8 oz. low fat cream cheese, mixed with 1 cup of natural peanut butter (I use Krema), 1 cup of Splenda, 1 tsp. of vanilla, and about 4 oz. of sugar-free Cool Whip. It's stiff, so don't give up until thoroughly mixed. Put it carefully in the crust. Return to frig. When it set up a bit, I warmed up some sugar-free fudge topping, and made a design on the top of the filling. I serve that (very small pieces because it is terribly rich) with a dollup of the Cool Whip.

We both told me it was a great dinner. My husband always does, but I'm a bit pickier.

Hillary Clinton's legs

There's a good article in today's Wall Street Journal by Christina Binkley about "Women in Power"--their fashion tastes. Hillary is shown in that bright yellow blazer with black slacks we've seen on TV. Most of the other powerful women are shown in more feminine attire. Of the outfits shown, Condi's was way out in front with a very attractive skirted suit that showed off her lovely features, but looked smart. Nancy Pelosi's suit was a tad short and bunchy, and looking at her person you can't help but see she is a Californian with various enhancements and injections a part of her regimen. The PepsiCo CEO also looked lovely in an outfit that spoke to her heritage. Would it be racist to suggest that minority women in the US have a flare that the rest of us lack?

Yes, Hillary looks like I loaned her my legs, even though she's a pro-abortion, feminist, socialist who might go to the White House, not on the coat tails of her husband, but his fly. (There's some pretty good theory out there that she might not be where she is today if it hadn't been for Bill's indiscretions, particularly 10 years ago with Monica.)

But here's something to consider. She's probably healthier than the other candidates, both Republican and Democrat. Those of us with pear-shaped bodies (which almost always means heavier legs) are much healthier than those of us with apple-shaped bodies (usually they have great legs). If you don't believe me, google it. But I think she should get out of those omnipresent, omni-coverage slacks, and flaunt her healthy, solid, sturdy legs. Just lengthen the skirts a little, because wide thighs are just murder when you sit down on stage in front of an audience--even for skinny candidates.

Thursday Thirteen--13 steps along the American Way

I saw these points in Bret Stephens article about 2 weeks ago after the Iowa caucus. Whatever your party, religion or profession, I think you've seen or heard at least some, if not all, of these.

In the American way. . .
    1) CEOs must perform on a quarterly basis.

    2) Presidents and Congresses must reinvent politics in 100 days.

    3) Generals should wipe out opponents in 100 hours without significant casualties.

    4) Doctors should save life and limb every time.

    5) Search engines should yield a million results.

    6) What's bad will be made good, and what's good will be made great.

    7) If it isn't great, it's down right awful.

    8) There is a solution to every problem.

    9) Trial is possible without error.

    10) Risks must always be zero.

    11) Every set back is a disaster.

    12) Every mishap is the basis for a law suit.

    13) Chronic impatience and complaining are just part of our culture.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Band

What would your album cover look like? Try this. I found it at Ingrid's site. Her album is awesome.

1. The first article title on the page is the name of your band.

2. The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.

3. The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4. Use your graphics program of choice to throw them together, and post the result as a comment in this post. Also, pass it along in your own journal because it’s more amusing that way

Will you see your pet in heaven?

This is a great concern to many people, particularly the elderly who have been cared for and comforted by the companionship of a cat or dog or bird or other animal. Often it is the act of caring for and protecting the animal that helps the human. Our kitty brings us a lot of enjoyment, but she also brings out the best of our caring instincts and behaviors. Sometimes we just chuckle watching her sleep--the picture of absolute relaxation and not a care in the world. This is one of the better answers I've seen for this question.

The photo of the 3-legged shepherd mix and the mutt cat was found at Dog Somebody loves them a lot and I'm betting the animals return the favor.

Methane release in reverse

Interesting article at the Alchemist newsletter. Sounds like Archaea are a lot more important than polar bears. Isn't God amazing.

"Two microbes, known as Archaea, consume 90% of the greenhouse gas methane that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere from melting methane hydrates. However, these anaerobic microbes, which live in the ocean sediments, do so using a sulfur compound, methyl sulfide, rather than simply reversing the biochemistry of methane-making microbes. According to Christopher House and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University: "The Archaea take in the methane and produce a methyl sulfide, and then the sulfur-reducing bacteria eat the methyl sulfide and reduced it to sulfide," explains House. Understanding how these symbiotic organisms remove methane from the oceans is important because without them the average global atmospheric temperature would likely be warmer by about 10 degrees Celsius." (To convert Celsius (Centigrade) to Fahrenheit, multiply by 1.8 and add 32.)

Red jeans

Who knew? I thought colored jeans (except blue denim, gray, black or ugly) were out of style except for wearing around the house to clean, or to dash to the coffee shop in the wee hours of the morning. This photo is from the Ditto site; those aren't my legs, or fold marks (shouldn't they be ironed before the photo session?). Also, mine aren't flares or low rise. These cost $158. That's outrageous. It makes me flush to think about it. Mine are Ralph Lauren and I think I paid $3 for them at the Discovery Shop. Beautiful fabric and fit. Smug attack.

Speaking of colors, I mended some cotton gloves today. I'd been trying to think of something that work like a skinny darning egg, and finally came up with a fat colored marker. It's about the size of my index finger, which is where I always poke through. I don't like heavy gloves, but the thin ones don't last long.

Speaking of thread, I used a close match from a wooden spool from my mother's sewing cabinet. When's the last time you saw one of those? These spools belonged to my husband's grandmother, Neno, so I'm guessing they are maybe 60-70 years old because I've had them almost 50.

You know who you are

Someone I love is trying to quit smoking. I suggested he take one day at a time, and he assured me an hour might be a bit much. Then I saw this quote at Dancing Boys Mom. Is this great, or what?
    I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once--Ashleigh Brilliant
I smoked a few cigs in college--had gained some weight. My roommate, daughter of a doctor, thought it might work. Stupid 60s. Fortunately, they tasted so bad, stung my nose, burned my eyes and made my breath stink, so I didn't continue. Can't imagine the attraction for those just starting. That's a lot of hurdles to try to look cool.

If only it were this easy

Si. No. Per piacere. Grazie. Prego. Parla inglese? Che? Vorrei vedere il cartellino dei colori.

Looking ahead to our trip.

What's a blog bar?

It's a way for the consumer to get involved--immediately. Computer terminals at the location (store, show, museum, library) allow real time input. I saw this at Trend Central via Library Marketing (her link didn't work; use mine).

"The Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently (i.e. Dec. 24, 2007, the date I saw this) hosting a blog bar, with eight computer terminals, at their current blog.mode: addressing fashion exhibition. The public can post their reactions to the show and ask questions which curators will respond to; in short, the blog bar is meant to “provoke commentary.” Excerpts of the blog will be included in the post-show book in order to document the impact of the exhibit and attendees’ participation."

I haven't seen a blog bar, but Sunday we did attend the final day of the Monet's Garden exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art. It was very crowded. We weren't the only ones who waited for the last day. But I understand Saturday was even worse, with lines circling around the entry to the exhibit twice. We went right after first service at church, then stayed for lunch in the lovely restaurant/buffet designed by my husband many years ago. If CMA had had a blog bar, I might have commented how much more I enjoyed the American impressionists, because I liked seeing figures in the paintings. Blobs of color don't excite me too much. I probably wouldn't have "provoked commentary," except from my husband who doesn't do computers and would have been ready to move on to another exhibit, so it would have been a short message.

3WW--Three Word Wednesday

Today, January 23, the words are
For Mother, who died on January 24

Tomorrow she will be gone;
her breath scattered,
her words silenced.

Only her deeds will remain.

Bone posts 3 words on Tuesday night or Wednesday. The challenge is for you to write an essay, poem, thought, etc. using the three words, post that at your own site, then comment at the 3WW site, and the others who are participating. See you there. Or here. OK?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


His father's heart

The excerpt from Steve McKee's book, "My father's heart" in today's Wall St. Journal was riveting. I thought I'd forgotten most of that phase of Dad's life. How different it could have been for our family if he hadn't quit when he started to cough up blood.
    On Sept. 30, 1969, 16-year-old Steve McKee watched his father die of a heart attack on the couch in their TV room. A lifelong smoker, John McKee had already been stricken by a heart attack six years earlier. But, unable to quit his three-pack-a-day habit, he made no lifestyle changes that might have prolonged his life. Deeply disappointed by his father's seeming surrender to cardiovascular disease, Mr. McKee -- now an editor at The Wall Street Journal -- set out to find the man who died before his son could know him. With this memoir, he sought to find a measure of understanding for his father, and anyone affected by smoking and heart disease. . . .
My father and my father-in-law both stopped smoking cold turkey as they began to move beyond the line of two packs a day. Dad was probably 36 or 37 when he began to cough blood; my husband's father was older, maybe in his 50s when one night out with his friends he started to open that third pack, he put it down and quit. My dad lived to 89; my husband's dad to 91; my husband's step-father, also a very heavy smoker who didn't quit, to 75; my husband's step-mother, also a smoker, died at 71 of lung cancer. All began smoking in their teens and really enjoyed it.
    "My sister Kathy and I woke up every morning to the sounds of the same alarm clock: Dad's cough, his cigarette hack. Breath in. Pause. HACK. (Catch) Cough. They came in stanzas--three, four, five at a time, the second-to-last always the biggest crescendo." writes McKee
Oh, I remember that cough. We children had never known anything else but Dad's coughing. And the blue haze everywhere in the house if he was home. In those days, I didn't find the smell unpleasant like I do now. It was always a mix of after shave, hair cream, cigarettes and fuel oil. But what must my mother have thought? Neither of her parents smoked. Her mother was a health-nut--wouldn't even eat red meat, and she was always airing out the house.

Dad told me 40 years later that he wanted a cigarette for 20 years. When I was younger, I didn't think about that too much. But now I'm in awe of his focus, drive and determination. He was not always a pleasant person to be around when I was growing up. I wonder now if he just wanted a cigarette, if his head hurt, his eyes burned and his skin crawled for nicotine. My parents weren't social like McKee's parents. Dad dealt with people all day, 12 hours a day and a houseful of noisy children at night. And all the while, craving a cigarette, knowing that would take the edge off.

I won't be reading the book, but I'll remember it could have been me.

Link to the review is here.

Better safe than snowy

When I left the coffee shop this morning, there was about 1/2" of snow on all my windows, the mirrors, the head lights, hood, roof, etc. I only live 1/2 mile away. But I took out the brush and cleaned it all off. Most accidents happen close to home. I didn't any want loose snow to be picked up from the hood and plastered against my windshield or from my roof on to the next guy. Not everyone was as careful, so I had to watch them too.

Here's what's happening a bit north of us as of 2 p.m. today--looks like Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
    "GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A foot of snow blanketed parts of Michigan and Wisconsin during the night, closing schools Tuesday and causing numerous traffic accidents. At least three traffic deaths were blamed on the weather in Michigan. Winter weather also was blamed for deaths in Oklahoma and Kentucky.

    Snow started falling Monday and continued early Tuesday, piling up about a foot deep in western Michigan and up to 13 inches deep in some areas of southeastern Wisconsin. The snowfall started diminishing Tuesday in western Michigan, where the National Weather Service canceled a winter storm warning.

    Nearly every school was closed in the Grand Rapids region."
Did you see that Baghdad had snow last week for the first time in about 100 years? That must have been exciting for the kids.

Omaha and Chickadee

The spell-check in my Outlook e-mail program wants to change Huckabee to Chickadee and Obama to Omaha.

Cat behavior

Rebellion. Yesterday I had my hands in the meat ball mix and the cat jumped up on the kitchen table and sat there looking at me. "Oh no. That's not allowed," I said. She looked at me and thought, "Oh yeah, and what are you going to do about it?"

Today my husband says he saw her on the dining room table. He told her to get down. She just looked at him defiantly.

Earlier today she was sitting in my lap while I was blogging. I started to absent mindedly pet her--maybe a little rough--while I was thinking. She raised her head and wrapped her jaws around my thumb, pressing gently. "Oh no. We don't bite the mommy," I said quietly. Our eyes locked. Hers narrowed. She let go.

I am alpha-cat.

Cleaner air

I'd forgotten about this until I came across it in my blog.
    The black-out last summer (August 2003) that affected northern Ohio, Michigan and many eastern states, caused cleaner air. It sharply reduced the concentrations of ozone and sulfur dioxide. Maybe we could just shut everything down for a week every August and forget all the rules and regulations, if it is that easy.
Nah. The Democrats want to shut it all down, all the time, except for their private jets and big estates.

DNA = Darn Nuisance Again

It's in our genes. Something in our DNA gurgles forth when we find a problem on the web. Talking with other librarians at the retirees lunch last Friday I realize I'm not the only one who gets sidetracked in the middle of researching something to offer the webmaster or IT staff some suggestions about broken links, links that misdirect, or bad printing advice. It just happened again, although not at a library or church site (where I usually suggest they at least mention the name of the town or city when giving the street address). This was a very lovely letter from Campus Crusade for "Rapid Deployment Kits" providing spiritual resources for our troops. Because my husband doesn't use the computer (and sleeps in longer than I do and I would forget this by the time we see each other), I wanted to print it. We usually consult with each other before straying from our list of parachurch donations.

To print a webpage I first do a print preview, because I hate getting that 3rd or 4th page with one line of advertising on it. But some web pages get around this by printing the pretty stuff (don't know the technical term) on page 1 after you've adjusted your printer to print only one page based on a "print preview." So after it spits it out, you have the colorful heading and no letter. For some reason, my printer (HP Photosmart, 3 in one, don't ever buy one), will then grab 5 or 6 pages if you try to turn that sheet over and print the "real" information, jamming as it goes, requiring a 5 minute hassle when all you wanted to do was donate $10 so a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan will have a New Testament.

After the paper is unjammed and you have the letter (if you have librarian DNA), you then stop to send the company webmaster/IT staff an e-mail explaining how they could be more helpful to the ordinary reader who isn't 21 years old and gaming in their off time. It takes awhile to do this because the comment window is well hidden behind the FAQ which they want you to read first. Since they rarely acknowledge that their own stuff might be unhelpful, printing instructions are rarely included in an FAQ (also printers differ). The easiest thing is to have a "print only this page" or similar option, but that might leave out the advertising, so not all sites offer this. My prontomail e-mail is a mess to print. I have to copy and drop it in a word processing document or it tries all sorts of funny things. No matter what I comment on, they tell me to clear my cache.

I tried to order 2 books for my husband and his friend from Amazon. I had checked it out of the library for him (he also never goes to a library) and he loved it. Amazon offered me an additional 30% off if I'd get their charge card. I don't really want another charge card, but I thought it might be useful for ordering books. "Just a few seconds" ran into many minutes and gazillions of pages of tiny print I'm sure no one but a librarian would read, so I backed out of that and went back to my one credit card. Five times I tried. Five times it told me I didn't enter select the name of the card (but I did). So I backed out again, and decided I would just go up the street to Barnes and Noble and talk to a human being and tell them I wanted to order 2 copies of one title for 2 retired architects who want to own the wonderful book on architectural drawings that's available at UAPL.

But my DNA kicked in and I stopped to search for the comment window (not easy to do) and tell them about the problem. After 3 days, I finally got a response, apologizing for nothing, and telling me I hadn't selected the right card name (I only have one card so I think I know which company I use), or my number didn't match their database (why is my number in their database?) or other snarky suggestions. I wrote back that I'd done it all correctly and I was going to a bookstore, but their response was automated and said I couldn't reply to their reply! I will waste no more valuable librarian DNA on Amazon. They can just keep their old books.

When I shared with the retirees group my opinion on the lack of flexibility and awkwardness of "digital repository" software (many libraries use the same program which looks like no librarian ever sat on the selection committee) one retiree told me I should volunteer for the committee at OSU that handles that. A committee? No way! If I wanted to spend my life on a committee I wouldn't have retired.

Rant over. I feel better.

Monday, January 21, 2008


"It's OK"

That was my husband's response when I asked if he liked my new dessert. He usually goes over the edge with compliments--truly one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. "Not fabulous? Terrific? Just OK?" I asked. "It's OK," he repeated. I must have been inspired after writing my Monday Memories about Mother's kitchens. It started out as a way to use up a little dab of fresh pineapple that was getting old, with some apples going soft, some coconut getting dried out, and some dried bananas of undetermined age, with what was left of the golden raisins and dried apricots, simmered in a little orange juice. I divided it into 6 pudding cups, cooled it, topped with sugar free Cool Whip and refrigerated.

He was watching me from the kitchen table make my sweet sour meat balls--one can each of sauerkraut, whole cranberry sauce and jar of chili sauce, mixed and set aside; then pour over lightly browned meat balls, which are made with whatever bread crumbs you have on hand, 2 eggs, 2-3 lbs or so of ground beef, and a package of Lipton onion soup. Bake for an hour at 375. Leftover sauce and meatballs freeze nicely.

Now, I'm convinced it's the Lipton's that really makes this, not the sauce--although it is very good. And I was out of Lipton's. Don't make this recipe if you don't have it. So I lightly grilled some fresh onions and mushrooms in about a 1/2 cup of bouillon and chopped them up fine. I suspect it will be "OK," but won't be fabulous.

After I finished the meatballs I had one of the fruit compotes. It was OK. Next time, I'll leave out the dried bananas.

All this culinary effort has made me sleepy. I'm down for a nap. Love retirement.

Three Word Wednesday for Monday Memories

Bone posts "three words every Wednesday (perhaps Tuesday night even, oh wishful thinker that I am). Your mission is to write something"--a poem, story, sentence, anything–using all three words. Then you leave a comment at the 3WW site letting people know they should visit your blog. For January 16 the 3WW cue was

My mother wasn't obsessed with remodeling the awkward kitchen in the homes my father bought, but her eyes widened and her fingers seemed to twitch when she first saw them. Every house my father found seemed to have an outdated kitchen--and sometimes Mother hadn't seen the house before he purchased it. The earliest home I remember at 203 East Hitt Street in Mt. Morris was not old enough to be horribly outdated--being perhaps 30 years old--but it probably received fresh paint and new curtains for the southern exposure kitchen window. The wall cabinets had heavy pull-out drawers. I remember dragging them out like stair steps for climbing to reach something. And then falling.

The first home in Forreston was a disaster--an old 19th century farm house with a cold water hand pump in the kitchen and an outdoor toilet. Mother rose to the challenge, remodeling the kitchen and installing a bathroom using one of the smaller bedrooms. When it was livable, dad bought a very nice brick home a few blocks away. It was well designed with beautiful woodwork and amazing closets (each closet had a closet), but the kitchen sink with a sloping drain board hung on the wall. Even a skirt to disguise it didn't help and the ice box (no refrigerator) was on the back porch. Mother went to work and built a standard sized sink cabinet and bought a refrigerator, and then built an eating nook with a wrap around bench which was all the rage then. But the bold colors of the late 1940s were her undoing. I think she clipped too many articles from Better Homes and Gardens, because she painted the linoleum deep maroon, and speckled it (sort of like the 90s craze for faux painting) by dipping a crumpled newspaper in white paint and patting it on the maroon floor. It looked like a frisky puppy ran through spilled paint and dashed through the kitchen.

In 1951 Dad bought several different houses in Mt. Morris, the first two being too small for a family of six, so he traded the second for our wonderful home at 4 South Hannah in March, again with an awkward, dated kitchen. I've used this photo before, but it's all I have to show the features--the old turn of the century wall cabinets to the ceiling with work space about 12" deep, radiator for heat over which Mother had built a shelf, a very tall window, and a wood table heavy with paint. What you don't see is the sink behind me hanging on the wall next to a bathroom door. The bathroom had been installed in what was probably the "carriage porch," and had four doors and a washer and dryer--a door to the backyard and the kitchen plus two other doors to the basement and the music room/dad's office. In front of me in this photo was a door and a window to an enclosed back porch which had cabinets for storage. Mother remodeled this kitchen in late 1955 and again we had a table with a built in bench (they really aren't very convenient, but were very popular then). She only enjoyed it three years.

Their final house in Mt. Morris at 315 East Lincoln Street was probably less than ten years old when they bought it in 1958, and although not dated, the kitchen was awkward and tiny. Out came Mother's box of magazine clippings and down came some walls. She hired a carpenter who built her dream design--a wonderful plan that lasted her over thirty years, and cost at least half the value of the house (which is probably why dad didn't sell it).

In the 1960s she began remodeling her parents' home place as a retreat center, a huge house between Franklin Grove and Ashton. She had tongue and groove cabinetry installed to match some of the original from 1908, and removed the cook stove to install a washer and dryer enclosed behind doors. It was a wonderful, bright and airy gathering spot.

Mom had one last kitchen to tackle before her final reveal. When she and dad moved into their retirement home in Pinecrest Apartments in 1997 their unit was quite new, but not convenient for a short, 80-something woman with a few opinions about kitchens. She hired a carpenter to build in sliding and roll out shelves in all the kitchen cabinets for easy access. She didn't do much cooking during her final years, but she was quite proud of her efforts and when her daughters and grand daughters visited, we appreciated again her knack for handling bad kitchens.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pinky and the Sauerkraut Queen

About two years ago in one of my Monday Memories posts I wrote about how horse crazy I was as a child. In that story, I told about Pinky, a fat white pony who was blind. I've now heard from two other women, a bit younger than me, who knew Pinky. Luann found the blog because she was the last Sauerkraut Queen of Forreston, Illinois in 1960 (which I had blogged about), and Carol, because her family owned him. Carol writes:
    Pinky was not an albino, he had brown spots. You probably don't remember but he had a spot on his back about the size of a saddle. He lived to be about 30 years old. He was the BEST. I'm glad you are making him famous, he deserves it. Many children learned how to ride on him. My folks got him when I was a year old and use to turn him loose in the house yard with me on his back. He was my babysitter.
Luann, the last Sauerkraut Queen, also learned to ride on Pinky. A great horse with a big heart. I'm hoping someone has a photo.

Update: Here's a photo of Pinky babysitting Carol.

Here's Pinky with a load of kids.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Eco-Shaker Architecture

Reading through this competition notice ($20,000 prize for gullible students with a valid .edu address), I thought: "But what if this is just part of the "normal" historical warming and cooling cycle? Like what put Ohio under a glacier a few thousand years ago. Like what made Lake Erie rise and fall, shrink and grow? What if you are killing off the very technology that will save us all from a very natural phenomenon?
    The solution to global warming, according to Mazria, is two-fold. “Energy use is at the heart of global warming. There are two sides to energy use, supply and demand, so any viable solution must address both sides of this coin,” he says. On the supply side, Mazria advocates first for a U.S. and then a global moratorium on the construction of any new conventional coal plants and the gradual phasing out of existing coal plants by 2050. On the demand side, he advocates for adoption and implementation of The 2030 Challenge, a global initiative calling for all new buildings and renovations to reduce their fossil-fuel greenhouse-gas-emitting consumption by 50 percent by 2010, and that all new buildings be “carbon neutral” by 2030.
So you thought it was the automobile, or factories? No. Architects say 50% is caused by the building trades--and boy, are they going after the profits of rebuilding, renovating, refitting, recaulking, everything they can get their green fingers on! A global moratorium. I guess that means more power for the U.N. Sorry Africa. First no DDT to help with your health problems, now no energy for jobs. We've got ours. If you're black, get back.

Good for a cardio workout

even if you don't get out of your chair. My husband leads a group of ladies in an exercise class. He selects his own music, some of it pretty lively. I used to attend, but the church fellowship hall is carpet over concrete, and my hip joints didn't like that, so now I just walk outside. Anyway, back to the heading. Back in Skinny Jeans says this is a great cardio workout. I'll play it for my husband, but I'm betting we don't have the CD!

My heart rate went up just listening to it, which is why I don't go to the X-Alt services at church. Loud. Thump-de-dump. Noise. People think they are having a spiritual experience, but the noise is just changing their heart rate. But then, Bach can do that too. I'm listening to his concertos as I type. (Michael Murray, Bach, The organs at First Congregational Church, Los Angeles)

Friday, January 18, 2008

High pitched whine

The last few times I've used my wonderful Panasonic vacuum cleaner there has been a really ugly whine. Hurt-my-ears-whine. Call-for-service-whine. Cat-runs-out-of-the-room-whine. My husband mentioned that when he vacuumed his office yesterday that it seemed to be missing a lot. I looked for my replacement bag stash, and set out to change the dirt bag, because I had no idea when I'd last done that. I remember the "elderly" lady from whom we bought our summer cottage in 1988 (a little older than I am now) had a little note attached to the spare bags about when the last change occurred. Guess I need to do that. When I finally wrenched the front off that machine you should have seen the bag--it was about to pop and the attached opening was a solid mass of cat hair. I'll bet it weighed 5 lbs. With the new bag, there is no whine. Problem solved.

Now, another old bag whine.

I was the hostess today for a luncheon of 10 retirees from OSUL and I selected the golf course club house. As I came in I saw on the board that the special was "Shrimp panini with drink." Sounded good. So I ordered it. When we were served I got this very strange looking thing--looked like 2 pieces of toast. I opened it up and saw a few mushrooms. I called the waiter over and asked him if he saw any shrimp. So he whisked away the plate and took it to the kitchen. One of the guests had come in late, and when she already had her food and I had none, I could see that everyone else would be finished before I got my food. I flagged down the waiter again. He assured me it was being taken care of. Another 5 minutes. I waved him down again, and told him (I didn't really whine, but I was starting to flush), I would go to the buffet and he should cancel my order. Again, he assured me it would only be a few minutes. In my firmest voice I said, CANCEL THE ORDER. I'M GOING TO THE BUFFET TABLE. And I did. I got some veggies, a little fruit and some sort of odd sausage. When everyone else got a check I asked for mine and he apologized and said there would be no charge. He also told me that it was a misprint--it should have said "Shroom Panini" not Shrimp Panini, but it was written wrong, and he also said it wrong in announcing the specials.

So I have no idea what they were trying to fix in the kitchen while I waited 10 minutes. Funny thing is, he said three other people in the dining room had ordered the Shrimp Panini, and no one said anything!

Violence against children

Two articles yesterday about violence against children. Bullying and violence are going up in the pre-school age group--yes, little ones are smacking each other around, biting and bullying is on the increase among 3 and 4 year olds. The "experts" are baffled by the trend. Maybe it's because spanking has been outlawed? "Immediate consequences" may be best understood with a well-placed smack on the rear, but I'm sure that doesn't get approval today. Also, turning them loose to run around outside would probably do a lot and get them away from computer kiddie games.

But violence against the unborn is going down. Hurrah! Abortions are at their lowest level since 1976. The rate of women of child bearing age getting abortions fell about 9% between 2000 and 2005. They can't identify the reason for that either. Maybe it's the moral force of a pro-life president?

What really spooked the market?

This past year we've been discussing with our financial adviser about when to start drawing down the IRA, 401-k, etc. There is a formula, you know. You can't just start willy-nilly taking money out or you might have some serious tax problems. David said, "It depends on the election. The Democrats will raise taxes, and that will be bad for the market. But it will also determine if you start it in tax year 2008 or 2009." So why has the market dropped so rapidly--aside from all the media trying to talk the country in to a recession, that is? Business smells a Democrat president. The Democratic party is now the party of the rich, so I'm sure they'll take care of their own. It's all the rest of us, especially boomers moving into their retirement years with supplemental savings and pensions invested in the stock market who will suffer.

We already know the way to stimulate the economy is to cut taxes; it works every time, even for Democrats. But that doesn't penalize the successful, hard-working American, even if it does bring in more monopoly funny money for Congress.

Measuring the microwave

My daughter stopped by the other evening and asked for a tape measure to check the distance of my microwave oven from the stove top. She has plans to buy one for under a wall cabinet to free up space on her kitchen counter. She has some gift cards from Christmas designated for this and is anticipating additional gift cards from her staff (they haven't had their Christmas party yet) to pay for it.

It struck me that anticipating something additional to help pay for it is the way some Christians (Roman Catholics, anabaptists, Methodists, pentecostals, etc.) think of grace. Yes, "Jesus died on the cross for my sins," and yes I'm acceptable in God's eyes, and yes it is a gift, but I just need to add a little bit here and there (with the help of the Holy Spirit, or more Bible Study, or more prayer, or a second blessing, or more visiting the sick or aiding the poor, or more helping migrants) and then I'll be truly righteous and acceptable. I can't rest with "just" this gift, hand me a tape measure so I can see how I'm doing. In other words, the hardest thing for a Christian--particularly Americans--to do is abandon self-mastery or seeking or thinking or doing, and just let Jesus Christ stand in the gap and be our righteousness before God.

From an eternal perspective (or even my own perspective) we Christians look pretty silly. We're holding a perfect gift in one hand and a tape measure in the other, and missing the point that it is complete, all the while looking beyond the wonderful gift we already have for another gift, another renewal, another revival, another-something to make us more worthy in God's eyes. More worthy than Jesus?

Article 4 of the Augsburg Confession:
    Our churches also teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works but are freely justified for Christ's sake through faith when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven on account of Christ, who by his death made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in his sight (Romans 3:4).
Friday, January 18, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Are you a Democrat, a Republican, or a . . .

Hurry on over to Doyle's blog and read this. It's a good laugh. I'm surprised Murray hasn't sent it to his group.

The intolerant left

Arthur C. Brooks has an article in the WSJ today titled, "The intolerance of the left." For absolute hatred, scorn and intolerance of leaders, candidates and beliefs, the left is way over the edge.

Comparing the hysteria of right wing pundits in 1998 for President Clinton, on a temperature scale where zero was freezing, Gore and Clinton got the lowest score from 28% of the right wingers for an average temperature of 45. Bush-Chaney got an average temperature of 15 and 60% of the left have them a zero. More lefties would support Saddam Hussein than Bush, and routinely compare him to Hitler.

This week I heard a Christian woman say she was really torn by the Biblical command to pray for our leaders because she hoped Bush would be assassinated in his latest mideast trip. Need I suggest which political party she belongs to?

I said I didn't support Hillary Clinton for President, but if that was the nation's choice, I would certainly be on my knees every night (and not in a Monica way) in prayer for her and the nation! So when you hear liberal pols or preachers bemoaning how intolerant and hostile our politicians or public square have become, nod your head. It's true, especially of the liberal you're probably listening to.