Saturday, May 31, 2008

Children 100 years ago

sound very similar to 60 years ago, or 30 years ago, for that matter, the last time I had experience with the 9-12 age range. This is taken from "Hurlbut's Teacher-Training Lessons for the Sunday School" (1908) by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, and is a revision of his 1885 leaflets, and was authorized by the International Sunday School Association. The training of Sunday School teachers, he writes in the Preface, was an outgrowth of the Chautauqua Movement, which began in 1874, although there were teachers' guides before that. Sunday schools, not the government, provided the first form of public education in the United States.

These notes are taken from Chapter 42, "The Junior Pupils."
    At the age of 8 or 9 a change comes gradually over the child's nature; and a new stage in its history begins. [In Sunday Schools this was called the Junior period.] It lasts about 4 years, from 9 to 12 or 13, and both entering and leaving it, the girls are about a year ahead of the boys in maturity.

      Physical Traits--slower growth in the size of body and brain
      strong development in strength and firmness of texture
      great increase in physical activity--need games and sports
      tendency to take risks--especially boys

      Mental traits--Curiosity, interest in facts, little interest in abstract
      good time for history, biography, adventure
      Memory--strong, more accurate, more retentive than at any other period, if they don't memorize now, it will become much more difficult later
      Arrangement of Knowledge--learning sequence of events, locality, facts
      Love of reading--world of books is opening, reading more rapidly
      Acquisitiveness--gathering and hoarding all sorts of things

      Social traits--boys and girls no longer want to play together; boys with boys, girls with girls
      Friendships--need for a special, constant companion--they never tire of each other
      Club-spirit--girls form societies; boys form clubs or gangs; loyalty must be maintained at the sacrifice of truth and morality

      Moral traits--sees more strongly the difference between right and wrong, even if they don't follow it in conduct
      Sense of Justice--demand "fair play," perceive wrongs and resent them;

      Religious traits--admiration for the heroic and noble, usually not doctrinal or emotional
      willingness to work for Christ and the church--they have the time and energy, so put them to work--they love accomplishment.
The author suggests same-sex classes of about six, not more than eight, and that the teachers should be different than the ones they had in the primary grades. The author suggests emphasis on history and facts, not theology, but the list to be included was certainly impressive for 30 minutes a week! He suggests avoiding pathetic or suffering pictures, even pictures of Christ. Don't look for emotion or radical transformation, but one might expect a "decision for Christ," between 10 and 12.

This book belonged to my grandparents, who both taught Sunday School many years, and attended special, residential training classes at Bethany Seminary in Chicago. The cover is missing and it has been hand stitched to hold it together, with the back cover from a different source. My children were grown before I inherited this book--I could have saved myself a lot of time and expense if I'd used this instead of some of the trendy, psycho-babble stuff available in the 1970s and 1980s.

4909 Cashing in on Green

The new Global Warming-Environmentalist religion has many altars where you can stop to open your wallet and pick out some cash.


Even "awareness" and "effort" will get you some points. It works for any profession, but here's one I noticed suitable for city managers in Indiana.

"The program has been designed to be general and applicable to communities of ALL sizes. Since IACT may oppose the basis of current (or future) regulatory compliance programs, such as certain elements related to CSO requirements, the survey and awards program DO NOT address environmental compliance issues; rather, they address those programs that go above and beyond regulatory compliance and permits from a municipal program and project perspective. Since legal and policy challenges may be rooted in what IACT feels to be legitimate opposition or disagreement, this program IS NOT CONCERNED with whether or not a community's NPDES permit, air quality compliance, or other regulatory program is up-to-date, in court, under negotiation, etc.

"Quality of Life" is often considered as a criterion for green programs. Quality of life, by itself, is not specifically surveyed here. For the purposes of this survey, it is assumed that a "better" quality of life would result from the green programs discussed.

Ideas, success stories, and cost savings that this program identifies will be redistributed as the program continues in future years."

Friday, May 30, 2008

My new pink jeans

Actually, I sort of look like a large Easter egg. I bought them at the Discovery Shop (Cancer resale), Talbot's, and they looked like they'd never been worn or washed. Maybe some other old lady had second thoughts after she got home. But $4. For that I could garden in them. If I didn't have a brown thumb. So I googled "pink jeans" to see what would go with them, and found this really neat site. Now I know what goes with what, if I were 30.

About 10 years ago I decided I was too old for jeans--I think I got my first pair around 1949, maybe for camp. In those days, jeans zipped on the side and you folded up the cufff. And you never, never wore jeans to school. But lately I've been picking them up again. Now I have dark brown, black, mint green, olive green, moss green, khaki, red, pink and several shades of blue--2 are from the 80s so they have that nice faded look and soft feel. I've chunked out a bit since Ireland in September, so 3 pair are too tight to wear comfortably.

But pink. I thought I'd take them to Lakeside. I'd slip out of the house at dawn, walk along the lakefront about 5:30 a.m., then go to the coffee shop around 6, hurry back to the cottage by 7, and maybe no one would notice the 2-legged Easter egg frightening the squirrels and cats, walking down the street.

Lakeside at dawn, Kelly's Island in the distance

4907 Otis Moss, Obama's new pastor

I blogged about him last summer because he was pastor of the week at Lakeside. I attended one of his Bible studies, and although he slipped in a little social justice where it didn't fit the story, he was an excellent speaker and all the old folks at home liked him. Quite young. I believe he was from Cleveland. I remember one friend commenting that if that was what Obama was hearing on Sunday, he couldn't go too far wrong.

Don't be confused by the photo--that's Mike Albert, the Big-E.

Listening to Obama, variation on a theme

Oil prices continue to rise
it should be no great surprise
next they'll raise our taxes
If we elect Presidents Obam-es.

Don't you dare question them
you're only being dense and dim
he's been made messianic
by his handlers in a panic.

Move On's the group who's in control
George Soros too is on a roll
with flubs, flips and gaps
gaffes, waffles and flaps.

No wisdom makes it past his lips
he's made more than his share of slips
how'd he ever get through college
with such a lack of basic knowledge.

Preachers who scream and shout
from his pulpit in a pout,
Roman Catholic or UCC
is this what passes as loyalty?

They took to task poor Dan Quayle
over potatoe they did wail
but mix-ups over world war two
we're not supposed to notice and rue.

Prevarication or just lies
no matter which the flag he flies
no matter what today's faux pas
We've got his Highness Obama.

Magpies and Blackbirds

One of the more interesting (and gross) reference questions I answered when I was the librarian in the Veterinary Medicine Library, was about whether the diseases of blackbirds would be made harmless if they were baked in a pie.* I kid you not. The phone call was from a chef in New York who had entered a contest, and he wanted to bake 12 and 20 blackbirds. (Can't imagine trying to pluck the feathers, but maybe his assistants did that.) When I asked where he was going to get them, he told me he planned to shoot them. So when I saw the Magpie Trial report, I thought just maybe it was about birds. It wasn't. The Magpie Trial was a large international trial to evaluate the effects of magnesium sulphate compared to placebo when given to women with pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality for women and children and accounts for 10% of maternal deaths, and is also associated with increased perinatal mortality. This is important research for poor countries. So I suppose the name of the trial comes from MAG and Pre eclampsia. Clever names these trial folks use. My theory is there is a committee somewhere who comes up with these names.

Anyway. In this trial and the follow-up it was proven that magnesium sulphate for women with pre-eclampsia halves the risk of progression to eclampsia with positive results for longer-term outcome for both the mother and child. However, it is quite expensive, depending on the country where the mother is treated. During a conference, some interesting tales came out on the follow-up of these patients when collaborators from 19 countries met. I thought this one was good--it took place in Karachi, Pakistan:
    My assistant tried to contact one family. We wrote several letters but did not get any reply. One fine day a lady telephoned my office asking which baby and mother I wanted to examine. According to her, in her house there were only grown up people. Nobody had had a baby recently. The youngest child was fourteen years old. She said her mother was really upset. We went into the details, and traced the husband. He was at work and we found out that this husband had two wives. The second wife had delivered in our hospital and was recruited into the Magpie Trial. The first wife had no idea of this second marriage. The husband had given the address where he lived with his first wife. The husband asked us not to mention this to the first wife, otherwise there would be a big upheaval. So this lady was followed up by phone only, and through her husband. Interesting revelations took place during the follow up study of the Magpie Trial! By the way a man is allowed to have two wives at the same time by Muslim tradition, but according to Muslim law he has to have permission from the first wife to marry the second time.
*As I recall, I had to check with our poultry disease expert who concluded any bacteria would have been killed by the heat. Not sure about the gun-shot residue.

Asia's new threat

Is it an increase in cancer, or is it the social justice crowd looking for a cause. This looks a bit odd to me.
    "Asia is on the cusp of a cancer epidemic of unprecedented proportions. Projections suggest that the number of new cases of cancer in Asia will increase from 4·5 million in 2002 to 7·1 million by 2020 if existing prevention and management strategies remain unchanged." Lancet Asia Medical Forum 2007 [may require registration]
Is there really more cancer, or is there just better screening, diagnosis, and treatment, like the breast cancer scare tactics (the increase is really better screening which finds lumps earlier)? OK, here it is. We knew this was coming, despite the unproven connection between industrialization and cancers (unless you count factory-made cigarettes, commercially prepared, high calorie foods, and plants which produce alcoholic beverages).
    "The rapid rate of economic development in some Asian countries, along with the accompanying industrialisation and urbanisation, are contributing to an ever-increasing risk of common cancers."
Does this sound like a reason for rich western environmentalists to discourage development in Third World countries? God forbid that any country would ever aspire to the standard of living of a Norway or Germany.

Kill the children, save the trade of Silent Spring

That's what environmentalists in rich western nations do. Here's an article from a 2007 Lancet.
    In September, 2006, WHO recommended wider use of indoor spraying with dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)—once banned because of its toxic effects on the environment—and other insecticides to control malaria. Since then, a number of African countries have made their old foe DDT their new friend. Malawi is the latest, announcing last week that it would be introducing indoor residual spraying with DDT in its fight against malaria.
So what's the problem? While we wait for science and technology to find a cheap, effective vaccine or drug, why can't the lives of African children be saved? Agricultural products will be banned. That's how powerful the environmentalists are. Maybe one of the children saved might have grown up to find the answers. Very short sighted, these liberals.
    Agricultural exporters in some African countries have already raised concerns. They claim that their produce will be banned from the EU if DDT is used for indoor residual spraying. It would be devastating if the health and economic gains of controlling malaria were offset by a deleterious effect on countries' economies. But fears of a ban appear to be unjustified. Last year, the EU said it would not automatically ban imports from countries if DDT is found to exceed tolerated levels. They will, however, stop consignments containing residues above their maximum limits, which are around five to ten times lower than for countries such as the USA and Japan. EU policy may need a rethink if food imports from countries using DDT for indoor residual spraying are turned away for levels of the insecticide that are not considered harmful by other countries. The global community should ensure that DDT poisons only malarial mosquitoes and not Africa's economy.Lancet, 2007; 369:248
I suppose this is one way to keep Africa from competing for energy resources--just kill them off or make them so weak they can't do anything but fight each other. Rachel Carson's legacy.

The empty suit

Who knew someday those boring Soviet history classes I had in college would come in handy.

Obama’s an empty suit
that needs some filling
so with the workers
he can just be chilling.

Obama rama dama
Obimbi bama doe
Orama dimbi bobalu
Odimme, dama do

Could be the Daily Kos
who’s the shots a calling,
Wright or King Daley's
Chicago speechifying.

Obama rama dama
Obimbi bama doe
Orama dimbi bobalu
Odimme, dama do

Soros and Move-On
with CEOs are smoozing
Wapo and the Times
his many gaffes explaining.

Obama rama dama
Obimbi bama doe
Orama dimbi bobalu
Odimme, dama do

Be on your Red guard
the circle is now squaring.
Hope and Change an empty suit
with hot air now expanding.

Obama rama dama
Obimbi bama doe
Orama dimbi bobalu
Odimme, dama do.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A slow awakening

When he was a resident in the early 60s, Watson Bowie, Jr. performed occasional abortions to save the life of the mother. Then came the Ruebella Epidemic of 1964, and the belief that the babies were better off dead than deformed or retarded, so he aborted many, which he regrets now.
    "By 1969, when I finished my two-year tour of duty in the Army Medical Corps, I had arrived at a firm pro-life, anti-abortion position. It was not a sudden epiphany or bolt-out-of-the-blue experience. It was a slow, creeping, incessantly rational awakening to the awareness that should have been crystal clear to me from the first: there is something inherently wrong with killing a human being to solve the problem of another human being.

    It is a great sorrow to me that the sub-specialty of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, in which I am board certified, testing (blood and amniotic fluid tests and ultrasound examinations) in pursuit of finding fetuses with congenital abnormalities so that they can be killed before they are born. As physicians who allegedly care simultaneously for two patients, a woman and her unborn child, it is a tragedy that we often accomplish the task by deliberately killing one patient to serve the other.

    How has my Christian faith related to my pro-life position? It is enough to say that I believe that the unborn, in the state of complete innocence, defenselessness, and vulnerability, are among "the least of these," who should be subjects of our care and concern, according to the admonishment of our Lord (Matthew 25:40). This should have always been clear to me, though I was blind to it when I first performed abortions."
From the June issue of Lifewatch, published by pro-life United Methodists (the denomination’s official view is still pro-choice).

Highway fatalities down

Ohio had six; Michigan three fatalities over the Memorial Day week-end. Lowest in 38 years. I would say a higher price at the gas pump was worth saving a few lives, wouldn't you? Maybe it was yours--or mine. It was hard for us to judge the traffic since we left on Thursday and came back Monday morning. We saw almost no one on Monday, and even getting stopped for a parade in a small town, we made the best time I can remember. But also we got 24 mpg, about 2 more than usual. I was listening to John Corby (610 a.m.) on Tuesday and one of his callers, a driver of a Volvo, said he got 29 mpg instead of his usual 24 by driving 65. Exceeding 60 mph hurts your car's fuel economy and makes you a more dangerous driver. EPA says each 5 mph you drive over 60 is like paying an additional $.20 per gallon.

Slow down. The money and life you save may be your own. Also, just for nostalgia, pretend it's the 70s and turn off your cell phone. That's dangerous, too.

Another Ohio Poverty Push

Dear Governor Strickland,

The Dispatch reports today you’re making a big issue of Ohioans living in poverty. When hasn’t it been the major issue? I moved here in 1967, and the first community event I went to was discussing a central Food Bank to eliminate hunger. What year hasn’t the Dispatch done a series on poverty? You’ve been meeting with the folks (100 groups?) who make their living pimping the poor (so why would they ever want it to end?). Well, good. I’ve been in 4 of the 5 quintiles myself, and in the 1980s I actually worked for the State of Ohio in a poverty program (JTPA older workers jobs program), so I have some experience with this topic.

Here’s the major problem as I see it. Our three jewels, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus, cities which are among the largest in the United States, have been in a Democrat party strangle hold along with organized labor for decades. Jobs were first sent south, then overseas, thanks to government programs and union greed. Cleveland in 2006 was the largest major city in the U.S. with the lowest median household income; Cincinnati, at No. 8 on the list, joined Cleveland among the poorest cities; Columbus saw its poverty rate increase almost 2 percentage points in 2005 from the previous year, according to the Columbus Dispatch obligatory poverty report which helped in your 2006 election.

Because you are a former Methodist pastor, you at least need to tell the truth about poverty. The claim is that the tipping point is an income of $21,200 for a family of four, but that figure leaves out SCHIP, WIC, Medicaid, earned income tax credit, school and summer lunch programs for the children, special housing allowances, to say nothing of the church run food pantries which provide 3 days of food each month, if the family wants it. I know a man who earns $10 an hour, is married with 3 children--he actually can't afford to move up--he'd miss out on too many benefits provided by the state and federal government. Not only that, but he feels he's "entitled," which may be one of the most damaging things you've done to him (next to letting him leave school at 16 in 9th grade because he hadn't learned anything)--you've destroyed his initiative.

I hope you’ll look at our schools in Franklin County and the rest of Ohio. What’s this latest push on “self-esteem?” How will that help a kid read his diploma? And what about “retention” or “remediation” (i.e. flunking)? Which is more harmful to Ohio. Graduating stupid 18 year olds or having them repeat third grade at age 8 when there was hope? And if you’re going to give these kids 2 meals and a snack each day during the school year, at least require that daily PE be required. For that, you'd also need to reinstate the 9 period day.

You also need to review some of the cities’ renewal and rehab programs, which drove poor families from their neighborhoods (Columbus: German Village in the 60s, Victorian Village in the 70s, Short North in the 80s) because of lead paint or asbestos, or various beautification and preservation projects or just to make work for the architects and contractors under the guise of progress;

regulatory agencies decided that the automobiles of the poor (usually 2nd hand, used) weren’t safe or emitted too many toxic substances, so those were taken away;

and how many neighborhoods of the low income workers were displaced in the 1960s and 1970s by free-ways and interchanges--that they'd probably never drive on because you declared their cars weren't safe;

then you (not you personally but the social rocket scientists of the late 20th century) decided the children needed to be bussed to meet some sort of social goals, and that included taking black teachers away from black children, their positive role models;

over the years, liberals and conservatives alike have closed orphanages and homes for the mentally ill and challenged (or whatever the current PC term is), moving them first to “group homes,“ and then to the street to fend for themselves;

you (again, not you personally, but liberals) decided that children didn’t really need fathers, so you continued to be foster-dad in absentia for generations of children, which drove their own fathers away to hang out with their buddies while making it virtually impossible for a single man to receive any government benefits or assistance, in turn making them dependent on girlfriends or grandmothers;

you listened to or dabbled in every social, labor, medical and economic theory that dribbled out of Ohio State University, Cleveland State, Yellow Springs or Dayton about mass transportation, the poverty gap, mixed use neighborhoods, drug use and jobs programs for the elderly.

Now you and the poverty groups of Ohio wonder why it isn't working. Go figure.

See also: The story of single moms Melanie (fast food employee) and Tanika (librarian) and how the poverty programs hurt them, with the best intentions, of course.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bookstore clerk

A magazine, a Father's Day card, and a cute new notebook with pink paper for blogging were all I placed on the counter this morning. The store wasn't busy and there were two clerks. The pleasant, well-dressed young man had a pony-tail.
    "Have you ever thought about working in a library?" I asked.
    "Actually, I do. I work part-time at Columbus Public," he said.
    "Will that give you access to a full-time position when something opens up?"
    He sighed. "Yes, that's my dream, me and all the other part-timers who want it, but it doesn't happen often."
    I wondered if he heard me gasp.
    "Are you a paraprofessional?"
    "I work in the circulation department and don't need an MLS," he explained.
    I told him I'd been a librarian.
    "You just always wanted to work in a library?" I said as I collected my purchases.
    "I watched the job postings for months to get this. There's just something so comforting working around books," he said with a smile.
If he enjoys books, he should probably stay with the bookstore job I said to myself. Every day I learn something new--there are young people who dream of having a full time clerical job in a library. People who love books. Could the cure for the common cold be next?

Lake Erie Living, first anniversary issue

Lakesiders! Pay attention. There's a beautiful article with great photos of the Drackett home on the lakefront. If you vacation there, you've walked past it many times and probably wondered what it looks like inside. There's also an inset on the lovely lilies you see along the shore in that area.

If your cottage or vacation spot is the Put-in-Bay area, you will enjoy the article on Rattlesnake Island, which is about 2 miles west. It is a private retreat and summer playround of 85 acres--but it is for a very exclusive group and it's tough to join this club.

On the newstand, Lake Erie Living is $3.95, and a year's subscription (6 issues + travel guide) is $17.95.

Blue Planet in Green Shackles

is the name of Vaclav Klaus', the Czech president, new book. He is a vocal opponent of anthropogenic (man made) climate change. He says Environmentalism is a religion which threatens freedom, democracy and prosperity and it belongs in the social sciences with other "isms" such as communism, feminism, and liberalism. You can listen to his speech at the National Press Club here, on May 27 in Washington DC, or if you have a problem with accents, you can read the transcript. Listen to him. He has lived under the totalitarian regime of the Communists. He knows all the signals and signs. We're there, folks. He says,
    My today’s thinking is substantially influenced by the fact that I spent most of my life under the communist regime which ignored and brutally violated human freedom and wanted to command not only the people but also the nature. To command “wind and rain” is one of the famous slogans I remember since my childhood. . .

    The name of the new danger will undoubtedly be different, but its substance will be very similar. There will be the same attractive, to a great extent pathetic and at first sight quasi-noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of something above him, (of something greater than his poor self), supplemented by enormous self-confidence on the side of those who stand behind it. Like their predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality. . . This time in the name of the planet.

Summer time in the 1940s and 1950s

This is from a post I wrote about a year ago. It's easy to romanticize the past, but it does seem that today's youngsters are missing something. Free time? Perhaps we didn't have as much as it seems, at least not if you had my mother.
    Yesterday the WSJ ran a parenting article about overscheduling children in their summer activities. In my mind's eye I replayed the dozen or so summers I remember when I was a child--they seemed to run forever--hot, hazy and relaxed with hours of finding shapes in the clouds and bugs in the grass and bubbles in the tarred streets for bare toes.

    At first I couldn't imagine my mother managing my summers for me, but looking back I realize she was quietly (she was always quietly doing something) planning my schedule. In Forreston I attended summer recreation program at the community school for games, swimming and sports. From age 11-16 I attended summer camp at Camp Emmaus. In elementary school I had babysitting jobs; in high school I detasseled corn, worked at the drug store, at a feed company and the town library. I had a horse, or my friends did, and we rode them down hot, dusty roads. After age 14 I was dating and going on picnics at the Pines, to the roller rink, to movies out of town and locally. My church CBYF had weekly Sunday evening meetings; my girl friends and I had slumber parties; the town had summer band concerts (still does) where you bought bags of popcorn and hoped to see someone special even if you didn't hear a note; and there were 4-H projects to get ready for the county fair. And the projects Mom would invent to keep us busy! Gardening, canning, cleaning, cooking, sewing, laundry. Oh my! That could cut into a sleepy summer day's reading.

Girl Scouts, Barb, Norma, Sara and Nancy, ready to ride our bikes to camp

Update: I just noticed something in this photo, which is probably from 1952 or 1953. My bike is the only one with "standard handle bars" and the other three have the flared shape, which I always thought were from the late 1960s or early 1970s. I still use a bike with this type of handle bar.

Summer? What's that?

The life of an on-line instructor apparently doesn't include summer break. This is from Rate Your Students, a really entertaining and informative blog about all levels of education, students and instructors. Good solid writing, lots of humor and sarcasm
    "Summer? Your old fashioned notions of academic life having a seasonal rhythm are so quaint. As an online instructor teaching non-trads at a school with classes starting every month, I don't have summer. I don't have winter. Or Christmas. I never go to class, but I never don't have class. I can go to the archives in Bananastan whenever I want and teach from the Internet café in the evening. I can take any day off I want to take a day trip with the kids. I can go to conferences anywhere at any time without groveling to the department and rescheduling classes for dozens of knowledge-starved students. I just teach online from the hotel. But I can never take three days in a row off. Ever. I cannot - ever - leave the Internet. My university posts an automatic e-mail message to me, my department head, and the dean if I do not log in to class within 72 hours of my last log in. If I wait that long, the stack of e-mails and unanswered conference queries would be overwhelming anyway. Every month is grades month. Every month is "new syllabi" month. Every month is right in the middle of the term, with discussions to take part in, papers to grade and tests to do in several classes. To reach U.S. median income I need to have at least five or six going at any one time, enough to prevent any month or season from bringing significant differences in workload. July is just like January."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mother's Ham Loaf

In honor of my mother's birthday, I'm going to share her wonderful Ham Loaf/meatball recipe. When there was a church dinner, this is what everyone wanted. I'm making it today, but I've reduced the portions a bit--and the mix I got is beef, pork and veal--so who knows what it will taste like with no ham in the ham loaf! I'm sure it's the ham that makes it yummy.
    1/2 lb. ground veal
    1 lb. ground smoked ham
    1 1/2 lb. ground fresh pork
    1 cup bread or cracker crumbs
    1 cup milk
    2 eggs

    Have the 3 meats ground together; combine with crumbs, milk and eggs and shape into a loaf. Make a sauce of 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. mustard, 1/2 cup diluted vinegar and pour over the loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours. Baste frequently with the sauce.

    Alternate idea: Instead of sauce, fold into the meat mixture 1/3 cup crushed pineapple, 1/2 tsp. mustard and 2 Tbsp. brown sugar. Serves 8.
This is in the family recipe book, "Taste the Memories," which I created for our 1993 family reunion.

Also from the cook book:
Mrs. Felker's coffee cake
Aunt Dorothy's Taco Salad
Julie's Vegetable Lasagna
Norma's Sweet Sour Meat Loaf
13 cookbooks on my shelves

And you think I'm harsh?

Annoyed Librarian has a word for new graduates hunting for those elusive shortages they heard about when they signed on for more college debt. Don't blame the boomers for not retiring.
    Since I have been drawing attention to this issue for a couple of years, I feel comfortable pointing out some uncomfortable truths to complaining job seekers. The most uncomfortable truth is that nobody owes you a job. If you went to library school because you were told jobs were plentiful, then you were duped. That's too bad, but it wasn't the libraries that aren't hiring you now that duped you. Library schools benefited from your tuition. The ALA probably benefited from some dues money. Libraries seem to benefit by not having to pay much because there are plenty of suckers lined up to take sucky jobs. You're the only one that didn't benefit. Three out of four's not bad.
Actually, it's probably not a good idea to believe anything you hear about shortages--nurses, lawyers, cruise directors, computer programmers--because those come from the press releases of college recruiting offices, and they have an obligation to fill the classrooms. What I remember from the days I was on search committee duty is that there were usually one or possibly two really outstanding candidates in a pile of 25 resumes, and by the time we'd work our way through our own red tape and diversity rules, someone else had snatched them. There really are excellent jobs and excellent candidates, and somehow, they often find each other. Matthew says he knows of good jobs in Florida (I think); he's also single, a devout Roman Catholic and has been a nurse. Someone ought to snatch him up.

Happy May Birthday

Happy Birthday
by Norma Bruce
May 27, 2008

If I were nostalgic
I’d write a maudlin note
to wish you many more
or something quite from rote.

If I were sentimental
or just a little sappy
I’d fill a few balloons
for a birthday Oh so happy.

If I were to be kind
and love you as friend
I’d wish for you good health,
that everything would mend.

Instead I’ll ask the Lord of gifts
to fill you with his love
to keep you steadfast to that day
when we all meet above.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Obama Campaign

As slick and vacuous as an SUV commercial, or something like that. It's rare that a Progressive and I would be singing the same tune, but I can't find much wrong with this assessment of Obama. And I know just how he feels about sitting out the campaign.
    He struck me then as a vacuous opportunist, a good performer with an ear for how to make white liberals like him.

    The Obama campaign has even put out a misleading bio of Michelle Obama, representing her as having grown up in poverty on the South Side, when, in fact, her parents were city workers, and her father was a Daley machine precinct captain.

    . . . they present their candidate as a figure who transcends racial divisions and “brings us together”; on the other hand, they exhort us that we should support his candidacy because of the opportunity to “make history” (presumably by nominating and maybe electing a black candidate). Increasingly, Obama supporters have been disposed to cry foul and charge racism at nearly any criticism of him, in steadily more extravagant rhetoric.

    Obama’s campaign, in stressing his appeal to rapturous children and liberal, glamorous yuppies, offers vicarious identification with these groups, as well as the chance to become sort of black in that ultra-safe and familiar theme park way.
And so on.

To fill your gas tank

isn't the only issue, although you'd think so if you listened to the news. We've returned to Columbus from Lakeside, and yes, paying $3.99 for gasoline on the peninsula (it was $3.83 in Columbus and $4.25 in Toledo) wasn't fun. But we were also driving on asphalt roads, and the upholstery, windshield wipers, brake fluid and sun visors not to mention the battery case, bumpers, antifreeze, lubricants, hoses, tires, and wire coating of my van were also from petroleum products. And I brought along my computer, chewed gum and dabbed on a little Vasoline. Yes, we heat our homes and fuel our cars, but we also use petroleum in hundreds of products. We can't even imagine our lives without it. But some can. Yes, they scream alarmist warnings, make-up phony carbon footprints, but they really want us to go without.

One of the most striking things about the photos of the earthquake in China, was the obvious growth in consumer goods we saw. Even in rural China, which used to be a wasteland for modern products and technology, now appears to definitely be experiencing a high standard of living that even 5 or 10 years ago would have been unthinkable. Their relief effort and management was incredible--much of it done with modern products made from petroleum. We are millions; China and India are billions. Our energy needs have flattened; theirs is growing at a phenomenal rate. All the 'green' talk barking at us from the TV, magazines and Democrats is one of two options--a marketing scheme to tear down our current infrastructure and housing, starting over at even higher energy costs, particularly for the poor, or an effort to force us all return to an 18th century standard of living through regulatory agencies we haven't elected. Your move.

Short list: Ammonia, Anesthetics, Antihistamines, Artificial limbs, Artificial Turf, Antiseptics, Aspirin, Auto Parts, Awnings, Balloons, Ballpoint pens, Bandages, Beach Umbrellas, Boats, Cameras, Candles, Car Battery Cases, Carpets, Caulking, Combs, Cortisones, Cosmetics, Crayons, Credit Cards, Curtains, Deodorants, Detergents, Dice, Disposable Diapers, Dolls, Dyes, Eye Glasses, Electrical Wiring Insulation, Faucet Washers, Fishing Rods, Fishing Line, Fishing Lures, Food Preservatives, Food Packaging, Garden Hose, Glue, Hair Coloring, Hair Curlers, Hand Lotion, Hearing Aids, Heart Valves, Ink, Insect Repellant, Insecticides, Linoleum, Lip Stick, Milk Jugs, Nail Polish, Oil Filters, Panty Hose, Perfume, Petroleum Jelly, Rubber Cement, Rubbing Alcohol, Shampoo, Shaving Cream, Shoes, Toothpaste, Trash Bags, Upholstery, Vitamin Capsules, Water Pipes, Yarn

Monday Memories--the treasure found and lost, and found again

On Memorial Day week-end here at Lakeside, many families have yard sales (for the most part, we have no garages or basements). Some street corners will have four. So it is fun to walk or ride around and poke through musty boxes or old treasures. I was riding my no-speed bike (now 40 years old) down Third and whizzed past a card table with a few items, and there I saw it--a memory from my childhood. I put on the brakes and turned around.

My neighbor, Mike, and I were probably about four or five years old and poking through the neighborhood trash cans when we saw a lovely (or looked that way to us) brown china tea pot painted with white and orange dots trimmed in gold). We carefully lifted our treasure out, wiped it off, and I took it home to my mother. She turned it over looked at the gold painted single word on the bottom, JAPAN, and told us it had to go back to the trash can. We didn't understand war; we didn't know how to read; both our fathers were in the military. All we knew was that our treasure was something awful to adults. Suitable only for the trash.

I picked the tea pot up from the card table, inspected it--covered with dust with a hairline crack near the spout. The owner came out of the house.
"How much for this tea pot?"
"One dollar."
"I'll take it," I said.
I wrapped it in a plastic bag and continued on my bike ride. Later I washed it and showed it to my neighbor, Steve, who is an antique dealer and auctioneer. He confirmed that it was probably a pre-WWII tea pot, maybe 1930s, very common. A dollar, he said, was a good price for a childhood memory. I put it on my bookshelf. It can hold some flowers when the time comes for that.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Our New Grill

About 10 years ago, our son-in-law once removed Pete (brother of our SIL) gave us a rehabbed grill that he found at the curb. It was really nice and he worked hard on it--looked brand new. However, we rarely grill and our deck which we love to use for "eating out" is rather small. And the grill was. . . large. So a few years ago we loaned it to a neighbor who has a lot of company, a large cottage, and many cookouts. Now we have no grill unless we want to go to the neighbors and clean it. So we've bought a cute little Blue Rhino at Lowe's for about $30 and hope it will make our kids happy, because they like to grill. For us, it makes for very expensive bratwurst. My husband is skipping church at the auditorium this morning with all the gazillion pieces parts laid out on the porch floor. Something is missing for the grease pan. And I'm not sure of the English skills of the committee that wrote the instructions. But Eric and Sharon are coming for lunch, and he's an engineer. Perhaps the two guys will figure this out and Sharon and I will take a walk along the lakefront.

A Hymn for the Campaign

This hymn has been used in presidential campaigns for at least 200 years--or for however long the Democrats have been running. It works for Republicans too, since campaigns are about promises not kept. You only need to change the words a little depending on the syllables in the candidate's surname [I made up that whole introduction, but the next sentence is true]. It's in 4/4 time, one flat. The tune name is Pleading Savior.
    Come You Voters poor and needy,
    Rich and wealthy, sick and sore;
    Obama wants to save you
    full of pity, you're so poor.
    He's not able, he's not able,
    But he's willing, doubt no more.

    Now, you voters, come and welcome
    his free bounty glorify
    True believer it is ignorance
    Every myth that brings you nigh,
    With your money, with your money
    To Obama lies to buy.

    Come you voters oh so weary,
    Bruised and battered, hit the wall--
    If you tarry till you're smarter
    You will never come at all;
    You can't count on hope and change
    So it's Obama in the fall.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Liberals are so predictable

No one allowed in their clubhouse without a pass.
    A Maine public relations firm has been tapped to assist a grassroots effort aimed at stopping George W. Bush's presidential library, museum and think tank from being built at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

    The Rev. Andrew Weaver, an SMU graduate from New York, says P&S Associates of Maine LLC has been hired to design ads and to coordinate the effort.
Bush, of course, is a Methodist, a former governor of Texas, and his wife a librarian. But librarians are 223:1 Democrat to Republican, so they consider it an outrage and anathema that a Bush Library be built--at all. Must be something evil afoot. They tried to stage a walk-out when Laura was invited to ALA. NIMBY! I wonder just who is in this "grassroots effort?" Michael Moore? Or just the usual ALA crowd and liberal preachers.

Sticker shock

Yes, you can vacation closer to home and help the local economy, but for those of us who own property in Lakeside, the first week-end when we buy our passes is always a killer. I just spent $967 for 2 adult passes and a car pass for the season. Those of you who come here for the occasional week or week-end seem to think that if we own property, we don't pay. We pay much more than the visitors, because we pay the association dues (like a condo, we don't own the land on which our cottage sits), the confiscatory real estate taxes of the township (we are their golden goose), and we also buy passes and car passes which get us in and out the gates and into the auditorium to see the programs. This year, because of our trip to Italy, we'll only be here part of the season. And then there's the maintenance, upkeep and utilities which goes on for 12 months, not just the season. There is really no way to make a vacation home pay--unless you sold it 2 or 3 years ago at the peak of appreciation. You have to want it for other reasons--the community of friends, the beauty, the programming, or the accessibility. We've been vacationing here since 1974 and have been owners since 1988--20 years. Each year I run through all the reasons we do this. . . so that's what this is. . . the reasons we do this.

Tonight's program is Mike Albert, an Elvis impersonator. I never really cared much for Elvis when I was a kid, but Mike has helped me with that. This will probably be the 6th time I've seen his show. Of all the Elvi that have appeared over the years, he is the best in my opinion. He does a lot of shows in the midwest, so if you ever have the opportunity, don't miss him.

This morning I had a wonderful cup of coffee at Coffee and Cream, read the paper, then stopped across the street at the Patio to join my husband and neighbors Bill and Marilyn who were having breakfast. We chatted with Brent--this is his 18th year of owning the Patio. We reminisced about the night it burned down. My husband has a nice art show there, and prints and a few originals at Artists-in-Kahoots up the street.

Last night we had dinner again at Evelyn's. Oh, you're going to love this place. Fabulous dinners, and desserts to die for. Evelyn's will be staying open to serve dessert after the programs. I've had the carrot cake, my husband the chocolate torte. My goodness. Don't miss this treat. This is their first season as Lakesiders and business people (here), so be kind and support them. We want them to stay!

Hymns for Memorial Day Observance

So many people stopped by (according to site meter) to see my list, which only referred to another blog I'd written, that I decided to add them here. This blog is way up on google's list, and the other one isn't, so people get here first. This list is from The Methodist Hymnal (1964).

Eternal Father, strong to save

Father eternal, Ruler of creation

For the might of thine arm

God of grace and God of glory

God of our father

God, the Omnipotent

Judge eternal, throned in splendor

Lord, while for all mankind we pray

Mine eyes have seen the glory

My country, 'tis of thee

Not alone for might empire

Now praise we great and famous men

O God of earth and altar

O Lord, our fathers oft have told

These things shall be

This is my song

Turn back, O man

If it bores me

imagine how the poor news readers must feel. I don't watch much TV at home, but here at the lake where we don't have cable, for some reason the TV is on more. All I've heard or seen is Harrison Ford, American Idol and the spike in gasoline prices which in Toledo, the home base of most of the stations is at an eye-popping $4.25. It's $3.95 or $3.99 here on the peninsula. But really, how do people stand reporting this level of mindless made up news when there are really important things like manipulated elections, sneaky, dishonest lies about the environment, and the temperature of Lake Erie to talk about?

This is the kind of news that makes one grateful for PBS, and Canadian TV.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Taking and making offense

I see the liberals are trying to saddle McCain with two preachers who aren't and weren't his pastor. If they've come out for McCain, I'm guessing it's because there is no viable alternative. If there's ever been anything said about politics in my church (UALC), it must have been the singing of God Bless America the evening of 9/11 when we gathered for prayer. Political activism is a tradition in black churches, and that's Parsley's style, although he's white. I haven't read offensive things in his latest book, so perhaps it's a little proof texting and out of context clipping. Columbus liberal mainline pastors tried to gang up on him during the last election and made fools of themselves.

But, here's a great quote from GK Chesterton which I found this morning researching the hymns suitable for Memorial Day which explains how to do the type of insult and offense stuff we read these days (and 100 years ago when he was writing).
    The tone of the story (as of every Chesterton story) is strongly affected by the exuberant style of the author. There is a scene in a restaurant, where the protagonist has the task of delaying another man for a few hours, and decides to pick a quarrel with him in order to do so. A musician is playing something by Wagner in the background. He approaches the other man's table and is about to attack him. The man's companions hold him back, but he cries out,

    "This man has insulted my mother!"
    "Insulted your mother? What are you talking about?"
    "Well, any way, my aunt."
    "How could he have insulted your aunt. We have just been sitting here talking."
    "Ah, it was what he said just now."
    "All I said was that I liked Wagner played well."
    "Aha! My aunt played Wagner badly. It is a very tender point with our family. We are always being insulted over it."

Hymns for Memorial Day

There's a list at my other, other blog.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

13 ways to burn calories if you're a coupon queen

Today's Cranky Consumer in the Wall St. Journal reviews "best sites for coupon clipping" and reports only 1% of coupons are ever redeemed. Coupons, sweepstakes, rebates and loyalty cards are all part of the same marketing program to convince buyers that producers want them to save money. The original coupon (over 100 years ago) was a wooden nickle. Now many of them look like credit cards or you can spend even more by printing them off the internet. Here's some exercises to burn calories while you "save."

1. Exercise discretion (125)
2. Jump on the bandwagon (75)
3. Push your luck (80)
4. Race against the expiration date (100)
5. Fish for coupons in your purse (35)
6. Stuff the envelope (30)
7. Hunt for stamps (55)
8. Jog your memory for the offer (75)
9. Run around after specials (350)
10. Chase bargains (250)
11. Fly off the handle at the store manager (250)
12. Wade through the paperwork (100)
13. Grab the last offer (100)

Coupons don't cut your costs; they cover price increases, introduce new products and try to put the competition out of business so they can raise prices later.

The Democrats are Golden

They've got the touch. They touch it; the price goes up.
    When President Bush took office in 2001, the price of oil was around $30 a barrel. Six years later the price had doubled. Democrats promised voters they had “a common sense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices.” On October 20, 2006, just before the Democrats took over Congress, a barrel of oil was about $57.

    So, how is the Democrat’s “common sense plan” working? In the six years before they took control, oil increased an average of about $5 a year. But in the 16 months the Democrats have been responsible for the nation’s energy policy, the price of oil has risen to $126 — an increase of almost $70 a barrel or $5 each month.

    If I had a choice, I’d take $5 a year over $5 a month. Meanwhile, gas prices on the Democrat’s watch went from $2.20 a gallon to $3.67, an increase of almost 10 cents a month. The Democrat’s plan isn’t working, unless their plan was to decrease our dependence on oil by making it so expensive we can’t afford to buy it. Continue reading Charles Reichley
And now they want to elect the guy who will only make it worse. I think it's the same thinking that keeps the poor and minorities trapped in the major cities, all of which have Democrats running them. Vote for us. We'll take care of you. You'll be so poor, no one else will want you!

Our Italy costs just went up

I heard that the airlines are raising money for fuel by charging $15 per bag. It's got to come from somewhere and the heavier the load, the more it costs to fly. If the passenger with luggage weighs more than say, 200 or 250 lbs., then charge for the overage per pound, not per bag. This would not be popular, but if it is fuel costs they're concerned about, it would be more logical.

Why I'm praying for Ted Kennedy

He's not my enemy and I don't hate him--Christians are specifically told to pray for that group for some very practical reasons. It's hard to hate someone you pray for, and hate always damages the hater. No, that's not the reason, although it would be a good one. I just don't hate Ted Kennedy. Yes, I could pray for him because he is one of our nation's leaders, and Christians are also instructed to pray for their leaders. I guess I just don't think of him as my leader--although I know he took his brother's seat in the Senate and the people of Massachusetts, my fellow Americans, have continued to vote him there year after year, season upon season, and his votes in Congress have impacted my life in many ways.

Ted Kennedy is my brother. That's why I'm praying for him. A brother in Christ. We both believe our righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3:21). We've both been adopted into God's family, sort of a big dysfunctional, squabbling family, but nevertheless, we are brother and sister. He's a Roman Catholic and I'm a Lutheran, and we do see some of the details differently. When we take the bread and the wine, he's getting a "do over" with the body and blood of Christ, whereas for me Christ is spiritually present, encouraging, caring and loving me. That's huge. Justification by faith is central to my faith, whereas Ted looks to church traditions and the pope for the final word. Lutherans don't believe in Purgatory--we know that immediately upon our death we are in some way with Jesus (as we are also in this life through the Holy Spirit) even though our final hope is in the bodily resurrection just as Jesus was resurrected. I'm not sure how many masses will be said for Ted to abbreviate or avoid Purgatory, but from a very human view, I'd say a lot--if I believed that, and I don't.

Scripture doesn't say it this way, but God doesn't grade on a curve. In God's eyes, no matter what Ted has done or not done, it's no worse than what Norma's done. God has declared that sin and death entered the world through one man, Adam, and those who receive his abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness do so through the one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17) Ted Kennedy and I believe Jesus is our righteousness. We can take it to the bank, we can take it to the grave. That's secure. No one can touch it. Thank God! And God bless Ted Kennedy and his family during this difficult time, and draw him very close as they make difficult decisions.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Save gasoline, save lives

Sometimes the easiest and simplest things do the most good. If we'd go back to the 55 mph speed limit we could save so much gasoline and reduce accidents. We did it in the 70s when there was a gasoline crisis, and we could do it again. It wasn't intended to reduce accidents, but it did. Libertarians and conservatives hated it, and the speed limits were raised. Many do not want to do the most obvious, easiest safety and wealth saver. I remember how driving became so much more peaceful at 55 and there were far fewer accidents of all types--both serious and minor.

There was a horrible accident in Columbus last week-end--four teenage girls died. I think I read none was wearing a seat belt--it's the law, but it's not "cool." If we just had the guts to raise the driving age to 18, thousands of lives would be saved every year just by giving those immature brains a chance to mature.
    The three high-school students — Cori Anne Lake, 16, her sister, Cristin Michelle Lake, 15, and Jessica Elizabeth Mason, 15 — died after their Chevrolet Monte Carlo collided head-on with a Dodge Intrepid Sunday afternoon on the southern Outerbelt, west of Rt. 62. Meanwhile, a passenger in the Intrepid, Tasha Conley, 19, of Columbus, died yesterday at Ohio State University Medical Center. Deputies said the Monte Carlo lost control on eastbound I-270, traveled onto the median, flipped and landed on its roof in the westbound lanes, where it was struck by the other car, which was driven by Jerry McGath, 19, of Columbus. Columbus Dispatch story
Teen drivers are lethal. You are more at risk even having a teen in the car--even one who isn't driving--especially a male. "The AAA Foundation analysis shows that from 1995 through 2004 crashes involving 15, 16, and 17-year-old drivers claimed the lives of 30,917 people nationwide, of which only 11,177 (36.2%) were the teen drivers themselves. The remaining 19,740 (63.6%) included 9,847 passengers of the teen drivers, 7,477 occupants of other vehicles operated by drivers at least 18 years of age, 2,323 non-motorists. The analysis also shows that 12,413 of these fatalities occurred in single vehicle crashes involving only the vehicle operated by the teenage driver. . . Two teens in a car increases the likelihood of a crash by 86 percent, three teens by 182 percent, according to research conducted by Johns Hopkins University.
" Teen Driving Statistics

The teen brain: "New medical research helps explain why. The part of the brain that weighs risks and controls impulsive behavior isn't fully developed until about age 25, according to the National Institutes of Health. Some state legislators and safety activists question whether 16-year-olds should be licensed to drive.

Sixteen-year-olds are far worse drivers than 17-, 18- or 19-year-olds, statistics show. Tellingly, New Jersey, which has long barred 16-year-olds from having unrestricted driver's licenses, for years has had one of the lowest teen fatality rates in the USA." USAToday

It's really not that hard to save thousands of lives, if we just had the will. Even making it against the law for a teen driver to have a teen passenger would drastically reduce fatalities. And it's not even political.

Columbus Kids Perform at Capitol Theater

My husband is a mentor at Highland Elementary School and this year has helped in the science and math class. All the mentors were invited to see the children perform at the Capitol Theatre in the Riffe Building downtown. He said six schools from Columbus and one from Hilliard were included. The student bodies were distinguished by different color t-shirts. The theater was jammed with parents and relatives.
    From a news release: "About 400 fourth and fifth grade students from six Columbus city schools and one Hilliard city school will perform as the culmination of BalletMet’s Momentum, a yearlong in-school program of BalletMet’s Department of Education. The event is free and open to the public.

    All fourth or fifth grade students in the participating schools—Clinton, East Pilgrim, Highland, Literature Based at Hubbard, Leawood, Oakmont elementary schools and Hilliard’s Ridgewood Elementary school—take part in a weekly dance class during the school day as part of their curriculum. All lessons include an academic component, integrating Ohio Department of Education content standards. Also, participants get the unique opportunity to perform on stage for a live audience."
He said the performance was outstanding as the children reenacted the history of Ohio, from our 8 presidents to the underground railroad to the rock and roll Hall of Fame. Ballet Met also performed. It was a great finale to a fun year working with the children.

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church a few years ago took in as its third campus, Hilltop Lutheran, a church with a great physical plant but shrinking congregation, which gave us a presence on the west side and an opportunity for urban service. Many of our members volunteer at that school and the Sunday service numbers are growing.

Cooking from scratch saves money

And still does.

More about coupons, sweepstakes, refunding, over-lays, price increases. Everything except loyalty cards and internet coupons, which didn't exist in 1982.

Sept. 29, 1982, Columbus Dispatch

The new face of homelessness

is a woman driving and sleeping in her SUV. If you believe CNN news. I stopped to watch a feature about the plight of women in Santa Barbara or one of those upscale California coastal communities who were sleeping and living in their vans and SUVs. Their city had an ordinance about that, but had made a concession and opened a city parking lot 7 p.m.-7 a.m. where they could be reasonably safe. The info-babe interviewed two of them. As I recall, one had a job, but had lost her condo in foreclosure. Her daughter was staying with friends.

There were two huge holes (or more since I didn't see the whole thing) in the story. First, the economy has gone south since Democrats have taken over Congress with their big anti-Bush "we need to have change" push, but the implication is always that all problems reside in Bush's hip pocket. Second, one woman had at least 2 very large dogs in her SUV--either Goldens or Labs, and the other woman had 4 cats. Now pets are OK in your own property, but many, many landlords and agents will not accept pets. So even if you love your pets, even if you think they are your children, whose responsibility is it that you're sleeping in a van with dogs if you can't make other arrangements after losing your home?

This is the kind of inanity that passes for serious journalism--that even walking through the room and seeing 30 seconds of the story, I can figure out that much.

So I checked Google. The 67 year old with the 2 large dogs has 3 adult children and lost her job as a loan processor, but gets SS and works for $8/hr. One could live modestly in Columbus, Ohio on that, or probably even in rural California. However, on the left coast, most communities have ordinances to protect the environment and green spaces that have the unintended (or intended) consequence of keeping out the poor and working class folks. They usually don't allow the big box stores either that provide food and goods at a reasonable price for low income people. Now that she's "retired," she really can't expect to live there. She apparently never saved privately for her retirement, isn't married and isn't welcome to live with her adult children. There are 49 other states (well, except maybe Oregon and Wisconsin which are just as liberal) who will be happy to have her and where she can live with her pets, but she just may have to give up those beautiful ocean views and her unhelpful children.

A plan to save us

Paul D. Ryan's plan to save us from the looming entitlement crisis is so sound and so sensible, you know before you get to the last paragraphs that Democrats won't support it. Remember how they said in 2006 they had a plan? (Hope? Change?) Ha. The economy has plummeted since they took back Congress and scared everyone with their hot air, hair brained ideas to punish the successful and abandon our allies.

Ryan's plan requires a sense of personal responsibility, the federal government getting off our backs and to stop using our "trust" fund for other programs, the states reassuming some tasks they've let go, a more fair tax plan, and long range planning. These elements are really lacking in the general population, so it will be a tough sell. Millions have grown up wanting someone else to be in charge of their health, their education, their personal relationships and their pensions. Ryan suggests
    universal health coverage . . .shifting the ownership of health coverage from the government and employers to individuals, providing a refundable tax credit – $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families – to purchase coverage

    . . . modernizing Medicaid by giving states maximum flexibility to tailor their Medicaid programs to the specific needs of their populations

    providing workers under 55 the option of investing over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts

    simplifing the tax codes rates and eliminating capital gains tax to stimulate investment(don't we hear that every 4 years?)
Sigh. But oh, we can dream.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Financial scare stories

When someone like Michelle Obama whines about being required to pay back the cost of her Ivy League education which has landed her a darn good paycheck on a non-profit board, I want to ask why she didn't just go to a state college or university. She still could have been a 2-fer and gotten special grants and loans but would have had much less to pay off.

USAToday ran an article last week on a 49 year old living in a million dollar California home with at least 15 years left until her retirement whining about her 401-K being down 4% and the dropping real estate values in her Redlands, CA neighborhood. Today it's a 30 year old married Bryan Short, merger and acquisitions lawyer scraping by required to pay back the college loans that got him this great job in one of the most expensive cities in the country. Do these journalists (who probably are free-lancers and making a fraction of the income of these whiners) ever want to kick them in the knee? Surely they didn't go looking for these stories!!

But the biggest lie in these financial stories is that Gen-X (1965-1980) and Gen-Y folks won't ever do as well as their parents. This is always quoted from left of center think tanks who testify before Congress on why there needs to be more government assistance. That's nonsense. All they have to do is live the way we did when we were in our 30s. Then a middle class standard of living was much simpler than today. Smaller homes, fewer cars, fewer toys. We had no cable bills, no broad band, no gaming devices, no cell phone bills and if we went out to eat it was on Sunday morning for eggs and toast, or Friday night for a pizza. We vacationed at my mother's farm one week and used the other week (after he got 2) to fix up the house. At our house we had one car and Mom stayed home, so there were no child care bills. If Bryan and his wife tried living at the very comfortable standard of living we had 35 years ago, they might be surprised how quickly they'd whittle down those college loans and credit card bills.

And that household income these journalists report? A lot of us in the 1960s and 1970s, if we were white collar workers, purchased our own life and health insurance with after tax income, had minimal if any benefits for vacation and sick leave, and had no retirement plan at all. Benefits were for factory workers and union members. And why they think it's better that a company, which could go under or be merged, hold on to the employee's pension rather than her owning a self-directed 401-k or 403-b is a mystery to me.

Oh yes, Ms. O'Shaughnessy, you forgot to mention that in the 1960s and 1970s, hardly anyone except celebrities and hippies lived together before marriage, and we also got married younger with fewer years to rack up bills traveling the world and having a blast. Most of us didn't have college loans to pay back because we didn't borrow money to live grandly while in college.

See also:
The burden of student loans
The working family
Material well being of Americans
How to spend your way into foreclosure
My story doesn't sell newspapers
Six figure incomes--I feel their pain
Young people in debt

Knocking down a straw man

Straw man n (ca. 1900) a weak or imaginery opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted.

I saw this flat out lie in an annoucement about a program being offered Thursday for students at Ohio State.

    "Racism, sexism and ageism have all been at the forefront of the 2008 Election."
The forefront? Who are they kidding? Naive students who don't know any better, never read the newspaper or unplog their I-pod, that's who. The rest of us know better. The whole nation has been tippy toeing around these three issues (even though I did see a comedy show on cable ridiculing John McCain's age and you can find outrageous slander on the Daily Kos, all written by the left about their own).

I'm 68. I believe Obama, a mixed race American (white mother, African father, raised by white grandparents), is a marxist keeping company with strange and evil cronies, many Communists; I believe Hillary Clinton, a white woman age 60, a former first lady of the nation (God bless her for her service), a New York carpetbagger, is a Socialist; and I believe John McCain, a white man age 72, who left his wife for a younger, richer woman, is a RINO who has sucked up to the main stream media and independents and is now about to get stabbed in the back by the people he tried to placate. Does that mean I'm a racist, a sexist, or an ageist?

You can tell liberals set up this OSU discussion program. I don't plan to attend, but I think I know what will happen. It will turn into an Obama rally. Conservatives don't talk that way. They don't like to mush people together in little groups and then turn them against each other.

  • Conservatives believe that if a black candidate talks about raising our taxes until our investments are destroyed, regulating what car we can drive, wants judges who will make the constitution their personal playground of their own values and beliefs and waffles on what he said about concessions to militant Moslems who want to destroy our ally Israel, that he's not a good guy to put in the White House. We have a lot of history books (at least those published before the early 90s) that tell about what happens with appeasement--either pre-WWII with the Germans or post-WWII with the Soviets, or with North Korea to close out the Korean War, or even the worse course which was to run off whimpering the way we did in Vietnam. Millions died from our "talks and concessions."

  • And if a white woman is trying to sneak her husband in for a third term on her petticoat tails and wants to destroy the health care system, she's not going to be my choice for the first woman to lead the country. We only have to go north of the border or watch the rich rulers from socialist countries fly in on their private jets for complex and swift medical care to know we don't want her.

  • If the decorated 72 year old Vietnam veteran who bravely served his country even as a POW can't figure out how to secure our own borders, or that the global warmists are hucksters bent on destroying our economy, God Bless him for his bravery 35 years ago, but he's not my man regardless of what he says about Iraq.
  • Monday, May 19, 2008

    How colds affect the economy

    This is our Friday Night Date restaurant; but we are not in a rut. Sometimes we go to the one in Worthington or Dublin.

    Actually, this is just one man's cold. My husband's. He was sniffly all week, so we didn't go out to eat at the Rusty Bucket. He got a little sad, so I said I'd go get a pizza. Instead of getting our usual take-out from Iacono's (medium pepperoni with extra cheese) which has gone up to $14.50 because of the greenies burning corn for fuel, I drove over to Marc's and picked up a frozen large pep for $5.50. It was OK, but nothing to blog home about. Both Rusty Bucket and/or Iacono's lost on that deal, but also the waiter we would have tipped. Even Cheryl's Cookies missed a sale because sometimes we stop there on our way out and I get a yummy chocolate peanut butter brownie.

    Then Sunday, I suggested he stay home from church. I sat with Joyce, whose husband Bill also had a cold and stayed home. But she told me about her neighbor who is recommending ZiCam, the kind you dab on your nose. He's had great success, she said. So today while I was at Marc's I bought some ZiCam, and while I was browsing the shelves, I also picked up a new cold product from Alka-Seltzer Plus Immunity Complex that I hadn't seen before. Whatever money we saved by not going out Friday night, then buying a cheap pizza, was definitely used up buying cold meds. I don't think any of them really help, but you feel good doing something, don't you?

    Speaking of greenies, one of the reasons they want to knock down your commercial building and start over is to lower the occurrence of 4 of the most common respiratory illnesses which account for 176 million days of lost work each year. "Improvements in green design and construction will create a 9-20% reduction in cases of the common cold, translating to 16 to 37 million fewer cases annually." Well gosh, think of all the people in the OTC business they will put out of work. (These stats, if you choose to believe them, are not mine--they come from a left coast think tank via Buildings magazine, May 2008, p. 32.)

    It's EMS Week

    It used to be (in the old days of the 1970s or 1980s) that if you did a good job, you got something called a paycheck. If not, a pink slip. Then came the merit raises, and the occasional departmental party hosted by the boss or pot-luck which were supposed to cover it. But today's gen-x and gen-y workers need so many hugs and warm fuzzies, that entire businesses have grown up to create appreciation gifts and events. I noticed this item in the OSU Medical College newsletter.
      "May 18-24 is National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week. OSUMC will provide refreshments and information to EMS crews at both emergency departments, deliver gifts to fire departments and provide educational seminars throughout the week. Look for our "Thank you, EMS" billboards around town and join us in thanking EMS for the lifesaving work they provide."
    When I retired in 2000, I had FIVE retirement parties, one in the vet library, one in the main library, two in restaurants and one at the faculty club. The university must have either been very happy to see me go, or very sad.

    What they're saying about me in Spanish

    "Este blog ocupa la posición 2529 de los 51382 blogs indexados en Bloguzz. En English está en el puesto 1536 de un total de 23477 blogs. Está perdiendo capacidad de generar buzz en los últimos días.
    Su nivel de influencia absoluta es del 47%, es un blog influyente en la blogosfera. Es uno de los mejores blogs en English." My Spanish is a bit rusty, but I think they're saying I be big, important blog, but recently I've been losing my influence. Ha. What influence? (I'm actually bigger in some other markets, like Truth Laid Bear). So why so few comments? Do I really have the last word? I also receive spam in Russian, and that too makes me feel important. Yeah.

    If I had $542 to spend at the grocery store

    with or without food stamps ($542 a month for a family of 4 earning $26,856 per year), here's what I could get in Columbus, Ohio, shopping at a store within 2 miles of my home that doesn't require a loyalty card. Then I would have about $282 left over for the rest of the month. Everyone has something in the frig or cupboards, and I'm assuming catsup, mustard, margarine, and pickles are residing in mine. Indeed, I probably need to look at the expiration dates! I also seem to have an awful lot of rice and canned beans and miscellaneous canned fruits. And I've got frozen peas and corn in the freezer because I use them when I don't have fresh. But if I had to buy smart and buy cheap, I'd go for real food. And I wouldn't confuse shampoo and toilet paper with food--which is what many journalists do when they write about soaring food prices.

    The quantity listed here is a bit unrealistic for my small condo kitchen, but it could be done in 2-3 trips to the store over 2 weeks, and without purchasing too many perishable items in quantity. Apples, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions last a long time--asparagus and bananas don't. And you'd need a decent size freezer compartment to hold the meat.

    I often buy marked down meat on Monday, but didn't see any today, so these prices are from the flyer. This list also contains things I rarely buy like spare ribs and bacon--but they were on special this week, and bacon can go a long way in flavoring other items or as a garnish for salads. Also, I rarely bake anymore. I just put the flour and sugar down just in case Mom's watching from heaven.

    2 gallons milk (6.00)
    3 (24 oz) real cheese (9.60)
    3 doz eggs (6.00)

    Fruits and Vegetables
    16 lbs potatoes (5.00)
    3 lbs cabbage (1.50)
    3 lbs tomatoes (4.50)
    10 lbs apples (Braeburn)(13.90)
    10 lbs peaches (14.90)
    4 cartons orange juice (10.00)
    3 lb carrots (1.00)
    2 cantaloupe (4.00)
    8 corn on cob (2.00)
    3 lbs asparagus (5.00)
    bag of onions(3.00)
    2 cukes, seedless (2.50)
    5 lbs bananas (2.50)
    seedless grapes (3.00)
    asparagus 3 lb (5.40)
    green salad mix (3.00)
    broccoli (1.00)
    cauliflower (1.00)

    Brats (2 lbs) (6.00)
    5 lb chicken breast boneless 2.29/lb (11.45)
    bacon (2 lbs) (4.00)
    ground chuck 5 lb (7.50)
    3 lbs hot dogs (5.00)
    10 lb boneless ham (11.90)
    10 lb spare ribs (9.90)
    8 lb hamburger (frozen patties)(11.90)
    canned tuna 24 oz (3.00)
    fresh fish 3 lb. (21.00)

    baking, condiments, semi-processed
    raisins 24 oz (2.50)
    peanut butter 16 oz (2.00)
    Miracle Whip 32 oz (2.50)
    jam or jelly 32 oz (2.70)
    broth for soup 2 cans (1.60)
    pasta 5 lb (4.00)
    salad dressing(1.50)
    olive oil l lb (5.00)
    shortening 3 lb. (2.50)
    10 lb Flour (5.00)
    10 lb sugar (4.00)
    walnuts l lb. (6.00)
    green olives, large jar, salad (3.00)
    coffee 39 oz (6.90)
    oatmeal, old fashioned, lg. (3.00)

    Ice Cream (3.00)
    Cool Whip (1.25)
    popcorn (jar or bag, not mw) (2.00)
    peanuts dry roasted, jar (3.00)

    TIP: A potato combined with milk (or cheese) is nutritionally a near perfect food. And very cheap. 8 lbs of potatoes will cost you about the same as 10 oz. of potato chips which have no nutritional value at all.

    My blog on the thrifty plan.

    The Thrifty Plan and me in 1982.

    The green clergy

    If environmentalism is a throw back to the pantheism the Christian missionaries faced down after Pentecost, the new age religion that has been growing like a destructive mold on our college campuses since the 1960s, the robes of its well organized clergy are "green." My husband's professional architectural, engineering and construction magazines and e-zines are so loaded with this religious hype and jargon it is astounding. Here are a few quotes from the latest issue of Buildings. (The editor says that readers of Buildings are the key decision makers in the commercial and institutional buildings market, and although that may just be trade hype, these same ideas are reflected in all building related materials and publications, but especially in the college courses. If he chose to, my husband could do nothing but attend professional credit classes on this stuff.)
      Being green is more than just a practice, however, it's a process, a culture, and a belief system. "Green," "environmental" and "sustainable" are more than just labels. They're practices that include every aspect of business: invention, definition, construction, production, and the ultimate disposal of the product. . . The green trend continues to grow exponentially. . . the greatest impact that green building can have in the commercial arena is on a company's most valuable resource: its people. (long list here of all the health advantages, especially respiratory illnesses) Then it turns to the other green--money. "It's hard to understand why any business or consumer would be hesitant about going green. An investment in commercial green practices is ultimately returned in the long run. . ." p. 32, May 2008
    Wow. What a market. Land in most cities has become very dear--let's just grab some neighborhoods, declare our right to do this so "the people" will have better air circulation and lower density, and build something new and green. Let's promote it as more healthy, something that will emit less CO2. Then let's forbid cars or tax them into disuse, get rid of those smelly buses and install a trolley line.

    Some 19th century buildings might be saved if they can be declared historic, but look out 20th century! This means tearing down or rezoning just about everything built in the 1970s and 1980s, not that this would be a huge loss from an aesthetic viewpoint, but most of these were designed for what were current ideas at that time about energy (air tight), and they caused huge problems for air circulation and hazardous materials. They will also be extremely difficult to carry to the dump, because of all the new green regulations. And the stuff with asbestos or lead paint? We've been tearing those down for years creating jobs for lawyers and regulatory agencies, not to mention haulers and dump truck operators. There will be litigation, more regulation and in general, only the largest and wealthiest builders and developers will survive, more low income people will be pushed out of their homes and jobs, and in general, red tape will become green.

    Americans are losing their representative form of government to regulatory agencies. The latest polar bear scam is just one of the more glamorous, well publicized examples. There are thousands and thousands of green candles being lit down the road as this religion converts more and more sensible, thinking people into mindless believers. I'm not sure what the bread and wine will be, but it will have a green tinge.

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Mother's Day Corsage

    Not many women wear corsages on Mother's Day anymore. Mine held up well enough to wear it a second time, the next Sunday, May 18. A gift from my daughter and son-in-law. I love gardenias.

    Reviewing responsibilities

    I spent a lot of time looking at videos and photos from China. Back to back with the Burmese disaster, much of which could have been avoided if its government had heeded days of warnings from other entities, the death, destruction and homelessness is almost beyond belief. Millions and millions of homes and businesses and schools gone. Regardless of those who want to make this a religious issue, global warmist fundies (man made), or an end times issue (God's punishment), it might be a good time to look through the Code of Federal Regulations FEMA section so it is clear in your mind where our first line of defense is for natural disasters. Don't look to the White House; look to your Governor.
      Requests for technical assistance under section 201(b) of the Act shall be made by the Governor or his/her designated representative to the Regional Director.

      (a) The request for technical assistance shall indicate as specifically as possible the objectives, nature, and duration of the requested assistance; the recipient agency or organization within the State; the State official responsible for utilizing such assistance; the manner in which such assistance is to be utilized; and any other information needed for a full understanding of the need for such requested assistance.

      (b) The request for assistance requires participation by the State in the technical assistance process. As part of its request for such assistance, the State shall agree to facilitate coordination among FEMA, local governments, State agencies and the businesses and industries in need of assistance in the areas of disaster preparedness and mitigation.

      [54 FR 2129, Jan. 19, 1989]
    The Governor has to be familiar with the procedure, and then act. This didn't happen in the Katrina Hurricane. Both the Governor and the Mayor failed their people. What's going on in those affected states now--aside from these same inept officials scamming the rest of us for aid money? Are they sitting back waiting for the next disaster, or do they have a plan?

    And while you're at it, do your part. Get the trash in your local area off the road sides and out of culverts so the water can flow. Don't dump your leaves and clippings into the streams to clog up storm drains and creeks and rivers downstream. You might think you're saving pick up and disposal costs, but you may pay big time down the road. Here in Ohio we're about six inches over normal rainfall. The sun is shining at the moment, but the streets and lawns are wet.

    Saturday, May 17, 2008

    My peanut butter nightmare story

    In my No Free Lunch newsletter, #13, (see the previous entry on the background of that newsletter) I wrote about my peanut butter fears. It sounds a bit like today's gasoline stories, so I thought I'd share it. I was actually discussing concentration in the food industry and reported that in 1963 the 50 largest companies accounted for 42% of all food manufacturers' assets, and by 1978 it was 63.7%, and that by 2000 it could be 100% (as reported in "The U.S. food and tobacco manufacturing industries," 1980). Here was my nightmare scenario in 1981
      "I don't have a crystal ball and I'm certainly no economist, but as someone who has been eating peanut butter on toast for breakfast since 1945, I'd like to share a fear of mine with you.

      There was a terrible drought in the summer of 1980--bad year for many crops, particularly peanuts. If you can get peanut butter at all, you're paying dearly for it. Peanut butter is a product that can be simply made (grind up, add salt, pack in jars) by a small company and can be marketed locally because of its wide appeal. If a national firm comes out with a $1.00 off coupon on their brand of peanut butter, the smaller firms will probably be out of business in a short time. And the American shopper will fall for it, because she thinks a coupon is saving her money.

      And then, my nightmare continues, OPEC countries begin buying up acreages in the south that produce our peanuts, and decide to invest some of their oil earnings in the food conglomerates that produce our peanut butter.

      Soon foreign investments are in control, and cutting back on what they'll let us buy, and American shoppers are lining up at the grocery store at 5 a.m. to get a scoop of peanut butter for breakfast."
    See how worrying about tomorrow spoils today? I'm still eating peanut butter, but that last paragraph does remind me of the gasoline problem. We have no control over the source of our oil, but need it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything else. I also didn't remember this drought, I think because we had such a bad heat wave and drought around here in 1988. So I looked it up, and here's what I found in the Monthly Weather Review, v. 109, #10 (Oct 1981)
      Economic losses during the hot, dry summer of 1980 were estimated at $16 billion. Despite these substantial economic losses, analyses of historical (1895–1980) monthly temperature and precipitation data across the 48 contiguous United States indicate that conditions could easily have been worse. Much more hostile conditions have existed in the past, particularly during the 1930's and the 1950's. However, the summer of 1980 does stand out from the past two decades as an extreme anomaly across the southern and southeastern United States.
    Wasn't this during the time when we were warned about the coming new ice age? Well, at least this can't be blamed on President Bush.

    The government's thrifty plan for food

    Food stamps are issued based on the USDA's calculation of what a family of four with an annual income of $26,856 would need to eat nutritiously. AP writers, like the one who misled you all in the Tribune's May 16 article (Columbus Dispatch May 17) on Chicagoans using food stamps, say this can't be done with today's rising prices. Hogwash.

    First of all, any family of 4 can eat on that plan even without food stamps, and the stamps will get them $542 worth of food a month. Buried at the bottom of the article (which is where truth is always found in an AP story, if it's there at all) is the crux of the matter: "carts filled with soda pop, bags of cookies, potato chips" because its cheaper for low income people to feed their families bad food than good food. Lie upon lie! Get this journalist to a library, or at least show him how to Google a dot gov site. Then have him walk the aisles of any supermarket with $500 in his hand and have him purchase ONLY real food--flour, sugar, shortening, apples, potatoes, tomatoes, rice, beans, oatmeal, peanut butter, milk, eggs, etc.; he'll be be stunned at how much food he can buy.

    In the early 1980s I was writing about food budgets, coupons, sweepstakes, and other ways to play with your food, just as I do today in my blog, but using an electric typewriter, a bottle of white-out, research in the OSU Agriculture Library, and a photocopy machine to issue my own newsletter, No Free Lunch. I was interviewed on a local TV talk show, spoke to women's book clubs, a faculty lunch group at OSU, and I was featured in the local suburban newspaper. However, because my theme was in some ways anti-business and chiding the consumer for poor planning, I was not in great demand as a speaker or writer. You can't tell business that their methods are suspect and consumers that they are not behaving rationally and expect to be popular!

    I was just as opinionated then as a liberal Democrat as I am today as a conservative Republican. I wrote a lot about how government and food conglomerates worked together to confuse or hurt the consumer and put the local food companies at a disadvantage (and I hadn't heard of a Wal-Mart). Actually, I still feel that way, but now wonder why Democrats continue to lull voters into thinking even more government control of their lives and wallets is beneficial. And I see how increased regulation of business hurts the little guy, and especially the poor.

    In issue 8 of No Free Lunch I wrote about how the government determines the Food Stamp benefits and then I compared that to my own food purchases. I was a SAHM (I think I worked three hours a day at OSU on a temp contract), with 2 elementary school aged children, living in an upper middle class suburban neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio. Here's what I wrote (all figures based on food costs in 1980, almost 30 years ago):
      "Benefits on which the Food Stamp Program are based are adjusted to changes not in the Consumer Price Index, but in the cost of the "Thrifty Food Plan."

      In January 1980 this plan allowed $49.60 for 2 parents and 2 elementary shcool aged children per week. My own food bill at that time was about $45 per week, including paper products and non-food items, not included in the government's Thrifty Food Plan.

      How can my food bill be lower than "thrifty?" First, I don't use the menu on which the government's plan is based. A second consideration is "economy of size" (a misuse of the term)--my husband and I are not big people, so we don't require as much food as larger people.

      I don't do any of the usual things promoted as cost saving--I don't comparison shop, I don't shop at a major food chain, and I try not to use coupons and refund schemes. I avoid highly promoted, expensive new products.

      I do buy a higher proportion of my food fresh and unprocessed than the average shopper, and I contribute my own labor (which is not taxable). I do not buy prepared desserts and snacks, and that was the big jump in food expendistures in the last 15 years. We drink orange juice and egg nog instead of soft drinks. A garden or a freezer would help, but I'm satisfied that food in America is a very good buy."
    So what does the AP writer in today's paper say about Food Stamps and the Thrifty Plan? Here it is, full of half-truths, myths, and gotcha's. The truth is our government has been crippling poor people for generations now with the best of intentions. Enmeshed with subsidized housing, government funded school breakfasts, lunches and after school snacks, summer lunch programs, food stamps, SCHIP health plans, church food pantries (almost all getting government grants to purchase food to give away) combined with an education system that expects failure, little or nothing from the students or parents, unmarried families (that's a huge penalty for the poor), and more and more "green" regulations that the poor can't even use or which will destroy their neighborhoods for redevelopment. How in the world do these people ever hope to climb out of this government made mess?

    What using less than the thrifty plan looked like in 1981