Saturday, January 31, 2004

208 Index to themes, topics, passing thoughts, and ideas, updated

I am now also posting at Church of the Acronym on matters concerning religion and faith, and at Norma's Journal, on matters concerning books and libraries. So those topics won't be appearing here as often.

academe, libraries 10, 26, 29, 38, 54,67, 70, 75, 134, 176, 197
art and artists 54, 66, 102,126,148, 185
blogging 1, 32, 46, 56, 199,198
books and journals 2, 29, 31, 47, 51, 53, 57, 74, 90, 93,104,110, 115, 117, 119,149, 152, 155, 158, 166,170, 176
condo living 40, 42
culture 31, 41, 139,140,202
economy, finances 7, 13, 33, 43, 61, 96,101, 111,127, 132,163, 201
education 110, 175, 203
entertainment 72, 90, 109,123,129, 139, 186
faith and values 14, 30, 31, 32, 37, 46, 50, 63, 62, 68, 69, 87, 94,118, 127,130, 132,131,138, 141,145,152, 166, 168, 181, 202, 203
family 2, 4, 6, 21, 24, 28, 34, 36, 39, 55, 59, 67, 79, 80, 82, 86, 89, 98,122,128, 143,151, 156,160,165,169, 195, 196,197, 200, 204, 205, 206
fashion 21, 55
food, recipes, eating out 3, 8, 10, 11, 25, 35, 36, 42, 56, 59, 105,108,137,161,207
friends 9, 10, 21, 50, 54, 92,102,168
genealogy 19, 20, 24, 44, 67, 71, 73,106,200
health 23, 25, 36, 39, 48, 53, 61, 60, 81, 83, 88,128,133,146,156, 160, 178, 182,196
history 85
Illinois 44, 54, 63, 67
Internet, Usenet, computers 26, 32, 33, 37, 62, 190
language 117,124,125
nature 31, 42, 58, 57
observations, misc. 5, 12, 15, 49, 52, 113, 114,120, 121,136 154,162, 177, 179, 183, 184,187, 189,191,
Ohio 20, 40, 97,107
pets 27, 39, 56, 92, 122
poetry 14, 22, 44, 55, 63, 80, 153
politics 9, 43, 70, 76, 78, 87, 99, 103, 116, 132, 135, 147,150,159, 181, 188, 193.
science 2, 16, 29, 193
technology 96,142, 194
sports 192
war 100,119, 143,144, 147,
women 20, 23, 44, 63
writing 19, 62, 65, 67, 95,157,164, 180, 204

Friday, January 30, 2004

207 Retro Cook Books

Wednesday is Food and Recipes in the Columbus Dispatch. I noticed an article about Retro Cook Books. Most of mine are Retro, because they are either from my early married years, yard sales, or were my mother's.

The published recipe caused a gag reflex. "Tomato Pudding." I think mother called it scalloped tomatoes. It contains stewed tomatoes, some sort of bread product, and sugar. My dad often made the poor man's version--dump stewed tomatoes (home canned by my mother) into a bowl, crush a handful of crackers and place on top with a spoonful of sugar. He loved it. And if I ate supper at JoElla's house, her dad ate the same thing.

206 Don’t do this

Last week I locked myself out of my car at the shopping center. When I called my husband he asked if I had the remote with me. “Yes,” I said, “on the key chain inside the car.”

This morning, he called me from the Lake house. He had locked himself out of the car with the motor running, but had taken the remote with him. He discovered when returning to the car, what we didn’t know: the remote doesn’t work if the motor is running. I don’t know why this “failsafe” is part of the design, but fortunately the police came and opened the car, and he is on the way home.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

205 Waiting for the plumber

My husband is recovering from shoulder surgery and using the time to practice for retirement. So he comes into the office and watches me write my blogs and answer e-mail, and watches me while I fix dinner, feed the cat, iron, fold laundry, etc.

Friday I was racing around gathering items for my art class. "What time is the plumber coming?" I asked. "9 a.m." he replied. At 8:59 he pulled a chair up in front of the kitchen window to watch for the plumber. "You're new at this, aren't you," I laughed as I rushed out the front door. I told the ladies in art class. It got a chuckle. We'd all spent many a day or two waiting for service people to show up, having been stay at home Moms before or after our careers. After class, we took in a small art show and went out for lunch.

When I got home, the shower drain was working again. Snaking had done the trick. "What time did he get here?" I asked. "About 5 after 9," he replied. "What is his name?" I asked. "Matt Miracle."

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

204 Handicrafts some of us didn't do

We had such a good time in writing class today at the Public Library "Writing family memories." The instructor asked each of us to bring in something that either we had made or something crafted by a family member.

Some of the women had knitted, crocheted, decoupaged, painted ceramics, embroidered, cross stitched, and sewn for themselves and their children. One woman's great grandfather had been a tailor and his wife was a seamstress. She brought in a maroon velvet suit he'd made for her great uncle, and she had a photo of him wearing it when he was 10.

Another member of the class had written about her project of decoupaging wedding invitations for about 25 years, and brought along her box of supplies, including the stained gloves. After not knitting in years, another has taken it up recently and is loving it and showed us a lovely wrap she is working on. She told of sewing her children's clothes in a bandana fabric that matched her maternity top and then taking them on adventures to get them out of the house. "I never lost them," she said. The youngest member of the group--the only one who still has children at home--showed us a lovely fabric hand bag she had just finished when her husband took the children for an outing.

I was never very crafty--don't like to measure or do detail, and that seems to be essential. But like a lot of women my age I did learn to sew, learning both from my mother and from 4-H projects. A month before I got married, I bought a sewing machine for $50 and I still have it--it goes forwards and backwards, but nothing else and I probably haven't used it in 15 years.

So I brought along and passed around a selection of my old Simplicity and McCalls patterns--my 1960 wedding going away dress (blue silk), a ruffled red wool for a New Year's Eve party in 1964, the dress I made of flocked white organdy to match my daughter's baptismal dress in 1968, bell bottom pants and tunic I made in bright lime green in 1969. a midi in brown wool tweed and vest made in 1970, a school dress for my daughter made in 1973, and a denim wrap around jumper made in the early 80s.

Next week we have to write a story about the items we brought in.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

203 Teaching children to give

I’m definitely out of touch. I didn’t realize there were funded organizations and programs and websites “to teach children to give.” So the public schools, the very folk who pushed all religious training underground and drove millions to home schooling, now are filling the values gap with “teaching to give.” At a web site dedicated to workshops, lesson plans, history of philanthropy, and civic engagement we read:
“We have relied in the past on churches, families, friends and neighborhoods to teach children the value and significance of service and giving. We have assumed that our children know their heritage as citizens who do not need to be "empowered" by an outside agency, but who are born empowered as their inherent right of citizenship. It is sadly ironic that today, as emerging foreign democracies seek our assistance in establishing philanthropic traditions of their own, the traditional forces for teaching this ethic to children in the United States are eroding.” Learning to Give
Recently I visited a friend homebound due to a fracture. She lives close to my church, it was a Sunday morning, so I skipped the 9 a.m. service and made a house call. We were comparing our faith’s teaching on this. “In the Jewish faith, doing a mitzvah, a good deed, is very important,” she told me. “Visiting the sick is called the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.” “Same in the Christian faith,” I replied. “Jesus taught that when the sheep and goats are separated on judgment day, those who fed the hungry and visited the sick and took in the stranger, will be treated as though they did it for Him.”

According to the website, the DotNet generation (16-26) have a high level of faith in government and support for much of what it does, but very low levels of involvement in civic life or volunteering for others. Well, I’m not surprised! They probably think the government should do everything all major religions teach their adherents to do!

Monday, January 26, 2004

202 Myths we want to believe

In a women’s group Saturday at a suburban church we were discussing materialism. "The world" is a favorite topic of Christians, and consumerism truly is our golden calf. So not much has changed since Moses’ day. I mentioned the ABC 20/20 Friday night news program hosted by John Stossel, "Lies, Myths and Downright Stupidity; Stossel’s List of Popularly Reported Misconceptions." I believe he has written a book by this title.

One of the myths, # 7, was that "Money can buy happiness." It fit with our discussion. Everyone agreed it is a myth. Sure, we’ve all heard the proverbs and the songs, but still virtually everyone thinks, more is better. He cited a study that showed money does buy happiness if your family income is below $30,000, but by $50,000 it doesn’t affect your sense of well being at all.

A number of the myths in Stossel’s book have to do with wealth, the good life, or even all the issues politicians fight over.
10) Cold temperatures give you colds. Not so--it’s viruses.
9) We have less free time than we used to. Not so. People were asked to track their time, and were watching 3 times more TV than they estimated. 36 million golf; 65 million camp; millions go to the beach; millions flock to sporting events (more than go to church I think)
8) Families need 2 incomes just to survive. Not so, in most cases. It’s a choice. One of the women in the interview group who insisted she had to have a part time job was using the money for a third car (2 drivers in the family).
7) See above--money and happiness.
6) Republicans are for small government. Not so. No Republican administration in 75 years has reduced government. The Bush Administration has grown government by 25% and has increased domestic spending in education, labor, the environment, etc. beyond anything in the Clinton Administration.
5) The rich don’t pay taxes. For this a Democratic Presidential candidate was interviewed and he really dropped the ball--and evaded the question, because he wants taxes on the rich to go up. The richest 1% ($300,000 and up) of Americans pay 34% and the top 5% (over $125,000) pay more than 50% of all federal taxes.
4) Chemicals are killing us. No. We obsess over it, however. A group of children were interviewed and their fear of chemicals was striking. In Uganda two to three million people die annually because the USA won’t make and sell DDT. “It’s fine to be a rich, white environmentalist,” says Amir Attaran on the show. “It’s not so fine if you’re a poor black kid about to die of malaria.”
3) Gun control is making a difference. Not even close. For this they interviewed convicted felons who said they’d never purchased a gun legally, so the laws made no difference to them. They feared armed citizens more than the police or jail they said.
2) We’re drowning in garbage. No. This myth got started with that floating barge of garbage back in 1987. There are plenty of landfills, and many become useful space after compacting and resurfacing.
1) New York harbor is filthy and polluted. For this myth, Stossel jumped into the water. I’m not sure I would do that to prove a point. He isn’t looking quite as healthy and vibrant as he used to.

Myths are hard to give up, especially if they give your life meaning and definition, and especially causes to work for. There’s plenty out there to do for others--just open the Bible to find your “to do” list. It will also take care of the free time problem.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

201 The Proposed Lifetime Savings Account

Sometimes I have to work a bit to remember what it was like to be 35. Although we had a savings account, it was really a “put and take” account. If we deposited our tax refund check in May, it was a guarantee we’d need four tires in July, or the summer storms would rip limbs out of the oak tree in the front yard requiring $400 of tree surgery. Vacations? A week at my mother’s farm. So I try to relax about the way my kids save and spend their money. They are no worse or better than I was at their age.

The Bush Administration has proposed a change to the Roth IRA plan and a new Lifetime Savings Account. Both accounts would offer tax-free withdrawals with contribution limits of $7,500 each with contributions to both allowed for a total of $15,000 per person. However, Lifetime Savings Accounts would have fewer restrictions both for contributions and withdrawals. For detailed information on the Lifetime Savings Account, see link. As I understand it, the dividends will not be taxed and there will be no withdrawal penalty.

Americans have one of the lowest savings rates in the world. I don’t know that 35 year olds will suddenly start doing a better job than I did, but maybe it is worth a try?

Saturday, January 24, 2004

200 Four years ago

Today is the fourth anniversary of my mother’s death. I’m sitting here with a package of her letters mailed to me this week from my cousin Marianne in Iowa. In genealogy, one uses the word “cousin” a bit loosely but warmly. Marianne is the grand daughter of Mary Ann, the sister of my great grandfather, David. She is my second cousin once removed. She is a serious genealogist who authored “The Jacob George Family of Adams County, Pennsylvania” (1998). She and my mother had corresponded for years about this genealogy, but I recognize that some of the material in the book is what I pulled together for her from Mom’s records.

I didn’t wait until Mother’s death to canonize her as some have done with their parents. I’ve always known I had an exceptional mother (well, not counting those awful teenage years when I knew everything and she knew nothing!). And I’ve never known anyone who thought otherwise. She was, however, a rather private person, kept her own counsel, I think is the phrase. Didn’t dabble in controversy. Didn’t gossip. Didn’t argue. So her letters from 1975 to 1998 are less than forthcoming. Weather report. Crop report. Grandchildren report. Health report (as they aged).

Each year Mother wrote promises or near-promises to travel to Iowa so they could see each other in person, but as far as I can tell from the letters, this only happened for Thanksgiving in 1988, although the Iowans did visit in Illinois in the late 70s.

Since Marianne was her cousin and also Brethren, she did share some thoughts on their common heritage on Christmas: “[at a 1978 retreat] no one of Brethren background could recall Christmas trees except at our country school programs. Most of us hung up stockings as children. Christmas dinners with relatives and programs at church and school seemed bigger than our present celebrations. Gifts were mostly homemade. We had lots of fun and excitement as we remembered.”

She fretted a little on Memorial Day 1975 that she and her sister were the only ones left to place flowers at the grave sites of parents and brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, something their mother had always done. In 1987 she recalls visiting in Iowa her great Aunt Annie as a young child--“the comb honey served at meals and the fat feather mattress we slept on reached with a little foot stool. I wish I might have known them at a later age when memories wouldn’t be so dim and one could appreciate more.”

Finally, in 1998, Mother writes Marianne that “I try to tell Amy (granddaughter, early 30s) stories about the family [learned from Marianne’s mother] so someone remembers how the George family spread out and came west.

Friday, January 23, 2004

199 The answer to my question

In response to my question about why I'm advertising for you know who for you know what, the friendly robot at Google has replied:
Hello Norma,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Google AdSense.

Since the ability for us to serve ads on a site depends on a number of factors, such as our ability to crawl the site, the content of each of the web pages, and the availability of related AdWords ads, Google does not guarantee that we'll always have relevant ads to display.

We appreciate you taking the time to offer us this feedback, and we
encourage you to continue to let us know how we can improve Google

Thursday, January 22, 2004

198 I don't choose my ads for Blogspot

I'm using Blogger el-cheapo. So I have a small discreet ad in blue at the top of my web log. Nothing flashy. For free, I can live with it. But in 197 or so blogs, I've probably mentioned Howard Dean once. So whose name is flashing at the top of my Collecting My Thoughts, why Mr. Dean, of course (at least as I'm typing this).

How is that paid for--does a crawler go out and grab anyone who has ever mentioned him? And what if someone talks about Dean Howard, or Dean Martin, or Dean's Milk? Would that flag an ad? Or is it anything political?

Google has asked for feedback, so here's what I've written:

Dear Friendly People at Google:

You seem to be doing an OK job on ads for my, and have included Lutheran and hymnal ads which is about right since I am a Lutheran and blogging about religious topics.

But on my other one,, which is about anything and everything, recipes, genealogy, memories, etc., I've probably mentioned Howard Dean once in 196 posts, politics in 10 or 15, but his name appears in the blogspot ad. What's up with that?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

197 Mother and the library

This week is the fourth anniversary of my mother’s death in 2000. To honor her memory, we set up a memorial with the library foundation for the public library in my home town which was raising money for an expansion and remodeling of its tiny building. I haven’t lived in Mt. Morris since the late 1950s, but I know 6 of the 10 people on the library foundation board.

Like many small town libraries, the Mt. Morris Public Library was established by a community club, a current events club, that loaned books in the 19th century. Around 1931 a public library was organized and my mother had library card #13 obtained that year and used until she died. In the early 20th century, Mt. Morris wasn’t your average little town--it had both a Christian college and a printing industry--a town of the Book and books.

By the late 1990s, the little library building was busting out at the seams, so a foundation was set up to raise the funds and an architect was hired. It was dedicated in November 2002, and last July there was a special ceremony to honor all the librarians who had served there with a tree planted for each one.

The library’s web page is utilitarian and informational, but doesn’t really show the amazing transformation and lovely interiors. For that, you’ll need to check out the web page of the architect.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

196 When doctors made house calls

I drove my husband to the doctor's office this morning and instead of the usual array of magazines to read while I waited, I found a nice book, "Medicine's Great Journey; one hundred years of healing" (1992). I had recently seen the cover photo someplace on the web--it's by W. E. Smith for Life Magazine in 1948 of a doctor in coat, tie and hat walking through the weeds to a rural home.

One of the last house calls I remember was in 1949, when a doctor who drove from Mt. Morris to our house in Forreston to see my ill sister, gave my parents the bad news that she might have polio. I have few tender memories of Dad, but I still see him carrying her, a good sized adolescent, wrapped in a blanket, out to the family car to be taken to the Freeport IL hospital. She survived the disease and therapy, and we were all quarantined. Dad couldn't return to our home after the sign was put on our house. Our library books had to be destroyed rather than returned. My school classmates wrote me letters which were brought to the house and left on the porch. Odd what children put away to remember.

She survived, but post polio syndrome returned to haunt her later years and contributed to her death from a diabetic stroke. I will blog about that in February, the anniversary.

A few weeks before her hospitalization in 1949, my cousin Jimmy had died of the same bulbar polio. We had all been at a Sunday afternoon family dinner together the day before he became ill. In my mind's eye Jimmy was the golden child--handsome, athletic, black curly hair, charming.

Two years ago I went back for a high school reunion and one of the guys, an all-sports athlete, and still an active golfer and little league coach, gave us a walk down memory lane of all the athletes that had come out of our little school. The two in our class who actually made careers out of it were women, and we had no organized, competitive sports for women in the 1950s.

In the course of that presentation he talked about Jimmy. How even at age 12, playing basketball and football, he was spectacular--everyone knew he had the potential to be a state champ. I was so shocked to hear his name--in my years at that school (I transferred there 2 years after his death) I'd never heard him mentioned. I suppose I thought only family remembered him. Odd what children put away to remember.

Monday, January 19, 2004

195 I hate Loyalty cards rant

I've already blogged about how much I dislike playing games with these stupid loyalty cards and rewards programs. Here's a story about how the desire to save a few pennies (well, OK, so it was $15) can really cost you.

I don't have loyalty cards, but I do use my friend Adrienne's. Today I was doing my usual shopping at Meijers, paid for my groceries, and waved to a check out clerk down the line who used to work at the library (a story for another day). She said, "Did you get your 15% off with your Big Bear Wildcard?" I looked a little puzzled. But Big Bear has gone belly up here in Columbus, so in an attempt to win over its customers, Meijer's is offering 15% off the total this week only. Of course, my check out clerk hadn't mentioned it.

I took the groceries to the car, across the ice, snow blowing in my face, debating what to do. I really hate these cards, but have used A's cards occasionally because it's a bit of a hike to Meijer's. After unloading the groceries, I couldn't find my slip, so I got into the car and went through my pockets and purse until I found it. I went back into the store to customer service, and got back about $15 in cash, but they made me turn in the card (sorry, Adrienne, I didn't know they would do this).

I reached into my purse for the car keys and couldn't find them. I hustled to the car hoping it hadn't been stolen because I was pretty sure I would've put the keys in the ignition by rote while looking for the grocery slip. No, not stolen, but the keys were in the ignition and the doors were locked.

My husband, of course, has the other key, but because of his rotator cuff surgery he can't drive. Adrienne actually lives rather close, but I'd had coffee with her at 6:30 a.m. and she told me she was taking the grandchildren out for breakfast. So after a phonecall home, and a neighbor's help, my husband found me at the store just hanging up the phone from my fourth call. So instead of $15, my refund was more like $13, because pay phones are now $.50.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

194 Bush's Space Iniative

Remember the movie "October Sky?" Homer Hickman, who wrote the autobiographical book on which the movie was based, had an editorial in the WSJ Jan 13, 2004 (A14) which is really worth reading. He says it is the only government program that returns billions to our economy in new products that put Americans to work.

"I don't agree with President Bush about everything, but he's starting to remind me of Harry S. Truman. He gets with the program. You can argue with him about what he does and you might even be right, but you can't fault the man for getting out front and leading. That is, after all, what we hire our presidents to do."

Saturday, January 17, 2004

193 Al Gore: Give the guy a break

Some people are making light of Al Gore's global warming warning speech yesterday during NY's terrible cold weather. But I think we all know that isn't how global warming is judged. Here a day, there a day. Here a century, there a century.

But we also know, or should, no one knows the reason, or whether the weather is just a continuation of the melting of the glaciers that used to cover Ohio. So I was a bit unnerved to see an item in the University of Illinois LAS News Fall 2003 (arrived yesterday--global slowing I suppose) that said on p. 18,
"Despite the dramatic climate changes in store, most people still don't know what causes them, according to a recent international public-opinion study by LAS sociologist Steven Brechin. Only 15% of Americans surveyed correctly identified the burning of fossil fuels as the primary culprit in global warming--fewer than in Cuba (17%), Mexico (26%) and most developing nations.”
Possibly we have more educated people than those countries? Who or what are we blaming for all those other periods in history when temperatures were rising and falling? And why is a sociologist doing a study on global warming? There is no consensus among scientists about fossil fuels, so I'm surprised that social scientists are so sure. Well, no, I'm not surprised.

Friday, January 16, 2004

192 Shoeless Joe and Clueless Pete

Here in Ohio, the sports buzz is about Pete Rose, known as "Charlie Hustle" when he was an up and coming baseball player. Little kids idolized him back in the 1970s. Probably the only book my son ever read in grade school was about Rose.

Finally, now that he has a book to sell, My Prison Without Bars, he admits he has been lying all along about not betting on games. He wants in the Hall of Fame, and actually admits that he doesn't feel that lying is any big deal.

So a sports columnist in the Columbus Dispatch said, why not the other 18 players who have been excluded from the Hall of Fame? Mike Nola, a baseball historian, maintains a web site for Shoeless Joe Jackson, an illiterate, famous baseball player who supposedly signed a confession that he fixed a game, but was later acquitted by a Chicago court in 1921. Nola is working to get Joe into the real Hall of Fame, rather than the Virtual Hall of Fame.

So, who is more deserving Pete or Joe, or both? Or should I be posting this on my religious blog, Ugly Acronym?

Thursday, January 15, 2004

191 Predictions for 2004

I don’t often pay attention to full page ads in the Wall Street Journal, but “10 surprises of the New Year 2004” in yesterday’s paper did catch my eye. It’s Morgan Stanley’s predictions, but with somewhat more credibility than a crystal ball. The full list can be found at the about Morgan Stanley Web site, which for some reason has the odd date, January 5, 2003, even though it contains all the summaries for 2003 and predictions for 2004. Some webmaster didn’t update correctly, I guess. I’ve sent them an e-mail about this boo-boo. so it might be fixed by now.
1. Osama will be found.
2. Productivity continues to improve.
3. Stock market remains strong.
4. Mutual fund questionable practices will drop from the news.
5. Euro weakens.
6. Pharmaceuticals outperform.
7. Conditions in Saudi Arabia deteriorate--energy stocks outperform.
8. Silver becomes precious metal of choice, $8/oz, gold ascends to $500.
9. Japan’s economy picks up.
10. And here’s the big surprise prediction, in my opinion: Bill Frist will replace Dick Cheney on the ticket. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz resign, saying their work is done.
Bill Frist was my top choice with Condi Rice for the Republican ticket in 2008, but I never thought about him for VP in 2004. This would be a good leg up on the campaign against Hillary in 2008, wouldn't it?

190 ASAP at the dentist's office

Time is a funny thing. My dentist is 50 years old. Some of my fillings are older than he is. A visit to the dentist 50 years ago seems like yesterday, and reading about the tech boom of the 90s seems like 50 years ago.

I pulled a magazine from a stack to read at the dentist’s office where I was having a filing replaced. ASAP October 4, 1999. I was stunned to realize that I hadn’t even thought about what used to be one of my favorite sources of dreams about the future of technology since, well, about mid-2000. It's now so . . . yesterday! I used to read ASAP cover to cover--and until I saw the date, I hadn’t even realized it was gone. Who could forget the Happiness Issue? (Actually, I’ve forgotten all the content, but not the concept.)

By the mid-nineties when I started reading it, it was an excellent tech magazine, very readable even for the non-geek like me. And I loved George Gilder--although, truthfully now that I look back, he really did write strange English. The ads were absolutely lush--encrusted with good taste and dripping with money. Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Wolfe, Muhammad Ali, Tom Peters and George Gilder are in the issue I look at while my face goes numb from chin to eyebrow.

Our accounts started to do that (go numb) in summer 2000, my TIAA-CREF account held its ground only because my 15% contributions covered up the fact it was losing money. So don’t tell me Bush did it. The over heated tech stocks burned up. Three years after the date on this 1999 issue, October 4, 2002, Forbes announced ASAP was shutting down.

“During a period when blind optimism got the better of so many, no one was more blithely optimistic about our wired future than Gilder. Beginning in the mid-'90s, he advanced the argument that the businesses which most aggressively embrace fiber optics, wireless communication, and other telecommunications breakthroughs would soar in the meteoric fashion of an Intel. It was Gilder, as much as anyone, who helped trigger the hundreds of billions of dollars invested to create competing fiber networks. Then everything imploded, and company after company went under. The telecom sector proved to be an even greater financial debacle than the dotcoms. Yet he's still convinced he was dead-on right in most of his prognostications.” Wired, July 2002.
George Gilder got side swiped by his own enthusiasm and lost a lot of money in a new publishing venture. However, his predictions, made in the mid-nineties about the future of high speed internet seem to be coming true, just a little later than he thought. Particularly that one about overthrowing the tyranny of the mass media, which bloggers seem to be doing, 5 or 6 million strong. Of course, he was wrong about world peace. . .

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

189 Piso Mojado

Last fall I watched as a man spilled a full cup of coffee at the bakery where I read the paper in the morning. It went all over the white tablecloth, the floor, his shoes and pants. He just stood there and looked at the mess. Another man standing behind him, looked too; both seemed paralyzed. Then the second guy went over to the counter and picked up a stack of napkins and brought them back to help clean it up. It was like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon. The customer who spilled it was still staring at the huge brown puddle on the floor and eating the free samples.

So I got up and took matters into my own hands since men aren’t accustomed to cleaning up after themselves, and suggested they call for staff to come and clean it up. Which they did, and soon the table with the free samples was tidy again with a clean linen cloth.

Monday morning I too spilled a full cup sitting at my table. But I didn’t waste any time, and told the staff immediately. It was mopped up before I could get back to my table with a fresh cup. Always call the expert. So I drank my coffee with a bright yellow caution sign in two languages at my feet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

188 Signed up for Spanish

I am planning to take another Spanish class this winter, but not so I can converse with illegal immigrants who supposedly take jobs that Americans don’t want. I am gobsmacked, as the Brits say, by this policy. Bush is sounding more like a Democrat every day. And spending money on domestic programs like one.

“Bush will try to make the plan more palatable to conservatives by including stricter entry controls, including increased use of technology at the border and steps toward better enforcement of current visa restrictions and reporting requirements, sources said,“ Washington Post 12-24-03. If such controls and technology are available, why aren’t we using them now? We’ve got the laws on the books.

I doubt that it will help him much with the Latino vote. They think it is a plot to get them registered for deportation. And, actually, that would make more sense. How many conservatives will just throw up their hands and abandon him like they did his father when he didn’t keep his word. It’s important to remember that unlike Democrats, Republicans do not sing along that country and western song, “Stand by your man.”

Poor people who work really don’t pay Federal Income Taxes, so there is no benefit there. But they do pay Payroll taxes, or Social Security. That makes them recipients of the benefits, too. I’m not eligible for social security benefits because I have a teacher’s pension. These workers, non-citizens and here illegally, will be.

Monday, January 12, 2004

187 Free at last

In 13 states, including Ohio, grandparents are required to care for their grandchildren of minor children. Some do it just for love.

Saturday’s paper told of the death of a great-grandmother who was raising 5 of her great-grandchildren--3 orphaned and 2 abandoned by their mother. Elizabeth Mitchell Dulaney shot and wounded a drug dealer as an armed gang broke into her home and threatened her little family in 2002. She had tipped off the police to an illegal pill operation apparently angering the gang. For her service to her family and neighborhood, she got a 3 1/2 year prison sentence, which was later commuted by the Governor after the Columbus Dispatch's readers lobbied on her behalf.

But she wanted a pardon, which didn't come before her death at age 68. An advocate is trying to get one for her posthumously so she can be buried with it, "Free at last."

Sunday, January 11, 2004

186 Sex and the City

I’ve never seen an episode of “Sex and the City,” starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Reading about the angst and grief as the last episodes air on HBO makes me think I haven’t missed much. The USA Today article was up-beat and flattering, intended to hype the frenzy. Fantasies about shoes, potty mouth women, loser boyfriends, sleeping around, STDs, abortion, zingers. It really sounds special, doesn’t it? And friendships. Oh yes, that’s supposed to be a big part of the hoopla. Gilda Carle described the show as four empty women who use sex as a tool.

Even cleaned up for reruns on TBS in syndication, it doesn’t look like a bargain to me, that is if Time really is money.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

185 I am Maid Wright

For Christmas I received a Frank Lloyd Wright letter opener, a Frank Lloyd Wright necklace, a Frank Lloyd Wright broach, and Frank Lloyd Wright stationery in a box decorated with a Frank Lloyd Wright design.

From other Christmases, I have a Frank Lloyd Wright mouse pad, a Frank Lloyd Wright door mat, a Frank Lloyd Wright China snack set for four (Imperial Hotel), a Frank Lloyd Wright coffee cup, three Frank Lloyd Wright necklaces, two Frank Lloyd Wright throw pillows (theatre curtain and May basket), two Frank Lloyd Wright cotton coverlets (water lilies and Heurtley House), two boxes of Frank Lloyd Wright blank note cards, seven Frank Lloyd Wright lapel pins (studio, windows, Guggenheim, April showers), six Frank Lloyd Wright scarves, a Frank Lloyd Wright umbrella and tote bag, a Frank Lloyd Wright mantle clock, a Frank Lloyd Wright China keepsake box, a Frank Lloyd Wright engagement calendar.

My husband is an architect.

184 Oddities of our times

While waiting for the doctor, I noticed an advertisement for smoking shelters in the magazine "Hospitals and Health Networks."

My toothpast tube says "squeeze from the middle."

Bacon is a diet food.

A teen-ager, home schooled on the ranch, has the #4 best seller in the country for fiction, and a Christian title, The Purpose Driven Life is #2 in non-fiction.

The word "ubiquity" has become ubiquitous.

I can fly to Frankfurt Germany cheaper than to Bradenton, Florida.

Businesses are trying to lure young mothers back to work.

DVDs packaged in fold-outs look like books, stand up like books, open like books, and have covers like books.

The Endangered Species Act in 30 years has only removed 30 species from its endangered list. Where else but in America would this be considered a success?

5,000 Americans die each year of food borne illnesses, but none have ever died of, or even had, Mad Cow Disease.

Wired Magazine increasingly carries articles about wireless.

Ticket prices are up, but revenues are down at the movie box office.

Friday, January 09, 2004

183 Take no responsibility

In today's paper, I noticed the following story lines:
"Police searching for a car they think is responsible for the death of a 16 year old girl."

"Man killed by gunshot."

"Soft drinks lead to obesity."

"Buns to reopen [restaurant in Delaware, OH]

182 A picture is worth. . .

The Columbus Dispatch today carried a large photo of two young East High school boys at the door of the gym. In the hall, both sides, in front of the doors were soft drink machines. One young man, lean and carrying a gym bag, was going into the gym. The other one, overweight with no gym bag, was leaning over retrieving his soda.

In the 1950s in my high school we had a milk machine. For 2 cents we could get a small carton of milk (subsidized apparently, because even then that was cheap). I rarely used it, but if you were hungry, it was better than nothing.

Cokes, with a dollop of cherry or chocolate were for giggling and gossiping with your friends at Felker's Drug Store after school. One can of pop has more sugar than an entire day's recommended amount. According to the article, many kids drink three or four a day.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

181 Howard Dean and his good friend, God

Don't you just wish Howard Dean would forget trying to sound religious? I'm embarrassed for him, and I don't even like him!

William Safire reported the other day that Dean was trying to make a point about how he reads the Bible and he had the story of Job in the New Testament and said it had a bad ending which probably wasn't the original. Then Christopher Buckley in an article "In God he trusts," said he Googled "Dean + God" and got 49,201 hits on the internet--mostly Dean taking His name in vain--goddamnit, God knows, and goddamn.

Then he said something about the hallmark of Christianity being how you treat your fellow man (good works). Nonsense. The moral and ethical teachings of Christ were all from Judiaism. The hallmark of Christianity is the person and work of Jesus Christ.

No wonder he left his church over a bikepath. He doesn't know enough about Christianity to chose a better reason. He should go back to winning the Bible Belt with talking about Confederate flags--he couldn't do worse.

Update: In the Jan. 9 Wall Street Journal, Geoffrey Norman has an article "God and Green Mountains." He points out that discussing one's faith in Vermont, Dean's home state, would be vulgar. But when going after the bubba vote, saying that Jesus is your inspiration just won't cut it. Football players and NASCAR drivers are an inspiration; Jesus is the Redeemer.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

180 Cite your sources, please!

Newspapers running the New York Times Syndicate (Jan. 5, 2004) carried stories about how antidepressants affect the brain as compared to cognitive behavior therapy. The antidepressants reduce activity in the emotional center, and the therapy quiets the cortex, the area of higher thought.

I read it in the Wall Street Journal and made a few notes so I could look it up. I do prefer to read the original research of break through health information and if newspapers, consumer health magazines and websites were kind enough to actually site their sources, I could do that. But they don’t. This was a huge frustration when I was a librarian--people would bring in an article that cited “last month” or an acronym for a journal, or just “recent studies show.”

I went to the web first to see if the article were available on-line. My first time scanning the contents of January 2004 Archives of General Psychiatry, I missed the title (didn’t have a correct title to work from) and I hadn’t written down the authors names mentioned in the article. So I did a Google search and found the syndicate article from the Boston Globe and picked up two of the authors names and the clue that it was a Canadian study.
“[Helen] Mayberg, a professor of psychiatry and neurology who conducted the study while at the University of Toronto but recently moved to Emory University in Atlanta. . .Dr. Zindel Segal, a University of Toronto psychiatry professor who worked on the study. . .The study, published in this month's Archives of General Psychiatry, helps to contrast the two main approaches to fighting it.”
We should be able to just glance at the end of the article and find a two line citation, maybe in handy brackets to set it aside from the story. Instead, I have to scan the whole thing and try to glean clues.

Here is the citation. “Modulation of Cortical-Limbic Pathways in Major Depression; Treatment-Specific Effects of Cognitive Behavior Therapy” Kimberly Goldapple, MSc; Zindel Segal, PhD; Carol Garson, MA; Mark Lau, PhD; Peter Bieling, PhD; Sidney Kennedy, MD; Helen Mayberg, MD Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2004;61:34-41.

Similar item was posted at my LISNews Journal

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

179 Overlawyered

Interesting blog on our one million lawyers and what people are thinking. " explores an American legal system that too often turns litigation into a weapon against guilty and innocent alike, erodes individual responsibility, rewards sharp practice, enriches its participants at the public's expense, and resists even modest efforts at reform and accountability. " The author is Walter Olson.

I noticed one class action suit against a bank where the customers received payments of $.16 to $.84 for overcharges, and the lawyers got $9 million for winning the suit. Readers send in many of the examples.

Monday, January 05, 2004

178 As health costs climb

A photograph on the front page of the Combus Dispatch today was startling, and indicative of what obesity is costing our health care system. Two staff people were each standing behind a wheelchair, regular and modified. The regular one costs $400. Next to it was a custom made wheelchair, perhaps two and a half times as wide for larger patients. Its cost was $4,000.

I wonder what cost is added in for injured medical staff who have to assist?

177 What you don't want to hear

I'm a morning person and like to go out for coffee early--before 7 a.m. I might visit three or four different places in a week. After awhile the faces of the customers and staff become familiar. Today I heard the words you do NOT want to hear any place you eat or drink.

I could see and hear the regional manager, but not the person in the back area (food prep) he was talking to. "You're sick, man. I'm ready to call 911. You're going home. You're sick!! (Protesting from the back room) Go home. Take care of yourself." He did. I passed on the free samples set out for the early birds.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

176 A source for children’s reading

If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or pushover mama to the neighborhood, you might enjoy reading back issues of The Bulletin of the Center for children’s books (University of Illinois) for help in selecting gift books or library books for your little ones. Sorry I didn’t mention this before Christmas, but there are always birthdays and graduations from kindergarten.

I mention back issues for two reasons--that’s what is on line if you carefully work your way through the links (they don’t make this too obvious), and with children’s books does it really matter if they don’t have the latest? Don’t you want something with 1) beautiful illustrations, 2) wonderful use of the language and 3) timeless lessons to be learned?

I first clicked to the Blue Ribbon Archive then clicked on any year before 2003 and was able to read the feature articles and blue ribbon selections and special subject focus lists. The Bulletin’s Dozen is a theme based list, available only on-line. July 2002, for instance, listed 12 books about farms and farming with brief annotations, for example: Hall, Donald. The Farm Summer 1942; illus. by Barry Moser. Dial, 1994. 6-9 yrs. "While his father and mother serve their country, Peter spends his summer caring for animals and listening to family stories on his grandparents' New Hampshire farm." These lists can be printed in pdf double sided, tri-fold.

Also an interesting article on storytelling and libraries in the August 1997 issue, some of which will hold true when you curl up in a big chair with the little big ears, but also important to know if the child in your life goes to library story hours.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

#175 The expectation gap

It seems there is a significant gap between achievement of white students and black and/or Hispanic students, but the gap between white and Asian is even larger.

Clarence Page writes commenting on the book, "No excuses, closing the racial gap" by Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom: "Among the most intriguing possible reasons for this disparity is an intriguing group difference in the way students measure their family's "trouble threshold," according to one study that the Thernstroms cite. The "trouble threshold" is the lowest grade that students think they can receive before their parents go volcanic with anger and start clamping down on TV time, etc. In the survey by Laurence Steinberg, a Temple University social scientist, published in his 1996 book, "Beyond the Classroom," most of the black and Hispanic students surveyed said they could avoid trouble at home as long as their grades stayed above C-minus.

Most of the whites, by contrast, said their parents would give them a hard time if their children came home with anything less than a B-minus.

By contrast, most of the Asian students, whether immigrant or native-born, said that their parents would be upset if they brought home anything less than an A-minus."

When I was in school in the 1950s and 1960s it was MY expectation that mattered. It hovered around an A minus. I wanted A’s, but knew it might not happen in math or the sciences, my weak and low interest areas. My parents expected at least a B. So worrying about what my parents might say was just never an issue--my expectations were higher than theirs! I once got a C in tennis at Manchester College, but no one cared about sports except as it affected a GPA. If I suspected I was not going to do well, I dropped the class. But I averaged about an A- in high school and college.

Friday, January 02, 2004

#174 Index to themes, topics, passing thoughts, and ideas, updated

academe, libraries 10, 26, 29, 38, 54,67, 70, 75, 134
art and artists 54, 66, 102,126,148
blogging 1, 32, 46, 56
books and journals 2, 29, 31, 47, 51, 53, 57, 74, 90, 93,104,110, 115, 117, 119,149, 152, 155, 158, 166,170
condo living 40, 42
culture 31, 41, 139,140
economy, finances 7, 13, 33, 43, 61, 96,101, 111,127, 132,163
education 110
entertainment 72, 90, 109,123,129, 139
faith and values 14, 30, 31, 32, 37, 46, 50, 63, 62, 68, 69, 87, 94,118, 127,130, 132,131,138, 141,145,152, 166, 168
family 2, 4, 6, 21, 24, 28, 34, 36, 39, 55, 59, 67, 79, 80, 82, 86, 89, 98,122,128, 143,151, 156,160,165,169
fashion 21, 55
food, recipes, eating out 3, 8, 10, 11, 25, 35, 36, 42, 56, 59, 105,108,137,161
friends 9, 10, 21, 50, 54, 92,102,168
genealogy 19, 20, 24, 44, 67, 71, 73,106
health 23, 25, 36, 39, 48, 53, 61, 60, 81, 83, 88,128,133,146,156, 160
history 85
Illinois 44, 54, 63, 67
Internet, Usenet, computers 26, 32, 33, 37, 62
language 117,124,125
nature 31, 42, 58, 57
observations, misc. 5, 12, 15, 49, 52, 113, 114,120, 121,136 154,162
Ohio 20, 40, 97,107
pets 27, 39, 56, 92, 122
poetry 14, 22, 44, 55, 63, 80, 153
politics 9, 43, 70, 76, 78, 87, 99, 103, 116, 132, 135, 147,150,159
science 2, 16, 29
technology 96,142
war 100,119, 143,144, 147,
women 20, 23, 44, 63
writing 19, 62, 65, 67, 95,157,164

#173 Unshelved Comic Strip

To see more about this comic strip set in a public library, check the primer.

#172 2004 Financial Outlook

As 2004 begins, I’m thankful that when I was young, I didn’t take any loans to get through college. I’m thankful that I entered a stable marriage with a guy who had the same values. I’m thankful that when I was younger I learned to depend on one income and save the other (when I finally did go back to work). I’m thankful that I grew up in a household culture that looked disapprovingly on accumulating possessions. I’m thankful that I learned in my 30s that at least 10% comes off the top for God, and the next 15% goes to savings. Then there will always be enough to meet both the bills and the expectations.

I have a teacher’s pension. It’s about $18,000 a year. I’m not eligible for Social Security--neither on my own record of earnings nor my spouse’s. If you taught, say the first 25 years out of college, then retired and started a consulting business, or really ramped up your writing career and sold a novel or two, or maybe that guidebook that was on the back burner for all those years spent listening to hormonal 8th graders, you may be thinking that between your pension and your Social Security and your private investments, you’ll be able to be comfortable.

Think again. A teacher’s pension offsets Social Security benefits. (Government Pension Offset). It’s been this way since the mid-80s, but maybe you didn’t think about it when you retired, or didn’t know. If your spouse dies, you won’t get his/her SS spousal benefits either (Windfall Elimination Provision). Unless your teacher’s pension is really tiny, and even then you’ll get a fraction of a spouse who never worked. It may be one of the few issues NEA and I ever agreed on.

Fortunately, your private investments are doing well. In 2003 Nasdaq composite up 50%; S&P up 26.4%; Dow Jones up 25.3% (WSJ Jan 2, 04). So I hope you were socking it away back when you were young and carefree.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

#171 Happy New Year

The jazz concert and worship service at church last night was a huge success. No one knew what to expect since this was a first, but about 800 people came. Pastor Paul asked members of the congregation, “who brought visitors,” and many hands went up. Paul admitted he doesn’t know much about jazz, but in the sermon he drew a large rectangle in the air and said that although the musicians had great freedom, they were working within a framework. Our life with God can be that way he promised. Great freedom, but within God’s laws.

The six piece group, which included Tom Battenburg on trumpet and Vaughn Wiester on trombone, started with some secular music at 5:30 with video of New Orleans, Chicago, New York and San Francisco, as well as a lovely rural film clip for “Autumn Leaves.” Then we had a rousing hymn sing using old hymns in the public domain, arranged I assume by staff member Russ Nagy, the pianist. We got up and moving with “Standup, standup for Jesus,” which was probably too danceable for my grandparents’ generation in the original, but works nicely as jazz, “Crown him with many crowns” (I didn’t think this one could pass muster as jazz), “Amazing Grace,” and “Jesus shall reign where’er the sun.” We closed with a familiar but probably unsingable hymn (for the visitors) to the familiar tune of Auld Lang Syne with great gusto.

One new freedom last night was carrying coffee cups into the sanctuary. Previously (one year ago our senior pastor of 18 years retired), no food or drink was allowed in there. I don’t worship often at Mill Run campus (this one opened four years ago, but we have three locations) because the slope of the stadium seating in the sanctuary is uncomfortable when standing and when sitting I slide off the seat. I think the drink restriction was a wise one. If coffee is spilled in row 20, someone in row 10 who has put her purse and Bible on the floor, is going to really be unhappy. Fortunately, by the time I kicked mine over returning from communion, it was empty.