Saturday, December 31, 2005

Wishing you a safe and happy New Year

Our friends Tom and Pat are coming over from Indianapolis. The guys have been friends since their teen years, and Tom was the best man in our wedding. Our children are about the same age, and some day I hope to see their son Mike's name on the title page of a novel. Their daughter Rachel teaches in an urban school in Indianapolis.

We'll either go to a movie or a jazz concert--it's their call, then either to Old Bag of Nails or Rusty Bucket--our call--for something to eat, and then downtown to look at the lights, which so far, we've managed to miss. I think there is a Ferris wheel at Skate on State something set up to draw people downtown during the holidays. Hope we aren't too late.

I hope you have a wonderful, healthy, prosperous 2006.

May your investments do well,
your medical visits few,
May your friends be many
and love always surround you.

At least, that's what matters when you're my age!

1964 Why AmVet's won't take TV and microwaves

Am Vets picked up just about everything we put out yesterday--nothing was broken, and everything was in good condition and resaleable at their shop. But they will not take a TV or microwave. Too many poor people already have them. They didn't say that, but take a look at this.

HT Randy who found it at the Christian Science Monitor.

"The Census report also compares, from 1992 through 1998, people's perceptions of whether basic needs were being met. More than 92 percent of Americans below the poverty line said they had enough food, as of 1998. Some 86 percent said they had no unmet need for a doctor, 89 percent had no roof leaks, and 87 percent said they had no unpaid rent or mortgage."

Gee whiz. I know middle class folks who have unpaid rent and mortgages!

1963 Thorncrown Chapel receives AIA award

We had a wonderful trip to visit Frank Lloyd Wright and E. Fay Jones buildings last summer, about which I blogged here. The American Institute of Architects has awarded the Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which we visited, the 2006 Twenty-Five Year Award for architectural design that has stood the test of time for 25 years.

"The small but soaring glass and cross-braced pine chapel, designed by the late E. Fay Jones, the 1990 AIA Gold Medalist, nestles into an 8 acre woodland setting on a sloping hillside in the Ozark Mountains. It stands 48 ft. with 24 ft. wide by 60 ft long dimensions for a total of 1,440 sq. ft. Its 425 windows, make of 6,000 sq. ft of glass, filter woodland light across its upward diamond-shaped pine trusses to form ever-changing patterns of light and shadow throughout the day and night." AIA Columbus, Dec. 29, 2005.

Approximately 5,000,000 people have visited Thorncrown which is the built dream of Jim Reed, who purchased the land in 1971. When raising money for the chapel, the banks told him that tourists wouldn't come to a glass chapel in his back yard in Arkansas. The Reeds son Doug Reed is currently one of the three pastors at the chapel which is supported by donations. Jim Reed died in 1985 and Jones died in 2004.

Jones's other chapel in the Ozarks, the Mildred B. Cooper Chapel, is also a delight, and one of my blogger links, Hokulea recently visited there for a Christmas service that sounded really special,

"Today the church pianist had a small gathering in her place of employment. She is the manager of the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel check out the website and catch a glimpse of the gem of our lovely village. The place seats about 100 and was fills with people, most involved with the choirs of their churches. We sang for two hours watching the glorious winter sunset throught the barren trees. It was a delight."

1962 Why New Orleans failed long before Katrina

New Orleans used to have a thriving African American community, according to this article by Joel Kotkin which compares the paths to growth between Houston and New Orleans. It probably answers my general question in my blog about the robust U.S. economy about why so many cities with entrenched poverty also elect Democrats year after year and keep slipping backward.

“But during the 1960s, the push for economic growth that created an upwardly mobile working class was replaced—in New Orleans as well as most other cities —by a new paradigm that emphasized politics. Political agitations promoted various forms of racial redress, and the rights of people to receive government welfare payments. By the late 1970s, African Americans in many American cities had gained more titular power than they’d ever dreamed of, including the mayoralty of New Orleans.

The new political gains of black Americans were widely regarded as a major step toward an improved social status. This coincided with the rise of a new form of urban boosterism—which showcased downtown renewal districts and insisted that the dramatic decline of city quality of life during the 1960s and 1970s had been reversed in the 1980s and 1990s. Urban elites, including in New Orleans, burbled about the vigor of their cities. Right through last year’s Gallup poll, leaders and residents of the Crescent City had (along with San Francisco) one of the highest levels of municipal self-esteem in the country. That now appears sadly delusional.

The truth is that, rather than improving conditions for average residents of their cities, many urban politicians and interest groups have promoted policies that actually exacerbated a metastasizing underclass. Urban liberals tend to blame a shrivelling of Great Society programs for problems in cities. Observers such as former Houston mayor Bob Lanier have suggested, however, that the Great Society impulse itself is what most damaged many cities—by stressing welfare payments and income redistribution, ethnic grievance, and lax policies on issues like crime and homelessness, instead of the creation of a stronger economy.”

Sadly, the needed tax and business and local government reforms will be ignored and instead:

". . .our urban leaders and their enablers—from rich developers to social agitators—will insist their old strategies are working. The media will likely echo their press releases. This will work only until our cities crumble under pressure, as in New Orleans, explode from within, like Paris, or simply become irrelevant anachronisms at the margins of modern society."

Read the whole article in either html or a pdf file complete with pictures.

Friday, December 30, 2005

1961 Remember stories and theater on radio?

Today I followed a link at Jay Kegley’s blog to a free radio site, LibriVox, which provides totally free audiobooks from the public domain. Volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain, and then LibriVox releases the audio files back onto the net (podcast and catalog). Their objective is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.

From that site I clicked through several other free audio sites, including old radio theater. "Bookworm" showcases writers of fiction and poetry. will feature your book if you are an author--a good way for you to get an audience. was featuring The Law by Frederic Bastiat. “The Law is one of the most important books ever written on the uses and abuses of law. While short, The Law has proven itself time and time again to be life changing to those who read it.” I’d never heard of it, but am finding it very interesting. This site seems to feature titles important to liberty and freedom, and includes Frederick Douglass’ autobiography.

You can spend hours mining these sites for novels, short stories, poetry and essays.

1960 Before and After the Clean-up

It may be difficult for you to see the difference in these photos, but let me assure you, except for one small tray (filled with rolled pennies, WWJD bracelet, buttons from shirts no longer worn, a high school ID photo, and pens that don't work) which my husband wouldn't give up, these shelves are now functionally organized.

Before the great clean out

After the reorganization

See the mat board in plastic peeking from behind the shelf? It is now resting comfortably in a flat file, which took days to purge. All the books from the bottom shelf (if we could learn to paint by reading books, we'd be making a fortune, but have instead spent one on books) have been moved into the art studio to shelves that were liberated of old notebooks stuffed with specs that were out of date. Then 15 years of American Artist were moved and are neatly shelved by year and month instead of jabber jibber. See all those cameras? They used to be all over the place, sometimes in a case, sometimes not. Now they have friends to keep themselves company. See those little plastic film containers building pyramids like cheerleaders? In the trash--we had about 50. See the box on top of the shelf. It contained slides which have all joined their slide friends in another cabinet behind those louver doors (the kitty litter is also behind those doors and that artificial floral arrangement is to pretend you can't smell it).

Now on the other side of the room is the larger 36" shelf we swapped with our son, and a few items, like those photo boxes were moved there. This shelving unit contains a lot of reference material--magazine photos, Christmas cards, sketches, etc. Also, loaded carousels for painting reference--probably every barn in northern Illinois is in there. The paintings on the wall are mine--all of Lakeside, OH. A mirror would have been nice, but after getting rid of so much stuff, I didn't want to start buying again.

Well, what do you think?

1959 Year-end assessments of the economy

Those of us concerned about the poor will be delighted to read all the year end assessments of the economy. If you were Kedwards people who believed all the sour economic news floated by the DNC during the election of 2004 please know nothing helps the poor more than a good economy--although it does hurt Democrats if they aren‘t in charge because then people aren't beholden to them.

Now that we’re retired on pensions and moving to the bottom quintile again, where we were in our early 20’s, I’m very happy with the thriving economy and am puzzled that liberals who claim to care so much are so unhappy. And it is a mystery to me why the cities with the highest poverty rates keep returning local Democrats to office to run things. You can fool some of the people all of the time, I suppose.

“Remember the 2004 debate over the "jobless recovery" and "outsourcing"? Here's the reality: The great American jobs machine has averaged a net increase of nearly 200,000 new jobs a month this year. Some 4.5 million more Americans are working today than in May of 2003, before the Bush investment tax cuts. The employment expansion in financial services, software design, medical technology and many other growth industries dwarfs the smaller job losses in the domestic auto industry.

Critics of the U.S economic model charge that income gains for workers still have not caught up with the losses from the 2000-2001 high-tech collapse. Now they have. The Treasury Department reported last week that "real hourly wages are up 1.1% versus the previous business cycle peak in early 2001." Workers are now earning more per hour in real terms than they did at the height of the 1990s expansion.” Rodney Dangerfield Revisited in today’s WSJ

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Jan. 2006 reports a very positive picture: "As we begin the 50th month of economic growth this new year, not too much has changed. You can expect 3% growth in 2006 to follow the 3.6% of 2005 -- an excellent showing considering the massive hurricanes, record oil prices and relentless Federal Reserve Board interest-rate hikes. . . The U.S. will create two million new jobs in 2006, on top of 1.8 million in 2005, enough to hold the unemployment rate to 5%. With jobs plentiful, employers will add nearly 4% to paychecks. . . Corporate America's balance sheets and profit margins are the strongest they've been since the 1960s, with only a few industries, such as airlines and U.S. automakers, in trouble."

1958 Mere Magazines

In today's Wall Street Journal Dr. Thomas P. Stossel of Harvard Medical School takes on the hypocrisy of some of the top medical and science journals. Recently, some high profile U.S. journals like JAMA, NEJM, and Science have been caught with their data down, publishing articles from India, China and Korea ranging from cloning to stem cell research to nutrition after heart attacks that would never meet FDA scrutiny in the USA because of the limited clinical trials and bad data. His gripe with these journals' editors is that they quick to criticize the pharmaceuticals (i.e. big business that took the risks) but seem to be blind to the power trail in academe or their own flubs.

"Many [academics] would run over their grandmothers to claim priority for a discovery, impose their pet theory on the field, obtain a research grant, win an award or garner a promotion. . . We exercise our ambitions by publishing research papers in journals."

And he concludes: "If reporters understood that journals are magazines, not Holy Scripture. . ." Oh I love that.

I can't find a free link to Dr. Stossel's article, but here's one he wrote for Forbes with similar information and different details called "Free the Scienctists."

1957 Book Club selection for January

This coming month's selection is "Beyond the River" by Ann Hagedorn. The subtitle: the untold story of the heroes of the underground railroad. The action takes place in Ripley, Ohio, across the river from Kentucky--a free state and a slave state. I'm not far into the book, but the writing is good and draws the reader into the story immediately with setting the scene and building the characters. However, when I read about this era, which according to Hagedorn begins in the 18th century with people who were against slavery and believed they were born to change the world, I can't help think of our current battle between the pro-life and pro-choice forces. What is a life and what is its value. There are many paragraphs that with a few word changes could describe our politics today, where every court nominee depends on what was said about abortion 20 years ago in some clerking memo.

"As news of the Missouri Compromise reached Carlisle, Kentucky, where [John] Rankin lived, and nearby Concord, where he preached, Rankin felt the pulse of his community quicken. He sensed the anger in the hearts of slave owners and the frustration among antislavery advocates when he stood at the pulpit seeking to prove that slavery was as great a crime against the laws of God as murder, and arguing that every slaveholder must free his slaves to adhere to the teachings of the Scriptures..."

Also, I'll need to check my Family Tree database. John Rankin was born in East Tennessee in 1793, and that's where my family's ancestors settled after service in the Revolution (Scots-Irish who hated the British), and I think I remember some Rankins in the family.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

1956 Bush book critics

Over the holidays, the President is reading "When Trumpets Call, Theodore Roosevelt After The White House," by Patricia O'Toole, and "Imperial Grunt, The American Military On The Ground," by Robert Kaplan. A talk show hostess like Oprah can recommend anything and the MSM falls all over her. But every time it is reported in the news that the President is reading a particular title, some literary snob jumps in and makes snide remarks about his choices, his ability to read, his grades in college, or his conclusions.

The president enjoys reading biography, history, military science and economics, and Literary Saloon reacts predictably--doesn't think he can read two books, and doesn't believe he is an avid reader. She/He probably believed Kerry's opinion about the worst economy since the Depression. If you hate Bush, you'll believe--or not believe--anything. This summer when he was reading "The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History," "Salt: A World History" and "Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar" journalists and critics were "reading" all sorts of strange things into his choices. Oh yes, and they criticize him for not watching their newscasts. Reads and doesn't watch TV. Sounds smart to me.

But at least "Saloon," the blog of Complete Review, knows what it is: "The Complete Review makes no claims whatsoever to any form of objectivity in its reviews and opinions. We acknowledge that the biases and personal views of the editors colour all aspects of this site." That's refreshing, isn't it?

1955 A wonderful love story

between a brother and sister that will have you laughing and crying at the same time. Read Jake's story about the mysterious Christmas puzzles.

1954 Podcast is Word of the Year

Nathan Bierma who writes "On language" for Chicago Tribune reports:

"The editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary have validated the sudden spread of podcasting by naming "podcast" the Word of the Year for 2005.

"Podcast," defined as "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player," will be added to the next edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary.

The word originated as a play on the word "broadcast" using the name of Apple's popular handheld digital music player, the iPod."

He goes on to say that the word "pod" isn't from the Greek, as in "podiatrist," but rather, "The word "pod" began as "cod" in Old English, meaning "the husk or outer covering of any fruit or seed." The 'pod' spelling isn't recorded until 1688, according to the Oxford English Dictionary." No one seems to know why the P replaced the C, but apparently numerous English words meaning swollen or protruding start with the letter P, but let's not go there.

1952 The Travesty of Daniel

Insulting, demeaning programming about Christians wouldn't be so bad if there were anything to balance it. Like a show about an actual Christian who wasn't a ghost or an angel. The new NBC show, Book of Daniel, about a dysfunctional Episcopal priest is supposed to "edgy," "challenging" and "courageous." Yea, and I'm Madonna in a reality show about Detroit. The series is written by Jack Kenny, a non-Christian who describes himself as being "in Catholic recovery," and is interested in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation and isn't sure exactly how he defines God and/or Jesus. "I don't necessarily know that all the myth surrounding him (Jesus) is true," he said.

All you can do is turn it off--not just the show, but the whole channel--or write to the advertisers and let them know you will vote for this show with your non-dollars. Complaining to NBC will probably just give it more publicity. You know how the liberals love to whine about censorship.

1951 Just about packed up

We decided to rearrange and repack and give-away, and I've written about that ordeal here and here. AmVets are supposed to come tomorrow to pick it all up, and we've taken everything to the garage, hoping we don't have to move that car today. And I use the royal "we" here because everything was too heavy for me to carry.

I think there is over $10,000 of drapes in the pile--however, used drapes have no value especially if they've been created for specific windows. And there are size 37 sport coats and suits, an almost new pair of black loafers that hurt my feet, bright fuschia Capri pants size 8 with an even wilder top (what was I thinking?), winter sweaters, Hawaiian shirts, a 20 cup coffee maker, about 50 8-track tapes, pictures in frames, a double bedspread with matching pillow shams, twin bed skirts, two director's chairs, b & w TV, microwave, books, toys, a number of cookie tins nesting, notebooks and paper and pencils, portable typewriter, a tall chair for a drawing table, and other stuff I've already forgotten. Three 40 gallon trash bags of shredded documents went out with the trash pick-up this morning.
Some things were rescued and redistributed--like jewelry from the 70s and 80s to a niece who can reuse the beads in her art, and itty bitty figurines and toys for a friend who makes dioramas. We pulled out a framed photo of the Columbus skyline at the last minute deciding we could reuse the frame.

This is going to feel good when my muscles stop hurting.

1950 Hostile aggressive drivers

are also hostile and aggressive in other areas of their lives and are also more likely to drink and drive, according to a report I heard this morning on drivers from 18-45. I guess we knew that intuitively, didn't we? So when you hear the squealing tires, the horn blaring, and you get the finger, just imagine what his wife and kids are putting up with.

1949 Love cats, and the occasional dog

This is a thought from the writer Anne Lamott, in "Mothers who think," July 22, 1999,

"If you hang around sober alcoholics long enough, you will hear at least a few of them pronounce that God's will for them is to be happy, joyous and free. I personally believe that this is a bit of a stretch, or at any rate, a very American conviction. My priest friend Tom Weston says that God's will for each of us is to have a life. "And it is up to us to go and get one. Find some work, some love, some play. Taste things. Be of service. Feed the hungry and clean the beaches and clothe the naked and work for justice. Love God, love your neighbor. Help build a world where it is safe to be a child, and where it is safe to grow old. And love cats, and the occasional dog." I think this pretty much says it."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

1948 Are there two of you under one roof?

For over a week, we have been discarding, rearranging and repacking our files, books, art work, church records and memorabilia. All so I can move my drawing table and art space into the family room/husband's office which has nice north light. If you have two musicians, or two artists, or two doctors in your house, you will understand the problem. We are two organizers trying to share space. My husband is more tidy, but I'm the better organizer. I can think alphabetically, chronologically or by keyword. But all three mushed together drives me crazy. After he was hitting the home stretch yesterday (I'm not even close), I took a peek. I looked inside a box labeled, "Hawaii and stuff." I found some papers from church workshops of 30 years ago, never looked at after the event; some black and white photos of my husband when he had hair and polyester suits; a 1994 NCARB memo; a 17 year old letter; and some items from our 1985 trip to Hawaii.

When I looked at the boxes and boxes of old financial records, I discovered not only did we have all the cancelled checks, but all the invoices, bills, and statements too. He was too discouraged by my displeasure to even think about another reorganization, so I went to Staples and bought a small paper shredder, and am going through about 15 years worth of bills, etc. I have no idea where the first 30 years are--but apparently I've done this before. I decided to shred them because of all the account numbers. They don't mean anything to me, but with the ever growing number of databases on the internet tracking us, I just didn't want them floating around the garbage dump, or where ever these will finally be buried or incinerated.

Earlier in the month I'd planned to hire my friend Bev to reorganize us, but now see the folly of that idea. We got ourselves into this, and no professional organizer (or marriage counselor) will get us out. But Bev, there is still the garage! It is very tidy, but I can't find anything in it because he organized it.

Here's the polyester suit. I also found the bill for the removal of the two apple trees that show in this photo which happened about 20 years later.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

1947 Women can’t take this anymore!

NOW and the Feminist Majority have launched Enraged and Engaged as part of Freedom Winter '06 to stop the confirmation of “extremist” Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. So watch out for some funny stuff because I’ve read through their news items with all the alarmist words, but can find not one single specific thing they can point to--just the usual “call your Senator, send e-mails, send us money, lots of money” rant, rave and hoop-la.

1946 The Road to Kelo is paved with wheat

"Beginning with its 1938 term, the Court actively promoted broad national authority over economic and social affairs, at the expense of state power. The justices relied on novel and expansive interpretations of the spending and taxing power, the general welfare clause, and, above all, congressional power over interstate commerce. The high point (or low, depending on your perspective) occurred in Wickard v. Filburn (1942), where the Court decided that even wheat grown by a farmer for his own consumption was nevertheless in interstate commerce and therefore subject to federal control. After Wickard, it was hard to see how any activity, no matter how small or remote from national interest, could escape potential federal regulation. The idea that the federal government was a government of limited powers gradually disappeared, with the approbation of the federal judiciary."

As we move toward the Alito hearings, this is an interesting summary of the 2005 Supreme Court and how we got here. "John Roberts will be an improvement, but one vote is still only one vote—which is why the battle over the next vacancy will be so bloody."

Monday, December 26, 2005

1945 A mother's poem for her sons at war

One of the boxes I pushed around today was genealogy, and I found a poem written by my grandmother in 1945. The hand writing was my aunt Marian's because my grandmother was blind. She had three sons in the service during WWII. I've been seeing a lot of service people sending holiday greetings, so here's to all of you who wait for them to come home. You're not alone.

As I sit alone,
thinking back over time,
I recall pleasant memories
that once were mine.

When I rocked two little boys,
One in each arm,
and tucked them in bed
without fear of harm.

A few years later
the third son was there
to occupy his place
in the old rocking chair.

Little did I think then
that the day would come when
they would all be scattered afar
to serve in this awful war.

Poor John fights desperately
to see Germany collapse,
while Howard guards our shores
from those terrible Japs.

Joe Russell will fight on
Till the battle is won,
and the last Japanese
is brought to his knees.

To myself, and all mothers I say,
be patient, and brave,
and never cease to pray
until the boys come home to stay.

1944 A visit from the puppy

Our cat hissed and ran up to the landing. Meanwhile, the little 4 month old Chihuahua carefully stepped out of her carrier, sniffed and barked. She's adorable. Lots of personality.

1943 Student story is a hoax

A U Mass student reported that agents from the Department of Homeland Security had visited him at home simply because he had tried to borrow Mao Tse-Tung's "Little Red Book" for a history seminar on totalitarian goverments.

"The story, first reported in last Saturday's New Bedford Standard-Times, was picked up by other news organizations, prompted diatribes on left-wing and right-wing blogs, and even turned up in an op-ed piece written by Senator Edward M. Kennedy in the Globe.

But yesterday, the student confessed that he had made it up after being confronted by the professor who had repeated the story to a Standard-Times reporter."

Story here. HT Conservator

Even Ted Kennedy was taken in and commented on it in his column blaming the Bush administration's intrusion on civil liberties. Laura Capps, a Kennedy spokeswoman, said even if the student's story was a lie, it did not detract from Kennedy's broader point that the Bush administration has gone too far in engaging in surveillance. My, that has a familiar ring to it doesn't it--sort of like the forged documents and Dan Rather. The truth doesn't matter--only the assertion that it could be true.

1942 Digging deep, piling high

Repacking boxes is just no fun. My back hurts and I think I pulled a muscle. I'll sit and write for a few moments--a blogrest. I keep finding things I'd forgotten about, but once I find them, I think I should reread them--especially if I wrote it. With lunch today I read an article by Utley (Francis Lee): "The one hundred and three names of Noah’s wife," Speculum 16, 1941, pp. 426–52. I'd printed it out from JSTOR in 1999, read it, filed it with unrelated stuff, and found it today.

Then I came across 8 pages (there was more but can't find it) I wrote in 1990 after attending a program on libraries and literacy. It was in preparation for the 1991 White House Conference on libraries and literacy. In 1990 I was still a left of center liberal and a Democrat, but I was obviously puzzled that librarians, with all they had to do, were taking on the responsibility for literacy, which clearly is a job that has been assigned to the schools. Reading through it, I see not much has changed--except computers and internet access. Now librarians teach the public computer literacy.

"Librarians have created every imaginable network, coalition, association, and service organization to lure people into their libraries, but they haven't been able to keep libraries in the schools, not even with all the dues we pay. We can't even get a librarian appointed as the Librarian of Congress."

"On October 1 (1990) the Wall Street Journal reported on the drop in literacy among school age children--even those whose mothers had spent hours reading to them as pre-schoolers. Children are too busy to read because of all their outside activities, no one converses with them, and they have developed two minute attention spans through TV and videos, concluded the article. So what is my public library offering this week? Four different programs using movies, three for pre-schoolers and one for elementary age, and three different craft programs for Halloween. Librarians didn't know how to lick the competition for children's time and attention, so they joined the opposition."

"One of my concerns as an academic librarian is not that my students are illiterate, in the sense they can't read, but they don't seem to be book literate. I use our Closed Reserve material heavily for answering reference questions. For example, I pull off a book on feline medicine to answer a question on anesthesia and hand it to the student. She eagerly begins leafing through it. I gently stop her. "Here, let me show you how to use this. Here is the index; look up the surgical technique or the name of the anesthetic. Here is the table of contents; it will show you how the book is arranged. See these little numbers? They will refer you to more things you can read at the end of every chapter." And I am surprised each and every time I hear myself explaining to a college graduate how a book is put together."

". . .libraries will be killed off too if they don't put the brakes on seeing themselves as the social change agent for the nation, believing: they can correct what the churches did wrong; they can teach what the schools didn't; they can prevent what the social workers missed; and stop what the government couldn't. . . Librarians will do more good in the long run if they leave Mapplethorp to the cultural arts commissions and instead see to it that a child can check out material on photography to become the best photographer she can be."

I was leaving the fold and didn't even know it!

1991 White House Conference on Library and Information Services

1941 Mrs. Felker's Sunday Coffee Cake

Friday night we went out to eat with Joyce and Bill and then we stopped here for dessert. Joyce presented us with a lovely wrapped loaf coffee cake which was nice. However, when I opened it Christmas morning and had a taste, I was pretty sure I recognized Mrs. Felker's coffee cake from the drug store in Mt. Morris, IL. Both the Felker's and Zickuhr's Drug Stores had lunch counters managed by the wives of the pharmacists. They were the after school hangouts for the high school kids and the Monday morning quarterbacks. They were wonderful pieces of Americana, now gone. I worked at Zickuhr's in high school and during college breaks, and I think one of my sisters worked at Felker's.

I put together a family cookbook in 1993 for a family reunion ten years after the death of my grandparents who had been married 71 years when they died in 1983. Each member of the family was asked to submit a recipe with a brief comment. Some contributed more than one, some not at all, but my sister-in-law submitted "Mrs. Felker's Sunday Coffee Cake" because she had worked there at one time in the 1960s and knew how popular it was. I've only made it once, for a wedding breakfast, and it truly is the most delicious coffee cakes east of the Mississippi. I'll ask Joyce the next time I see her, but I'm pretty sure this is it.

Sift together:
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Cream well:
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter
Add, beating well:
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix in by hand:
1 small carton of sour cream
Set aside:
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Topping mix:
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa
2 1/2 tsp. butter

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Grease and flour an angel food pan. Spoon in half of the batter. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the topping mix plus 1/4 cup of chopped pecans. Spoon on remaining of batter and the rest of the topping mix, plus 1/4 cup of pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.

This coffee cake was a regular feature at the lunch counter on Sunday mornings at Felker's Pharmacy in Mt. Morris, IL before it was removed.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

1940 Face Recognition needs some tweaking--I hope has a face recognition site where you can be matched with celebrity photos. It thought my husband looked like Hilary Clinton (when he was in high school, had red curly hair and weighed 120 lbs.) and that in 2003 I looked like the young Britney Spears when I had medium blonde hair. But in a 2004 photo when I had longer brown hair, my celebrity face was Yasser Arafat! If it is measuring face maps for genealogical purposes, it is quite a distance from Arafat to Spears! So I tried a third photo and got Kim Jong Il.

I Googled Mr. Kim and found this out: "Say what you like about Kim Jong Il's appearance -- at least it's distinctive. Absolutely no one in North Korea ever has to ask "Who's that squat little man in the glasses and khaki windbreaker?" Also, there's his signature hairstyle. The dictator artfully conceals his diminutive stature by wearing platform shoes and whipping his hair into stiff peaks. So what if the autocrat feels a little self-conscious about his height? That's understandable -- he's only 5'2". Napoleon was four inches taller. . ."

I tried a fourth photo and got Harry Belafonte. So I sent them some feedback. Four different ethnicities?

HT Daddy's Roses.

1939 A glorious Christmas morning

We were communion servers this morning and that is always such a privilege. There was only one service instead of four (there were probably 10 or 12 last night), and it was quite full. It is so wonderful to hand the bread and wine to a person who comes to the rail looking like he is at death's door (and aren't we all?), and see his face light up with peace when I say, "The body of Christ given for you," and my husband then says, "The blood of Christ shed for you." Particularly the elderly seem to really understand the gift--many can't kneel so they just stand and smile. Perhaps you need a lifetime of thinking about this.

When we were putting on our robes in the back room, the lector, who had to read the OT lesson (Isaiah 52:7-10), the NT lesson (Hebrews 1:1-9) and the Gospel (John 1:1-14), said, "I've been doing this since 1963 and I still get stage fright (although he used a much more colorful expression dealing with bodily functions).

And Tony Gonzaga sang "O Holy Night," and that's worth the trip in the rain and cold right there. Our choir loft is in the back of the church, but he could have been three blocks away and we would've heard him. And we got to sing out of the hymnals which only happens about once a year (screens have words but no music), and say the Nicene Creed, and hear the liturgy. Yes, a lovely Christmas morning.

1938 We think she's the one

After a year of grieving the loss of her beloved Chihuahua (who lived about 17 years), our daughter and son-in-law visited a 4 month old at the breeder's home, and decided she's the one. They were not getting their hopes up--were waiting to see her and interact. Here she is. They'll pick her up tomorrow.

1937 Is Detroit differently abled?

Detroit's handicapped stickers, placards and hanging tags are on the increase causing a serious problem for handicapped finding parking places, according to this article in the Detroit News.

"The number of drivers with disability license plates, placards or free-parking decals jumped 17 percent from 2000 to 2004, while the state's population grew only 1.8 percent, according to the U.S. Census. Today, more than 10 percent of Michigan's 7.2 million drivers have a disability designation. The Secretary of State runs the program."

Disability advocates say the causes include growing over-65 age group which grew 10 percent from 1990 to 2000. . . African-Americans and Hispanics nationwide have higher rates of disability and 82% of Detroit residents are black and the city's Hispanic population is growing. . . 33 percent of residents live in poverty and nearly 30 percent of Detroit's workers are employed in the manufacturing, construction and transportation/warehousing industries which tend to have higher rates of injuries.

I might add, if you build them (handicap accessible parking spots) they will come. I don't know how it's done in Michigan, but I know relatives and friends of disabled or elderly people who have the tag and sticker because they supply the transportation. Many disabled people don't drive at all because they can't see or use their arms, legs or hands well enough to drive. However, their drivers don't use the service just when the relative or friend is with them, but all the time just for the convenience of getting a parking place close to a restaurant or shop.

HT to Perry Peterson, another retiree blogger.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

1936 Outsourcing education

While I was Christmas shopping this week I noticed that all the labels on sheets, blankets, and towels at Macy's were from India and Pakistan. Global competition isn't new, but it did make me remember what a healthy textile industry we used to have in the United States. It isn't my intention to research this topic right now because I'd be in way over my head trying to sort out NAFTA, improved technology, role of unions and environmental regulations, and trade agreements, but here's a site for North Carolina that does present some positives and negatives in the textile industry.

What I did sit up and take notice of was an article in Kiplinger's about outsourcing math and science tutoring to India. Growing Stars is a California based on-line tutoring service which uses Indian tutors with American English accents. They charge $20 an hour, which is about half the rate you'd pay if you used a homegrown math genius for Susie. Smarthinking in Washington DC also uses foreign tutors from Chile, India and the Philippines who were educated in the United States.

1935 Vince Morris returns to Columbus

Didn't know he left--didn't know he existed, but now he's back and playing at the Funny Bone at Easton Town Center (I also didn't know that our comedy club had moved--I'm so behind).

Anyway, it is reported that he will have material on everything from ignorance and self-respect to hip hop, and he's thought provoking, but not preachy.

Big deal. So's my blog. Well, maybe I'm just a leeeetle bit preachy and I'm hip-hop-lite, but I'm all that other stuff and no one will pay $15 to see me blog.

1934 Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

That sad old hillbilly song may have to be updated.

It is reported that Kenny Chesney told Life in October that the break up of his marriage to Renee Zellweger was "like opening the door of your house and having someone come in and take your big-screen TV off the wall during the big game, and there's nothing you can do about it."

My toe is tapping along with the keys, but I haven't quite got the tune.

1933 Dear Donna Sapolin

Actually, I may address this letter to Laura Dye Lang. Ms. Sapolin is the Editor-in-Chief of Home and Ms. Dye Lang is the Executive Editor. Magazines have the most bloated titles you've ever read, but that's another blog. This one isn't about that, but is about a suggestion made in the January/February 2006 issue, a suggestion I'm seeing more frequently as print magazines have tie-ins with their websites. So here's my draft:

I see you tell your readers to go to their local library to use the internet to set up a free e-mail account and then visit your website to get into a contest for free giveaways.

As you at Hachette Filipacchi Media well know, these giveaways aren't "free" for your company. Neither are libraries. The library staff will have to assist anyone who doesn't understand simple computer functions (using a mouse, pressing the enter key, finding a login and password that works, to say nothing of going through the advice they'll need to even find a free e-mail website, etc.) This could take 15-30 minutes of staff time depending on the level of comprehension or computer savvy of the client. And if they don't have a computer and are relying on the library, that ability may be fairly limited.

Don't get me wrong, the library staff are willing to help, but perhaps if libraries are helping you, you could help them by reminding your readers to support their local libraries when bond issues or levies roll around. You could maybe work in some decorating themes or ideas for homey furniture groupings in libraries."

Well, it needs a little work, but that's what I've got so far. It is in response to this item on p. 18 with instructions for entering a "giveaway" sponsored by the magazine where the details and rules were only posted on-line. "If you don't have internet access, inquire at your local library about how to set up a free e-mail account, and then visit our website. No purchase necessary to enter or win."

1932 A change of menu plans

Did I tell you what happened to my wonderful $26 standing rib roast (it was on special so I bought it about a month ago). When I took it out of the garage refrigerator/freezer Thursday it was soft! I nearly died. Also about $12 worth of chicken. Had to dump it all because I didn't know when it happened. The turkey was rock solid in November--took about 5 days to thaw in the frig and even then had some ice crystals in that bag of gunk I always toss. So I don't know when the freezer died. So it will be a boneless pork roast with cranberry topping for our Christma Eve dinner tonight, which is too bad because my daughter's serving that Sunday (in Cleveland) when they visit her in-laws. Then I'm also having the festive Christmas salad (cauliflower, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and hard cooked eggs), spiced honey carrots, apple/onion dressing, something-potatoes (haven't decided) and pumpkin pie. I think the nice bread I had frozen will probably be too stale, so I'll have to do a bit of shopping this morning.

I love to get out the china and crystal and silver(plate), and say hello to all the visiting memories of Mom, grandma, my husband's grandmother, my sisters, all of whom either passed down or gifted some lovely pieces, rarely used but always appreciated.

Friday, December 23, 2005

1931 Wouldn't this add to the cost of your couch?

Home Magazine's latest issue suggests buying a $600, 4 megapixel digital camera to take with you when shopping for furniture, then you can send the photo to a friend for instant suggestions or confirmation on your choice. p. 33. If you're that insecure, spend the $600 on an interior designer.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

1930 Pieces of string and bad photographs

Years ago I heard a story (maybe on Paul Harvey) about a frugal lady who died. In cleaning out her home her children found a ball of string labeled, "Pieces of string too short to use." We are in the midst of a huge housecleaning and room shift, which involves all our art materials, paper scraps, old references from yellowed newspapers, dried up watercolor tubes, maskoid and gesso that's looking doubtful, old supply catalogs and rusty paper clips. I found a large file box full of photos and negatives that we'd forgotten about because we stored it so well. So I'm trying to sort and pitch. I found one envelop labeled, "Bad photos of paintings." Obviously, my frugal husband's work.

We also traded a small 24" bookshelf for a larger 36" one with our son. Originally, the whole set was ours, but one unit was too big, we thought, and let him use it when we moved here. Now after rearranging, we have room for the larger one, but not the smaller unit. So my husband drove there today and made the trade. After some struggle and maneuvering, we got it past light fixtures and down a turning staircase and set up where we wanted it. As it warmed up from the cold, the entire lower level of our house began to smell like cigarette smoke. If wood absorbs this much smoke in 4 years and has to gas out, imagine what's happening to his lungs, liver, kidneys, skin, hair, tongue, etc. which have been enduring this torture for over 20 years. Sigh. And I took such good care of him as he was growing up.

Disclaimer: he reads my blog.

1929 Instructions for writing to Santa Claus

The Post Office will help here.

If first mistyped this, "Stanta." Which reminds me, I almost got a letter from Stan last week. He wrote a note on an envelop in which he'd placed something and inserted it in the Christmas card. I'm going to save it and put it with the one he wrote me in 1967.

HT Michael, the Library Despot.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

1928 The Crunk Awards

This website "Regret the errors" lists corrections in the news--like writing "Jew Jersey" instead of New Jersey, "socialist" instead of socialite and "beef panties" instead of beef patties. The typos get corrected--the media myths that I listed earlier, are just left dangling out there to continue confusing the public.

HT to ACRLog.

1927 A second look at the public library collection

Yesterday I mentioned that there was only one evangelical Christian magazine subscription at our public library, quite lopsided when compared to what might loosely be called the "popular arts" serials. Today I went back and looked at books. There were two titles, both from the early 60s on Lutheranism. Maybe three on Methodists and Baptists, several shelves of Catholicism, and 5-10 each on Amish and Shakers. Except for the Amish books, all looked pretty old just viewing the shelves. I'm not sure what is out there on the history of Lutherans in the United States, but I'm sure something's been published since the early 60s--there have been numerous mergers of synods, if nothing else. Lutherans were pretty clanish and ethnic, so I don't think they had as strong an influence as Methodists (the great awakenings, abolition of slavery, temperance movement, woman's movement) on the American culture. However, this community has one of the larger Lutheran churches in the country and there is a Lutheran college and seminary in Columbus.

Then I stepped into the huge video/DVD section to look at those journals (they are separate from the general content journals) and here's what I found:

Absolute sound
Air Fare (WOSU)
Box Office
Camcorder and computer video
Electronic gaming
Film Comment
Film Quarterly
Film Maker
Films of the Golden Age
Guitar Player
Guitar World
Jazz times
Hollywood life
Perfect Vision
Rolling Stone
Sight and Sound
Sound and Vision
Take One
Widescreen Review

In the other journal section of the reference room there are two Mac and four PC journals, that I noticed. I don't think I'm comparing apples and oranges here. I'm looking at the total serial budget (something the librarians apparently haven't done) and am asking does this breakout reflect the activities and interests of the community, or a few people on the staff? There are two golf titles and three boating titles--and even those seem a bit stunted compared to the popular culture/entertainment titles.

When I was the vet librarian at Ohio State, if I'd purchased one title on dogs and 31 on llamas just because I liked or raised llamas, I think I would have been fired. (Actually, there aren't 31 health or breed journals on llamas--or there wasn't in the 1990s--so this is just hyperbole to make a point, just in case you are a librarian who's a stickler for detail.)

1926 Is there a doctor in the house?

Your house? The December 7 JAMA has a review of "Seventy five books from the Osler Library" edited by Faith Wallis and Pamela Miller, $40, ISBN 07717-0625-1. It's probably too late for Christmas, but perhaps an IOU? The Library is at McGill University in Montreal. The reviewer, Elizabeth Fee, is from the History of Medicine Division of NIH and comments:

"gorgeous book"
"polished little miniatures of scholarly erudition"
"well designed"
"fine quality paper"
"some surprises"
"exquisitely decorated manuscript"
"delightfully illustrated"
"sprinkling of curiosities"
"elegant little essays"

The reviewer suggests that doctors buy it for their waiting rooms as an engaging alternative to People, Time and Fortune.

1925 December 21st, a poem

I posted this two years ago, and here it is, December 21 again.

Christmas will be here in only four days.
House is festive--we found the artificial poinsettia
in the attic with other mementoes of holidays past.
A big roll of wrapping paper--blue with snowmen--and scissors
wait on the dining room table for those final exchange gifts
we’ll take to Indiana, socks for a guy, gloves for a girl.
The decorative shopping bag waits for its next assignment.

Christmas will be here in only three days.
It’s always been a pagan holiday, but now it’s more so.
The cranky ACLU is just spinning its wheels in snow
because not even Christians can make it religious these days.
Mistletoe, holly, evergreen trees, candles, and Santa Claus,
feasting, caroling, office parties, gift giving and shopping.
It’s all worldly or completely secular, therefore legal.

Christmas will be here in only two days.
The early Christians scooped up local winter festivities
in a giant snowball, soft and white, and pronounced it holy.
The godly let the Angles, Saxons and Romans keep their ways.
People do not care who they worship if they have a good time.
Our Puritan forefathers tried to stamp out the revelry.
They were the nay sayers of yesterday, spoiling the party.

Christmas will be here in only one day.
Yes, there really is a new born babe, and a sweet young mother,
and angels announcing to shepherds in the fields, Peace on Earth.
But Rachel is weeping because Herod is killing her sons.
One baby lives on only to die on a cross for my sin,
including celebrating his coming rather than going,
his birth, not his death and resurrection.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

1924 Need a score card

Today I got the e-newsletter from the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Illinois (GSLIS). Before they ask alumni for money, they always tell you about new stuff. I think I'll need a score card to keep the degree programs straight, and I don't think I know what social entrepreneurship, community informatics, or bioinformatics mean. But if you were thinking about what we used to call librarianship (we got a Christmas card today from someone who said she was), here's what's new[from the newsletter]

Chicago-Based MS Track in Community Informatics
In fall 2006, incoming Chicago-based students will be the first to participate in a new MS track in Community Informatics (CI). The program was first conceived of through ongoing collaborations between the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) in Chicago's Humboldt Park and the GSLIS Community Informatics Initiative. . . The CI track will emphasize social entrepreneurship and community library and information service, and provide opportunities for both Chicago-based and on-campus students to create innovative information services, implemented within and across a range of community-based and public interest organizations. For more information, visit:

Master of Science in Bioinformatics
As a professional school specializing in information management and systems, GSLIS is a natural fit to offer a concentration within the campus-wide M.S. in Bioinformatics. In the GSLIS Concentration in Bioinformatics (GCB), students may take courses in several departments across the University of Illinois campus. This breadth of training provides students with the multidisciplinary skills that are required for a career developing and managing information systems for the biological community. The program provides training from faculty who are international experts in many areas of information management, including bioinformatics, biology, chemistry, statistics, and computer science. The GCB is an entirely separate program from the existing GSLIS M.S. degree, and the new concentration is not accredited by the American Library Association. Final approval of the program is expected in early 2006. For more information, visit later this spring.

Certificate of Advanced Study in Digital Libraries
In fall of 2005, GSLIS welcomed the first cohort of students into the Certificate of Advanced Study in Digital Libraries program. These students have come to us with advanced degrees in a wide range of disciplines including LIS, CS, Physics, English, History and Mathematics. For more information, visit:

1923 Christmas Shopping

I finally did some Christmas shopping today. I'd done a little last week--the Lenox Holiday flatware for my daughter and a Best Buy gift card for my son-in-law. My husband and I shopped together for his sailing stuff, so that didn't feel like real shopping (it's good he was along because that life jacket was not as large as it looked). But today, wow, I just pushed that cart through the aisles and was throwing things in right and left. The faster I went, the better the stuff looked. Two things are going back tomorrow, however. They didn't hold up too well in the 5 mile trip home, and I'm a careful driver, so I thought perhaps they were just too poor a quality to even bother to wrap, so back they go.

Possibly I could have a new grandpuppy shortly after Christmas. My daughter will go look at her next week to see if they bond. She's 4 months old.

The Gay Cowboy Movie

The mainstream media* has its shorts in a knot raving about the gay cowboy movie. Lawsy, I think Life or Look or one of those purty picture magazines wrote about gay truck drivers about 20 years ago, and I don't recall anyone getting the vapors over that. But the New York Times on Sunday ran two long articles on this topic--one in the entertainment section on the movie, and one in the travel or leisure (or whatever section) on the "real" gay cowboys.

Here's the quote of the month--or year--for the NYT. "The shape of masculinity is narrow." Yup, men can be tall or short, sourpuss or friendly, tenor or bass, complex or narrow, sober or drunk, artistic or vacuous, strong or weak, professors or farmers, computer nerds or retail clerks, bartenders or mechanics, architects or plumbers, brilliant or retarded, but if they are 95% heterosexual, they are "narrow." Breaks your heart, doesn't it?

On the other hand, gay men can be hairdressers, librarians, designers, artists, musicians, or even unfaithful lawyer husbands bringing home diseases never intended for a woman's private parts--but we're supposed to feel sorry for them and admire their bravery at being photographed along a fence post for a story in the NYT about their plight as cowboys. Plus, some of the these guys having sex with men don't consider themselves homosexuals. Word play.

Oh please. If there was ever a reason to stay home and not pay $7 to see a movie, this maudlin tear jerky paen to gays in blue jeans and stetsons would be it. I hope it bombs or we'll be subjected to a hundred imitations that will.

Ditto for love stories about a big ape and a blonde.

*I used to use the acronym, MSM, then found out it also means men having sex with men, so it seemed a little, well, reduntant for this article.

1921 The disappearing Communists

The Khmer Rouge was a self-proclaimed communist organization which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Its name is French: Khmer Rouge in the masculine singular, Khmers Rouges in the plural. The term "Khmer Rouge," meaning "Red Khmer" was coined by Norodom Sihanouk and was later adopted in English.

The Khmer Rouge killed 90% of Cambodia’s artists and performers according to the New York Times. The Times Sunday December 18, 2005 edition in a very extensive article reported on Arn Chorn-Pond, a Cambodian who is trying to rescue his country’s traditional music. The article even mentioned that 1.7 million Cambodians were murdered by the Khmer Rouge--it just never mentioned that the Khmer Rouge were Communists. Seems like an odd oversight, doesn’t it? As though it was just some quirky Cambodian thang.

The other day at the public library I looked at two 2005 multiple-volume, histories of World War II looking for information on American opposition to the war effort in the 1940s. One was more an almanac type, the other encyclopedic. Would you believe there was no mention of Communists? It’s as though from 1939 through 1945, all those Stalinists and Maoists and CPUSA'ns just behaved themselves and didn’t kill or imprison anyone, and they certainly weren't Communists, unless the indexers were asleep or out to lunch when they got to COM-.

Communist governments in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and in Mao’s Red China killed, murdered, tortured and imprisoned more men, women and children than were killed in all the wars of the 20th century. Millions they just starved to death, the same way North Korea is taking care of business. So why are the Communists disappearing from our books and newspapers?

Could we call it “intentional design?”

1920 What's in your public library?

When my husband first became a sole proprietor and began working in a home office, I checked out a number of business journals from the public library weekly for some time. It's not that they covered the architectural field, but there were many things we needed to become familiar with, taxes, insurance, small offices, etc., if not the economy in general.

I'd sort of gotten out of the library habit because the internet is so easy, and recently have gone back to checking out about 4 or 5 journals a week--not always the same titles, but maybe JAMA, or NEJM or Kiplinger's or Forbes. But I'm a shelf reader, and although I'd been aware that the public library isn't the place to find Christian material, I was a bit taken aback when I realized there was only one evangelical Christian magazine (Christianity Today), but there were 15 or 20 serial titles on films, entertainment, jazz and rock. Films were particularly overly represented in the collection.

So I went to the reference desk and asked, "Considering the make-up of the population of this community (aside: about as WASP-ish as you can get), don't you think having 20 serials on films and entertainment and only one on evangelical Christianity is a bit lopsided?" It just happened I was speaking to the person (librarian?) who did the serial selection. She seemed surprised (maybe no one has ever asked or noticed), and asked me if I wanted to make a suggestion for a title. "You mean you want me to do the research?" I asked. But she persisted and handed me a green card. I wasn't prepared with a list, ISSN, publisher, cost, etc. Silly me, I thought that's what the staff was suppose to do with all the resources on serials they have. So, the only one I could think of was "Moody Magazine," and since I hadn't seen one for sometime, I wasn't even sure of the title. I should have been a bit faster on my recall and recommended "Books and Culture," or "First Things." There are several non-denominational Christian magazines specifically for men or women or children, also.

If you are a Christian, what magazine titles (about the faith, but not about a denomination) would you suggest for a library serving a town of 50,000 where 70-80% of the population is most likely members of Protestant churches? Not everyone who lives here attends church here--many go up to large evangelical churches in Worthington, Grace Brethren or the Vineyard. Many go to city churches downtown, or churches in other suburbs.

So why are public libraries so unprepared to serve Christians, and perhaps more importantly, why are churches so unprepared to meet the gatekeepers of the culture in which they serve? You don't suppose I'm the first person in 40 years to ask, do you?

1919 The blonde librarian and my son

Murray sent me a few blonde jokes--I don't know why since I'm only occasionally a dumb blonde. Anyway, one is for knitters (Blonde Librarian has fabulous projects, both knitting and cross stitch) and one is for my son who has a BMW.

A blonde pushes her BMW into a gas station. She tells the mechanic it died. After he works on it for a few minutes, it is idling smoothly. She says, "What's the story?" He replies, "Just crap in the carburetor" She asks, "How often do I have to do that?"

A highway patrolman pulled alongside a speeding car on the freeway. Glancing at the car, he was astounded to see that the blonde behind the wheel was knitting! Realizing that she was oblivious to his flashing lights and siren, the trooper cranked down his window, turned on his bullhorn and yelled , "PULL OVER!" "NO!" the blonde yelled back, "IT'S A SCARF!"

Monday, December 19, 2005

1918 Two Years Ago Today

Here's what I was thinking and writing two years ago during the heat up for the election of 2004. Things haven't changed a lot, but I think I like Bush more and admire his determination to keep us safe. My respect for Democratic leadership has really plummeted because of their back stabbing of our troops during war time and never being willing to accept any responsibility.

December 19, 2003 - 150 Third Party Talk

"On both the Republican and Democratic sides of the fence, there is talk about third parties. Libertarians and many conservatives within the Republican Party are deeply frustrated with President Bush's budgetary profligacy and a number of other issues. The libertarians feel the war in Iraq has been a mistake and are gravely worried about the erosion of civil liberties under the Patriot Act. Conservatives support the war and are not too concerned about lost civil liberties, but they are deeply concerned about homosexual marriage, the failure to get conservative judges confirmed and other social issues." Bruce Bartlett

Republicans aren’t that thrilled about the Patriot Act either, Bruce. Or how about the administration’s musings on being more inclusive about illegals, "who want to work and contribute," "rights for the undocumented worker." Bush’s domestic spending is so out of control, that the election of a Democrat will make no differences on that traditionally Republican platform. It was the third party candidate that drew off enough Republican votes to get Clinton elected. Some Republicans probably remember that. And didn’t Pat Buchanan and some green candidates draw off some important votes for Gore in crucial precincts?

There’s no reason at this point to have a Republican president, except for the unborn babies of America who have fewer rights than butcher Saddam, than the illegal immigrants, than the gays who want to walk to the altar, than the crooks at Enron, fewer rights even than that sexual predator in Indiana who buried teen-agers in his basement. If it will keep one baby alive, one abortion clinic closed, one abortionist out of business, I’ll vote for Dubya. Reluctantly.

1917 Let's get down to business

If you smoke or drink, are promiscuous or overweight, if you enjoy the sun or use earbuds or headphones more than an hour a day, then stop fussing about bird flu, mercury poisoning in fish, plastic in the microwave, ozone holes, mad cow disese or the ingredients in your shampoo and soap. You're avoiding the obvious measures to protect your health and hiding behind your bogus, media-generated fears so you won't have to behave yourself and take responsibility. Just your worrying alone is shortening your life and you are not doing anything about the things you can control.

You know who you are.

1916 Domestic Spying

It's a no brainer why this story was released last week to gobble up the good news coverage of the Iraq election. Today's USAToday had the most unflattering photo of the president sandwiched on the front page between two sub-lines, "domestic spying" and "violence will continue."

Domestic spying--that's when 8 congressional leaders and ranking members of the intelligence committees received briefings on the interception of communications between people abroad and those in the USA, including citizens.[USAToday explanation, not mine]

I don't know why they think citizens wouldn't want this war effort and fighting terrorism to fail. Just pick up a paper or listen to Nancy Pelosi or Dick Durbin.

1915 Socially responsible investing

You can invest in "life" friendly funds. The December issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance has an article on socially conservative investments that won't facilitate abortion, pornography or offer benefits to the partners of unmarried employees. There are four Ave Maria funds and four LKCM Aquinas funds which adhere to Roman Catholic teachings. The Ave Maria's screens eliminate about 400 of the stocks in the Russell. It's Catholic Values fund, AVEMX returned an annualized 20%, better than Standard & Poor's 500 stock index, and there is no sales charge.

The largest Aquinas growth fund, AQEGX, "follows the Catholic investing guidelines of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Social screens include abortion, contraception, military weapons of mass destruction, gender and race discrimination, and affordable housing and credit. Other proactive screens include environment, pornography, violence in the media, firearms, tobacco, maquiladores, sweatshop labor, Northern Ireland." It returned 13% over the past three years and doesn't charge a sales commission. (I haven't found a good definition for maquiladores, but seems to be some sort of sewing workshop employing women.)

I want to live a good retirement, but not at the expense of someone else's lung cancer or abortion. Depending on your personal values, there are other funds that will screen for other issues, but I like to start with giving life a chance, because without that, rainforest coffee or decent housing doesn't mean much. I don't have money in mutual funds, but I always read through the annual reports from the stock companies in which we're invested for objectionable qualities. There was one that pandered to the worst "shopping instinct" in pre-adolescent girls that I dumped.

Amana Growth follows Islamic principles and is doing very well, with a return of an annualized 28%, beating the S&P 500 by 11 percentage points. AMAGX won't invest in companies that derives more than 5% of their revenues from alcohol, tobacco, pornography, gambling or the sale of pork products. Consistent with Islamic principles, the fund may not make investments which pay interest. In addition, investment decisions are approved by the North American Islamic Trust.

Except for annuities, I didn't find any investments that are specifically linked to Protestant faiths. Since they can't agree on baptism or communion, I doubt they could find 10 or 15 stocks to agree on that screen for values.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

1914 Media Myths of 2005

I noticed this story link at Amy Ridenour's blog about the Media's Top 10 Economic Myths. The media's coverage of the economy reminds me of this statement by Anthony Elgindy's wife, "Everytime things were going well, Tony would find some way to screw it up." I recall (because I wrote it down) the opening paragraph in a USAToday story in mid-November about poverty in the USA. It began, "A time of plenty, a four year expansion with strong growth, low inflation, muscular housing market, robust corporate profits. . ." There is no silver lining, ever.

"The Media Research Center’s Free Market Project spent 2005 tracking news reporting on business and economic issues and compiled a list of the most common and most egregious errors. They ran the gamut from omissions to exaggerations and plain misinformation. We have visions of better coverage dancing in our heads for 2006."

There are extensive examples and details, even the somber faced reporters on video, but here's the basics. The details might change, but I don't think it will be different in 2006.

Media Myth 10: France’s short work week, benefits and loads of vacation time made it a workers’ paradise.

Media Myth 9: Spending for hurricane recovery and Iraq is driving the U.S. deficit out of control. The only answer is to raise taxes to pay for it all.

Media Myth 8: Thanks to the U.S. rejection of the Kyoto treaty, global warming is on the rise and warmer oceans are spawning deadlier hurricanes than ever.

Media Myth 7: At least our good-hearted celebrities understand that compared to other nations, America doesn’t give much to help the world’s poor. [Aren't we just so sick of being lectured by over-paid entertainers?]

Media Myth 6: With homes and businesses destroyed and the nation’s oil supply hit, the United States will surely hemorrhage jobs and head toward a huge downturn in Katrina’s wake.

Media Myth 5: The housing market, white-hot for so long, is about to go bust and take you and your home’s value with it. [Eventually, they'll get this one right, but have been saying this for 4 or 5 years--and it's not white hot in Ohio.]

Media Myth 4: America is suffering from an obesity epidemic, so we’ve got to keep everyone away from foods and beverages with calories. This has become the nation’s No. 1 health problem and we’re dying at the rate of 400,000 a year.

Media Myth 3: Rising energy prices mean there won’t be much in little Timmy’s stocking this Christmas. Mom and dad can’t heat their home and buy food, so other business sectors are going to get Scrooged.

Media Myth 2: Big money-makers like the oil and drug industries should be sharing the wealth. Oil companies were profiting off others’ misfortunes – laughing all the way to the bank while you got squeezed at the pump. And Wal-Mart’s business practices were just as bad.

Media Myth 1: The economy is hopeless! There are plenty of reasons to doubt the economy. Gas prices; housing bubble; auto workers losing jobs… the evidence is everywhere.

1913 Our earliest battles with Islamic Terrorists

was back in the 18th century. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams faced the problem long before Bill Clinton and George Bush. The Islamists reasons then were not much different than today--we’re infidels and need to be either slaves or slain.

“Take, for example, the 1786 meeting in London of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the Tripolitan ambassador to Britain. As American ambassadors to France and Britain respectively, Jefferson and Adams met with Ambassador Adja to negotiate a peace treaty and protect the United States from the threat of Barbary piracy.

These future United States presidents questioned the ambassador as to why his government was so hostile to the new American republic even though America had done nothing to provoke any such animosity. Ambassador Adja answered them, as they reported to the Continental Congress, "that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise."

Sound familiar?"

There's much more on this topic at America’s earliest terrorists

1912 Time to clean up the turkey

left over from Thanksgiving and getting a bit frosty in the freezer. Last week I noticed that Campbell's has a chunky soup called "Turkey Pot Pie." So I bought 2 cans. I took about 1+ cups of frozen turkey pieces out of the freezer and put them in my small cast iron skillet sprayed with olive oil. Then I poured one can of the soup on it, and added a top single pie crust--1 cup of flour mixed with 1/3 cup oil, 1/6 cup of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bake at 425 about 15 minutes and turn down to about 350. I don't remember how long I baked it--probably another 30 minutes. Made a nice little supper with about 3 servings. I don't think the soup alone would stand up as a recognizable turkey pot pie, but with a little help it wasn't bad.

1911 Columbus Christmas Bird Count

When I arrived at Caribou this morning about 6:35, the parking lot was crowded and my usual table was in use. About 15 nice looking, well-dressed (in winter outerwear) 30-somethings were gathered and chatting quietly and happily. It turns out they are part of the Christmas Bird Count, a nation wide activity, but they were covering just a small area in our community. They had maps and a long list of birds--most of which I've never heard of. Here's what they've been finding in Columbus the last few years:

"Strictly urban birds, like pigeons, starlings, and house sparrows have all increased to the point where they have become part of the background of many of our cityscapes. However, other supposedly ‘wilder’ birds have been adapting to our suburban areas, including Coopers and Red-tailed Hawks, Red-bellied and Downy woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadees, robins, Carolina Wrens, Dark-eyed Juncos, and American Goldfinches. Many of these birds are prospering due to the huge concentration of feeders in the city, while others take advantage of our extensive plantings of fruiting ornamental trees like the Hawthorn and Bradford Pear. If the weather is not too severe, large numbers of these species should be found in every area of Columbus.

Increasingly, we are seeing hardy strays and wintering birds that were formerly rare or unknown from here during December. Our list of wintering waterfowl has slowly grown as small numbers of teal, wood ducks, and shovelers have started to stick around in different ice-free ponds or creeks. Sapsuckers are now wintering in fair numbers in our ravines and parks. Phoebes have shown up increasingly in December and January, but have somehow missed the count period. Cedar Waxwings and hermit thrushes are also quite regular, probably due to our fruit trees. Warblers other than yellow-rumped have started to stay as well: we had pine warblers in 2002 and 2003 (count period) and an Orange-crowned also in 2003. It’s probably just a matter of time before we find a Yellowthroat, Palm, or a Black-throated Green. We will be hoping to see all of these birds on count day. And you never know what true rarity, like a Rufous Hummingbird (2003), will suddenly appear. That’s what makes a CBC so fun."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

1910 One hundred taste makers

Now that you've laughed your way through 100 mistakes in our language, take a look at the 100 taste makers listed at Forbes. Chefs, fashion, art, architecture, music, etc. Have some patience. Lots of pop-up ads.

1909 Carpool Tunnel

This site of the 100 most often mispronounced English words includes carpool tunnel syndrome. This is listed as the most funny, and I agree.

1908 Dragged or drug?

Marti corrected me yesterday when I said I drug something, instead of I dragged it. She's a former English teacher (and a librarian), and my excuse is I was a foreign language major and had almost no college level English (and no English or American literature). My dictionary says it is a "dialect" to use drug as the past tense of drag. So I checked Google, and found this very interesting site which shows by color, where this is commonly used. According to this map, if I'd grown up around here, "drug my feet" would be my preference. But I grew up in northern Illinois, west of Chicago, and that looks like something "the cat dragged in."

1907 The lawyers line up for Vioxx lawsuits

A man who was taking Vioxx died of a heart attack. The jury awarded his widow millions, despite the medical evidence, and now it's going to be really tough to get pain meds on the market, but easy for lawyers to find clients. Think of the thousands who took Vioxx--and they were older, with many health concerns besides the constant pain. Most of the people I know who are in constant pain--the kind that destroys their quality of life, keeps them awake at night or interfers with their ability to work, would probably prefer to take the risk and live with some relief.

On the other hand, young healthy women took Mifepristone (RU 486) for abortion (no one knows how many, but probably not as many as the older, less healthy folk who took Vioxx), and four Americans and one Canadian that we know of died from ruptured ectopic pregnancies. They had some cramping (normal for this procedure), no fever, and died quickly. I'm guessing that there are more, but because of the nature of their deaths, their families, husbands or boyfriends probably didn't publicize it. Nor would the women's movement (do we call it that anymore--the folks who lobby for death by abortion?) Why is no one suing Planned Parenthood which routinely uses this abortificant.

Yes, there's a warning in a black box, but Vioxx had a warning too. Go figure. I can't decide if there's no outrage because the victims were women, or because it was abortion and that makes it a political issue. Or perhaps the pharmaceutical company, Danco, doesn't have the deep pockets?

Story in New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 1, 2005, v. 353, no.22. Not free on line--check your public library.

1906 The poll

results at Roadrunner were that just about 80% of the readers would try to find the owner to return the ring.

The story here.

1905 My children will need to live

another 26 years after retiring to get back from Social Security what they've put in during their working years. That's assuming that the Baby Boomers haven't bankrupt the country with their retirement and health care costs first. At this point, I'm just hoping they outlive me! One is a smoker and the other is dangerously close to being a diabetic. I have outlived my two oldest, and frankly do not have the strength to go through that again. My children will turn retirement age about 100 years after Social Security first began. They graduated from high school about 20 years ago, and I don't know if they learned anything about the Depression or all the programs FDR put into place that helped in the short run, but messed up the economy in the long run.

My maternal grandparents were probably not eligible for SS since they were self-employed farmers, but my paternal grandparents who were a generation younger made out like bandits because they moved from the farm to town and grandpa worked at a printing plant in his later years. In the early years of Social Security there were 40 workers to support each retiree. Actually, getting people out of the workforce was one of the reasons for SS--we had very high unemployment when this plan was devised. Today there are only 3.2 workers for each retiree, and by the time my children retire, the baby boomers will still be clogging the nursing homes and senior centers and medical facilities. Yes, the first boomer was born about 60 years ago, and they have skewed every educational, social, cultural and medical event in this country since.

Today a low income worker needs 11.8 years to get back all his and his employer's social security taxes in benefits; a middle income worker needs 17.5 years, and a high-income worker needs 24.9 years. By the time my children retire they'll need to live an additional 25.6 years (I'm assuming they'll be middle income based on where they are now) to get back in benefits was they've put in.

In 1935 there was a Clark Amendment that would have allowed a private plan option but FDR defeated it. President Bush's plan is really not unlike what many of us already have, since no one should expect to live on Social Security, nor does it keep anyone out of poverty by itself.

Mothers worry. Let's face it. It's in our job description. And I'm extremely unhappy that the Republicans have let us down by essentially defeating Bush's Social Security reform and putting it on the back burner. I don't even pay attention to those Democrats with their running noses and pasty faces pressed up against the window. They will not like any plan that gives Bush credit for saving Social Security. It's the Republicans who should have pushed for this and gotten the job done. They are to blame.

1904 Time to use up the roll of 37 cent stamps

There will be a postage hike next year, so it's time to think about writing all those notes and cards you've been putting off because you were baking cookies, attending parties or writing Christmas cards. Use up the last of your stamps so you won't have to do the add-on thing.

I jotted down my list this morning at the coffee shop
  • two friends who've had accidents, are recovering, but I just heard about it
  • two thank you notes for dinner party invitations
  • notes to our four pastors for their service
  • thank yous to the 5 people who serve on a committee with us
  • welcome to a new neighbor which will also do double duty as a Christmas card
  • note to my sister-in-law about a change in plans
  • note to a new widow--holidays are tough

    They are all in the mail slot, and although I'm usually not a list maker, it feels good. E-mails in place of thank yous, or get-well notes, or sympathy thoughts are just gauche in my opinion. E-mail is prefect for work memos, reminders and regular, ongoing correspondence. But if our relationship is so weak that I don't rate a 37 cent stamp or a phone call when I'm down for the count, maybe we need to reevaluate.

    (Comments from face strangers on the blog are OK, however.)