Sunday, April 30, 2006

2426 Gee, I wonder who's behind this?

Home grown terrorists.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

2425 The ABC Meme

Seen at Peace of my Mind.

Accent – Midwest--east of the Mississippi
Booze of choice – Don't drink
Chore I hate – making phone calls
Dog or Cat – Cat, just one
Essential electronics – Computer, digital camera
Favorite underwater creature: don't know any
Gold or Silver? - Gold
Hometown: Mt. Morris, Illinois, but I've been here almost 40, so I think it has risen to the top
Insomnia? : Seldom
Job Title: Don't have one. Faculty Emeritus, retired librarian
Kids? Yes. Adults who can cook and invite me for dinner.
Living Arrangement: NORC. Husband and cat. Nice neighbors, pretty scenery.
Most Admired Traits: Wisdom, tenacity, kindness, generosity, honesty.
Number of bathrooms -- (I changed this)3.5
Orbiting Planets in the Solar System: Ours had 9 when I was in school, but I think a 10th has been found
Phobia: None that come to mind
Quote: "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances."--Bible
Religion: Christian; Lutheran. Evangelical
Siblings: 3.
Time I wake up: 4:30ish.
Unusual talent/skill: I occasionally think before I act.
Vegetable I refuse to eat: Brussel sprouts. I like just about everything else in the cabbage family. And I wouldn't refuse to eat them, but I wouldn't buy them or order them in a restaurant.
X-ray Vision? no.
Yummy foods I make: Apple Sour cream pie
Zodiac Sign: I use to know that.

Consider yourself tagged.

2424 Eleven minutes a day

There are books and websites filled with stories and ideas for sermons. Jesus told parables to illustrate a point, and many preachers follow his example. I sort of liked this one found at Bible Study and Sermon Resource Articles, although my take is a bit different:

"The amazing potential of only eleven minutes

Years ago, there was a man who drove a street car in a big city. In the middle of the day each day, he would get to the end of his run, and stop and take a break, and then turn and begin his run back in the other direction. Before he started back on the evening run, he had an eleven minute break there at the end of the line. The streetcar stopped at an empty lot on the edge of town. It was an old deserted lot that nobody wanted. It was spoiled by trash and rubbish that had washed over it in rainy weather, and trash that people had dumped on it while nobody was looking. There were broken bottles and rusty cans and trash of all kinds laying everywhere.

One day, as the streetcar driver was standing around taking his eleven minute break, it occurred to him that he could make better use of his break by occupying his time cleaning up the lot. At first, he started picking up the paper that he saw. Then the cans, then the bottles and broken glass.

After several days, spending only eleven minutes at a time, the property began to look dramatically different. With a sickle, he cut the grass a little at a time. In the spring, he planted flower seeds, small shrubs, and cuttings from shrubs. Just using a little time each day, the streetcar operator converted the ugly vacant lot into a beautiful place that looked like a park. Everyone that saw it was impressed and delighted."

The above being a sermon resource and not a call for Earth Day, it then moves on to the spiritual disciplines, and what could a small amount of time each day do for the human spirit. If I tried that routine, I'd fail for sure. However, for me going out and cleaning up trash on my walk would turn into a spiritual discipline. I would feel better about the community I was creating, people might follow my example (maybe some dog walkers would remember to bring their little baggies with them), I could contemplate God's creation while doing it, and I could remember my mother who used to say while digging thistles instead of using chemicals, "I can't save the world but I can clean up four acres."

Trash in the creek

Pop on the rocks

Ubiquitous bags

I took these photos this morning walking along the creek that surrounds our complex. They could have been tossed from a car miles away.

Addendum: You've seen the ads that Google places on websites? Certain words in the text key the ads. This particular article has ads for waste management, haz-mat handling and used garbage trucks.

Friday, April 28, 2006

2423 The Marketing of Evil

When I read that an OSU (Mansfield branch) librarian had been charged with sexual harassment for recommending a book for a reading list, I just had to check it out. And although I didn't really expect any action from The American Library Association, an organization so far to the left, its eyes have rolled back in its head and its toe nails have dug into the concrete, it would have been nice if they spoke up for something (freedom to read, or debate issues, for instance) instead of just blathering against the Bush administration and the Patriot Act while they entice children to sit at unfiltered computers.

If I were gay (i.e., a homosexual, and he explains the terminology change in the chapter on gay rights), I would really find this book terribly offensive. At least chapter one. As offensive as I, a Christian, find The DaVinci Code which insults and belittles not just the millions of Christians living now, but those of the last 2000 years. And Kupelian doesn't insult or belittle homosexuals, but he does by inclusion call their movement to normalize their life style, evil. And after many years of never hearing that word, it has hit the big time since 2001, and is at risk of overuse.

He begins the chapter somewhat sympathetically with the story of Robert Bauman, a gay Republican who published his story in 1980. In this section Kupelian uses the phrases "his sexual problem," and "unnatural sexual compulsion." However, that's also what Bauman, who is gay, calls it. But that probably isn't what outrages gays about this book. It's Kupelian's conclusion, after he meticulously describes the 25 year "war plan" to get gay rights into the main stream (a very successful war, by the way, and it includes the media and a powerful gay journalist organization), that the success of the movement has denied them their conflict, or the seeds of redemption.

"Glorifying dysfunctionality and corruption, we have relieved homosexuals of the inner conflict they once felt over their condition--something they desperately need, indeed all of us need, if we're ever going to overcome our problems and find wholeness." p. 37 And then he heaps perhaps the biggest insult of all--he calls their victory a terrible failure, loss and sadness. "Sadly, we've failed Bauman and millions suffering with similar sexual problems by glorifying and pandering to their dysfuction and pretending it's normal."

Other chapters in the book concern The Myth of Church-State Separation; Selling sex and rebellion to your children; How Western Culture was turned upside down in one generation; the campaign to destroy marriage (feminism); fraudulent science (this one's about sex); hijacking America's education system; the media matrix (bias, mind control); how abortion was marketed; the fall and rise of American Christianity--the dumbed down, shallow, plastic banana Christianity isn't up to fighting the clever marketing of evil.

Whatever Michael Moore is to the left, Kupelian is to the right. ALA and college curriclua have warmly welcomed Moore to their inner circles; have invited him to their meetings and conferences. I don't expect them to be fair and balanced. Those days are gone on the college campuses of America--and Kupelian will tell you why.

2422 Keeping stress levels low

When I read the Thursday Thirteens, I'm aware that people, women particularly, use this list to let out their frustrations about parenting, work, in-laws, traffic, phobias or spouses. They say it's relieving the stress, but is it? I noticed a little blurb in the magazine Natural Health, April 2006. "A study published in Psychological Science suggests that contemplating personal values in the moments preceding a tense situation can keep stress levels low, physiologically as well as psychologically. Study subjects who affirmed their values before delivering a speech and then being harassed measured significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared with a control group. Continuously elevated levels of cortisol have been linked to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, autoimmune diseases, and depression."

Could you be making your stress level rise by giving legs to it in your blog? If you're going for a tough job review, or a family reunion with folks you don't like, try writing down the 10 simple pleasures meme first and carrying it with you.

Pew Research Center has studied happiness (and actually I know most of you really are happy, and are just listing 13 gripes because you want to fill a list and you did movies last week). Did you know 84% of Americans list themselves as "Very Happy" or "Pretty Happy?" So here's what the folks at Pew found: "Married people are happier than unmarrieds. People who worship frequently are happier than those who don't. Republicans are happier than Democrats. Rich people are happier than poor people. Whites and Hispanics are happier than blacks. Sunbelt residents are happier than those who live in the rest of the country. We also found some interesting non-correlations. People who have children are no happier than those who don't, after controlling for marital status. Retirees are no happier than workers. Pet owners are no happier than those without pets."

But before you get carried away on the "rich vs. poor" question, consider this. Pew has been doing this happiness survey since 1972--more than 30 years--and it doesn't change. But adjusted for inflation, Americans have more than doubled their per capita income. Americans have more money now than they did 30 years ago, but we're no happier. (Although if it went much higher than 84% you'd have to wonder what's in the brownies, wouldn't you?)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Illegal Alien problem

Obviously, all the Congress is beholden to special interests, so they're stuck and can't solve this problem, so those of us with common sense and human compassion will need to step up to the plate.

There's already a small solution in place in McAllen, Texas. It's called legal shopping. The Wall Street Journal did a story on it earlier this year by Amy Chozick.

"Mexican shoppers, both rich and poor, are pouring into the area, making it the equivalent of Madison Avenue for northern Mexico's consumer class. Border agencies tally nearly 40 million legal visits a year by Mexicans coming to Texas for leisure activities. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas figures they spent $3 billion on merchandise in Texas border counties in 2004, the latest data available, up from around $1.6 billion a decade earlier. In the past 10 years, retail sales in McAllen have risen more than 75%, nearly double the nationwide pace of 40%. Per-capita sales here are twice the national average, according to the census." Full story

40 million legal visits for shopping. Why couldn't we have say, 10 million legal workers, approved ahead of time, with IDs, with priority going to those who have some skills and some English, matched with employers in the US who need them? If they come north and keep their noses clean then employers won't hire illegals because someone better is available, then illegals will dry up as a labor source. If they want to become citizens, great. Let them pay taxes and pay for the social services. Give them some priority points for working hard and not getting into trouble and put them on a waiting list. Send the other guys home and shut down the employers who are keeping this illegal thing going. And it's time for Congress and the President to start encouraging Mexico to come up with some solutions for their poverty on the other side of the border and stop depending on their poorest to send home money.

Stop whining about how much we need them. It's a myth. We're spending more on social services than what their low wages are contributing to cheap labor. Clean your own bathroom. There are plenty of Americans who will work construction and landscaping and restaurant kitchens, which are the jobs they presently fill in Columbus. But Americans are kept out of the jobs by unscrupulous businesses undercutting salaries.

In the 1960s, the federal government patterned the Peace Corps on the small programs developed after WWII by the Mennonites and the Brethren. Often it takes a non-government entity to figure things out. McAllen, TX has the key. Now it's up to Congress to find the door it fits.

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things about Norma's cat

April morning in the kitchen window

1. We got her at Cat Welfare (a no kill shelter).

2. She had already been spayed and front declawed before being turned in so we knew she'd been a pet. And she knew it too.

3. So she knew she was supposed to sleep in our bed, on my legs. For sleeping in front of the TV, she sleeps on my husband's legs.

4. The shelter staff thought she was about 2 years old.

5. We think she was under a year.

6. She is black, white, gold, and gray calico. Only females are calico patterned.

7. She has a kink in her tail, like she was caught in a door at a young age.

8. She's the only flat footed cat I've ever seen--waddles like a duck.

9. Her former state of homelessness has left her with issues--even after 6 years.

10. She fears starvation and abandonment and believes we will never return from our Friday night date to feed her. But she would never wear her food.

11. She has kept her girlish figure--weighs less than 7 lbs and her tummy doesn’t sag. She gets 1/3 of a can of cat food, twice a day. Most adult cats (my son's for instance) look like fat sausages on toothpicks because their owners overfeed them.

12. Although she always uses the litter box, she's never figured out the proper feline technique, so it needs to have 12" sides to prevent drop outs.

13. Each week she chooses a new spot for naps so that her hair gets evenly distributed throughout the house. Cat meme.

1. Titanium 2. Joan 3. ames 4. Friday's Child 5. feedscott 6. Chaotic Mom 7. Elle 8. Wystful1 9. Lazy Daisy 10. TreasureofJewels 11. Susan 12. carmen 13. Amanda 14. EmilyRoseJewel 15. Courtney
16. Melli 17. Gabrielle 18. mar 19. Renee 20. Trinity13 21. Stacey 22. Francesca23. susan 24. tnchick 25. Lisa 26. Becky 27. reverberate58 28. Cindi 29. chana 30. Moogie
31. Kontan 32. Jane 33. Joe 34. Rosei 35. nat 36. Chi 37. Tanya 38. Louise 39. Lifecruiser 40. Tricia 41. eph2810 42. Leesa

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

2418 Thought I'd share this

After writing about time in no. 2416, I came across this poem I wrote in 2004 after the death of a friend from church. I don't think I've posted it before--not sure I was finished with it. But obviously I was thinking about the differences in my work life and my life now--not that all these are my specific interests or even hers, but I see them in people I admire who quietly live out Matthew 25:31-46.

At the funeral
by Norma Bruce
June 24, 2004

You rest now, dearest friend,
It is my turn--and I‘m rich with time.

I’ll take the casserole to the family
instead of preparing a report.

I’ll teach Sunday School
instead of pondering software instructions.

I’ll stand in the booth to sell tickets
instead of taking a business trip.

I’ll visit the stroke patient
instead of interviewing candidates.

I’ll mentor inner city kids
instead of marketing my skills.

I’ll weed the flowers in the park
instead of reviewing the budget.

You rest, sweet soul,
and may God welcome your servant’s heart.

2417 Today's writing prompt

Our writing group rotates the responsibility for snacks and prompts. Two weeks ago we received the prompt that we read today, and it is on reunions. The prompt writer suggested 14 possible topics, each broken into even more narrow options.

I've written a lot about reunions, so I've really been scratching for something new to say. I've written an oral history that I gave to relatives at a 1993 reunion and I've expanded on the story about how that oral history came about; I've written about a cookbook for a family reunion and about a recipe in that reunion cookbook. I've written about our 40th class reunions; I've written about my husband's club (the Slobs) reunion; I've written about other people's reunions. If I dig around in my files, I'll find a poem I wrote about reunions. I've written about reunions of books and reunion of furniture, long separated. One of the first pieces I had published was about books long separated that had a reunion of sorts in a computer database, Bruce, Norma J. "A Bibliographic Field of Dreams," AB Bookman's Weekly for the Specialist Book World, 94, no.14 (1994): 1290-1302.

Yesterday I was waiting for the washing machine to finish a cycle and pulled a small album of extra photos off the shelves. There were photographs in it apparently that had not been included in our regular album. But like an answer to prompt-prayer, there were photos of the SLOBS (my husband's high school social fraternity) at a mini-reunion at our house. As I recall, we first met downtown at a hotel for lunch. One couple had come from Kentucky, one from Indianapolis, one from Akron, and we of course, live in Columbus. How this was decided, I don't remember, but probably Columbus was central and the nearest for everyone. Then after lunch, we came to our house. This photo of Danny, Duke, Bob and Dick, may not represent everyone who was at the hotel. We all had grown children, some had grandchildren.

SLOBS Reunion at our house

Because these photos are extras, I don't have the dates recorded so I had to narrow it down by hair styles and clothing. Dating photographs is something genealogist do all the time. So using my incredible powers of discernment, I notice that the shelving behind us went into my husband's office in the family room about 1995. I have on a snazzy sweats outfit--the bright colors indicate it had probably not yet been washed. We bought our cottage in the fall of 1988, so this outfit was probably purchased during the summer of 1989. Duke (the tall guy) still has dark hair; he now has white hair. My husband, shorter red head, actually has hair in this photo, which also places the photo in the late 1980s or early 90s. I have a curly perm, which puts it after the summer of 1989. We all seem to have on warm clothing, so I'm placing this as maybe January or February 1990. Later, I'll go look through our albums and see if I can find a date.

My husband was the only one thin enough to get into his letter sweater

2416 Ten simple pleasures

Amy at Sparrow's Flight has tagged me for 10 Simple Pleasures Meme. I don't think I can find 10 who haven't done this, so considered yourself tagged.

"Name ten of life's simple pleasures that you like most, then pick ten people to do the same. Try to be original and creative and not to use things that someone else has already used."

When it comes to life's simple pleasures, there will obviously be repeats--after all, the key is "simple." Mine are the 5 tangibles and the 5 intangibles.

1. Family. As you start losing them, or live far away, they become more important. Did anyone else discover how smart your parents became when you went away to college or you left home for that first apartment? That feeling snowballs as you age. You go through your kids' teen years and wonder if your Mom felt what you do--or were you ever like that? Then humbly you realize, yup, Mom was a saint to put up with me, and you Thank God for the simple pleasure of a family--past, present and future. The social, emotional and spiritual safety net that no government program can replace. Roots and wings. It's so simple.

2. Church. Simple perhaps isn't the word that usually comes to mind--at least not if you are a Protestant. I even grew up among Christians who believed in the simple life that would please God. They've had so many squabbles on how to be simple--head coverings, hair, buttons, zippers, media, polity, government--that except for genealogy meetings, they don't often pray under the same roof and keep reforming and renaming themselves. And Lutherans, my adopted denomination, aren't any different. Synod this and consortium that. But the concept is simple. Love one another. Both the local church and the church triumphant. And we'll simply laugh when we see who's in heaven, won't we?

3. Education. Again, it wasn't so simple to get one, but the concept is. Educate a child to the best of her ability and she'll have something you can never take away. And I'm public education all the way through, from kindergarten in Alameda, CA to Master's at the University of Illinois. I simply thank all those tax payers who gave up and put out for me. I hope I'll always live up to this simple concept.

4. Friendships. It's so simple, really. Love isn't love until you give it away. You get back more than you give. There's always room for one more, but three or four really good close friends in a lifetime is probably a good total.

5. Time. I've said it many, many times on this blog. All the verbs we use with money we use with time. I'm a millionaire in the sense of time and yet I have exactly the same amount of time as you do. Being busy is a fetish. It's a hobby. Occasionally it's a necessity, but we've all been given the same storehouse of time.

6. Beauty. I looked out over the grounds today at the creek and trees and greening springtime growth and just could hardly take in the beauty. A robin came within 5 ft. and perched on the deck railing. His eyes were looking out for danger and something to consume. I wonder if he saw the beauty?

7. Imagination. What would we do without this simple pleasure? This is a pleasure that really grows as I look through all the wonderful hobby and craft projects in blogland.

8. Individuality. How did God think all this up? Each snowflake. Each bird feather. Each baby in the womb waiting to be welcomed, and not a fingerprint the same as anyone else born since the beginning of creation.

9. Faith. Simple--for me, but not everyone. It's a gift. Just open your hand and receive. If you demand or earn it, chances are it's not the simple gift you've desired.

10. Hope. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

2415 Dear President Bush

I'm headed to Mexico. . . this is going around via e-mail without any attribution, so I checked Google, and came up with David M. Bresnahan on April 1 as the author. It's a list of 13 things a traveler from the U.S. into Mexico without a visa or passport wants--like classes for his kids in English, all government forms printed in English, police officers who speak English. Pretty cute. He closes with, " know this is an easy request because you already do all these things for all the people who come to the U.S. from Mexico. I am sure that Pres. Fox won't mind returning the favor if you ask him nicely. However, if he gives you any trouble, just invite him to go quail hunting with your V.P."

So many leaks, so little time

CIA Leak Primer here, and
Jeff Goldstein,
Michelle Malkin,
Flopping Aces,
Tom Maguire,
Andrew McCarthy,
and Rick Moran
Byron York,
and her friend says this and
Captain Ed says" "Juan Williams attempted to defend her on Fox News yesterday evening as a principled dissenter, but that's hogwash. A principled dissenter would have gone through available channels, such as to the FBI, to Congress, or to the White House, to express her discontent on an issue. Failing that, she would have resigned and spoken openly about what she knew. McCarthy took none of those actions. Instead, she violated her confidentiality agreements, broke the law, and attempted to leak what she knew -- and only what suited her -- to the media. She wanted to keep her job rather than her honor."

In from the cold writes: "You'll note that many media accounts describe the leaker as an "analyst," suggesting that she was, at best, a mid-level staffer. That was hardly the case; few analysts make the jump from a regional desk at Langley to the White House. A "National Intelligence Officer" is the equivalent of a four-star general in the military, or a cardinal in the Catholic Church. There are only a handful of NIOs in the intelligence community; they are in charge of intelligence community efforts in a particular area. As a senior officer for Warning, Ms. McCarthy was tasked, essentially, with preventing future Pearl Harbors. Observers will note that McCarthy's tenure in that role coincided with early strikes by Islamofacists against the United States, including the first World Trade Center bombing, and the Khobar Towers attack. It could be argued that Ms. McCarthy's performance in the warning directorate was mediocre, at best--but it clearly didn't affect her rise in a Democratic Administration.

Equally interesting is her meteoric rise within the intelligence community. According to her bio, she joined the CIA as an analyst in 1984. Within seven years, she had rise to a Deputy NIO position, and reached full NIO status by 1994. To reach that level, she literally catapulted over dozens of more senior officers--and I'm guessing that her political connections didn't hurt. By comparison, I know a current NIO, with a resume and academic credentials more impressive than Ms. McCarthy's, who reached the position after more than 20 years of extraordinarily distinguished service. McCarthy's rapid advancement speaks volumes about how the Clinton Administration did business, and sheds new light on the intelligence failures that set the stage for 9-11. We can only wonder how many other political hacks climbed the intel food chain under Clinton--and remain in place to this day." And then follows this up with other interesting posts.

Whatever. Americans will only be worrying about the price of gasoline.

Update: Here's the problem: "McCarthy has a B.A. and M.A. in history from Michigan State University, an M.A. in library science from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Minnesota. . ." her bio at CSIS (no longer listed)

2413 Sad news

You may recall our excitement in December when little Abby joined the family--a Chihuahua puppy. A month ago her lab tests in preparation for being spayed showed a liver problem, so surgery was postponed. The tests were rerun and today the vet called and said he is quite sure it is canine portal liver shunt disease. Our daughter and husband are devastated. She manages a medical practice and lab work that would mean nothing to me is quite clear to her. It had taken well over a year for them to even consider another dog after the death of their other dog. Like many their age who have no children, the pet is the child. And their other dog had almost a decade of expensive medical problems (heart). The prognosis for this kind of surgery is good, and the death is horrible if nothing is done. So if you have room on your prayer list tonight, whisper one for a broken hearted family and healing for a teeny tiny liver.

Monday, April 24, 2006

2412 Are you spoiled?

This meme is a little different. If you score more than 40, you are. I think this was planned for someone much younger. If you don't have a walk-in closet or good credit or a stock portfolio by the time you're my age, you may not be spoiled--but you just might be a poor planner. Tollef fog Heen

Even so, I scored 24.

Monday Memories

Did I ever tell you about the end of my childhood?

My 11th birthday was in the fall of 1950. During the summer of 1950 the curtain was slowly coming down on my childhood, but I didn't know it until much later. In fact, I was reminded of it last week when our writing group prompt was the comic strip Agnes who is supposed to be about 11 years old, lives with her grandmother and is always pondering life's difficult questions.

It was my last summer to ride a bike with my brother on the country roads and catch tadpoles to take home; the last summer to swing from vines in the dense woods on the road west of town; the last summer to visit our friends who had moved to Baileyville where you could still get a nickel ice cream cone; it was the summer I rode in the livestock truck with Charlie and Raymond; it was the last summer I would walk to the town baseball field in the evenings, sit up on the score board and run around being silly; it was the last fall I would build leaf castles in our front yard with my friends JoElla and Nancy; the last time I would play with dolls.

I started 6th grade in Miss Michael's fifth/sixth grade class in Forreston, IL in September in a building with grades one through twelve. On Sundays we worshipped at a small Lutheran Church in Forreston, although we weren't members, and my sisters attended their confirmation classes. We all sang in the choirs and my oldest sister took organ lessons there. On Sunday afternoons we would all get in the 1950 Chevrolet sedan and drive either to Mt. Morris to see my father's parents, or to a farm near Franklin Grove to visit my mother's parents. My parents would visit with my aunts and uncles and grandparents while we cousins would either walk to the Lamb Theater in Mt. Morris to see a B cowboy movie, or down the country lane into Franklin Grove.

In March 1951 my family moved back to Mt. Morris from which we had moved in 1946, and I finished 6th grade in a different school with a new teacher, new friends and a different church (where I had been baptized). I learned new slang, how to cope with cliques, and discovered the girls were gossiping about things I’d never heard of.

I'm in the front row right in this sixth grade class photo. I have a rather grown-up hair style and two piece dress and was probably close to my adult height and weight. There would still be time for child-like activities, but those times would be less and less Looking back, I think childhood was over during my 12th year, and like Agnes, I did start seeing things differently.

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Renee, Jen, Emma, Barbara, Libra, Amy, Bec, Joan, Purple Kangaroo,

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

2410 Gas Prices

Friday night we went out for dinner--we always have a date night, and since I've been married over 45 years, you might want to tuck that away as a suggestion. The van was rolling on fumes, so I checked the web site to see where gas was cheapest, and at our corner it was $2.89 and across the river $2.69. For 15 gallons it looked like it might be worth it. After our $30.00 evening out at the pub and $5 at Cheryl's Cookies for dessert, we started for Mill Run. But it was barely after 6 p.m. and we hit all the traffic returning to the far out suburbs. Believe me, Columbus has nothing like Chicago, LA or DC, but we're spoiled. We pout if we sit a bit in traffic. So after sitting for 5 minutes through 3 stop lights, he pulled into a Speedway and got gas for $2.79.

So we saved $1.50 by not buying it on the way to the restaurant, and spent $1.50 more than if we'd added 10 minutes to our evening, sat on the bridge for awhile watching the ducks and got it for $2.69. Isn't that silly?

Last October on our trip to Illinois we were thrilled to find $2.89. Want money for gas? Buy one less carton of cigarettes a week--that'll fill up my tank. Stop at Speedway for your coffee instead of Starbucks. In a week, you'll more than make up the gas increase. Buy a medium pizza instead of a large, and eats some carrot sticks. Buy one six pack of beer instead of three--we'll all be safer if you plan to drive. Don't down load any tunes (.99 each) for a month and listen to the thousand you already have. Don't go to any first run movies for a month--hit the dollar theaters for what you missed 6 weeks ago. Or go to the library and get some free DVDs and make the popcorn at home. That'll be $15 for the tank right there.

Invite a neighbor on your next shopping trip or drive to work. Drive the speed limit and inflate your tires. Don't hop scotch around on the freeway--pretend you're fifty instead of 25, because you all end up at the light at the same time.

And if you are a Greenie, accept the credit and take a bow for these prices. You've kept the oil refineries from being built. You've stopped the drilling for oil on American soil. You've halted a lot of industry in the USA so we could have cleaner air, chasing people out of the cities where they had public transportation. People are reducing their driving because of you, especially poor people driving older, less fuel efficient cars. Be proud and puffed up when you hear your co-workers bitching. Smile. It's all your fault.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

2409 For Family Only

The rest of you won't care about this photo, but I'm just thrilled to have it. So just move along--if you don't like sappy and sentimental.

When I opened the envelope tears came to my eyes. I had seen this photo flash by in a DVD made by my second cousin (we have the same great-grand parents). I contacted her aunt to find out who they were. She wasn't sure, but said she'd find out. And then the photo arrived with a note from my cousin. This is the wedding photo of my grandmother's grandparents of Jefferson County, TN, James and Mary Ann Elizabeth Williford. It looks like it's been through some hard times--that it had been folded, and chipped, and maybe a cup or something placed on it. I don't know its provenance. Only one granddaughter of this couple is still living, the sister of my grandmother--she's 91 and I visited her last year. She probably has a copy of this, or this is a copy of hers. There are so many things I don't know about this couple that I'd like to ask.

So I go into my genealogy software and look them up. I found out quite a bit about this family on the internet some years ago because in Tennessee during the Depression there was an attempt to record family information from old Bibles, and that has since been put on the internet by county. James and Mary Ann Elizabeth had nine children. Leanor, my great-grandmother, was only 10 years old when her father, the handsome young bridegroom of this photo, died. I knew her. Used to run down the street and sit on her front porch swing and listen to her soft Southern drawl and gentle laugh. By then she'd probably buried those hurts of 60 years before. Why would she have even mentioned such a sadness to a little five year old whose own daddy was off in a war? How did such a large family survive with only a woman to head the household? James' father was over 50 years old when he was born, so how much help could they have been if still alive? Even my grandmother, Bessie, born in 1895, didn't know this couple. They had both died before she was born. For many years Grandma Bessie was our family archive--her phenomenal memory could retrieve the stories with ease. After her death, we'd ask my father. When he died it was like the library had been burned, and my paltry software is no match for the stories he heard from his parents and grandparents and at the Tennessee Reunions that were held in northern Illinois for many years.

However, we don't know what we don't know do we? So we don't ask.

2408 An Easter Walk

Cathy invited me along on an Easter Walk, 50 miles in 50 days. I don't have a pedometer, so I'm just clocking along at a mile for every 30 minutes. The park was really busy today--not only have the spring sports started, but Ohioans are so anxious for nice weather (probably less than 40% sunshine all year), that they tend to all rush outdoors at once.

Front row for Grandparents

Game's over; going home for lunch

He's just walking his dog

11 miles since Easter Sunday.

2407 Saving on blogger gas

To save you guys some gas, I'm going to combine several themes or thoughts into one blog entry instead of making them separate. OK? It will improve your mileage and save you money here. I've moved the gasoline prices to Sunday--just because I could.

Church stuff

We're having our SALT group here tomorrow evening. SALT is an acronym that someone with 70s angst thought up: Sharing and Living Together. I much prefer Serving and Learning Together because that's what we do. We have 3 campuses and 12 services (or is it eleven?), so if you don't participate in a small group you can become just a pew sitter. I think someone told me there are 144 ministries. Anyway. Back to SALT (no one took my suggestion, and at this point, staff has changed so often, I wouldn't even know to whom to re-suggest it, since no one but me is bothered by an inaccurate acronym). I've asked everyone to bring a favorite poem, verse, rhyme or limerick since April is National Poetry Month. I don't like to lead Bible studies, so my husband will do that part--I'll just do the warm up.


I have a strawberry rhubarb pie in the oven, and the other one will be the peanut butter chocolate one I wrote about a few months back. My husband thinks I'm also making an apple pie (his favorite), but I sliced my thumb a little bit on the rhubarb, so I think I'll quit while I'm ahead. When he walked in while I was preparing the first one (never made it before), he asked why I would make something I never tried for company. Guys just don't get it, do they ladies? We all know that if you make something new, and there's just 2 of you to eat it, and one of you doesn't like it and pushes it around on the plate like it was brussel sprouts, then the other of you has to finish the whole thing! Right? But the second reason here is that even my bad pies are better than 90% of the good pies of everyone else. So there.

Update on my Exercise 13

I'm doing pretty good. I never set goals--hate goals, but promises aren't so bad. So I promised myself 30 minutes a day of exercise. I'm up to 50-60 minutes, but I'm not changing my promise because I'd rather go over than under. The weather has cooperated, so I'm getting about 30 minutes at the park, then later in the day, another 20-30 on the grounds. I'm walking in the grass and on hills when I can so my shins don't ache. I am consciously taking the stairs more often and parking further from stores. The sit-up plan, well, that didn't go so well. I'm finding more excuses not to do that.

New neighbors

New neighbors moved in this week. They just moved from across the ravine, but they are terrifically nice folks, so we're thrilled to have them. They are also Lakesiders, and my husband did their cottage for them. I saw their dog (with its owner) meeting another neighbor's dog this morning. Sniffing. Deciding who was going to be boss. If a dog has a blue ribbon in its hair is it a boy dog?

Another condo for sale just recently has also sold, I hear, to a single person. It has a dance studio in the lower level because the former owners were ballroom dancers. Our newish neighbors who moved in last year have added a hot tub. I guess they use it late at night, but so far I haven't heard anything.

Everyone says it's so hard to find a place here, but we've been here 4 years, and I think there have been 6 turnovers since we arrived. Out of 30 units, I'd say that's higher than our old neighborhood.

Mozart's Birthday

Our choir will be performing Mozart's Requiem, but since it was planned for Memorial Day week-end, I hadn't been practicing with them. Now the director might change the date because it conflicts with a wedding. As a result, I have a huge dilemma. I'm a really weak singer anyway, so do I try to catch up or mumble something that might pass as a lie? Actually, I don't like to perform in front of people--never have. I came down with Scarlet Fever just so I wouldn't have to be in a piano recital. I was in the junior class play in high school and hated being on stage and didn't try out for senior class play the next year. Our choir sings in a loft behind the congregation, so I've only been in front once, but it really increased my errors.

Check your mileage

See how many blog entries you can read here with only one stop for gas? And if you check my profile, you'll see that I have five more. Now Six, because I joined some Walkers.

Friday, April 21, 2006

2406 Leaving children unattended

Don't. Not for a minute. Even $5 million isn't worth it.

I really hope Chrysler wins on appeal. The child is left in the van, keys in the ignition so the guy washing the car could hear the radio, parked on a hill, emergency brake not set, mother not close by, and the child does what any kid would do who wants to "play driving" and puts it in gear. A device, not required in models of that year, might have been able to keep the van from rolling, but how do you protect children from adults who don't think?

2405 A Goldendoodle, a Dood, or a Golden-Poo

While walking in the park I've seen a man walking a large, cream colored dog, sort of fluffy. I used to keep breed posters of cats, horses and dogs posted on the bulletin board of the Vet Library, but I didn't recognize this one. So today I stopped and asked him the breed. "Not a breed, but a mix (hybrid) of a standard Poodle and a Golden." We chatted for awhile and he said they don't shed, and his was very good with his eight grandchildren. Apparently, Goldendoodles are good conversationalists, because when I got back to my car, the man was sitting on the curb smoking while talking to his blond friend: "Want some more water? How about some ice in that?" "Ready to go home? OK. Get in the car." Don't argue; don't try to run your life; great hair. Can't beat that, can you?

Update: Actually, I did blog about this in October--I'd never actually seen one. In this article it is called a Labradoodle, and is a lab poodle mix.

2404 Morning walk in the blossoms

My view as I step out the front door.

We love it here. The grounds are lovely; the neighbors are nice; and there's always someone around who knows how to keep things growing! It was dark when I left this morning and the spotlights were on the flowering crabs. The blossoms looked like dangling jewels. There are always birds and ducks, little critters, and big deer to watch. We never tire of looking out the window or walking around.

Our daughter drove down the street where we lived for 34 years the other evening on her way home from work. She called on her cell phone to report the new-new owners had a huge crop of dandelions in the front yard. She could hardly believe that her father who used to attack them every Spring would just say, "Oh really? Do you want to talk to Mom?" and hand the phone to me.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

2403 The Fashion Police

Another sketch from Panera's.

2402 Are you this desperate?

On Feb. 28 I said I was taking applications for a daughter-in-law. I don't know a woman (or man) in the world who would desperate enough to take this guy off his mama's hands. Cranky Beach has definitely found a first class jerk.

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things I know with absolute certainty

Have you noticed a shift to the phrase "I feel" when "I believe" or I think" or "I know" would sound too . . . dogmatic or pushy? Particularly women use this term. We all have opinions and beliefs, so why toss a perfectly good verb into the closet? Feelings are sweet, soft, and warm or loud and hurtful, and life would be boring without them, but for the long haul, give me a solid unshakable foundation any day. Your mileage will vary, but there are 13 things in my life I know.

1) I know with all my being and intelligence that I am special and unique because I was created in the image of God and am not a product from the slimy ooze 50 million years ago through endless cycles of trial, error and death.

2) I know God knew me personally as I was being formed cell and sinew in my mother's womb.

3) I even know when my own life began.

4) I also know when my present life on earth ends that I will be in heaven. In God's economy, nothing is wasted, including our experiences and pain. I will some day have a different kind of body, a resurrected, perfect physical body with a personality.

5) I know I was blessed to have two parents, married to each other for over 65 years, who loved me and made me feel secure even as an adult. I had a father who was always employed and a mother who was able to stay home with her children.

6) I know my parents also blessed me with two sisters and a brother, all wonderful people and friends, and a large extended family.

7) I know my parents loved me enough to mold my spiritual life and values and my formal education, seeing to it that this foundation was not left to chance, the government or to my own choices.

8) I know I am loved and cared for by a man who wanted to marry me and establish a home and a life together over 45 years ago.

9) I know that all my children are a blessing from God, chosen by him from the beginning of time to be in this family.

10) I know that having my adult children live in the same city as we do is a blessing few enjoy.

11) I know that friendship is a treasure and that old friends, some from childhood and many from years past, and new friends of just a few months duration are a blessing.

12) I know that good genes and good habits (examples from my parents) have provided me with good health, and I know I took this for granted when I was younger.

13) There's a well known radio commentator who claims to have "talent on loan from God," and I know this is true for all of us and loans must be paid back.

Christmas 1979

Christmas 25 years later

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

2400 Harriet Coleridge

"The truth, if we're honest, is that the poems of Harriet Coleridge (if there were such a person) would by now be an unforgivable omission in every anthology."

Ouch! Now there's a slam at required women's studies courses if I've ever read one. There was a short article on the less than stunning career of Hartley Coleridge (1796-1849), son of the famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in the March 2006 issue of Poetry. He writes about being forever a child and unfulfilled promise. The writer of the article mentions he could have been a great poet if he had taken more than 10 minutes and if he could have forgotten whose son he was.


by: Hartley Coleridge (1796-1849)

NELLY, methinks, 'twixt thee and me
There is a kind of sympathy;
And could we interchange our nature, --
If I were cat, thou human creature, --
I should, like thee, be no great mouser,
And thou, like me, no great composer;
For, like thy plaintive mews, my muse
With villainous whine doth fate abuse,
Because it hath not made me sleek
As golden down on Cupid's cheek;
And yet thou canst upon the rug lie,
Stretch'd out like snail, or curl'd up snugly,
As if thou wert not lean or ugly;
And I, who in poetic flights
Sometimes complain of sleepless nights,
Regardless of the sun in heaven,
Am apt to doze till past eleven, --
The world would just the same go round
If I were hang'd and thou wert drown'd;
There is one difference, 'tis true, --
Thou dost not know it, and I do.


2399 The charges have been dropped

against an Ohio State University (Mansfield) librarian Scott Savage for sexual harassment because some gays didn't like the books he suggested for a recommended Freshman reading list designed to discuss issues. They might be afraid for a gay student to ask for help at the library reference desk. Yikes. I wish I had a dollar for every time librarians had to use material that violated their beliefs or that students had to sit in class and listen to something that stepped on their sensitivities! Story here at Inside Higher Ed.

Even so, these kinds of trivial, bizarre, frivolous charges have to have a chilling affect on academic freedom. Professors already can be shunned by colleagues, cut from grant proposals and denied staff help if they don't toe the political line of their department or college. Tenure doesn't do you much good if you get reassigned to all the freshman courses. The faculty at Mansfield should have put a stop to these whiners before it ever became national news. It's brought shame on that whole campus. And where was American Library Association? I'll have to check the 2 or 3 conservative library blogs to see if anyone responded. Even the account of the law suit in the above cited piece sounds hostile.

One of his suggestions was Freakonomics. But the one that hit the fan was The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom, by David Kupelian. The account at Inside Higher Ed doesn't list the titles other faculty suggested, except for a Jimmy Carter book (probably his current anti-administration pout) and Maria Shriver. It would be interesting to see what Savage was trying to balance or if any of the faculty that supported the charges had even read the book. Although the University has dropped the investigation, Savage wasn't notified, according to this WorldNetDaily article.

The university will respond by offering more workshops in being sensitive. "We will be taking a number of steps to help create a more welcoming atmosphere on the Mansfield campus by offering additional training for faculty and staff. We also will work to reinforce a better understanding of the principles of academic rights and responsibilities, and to ensure the respect for diversity of all kinds." It's quite possible that the current faculty have never heard of the principles of academic rights and responsibilities, so maybe it's for the best.

2398 The new doctor

Actually, I could have walked to the dermatologist's office this morning. It was my first visit so I wasn't positive where he was located. He said the tiny spot on my lip was pre-cancerous and would need to come off--sometime. But not now. It comes and goes, and although it was around last week, it snuck out in time for this appointment, so he says to call when he can see it better. The spot on my arm that isn't pre-cancerous, just ugly, he zapped (froze) and now it has a blister about the size of a nickel. I'm very fair, and I've not tried to get a suntan since I was about 19, but apparently it is the sun exposure you get as a child that is so dangerous. My husband is 3 or 4 shades lighter than me (i.e., almost colorless), and is now really paying for attempting to warm up his skin tones each summer at the lake until he was about 50. If you have red hair, don't do that.

Speaking of suntans, April is National Cancer Month. It is also National Poetry Month. And National STD month. Maybe I would write a poem with these themes . . .

2397 Does your kitchen make you fat?

Maybe so, but not for the reasons you might think. Take a look.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

2396 A Free Education Site

Free- offers a number of courses (I looked at Spanish and Poetry) that are completely free. I didn't see any gimmicks and the site is easy to use with very little annoying bling and blash. It doesn't offer diplomas or certificates--this is for the self-motivated you. Read the FAQ carefully. I wandered into it looking for SweetHaven Publishing Services, which has apparently changed directions. The address is Westerville, OH.

2395 What puzzles us

is that any thinking person believes The Gospel of Judas is somehow going to rattle our faith. And of course, The DaVinci Code is leading the parade softening them up. Christianity Today author Darrel Bock writes:

"This is a time that tries many a believer's soul. Works are coming out like rounds from a machine gun. But none of the guns fired so far are the "smoking gun." They are more like pop guns, creating a lot of noise but no damage."

He did, however, find one redeeming quality in the book. Read about it here.

Saturday of Easter week-end, the holiest season for Christians around the world, one of the morning news shows--either CBS or NBC* (doesn't really matter since they are Tweedle Dum and Dummer)--had that theological giant, an editor from Newsweek, tell us the significance of Jesus. It was almost too comical to be insulted and outraged.

*My kitchen TV isn't connected to cable and the reception is so poor I can hear voices but not tell faces.

2394 What I saw at the library

The check out line was long at the public library last night. The middle-age woman in front of me had quite an armful and dropped some, and I got quite an eyeful. Hip huggers went down, short t-shirt went up and tattoos were revealed down the butt crack. EEyew! Fifty years from now someone in a nursing home will be changing her diapers and get quite a chuckle.

2393 Tuesdays with Morrie

While the rest of the nation was keeping this title by Mitch Albom on the best seller list for four years, I was working and reading committee reports, unjamming printers, and teaching search strategies about bovine diarrhea. But I saw a like-new copy at the Friends of the Library store yesterday for $1, so I bought it. Today we drove to our son's home for lunch (he's on vacation and putting in his garden) which is about a 40 minute drive, so I started reading it in the car. Marvelous book. Short. Well-written. Wonderful insights on illness and the end of life. I'm going to check with our book club archivist and see if this was a selection before I joined. If not, I will definitely recommend it for next year.

Read an excerpt

2392 Refer a friend, get a gift

When we moved here about 40 years ago, we selected a bank for very sound reasons--it was near by and it was the only one with Saturday morning hours. We're still with the same bank, and it may be the only one around that hasn't changed names.

This week we got a handsome flyer from a "banking office associate" suggesting we refer a friend for a checking account and we'll both receive a gift. So I looked at the picture of the gifts. The umbrella is the only item I can identify with certainty. It will require a $50 deposit to get the free gift, and there will be a $20 closing fee if you close it within 180 days. And you have to report the gift value on IRS Form 1099. Trust me. This is not a $20 umbrella, and the other two thingies, well, who knows? So, find your own bank.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Monday Memories

Did I ever tell you about the time we took the marriage test?

We don’t remember the exact date, but I think it was in the fall of 1965. We’d been married five years and I was in graduate school. A local television station in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois was planning to run a marriage advice news story with a test for viewers after the evening news. Somehow we became part of the control group. I believe “experts” at the university prepared the test. We in the control group were to take the test first, then the people watching at home would have a basis of comparison. We’re both a bit fuzzy on the details forty years later. It doesn’t seem like very sound methods to me now because all the control group was part of a young couples group at a local church in Champaign which means we were either students or employees of the university.

After taking the test, my husband and I waited for the results, feeling quite good about our answers and pleased that we’d been invited to participate. Imagine our surprise when we discovered we’d both scored in the 60% range! Almost everyone else got 90% or better. My husband, who rarely gets riled about anything, hissed, “They lied.” In fact, when I asked him about his recollections at dinner last night, he responded, “They all lied.”

To soothe our disappointment that we were a failure not high scorers, we were told that at least we’d scored high on “values,” (how we managed finances, aspirations, etc.) and that we both had similar low scores on the other questions, meaning I suppose we were in agreement on many topics, even if we were wrong. We were told then that more marriages fail over values (particularly how to handle money) than any other problem.

As the anniversaries piled up--10, 20, 30, 40, and moving on to 50, we’ve had some good laughs about the day we flunked the marriage test. And we've wondered about what became of the top scorers.
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2390 LARK Program for Terrorists

I saw this over at the blog of Father John, who is Russian Orthodox. It is a [made up obviously] response to people concerned about the treatment of Iraq War and Al Quaeda detainees:

"Thank you for your recent letter roundly criticizing our treatment of the Taliban and Al Quaeda detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.Our administration takes these matters seriously and your opinion was heard loud and clear here in Washington.

You'll be pleased to learn that, thanks to the concerns of citizens like yourself, we are creating a new division of the Terrorist Retraining Program, to be called the "Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers" program, or LARK for short.In accordance with the guidelines of this new program, we have decided to place one terrorist under your personal care. Your personal detainee has been selected and scheduled for transportation under heavily armed guard to your residence next Monday.Ali Mohammed Ahmed bin Mahmud (you can just call him Ahmed) is to be cared for pursuant to the standards you personally demanded in your letter of complaint.
It will likely be necessary for you to hire some assistant caretakers.

We will conduct weekly inspections to ensure that your standards of care for Ahmed are commensurate with those you so strongly recommended in your letter.Although Ahmed is a sociopath and extremely violent, we hope that your sensitivity to what you described as his "attitudinal problem" will help him overcome these character flaws. Perhaps you are correct in describing these problems as mere cultural differences. We understand that you plan to offer counseling and home schooling.Your adopted terrorist is extremely proficient in hand-to-hand combat and can extinguish human life with such simple items as a pencil or nail clippers. We advise that you do not ask him to demonstrate these skills at your next yoga group. He is also expert at making a wide variety of explosive devices from common household products, so you may wish to keep those items locked up, unless (in your opinion) this might offend him.

Ahmed will not wish to interact with you or your daughters (except sexually), since he views females as a subhuman form of property. This is a particularly sensitive subject for him and he has been known to show violent tendencies around women who fail to comply with the new dress code that he will recommend as more appropriate attire. I'm sure you will come to enjoy the anonymity offered by the burka --over time. Just remember that it is all part of "respecting his culture and his religious beliefs" -- wasn't that how you put it?

Thanks again for your letter. We truly appreciate it when folks like you keep us informed of the proper way to do our job. You take good care of Ahmed - and remember. . .we'll be watching. Good luck!

Cordially, your friend,Don Rumsfeld
posted by Fr. John McCuen April 10, 2006

2389 Tagged by Cozy Reader and Ames

Six weird things about me is this meme. So here they are. Then the rules say I go to another six sites and say, "You've been tagged. Visit my blog."

1. I think I've done this one, but I blog so much I can't remember. But that's not so weird. I've started some memes, and no one wants to play. Isn't that weird?

2. I have another blog about my hobby, and I haven't found anyone else with this hobby. I think that's really weird because anyone could love this hobby.

3. After almost 50 years of not singing with a group, I joined the church choir. That's not what is weird. Well, OK. Just a little. No one has asked me to leave yet. . . now that's weird.

4. I like deli cole slaw and potato salad. After I buy it I almost double the quantity by adding ingredients I have at home (like apples or carrots or raisins for the slaw or potatoes and eggs for the potato salad), but that isn't weird. What is weird is that it doesn't even change the flavor. Do you suppose they use a tad too much salad dressing and spice?

5. Blonde librarian says you can tell Americans (in Germany) because they eat their French fries with their fingers and wear white athletic shoes. I don't care if anyone knows I'm an American, isn't that just too weird, and when we go to Helsinki and St. Petersburg I will be wearing white athletic shoes if I have to walk far. I also say "WARSHINGTON DC" and I don't intend to change it for the Finns or the Russians.

6. I have deliberately removed an entry from my blog that was drawing too many hits. Call it ping-inflation-pong if you wish, but I didn't like it. Isn't that weird when so many people add all sorts of doo-dads, banners, and wiggles to attract pings that mean nothing in terms of readership and I'm going the other way?

Here's a bonus: this is Cozy Reader's site, but if you are using IE, it will shut you down, so you'd best use Firefox.
Ames is here.

2388 Bad news for the left

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (354:11; 1147, March 16, 2006) apparently finds that differences among socioeconomic groups makes little difference in the quality of recommended health care. After collecting data for 439 indicators and 30 chronic and acute conditions they learned:

    women had higher scores than men

    younger people (under 31) had higher scores than those over 64

    Blacks and Hispanics had higher scores than whites

    household incomes of over $50,000 had higher scores than households with incomes less than $15,000

    Health insurance was unrelated to differences in quality of care.

It's hard to get grant money if you publish the heresy that gender, age and race don't matter in your health care quality, (or if you poo poo global warming) so I wonder if this group will even get a second chance to dig deeper--and I hope they do. Plus they really had to haul out the excuses and explanations.

    "We were measuring different dimensions or indicators of quality than had previously been studied."

    "When we confined our analysis to indicators used in previous studies, we found better care for whites."

    "Previous studies focused on invasive and expensive procedures rather than routine health care."

    We considered nonresponse bias, but that didn't explain it.

    We even looked at poor record keeping to explain our results.

    We might have missed the most vulnerable and screwed this up because they didn't have phones (paraphrase).

Well, they did their mea culpas and decided that what we really need is to make large scale system-wide changes anyway because veterans (using the VA health care system) were scoring much higher than the general population in quality of health care. So there are problems, but they just couldn't say it was based on income or social class or race or gender.

, , ,

2387 It's not the TV; it's the snacks

Why is an article about watching TV in a chronic disease journal, I wondered. So I took a peek. It was about obesity. Watching TV makes us fat. But I think you have to be eating while you watch it.

"More than 2 hours of television viewing per day was associated with a high mean body mass index and overweight or obesity in both men and women. Other characteristics associated with watching more than 2 hours of television per day were being 50 years of age or older, having a high school education or less, living in a household with income below 131% of the federal poverty level, and not being employed. Adults who watched more than 2 hours of television per day had high intakes of energy and macronutrients and were more likely to be overweight. They also obtained more energy from snacks and supper. A higher percentage of adults with health conditions watched more than 2 hours of television per day compared with adults without health conditions." Preventing Chronic Disease, April 2006

I don't snack while I watch TV in the living room because I don't want spots on the furniture or carpet. Now snacking while I blog. . .

Sunday, April 16, 2006

2386 Apologies are in order

To my family and friends who are church musicians [and you know who you are], I want to apologize for sitting in the pew all these years and being clueless about how hard you work every week to help us praise the Lord. The choir sang at three services this morning (jokes were being made about pitching tents); we sang Christ is Risen (Paul Sjolund), Wondrous Love (Alice Parker and Robert Shaw) and Hallelujah chorus (Handel) at the Sunrise service (practice at 6:30 a.m.); then at 8:30 Christ is Risen, When he comes again (Lari Goss), and Hallelujah (practice at 8 a.m.); and at 11:00 Christ is Risen, When he comes again, and Hallelujah. However, Allan Willis, our organist played Carillon de Westminster (Vierne) and Toccata from Symphony V (Widor) multiple times, the offertory 3 times, Finale Jubilante (Willan), plus all the hymns you sing on Easter for three services plus all the special music for the two communion services, plus playing with us when we sang and the brass ensemble. And Michael Martin, our choir director, did all those three services plus he played the piano at a fourth service at 9:45 directing the small group ensemble that sings for the contemporary service. This followed the services we sang on Maundy Thursday evening, Heavy (Nagy) and Remember Me (Sterling), and Good Friday evening, when we performed The Cross said it all (Goss), The Lamb (Tavenor), and O Love Divine (Helvey). And of course, there were preludes, hymns and offertories for those services, too.

I think I'm singing a little better than two months ago, but I'm still not contributing much except showing up. I'm practicing at home on the Midi that my son loaned me. I've got some squeaks and squawks that aren't going away. It's probably not a good plan to lay out for 50 years. I'll give it a little more time, but I'll never regret what I've learned about church musicians the past few months.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

2385 The Gay Book Burners at Ohio State University

Tammy Bruce writes about the strange case of a librarian who submitted a list of titles for consideration, and it made a gay guy feel "unsafe" (Christian books), so he sued for sexual harassment. The left is losing it. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to read are in the deep freeze. What do you bet American Library Association won't come to this librarian's defense. Too busy distributing anti-Bush buttons.

See also Sister TolJah

Volokh Conspiracy

2384 Chris White now in Afghanistan

Here's his last entry from Ft. Bragg. Good photos too.

2383 A walk in the park

To get my 30 minute walk in this morning, I took along two items that needed to be returned to the library, then parked about 1/2 mile from the library, which is located in the park. So I was listening to the radio and when I tired of the garden guy making me feel guilty (cucumber peels will drive away ants I learned), I switched over to Dennis Prager. Actually, I didn't know he was available locally, but I've occasionally heard him via a California AM station on the internet.

"THE DENNIS PRAGER SHOW is different from every other radio talk show in America. First, Dennis talks about everything in life. Everything—from international relations to family issues to religion to sex. Second, Dennis is not only very smart, he is very funny. Third, he brings a moral perspective to every topic. Fourth, he is relentlessly interesting. That is why, after 20 years on Los Angeles radio, he is the most respected broadcaster in Southern California. He is now taking that reputation to a growing audience nationwide. The Los Angeles Times has described Prager as an “amazingly gifted man and moralist whose mission in life has been crystallized: to get people obsessed with what’s right and wrong.” That’s what he does everyday, for three terrific hours." Salem Communications

Prager, a Jew, said (this is a paraphrase) that although the right occasionally thinks unclearly, the left always does. The left sees morality in terms of rich and poor, and strength and weakness. If you are rich, you are bad. If you are strong, you are bad. Therefore, everything about the USA is bad. Israel is bad because it is richer and stronger than Palestine. The left hated Reagan more than Brezhnev. That's morality from the left (keep in mind I'm paraphrasing because I didn't have a pencil and paper with me).

Well, I used to be left of center; I was a humanist and a Democrat. But even when I was an evangelical Christian I was still voting and registering as a Democrat until 2001. Not all Democrats deny the role of personal responsibility--you can find a lot of them in AA and Al-Anon, and those folks know that it wasn't poverty or injustice that caused their elbows to bend so that their brains fell out.

Even in my most liberal days, I never believed that abortion was anything other than the destruction of a human being no matter what party supported it and never will. I've always disagreed with the "Palestinians just want their homeland back" argument that many mainline Christians support. At least during the last 30 years I've thought the UN and the National Council of Churches were sops for money of well meaning people. I've always thought it was our responsibility as Christians to take care of the earth, and thank you, if it had been up to the Republicans to get the job done, I wouldn't own a home on Lake Erie which is now clean enough to enjoy. For many years I was a pacifist, but that was my religious upbringing (Anabaptist), not politics. Most pacifists have lost their spiritual core as near as I can tell. They don't advocate peace in their personal lives, which is where it needs to start.

I part company with many evangelicals who may also be politically on the right in that I see nothing scriptural in denying ordination to and keeping women out of the pulpit, although it is practical and essential if you want a growing church. I don't believe in the death penalty and I don't think machine guns and uzzies are what the founding fathers had in mind. Nor do I think gun registration for law abiding citizens will reduce the crime rate at all, so there are other motives.

That said, if Prager is correct that the left thinks of morality in terms of rich and poor and strong and weak, then I agree, they cannot possibly think clearly about moral issues. I'm sure he's had much more to say on this topic, but it is something to think about, isn't it? While walking in the park.

2382 Dance with the one who brought you

is a charming idiom meaning you may have to do some payback from time to time to keep a job, a friend, an appointment to a board, an account, or your reputation. It's about a type of loyalty with your fingers crossed behind your back (or his back).

I have a hobby blog called In the Beginning which is about premier[e] or first issues of magazines, journals and serials. Today I was looking through my newest purchase which is Lily; beautiful living through faith, Spring 2006 (I can't find a link to this title). It is published by Meredith Inc., the publishing giant whose best known title is Better Homes and Gardens. I haven't finished looking through it, but the first issue is lovely. Knowing Meredith, we can look forward to a huge increase in advertising content, which for BHG must be about 70%.

My gripe is simple: Ellie Kay writes a column on finances, and the question she is responding to is about how to save money on food. According to the question, this family of four spends $700 a month on food. So how does Ellie Kay respond? She claims her family saved more than $8,000 last year on food and household goods by using, 1) manufacturers' coupons, 2) double coupons, 3) store coupons, 4) loss leaders, 5) price comps, 6) sales and clearances, and 7) comparison shopping.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. She's dancing with the guy who brung her. The advertisers. Food companies are not in business to give away their products, but she knows that most American shoppers believe they are. She knows that food companies are heavy advertisers in Meredith's publications. I'll give her #4 and #6, but #5 and #7 just take too much time. Either she's misplaced a digit, or she has a huge family of 24 children, because $8,000 is more than I spend on food in a year. All coupons are just advertising and they either introduce a new product or cover up a price increase. The time it takes to organize and combine them could be more effectively used by just popping that potato (twenty cents a pound) into the microwave, rather than "saving" twenty-five cents on a prepackaged or frozen item that figures out at about $5.00/lb.

She's wrong for these 10 reasons and maybe more. To reduce your food bill without coupons:

    1) contribute your own labor where ever possible. It's probably faster to prepare fresh broccoli and carrots than to use the frozen. If you used prepackaged greens for salads (wash very carefully) you can mix with those that are fresh.

    2) Shop the walls (or where ever the produce and dairy and meat are displayed). I often buy marked down meat if it isn't past the due date. You have to be really careful about reduced fruits and vegetables, but for applesauce or pie, there's no problem with a soft apple.

    3) Don't buy in huge quantity sizes, especially if you are overweight. Large sizes often are not cheaper per ounce, they'll go stale or past the due date, and you'll be tempted to "just clean up this last bit." I've never seen a cupboard or pantry of an overweight woman that wasn't loaded with "giant economy" sizes.

    4) Prepared snacks are extremely expensive per ounce and are loaded with all the calories, salt and fat your family doesn't need--switch to homemade or popcorn, or sliced fresh fruits and vegetables. But if you must have them, try the dollar brands or some of Trader Joe's which cost about half and actually taste better. If you want to cut the coupon habit and calories, just stop buying high salt, high sugar snacks. Roust your kids from the computer and teach them to spread some peanut butter on a cracker. It's cheaper. Don't take the kids shopping if you can help it, and definitely don't keep them quiet or entertained in the store or car by handing them a snack.

    5) Learn which house brands are good at about half the price and don't require any coupons for "savings." Do you really care if a peach is a bit ragged or the beans aren't uniform size?

    6) Loss leaders are just that--they are sold at a loss to bring you into the store. But don't waste gas at $2.80/gal driving from store to store to find them. Where I shop, milk and orange juice are almost always loss leaders, but I shop there because they don't have a loyalty card program, which also raises prices.

    7) Look carefully at what you buy in the name of "food." If you also buy a lot of Health and Beauty and cleaning products (in Ohio we call them taxables since food isn't taxed), at least recognize that you don't eat them. Perhaps a trip to a different type of store would be worthwhile. Because I shop at Meijer's I also buy most household taxables there.

    8) Read the labels. Refuse to buy water and fake, plastic food. If you look at anything "low fat" or "low calorie," water may be the first or second ingredient, and you'll pay more. Buy the regular, and add water at home. I add a little milk to creamy salad dressing when the bottle is low, and never notice a taste change. Don't buy fake cheese (cheese food?--yuk) or low calorie cheese. Such a waste of flavor and money. This fake food is heavily promoted with coupons.

    9) Don't be suckered with brand differentiation or repackaging coupons. Have you ever tried to buy a plain old Ritz cracker? Ridiculous. Sort through 12 kinds of Ritz to find what you want.

    10) I do buy prepared and frozen food, and I've found Trader Joe's to have the best and most reasonably priced in these categories. I can buy things that would be too expensive or wasteful to buy for just 2 people, or would lose nutritional value before we could use it up. But I never use a coupon unless the manufacturer has attached it to the package, and I already had intended to buy it.