Saturday, March 31, 2007


Travel by walking

I must be missing something. Researchers have determined that 6th grade girls who walk to and from school (called "travel by walking" in the published study) have more minutes of physical activity than non-walkers. Eight people with a doctorate and one with an MS participated in designing and publishing this study. The next thing you know someone will want to study the cutting edge concept that pop, potato chips and candy bars contribute to childhood obesity.

The night Research went on a joy ride

In my Thursday Thirteen I'd mentioned working on a poem. It may not stay exactly in this form. April is poetry month--write or read a poem.

The night Research went on a joy ride
by Norma Bruce
March 31, 2007

Surprise and his best friend Serendipity
picked up the good-looking Research.
As they left the house that night
her mother, Discipline, was nagging and
her dad, Questioning, looking for a fight.

So they sent along her younger brothers
Assumption, Guess and Hunch
who rode along in the back seat
to throw spit balls in the stacks
and trip Librarians they would meet.

Along the way they picked up
Strategy and Documentation
who kept them from caution tossing
to the wind as the lovers parked
on Mount Concept Glossing.

When they stopped to refuel they hailed
Curiosity and Argument waiting for a ride,
noticing Challenges and Debates smoking
language and meaning in the dark
where Inquiry and Paradox were groping.

It was a wild ride that night,
with passionate struggles and heavy breathing.
And now poor Research is pregnant.
Will she birth a fat Report, short Novel
or just a Sweet Little Memory segment?

Ask your doctor about

low dose aspirin. Especially if you are a woman.

Story from, as reported in the March 26 Archives of Internal Medicine

"In this prospective, nested, case-control study, 79,439 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study who had no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer provided data on medication use biennially since 1980. Relative risk (RR) of death according to aspirin use was determined before diagnosis of incident cardiovascular disease or cancer and during the corresponding period for each control subject.

During 24 years, there were 9477 deaths documented from all causes. Compared with women who never used aspirin regularly, women who reported current aspirin use had a multivariate RR of death from all causes of 0.75 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.71 - 0.81). Risk reduction was more evident for death from cardiovascular disease (RR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.55 - 0.71) than for death from cancer (RR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.81 - 0.96).

Aspirin use for 1 to 5 years was associated with a significant reduction in cardiovascular mortality (RR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.61 - 0.92), whereas a significant reduction in risk for cancer deaths was not observed until after 10 years of aspirin use (P for linear trend = .005). The benefit associated with aspirin was confined to low and moderate doses, and it was greater in older women (P for interaction < .001) and in women with more cardiac risk factors (P for interaction = .02).

"In women, low to moderate doses of aspirin are associated with significantly lower risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in older women and those with cardiac risk factors," the authors write. "A significant benefit is evident within 5 years for cardiovascular disease, whereas a modest benefit for cancer is not apparent until after 10 years of use." "

I have a very conservative doctor, and have been on low dose aspirin probably 7 or 8 years.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Slum Lords

Ellen DeGeneres is selling listing her home for 52% more than she paid for it about a year ago. I forgot to write down how many million--noticed it in the WSJ. She owns others. Don't know if she ever actually lived there. Here's an item by John Updike that appeared in the Autumn 1998 American Scholar.

The superrich make lousy neighbors–
they buy a house and tear it down
and build another, twice as big, and leave.
They're never there; they own so many
other houses, each demands a visit.
Entire neighborhoods called fashionable,
bustling with servants and masters, such as
Louisburg Square in Boston or Bel Air in L.A.,
are districts now like Wall Street after dark
or Tombstone once the silver boom went bust.
The essence of the superrich is absence.
They're always demonstrating they can afford
to be somewhere else. Don't let them in.
Their money is a kind of poverty.
– John Updike, Slum Lords

There was also an item in the WSJ today about a wealthy Japanese-Hawaiian who is letting homeless people live in his properties in expensive neighborhoods. Supposedly, amassed his wealth by being a slum lord. Now people are just a bit suspicious that he's doing this to drive property values down so he can buy out his neighbors. Makes sense doesn't it? Do bad by doing good. You probably aren't happy when the county buys property in your neighborhood for housing vouchers for the poor.

Are you owned by a cat or dog?

You'll enjoy Pepek's story. And she's got a great photo of her dog, too. Check this out.

If this had happened in Iraq

or to gay men in San Francisco or blacks in New York, there would be a full fledged congressional investigation to see why the President hasn't done something. There has been a substantial increase in unintentional poisoning mortality. Actually, it's way beyond substantial. Poisoning mortality rates in the U.S. rose 62.5% during the 5-year period 1999 to 2004. 20,950 deaths in 2004 alone, up from 12,186 in 1999.

And the increase has happened mostly to white women. The largest increases were among females (103.%), whites (75.8%), persons living in the southern U.S. (113.6%), and persons aged 15-24 years (113.3%). Among all sex and racial/ethnic groups, the largest increase (136.5%) was among non-Hispanic white females. So what's included? Overdoses of illegal drugs and legal drugs taken for nonmedical reasons (think Anna Nicole Smith), legal drugs taken in error or at the wrong dose, and poisoning from other substances (alcohol, pesticides or carbon monoxide). Deaths from proper doses are not included.

Where's the outrage? Where's Barbara Walters and Katie Couric and their deep analysis?

Story in JAMA, March 28, 2007, and MMWR, 2007:56

Friday Family Photo

My father's high school graduation photograph for Polo, IL High School was probably taken in a borrowed suit. If it was in the fall he was 16, but I really don't know the time of year in those days that photos were prepared for the yearbook. When people remember my dad, they don't usually comment on his good points--like hard working, honest, loyal son, good looks, etc.--no, it's more likely to be, tough, intimidating or tenacious.

My father never learned to be laid back or keep his opinions to himself until he was maybe 75-80. Like me, (or me like him) he had an opinion on everything, and was quite well read and followed the news. He was a Republican (married to a Democrat), a small businessman, veteran of WWII and the oldest of nine children.

I remember my father's opinions on schools and education. Children, his own or relatives or yours and mine, who had problems in school had one of three problems (or all three): they were 1) lazy, or 2) dumb, or 3) delinquent. With so many siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins, children and grandchildren, most of them well educated and living nearby, he learned eventually to keep his unpopular opinions to himself, or leave the house if education came up for discussion. But if you had asked, that would be the answer. He didn't believe in pathologizing bad behavior or sin, and the only acronyms that would have passed his lips were BS and SOB.

Dad was an observant man and may have learned this in his own family. Although Dad went on to college, his brother 17 months younger didn't finish high school. If family lore can be believed, this kid was a problem from the beginning--definitely "oppositional defiant disorder." He had to be "encouraged" to attend the local country school by my grandfather walking him there with an occasional swat and nudge with the boot. But one of Dad's little sisters was reading the newspaper to her blind mother at age 4, and they weren't quite sure how she learned to read so she started school at that age. The brother grew up to be bigger than my dad with a mean, rebellious streak which kept him alive in many dangerous missions in WWII. There's a place for everyone, and apparently it isn't always school.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Thursday Thirteen

Although I don't usually make to-do lists, TT is really useful for that, don't you think? Don't want to forget anything, so here goes.

1. Meet Chuck and Louise for dinner. Don't usually go out on Thursday night but they are briefly in town and it will be good to see them. Done.
2. Get over my pout that they didn't tell us they moved to Texas in December. OK. I'm over it. Cross this one off.
3. Make a sugar-free sour cream apple pie for dessert for Friday. It was yummy.
4. Meet Sue and Wes for dinner on Friday night. Great fun.
5. Show them my husband's photos from Haiti. They loved it.
6. Should clean up my office since those are on my office computer. Lick and a promise, but checked off.
7. Hmmm. Better do a quick check of the bathrooms, too. Swipe.
8. Work on the poem that's been rattling around in my head. Finished; See above.
9. Write the VAM minutes. Visual Arts Ministry--done; next meeting 2 weeks.
10. Create small explanation cards for Luann's basket exhibit at the church. I've viewed them to check on size.
11. Return magazines and DVDs to the library. Yes, and threw in a walk in the park.
12. Take at least a 2 mile walk because I'm in that Lenten walking group. See #11.
13. Check on the TT-ers whom I haven't visited in ages because I've been doing Poetry Thursday. Visited maybe 6 or 7.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! Leave a comment and I'll add your name and URL.

Poetry Thursday #13

This week's challenge is ekphrasis, "a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art." The painting I have chosen for this week’s completely optional idea is "The Marriage License," painted for the June 11, 1955 Saturday Evening Post by Norman Rockwell, who did 322 covers and died in 1978. No one mastered in art the American life, events and values better than he. Now if you are an artist purist and don't think Rockwell be one, check out this painting of a bride by Domenico Ghirlandaio (15th century) and you'll see the same attention to fabrics, hair, position of the faces, locale and eyes gazing into the past.

There is nothing in this painting that isn’t absolutely authentic or essential, from the dangling light bulb repeating the shape of the upper window needed for heat or light, to the rumpled forgotten flag or bunting possibly from WWII that lays unceremoniously atop the book shelves filled with dusty legal volumes, to the bride and groom who knew this was a special occasion requiring the very best clothes. The items in the painting that are completely out-of-step with the 50s, like the stove and spittoon, are critical elements in the story it tells. We all know the hopes and dreams of that couple, because they are us in another time and place, so I've chosen to write about the civil servant slumped in his chair.

At the County Courthouse
by Norma Bruce
March 28, 2007

Dreaming of fishing again, aren't you, old man?
Your rumpled coat and hat hang near by,
just waiting for your escape.

The red geranium blooms in the open window alone,
scrawny but surviving the weather whims,
seeking light and warmth.

Now that the wife has died, the stray kitten
eyeing the cigarette litter on the floor
is your only source of joy.

Your arthritic fingers interlace, worn elbows rest
on the arms of the old wooden chair,
your bones beating the cushion down.

Ah, those weary bones, you squirm and shift,
oh, so tired. Slumped, you're forgetting
the stories, oh, the stories.

Who are these eager people, in sunny yellow cotton
and Sunday suit with hat, signing on for years
of windows, weather, and weariness?

Like the bride on tip toes and her tender groom,
we want their hope and love, so we turn away
from the old man's defeat and pessimism.

Spring cleaning feels good

I just deleted about 1,000 messages from my spam dump; only 6,000 to go.

On this day in 1883

Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote from Dublin to his old university friend Alexander Baillie (British politican): "It is a great help to have someone. . . that will answer my letters, and it supplies some sort of intellectual stimulus. I sadly need that and a general stimulus to being, so dull and yet harassed is my life." [from today's selection in "A Poem a Day," ed. Karen McCosker and Nicholas Albery]

Do you need to write a letter today? Thought so.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


GAPping the public on climate change

There is a whistleblower organization (way left of center) called GAP, Government Accountability Project, that has issued a report for the Democrats called "Redacting the Science of Climate Change." I was expecting to read some whoop-dee-doo-doo about what terrible things the administration was doing to cover up the effects of global warming, but it is 139 pages of inferences, inuendos and idiocies written by someone named Tarek Maassarani. The summary clearly states the investigation found nothing, zip, nada--but the media was sensing that information was restricted on scientific research on climate change. What! That's all we hear or read! So they're just making this stuff up because they don't get the straight scoop from the government? Every news story I hear is presented as though humans control the sun, moon, stars, oceans, hurricanes and carbon dioxide, and that Al Gore is the only chief priest who can give us absolution and forgiveness. I read plenty of science journals and web sites; the people being shut out are those of the view point that science has been politicized. GAP says it began invesitgating this misuse of government authority (i.e. not communicating properly with the media) because 2 GAP employees complained. It reports that it interviewed about 40 government employees then reported there are over 2,000 concerned in some way in a number of difference agencies

Stop setting goals!!

I was positive I had this book review on my blog somewhere, but with 10 blogs, you do lose track. So here it is again. It is about a book I read right after I retired, that I sure could have used earlier, both in my family life and career. I'm reposting here, because I've got more than a few readers who need to sort through the difference between problem solving and goal setting.

The book I'd been waiting for my whole life I didn't read until the first official day of my retirement (Oct. 1, 2000). Its title grabbed me and I knew it was written for me: "STOP SETTING GOALS" by Bob Biehl (Nashville: Moorings, 1995).

The premise is that some people are energized by achieving goals they have set, and others (a higher percentage) are energized by identifying and solving problems. And it isn't semantics. To ask problem solvers to set goals puts knots in their stomachs and interferes with their natural gifts. To ask goal setters to work on a problem puts them in a foul mood because they think "negative" when they hear "problem."

Problem solvers see goal setters as sort of pie-in-the sky, never-finish-anything types, and goal setters see problem solvers as negative nay-sayers. Bigotry, in both directions.

I'm willing to bet that most librarians are problem solvers and that's why they chose the field. I used to be in Slavic Studies. In my own mind, I thought the Soviet Union collapsed from pathologically terminal five year plans--too much goal setting and not enough problem solving.

Biehl poses an interesting question that works for both groups. "What three things can we do in the next 90 days to make a 50% difference (by the end of this year, by the end of the decade, by the end of my life). It makes no difference if you say, "what three goals can we reach" or "what three problems can we solve," because either personality can get a handle on this question.

I was challenged during my last year at work to stop using the word "problem" and replace it with "challenge" or "opportunity." It was a good time to retire. It took away all motivation for showing up at work for a darn good problem solver.


New assaults on Administration for deaths of U.S. civilians

USA Today ran an article today on the sad situation for U.S. civilians who are employees of companies who are working in Iraq. KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, figures prominently in the story, because the media know that will bring up mental images of Dick Cheney without ever mentioning his name. George Soros owns a lot of stock in Halliburton, according to what I've read, and Cheney doesn't, but the media isn't about to say "the left is making money from this war." KBR has had construction contracts for the U.S. military for over a half century, and bankrolled LBJ for his presidential bids. But, let's not confuse quacks and frauds. Nor should we ask why a man or woman, who could be doing something much safer and signs up for bonuses and huge paychecks to go into a dangerous war zone, should expect their families to be entitled to more than other construction workers on any other job if they are injured or killed on the job.

The story in today's paper (or you can google "Halliburton civilian workers in Iraq" and see this has been covered many times but right now is a pile-on) mentioned relatives who want extended COBRA, funeral expenses, cleaned up dead bodies returned to them, and new government regulations for the contractors. And of course, this: "Critics of the war are pressing the Bush Administration to disclose more details on injuries and deaths among private contractors."

Planning our Ireland trip

You wouldn't think a librarian would make such a mistake, but for our 2005 trip in Germany-Austria river cruise, and our 2006 trip to Finland and Russia, I devalued of my travel dollar by not reading! Yes, I virtually ignored the material our tour planners sent us (never did like assigned reading), read only a few things on the internet, and didn't even take a Russian-English dictionary with me (I did read up a little on Finnish architecture, thank goodness, because we did a lot of site tours). That was true stupidity. You might think a dictionary wouldn't be that tough to pick up in a foreign country, but think again. When your tour van is stuck in St. Petersburg traffic where the Russians in huge black SUVs drive like maniacs on drugs, it is not the time to hop out and run into a bookstore!

So I was pleased to see the first book on the bibliography sent to us by the University of Illinois Alumni Tours was How the Irish Saved Civilization. Excellent book. I've already read it and it totally changed my views of not only European history and the so-called "dark ages," but church history. And this week I checked out the Jan/Feb. 2007 issue of Everton's Genealogy without even glancing at the cover, because it always is jammed with interesting material, particularly carefully explained websites (they do a much better job than most librarians). Super, super article on "The Conquest of Ireland," by Charles D. FitzGerald. How anyone traces his ancestry back to the 1100s I have no idea--I feel fortunate to at least make it back to the ships that brought my families, both the German-Swiss and the Scots-Irish to our eastern ports. Anyway, this guy traces his family to Gerald de Barri who wrote Expugnatio Hibernica (The Conquest of Ireland), so using that source and The Song of Dermot and the Earl (a poem, authorship unknown) he puts together a fascinating tale of how Henry II of England took over Ireland in 1170. (Gerald sounds a lot like some bloggers--seemed to record just about everything.) Now I have many interesting avenues to pursue, as I make up for some lost time and regrets on earlier travel adventures.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Evangelicals influence on foreign policy

"God’s Country" by Walter Russell Mead was published in the Sept-Oct, v. 85, no. 5, 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs. I think it was intended to reduce the fear among the Democrats about the power of evangelical Christians in the upcoming (then) election. Maybe it worked, or provided clues on how to fake it, because lots of Democratic candidates played the religion card and won after seeing how they lost the values battle in 2004. I personally think it was because so many Republicans bungled it so badly. Even so, it is a very good article and I learned a lot about the role of religion in politics.

When I was a young adult, the only political game for Christians was liberal. I was 34 when I left the liberal church for an evangelical, liturgical church and 60 when I left the Democrats. The two are not mutually exclusive. Mainstream Protestantism which sort of has a "y'all come" attitude toward other faiths, believes a kernel of truth is as good as the whole cob. And if you've studied or even observed religions, they each have some similarities and certain moral tenants on which they agree. The worst sin for a liberal would be--well, calling something a sin because Jesus was a teacher of ethics and morality.

Liberals dominated the U.S. worldview during WWII and the Cold War--although how we stayed so humanistic and optimistic after the Holocaust, and 100 million dead from a century of constant war, I don’t understand. However, church membership meant about as much as belonging to any other social club, so liberals lost their influence. Facing questions about sexuality and abortion, the drug culture, rampant consumerism, soaring divorce rates and growing socialism within our own borders, many American Christians left the liberals and joined one of the two conservative groups--the fundamentalists or the evangelicals.

Mead notes that many non-religious people and secularists tend to confuse the fundamentalists and evangelicals and their role in politics, so here's his score card, and I think it's pretty clear.

"The three contemporary streams of American Protestantism (fundamentalist, liberal, and evangelical) lead to very different ideas about what the country's role in the world should be. In this context, the most important differences have to do with the degree to which each promotes optimism about the possibilities for a stable, peaceful, and enlightened international order and the importance each places on the difference between believers and nonbelievers. In a nutshell, fundamentalists are deeply pessimistic about the prospects for world order and see an unbridgeable divide between believers and nonbelievers. Liberals are optimistic about the prospects for world order and see little difference between Christians and nonbelievers. And evangelicals stand somewhere in between these extremes."

If you've been calling President George W. Bush a fundamentalist, you're just flat out wrong and you need to read this article. Evangelicals believe strongly in responsibility for the world social order, and will cooperate with unbelievers to improve human welfare, which the fundamentalists wouldn't do. But they don't neglect the salvation message of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection for redemption, which the liberals ignore or downplay. Evangelicals are not just limp wrist fundamentalists--they really do see the Christians' role in society very differently. Since the 17th century, there has been a widespread theology that the Jews would return to the Promised Land--that's not unique to our current foreign policy and culture. You'll get nowhere criticising evangelicals or fundamentalists for their support of Israel. Mead writes: "The story of modern Jewry reads like a book in the Bible. . . proof that God exists." Here’s the whole article. It's been archived. You won't regret reading it.

It's not easy being Green

But the money's good. All the architectural journals have been green for years. But there's a lot of disagreements--afterall, just the concept of an architect means someone is building something for someone richer than he is. Green can still mean home theater, heated swimming pool and 3-car garage, just ask Al Gore or John Edwards. Think "P". Politicians. Pile-on. Professionals. Preaching. Petroleum-free. Products. Planning. Protection. Program. Projects. Plants. Positive. Profit. Performance. Productivity. No-Problem. Prove-it.

And Paint. There's a company with "gender neutral" paint colors that are also eco-friendly. YOLO Colorhouse comes in six gender-neutral colors, mildew resistant and scrubbable, inspired by spring flora. And you can reuse and recycle the large poster size swatches by converting them to gift wrap. I didn't look up the prices, but I'm guessing only the rich buy this product, and they probably don't recycle gift wrap.

When we were bottom-quintilists, i.e. poor, we used to use old architectural blueprints as gift wrapping paper--with a little white ribbon it was quite attractive, but I think that process isn't used anymore. Too many chemicals probably. If only someone had thought to promote blueprints as gift wrap.

Do you have a favorite book?

A week ago I was the guest speaker at a young adult women's Bible study (not from my church). Their theme this year is mentoring, so each hostess invites a "mature" friend to speak to their group. After giving my testimony I moved on to evaluating Christian books (I used a Christian publisher, Alternative Medicine by O'Mathuna), and the book in hand (using a Randy Alcorn title, Christian imprint I didn't know by a mainstream publisher). They were a delightful group, sincere and well-read, involved in their families, church and community. Most, but not all, had children. The only people this age I have much contact with are my own children--who don't use libraries and don't attend a church (what we call Chreasters--attend on Christmas and Easter), so I wasn't sure what to expect. When I talked about recommending a title for their public library, which most of them used regularly (some Hilliard, some Columbus, some Dublin), a few expressed surprise that they could recommend a book. Is that a well kept secret? Do library websites and staff not encourage this (mine doesn't, but I thought it was a local "we know best" attitude)?

Then one well-read mama asked me, "What is your favorite book--besides the Bible?" I could definitely feel a blush on that one. Not only am I reading through the One Year NIV for the first time, but I'm somewhat promiscuous when it comes to favorite books--fickle and flitting, rarely reading the entire book. Table of contents, index, bibliography and a few key chapters and I'm out of here. So I mumbled a title I enjoyed two years ago, Wide as the waters by Benson Bobrick (Simon & Schuster, 2001). The sub-title "The story of the English Bible and the revolution it inspired" pretty much describes the theme. The book didn't do that well in sales, because several others with the same thesis appeared at that time, but I definitely think this one does the best job of showing that once the Bible was available in English, reading books of all types increased dramatically. There was an increase in the circulation and production of books (printing by then had been invented). "At the same time, once the people were free to interpret the word of God according to the light of their own understanding, they began to question the authority of all their inherited institutions, which led to reform within the Church." In short, it changed the world politically and socially, as well as spiritually. See author interview here. Another favorite, which I didn't mention, and which I did read cover to cover is The Story of English, a beautifully written and illustrated book that resulted from a TV program by the BBC. I bought it for $1.00 at a book sale, and I'll never let it go.

So if you ever are called on or choose to talk about books, arrive prepared. You might be asked about your favorite book or author.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Less Federal money for housing assistance

That's the story today in the Columbus Dispatch. Licking, Fairfield, and Pickaway Counties are closing their Section 8 housing lists. The paper says the federal funding has dropped. I'm guessing there's more to this story than meets the eye. So I took a look at the law at the HUD site. The formula for FMR (Fair Market Rents) was changed during the Clinton administration--it was too complex for anyone but a government bureaucrat to understand, like what percentage of the people live in a census tract, but I was able to read the date. However, I'm just guessing it has more than a bit to do with what's happening to real estate in those counties. During the last real estate boom, they were hot, hot, hot. Unbelieveable housing development going on with easy access to Columbus via free-ways. I'm thinking some pretty cheap houses and acreage was bought up by developers, and now low income owner occupied housing has been replaced with middle income and upper middle income neighborhoods. Every exit of the free-way has many restaurants, Krogers, Target, Wal-Mart, auto parts, video stores, etc. Every community is trying to pass bond issues for new schools. All these areas need infrastructure--roads, police, fire, water systems, parks, etc. Are rents higher than before? You betcha! It's called progress.

The federal government got in the housing assistance business during the Depression. People were desperate. My parents took in borders to make ends meet and they had jobs. What was unemployment then? 20-30%? Do you think the Congress of the 1930s intended to make this assistance permanent? (Actually, since gov't programs don't ever go away or get smaller, they probably did.) Today, you feel you are borderline poor if you don't have cable, a cell phone, 2 TVs and 2 cars. Maybe sending tax money to Washington so they can send a smidgen back for housing vouchers to live in wealthy counties with an unemployment rate of about 4.5% isn't such a terrific idea.

Can I hear an Amen?

Monday Memories

This is the original high school in Mt. Morris built in 1918. Before that the high school students met in the building that I knew as the elementary school with all the younger students. I remember the layout and classrooms better in the old high school building than the new which we actually started using when I was a freshman. They were located across the street from each other, and we attended a few classes (band and labs I think) in the new building just walking across the street. I don't remember "Study Hall" in the new one, but certainly remember some funny events in the red brick building. And assemblies. We used to have some pretty good programs. And watching the teen lovers in the cars in front of the school as the boyfriends would drop off their girlfriends. It was an interesting, educational lunch time activity. I think that's why I can identify so many old cars. Some time after it was no longer used as a classroom building there was a fire and it burned. Sad ending. I always thought it was a nice looking building.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Visit to a stinking, smelly town

The rush to biofuels is quite foolish in my opnion because to use an even more precious commodity that none of us can live without--water--plus grain which will raise the price of food for everyone, seems like the epitome of foolishness when stored fuel from vegetation is in the ground in coal and oil. The Greenies aren't interested in saving the planet or even giving us cleaner air--unless they can kill the people in the process so it returns to . . ?

But here's an article by Linda Devore, a local reporter from Fayetteville, Arkansas, who traveled with a group to inspect the successful ethanol plant in Lexington, Nebraska. Her town wants to get on the new cash cow for rural areas. Upon arrival she's almost knocked down by the horrible odor, primarily from the Tyson plant. She writes about the four essential needs for ethanol to work: water, corn, rail and roads.

"The Lexington plant is able to buy all of its corn locally. It comes in by the truck load--about 100 a day--all day long.

Water. Lexington sits on the largest natural aquifer in the United States. They use about a million gallons of water per day and their used water is processed through the city's expanded waste water treatment plant across the road.

Rail. The plant sits within a few hundred yards of the main east-west rail line running through Nebraska, and has built its own rail yard where a couple of dozen tanker cars sit--that is also being expanded.

Roads. Lexington is on I-80 and the industrial park where the plant is located has wide highway roads connecting to I-80 about 2.5 miles away.

The Cornhusker Lexington people were shocked--and remain puzzled throughout the evening--by two things we told them about E85's plans to build a plant in Fayetteville. First of all, they couldn't believe that it would be built so far away from the corn supply used to keep it running continuously 24/7. It was clear that they take great pride in the scheduled arrival of trucks throughout the day--every day--from local corn growers. It is a major logistical concern and critical to the plant's efficient operation.

The other thing that caused them to nearly burst out laughing was E85's plans to build as many as ten ethanol plants at one time. Understanding that the Vogelbusch Technology people from Austria, who also supplied the distilling technology for Lexington, is only the beginning of the plant construction process and project engineering firms must be hired to oversee the process--they will be talking about that one in Lexington for months. They don't believe it can or should be done. They said it can't be done--the resources don't exist and even Frucon--the large project management group that E85 says they will use doesn't have the resources. They found their plant severely strained the resources of their project management people.

More on those conversations later--so much more. But just briefly, when we returned to our hotel that evening and stepped out of the car we had another big surprise. Apparently the meat processing plant was doing their nightly cleanup and had stopped producing awful smells. Instead, we smelled brewery--ethanol. Maybe mixed a little with the other industrial smells of the area--but clearly ethanol. 2.0 miles from the plant site. Air was still--very little wind. 37 degrees--COLD.

Next morning, breakfast at the local diner--spoke with more local residents. A theme developing. Everyone agrees the whole town smells, but as to the ethanol: woman say it STINKS like stale beer and men say it SMELLS like beer. The guys don't think it's so bad. Women like it less."

A million gallons of water a day; a hundred trucks a day--all for a small plant that employs 37 people. We've already got people trying to drain the Great Lakes to supply water for agriculture and drinking in the west. Do we really want biofuels?


Would you want this on your grave marker?

RIP (if you can)
Michael A. Dolen
Lawyer, Cleveland Council member
Chosen by the Governor of Ohio,
a Methodist minister,
to make gambling more attractive to
the middle class

Actually, almost no one, rich or poor, famous or humble, puts their profession and "accomplishments" on their tombstone. Pastor John writes in this week's Cornerstone newsletter, "When I listen to families talk about their loved one at the time of death, very rarely do I hear about their great wealth, power, or their achievements; I hear about their character."

Ohio started a state lottery in 1974. Many churches fought it--probably even the Methodists, among whom I think our Governor was a pastor at one time. It will help the children, we were told. (Loud guffaws in the wings). So what has happened? It used to be the only game in town for the poor. They made running numbers illegal, so they could only bet with the state. Then all the states around us said, "Hey, that looks like easy money." Kentucky's got its horse race betting, Michigan and Indiana have lotteries, Pennsylvania has racetrack betting and casinos now. Now the state has run out of poor people to fool, so they are going to try to make it more attractive to the middle-class. Yes, that's a quote from why Dohlen was appointed.

We take the poor's money with one hand, then tax the middle-class so we give back some of it, but not enough or as much as they lost. Makes us feel so self-righteous to be able to help not only the children, but the poor (and increasingly they are each other). State lottery--it's a two-fer. But now we'll have to hit up the middle-class double--first take it through gambling, then tax them through higher costs for just about everything. Plus, we get to raise property taxes and send more money to Washington so they can send part of it back, because we never did solve that silly old education problem. Columbus' graduation rate is about 45% and Cleveland's is worse. Imagine that. It's a home grown axis of evil.

Story from the Columbus Dispatch, March 25, 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2007


The eagle has landed

Last year a pair of eagles began nesting in an old hawks' nest in the trees along Alum Creek behind the building where our friend and artist Charlie Rowland works. This year, the hawks reclaimed the nest until the eagles returned and chased them off. The hawks don't give up easily and have been trying to dislodge the eagles for a couple of weeks, without success, according to Charlie. Here are some ODNR photos. In one, the hawk has swooped down on the eagle, and the eagle has turned on his back in mid air to flash his talons. The hawks will go up to about 200 ft and then dive on the eagle. Charlie says he's betting on the eagle.


How much did they spend on this study?

A survey of University of Iowa students has confirmed the suspicion that heavy drinking can hurt a college student's grades.

Amazing break through research here.

The unwanted horse

You probably saw the article in your paper, because it was AP (was in the Dispatch today.) Horsetalk says there were gross inaccuracies and that the reporter misquoted its editor (Surprise! The MSM misquotes). The pro-lifer (for horses) folks still don't explain how or who will take care of the 100,000 horses currently slaughtered each year in the United States. It's not exactly like cats and dogs where they wander the streets and are breeding--people buy them, maybe for pleasure or 4-H or show, and then move on to something else. What are they to do with an unwanted 1500 lb. pet that needs food, pasture, housing and veterinary care? I use to own a horse. They are not particularly expensive to buy, but aren't cheap to keep. And I was a typical kid. When I got to high school, I lost interest in my horse and I'm sure my parents were relieved, because they were the ones who had to drive me to the farm where he roamed. Once there I had to catch the bugger, who got wilder each time I rode him. One time I was attacked by his pasture mate, a former police horse who was twice his size. Maybe the AP reporter did misquote them, but I've also heard people from the USDA debating this on agricultural talk radio. And folks, they are worried.

Pet lovers/horse lovers need to be very cautious about joining forces on this issue with animal rightists who I suspect are funding it in part. Their goal is to have NO HUMAN owning an animal for any reason--not as a pet, not as a food source, not for pleasure, and not for labor. Not a bird, not a kitten, not a snake, not a fish. Why? Because we are all equal and they are sentient beings in the thinking of animal rightists (not the same as animal welfare advocates although they cooperate on many issues). They say the problem will work out eventually as the supply of horses drops off when the slaughter houses (all three of them for the entire United States) close down. In the meanwhile, would you shoot your sick horse (it's legal), or a healthy one if you couldn't find a home for it; if you did, how would you bury him, and is it even allowed in your township? If you paid the vet to do what you couldn't, what should she do with the carcass?

Talk the talk of the sub-cultures

Talk the talk by Luc Reid is published by Writer's Digest Books (2006) and is a slang dictionary. The "about the editor" paragraph says Reid is the founder of the neo-pro (?) writers' group Codex which promotes the exchange of information, ideas, and writing wisdom among pro-level writers and other good stuff, and has published in Galaxy Press anthologies. His web site is

The book is sort of fun to look through, and makes you realize that no matter how careful you are in using English, you could be offending anyone at any time just because of the huge variety of subcultured words. I think there was a time when a lot of our slang came from the prison population then moved into the main stream via the entertainment world, but obviously there are many sources.

Some of the cultures represented (neither librarians or Christians made the cut because he doesn't cover professions or religions) are:

  • Americans in Antarctica
    bag drag - weighing luggage in preparation for flying out
    house mouse - temporary janitorial duty at the station

  • Bicyclist and mountain bikers
    Betty - generic name for a female rider
    BSG - bike store guy

  • gardeners
    harden off - accustom an indoor plant to the outdoors
    lasagna bed - soil has been piled up on top of the existing ground in layers

  • politicians
    big foot - well-known media figure
    bafflegab - speech or statements without clear meaning
    lunch bucket - having to do with working class

  • skateboarders
    snake - jump ahead in a queue
    wood-pusher - derogatory name for skateboarders, used most often by rollerbladers
A fun book to browse, and useful for writers of all types especially if they need to sprinkle authentic slang into dialogue.

The new blogger wp template

Because I have 10 blogs, I was one of the last in cyberspace to migrate to the new blogger, but in general I've been pleased. This past week I've lost a few (fabulous, of course) posts even when saving in draft, but photos are way easier and smoother to load. One problem I noticed was that even on the blogs where I didn't have a photo, it turned up, so I had to go into the template and look for the code and delete it. But yesterday, much to my horror, I found out something I didn't know. I DO run the spell check--although it is fairly weak, and doesn't even recognize the word "blog." However, I learned that unlike the old format, it doesn't make the correction unless you go back to the top and click on "resume editing". Yesterday I tried 4 or 5 times to correct "metasticize" to "metastasize". The red changed to green (isn't that cute), but I didn't click on "resume editing," so when I hit "publish," nothing changed. Usually I don't go back and reread if it's already been up for awhile before I notice a misspelled word, so I wonder now how many misspellings I have in old blogs.

Yes, it matters! At least to me.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Global warming and the god complex

This article in Science Daily puzzles me. On the one hand, it says there have been far more drastic changes in temperature in the past in shorter periods of time, but that the current change is happening because of human activity creating greenhouse gases. Huh? Just who was responsible before? If the earth didn't burn to a crisp before, why will it this time?

"Several large international projects have succeeded in drilling ice-cores from the top of the Greenland inland ice through the more than 3 km thick ice sheet. The ice is a frozen archive of the climate of the past, which has been dated back all the way to the previous interglacial Eem-period more than 120.000 years ago.

The ice archive shows that the climate has experienced very severe changes during the glacial period. During the glacial period there were 26 abrupt temperature increases of about 7-10 degrees. These glacial warm periods are named Dansgaard-Oeschger events after the two scientists first observing them.

The global warming we experience presently will cause a temperature increase of perhaps 2-5 degrees in the next century if greenhouse gas emissions continue, researchers claim. This will lead to increased sea levels and more severe weather with terrible consequences. The temperature rise during the glacial period were much larger and happened much faster.

Temperature increased by 10 degrees in less than 50 years with changes to the ocean currents and the whole ecosystem. These changes have caused sea level rises up to perhaps as much as 8 meters and large changes to the vegetation."

The second anniversary: Am I the only one who notices that the same folks who think we pea-brains control the climate are the same ones who thought it was OK to remove food and water from a woman who wasn't sick or dying, just helpless and dependent, and let her starve and dehydrate? Or that it is OK to kill babies because they come at an inconvenient time or have defects and anomalies? Or that it is OK to use human embryos to get grant money for research as long as it is for a worthy cause? Or that it is OK to deprive 3rd world peoples of DDT so that millions of them die, but the bird eggs will be strong? There seems to be a god complex infecting the liberals. And the humility vaccine seems to be in short supply.

My take on the John Edwards' campaign

People who have criticized John and Elizabeth Edwards for their decision to continue in pursuit of the White House are being pilloried in the media. Even the WSJ had nothing but brave, kind thoughts for the family.

My take is this. Blunt and short. For God's sake, woman, you have stage IV cancer--spend the time left with your kids.

In 1963 our oldest son died when he was a year and a half. I knew then that I'd lost the rest of his life. Then a miscarriage; then another boy who died at birth. But it wasn't until we were blessed with a second family in the late 60s and I was a stay-at-home mom (I had worked part days before and he died while I was at work), that I realized I'd lost the few months we did have him by the decisions I'd made about working and going to grad school. Even when we were together as a family, my head was somewhere else frantically trying to juggle a schedule of graduate classes, translating Russian medical newspapers at home, working at the office, and child care. No, this isn't guilt speaking, just experience. I did what I thought was right at the time. I was 23 and just wrong. I've forgiven myself for my warped view of time, but it doesn't change history.

The Edwards have already experienced something that most parents never face. They have outlived one of their sons who died when a teen in an automobile accident. They will never face down that fear--at least I haven't--it colors every thing they do today and seems to have made them a stronger family unit. But their other children lost a brother (2 born after his death), and for the last 2.5 years have probably heard a lot of happy talk from their parents about mommy's illness and how they are winning the fight. Now it has metastasized to her bones. It's treatable, but not curable. Maybe she'll live five years; maybe five months.

(See medical opinion here.)


Stretching the Constitution

Daniel Henninger had an op ed about the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case (Morse v. Frederick) coming before the Supreme Court in yesterday's WSJ. He traces the problem of the Supremes inappropriately moving the free speech border to a case in 1969 when during the Vietnam War it ruled that high schoolers could violate school policy and call it "protected speech."

Although the "Bootleggers and Baptists" theory applies primarily to regulation, the concept of two diametrically opposed value systems joining forces for unrelated goals is apparent in this case. Christian groups have filed friend of the court briefs for this pro-drug speech case. Why? So their kids can wear t-shirts proclaiming pro-life and other Christian slogans in school. I don't think the Bloods and the Crips have filed, but they probably could on colors being protected speech. What a can of worms!

What are the unintended consequences of the Supremes throwing local schools overboard, expecting principals to wade to shore in a sea of confusing cases? Rich liberals like Al Gore and Jesse Jackson just sent their kids to private schools (don't know about Jackson's love child), as do conservative Christians, and millions of parents have decided to homeschool their kids rather than have local standards set in Washington.

Story here

, ,

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Congress continues to try to cripple Bush

Don Surber writes:

"Rather than work on new legislation — fulfill those 100-hour promises of Grandma Pelosi (minimum wage is still $5.15 an hour) — congressional Democrats have decided to spend the next 2 years chasing rabbits down the holes in their quest for the liberal Secular Grail: Watergate.

Today’s scandal is that the Bush administration wants to replace 8 assistant attorney generals. Bush appointed them. He can fire them.

The media — which fails to keep track of that First 100 Hours promise by Pelosi — is (are) eating it up.

The fact is this administration went after Wall Street corruption that the incompetent Janet Reno sat on. The fact is this administration pursued congressional corruption regardless of party.

The fact is these deputies failed to pursue Harry Reid’s purchase and sale of federal lands, failed to track down Philadelphia election fraud and allowed this William Jefferson case to dangle in the wind."

Don Surber here.

This isn't about the firings or even Karl Rove, although the thought has them salivating. It's about getting us defeated and shamed in Iraq.

Poetry Thursday #12

Today's challenge is: "Write a poem motivated by an image — preferably one that is in the form of a photo you can post with your poem. If you don’t have a picture of it, that’s okay. Tell us about the image in the backstory, which you can post before your poem. Or, if you’re really daring, grab your camera and get out there and capture an image and use it as motivation for a poem."

This was written some time ago. I've enjoyed pulling it out and rereading it, and didn't change a word. It was inspired by a very real yellow rose in a real garden on a July day so hot it was breathless, but with a slight breeze. The rose's participation with the two not-meant-to-be lovers, including its dried and desicated end, is all imagination. Or maybe it's a memory--like the rose, I've forgotten. Lamentations might have been a better book in which to place such a flower, but it had too many syllables. It has fabulous phrases and images of bitter tears if you ever need that for a poem. However, isn't the book of Job closer to the symbol of all that can go wrong, will?

The last rose
by Norma Bruce
July 1997

Yellow rose in the garden
Blushed peach by her cheeks,
Splashed pale with his white passion.

Yellow rose in the sunlight
Fragrant in their hands,
Waving good-byes to July.

Yellow rose in the clippers
Snipped between kisses,
Pricking her finger crimson.

Yellow rose in the crystal
Filled with his hot tears,
Shedding thorns against the glass.

Yellow rose in the Bible
Faded summer joy,
Pressed between pages of Job.

I shouldn't be surprised, but I was

Medical staff need special training to learn to use alcohol hand disinfectants properly. Who knew?

There was an alarming story in the WSJ this morning about antibiotic resistant super bugs (Henry Masur, President of Infectious Diseases Society of America). He said that annually nearly 2 million U.S. patients acquire infections in the hospital and nearly 1 in 10 die, and more than 70% of those infections are resistant to at least one of the drugs used to treat them. We have so over regulated big pharm and the market is so limited, that research on new antibiotics is stalled. In the past 15 years FDA has approved approximately the same number of new antiviral medications that target HIV as it has antibiotics to treat all bacterial infections combined. Yet, thousands and thousands die of resistant strains of bacteria. It's market forces and length of time to get approved. Many, many people with HIV, but limited number in the groups affected by all the different bacteria. Also, there is no political lobby or Hollywood movie stars putting on benefits for the rest of us who develop a raging infection in the hospital.

We're losing more people to this than to HIV. What good will it do the gay guy if you save him from his past only to have him die of a bug that's resistant to antibiotics?

Anyway, back to the hand rubs. I searched Medline for "antibiotics AND resistance" and got something like 35,000 hits, so I reentered the search adding hospitals, and eventually I found this little gem: "Introducing alcohol-based hand rub for hand hygiene: the critical need for training." Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2007; 28(1):50-4.

RESULTS: At baseline, only 31% of Health Care Workers (HCW) used proper technique, yielding a low reducation factor (RF) of 1.4 log(10) colony-forming units (cfu) bacterial count. Training improved HCW compliance to 74% and increased the RF to 2.2 log(10) cfu bacterial count, an increase of almost 50% (P<.001). Several factors, such as applying the proper amount of hand rub, were significantly associated with the increased RF. CONCLUSION: These results demonstrate that education on the proper technique for using hand rub, as outlined in European Norm 1500 (EN 1500), can significantly increase the degree of bacterial killing.

Well, what do you know! Makes me think of kindergarten when we were taught how to wash our hands. Is that still taught in public schools?

Bad bugs need drugs campaign

The anti-Bush obsession at my library

Yesterday I picked up a book about President Bush from the sale truck at my public library branch for $2.00, The Right man; the surprise presidency of George W. Bush, by David Frum, Random House, 2003 (colophon says First Edition, but I know nothing about that sort of thing and don't care). Seems to be in perfect condition with just a tiny coffee stain on the cover. I flipped through it, didn't see anything just awful and ridiculous, so decided to buy it. Then I went to the computer terminal and looked up Bush, George W. (George Walker), 1946- , which had 81 matches. Now that's not all the titles, because catalogers like to add subdivisions and they get pretty silly about it. His ethics--17 titles; his friends and associates, 15 titles; his political and social views, 14 titles. A lot of these overlap, some books get two or three subject headings, especially GWB books, and I didn't want a research project. Besides, I already knew from glancing through the 973 Dewey classification number on the new book shelves, that someone at Upper Arlington Public Library hates and despises the Bush Administration. But 81 titles--I was curious! So I started plodding my way through the excrutiatingly awkward browse feature of this library's on-line catalog. Truly a challenge for this librarian who has been using on-line catalogs since their infancy in the 1970s.

I'm guessing about 10 of the 81 were balanced, fair or just PR titles, including The Right Man. A few were about him as Governor of Texas, some appeared to be more about his family or Karl Rove than him (I'm judging from the photographs on the covers which clutter up the screen--if Bush wasn't cross-eyed, or flap earred, or the word "scandal" or "outrage" wasn't in the title or subtitle, you could sort of figure it out). UAPL LOVES Bob Woodward and Michael Moore. Oh. my. gosh. They must own stock in those men. Woodward's latest book had 15 copies (I noticed the other day they are ALL on the shelf--nothing checked out--just taking up space collecting dust). I think Farenheit 911 had 17 copies (and it has been proven to have so many errors from a number of sources that I'm surprised they hang on to so many copies.)

Anyway, I jotted down the call numbers--and UAPL doesn't mind reusing a call number/author number combination, so don't worry if you see dups. I personally think that is outrageously sloppy, but I know a number of libraries do that now. I noted 51 that I guessed from the title and full record are anti-Bush--and the number of copies. Some I combined that had separate records, like large print, regular print, and audio. But still, even if you figure publishers will turn out more negative than positive titles about a President, does Director Anne Moore (yes, her name) have to buy them all and in so many copies? Whew! What a waste of taxpayer's money. Especially in a community where Republicans outnumber the Democrats. This woman really believes books change lives, and political beliefs.

My library prints full color posters of upcoming events on sheets of paper the size of wall board, but only gives us scrap paper at the terminals.

David Frum's column


Are you filthy rich?

Like the two bathroom house in the 50s and the three car garage in the 90s, the new status symbol is multiple laundry rooms. Today's WSJ shows a 12,000 sf house on 2 acres in Payson, AZ that has nine(!) combined washers and dryers, a main laundry room and a pet washing station. It's listed at $7.9 million (price includes $1 million of collectibles, 5 classic cars and a stocked wine cellar).

The amount of laundry we generate surprises me, but we have enough clothing and bedding that really, I do laundry only every 10 or 11 days. And the laundry room is in the basement. I incorporate the trips up and down the stairs into my exercise routine. I change the sheets weekly, pillow cases about every 2-3 day; towels get about 3 days use; dish towels about 2 days; bathroom hand towels maybe a week. But yesterday I gathered everything in the closets that was red, rust or fuchsia, and loaded them into cool water. I usually ignore the labels that say "dry clean only," especially if it was made in China and written in Spanish. I can't even remember the last time I had a 100% red load of laundry. I don't wear much clear, deep red--I'm terribly pale, and my husband even moreso, so we go for the warmer tones of rust, peach, coral, etc.

If you flip this, and put a space between the sink and units with counter space, my laundry room looks like this (photo from the internet), installed with the former kitchen cabinets, and it's all behind bi-fold doors, sharing space with the kitty litter unit.

Still, I wonder what rich people do to get their clothes so dirty that they (or their house staff) need so many laundry units, don't you?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


March 21 poetry selection

from my daily book of poems has one I could not resist, but I've changed "Father William" to "Lady Blogger," and made it a bit more edgy and updated.

The Lady Blogger's Comforts
being lifted from Robert Southey's "The Old Man's Comforts"

You are old, Lady Blogger, the young man cried,
The brown locks which are left should be grey;
You are hale, Lady Blogger, a hearty old gal,
Now tell me the reason, I pray.

In my twenties thirties, Lady Blogger replied,
I remember'd that youth would fly fast,
And abused not my health and my vigour at first,
That I never might need them at last.

You are old, Lady Blogger, the young twit cried,
And pleasures with youth pass away;
And yet you lament not the days that are gone,
Now tell me the reason, I pray.

In my forties fifties, Lady Blogger replied,
I remember'd those days could not last;
I thought of the future, whatever I did,
That I never might grieve for the past.

You are old, Lady Blogger, the rude kid cried,
And life must be hastening away;
You are cheerful, and love to write about it all,
Now tell me the reason, I pray.

I am cheerful, young man, Lady Blogger replied,
Let the cause your attention engage;
In the days of my youth I remember'd my God
And he has not forgotten my age.

The notes say that Southey wrote "Old Man's Comfort" in 1799 at the age of 24. He died when he was 70.

Pick up the phone!

if you are
  • a Republican anything or
  • a gay man or
  • trying to get your kid into an exclusive pre-school or
  • having an affair with a fellow astronaut or
  • with one of your students or
  • a Wal-Mart executive having an affair with a subordinate.
You can commit any sort of flagrant misconduct via e-mail or text messaging or even drive off a bridge with a staff assistant if you are a Democrat--it's expected of you, and you guys know how to stonewall it (no pun).

The latest story about the Wal-Mart VP, Julie Roehm, who was trying to portray herself as a victim of bad old Wal-Mart management problems in the aftermath of her firing, but in fact her trail of e-mail dropped little crumbs through the woods dark and dank to the bed of her subordinate Sean Womack. Now it's public; it's all documented. And his wife turned some of them over to the company. Roehm was using company money for lavish lovers' trysts. (story in today's WSJ)

When will executives and politicians learn to 1) be faithful to their marriage vows; 2) obey company policies about expense accounts; and 3) pick up the phone instead of e-mailing or texting their smarmy thoughts, longings and private yearnings?

You've come a long way baby, but Julie, you've proven women can be equal opportunity chumps and philanderers.

Read what Wal-Mart has done for the poor.

Bootleggers and Baptists

There's an economic theory called "Bootleggers and Baptists" that refers to social regulation: "durable social regulation evolves when it is demanded by both of two distinctly different groups. Baptists point to the moral high ground and give vital and vocal endorsement of laudable public benefits promised by a desired regulation (and they flourish). Bootleggers who expect to profit from the very regulatory restrictions desired by Baptists, grease the political machinery (they are in it for the money, so they too flourish)." [Bootleggers and Baptists in Retrospect" by Bruce Yandle, Regulation Magazine Vol. 22. No. 3] Like Sunday sales. Baptists wanted alcohol banned on Sunday; bootleggers get that much more business. It's sales, not consumption. Like stricter FDA approval. The longer it takes, the more the holders of the current permits and patents benefit. Stricter emissions standards. These benefit established businesses while stifling new competition. Saving the owl (Baptist/environmentalists) put thousands of acres in storage and drove up lumber prices (the bootleggers/logging companies). So environmentalists (Baptists) may be touting the moral high road, and industry (bootleggers) goes along because they benefit, but someone else (you and me) always pays, either in higher prices, higher taxes, or loss of jobs.

I think Al Gore's new religion is going to bring about many more federal government regulations that benefit business and agriculture with the backing of the global warming cartel. Like ethanol. Like the phony carbon exchanges. I'm sure that rich capitalists and energy barons are eager to run up the sawdust trail waving their hankies and shouting "Alleluia, I believe" testimonies. Al, tears running down his cheeks, will be there to bless them.

The contaminated pet food

There will probably be law suits over this, even though last I heard they had still not determined the source. Just a quick reminder for those of you who think "natural" is the way to go for food--it isn't. Perfectly natural aflatoxins kill people and animals.

But, that's not my topic. In Columbus, a woman has been charged with killing over 650 animals "to save them." Problem is, she encouraged people to bring the animals to her, telling them she'd find a good home for them. Story here.

"I just want people to know that I was trying to prevent a long, protracted, horrible life on the streets with a 90-second death," [Maureen] McLaughlin stated. "It was only 90 seconds. I know it was awful, but it was only 90 seconds."

Prosecutors described those 90 seconds as "pure hell" for the animals.

"She put the crates in the water, put cement blocks in the crates and she would stand back while it was going on and she would pray for the animal in question," said assistant city prosecutor Bill Hedrick. "I mean, it's just sick."
McLaughlin will now undergo a psychiatric evaluation before standing trial.

"I think she's competent, that she's aware of what she did was wrong," Hedrick said. "At no point was she deluded in what she was doing."

I think I heard on the radio that even if she is found guilty on every charge, it is not a felony and it won't keep her from owning animals in the future, unless someone changes the law.

So here we have the terrible tragedy of a few pets dying or being made ill through no one's fault, and then a person who deliberately kills animals "to save them" (reminds me of the pro-choice argument) will go free. I'm guessing that because the pet food company has deep pockets, they'll be punished much more severely than Columbus' own Ms. Jo Black who helped hundreds to the Rainbow Bridge prematurely.

Denial isn't the name of a river

Two weeks ago I blogged about my daughter's DVT--she put up with the pain in her leg making excuses, first that it was the antibiotic for her sinus infection, second that she'd forgotten to take her calcium (lack of a thyroid causes leg cramps). The blood clot meanwhile was moving up her leg toward her heart or lungs. Tomorrow a friend of ours goes in for a quadruple by-pass--one 100% blocked, and three 95% blocked. He was having chest pain and sweating profusely, so he drove himself about 30 miles to the hospital. Our friend was busy doing the Lord's work, and almost ended up in the heavenly choir. My father lived into his 90th year instead of dying at fifty, because when he started coughing up blood at 39, he quit smoking, cold turkey.

Folks. Listen up. Pain is a gift. Pay attention to it!

If you were a kid

which father would you prefer? There are many styles of parenting. . .

How to deal with college debt

At a time when fewer, not more, young adults should be considering college, law makers are scrambling to find more ways to loan more money--long proven to be the road to more debt. How will the student loan industry be fixed? By you and me picking up the debt, betcha?

What do students with $20-60,000 debt do when they graduate with an almost worthless B.A. that will get them a $30,000 a year job? They go to graduate school and take on more debt, of course. And why shouldn't they when the federal government subsidizes the poor decisions they made when they started college?

The federal government gave out $12.7 billion in Pell grants, and Bush, the education president, is promising $15 billion. Students take on almost $70 billion a year in debt. Education, even learning to read, can dramatically improve living standards in 2nd and 3rd world countries. In the U.S. it has become a status thing, especially which college or university. The actual monetary return for a Harvard or Yale education is less, if compared with other investments--stock or real estate or just going to work after high school--over forty years. The push to get into college, particularly high profile, prestige schools, does little except keep faculty, staff, and administrators employed. The return on a public school education is 4.2%, and on a private school 1.9% (statistics here).

Senator Kennedy and President Bush both have grandiose ideas on how to increase debt for students by making it less painful to repay (it's called making it more affordable, but the real word is debt). If this were one of these payday loan companies in the inner city, we'd call it a scam and there would be congressional hearings. Both men inherited wealth. Bush actually was a business man, so I give him a bit of credit for economics 101 (and his wife was a librarian), but Kennedy has never held a "real" job in his life. He's gotten fat, literally and figuratively, at the public trough. They both need to take a second look at why and how people sign on for debt. The ordinary American, even one with an income of $100,000, is not just drawing on a trust fund set up on grandpa's wealth.

I graduated from college in the 1960s with no debt. I paid for two years, and my parents paid for two years. There were government programs then for indigent and special cases. But most of the people I knew--didn't spend years paying off debt. In the 1930s, my father received a small scholarship from the Polo, IL women's club, for "the worthy poor" (his words, not theirs), and he spent a number of years paying it back in full, and the college gave him a scholarship to play football. Repaying debt is always difficult. Rather than just prolonging the pain, shifting the blame, and doing the same, let's do some review and see why during an era when everyone had less, we had more for our future.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Only 7,000 dead and wounded

Today I was reading about the Battle of St. Mihiel in northeastern France in September 1918 during WWI. The chart says there were low losses--only 7,000 between the Americans and the Germans in the one week campaign. Usually I don't use Wikipedia as a source, but WWI battles are pretty well researched.

"For all historians, the battle of Saint-Mihiel is an example of advancing an army against one that preferred to leave a difficult to supply bulge. Overall casualties were low as defense was mainly rear-guard oriented. Strategically it was good news for the Allies. Compared to huge battles such as Verdun or the Somme, this was merely a skirmish. Its real importance is in the huge boost that this advance had on the US and Allied morale."

I had looked up this battle because in reading War Record of Mount Morris I noticed a WWII veteran from our town, Eli Raney, I considered "old" when I was young (although truthfully, I thought anyone over 25 was old). Born in 1892, he was 50 when he reenlisted during WWII and he served 14 months in frontline construction in New Guinea and the Philippines. So I flipped to the back of the book for his WWI service and see that he was a member of Company D, of the 104th infantry, and arrived in France in August 1918, just in time to be in this battle in September. He was not among the wounded, but was wounded in the Argonne campaign.

This is a public service announcement for the war protestors and peaceknickers who forget that most people don't want sons and brothers lost in battle, certainly not one that historians see as a "morale boost." Our recent marchers in Washington want the US to shame the memories of those who've died and to run out on the people it has liberated.



some horse sense.

Photo by my niece Amy who says it's time for the new foals.

Happy Spring

It doesn't feel like it and I have on wool slacks today, but it is Spring. I've been using A Poem a Day edited by Karen McCosker and Nicholas Albery (Steerforth Press, 1999) and today's selection "Spring" is by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) and was written in 1877. Many poems of the 19th c. are quite predictable, but this one has some irregularities that I found quite charming, as the poet juxtaposes the freshness of spring with Eden before the fall. And don't we often have that same sense when walking out doors on a glorious day. In the notes it says that when Hopkins showed it to another, known poet he got a discouraging analysis because he used "several entirely novel and simultaneous experiments in versification and construction. . . and unprecedented system of aliteration and compound words. . ." I can't make my lowly blogger word processing component space appropriately, but I think I have the puncuation and lines recorded correctly.

Nothing is so beautiful as spring -
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. - Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worth the winning.

Monday, March 19, 2007


From the front lines

This has been posted on many blogs, but I just saw it today when a high school friend forwarded it to me via e-mail. Sgt. Eddie Jeffers in Iraq writes: "Democrats and peace activists like to toss the word "quagmire" around and compare this war to Vietnam. In a way they are right, this war is becoming like Vietnam. Not the actual war, but in the isolation of country and military. America is not a nation at war; they are a nation with its military at war. Like it or not, we are here, some of us for our second, or third times; some even for their fourth and so on. Americans are so concerned now with politics, that it is interfering with our war.

Terrorists cut the heads off of American citizens on the internet...and there is no outrage, but an American soldier kills an Iraqi in the midst of battle, and there are investigations, and sometimes soldiers are even jailed...for doing their job.

It is absolutely sickening to me to think our country has come to this. Why are we so obsessed with the bad news? Why will people stop at nothing to be against this war, no matter how much evidence of the good we've done is thrown in their face? When is the last time CNN or MSNBC or CBS reported the opening of schools and hospitals in Iraq? Or the leaders of terror cells being detained or killed? It's all happening, but people will not let up their hatred of President Bush. They will ignore the good news, because it just might show people that Bush was right."

Full letter here.


The fallout of Vietnam--dragons and tigers

As misguided but sincere Christians return home from the pitiful march on Washington on the 4th anniversary of the war, some trying to recapture their youth and energy of the 60s and 70s, it's instructive to note this article in the Jan-Feb 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs. I am not familiar with the author, Lee Kuan Yew who was Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959-1990, and I would have preferred some attention to the 3 million people we abandoned to be slaughtered by the Communists, but he does have a less parochial view than American peaceknickers who think everything is about us. He presents an Asian viewpoint as to what the benefits of that war were.

"I am not among those who say that it was wrong to have gone into Iraq to remove Saddam and who now advocate that the United States cut its losses and pull out. This will not solve the problem. If the United States leaves Iraq prematurely, jihadists everywhere will be emboldened to take the battle to Washington and its friends and allies. Having defeated the Russians in Afghanistan and the United States in Iraq, they will believe that they can change the world. Even worse, if civil war breaks out in Iraq, the conflict will destablilize the whole Middle East, as it will draw in Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey." p. 3

"Conventional wisdom in the 1970s saw the war in Vietnam as an unmitigated disaster. But that has been proved wrong. The war had collateral benefits, buying the time and creating the conditions that enabled noncommunist East Asia to follow Japan's path and develop into the four dragons (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan) and, later, the four tigers (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Phillippines, and Thailand). Time brought about the split between Moscow and Beijing and then a split between Beijing and Hanoi. The influence of the four dragons and the four tigers, in turn, changed both communist China and communist Vietnam into open, free-market economies and made their societies freer." p. 7

He also predicts the next president (I'm assuming a Democrat) will be facing a long-term fight against Islamist militants, a battle which is only in its early rounds. And I predict lots of career building activity for our leftist protestors as the older ones go into nursing homes and make way for the younger.


Homosexual adoption

Honest, I was looking for the amount of CO2 termites contribute to global warming, and somehow wandered into this strange story of the granddaughter of IBM founder, Thomas Watson, who adopted her adult lesbian partner, then they split, and now about 15 years later, the ex-partner is trying to get herself listed as the 19th grandchild of her ex-lover's biological mother so she can help support her own biological mother, who apparently had no objections to giving her up for adoption. Serves the greedy little twit right if she loses her suit. Serves the flaky IBM granddaughter right if she loses in court to her ex-lover. Story here. Some people give adoption a bad name. Some people give women a bad name. Some people give money lust a bad name. Some do all three.

Monday Memory

Aunt Betty

My Aunt Betty is in poor health and has entered a nursing home; we are all very sad for her and her husband, one of my dad's younger brothers. Betty is 8 years older than me, and I remember when I was about 14 or 15, we went to a Mother-Daughter Banquet at church together, she as a stand-in for my mom who was busy doing something else. In small town churches, these were big events with a dinner and program and music. I think we dressed in our best and even wore hats! We giggled and laughed like kids--which looking back, I suppose we were. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt, loyal friend, and former avid golfer and bridge player. She was Mrs. Clean, a perpetual cleaning machine, and had an energy level that just wore me out. She lived a few doors from my grandparents and was a big help and comfort to them as were her children. This photo was taken at her job, and I don't know the year, but I'm guessing maybe 25 years ago. The flowers indicate it may have been a special day.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Check your pet food!

The list of contaminated pet food is growing. We use 9-Lives and Purina One Hairball, and so far, they aren't on the list. In fact, I can't even get the list to connect, but here it is.

Matthew, a nurse/librarian who occasionally leaves comments here, writes: "I have one can of Iams sliced chicken in gravy cat food that has been recalled. I should say that I have one can left, Baxter ate the other several dozen I bought on my last trip to the grocery store. I had to have my cat euthenized last Sunday due to acute renal failure.

Unfortunately I had Baxter cremated so any lab work is now out of the question. However they did do labs last week so perhaps they saved the sample, I know we do for people." from his journal at

Dinner Party Plans

Today we're having two couples over for dinner and photos of my husband's trip to Haiti, Sharon and Eric and Joan and Jerry. Joan has also participated in medical mission trips to Honduras, so she's bringing her photos too. If they are on a disc, we've got a wee problem (my F drive is being fussy and our VCR isn't sophisticated enough or have the right gee-gaws to give us a slide show), but we'll find something. Either my laptop or theirs.

I'm of the "clean once, party twice" school of hostessing. Next Sunday we're having friends who know Martti and Riita (Finland) for dinner and photos of our trip to Finland last summer--Nancy and Bob, and Pam and Dave. Now, because of cat hair, I will have to push the vacuum around again before next Sunday, but I'm hoping I can keep the clutter under control, and not put away the good china.

Today's menu: Sweet sour meatballs, potato salad, fresh asparagus, tender crisp carrots with honey glaze, hot rolls, relish dish, sugar-free, fat-free lemon fluff pudding with fully-leaded St. Pat's shamrock iced cookies from Cheryl's Cookies. I'm thinking of adding a small dish of black beans and rice, just for the theme.

Next week's tentative menu: Boneless pork roast with orange-cranberry glaze, cole slaw, chunky applesauce (home made), probably carrots again, rolls, and maybe chocolate peanut butter pie (sugar free).

Saturday, March 17, 2007


We're not losing

"In terms of fundamental historical changes favoring 21st century freedom and peace, what Free Iraq and its Coalition allies have accomplished in four short years is nothing short of astonishing." The story of how a fossilized society is coming to life ready to meet the 21st century is here.


Can 83% of Americans be wrong?

Yes. Someone surveyed Americans (don't know the source--I got it second hand from WSJ) and 83% said they wished they had more time with the family.

This is so easy! Confiscate all the i-pods and cell phones, take down/turn off the cable/internet connection. Put the whole family in the car, but don't go anywhere, not even to a movie or fast food restaurant. Find something to talk about.

It may not be quality time, but you'll change your answer on that next survey.

Food Porn

You do not want to go here. It's titillating, tempting, toothsome, tantalizing, teasing, tormenting, and you'll put on weight just looking at Columbus Foodie's photo.

America 100 years ago

Although I’ve browsed some of the pricey, recent, multi-volume histories of the United States and the World at the public library, I’ve been disappointed by the revisionism* of current authors and publishers, so I was pleased to pick up this title at the library book sale, and wish I had the other volumes. Our Times, The United States, 1900-1925, vol. 3, Pre-War America by Mark Sullivan, The Chautauqua Press, Chautauqua, NY, 1931. I may try to track the other 5 volumes down, but probably won’t get them for $3.00. Chautauqua Press was "liberal" in its day, but liberal in the classic meaning of the word, not socialist as it has come to mean today, but open to new ideas. Chautauqua had a broad Christian base, but wasn't fundamentalist in outreach. Liberals of today are afraid of a little "sonshine" and have minds so open, their brains are in danger of falling out because nothing can be right or wrong (except GWB). Their publications reflect that, so it is difficult to get an intelligent synthesis of history because every culture and religion is presented as being of equal value.

Vol. 3 begins in 1890 with the developing friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft when they were both subordinates of Benjamin Harrison, Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner, and Taft as Solicitor-General; and moving calendar style, it ends with 1908 as alcohol prohibition is getting established (reminds me a lot of the smoking bans we see today, state by state), unemployment and breadlines caused by the panic of 1907, and women's outrageous fashion (sheath skirts considered a step toward the fig leaf, huge hats, fishnet stockings) and behavior (smoking and attendance at cheap moving picture theatres). There will be many stories in this volume I’ll enjoy researching further, such as spelling reform, hookworm humor (laziness was declared a disease), and Roosevelt's relationship with African Americans.

This volume was published in the early years of the Great Depression, yet the paper is good quality, there are excellent photographs and plates, better footnotes and indexing than I see in some modern histories, and the author is careful to note where he has copyright permission and carefully cites the sources. For some sections the author allows the events to speak for themselves, others are heavily laced with opinions. Because Chautauqua had such a strong cultural bent (still does), and Sullivan was a popular culture buff there are interesting photos contrasting the early 20th century with the late 1920s, for instance, a photo of two working women, one in 1907 and one in 1928 showing the differences in clothing and office technology on p. 479, and comparing shoe advertisements from a 1927 Scribner's Magazine with one from Theatre Magazine of 1906 on p. 434. Apparently the hunger for "big hair" in 1910 was filled by the locks European women, Chinese women and the goats of Turkestan. There's a delightful section on the historical significance of the popular songs of the pre-war era.

The dramatic change in fashion for women and the amount of flesh exposed after WWI is very apparent in this plate. As more leg is exposed, the less the waist and bust are emphasized. Skirt length dropped again almost to the ankle in 1930.

*With contemporary 21st century authors, it is difficult to determine if the Soviet Union was ever a big threat to us in any meaningful way, and hard to tell if the Christian church had any impact on American society except for amusement to be pilloried in cartoons and obscure court cases.

Dan Rather on Mark Sullivan:
"Mark Sullivan was one of the most widely respected journalists of his day. One of the original muckrakers, he became America’s leading political reporter and columnist in newspapers and magazines for nearly half a century. A committed Republican, he had unrivaled access to the leaders of his party, including Presidents Roosevelt, Taft, and Harding, and contacts like these made him the ideal chronicler of his age."