Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My DS9...

was looking at an "Events of 2008" pictorial review (which is available here, click on "year in news").  He saw a picture of our favorite Russian leader, and read the caption out loud, until...

"...Vla-duh-meer....POOTIN!  Ha!  Hey, Mom, he's POOTIN'!  POOTIN' POOTIN'!  What kind of stupid name is that?!  POOTIN' POOTIN' POOTIN'!"

Sometimes it takes a nine-year-old to put scary world leaders in perspective.

(Updated:  I changed DD to DS.  Sorry, buddy.)

I got one!

Do you remember this ad:

I got one!!  Yes, I'm now the proud owner of a part of history, "commemorating the day the world changed forever."  (I'm not sure if that is threatening or merely creepy.)  Thanks, Steve!  I'm displaying it in a prominent place for as long as I can stomach it.  And when I find my **)#$% camera, then I'll share with the rest of the world.

I'm a College Drop-out

It's official...I withdrew from school today.  Technically that means that I'm just not taking classes next semester, but I doubt I go back.  Wow--I just realized that what it really means is that I may have taken my Last. Final. Ever.  Awesome.

I have mixed feelings, really.  I believed when I started the application process that I was being called to the "next thing" in my life, and now I wonder...did I hear wrong?  Or maybe this is just leading me somewhere else?  Because the further I get from school the more relieved I feel! 

The classes I took this fall were great, some of the most useful classes I've ever been a part of. But the more I learned about the counseling profession, the less it felt right or natural for me.  So many things that I love and that are important to me can't enter into a counselor-client relationship, and I don't think I can check that much of myself at the door.  God gave me this weird combination of gifts for a purpose, I suppose, and so I can only have faith that He knows what He's doing.  And I have to keep asking, "Is this right?  Or this?"  I like to think that one of the challenges that I took on in the last year was just to step out in faith and try something completely different, and to do it without a grim focus on the outcome.  I feel really good about that.

So, for now, my winter and spring are wide open, ready to fill with field-trip-chaperoning, after-school activities, reading for fun, and maybe a little sewing or gardening.  And blogging. Lots of blogging.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday Round-Up

Isn't that a lovely picture?  It's the sixth day of Christmas, after all, and so instead of geese a-laying I'm giving you Mary and Eve.  It's from the Anchoress, and drawn by Sister Grace Remington.

On to progressively more worldly matters...

Apparently, religious people have more self-discipline than those who are spiritual but don't subscribe to one particular set of beliefs.  I think the researcher who did this work is right in his conclusion that religion can imbue our daily lives with a sense of the sacred, but his solution is way off the mark:
“People can have sacred values that aren’t religious values,” he said. “Self-reliance might be a sacred value to you that’s relevant to saving money. Concern for others might be a sacred value that’s relevant to taking time to do volunteer work. You can spend time thinking about what values are sacred to you and making New Year’s resolutions that are consistent with them.”
So if I decide a value is sacred to me then it makes it easier to act in a way consistent with that value.  Which is a great idea except that the sacred doesn't emerge from within me, or from within you.  (I hope I'm not the first to tell you that.) God alone is holy, as the Psalms tell us repeatedly, and our religious practices are just an imperfect but worthy way to share in that holiness.

Hey!  Look at this!  Chrysler just wanted to say thanks...I think we know a little of why they're in financial difficulty.  Our tax dollars at work, ugh.  Apparently these add purchases cost in excess of a million dollars.  I know, compared with the $4 billion they'll soon receive it doesn't seem like much, but it seems to reflect the same attitude that led the CEOs to take their private jets to beg for bail-out money.

Congressional watch:  Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee is coming under increasing fire for being a Friend of Angelo.  Good.  He looks dirty and this matter needs to be made clear.  Charlie Rangel, of New York, is already in hot water (we hope) over his tax evasion problems; now it's come out that he even is using campaign funds to pay parking tickets.  (via Instapundit, Rangel's fate apparently hangs in the balance right now...good)  And Franken, who's not in the Senate yet, looks poised to take the seat in Minnesota.  I was born in Minnesota, but thankfully left before the lake-water craziness could overtake me. What are they thinking up there??!!

Let's see, what else?  Oh, the Flight 93 families are encouraging the federal government to just confiscate the land where their loved ones' remains lay.  I understand their wanting the memorial, and I think it should be treated as the cemetery that it is.  But the land is owned by a quarry and the owners should be compensated.  If they don't want to deal with the Feds, then pressure them buy publicizing the process, or by trying to buy the land yourself and then donating it to the government.  I'm reading Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism right now; what these families are proposing is using the muscle (and guns) of the government to further their goals.  I don't want to throw the term around the term, but this looks like fascism to me.

This was a long post!  Lots to look at.  Don't forget to post what you got for Christmas...see below!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Belated Christmas!

Well, I took an unintentionally long break!  We headed down to the lake right after Christmas, for a long weekend.  Part of the appeal of our lake house is the peace, and maintaining the peace means NO INTERNET.  So, no blogging.

Our Christmas was wonderful...DH and I had agreed to cut back (hot tubs not selling like they have in the past, you know, and stupid government officials not helping matters), but I really don't think the kids noticed one bit.  That's a lesson we are going to hold on to, I think. We decorated a lot less, too, which I kind of missed during the month but now that I'm thinking of the clean-up seems pretty awesome.

Ann over at Gorgeous Things' blog asked the question, "What'd you get?" So here are my answers: A Wii Fit Board!!  It is so much fun, and we have all had a good time playing with that.  I also got Aquaglobes (DD5 can recite the commercial by heart), some Georgia Tech paraphenalia, this cute dress from my mom (Thanks!), and a couple of cool books.  Wow, listing it makes it look like a lot!

So what did you get?  Did you do anything different to celebrate?  Post your link in the comments, or just list it there!  Lots to blog about, as usual.  Sometimes the hardest part is choosing good topics.  More later, I hope.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's not one individual post, so much...

more like the accumulated hilarity of all of them.

By the time I got to Ritalin kitty I couldn't breathe.  Better now, thanks.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Music, seasonal and not so much

I just discovered the Smoking Popes from a video over at Chicago Boyz...check it out:

I was thinking how cool it was to find a young group but then according to Wiki these guys are about my age!  I must not be that old.

On a more seasonal note, here is DS10's favorite song of the season:


Smelly things

I just ran across this article in the Economist about why we pick the scents or perfumes that we do.  Three basic messages there:  first, scent makes a guy ACT differently, in a way that is apparently more attractive to women--so it's the way he acts, not really the scent, that gets the girl.  Second, we pick each other based on scent, and we look for people whose scents are different than our own.  Third, DO NOT BUY your significant other a new scent unless you aren't getting along.

This makes me remember this research, though:  birth control pills alter women's sense of smell.  So if your best girl is on the Pill, go ahead and buy her the perfume.  But if she quits taking them, she'll quit liking it and you!

And this seems like a questionable idea.  Really, I can't think of too many women, Pill or no, who would go for this.  

Friday, December 19, 2008

Government Intervention

The story I'm going to tell you is a little "inside baseball," but it's important for a couple of reasons:  its a small but powerful example of the power of unaccountable government; it illustrates the havoc an arrogant organization can wreak; its another instance of government telling private business what to do.  On with my tale...

DH makes parts that move water, specifically all kinds of plastic jets, filters, drains, for pools, spas, tubs and, significantly, the portable spa industry.  (That's what you probably think of as a "hot tub."  Cue wonky 70s music.)  Their parts are subject to regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and to standards promulgated by industry.  (Loads of money gets spent at various testing labs proving the parts' safety.)  

A couple of years ago, James Baker's granddaughter Virginia was tragically killed in a spa accident.  Her hair became entangled in the drain of the outdoor spa that was attached to the swimming pool, and she drowned despite several men trying to pull her out.  This led to the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, which strengthened requirements for drains in all of these types of pools and spas.  The CPSC mandated this without an understanding of the different flow rates and designs of pools vs. hot tubs vs. in-ground spas.  (Incidentally, the drain of the pool where little Virginia drowned was incorrectly installed in the first place.)

The industry association APSA immediately saw the problem...applying pool requirements to a portable spa would be impossible.  There is virtually no way to comply.  Additionally, compliance doesn't actually make the portable spas safer!  Every single spa, including those sitting on showroom floors, must comply with the new standard.  That's unheard of in product safety for something that big.  Hot tub manufacturers are looking at their warehouses and seeing a bunch of unsellable merchandise.  And it can't be made sellable because there are no parts available to retrofit the spas with.  No part manufacturer can pass the tests.

So, hot tub companies have hired lobbyists (natch) and everyone is holding their breath...the requirements go into effect today.  There are no parts that satisfy the requirement.  

The CPSC is well aware of this situation...they've been told since the law came out.  Why won't they change the regulation?  They don't want to admit they've made a mistake.  The CPSC doesn't want to even give the impression of making things less safe.  Instead, they prefer to put an entire industry out of business.  The problem is that this industry is small, too small for a bailout.  No one will notice if a bunch of $50 million or $100 million companies go out of business.  As I write this I am so angry--powerful bureaucrats who have no sense of scale, fearful only of looking bad while an entire industry looks on and holds its breath.

How can we possibly believe that turning anything over to this entity is a good thing?  We want them to run mortgage houses, car companies, health insurance?  Really?  For that matter, why would we even want this mindset involved in our children's education?  

If the story changes, and it probably will quickly, I'll keep you posted.  Meanwhile, I hold my breath, too.

If at first you don't succeed...

go ask the President.

I'm disgusted.  And disenfranchised.  


There has been so much in the news lately, and it's so overwhelming that I'm not sure where to I'll just jump in.

The Blago thing just looks dirtier and dirtier.  But do you remember the sit-in staged by workers at Republic Windows in Illinois?  They did it earlier this year; the company had closed when BoA said "no more money." Blagojevich strong-armed BoA, saying he'd take away state business if BoA didn't loan Republic more money.  At the time I thought it was an astonishing threat--how dare he interfere in the private sector like that?  Apparently, though, interfering is the name of the game for this governor.

It also continues a disturbing trend of government officials telling private companies what to do.  Think about what we are seeing at all levels:  Fannie and Freddie collapsed under the weight of subprime loans they were ordered to make by Congress; an auto bailout will subject those companies to the oversight of a "car czar;" incentives and threats to locate new plants in locations (less egregious but still). I have another story that I'll tell in a second post about something going on in DH's industry, threatening to put the entire industry out of business.  (Where's their bailout?) 

But I want to stay on this for a moment...I didn't realize until yesterday that Rahm Emanuel worked at Freddie Mac for a while, riding the gravy train.  Who else?  Gov. Tom Vilsak has just been named Ag Secretary.  He was responsible for taking away local control of hog farms in Iowa, among other things.  That has been terrible for the water quality in several communities.  He's also tied in tight to Monsanto and ADM...neither party will take on these guys, but it looks like were in for, at the best, more of the same.  Both of those companies are also big into food-based biofuels, which are responsible for driving up food prices with no comparable benefit in the fuel department.  

Arne Duncan will be Secretary of Education.  He's from Chicago, of course, and Bill Ayers has spoken highly of him (yes, I know they've gotten crossways with each other, too).  Mostly, that one is that he is from Chicago.  Really?  Another Chicago guy?  We are seeing the unwinding of a dirty, Byzantine political machine and I cannot believe that there are too many clean guys up there.  

It occurs to me that if someone from that pool really is clean, as it appears Obama is, then there were other people working very hard to make sure he stayed clean.  I wonder what the real story is there.  None of this feels very hopey or changey.

I'll try to check on some more cabinet members later.  I want to do that other post and also need to make some cookies.  Tis the season!

UPDATE:  Here is some information on Holdren, Obama's science advisor.  And here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A night out

I know, you can't see who that is beyond the sound board there.  It's Harry Connick, Jr., last night at the Cobb Energy Center.  Wow!  What a fabulous show...two solid hours of Christmas music and New Orleans jazz.  My sister and I took our mom for her birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!) and we were all just blown away.

Harry is a great showman...he started off and I thought, "oh, no, he seems tired, like he's been doing this too many nights." But after the first song he seemed to wake up and get a lot of energy from the crowd, joking about the usual (drunk) crowd at Chastain compared to this group, bantering with a couple of little girls in the front two rows, sharing stories about his chickens and the roosters Obama and McCain.  One got eaten.  Guess which?  And the music!  His whole band is really first rate.

If you get a chance to see him live, by all means go.  I'm looking forward to seeing him again.  Hopefully with less spray tan, but from a distance you can't really see that!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Well, that was 20 minutes I'll never get back.

But it was worth it.

Bush's Goodbyes

Say what you will, and I've said plenty, but George Bush is a good man.  He showed up in Iraq this weekend, and you can just see how much he loves the troops and how much they love him (via Instapundit):

And then there was the shoe-throwing know, calling Bush a dog isn't quite the insult the guy intended.  (See above.) Most Americans think more highly of their dogs than their next-door-neighbors.  

He also showed up in Afghanistan, which was a surprise on top of the Iraq surprise.  Again, he loves these troops, and it shows.  It's one of my favorite things about him.  

I think Bush's failing is that he didn't have a guiding philosophy beyond keeping us safe.  Admittedly, that was a tough job thrust upon him in the early days of his presidency.  But economically, WOW.  When he was elected I thought, "oh, good, he has an MBA and he gets finance, how to motivate people, how to run things."  I was wrong.  Our President needs to have a vision of liberty beyond not being attacked on our land, and I prefer a president who has a guiding vision of government (small) and the role of taxes and government spending in the country.  Reagan is a great example of that, someone who had developed an over-arching vision of smaller government, lower taxes, and staying out of people's lives.  Anyway.  Back to Bush...what a modest, humble man.  Hopefully you saw this interview, but he said this when asked about the Bible:  "I'm just a simple president."  That is humility.  Jay Nordlinger has a long interview with Bush over here. Here is a different view, from Bush himself:
Chew over this, too: “The real challenge will be for a president to never substitute pragmatism for an idealistic vision, because if you do, you have delayed the capacity to marginalize and ultimately defeat the ideology of the extremists.” You and I know that pragmatism is often necessary and called for, and the president knows it too. (That’s why so many “freedom agenda” people are disappointed in him, particularly given the policies, or non-policies, of the second term.) But I know what he means, and I suspect you do, too.
I think he was amazingly clear-headed on defending us.  Did anyone really think that we would go seven years without another attack after 9/11/2001?  I didn't.  But I wish he'd been so clear with economics.  

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Church Arson

I read about this on Team Sarah this morning...arson at Sarah Palin's home church.  Oh, how sad.  I love my church, and I can't imagine how it would feel to know that someone hated me SO MUCH that they would torch my place of worship.  Devastating, really.  Churches seem to be a target of arsonists, but this act has so much wrapped up in one member.

Of course, it's only a suspicious fire right now, since I want to be fair.  (Shocker!) But I think the whole congregation at Wasilla Bible Church and the Palin family would be glad to know they are in our prayers this weekend. 

Oh, and if you haven't yet, join Team Sarah!  Sixty-one thousand members and doesn't mean you have sold your vote out yet.  I look at it as a commitment to the up-and-coming conservatives who are spread across the nation learning the executive position by running their states and running them well:  Palin, Pawlenty, Jindal, Otter...plenty more to keep our eyes on!

School is finished

Yes, I turned in my last paper last week.  If you've never written a five-to-seven page self-exploration using racial identity models by Cross and Helms, well, you just haven't lived. Sarcasm?  Why, yes. Yes, it is.  

Now that I've gotten to the end of the semester I can take a longer view, step back and see if this counseling gig is what I want.  And I'm not so sure.  What I thought I wanted out of counseling was the opportunity to help people find their way.  I believe that God created us all for something uniquely special to each of us, and to be able to help another person find that something special--I look at this as such a privilege.  But it might not be one I'm cut out for.

The counseling relationship is inherently limiting--so private that a counselor can't ethically say "hi" when bumping into a client at the grocery store.  And it can also be kind of artificial in other invitations to dear clients' weddings, no shared cups of coffee and conversation, always a power differential, no matter how you try to overcome it.  I think I knew this going in but now I find myself chafing at the idea of inhabiting that world all the time.

And I do have another it a mid-life crisis or utter confusion, whatever.  I might open a store, the kind of place customers can come and hang out and learn things and form friendships.  A spot that would appeal to people of lots of different ages--I love the idea of inter-generational activities and friendships.  And the kind of place I can be creative with windows and displays and ordering...there is a certain appeal.  So I'm looking into that.  I might post some more about this later.  DH is on board, bless his heart.  So we'll see.  That's what I'm going to use this school break for.  Oh, and blogging.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shhh...don't tell Biscuit

I think I've figured out what my dog (Biscuit) is getting for Christmas...a new collar!  Check out these Survival collars.  (That picture looks just like my Biscuit.) Althouse had linked to the bracelets, which are also extremely cool, especially the ones with the stainless clasp.  And, hey, if you ever need to use it, they'll rewind it for free!  Great for the MacGyvers in your life:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Back with some links

I'm turning my last paper in this afternoon, which explains the dead air around here.  Meanwhile, can you guess who that cute guy is?  You'll have to go here to find out.  Yeah, I was really surprised, too!

And have you seen the coffee commercial with Ozzy?  Wait, it's not a coffee commercial, but it should be, because I can't remember what they are really advertising.  Anyway, DH remembered this little bit and it is worth resurrecting:

I think we needed some levity.  I've only been paying a little attention to the news lately. I'll catch up today, but I have to say it is scary.  Nationalization--that was the headline on Drudge.  What makes Nancy Pelosi think she can run a bank, a car company, or an insurer better than people who have spent their lives doing it?  (Although I have to say they haven't exactly been doing a stellar job, either.) I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty powerless right now.  And I'm wondering again, Where's MY Bailout?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sorry so quiet!

Christmas stuff and the conclusion of school have gotten in the way.  I haven't even been able to get to pay as much attention as I'd like to the bailout baloney, although my general impression is that the senators are unimpressed, just not to the same extent as the rest of us.

Financial news continues to worry...but there are a lot of good sources of basic information.  I've started getting John Mauldin's financial newsletter, available here.  You have to register for it, but there's no detectable spam associated with it.  

School stuff?  I'm not done yet?!  Nope, one more paper, due Tuesday.  I have to write about myself, my cultural background, and how I look at people of backgrounds different than mine.  I've learned some things this semester, definitely.  But I have to say that if you approach another person as Jesus instructed us to, it is a lot easier to get your head around.  Unconditional positive regard (a wonderful concept originated by Rogers) is at the heart of Christian love.  It doesn't mean condoning a person's actions; instead, it is having a positive attitude to the person you are with.  For me, it's the same as looking at every person as someone God loves.  If you really try to look at people that way it can change you.  I don't quite know how a person who doesn't believe this summons the fortitude to feel positive towards people without any help at all.  Just a thought.

DD5 and I are going to inventory the baking supplies, too, to get started on some cookies.  Tis the season.

Finally, out of the mouths of babes...DD7 is taking art lessons.  A professional artist friend of my dad's saw her paintings and was suitably impressed.  When I told DD7, she sighed and said, "Well, I guess I can be an artist.  But then I'll have to give up my dream."  "What's your dream, baby?" "To be an actress." *sigh* I hate that she'll have to give up her dream of being an actress to be an artist.  I want to live in her world.

And DD5 just started taking horseback riding lessons this week.  She's been obsessed with cowgirls and (inexplicably) Texas for a long time.  She just informed me, "I'm going to grow up and be a famous horseback rider in Texas.  And I'll throw everyone two-handed kisses." I'd live in her world, too.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hey, that's me!

Over here at the Corner.  Which is what I was doing instead of blogging.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Teenagers and Ethics

Here's the headline:  "American teens lie, steal, cheat at 'alarming' rates."  A study by Josephson Institute surveyed a bunch of kids from all kinds of backgrounds, and found that the already-high rates of unethical behavior are even higher today than two years ago.  *sigh*

If you read through the article, it talks about increasing numbers of kids lying to parents.  That number, well, kids have been lying to their parents for millenia.  But more alarming is the finding that 30% of kids reported stealing from a store within the past year.  Nearly one-in-three.  To me that speaks to a huge sense of entitlement.  Also, my parents would have KILLED me and then died of mortification themselves had I been caught doing something like this.  So there seems to be no fear, no respect for boundaries or rules, from a very large minority.

Finally, cheating in school.  I used to do my friends' French homework because I really enjoyed French.  But I only have one experience with test cheating (in college), and I was being cheated from...the girl next to me kept trying to look at my paper.  I got so mad that I went and told the professor.  Anyway.  There seems to be no fear, and a sense that as long as everything looks fine (like a good grade) it doesn't really matter if the look reflects reality.

The end of the article tells the rest of the story:
Some 93 percent of students indicated satisfaction with their own character and ethics, with 77 percent saying that "when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know."
All of the proponents of self-esteem education have gotten their wish:  an entire population who thinks very highly of themselves.  It also sounds like they have a low view of their peers--"I might be bad but most people I know are worse." 

I think we need to give our kids more opportunities to fail, to pick themselves up and become resilient.  Having some experience with low grades, getting caught, getting in trouble...these aren't the end of the world.  If a person can't deal with these things, how in the world will they deal with the life events that truly are bad?

Monday, December 1, 2008

And, quick!

Just saw this, it is for real, it is hilarious, but I have to run:

About Education...

Rarely do I read something in the Wall Street Journal that I disagree so much with, but today's the day.  So, while I should be doing some last minute studying, I feel compelled to make some comments about it.

This article is written by a former IBM CEO who is now very involved in School Reform (Alert! Danger Will Robinson!).  First, I'll say that he has a couple of points...first, that school class size isn't as much of an issue as you might think.  I like my kids' classes of 15, but research has shown that they aren't critical to excellent education.  However, he has some terrible ideas about improving things:
Abolish all local school districts, save 70 (50 states; 20 largest cities). Some states may choose to leave some of the rest as community service organizations, but they would have no direct involvement in the critical task of establishing standards, selecting teachers, and developing curricula.
What?  NO WAY.  Local control is very important, and I say that knowing what a bunch of igmos we have in our local school board.  Bigger bureaucracies just mean more layers for incompetence or fiefdoms to develop.  The best system we've ever been a part of is the smallest, consisting of exactly two elementary schools, one middle, and one high.  Yes, it's private, but it's lean and mean, educates kids for less than the local school board (NOT including special education services), and I believe in it.  Next idea...
Establish a National Skills Day on which every third, sixth, ninth and 12th-grader would be tested against the national standards. Results would be published nationwide for every school in America.
Um, no.  No, no, no.  What good does this do?  It attaches our leadership even more to high test scores (not to mention taking yet another instructional day away from the teachers).  In our area, of very high scores, the school board and principals have such a death grip on high scores (did you know high scoring schools--GASP!--affect property values?) that they are unwilling to try new approaches which might serve their students better.  In my opinion, if you are going to publish scores, it's either "Pass" or "Fail," no more.  That leaves passing systems free to try magnets, single-sex, other ideas which may suit their population better than the one-size-fits-all approach recommended by this guy.
Establish national standards for teacher certification and require regular re-evaluations of teacher skills. Increase teacher compensation to permit the best teachers (as measured by advances in student learning) to earn well in excess of $100,000 per year, and allow school leaders to remove underperforming teachers.
Pay teachers, fine.  But what kind of corporate job lets you have at least three weeks off in 10 months, plus another two month? I've worked in corporate America, and as far as I know the answer is "none." Teaching is a calling for the best teachers, but not every teacher can be a best teacher (by definition).  I can buy trying to improve the education departments in colleges--unfortunately they usually have the lowest standards for entry in the university.  But I have too many friends and family who work or have worked in public education to believe that these "best" teachers wouldn't really be the best at kowtowing to the leadership.  

The problem in both of these is that the emphasis is on the teachers looking UP, at their bosses, not DOWN, at the children they are supposed to be educating.  Even my language there is wrong--the process should be driven by the children and their best interests.

It's interesting to me that nowhere does Gerstner mention parents.  Does that tell you something?  Just turn your little darlings over to the state, they'll be WELL cared for.  Contrast that with this article, written by a college student.  I don't agree with everything there, either, but even without kids and reams of "educational leadership," he gets it.  Hope for the future, if it will wait for us!
I feel strongly that we have a lot wrong with our school organizations, in particular too much bureaucracy or administration and too much emphasis on the next new curriculum. 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I need to share...

Can I please tell you how much it STINKS to be studying today?  I want to decorate my house or make cookies or go shopping or just anything other than study.  Ugh.  DH just told me I was living his nightmare, having to take another exam.  Maybe I should get a clue.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Up with the White and Gold

I've got two finals early next week, so not much posting...and I've also got to carve time out for the BIG GAME.  Toe meets leather at noon, eastern, at a soggy Sanford Stadium, and my Yellow Jackets are trying to snap a seven-year losing streak.  Please, Paul Johnson, please.  I was no Chan Gailey fan, so I'm hopeful today.  At any rate, these Jackets are a lot of fun to watch, so no way am I studying while the game's on.

Meanwhile, here are some interesting reads...Amity Shlaes has a piece in WSJ, and WSJ also has a great piece on how immigrant kids understand Thanksgiving better, in many ways, than those of us lucky enough to be born here.  I am so grateful for teachers who can give that gift to their students.  Mark Steyn links to a hilarious bit about those poor drunk Brits in their high heels (thanks, Instapundit!).  The Anchoress has some great places to do some unusual Christmas shopping. (That post is a little old but I keep coming back to it.)  

And, finally, I bring you...the GTGs.  Yes, the odds are good, but the goods are odd.  Go Jackets...TO HELL WITH GEORGIA!!

UPDATE:  45-42.  Paul Johnson, I love you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful thoughts

The apples are peeled, sliced and resting while I type this...soon I'll put the pies together and pop them in the oven.  Then, done for the evening.  

Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving with you and yours...may your turkey be juicy and your football teams victorious.  Your apple pie will, unfortunately, not be as good as mine.  Out of a sense of Thanksgiving I'm going to share my recipe.  I think is it really my grandmother Mim's, but it might be a little different.  At any rate, I'll attribute it to her.  If you haven't made one yet, this one is straightforward and quick.

Mim's Apple Pie

About three pounds of apples--always some Granny Smiths, combine with others if you like.
Sugar--a half-cup or so
Butter--about a 1/2 stick
Pie Crusts for a two-crust pie (YES, I use the Pillsbury.  Follow the directions and no one will know, and it is delicious.)

Peel the apples, and then slice them very thinly, like 1/8th inch.  This is the most important step.  Toss the apples in a bowl with about a half-cup of sugar.  Let it sit for a few minutes.

Put the bottom crust in the pie plate, then mound the apples on the crust.  If there is a lot of juice you can our some of it off.  Dot about 1/2 the butter on top of this (little pieces of the butter, not big pats).  ONLY if you must, sprinkle a little cinnamon, but try it without one time. Now, put the top crust on the apples, folding and crimping the crusts around edge to seal.  Slice the top crust to vent it, and then dot the top crust with the rest of the butter.  Finally, take about a tablespoonful of sugar and sprinkle over the crust.

Now, place in a preheated 425 degree oven.  Bake for about 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350.  Bake for another 40 minutes or so.  That's it!  Four ingredients, YUM.

And I'll leave you with something my Lutheridge coffee cup says, so appropriate for this time of year:  "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Cor. 10:31)  Happy Thanksgiving! 

UPDATE:  Hi, Instapundit readers!  I'll post a pic as soon as they come out of the oven.  
UPDATE:  And there's the picture. Thanks for stopping by! 

Poverty Watch

I can't believe this article.  It's a NYT bit about how moms are giving up their shopping to buy Christmas for their kids.  You really need to visit the article to see the picture, but the mother quoted here actually says:
“I want her to be able to look back,” Ms. Hunt declared, “and say, ‘Even though they were tough times, my mom was still able to give me stuff.’ ”
Yep, you were able to giver her a WHOLE BUNCH of plastic junk while looking like a martyr for the whole world to see.  Good Lord.

Look.  I have kids, so I have about eighteen million little plastic pieces of stuff, everything from Legos to Polly Pockets, around the house.  This year we are cutting back, and I have cut back for myself, too.  But, ick.  I haven't made a big deal about it and you sure won't find me grinning like that with a big bunch of plastic stuff.  Why not an article about doing things at Christmas, establishing some sort of new Christmas Day traditions of doing something together, rather than show the self-satisfied martyr-mom of some pampered preschooler?  Oh, wait, then no one will blog about it.  Nevermind...thanks, NYT!

The day before the big day

We are hosting a bunch (18? 23? Not sure.) tomorrow, so lots going on around here.  It's not as bad as you'd think, since everyone brings a couple of things, but I've got to get the turkey brining (recipe here, yummy, made for the last five years) and then the table set, yada, yada.  (Can you yada Thanksgiving?) 

I had a root canal yesterday.  Ugh.  Can I just say, though, that Dr. George Brown ROCKS.  I'm just sayin', because when I googled him prior to the procedure I could barely find anything out about him.  So if someone else is looking for him, he's great.

And I just found out I passed my video!  It's been a week of pins and needles, so that's a relief.  A week from today everything is over for the first semester, but I've got two finals, two papers and a presentation before then.  Sounds like it will be a busy weekend for me, in addition to Black Friday and THE football game this weekend.  More later, but I've got to get moving on this stuff.  Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh, go Elf Yourself!

It was for just this sort of thing that the Internet was invented.  Thank you, Al Gore, thank you!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Russia growls

Well, this is cheerful:  Russian Analyst Predicts Decline and Breakup of USA, via Drudge.  Holy cow.  Professor Igor Panarin has been predicting this for a while now, and a lot of the problem (according to him) is our enormous debt.  And it is just spiraling out of control.

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, Medvedev and Chavez play footsie with their war ships.  This is in our backyard!  Russia and Venezuela are working on a nuclear "energy" deal, and check out what else Chavez wants:

He also wants weapons — Venezuela has bought more than $4 billion in Russian arms, including Sukhoi fighter jets, helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, and more deals for Russian tanks or other weaponry may be discussed after Medvedev arrives Wednesday.
What are they doing with all of that firepower?  Chavez is sitting on a lot of oil.  This is worrisome.  

Meanwhile, oil has dropped below $53 dollars a barrel.  Great, right?  Maybe not.  Saudi Arabia isn't the only one who stands to lose as these prices drop.  Chavez is one, but so is Russia.  They are the second-largest oil producer in the world.  And they really, really need money.  They are willing to kill for it...witness what happened in Georgia this summer.  Russia wants that pipeline and port.  Interesting times we live in.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Food blogging

Yes, there's a lot of news, bailouts, yucky stuff.  But it's also Thanksgiving week, and so I'm going to post some of my favorite recipes this week.  Feel free to try, comment, share!

I make the sandwich bread at my house.  I read this book about two years ago and got weirded out about mass-produced food for a while.  Well, the cereal and Hostess treats and granola bars have made their way back into our house but the bread habit is here to stay.  Here's the recipe, modified a lot from the Betty Crocker recipe I started with:

Whole-Wheat Bread, two loaves

3 cups whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur flour for our bread)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup honey, molasses, or grade B maple syrup
4 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 tbsp. salt (DON'T FORGET THE SALT!)

Put these in the mixer fitted with a bread hook and blend for a minute.  Then add:

2 1/4 cups hot tap water

Mix again for about a minute.  Now add:

3 1/2 cups bread flour

Now mix/knead for about 10 minutes.  The mixer will get hot!  (I've burned out one mixer already on this recipe.)  If the dough looks too loose, too batter-y, add a little more flour.  By the time you're done the dough should form a mass around the bread hook.

Now, if you want, dump the dough onto the counter and give it a couple of kneads.  This is part of the fun of baking bread!  Then, pull it into a ball and put it into a large greased bowl.  (Pam is fine for this.)  Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for about an hour--here is what I do:  Fill up a big pot with hot tap water.  Put it onto the bottom of a cold oven.  Put the bowl with dough on a rack above the water.  The oven will get a little warm with that hot tap water and it's the perfect way to let the bread rise.

Okay, after an hour, pull out this beautiful, puffy dough and punch it.  Yes, deflate's okay, like the South it shall rise again.  Divide the dough in half, then stretch and pull one piece into a wide rectangle.  Fold it in thirds, then roll it into a loaf starting from one of the open ends.  If it's not quite as long as your loaf pan, that's okay.  Roll it a little (like you used to with playdough when you made worms), just enough to get it a little longer.  Put it into a greased loaf pan.  Repeat with the other loaf.  Now pop them back into their rising oven for another forty minutes or so.  Don't panic if rising times aren't exact!

Now for the baking:  375, for forty minutes.  Now take the loaf out of the pan (doesn't it smell good?!) and place the loaf back in the oven UPSIDE DOWN for about three minutes.  This browns the bottom and keeps the loaf from getting soggy.  When you take it out of the oven this time, lay the loaf on its side on a wire rack.  That's it!  It looks like a lot of work but really it doesn't take much more time than a batch of cookies.  Most of the time is rising and waiting.

Enjoy!  I'll post some pictures when mine gets out of the oven.

I'd have to get really thirsty...

to be drinking this.  Ick.  I know that technically it should be okay, but doesn't it just kind of curl your toes?

Maybe instead I could drink this.

Back to the shuttle for a sec...THREE Yellow Jackets on board, very cool.  In fact, Sandy Magnus went to grad school with DH.  My six degrees have just extended to everyone at NASA.  Cool.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jack's back, baby!

Kiefer spent some time in the pokey so I didn't get my 24 fix last year, but...tonight!! 8 p.m. eastern!!  I'm ready for some fine action television, lots of grim-faced Kiefer, dark shadows, and shooting.  Yes, I know, this is the two-hour set-up for the season that really begins in January. Whatever.

Okay, your assignment is to watch, and then come back tomorrow so we can discuss.  This used to be just about the best show on television.  I'm willing to overlook the last season.  It was perilously close to jumping the shark, I'll admit.  But for some mighty fine viewing, go back to season one, get all the DVDs and prepare for a solid weekend of viewing pleasure.  Season three works, too.  And so will this year!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Giving Thanks for School

Three Thanksgiving programs today, the last day before the kids' week out of school.  My big three are in a private school, small enough to feel like a family and large enough to have lots of opportunities for making friends.  

Today, I'm thankful for a place where my kids are loved and valued for who they are, but also where the teachers can call them out when they need to be.  Where there is trust between the teachers and parents and administration, because we are all focused on the same goal of raising fine, Christian adults.  I know it's a luxury for a school to be able to take the long view, but I'm grateful we can.

The automotive bailout

I know this happened a couple of days ago, but I've been mulling this over and have the following observations...

First, how clueless do you have to be to take a private jet to beg for money?  It is indicative of their sense of entitlement and hubris that they would be so unconscious of their image here...their PR people should be fired, at a minimum.  Apparently they are still doing business as usual, utterly unconscious of the fact that the world is changing dramatically around them. 

Imagine the powerful image had they decided to DRIVE from Detroit, a convoy of maybe 15 cars, driving straight through to DC.  What a message!  It wouldn't have changed my mind, but it might have made me feel a little softer towards them, believe that they were really doing everything they can to save their respective companies.  

The UAW didn't do themselves any favors, either.  It's obvious that something big has to give on their end, but they just won't budge.  Sorry, no sympathy there from me.

However.  They are obviously getting their money.  Harry Reid stood up and said that they hadn't done so many things, how could we give them more money?  What he was doing was setting the table for a bailout in the next six weeks or so.  The big guys go back to Detroit, fill the in the boxes that Reid & Co. laid out for them.  Then when they come back they'll say, "We did just what you wanted, see?"  And then Washinton will cut their checks.  Watch for it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Christmas Idea

A friend, home from two tours in Iraq, sends on the following:

When doing your Christmas cards this year, take one card and send it to this address. If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these wonderful special people who have sacrificed so much would get.

The Red Cross is sponsoring "Holiday Cards for Heroes."  Their goal is one million cards!  Here's the address:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

I think this is a great idea.  Please pass it along.

UPDATE:  My friend had been sent an address to Walter Reed--don't use it!  I've changed the address and the Red Cross program is correct.  Sorry for the confusion.

And now for something completely different...

Somehow, someway, DS8 has gotten obsessed with Monty Python.  (Maybe it's in the genes?)  Anyway, maybe this will keep him satisfied...

(via Althouse)

Good Morning!

The video is behind me...I'm waiting for the grade.  That class is pass/fail, pretty much all dependent on the video.  So, no pressure.

Lot's happened yesterday in the news!  It was killing me not to get to read a bunch...I need to think about things more before I post about bail-out news, economics, or politics.  Meanwhile, the barbarians seem to be at the gate around the world, too.  Look:

Pirates!  (Shiver me timbers!)

Riots!  (Yes, I know this has been a bad situation for a while)

Enjoy, and I'll be back later, after I get everyone off to school.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Freaking out

So much going on in the news, but I have my final video in my skills class today.  If you read this before 12:30 Eastern, pray for me!  I'm really nervous...the class is pass/fail, and it pretty much all hinges on this video.

Also a paper due today, but that's small compared to the video.  Have a great day!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chaplain Pat

Chaplain Patrick McLaughlin is the brother of a friend of mine.  (Hi, Mary!) He's had a host of experiences, including two tours in Iraq and serving as chaplain at Camp David.  He's written a book, No Atheists in Foxholes, and was interviewed recently on 700 Club.  Here's the video.
No Atheists in Foxholes
Pat is quite a writer...while in Iraq he would send a prayer out by email just about every day.  Take a look at the video (I can't embed it) and check out the book. Think of all the people he's touched in his's staggering.  The book looks like a great Christmas gift for all kinds of people on your list.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Other

That's the title of a short paper I had to write last week.  The topic was to describe a situation in which I had felt like the "other," and a situation where I had made someone else the outsider.  In both cases I was to only spend a sentence or two describing the situation, and the rest of the paper elaborating on my feelings.  It wasn't much fun to write, especially the time(s) I've made someone else the outsider.

In our small group study we are working our way through Matthew, and yesterday evening we talked about the stories in Chapter 8 in which Jesus heals the leper by reaching out to him and touching him.  "I do choose," he says, when the leper says that his healing is Jesus' choice.  The question in our book (Three Months with Matthew, by Justo Gonzalez) asked who were the lepers in our lives.  Of course, this is exactly the same question I'd been asked in my class--who had I treated as a leper?

It is interesting to see how the question is treated in a secular environment, compared with how my faith compels me to act.  As a client-centered counselor, I need to be empathic and accepting of my client, although I don't necessarily have to accept his or her actions.  The funny thing is that this would be really hard to do unless I had Jesus' example to follow.  It will be hard enough to summon a font of empathy when I see clients; it seems like the source of empathy and humility comes from God, and recognizing that fact keeps me out of the center of the relationship.  It makes room for me to help someone else, even if we never explicitly talk about God's role in our relationship.

I've also been thinking about that other paper that I've researched this weekend, about conservative Christians as a culture and what their norms are.  One group of outsiders there, lepers as it were, is women who are victims of domestic violence.  There is incredible pressure to submit to husbands who don't necessarily see the admonition to love their wives "as Christ loved the church" which immediately follows the infamous submission statement in Ephesians. These women are shunned within their church communities when they try to protect themselves and their children, and they're misunderstood by counselors who don't have a background in understanding and respecting their conservative beliefs .  Thankfully there are a growing number of organizations that understand those beliefs and also can work within that culture, and they are reaching out to these women and families.  The result is a lot of healing, whether it's within or outside of the marriage.  Both can happen and be supported.  To me, reading this story about Jesus and the leper has helped me to frame the counseling profession a little better.  It's a lot of food for thought.

A sensible politician.

John Howard is very sensible.  He is also, unfortunately, both Australian and retired (defeated?). He was until this year the Prime Minister of Australia, a conservative and a stalwart ally of our War on Terror.  (I hate that name.)

I caught an interview he did yesterday with Neil Cavuto.  I've tried to find a video, transcript, anything, because what he had to say was so clear and so simple.  Neil asked his opinion of how the worldwide economic collapse had happened.  Howard was very clear:  you can't force the financial markets to carry out your social policy.  Let the financial markets carry out their purpose, and let your welfare be welfare.  So the U.S. incentives (strong-arming?) to provide mortgages to people less than fully qualified for them was completely ill-advised, in his opinion.  

I like that...I don't mind providing welfare for some people, but call it what it is.  Don't call it "subprime mortgages," and don't call it a tax rebate for people who never paid taxes.  Just call it welfare.  There is power in the language that you use.  And if I can find a copy of the interview, I'll post it.  Howard's speaking style is striking, direct and clear, not only because of that Aussie accent.

Weekend Update

Bulletin!  The Office of the President-Elect issued its weekly address:

I didn't know there WAS an office of the president-elect.  Where, exactly, is it?  In Barack's basement, judging from the cheesy paneling and the souvenir basketball in the corner.

But to move beyond the snark, listen to what he has to say, if you can.  It's really, really boring, and he doesn't say anything new.  Just that we can rise again, together, one nation, blah blah.  I'm concerned that he's going to drown us in this controlled access--always scripted, never questioned.  This will be interesting to follow. (Assuming, of course, we can stay awake.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

The questions go on...

I meant to post this when I saw it, but commenter hpcc19 (in the post below) points out a similar college question on another blog.  Thanks!  And here's the link.

And the paper's coming along nicely, thanks.  I'm in the fortunate position of enjoying what I'm reading, so it doesn't seem so bad!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another paper

After my (very exciting) blogging yesterday, I've got to work on a paper.  My topic is interesting so it's not so hard getting away from the depressing news.  

It's a new group project...different people, different class.  THAT class, Social/Cultural Issues.  We are presenting on religion and spirituality.  Specifically I ended up with Christianity, which is good, I guess.  It feels a little like I'm trying to explain myself to the class.

However.  I've run across a bunch of research about perceptions, specifically Christians' perspective of their counselors, and how that affects their counselor-client relationship.  I know the book Unprotected, which came out a couple of years ago, discussed the disparity in religiosity between psychologists and the general public, and the effect that has on treatment. For way too long the view has been to treat the religious belief as a pathological problem, rather than as a value to be respected like most others.  It looks like the view is shifting, which is one of the benefits I can see in the multicultural approach to counseling.

So that's what I'll be doing tonight, rather than looking at Drudge or my own comments.  Have a great evening!

Oh, and read this.

I'm conservative.  (Did you guess?)

If you have any leanings, and find yourself, like me, wondering what in the world happened, go read this.  P.J. O'Rourke is a great writer, at his finest here.  And until conservatives quit worrying about whose turn it will be, like Rove does here, we're toast.  This stuff doesn't matter--the ideas, and effectively sharing them, are what matter.  Quit counting votes, and start saying what we believe.

You don't say...

Now they tell us.

More Bailout stuff

I started this blog with the intent of writing about school but the world keeps getting in the way. 

First, did you see that about AmEx yesterday?  The Fed fast-tracked their bank application specifically so they could take part in the bailout.  They don't have mortgages!  That $700 billion is because of mortgages...that's what we were told.  And the bailout is extending to student loans, cars...This is not right.  All I can think to do is write to Congress.  

And then, we have this whole "too big to fail" mentality.  I heard someone say on the radio (I think it might have been on FoxNews Sunday) that Obama would be good for "big business."  This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the economic engine of the United States works, and it's dangerously like the FDR's administration view of a three-legged stool of the economy.  They looked at the US as having big government, big business, and big labor. What's missing?  Right.  The little guy.  And it drove us deeper into the Depression even as the rest of the world was recovering.  (See Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man for much, much more.)

Yes, I'm speaking a little out of self-interest.  DH is self-employed, and over the years has grown his company to employ a bunch of people.  This is how wealth is generated in this country.  And as his customers fail, because they are too little to save, his unsecured loans (in the form of items shipped with payment terms) to the customers become bad loans.  But we're too little, too.  Too little to save, but not too little to pay for the bailout of the big guys.  I can't believe we're still dealing with a Republican administration (is it really RINO?).  And I shudder to think what we'll be dealing with in a year.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Instalanche Redux

Wow! Instapundit posted my questions below, and I had a ton (for me) of traffic here today.  Thanks for a great discussion in the comments, which hopefully will continue.

Instapundit definitely draws a conservative/libertarian kind of commenter, based on what was going on in the comments.  Isn't it interesting that so many comments reflected the belief that everyone should pay some tax, no matter how little.  I really think there's something to the "buy-in"  that the Swedish Social Democrats have figured out. (I think that was "Terminal Frost" who contributed that idea.)

Mostly it bothered me that these basic questions are never even offered, maybe because the answers seem obvious on the surface.  And the vast majority of commenters seemed to agree with this.  I especially liked the point about looking at taxation as a confiscation not of money but of time.  Talk about clarifying the problem!  But apparently SOMEONE believes that it's okay for a large chunk of the electorate to not be taxed.  

I really liked the house discussion.  See, I have a feeling that home ownership has changed, especially in light of the bubble.  How much worse is it to live in a neighborhood with several foreclosed, vacant houses than a full apartment complex? There seems to be room to question encouraging home ownership, even though it's been treated as a tacit good thing for many years.  Same with the college education--it is a given, isn't it, that a college degree is necessary?

Back when I was an actuary, sometimes we would get answers which didn't make any sense.  We couldn't figure out what was wrong in the wasn't until we went all the way back to the initial assumptions, to how we framed to the problem, and then we could see that we had been looking at the problem all wrong.  Maybe that's what is going on here.  There needs to be time and space to really examine our principles.  Thanks for participating in the discussion.  I'll try to keep up the questions; please check in once in a while and throw around some answers.

Well, that's just cool

I know what DH and the boys will be playing with tonight...Google Earth will now allow you to walk around Ancient Rome.  Man, sometimes technology is just cool.

I have questions

And I haven't seen them addressed anywhere, not during the campaign or after.  So I'm just going to lay them out here:

  1. Is it good public policy to have your entire electorate pay taxes?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  I'm trying to figure out how it is healthy to have 35-40% of the electorate outside of the income tax system.
  2. Why is home-ownership favored so heavily over renting?  Is there something intrinsically better about owning?  Or is it that the type of people who traditionally buy houses are "better" for a community?  And that leads to the question...why should the government incentivize any sort of living arrangement, renting or ownership?
  3. Let's assume that cheap-and-easy credit made the run-up in housing prices possible, at least in part. And, this run-up in value has been bad in the long run, because it turns out to be kind of bubbly.  (Okay, really bubbly.)  Now consider the price of a university education, where price increases have been running roughly double inflation.  Is cheap credit to blame for the price inflation there?  Does the availability of credit diminish the price sensitivity to any particular asset, because it defers the pain?  And does it also diminish the relative value of a college degree?  I'm thinking yes, but I want to know what other people think.
I'm serious about these questions.  If you don't normally comment, I wish you would here.  I'd really like to start a dialogue about these things.  Thanks!

UPDATE:  Instalanche!  My first.  Welcome, take a look around, and thanks for the comments!

Is the inexperience showing?

Sen. Obama met with President Bush yesterday. To me it seemed like, all of a sudden, he looked way more inexperienced that I expected.  I find it a little scary--like all of a sudden Obama and his aides realize that this isn't theory anymore, these are Americans' lives and futures at stake.

The avalanche of changes that were floated surrounding this meeting has the feel of a bunch of amateurs right now--people who are still operating with an incomplete data set and yet aren't aware of it.  For example, the closing of Gitmo.  There aren't any clear, good alternatives, but he's most likely going to close it because of pressure from the ACLU and other parties.  (And on that link, I don't know that I've ever heard the ACLU called a "human rights group" before.  Just sayin'.)

Another thing:  this leak concerning an auto bailout.  There were only two people in that office, and I just don't think it was the President who went out and started talking.  This kind of thing smacks of inexperience, almost as if Obama doesn't realize that everything he says now has a weight he could never have imagined before.  It really worries me because it plays into that "oops" mentality he's shown before.  I'm afraid that the next time it will be a national security issue.  You know, as I write this, I'm realizing that the markets ARE a national security issue.  I hope he learns really, really fast.

UPDATE:  Cyrus, in the comments, calls this "dog chasing the car syndrome."  Yes!  That's exactly it.  Also, here are Joan Didion's comments, the "unexpressible uneasiness." (That Joan Didion post via Instapundit, and I also saw Althouse commented on it.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend at the movies

We watched a ton of movies this weekend for some reason.  Friday, with the rainy evening, we ordered pizza and introduced the kids to E.T.  I hadn't seen that movie in at least ten years.  It held up really well and we all loved it.  It's amazing how darn CUTE that little Drew Barrymore was!

We also saw what I think is my favorite Tom Hanks movie, Road to Perdition.  I think I'd seen in before but not all the way through.  What a great, thoughtful movie!  Paul Newman does a great turn as a truly evil villain, but our boy Tom--you have to be a gifted actor to turn such a bad guy into a sympathetic character.  

I'm not going to spoil the ending here, but if you've seen it, here's the question I'm left with:  was he redeemed at the end? And if he was, what does that say about his life? And if he wasn't, what does that say about God?

Keeping an eye on the bail-out

Look at this...the Fed says they don't have to tell us where they are spending OUR money.  Right now, I'm feeling kind of confused.  I thought they voted on $700 billion but now we're talking $2 TRILLION.  And more industries are wanting bailouts, like the auto makers.  (Um, NO.)  And our friends over at AIG are getting even more.

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling helpless.  Last Tuesday I said to DH, "No matter what happens, I'm paying attention from now on."  I think this is part of paying attention.  If you have a problem with "King Fed," contact your Congressmen.  Go here. Link to the articles on Drudge and Bloomberg and even my blog (more traffic, yea!).  Let's all pay attention.  I'm tired of being messed with.

UPDATE:  I just's the arrogance.  What supreme arrogance on the part of Paulson and Bernanke, that they don't feel the least bit accountable.  They certainly regard us taxpayers with contempt.  But not our money.  Good Lord.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A generation gap

We have a check-in at the beginning of every skills class, a very touchy-feely way to let everyone know whether or not they can mess with you that day.  Might be what weather you're feeling like, the music you last listened to, that kind of thing.  Thursday we checked in with what cartoon character we were feeling like. 

Man, I felt so old!  They were Bubbles (the Powerpuff girl) and Angel Bright, a Pokemon, some other things I'd never heard of.  A couple of them started talking about Fraggle Rock, something the kids I would babysit used to watch!  And then another girl mentioned the Smurfs.  I brightened up (they're MY generation, kind of) and then she talked about how she loved the "old" cartoons.  Jeesh.

I felt like Road Runner that day...things were going well and obstacles just weren't getting in my way.  Except that yawning chasm of a generation gap.  Meep Meep!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And now for something completely different...

I totally forgot!  November is National Novel Writing Month.  If you've ever wanted to do something crazy, this might be it.  Fifty thousand words, one month, ready, go.

I'd join you if I didn't have school. Honest. 

Hopey Changitude

That was snarky, but I really wanted to use it.

Whew.  A huge election, and I'm glad it's over.  My guy (and girl) didn't win, and we'll have a new president in a couple of months. I do think it's amazing that we have a Black president, but I have to say I always thought he'd be a conservative in the David Palmer mold rather than a socialist, I mean a very liberal guy.

On that front, I'm sad about a few things.  First, he is relentlessly pro-abortion.  I used to be kind of agnostic about this issue, but I've come to see that every baby is a gift.  (And the psychological effects of abortion on the women who have them is a tragically under-reported phenomenon.) It is heartbreaking to me to think of the loss of life that will continue under an Obama presidency.  Second, he hasn't looked to be a friend of Israel.  They are the only (soon to be one of two) democracy in the Middle East and they are a good ally.  Third, I think he has very poor judgment, in friends and mentors, even little decisions like whether to appear on Access Hollywood. That worries me, but it also just makes me feel kind of sad.

No matter what, this untested young president will need our prayers.  I hope after four years we can say he's still untested, but I know in my heart that won't happen.  And so it's time to get on with our lives.  I told DH yesterday that no matter what, from now on I'm keeping a closer eye on things, and I'm going to try to be more active in shaping what happens.  We owe it to the country to take the time to do that.

On that front, I'm going to say something about the DISGUSTING local elections here.  We have a terrible school board in charge of a pretty good school system here.  In fact, the system is top-notch, but that is in spite of rather than because of the board and county-level leadership.  The board has built not one but two schools that aren't needed, in areas that aren't viable for schools, and has engaged in other "land-investment" practices.  In fact, one board member has actually made a lot (high six, low seven figures) of money on some of these land deals through her developer-husband.  The state needs to investigate this situation but it takes a lot of work to get their attention.  

Back in the summer she and the other board members were all re-elected to their positions through the primary system.  ONE WEEK after that election the board came out with the fact that they need a SPLOST to keep the paraprofessionals in the classroom.  Nevermind that the bloated county administrator payroll could be cut, that the county could quit speculating on land, and that they could put a sensible technology program in place.  They needed the money.  AND THE SPLOST passed.  The stupid, stupid electorate (normally I have more resprect but not this time) allowed the board to bully them with presentations threatening the teachers' jobs, threatening the sacrosanct test scores, threatening the competitiveness of the real estate market here that has benefitted from the high-scoring school system.  The county voted to give them more money even though they can't take care of what they have.

Yes, I'm mad.  And isn't it interesting that politicians at all levels are just alike--can't take care of what they have, they just need a little or a lot more to make things all better.  We get the government we deserve.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Are you watching?

I've let the boys (10 and 8) stay up to watch the's nice to have the company since DH is winging his way to Vegas.  Woo hoo, the super swanky life of a hot tub guy.  (Hi, honey!) We've got Fox News on, and just watching Britt Hume makes me a little sad.  Did you know he's retiring after all of this?  He's in fine form, laughing at the stupid "boards" and "studios" and all the junk surrounding this frenetic coverage.  I'll miss you, Britt!

I can't watch CNN anymore.  So I'll stick with my Fox guys.

It is fun trying to explain our crazy system to the boys, and hopefully they'll remember this.  No matter what the outcome, it is historic.  I want them to realize how important this is.

So, cheers!  Hopefully you are enjoying a beverage of your choice. And if you need some good places to check periodically, look here:

That group project

Anticlimactic...which I guess is a good thing.  Slacker dude didn't even bother to come to class that day, so now I'm having a hard time seeing how he even passes the class.  Little chickie who had originally volunteered to do the presentation, then tried to back out (chicken?), she started to lose her voice during her talk.  Could she have let us know THAT?!

I did some really cool research, which didn't get used.  Oh, well.  I'm interested in it, and I'll probably share some of it in the next couple of days:  stress reduction and anti-anxiety techniques.  Of course, no one has ever researched my favorite mantra:

Ah, yes, sanity later.

I voted.

It was a ten-minute trip.  Since more than half the voters in this county voted early, I decided to wait.  Good was a steady flow of voters but no real lines.

I voted based on the shoes.