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.

Election Day!

These four-year election cycles are brutal, and here we are at the end, the big day.  DH went and voted this morning already (39th in line), and I'll stop after I drop DD5 at school.

Go vote, but PLEASE only if you've informed yourself...this is too big a deal to decide based on the way you feel at the moment, or the last commercial you saw, or who has the better shoes. (Okay, vote based on the shoes.  Because then we know who'll get your vote!)

Teddy Roosevelt wrote about the state of the country after the Civil War, in particular the preoccupation with business, "exploiting the natural resources as quickly as possible," and the general military unpreparedness of the country here:
It was re├źnforced by the large mollycoddle vote—the people who are soft physically and morally, or who have a twist in them which makes them acidly cantankerous and unpleasant as long as they can be so with safety to their bodies. In addition there are the good people with no imagination and no foresight, who think war will not come, but that if it does come armies and navies can be improvised—a very large element, typified by a Senator I knew personally who, in a public speech, in answer to a question as to what we would do if America were suddenly assailed by a first-class military power, answered that "we would build a battle-ship in every creek." Then, among the wise and high-minded people who in self-respecting and genuine fashion strive earnestly for peace, there are the foolish fanatics always to be found in such a movement and always discrediting it—the men who form the lunatic fringe in all reform movements.
So are you part of the mollycoddle vote? Or the high-minded one? Where do you stand?

Monday, November 3, 2008

I. Hate. Group. Projects.

A group of seven of us have a presentation and paper due today.  Originally, we agreed that one person would do the paper (it was short) and one other would present.  I had done a lot of the front end work and didn't feel too bad about coasting on the back end.  

Cut to last Thursday.  The requirements for the paper got slightly modified by the prof (GRRR).  So I agreed to prepare a short section of the paper.  I did my research, wrote part of the paper, and sent all of my references to the person who had agreed to prepare PowerPoints. Another teammate did the same with her part of the project.  Okay...we did the research, wrote a paper, and fed our information to other teammates.  A fair amount of work.

Now the person who said she would present is backing out.  OH MY GOD.  Says she's just not comfortable.  And I've had to go back and re-do the powerpoints for my section.  And the other person who also did research is doing the same thing...tons more work than anyone else.  Three other people have done has even been unavailable by email all weekend!

I want to be grown-up about this, but here's the deal:  I will go out of my way to avoid working with most of these people in the future.  And my research was really, really interesting.  So I've learned some things and I'm not going to make this mistake again, if I can help it.  Fool me once...