I'm finishing my last book of the year, the audio version of The Poisonwood Bible. I can't really recommend it, due to reasons I don't have time to detail today, but it does possess some luscious morsels of writing that I turn over and over in my mind.
The Papa and I have resumed the indulging of our love for The #1 Ladies Detective Agency series, reading aloud together The Full Cupboard of Life on the drive to and from Fort Worth last week. The contrast between this book and Poisonwood is startling in the different ways they portray life on the African continent.
The week between Christmas and New Year's has to be my favorite time of the whole year.
I think I've overdosed on Peppermint Bark, courtesy of several friends who generously shared their handiwork this Christmas season. There are few things better with a cup of hot coffee.
Today, the task is the annual cleaning out of the closet and year-end donation of the overflow to the Salvation Army or another local charity. It's one of the reasons I love this week.
A friend called this morning to ask me about curriculum for a third-grader and it struck me that I'm already out of touch with much of what's now available for that age range...I'm going to have to study up if I don't want my usefulness to homeschoolers to fall off the cliff as my youngest students enter high school!
Yes, I might actually make some New Year's resolutions this year for a change. For change. Change I can believe in :-)
My kitty is sleeping beside me this morning, tempting me to re-enter Napland with her, but there is much to do before 2009 knocks, so I'm off to the closet...I have miles to go before I sleep!
Rich Lowry reminds us this morning that the infamous culture wars are far from over, despite the Left's promise that Obama would save us from the "wedge issues" of those mean Republicans:
In a story about Hollywood's outrage at Obama's choice of Warren, Democratic political consultant Chad Griffin told the Los Angeles Times: "Rick Warren needs to realize that he is further dividing us at a time when the country needs to come together. I think he needs to gracefully step aside."
Ah, yes, "gracefully step aside." That's essentially what the cultural left has been asking traditionalists to do for 30 years now, to politely shut up while it goes about redefining the country's mores. The answer must now be, as it has always been, "No way, no how."
The U.S., as well as many other countries, is deeply infected with a growing cancer, an increasing acceptance of the right of two men or two women to "marry." Cancer is most effectively removed with a knife. And as we all learned in grade school science, a knife is nothing but a very sharp wedge.
2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved
If you are at all interested in the development of Africa, you'll want to read this amazing opinion piece by a British atheist. I believe it may be the most important piece written about the African continent in the past 40 years.
Matthew Parris on Africa
If, on the other hand, you can tolerate some of the worst realities of depraved humanity and you aren't afraid to be confronted with the truth that Islam is NOT a religion of peace and tolerance, even in the quieter corners of the globe, this book will help you understand some of what's happening in the world. And if you're a woman, you owe it to yourself and your daughters to be aware of what women in Islamic, not just "Islamist", societies are forced to endure.
Sadly, the author's response to her extreme suffering in "the religion of peace" has been to embrace atheism. But it's not hard to understand why. May God have mercy on her and draw her to Him before it's too late.
[By the way, if you get the audible.com version, you have the treat of hearing the author read the book. A valuable addition, IMHO, to the whole experience.]
Yikes, I almost forgot :-) Sometimes there are other things that crowd it out...more important things. As much as I love to blog, I also love the baking and wrapping and planning and cooking and spending time with the family, and all of that takes time.
Still a little teary-eyed over Brit Hume's last show tonight. What a guy.
And my mouth is watering, knowing that tomorrow night is annual tamale night. Yes, folks, we live in San Antonio and so we do as the Romans, er, the Latins do. Tamales on Christmas Eve. Real, authentic, handmade tamales that Dirk picks up hot tomorrow afternoon. And we'll enjoy them with queso and refried beans and little ones who can't figure out why we'd eat something wrapped in a corn husks.
And now, I'm back to wrapping. And not in corn husks.
My wrapping is about 2/3 done. I'm not as far along as I usually am this late in the season, but I'm not panicked since the major events of the season are behind us and I have some large blocks of time to work on it the next couple of days.
Yesterday was our Cookie Day. You know, the day when you are liable to slide across the floor on sugar ball bearings until late at night when you find the last culprits against the toekicks? We had a great time and WAY more cookies than anyone needs. And happy grandchildren :-)
And yes, I'm loving my 22qt roaster oven. This morning we took it to church with two 13 lb. turkeys sitting snugly beside one another, cooked to perfection. So nice to be able to cook, transport, and keep them warm in the same vessel. Great buy this year.
Is it just me, or are there a lot fewer Christmas lights up this year? Maybe it's just San Antonio?
We're back in the process of trying to decide about remodeling the kitchen. Part of the kitchen island has fallen apart and more of it is ready to "go"...so we're asking ourselves whether it's worth it to replace JUST the island or go ahead and do the whole kitchen since we are planning to do that within the next couple of years anyway. And then, should we wait until spring when it's warm enough to do some cooking and meal prep outside? And how much of the work to do ourselves, etc. etc. etc....
Here are some end-of-year charitable thoughts--who's more generous, conservatives or liberals?
Only ten more days to complete my "Books Finished in 2008" list. As I look over the list, I'm pleased with the mix and plan to read a similar mixture next year--classics, newer fiction, non-fiction, devotional, theological. Maybe I'll even start writing one :-)
What was YOUR favorite book this year? Share in the comments. I need suggestions for the New Year!
This morning's sermon at our church focused on "Emanuel"--God with us. The miracle and the gift of the Incarnation is the essence of our faith...a God who loved me enough to dwell with me, not just in spirit but in the flesh. I was born at a time in history when I didn't have to wait for His coming in the sense of those who lived before His earthly birth. But we experience yearly the remembrance of the waiting of the human race for His coming, and we experience daily the wait for His final coming. As I wait in the year 2009, may I ever "walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory." (1 Thessalonians 2:12)
May you and your families and loved ones have a joyful, peaceful, thoughtful Christmas this week!
Auto Makers to Get $17.4 Billion
Speaking of GWB, what a difference eight years makes...the photo on the left is from the campaign in 2000, and the one on the right was taken this morning at the announcement of the bailout.
Laura H. sends these ideas for making snowflakes with the kids. If you're still looking for a "together" activity for your family, this will be fun, memorable, and will make your windows look wonderful!
Just a bit more involved--
American five point star--
Thanks, Laura, for sharing the ideas AND the lovely pictures of your handiwork!
I've read a lot of books this year. I've read quite a few good ones...a few terrible ones...and a very few that stand out in their excellence. One of those is Leif Enger's Peace Like a River. So I'm smiling to see John Piper's review and I'm hoping that his attention to this new American masterpiece will help give it a much wider reading. Put this one on your list for 2009!
(And if you have an Audible.com account, and you should, consider listening to this one. It was a lovely book to have read to me.)
52% of those belonging to churches and denominations that teach that Jesus is the only way of salvation reject that teaching.
Stunning. Sobering. Disturbing.
Mohler comments today on a a USA Today report that will quantify for you what you already know: even the pews of "conservative" evangelical churches are filled with those who believe Jesus didn't really mean it when He said "No man comes to the Father but by Me." In Mohler's words,
We are in an age when we want to tell everyone they are doing just fine. It's extremely uncomfortable to turn to someone and say, 'You will go to hell unless you come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.'
On a related note, I was thrilled to hear Rick Warren have the courage to speak the uncomfortable truth to Alan Colmes on a recent appearance on FOX News. I sometimes get a little irritated with Warren and I don't agree with all of his theology, but on the thing that matters most he seems to have more backbone than some of the folks who, on paper, say all the things I believe:
COLMES: All right. Let me ask you: you talk about, OK, so you think everybody needs a savior.
WARREN: I do.
COLMES: Well, what about those people who don't — you know, I happen to be Jewish. Not everybody — and Jesus, by the way, I have a lot in common with. Same religion.
COLMES: So not everybody necessarily goes that route.
WARREN: The thing is, Alan, I believe Jesus Christ came for everybody. I don't think he came for Christians. The Bible says take this good news to the whole world.
I don't care whether you're Baptist, Buddhist, Mormon, Methodist, Jewish, Muslim, or no religion at all. Jesus Christ still loves you. You still matter to God.
COLMES: True, and I think that's a wonderful message. But if you don't accept Jesus, if you're not something who goes that route religiously...
COLMES: ... can you find your way to heaven? Can you still be — go to the same place when it's all said and done?
WARREN: I'm not the authority on that, but I believe Jesus is. And everybody's betting their life on something. Jesus said, "I am the way." I'm betting that he's not a liar. I'm betting that he told the truth.
The buck stops nowhere
More than one person has written to beg me to clarify the spellings and pronunciations of a broad category of words that begin with "e". Yeah, I know that doesn't tell you much, but this is a category that does drive some of us wild...
W.O.W. to the rescue!
Escape: Friends, there is no X in "escape". Pronounce it ess-cape, not ex-cape. Tell your kids.
Especially: Same here. NO X in "especially". Not in spelling it, not in saying it.
Et cetera: Okay, this one is a bit more cumbersome to explain. It's a Latin phrase whose literal meaning is "and other things." We seldom see it written out...usually it's abbreviated. Many times badly. The correct spelling of the abbreviation is "etc." but it's often misspelled as "ect." Ugh.
Just as disconcerting is that it's mispronounced just about as often as it's pronounced correctly. Saying it right is easier if you're aware of the complete spelling: ET cetera. Unfortunately many of us grew up hearing or saying "excetera" or "eck-setera" and it's a hard habit to break. But if you run in educated circles, you'll brand yourself in a hurry if you mispronounce this one...better not to use the term at all if it's too hard to retrain your tongue. (And some of us have tongues that don't seem to be trainable, let alone REtrainable. How many times do you think Pres. Bush's handlers have begged him not to say, "Nuculer energy"?)
And on a side note, don't ever say or write "and et cetera" or "and etc." The "et" in "et cetera" means "and" in Latin, so preceding the abbreviation with "and" creates an annoying redundancy.
Okay, I've been wondering when they'd find this!
LONDON (AP) - The tiny tangled threads of the world's oldest spider web have been found encased in a prehistoric piece of amber, a British scientist said Monday.
Oxford University paleobiologist Martin Brasier said the 140-million-year-old webbing provides evidence that arachnids had been ensnaring their prey in silky nets since the dinosaur age. He also said the strands were linked to each other in the roughly circular pattern familiar to gardeners the world over.
Actually, I'm very relieved, because my secret fear was that they'd find it in my house.
Scientist says he has found oldest spider web
Mother Nature, of course, is oblivious to the federal government's machinations. Ironically, 2008 is on pace to be a slightly cooler year in a steadily rising temperature trend line. Experts say it's thanks to a La Nina weather variation. While skeptics are already using it as evidence of some kind of cooling trend, it actually illustrates how fast the world is warming. (Emphasis mine)
There's no end to the contortions to which Gore and his monks must resort, just to explain the away the evidence against their doctrine.
Obama left with little time to curb global warming
This was the last week of the first term of our shockingly successful Fab Friday homeschool co-op. What a joy! I have to give a tremendous amount of credit to CJ, who took it as a ministry to get our home ready every week, cleaning, organizing, setting out toys, and cutting up MOUNTAINS of apples and pears and cheese for our hungry co-op'ers and moms. Dirk, CJ, Shelley, Beth, John Michael L. and many others (including everyone who lives here!) made it such a success that we think we may do it again next semester :-)
I'm trying to ignore the fact that our forecast shows 80 twice this week.
Is anybody thinkin' that this presidential transition period is shaping up to be a lot more interesting than they could have guessed?
I'm thankful for a cat who likes catching mice.
Another evidence that it's a whole new millennium: the girls sold back some of their textbooks at the end of the semester, and what did they get in return? No check, no cash, no store credit. A DEBIT card. A real debit card with a MasterCard logo. Yes, the kind where the entire balance can be spent in a week at Taco Cabana and Sonic. That kind. :-)
If you want a fun read, try Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg. Not as poignant or as thoughtfully crafted as Jan Karon's stuff, but pleasant nevertheless.
There are some screamin' deals on toys at Amazon, listed on the Pinching Your Pennies forum!
Wine tastes better at a vineyard, did you know? This afternoon The Papa and I enjoyed a leisurely wine tasting with Dirk and Aubrey at a vineyard in the Hill Country, and though we brought home half a case, I'm sure there's no way it could taste as good here as it did on the stone patio up there.
Oh, and speaking of things with alcoholic content, Tiffany makes a mean rum ball.
None of us likes to see people in pain. But it's especially hard at the holidays, isn't it? This year my heart is aching for people losing their jobs...friends with major health issues...loved ones dealing with broken relationships...and families so dear to us who, as Paul describes, "having begun in the Spirit" are now grasping to be perfected by the flesh. No time is a good time for any of these challenges, but this time of year seems to magnify pain even as it can magnify joys. If you're one whose Christmas season this year is bringing more tears than smiles, I am praying for you today.
Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAVE!
The Web May Be Hazardous to Your Health
A woman in India is reported now to be the "world's oldest mom," giving birth to a baby at age 70. Rajo Devi of Alewa, India gave birth to a baby girl last week. She, along with her 72 year-old husband, had been hoping for a baby for a half-century. The local media reported the event as a great scientific breakthrough as the aged couple beamed with their infant.
He goes on to quote William Saletan of slate.com, who observes:
But as the march of motherhood continues into life's eighth decade, it may begin to dawn on the liberators that natural and cultural constraints are two different things. The former are less arbitrary. Nature tends to shut down a woman's ability to bear offspring shortly before it starts shutting down her ability to raise them. Science can defy the first shutdown, but how long can it defy the second? If 70 isn't too old to become a mom or dad, what is?
Read Mohler's further comments here...
Do Natural Boundaries Tell Us Anything?
A series of punctuation marks used to convey a wink in text messages - known as an emoticon - has been trademarked in Russia, says a local businessman.
Entrepreneur Oleg Teterin said the trademark for the ;-) emoticon was granted to him by Russia's federal patent agency.
But critics doubt the trademark's legal basis as the emoticon has been in the public domain for years.
Mr Teterin said he would chase firms using the symbol without permission.
"I want to highlight that this is only directed at corporations, companies that are trying to make a profit without the permission of the trademark holder," Mr Teterin said in comments on the Russian TV channel, NTV.
"Legal use will be possible after buying an annual licence from us," he was quoted by the newspaper Kommersant as saying.
"It won't cost that much - tens of thousands of dollars," added the businessman, who is president of Superfone, a company that sells advertising on mobile phones.
Uh-oh. I'm thinkin' I might owe this gentleman a whole lot of dough.
ROME, Dec. 10, 2008 (Reuters) — A team of Franciscan archaeologists digging in the biblical town of Magdala in what is now Israel say they have unearthed vials of perfume similar to those that may have been used by the woman said to have washed Jesus' feet.
The perfumed ointments were found intact at the bottom of a mud-filled swimming pool, alongside hair and make-up objects, the director of the dig conducted by the group Studium Biblicum Franciscanum told the Terrasanta.net religious website.
"If chemical analyses confirm it, these could be perfumes and creams similar to those that Mary Magdalene or the sinner cited in the Gospel used to anoint Christ's feet," Father Stefano de Luca, the lead archaeologist, told the website.
Mark my words. It's only a matter of time before two frolicking schoolgirls miraculously "find" the ACTUAL vial of perfume that Mary M. mostly poured over Jesus' feet. There's bound to be a little left in there.
And a few feet away, they're going to find her makeup.
hat tip: Dr. Powers :-)
Rev. Jackson: I Played No Role in Blagojevich Scandal, Not an 'Emissary'
Jackson wanted to be (the first black) president without having ever held another public office. Unfortunately for him, another man who was willing to at least make some attempt to climb through the ranks in a more accepted paradigm climbed around him and succeeded. Okay, so Jackson may have been bypassed, so let's get his son going through the all the right hoops. And if we have to buy one of the hoops instead of going to the trouble of actually getting elected, well, you do what you have to do.
My point isn't that Jackson is guilty of wrongdoing in this case. It's that he shouldn't be surprised to be suspected when shaking power down for his own ends is his well-known M.O. The difference is that usually he's demanding money instead of offering to pay it.
I might end up being surprised, but I actually give the younger Jackson much more benefit of the doubt than I would ever give his dad. Let's hope the apple has swung wide from the tree.
Labels: Political Observation
hat tip: Tami S.
If I were the type to look for reasons every year to dread the Christmas season, one of the top on my list would be the onslaught of the wall-to-wall Cristy Lane commercials. I'm sure she's a very nice lady and all, but I'm just sayin'...
The Secularization of the Church
Labels: Social Observation
Not much time today, but I'm getting back to a few questions that readers have asked. Joanna asked me a while back about "who's" and "whose" and I answered her in an email but thought I'd do that one here too.
Remember when we discussed "its" and "it's"? The trick is thinking of the apostrophe as a tiny "i" and reading it that way out loud. If it doesn't make sense to read "it's" as "it is" then leave the apostrophe out. There are, of course, more technical explanations, but that will suffice for the quick memory trick.
The same goes with "who's" and "whose". "Whose" is the possessive form of "who", and I'm sure you remember that we don't use apostrophes with possessive pronouns. You do remember that, right? Good. "Who's" is simply a contraction of the words "Who is", as in "Who's eating all my Peppermint Bark?" (If you answer "Me," you're in trouble.)
When you write "who's," please stop and think of that apostrophe as a tiny little "i" and read "Who (i)s eating my candy."
"Whose shoes are these in the middle of the floor?" If you try to read "whose" as "who is", this sentence will not make sense, so it cannot therefore require an apostrophe.
And by the way, some of you are still ignoring or flagrantly disregarding Granny's instructions about "its" and she is heartbroken that her long explanation seems to have been ineffectual. She fully expects peer pressure to begin to shape you up in the New Year. Yes, 2009 :-)
Labels: Political Observation
"God is the one Being in the entire universe for whom self-centeredness, or the pursuit of his own glory, is the ultimately loving act. For him, self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When he does all things ‘for the praise of his glory,’ he preserves for us and offers to us, the only thing in the entire world, which can satisfy our longings. God is for us, and therefore has been, is now and always will be, first, for himself. I urge you not to resent the centrality of God in his own affections, but to experience it as the fountain of your everlasting joy."~~John Piper
hat tip, once again: Of First Importance
So I'm standing in the crazy line at the post office, waiting my turn to choose between the madonna and the nutcracker. The wait was long, I didn't feel like standing, and I was not in a happy mood. Said mood was exacerbated by two very obnoxious old women (okay, my age) fussing and fuming about the latest rise in the price of stamps and how much it costs to send someone a Christmas card.
It's a really good thing that I'm such a nice person, or my mood might have encouraged me to embark on a "Granny has spoken" lecture right then and there. Instead, I consoled myself by reminding myself that I could come home and blog. If you're one of those two women in line, I sure hope you accidentally floated into Granny's House tonight. Because here's what I'd like to have asked you today:
Excuse me, Mrs. Smith. I have this piece of card stock here and I'm putting it in an envelope, and I need to get it to a friend in another state. I was wondering if you might take it for me? The thing is, I really need to get it there before the end of the week, and I need it taken right to her house on the east coast. What? Oh, maybe 1600 miles or so...I don't know. Just be careful, because she doesn't live in a very good part of town, and so she has a really big, sort of mean dog to protect her, and the dog sort of gets carried away with strangers. And...uh...I guess you'd also better be prepared for some really bad weather because I saw on the Internet that there's a major hurricane headed that way. And there's kind of a blockade on the freeway right now as emergency vehicles are piling up just in case.
Oh, and one other thing. I'm not totally sure if she's moved or not, so if you get there and some new guy is in the house, could you please just go ahead and take it on to whatever address he says she's moved to? Yeah, I think she was planning to move to Seattle or somewhere. And you know, if you get there and still can't find her, just go ahead and bring it back to me. Can you leave it under the mat at my front door--my address is on the envelope, right here. Sorry, it's a bit smudged but I think you get the idea.
I sure appreciate this, Mrs. Smith. I know it's a whole lot of trouble, but I am willing to pay you for your time and expenses.
Oh. Uh....wait let me see how much I've got with me.....hey, how's $.42?
[And folks, don't even get Granny started by trying to lecture me about how our tax money is also going to support the post office. I don't like the whole system either. But these women are talking about the blasted rise from .41 to .42 this summer....like they're being squeezed dry. For heaven's sake, ladies, then send an email with a smiley face on it! And God bless America!]
hat tip: the two women with no life
Labels: Theater of the Absurd
Aubrey alerted me this weekend to a valuable and beautifully written article on literature for children. I am a lover of children's books old and new (yes, there are some good new ones) and I love reading reviews and opinions of the genre and of individual works. So I'm delighted to recommend this rather lengthy survey of the elements which make good children's literature.
Sometimes a book is in the canon of children’s literature just because the writing is so good. Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, for instance, stands as the perfection of its kind: a prose of greeny gold, of summer recollected in autumn’s light. Rudyard Kipling, too, has the perfect sort of prose for what he does. From Kim to The Just So Stories to The Jungle Book, he paints the strange new world of India in strange new Indian words—none of them quite defined, but all of them given exactly enough context that the child reader can feel the satisfaction of puzzling them out.
Then, too, certain books are remembered simply because they have an ideal premise. When William Golding won the Nobel Prize in 1983, it was mostly for the power of his 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. And there’s a reason that he based the book on (and made a horror story out of) R.M. Ballantyne’s 1857 feel-good children’s classic, The Coral Island. Ballantyne couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag, but The Coral Island reaches up to the platonic forms of childhood’s daydreams for its setting of boys alone on a desert island.
For that matter, think of Frances Hodgson Burnett—an author with a sensibility so delicate (and a father-fixation so indelicate) that any rational child would smash a window after reading her, desperate for air. But Burnett’s 1905 A Little Princess nonetheless succeeds as a story, because it provides a room where its natural readers’ fantasies can dwell, as the heroine—a little girl, bookish and mistreated—turns out to be the long-lost heir of a large fortune and the ward of an older man who pampers and, ah, yes, understands her.
Meanwhile, sheer liveliness of invention can make a book a classic, one set-piece tripping so rapidly on the heels of another that you don’t bother noticing how good or bad the story actually is: Around the World in 80 Days, for instance, and The Peterkin Papers; Black Beauty and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, too, different as they are. Good illustrations, as well, sometimes push a book into the canon. I’ve always thought Babar the Elephant was raised above its station by Jean de Brunhoff’s drawings, but the Little Bear books may be the prime example: Else Minarik’s discardable words are not much more than placeholders for the young Maurice Sendak’s art.
There's a taste. If you love this genre as we do, go read the whole thing. Aubrey and I both have some disagreements with the author (and not necessarily the same ones) but we loved the way it made us think about our own loves and dislikes.
Are there "classics" that you don't like at all? Or children's books that you think should be classics?
England, we hardly knew ye...
Oxford University Press has removed words like "aisle", "bishop", "chapel", "empire" and "monarch" from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like "blog", "broadband" and "celebrity". Dozens of words related to the countryside have also been culled.
The publisher claims the changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society.
But academics and head teachers said that the changes to the 10,000 word Junior Dictionary could mean that children lose touch with Britain's heritage.
"We have a certain Christian narrative which has given meaning to us over the last 2,000 years. To say it is all relative and replaceable is questionable," said Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment at Buckingham University. "The word selections are a very interesting reflection of the way childhood is going, moving away from our spiritual background and the natural world and towards the world that information technology creates for us."
An analysis of the word choices made by the dictionary lexicographers has revealed that entries from "abbey" to "willow" have been axed. Instead, words such as "MP3 player", "voicemail" and "attachment" have taken their place.
Obviously, there are two separate issues here. Nothing wrong with putting "voicemail" in the dictionary or adding a definition to the entry for "attachment." That's the evolution of language as our needs change. What then, would be the reason for removing "aisle," "bishop," or "monarch"? Have those words disappeared from the language, replaced by less objectionable words? This is an obvious attempt by Oxford to affect, rather than reflect, the language. And it's done with a less-than-transparent leftist agenda.
At Oxford Press? Really? Nah....Words associated with Christianity and British history taken out of children's dictionary
hat tip: Anne W.
“How can the inner workings of the heart be changed from a dynamic of fear and anger to that of love, joy, and gratitude? Here is how. You need to be moved by the sight of what it cost to bring you home. The key difference between a Pharisee and a believer in Jesus is inner-heart motivation. Pharisees are being good but out of a fear-fueled need to control God. They don’t really trust him or love him. To them God is an exacting boss, not a loving father. Christians have seen something that has transformed their hearts toward God so they can finally love and rest in the Father.”~~ Timothy Keller
hat tip: Of First Importance
I guess this is the first month that I've really taken a hard look at the possibilities for the economy in the coming year or more and wondered what a massive round of job layoffs would do to our little "world." In a deep and lasting recession, even those who might still have jobs will be affected by needing to help family, friends, and church members who don't. So I'm trying to take a look at all our expenditures from two sides: what would we do if we were left unemployed, and how can we leave ourselves in the best position to help others if we're blessed enough that The Papa keeps his job. I'd encourage all of you to do the same and share ideas and even contingencies with each other so that we're not caught off guard.
And on a similar note, I recommend the book The Worst Hard Time. The tragedy of the Dust Bowl was rooted in a long-gone agrarian economy and so it seems pretty far removed from anything that might happen in our high-tech age, but we're not guaranteed that we won't face challenges just as immense, so it's an important read. Read it alone or with your families as a way to understand and appreciate our history and our possible future.
It's nearly too good to be true that the congressman who was caught with $90,000 wrapped in foil in his freezer has finally been ousted. True, the postponement of the election in the wake of Hurricane Gustav probably affected the outcome, eliminating the Obama coattails that would have helped him, but at least the poor guy can now be free to concentrate on his defense and not have to worry about incoming bribes from Nigeria. (And it's similarly delightful that the man who ousted him is our first Vietnamese-American in congress, arriving here after the fall of Saigon in 1975.) By the way, anyone know what's the safest way to thaw $90,000? And if it's once thawed accidentally, can it be refrozen?
Bravo (can you believe I'm saying this??) to the president-elect for choosing Eric Shinseki to head up the VA. Shortly after Shinseki's forced retirement as a result of his very prescient warnings about the need for hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq, he was vindicated...and many military men and observers grudgingly agreed that he'd been not only right but courageous. Despite the vindication, he was never really rewarded for telling the hard truth. Let's hope this 2-time Purple Heart recipient will bring the same kind of sanity to the VA that he tried unsuccessfully to inject into the war effort.
Our "little" homeschool co-op experiment this semester will wrap up this week. I don't think any of us suspected that it would be so successful and so well-received as it's been, and despite the weekly Thursday night rush around Granny's House to get everything ready, it's not been near as difficult as I feared. Most of the 50+ kids we began with ended up seeing the whole semester through, and I think almost all of them enjoyed it as much as the moms who got a chance to visit for a few hours every week!
What a nice surprise to see gas in the $1.50's this week. Even if you're in a higher cost of living area, you're no doubt seeing a reduction, a welcome relief for all of us!
I was disappointed to see that a movie I've been looking forward to for months, The Soloist, has been shelved until sometime next year. Never mind that it's all ready to go...it's become a hostage to some new policy of the studio to release only 20 movies a year. So now we have to wait until at least April. In the meantime, you can read more about the true story on which the film is based here.
This will be our last week of school around here before the Christmas break. I'd like to stop now (and my students concur) but we got such a late start this year that I really don't feel good about too long a vacation. Besides, you can't take a break a week before Rome falls, can you?
A few weeks ago I mentioned a switch in our math curriculum and said I'd give you an update. Well, after three weeks the reviews are GREAT for all three of our math students (Pre-algebra, Algebra 1, and Geometry). Of course, liking a curriculum and getting good results long term are two different things, so we'll reserve complete judgment. But what I can tell you now is that we are all, including me, enjoying the format, the instruction, and the understanding we're getting from Teaching Textbooks.
The only Christmas shopping I've got left is stocking stuffers and my kids' ornaments, which I usually have done long before this. But these two categories of things are the hardest for me to do online, hence this year's delay. So as soon as my two femurs calm down from physical therapy, I'll have to hit Target and a couple other places to finish up. And this week, the wrapping marathon begins!
Speaking of Christmas, put Kristen's blog on your Bloglines or Google Reader for an almost daily short reflection on the wondrous season of Advent. She's pulling together some great material...
May this second week of Advent bless and quiet your heart as you prepare for the coming celebration of our Savior's birth...
Reported today in Truemors:
Reason #48173972 to hate Windows Vista: Dell has started charging $150 extra for customers to downgrade from Vista to Windows XP. Dell kicked off the crazy charge back in June at $20 to $50, but has inched up the price, likely testing the limit of what people will willingly fork over to escape Vista hell.WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? AAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH
Dell Charging $150 Extra for Windows XP
My second round of physical therapy had the same effect as the first earlier this year: it made me worse instead of better. So I told them I wasn't coming back.
Tonight I'm discouraged but resigned. There is nothing on the horizon that will mitigate this peculiar kind of pain and evidently it will continue to dictate my level of activity, maybe for the rest of my life.
At times like this, I have to actively recite God's goodness, His blessings, and all the things I am capable of doing even when I can hardly move. Only this purposeful remembering separates me from real depression.
He is, and will ever be, faithful...
WOMEN in Papua New Guinea's Highland region are killing their male babies to end a tribal war that has gone on for more than 20 years.
Rona Luke and Kipiyona Belas, from two warring tribes, said male infanticide reduced the cyclical payback violence infamous in Highlands tribal fights.
If women stopped producing males, their tribe's stock would go down and this would force the men to end their fight, the women said.
"All the womenfolk agreed to have all babies born killed because they have had enough of men engaging in tribal conflicts and bringing misery to them," Ms Luke said.
Papua New Guinea women kill males babies to end tribal war
It's been a way-too-busy day and now I'm deep in a stack of Christmas cards, so instead of coming up with my own W.O.W., I'll treat you to this anonymous offering that I've seen in several sources. Out of the 34, if there are any you don't "get" or where you can't find the error, put it in the comments and we'll discuss. HINT: Not every statement here really contains an error.
1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually)
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used unless you don't want to seem too formal.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not always apropos.
13. Do not use more words, phrases, sentences, or other linguistic elements than you, yourself, actually really and definitely need to use or employ when expressing yourself or otherwise giving voice to what you may or may not be thinking when you are trying to say how many words you should use or not use when using words.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, i.e. etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill excessive exclamation points!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others elude to them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. Eliminate distracting quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson is said to have once remarked, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
34. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
LOS ANGELES (AFP) — American teenagers lie, steal and cheat more at "alarming rates," a study of nearly 30,000 high school students concluded Monday.
The attitudes and conduct of some 29,760 high school students across the United States "doesn't bode well for the future when these youngsters become the next generation's politicians and parents, cops and corporate executives, and journalists and generals," the non-profit Josephson Institute said.
In its 2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth, the Los Angeles-based organization said the teenagers' responses to questions about lying, stealing and cheating "reveals entrenched habits of dishonesty for the workforce of the future."
Boys were found to lie and steal more than girls.
Overall, 30 percent of students admitted to stealing from a store within the past year, a two percent rise from 2006. More than one third of boys (35 percent) said they had stolen goods, compared to 26 percent of girls.
An overwhelming majority, 83 percent, of public school and private religious school students admitted to lying to their parents about something significant, compared to 78 percent for those attending independent non-religious schools.
"Cheating in school continues to be rampant and it's getting worse," the study found. Amongst those surveyed, 64 percent said they had cheated on a test, compared to 60 percent in 2006. And 38 percent said they had done so two or more times.
Despite no significant gender differences on exam cheating, students from non-religious independent schools had the lowest cheating rate, 47 percent, compared to 63 percent of students attending religious schools.
"As bad as these numbers are, it appears they understate the level of dishonesty exhibited by America's youth," the study warned, noting than more than a fourth of the students (26 percent) admitted they had lied on at least one or two of the survey questions.
"Despite these high levels of dishonesty, these same kids have a high self-image when it comes to ethics."
AND HERE'S WHAT SLAYS ME:
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."American teens lie, steal, cheat at 'alarming' rates: study
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Deepak Blames America
And now for a new twist in the "It wasn't a choice...I was born this way" category:
New genetic test