Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Atlas Shrugged watch...
Kudos to John Stossel for posting this today, and to Prof. Boudreaux for writing the letter Stossel highlights. I'm all for giving, but I've always wondered about this talk about "giving back," as though you'd taken something that you really weren't entitled to or that belonged to someone else and now needed to make amends. Using this language just bolsters the whole idea that whatever you have belongs to somebody else.
Don't Give BACK
Labels: Social Observation
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
May I share a little insight I just received from a quite unexpected source?
I try to be all about gratitude. I believe it's the missing element in a lot of Christians' lives, and I think it's a response to life that can never be overdone or overemphasized. I'd even go out on a limb and say that a lack of gratitude is at the heart of nearly all spiritual problems I've ever seen. Note I didn't say it's the heart of every problem...there are plenty of problems that won't be solved by gratitude. I can be tremendously grateful for my home, but if the bank forecloses on the mortgage, no amount of thankfulness is going to stop them or solve my problem of homelessness.
But when my misfortune becomes a spiritual problem, the heart of the issue is probably ingratitude for what I do have, a sense that what God has given isn't enough.
So I work at gratitude. Sometimes it flows easily, like a gushing spring. Sometimes I have to pump it out of myself like a well being drilled from a mile below parched ground. In the middle of last year's trauma and pain and debilitating nausea, I constantly looked for reasons for gratitude: a family who loved me and walked through this fire by my side; a bedroom on the ground floor; a (mostly) working laptop; antibiotics that successfully fought off my infections; a best friend who took vacation time to come and care for me in those first awful days; a doctor who prayed with and for me and made house calls.
Chronic pain does strange things to your heart and mind. And finding nuggets for which I can be thankful in the midst of it is often a challenge. But today, in moments between grading algebra and helping with a resume, I looked up at the TV and saw a reason that has, so far, escaped me.
You've probably seen it. A pretty woman is sitting at the piano, playing a hauntingly lovely melody, when the keys and finally the entire piano begin to crumble under her fingers. The voice-over describes how a disease, in this case rheumatoid arthritis, can steal the life you love. I don't remember the exact wording, but the focus is on how all the meaningful things in one's life can crumble with the onset of RA.
And like a lightning bolt, I felt it. Another huge reason to be grateful: nothing I've been through -- no matter how painful, how inconvenient, how humiliating, how limiting, how expensive, how disappointing -- none of it has "stolen" anything of ultimate importance to me. Oh, there are things I'd like to do that I can't do anymore. There are experiences I won't be able to have. I may never have the stamina or the strength I once had. But God, in His severe mercy, never allowed my life to take the turns that might have been destroyed by arthritis, a dozen surgeries, raging infections, and limited mobility.
I was never a dancer. (Well, there was that ballet class in second grade, but let's don't go there.) I never had more than a passing fancy with running. I didn't develop a love for rock climbing or cycling or aerobics. I love to travel, but I had no desire to be a flight attendant or a tour guide. Yet when I survey all the things I am passionate about, they're all still part of my life. And for that, I must bow in thanksgiving.
There may be a time when God allows some other illness or accident to take away the things that I love: family, friendships, work, books, music, mentoring, teaching my kids, travel, writing. Without my eyesight, my hearing, or my fingers, some of these things would become impossible or severely limited. And perhaps then I'll have to pump harder for that sacrifice of praise and thankfulness. But today, a simple drug commercial let me take that next step in gratitude. I still have all the things I truly love.
Never underestimate God's ability or willingness to speak, or sing, today's life lessons in a very ordinary key...
Labels: Devotional, Health
Monday, April 25, 2011
Monday edition of the Easter Sunday snippets...
I bid you good morning (it is still morning as I write this) after one of the loveliest Easters ever. When it was over last night I had no desire to blog or to do anything but bask in the light of the Resurrection and the joy of being with family and friends. Alas, the snippets went to bed unwritten.
One of the joys of the day was my completion of a goal I set right before New Years: memorize the book of Philippians by Easter Sunday. I actually finished two days ahead of schedule and had some time to review the entire book a couple of times before yesterday. It was a beautiful feeling to have done this with thousands of others on the Partnering to Remember journey this year. So..."Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Christ Jesus our Lord!"
This Easter, my consistent thought has been that someday I will have my own Easter! If Christ is the firstfruits of the Resurrection, then something else follows--ME! And YOU! For all those who belong to Him, we will follow Him into an eternity of being like Him...He "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." (PHILIPPIANS 3:21)
After Easter, I can always "smell" the end of the school year and I begin looking forward to the change of pace (if not the heat) of the coming season. We have two vacations in the works and another one or two in the talking stage, so we intend to make full use of the summer. Never mind that a couple of our students (guess which: we only have two left) will be scrambling to finish their algebra courses this summer...they'll be lugging books along if necessary. I remember my days in school. If we got only 2/3 of the way through the book, oh well, it was over. I don't remember that we ever finished a textbook, math or otherwise. But algebra isn't the place to do that, so we'll plug on until the last page.
Things that make you go "hmmmm...": Facebook's brand logo on their site and other places is spelled with a lower case f. But if you're typing a status on facebook and you use the word "facebook", with the lower case f, you get the squiggly red line that indicates it's misspelled. Then if you type it with an upper case F, you're good to go. Go figure.
As I type, there's a lot of banging going on upstairs. The carpet and vinyl installers are here, hoping to do the entire upstairs by the end of the day. This is one project that is WAY overdue and I'm going to be smiling really big when it's done...
Enjoying the epic Fall of Giants via audible.com. John Lee is a great narrator.
I've written many times before about Peggy Noonan and her uncanny ability to step back out of the blur of current events and visualize with clarity "the big picture"--politically, sociologically, culturally. If you agree with me that it's important to have people who can do this, go over and read what she wrote late last week about our efforts in Afghanistan and other parts of the world where we find radically different world views. This issue isn't going away any time soon.
Not sure whether I should be giddy or depressed over the fact that there are, as of yet, no serious challengers on the Democratic side to Obama's re-election. Part of me knows that a Democratic "Obama Shrugged" could be less damaging than what we've got...on the other hand, Hillary Clinton could be a much more formidable challenger for what seems right now to be a weak field of Republicans. So I'm watching with interest...
This week I'll attempt to do some bulk cooking to get ready for the swelling of our household for several weeks. It'll be nice to have some large-batch meals already done!
Happy Easter Monday--have a great week!
Labels: Books, Holidays, Homemaking, Homeschooling, Political Observation, Summer, Sundays
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
It was quite nice today to have an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon at which there were no unpleasant surprises. So many of my troubles in the past ten years have been completely unexpected results shared at what I thought was to be a routine appointment, so I'm a little spooked now every time I go. With spring and summer vacations coming up I did not want any bad news and was even tempted to cancel today's appointment, sort of playing ostrich for a while. But the only bad news was what I already know: I have chronic pain. The good news is that I'm no worse than I was last fall, and the x-rays show that all my hardware is in place with no loosening of anything. And really, that's all I can hope for at this point. After all, I can still walk.
And someday, I will run.
(My daughter wanted me to post the x-ray to show why I set off metal detectors.)
Sunday, April 17, 2011
I've just returned from seeing Atlas Shrugged with Steph K. and we had a great time. The movie was almost exactly what both of us expected, very much like what we'd envisioned as we read the book. So what did I think about the movie? For a film that was made on a meager $10m budget and shot in 26 days, it was remarkable. This is the movie that Hollywood didn't want made and that was rejected at every turn for the past 20 years, so the fact that it made it to the big screen at all is surprising. There were places that it was a little rough and that showed the lower production costs, and there were places that would have been fairly mysterious to those who haven't read the book...and of course it's a little disconcerting that it stops a third of the way through the story. All in all, though, I was delighted with it. If you've read the book, even part of the book, go see the movie. If you haven't read the book, go see it anyway and then dive into the book and get it read before Part 2 is released next year! (Better yet, get it from audible.com and listen to it.)
And please, listen to or read the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It might just change your life.
We're getting ready for a major upheaval here. Sometime in the next two weeks we'll have the entire upstairs re-carpeted or re-floored. I'm about to find out what's under the kids' beds. I think I should be afraid.
You know your kids are growing up when you have to spend a day helping them with their tax returns :-/
Can it really be Holy Week already? I'm thinking I just now made my New Year's goals. Looking forward to our church services this week...
Don't know what to make of Donald Trump. Should I be petrified or just laughing?
If this is true, it's very sad. Not that I would take 60 Minutes' word for anything, but once in a while they've been right.
Okay, update on my Mac story. Thursday I took it in to the Apple Geniuses, and guess what? They're geniuses. Who knew? I do still have "issues" with the Mac, but do you know what the main and most worrisome problem turned out to be? FIREFOX. Firefox 4, to be exact. Evidently it has major memory leak problems and it was eating up 25% of the 4 gigs of RAM just by being loaded. I was using it because I really do not like Safari, Apple's preloaded browser, and so I thought I'd minimize my adjustment to the Mac by sticking with the browser I already loved. FAIL. Lesson of the story: if you're a Firefox user and you are having trouble with your Mac OR your PC slowing down, especially after it's been on a while, check and see how much of the memory Firefox is using. You will probably choke. Answer, for me: Google Chrome. LOVE.IT.
One more week and I'll have memorized the book of Philippians with tens of thousands of others. Speaking of memory leaks, it hasn't been easy...even after learning the last few verses this week I think it will take me several weeks to really solidify the whole thing, but it's been oh-so-worth-it. I'm looking around now to decide on another book or chapter to work on next...
Yesterday The Papa returned from a 16-day trip to Australia. He came back loaded with stuffed kangaroos, boomerangs, Australia ball caps, and Tim-Tams. He said he was tired of living in the future.
And since the present day is quickly drawing to a close, I'll close also and wish you a beautiful Holy Week and a blessed Easter at its end. Hosanna!
Labels: Books, Holidays, Homemaking, Kids, Movies, Political Observation, Sundays
Friday, April 15, 2011
Wait...I thought it was Bush and global warming that was to blame? Who knew?
The iPad is taking your job
Labels: Theater of the Absurd
Monday, April 11, 2011
Atlas Shrugged watch...
Just about the time you think you've heard everything...
Pretty soon, they'll insist on bringing school lunches to the homeschooled kids.
Chicago schools ban lunches brought from home
Labels: Education, Kids, ObamaNation, Social Observation
A beautiful article on what the misplaced focus on standards of modesty can mean in the lives of girls and women. Note especially the quote from C.S. Lewis.
hat tip: Hillary M.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
snippets do I have this week? Let's see. A lot of folks are going to work tomorrow who
wondered for several days if they would. Glad to see that we averted a government shutdown for the sakes of those who would suffer (including, as it turns out, this family). But I can't say I'm jumping up and down at the meager concessions toward spending reductions. As Karl Rove said in the wee hours of Saturday morning, this only matters if it's the first step in a long road. Otherwise, it was a waste.
And now on to the struggle over the debt limit. Let me see if I've got this. I've maxed out all my credit cards. I still want stuff. Good stuff, you know? Not just selfishly, but to help other people. But to be honest, I can't even come CLOSE to making the payments on all the stuff I've already borrowed. But if I don't borrow more, I can't keep doing all the good stuff I do. I can't feed hungry people or donate to charities or take my kids to the museum. So, maybe I can figure out a way to shame the credit card companies into raising my limit and giving me more money! After all, there are people depending on me, and those nasty scoundrels who have all the money need to just give it up! What do they need it for, anyway--they're filthy rich! If I make enough noise, and keep saying over and over that those fat cats should "pay their fair share," public opinion will turn against them and they'll have to cave! Especially if I can get on TV! (I'll let you know how that works out.)
Bethany (almost 21) and Tim (14) took off Saturday morning to drive north for a visit with the faraway siblings and other family members. Still seems funny that my kids are old enough to just take off on the interstate, but I'm very glad that they can and that they'd rather spend their time that way than in pretty much any other pursuit.
Peach salsa. It works.
how brave I end up being, but I'm planning to hit the theater Friday night for the opening of Atlas Shrugged
. If I chicken out and don't feel like braving the crowd, I might wait a few days, but I definitely want to see it while it's still on the big screen. I've watched some of the trailers, and other than a level of business dress that's uncharacteristic of the era in which it was written and about which it was written, it is much like I've pictured. Go Dagny.
And who is John Galt, anyway? And where is he when we need him?
A big hug to those of you who have experienced some disappointments this week. You know who you are.
Update on my computer saga: this week, my second full week with the new MacBook Pro, the words "buyer's remorse" have been creeping into my consciousness. I've beaten them back a few times and I'm still not ready to admit to a complete mistake, but I will admit I am not thrilled. I can see the arguments that photographers and graphic designers and web developers use for the superiority of Macs, but I don't do those things. And most of the things I do are either clunkier or at least no better on the Mac. And for this, I paid 400% more than I would have spent on another PC. No, folks, not just a hundred dollars more...two thousand dollars more. I realize that I'm paying for terrific Apple support and Apple reliability, but I think this is a higher price than I would have paid had I known that the functionality, for me, just doesn't rate that kind of money. And so right now, with a very guilty look on my face, I'm typing this post on the HP with the brand new hard drive and staring over at the beautiful and very expensive Apple across the room. For those of you who ask me why I won't just run Windows on the Mac, it's easy: for me, it will be less stress to just use two computers. The reviews about what Windows does on a Mac are for the most part not encouraging. I use multiple high-RAM applications simultaneously, and I can't afford to have a platform like that (which I'd have to spend yet more big bucks for) drag down my speed. I'll just shuttle back and forth, thank you. (And speaking of dragging, the Mac is already dragging and spinning and acting like it's working too hard, and I have an appointment to take it back to the Apple "Genius" bar this week. Something else I didn't want to have to take time for.)
Okay, that was more than a snippet, I realize. That needed to be a separate post.
On the constant urging of friends and family, I have started in watching seasons of old (or not so old) TV shows via Netflix. When The Papa is gone, this is a nice way to spend late evenings. So here are my thoughts on the ones I've started and/or finished. Doctor Who: Not too far into this one yet, but I don't think I'll be able to hang with it very long. Having seen the original in the UK years ago, I thought I'd probably love this, but..... Monk: YES please. More. Pushing Daisies: I watched the first two and was in love, and by two more I was ready for a divorce. Not from The Papa, just from PD. Cute idea, very silly very fast. And not the kind of silly that holds my attention. Downton Abbey: I can't get enough of this! I'm mad at myself for watching Season 1 so quickly and now I have to wait nearly a year for Season 2. Maybe I'll just watch them again.
bio on audio. I know there's some controversy about this book, but just what's in the historical record sans any personal bias of the author is enough to move me to tears...
I'm nearing the home stretch of my goal to memorize the book of Philippians by Easter: just sixteen verses to go. God has been so good not only to lead me to this goal but to lead me through it. He's taught me so much directly from His word and also about my own brain and how it works best. I know more than I ever did about what times of day are best for me, which life circumstances and moods help and hurt my ability to retain what I learn, how sleep affects my memory, what the optimum size "chunk" is for me to remember in one day, etc. This wasn't meant to be an intellectual exercise, but it has hammered home to me how we are whole beings, and the same God who saved me and made me His own is the Creator of this brain that He's using to store up His word. Lovely lessons.
And now, I need a pot of coffee, ya'll. Not a cup. A whole pot. Have a great week!
Labels: Books, Devotional, Food, Kids, Money, Movies, Political Observation, Technology, Theater of the Absurd
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Atlas Shrugged watch...
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
"Why is there no looting in Japan?” wondered a headline in the Daily Telegraph. So did a lot of other folks.
hat tip: The Papa
Labels: Social Observation
Monday, April 04, 2011
The Handwriting on The Wall
a decade ago I began advising homeschoolers not to worry too much about cursive writing, and a couple of years after that I found myself advising parents to eliminate the teaching of cursive in favor of keyboarding, spending only enough time on cursive that kids could READ it. I was solidly against A Beka
's insistence on teaching cursive in Kindergarten, a move that I believed to be not only unnecessary but damaging to some children.
The direction of communications and technology in the years since I first espoused these views has only confirmed my decisions. I did not teach cursive writing to my last two kids, and I would never spend time on it again with any child unless said child wanted to embrace it as an art form or a novelty, much like calligraphy is thought of today.
And though I would never use what public schools are doing as a driver of what I think is best for my kids' education, in this case I believe that many schools are seeing the handwriting on the wall and choosing to spend their limited time and dollars on skills that kids will actually need in the new millennium.
Writing off cursive
Labels: Homeschooling, Learning, Technology
Gather your kids around and watch this live eagle feeding her babies! (And check the links down the side for others.) You have to watch a very short ad first, but then the live feed starts.
hat tip: Annie W.
Labels: Fun, Learning
Sunday, April 03, 2011
a strange week, getting used to the new MacBook Pro while trying to carry on my normal tasks. So far I'm loving most things about it...I don't like the fact that some of my treasured programs won't run on a Mac and so I'm forced to decide between trying to shuttle back and forth between two computers or putting software on the Mac which will run Windows. Neither seems a happy prospect, given what I've heard and read from all but one person about the Windows for Mac option. So. My decisions aren't all behind me yet.
(Anyone have a recommendation for some good Mac software for a recipe database?)
and I found a nice new restaurant Thursday night. Actually a new iPhone app found it for us, and I want to plug the app as much as the restaurant. It's called Urbanspoon
, and it's a great way to find a new place to eat. We get stuck in a rut when we go out, afraid to take a risk on a place we know nothing about. This app uses your present location and gives you suggestions based on your choice of cuisine, how far you want to drive, and how much you want to spend. Then for each suggestion there are maps, reviews, etc. to give you an idea of what you're in for....So, we spun the dial and came up with Roaring Fork
...and we were delighted! A nice pre-Australia date. And any place that makes a Fried Avocado and Crab with Chipotle Mayo is doing something right :-)
I'm so glad our taxes are done. Even though we had to pay, it's DONE. And I'll be snickering at the lines of people at the post office on the 15th. Yeah, I'm that way.
Loving the new season of Army Wives...and also loving seeing Season 1 of Downton Abbey via Netflix. This weekend I also went back and watched most of the first season of Pushing Daisies, which I never saw when it was on TV, and caught up on some old Monk episodes. Yeah, I go through these phases...
and I also finished up book #7 in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series (Blue Shoes and Happiness
) before he left. And I've ordered the next one...oh, what will we do when we're out of Precious Ramotswe??
And during the past week I finished The Red Queen, which I adored, and began the audio version of Metaxas' Bonhoeffer biography. There just aren't enough hours in the day!
If you're homeschooling and haven't yet discovered or switched to Teaching Textbooks
for math, cut your losses now and run to their website as fast as your fingers will carry you. Even if you're not homeschooling, your kids could benefit from the excellent help in this program.
Have I mentioned how excited I am that we are gaining TWO new grandbabies this spring/summer? CAN'T.WAIT!
A man and his John Deere--happy combination.
I think I would like to see The Donald become president just for the fun of seeing what would happen to his combover while walking away from Marine One. (Oh, come on, you know you would too.)
This spring seems to be so beautiful. We don't have as many bluebonnets as some other years, but the greens are so lush. I think the milder spring temps have a lot to do with it even though we haven't had enough rain. This has been a weird year...tomorrow night our low is to be 43! April? In San Antonio?
This morning in worship, we shared a song that's been played but never yet sung (waiting for our CCLI license) in our services, and it was so meaningful as to bring tears from a lot of us. This exquisite piece, "In Christ Alone," is becoming one of the new but soon to be classic anthems of the faith...
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
"In Christ Alone," lyrics by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty
Enjoy your first week of April!
Labels: Books, Church, Food, Grandparenting, Homeschooling, Music, Political Humor, Sundays, Technology, TV
Friday, April 01, 2011
Hmm...what to tell posterity?