Thursday, July 31, 2008

GREAT NEWS!!!!

My sweet sweet friend, Lindsay, who often comments and who has her own blog on our Kith and Kin roll had her baby this morning!!!! YEA!!!! Andrew Jason C_____ was born this morning at 7:52 am weighing in at 7 lbs 3 ozs, 18 1/2 inches long.

Andrew has an older brother James who is a little over two years older, and who is probably hanging with a grandma or grandpa right about now.

CONGRATULATIONS, LINDS!!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Failed State Index 2008

Foreigh Policy magazine has just published its "Failed State Index" for this year.

Some fascinating stuff: for example, Kenya is not a failed state, but it is "borderline," as are Syria and Egypt.

(Thanks to Thomas P.M. Barnett for directing me to this source. His post and comments are helpful.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Loving Your Enemies; Visiting the Sick

In a post by Charlie Martin concerning McCain's visit to the Dalai Lama in Colorado, Martin writes, in part:

I looked around some of the left-wing blogs, and I was struck by one comment: “Does McCain think the Dalai Lama is a gook?” This because of the infamous statement about how McCain “hates gooks.”

Well, you know what? If McCain “hated gooks” at some point — after being captured, tortured, beaten, eventually crippled — I think most people would understand that. On the other hand, he has returned to Vietnam on several occasions, and had as much to do with Vietnam and the US reestablishing relations as anyone. Somehow, for all this “hatred,”he’d been on the side of the Vietnamese people since, and even the prison director now says “If I were an American, I’d vote for McCain.”

Later in the article, Martin comments on Obama's trip to Germany:

Contrast that [McCain's support of the Tibetan people against Chinese near-genocide, a low return political investment] with Barack Obama, who discovered that the Department of Defense didn’t want him to include campaign aides and a campaign photo-op in a visit to wounded American soldiers and Marines at Landstuhl. (Think of it: what could be lonelier than being severely wounded and in a hospital in a foreign country?) When there wasn’t anything in it for him, what did Obama do? He canceled out, so he could work out at the Ritz-Carlton and do a little Berlin site seeing.


UPDATE: The other side of the story regarding the cancelled visit to the troop hospital can be read here. The Financial Times refers to the story about Obama cancelling the visit as being "debunked". I would suggest that "debunked" is too strong a word and reflects FT's leanings toward Obama. But I also think that there may be something to Obama's side of the story. Obama, of course, is vulnerable to attack at this point because of his weak views on defense and his voting record regarding funding the war in Iraq. Fair game, I would say.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm Glad this Lady is on Our Side, Even if She's Not a Presbyterian

This lady. (Needs a Windows Player.)

10th Anniversary Crud

You know what stinks? When it is your tenth anniversary and you are both sick with the bug that your kids gave you after touching everything at the doctor's office earlier this week. Kellsey got it first (so perhaps I touched something at the doctor's office, or maybe I was just faster to develop the bug? or maybe the kids were beginning to feel nasty before they could articulate it? who knows...), then Honor and Aidan, and now Macon. While the kids seem perfectly better at this point, Kells is still fighting a lingering sense of nausea and cumulative exhaustion.

We are hoping to get to celebrate sometime soon, but at least for now Macon got to spend the day at home from work. (poor guy!!!) And, Kellsey is experiencing the giggles because she is just so tired she can't help it.

Some good news in this is that the last time Aidan had the throw-ups, he was prescribed a drug called zofran. It was originally developed for chemo patients to help with the nausea experienced after treatments. It is often prescribed now for pregnant women to help combat morning sickness. Anyway, I consider it the miracle drug because it immediate stops Aidan from throwing up. The good news part is that we had some left over from last time and were able to use it again to help him weather this bug. Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

18 Month Check-Up

Friday was Honor's 18 month check-up. She weighed in at 22 lbs 8 oz and they measured her length at 31 1/4 " (I think she may be 31.5 or a bit more as they could not wrestle her into straightening out her leg for the measurement...that's my girl! She's definitely got some spirit!) Basically, she is in the 25th percentile (maybe a little higher for height).


She likes to dance and get down! She will boogie to the music and even enjoys playing her daddy's congas and bongos. She isn't half bad and already exhibits more of a sense of rhythm than her mommy. She must have gotten that propensity from her daddy, as he is so very gifted with rhythm and all things musical. What a fun thing to inherit, don't you think? This picture is a bit blurry, but it's only because she was drumming way too fast for the camera to catch!


She has an exploding vocabulary right now. It's crazy! She probably has about 50 words or more that she can say and between 40-50 signs, though she isn't using those as much as she used to now that she is able to speak more words. She has a couple of 2-word combos, but not many. The sweetest one is "bye-bye, Daddy", but the funniest one is, "poo-poo, yucky. " One thing I find funny is that Aidan used to call everything with wheels a "rar-rar". Honor calls almost everything with wheels a "bike!!"

If you ask her if she wants something, she will take a moment to reflect on your proposal and then either say "no" while shaking her head from side to side, causing all her little curls to go flying about her head, or she will say, "u-hunh!" in a sing-song kind of way to communicate her approval and/or excitement.

I also get a kick out of how she used to call crackers, "crack-ers", but now she just calls them, "crack". HA!


She has a great deal of poise for such a tiny bit of a thing. She has always been able to balance herself. It has been very strange watching her climb on things and then get down again. She almost never falls and she has an intuitive sense of how to get herself out of or off her perches. If she cannot, she will turn to you and both do the sign for and say the word, "help" out loud. Both of these pictures are evidence of her exquisite balance in action. You can't tell in the first one, but she is standing on top of Aidan's "Ramps Around the Garage" toy. In the second photo she is exiting the back of her wagon without any falls which is quite a challenge as those wheels can easily roll if you push too much either way.



She is quite quick to laugh and has an infectious smile. She still laughs the loudest and the most for her brother, whom she most often calls "bub-ba" or "bubber". She has some words that are so clear you cannot believe an 18 month old said them, but others are definitely only understood by mom, dad, and bubber.

The last anecdote I will share is this: Instead of saying "done", she says "none" and then takes her food and drops it over the side of the high-chair tray onto the floor. We're working on that, but mommy is not getting anywhere with that, so Honor continues to drop food on the floor on a regular basis to announce that she is indeed, "none".

Monday, July 21, 2008

"How a Young Lawyer Saved the Second Amendment"

The interview in the WSJ of Alan Gura by James Taranto is well worth reading. Gura represented the appellants in the Heller case before the Supreme Court. I find it interesting (and informative)that Mr. Gura, "[a] native or Israel, . . . grew up in Los Angeles and never owned a firearm until after that city's riots in 1992."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Post-Easter Egg Hunt

Only in South Florida. Plus today, Carol and Mary saw 15 iguanas out in the sun on the side of the road, along a mile stretch of Ludlum Drive that they drove down this afternoon.

God Takes Back One of His Own. Yet so soon.

Ben Entwistle. See Mary's post on Ben. Also see Missionaries Return to Triad to Bury Their Son.

Your State Government at Work (Or Mine, at Least)

During Florida's housing boom, state regulators allowed thousands of mortgage professionals with criminal records in the industry - costing consumers millions.

The Miami Herald has a big expose beginning in this morning's issue, lest we think that there is something special about government at the more local level that endows it with extra virtue. Those Democrats! Oh, wait, we've had Republican administrations for the last nine years.

The Herald quotes Don Saxon, the commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation, which licenses mortgage brokers: "The statute doesn't say that based on those offenses [murder, for example, bank robbery as another], they have to be denied a license. It's discretionary." I hope ol' Don gets through this without losing his State pension. He probably will.

And what about Terry Straub director of the OFR's Division of Finance? "We look at all the facts, you know, whatever file, and we predicate on the fact that everybody deserves another chance." What a great guy. Read the article. You simply would not believe the people that this agency licensed as mortgage brokers, not to mention what these brokers did once they were licensed.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Our son, the budding carpenter





Today Macon worked on putting together a board which needed to be built out so it could be hung on the back of our TV Armoire. So, he built it out and then covered it with some batting and a bolt of denim that I had picked out with Honor this morning at Hancock's Fabric store.

Aidan, of course, assigned himself as Daddy's assistant worker. By the end, he spent most of his time drilling holes in a spare piece of wood. What I found most delightful, was how very satisfied he was with himself for drilling these holes. You should know, he drilled those holes VERY well indeed!

The Waiting

Oh! The waiting! The waiting. It is so hard to learn to wait, and really, I suppose there's not a one of us who is very good at it. Anyways, This morning began with some very great fun on the carpet with Macon and the kids. It progressed to breakfast, but in Aidan's mind, it could not bake quickly enough.


So, he watched.


On what was he waiting, you ask?


When watching grew old, he moved to the couch.


Honor decided not to waste time while waiting and saddled up to her Daddy where he taught her how to play a new game on his iphone.


And, finally, the wait was over! Aidan decided it was indeed worth it!

Sean at Farnborough!


I've been reading in the WSJ this week about the aviation show at Farnborough, Egland, especially about the F-22 Raptor that will be put on display there. It is the greatest fighter in the world and this is, I think, the first time people get a real good look at it. (Unfortunately, Secretary of Defense Gates doesn't want it produced in any quantity, because he thinks the next war will be just like the ones we are fighting now.)

But more to the immediate point: Sean is there, working for Aviation Week! I want that job!

Here's his report (and be sure to watch the incredible video of the Raptor being put through its paces.)

Way to go, Sean!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Abortion and the NAACP

At the threshold, let me say that I have a problem with referring to people as "black" people and "white" people. I mean, Obama is half "white" for Pete's sake. As I understand it, a "drop" can make you "black." Well, give me one (if I don't already have one), give us all one, and let's get over this.

This categorization is imposed upon us constantly, thoughtlessly, every day by journalists for whom it somehow simplifies things in their hurried, dead-line impelled days, politicians, for whom it can mean money and power, and ourselves, for whom it means we are mostly sleepwalkers. There is only one category that makes any difference.

OK. That's off my chest.

Now go to this column and read some rare commentary on the NAACP and its position toward abortion. Talk about blind and driven by a lust for power, there are your national NAACP elites for you.

And how about this:

Barack Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in that case. Campaign website here (strangely hidden under "Women's Issues".)

(Senator Foghorn understands that slavery is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of states rights and will make preserving those rights under the Constitution as originally adopted a priority as President. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the decision of the Founding Fathers.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday Morning Thoughts

I'm on Amazon's email list, and it's one of the few commerical, non-lawyer sources I don't use MailWise to weed out. I received one today advising that there are 140,000 book titles now accessible through the Kindle. I really have the itch for one of those devices, but looking at the matter reasonably, I have no lack of books to read right now and have no access problem whatever. It's just the gadget aspect, I'm sure.

I started with a trainer at the Downtown Athletic Club a few weeks ago, and have been going twice a week, during the work day (the club is only a block away). I can tell its good for me, but the interruption of the work day is too time-costly, the thing is too dollar-expensive on even a medium term basis, and so I am going to rethink the exercise regime. Walter and I had a long talk last night about the issue and he has some suggestions.

Chambers and Partners is a British based law directory. Law directories are lists of lawyers whose lists, to one degree or another, are "selected." If you are a lawyer who practices long enough in the same locale and the same specialty and if you keep your nose clean, you are nice to people, and don't make too many mistakes that bite you or your clients, then you start to show up on these things. Chambers does these lists worldwide, and I showed up on the 2007 list for the first time to my knowledge. I learned yesterday that I show up again on the 2008 list, but with a "commentary". It was a nice birthday present. Chambers seeks to distinguish itself by having investigators call other lawyers in the community to determine a target lawyers' reputation. I have an idea that the investigator called my friend Sam Ullman. He is the only one who would use the "second mile" reference, other than perhaps myself. "Going the second mile" is, of course, a reference to one of Jesus' illustrations, and it's interesting that it has become one of Sam's staple descriptions of doing very good client work.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Static Electricity and Water Tables





Foot Pictures

Two weeks (plus a few days), I walked off a curb (without intending to walk off said curb).

OUCH! I wound up in the E.R. and had several x-rays taken. The good news was that it was not broken. The bad news was that I had indeed damaged some ligaments.

The swelling began immediately and turned into a lovely goose egg on top of my foot (not my ankle) within 10 minutes. The next morning the goose egg was mostly gone but the green and purple were beginning to bloom. A week later the purple had migrated.
This first pic is from the day after when the swelling had mostly gone down, but not completely.

The second pic is from a week or so later when the color had migrated a bit.

I am walking without a splint or ace bandage now (YIPPEE!!!!) but I am still a little slower than normal and still feel quite bruised. I will be allowed to begin exercise walking behind my double jogger again the last few days of July, which is good because I will need a couple of months to get back up to speed so I can run in the Austin Skirt Chaser 5k. That's right, folks, I said "Skirt Chaser". check it out.

Straws in the Wind

Last Thursday, the WSJ reported:

As average gas prices hit a record high of $4.108 a gallon this week, the government released new data showing that drivers have cut back their use of the fuel to levels not seen in five years.

This morning, the WSJ summarized on page 1:

The U.S. trade deficit shrank unexpectedly in May as petroleum imports fell by 10.%% and exports increased.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Trouble Focusing?

I struggle with pushing deep into a project these days, building a wall around, say, 90 minutes so that I can dive down, down into a sea of thought.

At the office, I have tried to protect my mornings by turning my phones off, exiting email, and closing my door from 9:00 to Noon. I've asked the people in the rest of the office many times (via email and at firm meetings) to save what they have for me until after lunch (with very limited success, although growling helps when someone comes through the door.) Even when my "quiet time" is honored while I am inside my office behind the closed door, I have to come out sometimes, only to be ambushed by people who have been saving up. (Often as a result of that interruption, I forget what I came out of the office for. As a result, I will go back into my office, shut the door, and then remember what it was.)

And then there are the emails. At the office, we use a spam filter service called "MailWise", and that has been a great help, although not, of course, for managing client matters. We have clients who believe that one can carry on a consultation via email. My suspicion is that they believe that email, appearing to be so quick, must be a cheap way of getting advice from someone who charges by the hour. In addition, email has a sort of immediacy that would appear to solve the problem of their lawyer taking so long to get their work done. (If I just hammer the lawyer with emails each day, he will finally give up and tell me what the answer is to my question.) There is a lot more to say about email, of course, but I will move on.

Dealing with interruptions and distractions, having difficulty focusing, all of these things have made me feel, well, old. This is all about being in one's sixties, I've thought. I am losing it.

But maybe not. A recent article in the WSJ, Unloading Information Overload, discussed the matter of distractions, and is worth reading if you can get a copy. (Not sure whether you need a subscription for the link.) The writer, L. Gordon Crovitz, points to some other recent discussions of the problem: Nicholas Carr's, Is Google Making Us Stupid?, in the Atlantic magazine, which is available on the 'net (how does the magazine make any money?), and a book by Maggie Jackson entitled Distracted: the Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age.

Recently I watched a documentary on the writer David McCullough. What an affable, engaging gentleman he appears to be! And yet he knows how to build a wall around himself to get his work done. Out in his very large back yard, he has an office in a tiny house, a house just large enough for his desk, some bookcases and file cabinets, and a bath room. There is no phone there, and there is certainly no internet connection (he uses an old typewriter for his work). The spot of land where the office sits is separated from the rest of his home by a fence, and there is a gate one must go through to get there from his residence proper. The gateposts are about 3 feet high. He said that when he is in his office, others are forbidden to pass through that gate if they are taller than the posts (he has grandchildren).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Joe and Linda Just Doing Their Duty for Miami Springs

Travis Wheeler said, ". . . Here in Miami Springs, there is (sic) not many things for our young crowd to do. We really appreciate what they did for us." . . . Mario Muchin said, "It's good for the young adults to have an outlet. A place to come to where they are going to be protected and taken care of by Joe and Linda."

Joe and Linda own the Hurricane Bar & Grill on N. Royal Poinciana. What they did was introduce "Beer Pong" to their establishment last Thursday night, according to the Rivers Cities Gazette.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Book in the Mail

It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff

Based on Kevin Kelley's review of a review
Merlin Mann's review turned me onto this fantastic book. We've rethought our household because of it. We were reminded that life is not about stuff; it's about possibilities, which the right tools can enable. For a world of expanding stuff, this book is the necessary anti-stuff tool. . . . It will help you distinguish between that which is fabulous for you personally and that which is just more junk to organize. I've learned so much from the author that I've excerpted it generously in the hope that even if you don't read the book, you'll glean a bit of its wisdom.


Being the son of my father, I am already disposed to get rid of "stuff". Nice to have help along the way. :-)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Crossfit Central Representing

Our crew from Crossfit Central did well at the Crossfit Games in California last weekend.

Jeremy Thiel - the head coach at Crossfit Central - finished third in a group of several hundred crazy strong competitors. crazy strong as in very strong, knock out a hundred pull ups in a few minutes kind of strong. Navy Seal type strong.



Here's the breakdown.

Eighteenth Century Flip-Flop

I'm starting into Hague's William Pitt the Younger, and the first chapter describes the brilliant, Churchillian-like career of William Pitt the Elder, the subject's father. In pertinent part, Hague writes:

Having finally thrown in his lot with King George II in 1746 in return for a place in the government, [the Elder] Pitt was happy to use his oratorical skill to advance arguments sometimes the exact opposite of those he had propagated in opposition [to the King's party], a phenomenon well-known to this day. He had made his name in opposition denouncing the payment of subsidies for Hanoverian troops even to the point of saying he would agree to be branded on the forehead as a traitor if he ever supported the idea, but once in office he swiftly switched sides on the issue with "unembarrassed countenance."

Wal-Mart Exotica


Only in South Florida.

Infant dies in car crash: baby carrier unrestrained

This, from today's Miami Herald, makes you sick. The little girl was 9 months old. The mother survived the single vehicle crash, a Volvo no less, with "non-life-threatening injuries." Among other things, the article states,

[Florida] State law requires that all children 5 and younger ride in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device. For children 3 and younger, the device has to be a carrier or child seat.

So much for Florida law.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mmmm!


"Spicy Vegetarian Chili" from Carol's kitchen this evening!

UPDATE: Note the fresh green salad in the upper left hand corner and the bottles of oil and vinegar. The little bottle is extra virgin olive oil from Carbonell. As gifts, we bought several sets of these little bottles in the train station last April in Córdoba as we were leaving on the leg of our trip that would take us to Toledo. Carbonell has its own little store, there in the station. As one US retailer states about Carbonell:

Carbonell has been in Córdoba since the 19th Century, where it has produced a quality oil from the seemingly endless olive groves, which carpet the rolling hills of Andalucía. This extra virgin olive oil from Carbonell is the leading national brand of olive oil in Spain. Many of you who grew up in Spain remember that your mother had two Carbonell containers in her pantry. The green-labeled bottle of Extra Virgin Carbonell can be used with salads, fresh vegetables and gazpacho. This extra virgin oil has a mild but tasty blend of Andalucían olives.

Since our trip to Spain, I have taken to putting the oil and some balsamic vinegar on my salads. The vinegar is from Italy. The combinaton really gives the salad a great, fresh taste.

The US and AIDS Relief in Africa

The Bush Administration has done a lot of good with "Pepfar", the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, in place since 2003. The WSJ editorial page last weekend wrote of its success and the difficulty in getting Congress to renew it, which Congress finally did recently.

Too Much Money in the System

On the present and ongoing and worsening crisis in the financial sector. (I like the reference to Warren Buffet's "three I" analysis toward the end of the article.)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

"The Challenge: Welcoming Nonbelievers While Emphasizing One True Path"

This is the headline of an article in the WSJ Thursday (July 3). It describes the findings of a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The issue, as expressed by a Rev. Mark Roessler of Tucson, Ariz., is how "to be real inclusve - 'Ya'll come!' - but real exclusive on how you get to heaven."

Our church has dipped into the "seeker-friendly" tool-box. That box includes, according to the WSJ article "the permissive dress-code . . . the 'message' (never sermons) . . . the hard-rocking nine-piece jazzed up praise bands . . . the Starbucks cart that sits in the lobby (and the fact that worshippers can take their nonfat lattes into the pews."

Our praise band is two pieces and some singers, with no "hard" rock. And Van's sermons are always true to the Gospel and never stray into "buoyant, hip and dedicated to self-help themes, rather than theology." But we do want to make it easy to come into the worship service.

We are not exactly growing, but I think the service is a great improvement over what it had become before Van came: music directors whom we could afford and attract, but who didn't know how to play the organ and were from other or no religious traditions, choir members who looked very old, sang very old, and, the real problem, still lived in a 1950s world. The worship service core leadership before Van were folks who thought of the worship service not as a portal for those outside the church but as a refuge from all the change that life was throwing at the members. We are much improved, I think, though we could do better. Now there is the coffee and an uncompromised Gospel.

John Adams

Carol and I finished viewing the last episode in HBO's miniseries, John Adams, last night. (Juan had recommended it and Netflix had it.) What a fitting way to end the Fourth of July. The DVD set also has a short piece on the author, David McCullough, which is well worth watching too.

I read McCullough's 1776 with great pleasure, but I had never been able to get into John Adams. This will send me back to it.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A Miami Springs Fourth of July


Carol and I were home for the Fourth; the first time in many years, as we usually spend the Fourth at Montreat. But this year, with Mary coming home soon, then the rest of the family joining us in August, and finally the trip to Philadelphia, we thought we needed to be here this week. There was plenty here to do. Our church had a pancake breakfast that started at 7:30 AM. (Among others, the Tuttles came. Rick attends our Friday morning breakfast group, and with him this morning were Mary and their two beautiful daughters, Paloma and Anna. Larry was there too.)

Rick Reed brought his pickup over to be decorated for the parade. Carol and others worked on the truck. Then there was the parade itself, starting at the Rec Center and moving east to the Circle and finally up Curtis Parkway to the Miami Springs Country Club. The parade has grown much bigger than the last time we saw it. Chairs and vans lined the medians on both Westward and Curtis Parkway, and the parade line was more than a mile long.

The first short video is the FPC truck starting out from the Rec Center.



The second is the truck moving down Westward.



This evening, Carol fixed a great barbeque dinner, with chicken on the grill as well as fresh pineapple slices and ears of fresh corn. A big thunderstorm moved through as we were eating dinner, and I hope it passes by in time for the fireworks down at the golf course to go as scheduled. We just need a couple of grandchildren around here (and their parents, uncle and aunts) and all would be complete.

"There's something wrong with this guy and let me tell you what it is - deceit."

Obama, right? Wrong.

No Messiahs in this race.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008