Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Books

These titles from the August issue of Scientific American:

A Briefer History of Time
, by Stephen Hawking with Leonard Miodinow. We are told that this is a light version of Hawking's 1998 book of a similar name. I must say that I had trouble understanding the earlier book. Maybe I'll do better with this one.

Jacob's Legacy: A Genetic View of Jewish History
, by David B. Goldstein. Sounds like a perfect book for those interested in Jews, Genealogy and/or Genes. Or Africa. "Is an obscure South African Bantu group one of the lost tribes?" the reviewer asks.

Short review of these and other books in the review column of the magazine (scroll down).

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin UPDATE

Visiting a wounded soldier in Germany in 2007 and then a campaign video.

MORE: Republican grassroots "on fire". (h/t instapundit)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"The Company He Keeps"

Comments by Wayne LaPierre, the Executive VP of the NRA, on Mr. Obama and the Second Amendment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

NEW FPC Miami Springs Website

Check it out. This was designed by my Friday morning breakfast colleague Rick Tuttle and a church committee headed by another Friday morning breakfast colleague Rob Gordon (scroll down). If you look through the photo links and find the "work day" set, you will see a photo of Carol painting. (You will not see a picture of me at such an activity!)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Breakdancing and other cute pics

Did you know my girl could breakdance? neither did I.
Check it out, yo!

These other pictures are just some moments of cuteness I recently captured and wanted to share. Enjoy!

Coolest Invention at BRU

So, I was recently at Babies R Us when I realized that I needed to change my daughter's very, and I mean VERY dirty diaper. I had been about to check out when I discovered this, but decided that it would be best to take advantage of the nice "mother's room" with changing table at the back of the store. So, we get back there and I get all set up. In the middle of changing her diaper, I discover that my son is sort of dancing around the room in a strange fashion. Almost at the same moment that I noticed this, he blurts out, "Mommy, I really have to go poo-poo....right now!" My left hand holding my daughter by the ankles, and my right hand holding a quite nasty wipe, I lower my head, give a little laugh and then say, "right now? or can you hold it a little bit?"

Of course, we needed to go NOW. I quickly finish changing the diaper, throw the wipes in the trash, place my dirty dipe in a wet bag, stuff this in my diaper bag and run out the door with my daughter over my left shoulder and my son holding onto my right hand. Thankfully, the ladies' room was right next door. Even more fortunately, the people at BRU have installed the "safe sitter". AWESOME!!! are these people aware that moms will be bursting into the bathroom with one kid who is great at using the bathroom but not so great at cleaning up by himself and another kid who is under the age of two (read: at the age where she will not stand still away from the potty while Mommy wipes brother, but must instead be a close observer who wants to touch all things dirty")? They must be! The safe sitter is a seat mounted to the wall with a fold-down seat and straps that buckle the child in. I was actually able to just buckle her in and then attend to my son without having to worry about her constantly attempting to touch everything. What a relief!!!

The straps began being over her shoulders, but she is a master escape artist, so that did not last long. A five-point restraining system would have been nice, but this worked for long enough, and instead of discussing the potential improvements to said invention, I just wanted to take a moment to share how incredibly helpful this invention actually is, and what a difference it made to my entire BRU experience. YEA for you "safe-sitter invention person"!

Book Titles Collected from the Trip

Among many other things on our just completed vacation, I picked up some book titles that seem interesting:

Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. Glenn and Helen interviewed the author in a pod-cast from last December, which we finally listened to in the I-95 traffic around DC. The cover illustration I find to be off-putting, and in the interview Goldberg notes his lack of enthusiasm for it, although he will concede it probably helped sales. He said that the art department at Random House put it on the book.

Stephen Potter, The Art and Practice of Gamesmanship without Actually Cheating. I heard this book discussed by a group in front of us in line waiting to get into Independence Hall. Also by the same author, One-Upmanship: Being Some Account of the Activities and Teachings of the Lifemanship Correspondence College of One-Upness and Games Lifemastery and Lifemanship:Some Notes on Lifemanship with a Summary of Recent Research in Gamesmanship.

Rogers and Kostigen, The Green Book. I saw this title in the gift shop in the National Park Service's welcome center in the Historic District in Philadelphia. I had heard of this book but had not had a chance to browse in it.

One might ask why the NPS would have a book like this in the gift shop of its welcome center that celebrates the birth of our country. I would speculate that it reflects the same politically correct point of view that I saw in the Liberty Bell Center. There, chattel slavery in the US, abuses in our country of the civil rights of women, people of color, and native Americans are highlighted, and fair enough. As to overseas, the exhibit features as an example of [white?] man's inhumanity to [non-white?] man, apartheid in South Africa (including a large portrait of Nelson Mandela, may God bless the man). Nothing on abortion here or elsewhere. Nothing on the religious persecution in Muslim countries, Russia, and China, a particularly irksome omission; after all, the idea of "liberty" as the colonists first conceived it concerned mainly the matter of religious freedom. See also the First Amendment. As to the First Amendment, may I point out that the Establishment Clause portion of that amendment (the portion dealing with religious freedom) is the first of a series of freedoms to be protected, followed, not preceded by freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble peaceably, and and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.) But I digress: recycling is good, and the book is worth a look.

Ooops, another digression. There was an wall section in this gift shop dedicated to the movie, "Rocky". You could get books on the film series, shirts and towels. Somebody please tell me just why this gets a spot on hallowed ground?

Also, Lori Baird's Don't Throw It Out: Recycle, Renew and Reuse to Make Things Last See the discussion above concerning relevance. But in the defense of the NPS, there was not a word about Global Warming, or at least I didn't see any reference to that great issue of our time.

Continuing with the NPS gift shop, there was Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin, an American Life. Franklin's relationship with John Adams had some rough spots, to say the least, according to the McCullough biography of Adams that I am in the midst of. So I would like to read Ben's side of the story. I don't know if this is the bio to read. Isaacson has apparently written other biographies. Has anyone read any of him?

Hogan and Taylor, editors. My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams. I worry whether these editors can be trusted. Who are they? As to reading the letters, the McCullough biography really whets the appetite. Did John and Abigail have any idea that for centuries 100s of thousands, perhaps millions, would be reading through their correspondence, either directly by means of a book such as this or indirectly through such bios as McCullough's?

Alf J. Mapp. Thomas Jefferson: Passionate Pilgrim (The Presidency, the Founding of the University, and the Private Battle). When I was at Duke as a history major, it was the Dumas Malone biography that was the standard reference. What you get in a gift shop, even one run or franchised by the NPS, is a little problematical, one might think. I don't know who Mapp is. He apparently wrote a shorter volume entitled Thomas Jefferson: America's Paradoxical Patriot, and, frankly, maybe it was this one that was in the shop; I really don't recall.

As to the Malone work, see Jefferson the Virginian - Volume I (Jefferson and His Time, Vol 1), and start reading. There are six volumes.

Donald Ritchie, Our Constitution. I don't know anything about Ritchie, either. And one would think that a lawyer should already be deeply involved in the Constitution. But the visit to Philadelphia and the reading of the Adams biography and the length of time since law school all point to the need to get back into this document.

There was, of course, a big section on George Washington, trumping even Rocky. But none of the titles much interested me. What Dumas Malone is to Jefferson, James Thomas Flexner is to Washington, at least according to my recollection. Flexner published a four volume biography, beginning with George Washington: The Forge of Experience 1732 - 1775 - Volume I (Force of Experience, 1732-1775). But for those of you who aren't ready to tackle a four volume set, there is Flexner's Washington: the Indispensable Man. This is not a "Reader Digest" abridgment by any measure, but a complete and wonderfully written one volume biography of George Washington. Of all the books I have mentioned, I would say read this one if you will read no other.

Now if I could only get a vacation that would actually give me time to do some reading . . .

The Three of Us in GSO

Carol and I arrived back in Miami Springs last evening about 7:45PM, and I'm here at the office on Monday morning. I was greeted by this photo that Mary Ann emailed us. She took the photo as we were leaving for Philadelphia exactly one week ago. (Mary Ann's hospitality while we were in Greensboro was simply SPLENDID! As usual, of course.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blogging from I-95

Carol and I left Rosemont this morning about 10AM, after 5 great days with Mary there. I have become accustomed to Mary fixing my oatmeal in the morning, and this week she moved me over from American coffee to a Kenya-like [CORRECTION: Spain-like] expresso. She, Carol and I started off some busy days in Philadelphia with our morning meal, and I will miss her.

Our plans were to drive about 3 hours south from Philadelphia to Lorman, VA, and catch the Auto-Train to Florida. We had a sleeping compartment reserved, and dinner and breakfast were going to be in the dining car. We would wake up Sunday morning pulling into the destination just above Orlando, and drive the 4 hours home refreshed, with the rest of Sunday to relax.

Instead, we received a call from Amtrak on Carol’s cell phone as we were crossing the MD line, advising us that the Auto-Train trip had been cancelled because of “weather in North Florida.” Later we learned after talking on the phone with Mary Ann that a number of bridges around Jacksonville are out. Ugh!

(We are now about 40 miles from Rocky Mount, hoping to get to around Florence before too late.)

So what we hoped would be a pleasant and relaxed coda at the end of some very, even intense (if you are 62 years old) weeks has turned into a sort of marathon, as we try to get home at a fairly decent hour Sunday night so we can be ready for work on Monday morning. Oh, well.

Adding insult to injury is the traffic on I-95 that we ran into as we approached Washington DC. It became much worse between DC and Richmond, bringing us to a halt several times and cutting our average speed on that leg of the trip to about 35 mph. On the other hand, that experience showed how wise we were on the way up, to drive from GSO to Philadelphia through Roanoke and Harrisburg, bypassing the Richmond/DC mess entirely. A second, “Oh, well.”

However, I am with my true love, and that certainly makes all the difference.

(LATER: We reached Lumberton, NC, at 8:45 PM. It's about 20 miles N of the SC line, and we are staying at a Hampton Inn. It has lightning fast WiFi.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Into the Historic District: the Liberty Bell

After a quick lunch at a Subway on Market Street (Darn! They had a cheesesteak sandwich on their menu that I didn’t see until too late!), we made our way into the “Historic District”, an area run mostly, if not entirely, by the National Park Service. It is not to be missed. There is a pleasant “welcome center”, where we picked up free tickets for a tour of Independence Hall, viewed some exhibits which more or less oriented us, and saw a sign that presented a list of must- things to see if we were on just a “one-day visit”. I jotted them down:

1. Liberty Bell Center
2. Independence Hall
3. Great Essentials Exhibit
4. Congress Hall
5. Franklin Court
6. Carpenters’ Hall
7. City Tavern
8. National Constitution Center

As we had some time before our scheduled visit to Independence Hall, we went to the Liberty Bell Center, where resides (first, I will pause to let you guess) the Liberty Bell! It had crack in it, unfortunately, but they had it displayed anyway. We learned some things about the bell: it pre-dated the Revolution and was “first heard in 1753 atop the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia”, which is now known as Independence Hall. The bell had cracked early on. There were unsuccessful attempts to fix the crack, so unsuccessful that they made the crack longer and wider. The bell has an inscription: “Proclaim liberty through all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof”, which is from Lev. 25:10. The description of the Liberty Bell in the NPS brochure for the entire district refers to the inscription (“Its inscription was prophetic”), but nowhere quotes it. Is it Evangelical paranoia to think that they are uncomfortable with printing passages from the Bible? Probably.

But inside the center, the inscription was prominent and not just on the bell. By the 1830s, we read, the abolitionists adopted the bell as their symbol, and, later, others adopted it who championed the oppressed in the US (women, native Americans) and in the world, mainly South Africa. (No Muslim countries mentioned. Oops, there’s that paranoia again.) What do the civics classes in our high schools now do with that Biblical inscription? Does “liberty” as understood by 17th Century Pennsylvanians mean ‘liberty” as people understand that word today? Putting all that aside, I must say that being in the presence of the Liberty Bell warmed me.

Of all the colonies, Pennsylvania granted the most “liberty,” particularly of religion, and Philadelphia and the entire colony thrived.

Into Philadelphia, the City

Yesterday morning, we walked two blocks to the Rosemont station for the commuter train into Philadelphia. The track runs from west to east into the city and parallel to Lancaster Avenue, a sort of “Main Street” on which the Rosemont Plaza fronts.

The train station, small but venerable, has mostly been converted into a real estate office. The parking lot where commuters must have parked once, is now reserved for their customers. But at the back of it, facing the east bound tracks, there is a small ticket office in a room with benches along the wall, and an old electric heater hanging down from the ceiling, up in one corner: a harbinger of much colder days to come.

Still, the weather was sunny and very pleasant as we boarded the train. Like the train station, the train cars had been around for awhile, but also like the station, they were well kept, clean and comfortable. I observed the passengers as they got on and off: two mothers with a teenage daughter each boarded with us, the daughters with wide-eyes, following like puppies, and undoubtedly freshmen on their first commute to downtown too; a family speaking Spanish who seemed to be tourists (Mary guessed they were from Spain.); a young man dressed exactly like me, khaki trousers, open collared, print shirt, very standard issue blue blazer. At one stop we picked up an older man who had not bought a ticket, taking his chances with the trainman. And getting caught. Their exchange was polite, but he got off at the next station.

Into Philadelphia we rode, disembarking at the Suburban Station, which is underground, again old but very clean and well kept, and whose corridors stretch under several streets. We came up at the City Hall, a site to see itself, built in the late nineteenth century, with a tower on which stands a statue of William Penn. The tower was for just a little while the tallest in America, and meant to be, but to the frustration, I’m sure, of the city father’s, it was very soon overtaken by buildings in New York City and Chicago. It is a very interesting building. I’m sure there is a “school” to which its architecture belongs, but I would not be able to identify it, but one could guess a sort of very late Victorian. It has a plaza in the middle, with arches at the west and east ends through which we walked, coming out at the east end of Market Street.

Market Street runs straight east from City Hall, all the way down to the Delaware River and through the “Historic District”, which was our destination. It is a busy street, and as we walked along I saw that it was the retail area (and later learned it had been so from the 17th Century, thus “Market Street”). We immediately came upon a Macy’s, then older buildings converted to urban malls, the convention center, the US court house. The sidewalks were busy, people comfortably dressed, many tourists heading the same way we were. We stopped at one point to get our bearings, and a lady policeman came up and asked if she could help us. She was very pleasant as we have, in fact, found every person to be. (I wondered whether we were having a run of luck with regard to pleasant people, because we have seen and dealt with so many, or whether this is the way people are in this place. Maybe they change when winter comes, and simply the weather is the determining factor. Probably not.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Now it's Thursday

We spent our second intense Ikea day yesterday. As earlier reported, we planned to go back and get a sofa, actually a "loveseat", called a Klippan. And so we did. It came in a box 7' x 3' x 1', and was formidably heavy. When I looked at the stack of these boxes in the warehouse section of the store, I wasn't sure we could get it off the pile, over to the loading area, into our SUV, back to the Rosemont Plaza (Mary's apartment house), and up to her apartment on the elevator. But Carol and Mary were more than game, and so back we went yesterday morning.

We had some other Ikea chores to do as well. For one thing, we discovered that Ikea is not perfect, because two of the items that we had purchased the day before had defects, one of them a lamp set. There was no problem with the store regarding those returns. But we took the occasion a little later to look in the "scratch and dent and returned" area and found that there were several lamps there exactly liked the one we returned; if fact, they were the only lamps in this area. We resolved not to get another one like that.

The lamp set was really, really cheap, however, about $12. It consisted of two pole lamps that fit together: one could use the set together or separate them for different uses. Quite a clever design. But the product was made simply too cheaply to deal with the quality-control problem, I suppose, and I don't think that item is long for Ikea.

Of course, we took the occasion to walk back through the entire store again. And we added a chair, called the Poang, to our purchases, as well as some smaller items. We had lunch there again too, and I marveled once more at the really cheap, good food at Ikea's restaurant. (I had meatballs, Kellsey.) Just after check-out we had the now obligatory $1 frozen yogurt cone.

If you shop at Ikea, you need to be psychologically prepared for something to go wrong with the assembly. As I said, Ikea is not perfect. They have put a lot of time into simplifying their designs and packing carefully, but part of the bargain, unspoken as it may be, must be that the consumer is to have more tolerance for things going wrong than if one purchases an item from Nordstrom's. Fair enough, but anyone shopping there needs to know this.

When we put the sofa together, we found that the screw on one of the legs had a bad thread and simply would not mate. So we took the leg right back to the store and swapped. This second trip of the day also gave Mary the opportunity to return some things, not because they were defective, but because on the earlier trip that day she saw something better than what she bought on Tuesday (for Mary "better" means just as serviceable but cheaper without sacrificing style, bless her heart.) I am now sitting on the sofa, complete with replacement, and it is just fine.

Mary and Carol fixed supper last night, and so we had our first meal on Mary's new dining table. Mary covered the table with one of her "Kikoys", which is a colorful all-purpose, cotton fabric from Kenya, and served dinner on her new dishes. Welcome back to the States, Mary!

So we are pretty much done with the intense part of setting up Mary's apartment. There are pictures to hang and things to put away, but the basics are in place, and she should be ready to turn her main attention to school work soon. She begins her orientation a week from today, and classes start the following Monday.

Today our plans are to take the train into downtown Philadelphia for walking tour out of one of our guides.

We also want to locate Tenth Presbyterian Church, where Mary is thinking of attending this Sunday. (We are leaving Saturday.) As dedicated as we are to maintaining our connection with PCUSA, we remarked last night that we are much more comfortable going to a well regarded PCA church than taking our chances on whatever the PCUSA might have to offer, knowing nothing else about what Philadelphia has in churches. So we see again how important "branding" is.

The neighborhoods around Mary's apartment house are lively. Yesterday was freshman move-in day down the street at Villanova, and we have seen empty shelves at Target and even at Ikea, as parents and students like the three of us stock up for the imminent beginning of the school year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hello from Philadelphia!

I am typing from Mary's apartment. Today is Wednesday. We arrived Monday afternoon about 4:30PM after a beautiful ride up the Shenandoah Valley from Greensboro, via Roanoke. It was a week ago this morning that we left Miami Springs for our vacation, and events have tumbled over themselves, one right after another, since then.

Here in Philadelphia, the three of us have had a good time setting Mary up for the coming year. Yesterday, early, we visited the nearby Ikea store. That was a first for Carol and me, and what an interesting place! Whoever created that way of designing household items and marketing them has struck just the right pitch of the younger American. Ikea seems to know just what that consumer's felt needs are for useful, inexpensive things, for clever, pleasant design, and for a sense of personal participation in the acquisition process, whether the consumer is in a family or by himself.

We spent the entire morning there, making a list of what seemed necessary. Then we had lunch in the Ikea restaurant to review the list of what we thought Mary needed, did some further circuits in the store, and finally arrived at the warehouse area where we assembled as much of Mary's selections as we could fit in our SUV. (We're going back this morning to get one more large piece, a sofa.) We topped the visit off with an ice cream cone at a smaller restaurant right on the other side of the check-out counters. I would never imagined myself having such an enjoyable time shopping! Of all things!

We arrived back at Mary's apartment with all Mary's loot, and spent the rest of the afternoon assembling everything, which was no small task. My personal project was putting together the small dining/kitchen table with four chairs. I had no problem with the table, but the first chair didn't come out right because I misread the illustrated instructions (nothing written: just graphics). But once I figured out what was wrong, I disassembled the first chair, reassembled it, and finished the remaining three. I found the assembly one level above "easy", which was fine. But you have to be careful, and it all takes time, of course. I propose to call all that time "sweat equity", which made the products we purchased well priced.

The entire Ikea process involves a carefully designed DIY approach. Ikea has wrung as much of its own paid labor out of its delivery of things, whether its all the way down stream during the assembly at home; further up at the self-serve warehouse area; even further up at the way Ikea presents a basic product with a number of variations (mainly with coverings) that allows the shopper to complete the design himself: and finally in the clever design of the object itself, in a way that leaves the final manufacturing process to the buyer after he brings the thing home.

We did consult employees from time to time: they were always knowledgeable; they didn't hang around us at all, but they always seemed to be nearby; and if you stood there long enough with a puzzled look on your face, one of them seemed to show up and offer to help. And then, again, what one purchases is something not finished but requires assembly. The whole process involves a sort of partnership of consumer and seller that seems just to fit the need for inexpensive things and the buyer's desire to participate in - what would be the word? fabrication? assembly? maybe creation? - of what he is purchasing, rejecting the idea tha we are simply passive, slightly stupid creatures, simply to be "served".

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Off the Bookshelf

I finished Mover of Men and Mountains, the Autobiography of R.G. Le Tourneau. This venerable autobiography of a Christian "industrialist", born in 1888, is full of muscular insights into business innovation, risk-taking, and prayer. Le Tourneau did not have much time for theological refinements; he took the basics and ran with them, and the book is a healthy reminder of the basic requirements of the Christian life. One can buy the paper-back for less than $8, and I ordered a handful for my friends.

I am into the Chronological Bible each day, and we are moving through the prophets, just now coming to the end of Jeremiah. It has been instructive to read Le Tourneau as I read through this part of the Bible. On the national level, the prophets associate faithfulness to God with the prosperity of the nation; on the individual level, Le Tourneau associates his successes and failures often with whether he did or did not consult with the Lord about difficult situations before moving to a solution. I think sometimes in our rejection of the "health and wealth" Gospel, we tend to throw the baby out with the bath water: for why should the Lord bless us when we move away from our relationship with him by neglecting our prayer life or behaving poorly? On the other hand, didn't Jesus promise us that when we ask he will give? Is it really that simple, I wonder? I think it pretty much is.

I am continuing to read McCullough's biography of John Adams. It's so very good and so easy to read. But not much about the religious aspects of the people and events McCullough narrates.

Next off the bookshelf is Tim Stafford's, Shaking the System: What I learned from the Great American Reform Movements, a gift he sent to us via his daughter Katie during her recent visit. I have read the first 30 or so pages and would already recommend it. Tim Stafford and I are contemporaries, he grew up and received a great education on the West Coast and I on the East, both of us were raised Christians, both married Southern women, and raised with our respective wives each a daughter two sons. I have visited with him only once, years ago, and then at the Van Brocklins' home in Montreat with a number of people, so I have had no real conversations with him to compare notes, but I do have this fine book to read about the mechanism of social change. I look forward to continuing to read his book.

Micheal P. Schutt's Redeeming Law: Christian Calling and the Legal Profession, has been on my bookshelf for a year, sent to me by friends at the Christian Legal Society. I have finally picked it up because Ken Myers interviewed Schutt on a recent issue of Mars Hill Audio to which I am listening on my morning walks. I have read the first few pages, and it's definitely a keeper. I will be going back and forth between Schutt and Stafford over the next few weeks, I'm sure.

Still haven't got back to the Pitt biography or to Keller's The Reason for God, but I got into them deeply enough to resolve to finish them, and I will.

In reporting all this, I have to confess to uneasiness that all of this reading puts my internet skills at risk. I have found that books terribly displace internet surfing time, and that worries me.

Thinking about John Edwards

Watching the John Edwards story unfold is, to adopt an over-used metaphor, like watching a train-wreck in slow motion. I never thought he would be a good President. His populist political views seemed contrived to me, and insincere, in the face of his lifestyle. (As a Christian who lives well, I concede that there is a disconnect between what I espouse and how I live. I believe myself to be sincere, and I should concede that to Edwards. I should say, then, that I think his political views are simply wrong, and leave it at that.)

Edwards appears to me to be working very hard to contrive some sort of story, with the cooperation of people who very well may love him, to confine his adultery to a relatively short period of time and to exclude any certainty that he fathered a child out of wedlock. Is it simply embarrassment for himself and his loved ones that motivates him or does he believe that with a successful contrivance, he will be able to get past all of this and emerge with reasonable prospects of being an influential political leader, even President some day? I can well agree that it takes a very large ego to aspire to the Presidency, but can Edward's ego be not only that large but also totally blind. Why would he think that he can "get past" all this, and emerge politcally intact, if he holds that belief.

There is an answer.

Bill Clinton.

And if you compare Clinton's exploitation of a young woman in his employ and his efforts to discard her later with Edwards' affair with a mature woman in her 40's and what appears to be his subsequent, significant support of her and her child, at least financially, then Edwards moral repugnancy begins to fade. I am not arguing that Edwards is to be excused. (Frankly, the man must be in utter Hell right now.)

Clinton, on the other hand?

Friday, August 08, 2008


So far, our vacation has been all about water. Water at the water table. Which, of course, turned into water all over the patio floor and the people who were foolish enough to get within 5 feet of the kids and the water table.

Then, we went to the BEACH!!!!

...where there was LOTS of water!

....and sand....

...and did I mention, water?

The cutest part (not pictured here) was after the beach when we walked up to the bath house and Aidan and Honor stripped down to all their naked glory and luxuriated shamelessly in the refreshing showers that are lined up on the outside of the bath house wall. Yet another fabulous experience with WATER!!!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Firefly on Hulu

I'm sure I'm way late on learning about and about "Firefly". It started with a post on Instapundit about a pilot/tv series called Firefly, which post was updated with a reference to

Amazing. Amazing website. Amazing series.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Four Cents

5:30AM seems to be the magic wake up time for me as a Daddy. If I wake up any later, it's pretty much guaranteed that I will not get to work/church/first event of the day on time.

Which is strange, because 5:30 is when my dad always woke up. And I always thought he was absolutely crazy for doing so.

So, by process of elimination, we can say with assurance that waking up at 5:30AM is NOT the cause of my father's craziness. I'll keep you updated as the investigation progresses.

NPR told me last week that even though GDP was up for 7th quarter in a row, the economy was still in trouble. Dear NPR, that may very well be true, but I don't believe anything you tell me about the economy. That's because you never, ever, told me that there were things other than GDP to consider when you used the GDP to tell me how bad everything was in the economy with the Republican president. Now that the GDP is doing ok, you tell me that the GDP isn't the best indicator anymore? I know you mean well, but, seriously, don't report on the economy anymore.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Amazingness of Pottery Barn's Everydaysuede Slipcovers!

We have now had three major incidents with our PB Grand sofa. The first incident involved Aidan's recently cut leg and blood smeared across two cushions. The second incident involved Aidan, Macon, a large stack of books serving as a table for Macon's coffee mug and the toppling of said very full coffee mug across several cushions and down inbetween the cushions into the main slipcover portion. The third incident occurred today and involved Honor, a red (non-washable) marker and her zealous joy of drawing (and three cushions on our couch).

I cannot say enough about how much I have loved this couch and the ease with which all kinds of things just wash out when you throw the slipcover in the wash. I do not have photos of the first two incidents, but I decided to photograph the red marker slipcovers (or some of them) in faith that it would wash out and I would be able to show before and after shots.

My faith was well rewarded as I pulled the slipcovers from the wash without even a hint of any red marker on them! And did I mention that I have not ever had to even use any soap (not with the blood, coffee or red marker). All I have ever done is run a cold wash without soap and the blood, sugary coffee, and red marker all emerged completely rinsed out. A-mazing!

Three cheers for Pottery Barn's Everydaysuede!!!!

Opting Out of Credit Card and Insurance Offers

We get a number of unsolicited offers for credit cards and insurance in the mail each week. They are accompanied, of course, by a mail-back form, and parts of this correspondence have certain of our identifying information on them. So we put these items through the shredder.

According to the January 2008 issue of the AAII Journal,

Under Fair Credit Reporting Ace (FCRA),consumer credit reporting companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you. However, the act provides individuals the right to "opt-out," which prevents these companies from providing your credit file information for firm offers.

To "opt out" for five years, go to, and you can register not to receive these mailings.

Katie and Mary Do the Town

More on Katie and Mary over on Mary's blog.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

On Blaming Others

One night things didn't go at all well for me. My scrapers were in tough going and the crew that was supposed to break up the hardpan for us hadn't done a good job. The road to the dam site was full of loose rock that was hard on the caterpillar tracks of my scrapers. The electricians hadn't strung the lights in the right places. Kaiser came out, and of course I was full of excuses, blaming the other fellow.

"Well, now, Bob," he said, "when things haven't gone as well as they probably should have, and you start to blame circumstances and other people instead of yourself, you are never going to improve. It's when you start to improve these matters yourself that you improve the matters and yourself both."

I can't say I was completely convinced. Late that night I got into the car with Kaiser and another superintendent named Tom. Tom had had a bad night, too, and he was glowering in silence in his corner. Kaiser stood it for a while, and then he said to me, "Tom, there, is smarter than you are. He isn't giving me any complaints or excuses. He has enough sense to keep his mouth shut."

I got that point all right, and Tom brightened up some. Kaiser wasn't through with us. "The trouble with Tom is that while he isn't' blaming anybody or excusing himself out loud, he's sure thinking about it. In that way, he's just as guilty as you are, Bob. He won't improve any, either, until he stops thinking someone else is to blame and starts thinking of what to do about it."

That lesson has been worth a lot to me down through the years. I continue to preach it to myself and to anyone else who will listen. You will never improve unless you blame yourself for the troubles you have. Then when you realize your troubles are your own, you can take them to the Lord, and He will give you guidance. Just don't make the mistake of asking Him to believe the other fellow was to blame.

-From Mover of Men and Mountains: the Autobiography of R.B. Le Tourneau.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Hi-Ho, Silver, Away!

Such cute Cute CUTENESS!

It's so nice to be past the funk that plagued us last week. The kids (and their daddy) are doing well and we are all grateful to be able to taste our food normally again! Maybe now we can re-hire a babysitter and go out to celebrate our tenth anniversary! YEA!!!!!

"The One"

Really, this is kind of funny. If I were Obama, I'd take it that way and allow everyone to see him laugh at himself. If he did so, he would surely get a "bump". But I'm afraid he won't seize the opportunity, and will simply scold.