Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Christmas Tree is UP!

Aidan helped me to decorate the tree this year and Honor spent a LOT of time just standing and staring. She seemed caught up in the wonder of it all. Then, she moved quickly into the joy of seeing how quickly she could pull on every ornament within reach!

Thankfully, she seems to have moved past that particular fascination, at least for today. Here's hoping that I don't have to spend every day retraining her to stop freeing all of the ornaments from their evergreen boughs.

Not so much fun...

On Monday of this past week, Aidan and I took a trip to the allergist's office. After a panel of scratch tests on his back, we discovered that Aidan is allergic to cats...yes, cats! I can't believe he isn't allergic to more things (like ragweed, cedar or dust mites). This is a wonderful thing! I am so glad that his allergies are so few thus far. Now, if I could only figure out why his nose is constantly running and why he coughs so much at night....

the allergist thinks that Aidan is like me: gets colds often and is prone to sinus infections. Ah, well, you can't win 'em all.


I seriously am SO very glad that Aidan is only allergic to cats. With Cedar season coming up, it is a relief to know that it is not going to be as difficult for him as it is for his father to survive the pollen.

Some Thanksgiving moments...

Honor has discovered the joy of throwing rocks into the pond...ploop!

Man! Where does she get those curls!!!

Aidan tries to pull his older cousin...there was no movement...whatsoever. (Noah weighs twice as much as Aidan and is almost twice as old! Seems like Aidan enjoys a challenge as he found this event quite delightful!

The day after Thanksgiving, PaPa and SueSue took us to see the lights in Marble Falls, TX. Here is the entrance. It was the kids' first time to ever see Christmas lights as they are both usually in bed so very early. What a treat!

A recent visit to PBK, or as my son call it, "The Pretend Kitchen"...

While my son was banging away on the awesome drum set in the store, as seen below:

my daughter was on the other side of the store embracing all things girly:

. . . and on the phone no this an image of things to come???


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stokes Kith and Kin Community Blog 61% Manly

Is that OK? Maybe if we were PCA we would score higher. Or maybe it was all those diaper posts.

Sean got a 75% rating. (Go, Sean!)

Thank goodness we have Walter posting his Cross-Fit results from time to time. Where would we be without that?

(Thanks, Glenn.)

(And thanks, Honor, for standing up to that girly, girly daffodil outfit. I know we got some points for that.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Da Man!

Crossfit Winners

we had a competition at the gym today - and our team won.

Straw in the Wind? (UPDATED)

Several days ago we had meetings with investment advisors in connection with a client matter. One of the professionals said that his firm saw no turn-around in the stock market until the real estate market "bottomed out." Only then, I suppose, would investors and lenders have some comfort afforded by whatever real estate secures or is related to the investment or debt.

Last night Carol and I attended a dinner party where a number of tax and real estate lawyers from around the state were in attendance. A lawyer on the west coast of Florida, around Brooksville, said that the market there continued to be just awful. A lawyer on the east coast of Florida, around Ft. Pierce, said that prices there had stabilized. He said that the Fort Pierce area historically led the state in terms of the real estate market. He said that it was apparent much earlier than the rest of the state that they were over-building; he therefore would expect the local market to improve ahead of the rest of the state. I take that as an encouraging sign for Florida's economy, and maybe the rest of the country.

UPDATE: Guess not. I had forgotten that these things are now up to the federal government. Sorry.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Never Say Die

I've been listening to a podcast called "Hardcore History". It's produced by Dan Carlin, and I'm in the middle of his series on the Punic Wars. (The wars between Rome and Carthage.)

Carlin describes the Romans as folks whose greatest asset was their refusal to surrender. They would simply not admit defeat, even when they'd been beaten on the field of battle, and would just keep going until they wore down their enemy.

He quotes a historian who describes it:
Victory through Superior Determination.

Thinking through his soccer career, business career, CrossFit career, and other general moments of his life,

I thought that sounded like a good description of Walter, too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Catholics and Bible Study (Updated)

[A] funny thing happened on the way to modernity: The Catholic Church opened itself to the Word in a way it hadn't done before. In the process, it fostered a balanced culture of biblical exegesis and devotions (at least among most scholars and clerics) that many in sola scriptura Protestantism might envy. Especially in light of trends in mainline denominations that fostered a radical desconstruction of biblical texts on the one hand, or, on the other hand, a blinkered literalism that appeals to many conservative pew-sitters.

David Gibson in Saturday's Houses of Worship Column in the WSJ.

Would all the blinkered literalists please raise their hands? Thank you. Now, all the conservative pew-sitters remaining (yes, those of you who just sit there in your pews) would you kindly raise yours? Thank you. Now please, all of you, walk on out to the outer darkness, sit there, and be forever quiet.

And to you, David, our deepest thanks for dealing with those annoying people.

So, then, Catholic scholars and clerics, please proceed.

UPDATE: Carol points out that my point is rather obscure here. What I meant to do was take issue with the article, especially the glib paragraph that I quote, with its cheap shots. I don't think that Protestants break down into the three groups that Gibson identifies, i.e. those who deconstruct the scripture into meaninglessness, those who read the Bible "literally," whatever exactly that means, and those who are do-nothing, conservative bench warmers. I also do not believe that "[Catholic] scholars and clerics" defines the class that exclusively deals with scripture appropriately.

Our personal experience with Roman Catholics (those who attend our Bible studies) is that they are largely unacquainted with Scripture. They are eager students. On the other hand, for the first time in our memory, the local Catholic Church has a "Bible Study" going; I would very much like to see what that looks like over there. Juan tells me that he attends a men's breakfast Bible study in the Gables and there are a couple of Roman Catholic men who attend. Mary is in a Bible study with some other students in her program at Bryn Mawr, and that study has at least one (maybe two) Roman Catholics. I think these are wonderful developments.

I just get set on edge by the sort of condescension that is reflected in the WSJ article. Of course there are "blinkered literalists" and passive "conservatives" on the Protestant side. But David Gibson should take a trip to Kijabe and take a look at Protestants who are faithful to scripture and working hard for others, sacrificing careers, say, in national journalism, and putting their children at serious risk, that is, in the hands of God. He should look at the folks running the Miami Rescue Mission here in Miami. Or in the medical mission in north Philadelphia that is underwritten by the Tenth Presbyterian Church in that city. There are, surely, a lot of lay Protestant Bible readers behind those efforts.

Goodbye, Primary Care

Forty-nine percent -- of the more than 150,000 practicing [primary care] doctors -- say during the next three years they plan to reduce the number of patients they see or stop practicing entirely.


I guess the extent of this impending crisis will depend, at least in part, on the number of new primary care physicians entering the market place during the next three years. I'm not sure we can be optimistic about how large that number will be.

Just Say No to . . .


And certain States.

Is there no end to this?

(By the way, our church is looking at a deficit at the end of the year. Do you suppose . . . ?)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cutest Things lately. . .

Honor calling spiders, "itsy bitsy."
Aidan saying "vanilla why-fers" instead of Vanilla wafers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hell Hath No Fury

I am reading Mark Bostridge's biography Florence Nightingale: the Making of an Icon. I got onto this new bio via a review in the WSJ, and it's my first serious exposure to Nightingale.

Bostridge is not an easy author to read - none of the elegance and focus of David McCullough. But I have persisted with Bostridge's book because Nightingale is a fascinating woman.

She is about 22 years of age where I am right now, and struggling with a call she believes she hears from God to do something about the nursing situation in England, a call which, if pursued, would defy convention. Beginning on page 85, Bostridge writes of Nightingale seeking the counsel of Samuel Gridley Howe, who, with his new bride Julia Ward Howe, visited Nightingale while the couple were in England for their honeymoon.

Bostridge writes that Samuel Gridley Howe was "well known" in Britain for his work in Massachusetts teaching blind deaf-mutes. Nightingale had read "the annual reports of the Perkins Institution and State School for the Blind, of which Howe was Director."

Nightingale wrote Howe after his visit, asking him whether it would be "unsuitable and unbecoming for a young Englishwoman to devote herself to works of charity in hospitals and elsewhere as Catholic sisters do? Do you think it would be a dreadful thing?"

Howe replies, encouraging her to follow her vocation: "Act up to your inspiration, and you will find that there is nothing unbecoming or unladylike in doing your duty for the good others . . ."

Apparently, most of the biographies of Nightingale stop right there, but Bostridge writes that Howe's encouragement of Nightingale became a "festering" issue between Howe and his wife, Julia Ward Howe. Finally, after 20 years of marriage, Julia Ward Howe

rebuked Samuel Howe for having encouraged Florence Nightingale, a woman of similar age herself, to pursue a career, when he would not even allow his wife to publish a book of poems. . . [H]e responded by saying that "if he had been engaged to Florence Nightingale, and had loved her ever so dearly, he would have given her up as soon as she commenced her career as a public woman."

Julia wrote a series of poems in tribute to Nightingale, including these lines in one entitled "Florence Nightingale and Her Praisers":

If you debase the sex to elevate
One of like soul and temper with the rest,
You do but wrong a thousand fervent hearts,
To pay full tribute to one generous breast.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Freezer

So, here is where I spent my morning.

BRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!! 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yes, Zero. Not 32 or some decent number below freezing, but ZERO degrees. Even with gloves on my fingers were little tiny bricks of ice every time I came back out. I had on a very nice coat (Macon's) that kept my body very warm, but grabbing frozen casseroles, soups and pies and loading them into sacks has a way of getting those little phalanges very very cold!

allowing multiple train wrecks

I've seen studies around lately that suggest that multi-tasking is less efficient than not multi-tasking. I wonder if they consider the benefit of moving several projects forward in tandem, that there might be a benefit in everything moving forward together and at once, even if each could reach the goal faster if given individual focus.

I haven't really read any of these studies. Tried reading some with my left eye while I typed this to my right, but I just got dizzy.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Child Slavery in the Sudan


[P]erhaps no where is child slavery more prevalent in Africa than in the Sudan. A Ugandan parliamentary committee heard last week that as many as 30,000 children abducted in Uganda over nearly two decades by the savage, anti-government Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for use in its operations had been sold in Sudan’s Darfur region. The LRA has been fighting the Ugandan government for years with Sudanese government support. After their sale in Darfur, the children were employed as child soldiers and laborers, while others were “sold as sex slaves to the Sudanese.”

Read the rest of the article by Stephen Brown here.

A copy of this article was forwarded to me by Audrey Walters-Moore and Kimberly Smith of MakeWay Partners.

This makes me think of a lot of things, among them what Jesus said in Matthew 18:6 -"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." (Read the entire chapter.)

It also makes me think of this lyric:

My chains are gone, I've been set free!
My God, My Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood His mercy reigns.
Unending love, Amazing Grace!

(This is from the Chris Tomlin version of Amazing Grace, which was the sound-track for the movie of the same name.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

So much fun to play in the rain

Today we were outside when it began to sprinkle a little bit. The kids refused to come inside and I gave in. So, we stayed outside, the sprinkles passed and afterwards it was just gorgeous. Here's some pics of the lovely morning.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Photo and Computer Back-up Strategy

Great post on the Photoshop Insider here by Scott Kelby. (Please put the Epson P-2000 on the list. Thank you.)

Good Internet Vendors

Interstate Batteries. They have all kinds of batteries. I had two obscure (to me, at least), very dead, button-type batteries in two different pedometers. I had no idea that the little button batteries were "watch batteries" in the trade. So I searched the number on the back of the first dead battery, and found the replacement. The service was prompt and the pedometers are firing.

CD RV Parts Center.
We have been getting our camper ready for our first camping trip in literally years. In the interim, we bought a new car for towing and were having trouble with the "pigtail" that connects electrical system of the camper with that of the towing vehicle: it was too short. I thought, "I wonder if you can get an extension for those things?" I ran "RV equipment" on Google, and this was number one on the listing. Like the battery vendor, the key issue was whether I could find the item in the vendor's inventory. I didn't know that "pigtail" was a key word. But "extension" and "electrical" worked. I was a little concerned that the vendor was located in California, with me in Miami. But it was here in good order within a week with UPS ground. It was exactly what I needed.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Somebody was High King Peter (from The Chronicles of Narnia) this year and somebody else was supposed to be a daffodil. High King Peter was very excited to get dressed up and head out to play with his friends: the Knight and the Butterfly Princess.

However, while Daffodil was very happy to put on her headband and diaper,

she was NOT very excited to put on her Daffodil dress.

After we pulled her arms out of the top half of the dress and put on a more comfortable t-shirt, Daffodil was very happy to get to see her friends: Dragon, Bee and Univ. Texas Cheerleader.
And, since I don't have a good photo of the four of them, here's yet another photo of High King Peter running forth to save the day!

Just some more pics from Halloween

"The Financial Sector Subtracts Value from the Society"

So says one of my personal heroes, John Boggle, on NPR this morning. He's just published a book called Enough. Let me say, Christmas being around the corner, this would be a nice book to read.

Between big government and "the financial sector", the two of which having just recently merged, it will be a wonder that anything will be left over for the rest of us.

During the interview, Boggle also offers a quote from Albert Einstein: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

You don't suppose AE was referring to the billable hour, do you?

Queston about Facebook

Why would someone propose being a "friend" on Facebook, someone with whom one is not acquainted and with whom there are no common "friends," unless they are up to no good? This seems to happen a couple of times a week.