Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Healthy Journey Day Nine

Instead of the plain yogurt yesterday morning with my oatmeal, I had half a 6 oz. cup of another flavored, soy yogurt, this one the All Natural So Delicious Dairy Free Cream Cultured Soy Vanilla. For flavor, it has "organic evaporated cane juice, chicory root extract (inulin), pectin, dextrose, natural flavors . . . citric acid" I'm no sure what all of that means, and I need to find out. I will go to the plain, soy yogurt when we finish off the flavored cups we bought Saturday. With the oatmeal and yogurt I had a half cup of frozen Publix Blueberries "Healthy, Fun & Firm."

For lunch, I had a peanut butter and banana sandwich (hearkening back to my cousin Ken's favorite lunch when we were kids) on whole wheat; a serving of Progresso Vegetable Classics 99% Fat Free Lentil Soup; baby raw carrots; and an apple. The peanut butter was Jiffy Crunchy, and I know people get exercised about commercial peanut butter. It's something I will find out about.

I taught a class at the UM Law School from 5 to 7:45 last night and took a hummus sandwich to eat at the break. It was also on whole wheat bread and had lettuce and tomato with it. When I got home, I microwaved a bag of Act II 94% Fat Free Butter popcorn and had a frozen banana. Yes, the popcorn had some "dairy." I'm not counting it right now.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Healthy Journey Sunday Evening Supper

Here's Carol just now preparing "quick cooking mushroom-barley soup" from Lorna Sass' Short-Cut Vegetarian; "roasted asparagus with a balsmic butter sauce" (I concede that the butter is "dairy", but she is cooking up the butter that's left) from Cooking Lite; and "early morning oven roasted new potatoes," mainly, she says, because "we need to eat these potatoes," I guess because they aren't as "new" as they were when she bought them. (Yes, it's not "early morning." Carol's the cook. Are you kidding me?) She got that recipe on line.

[Insert oath], I'm a lucky husband!!!

A Healthy Journey

The bout with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma that Carol and I had in 1994 (I had the chemo, she had the sick husband), marked the beginning of our inquiry into how to live more healthy lives. Among the changes we adopted progressively since then were changes in our diet. Carol was already a marvelous cook, and she began to change her approach to meal preparation. We started to move away from a meat centered, refined carbohydrate diet, and each year has seen us make some make progress on that healthy journey. During the course of that journey, Weight Watchers has been a great help, especially for me. For Carol the journey has included the joy she finds in the kitchen learning new ways to feed her family.

I have been reading a book called The China Study, as I have posted before. This book has captured my attention as nothing I have read in the area of nutrition. Its thesis is that a diet based on plant-protein and complex carbohydrates is the one that is most likely to result in one's living his life to its end in a way that is not compromised with an extended, final period of disability. At this point 15 years after Carol and I started our healthy journey, this thesis makes complete sense to me.

Today is the ninth day of my living a dietary life based on that thesis. I feel good, and not particularly deprived. We were very close to this life already, except for the dairy based food that we ate. The proportion of meat products was already relatively small. Giving up frozen yogurt, ice-cream, scrambled eggs and cheese (how we love cheese!) - that's more difficult for sure. But, still, we are getting along fine, even after just a week or so.

The weekend is when Carol goes grocery shopping, so we did the first grocery shopping under this new regime yesterday. On Saturday afternoon Carol brought home from Publix some "vegan" products, and then we went shopping together at Whole Foods and picked up some more.

This morning Carol pulled out of our pantry some relatively healthy canned foods that are not vegan. We took them to church this morning to put in the basket that goes to a church in Hialeah that distributes food to needy families. So now we are ready for week two of this journey.

As we go along, I thought I would let you know how we are doing and what we are eating.

Let me start with breakfast this morning. My usual breakfast has been oatmeal, plain yogurt and a banana or frozen berries. I have been having the oatmeal all week without the yogurt. At Whole Foods yesterday, however, we bought some yogurt substitutes of different kinds and brands. I used a half of a 6 oz. cup of WholeSoy & Co.'s strawberry "soy yogurt," and could not tell much difference when mixed with the oatmeal. I ate the rest of the cup as a snack later in the day, and it was good. It didn't taste exactly like dairy yogurt, but it was tasty and satisfying.

The entire cup has 160 calories, 25 from fat. It was quite sweet, and a cup has 21g of sugar, which is a lot. I am used to plain yogurt with my oatmeal, but I was worried that this product would taste awful. So I hedged by getting the flavored version. The sugars are "organic cornstarch, organic rice starch, strawberries, and natural flavors." I would be glad to skip the corn and rice starch. So tomorrow I am going to try Silk Live! Soy Yogurt in its "Plain" version on my oatmeal. (WholeSoy has a "plain" version too.)

These soy yogurts have "live and active cultures to help your body's natural defenses," according to the Silk container.

Lunch on Sundays has always been problematical, because we have it at church. Often what is served is full of a lot of fat and refined carbohydrates. There are always cookies and cakes, and I find that sort of thing hard to resist, especially when I have eaten sparingly of the "main" courses. But today I took with me an Amy's Black Bean Tamale Verde, put it in the church's kitchen freezer just after we first arrived for Sunday School and then pulled it out and microwaved it after the worship service, when everyone was lined up in Fellowship Hall for the usual spread. (This dish, according to the box is "Gluten free . . . non-dairy . . . no cholesterol . . . no trans fat . . . no added msg . . . no preservatives . . . no GMOs (whatever they are) . . . No Bioengineered ingredients." Whew!).

After I heated up the dish, I put it on one of the paper plates and got at the end of the line and got some tossed salad and some tomato slices, because the dish did not look like it would be enough. I sat down at a table and thoroughly enjoyed the food and the fellowship, and no one seemed to know the difference. The Black Bean Tamale Verde was excellent.

Carol and Mary have been talking on the phone this weekend about vegetarian recipes, and so I am looking forward to more good things from Carol's kitchen.

Carol and I have talked a good bit about the social issues involved with this development. We are not going to be crusading about this, and when social situations with others involve non-vegan dishes, we will certainly join in. The question is more about one's default approach to nutrition and also about developing one's own strategies to make this approach not a burden on others.

World Malaria Day - April 25

Yesterday was World Malaria Day. According to a paper that Mary is writing for her bio class, an estimated 500 million people suffer from malaria each year, resulting in over one million deaths, mostly of children and mostly affecting poor populatons in tropical and subtropical areas.

Experts say one child dies of malaria every 30 seconds. Around the world, malaria kills 3,000 children under 5 every day, a higher mortality rate than AIDS. - New York Times 10-31-1998.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Law Firms and Starbucks

Carol sent this to me. I think the difference is that there is no guild controllong the delivery of coffee but there is one controlling the delivery of legal servies. This doesn't necessarily mean that the lawyers' guild should be broken open, but it certainly suggests an inquiry into that matter.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

-James 1:27

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fat Intake and Breast Cancer

Concerning the evidence in Chart 4.7 [reflecting a well-designed and implemented, country to country study made by the late Kenneth K. Carroll, professor at the U of West Ontario, of the positive correlation between total fat intake and breast cancer], the solution seems obvious: if we eat less fat, then we'll lower our breast cancer risk. Most scientists made this conclusion and some surmised that dietary fat caused breast cancer. But that interpretation was too simple. Other charts (Charts 4.8 and 4.9) prepared by Professor Carroll were largely, almost totally, ignored (Charts 4.8 and 4.9). They show that breast cancer was associated with animal fat intake but not with plant fat.

-from The China Study at pages 84 and 85.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Security Guards in lieu of Police Officers

The WSJ today carried an article about municipalities that are hiring security guards to do police work.

Hiring private guards is less expensive than hiring new officers. Oakland - facing a record $80 million budget shortfall - spends about 65% of its budget for police and fire services, including about $250,000 annually, including benefits and salary on each police officer. In contrast, for about $200,000 a year the city can contract to hire four private guards to patrol the troubled East Oakland district where four on-duty police officers were killed in March. And the company, not the city, is reponsible for insurance for the guards.

UPDATE: The WSJ reports today that the Oakland contract was cancelled because of a fraud investigation of the owners of the security firm. So much for outsourcing.

"Long Term Consequences are Grave"

I receive periodic letters and reports on the economic and investment climate from many sources. Many of them I have learned simply to discard, but others I read carefully. One of the latter is from an investment manager at Northern Trust. His letter of April 10 includes this passage:

We believe [the US] governments' (sic) aggressive monetary and fiscal stimulus programs will restore positive economic growth at some point during the second half of this year. We also acknowledge that the longer-term consequences of these programs are grave, and to the extent these programs are not unwound in a timely and successful manner, they may become the source of future economic distress. Nonetheless, these massive governmental interventions were and remain necessary given the past 20 months' precipitous collapse in global commerce and credit.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

eBooks Cheap

Here's link to a list of 10 sites where one can down load eBooks without charge. Of the Kindle books I listed on the next previous post, items 7, 8, 10, and 11 were free or cost around a dollar.

Books I'm Reading Update

1. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health, T. Colin Campbell.
2. Daniel, Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy, Beth Moore
3. Truman, David McCullough (Kindle)
4. Celebration of Discipline, Foster
5. Chronological Study Bible
6. The Third Option, Flynn (Fiction: Kindle)
7. The Journal of John Wesley (Kindle)
8. Table Talk, Luther (Kindle)
9. Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin, (Ford Lewis Battle translation)
10. The Imitation of Christ, a Kempis (Kindle)
11. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (Kindle)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let's [Tea] Party, Miami Springs and America!

On the Circle and at the Gazebo, where we signed petitions and threw our tea [bags] into the brine.

Are We Surprised?

Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Director who lately distinguished herself with a report warning that people with "right-wing" views should be surveilled for terrorist leanings, turns out to be a surveillance advocate all 'round. The WSJ today reports that the Arizona legislature is

considering bills to dismantle the [freeway speed camera system] created by [then] Gov. Janet Napolitano when she faced a gaping budget deficit.

This is the system built on "short yellows," meaning the yellow light on the traffic signal that lights up as the signal is turning red. The "short yellows" are attached to a robotic camera that takes a photo of an offender's license plate as he drives through the intersection and then sends the offender a ticket.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Don't Mess With Texas

No, really. Don't.

Gov. Perry Backs Resolution Affirming Texas’ Sovereignty Under 10th Amendment

A number of recent federal proposals are not within the scope of the federal government’s constitutionally designated powers and impede the states’ right to govern themselves. HCR 50 affirms that Texas claims sovereignty under the 10th Amendment over all powers not otherwise granted to the federal government.

It also designates that all compulsory federal legislation that requires states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties, or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding, be prohibited or repealed.

Off The Wall

The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in "rightwing extremist activity," saying the economic recession, the election of America's first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.

A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines "rightwing extremism in the United States" as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.

"It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration," the warning says.

-The Washington Times today.

[Catchy Title Goes Here]

Excess Men

Think about the implications of this.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Obama and the Pirates

This is a pop quiz, not an exam, not a mid-term, and certainly not a final. One hopes he passes with flying colors.

UPDATE: Flying colors it is!

FURTHER UPDATE: Maybe not quite so flying. The WSJ reported today (4/13) that when Capt. Phillips jumped out of the lifeboat a couple of days ago and managed to swim away, the Navy did not yet have authorization to use force. The pirates shot at the captain and recaptured him. The Navy should already have had the authorization. There may have been an opportunity missed, then, to intervene at that point and save the captain. It turned out well, but the credit due the President seems compromised.

See, also, this from Glenn Reynolds.

Backyard Orchids and a Puppy

Two of our orchids are blooming, and the Jeraulds, who live across the street with their three little boys, have a puppy, a Golden Lab.

Tips on Using Google Search

6 of them. Pretty good.

Happy Birthday, Christians!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1: 3 - 5

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Doctors' Diaries

This is a great series from NOVA about the experiences of a group of med students at Harvard. I find it especially intense and moving to watch, as I think about Mary and her future.

Thinking about the Second Day

Where was Jesus the day after Good Friday? Some controversy here.
Gleason L. Archer, Jr., approaches the question in Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by noting that Jesus told the repentant thief that "today you will be with Me in paradise." But, Archer asks, was it not only after Jesus arose that He ascended to heaven? Archer goes on as follows:

The answer lies in the location of 'paradise'.

Apparently paradise was not exalted to heaven until Easter Day. Jesus apparently refers to it in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus as "Abraham's Bosom," to which the godly beggar Lazarus was carried by the angels after his decease (Luke 16:19-31). Thus "Abraham's Bosom" referred to the place where the souls of the redeemed waited till the day of Christ's resurrection. Presumably this was the same place as paradise. It was not yet lifted up to heaven but it may well have been a section of hades [reference to the Hebrew word for Hades omitted], reserved for believers who died in the faith but who would not be admitted into the glorious presence of God in heaven until the price of redemption had been actually paid on Calvary.

Doubtless is was to the infernal paradise that the souls of Jesus and the repentant thief repaired after they each died on Friday afternoon. But then on Easter Sunday, after the risen Christ had first appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:17) and her two companions (Matt. 28:9), presumably he took up with Him to glory all the inhabitants of infernal paradise (including Abraham, Lazarus, and the repentant thief). We read in Ephesians 4:8 concerning Christ: "Ascending on high, He led captivity captive: He gave gifts unto men." Verse 9 continues: "But what does 'He ascended' mean but that He also descended to the lowers parts of the earth?"-i.e., to hades. Verse 10 adds: "He who descended is the same as He who ascended above all the heavens." Presumably He led the whole band of liberated captives from hades (i.e., the whole population of preresurrection paradise) up to the glory of the highest heaven, the abode of the Triune God.

Archer has allies in the Eastern Church. The following is from the The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church (Moscow, 1839, as quoted in Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, V. II):

"213. What should we think of the state in which Jesus Christ was after his death, and before his resurrection?

"This is described in the following hymn of the Church: In the grave as to the flesh, in hades with thy soul, as God, in paradise with the thief, and on the throne were thou, O Christ, together with the Father and the Spirit, filling all things, thyself uncircumscribed.

"214. What is hades or hell?

"Hades is a Greek word, and means a place "void of light." In divinity, by this name is understood a spiritual prison, that is, the state of those spirits which are separated by sin from the sight of God's countenance, and from the light and blessedness which it confers.

"215. Wherefore did Jesus Christ descend into hell?

"To the end that he might there also preach his victory over death, and deliver the souls which with faith awaited his coming.

"216. Does holy Scripture speak of this?

"It is referred to in the following passage: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he may bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quikened in the spirit; in which also he want and preached uto the spirits in prison." 1 Pet. iii 18, 19."

But what of the Reformers? John Calvin, at least, would disagree with Archer, the Eastern Church, and others. In his Institutes, the following in Book 2, Chapter 16:

"8. Here we must not omit the descent to hell, which was of no little importance to the accomplishment of redemption. For although it is apparent from the writings of the ancient Fathers, that the clause which now stands in the Creed was not formerly so much used in the churches, still, in giving a summary of doctrine, a place must be assigned to it, as containing a matter of great importance which ought not by any means to be disregarded. Indeed, some of the ancient Fathers do not omit it, and hence we may conjecture, that having been inserted in the Creed after a considerable lapse of time, it came into use in the Church not immediately but by degrees. This much is uncontroverted, that it was in accordance with the general sentiment of all believers, since there is none of the Fathers who does not mention Christ's descent into hell, though they have various modes of explaining it. But it is of little consequence by whom and at what time it was introduced. The chief thing to be attended to in the Creed is, that it furnishes us with a full and every way complete summary of faith, containing nothing but what has been derived from the infallible word of God. But should any still scruple to give it admission into the Creed, it will shortly be made plain, that the place which it holds in a summary of our redemption is so important, that the omission of it greatly detracts from the benefit of Christ's death. There are some again who think that the article contains nothing new, but is merely a repetition in different words of what was previously said respecting burial, the word Hell (Infernis) being often used in Scripture for sepulchre. I admit the truth of what they allege with regard to the not infrequent use of the term infernos for sepulchre; but I cannot adopt their opinion, for two obvious reasons. First, What folly would it have been, after explaining a matter attended with no difficulty in clear and unambiguous terms, afterwards to involve rather than illustrate it by clothing it in obscure phraseology? When two expressions having the same meaning are placed together, the latter ought to be explanatory of the former. But what kind of explanation would it be to say, the expression, "Christ was buried", means, that "he descended into hell"? My second reason is the improbability that a superfluous tautology of this description should have crept into this compendium, in which the principal articles of faith are set down summarily in the fewest possible number of words. I have no doubt that all who weigh the matter with some degree of care will here agree with me.

"9. Others interpret differently, viz., That Christ descended to the souls of the Patriarchs who died under the law, to announce his accomplished redemption, and bring them out of the prison in which they were confined. To this effect they wrest the passage in the Psalms "He has broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder." (Ps. 107: 16;) and also the passage in Zechariah, "I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water," (Zech. 9: 11.) But since the psalm foretells the deliverance of those who were held captive in distant lands, and Zechariah comparing the Babylonish disaster into which the people had been plunged to a deep dry well or abyss, at the same time declares, that the salvation of the whole Church was an escape from a profound pit, I know not how it comes to pass, that posterity imagined it to be a subterraneous cavern, to which they gave the name of Limbus. Though this fable has the countenance of great authors, and is now also seriously defended by many as truth, it is nothing but a fable. To conclude from it that the souls of the dead are in prison is childish. And what occasion was there that the soul of Christ should go down thither to set them at liberty? I readily admit that Christ illumined them by the power of his Spirit, enabling them to perceive that the grace of which they had only had a foretaste was then manifested to the world. And to this not improbably the passage of Peter may be applied, wherein he says, that Christ "went and preached to the spirits that were in prison," (or rather "a watch-tower,") (I Pet. 3: 19.) The purport of the context is, that believers who had died before that time were partakers of the same grace with ourselves: for he celebrates the power of Christ's death, in that he penetrated even to the dead, pious souls obtaining an immediate view of that visitation for which they had anxiously waited; while, on the other hand, the reprobate were more clearly convinced that they were completely excluded from salvation. Although the passage in Peter is not perfectly definite, we must not interpret as if he made no distinction between the righteous and the wicked: he only means to intimate, that the death of Christ was made known to both.

"10. But, apart from the Creed, we must seek for a surer exposition of Christ's descent to hell: and the word of God furnishes us with one not only pious and holy, but replete with excellent consolation. Nothing had been done if Christ had only endured corporeal death. In order to interpose between us and God's anger, and satisfy his righteous judgement, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of divine vengeance. Whence also it was necessary that he should engage, as it were, at close quarters with the powers of hell and the horrors of eternal death. We lately quoted from the Prophet, that the "chastisement of our peace was laid upon him" that he "was bruised for our iniquities" that he "bore our infirmities;" expressions which intimate, that, like a sponsor and surety for the guilty, and, as it were, subjected to condemnation, he undertook and paid all the penalties which must have been exacted from them, the only exception being, that the pains of death could not hold him. Hence there is nothing strange in its being said that he descended to hell, seeing he endured the death which is inflicted on the wicked by an angry God. It is frivolous and ridiculous to object that in this way the order is perverted, it being absurd that an event which preceded burial should be placed after it. But after explaining what Christ endured in the sight of man, the Creed appropriately adds the invisible and incomprehensible judgement which he endured before God, to teach us that not only was the body of Christ given up as the price of redemption, but that there was a greater and more excellent price - that he bore in his soul the tortures of condemned and ruined man." [Boldface added]

My opinion, for whatever little it is worth, is that Calvin has the better argument, much the better argument.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Income Tax Withholding Matters

Take a look at this article in the Miami Herald that came out Tuesday about income tax withholding

The article states that one of the “Stimulus” bills that Congress passed will result in a new withholding schedule effective April 1. It may result in less being withheld from your paycheck. The article warns, however, that you may be among those who will, as a result, “under-withhold” and that you should be concerned about that.

The article refers to an on-line withholding calculator, but the website address the article gives is incorrect. Here is where you should start on the IRS website.

Thanks to Carol for bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Monday, April 06, 2009

Weekend in Philadelphia

Friday morning Carol and I flew up to Philadelphia to visit Mary. After we landed, we took a train north from the airport into the city and the 30th Street Station. We transferred to a train that went west out of the city to Rosemont, and then walked through a driving rain to Mary's apartment building about two suburban blocks south of the station. (We had our umbrellas, so no real problem). We were there, snug in her apartment, when she came home from school about 2 PM.

About the time we arrived at Mary's apartment building, the weather cleared and the sun came out. So after she came home, Mary drove us the two miles over to Bryn Mawr College, and gave us a tour of the science building, her real home-away-from home, and the rest of the lovely campus.

Spring was just at the threshold of bursting forth there, and several trees had already bloomed. The first photo is of Mary and Carol in front of one of these harbinger trees after we came out of the science building. The second photo is of Taylor Hall, one of the main buildings of the college.

The lawns, well watered from the rain and a deep green, the flower beds freshly mulched with the leaves of tulip and other bulbs popping up and soon to flower, and the old stone, neo-gothic buildings of the campus rising up from all this promise made a very pleasant sight. We walked by student guides and their charges, young women, apparently high school seniors, who seemed to be giving the place one last look before deciding whether to come next fall. The season favors a positive decision.

From there we drove a mile or less to Ardmore, another of the little towns that seem to overlap one another along the "Main Line," where there is some serious shopping available. As Carol and Mary enjoyed themselves (buying after all very little), I sat in a plaza surrounded by J. Crew, Talbot's, a vest pocket Macy's, and the like, watching a Robin for about 15 minutes look around another freshly mulched flower bed for a worm with no success.

The shoppers rejoined me, and we walked about a block to "Trader Joe's," a sort of toned down Whole Foods and a favorite grocery store of Mary. From there, we went around the corner to "the Farmer's Market," where we ended up buying supper on a take-out basis. This was an interesting place - the vendors inside the Farmer's Market manned 21st Century "stalls" or "stands" (which words do not come near to describing how classy these points of sale are). There was a Mennonite bakery, although we successfully resisted the temptation to load up, a wine vendor, an Asian food stand, where we bought some talapia and a tofu dish, an Italian stand, where we bought some potatoes (we were eating eclectic that night), and several other places that made us hungrier and hungrier. So with our haul we quickly went back to Mary's apartment, which was already redolent with some bread she had baked for our visit, and had supper. We topped it all off with a trip back across the street to a McDonald's for their 1$ caramel sundaes - a dessert tradition that we first adopted on our trips to Spain.

The next morning we were up fairly promptly, and Mary made her very strong, Kenya edition of cafe con leche for herself and me. She had thoughtfully bought Muesli for Carol's breakfast, and there was oatmeal and yogurt, all with bananas and blueberries and, of course, the homemade bread. Yum.

Then, as we had planned, we took off for the Valley Forge National Historic Park, which is part of the National Park Service. This, of course, is the site of the "encampment" of Washington's Continental Army which began in December 1777 and continued until the spring of 1778. It is a sprawling park, but has a good visitors center, and an exhibit where several very small log cabins have been built, replicating over 1000 of such shelters that the soldiers built for the winter. We learned that the winter, while cold - was moderate for Pennsylvania, and that the army, while tested during the winter, emerged transformed by the training they received from Von Stueben, fresh arms from France, and the encouraging news that France had come into the war on the side of the Colonials.

Two of the three park rangers who gave talks were very good, and one of them gave some interesting detail about how the cannon and muskets were used to devastating effect. I asked this gentleman for some recommendations on further reading about the Continental Army, and he suggested two books, Joseph Plumb Martin's A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier, and Charles Roster's, A Revolutionary People at War.

The third photo is of Mary and me in front of the visitor's center, and the fourth is of the National Memorial Arch that was dedicated in 1917, commemorating the "patience and fidelity" of the soldiers who wintered there in 1777-1778.

On the way back from Valley Forge, we made a quick stop at King of Prussia Mall (by then, we understood why there would be a place named "King of Prussia" in that locale, for he had been a friend to the Colonials), and then home to Mary's apartment to rest and to put the finishing touches on the plans for the evening. Those touches mainly involved Mary and Carol studying the guide books for a good place for dinner in the city, not too far from the Kimmel Center, where we had tickets that night to attend a concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

They came up with an Indian restaurant, Lovash, and it proved to have delicious food and was moderately priced. There were all sorts of off-beat shops and other restaurants in the Lovash neighborhood, and there were lots of people, from the plainly tourist to 1980s grunge types - it reminded me a bit of Ybor City in Tampa.

After that it was off to Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts where the Philadelphia Orchestra performed under the direction that night of Andre Previn. Mary had asked me what we should expect to hear from the PO in relation to our friend the New World Symphony. I told her that we should be able to hear quite a difference, even though we enjoy the New World. Although we expected to hear something better, we were simply stunned at the quality of the orchestra, especially on the Mozart piano concerto. (Piano Concerto No. 24, K. 491 - click "System One," then scroll down to Piano Concertos)

Andre Previn
, who turns 80 this year, seemed quite feeble as he approached the piano (for the Mozart) and then, after intermission, the podium for Strauss's Symphonia Domestica, but he carried it all off with strength and aplomb. We sat in the orchestra section, not that far from the stage, and you could see on the faces of the musicians how much they were enjoying Previn and how they connected with him. We all enjoyed it!

The next morning, we attended City Line Church, and heard a fine sermon on 2 Corin. 12:1-10, from the pastor, Steve Kim, and met some of Mary's friends who also attend there. For lunch, we went to a burrito fast food place and then back to the apartment to relax. At about 4 Mary walked us to the train station, and we back-tracked to the airport and then home by about 9:30PM Sunday night.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dad Just Has to Brag

Poor Mary. She's been slogging through Chemistry these many months. She finds Biology fascinating and Physics, well Physics, is "just math," at least to Mary. And we know how Mary handles math.

But Chemistry, ugh.

I hated Chemistry at Duke, and the two Freshman Chem courses at Duke were the only courses in which I got a C. So I have been sympathising with Mary these past several months, as she complained about the Chem courses in her program. I sympathized as only a loving and completely understanding father can. Until she just now sent me this update:

Well, apparently I had a very good Chemistry week last week, as I got a 95 on my 2-day test extravaganza (the class average was a 74--guess I didn't help that curve), and a 99 on my last lab report.

Did I mention Carol got two A+s in Freshmen Chemistry at Duke?

Aunt Ann a G.L.O.W. Honoree

Our Aunt Ann is among 18 Georgia women honored by the Georgia Legislature as "outstanding". We've known that for many, many years, but it's good to know that this has become generally known. Among her many gifts is running the Dodge Hill Inn in Eastman, GA, where we have had simply wonderful visits.