Saturday, May 30, 2009

Somebody Should Have Told Him Mary was Coming

The Gators hire Dean Guzick of Rochester Med School to head the University's Health Care System.

Trifecta on the Plantation

The third banana plant arrived today at the Dove Avenue Plantation, this one by mail, carefully boxed up and in good condition, from Stokes Tropicals. This one is known as an "Ice Cream" or "Blue Java" banana, an irresistible name. It's the one on the left in the photo.

That gives us a Cavendish from Lowe's, a Goldfinger from Katie's Going Bananas, and this Ice Cream from Stokes Tropicals.

Three's a charm. Now we give them tender, loving care for about a year as they grow up. In about six months after that, we may well be awash in bananas. What joy!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Healthy Living on Decline in US

This, notwithstanding what we now know about the link between good nutrition, moderate weight, exercise, moderate drinking, and shunning cigarettes, on the one hand, and a relatively disease-free life, on the other. This example of man's inhumanity to himself is and will continue to be the key factor in rising health costs.

Yet we insist on health care for all and demand that government pay for it. Will it be any surprise, then, that government will soon regulate how and what we eat? And, of course, government will botch that effort, as it will the matter of universal health care. We will get the government we deserve. Such is the connection between individual choices, not only at the ballot box, but especially in all other aspects of our lives, and the way the nation goes.

Thinking like a Christian for a moment, the problem in Jeremiah's time was not Babylon, the problem was the choices being made by Jeremiah's people.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Elderly Man a Sensation in His Glennz Tee!

I had on my "Rock Me Amadeus" Glennz Tee at Roberts is Here yesterday. It was busy there, but it's always busy there. Anyway, I walked in and the first thing that happened was a group of young adults stopped and stared at me and my t-shirt. I wasn't sure whether it was the t-shirt or whether it was I, a sort of old guy, you know, wearing the t-shirt.

I walked on by, but later they walked by me, and one of the young women among them came up and said she liked my shirt. (You have to understand that this is not a usual thing for young women to come up to me and comment on my clothes, nor older women for that matter, nor any women, except Carol, when there's a mancha or the collar of my sports coat is turned-up.) She said she liked my shirt, and I told her that I bought it on the internet at Glennz Tees. She said, "Thanks" and left with a smile.

Made my day.

Or it would have made my day, had the banana plant we acquired earlier in the afternoon from Katie's Going Bananas not already made my day.

Flash!! Dove Avenue Banana Plantation Doubles!

On the right in the photo is the newest addition, a "Goldfinger" banana plant from Katie's Going Bananas. More on the development of the Goldfinger here. It is also known as the FHIA-01.

In the photo's background is our compost box and a pile of compost on the right. We throw all our veggie kitchen scraps in the box, along with lawn and shrub clippings, and let them all cook down.

Composting is very important to the banana plants, because it keeps the soil warm and helps kill nematodes. Nematodes attack the roots of the banana plant, making it weak, subject to disease, with an adverse affect on the banana bunches. The Goldfinger may be better able to withstand the nematodes, but we are going to take no chances.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Israelis Singing to the Pope

Somehow I missed this on ABC, CBS, and NBC:

The Western Hemisphere's Sudan

The refugee crises [in Ecuador] spawned by ongoing conflict in neighboring Colombia has left millions displaced, making the nation second only to Sudan in nations with the most internal refugees. Rural farmers and families are frequently intimidated by guerrilla and paramilitary groups, who send them fleeing amid death threats, forced recruitment, the demand of unaffordable taxes, persecution for political organizing, land seizures and intolerable violence in their villages and towns.

- from today's Miami Herald.

One sad thing about this article (in addition to the overwhelmingly sad situation in Ecuador) is that there is nothing said about the situation in Colombia that generated this migration. The article begins with a story of a family who fled Colombia when "[a]rmed men entered their home, murdered [a brother] and threatened to kill the rest of the family if they did not vacate the town within 48 hours." Given the bias of the Miami Herald, my guess is that the "armed men" would be the guerillas and not the Army. My bias as to the Herald is that if the armed men were from the Army, then that would have been specifically reported.

On the other hand, the reporter could have decided not to inject the Colombian political situation into the matter of considering the desperate situation of the immigrants. Thus, she could have been writing in good faith. However, I would consider the story so incomplete without referring to the problems in Colombia that it verges on not the whole truth and, therefore, a journalistic failure.

The Cavendish is [not] a GMO

Like all edible bananas, [the Cavendish (AAA group)] members have been long cultivated and are hybrids of Musa acuminata and M. balbisiana. The “AAA” is a genetic designation, which specifies the members of this group as triploids (having an extra set of chromosomes) rather than diploids, the natural genetic state of most plant cells. In contrast, tetraploids would be noted as “AAAA” and diploids as “AA.” The letters in “AAA” also distinguish its relative genetic content from Musa acuminata (A) and M. balbisiana (B). Because Cavendish bananas are triploid, having an extra chromosome copy, they are more vigorous than average bananas and produce larger fruits in greater quantity.

-from the Learn2Grow website.

UPDATE: This afternoon we went down to the Homestead area with Van and Juliet to a nursery called "Katie's Going Bananas". Among other things, Don (Katie's husband I think) told us that bananas are NOT GMOs. He definitely had a few not nice things to say about GMOs and said that the soy and corn here in the US were pretty much GMOs, but that Europe has done a much better job. We learned a lot about growing bananas and bought another plant, this one a different variety. That will be the subject of a separate post, but I needed to inform the world that bananas in the US are still non-GMOs. Whew! (We stopped off at Robert is Here.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Banana Oat Meal Cookies (vegan)

Mary made these while she was here. I calculated two WW points per cookie. They were super good!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dove Avenue Banana Plantation

It was inevitable.

UPDATE: Well, of course!

I purchased the banana plant pictured from Lowe's. The plant had a Lowe's tag, and it said that the banana variety is "Cavendish," also known, according to the tag, as Musa acuminata 'Cavandish'. The tag had other helpful information, and it gave a web address for "care instructions." There is more on the webpage for this plant than care instructions. For example,

The Cavendish (AAA Group) includes the following edible banana cultivars and cultivar subgroups:

* ‘Double’
* ‘Dwarf Cavendish’
* ‘Extra Dwarf Cavendish’
* ‘Giant Cavendish’ (and its cultivars)
* ‘Grand Naine’
* ‘Pisang Misak Hijau’ (the green ripe bananas)

The tag didn't say to which subgroup the banana plant we brought home belongs. My guess is that it is a "Grand Naine," which I understand to be the kind we buy at Publix that are grown by Chiquita. But we'll see.

U of Chicago T Shirts

This subject is featured in an article in The Core: the College Magazine of the University of Chicago, which came with the May-June 2009 issue of the University of Chicago Magazine this time. The subject of T-Shirts generally is important to the Austin economy and, indirectly, to the Miami Springs economy, so this is a worthy subject to consider as it applies to my alma mater.

The article lists some "favorites," chief among them is Where fun comes to die, which is not fair. It may be true, but it's not fair.


Chicago dating - the odds are good, but the goods are odd

University of Chicago. When you sleep, we study

Where the squirrels are cuter than the girls.

Where the squirrels are more aggressive than the guys

The level of hell that Dante forget

It it were easy, it'd be your mom

U of C: Not UIC since 1892

If I wanted an A, I would have gone to Harvard.

Hell Does Freeze Over (You got that one right!)

Cresat Tutula, Universitys Ditetur (which is supposed to translate "By Increasing Tuition, Let the University Become Enriched")

Let the Sonnenschein in (which was created in 1993 to celebrate the inauguration that year of a new president, Hugo Sonnenschein)

The article reports:

"Mike Moebs, MBA '75, has two [UC T-Shirts]. One lists Chicago's Nobel laureates in economics. The other has a photo of Milton Friedman and George Stigler waking down a Hyde Park street. 'Either U of C T-shirt always, always gets someone to come up to me and start a conversation,' he writes. Sadly, his interlocutors 'are almost always older, distinguished men. Seldom do young, good-looking, intelligent, rich women approach me, which just reinforces that economics is the dismal science.'

Uh, Mike, if you got your MBA in '75, then you are just a year or two younger than I. Believe me, as to the women you profile, it ain't the T-Shirt.

Another one, this for the Model United Nations event: World peace in four days or your money back. The producers of that T-Shirt said "We were careful to ensure that the last line said - in Chinese - 'Just kidding!'"

Here's somebody else's favorite, obviously a Classics major:

Universitas Chicaginiensis/Universitatis Chicaginiensis/Universitate Chicaginiensi. I wish I had declined the University of Chicago sooner.

There is an event each year on campus called "Kuviasungnerk and Kangeiko." According to Wikipedia, this is a "festival celebrating Chicago in the winter. Often referred to as Kuvia, it entails a variety of events, including ice sculpting, hot chocolate get-togethers, musical performances, faculty fireside discussions, and a rigorous program of early morning exercise (kangeiko, a Japanese tradition of winter training) that culminates in a yoga-influenced "salute to the sun", performed outdoors in freezing temperatures just before the sun rises." The T-Shirt from 2008: Because the University of Chicago just isn't intense enough.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Satellite Flybys

What's going by overhead? Find out here.

Approximate Justice

[R]ead Augustine. We really do live between the City of God and the City of Man. We live at the intersection of the ages. . . Because of reading Augustine, I have a chastened view of politics, which is that we live in two kingdoms. We are to bring approximate justice to basically insoluble problems. That's Reinhold Niebuhr, having read Augustine: Because the world is fallen, because it is decayed and we live in a sinful world, we will never bring in any kind of utopia. That's a warning for people on the right and the left.

-Michael Cromartie, interviewed by Marvin Olasky in World Magazine, May 9, 2009, issue.

Pro-Abortion = Anti-Black

And though blacks make up only 12 percent of the U.S. population, they account for one-third of all abortions performed in the United States. More than three in 10 black women abort their unborn children. According to the 2006 census, deaths now exceed live births among African-Americans.

"We no longer replace ourselves, " [pro-life pastor Walter] Hoye said. "So we're not using terms like holocaust and genocide just to elicit a response. It's the truth."

-World Magazine, May 9, 2009, p. 53.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jane Goodall on Giving up Meat

"People . . . ask how I coped when I first gave up meat. Psychologically, I felt really good about it, especially during the first few months, when the smell of bacon still made my mouth water, and I could be proud of my strength of will! But soon I began to feel so much better physically, too. Lighter, somehow. Other people who have given up meat have said the same. Nor is it surprising, for when we eat meat we waste a lot of energy getting rid of the toxins in the flesh that the animal was also trying to get rid of before it died. Perhaps that was why I started to feel so much more energetic. Since 1986 I have been traveling three hundred days a year, lecturing, going to meetings, lobbying, teaching, and so on. Never in one place for more than three weeks consecutively, and usually only a few days. I honestly don't think I could have maintained this pace when I was thirty years old - and I believe that giving up meat is the reason why I can today. [She was born in 1934; the book published in 2005.]

"If I was not on the road all the time I'd probably be a vegan. But it is not easy when you spend 300 days per year on the road and stay with people in all parts of the world to maintain a balance diet without any animal products. It's fine if you can cook yourself, or go to a good vegan restaurant. But home-cooked vegan food and vegan restaurants are not options on much of my travels. So I still eat eggs and cheese, and I know that milk is present in many sauces and desserts. Whenever possible I get organic, free-range animal products, but it's often not possible.

"Many people believe that meat is necessary for good health. The opposite is usually true. First, humans do not have the right kind of anatomy for frequent heavy meat eating. There is a difference in the length of the intestines of carnivores and herbivores. Carnivores have short intestines (about the length of their bodies) and are able to pass the nondigestible portion of their food quickly through the body before it starts to putrefy. Herbivores need more time to get the nutrients from the vegetable matter they eat and so have long intestines (about four times their body length). Humans have long intestines, too, so that flesh may sometimes stay for much too long in our guts. In other words, the human species does not have the physical attributes of the carnivore - and that includes ripping, slashing teeth and claws. And, finally, unless they only eat organic products, they are constantly contaminating their own bodes with the hormones and antibiotics fed to factory-farmed animals."

-Jane Goodall in Harvest for Hope - a Guide to Mindful Eating

This Weekend I'm [Fightin'] Irish

and a pro-life Romanist.

iPhone and Kindle

News here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

On that Notorious DHS Memo

"Abortion is the white supremacist’s best friend,” said Dr. King. “It eliminates black babies at much higher rates than white babies. Disproportionately more abortions among African American women mean they suffer physical and emotional trauma in greater percentages than others. To say, as the Department of Homeland Security does, that white supremacists have exercised a ‘longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion’ tells me that either the government, the supremacists, or both are clueless about abortion’s grave impact on the black community.”

“The DHS memo is just plain wrong and incredibly offensive on many levels,” added Dr. King, “none more so than in its attempt to link pro-lifers with hate groups. Janet Napolitano has apologized to veterans for her memo’s characterizations of them, now she needs to do the same for her smears against those of us who want all Americans, including the unborn, protected.”

-Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as quoted here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Springs Backyard Critter vs. Swarthy TX Critter

(Walt, my critter would make a meal out of your critter!)

UPDATE: And then there are Mary's critters.

Peanut Butter and Banana

Uganda is famous for bananas - of which there are so many varieties - served with a delicious peanut sauce.

-Jane Goodall in Harvest for Hope - A Guide to Mindful Eating.

Did Aunt Frances know about this, Ken?

A Happy Mother's Day Story

Via the Herald.

Colossians Study

The minister commenced a sermon series on Colossians this morning. He covered the first half of the first chapter, 1:1-14. Of particular note to me was the section that begins with verse 9:

9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption,[e] the forgiveness of sins.[My italics]

What has my particular attention is the prospect of "bearing fruit in every good work." That seems to be an important outcome of being filled with "the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding."

Although our church is all about "spiritual wisdom and understanding" at an important level, it has lost its way to some extent in the matter of "bearing fruit in every good work." What are these works that we are to bear, in addition to obedience in the realm of morals and ethics? Are we to be simply "good people" as many of our non-Christian neighbors appear to be? Is there something more, beyond presenting the Gospel where ever we can? What would "something more" be for FPC Miami Springs?

GMOs Everywhere!

Am I wrong, or is the malaria parasite a GMO on account of pesticides and on account of simply moving through the bodies of various victims?

Fettuccine with Spinach Pesto

Saturday evening supper! This is a "one-pot pasta and grain entree" Carol made from Lorna Sass' Short-Cut Vegetarian. It included with the fettucine and spinach pesto, tomatoes and capers. Carol added side servings of broccoli, sweet potato, garden salad, and some slices of "wheat Italian 5-grain bread" from Publix. We had a smoothie for dessert. (This vegan thing is really tough.)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

What's a GMO?

I really like the Smart Balance Whipped Buttery Spread. It tastes as close to butter as I can remember anything tastes that is not butter. We were using it before I lost my mind.

As I was reading the label (which I am doing a lot these days), I read "100% Vegan - Non-Dairy - Non GMO . . . " There's that GMO thing again. I read that on the Amy's frozen dinner box the other night. Quick, ask the internet.

Genetically Modified Organism. That's a GMO. This is a no-no in Veganland. Go here for the scoop. But I made some money on my Monsanto stock that I sold early enough last year. Oh, well. I guess I won't buy back into Monsanto, although it's at a bargain price these days. This is hard.


Macon, over on his Unrelated blog, raises the question of the Sabbath.

I have been thinking about what we are to do with Sabbath for most of my grown up life. (I posted on it once before.) I think the day is to be set apart and honored in some way that makes us more like the person that God intended us to be before creation, "back there" when he first thought us up and pictured how we would be, absent a Fall or, now, fully redeemed and restored. Jesus said that the day is made for "man," and, like an American, I would first read that to mean that is is made for "me." But it must also have a huge corporate component, as the commandment itself indicates when it warns us that the people and animals over whom we have control are also to enjoy its special rest.

When I grew up a Southern Baptist, we observed the Sabbath carefully: no movies, no beach going, no games, being quiet, taking a nap. On the other hand, being a Baptist growing up meant a Sunday that got to be very, very busy with church activities, and the inconsistency of that approach struck me as a teenager. Sunday got to be exhausting with the "early [worship] service" that began at 8:30AM, where the Youth Choir sang. This required us us to get to church even earlier so that the choir could assemble, dress in the robes, and do a quick run-over of the anthem.

Following that was Sunday School, which went to about 10:30. Then our family returned home for lunch and a nap. Then back to church for ensemble practice at 3:30PM or even earlier, Youth Choir practice proper at 4:00PM, then a light supper in the church dining room, then "Training Union," followed by the evening service at 7:30PM. After the worship service, which ended about 8:30, we youth went to some one's house for "Afterglow." That meant I got home about 10PM on a school night. Some Sabbath!

That experience has made me jealous of the Sabbath, especially when it comes to church activities. Often our church leadership calls for meetings before or after church, because everyone is there, or later in the afternoon, because the leadership figures that people would not have commitments on that time. And, after all, this is for God, right? Wrong. I just don't go to those things. I will go to worship service, and a Sunday school class, but I really don't want to be involved in church activities otherwise. The Sabbath was not made for Church.

But that begs Macon's question of what should be done with Sabbath. All the delicious time! What's the Plan??!! What would David Allen do? Or should we care? What do you think?

Mystery Writers

When I come across a book review or even a reference to a book that whets my appetite, I often jot the title down on a piece of paper or note card or tear out the article from the magazine or newspaper, and throw these bits of someday into my desk drawer or on the current "opportunity" pile on the desktop. Then, every month or so, I go through the drawer and the piles and attempt to straighten up, with the emphasis on "attempt."

This morning I did that and came across a Dear Book Lover column, clipped from the WSJ's Weekend section sometime last year, and there was a letter to its editor Cynthia Crossen looking for a "good mystery, action, and intrigue novel." Well, me too. I'll tell you about the answers Crossen gives in a minute, but the clipping brings to mind two mysteries that I read recently and which I would recommend, though only as mind candy.

One is Rain Fall by Barry Eisler. Eisler's hero is a contract assassin who lives in Tokyo, a Viet-Nam vet of mixed Japanese/American parentage, who, with a little plastic surgery, manages to pass for a native Japanese. Eisler appears to know modern Japanese culture well, and that makes up for whatever credibility problems one might have with the lead character. It reads fast. It's fun. It's a guy book, I think. I also think its a dead-end series, because the next one in Eisler's line, Hard Rain, didn't sing for me.

Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn is about another assassin, although this one works for the CIA. This also moves fast and is even more gripping than the Eisler book. More mind candy here. And, like Eisler's Rain Fall, the next one in Flynn's series, The Third Option, is not nearly as good. So I think I'm through with both Eisler and Flynn, but thanks guys.

The book lover whose letter of inquiry made Cynthia Crossen's column lists his own favorite authors, Lee Childs, Harlan Coben, Gayle Lynds, David Baldacci, Vince Flynn and Bernard Cornwell. I've read David Baldacci and, as I already indicated, Vince Flynn. But I don't know the others.

Crossen, in response, mentions Helen MacInnes, and says she has read of all of hers, as did I years ago. Crossen refers to Helen MacInnes as "maybe the Gayle Lynds of her time." If that's true, then hand me one of Gayle's.

She also mentions "Michael Connelly [read a bunch of his], Robert Crais [nope], the Kellermans (John and Faye)[heard of them, but don't remember reading either], George Pelecanos [nope], to name just a few." She goes on:

Responding to an earlier question about thrillers that didn't feature serial-killers of women, readers suggested Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder mysteries and Donna Leon's Inspector Brunetti series (start with "Death at La Fenice"). My mystery-mad friend Jean likes Laurie King.

* * *

I prefer mystery, action or intrigue books to be well written, and fortunately, that's not a problem. I like Dennis Lehane, Martin Cruz Smith, John Burdett and Ian Rankin - polished storytellers who don't always make the airport racks. I also enjoy Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley series. Ms. George should put all her books on diets, but her characters make excellent company. Also, look for the just published "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Steig Larsson. That will keep you awake, and it's the first volume of a trilogy.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Mary gave me a link to FatFreeVegan. But do they include being free from veggie fat? I think veggie fat is OK. This site has some marvelous photos!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Tonight I played hooky from our "Wednesday Night Live" evening at church. I haven't been going to the suppers for a number of weeks because they are "traditional American" fare, loaded with animal-based protein and refined carbs. But I have been arriving in time for the Chronological Bible Study. But tonight I stayed home entirely, because I am still catching up from the busy weekend.

That meant I went foraging in the fridge/freezer for supper. I found an edition of Amy's Bowls in the freezer, this one "made with organic black-eyed peas, vegetables and [brown] rice." The veggies included broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, onions, extra virgin olie oil, tamari (wheat free), cilantro, ginger, sea salt, garlic, spices, all "organic" except for the salt. The plastic bowl full of this stuff is covered by some sort of transparent wrap. One is to cut a one-inch slit in the wrap and put it in the microwave on "high" for five minutes. I must say it did not look that exciting, but I proceeded nevertheless.

It was really good! I made some whole wheat toast to go with it and had a banana and an apple for dessert. I recommend Amy's Bowls, if this is an example of what all of the various types are.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Mr. Wizard in Austin

On a RadioShack visit recently I discovered a display of ScienceWiz kits. I bought two to bring to Austin on our trip this weekend, one for Aidan called "Electricity" and the other for Felicity call "Inventions." We had such a packed weekend that, to my dismay, I did not have a chance to do the Inventions kit with Felicity, but Aidan and I did get a chance to work through the Electricity kit. It was a big success, and I would heartily recommend these little project kits. I am hoping that Walter will be able to work with Felicity on the other kit and give us a report.

These are really good kits! The author is Penny Norman, PhD., and the book that accompanies the parts of the kit is very well done - not only well illustrated but structured in a way to lead the student through a step-by-step illumination process. For example, in electricity, we begin with the concept of a "loop," and the kit piece is a red loop from a pot holder. Dr. Norman has the student form it into various shapes (circle, oval, square, triangle), making the point that it is always a "loop" regardless of the shape. Then she moves to the idea of an electrical loop, and the next project is a battery, some wires with alligator clips and a light bulb. We consider how, when we make a loop with these materials, we have a lighted bulb - later in the narratives she will call this a "loop circuit."

This morning Aidan demonstrated to his mother how something is "on" and "off." For "on," he put his arms in a circle, with one hand holding the other, He said, "Mom, this is 'on'." Then he let go his hands, but keeping his arms otherwise in a circle as before, he said, "Mom, this is 'off'." Four years old. Awesome!

If God gives me another life, then I think I am going to ask him to be a middle-school science teacher.