Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Aging Yuppies Consider Obama Care

ObamaCare will depend on restraint in using expensive procedures, and may say no to some that are deemed unnecessary. Perfect fit. We aging yuppies are bred to restraint, honor economy, and will certainly take less for ourselves for the sake of the greater good.

ObamaCare will look askance at unhealthy habits, may put a tax on high-sugar, high-fat foods, and may even penalize people who abuse themselves. Aging yuppies have always been careful of their bodies, with a wary eye on fast-foods, and we use only the safest sex. After all, our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Good! Another great fit!

ObamaCare may bring down the costs of drugs, because we will buy them all from Canada. Another perfect fit. This is great, because we aging yuppies know all about drugs, especially the ones that are imported.

Go ahead ObamaCare. We will love you! After all, we are the ones who fought in the Good War and understand sacrifice . . . No, wait, that was Dad and Mom. Actually, we didn't fight in any war at all, if we could help it. But we did protest. Does that count?

And we know deprivation: there was the Great Deprivation, that period of our youth before we had cable and had to use floppy disks. We can handle ObamaCare.

Bring it on!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Time to Buy Gold?

If anything, the current recession has put money in the pockets of gold dealers.

The Wall Street Journal reports a near doubling of bullion sales in 2008, and fears of a prolonged recession, coupled with inflation anxiety has had investors rushing to acquire the gleaming metal for their portfolios.

This begs the question - is gold really a “wise” investment during times of recession? In a series of recent posts, R.D Norton examines the price movements of gold in times of economic downturn. Although he finds that gold prices tend to fall during recessions, the trend is not uniform. Often, prices spike amidst inflation worries as economies begin to regain health. But what about post-recessionary prices? The chart below illustrates this story from an investor’s angle: if you, as an investor were to buy $1 worth of gold in August 1971 (the date when the United States officially repudiated its obligation to redeem dollar claims on gold), how much is that dollar worth now, when adjusted for inflation?

For the sake of comparison, the chart also shows the value of the same dollar when invested in an S&P 500 index fund over the same time period. (This excludes any fees that might have been charged to the investor).

In 2009, the long-term investor who purchased a dollar of gold in 1971 would find that his investment in gold performed better when compared to the stock market (more precisely, the S&P index fund).

However, consider the case of investors who gave in to the buying frenzy and invested in gold during times of recession. Buyers in the 1980’s peak still haven’t recovered their investment. Those who bought gold during the upward trend in late 1981 realized a near permanent loss on their holdings. Buyers during the 1990’s recession waited nearly 16 years to break even. While there have been some exceptions (for instance, the recession in 2001) in general, over the last four decades, buying gold during or even right after recessions has been a case of “buying high, selling low” for the average investor.

In comparison, buying into market-indexed funds may seem like a less risky choice. Historically, gold has always had higher volatility of returns when compared to the S&P 500 index (a standard deviation of 5.5 percent over this time period, as opposed to 4.5 percent on the S&P). In almost all post-recessionary cases (once again, 2001 being an exception) investors managed to preserve wealth and benefit from gains as the economy regained traction.

For investors who focus on the long term, gold is a wise bet as a store of wealth. However, those who are looking to time their gold purchase and capitalize on short-term gains do not fare as well.

-Written by Shafayat Chowdhury of the American Institute for Economic Research.

(As you can tell by now, I love the information that the AIER publishes.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Marriage Proposed to Lulu

This was on the graffiti wall at church this morning! (That's thunder in the background. It was about to rain.)

Last night, over 200 young people were at Catalyst. In addition to the art work, the gathering held a break-dancing "battle." Some of the break-dancers had come in earlier from a cruise ship, where they had been hired to entertain the passengers. They brought with them young people from families that had been on the cruise. I cannot imagine what those vacationers thought when they arrived at a Presbyterian Church to see a "battle." They also heard Joe Stigale present the Gospel, as he does each week. At the end of his presentation, Joel called for a decision for Christ. My friend Austin Carr, who was there, said that many hands went up and many prayed with Joel the decision prayer.

And someone proposed to Lulu. And she accepted.

(Here's another video on Catalyst.)

Carlos and Caryn Back to Niger

Carlos and Caryn and their two young children will be returning to the Republic of Niger Tuesday. They are Wycliffe missionaries and have been home getting well from the terrible sieges of malaria they had suffered in that country, especially Caryn and the children, undergoing further training, and raising funds to go back. Visiting our church this morning, Carlos said that there is war in the north part of Niger, so they will not be returning to the place where they had been working before. The family will be based in the capital city, and Carlos will travel from time to time to the war zone, where the Berber people-group (the Tagdal language) among whom they had worked are located. He said that he would not travel where there is any danger, although he gave a rueful smile when he said that.

He also said that he is beginning a PhD program in linguistics at Leiden University in the Netherlands. ("Why there?" he asked rhetorically, "Because it is free.") I guess one is able to do that via the internet and visits to campus from time to time.

Carlos is not certain exactly what shape his work will be taking. He has to get back over to Niger to see. Here is a family who deserve our admiration, prayers, and support.

Killings for "social, cultural, and family reasons" in Canada, in the US

Also known as "honor killings." Commentary on the Canadian killings here.

But there are people on our side of the border who also do killing for "social, cultural, and family reasons." No headlines this week about those people, however, except here.

May we talk about the relative scale of the problem of such killings among Muslims and of the problem of similarly motivated killings among Americans, the differences being that the latter are sanctioned by the US Supreme Court and supported indirectly by our government and, soon perhaps, directly by our government? But at least we are not refugee Afghan Muslims. What a relief that is.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Abby Carr Wows Them in NY

She fought hard on the ball, never backing down, never giving in.

She set up her teammates with perfect passes and always knew where to be when they set her up on a run. She played with confidence and composure.

Striker Whitney Palmer figured the Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues' latest signee was another star Division I college player.

She was wrong: Abby Carr is a 16-year-old who won't graduate from Miami Springs (Fla.) High School until December.

"I didn't believe them when they told me that she was 16," said Palmer, entering her junior year at the University of Oklahoma. "When she came out to practice, she wasn't afraid, she knows she can come out on the pitch and play at any level."

-Read the entire article from the Times Herald-Record, "serving New York's Hudson Valley and the Catskills."

Friday, July 24, 2009

ObamaCare as "Stealth Care" as far as Abortion is Concerned

The health care reform bills now being finalized in Congress are going to end up mandating the federal funding of abortion without even mentioning the word -- unless Congress explicitly excludes abortion. And that’s what we have to urge them to do. Otherwise, we will end up with a health care reform bill that will expand abortion more radically than anything since Roe vs. Wade.

Read the entire post from Priests-for-Life here.

And about those pro-life Democrats.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Our fans are not stupid like Cubs fans."

Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen, on why attendance is low at White Sox games. Both Chicago teams are hovering near the 500 mark so far this season, according to World Magazine's July 18 issue. The implication is that the Cubbies aren't having attendance problems.

ObamaCare and Abortion

This is an email from Marie Bowen of Presbyterians Pro-Life that Carol received today.

I am writing with an URGENT call to action today. Presbyterians Pro-Life ordinarily does not focus on political action, but pending healthcare legislation will so vastly increase abortion's threat to preborn human life that we felt we must contact you about it.

Please join Presbyterians Pro-Life in a webcast TONIGHT, July 23 at 9 PM Eastern (6 PM Pacific, 7 PM Mountain, 8 PM Central.) It is critical that pro-life Christians become informed about the far-reaching effects of the bill being considered now in the Congress.

This webcast will explain the harmful effects of this legislation and will equip you with simple ways to take action. There is no cost for the webcast. Registration is easy. Simply click on the 'Stop the Abortion Mandate' link at the bottom of this email and follow the instructions. Even if you are unable to attend tonight, I would encourage you to register to receive updates by email as this bill progresses through Congress.

Make no mistake: the "health care reform" proposals being pushed by Washington bureaucrats and abortion industry lobbyists -- if enacted in their current form -- would represent the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.

This is the strategy that Planned Parenthood and the billion-dollar abortion industry are now using in an attempt to implement the cornerstones of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA.)

These measures could mandate that virtually every American be forced into a health plan that includes abortion coverage -- and require honorable medical providers to violate their consciences and perform abortions or risk losing their jobs.

And to make matters even worse, because these would be federal mandates, state laws that now restrict abortion will probably be overturned!

In the face of rising health costs, we are being told that a universal government health care program is the answer. Certainly we want our government to be responsive to the real needs of those who are hungry and sick, but do we want political solutions that mandate abortion?

How will we respond? PPL intends to uphold the sanctity of preborn human life. Our Christian convictions about life are based on scriptural principles that teach that life is precious to God and that Christians are called to care and nurture.

Presbyterians have a long history of involvement in government. The Washington Office exists to equip Presbyterians for advocacy. Although I don't always agree with the views they support, I do agree with this statement on their website: Reformed theology teaches that because a sovereign God is at work in all the world, the church and Christian citizens should be concerned about public policy.

I hope you will join pro-life leaders of many organizations in tonight's webcast and learn more about the health care plan being proposed in Congress. You will be equipped to take action and influence your legislators to reform healthcare in a way that does not violate the sanctity of preborn human life or the Christian principles of care for the weakest among us.

To sign up for TODAY's webcast go to Stop the Abortion Mandate now!

Don't forget to pray for your legislators and for God to guide them as they seek to reform our health care system. Ask God to give them wisdom and moral clarity and to encourage those leaders who are pro-lfie to speak out eloquently.

Thank you for caring enough to join us tonight!
Yours in Christ for life,

Marie Bowen
Presbyterians Pro-Life

Do you feel sick to your stomach? I feel sick to my stomach. Our tax and premium dollars funding abortions? Christian physicians being required to perform abortions? (Or any physicians for that matter.)

Assault on Seniors

Since Medicare was established in 1965, access to care has enabled older Americans to avoid becoming disabled and to travel and live independently instead of languishing in nursing homes. But legislation now being rushed through Congress—H.R. 3200 and the Senate Health Committee Bill—will reduce access to care, pressure the elderly to end their lives prematurely, and doom baby boomers to painful later years.

From "GovernmentCare's Assault on Seniors" by Betsy McCaughey in today's WSJ.

(Another good reason, I would say, to quit smoking, start exercising, and reduce or eliminate animal protein from one's diet.)

Veggie Meals for Kids: a Real "Happy Meal"

The American Dietetic Association has updated a key policy to include vegan diets in its advice that a properly planned and balanced diet can be healthful not only for adults but also for all children, from infants to teens. A vegan diet means no animal products whatsoever (including eggs, cheese and yogurt, for example).

-From Tuesday's Miami Herald, and an article entitled "Dietitians be Flexible and Veg Out."

Search "vegetarian children" on Amazon for a number of interesting titles on this subject.

PS - Three months a vegan at this point, and I feel great!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

CPI Decrease, Yes, but Attributable to Decrease in Energy Prices

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) decreased by 1.4 percent, before seasonal adjustment, during the 12 months ending in June, according to data released this month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 12-month rate of price change was also negative in March, April, and May - and the rate of decrease has accelerated each month. The major factor is the sharp decrease in energy prices compared to their level a year ago. Even though energy prices rose more than 7 percent in June, they were still 25 percent below their level in June 2008.

-From the American Institute for Economic Research

Hmmm. CPI goes down because energy prices are down (presumedly because of the economy being in recession.) But the CPI will turn around when we begin to emerge from the recession and energy prices will go back up. If the recovery is robust, price increases generally will be robust, and at the least we will have demand-driven inflation. But that sort of inflation will probably be on top of the inflation driven by our deficits. Yet, as I understand the left, it is not important for us to have a national energy policy that will develop our own oil and gas reserves. I presume, then, we are to deal with the increase in energy prices by driving tiny cars produced by GM and Chrysler-Fiat.

Health Care for Poor People in Miami-Dade

The health care debate seems to be waged on the assumption that poor people are going without health care. This article from the Miami Herald, which highlights the present cash crunch at our public hospital, nationally ranked Jackson Memorial Hospital, shows that in Miami-Dade at least, there is a place for poor people to go for treatment. Financed by higher charges to paying customers and our local sales tax, JMH has been offering these services for many years.

We had a secretary at our office who was a single mom with a child. We have good medical coverage for our employees at no charge to them. Our plan offers coverage for the rest of the family, if the employee will pay for it. This lady chose not to pay for coverage for her daughter. Instead, she relied on a special Florida program that provides medical coverage for children who are from families who are uninsured. (I don't know what the eligibility requirements are of this program, Florida KidCare. We paid the secretary pretty well.)

The point is that people are getting medical care in a sort of patchwork pattern. I am sure it could be more efficient, and maybe some people are missed here and there. But medical services are being delivered to a lot more "uninsured" people than I think the debate gives the present system credit for.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday can be the Cruelest Day

I know it is not supposed to be, and as it dawns there is still the joy of week ending. But as it grows older, the work week and everything left to be done looms larger and larger.

Here is scripture for such a Sunday afternoon:

Isaiah 40: 27 - 31

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Philippians 4: 4 - 9

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

A Stroller Full of Toys

When Carol and I lived in New York City the second year of our marriage, we subscribed to the New York Magazine. One cover I will never forget was that of a baby stroller not carrying a baby but brochures for trips to Europe, a Walkman and other consumer electronic devices, tickets to Broadway shows, and the like. The point was, of course, that instead of spending money on raising children, young marrieds were putting their dollars into "stuff". (Back then, we got married. We divorced, but we got married again. We divorced. We remarried. Again and again. We were so moral.)

The still-new birth control pill and, later, outright legal abortion, kept the ankle-biters out of the way. More and more young people left off the marriage rituals (really, what's the point?) and then some of them avoided having to deal with the opposite sex altogether (it can be quite trying) and made their unions with a partner who mirrored themselves. We can condemn these people all we want, I suppose, but without assigning a very high value to having children (through procreation or adoption), does it really make that much difference?

Mark Styne writes in the National Review Online:

For much of the developed world, the "credit crunch", the debt burden, and the rest are not part of a cyclical economic downturn but the first manifestations of an existential crisis.

The existential crisis to which he refers are the aging populations in the developed world that have not reproduced themselves. Michigan, where health care is now the leading economic sector, may well be a straw in the wind. As Michigan goes, so goes the country?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

17th Century Nun's Prayer

Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself, that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others' pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessing cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint - some of them are so hard to live with - but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.


Carol and I attended Georgia Nelson's funeral service early this afternoon. One of her daughters-in-law read this prayer; it was framed and hung in Georgia and Cliff's bedroom. We learned something more of Georgia in finding out that this was a favorite of hers. We learned that she knew herself pretty well. Georgia and Cliff were members of our church from the time we first joined it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So Much for a Quick Recovery - But We Knew That

Homeowners’ equity fell to 41.4 percent of the total value of household real estate at the end of the first quarter of 2009. This percentage has decreased sharply since the end of 2005. It first fell below 50 in the fourth quarter of 2007 – marking the first time that homeowners’ mortgage debts exceeded their equity in their homes since 1945, when the Fed’s data begin.

-from an article by Kerry A. Lynch written for the American Institute for Economic Research

It was, of course, the equity in American homes that powered our consumer-spending driven economy. That equity reflected the inflated prices of those homes, as new buyers entered the marketplace and drove up those prices. Many of those new buyers were armed by the government's easy money policy that permitted substandard loans. The loan money was then recycled, thanks to the creative and completly unregulated greed of Wall Street, through its packaging of those substandard loans and selling them to the world. The world bought those loans, because they were insured by the likes of AIG.

As the graph indicates, the equity is in a state of free-fall decline.

My idea is to place a giant laser in space, and direct it back at the East Coast so as, first, to cut away Washington DC, using the belt-way as the cut-away point. Then we do the same with Manhattan, using the East and Hudson Rivers as our guides there. This will allow both pieces of real estate to float east, across the Atlantic, where they can be joined with Europe. Those people on that real estate will be happy, and the rest of us left behind will be happy. Then, maybe we will have half a chance of fixing this mess.


While we're at it, take a look at this graph regarding Michigan's unemployment.

Thanks to theblogprof by way of Instapundit.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Word on Harry Potter

" . . . a callow student with prodigious wizard gifts and little discernable personality."

Now and then the New York Times gets it right.

UPDATE: Did Rene Rodriquez see the same movie?

Also: They are showing this thing at the IMAX in 3D already.

The Stimulus

How could this happen [i.e., the economy being worse than you think] when Washington has thrown trillions of dollars into the pot, including the famous $787 billion in stimulus spending that was supposed to yield $1.50 in growth for every dollar spent? For a start, too much of the money went to transfer payments such as Medicaid, jobless benefits and the like that do nothing for jobs and growth. The spending that creates new jobs is new spending, particularly on infrastructure. It amounts to less than 10% of the stimulus package today.

-Mort Zuckerman today in the WSJ. Zuckerman is the Chairman and CEO of U.S.News & World Report. He is also a frequent panelist on the McLaughlin Group program on NPR, which Carol and I watch often. He usually sits to the right of Mr. McLaughlin, which makes him to the left of the viewer. This is appropriate, because that side of the two sided panel is the pro-Democrat side. He is a wise man, but completely missed the mark on Obama.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Heroism Along US 27

We know the place below Clewiston where this accident took place. Makes you feel good to read about these young men and their coach.


Go, Dawgs!

In the House, there is more chaos. Commerce committee Chairman Henry Waxman has delayed the health care markup he had planned for this week, giving the administration and House leaders a chance to win over balky Blue Dog Democrats.

-Michael Barone, describing Chaos on Capitol Hill.

Michigan's Largest Employment Sector is now . . .

Health care. And it's not doing very well, according to a front page article in the WSJ.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Augmented Reality"

This NYT article today discusses technology developments that would allow one to look through the camera feature on his iPhone and see notes on the various objects within that view, restaurants for example. Or, in medicine, projections of the x-ray on the body of the patient under examination.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Palin May be on to Something

The Washington Times reports that she may campaign for "conservative" Democrats. In my layman's view, there is no way that the Bush/McCain approach will fly ever again - the Republican party really showed us its all about big government. Obama is more of the same, much more, but of the same. Time for a third way, and my thinking is that it will come out of the Democratic party. Whether it will come all the way out into a third party remains to be seen. But Palin as the vanguard for this movement is a fascinating idea. She seems to inspire such fear and loathing in the sectors that have brought us to the sorry pass in which we find ourselves that she could be on to something very important.

Fertilizer Bin for the Dove Avenue Plantation

Banana plants are voracious eaters. I bought fifty pounds of a special banana mix fertilizer, and we're looking for a bin to keep the stuff in. Carol had this idea. My idea was this one.

Cap-and-Trade vs. Carbon Tax

If the federal government is to regulate carbon emissions, then a carbon tax, under certain important conditions, is much more attractive than the cap-and-trade scheme, at least according to this economist. He makes a lot of sense to me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Calvin!

In the rise of your university education . . . in the decentralized . . . character of your local governments . . . in your championship of free speech, and in your unlimited regard for freedom of conscience; in all this . . . it is demonstrable that you owe this to Calvinism and to Calvinism alone.

-Abraham Kuyper, in his Lectures on Calvinism given at Princeton Seminary in October 1898, as quoted by John Piper in "America's Debt to John Calvin" in the July 4, 2009 issue of World Magazine.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The 13 Articles of Faith

Yesterday, I met with a friend who is a Jewish lawyer and a man of faith, albeit that of a Conservative Jew. I remarked to him that I had attended recently a funeral at a Reformed temple and that the rabbis who officiated, although they said sympathetic things about the decedent and attempted to be comforting to the mourners in their loss, at the same time seemed absolutely intent on denying that the decedent had an immortal soul and that there was at least a possibility of her spending eternity with God. I said to my friend that the only mention of an after-life came during the eulogies from family and friends, where people gave heart-felt witness to their hope of the decedent being in heaven and their seeing her again some day.

My friend said, in so many words, that the rabbis there weren't really rabbis in his opinion, and that being a Jew included the belief in one's immortal soul. He referred to Moses Maidmonides, and his 13 Articles of Faith. He saw belief in those articles as an indicator of whether one is really a Jew. For him, it seemed a sort of litmus test, not unlike our Apostle's Creed. Among the 13 is the belief in the resurrection of the dead.

As I considered the 13 Articles, I thought how close we Christians come to being inside the circle my friend and Maidmonides would draw around true Judaism. Or maybe I should say how close to salavation through Jesus Christ are those who are inside that circle. In discussing with Van last Sunday the matter of where righteous Jews are with respect to salvation (yes, I know that no one is "righteous, not even one" but you know what I mean), he said he was loathe to say that they are not saved, but he would absolutely affirm that if they are (and we hope that they are, surely) then it is only by Christ's blood that they are.

I like that expansive view of God's grace through Jesus Christ. It makes me no less adamant about sharing the Gospel, about the need to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. But it gives me the sort of hope that enables me to share the Gospel with anyone without an underlying suggestion of severity and self-righteous judgement.

(On the trip that Mary, Carol and I took to Spain in 2007, we visited Maimonides birthplace, Cordova, and toured an ancient synagogue there.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

From "a remote fishing village 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle"

Sarah Palin comments on her withdrawal speech of a few days ago.

People keep comparing her to Ronald Reagan. That's fine, I guess, but if we have to search for a male-actor metaphor, I say it's John Wayne.

David Booth talks about Retirement and Investing

Just to let you know we are keeping an eye on this subject.

Miami Cop-turned-Doctor partners with the Miami Rescue Mission

From the Miami Herald. A great story. Our church has supported the Miami Rescue Mission for many, many years. My childhood church, Central Baptist, was a big supporter of the Mission. Now this doctor, a son of the Cuban diaspora, teams with the Mission to do good with the Mission's recently opened medical clinic.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

It's 4th of July Weekend. What do Vegans Bar-B-Que?

(Those are fresh pineapple slices on the right. Marinated in balsamic vinegar)

How Goes the Plantation?


UPDATE: Last night I heard something in the backyard. It awakened me from a deep sleep. I walked out on the porch and looked over at the banana plants. Something was being sprinkled on them that reflected the moonlight. The plants began to turn in their beds, began to spin, the leaves like so many rotors on a helicopter. I felt just the slightest lurch and the entire lot was being lifted up. And up. And up. Soon we were moving across Miami Springs, the plants still spinning. We circled downtown and then came back, settling back in the blank space that we had left at 1190 Dove. It reminds me of what happened to our camper years ago, when the Magic Chicken took us all for a ride while we were on a camping trip.

The Kindle, its iPhone App, and a Free Francis Schaeffer Book

It's probably not news to anyone carrying an iPhone that there is a free app available that will turn the device into a Kindle. (And it will do it for the iTouch too.) I have had the Kindle 2.0 for several months now, and I have enjoyed it. I am still not sure that it is worth the initial cost, however. And certain kinds books I still prefer to read in hard copy, for one or more reasons.

For example, if it's a book I think Carol would like, then I would prefer to have the hard copy so I can give it to her. The same goes for books that I think other people among the kith and kin might like too.

On the other hand, certain reading seems very good to have available "inside" the Kindle: I really enjoy the WSJ showing up every day on it, and I like it for certain kinds of reference books, although there is still a limited supply of those kinds of books available in eBook form.

But if one already has an iPhone (or an iTouch), one bypasses the entry cost imposed by the Kindle device. So why not use the iPhone for those kinds of books that you are ready not to have on your bookshelf for Dad to borrow when he's in town?

Francis Schaeffer is a beloved writer with some of the kin and maybe some of the kith too. Amazon is offering without charge in eBook form Schaeffer's No Little People. (Obviously a title selected before the Hobbit craze, and a little unfortunate, don't you think?) The book is a series of his sermons.

There are a number of free eBooks out there, and I have downloaded several. One source of information about eBooks that will let you know about the latest free eBook offer is Books on the Knob, , which describes itself as a blog that deals with Bargain reads, book reviews, the Amazon Kindle and some games, technology and computers tossed in now and then. This is where I heard about the Francis Schaeffer offer.

UPDATE: On Kindle and the iPhone, take a look at this title.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Sammie Died Today

She was 98 years old, and full of feist. The widow of an Eastern Air Lines radio man, she'd lived in the same house here in Miami Springs for probably 60 years. She always sat in one of the back pews of the church. She was quite deaf these last several years. I would walk by her and say, "Hi, Sammie!," and over my shoulder I would hear her say, "Oh, the big lawyer's too proud to say hello to an old lady." I would turn around and say, "Sammie, I said hello, you just didn't hear me. And I don't see any old lady anyway." She would be smiling at me, and I thought to myself, "If you know she can't hear a thing, why did you just throw a hello at her and walk by? She may be right, you know." But that smile told me that she knew that I just forgot. Again.

She was good friends with my mom, and they played bridge. She only stopped driving three weeks ago. Snap. Another link to Mom, to Eastern Air Lines, to Dad, to my growing up in Miami Springs, to the past, goes. She joins that "cloud of witnesses" and gets her hearing back today. It's really Independence Day for her. Trade in that tired old body for a new and perfect one. Not bad.

She wouldn't have anyone live with her, nor would she move to Epworth. Her daughter lives three hours away, near Vero Beach. But Sammie let Corina help her, another lady at our church who is a CNA ("Certified Nurse's Aide"). Corina would come by several days a week, drive her a bit, fix her meals, help her bathe. just enough assistance to let her continue to live by herself.

This morning we were in the church parking lot, decorating Rick's pick-up truck for the church's "float" for the parade, when Liz, the church secretary, came out to tell me that Corina had been calling Sammie's house and not getting answer for the last 24 hours (and you get no answer when you call a deaf person). She had gone by her house this morning. The paper was still in the front yard, the door was locked, and Sammie didn't answer the door. Corina didn't have a key, but Liz had one in the church office and Corina was coming to the church. Would I go back with Corina and see what was going on? I knew that nothing was going on, because I was sure Sammie had gone on. Everybody knew that right away.

We got in, and Corina went into Sammie's bedroom, and she was under the covers and not breathing. We called 911, the police came, the EMT people. I went into Sammie's little kitchen, Thursday's paper was open to the crossword puzzle, and it was half completed, the pen laid down right beside it. Did Sammie get up in the middle of it, feeling poorly, and gone back to bed? My guess, anyway. The crossword puzzle was being solved answer after answer - not like I do them (when I do them). I fill in an answer here, then I stumble through several questions, and may come up with an answer there. Then I get frustrated and quit. Sammie was answering that crossword puzzle, answer by answer. She was sharp.

I really get frustrated with our little church. What exactly do we do for the Kingdom, I ask? We barely hold ourselves together. We've been barely holding ourselves together for years and years and years. Our "programs" limp along; the preacher is a good guy, but not near a spellbinder and not good at organization, just a man of God, loves his family, tough in a quiet way, but just not bringing them in, you know. But Carol and I have been there now since 1973, God led us there a couple of months before our baby died, and those people were there for us. And we've had the privilege to see the generations ahead of us move through middle age and beyond. And beyond, and find ourselves middle aged now, and young people coming up behind. It is a wonderful thing in rootless South Florida to have this community that the Holy Spirit has bound together so wonderfully. I'll see Sammie again. I'm happy here right now, but I'll see Sammie and the rest again. It will be great.