Saturday, April 29, 2006

Harper Lee

A belated Happy Birthday to Harper Lee, who turned 80 yesterday.

A train trip in France

Katherine of the K's Café blog shares some observations from a trip with her family on the Train Grande Vitesse (high speed train) in France. For example:

10:20am: There is a lightly bearded man on the train with his two young children. He's in faded jeans and a white T-shirt, and looks confident and strong, while self-controlled. He's wearing one earring, two rings, two bracelets and a watch. It is a blessing to see him gently take his son on his knee, and then tenderly brush his daughter's hair and fasten it with a scrunchy, making a neat pony tail for her. Later his son curled up on his lap to snooze. It is a quiet but communicative family, loving, patient and disciplined. People's actions say a lot more than their clothing and accessories.

Yay, daddies.

And now for some encouraging news (lots of it)

CDR Salamander says Have a good weekend and know that you live in the “good ‘ole days.” And he's got some links to back up his optimism.

hat tip: Bookworm Room

Update: See Not Harvard Bound, by Terrence O. Moore (Touchstone, May 2006) for some more good news -- young people showing some solid moral character, not to mention some spirit.

hat tip: A Circle of Quiet

Minding Our Manners, etc.

In Minding Our Manners (The American Conservative, April 10, 2006 issue) Theodore Dalrymple discusses the thinking, or at least the attitudes, behind much of the rudeness of today. The essay begins:

My parents had conflicting views about the nature and origin of good manners. My father took the Romantic view that they were the expression of man’s natural goodness of heart and that they therefore emerged spontaneously—that is, if they emerged at all. If they didn’t, it was because of the social injustice that inhibited or destroyed natural goodness. My mother took the classical view that good manners were a matter of discipline, training, and habit and that goodness of heart would, at least to an extent, follow in their wake. The older I grow, the more decisively I take my mother’s side.

My father, who was left-wing in everything except his life, believed that manners in my mother’s sense were but etiquette and that in turn etiquette was but a code by which the elite distinguished itself from hoi polloi in order to maintain its economic and cultural dominance. An elaborate code of conduct with arbitrary rules was a mask for sectional self-interest...

On a side note, now that he mentions it, I have known people who more or less fit that "left-wing in everything except his life" description, although I hadn't thought of them that way before this. Hmmm. I need to think about this a while.

And, in case anyone was wondering, the older I grow, the more decisively I take his mother's side, too. Definitely.

Theodore Dalrymple is a British doctor, a contributing editor of City Journal, and Dietrich Weismann fellow of the Manhattan Institute. His latest book is Our Culture, What’s Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses.

An earlier book:

Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass

hat tip: A Circle of Quiet (who gives her hat tip on this to The Autumn Rain).

Settlement Agreement Ends State Investigation of Rush Limbaugh

Roy Black, Rush Limbaugh's attorney, has released a statement concerning a settlement agreement with the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office.

History Repeating?

In History Repeating?, Giacomo at the Joust the Facts blog provides an excerpt from the end of the chapter on Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers in Daniel J. Flynn's Intellectual Morons: How ideology makes smart people fall for stupid ideas, and wonders if we can see anything similar happening these days. (He provides clues.)

Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas
Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas

Friday, April 28, 2006

Book note: Fighting for Dear Life by David Gibbs available for pre-order

Bethany House's website currently says that Fighting for Dear Life: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo and What It Means for All of Us by David Gibbs is coming in August. The Barnes & Noble website (click on book cover below) says it will be available July 1. I'm not even going to guess why there's such a discrepancy...

What does seem certain is that it is available for pre-order:

Fighting for Dear Life: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo and What It Means for All of Us
Fighting for Dear Life: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo and What It Means for All of Us

Book notes: Jane Jacobs

Via Cafe Hayek, the author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, among other books, died this week at age 89. (The link is to an article by Adam Bernstein, Washington Post, April 26, 2006.)

The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Modern Library Series)
The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Modern Library Series)

The Nature of Economies
The Nature of Economies

Schoolteacher in Old Alaska: The Story of Hannah Breece
Schoolteacher in Old Alaska: The Story of Hannah Breece

Previous posts referring to Jane Jacobs here and here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

One Queen, two birthdays

Celebrating the Queen's 80th Birthday > One Queen, two birthdays explains why Queen Elizabeth, born on April 21, officially celebrates her birthday on a Saturday in June.

That article is just one of the features at the official web site for The Queen's 80th birthday celebrations in 2006.

hat tip: BBC Radio 4's "The Queen at 80" special section

The 101st Fighting Keyboardists looking for a few good bloggers

Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters and a couple of other bloggers have formed the "101st Fighting Keyboardists" and adopted the chicken hawk as their mascot and "We Eat Chickens For Lunch" as their motto. They're ready for recruits, especially those with "a sense of humor as well as a sense of purpose." (Using silly names for people who disagree with you is not a sense of humor, by the way. In fact, being branded with funny nicknames by "friends on the port side of the blogosphere" is apparently what led to this enterprise in the first place.)

It's probably not my cup of tea (can you see me saying I eat chickens for lunch without my nose growing? or people collapsing in laughter?) but I can think of a few of you who might want to enlist. - Hollywood Newcomer Maddy Curley Proves She Can "Stick It"

Annabelle Robertson, entertainment critic for, interviews Maddy Curley, one of the actresses in "Stick It", a new movie about gymnasts. Curley is young, enthusiastic, competitive, determined, and Christian (and she says nice things about Jim Caviezel, by the way).

Were you at the game? Do you have pictures? Memories of what it meant to you?

Thirty years ago this week a couple of guys tried to burn an American flag during a major league baseball game at Dodger Stadium. They didn't reckon on Rick Monday and company. May I suggest that you take two minutes and twenty seconds to listen to the recording of Vin Scully's call of the event (one of several links at the top of the article)?

There's an effort underway to find any fan pictures that might be out there of Monday's risky rescue of the flag (it was doused in lighter fluid, and the 'protestors' tried to douse him with lighter fluid, too), and to collect thoughts from people who were at the game, or military veterans. See the bottom of Ben Platt's April 25, 2006, article (linked above) for more details and the e-mail address.

hat tip: The Anchoress (via Benning's Writing Pad)

Favorite gardening books

A Circle of Quiet recommends some favorite gardening books - including one aimed at "Children and Their Grown-Ups" (as the cover copy says).

She also has a post on children's books about John James Audubon.

I like her parting shot on the Audubon post:

Grab your binoculars and a sketch pad and spend a few quiet minutes enjoying the birds in your area.

(But, then, I'm the sort of person who thinks that sketch pads can be the perfect gift for a child. Or a grown-up, for that matter. And I like birding...)

If you don't mind sharing, which gardening or nature-related books have you found helpful or inspiring?

Book note: Hamlet on the Holodeck, by Janet H. Murray

I'm not familiar with this book...

Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace
Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace

...but Jordan Ballor gives it a thumbs-up.

Canada's National March for Life 2006 is Thursday May 11

If you live in Ottawa, expect a lot of pedestrians May 10 and 11. The annual March for Life will be May 11, but there are vigils and religious services the day before. Canadian pro-lifers who can't attend the march can pay for candles to be lit for them at the main vigil, which is held at the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights monument. LifeSite has more information, and pictures from previous marches.

Southern California says goodbye to commercial airplane production

From the article Californian aviation comes in for a landing by Gary Gentile, Associated Press, April 27, 2006 (published in The Washinton Times):

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The last Boeing 717 has left the factory.

The slender airliner, trailed by dozens of the workers who built it, was rolled out before dawn last week and towed across a boulevard to Long Beach Airport.

Its delivery to AirTran Airways next month will mark the end of seven decades of commercial airplane production in Southern California.

At another sprawling complex nearby, thousands of workers produce the Boeing C-17 military cargo plane. However, no new orders for the aircraft are in the proposed Defense Department budget.

If congressional efforts to restore the program fail, the last of those flying warehouses will be delivered in 2008, and all airplane production would end in California -- once the center of commercial and military airplane construction in the nation.

"More aviation history has been made in Southern California than in any other place in the world," said Bill Schoneberger, author of "California Wings," a history of aviation in the state.

"But we've evolved. The aeronautics industry has moved from an airplane business into a systems business," he said...

Read the rest of the article

California Wings: A History of Aviation in the Golden State by William A. Schoneberger and Paul Sonnenburg (American Historical Press, 1984) isn't available new at Barnes & Noble these days, but there are some used copies there, if you're interested.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Culture and civilization are not to be confused

From a Dr. Demarche post at American Future (April 19):

...The blogosphere and mainstream media teem with variations of the "is this a clash of civilizations or is it not" debate. I, for one, have finally made up my mind. It is not. It takes two to tango, after all, and I have become increasingly convinced that our opposition not only is uncivilized in broad terms, it also has no concept of civilization. They have a culture, to be sure, one of violence and fear, under which horrific acts are justified as supporting the will of God, but culture and civilization are not to be confused...

How to speak 'Wisconsin'

There is now a website for people who want to know how to pronounce Wisconsin-related words. (Via The Star-Tribune.)

Local heroes and pro-life leaders born since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion.

This is an interesting approach -- folks born after January 22, 1973, calling themselves Death Roe survivors, and listing their birth month and year as their release date.

They're asking for nominations for Survivor Heroes (anyone born after Roe v. Wade who has had an impact in the fight against abortion).

hat tip: Open Book

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Pearl S. Buck on euthanasia

Having seen it spelled every which way lately, I was double-checking the spelling of euthanasia in my favorite dictionary (The Penguin English Dictionary, 2nd Edition) -- and found that the definition included this quote (this dictionary is good about including word histories and quotes):

Euthanasia is a long smooth-sounding word, and it conceals its danger as long, smooth words do -- Pearl S Buck

Update: I've found the quote in a longer context, and find it's even better there. See here, at the blog Soli Libri.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Book note: In the Gray Rain by Hazel Severson McCartney

Some books beg to be read in one sitting, and others beg to be read in bits, with breaks between chapters to let what you've read sink in. In the Gray Rain, by Hazel Severson McCartney (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1955, 1957) fell into the second category for me. I think I've been dipping into it off and on for a couple of years, but over the weekend I read the last eight chapters, since they seemed tied together. It's a good book, one I'd recommend to anyone interested in history or Japanese culture.

According to the dust jacket copy, after graduating from high school, the author spent three years as a secretary to a missionary in Japan. During World War II, she worked at a Japanese relocation center in Colorado, and then moved to the Tule Lake, California, center with her new husband, who was a counselor there. After the war, they moved to Japan to work in Lutheran schools there for four years. In 1955, Mrs. McCartney went back to Japan to complete this book.

Also from the dust jacket:

"I have read IN THE GRAY RAIN by Hazel McCartney and I have enjoyed the experience. Mrs. McCartney gives a lovely picture of Japan, subdued and gentle, and certainly very true, in the area of her experience." - PEARL S. BUCK

In the Gray Rain is a fascinating look at Japan after World War II. I think we tend to forget (if ever we learn in the first place) what real devastation looks like, and real courage and perseverance. These true life tales are full of families brought to their knees by constant malnutrition, of old men and old women working themselves to the bone, of devotion and a sense of duty, of cheerfulness and grit, of faith, and loss of faith.

It is a perceptive book, well-written, about people pushed to their limits, but rebuilding both their own lives and their war-torn country.

Each chapter opens with a haiku written for it. The first chapter's haiku:

In the harbor
only the seagulls
show no scars
from the long war

As she goes on to prove, though, there's a difference between being scarred and being destroyed.

In the Gray Rain is out of print, but at present it's easy to get a used copy on the Internet and prices are low.

Niche marketing

Did you know there's junk mail for blind people?

Contrary to what people might tell you... is possible to wind a sewing machine bobbin by hand and get away with it.

This I know because the other day, still digging out from our recent move, I came across a box with yards and yards of fabric I bought years ago for quilt blocks and quilt backs. Well, I don't need any more quilts, thanks, but I have been wanting workaday, everyday skirts. And I needed some curtains for various windows around here, which are still covered in various jerry-rigged bits of one thing and another.

I haven't machine-sewed anything in a few years. My husband and I put our heads together, and neither of us can recall me getting the sewing machine set up in the apartment we just left. There just wasn't a good place for it. At any rate, I'm almost certain I haven't machine-sewn since we got cats, which would have been early 2001, if I remember right. Bottom line: I'm rusty when it comes to sewing. Very rusty.

But here I was, fabric in front of me, yards and yards of it; ironing board and iron in known locations and easy to get to, the sewing machine in easy reach (in the bottom of the closet in my office), and with an office with a work table large enough for both the computer and a sewing machine. And I've been reading blog after blog where ladies have successfully been making things...

So, Thursday night, armed with a very nice tutorial, I decided to have a go at it.

I started getting everything together, and realized that the sewing machine was easy to get to, but the power cord and foot pedal were not with it. Of course not. Life shouldn't be too easy. But I found the cord/foot pedal in the second unpacked box I got into. (Miracles happen.)

The instruction book I couldn't find. Nor extra bobbins. Nor the various extra presser feet or plates. Oh, well. All I wanted was the ability to do a straight seam. I didn't need the fancy stuff. And I only use one bobbin at a time, right? I figured that if I kept it wound with a neutral color I should be all right, right? At any rate, that I was reduced to something akin to bare bones didn't make the project seem impossible.

I live about a block from a drug store which I presumed carried thread and sewing notions (it did, including bobbins, to my surprise), and so soon enough I was in business. And right after that I remembered why I'd put the sewing machine into storage in the first place. It's broken. I'd meant to get it fixed, but never got around to it. The presser foot won't stay up by itself, for one thing. And the bobbin winder is broken, for another. The presser foot problem was immediately apparent, but could be dealt with by manually holding up the presser foot when moving fabric in or out. The bobbin winder difficulty I didn't discover until the bobbin already in the machine ran out of thread -- halfway through my first skirt.

But I was inspired by this time, and not inclined to stop for minor things like that. And so I set up the thread through the tension spring for the bobbin winder, put the bobbin between the thumb and forefinger of one hand, and centimeter by centimeter, keeping the tension steady, wound the bobbin about a quarter full and tried that. It worked. I've done this a couple times since then, the last time going whole hog and winding the bobbin full. Hah. The pioneer spirit lives!

I was sitting around feeling ingenious and resourceful, when my husband stuck his head into my office to say hi, and saw me winding a bobbin by hand. He was distressed. He muttered something to the effect that sewing machines are cheap on eBay, before running off to download the instruction manual to this machine to tide us over...

The first skirt I made using more or less the pattern in the tutorial (I rarely follow recipes or patterns exactly - I like to tinker with them). But it seemed a bit full for me, and with lots of fabric at the waist. I mean, it looks good, but I thought I could improve on it.

So the second skirt I made A-line, sans pattern, just cutting the panels at an angle that felt right (leaving the waist big enough to go over my hips, of course -- it's no good making a pull-on skirt that's too narrow to pull on). I got a wild hair and made it a lined skirt. That turned out all right, too. But I thought I could improve on it.

So here I sit, in skirt number three, made with half as much fabric as the first, straight and longish, with walking slit. And I'm plotting making a dress. And maybe some shirts. I feel ready for buttons and zippers, if it comes to that. And did I mention I finished the curtains for the back bathroom? And that I'm designing curtains for the rest of the house?

I figure that if anything turns out a total flop, I can always cut it into quilt pieces after all. (Just because I don't need any more quilts doesn't mean I won't make any more. Quilting is one of those hobbies that can get into a person's blood.)

The cats have been helpful, but not as bad as I feared. George does tend to see fabric laying around as prey which must be pounced on and dragged triumphantly off -- if not snatched boldly from someone's hands -- but now that I know that I can outwit her (most of the time). For that matter, playing at bullfights and teasing her might be fun, now that I think about it... Gracie ran for cover when she first heard the machine, but then contented herself with coming in from time to time and complaining of neglect and loneliness. That I can solve by playing with her during my work breaks, which I like to do anyway.

Life is good.

Yes, yes, I know. I'm easily amused. But life is good.

I've worn two of my three new skirts in public so far. Nobody asked me where the party was, no one pointed or stared, I didn't hear any snickers, and children didn't dive behind their mommas, so I'm calling the experiment a success so far. I wanted everyday skirts that looked good without being dressy, that were one-of-kind skirts without being in the least weird. So far, so good...

I've put future projects on hold until we can get the sewing machine fixed or replaced, but then, watch out. I've got several yards of fabric left, just laying around begging to be made into something. :-).

Friday, April 21, 2006

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A "twirly skirt" how-to

If you have a girl to clothe, you might want to check out I have to say...: A "twirly skirt" how-to, for step-by-step instructions for making a skirt that's notably fun to twirl or dance in. This is an simple design that doesn't require anything fancy (or difficult) like zippers or buttons -- just cloth and elastic and thread. (Via Mrs. Happy Housewife.)

Picture book recommendation

In Here in the Bonny Glen: Another Book from the Baby Pile, Melissa Wiley says that The Maggie B by Irene Haas is "One of my favorite picture books ever."

This isn't a book I know (yet), but I'll take her word for it that it's worth checking out.

The Maggie B.
The Maggie B.

What kids dress up as these days in _______?

Can you guess the country where this just happened?

Emily's school (kindergarten through 5th grade) staged a fancy dress parade through the village a week ago. It threatened to rain, and maybe made good on a few drips, but otherwise the weather cooperated. Pirates, flamenco dancers, brides, Harry Potter, witches, princesses, native Americans, knights, soccer players, and cowboys strode along the narrow streets bordered by wisteria, throwing fistfuls of confetti...

Go here for the rest of the post, with pictures, (and the answer to my question).

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Trying to take judges out of micromanagement

According to Democracy by Decree (OpinionJournal, April 18, 2006), Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander and Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor introduced legislation in the Senate last month to limit the use of federal consent decrees, and similar legislation is pending in the House. Mentioned in the editorial is this book --

Democracy by Decree: What Happens When Courts Run Government
Democracy by Decree: What Happens When Courts Run Government

-- by New York Law professors David Schoenbrod and Ross Sandler. I've linked to the paperback edition (Yale University Press, September 2004).

From the publisher (via Barnes & Noble):

This valuable book explains why schools, welfare agencies, and other important state and local institutions have come to be controlled by attorneys and judges rather than by governors and mayors. The authors discuss why this has resulted in worse service to the public and what can be done to restore control of these programs to elected--and accountable--officials.

How cheaper cotton cloth changed the world

In Cleanliness, godliness, you know the drill, Lars Walker explains how a religious revival and the cotton gin combined to change life for the better for the less-well-off (and everyone downwind of them, for that matter).

The New York Times looks Hamas in the face, doesn't like what it sees

It appears that Hamas has dismayed and disgusted highly placed people at the New York Times. This April 19, 2006, editorial running under the headline "The Face of Hamas" begins:

After the Palestinian election, the burning question was which part of Hamas would dominate the new government: would it be the political organization that provides a desperate people with vital services, or the terrorist group that advocates the violent destruction of Israel? Now we have the answer, in Hamas's monumentally cynical and dimwitted applause for the bombing that killed nine people and wounded dozens in Tel Aviv on Monday.

In contrast, Israel's prime minister-designate, Ehud Olmert, has taken the high road, at least for now...

hat tip: The Moral Responsibility of Civilization at

Update: The LA Times isn't happy with Hamas either.

U.S. Army Capt. Mark Flitton -- from pro golfer to soldier

Following your dreams can make for some interesting turns in life.

A Different Kind of Tradition

While we're on the subjects of family-friendly fun and Easter egg hunts, here's a wild (and wet) way to have an egg hunt.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Memories are made of this...

The only thing the following links have in common is that they're about the sorts of things that people tend to file away in the "gee, we had a good time, didn't we?" slot in their memories.

Daniel Akst tells about watching old movies with his young sons. For a hint, Laurel and Hardy and the Marx brothers are hits, "The African Queen" left them cold. (OpinionJournal, April 14, 2006).

Back in 1981, fifth-grade teacher Art Payne got it into his head to teach juggling to his students. (And never mind that he had to teach himself how to juggle first.) Mr. Payne is retired now, but each year the fifth-graders at North Baker Elementary School, Baker City, Oregon, start learning how to juggle after they get back from Christmas break, and go through a six-week program to hone their skills. (Baker City Herald, February 21, 2006, reported by Lisa Britton).

Ruth at the Ruthlace blog remembers the 1930s -- including "pound parties." I don't remember my folks talking about pound parties, but my husband remembers his parents remembering them fondly. Ruth explains what they are toward the end of the linked post, in which she relates how she met and got to know her husband.

Finding a forgotten stack of 21 Kismet score sheets stirred up a host of memories for Shannon Woodward, hostess of the Wind Scraps blog. I don't remember the Kismet game, but she explains that it's like Yahtzee, only a step up.

Last but not least, Danielle Bean plays for laughs as she explains an annual tradition at her house. Me, personally, I have been known to do this more often than once a year, but never at regular intervals or to a schedule...

Book note: Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton's picture book Coat of Many Colors, based on the hit autobiographical song of the same name, is in its second decade in print. It's a good book for pointing out what makes a family rich (hint: it's not money). The illustrations by Judith Sutton are full of life.

Coat of Many Colors
Coat of Many Colors

Monday, April 17, 2006

This sounds like my kind of Easter egg hunt

I've never quite figured out why those mad dashes of mobs of children out onto football fields to grab eggs in plain view are called Easter egg hunts. This is an Easter egg hunt, with a not-so-Wild West twist.

Ah, springtime...

Not that it matters much, I know, but my lawn needs mowing. And it's snowing.

Flying off the shelves

National Geographic has smaller birding field guides for specific regions. I don't know about other bookstores, but this spring at the BookStation we can't seem to restock the local guide fast enough.

National Geographic Field Guide to Birds: Washington/Oregon
National Geographic Field Guide to Birds: Washington/Oregon

The larger, countrywide field guide is also popular:

National Geographic: Field Guide to the Birds of North America
National Geographic: Field Guide to the Birds of North America

As are:

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America

Sibley's Birding Basics
Sibley's Birding Basics

Identify Yourself: The 50 Most Common Birding Identification Challenges
Identify Yourself: The 50 Most Common Birding Identification Challenges

Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America
Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America

There are more, but you get the idea. Right now, birders' field guides are hot, and there are lots and lots of options.

Clicking on any of the above book covers will take you to Barnes & Noble.

(Shameless self-promotion) My thanks to those of you who have been buying there after going through a link here. I am an affiliate, and I do get commissions on everything you buy on a Barnes & Noble visit initiated from this blog. (/Shameless self-promotion)

The UK to have vending machines for phones

Vodaphone plans to offer phone-dispensing vending machines across the UK this year. See The Scotsman - Business - Fife firm at the heart of Vodafone's revolutionary phone vending plans by reporter Jennifer Hill for details.

(That noise you just heard was fiction writers screaming as their manuscripts just got outstripped by innovation again. But, Mommy, why didn't the hero just buy a phone at a kiosk? Couldn't he have called spy headquarters that way?)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Dewey's Treehouse: Good Friday Kiffle

I like food traditions that go along with holidays, don't you?

Next year for Good Friday, perhaps you'd like to make Good Friday Kiffle, aka Kolacky aka Kolache (but not to be confused with kipfel).

Addition: Danielle Bean shares a recipe for "Resurrection Rolls".

Money the bank can't give to customers

I was at the bank this morning, and the man just to my left casually -- too casually -- asked the teller if he had any one thousand dollar bills. The teller said they weren't made any more, sorry about that. The guy said he knew that, but he still wanted one. The teller said he'd never even seen one, nor a five hundred dollar bill, either, for that matter. The guy tried to make the teller promise that he'd hold any thousands or five hundreds that came in, just for him. The teller said he didn't think he could do that, sorry.

At this point an assistant manager came over and explained that the bank was required to send any $1,000 or $500 bills to the Federal Reserve, and was forbidden to give them out to customers.

Whereupon the customer swore he'd never ever tell.

Whereupon the bank people told him that wasn't the point.

Whereupon the guy begged. And got no sympathy. So then he tried to ferret out how much they got in silver certificates, and whether they ever got something else (I didn't catch it clearly, but I assume it was another bit of no-longer-issued money).

Whereupon the assistant manager explained that the bank wasn't in the collectibles business, sorry.

Whereupon the teller waved the next customer up. End of exchange.

I almost said something to my teller to the effect of "I wonder how long ago they stopped making them?" Thank goodness I didn't, because now that I find that, ahem, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, uh, it seems that "The $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 denominations have not been printed since 1946."

1946? Before I was born? There haven't been any $500 or $1000 bills in my lifetime (except in old books and movies, of which I've taken in several) and I never noticed?

I guess that tells you something about my lifestyle ;-).

From the same page linked above at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta:

Silver certificates, authorized in 1878 and issued in exchange for silver dollars, accounted for nearly all of the $1 notes in circulation until November 1963, when the first $1 Federal Reserve notes were issued.

Now that I got the memo on. I was rather young in 1963, but I remember a lot of fretting associated with going away from silver certificates. Don't ask me now what the fuss was all about, but some folks seemed to think it was a big deal at the time, and frightened some of us kids with their open anxiety. That's all I really remember, the sense of fear and disruption. Thank goodness the worrywarts were wrong yet again, eh?

For lots of links to sites with answers to commonly asked questions about U.S. money, past and present, see this page provided by the Library of Congress.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Young Iraqis helping watch churches during Easter celebrations

From Zenit News, as published at

BAGHDAD, Iraq, APRIL 13, 2006 ( Unarmed young people, along with the police, are keeping watch over Catholic churches in Baghdad during the Easter triduum celebrations.

"In this way, we would like to convey a feeling of tranquility and give a sign of peace in this special time of prayer and meditation," Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad told the SIR news agency.

"Our youth will help, pointing out people who are not known to the community or suspect vehicles that want to stop in front of the places of worship," he explained.

The bishop said that for the initial celebrations this Holy Week the "churches were brimming with people and everything is going in the best possible way, without any problems."...

Taxpayer Advocacy Panel is looking for new members

I was at looking for something else, and noticed an announcement asking for applications by April 28 for something called the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel:

Are you willing to serve your country and speak up on issues that impact taxpaying citizens nationwide? Are you aware of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues in your community that are customer service or grassroots in nature and need to be addressed? A unique opportunity exists to influence how the IRS delivers services to the public by becoming a member of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP).

The TAP is a group of dedicated citizens who have volunteered to help the IRS identify ways to improve customer service and satisfaction. The Panel is a Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) group established under the authority of the Department of the Treasury and is composed of representatives from all States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

TAP is now accepting applications to fill member vacancies in the locations listed below...

It's a longish list, with qualifiers, so I'll let you go to the website to see if there's an opening for your part of the country. That's if you're interested, of course, and if you can meet the mandatory qualifications:

Be a citizen of the United States of America
Be current with all Federal tax obligations
Pass an FBI background check
Commit to serve a three-year appointment and devote approximately 300 to 500 volunteer hours per year to the Panel

Official recruitment page.

Applications may be made online.

So, now you know.

And, yes, now that you mention it, opening up applications from March 21 through April 28, neatly bracketing the federal tax deadline of April 15, strikes me as interesting timing. Gutsy, even. I'd hate to be the person screening some of the applicants who feel inspired to come forward just now, but luckily that's not my problem.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

This kind of stage mother I can live with :-)

A pregnant Toronto television host had a 3D ultrasound while on the air. It's a heartwarming video clip, which you can catch over at Lost Budgie Blog.

hat tip:

Life with kids...

Danielle Bean shares some of what she's learning about being a mother. Such as:

When the kids have been riding bicycles all day and hours later, after dark, you back the car out of the driveway and feel a sudden thud followed by a crunch, you might think you have run over a bike. But this is not so. You have merely enjoyed your turn on a carefully constructed "speed bump" made of a giant stack of logs and boulders...

(Children can be soooo industrious, can't they?)

She also has a nice explanation on why her family is having Thanksgiving dinner tonight (sans pumpkin pie).

I like this lady's style.

Using their imagination along with their legs

This sounds like a cool idea. Lake Grove Elementary School, in the Lake Oswego, Oregon, school district, invited kids to form four-kid teams to run, jog or walk around the playground three days a week during lunch recess. Teams get to chart their miles on a map, with the goal being to run the equivalent of a trip to the coast (a hundred miles) between April 10 and the end of the school year. For more, see the school's Bulletin for March 20-26, for starters. Look for the Lake Grove to Coast Relay for Kids (two entries).

hat tip: The Oregonian newspaper, dead tree edition, April 11, 2006, page B4.

What sorts of imagination-mixed-with-action activities does your local school have? Or your family? Or your neighborhood?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

You know you're having a bad day when...

1. OK, so your kid tells you there's a wasp in the bathroom. What would you do?

You probably don't want to do this.

2. So you notice your boys need haircuts?

You probably don't want to call Larry Miller. (Although, of course, one hopes he's learned a few things about what not to do...)

Boys and work

To continue the theme of On the care and feeding of boys, I offer Sparrow's post at Intent which begins:

One of the driving factors in our decision to move to the country was the reality of raising three boys. Boys need room and space to play, sure - but more importantly, they need room to WORK...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Time well spent, quietly

Sometimes, a person should just sit back and ponder, don't you think? Karen Edmisten suggests that there's much to be said for some Masterly inactivity in people's lives.

Here in the Bonny Glen: How Do the Seasons Affect Your Reading Habits?

There has been a fair amount of talk in some circles lately about how long a book "stays read". Something about that concept has been nagging at me, but I hadn't been able to put my finger on it until I read this post by Melissa Wiley, in which (among other things) she says it suddenly struck her that she didn't necessarily want a book to stay read.

I think perhaps she's on to something. Why don't you go on over and let her explain what she means?

Putting climate change into perspective

Bob Carter, a geologist at James Cook University, Queensland, who is engaged in paleoclimate research, says There IS a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1998. (UK Telegraph, April 9, 2006)

In the article, Carter looks at the temperature curve for the last six million years, at the data from recent years, and at the difficulties in presenting scientific information in a political and cultural climate that rewards people who jump on the global warming bandwagon.

hat tip: Rush Limbaugh

Our gremlins turn out to be larger than anticipated

Yesterday evening, fixing supper, I heard a noise. I couldn't really identify it: voices but not voices, owl hoots but not owl hoots, with an underlay of clacking, none of it loud, and none of it clearly identifiable as anything I knew. I turned to my husband and asked, "What was that?"

He didn't know either, and was equally unable to describe it to his satisfaction. We agreed that it seemed to be one of those noises you think you've heard, but aren't sure you've heard. We tiptoed to the bathroom window, which seemed to be closest to the noise-that-maybe-we-heard-and-maybe-we-didn't, and looked out. (Yes, I know. When two people are not sure whether they've heard something at the same time, it's a good clue that there was a noise. But this noise was so odd, it was hard to believe I'd heard it, even with the evidence.)

Off and on all evening, we kept thinking we heard noises, sometimes like the first batch of noises, sometimes different. My husband, working in his home office after dinner, kept thinking he heard something walking around in the laundry room, and kept getting up to check. He couldn't find anything, and neither could I.

Finally, after four this morning, we had another set of odd noises, louder, that seemed to be concentrated on the back porch. My husband went to look out the window that overlooks the porch. He found himself face to face with two mule deer, who proceeded to whistle and snort and coo at him through the window. I had no idea mule deer had such a vocabulary, or that they can sound like they're holding actual conversations. It was definitely the noises we'd been hearing. On top of that, the back porch bumps up against the laundry room, and both have floors made of old lumber. When the deer walked around on the back porch, it sounded like something was walking in the laundry room. Mysteries solved, all of them.

We knew we had mule deer around here. We have seen herds of them in both the front yard and the back, sometimes seven or so of them, sometimes twice that. We would have known, without seeing them, because of all the droppings they've left behind this winter. I can only hope that the 'conversations' we heard yesterday were serious discussions about whether it was about time to leave town and go back into the hills for the summer. They are beautiful animals, but I do want my yard back.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

Today, as I was walking around town, almost everyone I greeted couldn't resist gushing about what a wonderful morning it was. The forecast has threats of snow in it yet, possibly tonight or tomorrow, but this morning was Spring Writ Large. The weather was glorious, spring flowers are popping up all over, and people were overflowing with good spirits.

Nobody, however, was belting out one of the great belting-out songs of all time, in honor of the season. But some radio stations in France are... :-)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A hundred years ago April 18...

We're coming up on the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. The USGS has info on the earthquake, its aftermath, and on activities related to the centennial.

WaterWatch -- Maps and graphs of current water resources conditions

The local creeks and rivers seemed a little high for this time of year to me. So I went looking for data that might tell me whether my hunch was right or not.

And that's how I found this wonderful resource for streamflows in the United States. You can click on the map for particulars for an area.

And, yes, I was right (for a change). Our streamflows in this part of Oregon are higher than normal right now.

But, yikes, the Eastern seaboard looks dry, overall. And California, for the most part, looks quite wet indeed...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Person First, Disability Later

Robin A. Meltzer, writing at, a Jewish site, gives us Person First, Disability Later, a heartfelt article which begins:

It is Yom Kippur, one-thirty in the morning. A young Jewish couple is in a hospital delivery room, minutes away from becoming first-time parents. Anticipation mixes with the holiness of the night. This child will be another link in the unbroken tradition leading all the way back to Sinai. And then she is born. The parents are elated. But the nurses fall silent; the doctors look uncomfortably at the floor. Because the baby has Down Syndrome. And that young Jewish couple is informed that their daughter, their precious first-born child, is some sort of mistake.

I was the mother on that delivery table. And on that Yom Kippur, in the middle of the night, I learned that being Julia's mother meant being her advocate. My job started immediately. My basic philosophy has remained constant over the past nine years: Julia is a unique individual, not a diagnosis. She must be given every opportunity to develop her capabilities. She is a full member of the Jewish community, entitled to the birthright of Torah and a Jewish education.

After the reception she got at the hospital, I hoped that the Jewish community would be more welcoming. And generally it was. But there is a lot of fear and misinformation.

This, from later in the article, tore my heart out:

To our great dismay, we also discovered that some confused and frightened parents are advised by their rabbis to abandon their babies with Down Syndrome in the hospital. While it is true that not all parents are capable of raising a child with special needs and that placing a child for adoption is sometimes the only choice, many more parents would take their baby home if their rabbi did not inveigh against it. Too often, these misguided assessments are viewed as a merciful response to the family's fear and misinformation about people with Down Syndrome, and not based on true Torah principles. New parents need support to work through the initial shock of diagnosis. They need time to get to know their baby, to hold her and rock her and sing some lullabies. If given the chance, most parents will realize that they love their baby very much and are quite able to raise her.

Read the whole post. It's got some Jewish terminology, etc., that I don't understand, but the plea to accept people with disabilities as individual people first and foremost comes through loud and clear. Be sure and look at the comments. The author seems to have hit a nerve.

Previous related post: Children with extra challenges, and the parents who love them

New blog: Blog of Virtues

A Catholic homeschooling mom started Blog of Virtues March 21, 2006. In her first post, she says:

Welcome to my new blog, where I will be sharing all the resources I find on teaching virtues and character building.

A roundabout hat tip to Melissa, who steered me to here, where I looked at the sidebar...

More Phyllis McGinley fans surface

Denny Hartford at the Book Den seems to have started something...

He wrote about poet and author Phyllis McGinley. I picked it up with Remembering Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978). This is how I found out that two fairly regular commenters here on my blog are McGinley fans (see the comments for that post).

Carmon at Buried Treasure ran across the same Book Den post, didn't know about McGinley, thought she sounded interesting, so ran with it in the post Domestic and Accomplished. Headmistress at The Common Room, who is a McGinley fan, picked up on Carmon's post and came up with one of her own, Poetry for Domestic Divas, Redux, in which she rather avidly recommends Phyllis McGinley's works.

I missed The Common Room's post last year on McGinley, which, among other things, mentions a children's book McGinley wrote called The Plain Princess, which sounds rather good, but which I didn't know about. (This is not to be confused with the book The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye.) Sadly, The Plain Princess seems to be currently out of print, and fairly scarce. Rats. It sounds like a book I'd like to read, if I can find a copy at the library or otherwise within my budget.

Anyway, I had thought that perhaps Phyllis McGinley was being lost to the mists of time, and I'm glad to see she isn't.

Joust The Facts: Look Before You Leap

I was working on a post on what I thought about heedless potshots in the blogosphere regarding journalist Jill Carroll, but I see that Giacomo has already covered it, and probably better than I was going to.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Recognizing a baby in the womb

The baby in the following story is about 19 weeks along:


In the car on the way home, a funny thing happened. The tech had given me printouts of both kinds of image [2-D and 3-D]. We were driving away from the hospital before I had a chance to look at the pictures. Puzzled, I stared at the 3-D closeup of the baby's face. It seemed ridiculous to say so, but this didn't look like the right baby. It was a different face, one I did not recognize.

Scott noticed my bewildered scrutiny. "What's wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing," I said uncertainly. "It's just...this doesn't look like our baby."

"Um, honey," he said, glancing at my belly, "I'm pretty sure it's impossible for someone else's baby to be in there."

"I know it sounds crazy," I said. That's when I noticed the name printed in the upper corner of the image. It wasn't my name...

Read the whole post at Here in the Bonny Glen, by Melissa Wiley.

Exploring Scotland with Martha Morse

Author Melissa Wiley, hostess of the Here in the Bonny Glen blog, is compiling a list of kid-level books and other resources for families who want to know more about 'things Scottish' after reading in her Martha Morse books.

Subject areas covered so far are Spinning and Weaving, Music, Poetry and Literature, and Useful Websites.

Martha Morse was Laura Ingall Wilder's great-grandmother. Wiley has written several books about her for the "Little House" series. For more information from Barnes & Noble on Little House in the Highlands or other books in the series, click on the book cover below.

The Little House in the Highlands: (Little House Series: The Martha Years)
The Little House in the Highlands: (Little House Series: The Martha Years)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Remembering being ten

In Dewey's Treehouse: Ten-year-old you, Mama Squirrel looks back at when she was ten, and invites others to do the same.

The Common Room suggests some books for the under-six crowd

The Common Room: Poetry with Pictures lists several of their family's favorite books to read to the very young.

Isn't it funny what gets missed sometimes?

I don't care what you do, there are always going to be gaps in a child's upbringing. Luckily, the mom at A Picturesque Life turned a surprising discovery into a wonderful post about a simple joy she didn't know was missing in her daughter's life.

It brought a smile to my face. I hope you enjoy it.

The Third Carnival of Children's Literature

Sherry at the Semicolon blog took a different approach for the Third Carnival of Children's Literature -- she broke it into almost-daily doses for the entire month of April. With sidenotes. This is what I believe is called a tough act to follow ;-).