Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What's changed in the news business?

Callimachus at Done With Mirrors provides an insider's look at what's changed over the decades in the news business -- and why. (Don't miss the "Some other thoughts about it" links at the bottom.)

Colombia bucks the tide

In Elephants in Academia: Congratulations, Mr. Uribe, AcademicElephant celebrates some positive news out of Colombia, South America.

Summer Reading Challenge 2006

On your marks! The Amanda Reads: Summer Reading Challenge 2006 officially kicks off tomorrow. I'm really impressed with the number of people who have signed up. (My thanks to A Circle of Quiet for the reminder.)

Semicolon: Book Friends

Sherry over at Semicolon is asking which books you return to over and over, or otherwise consider Book Friends.

Here in the Bonny Glen: Suggestions, Please

Melissa Wiley is asking for suggestions for her reading list.

Wrong girl declared dead

Oh, my. A van crash five weeks ago left four Taylor University students and one college employee dead.

It also left a college co-ed critically injured. But when the badly battered girl started coming out of her coma, she said and did things that confused her family.

That's because it wasn't her family.

More from Taylor University.

Addition: The blogger Reader Iam discusses this at Done With Mirrors. I'm with her -- I'm having trouble getting my head around this.

Regarding the commencement speech by Ambassador Garza at the University of Texas at Austin

I was reading around and came across blaring statements to the effect that the United States ambassador to Mexico had "blasted the fence plan" along the U.S.-Mexico border in a commencement speech the other day. That's what the Houston Chronicle reported, for instance. The reactions in various quarters have been predictable. But they're misguided, in my view, because that's not exactly what he said.

For the record, here's the speech.

In the interest of civilized discussion, I'd request that from here on out people respond to the actual speech, and not the Dowdified version being booted about. Thank you.

Knitting with the classics

Blogger Lady Jane loves reading classics, and she's been hooked on knitting since last November. At A Lady's Diversions: Knitting P&P she tells about finding a group of ladies who pick classics to read at the same time, while each knitting or crocheting something that ties in with the novel of the month. The group's website is Knit the Classics. The current novel is Pride and Prejudice. Previous books are listed here.

Knit the Classics has been going since mid-2005. More info here.

Do not use a loaded rifle as a walking stick

Yes, yes, I know you know that. But AP is reporting that a 38-year-old man survived being in a van that rolled multiple times going down an embankment, but then died while climbing out of the ravine when a rifle he was using for support went off, and he was hit in the thumb and the head.

No, I don't know why he didn't make sure the rifle wasn't loaded before he headed up the hill. Perhaps he was dazed from being in a car wreck. I simply don't know. My condolences to his wife and daughter, who also survived the car wreck, only to lose their husband/father to a firearms mishap. Can you imagine? Yikes.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Book note: Defiant Gardens, by Kenneth Helphand

NPR : Tending 'Defiant Gardens' During Wartime discusses the following book:

Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime
Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime

NPR has an excerpt from the book here.

hat tip: Bookworm Room

New blog: Sand gets in my eyes

Sand gets in my eyes was launched in April 2006. The posts are primarily about life in Saudi Arabia from an American woman's view. The welcome post is here. The same blogger has a photoblog here.

hat tip: Julie D.

Good book: Are You Carrying Any Gold or Living Relatives?, by Irene Kampen

One of the perks of selling used books for a living is that sometimes a gem that you wouldn't know to look for crosses your desk, catches your eye, and winds up in the to-read stack.

This is how I can tell you that Are You Carrying Any Gold or Living Relatives?: Through the Soviet Union with Nila, by Irene Kampen (Doubleday & Company, Garden City, New York, 1970) somehow manages to be one of the funniest - laugh out loud funny - books I've ever read while simultaneously being more educational than many college courses I took.

I wish somebody would put this one back in print. Used copies are out there, but I want new ones. To give as graduation gifts, amongst other things.

Mrs. Kampen was driving around the Soviet Union in 1969 - when the Soviets were just starting to experiment with turning foreigners loose to drive around on their own, albeit with lots and lots of documents and repeated bureaucratic headaches and hurdles, not to mention Intourist staff who are definitely not on board the project of showing the world how superior the Soviet way of life is.

Mrs. Kampen has as her traveling companion and translator Mrs. Nila Magidoff, formerly of Russia, a survivor of imprisonment and Siberian exile for being an anti-Stalinist. Mrs. Magidoff had gone on to marry an NBC correspondent and become an American citizen, but when the Soviets opened up the country to tourism she was ready for another look at her homeland. Whether the Soviets were ready for her, however, is another question. She is one of the most irrepressible people you will likely meet. Yinga, even. The woman's amazing.

The trip is Mrs. Magidoff's idea, and she talks Mrs. Kampen into it. And the rest is history.

Their adventures and misadventures are both hilarious and scary.

On a side note: After finding firsthand that the realities of life under communist rule were decidedly not stellar, much less as advertised, the ladies wound up toward the end of their journey at a posh resort for Communist bigwigs and foreigners, where they were talked down to by an American professor on sabbatical from The New School. The professor thought we had a lot to learn from the Russians, but didn't want to hear anything good said out loud about America. (Sigh.) Nila gives him what-for, for all the good it does, and launches a spirited defense of America, for all the good that does, at least with Mr.-Know-It-All, who's only been hobnobbing with the elites. (Another sigh.) Some things have not noticeably changed for the better in three and a half decades, in other words.

On another side note: At one point, Mrs. Kampen got arrested for driving a dirty car. So I guess that way of fleecing the public and giving officers a handy excuse for pulling people over isn't anything new, either.

Her visit with the Moscow bureau chief for the New York Times is also very interesting, I think. He takes her to visit a state-run kindergarten, where...

No, on second thought, I won't discuss the visit to the kindergarten just yet, not until some of you have had a chance to read this. I'd like to know what you think. I was moved to tears, but maybe that's just me.

Mrs. Kampen is prone to popping tranquilizers, at least as a figure of speech. (Surely she didn't take as many as she mentioned?) She's also fond of Vodka. So if you insist upon squeaky clean heroines, she isn't that. But she's marvelous all the same, in my opinion. And in this book she keeps it witty, clean, and intelligent; things sorely lacking in many of the more recent travel books.

The book's title, by the way - you weren't wondering about it, were you? nah, really? - is from questions encountered while going through customs: "Are you carrying any gold, silver, jewelry or living relatives into the Soviet Union?"

No, really. She gets asked the same thing on her way out. As if she might have Cousin Masha in her garment bag.

I'm fond of being an armchair tourist, especially if the travel comes with good laughs. This book has the added benefit of having great portrayals of a wide variety of people and circumstances: from the man who offers to give them directions to their hotel but takes them to his apartment instead so his seven-year-old son can meet Americans, to "Cousin Masha" - a distant relative's sister's oldest grandchild, if I have that straight - who, after hanging up and hanging up and hanging up on Mrs. Kampen, afraid to talk to a stranger on the telephone, does an abrupt about-face upon realizing that there is a distant relationship, and invites Mrs. Kampen to her son's wedding. Cousin Masha, we come to find out, is one of the women for whom mother-in-law jokes were invented.

There are also some funny stories involving Bloomingdale's, for what that's worth.

I don't want to oversell this book. It's at heart a tale of a couple of feisty, intelligent, well-educated, basically good-humored, middle-aged ladies going on a trip in a country not used to tourists, a country so bureaucratized that getting anything done is always an effort and often a farce. I found it a great read, but I'm well aware it won't be everyone's cup of tea, or, more precisely, everyone's brand of humor. On the other hand, now that I've read it I have this incredible urge to give copies to people...starting with a certain uncle, who leans toward The New School's professor in his worldview...

Nila Magidoff was apparently pretty active on the lecture circuit. Did anyone reading this ever hear her speak? Was she as lively in person as she appears to be on the page?

Has anyone read the book Nila, which recounts her earlier experiences in Russia? What did you think of it? (I haven't seen a copy yet.)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Blogosphere news: Father Todd dies

Father Todd Reitmeyer, a priest of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD, and host of the A Son becomes a Father blog, died Wednesday in a jet ski accident while on vacation in Texas. An obituary, funeral information, and addresses for condolences or donations to the "Father Todd Memorial Fund" have been posted at his blog. (hat tip: Mark Mossa)

Update: has an extensive round-up of news and blog coverage and commentary.

Friday, May 26, 2006

On this day in 1840...

Father Francis (or Francois) N. Blanchet arrives at Whidbey Island (Washington) as a missionary, and finds that the Indians can already sing Christian hymns in Chinook Jargon. A local chief had invited the Catholic priest.

Mobile phones - circa 1915

Some folks had portable "pocket telephones" back in 1915. Sort of.

Dispensable versus unnecessary

Amanda Witt has a post that shares a bit of insight from Anthony Esolen, of which I'll share a taste as a teaser: "...All brave and true men have agreed to become dispensable. [Today's boy] is taught that he is unnecessary, and that is quite a different thing..."

Famous Michael Yon photo hijacked

According to Elephants in Academia: Picture of the (Memorial) Day: "Strength and Compassion" or "Broken Victim"?, the Michael Yon picture of a compassionate American soldier holding a dying baby girl wrapped in a blanket has been picked up, without attribution, by people claiming that the military is intentionally sending mentally ill men into combat.

Follow the link, and let AcademicElephant fill you in.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

About the well-covered hissy fits at commencements this year?

Rich Lowry's May 23, 2006, piece at National Review Online (aka NRO), Fear and Loathing at Commencement, begins:

What a bargain: At a cost of a mere $100,000 or so, a northeastern college can take your child and transform him into a delicate flower incapable of handling opinions at odds with his own. It can close his mind and vacuum-seal it against opposing views. And it can, as a bonus, perhaps make him rude and incorrigible...

Hmmm. Now that you put it that way...

As Mr. Lowry points out, a few professors are behaving just as badly as the grandstanding students. Which hardly recommends them as teachers...

(hat tip: The Paragraph Farmer)

I would mention that I doubt that commencement crowds are always as idiotic and up-in-arms as portrayed in the media, which might (possibly, sometimes) be emphasizing or even exaggerating whatever leftist outrage is on display at this year's ceremonies, at least those featuring anything but far-left speakers. (No! Some people in the press playing up loud and/or otherwise dramatic disapproval of conservatives, moderates, and/or traditional values? Since when?) Compare, for instance, the newspaper article and the video from the commencement at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota ("At St. Thomas, a sour ending," by Paul Tosto, Pioneer Press, May 23, 2006. Video link provided with the article.)

Related: Joseph Knippenberg is discussing this issue over at No Left Turns. He's asking readers what they think of the St. Thomas commencement speech and the reaction to it, amongst other things.

I guess I'm showing my age, but what the press loved to cover back in my college days were streakers. From the media coverage, you could be excused for thinking there were people running around sans clothes just all over the place, with no graduation complete without at least one. (Actually, we did have a streaker at our school. But not at graduation, that I recall. We thought streakers were silly, grandstanding fools, but basically harmless. At any rate, it was hard to take them seriously. It was funny, though -- back in my day, if a guy ran around making a spectacle of himself like that, it seriously cut back on the number of good girls available for dates from then on out. Back in my day, more of us girls had a little self-respect, thanks, at least where I went to school...)

Previous related post: John McCain's New School commencement speech

Bookworm Room has a heads-up for Californians (and Montessori advocates everywhere)

Bookworm at The Bookworm Room blog has been reading California's Proposition 82, the preschool initiative being promoted by Rob Reiner. She has been reading it with a lawyer's eye, and she's not liking where it leads. For instance, Montessori schools could be in a world of hurt, as could other 'alternative schools', if Proposition 82 passes, she says. And some good teachers could be forced out of teaching preschool. Let Bookworm tell you about it.

Author spotlight: Richard Schweid

I've never read any of Richard Schweid's books -- for that matter if you'd asked me earlier this afternoon if I liked Richard Schweid's books, I would have replied "Who?" -- but a used copy of Consider the Eel (actually, an uncorrected page proof of same) came across my work table today with a bunch of other books, and it caught my eye. It's got history, it's got folklore, it's got nature study, it's got recipes, it's got information on the eel fishing industry, it's got a very extensive bibliography. It's international in scope, with chapters focusing on North Carolina, the Basque country of Spain, Northern Ireland, and "Yankee" country. Some of it comes across as good travel writing, with lively descriptions of people and places. Anyway, like I said, I haven't read it, just glanced through, but it looks interesting.

So I went to see whether it is still in print. It is. And I find that Mr. Schweid has been a busy man, writing about just all kinds of things.

Here's a sampling of some of his books (clicking on a book cover will take you to Barnes & Noble):

Che's Chevrolet, Fidel's Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cuba
Che's Chevrolet, Fidel's Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cuba

Hereafter: The Search for Immortality
Hereafter: The Search for Immortality

Consider the Eel
Consider the Eel

Story of Cajuns and Capsicum: Hot Peppers
Story of Cajuns and Capsicum: Hot Peppers

The Cockroach Papers: A Compendium of History and Lore
The Cockroach Papers: A Compendium of History and Lore

Has anybody read any of these? What did you think?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hearing a different perspective in the illegal immigration debate

Reporter Ginger Thompson finds that Some in Mexico See Border Wall as Opportunity (New York Times, May 25, 2006):

...The clamorous debate over a border wall has confronted President Vicente Fox of Mexico at every stop during a visit to the United States that began Tuesday. While he did not publicly endorse the idea, he made clear that his government was prepared to live with increased border security as long as it comes with measures that opened legal channels for the migration of Mexican workers.

Outside his government, several immigration experts have even begun floating the idea that real walls, not the porous ones that stand today, could be more an opportunity than an attack.

A wall could dissuade illegal immigrants from their perilous journeys across the Sonora Desert and force societies on both sides to confront their dependence on an industry characterized by exploitation, they say.

The old blame game — in which Mexico attributed illegal migration to the voracious American demand for labor and accused lawmakers of xenophobia — has given way to a far more soul-searching discussion, at least in quarters where policies are made and influenced, about how little Mexico has done to try to keep its people home.

"For too long, Mexico has boasted about immigrants leaving, calling them national heroes, instead of describing them as actors in a national tragedy," said Jorge Santibáñez, president of the College of the Northern Border. "And it has boasted about the growth in remittances" — the money immigrants send home — "as an indicator of success, when it is really an indicator of failure."...

Read the rest of the article.

Making a liar out of her mama...

Yes, yes, I know. Everyone and anyone who has spent any time at all around children has had the experience of having a child "make a liar" out of them. Children just do that sometimes. Sometimes even accidentally.

But I bet you can't top this one.

Or, at least, I hope you can't.

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Marking up the mirror

It's Works-for-Me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer. Shannon, our hostess, has a post on teaching kids to keep themselves entertained while enforcing a summer ban of "no screens" between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. (That would be no computer, television or video games, etc.) For other tips from other bloggers -- more than 60 already, and it's only noon my time -- click on her link and go to the bottom of the post.

My tip this week: We keep dry erase markers in the bathroom and whenever anybody takes any meds (other than their usual ones) they write the time, the medicine and the dose they took on the bathroom mirror. I mean anything: aspirin, allergy medicine, the works.

The main reasons are to make it easier to track when you can take a follow-up dose if you have to (who can keep things straight when they're sick?) and to help prevent taking a bad combination of meds. The back-up reason is that in case somebody takes a turn for the worse and help is summoned, the loved ones of the patient are spared the awful experience of having to answer the inevitable question "What has he taken?" with a whimpered "I don't know." After a few hours, whenever the med can safely be considered no longer a factor in further developments, just take a piece of facial tissue or toilet paper and wipe the message off. Works for me.

Fly fishing in Iraq

From Aamer Madhani, Chicago Tribune, May 17, 2006: GIs angle for quiet time at Baghdad School of Fly Fishing. The article covers various ways folks at Camp Victory in Iraq have to unwind, but focuses on a fly fishing course set up by Navy Lt. Joel Stewart, an avid angler who was serving there. Enthusiasts in the United States, upon hearing about the classes, sent flies, rods, reels, and other equipment to give the project a boost. Gotta love it.

Hat tip: kosovodad (via Anna at A Rose By Any Other Name)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

John McCain's New School commencement speech

Since today's theme, quite accidentally, seems to be mostly about speech, speeches, and free speech, here's the Senator John McCain commencement speech that was met with loud hostility at the New School in New York last Friday.

As far as I can see, it's a pretty strange speech to get rabidly hostile about, what with so much of it being about learning to extend respect to compatriots who disagree with you...

No, really.

A salute to Eilene Galloway, pioneer in space law

Eilene Galloway was born less than three years after the Wright Brothers' historic first flight. She grew up to help create NASA, and to help draft treaties governing the use and exploration of space, amongst other things. And she's delightful at age 100, if this short feature and video of her by NASA TV is any guide.

Here's a speech she gave at Swathmore College in 1992 when she received an honorary degree. In the middle of it, by the way, she bemoans an overemphasis on what these days we would call multiculturalism. A snippet:

...We are now forced to deal with the complex task of getting a stable relationship between Unity and Diversity. We cannot over-indulge diversity to the point that it becomes a weed that chokes out unity; but neither should we provide such strict conditions for unity that we lose the advantages of diversity.

We had a policy--"United we stand; divided we fall"--and we combined this with the idea of a melting pot for citizenship to achieve one national indivisible. Lately, however, instead of emphasizing ways in which we can be alike, we yell loudly about our differences. We concentrate on past origins as if we are permanently tethered, clinging as hyphenated European-Americans, Asian-Americans, Afro-Americans--Why can't we all be just Americans?

The task of ensuring a healthy environment for our society, and protecting it against psychological pollution, is not beyond our powers...

Ooh, well said. I'd like to second that, please.

Penn State revises speech code

David French reports on "A Big Win for Free Speech at Penn State" (Phi Beta Cons blog, National Review Online, May 23, 2006.)

hat tip: The Alliance Alert (May 23, 2006)

Disembodied quotes, courtesy of Slate

If you are going to spread President Bush quotes around, you might not want to use Slate as your reference. Robert at Expat Yank has been tracking down what Bush actually said versus what Slate has published as "Bushisms."

Update: Via this March 1, 2005 post at The Common Room, here's a chain of posts over at The Volokh Conspiracy, from 2004 and 2005, addressing the same issue.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Bears in the news

Hybrid bear shot dead in Canada (BBC News, May 13, 2006) --A white bear with brown patches and an odd shape is confirmed as a polar bear/grizzly hybrid.

Bavaria rethinks its bear welcome (BBC News, May 22, 2006) -- A bear roaming wild in Germany is declared "out of control" after seven sheep carcasses were found, indicating that it wasn't as leery of farms and homes as first thought.

I found this surprising: "It is thought to be the first bear to roam wild in Germany since 1835."

New York Times puts spotlight on doulas for the dying

See For the Families of the Dying, Coaching as the Hours Wane by Jane Gross (New York Times, May 20, 2006) for information on a trend in hospice care -- providing "doulas" to hold vigil with people in their homes as a loved one approaches death. The multimedia presentation in the sidebar provides some information that the article doesn't.

Awww, cute pix

Just to get your week off to a good start, here's a photo that should make at least a few of you smile.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Book note: That's What Friends Are For

In this evening's stack of books (I get used books ready for sale, both for a bricks-and-mortar store and an online store) is a fun children's read-aloud or read-along book from 1968, That's What Friends Are For, by Florence Parry Heide and Sylvia Worth Van Clief, illustrated by Brinton Turkle.

Theodore, an elephant who was going to meet his cousin at the edge of the forest, hurts his leg and wonders what to do since he can't make the appointment, and his friends give him advice, and more advice, and more advice, all of it unusable (for an elephant), but everyone agrees that giving advice is what friends are for -- until the opossum comes along, and corrects them, saying that friends are to help. He suggests they go get the cousin and bring him to Theodore. Which they do.

It's a cute story, with a bit of a lesson mixed in with the silliness. I like the illustrations by Brinton Turkle, but I see that the edition currently in print has illustrations by Holly Meade.

That's What Friends Are For
That's What Friends Are For

Quotes, deep and shallow

In his new book, Guests of the Ayatollah, Mark Bowden has this quote, attributed to Philip Roth:

The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic.

That's the deep quote. (I like it just about as well if you stop at the comma. The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides...)

For a shallow quote (and a grin), see this post at PalmTree Pundit.

The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number...Is Cruelty by Another Name

Chuck Colson and Mark Earley have launched a "War on the Weak" series over at

From Part One:

...This combination of utilitarianism and Darwinism changed the way elites thought about the poor and the vulnerable. Instead of feeling an obligation to care for them, they increasingly felt free to target them in the name of the “greatest good.”

The most obvious example of this was the eugenics movement, started by Darwin’s cousin, which, in the name of “racial betterment,” sterilized and even killed those it deemed “defective.” But this targeting did not end with eugenics.

There are still many instances where a vulnerable class is being asked to sacrifice its well-being or even, as with embryos, its very existence, for the “greatest good.” These include children, families, the sick, prisoners, and the elderly. Over the next couple of weeks, Mark Earley and I will chronicle some of the more egregious examples of this targeting of the vulnerable in this series called “War on the Weak.”

Because it’s time for another blunt truth: Happiness obtained through the suffering of others is cruelty by another name.

Did you know Jay Leno moonlights... an automotive writer for Popular Mechanics?

Well, sometimes he writes about motorcycles, too. (Indian motorcycles. Very, very cool.)

Sour cream rhubarb muffins

Ooh, these sound good.

Safety note: If you aren't familiar with rhubarb, please note that only the stalks are edible. Do not eat the leaves, raw or cooked. Experts are still publicly quibbling with each other about what exactly in the leaves is poisonous (some say it's the high level of oxalic acid, others say that theory's bunk), but everyone seems to agree that the leaves and roots are poisonous, especially the leaves.

More on rhubarb, from Oregon State University. (Lots of links.)

And here's a surprise: Rhubarb is back in fashion in Europe, thanks to some celebrity chefs. Sales are up. Way up.

The rise of Nevaeh

From reporter Jennifer Lee, New York Times (May 18, 2006):

Chances are you don't have any friends named Nevaeh. Chances are today's toddlers will.

In 1999, there were only eight newborn American girls named Nevaeh. Last year, it was the 70th-most-popular name for baby girls, ahead of Sara, Vanessa and Amanda.

The spectacular rise of Nevaeh (commonly pronounced nah-VAY-uh) has little precedent, name experts say. They watched it break into the top 1,000 of girls' names in 2001 at No. 266, the third-highest debut ever. Four years later it cracked the top 100 with 4,457 newborn Nevaehs, having made the fastest climb among all names in more than a century, the entire period for which the Social Security Administration has such records.


The surge of Nevaeh can be traced to a single event: the appearance of a Christian rock star, Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D., on MTV in 2000 with his baby daughter, Nevaeh. "Heaven spelled backwards," he said.


Full article

hat tip: Bookworm, who takes the NY Times to task for its nose-thumbing (and I think clueless) headline on this article: "And if It's a Boy, Will It Be Lleh?"

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Book note: The Boy Mechanic, by the editors of Popular Mechanics

This could be a lot of fun... (Oh, and educational, too :)

The Boy Mechanic: 200 Classic Things to Build
The Boy Mechanic: 200 Classic Things to Build

From the publisher (via Barnes & Noble):

It's vintage boyhood and a miscellany of marvelous ideas: from kites and toboggans to workbenches and birdhouses, this collection of projects from Popular Mechanics' issues of long ago captures all the appeal of American ingenuity at the start of the last century.

With the rawest of materials, a minimum of technology, and a maximum of ingenuity, men and boys in the early 1900s dedicated themselves to crafting wonderful items, both practical and fanciful. It was a highly valued skill that revealed the measure of a man, and Popular Mechanics honored it and led the way in instructing these handy creators. Take a look back at those simpler, good old days—and at what we may have lost in our high-tech era—through these engaging projects, all published in the magazine during the first two decades of the 20th century. The range is simply amazing, and bound to appeal to woodworkers who love classic ideas. They include tools, like T-squares and sawhorses; an animal-proof gate latch and a birdhouse made from an old straw hat; household gadgets and handcrafted furniture; camping gear (including a screen door for a tent); and toys and games. And many of these appealing trellises, decoys, puzzles, and tents are quite doable today. Inveterate do-it-yourselfers will be astonished at the resourcefulness required to build a stove for a canoe and even a houseboat.

hat tip: Home Journal Blog at Popular Mechanics

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Aircraft carrier sunk in Gulf to create artificial reef

From the Associated Press:

IN THE GULF OF MEXICO — As hundreds of veterans looked on solemnly, Navy divers blew holes in a retired aircraft carrier and sent the 888-foot USS Oriskany to the bottom of the sea today, forming the world's largest deliberately created artificial reef...

Full article (Houston Chronicle, May 17, 2006)

"Works-For-Me Wednesday": Dividing the covers

Well, it's Works-For-Me Wednesday over at Rocks In My Dryer, with a lot of participants already, I see. (I'm finally sitting down to this task during the lunch hour.)

My tip this week: I made four smaller quilts, roughly lap quilt size, for our double bed, instead of one large one. That way, my husband has two and I have two, and we can easily adjust how much 'extra covering' we have, without having to figure out how to pull a quilt over our shoulders or shove covers off without causing a hassle for the other person. Most of the year I use one quilt, just over my legs and feet. During the deep of winter, I add the quilt for my upper half. In warmer weather, I don't use either. My husband doesn't feel the cold the same way I do, and his side is often a quilt or two shy of mine. Works for us.

Welcome, Blue Mountain Eagle readers

I hope you enjoyed my voting story in The Eagle. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 Elections Central

Oregon election coverage from The Oregonian newspaper.

Books by Will James, Part One

When I went to Barnes & Noble this morning and typed in "Will James" as an author, I got 3,368 titles. I don't know about you, but I find wading through that many titles tiresome, since by far and away most of them aren't by the Will James I have in mind. (He was prolific, but not that prolific!) So, pardon me while I start to piece together a listing of some of the books by the fellow who earned the nickname "Pied Piper of the West" writing under the name Will James.

Clicking on a book cover will take you to Barnes & Noble.

Uncle Bill: A Tale of Two Kids and a Cowboy
Uncle Bill: A Tale of Two Kids and a Cowboy

Cow Country
Cow Country

Cowboys North and South
Cowboys North and South

Drifting Cowboy
Drifting Cowboy

Will James' Book of Cowboy Stories
Will James' Book of Cowboy Stories

Smoky, the Cowhorse
Smoky, the Cowhorse

Books and Culture's Book of the Week: The Fragrance of God by Vigen Guroian

Cindy Crosby, author of By Willoway Brook: Exploring the Landscape of Prayer, discusses gardening in general and orthodox theologian Vigen Guroian's newest book in particular. (Christianity Today, Week of May 15)

Clicking on a book cover will take you to Barnes & Noble.

Fragrance of God Guroian
Fragrance of God

Also by Guroian:

Inheriting Paradise; Meditations on Gardening
Inheriting Paradise; Meditations on Gardening

By Crosby:

By Willoway Brook: Exploring the Landscape of Prayer
By Willoway Brook: Exploring the Landscape of Prayer

Monday, May 15, 2006

Reining in the lawsuit-mad among us

Philip K. Howard, writing in the Spring 2006 City Journal, has some proposals for Making Civil Justice Sane in the United States. He also provides some history, discusses the difference between civil and criminal cases, and takes a peek at what's different in Britain.

Still learning the ropes

I'm still trying to get the hang of living in a house with lawns -- front and back -- and flower beds. Don't get me wrong -- I'm enjoying it. But it's a different world than living in an apartment above a store, and I haven't got the rhythm yet. (In my defense, we only moved here in December.)

The grass gets too high before I block out the time to mow it. The flower beds threaten to go to dust between waterings. That sort of thing.

That a friend of ours offered to lend us his weed whacker yesterday is probably not a good sign. The landlord has a weed trimmer I can use any time, you understand. I just haven't gotten around to it. (Or figured out where in the Sam Hill I can plug it in, for that matter.)

I was going for an informal look by not trimming. I guess I didn't quite pull it off...

Much of Saturday I was trying to bring order to part of the front yard that previous tenants had used for a sandbox beside what I suppose may have been a flower bed once upon a time. At any rate, there are a few sprigs of grass that look as if they are valiant scouts for the main lawn, moving forward by means of an adventurous root system, but otherwise it is weeds and bare ground, sandy to the left, clay with gravel to the right. The sandbox is built up against the house, with the walls of two wings of the house providing two sides of it. This, I venture to say, is not the smartest plan in the book, especially since both wings of the house have windows just there, windows vital to good air flow in the summer and one of them housing the air conditioner. I don't know what use any children might have had from this sandbox, but I can tell you (I hope you aren't eating dinner) that dogs have made serious use of it. This has created something of a stench. Add this to the fact that many of the weeds in that area are armed with nettles, and... and... well, I just kept finding other jobs around here to do first.

But it is in the front lawn, right next to the house, which makes it a focal point. The weeds got huge when I wasn't looking. (Did I mention I don't have the rhythm down yet?) And I want to use those windows without gagging. So Saturday I was weeding and shoveling and it looks and smells better. But it still looks bad. It is going to take more work than I thought.

But Saturday I also planted a few sunflower seeds out back. I watered previously planted flower beds, which involved hauling a very long, heavy hose around. I hauled stuff to the burn pile and to the trash bin. When I reached the point I was thinking "this is almost like work" I quit. I am middle aged. I don't bounce back like I used to.

Yesterday was warmish. Today was warmer. We're talking in the nineties. And I just now got the sunflowers planted? Did I mention I don't have the rhythm of this place down yet?

I'm not holding out much hope for any of the seeds I planted this year, either the sunflowers or the other varieties I put in earlier, but I was out this morning misting with a hose, making sure the mud patches flower beds were damp, just in case there's some hope for it.

Is there anyone more hopeful than a wannabe gardener? I ask you.

I am already plotting what to do differently next year. I am assuming, of course, that by next year I will have started to get the hang of living in a house with lawn and flower beds...

I definitely have a long way to go, though. After I watered the potential flowers this morning, I set up the sprinkler on the lawn. That would be the lawn that, surprisingly enough, is already long enough to mow again. I thought I just did that?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

New Blog: The Patchwork of Life

Via a link in The Common Room's May 13 post "Too Fast" (about children growing up surprisingly quickly, but their grown-up versions being quite nice once you get used to the idea), here's a brand-new blog (started May 9) called The Patchwork of Life. The new blog's description:

The musings of a homeschool mom, minister's wife, Bible class teacher, and mother's caretaker who quilts in her spare time, and occasionally has time for reading and writing blogs!

Welcome to the blogosphere, Quilter Mom.

PBS stations showing documentary about man with Down Syndrome

The website for The Teachings of Jon is here. Showtimes are here. Hat tip: Riverbend Down Syndrome Parent Support Group (which, by the way, has an extensive Book List).

I haven't seen the film, but here's some of what the filmmaker Jennifer Owensby, Jon's sister, says on the film's website:

Jon brings my family real joy; he got us out of our heads and into our hearts and taught us so much about love. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to make this film, to share his wonderful personality and magical spirit with others. This is the story of our journey and how Jon has changed us for the better. I hope that our story offers others the many blessings that Jon has offered us...

From the Riverbend support group website:

What her 60-minute film does so unexpectedly and so well is to portray Jon as affectionate, lazy, messy, entertaining, imperious, but altogether a fun guy to hang with. It begins with vintage footage of Jon's reunion with his family [ed. note: Jon was in an institution until he was seven] – his father, Dr. Norm Owensby, a psychiatrist; his mother, Lou, a psychotherapist; older siblings Charlton and Jennice; and Jennifer. More recent scenes depict Jon at work – in a vocational center, where he gets paid to pull threads off cones from a local mill but goofs off a lot – and at play – swimming, intently folding paper, performing yoga poses, or playing with the rolling pins he gets for Christmas ("Jon doesn't do toys," says Lou Owensby). At the family dinner table, Jon uses his personal sign language – which combines emphatic clapping, chest-pounding and pointing – to demand more folding paper, call for his Furby, or just say "I love you." —Theodore Fischer, Current, Dec. 5, 2005

The Teachings of Jon is a production of Waking Heart Films.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Remember when school concerts were inspirational and fun?

They still are.

(If you live in the right place.)

Some "choice"

Elise Ehrhard is pro-life. She notes that she has a lot of company among younger women. Here's a reason or two why.

hat tip: Photios.

Keeping an eye on Latin America

Dr. Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute contends that to say that Latin America is experiencing a shift to the Left only covers part of what's happening. See Corporatism Redux: Latin America, the Left, and the Church’s Challenge for an explanation, a history lesson, and a look ahead.

P.S. If you don't know what "corporatism" is, don't feel bad. I didn't know either until I read the article.

Welcome, Expat Yank readers

Welcome Expat Yank readers.

If you like Robert's blog, may I suggest checking out (listed in alphabetical order): American Future, Betsy's Page, Bookworm Room, Cafe Hayek, Considerettes, Dr. Sanity, Elephants in Academia, GM's Corner, Joust the Facts, No Left Turns, PowerBlog, and ScrappleFace, among others from my links list?

I especially recommend Betsy's Page and Joust the Facts.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Election Day - Oregon Primary 2006

Cue announcer voice. Roll tape: Kathryn Judson has voted!

Sorry. Couldn't resist. I live in Oregon, which does all elections "by mail." This has its pros and cons, but one of the things I miss about the old way was that in the old days the poll workers would acknowledge your vote.

This was not consistent from place to place. The first precinct in which I voted, for instance, when I handed across my ballots the little old lady in charge of that part of the proceedings announced, rather importantly and none too quietly, "Kathryn [insert middle name and maiden name here] has voted!"

This startled me. As I remember it, I jumped about three inches, and scurried to the exit to minimize the time folks might stare at me after having seen me jump about three inches.

But after I had had a chance to get over my surprise, I decided I didn't mind the custom a bit. I rather liked it, in fact, once I got used to it. Face it, how often do most of us get to have our actions announced in a manner befitting doers of great things?

Besides (and you might as well laugh at this -- snickers won't hurt my feelings a bit just here), after some consideration I realized that much of my initial consternation was from the fact that previous to that experience at the polls the only time anyone had used my full name right out loud was my mother when she had reached the end of her rope. She had a nickname for me for normal use. Kathryn was trotted out when she was upset with me. Kathryn plus the middle name meant Serious Ire. Kathryn plus the middle name plus the surname was Off-the-scale Upset.

So, when I flinched upon hearing my full name I was being Pavlov Dog-ish. No question. But such things can be unlearned, should the circumstances line up right. Somewhere along the line in the years since I have switched to Kathryn for most uses, and stopped reacting like a five year old when people use it, even when it is used in combination with the middle name and/or the last name. But this is now and that was then. Then it was unnerving.

But back to the issue at hand.

In other places I've lived, there was no announcement when you finished voting. None. Discretion seemed the order of the day. Privacy. Decorum. I rather preferred the announcement-style precincts, but I didn't mind the latter. At least there was some ceremony, some sense of community effort involved.

Perhaps I should say I didn't mind much. After I'd been around the block a few more times, I found out that those ego-boosting announcements were also intended as anti-fraud actions. Somebody trying to vote under somebody else's name had to face the prospect of being recognized -- by someone else, anyone else, some knowing total stranger who just happened to be there -- as Not Who He Claims to Be. In some circles, this is thought to make criminals think twice before trying to commit vote fraud. I like to think it does, which is one of my objections to vote by mail, which strips voters of the protections, such as they are, provided by a polling place, monitored booths, and witnesses. But that's another story.

Fast forward to today. My husband voted days ago, and has had his ballot sitting around waiting for me to deliver it. We could mail it in, or there are several drop sites around, several of which are more convenient than the courthouse, but I like to drive the ballots to the courthouse and drop them in the county clerk's office myself. So, anyway, today I dug in and spent hours researching races I wasn't sure about already. I read what candidates had to say about themselves, each other, and the issues. I read endorsements. I read news reports. I pondered. I dug some more. Race by race I tackled it, and finally -- after fretting surprisingly long over who to vote for in the gubernatorial race -- I was done. Into the secrecy envelope the ballot went. The secrecy envelope went into the larger envelope with my name and address, etc., printed on it. I signed the outer envelope as required. I was well and truly done except for turning it in.

I took my husband's ballot and mine well in hand, got in the van, and drove south to the county seat, and to the county courthouse. (It's only about five miles round trip, so don't think I was doing something valiant.) I walked into the courthouse, walked up broad stairs, crossed the building to the clerk's office, walked up to the ballot box sitting this side of the counter and, one by one, semi-ceremoniously, put in my husband's ballot and then mine.

A lady to the left of me, working behind the counter, watched me vote, caught my eye, perked up and said, "Isn't the weather wonderful today?"

Uh huh. It is.


I wanted to say, with emphasis: But. I. Just. Voted. And. I. Know. Enough. History. To. Know. That. That's. Nothing. To. Take. For. Granted. Thank. You. Very. Much.

But I didn't.

She was being friendly, and nice, and was perhaps a bit wistful at having to work inside on such a nice spring day. And she had watched me vote and given me a smile, which is more than I get most elections lately. So I agreed it was a nice day, and went on to my next errand.

New options for music lovers

In The Bernoulli Effect: A New Front In The Radio Wars, Jeff discusses how the internet has changed the music industry -- how, for instance, more artists are selling their CDs directly through the Web, and how more and better options are opening up for listeners, including a Web-based streaming-audio "music discovery service" that lets you input a name of a pop artist or song that you like, and then follows with similar songs, which you can give the thumbs up or thumbs down, the service learning your tastes as it goes.

Ward Churchill update

In Elephants in Academia: Find the time, buddy, AcademicElephant brings us the news that a panel investigating Ward Churchill is expected to deliver its report next week.

Ward Churchill is the tenured ethnic studies professor at the University of Colorado who rather idiotically tried to make comparisons between Nazis and people murdered in the September 11 attacks. As I understand it, this panel has been looking into allegations of plagiarism and misrepresentation unrelated to that mess.

Star-crossed lovers, movie versions

In Wittingshire: Tristan and Isolde, Amanda discusses a handful of movies - in which themes of passion, responsibility, family, and community are approached from different perspectives.

Note to self: Get a copy of Casablanca. (It occurs to me that I haven't seen it as a grown-up, unless you count catching snatches of it on television now and then. I suspect it's an entirely different movie if viewed as a grown-up and without marathon ad breaks breaking up the story and sending a person to the remote to change channels. Yes?)

Just because I haven't mentioned it lately, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the people responsible for the development and the availability of the DVD player, whoever you are. I would also like to thank the folks who make good stuff available on DVD. You have improved my life, and I appreciate it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Songbirds, early stages

And now for a little nature study. To get from this (bluebird eggs) to a beautiful full-grown bluebird, you must pass through this stage (which, admittedly, doesn't look horribly promising).

Here's a nice, day-by-day Quick Reference Guide to Baby Bird Development, courtesy Messinger Woods Wildlife Care & Education Center in Holland, New York.

Update: Pipsqueak continues to chronicle her baby bluebirds.

Raising boys to be good men

At Amy's Humble Musings : Young men, Amy Scott writes about treating a son like the man he is becoming, not the boy he still is.

Links to related posts.

A salute to Sgt. Sarun Sar, awarded the Silver Star

How's this for an American success story?

Sarun Sar was born in Cambodia, survived the killing fields (although most of his family didn't), came to America thanks to a church sponsorship, joined the military a year after graduating from high school, became an American citizen, joined Special Forces, married a Polish lady, and has earned the Silver Star for valor in combat in Afghanistan. And what he wants to emphasize is the humanitarian work he and his men have been doing in Afghanistan.

Ralph Kinney Bennett has the story. (OpinionJournal, May 10, 2006)

Ben Stein: "What You Need To Know"

Writer/actor/economist/lawyer/etc. Ben Stein gathers some advice on what college graduates need to know to succeed at life. (The American Spectator, May 10, 2006)

Going to the source

Elephants in Academia: A quick public service has links to a New York Times story and to a transcript of the news briefing on which it was based, regarding (among other things) what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said about Gen. Michael V. Hayden's nomination to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

Expat Yank's Local News Roundup 4

Robert has more news out of England that you might miss if you only read the larger online news sites.

"Works-For-Me Wednesday"

This looks like fun (and probably useful, too). Shannon, the hostess at the Rocks In My Dryer blog, has a weekly feature called "Works-For-Me Wednesday" where bloggers share little shortcuts or ideas that make managing homes and lives a little easier.

Hmmm. How's this? It's a very small tip, but it's saved some hassle around here. Many years ago I kept the bags used to line wastebaskets in the pantry, and so every time I went to empty wastebaskets I had to go to the pantry, sometimes to find I didn't have enough bags left. A friend told me that she kept plastic bags at the bottom of each wastebasket. That way, when you remove the trash, you just reach down for the replacement liner - and you can see at a glance whether you need to get more bags. Saves steps, saves fuss. Works for me.

hat tip: SFO Mom

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

An old kitchen, nice for baking a cake

One of the nicest things about this new place (new to us, as of a few months ago), is that the kitchen is so much nicer to work in than the one I left.

The old one was built either in the 1960s or 1970s, depending upon who is doing the remembering, and it was based on the modern/efficiency/ergonomic model. You know the type. Everything is supposed to be within a few steps of everything else, and built-ins are the height of cool. This might have been fine in theory, and I suppose there are women out there who like that sort of thing, but in my case I'm not thrilled with a narrow alley with appliances either side. And, in this specific case, the built-in idea didn't take into consideration that the building might settle, a serious oversight in an area of town built over what was left behind when a gold dredge chewed its way through the valley. To make a long story short, the building did settle, which slanted the floor, which slanted the oven and the stovetop, and since they were built-in they couldn't be adjusted. Oops. I finally more or less gave up on making cakes. I'm sorry, but pans with much more batter at one side than the other just don't produce good results. (I suppose I might have invented some sort of gadget to prop the pan up, but it hardly seemed worth the trouble.)

The 'new' kitchen is from the 1920s or 1930s, depending upon who is doing the remembering, and it's got room to move around in. I've got a smallish, lighter-weight version of a butcher block table in the middle for an island. I've got what used to be my library hutch along one wall, providing drawers and shelves. It holds a microwave on what used to be a desk top, and my most-used saucepans and casserole dishes on its shelves. The hutch sits across the room from the painted floor-to-ceiling cabinets put in when the house was new. The painted cabinets have a real butcher block countertop. It's obviously been used as a cutting board more than once. (Not by me.)

The lighting can be a bit sparse, with only one ceiling fixture in the middle of the room, turned on and off with a chain pull that dangles from it. Electrical outlets are at a premium, especially three-prong. But those are quibbles. This is a kitchen to cook in, and slow down in, and enjoy, with its old-timey feel and roominess.

This is not to say it's a big kitchen. It's not. But it's definitely not an alleyway with appliances either side. Nicest of all, two people can work comfortably in it at once, and I suspect three or four could manage without a great deal of trouble. (When I was younger, I didn't like to share my kitchen. I'm not sure I remember why. But I've outgrown that.)

There are other advantages, this kitchen over the other. For instance, the oven is larger than the one I left. I don't have to be careful about what size pans I buy, because this will take all the standard sizes. A broiler pan, much liked, bought years and years ago, is finally out of storage and back in use.

And the list goes on.

The subject comes up because I am winding down from a busier than normal day by making a cake. A spice cake. Made with applesauce instead of oil.

Do you know that trick? I read it in some cookbook a while back, that you can usually substitute applesauce for any oil called for in a cake recipe. I didn't believe it at first, but I've had good results, overall. Supposedly it's healthier, but around here we like the taste and texture, too. Usually, it's not the least bit apple-y, by the way. Go figure.

I've reached the point where the cake is out of the oven and cooling. The smell is driving me nuts.

My husband has taken the trouble to inform me that the aroma is making him quite hungry. That, of course, was part of the plan. :)

The difference between knowledge and habit...

...becomes readily apparent when your computer crashes (as mine did yesterday) and it is decided that as long as it's on the bench it might as well be brought up to speed with a new operating system, etc.

Now that I'm back up and running (yay!), I am having the somewhat odd experience of almost knowing how to run things around here.

I am also having a hard time not playing with new features just because they are new. But that's another story. ;-)

Monday, May 08, 2006


From Michael Perry, writing for Reuters:

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Two Australian miners trapped a kilometer underground for 14 days walked out of the mine on Tuesday defiantly thrusting their arms into the air after rescuers reached them shortly before dawn.

Miners Brant Webb, 37, and Todd Russell, 34, wearing mining helmets with their lamps shining brightly and yellow jackets walked confidently to a large board and removed their name cards — declaring they had ended their shift underground...

Nice touch, that... :-)

Previous related posts May 8, May 6, May 4, May 1.

Blog find: 25 Things for Charity

Started in October 2005, 25 Things for Charity is a group blog for fiber crafters (crochet, sewing, knitting, that sort of thing). Members commit to making things for charity, the benchmark being 25 things in a twelve-month period, but with each crafter setting her own goals (see The Rules, which begin by explaining that there are no rules). There seems to be a lot of sharing of info on projects, patterns, needs, and charities. It's a large group already, but they're still advertising for new members.

hat tip: Elizabeth at Daily Inklings

Resource note: Australian Newspapers Online

The National Library of Australia has links to Australian Newspapers past and present, sorted by title, or by state, or by town. There are lots of good links to online editions of today's papers. There are also some archives focusing on 1840-45, if you would like a stroll through the past.

Closer, but still not there in mine rescue

From Greg Ansley, writing for The New Zealand Herald, a couple of reports on the mine rescue underway in Tasmania, where two men have been trapped three thousand feet down under a rock slide for two weeks now:

Trapped pair rewrite record books
Rescue for miners just arm's length away

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Close but not there yet in Australian mine rescue

Now comes the really tricky part of that mine rescue in Tasmania.

From Town waits and prays (Herald Sun, May 7, 2006, reported by Carly Crawford, John Ferguson and Kelvin Healey):

TRAPPED miners Brant Webb and Todd Russell were helping their rescuers early today as freedom moved tantalisingly closer.

The courageous Beaconsfield miners spent six hours stabilising the rock around their cage with special grout designed to help prevent a rock fall as the rescue team edged towards them.

But late last night, Australian Workers Union national secretary Bill Shorten said the rescue of Mr Webb, 37, and Mr Russell, 35, had been further delayed because the rock between them and the rescue team was much harder than anticipated.


As night fell yesterday, rescuers finished tunnelling with massive drilling equipment and then, just before 11pm, miners began using hand tools – diamond-tipped chainsaws and small pneumatic drills – to punch through the crust to reach Mr Webb and Mr Russell.

The rock through which they were boring is believed to be five times tougher than ordinary concrete.

Mr Shorten said: "If you can imagine lying or kneeling in a space just a metre wide, using a hand drill to cut through rock five times harder than concrete – well that's what the rescuers are faced with.

"The simple fact is that the rock is harder than hoped. The men are using knee and elbow pads in 40 degree heat. They want their men home, but it looks like it will take much longer than we had hoped."

Mr Shorten was full of praise for the rescue team.

"These are unassuming men. They have not sought to big-note themselves over the 12 days of the rescue," he said.

"But they are determined they are going to get the men out. I can tell you one thing – I wouldn't want to be the rock between the rescuers and the miners."


I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that a lot of baby boys in Australia will be named Todd and Brant in the near future. These men have done Australia proud with their spirit and sense of humor while trapped. (Well, I'm assuming they won't turn into total jerks when they get out and get mobbed by the media. That would spoil everything, I think. Well, not everything. But it would sour feelings considerably, I think.)

And need I mention I'm in awe of the rescue team? This is not, by any stretch, a usual sort of rescue attempt.

Previous posts: Updates on trapped Tasmanian miners, Trapped miners get food, water, medicine

Friday, May 05, 2006

Happy 500th Anniversary, Swiss Guards

Let's see. 1506? The United States of America was, figuratively speaking, not even a glimmer in someone's eye. It would be, for instance, a full century before The First Charter of Virginia was written.

In 1506, it would be another 356 years before a gold rush brought the first serious influx of settlers to what is now my hometown.

But in 1506 the Swiss Guards were already on the job at the Vatican. See Amy Welborn's open book: Happy Anniversary, Swiss Guards for info and links on celebrations marking the milestone.

Nice radio links

Remember Gary Owens? Did you know he's still working as a disc jockey?

I was steered to Sunny 1550 KKAD today, and have been listening to Owens' show for over an hour and a half and enjoying every bit of it.

KKAD is part of the Music of Your Life network, which is kind enough to list radio stations that aren't part of the network but play the same sort of music, which they call Adult Pop Standards.

Right now I'm listening to Nat King Cole... :-)

Trying to clean up Moscow...

The BBC World Service has a Learning English section, which has, amongst other subsections, something called Words in the News, which highlights and defines words and phrases in news stories. You can listen to the story, or just to the highlighted words, in addition to reading the text.

What caught my eye today was a May 2, 2006, story out of Moscow, Russia, where city authorities have declared a clean car month, imposing fines for noncompliance -- and some folks are, uhm, perhaps not cooperating in the spirit hoped for by the city officials, shall we say?

Do any young folks understand how amazing it is that Moscow radio programs are, according to James Rodgers, Moscow correspondent, "informing drivers of their rights and encouraging them to challenge officers who stop them"?

Or that a newspaper did an online poll which found (bolding in original, showing highlighted English to learn): "46 per cent agreed a car was dirty if the number plate wasn't visible. 23 per cent said it was if the car had "wash me" written on it, 22 per cent if the make or the colour of the car couldn't be determined. A stubborn nine per cent maintained that a car was dirty only if the actual driver was invisible."?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Updates on trapped Tasmanian miners

From the BBC: Rescuers inch to Tasmania miners.

From The Herald Sun: Close encounters for miners' parents. (The parents of the miners might be taken down into the mine to talk to the trapped men.) Also from The Herald Sun: Townsfolk cook up support (how locals are pitching in) and Harley awaits his mate (about the loyal Labrador of one of the miners, who has been keeping vigil). There's also a graphic of the rescue plan, and a live cam. (What days we live in, with live cams on the web for anybody to access...)

The bottom line seems to be that it's been more than ten days since two miners, Brant Webb and Todd Russell, were trapped by a rock slide a kilometer down at the Beaconsfield mine. They're alive, they're getting supplies through a PVC pipe, they're talking with rescue crews, and it's still anybody's guess if what's being called a freedom tunnel can be built to them without triggering more deadly rock slides.

Here's hoping for the best.

BBC NEWS | Photo journal | Rebuilding education in Aceh

The December 2004 tsunami devastated Aceh, Indonesia. But it's coming back, in some ways better than ever, according to Maida Irawani, formerly a teacher in Aceh, and now with NGO World Vision.

Deer in this town like geraniums...

...(especially the flowers) and petunias (just the flowers) and strawberry plants (any part they can get their mouth over, apparently) but don't like zinnias (flowers or leaves).

Or at least that is my working hypothesis after surveying (what is left of) my flower garden that I planted a few days ago. The geranium was such a hit it was pulled out by the roots, and moved to a more convenient location.

(I live in town. I live rather in the middle of town, actually. In case you were wondering.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Book note: Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden

The author of Black Hawk Down spent several years researching the Iranian takeover of U.S. embassy in Tehran and the 444 day hostage ordeal that followed. The result is:

Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam
Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam

Reuel Marc Gerecht has a review and commentary. ("Radical Islam's Eruption: Mark Bowden puts the Iranian hostage crisis in perspective," OpinionJournal, May 3, 2006)

Earl Woods dies

Earl Woods, the father of golfer Tiger Woods, has died at age 74. Mr. Woods was, I think, a great role model not only for his son but for the rest of us. My condolences to his family and friends.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Alibris Donate-A-Book Program, one of the online bookseller sites where my husband and I sell books (that should take care of full disclosure duties, I hope), has launched a Donate-A-Book Program, where schools, libraries and nonprofits may provide wishlists, and Alibris customers who are so inclined can help fill their bookshelves. Alibris has some libraries, etc., lined up already, but:

Donate-A-Book is brand new, with a limited number of enrolled pilot schools and libraries. Please help organizations in your community: Ask them to create wishlists for the books your town needs.

There's an emphasis right now on New Orleans, but Winston Salem Bible College in North Carolina is also being highlighted today.

For my state (you can browse wishlists by state if you like), there's only one public library listed, which says it especially needs board books. (Personally, I have trouble with board books shared amongst too many different babies -- board books get chewed, for pity's sakes -- but it's their wishlist, I guess.)

I've been browsing the whole list, and one of my favorites so far is Boys Read Too, at the School Library, Kendrick Lakes Elementary, Lakewood, Colorado. From their intro:

Help us close the gender gap. We want to supply more books that will foster a love of reading for boys in the intermediate levels, grades 4-6.

The wishlist is crawling with biography and adventure and jets and sharks and monsters and time warps and all that good stuff that boys tend to get into.

It's also got some books that look interesting that I didn't know about, and authors who are new to me...

Hmmm, this could be a good way to discover good books...

I can think of another (probably unintended) good thing about this project. If your local school library is enrolled, you can see what sorts of books they want to add. I think that could tell you a lot about what's going on, don't you?

Seriously, though, why not consider enrolling your church school or public library, etc.? Let's try a little community building without the government for a change, eh?

Monday, May 01, 2006

A faith-based military news site

A Greater is (according to its "About Us" page):

...a faith-based military news site that reports the positive news stories often missed by mainstream media.

We exist to inform, encourage, and inspire those serving in the Armed Forces, their families, and local churches wishing to help church members currently going through deployment.

This site was created by Sara Horn, writer and editor of A Greater Freedom: Stories of Faith from Operation Iraqi Freedom (Broadman & Holman, 2004). In 2003, Horn took two trips to Iraq with photographer Jim Veneman to report on stories of Christians in the military, and more specifically, Christians in the midst of war. Lt. Col. (Ret.) Oliver North, host of Fox News’ "War Stories," was executive editor of the project and is a contributor to this site as his schedule permits. The book received recognition as a finalist for the prestigious 2005 ECPA Gold Medallion Awards in the inspirational category.

In addition to original news stories and stories obtained by various news wires and other sources, we offer commentary by a variety of contributors.

Our site is non-denominational by design and evangelical in conviction. While denominations vary by degrees in issues concerning theology, we approach this site with the unified belief in God’s Son, Jesus Christ...

Go here to read about other contributors to the site.

Click on the book cover to go to Barnes & Noble:

Greater Freedom: Stories of Faith from Operation Iraqi Freedom
Greater Freedom: Stories of Faith from Operation Iraqi Freedom

Book notes: The Head Girl's latest reviews

The Head Girl at The Common Room blog provides quick takes on The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin, Women Who Make the World Worse by Kate O'Beirne, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Forging Freedom: A True Story of Heroism During the Holocaust by Hudson Talbot, Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki, and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit.

Trapped Miners Get Food, Water, Medicine

Good news from Tasmania. Two miners trapped a half mile underground at the Beaconsfield gold mine for nearly a week with nothing but groundwater in their mineshaft to sustain them are not only alive, but talking -- and rescuers have managed to get food, water and medicine to them through a narrow tube. They're not out of danger yet, and no one's estimating they can be dug out before tomorrow at the earliest (and most officials appear to think that estimate is wildly optimistic), but no one's giving up on them just yet.

Miners get food, but danger remains (John Ferguson, Herald Sun)

Rick Rycroft of AP reports (ABC News)

Update: In the cage: a prison, a haven (Andrew Darby and Gary Tippet, The Sydney Morning Herald)

I've been looking at various reports, and I'm beginning to think I should have said "amazing news from Tasmania" instead of "good news" in my initial post. Conditions appear to be very hazardous not only for the two trapped men, but for the rescuers trying to get at them. It's a miracle these guys are alive, but it's going to be tough to get them out of there.

Just for laughs

John Hinderaker at Power Line has a Jack Benny video clip (rather long), for any of you who could use a dose of comedy without an agenda. (The Jack Benny link is at the very bottom of the post.)