Friday, October 28, 2005

The First Pinewood Derby--in Iraq

I wonder why this didn’t make the news. Surely, even Mrs. Sheehan, whose son, Casey, was a Scout, would recognize the significance of this event?

Maybe not.

Read the whole article.

(H/T: Mudville Gazette Open Post link to Peace Like A River)

Thursday, October 27, 2005


The Embarcadero runs along the edge of San Francisco Bay. On the Bay side, it is one long sidewalk, unbroken by stoplights and intersections. Because of that, and because it is level, the Embarcadero is a favorite place for lunchtime walkers, joggers, runners, and skaters.

This afternoon there was also a cyclist. She was young, probably about five or six, riding her red bike complete with training wheels in the plaza in front of the Ferry Building. Running along behind her was her dad. She had a big grin as she pedaled furiously, trying to escape, but knowing, like Margaret Wise Brown's Runaway Bunny, that there was no escape. At the end of the plaza, she turned her handlebars and steered her bike into a wide arc.

"Aha!" laughed dad, slightly out of breath. "I've caught you!"

About a quarter mile down is Pier 7. The Pier has green wrought iron railing, about 3-1/2 feet tall, and lamps that look like old-fashioned streetlights. At the end of the Pier there are usually several fishermen, most older, of all different ethnicities. Their sea poles are out as they wait for bottom fish. During the season, they have crab pots over the side, hoping for Dungeness.

There were no fishermen today.

Along the railing, someone has places several glass hearts, the kind that you find used for flower arranging. Mylar ballons are tied on the posts, along with angels, a teddy bear, and a big rubber duck. The bench in front of the railing is covered with flowers and more teddy bears. Another bench has still more flowers and several candles. There are some poems and several stickers that say "Fragile--Handle with Care."

This is where LaShaun Harris threw her three boys into the cold Bay water. The voices in her head told her to.

Why here? Why come all the way across the Bay from Oakland?

Two containerships glide under the Bay Bridge to the cranes at the Port of Oakland. A ferry pulls into its dock. The air is remarkably clear--I can see the facades of the Navy and Marine Museums on Treasure Island. The bells of the Ferry Building sound. I have to get back to the office, back to work, where a picture of my family is the wallpaper on my computer. The voices in my head, usually nagging me about something I need to do, are quiet.

At Last, My Age Can Be Revealed!

You Are 29 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Hey--I'll take it!

(H/T: Epiphany at Minivan Mom)

Just for Julie D...

“I’ve created Lutherans!” Lisa Simpson, one of the Simpson Hallowe’en Special.

Helping Out With Physics Homework

DS#1 sent me an IM at work.

“Will you be home tonight? I need help with my Physics class.”

I had to take DS#2 and DD#2 out to buy shoes for school and pick up fruit and pumpkins at the grocery store, but I was home by 8:00 p.m. I warned DS#1 it had been a loooong time since I took Physics.

“Don’t worry, Mom. That won’t matter,” he reassured me. Then he handed me his take home test. “I need help with the last two questions.”

I read them. Then I read them out loud. It didn’t help.

“I know what a concept is. I know what a metaphor is in literature. I know what a cipher is. What do these have to do with Physics? And I have no idea what ‘Maya’s Veil’ is.”

DS#1 laughed and handed me his textbook. It was written by the instructor. I always hated when the instructor used his textbook because it means that if you didn’t understand the lecture, the textbook won’t be any help.

On the cover is a picture of the Hindu Goddess, Maya, superimposed on a series of triangles. I flip to the index.

“Don’t bother, Mom,” DS#1 says. “It won’t help. I tried that.”

He was right, so I began skimming the textbook from the beginning. In the notes, the author discusses his educational background: undergraduate degree from the Sorbonne; Ph.D. in Physics from a prestigious university (Heidelberg, if I remember correctly) in Germany.

“Tell me the truth,” said DS#1. “Do you think this guy is a pothead?”

Potheads don’t usually write 500+ page textbooks. Reading further, I discover that after graduation, the author went backpacking in Oaxaca, Mexico, with all twelve volumes of Nietzsche’s philosophical works. And the author ended up living in Mexico for six months and read Carlos Castaneda’s works.

“Not pot,” I answered. “Peyote.”

We eventually worked out answers to the test questions. I felt a little bit like Alice talking to Humpty Dumpty: the words mean whatever it is I decide they will mean. What this instructor/author/physicist is trying to do, I think, is bring together physics and metaphysics in a Grand Unification Theory of sorts. There is the known world of concepts, the unknown world of ciphers, and the world that bridges both of these, metaphors.

Just for fun, DS#1 asked Hubs to explain one of the paragraphs. Hubs read it and gave his pronouncement that it was meaningless bovine by-products.

This morning I was doing a web search, since I could not remember the title of the textbook, and what I found when I searched Google for “Maya and physics” astounded me. Apparently there really is serious scholarship linking (or trying to) physics to the Eastern Religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. The connection seems to be that, on the quantum level of physics, what appears to be solid and real is, in fact, insubstantial and unknowable. For example, we perceive, and therefore think, that a rock is stable. In reality, a rock is merely a bunch of buzzing atoms, filled with parts like quarks, electrons, protons, charm, etc., etc. We can know where a particle is and its size or we can know its velocity and direction. We can’t know all its size and its velocity.

Okay, so we can’t know everything about the Universe, including everything about ourselves. Seems to me that is what religion, in general, has always claimed. Apparently it is au courant, however, to focus on Eastern and/or mystical religions, such as the ancient Mayans, rather than Christianity. Curiously, in my search, all the papers were written by scientists with European last names and seemed to be all male. My guess, and it’s only that, is that Christianity suffers from being “too familiar” for these men and they are looking for something more exotic.

They are searching for meaning in their lives and in their research and, unlike Dorothy, have not discovered that the answers may be in their own backyard.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Penultimate Peril

"Oh, Mom, I've got something bad for you," DD#2 tells me after our troop meeting last night.

"What is it? A deficiency?" I ask. She is notorious for not completing all of her homework or for leaving a piece of it at home.

She hands me a book. It's kind of a peach and orange. The title is The Penultimate Peril.

DD#2 loves A Series of Unfortunate Events. These are a series of books written by "Lemony Snicket." The first in the series is titled The Bad Beginning chronicles the travails of the Baudelaire orphans. Mr. Snicket throws big words, like "penultimate," into his narrative and then adds somewhat humorous (but accurate) definitions.

Violet, the eldest, is also an inventor. Klaus, the middle child, is a reader. And Sunny is the baby who likes to bite things.

The movie came out last spring or summer and captured the feeling of the first three books quite well, although DD#2 was upset that the ending of the movie was not the same as the ending of the books. The actors who played Violet, Klaus, and Sunny were wonderful, but I'm afraid will grow up too fast to continue to play them. Unlike Harry Potter, the orphans in A Series of Unfortunate Events do not seem to age. The tone of the series is different as well. It's kind of tongue-in-cheek bleak.

Also, there is no magic. And the books are under 200 pages. But there are 12 of them, so far, with #13 expected to be the last one.

Barnes & Noble had a "Misfortune Teller" (also known as a "cootie catcher") that you could print and cut out on their e-mail announcement. But I can't seem to find it on their web page. So DD#2 and I knew the book was out. Little did I expect to find it at her school book fair the next day, which, as it happened, is also our penultimate Parent-Student-Teacher conference at that school. Next year she will be in 8th Grade and that will be her last one. And the last for Hubs and I as well.

Before then, however, there is the book.

"You know where it goes," I told her.

"In your room. It's for Christmas," she sighs. She won't have time to read it until vacation, anyway. And I'll do my best not to read it ahead of time. Although I can read a book without cracking the binding. A very useful skill!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Mother's Day

Sunday was Mother's Day here at the Rabbit Warren.

DS#1 was born, my first child, and I worried that I was going to blow it.

He's 22 and still here. So far, so good!

His wish? That I would bake him a birthday cake.

It's not that I hate baking, particularly. It's just that it's not an activity I take particular joy in doing. I have baked him birthday cakes in the past and they were okay. But they were kind of thrown together at the last minute. Or first thing in the morning, if I was sending cupcakes to school.

The local grocery store was having a 10/$10 on cake mixes, so I bought several.

"Pick one," I told him when I got home. (And that was something of a surprise. His schedule seldom matches the rest of the household's.) I knew he likes white cake, so I had picked up a box of that. I had also picked up a box of "Funfetti"--you know, white cake with sprinkles in the batter. That was what he picked.

I also bought Spiderman(tm) decorations--the crunchy kind made of pure sugar that you peel off the paper. And a can of frosting. Hubs had bought an aerosol can of frosting so that we could write on the cake. I made spiderwebs and connected the Spiderman(tm) decorations.

DS#1 was truly impressed. He loved the Spiderman(tm) touch.

Hubs and I also had bought numeral candles. And we had a 2 left over from my birthday and DD#2's. (She's 12. I'm older. :)

"So," DD#1 asked DS#1, "do you want to be 22222?"

For his birthday dinner, we had potstickers, sushi, edame, and shrimp. (I love our local warehouse store!) DS#1 had gone out to brunch with friends and was too full to each much dinner, which meant there was plenty for the rest of us.

Hubs and DD#1 picked out his birthday present: an i-Pod Nano.

"Now I'm a real college student!" he laughed. "I'm totally plugged in."

To top it off, yesterday he found out he got a B on his Advanced Calculus class. If he had to choose between that and the Nano, the B might actually win.

Other than the fact that I'm too young to have a child who is 22 (I wish!), it was a very satisfying birthday, for all those involved.

A Tragedy on So Many Levels...

Last Wednesday, October 19, a young mother calmly stripped her three young boys and threw them into the Bay. The boys were 6 years, 2 years, and 16 months.

From the San Francisco Chronicle: "About a dozen family members spent Thursday afternoon meeting with police investigators and praying near the pier. They described Harris as a devoted mother who used to work as a nurse's assistant at a retirement home in Oakland, but over the last year-and-a-half fought an increasingly unsuccessful battle with mental illness."

Ms. Harris is 23 years old. She dropped out of high school when she became pregnant with her oldest son, who has a different father than the younger two. She did not marry either father. Besides mental illness, there was also some domestic violence.

According to later articles in The Chronicle, Ms. Harris's mother had contacted Social Services about getting partial custody of the children because she felt that her daughter was not taking her medication regularly. Social Services commented today that "mental illness is not a reason" to take away someone's children. Ms. Harris also mentioned "feeding her children to the sharks" while at a cousin's house earlier on Wednesday. The cousin called other family members to try to keep Ms. Harris at her house, but Ms. Harris left anyway. No one thought to call the police.

Three children are dead and a young woman's life is in shambles.

I have walked by Pier 7 many times during my lunch hour. I know how cold the water is in the Bay. Ms. Harris's oldest child, it was reported, cried out in fear as his mother stripped him. His body and that of his youngest brother, the baby, have not yet been recovered and may never be. I cannot imagine, on my worst day as a mother, stripping my children and throwing them over the railing at the edge of the pier. The voices in Ms. Harris's head must have been very loud indeed.

The First Reading for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time was about taking care of widows and children. Of not charging interest when we lend money. Of returning the cloak before sundown that we held for collateral. Father P., in his message in the bulletin, spoke of "The Culture of Death" with respect to the social safety net that seems to keep shrinking. That, in the case of the young mother and her three sons, seemed not to be there at all.

When I was a kid, I watched a TV program on circus performers. The high-wire and trapeze artists spoke about the safety net and about how it was important to fall a certain way. If you fell wrong, you could be killed--by the net. You have to be relaxed and land so that your back is almost flat and absorbs the impact. You bounce once or twice and only then can you crawl to the edge and somersault to the floor, stand, and bow to the audience.

Nets also have holes. They have to be just the right size to allow air through, to distribute the energy along the strings and outward. So here I am, again, with my internal debate. How do we, as a society, provide just enough of a net? Should we force adults with serious mental illnesses to take their medication? Should we insist that they live in supervised housing? How much credence should be given to concerns by family members? Do we automatically take children away from their parents if there is a pattern of mental illness? And where were the fathers of these children? Did they maintain contact with their sons? Did they notice Ms. Harris's mental condition deteriorating? Did they try to do anything or support the grandmother in her attempt to get partial custody? Once again, the question of personal responsibility, of responsibility for your own family, rears its head. The Government cannot take care of you. Not really. Not like your family can. Or your parish. Or your friends. We are the social net, not Washington, D.C., not Sacramento, not Oakland, not San Francisco. We need to reach out, make connections, and help each other through this life.

We need to break our addiction and enable ourselves.

Note: The Anchoress links to the MSNBC article and talks about how much madness can be blamed on our "anything goes" society. She covers more than just this incident, does it wisely and well.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Dr. Mike Adams and Michelle Malkin both note a speech given by Dr. Kamau Kambon, an affiliated faculty instructor at NC State University in the Africana Department.

Dr. Kambon participated in a program titled "Black Media Forum on the Image of Black Americans in Mainstream Media,” presented on October 14th at Howard University. Dr. Kamau Kambon made his appearance about three hours into the four-hour event.

I encourage you to read Dr. Adams’ article and visit Ms. Malkin’s website to read the details of Dr. Kambon’s speech. If you’d like to listen to his speech, it’s available in C-SPAN’s archives.

The transcription provided by Dr. Adams is from Jon Sander’s blog, The Locker Room .

Dr. Kambon, an opponent of the death penalty, has a “final solution” to all the problems Black Americans have in society. His solution sounds eerily familiar: Kill Whitey.

That’s it. QED. End of the problem.

Of course, what percentage of African blood does one need to considered Black? And once whitey is killed, then what? Kill the Asians who have come in to fill the gaps, as they have in many inner cities?

The scary part: Dr. Kambon is a professor. At a public university. The tax-paying citizens of North Carolina are paying his salary. There is no mention if Dr. Kambon was paid an honorarium to appear at the Black Media forum. And no mention of whether that was paid with funds from Howard University.

Remember the ads for the Negro College Fund: “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste”? It certainly is.

There Be Gremlins Here

There be gremlins here.

Not cute little Gizmo.


All month long, the computer systems at work have been unstable: up one moment, down the next. Of course, they decide to crash before I save my program or if I need to pull a report promised to a customer.

At home, our cable modem mysteriously disconnects—even when Mouse the kitten is not playing with the cords under our desk.

I need to learn to curse in Chinese. It sounds great (a lá Serenity and Firefly), everyone is impressed that you can speak another language, and no one knows what you’re saying. And since the original Gremlins are called “mogwai” in Cantonese, then they will know I mean them. No more pretending to be innocent!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I Need a Vacation

I need a vacation.

Not just a physical one, but a spiritual one.

I’m tired of feeling guilty.

There is a $400 million bond issue for school construction in next month’s election. If I don’t vote for it, I’m depriving the children of the quality classrooms they need. On the other hand, $450 million has already been approved and $100 million remains to be issued. Actual costs far exceed the original estimates for repair and replacement and no one seems to be accountable.

How can I deny assistance to a single mother and her children? Why am I wrong to insist that the mother take some personal responsibility for her situation and work to alleviate it? Why shouldn’t people who pay no taxes receive a $1000/child rebate? Why should those who contribute no money and who are already getting a helping hand from the government get more? Why should my family not keep more of the money Hubs and I have worked so hard for?

How can you keep someone out of the United States who is only trying to make a better life for themselves and their family? How can we support law-breaking? How can we deport a family where the parents are here illegally but the children were born here and are, therefore, U.S. citizens?

How can I deny the humanity of gays by not allowing them to marry their soul-mate, their life-partner? It’s not like straights have done a good job with marriage, with a 50% divorce rate.

How can I support a war that has cost the lives of over two thousand American soldiers and uncounted thousands of Iraqi civilians? How can I support a President who is such an obvious moron/deceiver/puppet of The Cabal? How can I see pictures of people lined up in the streets to vote (twice), hear the stories of those who lost husbands/fathers/sons/daughters to Saddam and his sons and not feel that this struggle is worthwhile?

How can I be respectful of the Islamic religion when so many of its own adherents are not respectful of mine? Or even respectful of their own traditions?

I know there are girls out there whose parents would kill them or turn them out if they found out their daughter was pregnant. Yet, why should the 80% of us (using the good old 80:20 rule) who care deeply and passionately for our daughters’ well-being surrender our rights as parents because of that 20%? And is it 20%? How many girls who request an abortion really need to be protected from their “evil” parents?

I’m tired of being considered an “evil parent” by the schools, especially the public school, until there’s a fundraiser or a “clean-up” day.

I want to go somewhere warm and sunny, lie on a beach and eat mangoes and papayas and have drinks with little umbrellas in them. I don’t want to worry about whether we should transfer our two youngest children to an out-of-district school so they can be better prepared for college or if we should stick it out and fight for better curriculum at the school just down the street (which is so much more convenient, geographically, for our family).

It’s only Wednesday. By Friday, my outlook should be improved.

The Theory of Unintended Consequences: Civilization

When I was a senior in high school, I learned about the Theory of Unintended Consequences in a computer programming class. The theory wasn’t explicitly named at that time but all of us in the class had experienced it: after making a simple change at the beginning of a program, the end result was not what you expected. I learned, as did my fellow students, to go through the program line by line to make sure the logic followed.

During that same senior year, several of my classmates took a class in Physics at a local boys’ school. The class was only girls, from the various girls’ high schools in The City, and it was first period. I asked my friends what it was like.

“You could die in the middle of the hall and they’d step right over you,” was the common reply.

It seemed these boys, whose parents were paying a significant sum for their education, lacked basic manners.

Sis#1 took the same class a few years later and had the same complaint. Oddly, though, when those same boys came to our high school to participate in the school play, they were quite courteous and friendly.

Sis#1 and I came to the conclusion that boys needed girls far more than girls needed boys.

Other writers have also commented on the need of men for the “fairer sex” to maintain the standards of civilization and courtesy. The code of chivalry was as much about the proper way to treat women as it was about fighting fair.

Then we women had to open our mouths and demand to be treated as equals. No more opening of doors, for example. Think that’s a small thing? Wait until you’re pushing a stroller and shepherding a toddler. No more relinquishing of seats in buses and trains. Not important? Wait until you’re 8 months pregnant and have a new center of gravity to contend with when the vehicle goes around a curve or makes a sudden stop. Men don’t have to watch their language because, as their equals, we women are as foul-mouthed as they.

Worse, we women have complained loud and long that when men were polite and respectful, they were really being misogynist. We women can take care of ourselves, thankyouverymuch. Anything they can do we can do—and better.

So many men, tired of having their heads bit off, decided that if they were going to be labeled juvenile and irresponsible, then they were just going to act that way.

Instead of witty repartee and urbane sophistication, we have The Man Show and comedians talking out of their asses—literally. We have music that where women are called “whores” and treated as sex objects. We have movies like Dumb and Dumberer . We have strong, intelligent Princess Leia wearing a harem-girl outfit and tied up in chains.

We have a young woman asking a Presidential candidate, “Boxers or briefs?” and that candidate answering! And there was more of a flap (pardon the pun) when several young ladies wear flip-flops to the White House than there was about the appropriateness of the boxer vs. briefs question.

Ladies, it’s time we reassert our ancient role and take back civilization. We have let our men down by not holding them to a higher standard. It’s time to take back our surnames and honorifics, ma’am and sir (even if you’re just out of college), returning profanity to the backroom poker table, and introducing belts and suspenders as standard attire for men. We have tried to be liberated for these last 30 years and what we see now is the utter devastation of civilization. We must help our men help themselves and make the world safe for our children and grandchildren!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Book Review: Life Among the Savages & Raising Demons

Most people know Shirley Jackson, if they know her at all, as the author of The Lottery. I first met her when I read the Reader's Digest Condensed version of these two books. I was ten or eleven and this was a family I could relate to: lots of books, especially mystery stories, and a household just this side of chaos. The only weird thing was the oldest son was named "Laurie" and all the Lauries I knew were girls. Shirley Jackson was the first author I knew of who wrote about ordinary family life, but in a way that made it seem funny and touching.

Imagine my surprise when I read The Lottery and discovered this writer of domestic vignettes wrote some pretty dark stuff! (We also read An Ordinary Day, With Peanuts, which is also very, very strange.)

Since then, I have read several of Ms. Jackson's short stories as well as We've Always Lived in the Castle.

I jumped at the chance to buy the un-Digested version of Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons when I saw it on the remainder table. I find I have a different appreciation for these books now that I am a mother myself. And I have a certain amount of nostalgia for that simpler time when kids came home from lunch and television was limited to three snowy channels.

Ms. Jackson rarely dates her stories, but working backwards from when her youngest son was born, Savages takes place in the mid-1940's and Demons takes place in the early to mid-'50's.
Still, some things are universal. There is never enough bookshelf space. Closets never stay organized and their doors never shut. Kids bring home other kids and pets. Appliances break at the most inconvenient moment. I am never as sophisticated as I want to be.

Savages and Demons, of course, only show the light-hearted side of family life. No mention is made of family conflicts, of past hurts between mother and daughter. Because it is the '40's and '50's, smoking and drinking are part of life. Ms. Jackson also used (and possibly abuses) amphetamines and sedatives--this, too, was not uncommon during the '50's and '60's, as amphetamines were often prescribed for weight control and sedatives (usually barbituates) were needed to bring one down. Think Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, President Kennedy.

But they are well worth the read, if only because they do celebrate family life: first day of school, learning to read, battles with balky appliances, unexpected guests--both animal and human--brought home by the children. And if you only know The Lottery, this serves as a reminder of the woman behind it.

On the March Hare scale: 4 bookmarks

Yeah, This Will Solve the Problem...

I was driving in to the BART station when an advertisement comes on the radio. The woman’s voice was serious as she spoke of “San Francisco’s growing crisis of affordable recreation.” The crisis is so severe, in fact, that the lack of “affordable recreation” is causing families to leave The City!

That’s funny—I thought it was the lack of affordable housing that was causing families to leave The City.

Case in point: my grandparents bought a house in a neighborhood that was called “The Outer Mission” in 1925. They bought this house, which was practically in the country, for $9,000. My mother & uncle sold the same house after my grandfather died in 1970 for $12,000. That same house, now in “Noe Valley”—a more upscale neighborhood—was recently listed for sale. The asking price was $950,000. It sold for $1.2 million. The only difference between when my mother lived there and now is a modernized kitchen and a change in “neighborhood.”

I can’t afford a $1.2 million dollar house. Not with kids, anyway.

According to the website, Affordable Recreation:

“San Francisco faces a public health crisis that is aggravated by the City's lack of recreational opportunities. Piers 27-31 will not only provide affordable recreational opportunities for all San Franciscans, but will help combat the City's critical health challenges.

“The Statistics are Shocking:

“Obesity: Nearly 40% of California public school children are unfit. The numbers grow even larger among African-Americans and Latinos.

“Asthma: 1 in 6 children in Bayview Hunters Point has asthma (15.5%). An estimated 54,000 San Franciscans are diagnosed with asthma.

“Studies have shown that exercise is the single best way to combat these health risks, but our kids are exercising less than ever before. The lack of recreational facilities and concerns about safety are contributing factors. Obesity also creates real economic costs a recent report found insufficient exercise cost California $21.7 billion in workers compensation and lost productivity in the year 2000.”

All true, I’m afraid. But here’s the kicker:

“Piers 27-31 will provide a safe and affordable place for every child in San Francisco to exercise and play. The Piers 27-31 plan creates 365,000 sq. ft. of open space, and a 165,000 sq. ft. community-based YMCA with access to swimming pools, soccer fields, basketball courts, and dozens of treadmills, cardio equipment, and free weights.”

As you might have guessed, Piers 27-31 are right on the Bay. In fact, they’re right over the Bay. This “safe and affordable place for every child in San Francisco” will be sandwiched between Pier 39 (and the Blue & Gold Ferry) on one side and Fisherman’s Wharf on the other. This is nowhere close to the Bayview-Hunters Point area, which is on the other side of The City. And the last time I checked, the YMCA, non-profit though they are and a great organization, charges for the use of their facilities. In my suburb, a family membership to the “Y” (which does not include children over 16) runs about $100.00 per month—not something those families in the Bayview-Hunters Point area will be able to afford.

I wanted to get an idea of what the San Francisco Park & Rec Department currently offers, so I went to this website:, which is listed under San Francisco’s official website: I had to search, but the list of facilities goes on for several pages. The list doesn’t include the Golden Gate National Recreation Area: the Presidio, Crissy Field, Fort Point, Hyde Street Pier, Aquatic Park, Baker Beach, and Ocean Beach, all of which are within city limits.

So what’s going on? It’s clear that this project isn’t really about “affordable recreation.” The kids who need it can’t afford it. The jobs will be union, but I didn’t read that they are guaranteed to residents. (How many welfare recipients can teach sailing, which is one of the activities to be offered? Or sea kayaking?) Why don’t the developers come right out and say what they’re doing: they’re building an upscale recreational facility—including a state-of-the-art gym for the YMCA—on prime real estate in San Francisco. And they can get away with it because they’re calling it “community development.”

San Francisco is, unfortunately, becoming a City where only the very rich and the very poor can live. The problem isn’t a simple one to fix, either. San Francisco has only 49-square-miles and much of it is devoted to commercial real estate or was previously owned by the Federal Government where the ground requires extensive rehabilitation before homes can be built. (Hunters Point was a Navy shipyard; Crissy Field was an Army Air Field.) Building a recreational facility isn’t going to change that.

Fanfare for the Common Man

On my favorite radio station, which is also carried online (, they are playing Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

I love this piece. It’s stirring. It’s uplifting. Only an American Composer would bother to write a triumphant piece for the rest of us! This is what should play at American graduations (except that it is rather short) instead of Pomp & Circumstance. After all, this is what we are about—the Common Man!

(picture courtesy of Wikipedia)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Movie Review: Serenity

On the March Hare Scale: 4.5 Golden Tickets.

I have been studiously avoiding all but the most general of reviews about Serenity. Julie D. over at Happy Catholic clued me in on this one and now I’m hooked. Since Hubs watched with me, he’s hooked too.

Unfortunately, if the local Sunday matinee is any indication, Serenity is not long for the theater world. Such is the life-expectancy of intelligent science fiction movies. Star Wars Episode ? will play for weeks on end. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Serenity are banished to video land. The problem is that these movies play much, much better on a big screen with big speakers surrounding you.

First, we watched the Firefly episode for this week where Jayne gets a hat from his mother. It’s a stupid-looking hat, but he loves it and wears it, and, frankly, who is going to tell him it’s dumb? Especially when its from his mother?

The hat shows up in Serenity. Hubs caught it; I missed it.

The plot is fairly simple: David (the crew of the Serenity) vs. Goliath (the Alliance). The Alliance is after River Tam, who has been snatched from an “Education Facility” by her brother, Simon. Simon smuggles River aboard the Serenity, a Firefly-class ship piloted by Malcolm Reynolds who fought against the Alliance and lost. His Executive Officer has fought with him and the others are a pilot (and the husband of the XO), a mechanic, a mercenary (the previously mentioned Jayne), a Registered Companion (think classy prostitute/courtesan), and a “Shepherd,” who wasn’t always a Shepherd. (Interesting note: the Shepherd carries a Bible and refers to himself as a Christian, simply and straightforwardly, without any of the snarkiness this kind of revelation usually occasions.) No one quite knows what the Alliance has done to River and why they want her back so badly. River can’t tell them—she’s psychotic.

There is much witty repartee, of the kind that made the audience laugh out loud, although I noticed Hubs and I laughed where others did not. Could be because we’re more familiar with the characters from watching the series. None of our children joined us, so I can’t really tell.

There is as much thinking about values in this movie as there is action. Who is Family? Who is not? When do Others become Family? Why is Belief so important?

The ending is quite touching. And open-ended.

“This should be a series!” Hubs exclaimed.

“It was a series and it was canceled,” I pointed out.

“Then they should make a sequel!”

However, I don’t think Serenity did well enough to justify a sequel. I’m going to go through withdrawals when the SciFi Channel runs through all the episodes.


He killed Wash! How could he? Of all the characters, Wash was my favorite because he was always wise-cracking and he loved Zoe and showed it and he had that whole dinosaur thing going on on his flight console and I love desk toys! I will say that Zoe looked absolutely gorgeous in that long tan & white dress at the grave site, though. Like a queen.

So my fantasy sequel would be—Zoe discovers she’s pregnant.

And it’s about time Simon and Kaylee got together. Next is for Mal and Inara to figure out how to admit they have feelings for each other.

Boob Tube Weekend

It’s been a visually stimulating sort of weekend. We run into these every once in awhile, where, for whatever reason, we watch a lot of TV, mostly movies. My dreams during tend to be especially vivid during these periods and my brain often feels like it has a lot to process. I spend a lot of time in what I like to call “the gloaming,” that place between waking and sleeping, aware and yet not aware.

And what an eclectic selection we saw! Serenity (finally!), Dead Poets Society, Jersey Girl, Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, an episode of Firefly, several episodes of CSI: Miami, NY, Las Vegas. Enough beefcake for me, certainly.

A couple of general observations…

George Carlin and Ben Affleck were raised blue-collar Catholic and the influence of the Church manages to color their movies. Catholic influence was quite obvious in Dogma, which, by the way, referred to the “Last Scion” long before Dan Brown did. In Jersey Girl, the young daughter goes to Catholic school. Their home in Jersey has a statue of Our Lady (of Lourdes?) in kind of a fake grotto on the front lawn. But no one actually goes to Church. That would be going too far, I guess. This movie is really about family values and deciding what is truly important. It also illustrates how we can really hurt those we love when we speak in anger. Some truths—or frustrations—are better left unsaid. Ben Affleck got a bum rap in this movie. I thought he was actually pretty good. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for his smile.

Bridget Jones is a sequel to Bridget Jones’ Diary. One of my favorite things is to identify bit players who are now different characters in different flicks. This one has the actress who plays “Moaning Myrtle” and the actor who plays Gaius Balthazar, as well as, of course, Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant (who is showing some wear and tear in this one). Bridget is madly in love with Mark Darcy and can’t believe he’s in love with her—some of her actions would have driven me around the bend. But Mark takes it all in stride, except that he hasn’t proposed and there is the teeniest bit of a class difference between working-class Bridget and Eton-educated, Human Rights lawyer Mark. Daniel Cleaver re-enters Bridget’s life just to complicate things and she has to make a decision whether or not to sleep with him. The ending is a bit too pat for my taste. Colin Firth makes it worth watching. Renee Zellweger actually looks like a normal woman, complete with “wobbly bits.” Hugh Grant, sadly, is wasted in this part.

I’d forgotten what an impact Dead Poets Society had made on me when I first saw it. Robin Williams (who I find strangely attractive) is a non-maniacal English teacher (okay, he has his moments) in a boys’ boarding school in New England in, judging by the music and the size of the ties (skinny) was in the late-1960’s. However, the teacher is not the main focus of the movie. The boys are. Robert Sean Leonard, as Neil Perry, and Ethan Hawke, as Todd Anderson, are so young! Aaack! Where did the time go? This movie didn’t wear as well with age as others have, in part, because I am now an adult and am in the middle of raising my own kids. The relationship of Neil and his father (who plays the dad in That ‘70’s Show) is too black-and-white. Prof. Keating’s isn’t as sympathetic to Neil’s difficulty in speaking with his father and, I feel now, should have been more of a go-between. Prof. Keating also should have been more aware of his influence on his students in general and the power of what his words.

Serenity deserves its own review.

The various CSI’s were standard police procedurals. Las Vegas is the best of the bunch, IMHO.

Tonight I’m going to catch up on what’s new with Jordan and Woody on Crossing Jordan. We recorded it last night because normally I’m in bed by 10:00 p.m.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Do You Wanna Dance?

Back in the good old days, when Mass was in Latin and the bishop still slapped your cheek when you were confirmed, if you went to Catholic school you were not allowed to have or attend "boy-girl" parties. The single exception was a graduation party for the 8th Grade, usually held the week before we graduated.

Now, the Catholic school host boy-girl parties for middle-schoolers. There are strict dress codes. Permission slips must be turned in two weeks prior to the event. Faculty and parents must chaperone. The dances are usually fund-raisers for some Good Cause: Katrina, homeless, Souper Kitchen, tsunami. There are strict guidelines for when students are dropped off and when they may be picked up.

I have mixed feelings about this. Dances can cause a lot of social pressure that kids this age don't need. Some of them may not be ready to deal with the boy-girl drama, although there is considerably less of that than when I was growing up. Now, if the girls want to dance, they dance--they don't wait for a boy to ask them. But there still is the pressure, for the girls, of wearing the right outfit and having your hair just so. (Thankfully, makeup and fingernail polish is not permitted.)

The first dance of the school year is tonight, at the parish up the freeway. DD#2 was somewhat reluctant to go (she's never gone without DS#2 before), but since some of her buddies are going, she decided she would, too. She is borrowing my good black sandals.

"Why don't you wear your black dress shoes?" I asked innocently.

"Oh, Mom," she replied with a sigh of exasperation, "because everyone has seen them."

She is also borrowing one of my blouses, as we have not had the time to check out the local thrift store. She decided on one of my red ones, remarking, "Gee, they're all grouped together."

I tactfully pointed out that all my blouses are grouped by color so I can find them in the morning.

"Oh," was her only comment.

This morning I found out that one of her friends had a suggested she blow-dry her hair straight and then curl it. Since DD#2's hair is stick-straight to begin with, I wondered what possible purpose the blow-drying would serve.

"So it won't be frizzy when it's curled," she answered.

Silly me. How could I forget that straight hair when curled becomes frizzy? Could it possibly be because in my own experience with stick-straight hair that has been curled, frizziness has never ever been an issue? Now, fog (which is a common problem in these parts) is a problem, as it causes the curl to disappear completely.

I hope she has a good time. I hope she hangs out not only with her friends from her school but her friends from the other local schools. Because that's really what this is all about--building community. Especially since many of these girls (and the boys, too) will face each other on the volleyball and/or basketball court in the coming months.

Speaking of Book Reports...

DD#2's second book report was due today. Turns out I worried about Flowers for Algernon for naught: her teacher didn't think it was science fiction. However, DD#2 was impressed that her teacher actually knew about the book.

I didn't feel like challenging the teacher's definition. I found another book: The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin. I picked up the copy last year at the local library's book sale, intending to read it. I just haven't got that far down in the pile. (And the library has a book sale coming up in about two weeks!)

This made for an interesting discussion last night while DD#2 was writing her report.

"You were wrong about the main character being an anthropologist," she told me. "She wasn't. What made you think she would be?"

"The blurb," I replied. "And the fact that the author's background is in anthropology."

"You don't even know what anthropology is," chimed in DD#1.

"Yes, I do," retorted DD#2. "Mom told me."

A little later DD#2 comes up to me. "You read this book, right?"

"As a matter of fact, I haven't."

A look of... shock? panic? crossed her face. "I thought you read everything!"

Whatever her question was, she had to answer it herself.

Next subject up is Historical Fiction. However, no Dear America books, which, of course, we have boxes of. No series books, which eliminates the Little House books and Anne of Green Gables. No American Girl books (which we also have boxes of).

"Well, you could go to the library," I suggest.

DD#2 gives me her Look. It is very much like the one my father used to give me when I made a suggestion he considered a bit outlandish.

I wrack my brain, going through lists of books we have on hand.

"I suppose you read Shadow Spinner?" I suggest.

"Fifth Grade," she answers.

"The Egypt Game?"

"Last year. How about The Witch of Blackbird Pond?"

"Yes, I believe that's historical fiction. But don't you have to read that next year?"

"I don't think so. I think she [the teacher, who is new to the school this year] changed everything."

"Well, ask her then."

Somewhere along the line, it has become a point of honor with DD#2 not to have to get any of her book report books from the library nor to have to buy them. Since I have three tubs of books in the garage and several more boxes in the attic, I don't think that's going to be a problem!

Book Review: Out of the Dust

DD#2's English teacher assigned this book to the 7th Grade class. The author, Karen Hesse, won the 1998 Newberry Medal for this book. Written in blank verse from the viewpoint of 14-y.o. Billie Jo, this book covers 1932-1934 in Oklahoma, during the Dust Bowl years of the Depression. The blank verse was unexpected, but it works well to keep Billie Jo's commentary stark, unadorned, and unsentimental. (Whether a 14-y.o. would write blank verse in the 1930's is another question.)

Out of the Dust presents a view of life our modern children don't see: a time before television and indoor plumbing. Life was hard but most people just forged ahead, living one day at a time. The text goes well with the Depression-era pictures taken by photographers for the Farm Security Administration.

The story is not entirely bleak and ends on an optimistic note, which I think is important in a book geared to middle schoolers.

March Hare Rating System: 4 bookmarks

I'm Still Waiting for the Punchline...

Once upon a time, a writer named Cyra McFadden wrote a Book titled "The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County." The Book originally appeared as as series of articles in the local paper of record, The San Francisco Chronicle. At the time, I worked with several denizens of the County and they confirmed that Ms. McFadden's satire, alas, was closer to the truth than they liked to admit. (Think "peacock feathers.")

That was then. This is now (from today's SF Chronicle):

"(Apela) Colorado, who calls her method Indigenous Mind, is an American Indian who lives in Maui but resides in Orinda while teaching classes at the Oakland campus of Naropa University as well as private training sessions and workshops. Colleagues say it's a groundbreaking approach to enriching modern life by recovering the forgotten -- or suppressed -- wisdom of prehistory.

"IM's ambitions are large: to explore the knowledge of timeless, fundamental connections among people, their ancestors and the natural world with an objective rigor usually thought of as better suited to fact-based Western knowledge. "


"She and other supporters of the system stress its practicality, saying it doesn't encourage dropping out but helps people do better in their jobs and relationships because it embraces more of reality than the Western view does.

"The theory behind IM is that although shamanic knowledge may be judged esoteric by Western rules, it's really the handiest, most basic information that's ever been collected. The theory says that unless the Western tradition honors its debt to the old ways, it won't be able to provide all we demand of it and we'll be left feeling let down or anxious. "

From Ms. Colorado's website, Traditional Knowledge:

"The concentration in Indigenous Mind, together with the foundational courses in Creation Spirituality, reawakens in students their own genealogical, cultural and spiritual roots, such as Celtic, Asian, African, Jewish or Native American. Cultivating the Indigenous Mind puts students into a sacred whole way of seeing and being, and ignites their earth-based consciousness to bring healing to the world economy, restoration of the environment and religious tolerance for people of all paths."

Hmmm... looks like Christians need not apply. What about Muslims? Hindus? Zoroastrian? Wiccans? Or are Wiccans considered Celtic?

"Students choosing to build this emphasis into their MLA program at Naropa-Oakland take 10-12 credits of specialized study in Indigenous Mind. Experiential learning on the land with traditional Elders deepens the learning process. Consequently, this concentration requires five- to eight-day residencies. Two residencies are scheduled each semester. In addition to residencies, students engage in independent study and on-line course work. Three semesters of sequential study are required for the Indigenous Mind concentration. Students must anticipate additional costs for the residency requirements."

The "residency," including "experiential learning on the land with traditional Elders" takes place in Maui. I wonder if you can write this off as "educational expenses"? Perhaps a tax expert can confirm this.

And I wonder what "MLA" stands for. "Master of Lost Arts"? Is a "MLA" recognized by any professional or academic organizations?

Here's the Curriculum:

:: Curriculum ::

Indigenous Mind Concentration Courses

Indigenous Mind: Survey (S)
2 credits

Dreamwork; Advanced Dreamwork (AM)
1-2 credits

Dancing with the Missionary (S)
1-2 credits

The Computer as Useful Friend: Indigitech (AM)
1-3 credits

Environmental Intimacy: Earth & Mud as Primal Passage (S)
1-2 credits

Restoring Wisdom: Moon & Dreams as Mythic Metaphor (S)
1-2 credits

Compassion Practicum (CB)
1-2 credits

Building Community through Ceremony (AM)
1-3 credits

Genealogy Practicum: Visit to Ancestral Land (CB)
1 credit
(Included in 3 credit course in Genealogy)

MLA General Program Requirements

Overview Creation Spirituality and/Cosmology
5 credits

2 credits

Core Readings
2 credits

Master's project/Thesis
3 credits

6 credits min.

Art as Meditation
2 credits min.

Art of Community Building
2 credits min.

Genealogy: Finding the Sacred Tree of Your Family
3 credits

Hermione's curriculum at Hogwarts makes more sense.

Okay--here's what MLA means: "Upon your successful completion of the Master's Degree at Naropa-Oakland University, you will be issued a Masters of Liberal Arts in Creation Spirituality with a concentration in Indigenous Mind."

The cost of all this enlightenment is difficult to determine as the links to the Naropa-Oakland Admissions page is broken. The Boulder, CO, campus quotes $615/credit. Remember, the residency requirement is not included in these fees.

I think Christianity is cheaper.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How Observant Are You?


Your senses are pretty sharp (okay, most of the time)
And it takes something big to distract you!
Okay, my kids might not agree with this. But since I seem to know where everything is in the house, I agree with the quiz!
Just don't expect me to notice you when I'm driving or walking down the street. ;)
(h/t: Epiphany at Minivan Mom)

The Rights & Responsibilities of Parenthood

California's Proposition 73 is titled: Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

The PRO arguments contains the following statement: "It will restore Californians' right to counsel and care for their young daughters before--and after--an abortion.

The CON argument contains this statement: "Scared, pregnant teenagers don't need a judge--they need a counselor."

Funny. I thought I was my daughters' counselor. I thought that was part of my job as Parent.

For various reasons--none of them pregnancy related as of yet--our family has had contact with different counselors at different times. Overall, I am not impressed. All of them meant well, but I often felt that since their job is to solve problems, they made up some that weren't there. Several of them were not mothers or had no experience with the realities of life in a large family. And my observations, while not exactly ignored, were not accepted or considered relevant.

These are the types of people who are supposed to counsel my daughter when she is pregnant?

In college I met a woman who had an abortions as a young teen. Her "counselors" accepted the teen's assertion that her parents "wouldn't understand" at face value and made no attempt to initiate or encourage dialogue between parents and daughter. The abortion became a huge secret the daughter had to keep from her parents, further inhibiting communication.

I have grown in my job as mother as much as my children have grown. Encouraging my daughter to have an abortion behind my back hurts me and my growth as much as it does hers.

Much like facing the death of a loved one, facing a crisis often brings a family together and makes them stronger as individuals and as a family. In our culture's rush for the "easy way out," we ignore that truth and we suffer for it.

Another Sort of Anniversary

"Today is the fifth anniversary of the U.S.S. Cole bombing. Please take a moment to note the event on your blogs today if you have a chance. Stars and Stripes pays tribute to the 17 sailors killed in the terrorist attack, the dozens wounded, the survivors, and the families affected. "

Michelle Malkin has more on her site. Check out her column published today at Townhall as well.

I had pushed the Cole to the back of my memory. I remember the incident, but not the date. However, I will not forget the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon. That was the headline of the San Francisco Chronicle on the day DS#1 was born. He was 18 shortly after September 11 and I worried what kind of world--what kind of war--my son and his friends were going to become caught up in.

If the U.S. had responded differently 22 years ago to the bombing in Lebanon, would we be in Iraq today?

Christian Humor

I've "borrowed" this image from ukok. I agree with her that God has to have a sense of humor. I mean, after all, He made us in His image and likeness, didn't he?

I'm A Cultural Catholic

"Cultural Catholic"

You are related to longshoremen or teamsters. When
people make jokes about nuns and rulers, you
don't laugh; you get that "thousand yard
stare" instead.

See you at the next Knights of Columbus social.

Provided by

Are You A Cultural Catholic?
brought to you by Quizilla

Like anybody is surprised by this answer! The only thing I will say is that in a certain notoriously liberal city in a notoriously liberal state, at one time (say, when I was in high school), the question of "Where do you live?" was, in fact, the name of your parish.

H/T: Julie D. at Happy Catholic

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Driving Miss Daisy

Hubs has been teaching DD#1 to drive. He’s good at it. He taught me (before we were married), my sister (after we were married), and DS#1. He’s patient. He doesn’t bombard you with directions but kind of lets you feel your own way.

Me? I’m a white-knuckle passenger, although I mask it fairly well.

Last night I picked up DS#2 from Youth Ministry and headed over to the Community College to pick up DD#1 from her evening class. I took the minivan—the only car that’s an automatic. I’m not sure why I did that. I’m not sure why, either, when DD#1 got to the car, I said, “Do you want to drive home?”

DS#2 responds, “Hey! I’m only 15! I don’t want to die yet!”

On the ride home I discovered a couple of things:

Hubs is losing his nerve. He doesn’t let DD#1 drive over 20 mph.

He hasn’t taken her on the freeway yet.

She hates the way he has the mirrors arranged as much as DS#1 and I do.

She actually appreciates tips I gave her about the driving test and what the examiner will look for. (“Look over your shoulder. Make sure you adjust your mirrors before you start out because they look for that. Use your turn signal even if you’re in the left-turn-only lane.”)

Meanwhile, DS#2 kept up a round of chatter that was annoying, to say the least.

“Look,” DD#1 finally said, “you’re not only in the backseat, you haven’t even had Driver’s Ed yet. So KEEP QUIET!”

I had to back the minivan into the driveway when we got home, however. Especially since the truck was on the other side. We’ll save that lesson—and the freeway—for daylight hours.

Another Take On the Nomination of Miers

James D. Pinkerton of Newsday explores the concept that in nominating Harriet Miers to SCOTUS, President Bush is acting like a war president. That is, in order to maintain a bipartisan support of the War on Terror in Congress, President Bush is buying support with the budget and with his SCOTUS nominees.

Mr. Pinkerton compares this strategy to FDR’s and Churchill’s during WWII. And, you know, I think he may have a point.

At any rate, it’s another angle to consider in the “What Was Bush Thinking?” debate. (Although my liberal friends do not consider that Bush does think. To them it’s all—and only—about cronyism. No need to consider anything further.)

(H/T: Townhall)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Me & the Raccoons...

First it was pigs. This weekend just past, it was raccoons.

We had our annual Girl Scout Association Camporee. Hubs had so much fun last year, that he came this year. This worked out quite well, as he drove the truck with all the gear--tents, stoves, propane tank, his cot... I had to laugh at all the gear he brought. When he camps with the Boy Scouts, he takes his backpack and many of these "luxury" items stay home.

Because it had been an insane week a work, I gave Hubs the equipment list and asked him to gather the stuff on it and pack it up. He did a pretty good job except for bringing two enormous pots and not a smaller one for hot chocolate.

"You weren't very specific on your list," he said.

I shrugged. "The girls wrote the list." My girls (including DD#2) moved up a level from Juniors to Cadettes and I am trying to give them more responsibility for planning activities. This includes things like equipment and menus and all the ingredients one needs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We had some interesting discussions during the meeting.

"We want to have foil dinners."

"Chicken or hamburger?"


"O.K. What else?"

"Carrots and potatoes. We think we'll need about three carrots and four potatoes." (This is for ten people.)

"Wouldn't it be easier to buy frozen vegetables and potatoes? They're already cut and cooked."

"Oh. Yeah."

The conversation continued along those lines. They wanted bagels for breakfast. They dutifully wrote down "11 Bagels." I pointed out that bagels come in packages of six. Like eggs come in dozens or 18-packs. They hadn't considered that.

DD#1 also came along.

"Do I have to come?"

"No. But I'd like you to."

"Do you need me?"

"Well, my co-chair won't be there [her son's Eagle Project was the same weekend]. And your dad will be. So what do you think?"

"O.K. I'll come."

I have to admit, she was a big help. She ended up doing a lot of messenger service because I could send her off by herself because she's officially an adult. I spent the weekend trying to remember that.

Meanwhile, the new Cadettes supervised the Juniors and Brownies making leaf print neckerchiefs and raccoon tie-slides. They did rather well. They like being "the older girls."

"They should have sung different songs at campfire, though," they complained.

"Well, next year you should volunteer to do campfire," I replied.

"Can we?" They are dazzled by the thought of their own power. Especially DD#2 who has watched her older sister & troop lead campfire songs for several years.

As troops left, I kept hearing, "Next year..." so I guess it was a success.

Except for the raccoons. They weren't quite as brazen as last year, but close. One stood on his back legs, with his paws on my bumper, sniffing the van to check it out for food. During campfire, a group of them decided to have a scuffle and chased each other under the chairs where the Brownies (of course) were sitting. No one lost any marshmallows this year, and we were able to block the drainhole in the dumpster, so we didn't have to pick up any scattered garbage.

Next up: Lego Robots!

A Catholic Joke

DS#1 sent this joke to me and I laughed. I guess that’s why I’m a “Neo-Conservative Catholic”!

A new priest at his first mass was so nervous he could hardly speak. After mass he asked the monsignor how he had done.

The monsignor replied, " When I am worried about getting nervous On the pulpit, I put a glass of vodka next to the water glass. If I start to get nervous, I take a sip."

So next Sunday he took the monsignor's advice. At the beginning of the sermon, he got nervous and took a drink. He proceeded to talk up a storm.

Upon his return to his office after the mass, he found the following note on the door:
1) Sip the vodka, don't gulp.
2) There are 10 commandments, not 12.
3) There are 12 disciples, not 10.
4) Jesus was consecrated, not constipated.
5) Jacob wagered his donkey, he did not bet his ass.
6) We do not refer to Jesus Christ as the late J.C.
7) The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not referred to as Daddy, Junior and the spook.
8) David slew Goliath, he did not kick the sh*t out of him.
9) When David was hit by a rock and was knocked off his donkey, don't say he was stoned off his ass.
10)We do not refer to the cross as the "Big T."
11)When Jesus broke the bread at the last supper he said, "take this and eat it for it is my body." He did not say " Eat me"
12)The Virgin Mary is not called " Mary with the Cherry,.
13)The recommended grace before a meal is not: Rub-A-Dub-Dub thanks for the grub, Yeah God. 14)Next Sunday there will be a taffy pulling contest at ST.Peter's not a peter pulling contest at St. Taffy's.

Science Fiction Character

Last one today from Julie D., I promise!

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Cute Animal...

You Are A: Duckling!

DucklingThe cutest of the cute, these baby ducks are often spotted in the spring following closely behind their mother. As a duckling you will grow up quickly, becoming one of the adult ducks seen commonly in ponds and streams. Playful and timid, charming and vulnerable, ducklings are nature's very definition of innocence.

You were almost a: Puppy or a Duck
You are least like a: Groundhog or a TurtleWhat Cute Animal Are You?

Funny--I feel better about this result than I did about the Catholic quiz! :)

(H/T: Julie D. again!)

My Style of American Catholicism

You scored as Neo-Conservative Catholic. You see that the government of the United States was originally founded on recognizably Catholic natural law principles and reason in the tradition of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and the freedom of religion acknowledged in the Constitution has allowed Catholicism to flourish in this largely Protestant country. You recognize that the American system of government, even with its faults, is the most moral social order developed in history. You are committed to being a Catholic active in society.

Your views are too determined by American culture, and you uncritically accept many theories that may be harmful to yourself and society; instead you may need rediscover traditional Catholic teaching. You should emphasize the love of your neighbor, especially love for the poor, in your everyday business dealings.

Neo-Conservative Catholic


New Catholic


Traditional Catholic


Evangelical Catholic


Radical Catholic


Liberal Catholic


Lukewarm Catholic


What is your style of American Catholicism?
created with

Interesting quiz. I don't agree with all the conclusions, which I think are the result of how the question was written.

But, as one who was a pre-VII Catholic as a child, I can see where I'm not as "Traditional" as others might be. (As I've said before, Gregorian chant can be beautiful if sung well. Unfortunately, most parish choirs don't have the time and energy to devote to the amount of practice needed. And Gregorian chant sung badly is horrifically dull.)

(H/T to Julie D. over at Happy Catholic)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Count Me In

The Jews don't eat pork, either, but I've never heard them object to pigs themselves. Anyone else?

My Funky Inner Hair Color

Your Hair Should Be White
Classy, stylish, and eloquent.You've got a way about you that floors everyone you meet.

Gee, the description makes my graying hair not sound so bad. Kind of like Marilyn Monroe--except I don't remember her being quite so eloquent.

I kind of like it!

(H/T: The Anchoress)

Cowardly Republicans

Thomas Sowell, in his column today at Townhall, talks about Harriet Miers and possible reasons why President Bush pick a more well-known conservative justice. His observation mirrors mine: it's not the President who lacks the will to fight for his nominees in the Senate; it's the Republicans in the Senate.

President Bush has put forward some brave proposals, especially regarding Social Security, and the RINOS in the Senate, if not actively fighting him, fade away. Several brave members of Congress call for postponing discretionary spending to help offset the money to rebuilt the Gulf Coast and the President joins them. And the Republican leadership claims "there is no pork in the budget."

Haven't any of these men and women read Profiles in Courage? Sometimes doing the right thing calls for risking the wrath of your constituents. Yes, and even your career.

If it happens often enough, you end up with mediocrity. And the opposition has won by default.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

For the Anchoress...

A New York Yankees ballcap...

In Hebrew!
(Derek Jeter would wear one, I know it! :)


From the latest issue of
Catholic Voice:

We were there to see the needs of immigrants, young adults in particular, by participating in BAE (Border Awareness Experience), a program run by Annunciation House, founded in 1978 by a group of young adults from El Paso who had decided to live in community and in solidarity with the poor, in order to experience the Gospel more deeply.Their primary service is welcoming undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America and providing short-term food and shelter for them until they figure out their next step in their journey toward employment and/or reuniting with family in other cities or states.

Notice the article doesn’t say anything about helping these “undocumented immigrants” return safely back to their home countries. In fact, it’s a given that these immigrants will stay here in the U.S.

We are asking ourselves how to reach out and continue to listen to the marginalized of our society. Do we choose to ignore the faces such as Jorge’s, silent and hungry, or do we look them in the eye and share in their silence and confusion?

The article, as may be expected, is rife with "Catholic guilt." I'm guessing here, but I imagine it's Middle-class American Catholic guilt. Maybe even White (or Anglo) Middle-class American Catholic guilt.

Now don't get me wrong--the first eight years of my Catholic education were under the auspices of Irish Catholic sisters (from the Old Country, in fact) who firmly believed "a little bit of guilt never hurt anyone." I am familiar with guilt. I have, in fact, used guilt to coerce my children into behaving.

But am I supposed to feel guilty because the country I live in borders a country that is so much poorer?

Mexico is a country incredibly rich in natural resources, as well as human. Unfortunately, the political culture is one of greed and corruption. Where are the revenues going from Pemex, Mexico's state-owned petroleum monopoly? What about its mineral reserves? Its fisheries? Doesn't the country of Mexico have an obligation to their own people, much as the U.S. has to its own citizens?

And when U.S. companies open manufacturing plants in Mexico--the maquiladoras--U.S. Unions protested loudly that jobs were fleeing south because of lower wages and U.S. environmentalists claimed the factories would destroy the Mexican ecosystem because Mexico lacked the same regulatory protections the U.S. had.

But what does the influx of "undocumented immigrants" do to wages and the environment here in the U.S.? Why should a company go to the expense of building a new plant in Mexico when they can just hire the same workers here? And if these workers are mistreated, to whom will they complain? These same guilt-ridden Catholics?

In the height of absurdity, Senator Clinton wants to ensure that any "undocumented immigrants" who have suffered a loss because of Hurricane Katrina should be able to get aid, without fear of being re-patriated to their home country. (Deported is such an ugly word.)

The Government of Mexico seems to have abdicated its responsibility. A Catholic country, it suffers none of the guilt that Catholics in the U.S. share.

I do not want my brothers and sisters to starve physically, mentally, or spiritually. But I do not want to encourage them to become outlaws, either; to remain underground, ever fearful of the knock on the door. Why aren't there groups, Catholic or otherwise, reaching out across the border, trying to improve the conditions where the people live? So they won't have to risk their lives crossing rivers and deserts and they can stay with their families?

What Would Jesus Do?

What Was That...?

So there I was, eating my lunch in my little cubicle, when I hear:


"What was that?" someone asks.

Oh, yeah. It's Fleet Week. That means these guys are back in town. And they're "practicing" for this show this weekend.

'S OK. Glad to see them... :)

Democrat or Republican or Southern Republican?

From an Internet Friend o’ Mine:

Are you a Democrat, Republican or ....a Southern Republican?Here is a little test that will help you decide........Question:You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, an Islamic Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes on you, screams obscenities, praises Allah, raises the knife, and charges. You are carrying a Glock .40, and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family.

What do you do?

Democrat's Answer: Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!

Does the man look poor or oppressed?Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?Could we run away?What does my wife think?What about the kids?

Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?What does the law say about this situation?

Does the Glock have appropriate safety built into it?

Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children?
Is it possible he would be happy with just killing me?

Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me?

If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me?

Should I call 9-1-1?

Why is this street so deserted? We need to raise taxes, have a paint and weed day and make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior.This is all so confusing! ! I need to debate this with some friends for few days and try to come to a consensus.

Republican's Answer:......BANG!

Southern Republican's Answer: BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
(sounds of reloading).


Daughter: "Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips?"

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Another Serenity Quiz...

You scored as Shepherd Derrial Book. The Preacher. Out here, folks need a minister, if only to remind them that God hasn't forgotten them. It isn't about making them worship, it is teaching them to do right by themselves and other people. Why is that so hard for some to understand?

Shepherd Derrial Book


Simon Tam


The Operative


Capt. Mal Reynolds


Zoe Alleyne Washburne


Inara Serra


Hoban 'Wash' Washburne


Kaylee Frye


River Tam


Jayne Cobb


Which Serenity character are you?
created with

Interesting. Last quiz (slightly different) I was Zoe. Now I'm Shepherd. 'S OK. I like 'em both! :)

Still haven't seen Serenity yet, although Hubs has recorded the SciFi Channel's Firefly Marathon. Haven't had a chance to watch that, either. Girl Scout Camporee is this weekend, so it will be yet another week before I get to the show... Maybe more. Meantime, I'm avoiding all but the most general of movie reviews. I hate spoilers!

(Yet another tip of the hat to Julie D. at Happy Catholic!)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Finding Harriet

I’m not sure what to make of the nomination of Ms. Miers to SCOTUS. For two days I have read wildly differing claims about her, all from people whose opinions I respect.

I’m on the fence and I bet I’m not alone.

Yes, it will be nice having someone on the Supreme Court who has not been educated in an Ivy Tower but who has some experience of life in the real world. On the other hand, she has never been a judge and is SCOTUS really the place for On-The-Job-Training?

She is a crony of President Bush, and I worry that he may not be truly objective about her abilities. I would have preferred to have someone a bit more seasoned, if you will. However, there will be little for Democrats and the Left-wing Looneys to attack—and considering how little support Bush seems to get from his fellow Republicans, maybe this is the best he can do.

I find it ironic, and somewhat encouraging, that the hardcore of both the Right and the Left disklike her, and for almost the same reasons. Maybe she is truly a centrist, truly closer to where most Americans are politically.

On the other hand, I wish the President would be stronger about his core beliefs and stand more firmly for them. He is not running for re-election. The Looney Left and the Dems will never embrace him or give him any credit for anything positive that happens. So, my best motherly advice is for President Bush to ignore them.

The same is true of the Righteous Right. They will never be happy until America turns back the clock to the 1950’s. There is no room in their world for abortion or gays or non-Biblical truths. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes would not be good enough for them, nor Justice Jay Marshall.

I wish President Bush was more serious about cutting back on government spending. I wish he would secure the borders and not have the TSA waste time searching the shoes of my (almost) 80-year-old mother for explosives. I wish the Federal Government was giving power back to the States rather than taking more of it. I wish he’d use the presidency as a “bully pulpit” to point out all the reasons energy is so expensive and why it might be in short supply.

I also wish the Republicans in Congress trusted the President more and were willing to put their political careers on the line and do what’s best for the country and not just to get elected. I don’t count on any Republicans supporting the President wholeheartedly on anything.

As for Ms. Miers: she’ll have her day in front of the Senate Committee. Ted Kennedy will mumble something incoherent about women’s rights. Dianne Feinstein will make another asinine remark that demonstrates she’s clueless about what being a Justice (or even what being a lawyer) is about. Joe Biden will ask convoluted questions and demand one-word answers. NARAL and NOW and Move-On will be trying to dig up something—ANYTHING—sordid about Ms. Miers past. What they can’t find, they’ll invent.

Ann Coulter’s and Pat Buchanan’s heads will explode.

The rest of us will continue on with our daily lives…

Meanwhile, read the following:

Michelle Malkin The Anchoress
Thomas Lifson, The American Thinker: Don’t Misunderestimate Miers