Tuesday, April 27, 2010
There is no good reason to do abdominal exercises. In fact, they are not good for your back. Just take a walk instead.
Dark chocolate is healthy for you. It's the flavonoids, stupid.
Caffeine may prevent or reverse Alzheimer's. It may also have a positive effect on memory and blood pressure.
There you go. No more crunches. Get up off the floor, put on your walking shoes, pour yourself a cup of coffee, slip some Dove dark chocolate in your pocket, and head outside for some fresh air, sunshine, and deep breathing.
Monday, April 26, 2010
"A Plague of 'A' Students: Why It's So Irksome Being Governed by the Obami"
America has made the mistake of letting the A student run things. It was A students who briefly took over the business world during the period of derivatives, credit swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. We’re still reeling from the effects. This is why good businessmen have always adhered to the maxim: “A students work for B students.” Or, as a businessman friend of mine put it, “B students work for C students—A students teach.” . . .
The U.S. tax code was written by A students. Every April 15 we have to pay somebody who got an A in accounting to keep ourselves from being sent to jail.
Now there’s health care reform—just the kind of thing that would earn an A on a term paper from that twerp of a grad student who teaches Econ 101. . . .
The C student starts a restaurant. The A student writes restaurant reviews. The input-worshipping universe of the New York Times is like New York itself—thousands of restaurant reviews and no place we can afford to eat.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
This afternoon at church my daughter and I attended a "Daughters' Tea." It was a lovely time. The theme was the many different "hats" that we as women and girls wear in our daily lives and how no mattter what "hat" we may have on at any given moment, each of us is above all a daughter of our Heavenly Father.
To bring that theme to life, a woman in our congregation who because of her love of hats is affectionately known as the "hat lady" shared her own large collection of hats for the afternoon. As each lady or girl arrived she was invited to select a hat from the vast array of possibilities. Mirrors were provided to assist with the selection process and once adorned, each of the attendees was invited to have her picture taken either alone or in a group with friends or family. Then all sat down for tea.
And tea it was. Yours Truly stupidly approached the drink table, cup in hand, looking for the coffee carafe, only to be informed that coffee was not on the menu today. Duh. I settled for a cup of mango passionfruit tea. It was delicious.
But while coffee was not on the menu, all sorts of other things were:
Sophie (Suzanne's daughter)
Ruthie and her mom Carol
Ladies wearing hats while eating
Francesca and Katie (sister of Sophie)
Ina providing background music
I am hat-challenged. My head is too big for most hats. But I looked and looked until even I found one that fit well enough for me to suffer a few hours in it. Sorry, no picture. It was not publishable. Trust me.
Most recently, I've been thinking about "bad" words--the ones we (or I) tend to avoid in polite company. It seems to me that the line separating "nice" words from naughty ones has shifted over the last generation and that expressions that were once considered vulgar are not anymore.
For example, here are a few words that I would not necessarily label as obscene but that I still think are inappropriate in most situations because of their coarseness:
I also cringe when I hear people using what I think are "soft" ways to take the Lord's name in vain:
"Oh my God" or "OMG"
"Christ" (used as an interjection)
etc. (there are many variations of this--even "my gosh" and "golly gee" and "gee whiz" are permutations of the names of the Father and the Son)
And yet I see and hear them everywhere--on the radio and television, in status updates on Facebook, on blogs, and in everyday conversation--and from what I can tell I think I'm in the minority when I cringe at their usage. Am I wrong about that? Do any of you cringe, too? Or is it just me?
A few months ago President Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, got some grief for his pejorative use of the word "retard." That word was prefaced by another one that started with the letter "f" and ended with "-ing." I remarked at the time that I was more offended by the obscenity than I was by the word "retard." A friend of mine who has a Down syndrome child explained to me why for her it was the other way around--she was much more insulted by the use of the word "retard" than by the obscenity. I understand her point. But I find it revealing that I heard nothing at all in the mainstream media that was critical of Mr. Emanuel for the profanity. It seems that we have become so hardened to that sort of language that no one thinks anything of it anymore.
I am not saying that I never let a naughty word slip. My go-to profanity is the one that starts with "s" and ends with "t." It comes out when I stub my toe or break a dish or spill something or look in the rearview mirror and see flashing red lights coming up behind me. But after I use it I feel ashamed and remorseful that I descended to that level. What good did it do?
Come to think of it, that is about the only bad word that ever escapes my lips. It seems fitting somehow when something icky happens to use a word that names something icky. Maybe I'm rationalizing, but to me the "f" word seems so much worse. I can't make myself say it if I try. For me it is not just a passing expression but a word that invokes all sorts of things and has a power far beyond itself. It also horribly degrades one of God's precious gifts to humankind. And yet that's the word that everyone seems to be using and no one, not even the President of the United States, seems to mind. I find it beyond offensive that neither the President nore the Vice-President seem at all concerned about what sort of example they are setting for young people when they can so easily laugh something like this off.
So what do you think? Am I being hopelessly silly and pietistic? Am I attributing power to language that it doesn't or shouldn't have?
Maybe I am overly sensitive because of my upbringing. My father was an alcoholic who, when he was drinking, have a pretty salty vocabulary. He was also what he referred to as a "shade tree mechanic." I vividly recall multiple incidences of his working on our cars in the driveway and venting his frustration with the cursed machines through a steady outpouring of profanities, most commonly the "G.D." one, that must have been heard throughout the neighborhood. It was painful then and painful now to think of.
I wonder if my adult intolerance for just about any raw language is kind of like an allergic reaction. Allergies can occur when you go from excessive exposure to a substance to not being around that substance for a very long time. When the substance is reintroduced, there is no tolerance at all for it, and an allergy is born. My father was also a chain smoker, so I grew up breathing smoke. Now I can't be around cigarette smoke without a severe allergic reaction. Maybe it's the same with the language. I got enough of it my first 18 years to last the rest of my
I would be interested in hearing your thoughts. What words bother you, if any? Do you think our society has become generally desensitized to obscenity? And if so, do you think it matters?
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Ann Pleshette Murphy, parenting expert and "Good Morning America" contributor, questioned the unusual approach. "This to me is putting way too much power in the hands of the kids, something that we know kids can often find anxiety-producing, and it's also sending a message that they're the center of the universe, which I do not think is healthy for children," she said.
"Center of the universe"? That is hardly the attitude of the unschooling parents I know. Instead, their children learn that the world is much bigger than their little piece of it, that it is expansive and inviting and full of many more possibilities than are apparent within the walls of a traditional school building or the limits of a packaged curriculum. They learn that the things that are going on in the world--things beyond themselves, involving real life and people--are more important than arbitrary assignments and deadlines and tests. And yes, they learn to look to themselves for validation rather than to their peers or their teachers. Since when is that a bad thing?
Clearly, GMA was not really interested in promoting understanding of the unschooling philosophy but rather in providing a limited and biased picture that would only contribute to the general public's suspicion of not only unschoolers but homeschoolers in general. Interestingly enough, one of the first people to point that out is a columnist for The Huffington Post:
I know I'm naïve to expect the mainstream media to cover a subject like "radical unschooling" as anything other than a freak show, but the recent hatchet job that George Stephanopoulos and Good Morning America did on the topic was so hopelessly biased that it'd make Rupert Murdoch blush.
(Click here for the full piece by Lee Stranahan.)
We are not an unschooling family. But I think it is a completely valid approach to homeschooling and I have personally met many of its success stories. And the underlying philosophy of unschooling—that children are more motivated by real life than by the created demands of a school or an extremely structured curriculum—is something that informs my husband and me in our own approach to parenting. We give our children great latitude to pursue their interests and passions on their own schedules. We do provide them with books and resources and some general expectations about what we want them to study and when. But we don’t worry much about grades or deadlines or “covering” material. And we never allow the demands of “school” to become more important than the day-to-day of caring for one another as a family.
And you know what? Our kids are not couch potatoes. They rarely watch television or play video games. Yet their days are remarkably full. So what in the world do they do with all that "free" time that's left when they are completed with their "schoolwork"? Well, let me think . . . they read. A lot. They write. They study their catechism and Bible and attend youth group and pay attention to current events. They play piano and sing in choirs and play chess and learn Tae Kwon Do. They help out around the house. They are so busy they sometimes have trouble finding time to do all they would like to do in a day.
We didn't tell our son to become a Master chess player. We didn't tell our daughter to write a novel. Yet they did. And "schooling" had nothing to do with either.
Monday, April 19, 2010
I can't help wondering whether such an event would be promoted or even allowed if the purpose were to show solidarity with all the voices that have been silenced by abortion in this country. I doubt it. Yet LGBT students, while they may feel censored by societal mores*, are in our midst, able not only to speak but to eat and breathe and walk around, whereas the aborted, having been put to death, can do none of those things. So I ask, who are the truly silenced?
*I wonder, though, if that is the case anymore, considering how "alternative" lifestyles are celebrated by the mainstream media today.
Friday, April 16, 2010
According to the Chicago Tribune, there were about 500 attendees. I'm terrible at estimating numbers and distances and such, so I don't know if that's an accurate count. Here are some crowd shots. What do you think?
The speakers for the event included former Republican gubernatorial candidates Adam Andrzejewski and Dan Proft and Culture Campaign president and FOX News contributor Sandy Rios. Dan Proft was my personal choice for governor in the Illinois primary. Here's a shot of him speaking to the crowd:
On the way to the demonstration, I tried to explain a little to my son Evan about what we were doing. Not an easy thing to explain to a 6-year-old. It boiled down to something about government wanting to take our freedom and money so they can have more control. I told him about the Boston Tea Party but I don't know if he got that part. But something sank in. After we had been at the Tea Party a little while, he was saying he was tired and ready to go home because he was feeling "government sick." Aren't we all.
There was one counter-protester that I saw early on, walking around with an anti-Bush sign. The crowd essentially ignored him until he interrupted one of the speakers and was booed.
We ended up leaving before it was over, due to Evan's government-sickness and everyone else's schedule demands. But it was a great afternoon and I'm so glad we went. As I posted on Facebook yesterday, in home school we spent April 14 learning how to file our taxes, and April 15 learning how to protest them. What a country.
Monday, April 12, 2010
I'm going to make a rather scandalous proposal here. What if breastfeeding moms simply stayed home with their babies? Hmmm? Then we wouldn't have an issue, would we?
It's almost as if the government is trying to make it as easy as possible for parents to leave their children in the care of others. Now why would they want to do that?
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Today at my church, a congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, we heard the choir sing the traditional Tanzanian song "Nimemwona Bwana" (the song was sung by the junior high choir at one service and the adult choir at another). The full text is simple--
Nimemwona Bwana, anapendeza.
Here's the translation:
We have seen the Lord, and He looks good!
(Sometimes instead of "good" the translation is "nice" or "beautiful"--but I really like the word "good." What is the Lord if not Goodness incarnate?)
Anyway, it strikes me that there are those, maybe even some of you reading, who might not appreciate this text being sung for a church service. If you don't like what has come to be known as a "praise chorus" in Christian worship, you might not like this song. It has some of the elements of what some object to in contemporary Christian praise and worship songs: the text is simple, it appears to be light on doctrine, it doesn't tell the full salvation story, and it is repetitive (my friend Susan recently wrote about that last item here). AND it has percussion and swaying bodies!
Yet I think this was a perfect song for this day. Think about it: we hear about Thomas, who wanted to see, and who when he did, believed. And then we hear joyfully proclaimed by the choir the words, "We have seen the Lord, and He looks good!"
I don't like praise choruses in church either. But I loved this song in our liturgy today. So I had to wonder, in light of the similarities listed above, how is it different from a praise chorus? Well, to help answer that question, I have posted a video of our junior high choir singing the song. Please note that there is nothing in the performance that overtly calls attention to the performers or their personal experience of the song. There is no brandishing of microphones (no microphones at all in fact--those young soloists are projecting entirely on their own), no exhorting of the congregation to respond to the "performance" (to show that they are feelin' it, too, donchya' know), no effort to repeat the chorus ad infinitum in order to "prepare hearts" to receive the Word. The song is presented in a completely declamatory way, and I think this is why it does not fit the popular definition of "praise chorus." The goal is not to express the feelings of the singer or manipulate those of the worshiper but rather to proclaim the Word by telling the story.
(If you really want to know, the Cantor tried to get them to loosen up a bit more than this, and you can see a few who took his encouragement to heart, but it's not easy to take the suburbs out of suburban Chicago kids!)
Thursday, April 8, 2010
It looks like my hair is in my face in the shot of the final bow, but it's not: that is a shadow of some sort.
In the second photo I am sitting on stage near the piano but not playing: the other accompanist and I had to switch out between movements of Leonard Bernstein's Mass because she needed to prepare to play on another number performed from a back corner of the auditorium immediately following this piece. It would have been terribly distracting for me to clomp across the stage mid-piece, so I positioned myself onstage at the beginning of the piece and at the proper time she slid off the bench and I slid on.
The third shot shows me actually seated at the piano, playing. I like this one because the lights bring out the red in my hair! (I have too often been told in the last 10 years that I have brown hair, and I beg to differ. It's red, I say! RED! )
By the way, this is my 1000th post. :-)
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Vigil (Evan loves helping build the fire)
Evan and friends looking for their Alleluia butterflies
The Numbers Are In
Probably the majority of my readers already understand the significance of this information. For those of you who don't, trust me: it is very good news and gives me hope for the future of my church body and its commitment to bringing the Good News of Christ Crucified to both its members and the world.
Here is additional analysis from the Brothers of John the Steadfast.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."--John 14:18
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I had to laugh when in the back of my head a little voice continued, " . . . in the order in which they were received."
I think I'm suffering from post-phonetic-stress-syndrome.
So, no nukes. Not even as a response to a rogue state attacking us chemically or biologically. Great.
Obama's 17-Minute Non-Answer Answer
Roger Simon of Pajamas Media says this is just more evidence of a President with a "serious personality disorder."
Finally, Mort Kondracke observes that Obama Constantly Puts Mideast Blame on Israel, not Arabs. Why am I not surprised?
Not a great way to wake up. These were three of the five headlines on today's Real Clear Politics Early Morning Update. Pretty discouraging stuff.
So I think I will turn my attention to a more encouraging headline, and really, the only headline that matters:
CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
Friday, April 2, 2010