Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spring is just around the corner. Right? Please?

This is the time of year when the packed down, turned-to-ice snow is a major danger to someone as graceful (not) as I am. It is the time of year when I know, intellectually, that the amount of daylight is growing each day, but the cloud cover keeps me from believing it. And, this is the time of year that said cloud cover makes me long for just a few precious rays of sun.

However, thanks be to God, this is also the time of year that I can order from beautifully illustrated catalogs and tempting websites concrete reminders that Spring will come, followed by summer, bringing with it more sun, and in turn lettuces, beets, onions, tomatoes, and all kinds of vegetabley goodness. I have spent hours planning my beds, looking through catalogs, deciding exactly what I want to plant and plotting, too, how I can plant most efficiently to take things with me should we sell our house post-planting but pre-harvest. (Hey, I can dream, can't I.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

State of the Union?

I found myself wondering many things last night as I listened to the State of the Union address.

I wondered if this is what our founders had in mind. An hour or more of partisan rhetoric and a laundry list of ways to spend our money, along with an attack on the Supreme Court, and well over 100 references to self instead of country doesn't seem like what they had in mind with, "He [the President] shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Of course, the Congress--supposedly the recipient of the report--is now just a prop as the president plays to the camera and talks to the American people.

I found myself wondering what it would feel like to be able--inwardly--to stand up and lie in front of millions of people. Multiple times. And to obfuscate, blur, overstate, understate, and--did I mention--lie? To parse a phrase so that it might be technically, possibly, not absolutely false, but also certainly not true? The AP covers the most obvious today, but in many ways the tone and message of the speech was one sustained lie.

I wondered how much of what he was saying he believed. And then I saw when the passion kicked in. He found his passion when he was blaming, talking down to, or excoriating others.

I found myself wondering whether the president, with his vaunted Ivy League education, has read any economics or history.

I found myself wondering whether he is really as out of touch with average Americans as he appears, or if he is too stubborn, or as some have posited, narcissistic, to believe that anyone--let alone tens of millions--can disagree with him.

And I wondered once again, how on earth we got to this point, and if we will come out of it with our country intact.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The language of the backs of cars

I'm a reader. Even when I'm driving, I'm a reader. So I notice bumper stickers and license plates to what I am told is an unusual degree. So, I can say with a great deal of confidence that there were a far greater than average number of "arts" and "environmental" license plates in the lot when I dropped Jonathan off for rehearsal last night. My van was the right choice for the evening, since it sports the environmental license plate, supporting the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Specialty license plates in Indiana went through a boom a few years back when the regular plate was ugly. Now, with a more attractive regular plate, and the "In God We Trust" option, you don't see as many specialty plates around, so the concentration of them in that parking lot showed me that these were people who would put their money where their mouths were.

Of course, bumper stickers are the most obvious car speech. I'm noticing a trend.

The Obama/Biden hopeychangey bumper stickers are disappearing. Quickly. There are cars that I recognize because I see them often that have recently dropped them. I've noticed that the saturation in the campus parking lot is way down. What does this mean? Buyer's remorse, maybe? I'll continue watching this trend.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Heard on the radio

Yesterday as I was driving home, I heard a guy call in to a local radio show, the Pat White Show. I don't know why I listen. I think it's because I find things out about local politics and events that I might miss otherwise, but every show is a form of torture. Pat has a few unidiomatic stock phrases that drive me batty. He seems to have about four talking points for each topic that he repeats in response to callers, whether they make sense or not. And he has the peculiar stubborn ignorance of those who have almost no information, but know what they know.

As a result, some of his callers are doozies. It was on his show about a month ago that we heard a couple of callers who were outraged over health care reform because they had understood that the government was going to be paying for health care. Why was congress looking at tax increases and ways to pay. The GOVERNMENT was supposed to pay. They didn't seem to understand that the government has no money of its own. (Unless you count the baseless money that rolls off the printing presses, which is a debt burden to our children and theirs.)

Anyway. Last night's gem of colossal ignorance was arguing that before the American people send money to Haiti they need to take care of things here. That people here are in a "hard time" and that money shouldn't be going overseas.

Excuse me? Even before the earthquake, Haiti was a land of horrible poverty. I don't think most Americans--and certainly not the caller, calling from his CELLPHONE in his CAR--understand what true, barely surviving, poverty means. When the poor here have TVs, cell-phones, and grab a happy meal at McDonald's for their kids, we have a warped view of what hunger, deprivation, and want mean. And I hope we remain removed from those things, although I fear that we won't. How can anyone with a heart see the pictures coming from Haiti and hear of the people dead and dying and not wish to help?

I know there are some people in our country who are in financial hard times and instability. They needn't feel guilty if they can't help the Haitians monetarily. If they are making a choice between feeding their families or sending money to Haiti, they need to feed their families. But for those of us who are choosing between two lattes or texting a $10 donation to Haiti, or a nice dinner out and sending $100 to Lutheran world Relief or the American Red Cross...well, the Haitians need our help.

And that doesn't preclude helping out someone here at home who is in need, too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The bright side

My schedule is currently such that I am away from home most of the day. I'm doing a lot of driving and a lot of sitting in the car and waiting. These waits are short enough that there is no way to conveniently get errands or other useful tasks done. It frustrates me, because I feel like I'm losing huge chunks of time and getting behind on things I need to do, but I am finding a bright side. I am getting tons of reading done!

Usually much of my reading in done in small bits of snatched time. I read while I am making my coffee, drying my hair, waiting for a train or in line at the grocery store. (This is what a bookaholic does for a fix.) So a forty-five minute reading opportunity in a parking lot seems almost decadent. It's been especially nice this week because it's been sunny and I've soaked up the rays through my car window while I read.

So, while I am feeling angst over my never-home, crazy, driving all over town schedule, I am also flying through the books. Definitely a silver lining.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Needing to write

I've decided that I need to get back to writing here. I need the mental outlet. I need the spot to say what I want to say. And writing keeps me sane.

Right now I'm sitting here with my oldest son. I am listening to him as he does his reading for his American history class. He is about to lose it as he reads the textbook overflowing with Marxist pap. He's reading it for the class that is being taught by a professor who characterized the KKK as a "far-right" group. Uh-huh. You mean the KKK that basically served as a paramilitary arm of the Democratic party?

I love it that he KNOWS and understands enough about history, political philosophy, and the world that he can recognize what he's reading and hearing for what it is. I love it that he has been reading critically, both things he agrees with and things that he doesn't, for years. He recognizes strong arguments and can eviscerate weak ones. I love it. I really do.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


As with last year, I was relieved to look back tonight and see that I had made no resolutions. What a relief!

I did, however, have a few reading challenges to complete. While I was mostly successful, I came up slightly short.

Update: For a more thoughtful look at resolutions: Wit & Whim.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

As I sit here with my family and my flute of Asti, watching the partiers in Times Square, I am torn between looking forward to the New Year and being apprehensive about what it holds.

For tonight, I'm going with hopeful. That may change.