Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins,'' when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mr. Atkins,'' when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin',
Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy how's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!"
Sunday, May 25, 2008
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Hobbit by Tolkien
The Magic books by Edward Eagar
Despereaux by Kate Dicamillo
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Redwall by Brian Jacques
You can also try anything by Edith Nesbit - some kids may like them and some may find them too old-fashioned. I've not actually read them to the boys yet, but One listened to Five Children and It on tape and could not be disturbed - he almost gave up eating until it was finished.
Whatever you do, don't go for the abridged version of anything. If the language is too complex or the subject matter too mature, just wait a year or two. It's much better to expose your kids to the amazing language of classic books than it is to read something just to say you did it.
I also have a very personal opinion that the Harry Potter books should wait until kids can read them themselves. If they're too young to read these books, then they're too young to deal with what's in them. Just a peculiar opinion of mine, and I can't think of any classic children's book I would apply it to. And I don't think the magic in them is really witchcraft or any of that nonsense; I just don't think they're children's books, per se. More like teen books, really. Just my own personal quirk.
Starting this tradition early was really a great decision. This winter One and his dad read all of the real, actual Three Musketeers (all 500+ pages). One was enthralled, and is now a die-hard Dumas fan (his dad's plan, of course). Now they're finishing Robinson Crusoe (they hate it, as it turns out, but are slogging through in hopes that it will help One finish Moby Dick in high school). Next up is either Swiss Family Robinson or Johnny Tremain - it's my turn so I'm lobbying for the latter, but it's up to One.
When I was young I read The Austin Family books by Madeleine L'Engle over and over; one of the things I loved about the family was that they read together every night. Hard stuff - Shakespeare - but they loved it and found it fun. I've always wanted that for my children, and I'm so glad it's working out. We plan to keep this up until homework drives away all semblance of a bedtime routine.
Well, this has been a little disjointed, but the main point is this: chapter books, people, chapter books! Enjoy them!
"...for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in." - Matthew 25:35
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Oh I love my friends! Everyone I emailed send back such wisdom and support - they were all a joy to read. I wanted to share some of the wisdom that was sent to me - everyone's answer was "no, don't send him to the movie", but there were differences in each answer that I really appreciated. Here we go:
Erin pointed out that it's not the big stuff but the small stuff that worries her. The innuendo followed by the raised eyebrow, the camera focusing on cleavage - the kind of stuff that gets in your child's head and they don't even realize it. It's easier to talk about monsters or a scary fight scene, but this hidden stuff never comes out - it just seeps into their consciousness and does its damage.
Michelle pointed out that we are to think/dwell on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, anything of excellence, and anything worthy of praise - and having One spend the next few days with his thoughts filled with such an exciting and overwhelming movie (and not much else) wouldn't be the right thing for him.
Mary Ann reminded my that if the movie industry says 13, then what should I say?
Shelly talked about the darkness of some of the themes in the movie - skulls with supernatural powers - and thought that those images were definitely not for an 8 year old.
Jenny, Beth and Beth all said being thought of as an "overprotective mom" is always better than the alternative.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love your support when I am feeling wavery on something like this.
And when Husband finally staggered home from work, I got out "Indiana Jones" and "PG-13" and before I could say much more he looked stern and shook his head. My kids don't even need me - they just need y'all!
Thanks again for the blessing of being your friend (and to Husband, of being your wife). Love you all.
I am glad to have boys - and young ones at that - so I don't have to deal with this issue directly, as mom's with girls do. According to Newsweek, by the time she's 12 an average girl will have seen 77,000 advertisements - and who knows how many of those have been re-touched. The power these images have to change a child's image of herself is frightening.
Even as as a mother of boys, this trend worries me. I want my boys to appreciate the women and girls in their lives for who they are, not how they look. Further, I never want them to hold those girls/women up to some unattainable standard set by a computer-generated image of all things.
Thanks to neo-neocon
Monday, May 19, 2008
There's also this historical data collected by one driver over the course of many years, for those of you who like graphs and math and that sort of thing:
This past week's Doctor Who episode (well, this week according to BBCA) featured an invention that reduces carbon emissions on a car to zero. As the Doctor quickly points out - how stupid, you'll run through oil supplies in no time with such a ridiculous device. Those aliens - always showing us up.
Both my boys carry staph, and while we've never found out for sure that it's MRSA, it's still worrisome. The pediatricians here in Houston really freak out about it - a predicable reaction since they've had kids die at TCH from MRSA. Our worst scare with it happened in Mexico last year, when one of the two MRSA-approved antibiotics failed to work. One's foot swelled up like a balloon, and the TCH doctors recommended a second antibiotic, a sulfa drug. The doctor in Mexico, thankfully, wanted nothing to do with 2 antibiotics at once (especially since there are sulfa allergies in both my family and Husband's). Instead she gave One good old Erythromycin; his foot was back to normal in 2 days. As easy as that was in the end, I'd love to know that our staph days were at an end; maybe in a few years I'll get my wish.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Here too. Here as at the other edgeJorge Luis Borges: The Self and the Other (El Otro, El Mismo)
Of the hemisphere, an endless plain
Where a man’s cry dies a lonely death.
Here too the Indian, the lasso, the wild horse.
Here too the bird that never shows itself,
That sings for the memory of one evening
Over the rumblings of history;
Here too the mystic alphabet of stars
Leading my pen over the page to names
Not swept aside in the continual labyrinth of days: San Jacinto
And that other Thermopylae, the Alamo.
Here too the never understood,
Anxious, and brief affair that is life.
Aquí también. Aquí, como en el otro
Confín del continente, el infinito
Campo en que muere solitario el grito;
Aquí también el indio, el lazo, el potro.
Aquí también el párajo secreto
Que sobre los fragores de la historia
Canta para una tarde y su memoria;
Aquí también el místico alfabeto
De los astros, que hoy dictan a mi cálamo
Nombres que el incesante laberinto
De los días no arrastra: San Jacinto
Y esas otras Termópilas, el Alamo.
Aquí también esa desconocida
Y ansiosa y breve cosa que es la vida.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Happy Mother's Day, Mom.
If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.
If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.
If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance,
They learn to love.
If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.
If children live with honesty,
They learn truthfulness.
If children live with security,
They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness,
They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
by Dorothy Law Nolte
"But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes."
I love this final stanza, even though I've never studied the entire poem in any detail. What does it mean to you?
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Dorothy Sayers wrote about something similar in Gaudy Night. Harriet and a friend at Oxford are discussing how one acts when you know what your "job" (or avocation) is, and how differently you act when you don't:
If you truly want a thing, you don’t snatch; if you snatch, you don’t really want it. Do you suppose that, if you find yourself taking pains about a thing, it’s a proof of its importance to you?”“I think it is, to a large extent. But the big proof is that the thing comes right, without those fundamental errors. One always makes surface errors, of course. But a fundamental error is a sure sign of not caring. I wish one could teach people nowadays that the doctrine of snatching what one thinks one wants is unsound.”
“I saw six plays in London this winter,” said Harriet, “all preaching the doctrine of snatch. I agree that they left me with the feeling that none of the characters knew what they wanted.”“No,” said Miss DeVine. “If you are once sure what you do want, you find that everything else goes down before it like grass under a roller–-all other interests, your own and other people’s.”
When I clutch, life tastes life berries and water; when I let go, I get honeycakes and wine.
Another book I read recently was Kabul Beauty Shop, by Deborah Rodriguez. Very good read - quick and interesting. I'm not usually into girl-bonding books, but this was an exception. I've read The Kite Runner and The Bookseller of Kabul, and consequently like books on Afghanistan (hey, I even read Caravan when I was a teenager ...). I like Indian fiction better, but there's something about the spate of books about Afghanistan that's very compelling. I think it's the culture collision, or in particular with the Afghani books, the coming together of the 12th century and the 21st. Life is confusing enough for me without any of those conflicts - I can't imagine trying to contain such a thing inside myself.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
"We worship in beauty because it is what God commanded. He instructed Moses to provide elaborate beauty in worship—gold, incense, embroidery, carved wood, vestments, “a golden bell and a pomegranate.” But not because God needs these things – as the psalmist says, he already owns the cattle on a thousand hills. No, it is we humans who need such things, and their use in worship empowers mission in ways that, literally, can’t be conveyed in words. Beauty sets the heart aright, and opens it to God."
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
Crazy for God by Frank Schaeffer
The Hospital by Jan de Hartog
The Peaceable Kingdom by Jan de Hartog
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (in process right now)
"IT HAS A NICE JETSONISH LOOK: VW Confirms 1L Concept Will Become Reality in 2010. "The VW 1L is so named because, in theory, it only consumes one liter of fuel per 100 kilometers traveled. For those of us in the US, this translates into about 235 MPG. Definitely far and above anything on the market currently." It is kinda low and small. But if they keep the Jetsonish look, it'll sell. If they shift to something more boring, it won't."
My minivan lease expires in 2010, and while this 1L doesn't sound like it would work for me, there seem to be so many fuel-efficient cars - especially the new super-clean diesels - that will be coming out in the next 2 years. The Honda van I'm driving has been a great improvement on the big old Suburban - double the gas mileage around the city - but I'm still looking for a cleaner and more fuel-efficient car. Given how much I drive, saving money at the gas pump sounds just fine with me, too! I can hang in there with the van for another 2 years, since it looks like there will be plenty of options for me when it's time to hand it back to the lovely people at Honda. In 2010 One will also be big enough for the occasional trip in the front seat, so if we have to carpool it will still work out.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
This "something is wrong - let's blame a lawyer" attitude has to go. Does anyone with this grievance mentality ever stop to think how few attorneys are actually involved in the kind of litigation that makes them so hot under the collar? A large "full-service" law firm is not composed strictly of litigators but also includes specialists in tax, corporate law, bankruptcy, wills and estates, intellectual property, energy law, securities, labor & employment, banking regulation, insurance law, international trade, health care, environmental, private equity, construction and real estate - the list goes on, With the exception of bankruptcy lawyers, none of the aforementioned specialists goes to court frequently if at all.
The vast majority of attorneys spend their time assisting business in its day to day operations; the financial markets and just about everything else would grind to a halt pretty quickly if it weren't for these attorneys. Insulting hardworking people like this only adds to the divisiveness already rife in our political culture, and it needs to stop.
WHY does this house seem to attract houseflies? It's actually not this house, it's the whole neighborhood for some strange reason. We all have this problem. Maybe it's that our houses are old, and there are lots of leaky windows and doors to sneak in.
Have you ever heard Christine Lavin sing "Fly on a Plane"? I will try to find it and post it later.
My best-teacher-of-all-time-award goes to Don Mellor: 10th grade English and 12th grade Political Geography. 10th grade was my first year at private school; bored out of my wits in public school, I begged and wheedled until my mother gave in and enrolled me in Northwood. The first day in English, we were given a stack of paperbacks - our reading for the year. That night at home I cried, going over those books one by one - handling them, reading a page or two of each. I couldn't believe someone wanted me to read all of these. We were going to discuss them in class, give our opinions, write about them, be tested on them. I know this sounds silly, but no one had ever asked this of me before. I'd been reading voraciously since I was 5, but no one ever intimated that this was anything other than an admirable hobby. Now it was going to be so much more than that: I was floored. Through that year, Mr. Mellor taught us how to talk about books, how to write about them, and how to love them - not just as intelligent diversions but as works of art, as beauty. I've never read a book the same way again.
The following year I didn't have Mr. Mellor for class, but instead got myself into trouble and encountered him as Dean of Students (or as we called him, Dean of Discipline). He was, as always, fair and honest, and expected the same from all of us sinners. I (for once) was honest, and I've never felt so forgiven by another human being as I did when I left that classroom after "my turn to go talk to Mr. Mellor." I did my time on probation, raking leaves and washing dishes, and never got in trouble again at school.
My last year at school I took Political Geography (which, along with French 4, helped me to escape both Physics and Calculus - whee!). Again, Mr. Mellor was wonderful teacher. He taught less and guided more; he helped us bring out our own opinions, question them, and then write and speak about them intelligently. As a 17 year old, it is so important when an adult takes you and your opinions about the grown up world you are about to enter seriously. Mr. Mellor treated all of us with respect; he never allowed grown up cynicism to sneak in and ruin our idealism. He didn't leave us all believing in pie in the sky, either, but he never once made me feel that I had no idea what I was talking about, or that I didn't have a right to be passionate about an issue that moved me.
Thank you, Mr. Mellor. You were to me what a teacher should be. You demanded intergrity and good scholarship, you taught and you guided and you cared. Thank you.
On the way to school this morning One and I were talking about old friends and what some of us did right after college. I said "... and John worked at a record store ..." One immediately interrupted with "What's a record store?" Sigh.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Please consider it.
Any attorney or law student who deludes themselves into thinking that this kind of treatment is unusual is just that - delusional. This is how big firms operate - it's the bottom line and nothing else. They treat people worse than the largest and greediest corporations ever dream of; after all, who is going to hire an attorney who sues his/her former firm? Law firms know they are almost bullet-proof, and frequently fire people (or shove them out the door) without any severance or warning whatsoever. The fact that this firm offered this asssociate money is real proof of how guilty they feel - most attorneys get nothing more than help carrying their boxes to the curb.
Read and learn.
Here are 2 recipes I definitely want to try soon:
Oh I love Indian food!
Read it, read it read it!
I'm sitting here trying to think of something important to say, some comment to make, and I don't have one - this is enough.
Apparently they got another one just the other day, and NPR reported this morning that the favored technique for destruction is to bash the thing to the ground, pour gasoline on it and set it alight.
Tell me you haven't looked up at Houston's new red light cameras and thought similar thoughts?
Saturday, May 3, 2008
"Brains are like muscles - you can hire them by the hour. The only thing that's not for sale is your character."Husband and I put too much emphasis on smart = good. I want to make an effort to focus more on character and (a little) less on intellect.
Friday, May 2, 2008
I worked a long time at a software company, and I've seen sloppy. I'm also a Northeastern girl and have pretty much dumbed down the dress code at every place I've worked. But these people got lost on the way to clean out the garage today. Maybe they're just as tired as I am.
*Man Mumu: printed, oversized Tommy Bahama-style shirts, worn untucked to hide your joe.