Posted in Education, Twin Tiers Baptist High School

Journey to a High School Reunion — Second Grade

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I have more memories, or should I say impressions, about second grade than any of the previous grades. Second grade was Mrs. Ginnan’s class. She lived up the rode from us, and in the years following was one of my customers for eggs from my 4-H chicken project, along with several other fund-raisers and small businesses. But for Second grade she was my teacher.

My key memories of second grade were playing with a particular plastic construction toy: it was a flat plastic circle with 4 peg legs that clicked  into each other. Does anyone have any idea what it was called?

I remember playing with it during study breaks from our study groups. I remember playing with one friend in particular.  I remember his name as Lance.  And when I left public school for Horseheads Christian School my memory would return to that friend over the years and pray for him.Album 005

For you see, I had gotten saved over the summer between First and Second grades. And I had never figured out quite how to share it with him during second grade.

(As an aside, my mom said that in one of her conversations with Mrs. Ginnan, it was mentioned that because of my beliefs I took some ridicule from my peers that year, but wouldn’t give in.  I don’t have memory of that at all.)

Years later I saw his picture while working at the paper, and wondered if it was him. It was in one of the wedding announcements. We got a chance to talk, and he remembered me, as I remembered him. He had become a Methodist minister. We discussed our faith. My prayers from all those years had been answered.

Then I knew his name,  first and last.  Today again I only remember Lance, and even that might be a substitution of the brain over time.

How about the rest of you? What do you remember about your second grade experience.

Posted in Politics

New Water Mains, Burst Water Mains

Right in front of our house, where we thought the leak was.
Right in front of our house, where we thought the leak was.

Another photo essay today. Seems like after all the working on new water mains the past few months, we have a burst pipe of some sort up the street.

The ice frozen across our driveway.
The ice frozen across our driveway.

It must have burst sometime Tuesday night, because when the water overflowed our driveway (more on that later), it froze and left ice on the driveway. Why did it go over the driveway instead of through the pipe underneath it? Well, last Friday they poured concrete where our driveway meets the road — with the intention of topping that off with asphalt after the concrete cured — and reshaped the dirt in our drainage ditch. But when they reshaped the dirt, they blocked and entirely hid the upper end of the drainage pipe. So the water went over the driveway, since the pipe was blocked.

But it wasn’t blocked completely.  The water eventually eroded through the dirt, found the pipe, and stopped flowing over the driveway.  By the time I got up in the morning and headed to work on Wednesday, there was ice on the driveway, but no water flowing over it.

I walked up the street to the middle of our lot, and saw the water bubbling up out of the ground there, or so I thought. so I thought the leak was there. I then hurried off to catch my bus, texting Betsy to call the  city 311 line to report the leak.

The water eroding away the dirt to find the pipe underneath the driveway.
The water eroding away the dirt to find the pipe underneath the driveway.

When she walked the dog she came to the same conclusion about the leak as I did — until she went further on up the street.  The leak started nearer to the top of the hill, carved a path under the leaves in the ditch, and the broke out back to the surface in the middle of our lot.

Betsy saw the water main crews come by and look at the leak, but no one did anything to stopy the leak. So our ditch  that they graded so nicely is now being nicely eroded by the running water. It is obviously faster in the evening than it was in the morning.

A look at the water down the street,  freezing wide before eroding deep.
A look at the water down the street, freezing wide before eroding deep.

How much water and how much erosion are we going to have before they stop the leak?  And is the water coming from the new or the old water main? The neighbor down the street says it has to be from  the new main since they switched everyone over.  But we aren’t so sure whether the switch has been made yet.  We haven’t been aware of the water being turned off to switch things over.

Ice frozen around t he new, never-used, fire hydrant.
Ice frozen around t he new, never-used, fire hydrant.
Posted in Politics, Reviews

State of the (dis)Union

Okay, disclaimer, I’m naturally skeptical of President Obama. If you don’t want to read something skeptical about him and his State of the Union address, don’t read any further….


President Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address Tuesday evening. A lot of commentary has and will be done on it. Much of it was done by my wife on Facebook during the address itself. Me, I’m going to pick up the quotes that caught my ear, that I could get down, and those first impressions I had while hearing them. More of a bullet-point blog rather than a connected narrative:

  • “After 12 long years, the war is finally coming to an end” with Al Qaeda taking Fallujah in Iraq. Sounds like a real victory.
  • “Let’s make this a year of action, to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations.” Some of us would rather people leave us alone.
  • sotu-cbs“Whenever I can take steps without legislation  I will.” There, he admits he is an imperial president.
  • “Son of a bar-keep is the speaker of the House.” The president used this as an example of advancement, but really, it should be considered a step down.  We have elevated public life, when it is private life that should be elevated.
  • He offered to help entrepreneurs, and mentioned his administration had given more loans to small businesses. I am sure those loans have enough strings, and more regulations and paperwork. Decreasing taxes and regulations would do a lot more for business than loans with strings.
  • Federal research led to the technologies behind Google and the smart phones. Again, government claiming credit. But you cannot focus that research. It is the accidental associations of private research that the public cannot direct that made Google and smart phones happen.sotu-nbc2
  • “The debate is settled, climate change is a fact.” Now he is the arbiter of scientific debate. What happened to freedom of research and scientific inquiry? That obviously isn’t what he means to do with all those Federal research dollars he wants. Only people who agree with the government view will get grants.
  • “Women deserve equal pay for equal work.” Well, once you factor in the differences of experience and education, studies show they actually are equal. “They deserve to have a baby without sacrificing their job….” Here he means that they deserve  to be more than equal.
  • He also challenged congress to raise the minimum wage, then subtly suggested it was the same thing as the example he had of an employer choosing to raise its employees wages. “Businesses have done it on their own,” isn’t an example of raising the minimum wage, but an example of market forces at work.sotu-cnn
  • “We need to stand up for everyone’s right to vote.” The best way to stand up for people’s rights is to defend against voter fraud, against the dilution of their franchise. Simple, clear, voter identification that isn’t any worse than what we all have to do to be able to drive a car.
  • He also talked about “standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day” Since those shootings seem to take place in gun free zones, the elimination of gun free zones might be a good way to start.
  • “I will reform our surveillance programs” since I got my hand caught in the cookie jar spying into everyone’s lives.
  • “We will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.” Didn’t he promise this in his first campaign for president? What is taking him so long?sotu-msnbc
  • “These negotiations (with Iran) don’t rely on trust (but) on verifiable action… If Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy could negotiate with the Soviet Union… a strong and powerful US should be able to negotiate with a less powerful (Iran).” –What I thought of when he said this was a scene for Babylon 5 where Londo Mollari gives Vir Cotto the opportunity to negotiate on behalf of the great Centauri Republic. His admonition “Don’t give away the homeworld.” I have about the same amount of confidence.sotu-fox
Posted in Reviews

“This situation is no longer normal”

That is exactly what I was told by the customer support supervisor I asked to speak to at today. This after being without internet service for 30 hours, when we had been told the problem would be resolved in 2-24 hours. So I assume being without internet service for the 24 hours previous WAS normal?

She also told me that their standard response to these situations is restoration in 24-48 hours. If so, then why did the 4 previous reps I spoke to on this issue all say 2-24 hours?

Inconsistency. Another good reason to be leaving soon.

Posted in Family, Reviews, Social Issues


At last, a day I can write about my activities for a blog.

Oh, really, you mean it was that interesting?

Yes, in the “may you live in interesting times” Chinese curse way.

Friday was supposed to be a good catchup day. Worked late at work Thursday night to catch some key items up. Got up early Friday to start cleaning the rest of the things out.  A work from  home day where I had a couple of errands and 10 hours for work planned into the schedule.

But no internet connection. Called our provider. Seems our tower was down. Spent half an hour running around the house trying to find a signal for a different tower. Finally found a weak signal, signed on, and worked a couple of hours before going  to practice organ. Computer was slow but doable.

After organ, since computer was slow, drove out to Panera to use their faster computers. Worked until lunch, then left to go to a meeting at the high school to plan the daughter’s senior year classes. After that it was to the library to use their computers, while Betsy did the grocery shopping. She picked me up on the way home.

Came home hoping that the tower was back up. Instead the signal on the auxiliary tower was so weak and bad I had to give up. So the kids fixed supper and then it was an evening at McDonald’s catching up on work.

So no time in there to spend the 3 hours I’ve been doing each night on my Master’s coursework.

Additional frustration is this tower outage happened 6 months ago. Then we had to spend a week convincing them it was their tower and not our modem. And after they were convinced, they told us it would be  resolved in 2-24 hours, and took a week.

This time they said it was the tower, and gave us the same 2-24 hour estimate. I’m skeptical, of course.

What is funny, is the discount rate they gave us after the last tower problem expired just  this month, and we have tower problems again. When i mentioned that, the first agent started trying to explain to me that it wasn’t on purpose like I was saying. Which of course i wasn’t saying.  But it made me want to speak to a manager. She said one would call me. I asked within what reasonable time interval. She said 2 hours.

Is 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. 2 hours? Well, we hadn’t received the call by 4 p.m. so I  called back. Turns out the first agent had misled us and never did ask a manager  to call. So this time I insisted, and got one to call me back. Told them we were ready to cancel, and got another discount rate, not nearly as discounted as the last.

And I will tell you, except for the outages we have liked the service, but when the discount expires, we are ready to jump ship. This is becoming too much of a pattern.

Posted in Education, Gonzaga University, Reviews

First Paper — editorial perspective

Huzzah! I just finished and turned in the first draft of my first paper for my Master’s Degree in Communications and Leadership.

It is the draft of my Personal Philosophy of Communication paper.

Before starting the course I didn’t know I needed a philosophy of communication. Wasn’t hard for me. I’m always having a philosophy about things.

All 25 of us in the class are supposed to put our draft papers out on the class discussion board (it is an online degree and course), and then read each other’s papers and make comments on the material. After getting a good start trying to be critical in editing my draft paper, I found it dangerously easy to want to pull out my metaphorical editing pencil when reading the other student’s papers. Once an editor, always an editor.

Some of the papers I read I found good — the editing pencil wanted to come out and knock off the occasional word to tighten things up Other papers are  so vaguely dense with passive tense and corporate jargon-speak that trying to find out what is being said is a chore. I felt tempted to quote Chesterton from Orthodoxy:

Most of the machinery of modern language is labour-saving machinery; and it saves mental labour very much more than it ought… Long words go rattling by us like long railway trains. We know they are carrying thousands who are too tired or too indolent to walk and think for themselves. It is a good exercise to try for once in a way to express any opinion one  holds in words of one syllable… The long words are not the hard words, it is the short words that are hard. There is much more metaphysical subtlety in the word “damn” tan in the word “degeneration.”

The paper was to be 2-3 pages long. I felt I was keeping it short, and it ended up being 4 pages. I do have a lot of short paragraphs and tabs for bullet points, so it isn’t text heavy.  Some of the others had very long paragraphs. Long paragraphs don’t read well on computers.

Anyway, finished, filed, and reading done. Time to rest.

Posted in Family

Pictures of winter’s past….

Hey, supposed to be cold today, but no snow.  If it is going to be cold, it is much more fun having snow.  So I thought I’d


share some pictures of yesteryear that include some fun iImagen the snow.Image

And no, I can’t figure a way to turn the snowman around. Turn your computer monitor on its side if it bothers you that much.

Posted in Social Issues

Overfed and undernourished

How many of you actually listen to your body when you are hungry? How many of you just eat whatever is closest, whatever tastes good, whatever you normally eat at that time of day?

A lot of people think I am a bit weird when I say this, but I can usually tell what I am hungry for. Over the years I’ve listened to my body, until I know “I am hungry for protein.” “I am hungry for carbs” “I am hungry for fat.” “I really need some vegetables now.”

I can know when a sugar fix is something my body is calling for, and when I am just cramming it in

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because it tastes good.

And I can tell when a certain type of food, or too much of something, leaves me feeling stuffed, sleepy, stressed. I ignore it at my own discomfort.

But I don’t think most people listen to their bodies that closely.

Otherwise, how do we explain the amount of people we see who are overfed and yet undernourished around us.

I ran across a quote about starvation when rereading 1632 by Eric Flint this weekend, that I think applies to our obesity problem today:

Dr. James Nichols: “The truth is, it’s not actually that easy to starve to death. The biggest problem with a low-calorie diet is that it weakens people, and it’s usually deficient in vitamins and minerals. Leaves you wide open for disease.

“Fortunately, while we’re getting very low on food and medicine and antibiotics, the town’s pharmacies and supermarkets still have a big stock of vitamins and minerals. We’re going to establish a rigorous program of dietary supplements. That should get us through this first winter.” He made a face. “Not that we won’t be getting sick of gruel and porridge.”

I think we have the same problems that people who are starving to death are having. The biggest problem of a low-calorie diet is deficiencies that weaken people. We have high calorie diets that are still deficient, and are still weakening people. Thus our epidemics of other diseases. It is starvation in a land of plenty. It just doesn’t look like starvation, because everyone has plenty to eat, they just aren’t eating what they need.

It is too easy to eat just for taste, not to feel hunger the way we are meant to feel hunger, and thus to be sated the way we are meant to be when that hunger is satisfied.