Thursday, December 1, 2011


I've known for a long time that the government does stupid things. I've known for a long time that social programs like medicare and social security and income tax are foolish and wasteful, but up until now, I've realized recently, all that knowledge was up in my head, not connected to the real world except for the random news story.

For the last three years we've been involved in starting our school, and my eyes have been opened more and more to how the IRS deals with employers, as opposed to employees, but this week I think I've seen the worst example of just plain stealing.

Our school received a letter from the IRS that based on last year's tax amounts, next year we'll have to owe twice as much in employee taxes (not sure how they came up with that idea). Anyway, based on that tax level our school needs to file employee taxes monthly instead of quarterly, and if we don't, we will be fined. The only way to remedy this situation is to actually call the IRS (no e-mails or faxes are allowed here), be on hold for half the day, and hopefully find a thoughtful, compassionate IRS agent (heh, heh, heh) who will listen to your explanation that their estimate is a complete lie and fabrication, and please let us keep filing quarterly.

So I set out to do that today, and guess what? The IRS answering system is broken and they won't be receiving any calls. The answering system is at least able to say, "Please call back at another time and try again."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Think I Need to Shop There

Check out the sign at Nordstrom's:

Monday, October 24, 2011

This Is Impressive

OK, so maybe there's one guy besides Calvin Coolidge I could vote for...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Keeping Up With Thor

I have always wanted to read Snorri Sturluson's masterpiece of Norse mythology, the Prose Edda. I recently started a copy and am loving it. By far the most enjoyable mythology I've ever read. There is something about the Norse gods that they never take themselves very seriously--unlike the Greek ones that always seem to believe they are terribly important. My husband believes this is because Sturluson, as the first to compile all the Norse myths, was a Christian, he had a different view of his own cultural mythology then the pagan Greeks did (such as Ovid or Plutarch).

It's a shame most of those Norse gods were pagans, since they would have been fun to have a beer with someday.

And Because They Really Do Exist

Just started this middle school read...

So far it's fun, we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Very Good Book (But, yes, it IS scary)

Not too long ago I read Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I read a lot of children's (young adult) novels, and this one ranks among the very best. In fact, if I have my way, my kids will hopefully enjoy it as much as they do Narnia.

The story is about Coraline, a little girl who wants to live in a fantasy world, because she hates the world in which she lives. She is frustrated and upset with her mildly-neglectful parents who won't entertain her all day long, and she's an ungrateful whiner. She goes on to discover a real-life fantasy world, that gives her everything she wants, until she realizes that it's actually a curse.

Like all good little-girl heroines, she ends up slaying a witch, and her methods are not unlike those of Jael in the Old Testament book of Judges (by destroying her enemy through hospitality). She repents and learns gratitude, and in so doing, discovers that the real world is infinitely more magical then her escapist fantasies. In fact, in Coraline, Gaiman quotes directly from G.K. Chesterton and his chapter "The Ethics of Elfland" in Orthodoxy. This is where Chesterton explains the value of fairy tales because they open our eyes to the very every-day magic we are surrounded with (and ignore, because of our own dullness).

Just for two pre-warnings, the book is definitely creepy (and the illustrations more so), but by middle school age it would likely qualify as creepy and fun (not scary, as it may for some younger children). Also, there was a movie based on the book which came out several years ago. Do yourself a favor and avoid it completely. It changes the end of the book (no more Jael scene), and displays some pretty bad taste for something aimed at a G-rated audience.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just Wait for the Saturday Morning Cartoon (and matching Breakfast Cereal)

For some reason my children have this idea that yeast is a superhero. I believe this stems from several years ago, when they asked how bread is made. I've made sourdough, so I tried to explain that these invisible particles, called yeast, float through the air and land on the dough, eating the sugar. Their toddler-boy minds probably most enjoyed the description I gave them on how the little yeasties make the dough actually rise, but I'll leave that up to your imagination.

Anyhow, it's become quite a rock-paper-scissors-dynamite type game, where whomever claims to be the yeast ends up winning by default. For example:

Thing 1: "And then I'll be the giant who saves everybody."
Thing 2: "Then I'll be the Papa who saves everybody."
Thing 1: "Well, then I'll be the super-fast robot who wins."
Thing 2: "I am the super-fast robot whose batteries don't run out."
Thing 1: "Then I'll be the yeast."

At this point an awed silence comes over the both of them as they consider the wonder of this amazing creature.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Have a Dream

That one day I will get up at 5:00 am. I will have a big, heavy camera and lug it out into the middle of an orchard. And I will take photos like Eugene Atget.

I will then lug my big, heavy silver plates into a darkroom at home and come out smelling like developer. And hang gorgeous black-and-white and sepia photos around my home.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Wish We Had More Politicians

I am currently reading the autobiography of my new presidential hero, Calvin Coolidge. He had a hard life, but probably had more integrity than nearly all of our current politicians combined. He was named after his father, John Calvin Coolidge, and he named his two sons John and Calvin. Talk about some serious Puritan roots.

This is what he said about the presidency:

"It is a great advantage to a President, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man. "

Now if we could only get more politicians like that, I wouldn't mind having a few more around.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Raising 21st Century Children

So the conversation in the car yesterday with my 6-year-old...

L: Mama, I wish my brain was a computer, then I would know everything.

Me: (after laughing) Are you really sure that computers know everything?

L: Yes! If you don't know something, you just put it in the computer, and the computer answers it for you!

Me: Uh-oh.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Very Old Fashioned Feminism

Reading Chesterton seems to be an inspiration to blog. Yesterday, reading a few more essays, I came across some of his statements on Victorianism and feminism which were extremely enlightening. Earlier this year I read a wonderful book, The Feminization of American Culture, by Ann Douglas, where she showed that 20th century feminism came straight out of Victorian sentimentalism. Chesterton clearly agrees with her, so now I know that she's right:

"This humourless hammering on one note is like the worst Victorian fads; Temperance or Feminism. It is especially like that very old-fashioned Feminism that hated to be feminine....It means that women dress like men; not that men dress like women. Now that is sheer stark, stale, dead Victorianism. That is the only original Woman's Rights Woman, who deliberately made herself hideous with bloomers and goggles." [emphasis mine].

Chesterton, himself, was the child of Victorians, and was born towards the very end of Queen Victoria's reign, so he saw what he was talking about. If you're saying to yourself, now that doesn't sound much like Victorianism to me--even by his adult years the definition of Victorianism had warped. Check this out:

"While the world has been talking about removing Victorian taboos, I have been resolved from the first to remove that one Victorian taboo; which really was a senseless and strangling taboo; the taboo on the topic of real religion, and its real and inevitable place in practical life. Most of the things the Moderns call Victorian taboos are about as Victorian as the Ten Commandments or the maxims of Confucius. But this really was Victorian, in the sense of having arisen recently in a vulgar, commercial and cowardly social system. It is not the notion that it is right or wrong to be a Moslem; it is the notion that it cannot really matter even to a Moslem that he is a Moslem. What is totally intolerable is the idea that everybody must pretend, for the sake of peace and decorum, that moral inspiration only comes from secular things...and cannot possibly come from spiritual things..." [emphasis his].

It looks as though as far as our age despises and scorns Victorianism, we are despising and scorning ourselves.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Chesterton for President

I had a rare find this weekend--Borders in town is going out of business, and I found a compilation of G.K. Chesterton's essays that I hadn't read yet! This one is called The Well and the Shallows and it is one of the last things he wrote, just before World War II. I know the guy was a journalist, not a politician, but I still would have voted for him--if I ever could have. Here's some of the gems:

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent those mistakes from being corrected."

"The State did not own men so entirely, even when it could send them to the stake, as it sometimes does now where it can send them to the elementary school."

"Those who leave the tradition of truth do not escape into something which we call Freedom. They only escape into something else, which we call Fashion."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Good News in the Middle East

So if Egypt and Tunisia sound like the last place you want to be, check out this that happened this past week. Of course, it is barely mentioned on major news networks. Southern Sudan is nearly entirely Christian, while the north is predominantly Muslim.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thought for the Day

What worries me is that smart people can get smarter with the internet, ‘cause they can tell reliable sites from those that are not. But for the dumb people… I think the internet is just making them dumber and dumber.

Brian Regan

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

So I took my Segundus on a rare trip to McDonald's today to bring lunch to Papa at work. I haven't ordered a Happy Meal in a while and when I did they offered "would you like milk or juice with that?" What? "Um, do you have Coke?" I asked. They did, and I also ordered a nice, big burger meal for Papa as a treat.

When I got my receipt I realized that I had to pay $1 extra to get a Coke with the kids' Happy Meal, whereas the adult combo meal came with a Coke! if you want to be healthy, by all means, be healthy; but what's the deal with letting adults have a Coke and forcing the kids to have milk or juice? I think McDonald's should just switch everybody to milk or juice and see how long it takes for the adults to have a fit--when they do, the management should just stand back and ask them how they think the kids feel.

I go to McDonald's for fun, certainly not to be healthy, but what exactly is fun about milk or juice?