The Powers That Blog

While we keep track of politics at a certain level, this is not a poliblog, nor a warblog. Maybe "eclectiblog" is a good description, as we note thoughts on topics from art to parenting to whatever comes to mind.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Memorizing poetry for your kids (or to impress the curious)

My family has a solid history of memorizing things. My great-grandmother used to take old Bibles, tear out a page, and memorize it while she was ironing the laundry. (Aren't you glad we don't have to iron much anymore?) She would astonish people who tried to convince her of some theological point with cherry-picked Bible verses by saying "You're quoting that out of context" and then reciting the entire chapter for them. My grandparents also memorized religious texts and various poems and would recite bits of them for their children. My mom picked this up, and as I grew up there were many poems I learned simply by their repetition.

We would often quote bits of poetry in certain contexts. A.A. Milne is a particular favorite, and here, for example, are some of the situations we would quote him:

While buttering bread:

"Nobody,
My darling,
Could call me
A fussy man -
BUT
I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!"


My mother, if we were tired and cranky at the store or perambulating from some point A to point B, could get us to go the extra eighth-mile with this little ditty:


Christopher Robin goes
Hoppity, hoppity,
Hoppity, hoppity, hop.
Whenever I tell him
Politely to stop it, he
Says he can't possibly stop.

If he stopped hopping,
He couldn't go anywhere,
Poor little Christopher
Couldn't go anywhere...
That's why he always goes
Hoppity, hoppity,
Hoppity,
Hoppity,
Hop.


Lots of good stuff in Milne. Here's part of a good winter poem:


If I were a bear,
And a big bear too,
I shouldn't much care
If it froze or snew;
I shouldn't much mind
If it snowed or friz--
I'd be all fur-lined
With a coat like his!


Then, lest this page vanish and my family can never again find authorial information (for which we kept a long lookout before the existence of Google), I give the entire Eletelephony:


Eletelephony
by Spike Milligan (RIP)

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant-
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone-
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I've got it right.)

Howe'er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee-
(I fear I'd better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)


For, um, serious poetry, I like to quote Christina Rosetti to my sister:

For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; To cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.


That poem, Goblin Market, has lots of good stuff, but I wouldn't recommend it as bedtime reading! A bit scary for the li'l ones. Although for the combination of silly and sobering, I think nothing beats Lewis Carrol's

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

Jaberwocky was probably the most quoted poem of my childhood.
The second most quoted poem was probably Ogden Nash's Tale of Custard the Dragon:


Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.


My mother still does a wonderful rendition of Custard the Dragon for little kids, complete with squeaky voices and dramatic rumblings for the pirate that tries to attack little Belinda. (Hmmm, anyone want to guess how the conflict resolves with a Dragon on Belinda's side?)

And for those days when you are in a musing, contemplative, funky weirdo mood, there is A.A. Milne again,


Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair where I sit:
There isn't any other stair quite like it.
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top:
So this is the stair where I always stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up, and isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery, it isn't in the town:
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
"It isn't really anywhere! It's somewhere else instead!"

Monday, January 24, 2005

Military D.N.B.I. question

This morning one of my colleagues who is an Army Entomologist gave a talk on what his branch of the military health corps does. Especially interesting to me was some of the history of military healthcare, particularly that worked on by Walter Reed, who did important research on Yellow Fever virus. One interesting point is that in the history of the US military, for every actual battle injury there are 4 DNBIs (Disease and Non-Battle Injuries) that hospitalize soldiers. Most of them are due to disease. So when you read in the newspapers that every soldier's death is accompanied by multiple serious injuries, remember you may be reading about mosquito or flea or tick or sandfly-borne diseases. (2/3 of one of Napoleon's armies was wiped out by typhus carried by lice.) When the soldiers are instructed to wash their hands, sleep under mosquito-netting even on nasty hot nights, or put on nasty sticky DEET paste, they really need to do it. They're more likely to get a virus than a bullet.

One of my other colleagues (I won't insult your intelligence by saying on what side of the political spectrum he resides) asked a high-toned, arrogant question: "Has the military considered, if non-battle related injuries cause the majority of fatalities, ever minimizing casualties by not invading some of these countries?" Well, Duh. Fortunately the army entomologist is more professional than I am, and simply replied that the likelihood of disease is one of the risk factors taken into account by the Commander-In-Chief when considering troop deployment.

Something that makes me curious: How is it that some people get the idea that our military is autonomous, a political entity unto itself, capable of making those sorts of decisions? I'm really curious about this, it's not a sarcastic question. I grew up thinking of our military as an extension of our political system, divided and fractious a system as it is. What causes people to see it so differently?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

German homeschool

I've just registered my irritation with the German embassy over the prosecution of homeschoolers in Germany. At least this time the police didn't bust through the windows and terrorize the families like they did in March 2000 in North Rhine-Westphalia.

I sure remember the fear we always had that we would be prosecuted for truancy when I was being homeschooled as a kid. These people are being threatened with removal of the kids from their custody! (Something close has happened here, too, in the People's Republic of Massachussetts. Note in that story that legal custody was removed from the parents, though they continued to live with their parents. That ain't what's happening in Germany).

Anyway, I was polite. Truth to tell, I think Germans generally take education more seriously than Americans (certainly true of the ones I've met here), and so homeschooling ought to do even better there than here. So I was polite and I hope the Paderborn County officials decide that sanity is the best policy.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

W!

What a Speeeeeeech!!!!!

PTB Home

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Fire the Media

The following is an excerpt from an article written by LTC Tim Ryan. He is the Commander of Task Force 2-12 Cavalry, First Calvary Division in Iraq. He led troops into battle in Fallujah late last year and is now involved in security operations for the upcoming elections. His main point is that the media is distorting the facts about the war in Iraq and misleading the public about what is going on. This deception and constant bashing of Coalition efforts by the media is actually having a detrimental effect on our troops’ morale and international support for our efforts while bolstering the resolve of the terrorists. For this reason, it is important that we get the word out about what is going on.

The operation in Fallujah is only one of the recent examples of incomplete coverage of the events in Iraq. The battle in Najaf last August provides another. Television and newspapers spilled a continuous stream of images and stories about the destruction done to the sacred city, and of all the human suffering allegedly brought about by the hands of the big, bad Americans. These stories and the lack of anything to counter them gave more fuel to the fire of anti-Americanism that burns in this part of the world. Those on the outside saw the Coalition portrayed as invaders or oppressors, killing hapless Iraqis who, one was given to believe, simply were trying to defend their homes and their Muslim way of life.
Such perceptions couldn't be farther from the truth. What noticeably was missing were accounts of the atrocities committed by the Mehdi Militia — Muqtada Al Sadr's band of henchmen. While the media was busy bashing the Coalition, Muqtada's boys were kidnapping policemen, city council members and anyone else accused of supporting the Coalition or the new government, trying them in a kangaroo court based on Islamic Shari'a law, then brutally torturing and executing them for their "crimes." What the media didn't show or write about were the two hundred-plus headless bodies found in the main mosque there, or the body that was put into a bread oven and baked. Nor did they show the world the hundreds of thousands of mortar, artillery and small arms rounds found within the "sacred" walls of the mosque. Also missing from the coverage was the huge cache of weapons found in Muqtada's "political" headquarters nearby. No, none of this made it to the screen or to print. All anyone showed were the few chipped tiles on the dome of the mosque and discussion centered on how we, the Coalition, had somehow done wrong. Score another one for the enemy's propaganda machine...
…The inaccurate picture [print and media journalists] paint has distorted the world view of the daily realities in Iraq. The result is a further erosion of international support for the United States' efforts there, and a strengthening of the insurgents' resolve and recruiting efforts while weakening our own. Through their incomplete, uninformed and unbalanced reporting, many members of the media covering the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy.
(emphasis mine)

The main stream media actually lost credibility with me about 15 years ago, when I was a pro-life activist and I would participate in an event, then go home and see it on TV or read about it in the paper the next day and barely recognize the coverage as being the same event I was involved in. I just quit paying attention to anything they said as I couldn’t trust them to be even close to accurate. We don’t own a TV, and we don’t subscribe to any newspapers. If I want to know something I try to get it from the source, or as close to the source as possible. For example, if I want to know what the President said in his radio address last week, I go to the White House home page and read the transcript word for word. Because of the internet, I can do this. So can you.

Crazy Diamond started really getting into the political blogs around the time of the election. He would read me the comments people posted as they were watching the election coverage on TV. It seemed to me everyone who posted comments about how biased against Bush the various media personalities were already know the media is biased and does distort facts to fit their agenda. But in order to post these comments, people have to be watching TV. It’s this that has disturbed me ever since. If the media has betrayed our trust, as so many people are now saying, then they do not deserve to be in business as our primary source of news. They need to be given the pink slip. How do we do this? Well, my understanding is that the bread and butter of the media is advertising. The bread and butter of advertising is the possibility of reaching people with their ads. The advertisers that advertise on these major news networks don’t care what the viewers think of the news they’re watching as long as they are also watching the commercials and therefore possibly being influenced to buy the product advertised. It’s not going to bother an advertiser if even a large number of viewers of a particular station post negative feedback about what they are watching on their favorite conservative political blog.

What is going to bother the advertisers, however, is if those viewers disappeared, meaning, they quit watching the show. No viewers equals no ability to promote products. No ability to promote products equals no advertising. No advertising equals no money for the news networks. No money means they have to close up shop, which then means they won’t be able to negatively impact the outcome of something as important as our efforts to stabilize the Middle East. I believe this is something that needs to happen, and we can all do our part to make it happen. Just stop watching the news networks that skew the news and stop reading the newspapers and magazines that do the same.

If you aren’t convinced that the media is doing us harm, as this soldier is claiming, then by all means, keep on watching/reading until you do become convinced. But if you are already convinced as I am, then what are you waiting for? FIRE them. Cancel your subscriptions, stop watching them on your TVs.

Read the entire article by LTC Tim Ryan
PTB Home

Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice is in the process of getting confirmed by the Senate for the cabinet position of Secretary of State. Below are excerpts from her remarks as transcribed by The Boston Globe—the parts I especially like. I greatly admire Dr. Rice and believe she has done a wonderful job as National Security Advisor. She comes across as a warm, friendly, and gracious woman, but she sure knows how to stand up for herself and stick to her guns when necessary. Not to mention she is extremely knowledgeable and competent. I have no doubt she will do an awesome job as Secretary of State. For what it’s worth Dr. Rice has my complete support.

…I am especially indebted to those who fought and sacrificed in the Civil Rights movement so that I could be here today.
For me, this is a time to remember other heroes as well. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama the old Birmingham of Bull Connor, church bombings, and voter intimidation the Birmingham where Dr. King was thrown in jail for demonstrating without a permit. Yet there was another Birmingham, the city where my parents John and Angelena Rice and their friends built a thriving community in the midst of the most terrible segregation in the country. It would have been so easy for them to give in to despair, and to send that message of hopelessness to their children. But they refused to allow the limits and injustices of their time to limit our horizons. My friends and I were raised to believe that we could do or become anything that the only limits to our aspirations came from within. We were taught not to listen to those who said to us, "No, you can’t."…
…In these momentous times, American diplomacy has three great tasks. First, we will unite the community of democracies in building an international system that is based on our shared values and the rule of law. Second, we will strengthen the community of democracies to fight the threats to our common security and alleviate the hopelessness that feeds terror. And third, we will spread freedom and democracy throughout the globe. That is the mission that President Bush has set for America in the world ... and the great mission of American diplomacy today…
…As President Bush said in our National Security Strategy, America "is guided by the conviction that no nation can build a safer, better world alone. Alliances and multilateral institutions can multiply the strength of freedom-loving nations." If I am confirmed, that core conviction will guide my actions. Yet when judging a course of action, I will never forget that the true measure of its worth is whether it is effective…
…We face many challenges. In some parts of the world, an extremist few threaten the very existence of political liberty. Disease and poverty have the potential to destabilize whole nations and regions. Corruption can sap the foundations of democracy. And some elected leaders have taken illiberal steps that, if not corrected, could undermine hard-won democratic progress…
…America has always been generous in helping countries recover from natural disasters and today we are providing money and personnel to ease the suffering of millions afflicted by the tsunami, and to help nations rebuild their infrastructure. We are joining with developing nations to fight corruption, instill the rule of law, and create a culture of transparency. In much of Africa and Latin America, we face the twin challenges of helping to bolster democratic ideals and institutions, and alleviating poverty.
We will work with reformers in those regions who are committed to increasing opportunity for their peoples. And we will insist that leaders who are elected democratically have an obligation to govern democratically…
…To be sure, in our world there remain outposts of tyranny and America stands with oppressed people on every continent ... in Cuba, and Burma, and North Korea, and Iran, and Belarus, and Zimbabwe. The world should apply what Natan Sharansky calls the ''town square test'': if a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. We cannot rest until every person living in a ''fear society'' has finally won their freedom.
In the Middle East, President Bush has broken with six decades of excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the hope of purchasing stability at the price of liberty. The stakes could not be higher. As long as the broader Middle East remains a region of tyranny and despair and anger, it will produce extremists and movements that threaten the safety of Americans and our friends.
But there are hopeful signs that freedom is on the march. Afghanistan and Iraq are struggling to put dark and terrible pasts behind them and are choosing the path of progress. Just months ago, Afghanistan held a free and fair election, and chose a president who is committed to the success of democracy and to the fight against terror. In Iraq, the people will soon take the next step in their journey toward full, genuine democracy. All Iraqis, whatever their faith or ethnicity from Shias to Sunnis to Kurds must build a common future together. The election later this month will be an important first step as the people of Iraq prepare to draft a constitution and hold the next round of elections, elections that will create a permanent government….

Read the entire speech

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Planned Parenthood Equals Abortion

According to CNSNews.com (January 18, 2005), Planned Parenthood Federation of America obtained 34% of its clinic income for fiscal year 2004 from performing 244,628 surgical abortions. This reflects an increase of 6.1% in abortions, although abortions nationwide have been decreasing since 1997. Meanwhile, breast exams at Planned Parenthood facilities have decreased by 13.3% and for every 138 babies aborted, only one was referred for adoption. Planned Parenthood reported a profit of $35.2 million this past year, the 18th straight year that a profit was reported.

Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization that receives a tremendous amount of our taxpayer money to operate. According to LifeSiteNews.com (December 15, 2005), our elected officials have granted Planned Parenthood Federation of America a grand total of $265.2 million of our hard earned tax money, which makes up a third of the total income of $810 million. Make no mistake, we are providing Planned Parenthood with a significant amount of money to perform abortions. And it is becoming more and more clear that Planned Parenthood is in the business of abortions. All their other so-called services are secondary to that.

Self Defense

This past November, we shopped at one of those school-sponsored craft fairs. As we were making the rounds of all the booths, we spotted one sponsored by a local martial arts academy and entered the drawing. I am all for giveaways and I haven’t yet met a free raffle I didn’t like.

About a month later, we got a call from the academy. We won their drawing, a month of free classes. A week ago, we took our first class. First, we bowed to the mat, then bowed to the teacher, then did our stretches. Then we all lined up and practiced falling, then rolling. There are ways to fall that actually protect your body from injury. There’s certainly an art to it, but it seems the main thing is to tuck in your head, and spread out the impact over as wide an area as possible by slapping the ground when you fall or roll.

Then, the sensai (that’s martial art lingo for teacher) split us up into groups so everyone could practice at their skill level. I figured we’d be practicing more rolling and falling. No; it was time for us to learn some non-aggressive self-defense moves. First, the mugger’s hold. So, a guy comes up to me from behind and puts his arm around my neck to choke me. I reach up, grab his arm and pull down to give myself room to breathe. Then I take a step forward, pivot, and bow. I still have a hold of my attaker’s arm. I throw him to the ground. I’m not exaggerating here, and I did not exert myself at all, but there he is, on the ground saying "good job, let’s do it again." We repeat the move a couple more times, each time with the instructor/mugger ending up on the mat. I’m really skeptical at this point. The sensai no doubt is falling on purpose, but a real mugger would never fall for this trick (no pun intended). Or would he?

"So, do you have to fall?" I ask. He explains that the moves I am making are throwing him so off-balance that he has no choice but to fall. I’m actually using his weight and momentum against him. I’m not buying this line. "OK, I’ll try not to fall this time." Agreed. We go through the motions again. This time, I feel a slight resistance, then I throw the instructor and he falls harder than he did before. "See, there’s no way I can not fall." All I can say is "wow!" With very little physical effort on my part, I can throw a guy who’s taller, stronger, and outweighs me by at least 50 pounds. Without breaking a sweat, I can outmaneuver a man with ill intentions towards me…

…at this moment in time, assuming he attacks me in the exact same way the sensai did, does it in real slow motion so I have time to think about how to move my feet, and gives me pointers as we’re going along. OK, so no self-respecting mugger would be that charitable. I know I’m not invincible just because I showed up for one martial arts class and learned a real cool trick. What I do know is that this self-defense stuff is effective. And with it, I will be able to protect myself if I do my part and learn the skills, and practice, practice, practice. The knowledge and skills are out there, readily available. The rest is up to me.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


Crazy Diamond Posted by Hello

Friday, January 07, 2005

Treating Children As Friends

This was on a handout I got at the parenting workshop that I want to share with you. It was funny and definitely made me think...


Treating Children As Friends (perhaps by Erma Bombeck)

On TV, a child psychologist said parents should treat children as they would their best friend--with courtesy, dignity and diplomacy. "I have never treated my children any other way," I told myself. But late that night, I thought about it. Suppose our good friends, Fred and Eleanor, came to dinner and...

"Well, it's about time you two got here! What have you been doing? Dawdling? Shut the door, Fred. Were you born in a barn? So, Eleanor, how have you been? I've been meaning to have you over for ages. Fred! Take it easy on the chips and dip or you'll spoil your appetite for dinner.

"Heard from any of the gang lately? Got a card from the Martins. They're in Lauderdale again. What's the matter, Fred? You are fidgeting. It's down the hall, first door on the left. And I don't want to see a towel in the middle of the floor when you're finished. So, how are your children? If everybody's hungry, we'll go in to dinner. You all wash up, and I'll dish up the food. Don't tell me your hands are clean, Eleanor, I saw you playing with the dog.

"Fred, you sit there and Eleanor you sit here with the half glass of milk. You know you're all elbows when it comes to milk. Fred, I don't see cauliflower on your plate. Don't you like cauliflower? Have you ever tried it? Well, try a spoonful. If you don't like it, I won't make you finish it. If you don't try a spoonful, you can just forget about dessert. Now what were we talking about? Oh, yes... the Thompsons. They sold their house and took a beating, but Eleanor, don't talk with food in your mouth. And use your napkin..."

At that moment in my fantasy, my son walked into the room. "How nice of you to come," I said to him pleasantly. "Now what did I do?" he sighed."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Parenting Wisdom

I’ve been told that being a parent is going to be the most challenging undertaking of my life. I can only imagine what lies ahead for me. Bringing a life into the world brings on an avalanche of decisions, and this is especially true today as our choices, as well as our ability to know about many things, have just exploded. We have access to information today that didn’t even occur to people a generation ago. Yet nurturing that life can be quite daunting because one of the key elements missing in our current fast-paced and mobile society is a community. Many parents today feel as if they are all alone in the all-important work of raising their children. The combination of the easy publication of vast amounts of opinions and the lack of a solid community has contributed to a lot of misinformation and confusion in the parenting sphere. The ultimate result is that often new parents will, without realizing it, tune out their own innate wisdom based on knowing themselves and their own children intimately in favor of submitting to the authority of so-called parenting experts.

But all along, the answers we need lie within each one of us. God has written His law on our hearts. We just need to heed it. This especially applies to parenting. This does not mean other people don’t have anything to say about our parenting. Quite the contrary. Much can be gained by considering what others have written or said on the subject. It’s just that the best thing someone else can do for me is to help me tune in to what my heart is saying.

Crazy Diamond and I have been attending an excellent parenting workshop. I was attracted to it because it is on the subject of discipline and we are in the process of thinking through how we want to approach that aspect of our parenting. The type of discipline promoted in the workshop is based on being gentle and sensitive to your children’s needs, and also being playful about it. Sounded good to me, so I signed us up. Each time we’ve attended, I’ve asked Crazy Diamond on the way home what he thought of the workshop. Each time he’s told me I don’t feel as if I’ve learned anything I haven’t heard before; it’s just great to hear out loud what we’ve already been thinking and know other parents that also feel this way. That’s pretty much the way I feel too.

Lisa Stroyan, the facilitator, describes herself as "just another parent." She is trained to give workshops on parenting and is very well-read. She knows about many different parenting methods and takes the best of each while discarding whatever doesn’t match her principles. She is effective at passing on this information, and she enjoys doing so. I participate in her workshop and take it all in. But then I realize that I have just as much to say; so does everyone else there. In fact, most of the time, it isn’t Lisa talking, but just all of us parents sharing our challenges, inspirations and insights. And that is how it should be. The reason I love this workshop so much is because when I’m there I can hear my heart talking to me loud and clear. I’m not there to hear some expert pontificate on her opinion of how parenting is to be done; I’m there to learn to listen to what my Creator has put in my heart to guide me. And Lisa understands this. She believes in the innate knowledge each parent possesses and wants to help them tune into it. This is what makes her special, what makes her stand out from the many other voices on parenting clamoring for our attention.

So all you parents out there in the Blogosphere, this is for you. Next time you curl up with a good parenting book, or sign up for a parenting class, ask yourself this one question: Is this helping me to better understand and obey what has already been written on my heart?

For the golfer you left off your Christmas/ Hannukah/ Kwanzaa/ Solstice list...

Take a look at the golf nut on this page. Classy. I like it.

Will Eisner dead

Will Eisner died a few days ago. I just saw it on Scott McCloud’s web page. Another Jewish contributor to American culture has passed away. Bummage.

Yummy weeds - Dandelions

Yesterday Instapundit posted an email from his secretary, who has been trying to help Iraqis out with some gardening. He notes that dandelions grow there, too. Dandelion greens, by the way, can be quite yummy, although older ones are quite bitter. (Not that I’ll write Reynolds about it. Even if he thought it worth mentioning, we’re not ready for an Instalanche just yet.) I wondered if some Iraqis might have grown edible weed gardens during the UN sanction years to improve their diets? Probably not. The rural types might have more obvious food, and the city types might not know how much food is growing in the cracks of sidewalks.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Lackzoom

I hope the powers that blog read this and say to themselves, "You know, those Lackzoom guys are pretty ... (see first paragraph above). We ought to make them one of our featured blog sites. As a matter of fact, we'll do it tomorrow first thing, damn it, before we get our coffee and danish." (emphasis mine)

Okay, so I wasn’t exactly on the blogball about this. I can’t put Lackzoom Acidophilus in our top 10 list (we don’t have a top 5 list yet, much less top 10), but how about a link? And they are pretty… well, words fail me. I’ll go with their description.


Living Within My Space

I don’t have enough time. I need more money. My house is just too small. Familiar laments most of us can relate to, but are they really true?

I remember realizing several years ago that time, though fixed in the sense that a minute is a certain increment, there are sixty of them in an hour, twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week and so on, was quite fluid in terms of how one used it. Given the same twenty-four hour day, some people used that time quite well and accomplished the necessary and then some while others floundered as the time seemed to just slip away and had nothing to show for it when the day was done. Some people complained about being too busy and accomplished nothing while others seemed to have all the time in the world and were quite productive. It wasn’t a question of the amount of time you had; it was a question of organization and discipline. You either used your time well or you didn’t, and that was that.

A few years after that Crazy Diamond and I got married and had to make all sorts of financial decisions. Like just about every American couple I know, our material desires far outstrip our income, so we have to prioritize, budget, and all that fun stuff. And I’ve heard it said many times that it is so very important to live within your means. You don’t want to spend more money than what you’re earning; otherwise you’ll get into financial trouble. I have realized that like time, money is something that is very fluid. A person or couple’s financial health has very little to do with the absolute amount of income they are earning. A person earning $150,000 a year can find himself in the frightening position of not having enough to cover the monthly bills just as easily as someone earning minimum wage. In fact, that person earning minimum wage just could have a higher net worth than the high income earner. It is more a question of the financial decisions a person makes than it is of his income.

Fast forward to today, right now. My current realization of fluidity has to do with space, specifically the space within our home. Crazy Diamond and I have off and on discussed the implications of our growing family living in this particular Palace. Will we need a bigger Palace after we have two children, or three children? Is it even big enough now for the two of us and the MunchK? Then it hit me. Space is just like time and money. I can always wish I had more, but I have to live and work with what I do have. Space, like time and money, can be used poorly or well. Just like I need to use my time efficiently and live within my financial means, I have to live within my space

What does living within my space actually mean? It is something I am learning and will undoubtedly be learning for a long time, but here’s what it’s shaping up to be for me right now. I am working now on assigning a place for our possessions. If it has a place, it is easier to put away. If I don’t need it or it’s not beautiful and I can’t find a place for it, it is time to consider giving it away. Just like a certain income can only support certain expenditures, certain sized homes can support a certain amount of possessions. This amount may vary depending on how the space is used, but beyond this amount, anything else is clutter, and too much clutter makes it seem like there isn’t enough space. It can be a challenge to get rid of the clutter, defined by me as those things I’ll never use but can’t seem to live without. But it’s a necessary challenge to overcome, and definitely worth the struggle.

So call it a new year’s resolution or a promise to myself and my family. I am determined to live comfortably within my space. I’ve started to give away quite a few of our no-longer needed treasures on Freecycle and throw away other stuff. It’s been incredibly liberating and the truth is, I don’t know why I held onto stuff for so long. I’m just beginning this journey along with my family, but already I can see the reward.

2005 is going to be a great year. It will be the year I finally have enough time, enough money, and just the perfect size home.

Welcome to our diamond mine!

Welcome to the Powers That Blog!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you find something of interest today, but if not, check back next week. I won’t claim we’ll have something for everyone here, but our infomania is fairly wide-ranging, though wildly surpassed and at times limited by our MunchKomania. (The MunchK is our daughter, short for "munchkin". When you’re busy, you save syllables wherever you can.) The Beautiful Belgian Babe (my wife) and I find great interest in topics of family life, politics, religion, science, art, and if our friends recommend a topic we can usually get interested too. It doesn’t always work. Some neighbors recently recommended a series of religious adventure/fantasy books that the Beautiful Belgian Babe managed to plow through. I made it to book one, chapter four, and never found enough interest to pick them up again. I guess they left me behind.

Oh, and cooking. Let’s not forget the culinary arts, especially with the holiday feasting season so recently behind us. Carnival of the Recipes, yum.

We’re hardly blogoholics here at PTB, but one thing we’ve noticed is a shred-one-shred-all tendency in the blogosphere. "Red in tooth and claw" might well describe the more political blogs. This blog is mostly about ideas that we’ve encountered, ideas that occur to us, and tidbits we find interesting. Not everything we post is necessarily our ideas. We don’t always agree with the ideas we post. We just find them interesting. If you like what you see here, great. If you don’t, then peace, bro, it’s okay. (Besides, the seed of our vile ideas are now sown in your mind and will soon sprout and bloom and take over, changing your thinking to our ways – HaHaHaHaHaHaHa!)

Finding good ideas seems a lot like finding diamonds. First, you have to move a lot of rubble to find diamonds. Most of the ideas floating around the world are just plain rubble. There’s not a lot of point in trying to smash every bit of rubble into powder. Just move on.

Once you find diamond-containing rock, the diamond has to be separated from the rock. Then you have a relatively dull-looking piece of stone. It has to be cut, polished, and mounted before its beauty is apparent. Even then it looks better in some lights than others.

Most of what we present here we think is at least diamond-containing rock. Some is enriched, and some we think is cut and polished. A few ideas are even mounted well. You may still think that light shining from a different angle would make the idea look better. Such positive comments are always welcome.

Consistently insulting diamond-containing rock because it isn’t already mounted on a gold ring and displayed under bright lights is the mark of an anklebiter. One of the best bloggers, Steven DenBeste, has been discouraged from posting his big-picture analysis by poor health and an uberabundance of whiners critiquing anything they perceived as flaws in his extraordinary work. I don’t agree with everything he wrote; I have fundamental, foundational disagreements with some of his ideas. I also don’t agree with everything Euclid wrote in his Elements of Geometry, either. Even so, I acknowledge Euclid’s Elements as one of the greatest jewels of ancient writing and I think it will still outshine nearly any literature created when the blogosphere is an ancient decaying memory. For me to dismiss Euclid because I think the fourth proposition of book one is an axiom, not a theorem, would be small-minded. For me to focus only on that one disagreement and ignore Euclid’s greatness would be pathetic.

So, if you’ve found a diamond you think we would like to see, by all means let us know! If you think our posts have good stuff in them, encouragement is always welcome. If you know that we’ve got a great diamond and have just made a bad cut or mounted it on the wrong metal…sure, we want to hear from you too, after you’ve gotten a good nights’ sleep and can write us without spewing blogslime all over. And for the trolls who’ve never met any writing they can’t insult, defame, and derogate, we’d like to have you for dinner. We want to try out our ancient family recipe for troll stew. The Beautiful Belgian Babe says massive chocolate infusions cover even the foul taste of troll, and I guess she would know.

But we hope you’ll enjoy what we have here. So welcome!