Monday, March 30, 2009

Shameless plug

A quick intro to Lumberjack Cedar fan carving. My dad is cool. It's the segment on Glen VanAntwerp. It appears that his recent appearance on Season 28 of the Woodwright's Shop isn't available for viewing online at the moment . . . I can only hope that PBS will put everything back up soon. In the meantime, go check out his website.

Breast feeding or not

Hanna Rosin has an aggressively provocative piece in this month's Atlantic.  I'm irritated with the (male) editors of the Atlantic titling it "The Case Against Breast-Feeding" when it's no such thing.  Rather, it's something of an extended whine . . . "why should I have to when I don't want to?"  There is no actual case against--rather, Rosin makes the argument that there isn't a strong case for breast feeding.  That in fact, it doesn't make much difference.
I've been thinking about this piece for a while and have really settled out what I want to say about it.  Certainly, if she has experienced the sort of harassment that she reports from using formula, I can see how that would be irritating, though the circle of moms that I've been around have been pretty easy going about formula.  And her contention that breastfeed is "only free if a woman's time is worth nothing" is problematic.  As my husband pointed out--the baby has to be fed.  Someone is going to be spending their time doing it.  And whoever that is is not using that time to be doing something else.  The cost of the time is part of having children.  It is the question of the additional cost (or not) of the milk.
I have said before that one of the reasons that God gives us children is to make it clear to us just how selfish we really are.  Hanna Rosin sounds in this piece like a woman who has run up against the horrible fact that parents really need to be selfless in an awful lot of ways in order to do their job and doesn't like it.  Breastfeeding a third child is one sacrifice too many--why should she be inconvenienced?  What right does anyone have to tell her how to raise her child?  My own battle with parenting involves regular use of the prayer "Dear Lord, am I really this self-absorbed?  Please forgive me and help me get my priorities straight."  Rosin sounds like someone who has realized that her self-absorbtion can't withstand too much more battering and is desperately trying to shore up her defenses.  
I will note here at the end, that I really don't get how formula can be viewed as more convenient on a regular basis than breast-feeding, at least before the kid is sleeping through the night and has a sizable portion of solid food in their diet and so is down to a handful of milk feedings per day.  Washing and sterilizing all the bottles and paraphenalia is a pain.  There's no mixing and getting the temperature all right.  Breastmilk is always clean and always perfect body temperature warm.  You can't forget it anywhere.  Breast milk is the perfect solvent for pregnancy fat.  And newborn formula diapers are horrible, breastmilk diapers comparatively inoccuous.  Formula has the advantage of . . . letting the mother delegate  the job of full time parenting to someone else.  Not the reason I had kids.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

messing with things we don't understand

For those unfamiliar with the comic strip "Brewster Rockit," Dr. Mel is the resident Evil Mad Scientist on the Space Station R.U. Sirius, some hundreds of years in our future.  (A future which seems to consistently  paralell our present.  :)  )  His experiments consistently backfire on him to the detriment of everyone on the space station, most especially the hapless lad Winky.  That Dr. Mel is recreating Frankenstein is no real surprise.  That it is bound to go as badly as the original is inevitable.  That our own scientific establishment's arrogant, self-assured assumption that it should and could hold the keys to life and death; that any line of experimentation that they want to pursue should be without moral consequences is alternately frightening and nauseating.  Kyrie Eleison.

Friday, March 20, 2009

7 quick takes, volume 090320

Hosted by Jennifer @ Conversion Diary
1.  Vicodin:  never again, if I can help it.  Got some work done earlier this week in my mouth and sent home with a prescription for two days of bad drug trip.  May cause dizziness?  Try, "can't walk a straight line."  May cause drowsiness?  Try, "keel over in exhaustion and then dream hallucinatory dreams."  But I'll give it this--any pain was a really long way away.  

2.  We have spring!  I love it.  Actual sunshine and clear skies.  Being able to go out with only a light jacket.  Budding trees.  Enough daylight to actually do something after dinner . . .

3.  Last night I learned how to do stationary lunges.  Without weights.  And still . . . Ow.
4.  Speaking of #2, the kids are going bike-crazy.  5-y.o. has gotten really good without training wheels.  8-y.o. is determined not to let her little sister show her up.  I really wish there were sidewalks in our sub-division and I could let the kids go on their own.  But the crazies (and everyone else too) tears down our street at 40 mph and I just don't feel that they're good enough at watching and listening to be able to bike in the road and be safe doing it.
5.  3-y.o. is jealous of all this.  She cannot keep up with her big sisters even when she is frantically pedalling her tricycle about as fast as it can be pedalled.  Talk about unfair.
6.  Sesame Street seems to have taken good steps this season to address the decline that's happened over recent years.  The writing is smarter, slicker, more creative . . . they've collected some great cameos and used them well.  Now if they'd just get rid of Elmo's World.

7.  At some point, this post of Jared Wilson's needs more extended reflection.  But in the meantime I'll just note that as my dear husband often preaches, legalism is easier than grace.  And being like Jesus means loving those who don't deserve it all the way to the cross.  Christ-following isn't for wimps . . . and "just loving people" sounds real nice until you have to apply it to . . . you know, actual people.
8.  Bonus Quick Take:  As an intelligent, thinking, trying-to-be-responsible adult, I've felt that I really ought to try to understand this whole economic/financial thing going on with our country right now.  Mostly as I wade through articles and explanations though, I find it alternately incomprehensible and boring.  But today's xkcd is enlightening.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


too good not to post

maybe I should get back to playing Sheep

the rocks will cry out

This article from the New Scientist prompts this response from Neil Gaiman--

Picked up my copy of New Scientist over breakfast this morning (which, along with Fortean Times, is my favourite publication) and found myself puzzling over an article that began

That a complex mind is required for religion may explain why faith is unique to humans.

Which left me amazed and potentially delighted that journalists at New Scientist had succeeded in interspecies communication to the point of being certain that dolphins and whales have no belief in things deeper than themselves, that ants do not imagine a supreme colony at the centre of everything, and that my cats only believe in what they can see, smell, hunt and rub up against (except for Pod, of course, who when much younger would react in horror, with full fur-up, to invisible things), and that there are no Buddhist Pigs, Monkeys or whatever-the-hell Sandy was.

which in turn has me thinking this afternoon of all the wonderful passages in scripture from which we know that all creation gives God the praise which he is due.  The mountains break forth in singing and the trees clap their hands.  The seas roar and the fields exult.  Jesus assures us that if we decline the privilige of singing praise to God the stones will do it for us.  For the Holy One will make his glory known, and will not leave a seat at his banquet empty.  (Tough luck for you if a rock gets your seat.)  Do the dolphins and whales have a belief in something deeper than themselves?  I rather expect believe in God about the same way that they believe in the water in which they swim.  They don't need religion--they do not have the awesomely dubious privilege that we humans have of being able to defy God.  And they can no more fail to worship their creator than they can choose to not have gravity hold them down.  Balaam's donkey saved his master running himself into an angel delivering the wrath of God.  The animal saw the truth clearly, when the guy with the complex brain and the hot-shot reputation for being able to really curse people couldn't see what was standing right in the middle of the road in front of him.

I think that there are times that if we weren't so eager to slice and dice what we know and don't know, to put it under a microscope and over-analyze that we wouldn't miss the obvious.

For what can be known about God is plain . . .  because God has shown it to [us].  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So [we] are without excuse.  (Romans 1:19-20)

Friday, March 13, 2009

seven quick takes, volue 090313

things that make me happy edition

1.  Euchre, in its many variants.  Especially 5-handed.
2.  Sour Cream Pound Cake * 
3.  Scrabble on Facebook--except, of course, when I've got a fistful of one point tiles.
4.  Re-reading a good book.  By my definition, it's not a really good book unless it's better the second time.  And the dozenth.
5.  Lolcats
6.  Artwork on my walls and mantle.  I'm thankful every day for those with the call, skill, and patience to add beauty to our lives.  My father, Ando Hiroshige, He Qi, Vincent Van Gogh, Ruth Lampi and others.
7.  Dvorak's Sixth Symphony

*from All-American Comfort Food

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs.
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 8 oz. carton sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 tsp. other extract**

Grease and flour 10 in. bundt pan.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs one by one, beating well.  Combine dry ingredients.  Add to wet alternately with sour cream.  Add vanilla.  Pour into pan.  Bake at 325 for 90 minutes.

**  for whatever flavor you want to make it.  The cookbook suggests almond, but I don't like almond.  I've succesfully used this cake as a base for coconut, pineapple, and rum pound cakes.  

If you want to be really decadent, glaze it:  1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, and 1-2 tsp flavored extract.  Boil 1-2 minutes.  Loosen cake from pan and pour over.  Remove cake when glaze is soaked in.  

7 quick takes is hosted by Conversion Diary.  Like you didn't know that yet.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Facebook, the Israelites and quail, & etc.

When I was a kid, one of my mother's lines when we started to complain was "God doesn't like grumbling--the Israelites got forty years in the desert for grumbling."  Well, not precisely.  They got to gorge themselves sick on quail for grumbling and they got forty years in the desert for being cowards and not trusting God.  But.  Doesn't change the fact that when the Israelites started in on "Manna, AGAIN?" it didn't make God very happy.

A few months ago, I joined Facebook.  And despite the complaints I've read about it recently, I rather like it.  Sure, it can be a time sink--but so can a lot of other things.  I'm learning that I've got a certain amount of time in my day that I'm inclined to "waste," and that if it's not going down Facebook's drain, or World of Warcraft's, it might simply be going down Minesweepers--and how much improvement is that?  This is one of those areas that God is working on me.

No, the interesting thing for me about Facebook is the status updates.  I enjoy hearing about what everyone is up to.  I like reading them and posting them.  But it's made me aware of just how inclined I am to complain and worry.  How often, starting at the blinking cursor in the "Sara is" box, I'm inclined to put "tired" or "doesn't want to deal with the laundry" or "hopes the check will clear soon" or "is dealing with sick family members again."  Do I detect a whiny note there?  That's not who I want to be . . .

So I am attempting the discipline of positive status updates.  Not that life doesn't have its down moments--but trying not to come at them from an angle that really only ends up making it worse.  I've got a good life.  I want the trick of reflecting it back to myself so that when I'm describing the sky, the first thing out of my mouth isn't that lone wispy gray cloud over there.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

note to self

and another victory for the slow food crowd--microwaving steel-cut oats doesn't work.  And by the time I've cleaned up the mess from them boiling over in the microwave and transferred them to pot on the stove, I haven't saved anything in either time or dishes.