Thursday, April 30, 2009

Because Sex Sells

There has been some discussion on HBL lately about reducing some concrete examples of the proper role of government into bite-sized pieces in order to have a quick slogan to combat the virulent spread of statism when such use is appropriate. As a twist to the old saying on individual rights (whose attribution I could not find), “Your rights end where your neighbor’s nose begins”, I submit the following:

Your rights end where my pockets begin.

I have to say, I find the double entendre quite clever as I can’t help but notice that many of the people who can clearly see a violation of rights in the innuendo of physical assault can not conceive of the economic battery of the individual by the state as the very same violation.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We Interrupt This Program... bring you news of a Martian invasion in Grover’s Mill, NJ.

I just finished H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel The War of the Worlds and followed it up by listening to Orson Welles’ and Mercury Theatre’s infamous 1938 radio broadcast and watching an hour long video documentary subtitled as “an historical Perspective of the H.G. Wells Classic Book”. [Both links are to free downloads of the respective pieces.]

The success of the original novel was considered by some to be due to the fact that Wells used real places in his tale of invasion which personalized and familiarized the story for many readers. Welles did the same in his radio adaptation (written by Howard Koch) by setting it in Grover’s Mill, NJ.

In addition to Welles’ cheeky wrap-up of the broadcast (transcribed below for your enjoyment), what I found most interesting was that people panicked and were then quite angry about being duped. Don’t get me wrong – it was designed to incite fear, as many forms of entertainment are – but panic?

In 1938, the radio was the news and entertainment center for the household; radio broadcasts were serious business. In addition to this elevated place in the family, radio programs were limited to a few choices: but the choices existed. In fact, Orson Welles was thought to take advantage of the fact that the average listener’s attention was initially drawn by the Chase & Sanborn Hour, featuring Charlie Bergen and Don Ameche, and would join the Mercury Theatre’s dramatization after the disclaimer that it was just a dramatization. From Wikipedia:
Edgar Bergen and Don Ameche, who were continuing their Chase & Sanborn Hour broadcast on NBC, are often credited with "saving the world". It is said many listeners were reassured by hearing their tones on a neighbouring station.”
The timing of this bit of entertainment, the time leading up to World War II when people were already quite on edge, may or may not have been considered in the plan to dramatize an invasion, but some people claimed to have thought it was about a German invasion. Clearly, not amusing, but again, why would someone who listened long enough to be frightened, not understand that it was about Martians? Or am I missing the point?

It should be noted that when the broadcast was adapted and played in Quito, Ecuador in 1949, angry citizens burned the radio station and six people were killed. Why should this be noted? Despite the panic which ensued and the intentional methods used by Welles to maximize fear, the government did not step in to curtail free speech. Welles and CBS were censured, but not charged with breaking any laws. Mob rule did not occur in America. Until now.

Like the mob action in Ecuador, the Supreme Court, yesterday, upheld the FCC’s ability to define decency in radio and television by “contemporary community standards” .

Welles’ Wrap Up:
This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen – out of character – to assure you that The War of the Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be: the Mercury Theatre’s own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying, “Boo!” Starting now we couldn’t soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night, so we did the best next thing: we annihilated the world before your very ears and utterly destroyed the CBS. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn’t mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business.

So goodbye everybody, and remember please for the next day or so, the terrible lesson you learned here tonight: that grinning glowing globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody is there – that was no Martian – it’s Halloween.
He was a cheeky bastard.

There’s much more to the novel that I hope to discuss at another time.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


In yesterday's New York Times (print edition, online 4/26), More Atheists Shout It From The Rooftops, author Laurie Goodstein confirms what I've feared all along - by being an atheist, I have doomed my children to a life of unpopularity and loneliness.

Despite changing attitudes, polls continue to show that atheists are ranked lower than any other minority or religious group when Americans are asked whether they would vote for or approve of their child marrying a member of that group.
The article reports that while those who report themselves as Christian are declining in numbers, those who claimed "no religion" is the only growth group throughout all 50 states, which, I cannot but think is a good thing.

(Graphic from The New York Times 4/27/09).

Regarding atheists as a group, however, is a bit more of a problem for me. While the author rightly points out that "A spate of best-selling books on atheism also popularized the notion that nonbelief is not just an argument but a cause, like environmentalism or muscular dystrophy," I think those books are more of a disservice to those of us who have no god. They conflate lack of belief with principles that bind together. Atheism is no more a principle or a philosophy than agnomism.

Dedication to reason, with which atheism is often wrongly confused, is a principle, and one that many of the groups discussed in the article report to embrace. That's a good thing, particularly in the realm of politics where the separation of church and state is constantly threatened.

But back to the personal level, I am actually not fearful that I am dooming my children to a life of alienation and loneliness. My concern regarding religion and their happiness is limited to this: I pray they never fall prey to loving someone who in turn lashes out at them for lacking the internal contradiction true believers must live with. The more rational my children become, the less this is a concern.

Monday, April 27, 2009


From time to time, my ten year-old poses interesting hypothetical questions to me. She poses hypothetical questions to me all the time, but only from time to time are they interesting. Today, she asked: If you had to live without one of your senses, which would you choose?

It was kind of a toss up between taste and smell, but in the end, I went with taste.

I’m quite sure that taste has been essential for our survival as a species – I’d guess that a majority of poisonous substances have no smell before they’re mixed with saliva – but now, it that sense really necessary? Taste can be trained to help us evaluate and consequently elevate the enjoyment of the food we eat. I know that we can use our other senses purely for enjoyment as well, but they all seem to be vitally necessary. Only taste seems to be optional for our enjoyment.

Being reminded of the inspirational success of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, no doubt, prompted her question.

I remember playing this game with a childhood friend only the question was, which would you rather be, blind or deaf? She is a singer, can play any song she’s ever heard on the piano by ear, and does voice-overs, including impersonations for a living. Guess which sense she chose to keep?

While I use my slightly compromised unaided vision to my advantage when cleaning, my sight is by far my most relied upon sense.

And while we’re on the topic, did you know that the five senses have been downgraded to traditional status? At least according to Wikipedia:

The traditional five senses are sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste: a classification attributed to Aristotle.[2] Humans also have at least six additional senses (a total of eleven including interoceptive senses) that include: nociception (pain), equilibrioception (balance), proprioception & kinesthesia (joint motion and acceleration), sense of time, thermoception (temperature differences), and in some a weak magnetoception (direction)[3].

Okay, so I’m going to change my answer: Magnetoception. I have a portable GPS for that.

Stealing Home

Last night, Red Sox center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury stole home plate off of Yankees pitcher, Andy Pettitte. It's rather something to see, and a great way to commemorate the Sox' three game sweep over the Yankees this weekend.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hey Chickens!

Today was an another unseasonably warm day in the northeast, so we took the ladies out again. Here are the pictures I promised.

Here they are milling around in the pen, being pretty happy.

And here they are one second later after I say, "Hey chickens!" which I normally do.

Don't believe me? Here it is in video:

And before you ask: No - my voice is not normally that high pitched, and Yes - I do, on occasion, laugh like Muttley from Wacky Races.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

You're Such a Chicken!

If you've ever seen a pig eat, you know it's hard to stop yourself from saying, "It's such a pig!"

If you've ever introduced chickens to a new environment - same thing.

(photos tomorrow)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ten Times One is Ten

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

Despite the title, this is not a stab at getting my daughter to love math facts (although I'm open to suggestions), this is my contribution to Poetry Friday via Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909). Mr. Hale was a Unitarian minister in Boston who wrote short stories, the most popular of which is "The Man Without a Country". His short story, "Ten Times One is Ten", quoted above contains an idea that I wrestle with the everyday: "I can do something."

Sadly, I've not yet read anything by Mr. Hale, so I can only comment on what I can gather from biographical sketches that I would not agree with his overall philosophy. He is a fascinating character, nonetheless, and is attributed with saying and doing some pretty interesting things.

Mr. Hale's expression of individual activism inspires me mostly because of the first line: I am only one. That's all I can and must be.

The Cradle of Liberty

I'm from Massachusetts, and all I can say is, I'm sorry.

Ed Markey, Representative from Massachusetts "plays 'Dirty Harry' on cap and trade". Click on his picture (from the Wall Street Journal Opinion) to get the reference in the Wall Street Journal Opinion piece.

Barney "Needs More Oversight" Frank, 13 term Representative from Massachusetts and House Financial Services Committee Chairman. Click on his photo (from Wikipedia) to read his thoughts on financial regulations in the Financial Times in 2007.

What I don't understand is how these politicians can believe that are upholding the Constitution. I know I sound like a broken record, but it is that simple. Do these congressmen think that arbitrarily and frantically expropriating our money and restricting our rights will contribute toward any of the reasons for which the Constitution was established? Which ones and how?

Worse, what are the people who voted them in really thinking? Can anyone believe these men are defending our liberty, or is that no longer of value? If it is, what liberty are they defending?

All government plans happen at the expense of individual plans.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Crazy Chicks Trash Condo

Over the past three weeks the chicks have grown wildly. Last week it became obvious that we needed to expand their little brooder home, so we built them an addition. Now they have a lovely little chick condo with vanishing edge walls of glass (okay, plastic walls precariously cantilevered over the stairs) and a mod, stainless steel connecting corridor (well, really a big coffee can), dividing their living space into sleep & poop and eat/drink & poop. They seemed to be adjusting quite well to their new digs.

Then, a new cleaning agency was employed at the condo: one whose wisdom included pine shavings conservation and warned against the excessiveness of two layers of paper towels. Well, the chicks, pretty well pampered up to this point, wouldn’t stand for such scrimping and trashed the place! Within an hour they were rolling on the naked plastic floor, poop was everywhere, and there were no signs that the mayhem would stop! So the old cleaning lady, who had only taken a day off, had to be called back in.

This is Barbie running from the backroom to check out the hub-bub. (I really should not have used flash here - poor thing.)

Here you can see the lovely feather patterns emerging on Hermione, one of the Golden-laced Wyandottes, and on one of the barred Plymouth Rocks below.

At three weeks, they look more like turkeys than chicks or hens (what I call transitional chicks) and many of them have become slightly skittish, but they still have quirky little personalities and are fun to watch. For the record, they don't usually sleep all bunched up as shown in that picture. They must have been cold this morning despite the fact that the brooder is supposed to at 80 degrees now and it's actually a bit warmer.

We're all excited because it's supposed to be 80 degrees outside this weekend and we plan to bring the ladies outside. There'll be no living with them after that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lucky Girl

This weekend I had my first, and hopefully only, bout of illness this entire season! Yay for Vitamin C and clean living. Okay, yay for Vitamin C!

When I get a cold I like to have really bad, sodium rich, dehydrated noodle soup. I don't know why exactly - I'm guessing it has something to do with the deep-rooted Noodle-O marketing impressions left on my young child brain (sorry, can't find link, but the animated hawker was rendered a la Yellow Submarine with long legs and crazy flair pants in a psychedelic background) - it seems to make me feel better.

Anyway, in my house, when you request disgusting dehydrated salt juice for lunch, you get this.

Could this be any more beautiful? A sprig of mint slightly submerged really broke through the clogged nasal passages, the beautiful brown mushroom slices floating gently on top gave visual interest, the dried apricot and cranberries on top of the wedge of cheese turned this into a real lunch.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Because I Can

Have a good night.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Things That Make You Go Hmmm.

Immediately I want to sing the refrain to C+C Music Factory's song, but I won't. I'll just link to it in the event that you might want to rap along with the video.


While I'm certainly not addicted to cosmetics, I find the transforming magic of make-up fascinating. I'd like to report that I make a daily effort to be beautiful, but the truth is, most days I can barely muster the effort to be presentable. It's not that I don't place a value on looking good, or that I find such efforts exhausting, it's just that daily make-up wearing is just so...senseless. There. I've said it.

Generally speaking, I don't wear make-up - until I do. And then I like to wear it BIG (though, admittedly, not this big).

I found this series of videos on YouTube today. I have no idea how I stumbled across MakeUpGeek, but the hostess is a delightful young woman who gives her opinions on different types of make-up and presents "how-to" tutorials on make-up application.

And I think it's cool.

Ed, Jim, and Chuck.

Having just picked up on a new TV series on Hulu (two, actually), I find an odd similarity between the modern everyman hero next door. Ed, from the same-name series, Jim from The Office, and Chuck from the series Chuck (one of the new shows) are all kind of like the same guy: cute, a little socially awkward, underachieving, go with the flow types. But when situations arise in which backbone is needed, which happens in every show by the way, they never let their fans down. What exactly does the success and popularity of the underachieiving heroes say about us, the watchers?

Lie to Me

The second of the two new Hulu shows (I've had a head cold - okay?) that I've been watching is Lie to Me with Tim Roth. Roth won an Academy Award as the incomparable creep in Rob Roy, and I've enjoyed watching him since Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead. He is very good as a self-tortured "human lie detector" in this psychological drama based on the ability to read people's faces.


I know this has gone viral, but just in case you didn't want to watch it when it hit your inbox last week, I present Susan Boyle singing "I Dreamed a Dream". I have no wisdom to offer, nor thoughts about the human condition as I watch this video, but I can say that when I watched it on Friday, I was glad I didn't have mascara on.

Head cold. Yeah, that was it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thank you. I shall take no tea.

Mothers of young daughters (or those who were once young) may recognize this as the manner in which Miss Manderly teaches Felicity, Elizabeth, and Annabelle to refuse the service of tea during their gentlewoman lessons in the American Girl saga Felicity Learns a Lesson. Or, you could think of it as my answer to the recent call for “Tea Party” protests.

It should be obvious that I support, applaud, and encourage the principled speeches given by individuals regarding individual rights and the proper role of government. (Here is where I refer you to the awesome, calm, clear, and concise presentation given by another Mother Objectivist Blogger, Rational Jenn, at the Atlanta Tea Party.) And, that I am encouraged by the very thought that any legislator might stand up and take notice of this grassroots display of displeasure about the unchecked growth of government. But, sadly, I am not yet ready to throw my body into the mix.

Perhaps the mere fact of being from Massachusetts has sucked the oxygen away from my fire, or caused me to dig further into my quieter attempts to make inroads into changing the culture. Whatever the case, over the past five years my husband and I have made several whole-hearted attempts at bringing the ideas of Objectivism into the local schools and into the public library and we have been rebuffed at every turn.

Our offer to donate local prize money for entrants in the essay contests for The Fountainhead and Anthem were met with no interest from either school system we approached despite the guaranteed $300 prize for first place (while my daughter’s entire school was recently regaled with a movie about the atrocities in Darfur through a local grant). The two attempts to donate a subscription to The Objective Standard to the local library was first met with no response, and second, with a requested written response (which included a SASE) that there was “no interest” in the periodical when they placed it on the shelf. [We never saw it on the shelf and periodicals are not to be taken out – so how, exactly, did they know that there was no interest in a two week time period?] I just don’t want to fight with these local administrators.

I have had success with giving away five copies of Atlas Shrugged within the last year: three to people who expressed an interest in reading the book, one in a rental bedside table near the Bible, and one other unrequested copy went to my brother, the big ‘c’ Conservative, for Christmas. I’m guessing that the vast difference between listening to talk radio and having to read and digest a 1000 page novel is the reason he hasn’t mentioned it to me yet.

Other than these quiet, mostly unsuccessful behind the scenes efforts, being truthful when asked about my opinion, and writing on this blog for anyone who chooses to read it, I’d rather give money to ARI to support its efforts while I learn how to be a become a better advocate for Objectivism. Falling in league with the disgruntled, dissatisfied, and worst of all, unprincipled masses, even temporarily, is a very uncomfortable position for me to put myself in at this point in my life.

I suspect that my need to speak out on a larger scale will soon coincide with my need to be comfortable – but beyond this blog, and when asked in person, I just haven’t reached that point of preparation yet.

I am thankful to those of you who have.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Like Dreamin'

A friend of mine (whose birthday is today) heard this song on the radio this morning and thought of me. Which made me laugh.

In my defense, we've been friends since the 7th grade.

Is it really any wonder that I'm feeling more like a lover than a fighter these days? This is the music that helped to form my ideas of what romantic love is all about. It was my absolutely favorite song between the ages of 12-17. Sure it's schmaltzy, but I can't help it; even now, I love it so.

The singer, Kenny Nolan, was a sort of one hit wonder (okay - I know all about Love's Grown Deep), but as a song writer, he gained fame through co-writing My Eyes Adored You, made famous by Frankie Valli, and Lady Marmalade, made famous by Labelle (Patti LaBelle lead singer). My Eyes Adored You has the honor of the goofiest line in pop music in its refrain: "Though I never laid a hand on you, my eyes adored you."

Still - harp music, lush fades into and out of dream sequences, random key changes, singing over your own voice? Nope. They just don't write 'em like that anymore.

Poetry Friday: The Cost of Globalization

My love left me this morning,
He past o’er the isle of green.
My love is o’er the Channel,
He’ll stop to lunch with the Queen.

He’ll board the next flight eastward,
Suspend half-day ‘fore he’ll rest.
And when his weary eyes open,
He’ll bid farewell to the West.

Into the land of tall buildings,
Where yoga is all but banned,
And manufacturers flourish
Hand over invisible hand.

Seeking production that’s good,
Cheap labor virtue, but not free.
The Good of globalization,
Discounts costs to my love and me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dreams Really Can Come True

After all these years, Stephen discovers he really is a chick magnet.

At least Mushy, Alphaba, Hermione, and Ginger seem to think so as they flew out of their box and onto his arm.

Things I Will Remember

The lyrics to this song:

And to these: Christmas Time is Here, Get Happy, Wells Fargo Wagon, You'll Never Walk Alone, Together, Wherever We Go (a favorite version of ours), and Steppin' Out.

Things I can't forget: the tune of the insidious High School Musical 3 (#12) theme song!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Internet Symphony Orchestra

I just found out about this cool collaboration between You Tube and the London Symphony Orchestra this morning.

Here's Michael Tilson Thomas welcoming the musicians who will perform tonight at Carnegie Hall.

And here is the project page on YouTube.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Keeping the Lights On

I found this story to be quite interesting.

While the fix is temporary, I'm impressed by the architect, Miguel Rosales, who refused to see the integrity of his design diminished by the poverty of government ownership and so paid the bill for the blue lights to stay illuminating the Lenny Zakim Bridge for the next three months.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pot of Doled

Deteriorating Values

Money and restriction are the cure to all societal ills; or so it would seem. Unfortunately for all of us, the money comes from, and the restrictions are placed on, the same people: those who produce the wealth. While I am optimistic about the ability of the producers to rise above this double-pronged attack, I am pessimistic about what I see as the deterioration of the values of individual rights and personal responsibility by the American people as demonstrated by their implicit or outright support given to the decisions made by our elected and appointed leaders.

The Role of Government

Governments do not produce anything; all are institutions of force. Ours was carefully crafted by our founding fathers to be limited to the specific functions enumerated in the Constitution. Limiting the government to its proper role of protecting individual rights helped to create the freest, and therefore the greatest nation that ever existed.

Regardless of the fact that it prints money, the government does not create wealth. It does, however, collect wealth from those who produce it for its limited operation through taxation. In addition to this legal seizure of wealth (from those who earned it – the producers), the government also places restrictions on those producers for the ostensible reason of the promotion of the general welfare.

When the Constitution was written, it is true that the promotion of the general welfare of the people was enumerated as a function of government. James Madison, who, it must be admitted, knew a thing or two about the Constitution, understood that phrase to be limited to the powers vested in government by that document. Now, that phrase has become the tube through which all abuses of individual rights have been fed down the throats of the American public. Add a spoonful of the cloying rot of altruism, and it’s a diet designed for government obesity and an unending cycle of mandated life support supplied by the government to an increasingly malnourished population.

Expansion of Government

As the current administration jumps from plans to fix the economy, to plans to fix healthcare, to plans to fix education, to plans to fix the environment, to plans to fix our energy needs, to plans to fix homelessness etc., its plans require funding for pet projects, unearned benefits, and restrictions against individual freedoms in every proposal. All government plans happen at the expense of individual plans. All these new government proposals are vehicles for massive expansion of government intervention, funding, and control.

How long can the government and those who support its crippling actions rely on the determination of some others to rise above the excessive debt brought on by endless borrowing from the future, the eventual funding of that borrowing through increased taxation, and the onerous restrictions placed on them through arbitrary regulations? It is certainly a strange confidence given that regulatory measures seek to destroy self-reliance and individual effort by replacing them with collective blame and entitlement incentives. Don’t misunderstand me: this is not about Democrats versus Republicans; this is about Americans versus an unrecognizable, unchecked, and unprecedentedly expanding government. Our government is developing into something essentially un-American.

The American Dream

A melting pot of cultures adds to our strength; but America’s wealth is neither bottomless nor a collectivist pot. We are currently seeing the results of turning up both the heat and the pressure on the individuals who actually create the goods and services for which we are willing to, by choice, exchange our own earned wealth.

While the government gets larger every day, individual Americans are suffering under its steady junk-food diet, clinging to the idea that the government can better provide for us by judiciously doling out portions of its seized pot than we can each provide for ourselves. Clearly, enough of us thought that the politicians, through their exhortation of sacrifice, and the bureaucrats, through their attempted mandating of altruism, would help make the American dream a reality for more of us.

Can anyone still believe this to be true while we watch the opposite happen?

Friday, April 10, 2009

One Glass

As is our evening habit,
I pour myself a glass of wine.
Because we toast To Us,
Its deep red drink becomes divine.

But having no other with which to clink,
It laments in its silent state,
And delivers only a taste of you;
My thirst, one glass can never sate.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fawning Obsequiousness

I have stayed away from personal attacks on President Obama because I think they are not only unproductive, but also wrong (not to mention, they make me cranky). As the President of the United States, Barack Obama is my President, and as such, his words and deeds deserve at least the respect due his office even when I am in complete disagreement with them.

If only the President shared my respect for his office.

This picture (found at The New Clarion) is one of the most disturbing things I have seen in a long time. This is the bright and articulate leader of the free world, who won the the hearts and minds of millions of intelligent American voters on the nebulous platform of "Change" actually bowing deeply to the King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (who was named #4 on Parade magazine's list: Worst Dictators in the World).

While touching Queen Elizabeth's back may be a sign of the casual stance of the new First Family, or it may be attributed to nerves - neither of which is terribly important - this waist-deep bow by the President of the United States to the leader of a totalitarian Islamic country speaks volumes about his intentions as our leader. But why wasn't this news? Why is Michelle Obama's fashion more important than our President's prostration before the Saudi King?

Why was this reported in the New York Times when President Clinton made a slight bow to the Emperor of Japan in 1994? Why was Bush's literal hand-holding with the Saudi King in an unofficial, but supposedly friendly capacity (just weirdly icky if you ask me) at his Texas ranch touted as "This administration, under President Bush has persisted on showing fawning obsequiousness toward Saudi officialdom", in the Huffington Post, but mention of this kowtow, which occured last Thursday, was not reported by either outlet?

This following brief video juxtaposes Obama's body language when meeting the Queen of England with that during his meeting of King Abdullah. (The Vince Guaraldi-like music is covering the fact that the report is from a foreign news outlet.)

Even if you think this bow can simply be excused as a mistake of protocol, why did he do it? What in his character caused him to think this was a good thing to do as the President of the United States on the international stage? And, most significantly to critical thought about the state of our nation, why was it not widely condemned by the media?

I am otherwise speechless.

Feeling Nostalgic?

This won't help.

Monday, April 6, 2009


LB's home office tip of the day:

Do NOT keep time to your daughter's violin practice with your touch pad finger unless you want 17 instantiations of Outlook on your desk top.

Just call me Hell, Louise?!

Day 7

I thought I could make it. As the sky opened up, I noticed, not for the first time, that the outside world didn’t seem so scary, so far away. There had to be something better than this: something more than this mean existence. Instead of running scared like the others, I stood, silently…thinking. I craned my neck to get a better estimate of exactly what kind of power it would take to surmount the walls of my captivity. Then despite the gigantic eyes tracking my every move, I took my big chance, and flew! I flew! Up, up, and…(doh!) right smack into the top edge of the wall and tumbled back to earth. Damn that clear plastic.

Victory was not within my grasp today. But I have tasted freedom. I will never give up until it is mine.

Ginger (formerly Strawberry)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

All right. Who's the Showoff?

Today I learned the art of pysanky from a friend and couldn't resist putting the egg in with the chicks. While my egg may look nothing like the intricate designs on the pysanky website, I still like it.

And the process was fun!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

3 Good Things (Grammar, Virtue, & Twilight edition)

Grammar Police

If this question were phrased properly, my answer would be 'yes'. Although my youngest doesn't have the advantage of having Lisa VanDamme (or an intolerant nun) as a teacher, she has been diagramming sentences for a while, has done some work in Rex Barks, and has two parents (both taught by the same intolerant nuns) who try to speak correctly. One of these parents, on occasion, may affectionately be referred to as the Grammar Police. Anyone who might also wear that hat proudly will enjoy Ms. VanDamme's article in Principles in Practice, the blog of The Objective Standard.

Virtue Pays

Having the oil changed in my car has never felt so good. Not only did I change my routine by bringing my car to a local garage instead of the dealer where we had been going, but I made a point to tell the garage owner why we switched: after begging for and then taking money from the government, GM and its affiliated outlets will no longer get any portion of my money which remains under my control. I felt virtuous not because of my stand against GM, but that I bothered to explain it to the garage owner. While I'd guess that he could not care less why I brought him my business, I was pretty sure by the look on his face that no one had ever told him that they came to him out of principle. Best news - on two different days, he had both cars in and out of there within a 1/2 hour. I was able to have the same work done, for the same amount of money, save myself between one and two hours in extra travel and waiting time, and enjoy better coffee.

Tidbits of Twilight

My teenage daughter and I had a small, last-minute Twilight watching party last night. We bought the movie the day it came out last week, but waited for the perfect moment to watch it together and ended up sharing it with some friends: one, a former college roommate of mine, and another mother-daughter duo we've been friends with for a while through homeschooling. Like us, only the mother of the duo remains homeschooling a younger sibling at home while the teenager is in public school.

Both my daughter and her teen friend had devoured all the books in the series. Unlike me, my friend, who read only the first, I think, was certain that she did not like the message the books gave to teenage girls. I completely understand her point and shared a good portion of her concern over the portrayal of dark brooding boys who can kill you as attractive. But with one notable exception (I was quite sure Bella had pajama bottoms on in the book), the movie helped solidify my underlying feelings that the novel (the first at least) is intensely romantic and explores the subjects of sensuality and self-control rather than exploits the teen sex drive. Okay, there's some of that, too, but overall, I really enjoyed it.

It was a particularly interesting movie to watch with my old college roommate who remained mostly silent during the movie. She didn't hesitate to mention to the others in the party, however, that the pale skin, red lips, effeminate face, and scary, dark looks of the main character bore no small resemblance to those of my college boyfriend. They did, too. And while I thought my first love was beautiful in a scary, but non-sparkly Rutger Hauer meets Tom Petty kind of way, any similarities to Edward ended with those not too impressive physical attributes.

Worth noting, my daughter and I rewatched the movie this morning because in the party atmosphere we were all too busy enjoying each other's company, the witty heckling, and the amusing running commentary to fully appreciate the movie. Well, I'd like to think they were witty and amusing anyway.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Poetry Friday: America the Beautiful

This poem has some pretty inspiring lines, particularly in the second and last verses. Try to read it without singing or by singing it to the tune of Auld Lang Syne as was the custom for a while.

America the Beautiful
Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929)

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Octomom Update.

No, not her - me.

I'm happy to report that all eight chicks are still doing fine. One is clearly smaller than the rest but has become a sort of scrapper so I like that. Both Plymouth Rock hens keep pasting up, so not only is that disgusting, but it's exhausting for them to get things straightened out. I actually feel very badly about taking them from their nice warm home and poking and prodding and getting them wet. I'm not used to feeling badly about doing things that need to get done.

Speaking of their nice warm home, at what temperature do you suppose I'll get fried chicken?

It was 115 degrees right under the light today! Of course there were other areas of the brooder where is was 80, so it averaged out okay, but they were sprawled out right under the fry-o-later light. I raised the lamp, but they are either too stupid to move to a more conducive-to-life temperature, or they were shipped from some where near the equator. So I fixed it so that right under the light was 100 degrees and now they're all huddling up together. Maybe it's the thermometer.

Well, here is little chick's eye view of how happy they seemed and sounded today.

I'm working on perfecting the camera angle, and I really tried to get some chick yoga in motion, but they're kind of just fun to watch anyway (if not here, then definitely in real life).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hot Chicks!

Now that I have your attention...

Yesterday, the ladies arrived in all their shipping box glory at our local post office (strangely with all the purposefully placed air holes covered up by shipping stickers). Our concerns that some might have died during shipping were not lessened by the postal worker who said, “Chicks? Really? I can usually hear them.”

Happily, they just seem to be quietish chicks - for now.

So, without further ado, I present to you, in no particular order,

The Chicks at 95 Degrees:

Jessie and Strawberry, the Rhode Island Reds,

Tushy and Mushy, the barred Plymouth Rocks,

Starburst and Hermione, the Golden-Laced Wyandottes,

And Barbie and Alpha, the Easter Eggers.

It’s true: there is no such breed as Easter Egger, but you can read about why they’re called that here.

Of course, all these names are subject to change as their feathers and personality emerge. For instance, the Wyandottes should really be Fred and George since they're basically twins. And Jessie might be called Kleenex (after the box she'll be using to go into the ground if she isn't able to stay awake longer than 5 seconds at a time. Alpha could be Dromedary because she drinks a ton, and Tushy...well Tushy is quite perfect as she seems to have a bit of the paste-up problem (if you don't know - you don't want to know).

But my favorite thing about the chicks so far is Chick Yoga.

They all do it, and it's fun to watch.

Anyone else itchin' to sing Old McDonald?