Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I've had a few interesting conversations lately.

At the shoe store a couple days ago, I was helping an older lady find some plain flip-flops. Her husband was hanging around waiting. The lady was telling me about her recent medical procedure on her heart. I told her my friend the cardiac nurse would know exactly what that was. Then she said that they sent something down her jugular, and I told her that, because of my medical coding class, I'd be able to code it by the jugular approach.

That was when her husband got into the conversation, because he works at the hospital I've applied at the most (the one that keeps telling me I'm "No Longer Under Consideration" for those positions). He asked when I'd be done with my coding class, and when I told him it was just a couple weeks, he said now was a good time to start applying. Then he gave me his name and said to put it in the "Recommended by Employee" box. He asked for my name and then told me he's a department head at the hospital. Exciting!

The second conversation was at Vons Saturday night, and it was reminiscent of a scenario from the Gift of Fear book I blogged about quite a while ago. I went to Vons after 10:00 at night, because I needed a banana for my cereal in the morning. When I left the store and was getting near my car, my not-quite-conscious observational skills took in a couple getting out of their car near mine and a man approaching them for a moment before the couple went past me toward the store entrance. Then the man came up to me and asked me for a ride to a street not too far away, where there was a lady in distress that he really needed to get to so he could help her.

There was nothing creepy about the man himself. I never got any visceral reaction about him. I just told him, "I'm sorry. I can't." And so he persisted with his persuasive skills: she was out there all alone; he'd pay me a lot of money. And to each one, I told him I can't. Finally, when he said he had no other options, I told him there was a couple over there he could ask (the same couple he'd approached right before me, and they were standing by the entrance watching, apparently making sure I'd be OK). I ended with, "For safety's sake, I can't." And then he walked toward the couple and then turned and went toward a corner of the parking lot that I don't believe has an exit.

The whole time, I knew in my head (though not in my gut) that the guy was up to no good. Real men--honest men--understand that they should not ask for help from a lone woman, especially at night. It scares women. As the Gift of Fear says: Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them. If that man found a victim Saturday night, it wasn't me.

The third conversation was much more pleasant. I was at the bookstore and stopped at the clearance table. I said to the older lady across the table, "So many books, so little time" and she agreed. I asked her if she'd read Anne Easter Smith's books, Daughter of York or The King's Grace, and she hadn't. The books look like they should be good, but I'm hoping for a review from someone before I devote my time to them. She suggested the library to save money, but at this point my time is in short supply.

She was really easy to talk to. She "reads" most of her books via audio books from the library, something I used to do back when I commuted an hour each way to work every day. When she said she likes biographies, I recommended Theodore Rex, the biography of Teddy Roosevelt's presidency.

We talked about kids and laughed about things, and then somehow she (or just the direction of our conversation) got me dreaming again. I told her my dream, the one that persists, though unremembered most of the time. I blogged about it a few years ago, when it came up during a day spent with my son. Here's how I described it then:

As I talked to my son and told him some of the other ideas I have--not just taking Christian groups to the same old places that tour companies take everybody, but taking Christians to places with real meaning for Christians--I could feel the enthusiasm just pouring out of me. I even said to him, "Look at how I am when I talk about this, compared to when I talked about my job."

There's real passion when I talk about the Apocalypse Tapestry in the château at Angers, France (one of the "Châteaux of the Loire" in France). But the major tour companies won't take you there. If they stop in Angers at all, they let you look around the town's cathedral. I haven't been to that cathedral, so I can't comment on it, but the Apocalypse Tapestry is a must-see, especially if you're a Christian. And this is from someone who saw it when I didn't care about God. I was amazed even then.

I didn't tell the lady at the bookstore all of that, just the highlights. And I told her about the Pieta-like statue in a small church in the south of England that shows Mary holding the lifeless body of her son Jesus across her lap, and she has lifted her son's limp arm and rested her cheek against the back of his hand. I'd take my group to see that statue too, once I found it again.

There was something about talking to her that stirred my dormant passions again. I guess I forget at times that I still have them.

She and I exchanged first names and expressed the hope that we'll bump into each other again at the bookstore.

It's my nature to talk to strangers, and 99% of the time it's fine (actually the man at Vons talked to me, not the other way around). Usually I just compliment people on their outfit or their fabulous jewelry, and it feels good to see them smile and be glad someone noticed their good taste. The longer conversations that come from it are just icing on the cake. I recommend you try it, because there's joy to be had.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gag Me, Obama-Style

The San Francisco Chronicle published a sugary, syrupy, gag-inducing article today extoling the virtues of our valuable president.

On this Father's Day, the American public should proudly note that our president takes his personal role as father (and spouse) as seriously as he does his job as father of the country. The nation has become better acquainted with President Obama in his first five months of office, and we've learned that his value to our society goes far beyond his vision for ending the economic crisis, his passion for reducing our dependence on foreign oil and his efforts to woo foreign leaders. He also has spent hours wooing some key decision-makers closer to home, namely Sasha, Malia and Michelle, and invaluable lessons are to be learned from his example.

Here's a quick tutorial from Obama's playbook showing American fathers and husbands how it's done.

1. The president has dinner with his family most nights.

2. The president attends his daughters' parent-teacher conferences.

3. The president manages to exercise every day before work.

4. The president has read all of the Harry Potter books with his daughter Malia.

Wow! What a dad!

On the husband front, the SF Chronicle has these tidbits:

-- The president has a weekly date night with Michelle.

-- The president compliments Michelle in public and does not have to be begged to hit the dance floor. The president took many opportunities during his speeches on the campaign trail to praise Michelle. And who could deny he cut a rug at all those inauguration parties?

-- The president invited his mother-in-law to move in with his family. While there were ample incentives for Marian Robinson's move into the White House for all parties involved, proffering such an invitation could be the holy grail of a husband's commitment.

So, my question is: What did the Chronicle say about President Bush on his first Father's Day in office? Chances are it criticized him for spending too much time exercising and taking vacations and complimenting Laura.

Bush = Evil

Obama = Godliness

That's the Left-Wing creed.

I'm gonna go puke now...

Friday, June 12, 2009


I haven't been home much, because I'm doggie-sitting for Santa and his wife, both of whom go to my church.

You thought they had little elves who lived with them at the North Pole, but you were mistaken. They have three little Yorkies who live with them in Southern California and need taking care of, but Santa and the Missus are on vacation with friends, so I'm pitching in for a few weeks.

Macy, the female (the mostly black one, upper left) had puppies a couple months ago. She carries the recessive white gene, and a breeder in the area has a white male. Together they produced Bandit, the white one lower left, a year or two ago. And Casey, on the right, isn't related.

I'm glad I don't have to take care of the puppies, though, because I wouldn't have time for that. Macy's litter is at the breeder's, and the breeder is trying to sell them as pennance for not having watched carefully enough to make sure her white male bred with Macy. Instead, in an unwatched moment, the breeder's chihuahua snuck in and spoiled the whole litter.

Mrs. Santa was heartbroken when she told me about it. But since my visits to the pet store at the mall have shown me that a Maltese-Yorkie mix is called a "Morkie," I suggested that Mrs. Santa call the puppies "Chorkies." It makes it sound like it's on purpose and not a money-losing surprise (White Yorkie puppies can fetch $4,000 - 5,000).

Anyway, that's where I've been. Hanging out with little dogs who like me just fine, especially when I give them their treats.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

This Made My Day

I went to Costco today to get more string cheese, and of course I looked at the book table. I found this book:

The subtitle, in case you can't see it clearly enough, is, "The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness."

It absolutely made my day! Why?

I don't suffer from anxiety.

I don't suffer from depression.

I'm not obsessive.

I don't have anger issues.

I'm not impulsive in any life-diminishing way. Spontaneous once in a while, maybe, but not impulsive the way the book means it.

There it was: A self-help book, and I didn't need it one little bit! It just doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama's Egypt Speech

President Obama delivered a much-anticipated, much-dreaded speech in Cairo today. The transcript is here.

Hugh Hewitt's reaction is two-fold:

There are two great objections to the speech. First is its false idea that the ideas within it represent a huge break with the Bush Administration's policies with regard to Islam. Of course they don't. George Bush said essentially the same things about the war's non-religous character on many major occasions. Bush's allies in the war are Obama's allies, and Bush's enemies are Obama's enemies, because those allies and enemies are opposed to or support the United States, not a particular president. President Obama's extraordinary vanity as to the power of his own story should continue to trouble realists across the political spectrum. None of the ruthless men who guide our greatest enemies care a whit about where the president was born or who is parents were. They don't care either about his Muslim ancestors. They hate America. They hated America before George Bush became president and they will hate it after Barack Obama leaves office.

The second biggest objection is to the paragraphs devoted to Israel, which began with incomplete history and theory, and then veered off into the worst sort of moral equivalence:

America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed - more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

"On the other hand?"... This last paragraph is a profound betrayal of Israel suggesting as it does that Israel has done to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to Jews, which will no doubt shock many Americans and of course many Israelis while becoming a standard text for the most radical among the Palestinians. It was clearly carefully crafted to indulge Palestinian and Arab narratives about what has happened in the past 61 years while maintaining plausible deniability for the president's supporters who are also supporters of Israel, but it fails to fool anyone for even a moment. Israelis should finally grasp if they haven't already that the ground of the American-Israel alliance is quaking beneath them.

Before Obama left for Egypt, several columnists wrote the speech they wished the president would deliver but were certain he wouldn't.

Dennis Prager's Obama speech included this:

"To my great disappointment, many Muslims have come to believe that my country has declared war on Muslims and Islam.

"[T]he truth is, as noted by the Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist for the American newspaper the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer, in the last 20-30 years America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for Muslims. We Americans engaged in five military campaigns on behalf of Muslims, each one resulting in the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

So, in fact, in these 20 years, my country, the United States of America has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any other nation, Muslim or non-Muslim.

"While I recognize that gratitude is the rarest positive human quality, I need to say -- because candor is the highest form respect -- that America has not only not received little gratitude from the Muslim world, it has been the object of hatred, mass murder, and economic attack from Muslim individuals, groups, and countries.

"So, my friends here in Egypt, between America and the Muslim world, who exactly has been making war on whom?"

Robert Spencer, in Real Clear Politics, has another, stronger take on what Obama's speech should have included:

I must speak honestly with you. It puzzles and pains Americans to see ourselves vilified and hated for trying to help others. Now, unlike the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Islamic entities, we seek no apologies, no restitution. We do not ask for a word of thanks for our numerous attempts to help Muslim societies become safe, prosperous places to live for all their citizens. We do not ask for your approval. But at this point we are going to cease efforts to build bridges of understanding with the Islamic world that have turned out to be fruitless, and even self-defeating.

We have showered billions on Pakistan to enable the Pakistani government to fight the Islamic jihadists, only to see a great deal of that money being funneled to those same jihadists, who are now stronger than ever.

We have tried to establish democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to see non-Muslim minorities treated worse than ever, such that they have been streaming out of Iraq in unprecedented numbers, while the few that remain in Afghanistan are subject to increasingly violent persecution.

We have brokered peace treaty after peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians - from Camp David to Oslo to the Road Map for Peace - only to see the Palestinian side again and again trample upon its commitments to recognize and respect Israel's basic right to exist.

I have offered you America's outstretched hand. In doing so I have followed a path blazed by my predecessors. But that gesture of conciliation has never been reciprocated. And so now, even as my good will is still extended to you, I must act more realistically.

Pakistan and other Muslim countries will not receive another penny of American aid unless and until they demonstrate - in a transparent and inspectable fashion - that they are working against, not abetting, the forces of the global jihad. This will include instituting comprehensive nationwide programs to teach against the jihad doctrine of Islamic supremacism, teaching that Muslims and non-Muslims must live together as equal citizens on an indefinite basis, without any attempts by Muslims to subjugate non-Muslims as inferiors under the rule of Islamic law.

I trust you will understand that we cannot continue to fund the cutting of our own throat.

Exactly. Too bad our Appeaser-in-Chief doesn't see it quite that way. He's too busy preparing Israel for the sacrificial slaughter. And if we haven't turned him out of office by the time that's been finished, he'll start preparing our throat for the same treatment.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

June Calendar Photos

Good grief! I forgot to notice the change to a new month.

It's June now. Time for the next round of calendar photos. The family calendar has Niagara Falls. The upper left picture was taken from solid land, looking at the edge where the water plunges. The other two were taken from the Maid of the Mist boat. We were issued those blue ponchos to save us from the worst of the torrential spray.

My patterns calendar has a photo of some seashells that were for sale at Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where we stopped to look at the lighthouses that turned out not to be very good-looking.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Words I Hate

Some days I can get a little cranky. Today is one of them, because I keep seeing a disgusting word in news articles. So I thought I'd do a bit of get-it-off-my-chest-ing.

These are words that set my teeth on edge:

Sustainable. This is code-speak by the Left for government-controlled (or environmental elitist-controlled) life. When you see it, it means somebody wants to tell you how you can and can't use your own property. Resist sustainability!

Puede. It's a Spanish word. You heard it during the illegal-immigration demonstrations a few years ago, when they chanted, "¡Si, se puede!" I just find it an unattractive word, like someone is spitting something distasteful out of his mouth. There are other Spanish words that sound nice, but since this post is about the words I hate, I won't tell you what the good ones are.

Healthful. This is a fake word. I'm sure somebody made it up several years ago to make their advertising health claims sound more professional than if they said, "healthy." I don't mind if I eat healthy foods. Spinach is a healthy food, and it's fabulous with mushrooms and feta cheese in a fritatta. Just don't tell me it's "healthful" or I might hurl. And that wouldn't be healthful in the least.

I'm sure there are more words I hate, and I'd think of them if I just marinated in my crankified state a little longer. But I have to get ready for work now, and I need to be cheerful...