Friday, December 29, 2006

Justice, Not Revenge

This post is written in memory and honor of the thousands of Kurds, other Sunnis, Shites, Christians, Jews, political opponents, potential political opponents, those mistakenly identified as political opponents, and passersby, whose lives were cut short and the millions whose lives were shattered by the actions of a troubled, abused, little boy who became the ruthless, heartless, bloodthirsty dictator of Iraq.

I take no pleasure in the death of any man, even this one. His is a tragic life that begat tragedy for millions including his own offspring. But justice is being done, perhaps as I write. His trial may not have been perfect, but he received ample opportunities to present his defense, opportunities his victims did not have. He was never a devout Muslim and does not represent anyone but himself. I suspect, outside perhaps his own family, very few will mourn him.

But neither should we rejoice. This meting out of justice should be done with dignity and solemnly. Democracies do not deal in revenge. They do not kill with joy. They hold every human life precious. Any blogger who taunts the dictator, his family, or his pathetic followers grants undeserved credence to the tyrant's accusations that his legitimate prosecution is actually persecution or revenge.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tomorrow Begins Today!

"Americans have to be patriotic about something besides war."
-John Edwards

Our party is blessed with lots of outstanding Presidential possibilities for 2008. Clark, Obama, Clinton, Biden, Vilsack, Richardson, Kerry... and there's always the chance Gore, Warner, or Bayh might change their minds. For now I'm rooting for Senator John Edwards. Today he made his campaign for President official. I wish him well. I still hold out hopes that Al Gore will join the fray but, barring that, John Edwards is my choice. He will make a wonderful leader. His charisma, his groundedness, his leadership, his sensitivity, his vision, can help reclaim for America the prestige, the unity, the optimism, that has been squandered during the last six years.

Main points in his platform include:
  • reestablish America's leadership role in the world
  • guarantee health care for every single American
  • strengthen our middle class and fight poverty
  • lead the fight against global warming
  • break our addiction to oil

Cold Flute has more on Edwards announcement.

Washington Post story on the announcement.

The John Edwards website.

An added advantage for Edwards is Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Edwards!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Mercenary for Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford died last night, the oldest living President in history, recently passing Reagan, who had passed Hoover already this decade. His passing brought to mind the few minutes I spent as a mercenary in the Ford campaign of 1976.

During the 1976 Presidential Praimary I was handed a little ethical decision. The local support group for President Gerald Ford gave me a photo and the words they wanted on a full-page ad in our little weekly newspaper, Broadside. I was an outspoken supporter of former Governor Jimmy Carter. I accepted the ad, and designed the most attractive ad I could manage for Ford. I thought it my duty to give the Republicans the best ad I could design given the content they presented me.

Meanwhile the Carter supporters in Rome also bought an ad, but gave us no leeway in its design, we printed it as it came to us (ugh!). So I had the displeasure of printing an attractive ad (I thought) for Ford whom I opposed and an unattractive ad (I thought) for Carter, whom I supported.

At least I was able as an editor to publish my column in support of the man from Plains.

(Click on the pic if you are curious about my 30 year old editorial.)

Ford’s opponent in the primary, of course, was the former actor and governor of California, Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s supporters also bought an ad in that edition of Broadside.

Floyd County ended up presenting Carter 79% of the vote in the Democratic primary. Reagan won the much smaller GOP primary with 63%.

I always admired Gerald Ford for his integrity and gentlemanly conduct. He supported many environmental protections that are anathema to the current Republican Party. He was the last Republican nominee to support a woman’s right to abort an unwanted pregnancy. He was a moderate Republican, left of Reagan but right of Rockefeller. Nowadays he would be considered a liberal Republican, I think. I believe he was motivated by real concern for the country in pardoning Nixon. I once thought it the right decision, but now wonder if a trial would have better clarified the crimes of Nixon and helped to prevent some of the excesses we lament now.

Here are some other reactions to President Ford's death:
President Ford did not agree with Bush's Invasion of Iraq

Oh!pinion on Gerald Ford

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas!
We spent much of Saturday the 16th getting up the Christmas wreaths and lights, so I took a picture. (I first posted this Dec. 16, but I am changing the date to Christmas day.)

Please check out my Top Ten Christmas Memories posted a year ago.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

An Old Tradition and a New One

One of my favorite activities at Christmastime is taking 30 minutes to meditate on the meaning of the event as I stand in our annual Nativity Scene at Trinity United Methodist Church. My family usually stands in the scene on Christmas Eve, but this Christmas Eve I will be busy fetching my eldest from the Atlanta airport. So we took our turn tonight. Our shift included the following cast: Joseph - me; Mary - Sheila; Angels - daughter Lillian and Niece Nora; Wise Guy, er... Man- Sheila's brother Jim, Shepherd - Jim's wife, Sally. The picture above was a little earlier when Joseph and Mary were portrayed by a more age-appropriate pair - my nephew Jonathan and his friend Morgan.

Yesterday my family and Jim's participated in what I hope will become a tradition. The Three Rivers Singers, an orchestra of local musicians, and four wonderful soloists from the Shorter and Berry college faculties, led a community "Handel's Messiah Sing-a-Long". Though I have sung parts of the Messiah before, it's been many years and I did not add much to the choruses from my seat in the back balcony of the wonderfully acoustical Berry College Chapel. What a marvelous concert and how wonderful that the audience could join in those inspiring choruses.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Beth!

I tried to upload these pics a little before midnite so they'd be actually on your b'day, Baby Sister, but Blogger wouldn't take 'em. Some sort of conspiracy, I suspect.

Happy Belated Birthday, Beth! Yours is the first original birthday I remember in our family. I actually remember that Sunday and proudly announcing your birth to my grade school class. (I remember when Debi was sick as an infant, but not her birth.)

OK, Blogger still doesn't like your pictures, Beth.

Ta-dah!! Finally!! Ain't she sweet?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Teacher's Life

I have the privilege of going to work at something I enjoy, most mornings. I teach fourth grade children. What a hoot!

Part of the joy of teaching, for a ham like this ol' boy, is having an appreciative audience 180 days a year. I love to tell stories, read aloud, guide tours, sing, clown around, and generally show out.

Here are a few of my show-out moments of the school year:

I lead the students in singing our special birthday song to students during lunch. It is the simple chorus of the song "Cut The Cake".
It makes me think of the good old days
Happy birthday to you
You sure grew out of your baby ways
Happy birthday to you
It's your (7th 23rd, 92nd) birthday
we wish you many more
Health and wealth and friends by the score
Cut the cake and let's eat some more
Happy birthday to you
I learned it from Ed Kilbourne. It has also been recorded by John McCutcheon. It was written by Tina Lisa Jones. Often our entire class will march solemnly into a neighboring classroom room to sing the song for the teacher. I introduce it with a flourish commemorating the anniversary in the most flowery style i can muster.

We also sing songs for the Water Cycle, the Cummutative Properties of Addition and Multiplication, and Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, among others.

I often speak in dialect and pretend to be the explorer we are studying in Social Studies or a mad scientist investigating the topic at hand in our science class.

The school calls on me often to tell stories at special events. Afterwards I am happy but drenched in sweat and worn to a frazzle.

My afterschool duties include calling students to their parents' cars via walkie talkie. I am incapable of performing that task in a businesslike voice. Instead I have to entertain. "Julie Grobesmidt, your Mama thinks you're number one!" "Henry Pomegranite, your chariot awaits at number 2!" etc. I'm sure the rest of the staff would like to stuff a sock in my mouth.

There are several books that I read aloud to my kids every year.

First is The Lion's Paw by Robb White, my favorite children's book. One of my favorite moments of the school year is reading the climactic scene of that book. You could hear a pin drop as the kids hang on every word. Then during the resolution, when a character reaches down to pick up a Lion's Paw seashell off the littered floor of the sloop's cabin, I bend and pretend to pick up the shell I've hidden in my hand, and relish the "Wow!s" and "Ooh!s" and the "Is it real, Mr. Shaw?s"

No Christmas season would be complete without reading Barbara Robinson's beautiful little book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

When the wild-haired foxhound Bristle Face (by Zachary Ball) gets tangled in the widow's bloomers hanging from the clothesline, the kids roar with laughter. When the panther springs our hearts turn over. And when we face the dog's death, teacher and students fight lumps in our throats.

What is your favorite memory of school?
What is your favorite children's book?

I have previously touched on some of my school memories:

Alien Invasion

Cousins, Rice, Sea Legs, and Multiplication

Aslan Is Dead!

Pottermania & Children's Books

Spare the Rod, Icabod!

My more serious cohort, Mike Bock has written:

The Education Of John Adams

Schools That Would Make Stalin Happy

School of the Future

Friday, December 15, 2006

'Possums, Again!

The neighbor's cat food was disappearing faster and faster. Finally he surprised the thief. It took off, waddling swiftly toward our house... and under! When he let me know of the new resident I visited the Lavendar Mountain Hardware and made a $70 contribution toward their Merry Christmas and came home with a Hav-A-Hart trap. I set it with dogfood for bait near the spot the varmint had last been seen, fully expecting to catch as many cats as 'possums. Day after day the bait disappeared magically, but no critter was caught.

Then, as I drank my coffee on Monday morning last, I heard what I took to be an angry feline. "Oh, no! I've finally caught a cat!" I assumed. I nearly spilled the coffee when I bent over the cage and found a hissing 'possum instead. Already late to work, I left him incarcerated for the day.

That evening I placed the trap on the back of the truck, and drove to the PTO meeting at school -- several of my students were delighted to ogle my captive.

Afterwards I drove around to the entrance to the school's nature trail and opened the cage. I figured the huge Berry College woodland preserve behind the school would give the feller his best chance to postpone his roadkill destiny.

After considerable coaxing the critter plummeted into darkness down the trail.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Democrats Must Engage the Grass Roots

I was recently appointed to chair the “Grass Roots Committee” for The Montgomery County Democratic Party. Montgomery County has 540 precincts, over 300,000 voters and over 35,000 registered Democrats -- so there are a lot of “grass roots” to consider. I set the goal for myself to write a blog about what goals this “Grass Roots Committee” should seek to accomplish, and what plan of action the committee should recommend to the Executive Committee. I decided that I would write the blog as a letter to the chair of The Montgomery County Democratic Party -- and send this letter to the chair as a means to start a conversation with him and the rest of the Executive Committee about ideas for possible implementation. I thought that I would have a completed blog this week, but I am not nearly finished. My goal now is to finish by next week. This is how the letter begins:

How Do We Inspire Democrats to Leadership?

The "Grass Roots Committee" has as it main goal the task of creating and outlining a plan, that, if implemented, will result in many more Democrats becoming active and effective participants in our Party.

This main goal can be divided into sub-goals. Here are three sub-goals; I would like our committee to make a plan to:
  1. Create an e-mail directory of all the Democrats in this county.
  2. Fill the position of precinct captain in each precinct with an individual who is committed to active participation in the Party.
  3. Inspire each precinct captain to engage in productive grassroots’ work in his or her precinct at least 3 hours each week, each week of the year.
My thought is that success with the "grass roots" will be determined by the quality and commitment of leadership at the "grass roots" level. Montgomery County Democrats need to develop and empower a core group of "grass roots" leaders and each of these leaders need to make an extraordinarily high level of personal committment to make their leadership effective. Think of what three hours each week, every week, by 540 individuals could accomplish. It would be amazing. This is a big goal, but I think that it is a goal that is actually doable. Certainly we can find a plan that would inspire and engage 540 Democrats in this county to make an extraordinary effort. Finding leaders -- allowing and encouraging leaders to emerge -- is our most important task, and at the heart of a successful "grass roots" program. The key word to finding leaders, it seems to me, is the word, inspire.

What would inspire potential leaders to accept leadership and to commit to an extraordinary level of personal involvement? My thought is that we could inspire Democrats to new levels of leadership and commitment -- if we could implement the right plan. Aspects of a plan that could motivate and inspire, I believe, would include giving Democrats the opportunity to: 1) become involved in personally engaging activities, 2) identify with and participate in a meaningful community of like-minded citizens and 3) contribute to the success of a meaningful purpose. The fact that Montgomery County is a battleground county in a battleground state is one basis for inspiration, one basis for defining meaningful purpose.

This letter will outline one plan of action that I would like the "Grass Roots Committee" to further study and develop.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What is moderate politics? Victory at Sea. Benchmarks!

Perusing the blogs...

Check out The Moderate Voice today. Joe tackles the question: What is moderate politics?

While you're at it, stop by S.W. Anderson's Oh!pinion, where S.W. remembers "Victory at Sea". Don't miss the comments.

Well over a year ago John Kerry proposed a withdrawal from Iraq based on stated "benchmarks". Now we learn that Donald Rumsfeld, two days before Bush relieved him, proposed a similar plan. Craig at Donkey Path has more.

Baptism by Water and Fire

December 3rd has rolled around again. This one marks the twentieth anniversary of my father's sudden death. I wrote about that last December.

One of my favorite memories of childhood was gathering with a sister or two or three in Daddy's little outbuilding study/office in our backyard at 333 South Ninth Street in Griffin, Ga. and listening as Daddy told tales of his youth. Especially the story of the harrowing day when he (above, left) and younger brother James (above, right) went skinny-dipping in the Yellow River. (Daddy, like all great storytellers, never let inconvenient facts interfere with a good story. Apples don't fall far from the tree.)

Daddy Shaw had taken the boys down to the river before. And he had given his sons stern instructions to never come there on their own.

But this day was hot. And the call of friends and cool water was too enticing to ignore. So Bud and Jim found themselves following the tracks toward the river just to check things out.

And there came the Dinky.

The narrow gauge rail line that served Callaway Mills and its little mill community, Milstead, was aptly named. It only traveled the three miles to and from Conyers. It traveled narrow rails. And it had a little engine. It may have been the inspiration for the Little Engine That Could. It was a dinky lil' train. But it hauled huge loads of cotton to the mill and huge loads of finished cloth away to waiting bigger engines in Conyers.

That day Hub Doyle (the elder Hub) was at the engine. Seeing Grady's boys headed toward the river he hollered that he would tell their Daddy what they were up to. Folks looked out for each other's kids in that close knit little town and everybody knew the barber with the mischievous boys (eventually five of them). Bud and Jim were caught.

Grady Shaw at his barber shop, much later (early 60s)

James sized up the situation quickly. They might as well have a swim, he announced, since they were gonna be in trouble anyway. Charles soon agreed and they slid down the embankment toward the swimming hole. Each found a tree for an undressing spot, left their garments in two heaps and were soon swinging wildly over the pool on the rope swing attached high in a sycamore and cannonballing a dozen peers in the muddy waters of the Yellow River. As the afternoon splashed by, the revelling boys hardly noticed the darkening skies, faraway thunders, and gradually rising and hurrying currents. They were surprised to eventually find themselves all alone in the swirling pool.

"We better head home!" shouted Bud as he slipped and struggled by sycamore root up the muddy red clay bank in the now pelting rain. Hearing no reply he looked back to see his little brother stuggling against the current and getting nowhere in a hurry. Charles dove back into the swift water, grabbed Jim by the neck, and awkwardly dog-paddled toward the bank. He and the sputtering Jim managed to hoist themselves up the bank, race to their respective trees, and climb into their overalls just as a blitzkrieg of lightning split a tulip poplar that crashed with additional thunder directly between the two boys.

Scrambling through the tangled branches Jim grabbed his brother's hand and they scurried home, happy to be alive and willing to accept whatever punishment awaited them.

The boys had had their share of well-deserved whalings. But this time Daddy Shaw perceived that a lesson had been learned and took a pass on any further discipline. Jim and Bud wouldn't soon chance an illegal dip in the Yellow River. That particular sin had been washed away by a baptism of water and fire that they would never forget.

James with their youngest brother, Jack, near the scene of the crime.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thirteen Favorite Christmas Solos

.. a little late.

Unfamiliar with some of these? I've found a few online files of varying quality:
Some Children See Him
O Little Town of Bethlehem (English melody)
Sweet Little Jesus Boy
O Holy Night
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
I Wonder as I Wander
What Child Is This
Away in a Manger
Do You Hear What I Hear?
The Friendly Beasts
Birthday of a King
Angels We Have Heard on High
and, of course, Silent Night

Saturday Note: Tonight Sheila and attended the Christmas Concert of the Rome Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Brian Nedvin, a wonderful tenor and professor art Shorter College was the guest soloist. So now I can add three of his solos to this list: Selections from "Messiah", "Gesu Bambino", and "Ave Maria". I have sung "Gesu" several times myself -- I'm surprized I didn't think of it when I was making my list.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

The Philadelphia "School of the Future"

The School of the Present
Is Failing
And Technology Is Not The Solution

I’ve been reading about the “School of the Future,” a 9-12 public high school that opened just this fall in a brand new, especially designed $63 million structure in Philadelphia. Microsoft partnered with Philadelphia City Schools to help design and outfit the building. And it is beautiful. The school is full of the latest technology; it is a paperless, broadband island; each student is assigned his or her own laptop computer. The school is designed to be small; it will add a new freshman class each year, reaching its maximum size of 750 students within four years.

I’ve read several funny blog comments from writers who are obviously scornful of Microsoft. These comments speculate what this school might look like -- if it models the inadequacies and glitches associated with Microsoft products.

As I read it, the school will be evaluated on the basis of the same test score results used to evaluate all Philadelphia city schools. Wow. It seems safe to predict that the graduates of this new school will knock the socks off these test, and will make scores far superior to the scores made in other Philadelphia city high schools. Here are at least four reasons why high tests scores by students in this new school is a safe prediction:
  1. There is great competition to be a student in this school -- 170 freshman students were chosen by lottery from the group of 1500 students who applied.
  2. There is competition to be a teacher in this school -- teachers from all Philadelphia City Schools were encouraged to apply.
  3. The success of this school is of great importance to many individuals in power positions in Philadelphia.
  4. The school provides a safe, modern, beautiful, physical environment.
This school is certain to be praised as a success and Microsoft, I imagine, will want to take credit and will want to make the claim that, “See, the success of schools depends on making heavy investments in technology and software.” But, compared to the power of these four foundational aspects of the school listed above, the fact that this school emphasizes the use of technology is insignificant.

Usually, high scoring schools are found in prosperous and exclusive communities. Philadelphia, in creating this new high school, has created a prosperous and exclusive island in its dysfunctional city school system, and, on this island an exclusive group of teachers and students are being provided a wonderful opportunity. Of course the test scores of students in this high school will be astronomical -- compared with test scores made by students in other Philadelphia high schools. But, high test scores are not enough -- not to evaluate the school of the future. After all, there are many schools, schools of the present, where students make high test scores. This new school, it seems to me, should have a higher and better defined aim than high test scores.

The “School of the Future” is a great title -- worthy of much contemplation. What in the world should such a title mean? What will the schools of the future be? I guess what schools will become will depend on what society itself becomes. If we are all living in some version of a North Korean totalitarian nightmare, then our schools will be included in that nightmare. If we are living within a Star Trek society, along with enlightened beings like Mr. Spock, then our schools will reflect that society as well. The theory is that schools, through educating the youth, can help advance society towards its ideals and goals. For that reason, totalitarian societies have always placed great value in forming and training youth, in preparing youth to assume the jobs and responsibilities of their society. Totalitarian schools are schools that anticipate the future -- that implant values, attitudes in today’s children that the state seeks, generally, to implant in society as a whole -- because totalitarian states know that it is the youth who will build the future.

An American school of the future, it seems to me, would be one that anticipates a future where American ideals are realized: liberty, justice, personal freedom, democratic participation, civic awareness. The advocates of the Philadelphia school seem to say that school is all about preparing students for employment, all about giving students the skills and experience needed to benefit from the advantages of this technological age. But that is not enough. North Korean leaders want this from their schools as well. And they want more. Americans should want more from their schools as well. Job training has its place but, by itself, job training does not advance the ideals at the foundation of our society. When we see how the foundations of our democracy are crumbling, it is fair to hold our schools accountable, and the fact whether students are passing tests or not is beside the point.

Our high schools in general -- and this new Philadelphia high school seems no exception -- are hierarchical, authoritarian, coercive and bureaucratic. It is the school itself, through its practices and ethos, that teaches, and, structured as they are, this “hidden curriculum” of our high schools teaches values inimical to the ideals at the foundation of our society. The operation of our high schools, in general, would not contradict the operating principles of North Korean society. Our schools at present fail to anticipate or prepare a future, through their operations and practice, that honors American ideals and values. And this failure, though seldom acknowledged, is the central failure of American schools -- not the failure indicated on tests.

It appears to me that Philadelphia’s new school, rather than finding a fresh view of what a school is, rather than finding more effective ways to inspire and prepare students for democratic participation, has stuck with a very conventional view of school and school purpose -- one that emphasizes test scores and college entrance. I want to do more research to see if this impression is correct and to see exactly what happens, over time, in this school. But it appears that in Philadelphia the take on the school of the future is that the school of the future is basically the school of the present with better technology. And the problem is that the school of the present is failing -- yes, even those schools that are islands of privilege with tons of technology -- and this failure, as stated above, has little to do with grades or college admissions.

So, in my judgement, what Philadelphia is offering as a school of the future is not enough. A school of the future is one that will give hope that those beings of the future, today's children, will sustain, refresh and enliven those core values upon which our democracy depends. So far as I can tell, fulfilling such a school purpose has not been part of the Philadelphia school design.

There is a huge need for American public education to be redesigned; there is a huge need for a school design that would implement, through its practices and ethos, American ideals, a school that would anticipate a flowering of democracy. Such a school would not be designed based on technology, but would be designed based on sound theory and profound insight into school purpose, human purpose, and human potential -- and based on profound understandings of the ideals we hold as a democratic society, and how these ideals can be modeled and celebrated in our schools.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Specialization is for insects.

The meme I completed a couple of days ago reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
- Robert Heinlein (his character Lazarus Long in Time Enough For Love)
I've always wanted to be a "Renaissance" man. Let's see how I rate on Heinlein's Humanity Test.

change a diaper - yep.
plan an invasion
- only on board games and with my friends capturimg a series of overthrow mound "forts" in the woods at about age 10-12.
butcher a hog - I watched it done, that's challenge enough. My little friend thought it was great sport to press the bladder with his foot to watch the resulting spray! Yuk!
conn a ship - several canoes and rafts and a fishimg boat with a 5hp outboard are my largest ships.
design a building - I spent a portion of my childhood doing this - I was going to be an architect up until I hit algebra. And I've done a little of it as a grown-up.
write a sonnet - my favorite may be the one I wrote as a plea to be transferred from a certain teachers English class in high school.
balance accounts - yep.
build a wall - several, I wrote about one such project here. (The first poem on the page.)
set a bone - nope.
comfort the dying - yes
take orders - sometimes reluctantly
give orders - yep.
cooperate - yep.
act alone - yep.
solve equations - yep.
analyze a new problem - yep.
pitch manure - yep, several truckloads, literally and figuratively.
program a computer - yep.
cook a tasty meal - yep, if I do say so myself.
fight efficiently - I'm not sure about the efficiency, and never literally in my adult life.
die gallantly - only on stage, so far. Come to think of it my most notable death on stage was a figurative one and anything but gallant. But then to think again, I gallantly resisted cursing and running from the stage.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tom Daschle for President?

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was asked recently about the Bush fall from grace. He responded:
Someone told me early in my career: ‘If you want to get elected, learn to speak. If you want to stay elected, learn to listen.’ ”

Cold Flute is keeping a close watch on prospective Democratic Presidential candidates. Tom Daschle, an articulate, thoughtful, soft-spoken Midwesterner defeated Senator, would be an unusual choice for the nomination. But then a fellow named Lincoln once got the Republican nod with a much less successful Washington career.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What in the World have you done?

I found this meme on my third sister's (The Median Sib) site. She got it from my fifth sister's (Blue Star Chronicles) site. (I wonder if there are two other sisters who write separate blogs that rank in the top 100 on Truth Laid Bear's blog-ranking system?)

Copy and paste the list below. Highlight the things you have done. And delete my green comments, of course.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain (Nothing to rival Rudi Matt or Sir Hillary, but I've done some rock-climbing and some hiking in the Appallachians and in Montana.)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it. (I've never said it when I didn't mean it.)
09. Hugged a tree (Yep, I'm a self-confessed treehugger.)
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea (Ok, I was on shore: the storm was at sea.)
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise. (I have pics of my favorite sunrise - August 9, 1971. Another favorite was August 4, 1983 when Cotton Franklin helped me ready, at dawn, the upstairs I had been preparing for the carpet guys when Sheila called me down to time contractions.)
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (The hugest were soccer games my girls were involved in.)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables (Not often enough.)
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars (In Kentucky, West Virginia, and Georgia.)
20. Changed a baby’s diaper (And it was never a chore when the baby in question was mine.)
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower (With my kids lying on our backs on the levee.)
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity (On the other hand, could I afford not to?)
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope (Fourth Grade Star Night is one of my favorite nights of the school year.)
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment (When I was 12 or so and the other preacher's kid hit sour notes in her solo. My Dad was very angry with me.)
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger (It did not work out well.)
30. Had a snowball fight (I can feel the frostbite in my memory, now!)
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse (The circular dapples under the oaks on Cedar Avenue gradually became crescents!)
34. Ridden a roller coaster (Only once did I upchuck afterward.)
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking (On a river cruise in Chattanooga with Sheila.)
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day (You didn't say consecutive 24 hours. When I played Tevye in Fiddler I adopted a Russian accent for probably a full day altogether - rehearsals & performances.)
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment (Actually most of the time.)
39. Had two hard drives for your computer (Almost always.)
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk (Yuk!)
42. Had amazing friends (You know who you are!)
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign (The "Flush It" sign from the bathroom at church camp. Pretty rotten, huh?!!)
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip (Most of my trips have been on roads?)
48. Gone rock climbing (I can feel the vertigo that shook my legs and terrorized my heart.)
49. Midnight walk on the beach (Especially August 8/9, 1971.)
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow (I've also been squirted with milk directly from the source.)
56. Alphabetized your CDs (We called them LPs.)
57. Pretended to be a superhero (Is there anyone who hasn't?)
58. Sung karaoke (I've done whole karaoke concerts.)
59. Lounged around in bed all day (Or practically, anyway.)
60. Played touch football (It's been a few decades.)
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain (... and other atmospheric conditions.)
63. Played in the mud (Is there anyone who hasn't?)
64. Played in the rain (I remember running around in the pouring rain under the trees of the Semicircle at Asbury Collge with some close friends. We paused to "make a memory" as we closed out our careers there. )
65. Gone to a drive-in theater (I am ashamed to admit that one time I arrived in the trunk of the car!)
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business (Twice. Ouch! Ouch!)
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken (The girl is nuts, thank goodness.)
69. Toured ancient sites (The Snake Mound in Ohio, Fort Mountain and Etowah Mounds and Ocmulgee Mounds and lots of Mississippian fish weirs in Georgia.)
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie (Working on a short now.)
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert” (Interviewed about a play on local cable TV is the best I can do.)
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage My second favorite place to be.
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date (More than once!)
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently (I know a little Ameslan. I sing songs in Swahili, Italian, Spanish, German, and French: does that count? Pig Latin?)
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children (The two greatest of all time.)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour (On a few hours notice, caught a train with Sheila to see Arlo and Pete in a Smithsonian tribute to Woody.
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication ("Large" is such a subjective term.)
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart (Bruised two or three a little, at least.)
111. Helped an animal give birth (If spoken encouragement and petting counts.)
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery (Any surgery is "major" in the first person.)

120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (Only fish.)
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office (I ran for the state legislature and lost. But I was elected to the state committee several times in the Democratic primary. I'm gonna count that.)
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream (On the stage several times... and of course there's August 8, 1971 (and January 1, 1971, and January 23, 1971), and also August 4, 1983 and July 27, 1988, among innumerable others.)
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident (At least twice!! Ouch, ouch, again!!)
150. Saved someone’s life (I won't count saving my Median Sib from a vicious Black Widow spider when I was 6 -- though I took that very seriously at the time!)

I promise I'll write a serious post again soon!

Friday Feast!

My Median Sib had this little meme on her site, so, what the heck, here goes:

Have you ever changed a flat tire by yourself?
Yes, more often than I like to remember.
Soup: Do you have an “innie” or an “outie” belly button?

Innie (Minnie, miny moe).
Salad: Name a new paint color and describe it.
Katydid - a cheerful spring green
Main Course: What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Standing in our church's Nativity Scene on Christmas Eve. I have done that for the last 23 years in a row and several times between 1962 and 1983. It is great after the commercial hubbub of the "Xmas season" of the world to spend thirty minutes standing in awe as wonderful music fills my soul and I contemplate a young mother and father in a stable with their child and appreciate the Love the world at large virtually ignores.
Dessert: If you were a cookie, what kind of cookie would you be, and why?
Something with chunks of nuts, caramel, and chocolate and hot Snickerdoodle coffee to sip as I eat it on Christmas Eve.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks, But Sweet Potato Soufflé Is Not My Favorite

Of course my Thankfulness is boundless this fourth Thursday of November, and my list of official Thanks is very similar to a thousand others posted today:

The Official List

  1. For Sheila
  2. For Brannon
  3. For Lillian
  4. For Mama
  5. For Daddy and the others who have gone before us.
  6. For my brother and my five sisters
  7. For a job I love and that pays the bills
  8. For a warm bed and a comfortable home
  9. For my country and its Bill of Rights
  10. For a warm, affirming, church family
  11. For the fourth chapter of First John
  12. For loyal friends
  13. For song
But a more interesting list might be:

The Other List

  1. For toilet paper (What percentage of humans in history have had such a luxury?)
  2. And while we're at it, for indoor flush toilets. (I have walked a path at night, indoor flush is preferable.)
  3. For opposable thumbs (Without them, no Lord of the Rings or 23rd Psalm... or Sweet Potato Soufflé, for that matter.)
  4. For persistence of vision (OK, this theory has been debunked, but I'm thankful for persistence of conciousness or whatever it is about us that allows us to perceive the present and connect it to the past and even envision a future.)
  5. For iPod (All my music in a package smaller than a cigarette pack, for heavens sake!)
  6. For ice cream (Only we twentieth and twenty-first century folks get to eat this delicacy regularly, though Dolley Madison served it at James' inauguration. I'll bet James never had a dish of Jamocha Almond Fudge or Moose Tracks.)
  7. For the world's most elegant computer, the iMac.
  8. For all of the events major and minor, incidental and purposeful, of history from the beginning of time that resulted in the coincidence of sperm and egg that produced me. (Selfish, I know, but basic.)
  9. For sex. (Where did the Lord come up with that idea?!)
  10. For Thomas Edison (and Henry Ford, Steve Wozniak, and all those other guys) who came up with ways to make me more enlightened (after a fashion) than the great Kings, Philosophers, Heroes, and Conquerors of the past.
  11. For the wonderful interaction of a mixture of gases with the flora and fauna and soil and copious amounts of liquid water and sunlight on our beautiful blue marble that allows this grand but isolated oasis to support me and mine.
  12. For family days and dinners with Mama's Yeast Rolls, spiral-sliced ham and a huge turkey, mashed potatoes and Mama's Wonderful Dressing, Carol's Famous Apple Pie, Mama's Marinated Carrots, and, yes my friends, Sweet Potato Soufflé. Yes, I said, Sweet Potato Soufflé. That's Sweet Potato Soufflé. And Southern Pecan Pie. And delicious Banana Pudding. (Do think Mary Winkler would like Sweet Potato Souffle? Or Crawford Loritts? Do Sunnis, Shites, and Kurds eat Sweet Potato Souffle? Is this dish the attraction to all those illegal Mexican immigrants? Will a huge fence from the mouth of the Rio Grande to the Pacific keep out those determined to have Sweet Potato Souffle? Can I sink any lower in my quest for Sitemeter hits? As I've said, I don't even like Sweet Potato Souffle, and I'm tired of reading about Mary Winkler, bless her heart! And what, after all, does the best Scrabble play ever recorded add up to? Scrabble's "Don Larsen" is Michael Cresta, a carpenter.)
  13. For the wonderful laughter that follows lines like these:
"...cows have many."
"...there goes a chicken!'
"...boom, boom!"

Thanksgiving Edition

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Daddy's Roses: Back in Bloom!

My sister, Joan of Daddy's Roses, has been offline since September 11. Today she posts a thoughtful Thanksgiving for thirteen blessings of her life. Check it out.

While you are at it:

My sister, Carol of The Median Sib, writes about our wonderful shared Thanksgiving of 1986.

My sister, Beth of Blue Star Chronicles, writes about our Uncle (and Jane Ann's Daddy) Tom.
(You can check out Cousin Jane Ann's own post about her daddy here.)

Unfortunately, my brother and two other sisters do not post their lives on blogs.

Our mother, Ruth of Ruthlace, has written several posts of reminiscences and sermons lately. Here is one called "What Do You Say? Say 'Thank You'"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Year on The Limb

November 23rd will mark my first anniversary out on this limb. To celebrate I append the first few lines of the post nearest the 23rd of each month since then. If you would like to read more of any of these check to the right for the archive of that month.

November 23, 2005

Odd Man Out

What I write below is very serious and important to me. I promise that all my blogs will not be political in nature, but I love my country and cannot ignore issues like those I discuss below. If this bothers you, my blog may not be for you....

December 23, 2005

Christmas Memories
A preliminary Top Ten
-- until the one's I'm stupidly forgetting come to mind.

10. Receiving (or giving) the girdle from the Phantom in Milstead.

9. The first Christmas that I got to stay up with the big folks to prepare Christmas for the little folks....

January 23, 2006

35 Years Ago Today

On January 23, 1971, beside a tiny stream splashing down the side of
Fort Mountain through huge pines, I asked Sheila Ann Matthews to marry me.

February 23, 2006

Thirteen Great Posts

A hodgepodge of blogs and other web posts that I have found interesting, inspiring, enlightening, or otherwise extraordinary. Check 'em out.

1. The Questing Parson Visits A Pianist.

2. Leonard Pitts On The Frightened Right

3. Ben Witherington On Trading Rights For Security

March 22, 2006

Welcome to the Limb, Mike Bock!

The Limb is a little less lonely today: Mike Bock, a kindred spirit and friend since our college days, has agreed to be a regular guest writer.

April 22, 2006

A Disastrous Presidency

S.W. Anderson of
Oh!pinion, responding to Donkey Path and John Dean, remembers George W. Bush from 2002 as I do:

"I remember so well, in 2002 when Bush was out day after day hard-selling his plan to invade Iraq. ...”

May 20, 2006

Graduation Day!

June 25, 2006

Potential Democratic Presidents

Let's Pick a Good'un!!

Cold Flute has occasionally blogged about our prospective Presidential candidates. We should all be paying close attention to these folks and beginning the process of choosing the one who can best lead our nation out of the wilderness. I lean toward Gore or Edwards, but I would fight for any of them against any Bush Enabler.

July 22, 2006

Deeper Into Hell

I'm Baaaaaccccckkkk! and War is Still Hell

This morning's Rome News Tribune has a guest editorial from the Minneapolis Star Tribune that is sobering. Basically the editorial decries the lowering of military standards necessitated by Bush's policies:

August 24, 2006


The former planet, Pluto, patron saint of children, has been officially kicked out of the heavenly pantheon of planets and downgraded to "dwarf planet" along with the former asteroid, Ceres, and Pluto's slightly larger and much more distant Kuiper Belt fellow, 2003UB313

September 25, 2006

Had Enough?

I have a bumper sticker on my car:

Had Enough? Vote Democratic.

In looking online for more stickers I found
Tim Roemer's Op Ed from the New York Times:

"The administration said Iraqis would greet us with roses as liberators, yet our soldiers are attacked with homemade bombs and rocket-propelled grenades. Had Enough? Vote Democratic.

October 21, 2006

"The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertisement."

You're not gonna believe this. I guess if the guys are willing to excuse torture of human beings, we can't expect them to mind torturing the public (and the truth) with ads like this. Yessiree, my Republican friends, this is your Republican National Committee at work.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006