Friday, December 25, 2009

Snow? What Snow?

Its raining. Its pouring.
The roses are growing.
It warmed right back up
and delighted the ducks
who paddled about this morning!


I bother to mention the actual weather, because the national media keeps erroneously listing us as also getting the white stuff. We got like 2/3 of one inch..for about 12hrs...a few days ago. Its been chilly some days, mild other days. Today its mild and wet. Tomorrow it should clear up and give us warmer weather - and without the precipitation for once. :)

I guess most of the US is out of that drought now? I sure hope so. I know people were worried. Anyway, I hope your day has been at least as peaceful as ours. From what the news says, some folks are still stuck in airports and stuff.

We stayed home. DS was still a bit under the weather, but not so bad off he couldn't play with his goodies. We decided to have the snacky stuff today and hold off on the big meal until DS feels up to eating with us, which made Christmas Day more of a holiday than usual for ME. lol We had bought more snacks than we'd realized anyway. ;-)
The unwrapping is long over and its all quiet at the moment and will probably stay that way....until the kitties steal another bit of shiny wrapping paper from the bag. DH has been reading (He has a new Pratchett among other things). Mom's exploring her treats while wearing her new Indian scarf. DD has been reading the manga books she wanted. I just finished my moderating thingy on my wonderful new writer's keyboard. I don't know when I will get around to using the cool medieval-style quill pen & parchment set my family gave me, but I am already relishing the thought. All in all, its been a nice Christmas thus far. Hope yours is too.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I make a conscious effort every year to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and let them know I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (whether it was this season or September or whenever!)

I was sent these images from a friend who asked that a wish of good cheer be passed along to email friends. Okay, will do (have done, actually)...but I just had to share here too because these images are so neat!

This is also the formal announcement that DD is now uploading her new beautiful new digital Christmas card to our usual Christmas site - . You can click this pp..or the pictures to go see it :D

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grandma's Killer Fruitcake

I've often played this particular Christmas kooky song for friends & I am tickled to finally have a shareable version from youtube. I have to say though, the video isn't much. You may want to just listen and look away from the screen for a few minutes.

Yes, this is the same guy who had that hit "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." I like Killer Fruitcake better.

My Mom suggests that my great fondness for this silly song stems from a running Christmas gag in a branch of our extended kin. They kept re-gifting the same fruitcake in a tin for YEARS. One of the things everyone looked forward to at the Christmas gathering was finding out who would be left holding ... BUH BUH BAAAHH.... The Fruitcake O' Doom (Doom doom doom). One Christmas it managed to be given 3x before the weekend was over!

They finally had to get a new fruitcake after one of the uncles ate it on a bet (Yes, he was drunk at the time.) Amazingly, he didn't seem to suffer any ill effects. Guesstimates on the fruitcake's age at the point... ~12 yrs.

And, yes, I still like fruitcake. ;-)

Downe in Yon Forest

A Christmas special with medieval carols called Downe in Yon Forest was on in the wee hours & caught me into staying awake yet longer to drink in their antique seasonal delights. I thought I'd share it, since Youtube has another performance of it from the same artist :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

5 neighbors..a response

After reading the article & all the comments to date, here is my own two pence.

This article is worse than useless. let's go through the 5 listed, shall we?

The Home Devaluers

Who they are: They're friendly enough. They just never seem to mow their lawn more than once or twice a year, and they have a 1978 Buick rusting in their front yard. Granted, if they're bad enough, you may have noticed this before moving in, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day: They may have looked presentable when you gave them the once-over.

How to handle them: Communicate, communicate, communicate, suggests Jodi R. R. Smith, author and etiquette consultant in Marblehead, Mass.

She knew a group of neighbors who were upset that a house on their block wasn't taking care of the lawn. The neighbors assigned a delegate to knock on the door to discuss the yard, and when the owner came out of the house and the problem was explained, she broke into tears. It had turned out that she was in the midst of a divorce and an aggressive chemo treatment. The neighbors then organized a rotating schedule of lawn care for the ill neighbor.

"Things are not always what they seem," says Smith.

Okay...actually this was the only bit of the article worth quoting. The sad truth is that many of those who complain about unkempt places lack compassion for their neighbors. Then again, sometimes the story is more complicated. The property may be tied up in litigation or ignored by the company that foreclosed.

The real people behind this label, when it is a regular person - The Devaluers.... range from people persecuted by Mr & Madame Urban Neatfreak - who sometimes try to rule the countryside with the HOA standards familiar to them from richer people with serious problems (health, finances etc) maintaining what they have, to folks used to stretching to get by with old cars/parts/appliance repairs in a neighborhood that doesn't do that sort of thing (Maybe it used to?), to serious jerks actively trying to ruining their neighborhood with a the neighbor who piles up manure in a junky tractor shed that she knows very well faces your front yard...but keeps the yard she has facing the street well landscaped...

or maybe they are too afraid of their neighbors to go outside

2) The Dangerous Neighbor...may be that way in self-defense...there are too many out there who ramp up all over anyone who doesn't look like they can fight back. Not everyone can fight back with lawyers...and a quick glance at the comments will tell you how often the local governments & landlords fail to support threatened residents, especially unpopular, unconnected ones. This is the 'dangerous neighbor' who may actually be decent. You may not have identified the real hazard.

& sometimes it is the Neighbor who is the psycho...sadly if they are wealthy, well-connected, or very persuasive types who know how to play 'the appearances' game...they may threaten you day & night and still give YOU the reputation they richly deserve when you react!
(In fact, I have seen this double victimization in action in social circles. Skilled liars love it. They will say so and so hates them and is calling them names THEN openly provoke the person and go See! See!" if the individual responds at all...or even lie and say they did if they won't...It's sick..but it happens.)

If you are really sure that’s Hannibal Lecter next door…don’t bug the man, especially at dinner time. The best defense is not to be offensive unless you are part of the LEGAL swat team that’s about to shoot him. Increase your own defenses every way possible - if you cannot move, and keep close track of each other in the household…which is the same advice those beset by misled vigilantes have to take.

Some people got that their ‘scary’ reputation from bad-tempered hags that want to see them dead…and are hoping you will be trigger-happy enough to do it for them if they tell you enough tall tales.

3) Some Rich Neighbors are quite decent folks...and I have NEVER heard of such a neighbor called bad... except-rarely- by a foolish, envious soul deliberately causing trouble with slanderous gossip. Usually the person knew them before they were a success.
But that's not nearly as common as a jealous neighbor mistreating someone they think is just a little bit better off. The truly rich are exactly the ones who can hire a detective to prove someone is slandering them...and then pay the lawyers to make them sorry for it.

One of the worst things that commonly does happen in rich neighborhoods is a difference of cultures running headlong into differing expectations. One fellow in a millionaires' planned community ran into trouble for growing the loveliest flower & vegetable gardens you ever saw, because that’s what well off-people did in the area of Eastern Europe where he had come from as a child. His front lawn remained a lawn, his maintenance was perfect, but his neighbors were outraged that his idea of the allowed 'garden plot in the backyard' was enough to supply his McMansion household for a year with rosewater, herbs & veggies. Seriously! He was generous with his goodies too, but most of his neighbors hated him for being productively frugal. (Personally, I thought it looked great!)

Some rich neighbors ARE bad..and - again - there are some lovely examples earlier in the comments. They bully with their toys, their connections, their legal loopholes, and the simple fact that other poorer folks in the neighborhood want to be on their good side and so find it easier to find excuses for the rich guys...and excuses to disbelieve a poorer, less attractive victim. The only thing you can do is document the overt abuses as best you can and use what clout YOU have as a citizen etc.

One abuse we have heard again and again are when relatively rich people buy into a poor or middlin' rural areas and start demanding zoning changes that they then use to shut down small farmers, watermen etc. Sometimes they expand their lands over those they ran off/ran out of business, sometimes they are just demanding the neighborhood conform to their will. Some will even buy areas next to a public access ways - next to waterways or to a park and then start encroaching...moving their fences over the years until they have stolen public property by common law. Those are the really bad rich neighbors.
Odd that the article only knew about 'envy' as a problem?

4) Wacky Neighbors?

Wow..what a vague description...and one just fraught with abuse potential.

Some people dress in clothes from other eras or countries, and are excellent neighbors. Some may do ghost hunting. Some may attend costumed conventions with antique weaponry (and practice at home) . Maybe they look for aliens on the weekend or indulge in paintball battles in the backyard (occasionally spilling into yours) ...but they can still be good neighbors....some might ask for a cup of milk every second Thursday for some oddball reason of their own, and yet still be reasonable neighbors otherwise.
Everyone has the capacity to be a wild eccentric in some hobby or other (or else anally weird about their lack of hobbies). What's more, every noticeable cultural difference can be described as 'wacky' by the transferees between North\ South \ East \West can easily testify.
Its only when a neighbor decides that your property is nicer to picnic on than their own, or your ley property lines are stronger so they will have the candle ceremony there, or they can trespass anytime they like as long as they are riding their horse or chasing hunting dogs, or that their music is something everyone should be forced to enjoy, or that you can't put up a crèche when they've got a giant Buddha in their yard...that there is a problem.

Even then. the problem isn't really the beliefs, the pets, their taste in music, or the hobbies.
Eccentricity in and of itself is no big deal. It only makes life more colorful. Its when someone decides they don't have to respect you or your property rights that this comes up at all.

Actually describing people as 'wacky' is often a prelude toward the sort of respect issues that really ARE the problem.

5) 'The Difficult Neighbor'

*snort* Every neighbor causing you problems is regarded by you as 'difficult.'

The truly difficult neighbors are those who instigate troubles with other neighbors, who actively gather in groups/gangs (or dribs and drabs) and point you out as someone to mistreat. Maybe they don't even know you. They just think they do...or think that they at least know 'your kind.' They don't like your politics, faith, region of origin, orientation, ethnicity, or simply heard some nasty rumors that made you a good target as far as they were concerned.
People who will use animals to harass you are definitely difficult neighbors. Dogs are the most abused this way. They get sicc-ed on people who aren‘t attacking them to suit their spiteful owner. These dogs often turn mean, bite someone and then get put down. Happens all the time. But other animals & their products are also used, like setting a camel/llama known for distance spitting as close to a neighbor's sidewalks or driveway as possible, or piling up manure as close to the neighbor's property line as they think they can get away with, or actively shooing chickens or goats into your garden (when they aren't yours), or calling the HOA, county, or city with petty or false reports about your property or household.

DH points out that not all such bad behaviour is based in spite. Quite a few misbehaviors (like taking other people's parking spaces for relatives, storing boats & RV's over the property line, cutting down bushes or trees on adjoining properties, gardening on or letting their animals graze on 'unused' lawns belonging to a neighbors) were based in a desire to claim more property rights with simple pushiness than the legal ownership would have conveyed. People like that know they are stealing something from you, and have braced themselves to be unpleasant and to expect you to be unpleasant...but that doesn't mean being extra nice is going to fix a problem neighbor like that. Most likely they will just think you are being weak. You can try plain, respectful communication, but most likely you will be required to exhaust your legal remedies if you wish to see an end to the bad behaviour...or else put up with it until someone moves.

Someone like this is not interested in being a good neighbor.... Make sure that if you make the sort of neighborly gesture the article, say, cookies or cake, that you bought it from the bakery and you have photographic evidence that it was still sealed when you handed it over.


6) Gossipy, judgmental locals making up nasty whoppers are among the worst neighbors of all, since they set you up to be abused by everyone else. Oddly, this author missed that entire category.

Basically, loving one's neighbors needs to be done carefully...possibly at a distance...and is no commoner now then when Christ chastised the world around him for not trying over 2000 yrs ago. Sad isn't it?

This article is better IMHO

& This article just deals specifically with the snoops/nosy gossips out there.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Star of Bethlehem

DH & I caught a recent presentation of a very interesting educated guess as to what the Star of Bethlehem sign may have been. There's an indepth article here.

[Edit: the documentary is no longer available, but this teaser may give you an idea]

Nope, its not complete. Want some more? The site & DVD are here!

The Star of Bethlehem dvd is also available at

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Never Smile at a Crocodile....

Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can't get friendly with a crocodile
Don't be taken in by his friendly grin
He's imagining how well you'd fit beneath his skin (Rolf ha ha has)
Never smile at a crocodile
Never dip your hat and stop to talk awhile
Never run, walk away, say good-night, not good-day
Clear the aisle but never smile at Mister Crocodile
You may very well be well bred
Lots of etiquette in your head
But there's always some special case, time or place
To forget etiquette

(Spoken by Rolf)

Lets look up crocodile in the book
(clears throat) here it says ..
One positively must not wear a pleased expression on ones countenance when confronted by that large, lizard like, amphibious reptile which has long jaws, armored skin and webbed feet and which is known as ... the c r o c o d i l e.
It has been discovered that one simply cannot cherish an amicable and trustworthy relationship with the aforementioned species ... ohh! this is interesting!
In addition it is mandatory that one does not become irresistibly drawn into the erroneous belief that the lateral, open extension of his jaws means that you are utterly welcome. It is much more reasonable to assume that he is contemplating how you would look in a lizard suit ... hiiiis ... eh ha ha ha mmm

(Song resumes with three tic tocs)

Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can't get friendly with a crocodile
Don't be taken in by his friendly grin
He's imagining how well you'd fit beneath his skin
Where have I told you that before?
Never smile at a crocodile
Never tip your hat and stop to talk awhile
Dont be rude, never mock, throw a kiss, not a rock
But clear the aisle and never smile at Mister Crocodile
Look run a mile bet never smile at Mr. Croc-o-dile
Hey watch out! here comes one now!!!!

They call songs like this 'brain worms' because they can stick around your mental closet for years and dominate your thoughts for HOURS when they resurface. This is the one that's been bugging me for the last week or two...

Though the specific version I 'hear' is from the Muppet Show, which you can see on this page...[presuming you can put up with the loud commercial they put in front of it].

& Yes, I have the Muppet Show seasons on dvd. DH knows they make good prezzies for me :D
Too bad Season 4 isn't expected until next year.

There's no Muppet or crocodilian reason for me to think about it. I am not into crocodiles (or alligators). I honestly have no idea /why/ it keeps occurring to me when I should be dreaming about eggnog, but since NaNoWriMo is finally over and I am taking a night's break before preparing my Christmas story, I thought it might be fun to share my current brain worm with you. ;)

No that's okay, you don't have to thank me now. I am sure you will do that later when it plays in your dreams at 3 a.m.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ours was a quiet one with a lamb roast, couscous with pine nuts, and candied yams. Followed by lots of pumpkin pie :)

No, we didn't do the sales thing on Friday/Monday. Its never at a good time of the month for us, coming after two family bdays. Besides the best deals tend to be big ticket items we wouldn't be looking at anyway.

We spent the day putting our Christmas tree up and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. We watch it every year, if nothing forbids. It adds so much to the day, like everybody in New York City is celebrating with you. I think its amazing those parades are never taped & repeated on television later or online anywhere, you know? They repeat everything these days...except for the Thanksgiving morning parades.

People work all year to make it happen and even with all the recording media handy and all the sponsors for this national shindig, when its over - its over. Unless you make a copy for yourself, your memories are the only thing you can share.

I suspect it must be too long to host. Mind you, if the ads & lengthy interviews with the 'stars of NBC's hit show XXX' were dispensed with...they could probably get 3 hrs down to 1. :)

It just occurred to me that I have never seen a full-length "Hits of the Macy's Day Parade" dvd or video or anything like that...ever. (I just checked Google, and I don't see a record of one either.) On the one hand, it guess gives my kids some slight experience with what tv was like growing VCRs, DVDs or ipod files - on the other hand, its seems kind of weird that that these clips are the best I can do to share an annual institution with you.

A lot of these were in this year's parade too, so that helps a bit. :)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Zelda gets to play! I already mentioned on Facebook that Muzzled - the 3rd episode of the Wallace & Gromit adventure series is free this weekend on the TellTale site (its free through Nov 9th)

AND that all their seasons are $20 through Nov 9th - almost half off!

Still...not everybody who reads this blog, reads my Facebook page, so while I apologize for the repetitions, I felt it worth mentioning once again. ;)

After looking into the Telltale goodies...I checked another email and found more video gaming wonderfulness - if you're a Zelda fan, anyway. The upcoming Zelda: Spirit Tracks looks very promising, as far as gameplay goes. Its about time Zelda got a turn alongside Link.

I am very happy Nintendo has continued the Wind Waker world. IMNSHO The Wind Waker is as iconic as Ocarina of Time or Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past. Its my personal favorite. Since I've been a fan of the Zelda series since the first game, I feel that's saying something. I just wish they would make a Wii version with the original cel-shaded look of the first game. Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass suffered a bit for being shrunk to DS size. The trailer suggests Spirit Tracks is going to be just the same. If the game is good enough, this is forgivable. Honestly, it was that irritating timed main labyrinth...which you had to start from the very beginning EVERY TIME that ruined Phantom Hourglass for me (and MANY others, according to the reviews)...and even that lead balloon didn't get too heavy until I was more than halfway (maybe 2/3) through it. I was happily immersed for some time in the ship challenges & little islands quests. Phantom Hourglass was quite fun aside from that one central dungeon. Hopefully they won't repeat that error...and since its the same team & pattern, I feel quite hopeful that Spirit Tracks will be a keeper.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Where'd I go?

I just realized how badly I've neglected this blog since being talked into joining Facebook. Don't get me wrong, I also neglect my Facebook page quite a lot. lol It has, however, been a getting a lot more of my blog time than I figured it would.

I've been offline mostly. DH is still healing slowly but surely. I finished those crochet ponchos for the other family members just in time for the cooling weather (My Mom finished mine. :) I also sewed some pillow cases (some I embroidered) and I made a few clothes. We're back into homeschooling, of course...and tis the season for some family birthdays. No matter how much is made or found for those, it all takes time. Maybe I will get some pictures up soon of some of my recent crafts. I've been meaning do that too. heh

We actually have some fall weather this year! I am LOVING it. Usually its late November before we have many 'cocoa' days, but we have had a number of mildly chilly days since early October. The leaves are just gorgeous. I've been too busy to get many pictures, sadly, but perhaps DH or DD have gotten some extra I can share. We'll see.

and then there's how I spend my 'free' time... I think I admitted to playing Legends of Zork awhile back. Its still free and still family friendly. I still like it, and check in occasionally, though its seeming a tad repetitive now. Wish they would add other gameplay bits sometime this year...

Years ago, a number of online friends recommended a free online game to me called "Kingdom of Loathing," and lately another group of friendly acquaintances talked me into giving it a whirl. Its turned out to be a very amusing rpg, but not precisely family-friendly fare given its emphasis on alcohol use, its moderated -but largely unfiltered- chat room (optional), and a number of PG - PG 13 refs.

They do keep the naughtiness down a bit. I'd say KoL is on par with, say, a COPS 2.0 episode. Its a little more restrained than current prime time dramas, but not nearly as family friendly as Funniest Home Videos. Maybe that will help you decide if its in your comfort zone. Its pushing mine at times, and after too many hours watching TV with my recovering spouse (especially in hospital rooms where we didn't have that much program control) I am a lot less sensitive than I was during the years we chose not to have cable.

I had planned to finish the story, at least, but - honestly- I am already having trouble fitting it in anywhere. There have been enough references to classic games in the RPG & adventure genres that I was looking forward to spotting the next allusions. I have enjoyed much of the humor too. In fact this game has a lot of the fun of the old text adventures, given that most of its 'graphics' are actually silly descriptions. Who knew you could have so much fun with stick figures?

and..oh yes, we've still got a number of irons in the fire in other directions too, as some of you may remember. I don't care to announce those until I am finally ready to show you something substantial. November is now writer's month, and that's where I am concentrating my other efforts....when I can find the time. In the interim, I recommend some lovely cocoa.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Just another bloggers comment on Barack's Peace Prize was a bit surprise to everyone, including Barack himself, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to our 44th Prez after only 9 months in office. Even those who are glad for him are wishing they could point to something and say..ah..yes! That's why...rather than suspecting that this gift is likely meant to pressure him someway... possibly in a way that wouldn't be good for our country. That said, I can't blame the man for being pleased. It will look good on his resume, presuming...well, I will get to that in a minute. Its one of those achievements that people dream of getting. Now all he has to do to win the game is cure cancer, solve world hunger, and send a ship to settle Alpha wait, that's Civilization.

After reading a bit online, I have to agree with the political analyst in this video & in this article, the 'Peace' prizes have been awarded (and almost awarded) to enough inappropriate people that it has undermined its worth when given to people who really deserved it like nominee Gandhi, George Marshall (Marshall plan), Jean Henry Dunant (Red Cross founder), Martin Luther King Jr., & Mother Teresa.

Al Gore is known for his championing of global warming solutions, but what war was he supposed to have prevented? How was he supposed to have increased peace in the world?

How about Yassir Arafat? Why would one of the world's best known troublemakers be on this list?

Teddy Roosevelt was quite a character - not at all bad by any means - but Mr "Walk softly and carry a big stick" wasn't especially known for his peaceableness! He did a good thing in being willing to be an arbiter between Russia & Japan..but a lifetime achievement award for Peace? C'mon!

Even Woodrow Wilson is a doubtful case (despite the lofty goals of his 'League of Nations') given that the peace settlements he agreed to for WWI helped set the stage for WWII... and he broke his electoral promise getting us into WWI in the first place! (Not commenting on whether we should have been there, just the fact that it /was/ breaking his promise.)

One article declares that nominees have included Stalin & Adolph Hitler...
I looked it up and it turns out to be true..also Benito Mussolini & Fidel Castro... Yikes!

Even the Nobel Prize Committee knows many of their decisions have seemed politically convenient and/or controversial. They certainly have often had an leftward ideological slant.

So, President Obama, congratulations. I am just sorry the prize isn't worth more.. and that they couldn't wait for you to fulfill your promise so you could feel that you /did/ deserve it. Here's hoping their next choices don't embarrass the heck out of you....

The whole thing reminds me waaayyy too vividly of a small-potatoes version that played out in a tiny chat room long ago...where a very few fans who had done much to organize, maintain & provide for their online community got their only honor...being given a special 'color' on their names in the company's chat... and then the value of even that was undermined by some at the company to satisfy the pride of a young, demanding flirt. Did ssooo much damage to community morale, you can't even imagine. That's long ago...muck under the bridge and all that...

It just concerns me to think the the world has long allowed these Nobel guys to give the world's most coveted prizes for good human behavior & high lifetime achievements. IMHO the Peace Prize Committee has not taken this charge seriously enough. The world has trusted them to encourage the human race, and if the everyday man comes to devalue this process, what or who could take its place?

Friday, September 18, 2009

A feed from Spaceghost

One of the sillier shows we enjoyed back in the 90's was Spaceghost-Coast-to-Coast...a parody of the late-night shows everywhere. This mini-interview stars Lassie....yes, the dog. Their clips vary in suitability for young children, but this one is fine. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Jesus & popularity

A devotional thought taken from Mother Angelica's latest newsletter.... (from My Mom)

Mother Angelica noted that many teachers have told us how to identify with Christ in our troubles, but very few have addressed Christ's example when people played up to him, exalted him, tried to insist in gobs and groups that he do more of what they wanted...and that is worth learning from too.

I had never thought about it before. I will keep it in mind in my next rereads of the Gospels. I know there some examples from the rest of the New Testament too... In Acts, Paul was once publicly acclaimed by a Soothsayer. In another town Paul & Barnabas were briefly mistaken for Greek deities! [Acts 14:11-22]

Tom (DH) notes that group popularity didn't seem to last long outside the early Church, even though the good qualities so briefly recognized by those mobs never diminished.... Some general goodwill probably remained, but not enough to turn the crowd back. Indeed, Paul was often well regarded by his Roman 'hosts,' who seemed to regard him as a very kind, rather eccentric Jewish** scholar with an unfortunate fixation on telling everyone about how this Jesus fellow was the long promised Incarnation, the Son of God a time when only Emperors - like Nero - were allowed to claim such things.

**Christianity was not yet seen as a different faith, and for very good reasons, but that's another discussion.

Pics from earlier this year

This is a much longer slideshow than usual. These pics are from late Spring of this year. You can see the archery lessons we finally got around to doing, pics from the flowerbed & one from the garden, roses from the bushes planted this year (yes the plants are kinda small), and more recent pics of our puppy, Jack. Pretty much all these pictures were taken by Becka, and all legal rights to them remain hers.

The next collection will at last move into summer. I was still busy with Tom, and Tom himself has stayed pretty much on bed rest from Spring til - well, he's still pretty much supposed to rest most of the time, but Becka continues to get a neat shot in now and then.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

100 yr old photos

(from Shez)

The pics in this link are all color photographs that were taken 100
years ago in Czarist Russia. I was blown away at the color and
definition. they look like they were taken yesterday. The
photographer used a technique using red, blue and yellow glass plates.
he took 3 separate photos of his subjects, one with each glass plate.

How they were made.... a little bit photo-shopped..but the data was really there! Very, very cool to see these scenes so clearly from a 100 years ago!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Only in God -Psalm 62

Meant to post this as my devotional thought yesterday [again- I know posted this a year ago]...but then I didn't go online at all. SO- praying this is as big a blessing to you on this Monday as it is to me whenever I meditate upon Psalm 62. Psalm 23 & Psalm 91 are more famous, and also a huge blessing, but this one means the most to me. I read Psalms about everyday, plus whatever regular bit I am rereading...often I just open my Bible anywhere and refresh my mind with whatever I find...but I need those 'God Songs' in my heart everyday or I tend to get stressed. Looking at God for everything and thanking Him daily for things He has done and is doing already eases a LOT of worry about the future, let me tell you!

(adaptation by John Michael Talbot)

Only in God is my soul at rest;
In Him comes my salvation.
He only is my Rock,
My strength and my salvation.

My stronghold, my Savior;
I shall not be afraid at all!
My stronghold, my Savior;
I shall not be moved!

Only in God is found safety,
When enemies pursue me.
Only in God is found glory,
When I'm found weak and found lowly.

© 1980 Birdwing Music/BMG Songs, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Still Movin' Slow

You'd think this long after the surgery things would be all better, right? they aren't worse either. Its just that Tom is healing slow, at least in part because he had all these gaps under the repairs. They have had to add a wound vac to close them after the drainage started to 'unzip' an area on the incision. The pressure treatment is working a treat. The recommended protein drinks have also proved a considerable help. Its just going to take time. Its amazing how the hours fly by without my having done 1/3 of what I expected. I haven't read much and I am not playing games aside from the DS short games I have on my DS (great for office visits) & the lengthy Lufia II rpg that Tom finds restful.

I have made /some/ progress on my latest crochet project...a simple brown & white blanket. I finished Becka's poncho. I haven't made Mom's yet, but that's okay. She hasn't finished mine either. LOL Becka is slowly working toward posting her CG projects & studying for tests. DS is doing well with his leather crafts (he's tooling a belt) & studying math, history, English etc... Almost caught up with laundry this last week. Hoping to get ahead [finally!] this week. Have to wait & see. I finally made that Facebook page. Looks like there's a bit of a learning curve involved, but I think I am getting the hang of it. The Shelfari widget for it doesn't seem to work...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Monkey Island has returned!

Started playing the first Wii episode and - so far- it is great! Looked it up on the Tell-Tale games site and got even better news. Hope you enjoy this widget heralding the remake of Monkey Island 1. There is even sword-fighting insult mini-game. Oh I hope they make a DS version of this !:)))

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Haven't done this in awhile so...why not?

You Are 56% Open Minded

You are a very open minded person, but you're also well grounded.

Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.

But you also know where you stand firm, and you can draw that line.

You're open to considering every possibility - but in the end, you stand true to yourself.


You Are Cowboy Boots

This doesn't mean you're country, just funky.
You've got a ton of attitude and confidence.

You're unique, expressive, and even a little bit wacky. You wear whatever you feel like and you have your own sense of style.

You are straight shooting and honest. You tell people how it is.

Low maintenance and free wheeling, you're always up for an adventure.

You should live: Where you can at least get to wide open spaces

You should work: In a job that allows you to take change


You Are The Brain

You're the type of person who's always on, always churning.

You are alert and quick to react. You like to stay busy.

You are responsible but also demanding. You take up a lot of energy.

You are someone of deep mystery. There's a lot below the surface that's hard to figure out.


You See the World Through Blue Colored Glasses

You live your life with tranquility. You have faith that things will work themselves out with time.

You judge all your interactions through the lens of hope. You try to get all the facts before forming your opinion.

You face challenges with wisdom. You know that all bad things pass, and you have the confidence to see problems through.

You see love as the utmost expression of trust. Your relationships tend to be peaceful and stable.

At your worst, you can be cool, melancholy, and detached. You sometimes have to step back from emotionally charged situations.

You are at your happiest when you are able to reflect and relax.


Your Friendship Style is Philosophical

You take every friendship you have seriously, and you spend a lot of time analyzing your friends.

You've thought a lot about what it means to be a good friend, and you hold yourself to your standard.

In return, you expect your friends to be loyal, honest, and real. You're somewhat picky about who you're friends with.

Fighting with your friends bothers you more than most people. You can't stop replaying arguments over and over in your head.

You and an Empathetic Friend: Try to understand one another. You approach life very differently, but you're willing to listen to one another.

You and a Gregarious Friend: Are a better match than expected. You understand and appreciate your Gregarious Friend's energy.

You and an Independent Friend: Get along pretty well, but you can't help but think your Independent Friend needs to learn better manners!

You and another Philosophical Friend: Are friends for life. You can get lost in your intense, interesting conversations... and maybe even change the world together!


You Are A Blue Girl

Relationships and feelings are the most important things to you.

You are empathetic and accepting - and good at avoiding conflict.

If someone close to you is in pain, it makes you hurt as well.

You try to heal the ones you love with your kind and open heart.

Deep into your future, I forsee: An embarrassing spelling error

Oooh, thrilling.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

replaying RPGs

I still do replay my old favorites, especially old RPGs...the old consoles retire upstairs and those that have the best game music to sleep by get played the most. DH especially likes that aspect after surgeries.

On my handheld I am finishing replaying Chronotrigger. Finally found the new DS content. Wuzzah! Also currently finishing an umpteenth replay of Lufia 1 - I'd love to play Lufia 2 again but its been a real buzzard about deleting saved games about halfway in. Not something I'd complain to Nintendo about- I have had these SNES cartridges for what, 15 years? Anyway - Becka & I are working on ways to realistically get a ROM playing on the elderly thrice-fried tv upstairs so he can listen to this unreliable old fav.

In the last months I have replayed Replayed Paper Mario 1 & 2, Mario Sunshine, & all the older Zeldas to completion except Seasons/Oracles (he didn't like the music after a bit)...and the end of Majora's Mask because I was too tense with it. [I have the GBA & orig Gameboy connectors for the SNES & Gamecube so those can be played on the tv.]

Fav RPGs:: Chronotrigger, Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga 1 & 2, Final Fantasy III, IV, & VI (SNES FF3) , Paper Mario 1 & 2, Super Mario Legend of the Seven Stars (you can now get it again on Wii virtual console W00t!!), Lufia 1 & 2 (the translations are so bad they're funny), Link...almost counts, Illusion of Gaia, & Breath of Fire (I think. There's one cartridge that hasn't worked in years. I seem to remember liking it.)

Just a little note to keep the blog from looking abandoned until I have more time :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Finally Back!

Yikes! Its been a month since I posted anything. Didn't expect to tied up that long. Well, I hope you guys had a great 4th of July. We spent ours leaving the hospital. Thats one way to get independence, one supposes. ;)

The week after posting we were in the run-up to that surgery I told some of you about. All the other surgeries left him with surgical hernias. A smaller repair was made a year ago, but they couldn't do it all then. Now was the time, especially since the repair hasn't been holding.

Tom's surgery went well enough but he didn't wake up right away. Since big hernia repairs are on the sore side anyway, the medical folks said it was best not to push him awake, and let him take his time on it. That turned out to be several days, and by then he was reacting to the meds a bit. Still, he has been healing well, on the whole, if a bit more slowly than the ideal.

The new CC hospital wing is awesome & so is its staff. They are SOOO NICE! They also know exactly what they are doing. I knew absolutely that DH was getting the best possible care there at all times. We were so very blessed that he was there most of the time. The nurses & residents in the surgical wing itself are dedicated, caring, and generally impressive professionals. The CC people are GREAT. ICU there is topnotch too :)

BUT.... the old main 9th floor post-op surgical ward still has issues...and that's putting it nicely. (Not the immediate post-op care...the old step down ward that seems to get everything when the other wards are closed....yeah..that one. They do have some great nurses & a number of decent ones, but then there are those who continue to add to our backlog of medical anecdotes - the sort which seem to happen every holiday we've spent there but are most suitable for sharing at Halloween :P

Anyway, we are home and I am back on bandage watch. I don't spend much time online in times like this. When I did get a little time it was to look up fresh curriculum and locate school supplies etc. I want to thank the 6 people who have directly invited me to Facebook, the 3 who think I'd just love Twitter, and the 10 who think I really should switch to Librarything sometime this century...but I really don't have time to look into those options right now. Vicki, you've seriously tempted me with the link to that new laptop giveaway for new Twitter people, but I can make no promises. Its embarrassing how long it has taken me to get to our 'news' update on good ole Blogger!

Talking about news, as usual, I saw a lot of news while DH was in the hospital. Everybody there was shocked at Jackson's & Billy May's deaths in particular. Being medical people they had plenty of theories. Made for interesting listening. heh. Farrah Faucet's passing was less surprising, though just as sad. Not sure what the point is in staring at Madoff at this point. I don't think any more satisfaction can be gained from the situation. He certainly deserved a penalty...but why didn't the guys who did the S & L scandals go to jail all those years ago?

I also saw Sarah Palin's resignation live - in real time - and felt for her. Sure wish someone had helped her more with that speech felt really...long. The last thing she needed to do IMHO was give the buzzards who've been mistreating her more ammo. I tell you, the sheer injustice she has received from the press has done more damage to the 'liberal' cause than anything else this year...and given the freaky bills, the unstable economy, and the general fears of the population about how current policies could go, that's saying a BUNCH. I cannot value the opinions of people who show no respect for others, plain & simple.

When it comes to Sarah Palin, I absolutely agree with this journalist. Why should anyone listen to bad-tempered propagandistas?

Thankfully, Obama has stayed out of that mess. Wise move, sadly. I would like to have seen him say something but I know that its very possible that if he defended her they'd just turn on him and he's already got a huge pile on his worktable already. North Korea & the Taliban remain a real danger. One of them could easily account for the prophecies about the 'severe eastern wind' sent to correct backsliding drunkards of Ephraim. I thought the military answer to North Korea's big push over that freighter was very clever. The threat was over confronting the they didn't...the military blocked the harbor instead.

Seems like his & Bush's Bank Bailout plan worked. News reported that many banks have already paid back the money or are working to do so. Nice! Now...if they'd just pass that loosening of the market on to the general public! (That really should have been a condition of the bailout...) Thought Obama's speech to Africa was very good, but several others (i.e. Egypt & Russia) were a bit more concerning. Keeping Barack & Michelle in prayer all the time. I am specifically praying that if we get universal health coverage that it doesn't further erode our freedom to care for ourselves or undermine Medicare.

All of society bows and worships at the feet of 'professionals'/'experts' these days. I always am concerned when their opinions are too heavily weighted on us little people...especially those of us with time and freedom to think for ourselves. If you don't think I have cause for concern, remember how many meds were PUSHED as THE answer in the last decades turned out to be disastrous for many. Consider also how foods like eggs got banned from many diets, then they change their minds about their value and realize eggs contain GOOD cholesterol. At one point young mothers were told that formulas were much better than their own milk could be. Now we know this was a bad idea. Mother's milk contain antibodies and subtle supports for the baby far beyond any formula made, but it was decades before the medical establishment was ready to acknowledge and then admit this truth. Surgeons know more than I ever will about how to splice and rebuild physically damaged bodies, and I have nothing but respect for them and their assistants, but the limits to what they have time to study are extremely evident in discussions we've had.

More than anything else, I desire the freedom to use my commonsense, research, and intuition. Experts aren't omniscient. Indeed, in many academic fields they are being taught in a cookie-cutter fashion that allows very little dissent from whatever 'leading figures' have established as the latest dogma. Now, it is very important that medical people have much training, and what they are taught is extremely impressive when it comes to surgical & emergency issues, but given the HUGE gaps in their training & education relating the deficiency effects, environmental toxins (like the potential effect of jet fuel residue on the thyroid) & natural answers, it would be best if they weren't given complete control over our regular- non-emergency - lives.

Folks I listened to all seemed to have a favorite medical system in mind: Israel & UK were mentioned the most often. Canada's system seems to be the most controversial for medical professionals. Didn't hear why. Others felt we'd be better off if the Govt stayed out of it. I really can't agree with that last. Medical science isn't like making bookends. People who need critical care usually can't wait to save up for it, nor choose to forgo it in favor of other desires or needs. You can literally be charged for failing to get medical help for a family member who needs it. This means that, in practice, professional medical care is already in our laws as an 'responsibility' - a legal requirement -which would be unconstitutional if programs & laws didn't also guarantee access to professional medical care in each region.

Its already a monopoly for most too. You can choose your insurance now, they say...well, no, most can't. Most people can only afford what their employers have, use Govt programs (if they qualify), or they do without insurance and go to free clinics & emergency rooms when disaster strikes. How is this a choice?

On top of that, average folks are only able to access 1-2 hospitals medical systems of any size in their region. Big cities have more, but limit entrance to all but 1 or 2 based on wealth & quality coverage.

I DO think that if doctors & hospitals are nationalized, that patients & taxpayers should have more direct input. This needs to include 'support' personnel. If an administrative assistant causes death by incompetence or malice, deliberately delays care, repeatedly loses crucial paperwork etc - then he or she should face very serious penalties. Patient's Rights need to be more seriously enforced too. In most places its just a flyer on the wall, listening to howls of frustration from those within. Frankly, its currently about impossible very hard to reform bad offices or wards in most major hospitals. Nobody is saying it, but I bet this simple fact is in the back of many minds who say they fear that adding extra Government connections to hospital staff will make the medical system even worse. Michelle Obama knows about this - here's hoping she's been allowed to contribute to the plans they are making. & May God grant us real progress of some kind!

As for personal progress, I got some crocheting done. I had already finished ponchos for Tom & Wm, so I was working on Becka's until it got too big to cart along each day. Finished it at home this week & am now adding little ribbon roses to it. The colors & roses celebrate her rose bushes :) Mom is still working on a poncho for me as a kind of bday present. Its safe to say that I have mastered poncho making & the double stitch, but the yarn I chose was too advanced for my skill level. Its one of those fuzzy yarns in deep blue tones. (Lion- Color Waves- Night Sky) It was just ssooo pretty I couldn't resist when I saw it on sale at Ollies. Should be lovely to wear when the weather is cool enough.

Read a few books during this period too, but no writing. Soon I hope to get back to the book I started in early June. So far, my family loves it, which is great to hear since I am really writing it for them. If I share it, it will have to be a freebie, as its another fan-fic. I needed to write something like that again though, as every time I have gotten serious I get well-intentioned comments from friends & relatives that discussed far too glowingly how I could make it 'pay.' My creative side hates pressure; I freeze right up. I have 3 mysteries now fully plotted, largely written...but now thawing until I can stand to work with them again... *sigh* At least people liked what I showed them.

One of the most valuable gifts friends gave me online was to simply enjoy my writing, small criticisms included, even big ones when necessary...and NOT bring up real world pressures in the middle of the discussion. I have missed my old sounding board, but haven't sought others. That WAS a big help, but it was also risky in ways I didn't recognize until later. I have always had an audience here, I just have had to make a new policy not to discuss the possibly commercial projects until they are much further along. :D

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Getting Real Retro....

Now here's a song both my hubby and I totally related to back in the same era as "Gotta Wear Shades" (see last post)

This is "Every Little Kiss" by Bruce Hornsby..who actually is from our area. Yep, the area does look like this, just a little off the tourist tracks. His relatives live up the road. They're good folks.

The weird thing about the big 80's was that it was all over the media how great the economy was doing but these economic wonders were pretty much absent in most small towns we knew. Big box stores were still coming in and by then they were starting to put a real hurt on the Mom & Pop biz. Industry, what was left of it, concentrated in the cities. Virginia's economy, on the whole, wasn't hurting too badly in the late 80's but people still felt very competitive for what was 'left' in their home towns. Some were real ugly about it, and looked for ways to disqualify rivals in the same community. Old 'battle lines' tend to show up when benefits or good jobs are believed to be in limited supply. The most recent scars always strain first in the human body, singular or collective.

This area was & still is "Watertown" - with plenty of port cities, seafood, construction, and tourism - but a lot of the regular jobs but didn't pay that well outside the one big shipyard or higher levels with the Navy. Obviously, being a Navy family means a lot of deployments, but even merchant marine sailors, truck drivers, & union guys often get trained here and then have to look for a break in one of those well-paid, well-protected circles....or work elsewhere ...if they can. Construction will do that to you too, since that industry is dependent on all the others. Working out of town to get ahead has long been the norm for a lot of guys all over the country. We haven't been exempt.

Another song from Hornsby that more closely represents that era, as we knew it.
"Just The Way It Is" by Bruce Hornsby and the Range

Hornsby is advocating change in the song. His point is that people tend to excuse bad, selfish ways and prejudicial habits as established policy, or as so ingrained in that huge social construct we call civilization that its useless to fight. "But don't you believe them!"

Hornsby had another huge hit back then called "Mandolin Rain." Its a sad ballad but its just ssooo beautiful. I was very surprised that so few outside our country said they had heard Hornsby's songs. They've been off the top charts long enough a lot of US teens haven't heard them either. This is a serious shame, because he's a lot more than a local hero. Bruce Hornsby was & is a real artist worth remembering.

The economy was better for most people in the 80's. Reagonomics did seem to work when companies didn't ship too many local jobs overseas. BUT life was only spectacularly good for relatively few. I mostly remember people going from worrying about nuclear holocaust (apocalypse films, Mad Max et al- were also an 80's thing) to worrying about getting and holding a reasonable job. Manic Monday, Money For Nothing, Fast Car, Another Day in Paradise, She Works Hard For the Money -and a number of similar 80's songs made the same point.

After all that serious reflection I need a lighter, escapist note ~ so here's the only vaguely related 80's hit "Down Under" from the band Men At Work

& "Tarzan Boy" A truly silly, cheery one-hit-wonder from the same its original cheesy music video. I'd not actually seen the video before looking it up today. Man, if this guy were any more obvious he'd be doing the time warp again... :D

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gotta Wear Shades...

Channel surfing the other night I happened to catch that late 80's hit "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" on Pop-Up video. I remembered the song, though I hadn't thought about it in literally years.

I had thought of it as an 'upbeat' song that nevertheless tended to depress people - especially since it was still hugely in play when the economy went south a year or two after it went gold. No - this was the OTHER Wall Street failure, kids..the S & L embezzlement scheme in the late 80's that nearly bankrupted the world....billions were suddenly lost overnight. Countries were still tottering years later from its domino effects.... Still the song reminded me of old hopes, and a time when the economy was doing better - for other people, grant you, but still...

VH1 Pop-Up Video was able to remind me of a lot of things I'd forgotten about that how the movie 'Shades' went with- Real Genius had been the kiss of death for Val Kilmer's career. (All the younger ones are now saying "Val who?") Seriously, kids, he'd been very famous until that bomb of a movie. To this day, I don't know WHY it bombed. It was actually a decent enough flick, and Val was good in it. was interesting to read the pop-up notations that also mentioned that:

1. The ground the music video was shot on turned out to be Sacred, and adjacent to Burial Grounds for a tribe of Native Americans (the pop-up version points out the specific rocks of the Indian Burial Ground behind the band). There's usually a curse associated with fooling with those.

2. The Shuttle Challenger referenced in the video, blew up not that long afterward...

3. A decades-old beauty contest referenced in the video was permanently canceled right afterward...

4. and the song itself did not lead to anything lasting for the band themselves. As talented as they were said to be, this remained their One Hit Wonder.

5. Even the donkey used in the video died right afterward - admittedly, he was an elderly donkey. He'd been most famous for his appearances as the booby prize in Let's Make a Deal, the old game show.

..and I think I mentioned already that the economy went into a recession not long after, which, yes, slashed the budgets for the sort of high-paying entry level research jobs the song celebrated.

My Mom thinks even the trailer in the video was a recalled model....

You might just get the idea the song & projects associated with it WEREN'T "heavenly blessed & worldly wise," but the imagery in it has remained popular, especially with techies. A classy-looking MMO used similar imagery in its beginning to the music video and had slew of problems getting off the ground, far more than expected technical bugs, publisher support, funding issues, you name it. I couldn't help but wonder if the shades-wearing techies making that game had ever seen the Pop-Up Video version of the song? I'm guessing not...

Its interesting to me that everyone still remembers 'Shades' as a winners' song, and a reasonable way to encourage new and upcoming graduates with the tasty potential fruits of their labors. Others tend to remember it as a song to sing when they win big or whatever.

So - what do you think? Was it just really unlucky timing? If the music IS it just because the band accidentally crossed an ancient shaman?

How many people thought this song was pretty innocent? Did you?

Do you think that because many people have gotten good opportunities for earthly success, everyone less blessed has only themselves to blame (unless they are rapidly dying of cancer or something)?

We talked it over and filtered it through the lens of our memories. What came back was how much the song had depressed most people we knew in the late 80's & early 90's. It highlighted the disparity in opportunities for those not in the favored programs/ colleges/ departments. I can recall the bitterness of grads with Master's & PHDs in less valued fields on hearing that song. Not everyone is an engineer or a computer person, you know? One Political Science grad we knew ended up shift manager at a local convenience store for awhile. It paid better than his other options! A Liberal Arts Master ended up flipping burgers to keep going, but eventually was able to switch to tutoring students & a banking job. (He is a wonderful actor, but that is such a competitive field.) A doctorate in Marine Biology ended up as a secretary in the early 90's. She'd have loved to have gotten that shift manager's job. She later died young of an unexpected brain disease. Out of maybe a couple of hundred people we've known with really GOOD educational credentials, exactly one had the sort of opportunities mentioned in the song. We haven't seen him in a few years.

..and yes, he liked sunglasses. He probably liked the song too, though we never asked him. Now I don't begrudge the guy his blessing, but it sure highlighted to me what is wrong with saying that everyone could be a worldly success, if they just tried hard enough. Not all talents are valued by companies (or society) equally.

(and here you thought I was going to discuss the hard-working millions of working class who couldn't go to college for whatever reason, or go for very long, and still heard "Future's So Bright" pushed on the radio day after day - right? right... I did think of mentioning the millions who are lucky to see even a whole meal from one day to the next, and all those 'basic' undervalued talents for say, growing the food we all depend on, but..nah...)

I always had ambivalent feelings about the song myself. Its perky sounding, but my life has been not been that easy. Seemed like hearing it kinda rubbed on old sore spots as I continued to struggle with finances and faith. As I grew in faith & saw God answer my prayers over the years it bothered me less and less to hear it. I believe it is good to rejoice with other people's blessings. I count on God for mine and hope others will praise God with me for what He gives me. I don't identify with a view of success as a high-paying job that 'buys a lot of beer' - so it got easier and easier to put the song out of memory when it wasn't on the radio. & Since I quit listening to the radio long ago, that limited possible exposure to this song to 80's retrospectives (lumped in with songs I liked better). Like I said, I hadn't thought about it in years. Now I am REAL glad I didn't identify with it more. I really do think it marked a turning point for American history somehow.

We talked about it here for awhile and came to the conclusion that its the theme itself, with its focus on worldly success & partying that wasn't likely to have pleased God. "Shades" tempted the abundantly blessed to pride and selfish attitudes, and those less blessed were tempted to envy or despair on hearing it. It probably wasn't so much the cause of the things that broke right afterward but a reflection of attitudes that already annoyed the Lord who loves those who humble themselves and brings down the haughty.

So - by now you are wanting to see the Macbeth of music videos for yourself, yes?

As it happens, even if it wasn't giving me the heebie jeebies, I couldn't play the song for you. The VH1 page was having technical issues when I tried to access it, and Youtube has been asked not to allow embedding elsewhere. I leave you the Youtube link to "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" on this paragraph only.

On an equally weird note, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" was meant to be sarcastic, according to Bobby McFerrin - instead it genuinely cheered up a lot of people who heard it, helping them cope with the rough times it referenced. After seeing the other video, you might want to treat yourself. Just clickee this paragraph :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

With Virtual Eyes, I See You

This is a Catholic article about treating online time & online relationships well ~ and its well worth the time to read & reflect on it. I have to say it agrees with my own findings over the years. I went fully online for the first time in the summer of 2000 (our BBS time doesn't really count, as it was too cranky to do more than turn in papers and play a few games). I arrived online after several years of relative solitude, freshly released from health worries for my family for a season, and with a full understanding that those I spoke to online were real human beings with real lives, problems, and feelings. This was strengthened by the intense closeness of the community I first joined, but the affectionate relationships I developed were the silver lining to what was becoming a pretty serious storm cloud. My husband eventually equated the situation to having a vacation in a demiletarized zone! I had gone to hang out and have fun with like-minded people, but it was a community under attack by ambitious, manipulative people, and several saw me as competition. (What can I say? My personality is rather good-sized too. :) Others came in believing they were under some religious obligation to attack anything that smelt of clean fun... yes, really.

A number of those I encountered had already had their sensibilities blunted by the limitations of online discourse. Now some of the most manipulative were already that way in real life ~ in other words, the medium had not made an appreciable difference in their message, but for many of the youngsters - oh, it made ALL the difference. They saw life through the eyes of public school and cartoon/avatar images in their imaginations. They couldn't "see" me. A friend actually made an online personality to try and open the eyes of the 'virtually blind.' I am not sure it worked for more than a few, but I always respected that valiant effort.

Being mean to people you can't see is all too easy for the childish and cowardly. Now understand that anyone can feel petty or childish on their worst days and add that to the incredible amount of misunderstandings available in rapidly TYPED messages (where one poor turn of phrase can start a feud) and its easy to see why so many online relationships sour if they have no offline, in person, physical reinforcement.

Don't think Christian-based communities are immune to this. All the Redeemed are on a different part of our journey with Jesus. Its also helpful to remember that there are a wide variety of churches out there, and many are very worldly in outlook. Its quite a downer to meet someone who believes they are irrevocably saved by their denomination's specific doctrine (which makes them 'more' saved than you ) and therefore 'fireproof' against God's requirements ...and subsequent corrections for disobedience. This is the type that usually doesn't think reading scripture & praying daily is all that important, and that, in any case, all that bad stuff that can happen is only judgment when it happens to someone else!

I will probably always remember the twit who claimed that the "loving your neighbor" didn't apply online because of the physical distances. I am REAL sure our 'neighbor,' in the Godly sense, is anyone we encounter in ANY MANNER (after all, none of the people who ignored the injured man in the Good Samaritan parable were said to be natural, next-door neighbors - and the Samaritan was a foreigner!) ...but be aware, there are self-professed 'Christians' who hold this other view. I can guarantee you that anyone who doesn't feel any obligation toward ethics or manners in online encounters is a problem for the entire community they join, not just you.

There are other pitfalls too. I understood that some of the folks that became strongly attached to the community were needing replacements for Real Life lacks. I love most people, and most people love to be loved, but the particularly needy can be hard to satisfy. It takes time to know that is what you are up against. Its hard to stop spending much time with these folks if you care, because they can get hurt so very easily, and because it feels so virtuous to be reaching out to those who seem to need your time and affection so very much, but it IS a that can swallow your life whole until you climb back out of it. I have already been down that road in real life, and spent much of my time with those I recognized as being in that category evangelizing (sometimes more than I was comfortable with) because I knew they need Jesus a lot more than they need me. They can hang on to Him for dear life here and hereafter and He'll never mind a bit, the Holy Spirit never has to shift His attention away (God is the ultimate multitasker), and will never disappoint their hunger for HUGE amounts of unconditional love. (His JUSTICE requires good behaviour out of us, but His LOVE never has been bounded and never will. He hates sin but not us. That's why there is so much mercy available to free us from our sins!) God is the only one who can do all they desire. God is the only one who can heal these deep aching needs and be with them everywhere, everywhen.

Others I met needed only a friend, but still needed Jesus to fix their self-loathing, cowardice, depression, and other ills. I tried not to push my faith at them, but sooner or later I was bound to briefly mention (as an option) the Answer I believe in with all my heart, soul, and life, ~ and that's bad enough for some. Mentioning the Blessed Hope made me a better target ~ but then, doesn't it always? If you love those you encounter enough to truly try to help them, I guarantee you will be a target too.

I ended up spending so much time trying to counsel those I found and cared about that I began to lose ground in my home. I had to back off in order to keep my family first, and I did, but I don't think it was ever really accepted that I was truly too busy to continue putting in hour after hour, visiting and comforting, day after day.

Backing off made it easier for the hostile-minded to turn more kiddos from me and what comfort I still had time to offer, since I wasn't doing so much for them anymore. I kept getting words from everyone who knew me that my time of intense involvement wouldn't last, and was essentially allowed by God as a learning experience - even when I was enjoying my time there the most. That helped, but I can't honestly say I have wanted to repeat those times so I have wondered what the lesson was preparation for, if you know what I mean.

...and all this was WITHOUT Orcut...Facebook...Myspace...Yahoo 360....Twitter... or even Blogger, whose restraint in formatting I appreciate ever more as time goes on. I don't mind sharing little essays when I have something to say, but I really don't want a page that recreates that sense of demand on my time I felt back in my early internet days.

I mention all this for those who read this and may be debating proper limits in an involving community setting. These community pages (Facebook, Orcut, and the like) are meant to organize and make easier to manage what I had going ~ sharing photos, chats, private messages etc ~ all on one page. That also means its MUCH easier for a Newbie to get sucked in to that whole online-centric lifestyle just by adding a few interest groups. Its easy to get overwhelmed by responses when you are recognized by a highly interactive group as a productive/valued member.

So what is the bottomline? I recommend caution now in making online friendships (and it saddens me to say that.) Those that you are sure you'd like to know better - well, pray a lot first, and give it a little time. Let the initial charm wear off a little bit. Keep in mind that online friendships need to be reinforced in real world terms to have any hope of being lasting. Use what options are available to you - visits, cards, phone calls, teamspeak, personal meetings... This helps determine who was being real with you online, though you will still have to be wary of the seasoned manipulators. I also recommend deliberately limiting how many hours you consider 'available' - using a timer or planned 'openings' in your personal schedule - and with your family understanding that they come first in any conflict of interest. I am in a lot of places these days, but am much harder to 'catch' ~ and that seems to be the right answer for me and mine right now.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Cute as a Speckled Pup....

He's getting more speckled-y all the time too ;)

Meet our new pup, cute as a button but full of mischief - yips, nips, chews, and cat chases. Jack is allegedly half chihuahua, half terrier (His dad is definitely half terrier-half Chihuahua, but we think his mom is really a Chiweeenie.) He's a fun pup, but definitely more of a challenge than you'd think when he enthusiastically licks your face and snuggles up to you. We will have to watch him around strangers, as he definitely will bite, especially when very excited. Mind you, right now that is not a big deal, with his little puppy teeth - and we're working with him, so hopefully we'll have him well socialized before too long!

We weren't honestly planning on getting a dog. Came about like this - a longtime fiend of DH kept bringing up his wish to give us a puppy when his Chiweenie grew up, as he was sad we didn't have one anymore. DH hubby said sure, that'd be great, knowing said friend was really wanting to offer an olive branch - and was letting him know he understood that. Its a Christian thing. We really should allow people to apologize and make amends when they sincerely want to do that. We were sure that is how Tom's friend meant it. We were also aware that it was going to be a long time before such a promise could be kept - who knew if she would even have puppies? She was a nice dog, and our friend was expressing a nice sentiment. That was the end of it for a long time - and then we get the news in late winter that she was expecting so we would soon have a puppy! (This was a surprise in two ways. Known him for over 20 years and I believe this is the longest this friend has ever remembered a promise. He keeps them when he remembers them, its just that his memory hasn't usually been this good.) Whee! Four pups were born, but the littlest one didn't make it. All three survivors were cute little males. A few weeks later we were asked to come and pick one. We chose the friendliest, which happened to be the biggest, while stressing that he didn't really have to do was okay if he had other friends who wanted one.... etc. We spent some time praying about it, but decided to leave it in God's hands rather than reject the well-meant gift. I think my last prayer was, if you really want us to have this puppy, then let our friend give the pup to us directly. He showed up a week or three later (we usually go see HIM!) and handed the little guy over.

So now we have a companion while we work in the gardens, a little one making mornings come way too early. lol On the whole we like Jack very much. Even the cats like him, when he isn't too much in their faces. Usually he enjoys chasing them a small way, and then backs up when they turn around. Occasionally L & K chase Jack! LOL

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Our Easter was quite nice :) Nice weather to cook a lamb roast by... We didn't get much chocolate or do baskets, but the kids did a few eggs as you can see. We spent a lot of the time thanking Christ for His sacrifice and for the many blessings He brings into our lives. Thank you, Jesus!