Finally, researchers are beginning to pay serious attention to the frightening rise in allergies and asthma among children. For too long it has seemed to me to be something that was just accepted and dealt with. We can ban peanuts from airplanes and peanut butter from school snacks; we can turn once again to the drug companies in our search for relief for our children's problems; but better than palliative measures would be to discover and eliminate the cause of this scourge.

What has changed for children, that their immune systems are compromised? Why has peanut butter, that staple of childhood, suddenly become deadly? Could it be pollutants in their environment? Side effects of the greatly-increased number of childhood vaccines? The lack, for so many children, of the immune system boost provided by breastfeeding? Hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals unnaturally introduced into our food? The rise of day care and preschool, exposing infants and young children to a barrage of disease germs? Or—the "hygiene hypothesis"—is our children's environment too clean, too sterile, for proper development of their immune systems? (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 15, 2004 at 5:44 pm | Edit
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I have been working on a project that involves gluing two sheets of cardstock together, then laminating the result with clear contact paper. It's a bit of work, but seemed more reasonable than purchasing a $200 laminating machine.

Maybe not. I had been pleased with the results, but noticed that the rubber cement seal was coming apart in some places. No problem, I thought, I'll just slip in a little extra rubber cement. That appeared to be a fine solution, until I returned to my work an hour later and discovered that the solvent from the rubber cement had apparently penetrated the card stock and dissolved the adhesive on the contact paper, leaving a mess of wrinkles and bubbles. :(

Time to figure out Plan B. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 14, 2004 at 7:11 am | Edit
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Category Everyday Life: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

Research by a team of Italian researchers suggests a genetic link between homosexuality and fertility.

A study of 98 homosexual men, 100 heterosexual men, and their relatives (4600 people) indicates that female maternal relatives of homosexual men tend to have more children than female maternal relatives of heterosexual men. This was not true of female paternal relatives.

The lead researcher, Professor Andrea Camperio-Ciani, of Padua University, attributed to his 15-year-old daughter the idea that there is a genetic factor linked to both homosexuality and high birth rates. This, she suggested, could help explain the anti-intuitive persistence of genes, such as the so-called "gay gene" (Xq28) that apparently contribute negatively to the production of offspring. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 13, 2004 at 8:23 pm | Edit
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I'm experimenting with different colors and styles for my blog, so don't be shocked if it feels a bit like a boat in rough seas for a while.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 12, 2004 at 5:13 pm | Edit
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No Christian can rule out the possibility that he may be called upon to be a martyr. Be that as it may, I don't believe any of us is called to be a masochist.

In today's sermon we learned that God intends worship to be—among other things—fun. I'm not quarrelling with that, only mentioning it to make the point that I do not, in general, consider pain to be fun. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, October 10, 2004 at 1:56 pm | Edit
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Category Random Musings: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] Everyday Life: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

That's not how I customarily describe our houseguests, but this one is a friend from Rochester, NY whose purpose in visiting is primarily to work for the success of the man I would like to see defeated in the upcoming presidential election. Are we "giving aid and comfort to the enemy"?


Well, an opponent does not need to be an enemy, and I have to admire our friend's willingness to work for what he believes in, giving up his vacation time to boot. I haven't actively campaigned for someone since I worked for the Humphrey-Muskie ticket, and that was before I could vote. That's a little embarrassing, since we have a friend who ran for the U.S. Senate, but it's the truth. We vote, we talk, we provide financial support—but Don's actually down there at headquarters, working. You have to respect that.

And the dinner-table discussions are definitely stimulating!


Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 9, 2004 at 1:29 pm | Edit
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It looks as if this will be the first season in over 10 years that we won't get our flu shots. We started the habit long before flu immunizations were recommended to the general public. One year there was a particularly nasty strain that was sidelining its victims for about two weeks. We looked at our schedules, particularly those of our children, and decided that we didn't want to deal with the consequences of losing that much time. We considered my father—elderly and with respiratory problems, and thus vaccinated—who had been our regular February visitor since we'd moved to Florida. We'd get sick; he'd stay healthy. Seemed like an obvious choice to us. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 9, 2004 at 7:30 am | Edit
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I suppose we should be watching the presidential debates tonight. But I already know how I'm going to vote on that race. (We need to have debates for the local races, where I'm not yet convinced.)

Nonetheless, Porter—after a grueling week of work—was in the mood for a mystery story. I checked out Blockbuster online to see what we might expect, and found a good assortment of Agatha Christie, Inspector Morse, Rumpole of the Bailey, P.D. James, even a couple of Dorothy Sayers. (Alas, no Father Brown stories, nor Ngaio Marsh.) Thus encouraged, we paid a visit to our local Blockbuster store.

What a shock! They've remodelled since we were there last, and their movie stock has been considerably diminished. More than half the store is now given to game rentals and movies for purchase. There is no longer a "mysteries" section. When I asked the clerk for help, he told me that any mysteries would be scattered around, probably in "drama" or "action." There is no way to browse for a good mystery. Next I asked if they had any Agatha Christie movies in stock, only to learn that there was no way for him to answer that question, as his computer only allowed him to look up movies by title! "You mean," I said, disbelieving," that unless I come into this store knowing exactly what it is I want to rent, you can't help me?" Apparently. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 8, 2004 at 8:37 pm | Edit
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I can't find an official Baldo website to advertise with a link, but today's comic says a lot about some folks' attitudes toward grading:

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 8, 2004 at 11:25 am | Edit
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We have been found. Try typing "sursum corda" wightman in Google and hit "I'm Feeling Lucky." If you just type "sursum corda" we're 5th on the list. Now I really need to clean up the pages so it says something intelligent in the description....
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 7, 2004 at 10:10 am | Edit
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As Floridians, we've had to endure too many jokes about Florida's elections. I challenge any state to stand up to the scrutiny Florida received after the last presidential election. Many states simply couldn't have done a recount, because they have no permanent record of individual votes. I've voted in Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, and Florida's system holds up well in comparison. Even after the 2000 election, we found that it would have been easy to cheat in Massachusetts, if we had wanted to. I'm not going to complain about their system, because it was nice to feel trusted. But it was certainly a surprise not to have to provide any form of ID when we voted.

I also like Florida's paper ballots. (We had paper ballots in Massachusetts, too.) We've used both the punch-card ("hanging chad" style) and the fill-in-the-circle (standardized test style) ballots, and despite what you've heard on the news, they are not hard to understand! I'm old fashioned enough to think that someone too clueless to understand the simple ballots, or too lazy to take the time to make sure he has filled his out correctly, or unwilling to ask for help if needed, probably shouldn't be voting anyway.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 7, 2004 at 8:24 am | Edit
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Here's a particularly appropriate excerpt from my father's as-yet-unpublished autobiography (to give a fancy name to the project he and I were working on when he died):

There was no kindergarten in the Pullman School system and I started first grade at the age of five, my sixth birthday coming before the new year and in time to let me start. I went to the Franklin Elementary School, which was about a half dozen blocks away. This gave me a rather short walk compared with that of many of the students. There were no school busses to the elementary schools in those days. I do not remember much about my first four years in school, although in 1980 I did find it easy to remember that one of my teachers had said that Mt. St. Helens was an extinct volcano.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 6, 2004 at 1:22 pm | Edit
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Category Hurricanes and Such: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

Today's For Better or For Worse comic strip, though it's talking about an actual school, expresses neatly the technique I used when required to produce a curriculum and transcripts for our homeschooled children. "Educationese" isn't hard to speak once you've read enough of it. There is one difference, however: In the comic, the teachers are fitting the material to the students' interests; with homeschooling, the interests generally come first, and when necessary one finds official words to describe the educational results.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 6, 2004 at 11:57 am | Edit
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While waiting in line at the grocery store today, I picked up a Reader's Digest and read an article about several traditional first aid measures that are no longer approved. Some were ones I've known for a long time, such as putting butter on burns; my mother knew half a century ago that cold water was a much better choice. However, I did not know that hydrogen peroxide is no longer recommended for cleaning wounds. Hydrogen peroxide kills germs, but apparently it also damages healthy cells, and inhibits healing. The proper way to clean a wound? With clean, running water.

Not that I consider Reader's Digest to be the ultimate medical authority, but I wish I could have read that article a year ago, before I had a small, basal cell carcinoma removed from my face. Following the dermatologist's instructions, I cleaned the wound frequently with hydrogen peroxide. It took a long time to heal, and left a nasty scar. Since I normally heal well and quickly, it's hard not to think there's a connection there. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 5, 2004 at 6:59 pm | Edit
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I don't remember if we have the Olympics or the hurricanes to thank for this, but for one of those occasions we had the television on long enough to hear an advertisement for the PBS show, The Question of God with Dr. Armand Nicholi. It caught my attention because Dr. Nicholi's popular Harvard course of the same name was featured in the Boston Globe while we were living in Massachusetts.

Subtitled C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life, the program interweaves biographical information on the two men, quotations from their writings, and a seminar-like discussion among an eclectic group of serious thinkers. Alas, I was too busy to give the two-part, four-hour show the complete attention it deserved, but I saw most of it, and I haven't been so impressed with something on television since Ken Burns' The Civil War. The intellectual quality of this show is as far above normal PBS fare as normal PBS fare is above the rest of television.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, October 4, 2004 at 11:57 am | Edit
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