Regular breast self exams, pap smears, mammograms, colonoscopies, prostate exams, full excision and pathological examination of moles that once were just shaved off at skin level, even routine full body scans—our understandable fear of cancer is reflected in the many procedures available and often recommended in hopes of besting this scourge.

However, there is a downside to all this screening that is now beginning to be recognized. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 at 8:12 am | Edit
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Category Health: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
So today is National Teacher Day. (I know because Google told me so.) Since this blog includes rants against the terrible damage done to children and families by an inhuman and inhumane government-sponsored school system, and such private schools as seek (or are required) to emulate it, it is meet and right to make space today to recognize teaching as an honorable profession, and good teachers as incomparable treasures. The monstrosity that is school destroys teachers as well as students. In particular, today I honor: (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 3, 2005 at 10:55 am | Edit
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Category Education: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
If this story doesn't scare you, you need to read it again. (Here's another version.) A 14-year-old Canadian girl has gone into hiding to avoid being forced to have a blood transfusion that some doctors in British Columbia believe she needs because of her cancer chemotherapy. The girl does not want the transfusion, and her parents agree with her. Whether you believe private medical decisions belong in the hands of individuals of any age, or of parents in the case of under-age children, this is a gross violation of individual and family rights by the Canadian government. Of course it's all done with the best of motives and "for her own good," but somehow that makes it even more frightening. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 2, 2005 at 4:45 pm | Edit
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Category Health: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

Hard, painstaking work is the toll an independent spirit charges itself for self-respect.

John Taylor Gatto

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 2, 2005 at 7:33 am | Edit
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Category Random Musings: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
"Socialization"—the homeschooler's "s-word," the final recourse of opponents and skeptical relatives who, unable to discredit homeschooling in any other way, declare that if children don't attend school they will not be properly "socialized."

Homeschooling families puzzle over this concern, having observed that their children are much more at ease with people of all ages than are most schoolchildren, arguing that peer-socialization is unnatural and generally negative, and pointing to the vast array of sports teams, musical ensembles, church groups, and other associations to which they belong. Why this concern, they wonder, with something as natural and easily attainable as socialization? (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, April 30, 2005 at 10:44 am | Edit
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Category Education: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
Watching our grandson grow, seeing his parents making choices for his care that I wish we had made with our children, knowing much more now than I did 30 years ago, I sometimes wish I were having children now rather than before the turn of the century. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, April 30, 2005 at 9:29 am | Edit
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Category Health: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
Janet needed a chest x-ray as part of a pre-employment physical. Having been advised that insurance would not cover the procedure, she attempted to find out what it would cost. That was much easier said than done, and more than once in her quest she received the following encouragement:

You don't have to pay anything now, you'll get a bill later.

As if that had any effect on the cost! Have we become so inured to debt—home mortages, car financing, credit cards, college loans—that the only price tag we care about is what we must pay right now, the copay, the down payment, the minimum monthly charge?

And what are we to think of a health care system that buries the price of its procedures under so many layers of bureaucracy that no one knows the true cost?
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, April 28, 2005 at 1:16 pm | Edit
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Category Health: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

alt

Let the Baby Drive, by Lu Hanessian (St. Martin's Press, New York, 2004)

Recently we opened a bottle of wine of far higher class (and expense) than I could hope to appreciate. (I can occasionally enjoy half of a small glass of wine, but my discernment rarely goes beyond "I like this" or "I don't like this"; I can distinguish red from white with my eyes closed, but "redolent of old oak with faint hints of chocolate, raspberry, and mushroom" is beyond me.) After my first sip or two, I said, "This isn't my kind of wine." By the third sip I had changed my mind, and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the bottle over the next few days.

That's how I feel about Let the Baby Drive. I saw it advertised in The Compleat Mother magazine, and borrowed it from our local library. For the first several chapters I was thinking, 'Yeah, this is mildly interesting, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Why does this lady make such a big deal out of life with a newborn, something women have been handling for millennia? She is 'way too focussed on herself, her angst, the minutiae of her feelings." (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 at 9:18 pm | Edit
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Category Reviews: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
Better yet, who proofreads them?

I was curious to compare the ingredients and nutritional value of the two varieties of soy milk in my refrigerator: Organic Valley Soy Vanilla, and Silk Unsweetened Soymilk. Staring at the nutritional labelling, I couldn't get past the beginning. Two half-gallon containers. Both say "Serving size: 1 cup." The Organic Valley carton says the expected, "Servings per container: 8," whereas the Silk Unsweetened says, "Servings per container: 4."

When kids would come to me for tutoring in mathematics, I would often feed them cookies, claiming this would help their "math brains." I offer the above as evidence that sugar is, indeed, important for correct mathematical thinking.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 at 1:44 pm | Edit
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Category Random Musings: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
I don't normally read the sports page, but Porter called my attention to last Friday's Orlando Sentinel, and an outrageous statement by David Stern, Commissioner of the National Basketball Association. The Orlando Magic, our own NBA franchise, is currently trying to shake down the city for still more financial incentives not to pack up and go where the bribes might be greater.

What Stern said was this: "If a city builds a symphony hall, there is a cultural benefit to the city, despite the fact that the hall is not likely to make money. The same can be said for having an NBA franchise." (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 at 2:39 pm | Edit
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Category Politics: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
Squeezing in one final visit before our Disney World passes expired, we went to EPCOT last weekend to see their International Flower and Garden Festival. Once again it was lovely, thanks in no small measure to the weather. It really was a glorious day—sunny, dry, and unbelievably cool for mid-April in Central Florida. By evening, with a steady breeze, we were even a bit chilly in our short-sleeved shirts. To some of the visitors from northern climes it must have seemed hot, though, as I overheard one mother telling her small child that they needed to put sunscreen on their faces. If there was one thing they didn't need, it was sunscreen in that mild April sunshine, especially since much of one's time at EPCOT is spent either indoors or in the shade. It's a wonder more American children aren't suffering from rickets. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, April 21, 2005 at 4:11 pm | Edit
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Category Everyday Life: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
With one friend recovering from a life-threatening illness, and another still in the midst of one, I shouldn't need anything special to remind me that it's good to be alive. But today was one of those days when the physical elements combined to emphasize the point. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 13, 2005 at 3:04 pm | Edit
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Category Everyday Life: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
I've been using Mozilla's Firefox browser for some time now, and have recently added their Thunderbird mail client. Not that I have any complaints about my Netscape mail program, but whenever I do an upgrade, Netscape adds a bunch of unwanted junk to my computer, and I'm hoping the more basic Mozilla product will retain the good features without cluttering up my already-overloaded machine.

What I'm really waiting for, however, is for Mozilla to bundle the two products and release them as the Firebird Suite. :)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 4, 2005 at 11:03 am | Edit
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Category Computing: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
Studies have already confirmed the traditional wisdom that drinking cranberry juice contributes to a healthy urinary tract. Now researchers at the University of Wisconsin have discovered potential benefit to our arteries as well, causing clogged arteries to relax and function more like normal ones. I'm off to have a glass of Bay Punch!

Bay Punch, a primary ingredient of which is cranberry juice, was developed at the University of Rochester Computing Center in the 1970's. It is one of the greatest drinks in the world, and absolutely the best thing to drink with pizza. The "Bay" in the name comes from Bay and Goodman Pizza, the original source for our Tuesday night feasts. I'll post a recipe if I can get permission from the only one of the Bay Punch creators with whom I've kept in touch.

UPDATE: I did get permission, and the recipe is here.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 4, 2005 at 7:17 am | Edit
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Category Health: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
When Terri Schiavo dies, there's going to be cheering, and I don't understand why. I know there will be cries of exultation because of the commentary I've heard, and the rude jesting, even from as mainstream a production as National Public Radio's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Perhaps people make light of tragedy in self-defense; I know my family was able to find humor even as our father lay dying. There was, however, an enormous difference: our humor was suffused with an undeniable love for the man and a determination to do all we could for him. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 at 8:21 am | Edit
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