Good Friday.

Remembering the day all the sorrows of the world (and then some) were in some incomprehensible way taken on by the only one who (as fully both divine and human) could effectively bear them—albeit with unimaginable suffering.

I trust it is in keeping with the holiness of the day, and not in any way disrespectful or unmindful of its significance, to consider that as we, in the West at least, pay less and less attention to the significance of Good Friday, we find ourselves taking all the sorrows of the world on ourselves—and being crushed by them.

Consider the lives of our ancestors throughout almost all of history:  Most of them were born, died, and lived their entire lives in the same small community.  Even when they migrated, were taken captive, were exiled, or went to war, for all but a handful, their circle of experience remained small and local.

Our ancestors suffered greatly.  The unbearable sorrow of losing a child was not uncommon.  There was no easy divorce to sever marriages and blend families—but death played the same role.  The lack of sanitation, antibiotics, immunizations, and even a simple aspirin tablet made for disease, pain, and death on a scale most of us can’t imagine.  Starvation was often only a bad harvest away.  Slavery and slave-like conditions were taken for granted for most of history.  I’m not here to minimize the sufferings of the past.

But there is a very important however to their story.  Their pain was on a scale that was local and human.  They suffered, their families suffered, and their neighbors suffered.  Travellers might bring back tales of tragedy far away, but that was a secondary, filtered experience.

And today?  The suffering in our close, personal circles may indeed be less.  But our vicarious suffering is off the charts.  Whether it’s a murder across town, a kidnapping across the country, or a natural disaster halfway around the world, we hear about it.  In graphic, gory detail.  Over and over we hear the wailing and see the shattered bodies.  Full color, high definition, surround sound.

If that were not enough, our television shows and movies flood us daily, repeatedly, with simulated violence and horror, deliberately fashioned to be more realistic than life, so that, for example, we become less the observers of a murder than the victim—or the murderer himself.  (Not to let books off the hook, especially the more graphic and horrific ones, but their effect is somewhat limited by the imagination of the reader.)

No one imagines that the death of a stranger half a world away, much less in a scene we know is fictional, is as traumatic as a death "close and personal."  But a few hundred years of such vicarious suffering is not enough to reprogram the primitive parts of our brains not to kick into high gear with horror, anguish, and above all, fear.  Our bodies are flooded with stress hormones, and our minds tricked into believing danger and disaster are much more common than they are.  We repeatedly make bad personal and national decisions based on events, such as school shootings and kidnappings by strangers, that are statistically so rare that the perpetrators cannot be profiled.  We hear a mother wailing for her lost child, and our soul imagines it is our own child who has died.  We watch film footage of an earthquake and shudder when a tractor-trailer rolls by.  Did anyone see Hitchcock’s Psycho and enter the shower the next morning without a second thought?

Worse still, for these sorrows and dangers we can’t even have the satisfaction of a physical response.  We can’t fight, we can’t fly, we can’t hug a grieving widow; no matter how loudly we shout, Janet Leigh doesn’t hear us when we warn her not to step into the shower.  Writing a check to a relief organization may be a good thing, but it doesn’t fool brain systems that have been around a whole lot longer than checks.  Or relief organizations.

I don’t have a solution to what seems to be an intractable problem, although a good deal less media exposure would be a great place to start.  

The human body, mind, and spirit are not capable of bearing all the griefs that now assault us.  We are not God.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Edit
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Category Random Musings: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

Thanks to DSTB, who have a personal interest in Bath, Maine, I offer you a glimpse of the action at Bath Iron Works.  It serves to remind me that the U.S. does, indeed, still build things (though I do wish we still built our own toasters), and that in my current (and I believe important) quest of small and local (farming, business, education, health care), sometimes large and local is beautiful, too.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7:36 am | Edit
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Category Just for Fun: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

All my e-mails are sorted and ordered and I know what needs to be done in a timely manner and what can wait.  The former have been sorted into "Action" folders, and I know to give them top priority.  But all the e-mails that now reside in various Project and Someday folders no longer trouble me, as I know there is no hurry, and I can get to them whenever I feel I have the time and energy to tackle them.  What's more, they are organized, so that if I decide to work on accumulated reading, or educational materials, or computer enhancements, I can navigate immediately to the relevant material.

I wrote that a week ago.  It's still true.  (It's still amazing.)  What's more, I have reduced an e-mail backlog of more than 600 to 64, and not by declaring e-mail bankruptcy, but by dealing with each one.  I don't expect the number to get much lower:  the point of e-mail is to use it, after all.  But what remains is in useable form, filed and easy to access.  If I keep it under 100, I'll be thrilled.

However, there's a downside.  Frankly, taking care of e-mail has become an obsession.  I can't stand to have anything in my inbox, which is a good thing because if I can deal with it quickly I do, and if I can't, I file it appropriately.  In addition, I've obviously spent a lot of time slashing my backlog by 90%.  That, too, was a very good thing.  But as I said, I'm obsessing.  I'm spending too much time checking e-mail, just so I can deal with it.  If I'm working on something else and notice that mail has arrived, I immediately drop what I'm doing to take care of it.

That was okay for the first week, but it's time to move on.

The point of e-mail control is not to get rid of all e-mails as soon as they come in; it's to deal with them effectively and efficiently, in a timely manner, and not allowing the important to get lost because of a poor signal-to-noise ratio.  What I need now is to let go my Death Grip of Control a little.  To acknowledge that

  • the last 10% of my e-mails will take a lot longer to dismiss than the first 90%
  • their numbers will continue to ebb and flow somewhat

And that's fine, because as long as

  • I review them regularly so that I know I'm not neglecting something that can't wait
  • I keep on top of them so that the flow doesn't overwhelm the ebb

all will be well.

My e-mail system, after all, is much like a Tickler File/Next Action Lists/Project Folder GTD system.  There's no point in an empty Tickler, and no need to check it obsessively.  Each day you check it once, deal with what you find, and then forget about it until the next.

My plan it to try to force myself to "check my E-mail Tickler" once each day, and do what needs to be done.  That doesn't mean I'll only read e-mail once a day.  I'll never be a Tim Ferriss and check e-mail once a week or less, because I've chosen e-mail as my primary form of communication.  I might be able to manage his recommendation to check e-mail only twice a day, but I don't think so:  I wouldn't want to miss the e-mail that says our grandchildren are asking to Skype!  (Though of course that will happen anyway, unless I get a phone smart enough to nudge me when an e-mail arrives, and I'm in no hurry for that.)

What it does mean is that while I may clear my Inbox more frequently, unless the e-mail is  one that (1) I can take care of in less than two minutes, (2) I would particularly enjoy answering right away, or (3) urgent, I will file it in the appropriate folder and forget about it until "Check E-mail Tickler" comes up again the following day.  (Actually, I may not forget about it completely, because several of my e-mails are parts of ongoing discussions, or for other reasons will provoke long, thoughtful responses.  In such cases, Li'l Writer Guy will always be busy in the background.  But that's pleasure, not guilt.)

And in case you're wondering why I haven't answered the e-mail you sent, checking my e-mail tickler means making sure I know what can wait and what can't, and dealing with the latter.  And then, if I have time, some of the former.  If you think I've misclassified your e-mail, feel free to nudge me with another.

This is not going to be easy.  There's always the fear that—as has happened with so many other of my efforts—letting go of iron-fisted control will cause the system to implode.  But a system that requires so much maintenance is of no use at all.  So it's time to take a risk, pry my clenched fingers off the reins, and let the system do what it's designed for.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 9:11 am | Edit
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alt

Back in September of last year, our toaster over gave up the ghost.  As in, it started smoking in all the wrong places.  Since we all know that smoking is a health hazard, we decided to replace it.

(We replaced it within the month; I'm just slow in getting around to writing about it.  Granted, this post is somewhat ironic coming after the previous post on too much stuff, but it's hard to make a decent piece of toast by roasting bread like marshmallows over a glowing stove burner.  At least we followed the one in, one out rule.)

After much deliberation, I chose the Cuisinart Custom Classic.  It was $80 minus 20% at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Of course all online reviews vary from "worst toaster I ever bought" to "best toaster I ever bought," but this one seemed to do reasonably well.  I considered the convection combination, but I had space constraints -- this one is at the upper edge of what fits into the designated space.

Much to my surprise, I really like it.  Here are some reasons:

  1. It hasn't actually burst into flames yet.  Smile  I still have it on a switched outlet so I can turn off power when I feel insecure, especially on long trips, but I've mostly stopped doing that since it has behaved well for six months.
  2. It has a dial for setting toast darkness and a pushbutton start (albeit electronic, like most pushbuttons these days).  I like this much better than the tick-tick-tick timer, and for the first time in years I can make toast without watching it like a hawk.
  3. The quality is a little better than that of the $25 toaster we bought five years ago.  Not $75 worth better, but the best I could do for a reasonable price.  The less expensive toaster ovens seemed really junky, as if they might be lucky to last five weeks, rather than five years.  If this one gives us the same use/price ratio, it should last more than 12 years.  Not that I'm counting on it.
  4. It has two elements on top and two on the bottom.  Again, unlike our previous toaster, the cheaper ones had only one top and one bottom element.
  5. The crumb tray is easy to remove and clean.
  6. I haven't checked the accuracy of the temperature dial for baking, but it seems to work well.
  7. There's a "bagel" setting that toasts the top more than the bottom.  I haven't actually used this yet, but I like the idea.
  8. As I said, the oven is bigger than our previous one, but the larger footprint is worth it because it really does hold four pieces of toast well.  I think that whoever decides for advertising purposes how many slices a toaster oven can handle must use smaller bread than I do.

It's nice to make a purchase and still be satisfied with it half a year later.  That's true of our refrigerator, dishwasher, and washing machine, too.  (The last two years have been tough on the appliance budget.)  I'll write about them in upcoming posts.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 6:50 am | Edit
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Category Everyday Life: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

Upfront admission:  This is a First World problem, and I know there are millions in the Third World who would love to have it.  But we are First World people, and it is a problem.

Janet, our (almost) Swiss daughter, has a refrigerator about half the size of the one I had in my college dorm.  It is, understandably, uncomfortably full.  Heather, our New Hampshire daughter, and I each have what I'd call a normal-sized refrigerator.  Each is uncomfortably full.  My sister has a large refrigerator.  You guessed it:  her refrigerator is also uncomfortably full.  (Maybe that's only because I usually see it at Thanksgiving.  But I doubt it.)

Janet has a small cubicle in their apartment basement for storage, stuffed full.  Heather has a good-sized basement, and the only reason it's not yet stuffed full is that they just removed the large furnace and chimney that were taking up a good deal of the space.  My sister's basement is wonderfully large, but it has the same problem.  We don't have a basement, but I know what it would be like if we did.

Janet doesn't have a garage.  Heather has a one-car garage that is crammed with stuff.  We have a two-car garage, ditto.  My sister's three-car garage is in similar shape.

Janet's apartment is very small, with no closets and little cupboard space:  it's overcrowded.  Our four-bedroom house has decent cupboard and closet space:  it's overcrowded.  Heather just moved into a large Victorian monstrosity of a house, and their newly-renovated kitchen alone has awesome cupboard space.  But even after making allowances for temporary construction equipment and materials, it's clear that the house is well on its way to filling up.  Thanks to a taste for clean lines and an eye for beauty, my sister's very large house doesn't feel crowded (except at Thanksgiving), but her closets and cupboards are as full as the rest of ours.

I could go on:  Attics.  Bookcases.  Drawers.  Filing cabinets.  Even boxes.  I'm seeing a pattern here, and it's not good.

No matter how much or how little space we have, our possessions expand to fill it to the point of discomfort.  I wouldn't want to limit the food I have in our refrigerator to what would fit in Janet's.  But if she can manage, why can't I keep ours at the point where there's still wiggle room?  Why do our bookshelves hold books behind books, and books on top of books?  If we had fewer bookshelves we would have the same problem—but with a quantity of books that would fit comfortably on the shelves we do have.

I've come to believe that the problem is actually a mental miscalculation, similar to the one that results in my having almost-but-not-quite enough time to meet any deadline.  If I could have 30 more minutes before guests come for dinner, I would be relaxed and well-prepared.  If I could have one more day to prepare for our vacation, I would step onto the plane well-rested and confident.  If I had left home ten minutes earlier, I wouldn't be fretting about traffic and red lights.  What I want to do always fills up the time available—plus a little bit more.  Likewise, what I want to store always fills up the space available, plus a little bit more.

Solving this problem has become one of my Foundations 2013 goals.  Inspired by Janet's organizational and deluttering efforts, encouraged by some modest successes of my own, and cheered on by friends and family who are tackling similar projects, I hope to recalibrate my mental vision, or at least figure out how to compensate for its known errors.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, March 25, 2013 at 6:45 am | Edit
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altWhen to Speak Up and When to Shut Up:  Principles for Conversations You Won't Regret by Michael D. Sedler (Chosen Books, 2003)

I jumped at the opportunity to review this book, because conversations are often difficult for me.  As an introvert, I generally find conversations mentally and emotionally taxing, and thus tend to avoid them in situations where others might seek them out, such as with strangers on an airplane, or in those awkward "get to know each other" social gatherings.  Over the years, I have attempted to improve my skills in this area, with the result that I'm now much more likely to initiate and contribute to conversations.  Perhaps too likely.  Once started, I can be hard to stop.  I talk too much, running roughshod over others.

Hence my enthusiasm for reading this book.  I was looking for help in achieving the proper balance, that is, when to speak up, and when to shut up.

Unfortunately, the book does not deliver what I was expecting.  It is not so much about conversation as about confrontation:  the times you should speak your mind, the times you should hold your tongue, and how to tell the difference between the two. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 7:13 am | Edit
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Here's an interesting TED lecture on some of the possibilities for small, agile, flying robots.  The possibilities for exploring dangerous places, such as collapsed buildings or gangsters' hideouts, are great.  If only they didn't sound so much like a swarm of bees....

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 7:32 am | Edit
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Category Just for Fun: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

Yesterday I had a dentist appointment, and while I was there I had a revelation in their restroom.

Sitting on the counter was a mug full of disposable, single-use toothbrushes, individually wrapped and pre-loaded with toothpaste.

When I spoke with our dentist, she said that she had gotten the idea from orthodontists, whose patients often come to the office without having had the opportunity to brush their teeth.  But I saw quite a different use for them.

One of the most annoying aspects of overseas airplane travel (after the expense, lack of sleep, and forced minimal movement for hours on end) is the difficulty of brushing one's teeth.  It's bad enough to have to negotiate the tiny lavatory, hoping the plane doesn't lurch as you attempt to spit into the diminutive sink.  But schlepping a travel toothbrush in your carry-on luggage, and toothpaste in the TSA-approved clear, plastic, quart-sized, zip-lock bag, and negotiating their interaction within the confines of the aforementioned lavatory—well, let's just say it's enough to make many people forego dental hygiene on long flights.

Enter the single-use, preloaded toothbrush:  Light.  Individually wrapped.  No hassle from the TSA.  Brush and toss.  Brilliant.

There's only one problem.  You can order these NiceTouch toothbrushes from practicon.com.  However, since they expect you to be a dentist, the minimum order is 144.  (I so wanted to say "gross!" but that doesn't fit with toothbrushes, unless you drop yours on the lavatory floor while trying to brush your teeth on an airplane.) So either you must plan a lot of travel, or go in with a lot of travelling friends, or have a nice, friendly dentist who will get some for you.

If you succeed, remember this caveat from our own nice, friendly dentist:  they really are for one use only.  They're not made well enough to stand up under repeated use, and have been know to fall apart in very uncomfortable ways.

I'm looking forward to brushing my teeth on my next trip to Switzerland.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 22, 2013 at 7:10 am | Edit
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When I first learned that Google Reader was going away, I was even more upset than when the demise of iGoogle was announced.  After a brief tantrum, I decided it was a good lesson in the importance of not becoming dependent on things over which I have no control.  I know:  We depend on city water, we're tied to the grid for power, and losing the Internet would be almost as crippling as losing the first two.  But a little independence is better than none.

Today I realized that I'm actually grateful for Google's nefarious actions.  Not to justify Google's leading people into addiction then cutting them off cold turkey, but what they did offered me the perfect opportunity to declutter my blog world.  And what a victory that was.

I began by looking at various Reader alternatives.  Because nothing jumped out at me as the obvious course, I decided to see if I could do without any feedreader at all.  The first step was to cull the many feeds that were outdated (some of them with no posts since 2009!), or in which I'd lost interest, or which I find too interesting (i.e. take up too much time, such as the Front Porch Republic, which is filled with frequent, thoughtful, interesting posts that take a long time to read and even longer to respond to).  It took much of the day to do it, but it made me so happy!

Thus I managed to whittle over 100 feeds down to a couple of dozen.  This is how I am dealing with those that remain:

  1. For many I was able to activate an e-mail subscription.  Now that I have my e-mail under control (what a thrill to be able to say that!) I'm not afraid to add this, and I have a filter that files my blog subscription e-mails directly into my "Read" Action folder.
  2. For some I determined that I was receiving the same information, or at least a link to the blog, from Facebook, so as long as I keep up with Facebook, I'll get the important news.  If I want I can even have Facebook e-mail me the posts.
  3. Some are updated at a rate that makes checking them weekly a viable option.  These I have aggregated into a folder on my Firefox Bookmarks Toolbar called "Blogs Weekly."  Once a week I can click on the folder, choose "open all in tabs," and rapidly flip through them to check for new posts.
  4. Others (mostly family blogs) I want to check daily, so I have a similar folder labelled "Blogs Daily."  Each of the Weekly and Daily folders contains less than a dozen tabs, and I plan to keep it that way.
  5. There are only two blogs I can't handle with any of the above methods:  Lime Daley, and Daley Pictures.  These are updated infrequently enough I don't want to check them unless there's news, but when there is news, I want to know quickly.  Fortunately, for both of them I'm likely to hear directly from the people involved if there's something I should know.

For now, I'm keeping my (radically trimmed) Google Reader feeds in parallel with my new system as I try it out.  But I think I'll like it.  It's neat, clean, orderly—and has been reduced to only those feeds that, per FlyLady, are a blessing!

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 8:02 am | Edit
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Thanks to a recently-renewed (and most welcome) acquaintance with a friend from some 15 years ago, I've been wandering through the darker days of the past and reading stories that make our own darkness seem like daylight.  I don't regret the reminders that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," even those who are otherwise doing good, or even great things, even churches.

But the point of that gloomy introduction is to point out how much I needed this homeschooling pick-me-up, this shining return to the bright, solid beauty that still clings to the human race, no matter how fallen it may be.

From Celebrating a Simple Life:

The pediatrician asked if Ivy [her four-year-old daughter] was start[ing] to learn her colors (she's known those for at least a year), if she could count (into the teens in two languages), and if she was able to ride a tricycle, etc. 

In the mean time, Ivy took out the magnadoodle that is in the exam room, and wrote her name.  Then she asked me if I could show her how to write her name. 

"But Ivy, you already know how to write your name.  You just did it!"
"No, mommy!  How do I write my name in GREEK?"

The pediatrician said, "So...  I guess you won't be putting her in school either?"

Nope.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 6:29 am | Edit
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It's been a while since I had one of those Happiness Moments.  Certainly with the birth of a new grandchild I've had plenty of times of gratitude and pleasure.  But the effervescent joy that I call a Happiness Moment had eluded me for almost two months.

Until yesterday.

It was a small moment, but oh, so welcome.  Thanks to being away from home (and sick, and exceedingly busy) for a month, plus some disruptions before that, my e-mail had gotten completely out of control.  Since returning, I've been chipping away at it, and doing some reorganization.

Late yesterday afternoon I realized that it is now under control.  Not that I no longer have a mountain of e-mails to deal with.  It's a much smaller mountain, true, but those that could be handled easily are gone, and what remains will command a lot of time.  So what was the cause of the champagne-bubble thrill?

All my e-mails are sorted and ordered and I know what needs to be done in a timely manner and what can wait.  The former have been sorted into "Action" folders, and I know to give them top priority.  But all the e-mails that now reside in various Project and Someday folders no longer trouble me, as I know there is no hurry, and I can get to them whenever I feel I have the time and energy to tackle them.  What's more, they are organized, so that if I decide to work on accumulated reading, or educational materials, or computer enhancements, I can navigate immediately to the relevant material.

When I used to do a lot of mountain climbing, I loved the moment when I doffed my heavy pack and walked free:  I felt lighter than air and every step was dancing.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:44 am | Edit
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Category Foundations 2013: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

Forgive me for not remembering where I got this link, and check out Dan Gilbert's TED talk on why paraplegics and lottery winners are equally happy a year after the event, why fixed choices lead to greater happiness than having the ability to back out of a decision (and the implications for marriages), and why Adam Smith was right in saying,

The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slightest observation, however, might satisfy him, that, in all the ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally contented. Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquillity of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Edit
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A quick bit of inspiration, shared on Facebook by a long-time friend:

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Edit
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altThe Spirit Well by Stephen R. Lawhead (Thomas Nelson, 2012)

I am now totally hooked on Lawhead's Bright Empires series, and the next book isn't due out until September of this year.  Keeping track of the action is a challenge, as the story jumps through multiple generations, eras, and places, but such dislocations are no more than the protagonists are expected to endure, and by this third book I've become an experienced traveller.  Roller coasters can be great fun if you don't expect your equilibrium to remain unchallenged.  (For one as face-blind as I am, it's actually easier than watching an ordinary movie.)

It's risky to praise a series from the middle—I thought Harry Potter had great potential, but grew more and more disappointed after the third book.  So far, however, Bright Empires just gets better and better.  This is probably because I like characters and mystery more than action, and this volume has a better thought-to-violence ratio than The Skin Map and The Bone House.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Edit
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Is this the end of The Onion?  When it becomes impossible to tell the difference between serious news articles and satire, where's the humor?

You've probably heard the story enough times by now (except perhaps the overseas contingent):

A 7-year-old Anne Arundel County boy was suspended for two days for chewing a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun and saying, “Bang, bang”— an offense the school described as a threat to other students, according to his family.

So help me, it gets worse.  I am so, so, so glad I no longer have anything to do directly with the public schools, and I'm beginning to feel guilty about the tax money I give them.  The following quotes are from a letter sent home to the parents following the incident:

Dear Parents and Guardians:

I am writing to let you know about an incident that occurred this morning in one of our classrooms and encourage you to discuss this matter with your child in a manner you deem most appropriate.

During breakfast this morning, one of our students used food to make inappropriate gestures that disrupted the class. While no physical threats were made and no one was harmed, the student had to be removed from the classroom.

...

If your children express that they are troubled by today’s incident, please talk with them and help them share their feelings. Our school counselor is available to meet with any students who have the need to do so next week.  In general, please remind them of the importance of making good choices.

I am completely without (even minimally polite) words to address the important subject here.  I will for now restrict myself to three comments:

What was a subsidized breakfast program (funded by my tax dollars again, no doubt) doing feeding children Pop-Tarts?  And fake Pop-Tarts at that?

Any reasonable teacher would have taken the child by the hand and said, firmly, "Jimmy, food is not a toy; eat your pastry or give it to me."  (And enforced the action if necessary.)

Under no circumstances should people like this be responsible for the safety, mental health, and above all the education of children.  This is not just insanity; it is downright abuse.

(I found this so unbelieveable I checked with Snopes.com, which doesn't mention the incident.  Here's a Washington Post news article, and the letter to parents on the school district's own website.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Edit
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