Fashionable Elegance

Apparently there’s a charity in Italy that helps women know how to dress. Because that’s the thing most lacking in Italy? I don’t know. I do see some relevance to it. It makes a difference in job opportunities if you know how to dress and have the right outfit. But this isn’t about jobs.

Here’s their list of 10 things a woman needs to be Fashionably Elegant On a Budget.

1. little black dress check
2. stiletto heels check
3. matching handbag check
4. trench coat
5. cashmere pullover
6. light blouse check
7. jeans check
8. white t-shirt
9. pearl necklace check, about three times
10. lip stick check, x10

I think it is fascinating what ten things are needed to make you fasionably elegant. Notice there’s nothing in there about shoes or undies. I think those could make or break an outfit, but they aren’t mentioned.

via Reactuate

Anwer to the Illegal Immigrant Problem

Chuck has an answer for the porous borders with which I agree. Don’t expect it to be implemented, though. America wasn’t THAT isolationist before WWI or WWII. But I think it would work.

Except for one thing. The limitations on the ownership of houses would have to be expanded. I don’t think that, despite the racial implications, anyone who is a first or second generation American could own one. There are people in my church who think that it is terrible that we don’t want illegal immigrants here. It is because they are legal immigrants but their relatives are not. So, you’d have to limit it to folks who have been here a while. And folks who have blended in rather than keeping their family’s cultural heritage.

Learning More than I Wanted to Know

Don’t read this unless you are prepared to learn more than you wanted to know. (I could be naive. Everyone could know about this stuff, I guess.)

Suspension= putting hooks through your back and hanging yourself, or having someone hang you, from the ceiling

Corps (Kore? Core?)= a place where you go for suspension, you have to crawl across the stage in a loin cloth, and sometimes, at least, they sew people’s eyelids shut (Is no one else but me freaked out about that? Well, J is. And she was the one talking about it with A.)

Digging the Roman Showers= liking someone to vomit on you (I’ve had someone vomit on me. It is not erotic in any form or fashion. Makes me wonder about the mental stability of someone who wants that done to them.)


We were hacked. Teach us to keep basic words. I guess we were thinking we were superior because we use Macs. But if you don’t change the basic in-word, they’re going to hack you. Thankfully he didn’t destroy our data.

However, we heard back from WordPress. Once we’ve been hacked, they can re-hack unless we upgrade. Don’t have time to do that right now. I hope they don’t wreck our data.


The week before Christmas was fall here. The trees were brilliant colors, even the Bradford Pears. Now, though, most of the leaves have fallen and I should be out raking the lawn.

List of Books

Originally I said I would make a list of all the books I read this year. I kept forgetting I was keeping the list, so some of the books I read are probably not on here. And I kept that list through June 24 when I had a list of 383 books.

I kept reading, but I didn’t keep writing them down because I was too embarrassed to admit that most of the books I read are romance novels. Romance novels. Not the big thick one that have lots of bad things happen to the people in them, but the smaller ones which are generally less traumatic and generally more encouraging at the end. I know that I’ve read over 400 more of those this year since I quit keeping a list, because I was given three hundred and I borrowed some from my mom and I bought some.

Here, however, is a list of the books that I read this year that aren’t romances. I didn’t include any children’s books I read because they’re children’s books. But here, as of right now, are the 94 books I read at least once this year. (Many of these I read multiple times.)

Sci Fi
I Dare –Miller and Lee
Plan B– Miller and Lee
Carpe Diem– Lee and Miller
several chapbooks by Lee and Miller
Trading in Danger– Elizabeth Moon
Marque and Reprisal –Elizabeth Moon
On Basilisk Station –David Weber
Conflict of Honors–Lee and Miller
March to the Stars– David Weber and John Ringo
We Few–David Weber and John Ringo 6
Apocalypse Troll by David Weber
Into the Looking Glass by John Ringo
Crown of Slaves-David Weber
At All Costs- David Weber
Pandora’s Legions by Christopher Anvil 15 (counting chap books as 2, though there were six or seven)

E. Godz by Robert Aspirin
Exile’s Honor by Mercedes Lackey
Exile’s Valor by Mercedes Lackey
Take a Thief by Mercedes Lackey
Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
Arrow’s Flight by Mercedes Lackey
Arrow’s Fall by Mercedes Lackey
Oathblood by Mercedes Lackey
Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey
Wind Rider’s Oath by David Weber
Ill Met by Moonlight by Mercedes Lackey
Mad Maudlin by Mercedes Lackey
This Scepter’d Isle by Mercedes Lackey
The Warslayer by Rosemary Edgehill
The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
Cobra Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
Knight of Ghosts and Shadows by Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon
Summoned to Tourney by Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon
Beyond World’s End by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill
Spirits White as Lightning by M. Lackey and R. Edghill
Bedlam Boyz by Ellen Guon
This Year’s Fantasy 2
Born to Run by Lackey and Dixon
Wheels of Fire by Lackey and Dixon
When the Bough Breaks by Lackey and Dixon
Chrome Circle by Lackey and Dixon 27
Phoenix and Ashed by Mercedes Lackey
The Damsel and the Dwarf by Gerald Morris
Burning Water by Lackey
Children of the Night by Lackey
The Gates of Sleep by Lackey
The Serpent’s Shadow by Lackey
Sacred Ground by Lackey 34

A Short History of the Early Church –Harry R. Boer
The Purpose-Driven Life
Why Men Hate Going to Church
Mission Alive!by Gailyn Van Rheenen
The Status of Missions in the Churches of Christ by Gailyn Van Rheenen
Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen 6

The Discovery of King Arthur by Geoffrey Ashe
The Hinge Factor by Erik Durschmied– How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History
Crafting Your Own Heritage Album by Bev Kirschner Braun
My Backyard History Book 4

Voodoo Science by Robert L. Park
Cold Fusion by Peak
How to Read a Painting by Peter de Rynck
Blog by Hugh Hewitt
A Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Double Talk
A Noel Parrin Sampler
Thereby Hangs a Tale: Hundreds of Stories of Curious Word Origins
What to Read by Mickey Pearlman
An Introduction to Literary Criticism
The Best American Science Writing: 2002
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Learning to See Creatively by Bryan Peterson
The Life of Benvenuto Cellini– an autobiography of an Italian from the 16th century
Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui
Q’s Legacy by Helene Hanff– an autobiography of a book writer in the 30s-80s
Making Faces– Kevyn Auchoin, a book on makeup
Strange but True from Fate Magazine
Searching for Carroll Beckwith– a story of reincarnation that is supposedly true
To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek 19

Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn –Kris Radish
Frankenstein — Mary Shelley
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown-
A Time to Dance by Karen Kingsley
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown–much more violent than DaVinci Code
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
The Autobiography of Santa Claus

100 Dastardly Little Detective Stories
Cows of the World (Far Side)
Weiner Dog (Far Side)
The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guin (fiction, history, but not a novel exactly)

Blue is Green

There is a cool article in on “Language Colors Vision.” (Actually they spell it “colours” but…)

The thing that struck me the most, though, is the green/blue square thing. If you were Korean you couldn’t differentiate between the squares of green better than the blue. Because Korean only has one color for those two. A girlfriend who grew up in Korea got in trouble with people coming by to look at her “blue used car” that she had for sale, because it was green. She has trouble telling the two colors apart, even though she also grew up speaking English.

At least that was her excuse. I don’t speak Korean so I don’t know.

But that story of hers has always given me a deeper appreciation for how language affects our learning. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I didn’t totally hate rhetoric when I was doing my PhD.

Texas Fudge Cake

Now this recipe varies. I’m giving you the one I know. I will tell you that someone at my church here makes the same cake but with a chocolate cake instead of yellow.

1 stick butter
3-6 Tablespoons of cocoa (depending on how chocolate you like it)
1 package powdered sugar
1-2 Tablespoons milk
1 package pecan pieces (the 12+ oz.)

Cook on the stove.
Melt the butter and cocoa together.
Add a bit of milk.
Put in the sugar.
If the mix stays solid, add more milk.
Let it bubble one time. (Take it off after the one bubbling or it will turn into chocolate sheets of an ice like substance. Kind of like brittle but not good.)
Pour it over a hot baked cake.

Use a yellow cake with pudding in the mix.

We used to make the cake from scratch, but I haven’t done that in 30 years now.

Mexican Steak: The Journey

This is my family’s favorite meal. It came from a church cookbook in Oregon where my dad’s middle sister was going to church with her family. She bought one for each unit in the family. So at least six of the cookbooks sold. I took it off to grad school with me. I haven’t seen it since, so I may have lost it.

In the original, the sauce is minimal. However, my family makes LOTS of sauce, browns the meat, and cooks it more in the sauce. The meat is done when you can eat it with a spoon. And you need rice to go with the steak and sauce.

This will not be to everyone’s taste. My husband doesn’t like it. But my family loves it.

This will feed a family of six big eaters or twelve normal people. Or two of my family if they’re hogging it. You need two big pots to cook this in.

3 twenty ounce bottles of Del Monte Ketchup (Other ketchups have less sugar and so taste less sweet. You can change for your personal preferences.)
6 empty ketchup bottles of water (Makes sure you get the last of the ketchup out, too.)
12 Tablespoons of mustard (We always use yellow, but brown would probably just add a bit of kick.)
12 Tablespoons of Lea & Perrin Worchestershire sauce (This is non-negotiable in my opinion. But if you have a favorite W- sauce you can sub it.)
1 Tablespoon tabasco (If you don’t like any heat at all, you can lower this. If you like more, you can add. My dad can’t have it too spicy. Update: I put in 1.5 T and that is TOO much. My lips are burning. I had to drink soda in order to eat and the rice wasn’t enough to stop it.)
2 cups lemon juice
garlic (The recipe as it was originally calls for 18 cloves for this mix. I usually just use a whole head and call it done.)
onion (The original calls for 18 onions. -Because the original was much more about the onion than the ketchup. My family aren’t big onion fans.– I usually just use two. But you want to chop them up well.)

flour- enough to coat steak
oil (Don’t use anything that has a strong taste.)
6 pounds of steak

Take the flour. Mix in pepper and salt. (I just salt and pepper the steak before I coat the steak.) Coat steak. Pan fry until light brown outside. Then the steak in with the sauce and bake at 350. Cooking time: 2-8 hours. Longer is better.

My brother says the best way to mix all the sauce is put all the wet stuff except ketchup and water in a blender. It does get the mustard to mix in better, but it isn’t necessary.

My brother uses two sticks of butter in the recipe. I don’t use any butter in the recipe. I find that no one tastes the difference and I don’t look at butter on top of the sauce after it’s been in the fridge the way I make it. The butter is original to the recipe.

If it’s too spicy:
Add more of the other wet stuff. (I may have to do that to the portion I made 1/12/07. It is too hot for me.)

Upton Sinclair Lied

In case I ever have to teach Boston by Sinclair.

Sinclair was told by their attorney that the pair was guilty and that he had purchased alibis for them. Letter tells info.

Sinclair was afraid to write the truth in his book because
1. His wife was afraid he’d be murdered.
2. His readers expected them to be innocent. 90% of his readers were foreign liberals.

But he believed, and others stated, that the guys were guilty.

Via The Cranky Professor

Perspective on the War in Iraq

I got this by email today.

An interesting perspective…

If you consider that there have been an average of 160,000 troops (majority of the time over 250,000) in the Iraq theater of operations during the last 22 months, and a total of 2112 deaths, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000.

The death rate in Washington D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000. That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation’s Capitol,
which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.

Conclusion: We should immediately pull out of Washington D.C

When I tried to look up these statistics, I found the above posted at Firearm Death Rates.

I found gun deaths are 5x the traffic deaths. Traffic deaths in 2003 were 69 and 45 in 2004. Traffic death average per year is 57. Or, since 22 months is about two years, 114 for two years. Basically we’re looking at 5 traffic deaths a month. So from 114 we take away 10 and get 104. And that’s for 22 months, though it’s not the same 22 months as the gun deaths mentioned above.

So 104 times 5 equals 520 gun deaths for 22 months. And the population is 570,000. That means there is about 1 gun death per 1,100 based on the statistics I could find.

But, using those same type of numbers, and realizing that the military does rotate people out, we’re looking at two, maybe three, groups of folks in during that 22 months. So if we take the average and multiply it times 3 we have a total of 450,000 people. But there are 2,112 deaths.

Simply looking at the numbers it is clear that 2,112 deaths for 450,000 is far higher than 520 gun deaths for 570,000 people.

I don’t think the email is correct. If it is, I couldn’t find anything to substantiate it.

Update: I went back looking again and found a Democratic board posting and discussing. Their math looks like this:

The usual number of dead quoted is close to 1794, not 2112, so that lowers that number to 1.11% vs. 1.32%
Next, the calculation needs to be converted to an annual rate, so annualizing it:
22 / 12 = 1.83 years

.0111 / 1.83 = .61% vs. .081% = 7.49 times more likely to die in Iraq
Hey a war zone less than 10x as deadly as Washington, D.C. — and that was all casualties, not just combat ones.

Something I had thought of, but wasn’t mentioned in the original post, is that they’re saying 22 months, which is 2003 through 2004. But they’re using the end of 2005 number. Hence the lower number in the calculation above.

And, as mentioned in the second quote above, the deaths include all casualties, not just combat ones. So if someone dies of a heart attack in Iraq, that counts. Those guys who flipped their Humvee and drowned count. Traffic fatalities, heart attacks, whatever. They all count.

If we added those in to DC’s numbers it would be more than equal to the Iraq war.

Let’s look at DC’s for that. If I can find them.
520 for firearm deaths
104 traffic deaths
374 infant deaths (They have in DC!)
1504 female cancer deaths Female cancer rates peaked in 1991, a very bad year, at 142.2 per 100,000. Let’s take half of that. Then divide it by 12 (for months of the year, multiply times 22, number of months, get total.)
So, DC is probably more dangerous to live in.

But in the military, there aren’t very many infant births or deaths, since those folks aren’t in Iraq. And most cancer patients would be out of the service before they died. So I know the numbers aren’t totally accurate.

Also, I found the 80.6%. It is, in fact, accurate for Washington, DC. But it is only accurate for the year that the murder rate in Washington was at its highest. 1991. DC had 480 murders that year.

Anyway, there are some interesting things to look at with these numbers. They just aren’t easy.

Attempting to Learn

I was wondering if there is a way in WordPress to put in a “below the fold” type article. Often I write things that turn out to be significantly longer than I was expecting it to be. One post could take up more than a screen. So I thought I’d ask around. I asked my computer guru. He said he didn’t know.

So I thought I would try the advanced editing feature. It has an “excerpt” and a “post.” The first paragraph was put in the excerpt. Then I put it in the post as well and am adding this paragraph. Let’s see how that goes.

Well, that didn’t work. Didn’t make any difference at all that I can see.

Gas Prices

We drove from Houston to Arkansas in an RV. We had to buy premium unleaded, the expensive stuff. The cost of this stuff, at places we did and didn’t stop, ranged from $2.11 to $2.45.

I’m glad my car doesn’t require premium.

Christmas Spending Up

I didn’t even listen to the news for info on Christmas spending. I knew Christmas spending was up. Why? Because my mall, the one that in prior years has been 50% full when others are at 99% capacity (The radio reports these things in Houston.), has been full for over a week before Christmas and was full last night too. I knew it was up, but I didn’t know how much.

All Things Conservative told me it was 8.7% up, without including internet sales.

Happy holidays!

Gaming is Learning

Joanne Jacobs has an entry on how gaming teaches.

Since I have two gamers, I am always glad to hear the good news.

A few weeks ago I sent this Tech Central article to my eldest.

It is an in-depth article. For just one bite, on the question of violence in video games:

Professor Jonathan Freedman of the University of Toronto in an extensive review (2001) of the psychological evidence about video games and violence, notes that while there is evidence that people who like and play video games tend to be more aggressive than those who play and like them less, like addiction, this finding is merely an association that says nothing about the direction of causation. Indeed, more aggressive individuals might be attracted to video games as opposed to influenced by them. Some researchers have suggested that rather than promoting aggression, video games might actually release it.

Age of the World

I have always believed that the Bible is true. I still believe that the Bible is true. But I have wondered how others reconcile the truth of the Bible and science.

I have always said that the seven days of creation were not literally seven days. It seems like that ought to be obvious because the sun is what makes a day and there was no sun until day 4.

This article explains this belief clearly and articulately. I even learned something from it. As the days go through in creation, it says “It was evening and it was morning.” Here’s something I didn’t know.

Nachmanides says the text uses the words “Vayehi Erev” — but it doesn’t mean “there was evening.” He explains that the Hebrew letters Ayin, Resh, Bet — the root of “erev” — is chaos. Mixture, disorder. That’s why evening is called “erev”, because when the sun goes down, vision becomes blurry. The literal meaning is “there was disorder.” The Torah’s word for “morning” — “boker” — is the absolute opposite. When the sun rises, the world becomes “bikoret”, orderly, able to be discerned. That’s why the sun needn’t be mentioned until Day Four. Because from erev to boker is a flow from disorder to order, from chaos to cosmos. That’s something any scientist will testify never happens in an unguided system. Order never arises from disorder spontaneously and remains orderly. Order always degrades to chaos unless the environment recognizes the order and locks it in to preserve it. There must be a guide to the system. That’s an unequivocal statement.

Something I did not know is there is a difference between the description of Day One and the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh day.

Only on the first day does the text use a different form: not “first day,” but “Day One” (“Yom Echad”). Many English translations make the mistake of writing “a first day.” That’s because editors want things to be nice and consistent. But they throw out the cosmic message in the text! Because there is a qualitative difference, as Nachmanides says, between “one” and “first.” One is absolute; first is comparative.

Nachmanides explains that on Day One, time was created. That’s a phenomenal insight. Time was created. You can’t grab time. You don’t even see it. You can see space, you can see matter, you can feel energy, you can see light energy. I understand a creation there. But the creation of time? Eight hundred years ago, Nachmanides attained this insight from the Torah’s use of the phrase, “Day One.” And that’s exactly what Einstein taught us in the Laws of Relativity: that there was a creation, not just of space and matter, but of time itself.

The author is a PhD from MIT. He’s written books. Those might be interesting to read. He’s very clear and understandable.

Note: In the article he only talks about the six days of creation, but on the seventh day God rested. How many millenia do you think he might rest? I think day seven should be included in the non-calendar counting.

The Story of My Brother

My brother was born prematurely, with a small, closing hole to his stomach that made it almost impossible to feed him.

At the time, I was just over a year old. My mother was 17. My father was 22. They’d been married two and a half years. My mom hadn’t finished high school yet. My dad was in law school, taking 21 hours a semester, and working 40 hours a week at the only job he could find, all the way across town. My brother was sent home from the hospital with my mom, who had been bedridden for months before his birth, and had to be fed every half hour with an eyedropper. He could only have two drops. That was all that would fit through the hole. The doctors didn’t want his death to impact the mortality rate at the hospital, so they sent him home.

I don’t know about you, but even now that would overwhelm me, even without a one year old at home. A knock came at the door and a lady stood outside when my mother answered it. She told us her name was JW, told us the college minister at our church had told her about our situation, and she offered to help. She took my brother and kept him alive for six weeks, the time limit the doctors had set to do the surgery, since they were certain he would be dead by then.

We didn’t have any money. And I don’t mean we didn’t have any money like you and I most often mean it today. I don’t mean we didn’t have money to get tickets to the Texans’. I don’t mean we didn’t have enough money to replace the sofa, even though it’s old and dirty and starting to wear out in the fabric. I mean we often didn’t have enough money to buy sufficient food to feel full. And here’s my dad, working 40 hours a week while going to school, trying to figure out how to pay for the hospital bill and the two surgeons- required by law, if my brother actually does survive.

So my father made an appointment with the Dean of the law school to formally withdraw from school. Dad was in summer school and if he just quit, he would fail. He’d never have a chance to get back in. The dean agreed to meet with my father. When he heard that my father was withdrawing, he asked him why. He had already looked up my father’s records and knew that he was in the top of the class; he didn’t want to lose a good student.

After my father told him the problem, the dean asked my dad why he didn’t just get a job. My dad looked at him, probably in shock, and said, “I already work forty hours a week.” Then it was the dean’s turn to stare. My dad not only took 21 hours a semester, more than a full load, he also edited the Law Review. Now he was telling the dean that he worked full time as well?

The dean called his personal banker and asked him to bring over loan papers. The dean co-signed the loan. My father protested. “What if I can’t pay it back?” When my father said that, the dean looked at him and laughed. “You’re responsible enough to come withdraw, you’ll pay it back, and, if you don’t, I’ll have the privilege of knowing there is a good lawyer out there, partly because of me.”

JW kept my brother alive long enough for the doctors to have to do the surgery and the dean arranged for financing the procedure. One of the surgeons worked for free.

This is the story I mentioned in Family History. It’s the story I thought my kids knew.

I told them that I had told total strangers at church this story and that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t told them. I have now. But I thought I had already.

Family History

If you still have family around, ask how they met. Write it down. According to Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, your children will be better off if they know your family history.

The article, which my father told me about, is here.

What they’re finding is that a sense of family history is linked to self-esteem and resiliency in kids. And contrary to what adults may assume, happily-ever-after tales aren’t always best. Instead, stories of relatives grappling with sad or difficult events may give children the wisdom and perspective they need to thrive. …Kids who knew their family history had higher self-esteem and fewer emotional problems, such as depression.

It wasn’t just the children they examined. They also looked at the adults.

The nurturing adults’ stories also tended to include more examples of people, often strangers, who were surprisingly kind…

You don’t just tell the stories. You also need to tell the hard things.

rather than gloss over negative emotions, researchers recommend discussing how relatives deal with them.

So, go ask questions. See what your kids know. They may know less than you thought.

I thought my children knew the story of my brother’s almost death. I thought they knew about the strangers– JW, the dean of the law school, and the doctor– who helped my parents keep him alive, get him surgery, and keep him alive.

The kids complain I tell them stories too many times. But they hadn’t even heard this story. I didn’t know they hadn’t. So now I’m trying to write them down and make sure they know them.