Saturday, September 30, 2006

WIRED's NextFest was featured on the Science Channel last night as well as the evening news the night before.

Jeff doesn't receive WIRED magazine anymore but did for many years. I liked reading it, actually, because even though it was technology, it was more than just industry. Ya know?

Kenny often comments that he would like to visit the many science museums that he sees featured on the Science Channel. But usually these museums are across the country!

So, here's an opportunity for Jeff to take Kenny to a relatively close "museum," in the Jacob Javits Center, a very familiar venue to us from years of Unix Expo. The last Unix Expo was in '96? Has it been that long?

And Kenny would get to ride a train and have his first trip to NYC.

But when I suggested it to Jeff, he said sarcastically, "OK, I'll take him during the 'extra day' this weekend. The day between Saturday and Sunday." Like I said, he doesn't often think that my suggestions are good ideas. Maybe he has safety concerns. There's been a lot of talk these days about "the gap."

They don't have school on Monday for the holiday, so it's a shame that the convention doesn't last an extra day.

Well, it's an annual event, so maybe Jeff will take Kenny one of these years. The problem is that the older Kenny gets, the older his younger brother gets. I don't see how, next year, Jeff can take one and leave the other at home.
With all the genuine Christian charity that I can muster, I suggest that he tell it to his priest.

"'The Confession': More than we needed to know" - The Examiner, 9/28/06
I have three words to describe my reaction: too much information.

McGreevey told The Star-Ledger that he plans to drop out of public view after completing the publicity tour for "The Confession."

We can only hope that this time, for once, he's telling the truth.
From Sept.'s Christianity Today, "Two Degrees of Separation"
"It is obvious the [conservative resurgence in the] SBC is a work in progress," John Greening, the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC) national representative, said.

He applauded the SBC International Mission Board for deciding missionaries would not be permitted to practice a private prayer language.

Greening also said no evangelical has done more to "blur the distinction between evangelicals and Catholics than Billy Graham," whom the SBC recently honored ...
Blurring the distinction, oh, like three years ago when Rev. Graham told Larry King: “He (the Pope) and I agree on almost everything.” Boy, that’s gotta ruffle some feathers, eh?

"degrees" must be a pun, in that schools are involved.
She is letting her hair down in this fourth Precepts segment. Better late than never.

In treating the four interpretative approaches to Revelation, she says of "historicism":
the historicist's goal is to figure out when the antichrist, in the form of the Roman Church and Papacy, came into power and then add 1260 years which will help discern when Jesus will return and bring to an end the reign of the antichrist.
I don't think that she exhausts any of the four views in her brief survey and while a clear reflection of this mentality is evident in Clarke's commentary on Daniel 7:251 and Albert Barnes, etc., Eugene Boring in his volume in the Interpretation series (WJKP) has commented, "Although widely held by Protestant interpreters after the Reformation and into the twentieth century, no critical New Testament scholar today advocates this [historicist] view."

We looked at Zechariah 12-14.

One sweet, faithful, sharp elder lady asked, "Why does verse 21 speak of sacrifice when Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice?"

Our leader did not offer an answer. Maybe because she knows that there isn't one. This unpretentious, humble reader of the Scriptures had picked up on the Achilles' heel, as pointed out in Currie's Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic2.

I wanted to suggest to her, one-to-one, that the prophet describes the future in images familiar to himself and his contemporaries and that his vision ought not be taken literally. But I didn't get a chance.

1From Clarke's commentary: If we knew precisely when the papal power began to exert itself in the antichristian way, then we could at once fix the time of its destruction.

The end is probably not very distant; it has already been grievously shaken by the French. In 1798 the French republican army under General Berthier took possession of the city of Rome, and entirely superseded the whole papal power. This was a deadly wound, though at present it appears to be healed; but it is but skinned over, and a dreadful cicatrice remains. The Jesuits, not JESUS, are now the Church's doctors.

If the papal power, as a horn or temporal power, be intended here, which is most likely, (and we know that that power was given in 755 to Pope Stephen 2. by Pepin, king of France,) counting one thousand two hundred and sixty years from that, we are brought to A.D. 2015, about one hundred and ninety years from the present [A.D. 1825.] But I neither lay stress upon nor draw conclusions from these dates.

2From Currie's book, page 45ff: This verse had been an enigma to me for sixteen years, ever since I had been a student at TEDS. I vividly remember standing in a hallway, in conversation with a man whose specialty was eschatology. A young man approached us and asked the specialist about this verse from Zechariah. His question was "If Jesus' sacrifice is final and complete, why will there be sacrifices needed in Jerusalem after the death and resurrection of Jesus?" The scholar's face momentarily clouded with annoyance, and I have never forgotten his next statement. He admitted that he knew of no plausible Evangelical explanation for this passage.
This was my thinking exactly:

"Sharing schools temporarily is not a welcome option" - The Examiner, 9/28/06
they are looking to "temporarily" come into our new middle school when it finally opens for 2007-08 school year. We have been struggling for a great number of years with overcrowding of our own children and have been very creative about accommodating this problem; now our children will finally have a little more breathing room next year.

So now that Upper Freehold has a contaminated site for their new middle school, they would now like to come into our already extremely large classes, overcrowded building, albeit keeping their students and staff separate, from the Millstone children ...

All of our children have, at one time or another, sat in the trailers for one or maybe all of their classes ...

Friday, September 29, 2006

I picked up the first book reviewed here yesterday and would have gotten the second one if it had been available.
When Kenny got his cast a couple of weeks ago, I carefully scheduled the follow-up at a time that would allow me to make my swim aerobics class and not impact his school activities too much.

The doctor's automatic appointment reminder yesterday morning confirmed that. Then, at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon, in between picking them up at school and visiting the barber shop, the doctor's staff called to reschedule.

"We can see you tomorrow at 8," she said cheerily.

"That won't work," I replied, thinking of my obligation to get Timmy to school, not wanting Kenny to be marked "tardy" and wondering how in the world I could be on the road to Lawrenceville with Kenny and the baby by 7AM.

"The next available time would be Monday at the Yardley office," she offered.

"Yardley?" I asked. "In Pennsylvania," she confirmed.

"No, that's no good," I said. "Then we can't see you ..., " she trailed off and I thought, "What, EVER?"

Then she put me on hold for a moment and came back with "9:45". Better than 8AM but not as good as 11:45, our original appointment time.

I wasn't expecting his cast to come off so it wasn't my intention to keep the appointment at all costs. But, the cast did come off today; the nurse had Kenny slip his hand right out.

The x-ray reveals that the hand has healed nicely. So, it was worth the trouble to be finished with this episode. But I'll always think that my original plan was perfect: allowing me to swim and Kenny to miss only lunch & art instead of his spelling test and music. Best laid plans ...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

After two weeks with the new cell phone and Cingular service, Jeff ordered me a new phone and service plan with Verizon.

The reason for this switch is that callers on certain networks continue to get "all circuits busy" or "number not in service" when they try to reach me.

Obviously, this problem, which has existed from the start, is not going away especially since Cingular doesn't even acknowledge that a problem exists. I mean, if coverage is poor in my area (as they say), then the call ought to go to voicemail instead of failing to complete.

I noted that the new phone from Verizon shipped ... an improvement over the last time we tried ordering a phone from Verizon when days went by without the order shipping. And the porting of my number is in process, 'though I told Jeff that I would take a new number, if necessary.

My suspicion is that Cingular will do a better job handing off my service to Verizon than AT&T Wireless did in handing it off to Cingular two weeks ago. Let's hope so, anyway.

I don't know what type of phone Jeff ordered with this service and I frankly don't care. I mean, the equipment itself is really not an important piece of the service do me. I'm sure that most people would be surprised by that. But a phone is a phone is a phone.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Kenny's first CCD class was this evening.

My biggest concern was regarding the textbook publisher. In this case, it's Sadlier.

I haven't any experience with Sadlier. I am relieved that it is no longer Catholics United For the Faith because that series, based in Steubenville, is anti-Semitic. And my brother attended school at Franciscan U., so I know.

"Cult," Rick called it. Long story there. Ancient history, I hope.

The textbook's development team included Passionist Father Donald Senior who served as the workbook's Scriptural consultant. Also, it was noteworthy to me that the Mariologist was a sister from UD. I would have to guess that I recognize the name of Dr. Carole Eipers from so many East Coast Conferences for Rel. Ed. in Washington in the 1990's.

In short, then, the workbook looks solid, agreeable, with plenty of Scripture (Gospels) in each weekly lesson.

When the Catechism came out ten years ago, so many publishers dropped Scripture from their religious education textbooks in favor of it.

It was as if Scripture were merely filling a void left by the defunct Baltimore Catechism. The absolute absence of Scripture from those early catechism-based workbooks demoralized me as a teacher. I used RCL's Scripture workbook Our Catholic Identity (at my own expense for each student) to supplement. I wasn't thrilled with it because every exercise came from Luke's Gospel. I wanted a little more variety but it was better than nothing.

Since then, the incorporation of Scripture seems to have returned to religious education workbooks in a healthy balance. I am pleased to see that. Alright, enough about the materials! On to more personal matters ...

I was concerned that Kenny would not know anyone in his CCD class because he doesn't go to public school. Fortunately, a boy from his school is also in his CCD class. And he may know others from summer camp. The teacher hasn't much experience, just a year plus a few as an aide, but she seems nice.

Kenny asked me whether CCD would be like VBS and I told him probably not.
I haven't been coloring my hair for health reasons. Not my health reasons, okay? Okay.

And yet, since I stopped coloring, I've received so many compliments on my hair color! It's uncanny. I can plunk down $100 for a salon cut & color and get the flat reaction, "Oh, you colored your hair."

Or I can skip the salon altogether, let my hair grow into my eyes, let the gray come in like gangbusters, mingled with natural summer highlights and what's left over from my dye job five months ago, and everyone oohs and aahs.

It's probably the case that my hair looks so terrible and unkempt that it "guilts" folks into saying something positive about it! Like a "let's boost her spirits because she's obviously letting herself go!"

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute was on NPR last week promoting the "September Skies" program.

I suggested to Jeff that he take Kenny and ... to my surprise ... he did last Friday night!

Jeff rarely thinks that my suggestions are any good, so that's why I was surprised. But, in fact, he admitted that he was as interested in the subject as he suspected Kenny would be.

The 2 1/2 hour program began on the roof, the fifth floor observatory roof, outdoors, at night, in Philadelphia. It was an overcast evening so the outdoor segment was mostly talk. The astronomer offered suggestions for developing a strategy for observing the night sky at home, things like that.

Back indoors, in the planetarium, there was a movie called "The Life and Death of a Star" which showed, among other things, a star's life cycle. Something that I have been trying to explain to Kenny verbally, but I imagine that a visual presentation makes better sense to him at his young age. The images of several constellations were also projected.

Then, the astronomer talked about the upcoming moon mission, Pluto's demotion and that latest deep space probe project or whatever it is.

When he opened it up for questions, Kenny raised his hand, stood up and asked, "Why do stars twinkle but planets don't?"

I suppose that the astronomer had told them how to distinguish stars from planets when they were outside, that one twinkles and the other doesn't, but failed to explain why. Jeff said that the astronomer, of course, had no trouble answering the question and Kenny had no trouble sharing that answer with me when he arrived home. One boy did stump the astronomer with something he asked about "dark matter". I don't think that stumping the astronomer at a free program is so nice.

They gave out disposable "binoculars" but Jeff said that he should have brought his telescope. Next time he will. He seems very eager to return for a related program.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

As we reviewed the Four Horsemen, it was asked whether Hades (Rev. 6:8) was synonymous with Purgatory.

The study leader at this C&MA church looked steadily in my direction as she answered, "Well, I was about to say that Purgatory is an invention of the Roman Catholic Church, but let me rather say simply that Hades is not to be identified with Purgatory, and leave it at that."

Someone wondered whether the oil in Rev. 6:6 was, in fact, petroleum. Well, my goodness, it never occurred to me to consider petroleum in any biblical mention of "oil"! Yet, I suppose petroleum fits the context of today's dispensational interpretation of the Apocalypse.

The answer came that oil very probably refers to olive oil. And I repeated that the oil and wine in Rev 6:6 remind me of the Good Samaritan's treatment of the victim under his care in Luke 10:34.

An inconsistency was then cited from the sacred text:

"If the grass is all burned up in Rev. 8:7, then why are the locusts told not to harm it in Rev. 9:4?" Locusts are known for destroying grass.

Our faithful study leader answered that the grass had grown back in the time between the first and fifth trumpets. "We don't know how much time has passed," she said, "and you know how fast grass grows, especially weeds. Think of the recent forest fires out west. That stuff will grow back."

My answer would have been more abstract: if a literal reading doesn't fit, then the author likely intended a reading other than literal. Therefore, try another reading.

It's amusing how often Christians who hold strictly to biblical inerrancy come across inconsistencies during Bible study. This happened this past summer.

I don't participate at these studies for the sake of pointing out the inconsistencies to them ... they find them themselves! And my answer would be the same. I would not even be so bold as to suggest that they abandon biblical fundamentalism altogether, although that would be ideal. The realization has to be more gradual and can't be forced upon them or else they may fall into one of two devastations: they dig in their heels and resist or they reject the Bible completely as untrustworthy. Oftentimes, then, the very worst thing to do to a biblical fundamentalist is to show them all the errors in the Bible. I don't know why it has to be all or nothing.

Towards the end of the discussion, then, the dilemma arose of how to reconcile the suddenness of Christ's Second Coming with the observable events that must precede it. The Rapture was introduced to preserve the imminence of Christ's return and keep us focused on Him rather than reading the newspapers. And I thought to myself, "Well, that's a little like Purgatory, isn't it? The development of a rational solution to a reasonable problem." I'm sure they wouldn't see it that way.

Friday, September 22, 2006

"I wanna go up in the square one!"

"We can't. It's not open."

I took them to the Twin Lights1 in the Highlands today on their day-off school. More pictures at flickr.

The Navesink is not close, but it's the closest.

The lighthouse climb is manageable. We went up twice and no one was scared coming down. Barnegat is much taller and would have been impossible with the kids.

We checked out the power house which featured a replica of an electric producing dynamo and a huge, rotating lens.

The small museum is suited to their short attention span.

On display are artifacts from the 19th century seamen's life-saving era, including a Francis Life Car which looks like a miniature submarine. The technique was to blast an iron projectile with a line attached towards a ship in peril at sea. Along the line, the life car traveled from shore to ship, back and forth, removing as many as three people at a time, riding inside the car, to safety. One dramatic painting depicts a rescue amid raging seas and I told Kenny that shipwrecks rarely occur in fair weather. Rough seas could almost always be counted upon to make the rescue more harrowing.

Lower Manhattan ought to have been visible but, without the Twin Towers, I can't distinguish it from Brooklyn and Staten Island with the naked eye. I was able to see Sandy Hook's lighthouse2; its white brick stood out against the surrounding green pines.

Unlike sailors on the sea, I navigate by churches: Holy Family, OLPH, Holy Cross, St. James, Lincroft Bible Church, CNRC. It's as easy to do in NJ as it is in FL!

I always make the mistake of taking the Parkway to exit 117 and driving ten miles through ugly Middletown when I should go through beautiful Rumson instead. Now, the Parkway is beautiful especially in mid-day traffic. I had forgotten how beautiful it is, not driving it every day anymore. But 36 South through Keyport and the Leonardo section is depressing Jersey sprawl with a pizza joint in every mean, little plaza.

Going home, I made the right choice to continue down 36 South and pickup 520 in Sea Bright through Rumson, Little Silver and Red Bank / Shrewsbury to Lincroft, Colts Neck, Freehold, Manalapan and home. I missed my turn in Little Silver and saw more of Red Bank than I had planned but quickly doubled back.

Then in Lincroft, I opted to drive past CBA ... a mother can dream, can't she? ... but 520 West was closed ... so I had to double around again. I was close to the Holmdel building and was tempted to get back on the Parkway at exit 114 which seemed to put me nearly where I started 30 minutes earlier! But I resisted that temptation as well as the urge to drive through the old Lincroft building, now Avaya. And we hopped onto Phalanx, finally, in Lincroft to 34, 537, 33 and found our way home at long last.

I don't need to tell you that the lighthouse is a Christian symbol, do I? I mean, a symbol of Christ, the light of the world.

1 See also: Twin Lights Lighthouse -- Wiki
2 See also: Sandy Hook Lighthouse -- Wiki
If thee wants to help, pick up a gun and fight, the same as I'm doing.

I'm not ready to do that.

What does thee aim to do, sit here and turn the other cheek?

That's what I aim to do, if I can.

Thee's got to face the fact, Jess, that war time calls for another kind of thinking.

Your thinkin' may have changed, Purdy, but you haven't. Last week you told my son he was goin' to hell for fightin'. This week you tell Jess that he's got to fight. Whatever's right for Purdy's got to be right for everybody else, huh? You're so hell-bent to fight, get goin'.

If it's peace thee wants, Jess Birdwell, thee won't get it chopping wood.

Friendly Persuasion
There were three of us with the promise of two more next time.

The two others knew each other. Switching from evening to afternoon, I expected to be breaking into cliques. It may take some time before they warm up to me. And my questions didn't do much to ease their welcome.

He started with lots of things, but the biggest shock was a page of Talmud ... in Hebrew. He also gave a key, for understanding the sections on the page. I need to work through that on my own because we did not in class.

I need to get comfortable with the variations. Not just editions, Jerusalem vs. Babylonian, but revisions of each.

As a helpful analogy, I thought of the KJV preserving ancient textual variations, especially in its New Testament that other English translations omit. Anyway, the idea is that ours is the Babylonian. After the course, he said we would know as much Talmud as a Reformed Jew. I'm not sure that's saying very much but I can't hope to finish the course. So, it won't be true of me anyway.

There's a saying: When you begin to study the Talmud, you may finish one page per day ( דף יומי ). After you have been at it for a while, you can manage half a page per day. The study of Scripture is the same way and I saw the parallel immediately.

An aquaintance at the YMCA, in my swim class, claims to be Orthodox but I think she's really Conservative. I told her that I was beginning to study the Talmud and she was thrilled and interested in my impression.
After school yesterday, we were invited bowling with some friends.

My kids hate to bowl. However, they know that bowling alleys have video games, so they like going to the bowling alley. The problem is that I was caught off-guard about the plans. I had been out all day, between swimming class and doctor's appointment and grocery shopping. In fact, I still had groceries in the car when I picked up the boys at school.

So, I had to drop those off at home. Chris had not had a nap all day, so he was very tired. I tried for several minutes to get a babysitter. For the first time, I took a serious look at the list of babysitters that my parish has compiled. And I recognized a few names! You see, the fourth graders that I taught five years ago are now in ninth grade and are old enough to babysit!

But, in talking with sitters or their parents, I quickly learned that Millstone's Back-to-School night was last night and this evening, so any teenaged child would be needed at home to watch younger siblings while parents attended the program at school. I had no chance to getting a sitter, so poor, tired Chris came along with us.

In doing all this, by the time we arrived at the bowling alley, everyone else was deep into their second and final game. No matter, my kids had told me that they did not want to bowl. I would not let them play video games, however, either. So, they visited and their friends let them throw a few balls here and there. That's about the extent of their interest level.

I talked with one mother who has switched her child to a nearby Catholic school because of the problems at our school last year. She isn't very happy with the curriculum compared with what our kids are doing. It was hard for me to be sympathetic, especially because I know that it isn't only about the curriculum. Our plan is to see each other a couple of times per month at a Bible study at her church, starting next week. And she was interested to know that the ladies' locker room at the YMCA is open. She may join the swim class with me.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Back-to-School night on Tuesday evening. Their regular babysitter was available which was good because I had yet to give her her confirmation gift, four months late now. She was appreciative because she's a polite girl, but I cautioned that it may be years before she is ready to read them, an RSV-CE and the standard C. S. Lewis text.

I went to Kenny's teacher first and Jeff went to Timmy's. I wanted to sign up to chaperone their class field trip. And I did that. Kenny's teacher is fine and she has a good bunch of kids. I noted that she had 9/21 marked on the classroom calendar as "Fall Begins", so I corrected her on that. It's unusual this year but I heard it on NPR during a program about the Franklin Institute's September Skies special event.

After the first presentation, Jeff and I switched teachers. Even though the teachers are supposed to give their presentation again, I know from experience that they do not. And this was the case with Timmy's teacher. She assumes that Jeff will tell me everything that she said. But Jeff isn't like that. Husbands aren't like that. She told me that she is expecting a baby at the end of March, so that's the only news that I got. I'm happy for her and thought this would happen last year when she was Kenny's teacher. But I hope that they find someone to fill in and don't think that they can get away with simply merging the two Jr. K classes together. I think that the other Jr. K. teacher is not very experienced.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Yesterday afternoon me and the two older boys enjoyed the town's annual "day," a common tradition among Jersey towns. The event was held at one of the day camps in town, serving as a sort of "open house" for the camp.

Like last year, there was a police helicopter resting on one of the soccer fields. My boys were allowed to sit in the four-seater passenger area. The leather seats were more supple than the ones in my car. I won't say anything about small-town Homeland security spending ...

I don't know whether there's something unusual about my kids or whether the other kids are weird. But, my kids sat in the helicopter for almost ten minutes. No other kids showed anything but a fleeting interest in the copter. TTTT, probably both are weird! I mean, ten minutes seems like an inordinately huge amount of time where a six and a four-year old are involved. And they both know what other activities are waiting inside the day camp. But, in their own sweet time, the older one said, "Mom, I'm ready to move on." The younger one agreed, so we did. And went to the paddle boats.

Now, the older one wanted to do a kayak alone but the lifeguard suggested that I go with him. I didn't because I had the other kid too. Who would watch him while we were out? So, we opted for a four-seater paddle boat but I could not get the hang of steering so we did a lot of going 'round in circles. It was frustrating and tiring. I let the six-year-old steer and he got us back to the dock in no time. The lifeguard at the kayaks had changed, so I thought we'd try again. This time, we didn't ask permission, we just started taking a single-person one out. The lifeguard saw Kenny's cast and asked me, "He can't get that wet, right?" "Right," I said. And that's all there was to it. Kenny waited for us to get into a two-person one and we had a better time getting around the pond. Towards the end of it, Kenny got tired and needed some help getting ashore again. We collided a few times too, but nothing serious.

Then, we did Tim's favorite: miniature golf. And, at the 18th hole, I found a crumpled ten dollar bill. I imagine that it belonged to the people playing just ahead of us because it was in plain sight. So, I picked it up and ran out after them but they were well away. I know one of them from school, so I may ask her if they lost any money. Thing is, most people in town can stand to lose ten bucks now and then, so I may just save myself the trouble and donate it.

Then we ate something and spent the rest of the time at the pool. Of course, Kenny couldn't go in, so I sat with him on the side and dangled my feet next to his while Tim ran around and enjoyed himself in the 2-3 feet of water. Eventually, a neighbor friend came along with his dad and took Kenny away for something more interesting and I was able to join Tim in the pool.

The day ended much too quickly.
Usually I enjoy being right but not this time.

Letters from school came home today announcing that the principal appointed in July has resigned for personal reasons. I blogged that I had not seen her on campus this school year and had hinted to friends that I thought she had left. They assured me that I was wrong because they had seen her all summer. "Still, it's odd, don't you think, that we haven't seen her?"

So, for the second time in five months, my sons' school is looking for a principal.

I'm bothered that her personal letter to parents and teachers stating her resignation was not signed at all. So, I'm questioning whether the letter, in fact, comes from her. I am not usually such a suspicious person but past misbehaviors of the school administration has brought me to this.

And my next premonition is that the school will close before the school year ends. Either that, or they will bring back last year's principal. The former seems more likely.

My father felt jinxed because his favorite restaurants around town always burned down. I feel jinxed because my employers have always been taken over (NCR, AT&T) or run out of business (Jamesway). And one of my favorite restaurants did burn down. But now it seems that the bad karma is already affecting my kids!

Back To School night is tomorrow evening, so I'm looking forward to observe how the adminstration smooths over its latest debacle with the parents.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I remember what happened as if it were yesterday but I can't tell you how or why.

Jeff stayed on campus during his final college winter break, and I stayed with him. In the house at 403 Comstock, recently demolished.

Most days, I would spend a few hours training, usually with a predictable run past Manley Field House, a warm, dry place to stretch. Then I would continue along E. Colvin St. to Westmoreland and finish strong through Euclid. ("Euclid" ... Jeff's nickname in high school.)

In the dead of winter, the neighborhood streets were quiet. Buffalo has the greater reputation for harsh winters, owing to The Blizzard (yes, we had the board game growing up!), but Syracuse's are statistically worse in terms of snowfall and low temperature days. After a run, my eyelashes were usually frozen together from my own wind-induced tears.

There was a small school or day care along the route. One day, I heard quiet sobbing as I passed it. I saw a small child standing perfectly still, shivering slightly, waiting patiently at a closed door. No lights were on inside and the parking lot was empty. I approached him quickly and cautiously. I asked him his name and he stammered "Lucas" between his sobs. His cable knit hat was embroidered with the name "Lucas," so I kicked myself for not being observant.

I asked the usual questions of him and then took him door-to-door, trying to find someone at home. A young woman who claimed to be a teacher herself answered after only a few tries and we came in from the cold. She asked the boy his telephone number and he rattled it off like nothing. We were both impressed and quite pleased. She called his mother while I made plans to move along. The mother was on her way to pick him up. I can only imagine what was going through her mind.

And, as I said at the beginning, I haven't any idea how the little boy happened to be there alone but I'm glad that I was passing by.

Friday, September 15, 2006

My bookstore hopping took me to the B&N in Freehold on Wednesday morning, to purchase books for the school's book drive and a birthday gift for tomorrow as well as to look for Sept.'s Christianity Today issue.

The events of the morning got me to the store just as it opened at 10AM, and I saw a neighbor exiting the parking lot. We waved at each other and I wondered how she could have made her bookstore purchase so quickly with the store just opening. Then it dawned on me: she was visiting the adjacent Starbucks! She is true to her word!

On two separate visits to her home this summer, she asked me the exact same question, "Teresa, have you ever gone to Starbucks?"

A couple of times, I replied, to get the kids a snack.

"But don't you get anything?" she queried. I lied and said that I get a cup of their hot chocolate1.

"Do they sell hot chocolate?" she snagged.

"Of course they do, don't they?" I bluffed, trying not to blush.

I mean, I wanted to appear acceptably hip. You know, she reads Cosmo.

She said that she never noticed hot chocolate but will look for it next time because it sounded good.

She said that her school-day morning routine involves dropping off her daughter and continuing to the Starbucks for a cup of coffee. This year, her daughter takes the bus to public school but I see that the Starbucks outing is still a part of her morning. Jeff suggested that the money saved from private school tuition be funneled into some in-home Starbucks brewing equipment.

I'm not a coffee drinker. That makes socializing difficult and actually causes misunderstandings. I mean, I can't even fake it, to fake drinking coffee, to nurse a cup of coffee during a morning visit with a neighbor. Invariably they notice that I'm not drinking and think that they've made it too strong or too weak and they eventually throw up their hands and say, "Oh, I just can't make coffee!" And they offer tea instead.

It's nothing "principled" as far as I know. I haven't any Mormon tendencies or any other asceticisms. I do drink caffeine, so it's not that. I worked a few summers in my father's coffee shop growing up, serving customers and washing dishes. But I don't even think that experience drove me to dislike coffee. It certainly didn't affect my love of doughnuts!

ABC's Jeopardy! when the Mormon Ken Jennings won millions might have asked a question based on this Clementine trivia. But, no matter its source, it's interesting to think about the potential influence on such a seemingly insignificant debate ... or how insignificant the "question of coffee" has become in most Western Christian circles ...

From Wiki:
Coffee aficionados claim that the spread of its popularity is due to Pope Clement VIII's influence.

Being pressured by his advisers to declare coffee the "bitter invention of Satan" because of its popularity among Muslims, he instead declared that, "This devil's drink is so good... we should cheat the devil by baptizing it."

It is not clear whether this is a true story.
1"The nation also has become increasingly indulgent since 9/11." - "Starbucks pours indulgent chocolate drink", USA Today, 10/13/2004

I remember immediately after 9/11 not wanting to enjoy any special pleasures at all, like a mourning, like some temporary asceticism.
I've been bookstore hopping on the pretext of buying Sept.'s Christianity Today off the newsstand. My subscription issue was lost in the mail apparently.

At the B&N in Princeton this morning, I got a copy. I asked about it at the cust. service counter and as he checked his computer, I spied a display on another computer, "Harper Collins Study Bible." A familiar version for students.

The magazine rack is providentially adjacent to the Christian book stacks, so after selecting a copy, I popped across the aisle for a peek. Two staff, a man and a woman, were searching the shelves for a Bible. I thought the man was a customer, and the woman surprised me when she excused herself and told him to keep looking. Turns out that they were helping someone on the phone. Someone important enough to send them both scrambling?

Still thinking him a bewildered customer, I offered to help him and he showed me his slip of paper with some information. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, edited by Coogan. In one hand, he clutched the RSV with Apocrypha. A fine version but not the precise one he wanted and he knew it.

Right in front of me was the version. Maybe I was in his way, in fact! But I handed it to him, saying, "This is the one. The other is fine; they are both fine. But this one is newer." He recognized immediately that it was the right version and quickly set down the other. He said, "You are a minister, I see." I thanked him but said, "No." What made him think that, my armload of books?

But, why didn't the Princeton student who's taking his first Scripture class this semester get the Bible from the campus bookstore? Sold out? Sold out of Bibles ... in Princeton ... in this day and age?! Shyeah, it could happen. Ah, it's a classic students' version, even at schools without Dr. Metzger on faculty.

And afterwards, I flirted with the notion that working in a bookstore might satisfy my craving to be a librarian. Maybe it would have to be a Christian bookstore because my topical familiarity is rather restricted to that domain.

The man running the Christian bookstore in Freehold irked me with his ignorance yesterday. I asked him for the NASB text with the Scofield notes. They had only the KJV on display.

He said, "Oh, I don't think that you'll find that." I had seen it in another Christian bookstore the day before (leather-bound, too much $$$). Maybe he thought I said "NAB". He would be right about that. I wouldn't find that. Aw, I picked one up at the B&N today, hardcover, much cheaper. I'm so sick of the NISB for the Precepts studies.

I told myself that I could do a better job at the Christian bookstore than that man, that's all. Not that the B&N incident proves anything.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hmmm, this will not be an advertisement for my mobile phone carrier.

At times, I felt like a Verizon customer, saying into my phone, "Can you hear me now?"

The phone arrived as expected this afternoon.

I charged up the battery fully in a matter of hours and tried to place a call. The phone was in emergency use only mode.

And, no matter what toll-free customer support number I called, my ten-digit wireless number routed me to the same department, to people who couldn't help me, "Business services". Jeff encountered this same problem over the weekend when he tried to determine why the phone upgrade order was cancelled by the online ordering system. One cust. supp. agent became so frustrated by my seemingly unique situation that she hung up on me!

I guess what happened, among other things, is that Cingular did not begin migrating my account from AT&T Wireless until I called in this afternoon to activate my phone.

I called customer support around 4PM to say that I couldn't place outgoing calls. In an hour, they had the outgoing call problem resolved.

Then it was discovered that I could not receive incoming calls. That, as you might expect, took longer to resolve. The various errors were "all circuits busy" and "call cannot be completed as dialed" and "number is not a working number".

Jeff, on his Sprint mobile phone, was the first to contact me, around 6:40PM. Just over 90 minutes after my phone was activated.

At 9PM, some other carriers received the update for my number port and Cingular customer support was able to contact me.

I was able to contact me, too, from our home phone which is Verizon. Still, Jeff's desktop phone, which is an IP phone and the carrier may be Frontier based in Rochester, NY, cannot complete a call to me. Overnight, they ought to receive the update, too.

So, now I just need to keep an eye on the billing, make sure that they don't charge me twice or anything. And maybe I am all set.

The only thing that made any of this bearable was the new Panasonic phone with headset that I set up last week. In some cases, I was on the phone for an hour at a time, so the wall-mount kitchen phone would not have worked even with its extra-long cord as I was feeding the kids, helping with homework, getting this and that.

Maybe divestiture was a good thing, but, and I say this as someone who worked for post-divestiture Ma Bell, aren't there too many telephone carriers now? I mean, they don't integrate well at all. "Plays well with others?" U-uh.
Started the fourth of four Precepts studies on Revelation this morning.

In preparation yesterday, I looked over my notes from last spring. And I thought I would share this final observation drawn from a reading of the Precepts Workbook text:
At the end of Lesson 12, she prays for those who think differently but for the second time in this series at the beginning of Lesson 13, she insults those who think that Daniel was written after the events it describes.

On page 90, "Therefore as you pray, tell our Father that you want to keep a right spirit toward those with whom you disagree and that you want to walk in love. Ask Him to help you at all times to speak the truth in love."

On page 91, #3 of Day One & Day Two: "Some believe that it (the Book of Daniel) had to have been written after all these events occurred ... How small is the god (sic) of those who hold to such human wisdom!"
To which I respond, how small is the faith that finds proof in God's knowledge of the future!

Her thinking that Daniel was written in the 6th century BCE and my thinking that it was written in the 2nd century BCE does not detract either way from the God Who Is Who He Is (Ex. 3:14).

Neither is it a reflection of our image of God. Rather, it is a statement about the source and foundation of our faith, which ought to originate and rest with God.

Her problem is that her biblical theology is utterly devoid of the benefits of philosophy, so she supplements her understanding of God's character with a false assumption about the biblical text, specifically a faulty date. God is perfect (Matt. 5:48) whether He reveals future events to a privileged few or not.

On a practical level, how does Daniel benefit from his special knowledge? It scares the bejesus out of him. He squirrels it away. He rests in the belief that God is in control ... something his coreligionists know too!

I don't have a problem with her thinking that Daniel is 6th century BCE. Lots of people think this, that's fine. I just have a problem with her questioning the integrity of those who think otherwise, suggesting that our God is small. What nonsense.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"The hip bone's connected to the leg bone ..."

Labor Day, yeah, the day before school.

The six-year-old was running from the master bath into the master bedroom and jumping onto our bed. I was in the bathroom getting cleaned up and Jeff was laying on the bed.

Kenny ran and jumped a couple of times even though we told him to stop. Chris was underfoot, alternately following after Kenny and getting out of his way.

According to Kenny, Chris fell in front of him and he moved suddenly to avoid running him over. Jeff and I remember it differently: Kenny got off-balance and knocked Chris over. In any event, Kenny hit the wood door frame with his open left palm and cried. He cried more than usual, so I figured something was wrong. He cradled his left arm in his right. I made a sling out of a crib sheet and he eventually wandered downstairs with me.

The sling was uncomfortable so I removed it and rested his left hand on a pillow. I told Jeff to take him to the emergency room. It was shaping up into a classic "last day before school starts, end of summer" fiasco.

But, to my surprise, the doctor said, "No fracture. Take Tylenol for the pain." and she taped his pinkie and ring finger together. Soon he had the tape removed. He complained to his teacher on Tuesday morning that his pinkie hurt. I said, "Yeah, but it's not broken. We checked." That's the last that we spoke of it.

Until Friday morning when the hospital called. A radiologist had taken a second look at the X-rays and detected an oblique, nondisplaced fracture of the 4th metacarpal. He said it was palm-side, below the first knuckle. He said that it needed to be splinted and that Kenny needed to see an orthopedist. He recommended a nearby practice to me but they don't take our insurance. So, I called my son's pediatrician and got another recommendation. The soonest appointment was Tuesday morning. I was tempted to return to the emergency room for treatment!

I arranged to pick up the X-rays on Monday morning. Centrastate is a film-less facility so they gave me a CD ROM with about 100 files on it. Most of the files are html Help files but it wasn't hard to find the .jpgs in the Data/EXP00000 directory. I copied these files to my computer and even sent some over to Target for prints.

The doctor's office on Tuesday was fine. We waited in the examination room for a very long time. The doctor admitted that they couldn't pull the X-rays off the CD ROM but he treated Kenny based on a printed note from the radiologist that accompanied the X-rays and Kenny's reaction to pressure in the affected area of his hand. I would have helped them get the images off the CD ROM if it would have meant better treatment for my son.

The orthopedist didn't hesitate to place a cast on Kenny's left hand. Kenny was anxious to show his friends at school. I let him bring in the X-ray prints from Target too for "show & tell". Kids adapt well to this sort of thing. He doesn't have any trouble doing the things he always does, including handling the TV's remote control. He said, "I can't play XBox with my hand broken." Oh, he probably could but we won't tell him that.

And when I tell people which hospital was initially involved, they shake their head knowingly. "Tsk, tsk, tsk."
Four weeks without a functional cell phone.

I'll fill you in:

Shortly after I posted "No closer to a phone", which Jeff read btw and said that I made him sound like a ogre - he made arrangements to add me to his Sprint plan.

After three days, Jeff checked the order status and learned that the Samsung phone hadn't shipped yet. Sprint Customer Service whined that there must be a distribution problem, maybe an unusually high demand for that phone model. Jeff didn't buy the excuse and cancelled the order. He's like, "Guys, I do this for a living and you're full of sh*t."

So, he upgraded my existing account with Cingular and we waited a week.

Nothing shipped and attempts to check order status online failed. Jeff called Cingular Customer Service and got passed back and forth between them and AT&T Wireless before learning that the initial order had been cancelled by the ordering system almost immediately without explanation. They said, "Well, you must have received a cancellation email." Nope. Well, is the email address valid? Yup, we received the order confirmation email fine. They offered no explanation but suggested that we try ordering online again.

So, Jeff insanely1 went through the online ordering process again and this time, followed up immediately to check order status. After seven minutes, the order was still alive (woo-hoo) and was in the "shipping" phase.

I don't know what Sprint's problem was. The Cingular upgrade problem might have been related to my existing account, which was an employee account (on the "Business side" of AT&T, go figure), and the whole Cingular / AWS merger. I mean, my AT&T Human Resources ID # still appears at the top of my Cingular bill; it follows my name in the mailing address.

Well, the phone supposedly shipped via FedEx and we have a tracking number. It's scheduled to arrive tomorrow evening. So far, school hasn't tried to reach me. So, I haven't been burned by not having a cell phone. And I can otherwise certainly live without it.

Previous post on this topic:1"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Attrib. Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, others

And I sang with all my might
And she said —
"Tell me are you a Christian, child?"
And I said "Ma’am, I am tonight."

Walking in Memphis - Marc Cohn
The sign in the window read "Closed" but the lights were on, so I went inside. I asked the clerk if the shop was open and he said, "Sure, yes, of course." Then I switched 'round the sign for him and said, "That's good. It would be sad if we couldn't keep a Christian bookstore open in Freehold."

Other signs indicate that they are relocating sometime this month, farther south down 9.

The shopkeeper looked familiar but admitted that it was his first day. I set my ziploc snack bag on the counter and removed the clear crystal beads in front of him. I said, "Do you still repair rosaries here?"

He wasn't sure but didn't think so. I put the pieces back into my bag and looked at the display case for a new one. I wanted wood anyway.

As I browsed, we talked about rosaries, for his part, rather awkwardly. He said that he still has the one he received for his First Holy Communion. He showed it to me.

"Oh, they made 'em to last back then," I offered.

He thought it was rather as his friends said, "They tell me that if I used it more, it would fall apart." Or he could do as me and let his kids play with it.

His has needed repair, he said that he glued Jesus back on once. "Oh, yeah, I've had to do that too," I said, thinking of the oversized olive wood one I bought in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. Tip: the best quality Christian stuff is to be found in the Jewish Quarter.

I checked for the '07 LOTH Guide, but it isn't out yet. The shop has recently changed hands. The previous owners stocked conservative materials and some non-Catholic items. None of it is scholarly, save for the encyclicals and some of Benedict's earlier stuff. I imagine that the conservative emphasis will carry over with the new owners but who knows about the non-Catholic materials. I mean, I suspect that the new owners are associated with St. Veronica's. 'nuff said.

Anyway, I rounded out my purchase with some holy cards. And I'll have to check back in a month or two after they relocate.
Old news but I put it on hold 'til after 9/11.

"Phillips Caught" - The Buffalo News, 9/9/06
"the citizens of Western New York can sleep much sounder tonight." Gov. Pataki

Monday, September 11, 2006

Jeff just called to describe the unique image of the Tribute in Lights this evening:

He's seen it many times, but tonight, the nature of the cloud cover filtered and amplified the lights in a one-of-a-kind way which this photograph here captures. (Check out the link!)

Jeff said that as the two beams struck the thin cloud layer, they illuminated the clouds brilliantly and then the two beams united into a single beam going up as far as the eye could see. Usually, on overcast nights, the beams stop at the clouds, but not tonight.

As always, I wish that I could have seen it. But, it's a special blessing for those who do.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A month earlier, Jeff hit a man on a bicycle with his pickup truck on the way to work.

The man was riding the wrong way, towards oncoming traffic, in the middle of the road, around a blind curve, a right-hand turn-off, between Leesville Road and another road in Ocean County.

Unless you know rural Jersey roads, it's difficult to envision these right-hand turn-offs. But, basically, we Jersey drivers cut as many corners as possible, so often, 4-way intersections offer turn-offs just prior to the traffic signal. Drivers turning right need only yield rather than make a full-stop.

Jeff called me to pick him up after the accident. He was upset. His truck was messed up. The biker was very messed up. I drove Jeff directly to work and for the next few days, drove him and picked him up. He has since abandoned his predilection for local roads and thinks the major highways safer. I'm not sure about that.

So, when the phone rang on the morning of September 11th, 2001, I was afraid that Jeff had had another car accident. I answered his call with some trepidation and mild annoyance as Kenny and I were just about to leave the house for a 10 o'clock Bible study in Princeton. The Friday before, I had returned to work full-time after a 12-month Care of Newborn Child leave and was using vacation days to attend the Bible study.

Jeff was driving up the Turnpike to his office in Newark. He saw smoke coming from lower Manhattan and heard reports on the car radio about a plane hitting WTC. Several drivers had pulled off the roadway onto the shoulder, gotten out of their cars and stood staring. Over the phone, he asked me to turn on the TV and tell him what's going on.

Yes, it seemed like an accident at first. I didn't realize at the time that such an accident was quite impossible. Watching, I said to Jeff on the phone, "There are people on those upper floors. They have no way to get out." He agreed. Then they reported a second plane hitting and I said to Jeff, "This is on purpose." Again he agreed. I could not fathom how anyone could force an airline pilot to fly his plane into a skyscraper. I didn't have any concern about Jeff continuing towards his office in Newark and I went about my business, driving over to Princeton, a little distracted, listening to the radio and thinking that I needed some Bible study on a morning like this.

Only one other person was at the church. We spent some time talking about the events as we listened to our car radios. Back in the day when NJ 101.5 was tolerable. What the hell has happened to them since?!

As she and I stood together in the church parking lot, talking and listening, we heard about the Pentagon. We heard that the towers had fallen. It never entered my mind to think that the Twin Towers would fall. She and I decided that Bible study was cancelled because no one else arrived, so we parted, and I continued going about my business, to the grocery store. Concerned but not able to piece anything together. I didn't connect it with the 1993 incident, even though I had watched that on TV.

After the grocery store, I filled up the car's gas tank and withdrew several hundred dollars from the bank. I was thinking that I may need to evacuate the tri-state area before the day was over. I urged Jeff to leave Newark but he thought he was safer there for the time being. Probably true; leave the roads to emergency vehicles. We realized that we shouldn't jam up the phone system with our inconsequential calls, so after confirming that the other was safe, we agreed to "radio silence". He came home earlier than usual, in the middle of the afternoon.

To our surprise, we learned that Jeff's sister was up from D.C. on business and had to flee uptown from lower Manhattan on foot that morning. She reached her hotel in Yonkers safely, and after being stranded in NY for a few days, returned home with mild inconvenience and plenty of trauma.

Upon waking up the following morning, my first thought was that the towers were irrevocably gone. The new day did not erase yesterday's nightmare. I didn't think about the people, probably for good reason. I didn't know any. News commentators were yet hopeful that most were saved. The full impact of the grim attack was still being assessed. No one dared report how many might have died.

So, as far as I could tell, the most visible casualty was the towers. I mean, the iconic or symbolic casualty spoke to me the loudest, above the yet undetermined human toll.

As the stories of personal loss and tragic experience poured in and as the commentators began to speculate on the number of deaths, my sympathies shifted. The plan to rebuild the towers directed me to refocus fully on the human cost. Towers can be rebuilt. Lives cannot. Sounds simple to me now, but this was not an immediate realization. Today, I can't bear to imagine their constant sorrow while my grief over the towers has morphed into nostalgia.

Jeff had watched the buildings collapse from his office in Newark. He went several days without talking about it. He was very disturbed by it. I didn't press him for details, for his eyewitness account. I let him be. He knew someone on a plane, an engineer at BEA Systems1, whom he mourns even now.

In the days afterward, friends and neighbors checked in with genuine concern, "Everyone ok by you?" "Yes, yes, and with you?"

The following Monday, the catechism curriculum called for me to teach the Tower of Babel. There wasn't any inkling that religious commentators would in time declare 9/11 God's judgment on America. Uncomfortably teaching the Bible story that evening to my nine-year-olds, I made no connection with divine retribution and I still don't. My sadness was over the loss of the towers, hardly themselves culpable of sin, so any suggestion of punishment was nonsense. But I confessed to my students that I had difficulty talking to them about "towers falling down."

A man in our Thursday evening Bible study lost his brother. Whenever he chooses to speak about it, as he has a few times over the years, we listen breathless, knowing that the rest of us haven't any grounds for replying. "Vicarious" doesn't cut it.

I did cry eventually and I have cried. But I cried more at the Children's Memorial at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem two years earlier and I cried more over the Asian Tsunami two years ago. Maybe it's just the numbers.

People are still dying from 9/11. I think that the rest of the country has moved on. Even upstate, in my hometown, they try to empathize, but they cannot. We here in NJ have not moved on. We are incapable of moving on.

1 Edward P. Felt - Wikipedia

Read more 9/11 remembrances at the Carnival of the Blogging Chicks.
A friend forwarded to me a chain-email last week that encouraged all to fly an American flag on Monday.

We don't have an American flag. We have never had one. What impression does that give, that we aren't patriotic?

Of course, I like to think it's just the opposite. That I wouldn't display an image of the flag on a car's rear bumper or on a t-shirt.

I remember how the zeal of the common patriot after 9/11 resulted in a flurry of re-education from experts about protocol and display guidelines, etc., etc. and we all ended up criticizing our neighbor's "tasteless and offensive" use of the flag. Remember that? Anyone?

And in some matters, I am of the opinion that "you do it right or you don't do it at all." Flags fall into this category for me.

So, I told my friend that we won't be flying a flag on Monday, or any day, but I'll be in church that morning ... and for as many mornings as I can.
The AT&T 2230 cordless that we've used since Kenny was a baby would not hold a charge and its LCD screen was burned out, unreadable. Therefore, it was virtually useless, so I replaced it with this Panasonic system.

The previous system had only two handsets and I wanted a handset by the downstairs computer. So, I opted for this three-handset system, plus I got a headset. So far, so good.

The handset charging base for the extension by the computer is plugged into the computer's small APC UPS which I thought might help in a power outage. But, now that I think about it, the handset itself doesn't have a direct phoneline, so the UPS won't make any difference.

Well, we still have the AT&T 100 wall-mount in the kitchen for when the electricity goes out!

What a tangled web!

Yesterday, our second trip to Jenkinson's this season. Read about our first trip here, especially if you are unfamiliar with Jenkinson's.

After school with a couple of friends. There was actually shore traffic down route 34 since last weekend was rotten and this weekend is supposed to be great. But the traffic added only 10 or 15 minutes on, so not terrible. Just enough time for the friends to wander down to the water and make it difficult for us to find them when we eventually arrived!

But we did find them, or they found us and we rode on rides until 6:30.

At just about 36" tall, there are plenty of rides for the baby. I went through 120 tickets ($50) in 90 minutes. Yes, the rides are expensive, usually three sometimes four tickets each. And multiply that by three kids! But we don't go down very often and it won't be too long before they outgrow this type of simple entertainment. Already, my older one (and his friend) were begging to play video games in the arcade instead of riding rides. How does he know that the arcade even exists? We used their restroom during our last visit.

On our way out, a NJ Transit commuter train headed for Bay Head was pulling into the station. So did we, just to watch it come and go. Then, reached the drawbridge on 35 just in time for it to go up for a tall boat to pass under. Just one boat. The bridge was up and down in no time. But the southbound traffic on 35 got very, very backed up in that small amount of time. As I said, there was still some shore traffic last night.

Our original plan had been to meet Jeff at work and go to Seven Presidents in Long Branch. By the time we left Jenkinson's, 'though, it would be dark and Seven Presidents would be closed. Still, it's enough of a treat for the boys to visit where Daddy works (for how much longer, I don't know). So, took the Parkway up and let the kids run around the office cubes for a while.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sweep through the heather like deer in the glen
Carry me back to the days I knew then.
Nights when we sang like a heavenly choir
Of the life and the time of the mull of kintyre.

Mull of Kintyre - Paul McCartney

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The two schoolboys are assigned classrooms in different buildings on campus this year. I reassured them that they will see each other during the day, at recess, at lunch. My husband quipped, "... in the principal's office."

The newly-appointed principal was not present yesterday. A sudden death in the family called her out of state. I know an experienced principal, a neighbor, who could fill-in until she returns. I would even offer to pick her up on my way to school each morning.

When the former principal was fired / resigned, whatever the story is, late last spring, some on staff and many parents vowed to leave with her in sympathy. Most of the parents followed through on that vow. None of the staff did. One assistant who was particularly vocal about the whole messy business ... and I remember the ladies' night out dinner when the wine consumed with the meal enabled her to express a full opinion uninhibited by good taste or modesty, has her own office. It's nice to know that everyone has a price.

Overall, I am happy with Timmy's class. There are two Jr. K. classrooms, directly across the hall from each other. Some of his friends from last year are in the other class and that's ok. One girl from last year whom we saw in church recently is very kind to Timmy and helps him, especially in getting from point A to point B: he just follows her curly red hair. He had homework last night and the older one didn't. He was interested in doing his homework. His teacher said that he had a good first day yesterday.

I have concerns about Kenny's class, as always. It's large, about 12 students. Unlike last year when there were so many "first-time students", I think that most of the children have some prior school experience. So, I won't expect as much remedial work as we saw last year.

Back-to-school night in a couple of weeks will tell me for sure, but I wonder how the "specials" have changed this year. There's a new computer teacher, for instance. That may be a good thing. One of the gym teachers left and a Health class was added. So, even though they still have gym three days a week, I think that one of those days is in a classroom rather than in the gym. So, that concerns me because I picked this school for its frequent PE instruction. Kenny is very good at sports without any extra-curricular experience and I want to keep it that way. I don't want to be taking him to soccer or baseball after school to supplement what he should be learning during the school day.

His Spanish work is taking some shape. For the past two years, it has been simple vocabulary: numbers, months, days of the week, colors, family members. That's about it. Yesterday, he came home with a bit of a conversation. Still the typical stuff, ¿Como te llamas? Me llamo Kenny. But it's progress. As long as he is learning to read English, maybe I'll have him try to read some Spanish. It's not the language, per se, although Spanish is more practical than anything else these days, but it's grammar and things like that.

So, of course, he came home with a list of things that he needs for class. Things in addition to the initial list that we received in late summer. Extra comp. books, extra folders, markers. I almost bought markers because I thought it odd that the first list didn't have markers on it. Fortunately, I had extra comp. books from last year ... books that Tim never used. And I habitually buy extra folders because I buy the paper pocket ones instead of the plastic coated ones and Kenny destroys them quite regularly. I just don't like the plastic coated ones. I know that they are more durable. So, I wrapped clear contact paper around the paper pocket ones to increase their durability.

That's about it. I actually ate some bon-bons yesterday like I'm supposed to. It wasn't very leisurely ... I was on my way to the laundromat to wash "big ticket items" like comforters. Last week, Tim baptized his bedroom in baby power, an entire container. So, I had to wash the bedspreads and left the rest of the mess for the housekeeper. And she gave Tim a tongue-lashing.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Family picnic yesterday. Relatives from her side came down from Utica. I could listen to that accent all day, the Central New York State accent. It isn't very different from Western New York, both with strong Italian undertones. Makes me just a little homesick.

The climatic story was humorous: beavers wrecking havoc on private property. But it was the telling as much as the tale. And, as I discovered, when the raconteur begins to rattle off what each animal weighed, you know how it all ended. It was preceded by a similar story about skunks.

Catching up on family news. Not everyone knew about me and baby-on-way. Someone left the Fort and will start teaching at Union Catholic. Another is starting a position at West Point.

Talking about back-to-school and who has cancer and which restaurants have the best sangria and what's new at Utica College and whether Utica Club is any good and upcoming family events, anniversaries and vacations.

These gatherings occur too infrequently for me.
There's risk involved in changing jobs but I feel particularly concerned about someone who left Jeff's office for a position in NC.

His Jersey house hasn't sold yet and, in fact, his family is still living here. Within two weeks of starting his new job, he was fired over office politics.

He has no desire to return to NJ and Jeff can't exactly take him back if he did. NC is growing and he ought to be able to hook on somewhere there. I think that he left because of cost of living issues anyway. But, Jeff lamented, "You know, you hear about people living one paycheck from homelessness and this guy isn't one paycheck away, probably, but he might be two or three paychecks away."

Yeah, it can be that dire that quickly. Prayers welcome & appreciated.
Manhunt in Western NY

This AP story appeared in yesterday's Asbury Park Press: "Hunt widens for cop shootings suspect". The picture of a vehicle checkpoint showed agents opening car trunks with rifles drawn.

I'm not very familiar with Fredonia but I imagine that it's a relatively sleepy town by national standards. It's quite southwest of where I grew up, along the southeastern shore of Lake Erie, right on Interstate 90.

I ran there once, indoor track, at SUNY Fredonia. I think their track measured 160 meters instead of 200. It was one of my first, if not my first, indoor competitions. There was a girl from, I wanna say Canisius but I can't remember where she was from, that Coach wanted me to beat in the 1,000 or 1,500. He had followed her high school career and knew what she could do. On the other hand, I was an unknown to him. I mean, he didn't recruit me; I signed up.

Anyway, I beat her by quite a bit, it was an easy race. But I nearly died from the dry indoor air, and after guzzling a quart of Gatorade, I vomited it all up in the locker room toilet. I haven't drank Gatorade since ... and we never ran there again. I encountered that girl in other competitions, in the early years, before we moved up in divisions, but according to Coach, she never achieved her potential as hoped based on her high school success. That happens sometimes, he said.
This article appeared in yesterday's Asbury Park Press: "Theology used to justify opposition to women priests," in their weekly religion column.

It's an interesting article no matter what you think about the ordination of women, ecumenism, the episcopacy, or the Catholic Church.
Protestants who forbid women clergy don't usually cite Jesus' choice of male apostles but rather 1 Timothy 2:12 ("I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent").

The Pontifical Commission said this scripture perhaps referred "only to certain concrete situations and abuses," not all women anytime and everywhere.
I agree with the PBC on that interpretation: this verse is overapplied within Protestantism.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The electricity was out for two stretches today, once in the morning and again in the afternoon, for a couple of hours apiece, as the remnants of Ernesto passed through the area.

The faucets went dry because the pump for our well is electric.

I tried to control my concern, trusting that the power would be restored before too long. I mean, I don't live in a third-world country, do I?

I wonder at that sometimes especially because the power goes out with every summer storm.

My concern was doubly-stoked by a fresh episode of Surviorman on The Science Channel: Surviving Urban Disasters.

Doing without water with young children in the house is trickier than going it alone.

I know this from experience.

Ten years ago, a deep freeze in Jersey (not to be confused with Freehold's famous "Jersey Freeze" ice cream joint) locked up our townhouse's water pipes for a full seven consecutive days.

Jeff and I spent most of our waking hours at work in those days anyway, so it was just a small adjustment to shower and take more meals at the office. This was during Jeff's brief assignment at the Holmdel building, a time when we worked at the same facility, and the building had a nice locker room in the basement.

Decorum prompted us to sneak in as early in the morning as possible so that no one see us with "bed head". Breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria and dinner from the vending machines. In the course of seven days, I started to get annoyed by the inconvenience of it. Just the hassle of the extra coordination and consideration involved in not having running water at home.

I knew it couldn't go on forever, that eventually the weather would turn and the pipes would thaw. Still, I was weary of it. So, I remember, laying in bed just before going to sleep and saying to God, "You know what, I'm ready for this all to change. I'm ready for the water to come back on, please." And, no sooner had I said that, then I heard the toilet tank in the master bathroom begin to fill with water. I can't think of another instance when a prayer had been answered so immediately.

And I thought, "Well, morning would have been soon enough."

Friday, September 01, 2006

We got to talking about the Big Bang.

It's not something that I would bring up. He's been watching a lot of space programs on The Science Channel, so I have to think that he mentioned it first. And I struggled for something significant to say about the Big Bang. I mean, I know so little.

I said it's more than a theory. There's documented, scientific evidence in favor of it. They detected radiation of some sort where I used to work, Bell Labs in Holmdel.

On one occasion, I caught a glimpse of Arno Penzias during some corporate function. I didn't know precisely who he was. I knew he discovered something related to Big Bang. And I noticed that he stood apart as everyone tried to greet him and rub elbows. His autobiography is quite interesting. His words to his younger brother as they abandoned Nazi Germany for England are especially profound: jetzt sind wir allein. I can't imagine my six-year-old expressing such a degree of awareness. Fortunately, the dire situation was only temporary.

But my son said, "Well, if they didn't see anything, if they only heard something, then it isn't real. They have to see something." Ho-boy, is my work cut out for me with him. I reminded him of the doctor's stethoscope. She hears his heart with it. We know his heart is real even without seeing it.