Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- 3 cups pecans
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Except for the fact that my wife's dog (called "Zoe" or "Mutt!", depending) has recently learned to open the sliding glass door onto the back deck. We leave the deck door open fairly often so we weren't sure about that till now; but I latched the door this morning before I left for work, and when my wife got home an hour later, the door was open and the mutt was eagerly pacing on the deck in the rain and wind.
edit Friday morning: water was about a foot higher at this morning's high tide. Looks like the guy across the river has his foundation wet, and CNN has a posting from someone kayaking through the streets in Portsmouth, but we're fine.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Maybe the lesson for us is that we should be less cautious and more gung ho. Rule 17: Be a hero.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
I keep telling myself "It's cheaper than buying him a car" and trying to ignore myself's reply "Only if it's instead of a car rather than in addition to."
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
- Be a Genius. You do not have the luxury of not being a genius–not being a genius is laziness and sloth.
- Make sure everyone knows what you're doing.
- Be crazy. Let go of your internal editor.
- Sacrifice your body. You weren't using it anyway.
- Don't fail.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
- the optics and illusions section, bending light and playing with diffraction and mirrors.
- a list of gene-based characteristics--e.g. "earlobe distinct/attached, ring finger longer/shorter than index, freckles/no freckles"--where you can select your choice for each option and see what percentage of people match your set of answers. Diana matched 36 of 100,000; I matched 12 in 100,000.
- three ramps, down which you can simultaneously roll three identical balls. The ramps all have the same start height, and the same end height, but the paths are different. The first one is a straight line from start to finish; the second is a steep drop at first, with most of the path nearly level; and the third is a section of a circle ("cycloid") which dips below level of the end point before coming back up. Which path is the fastest to get to the end point? On which ramp does the ball have the most energy at the end point?
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
(Feb 21, 2011 note: this is the most-viewed post on my blog, but only one comment...)
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
The CBO said: [...] Although both theory and evidence suggest that workers ultimately finance their employment-based insurance through lower take-home pay, the cost is not evident to many workers...If transparency increases and workers see how much their income is being reduced for employers’ contributions and what those contributions are paying for, there might be a broader change in cost-consciousness that shifts demand.[...]
Peter Singer wrote in the New York Times that the current exclusion of insurance premiums from compensation [i.e. it's deducted before the worker gets his paycheck--Ed.] represents a $200 billion subsidy for the private insurance industry and that it would likely not exist without it.
Of course, our income taxes and Social Security are deducted too.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
We are going to leave here Saturday morning and go to Victoria Falls, and then into Zimbabwe to a game park and river sunset cruise, returning Monday. It sounds wonderful. We are going with6 other people, Americans here at Macha.I have sent off 25 postcards, and have labels for more as soon as I can purchase them.I am living a dream here--I realised it this morning walking, near the Fires, that I have imagined this over and over for years.You would love the fresh bread here, and the quiet and the vastness of the sky, and the simplicity of life.
Meanwhile, I'm walking the mutt, going to work, coming home, and walking the mutt again. There are roses and crepe myrtles by the pool, and they have the same color petals. The Canada geese are flying north (yes, north--presumably half of them can't read a map and the other half won't stop and ask for directions). Silence except for a clock ticking and a cricket chirping, but every now and again there's the whistle of sharp wings slicing through air, and the rumble of fighter jet engines, and you know our guys are prowling overhead.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
- an economics textbook, creatively named Economics
- Fighting Techniques of the Early Modern World (AD1500-1763), which I got primarily because I'm interested in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648)
- The Writer's Digest Handbook of Novel Writing
- A Crime So Monstrous, on the modern slave trade
- Writer's Guide to Character Traits, which lists traits of various type of people--children by birth order, different professions, typical criminals, and so on.
- God's Problem, a study on theodicy, which is the question of how and why an omnipotent and benevolent God can allow suffering, and what we should do about it.
- God is Not Great, which I'm still plugging away at, although its disjointedness still irritates me. Hitchens can write clear and coherent prose, but this isn't an example.
- Rules for 1805: Seas of Glory, a wargame dealing with naval operations around the time of Trafalgar--not the individual battles, but where the battles are fought and what the consequences are.
- Rules for Wellington, another publication of GMT Games, covering the Peninsular War
- Hobby Farming for Dummies
- Several books on Virginia trails and day trips.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
College: Josh will be leaving Saturday on his way back to George Mason. I'd expected him to be living in a cardboard box on a sidewalk somewhere, but at the last minute, the Housing Office (despite their explicit policy of "We don't have room for all the freshmen, so try to get the seniors to leave the dorms") found a place for him. Josh's room is above my office--specifically, Josh's stereo is directly overhead from where I'm typing at this moment. The thumpa thumpa thumpa currently vibrating flakes of paint from the ceiling sounds like Bohemian Rhapsody, but I think what he's whistling is Boston's More Than A Feeling.
Zambia: Diana's leaving Labor Day weekend for Zambia, with several cases of supplies (ranging from shoes for the local kids, to spicy mustard for the Americans, to gauze and syringes for the hospital).
Yes, "college" plus "Zambia" means it will be me and the mutt here by ourselves for most of September.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Tagon: Oh, absolutely. Mercenaries are bright enough to resort to violence long before last resorts are required.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Godfrey and Raymond of Toulouse both claimed Ascalon; the Fatimid garrison learned of the dispute and decided not to surrender, and retained control of the city for another 50 years.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Men in lab coats: Can we have your liver?The People's Republic of China has apparently taken this to heart--and kidney, and so on. If you're guilty of such heinous crimes as disagreeing with the government or practicing Falun Gong or even being someone the local Party chief doesn't like, you could find yourself strapped to a table, sliced open, and broken up for spare parts.
Homeowner: I'm not done using it!
MiLC (holding H.O. down and grabbing his wallet): What's this, then?
HO: An organ donor card, but--
MiLC: Need we say more?
HO: But that's in the event of death!
MiLC: No one that we've taken a liver from has ever survived, so that's all
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Recently there have been two weddings here at Macha. Rogers and Petronella are a Zambian couple who now live directly across the street from us. Three weeks ago they had their wedding. The invitation we got said 10:00 am. However, I KNOW that Zambians are always late, so, smart me, I arrived at 10:30. There were 3 people at the church - one waxing the concrete floor and two ladies arranging plastic flowers. They informed me that the preacher was still the far side of Choma (about 2 hrs drive away). We heard that the wedding actually began about 1 pm. The ceremony and reception lasted until 7 pm. Hundred of people came and they feasted on an entire roasted cow.
Yesterday was the second wedding and it was for Justin. He is one of the truly nice people on the planet. Justin's wedding was also scheduled for 10 am , but I arrived at 11:15 am and it actually began at 12 noon. When the Zambians say the wedding starts at 10 am, what they mean is they start getting ready. So, at 12 noon the wedding director starts dancing down the aisle. She had a long dress on with a cloth tied on her head - all matching and looked nice. She really puts on a performance. Two little girls dressed in white satin each with baskets (no flower petals in them that I saw) also dance down the aisle, then two little boys come down, and 8 adult attendants. This is what they call the lineup. It is a really big deal to be in the line up and the hair style for the women is all-important. Everyone matches. (The material for all these costumes--6 males shirts, 2 little girl dresses and 4 gowns plus a change of clothes for ALL the adults at the reception--was given to the dress maker the WEEK OF the wedding!)
The sermon was done by Moses Musaka who is the Head Overseer of the Church and I will have to say it was one of the best I have ever attended. It lasted about 1 1/2 hours and was noteworthy. He left no stone unturned about how husband and wife were to treat each other and how the ultimate goal of their marriage was to glorify God.
The reception was held at the local school auditorium. Hundreds come to the reception--friends of the family and who also attended the wedding, and also village people who show up for the food. They are adults and children, poorly dressed and barefooted and dirty, but they know there will be a roasted cow, goat or pig to eat. No one says anything and everyone is accepted. There is never enough food. Only the bride and groom get a slice of cake, and the very top little layer is frozen until the birth of the first born. The custom then is to crush the rest of the cake; the cake crumbs are passed around on a tray and you take a crumb. Then all the people who can come forward and give an offering to the bride and groom. For example, the bride's mother brought up 10,000 kwacha (that is 2 dollars US money) and the crowd broke out in much applause. The groom's father gave 100,000 kwacha ($20) and the crowd stood up and cheered! After the offering and music, the bride and groom left to eat by themselves and the crowd ate the roasted whatever it was.
Here are a few other interesting details. The normal cost of a bride is 4 cows that the groom has to pay before the wedding. The bride price is called Lobola. Once the bride price is paid there is no backing out - and only the wedding ceremony has to take place.
Most of the people in the community chip in - some flour, sugar, balloons, ribbon, and so forth--so that the food and decorations are in place. They do well with what they have. The same plastic flowers were used for both of these weddings and no one seems to notice; much care is taken to arrange them each time, and they are done differently. The bride also carried the same 4 plastic flowers as the last bride.
Then there is the wedding shower - it is called a "kitchen shower." The bride comes into the room with her head covered with a cloth. She sits down and uncovers her head. The guests dance their way up to her and put their gift down and explain what it is and how you use it. She does not say a word and she does not look at the guest. She then re-covers her head and the groom comes in and looks around as if he is searching for his bride and finally he goes over to her and lifts up her veil and nods approvingly. He sits down and then the bride gets food and serves him on her knees. After she serves him food she lies down and rolls over on the floor as a sign of submission. Then, get this, she goes over to her in-laws and takes them food and again lies down on the floor and rolls over in submission to them.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
- Take Diana to Dulles Airport and put her on a plane bound for Zambia. She'll be gone from September 6 to 27.
- Drive the Virginia section of the Blue Ridge Parkway
- Make plans for a trip to Arizona, to see Canyon de Chelly and some other big canyon they have in their northwest corner
- National Jousting championship will be held in Northern Virginia in October
- Paint miniatures
If we'd had a spare $430 each, we could have taken a 45 minute flight; as it was, we watched her land, and then got a chance to go through.
From the outside, the plane is a little smaller than I'd expected; from the inside, it's a lot more cramped than I expected. You pretty much have to get on hands and knees to crawl into the nose, where the chin turret and bombardier's stations are. We looked into the cockpit, then through the bomb bay to the after section. It looked like a tricky squirm to get back to the tail gun; and as for the ball turret, Josh said "that's why the military emphasizes duty so much--so someone will accept that kind of job when they get assigned to it." We got out, took some pictures of the outside--Josh took 150 pictures in total--and then went around to the front, climbed up the ladder and went through it again.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I was attacked by a bear-shark who pounced on me from out of a wave and wrapped me in a 230lb bear hug. I'm not entirely certain that my back and shoulder will ever recover, but I survived. I was a bit shaken by the experience and didn't see it coming, but Josh--who'd been standing beside me just before the attack--helpfully identified the bear-shark for me.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
In this case everything else I tried was already taken (except MenacingBaa, which would take too much explanation), so I finally settled on chrisdeboe (but since my employer blocks Gmail, keep using the verizon address you're used to).
Is there anyone else who feels their given name isn't their "real" one? If you were picking a name for yourself, what would you pick?
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I have a friend who, in his mid-forties, found himself going through various physical changes including losing weight, skin texture and thickness changing, and getting blood test results that had the doctor muttering "The lab ought to be embarrassed to send reports that are so obviously impossible." In short, he changed from male to female in the space of three months, apparently due to a combination of genetics (for the potential) and a change in cholesterol medication (for the trigger). She just found, some years later, that her condition has a name--protandrous pseudohermaphroditism--and she added:
"You know that your life is going to be interesting, complicated and not without difficulty when you hide amongst transsexual people so as not to appear to be too unusual."
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Water was pretty straightforward, since around here you can get it from rain, river, bay, or marsh, all you have to do is filter or distill it. You can also get it from eating plants; in addition, one trick I hadn't heard before is that you can put a plastic bag over the end of a leafy tree branch--maple is best--and the transpiration from the leaves will collect in the bag.
Food isn't always obvious, but it's there. Blackberries were easy enough to find, and we also had cattail roots (taste like cucumber), a bitter succulent herb near the cattails, hibiscus petals, and greenbriar. Additional food sources would include acorns, grapes, yaupon holly (for tea), wild pigs (we saw where they'd been rooting up cattails), deer, clams, frogs, turtles, and so forth.
And for snakes, there was a cottonmouth coiled up in the road we were driving on. He didn't deign to move aside, so we stopped, leaned out and got pictures. I'm told you can eat them too, but they taste fishy and that rattlesnakes taste better.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
In the beginning of most successful films, you see the protagonist in his everyday Identity, just fitting in, going about their regular life. Wesley (the Man in Black) (Princess Bride) is a farm boy; Korben Dallas (Fifth Element) is a cab driver; Thomas (Neo) Anderson (Matrix) is a programmer; James (J) Edwards (Men in Black) is a cop. And then something happens--they meet someone, or learn something, which awakens a desire. At that point, the protagonist has to make a decision--is he going to hide in his Identity, or show his Essence? The Identity is safe, but unfulfilled; the Essence is unsafe, but fulfilled.
What would you do, down the Rabbit Hole? Who are you, really? If you didn't "have to" do what you're doing now, what would you be doing now?
Edit: every good story also has a villain--the one who, when given the opportunity, becomes a rapist or killer, a slanderer or adulterer, or just pointlessly self-destructive. But we're going to focus on the Good, so if you post an answer, let's assume you're going to be a hero.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
As for me, I have to use six vacation days before the end of the year, and I'm mulling over destinations. The Gaspé is too cold, and Zambia's too far for a six day trip. Right now I'm thinking Arizona, for Canyon de Chelly and the Grand Canyon. I'd be open to considering other destinations, though.
Oh, and Josh may be going to Griffith University in Brisbane for a semester.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I've also got a GI appointment tomorrow morning and will be seeing a neurologist next month. Lots of fun.
It's the tale of a Patrick Hennessey, a military officer whose wife and kids are killed in a 9-11 style terrorist attack; he forms a mercenary legion and dedicates himself to attaining a full measure of revenge.
The story is primarily set on a terraformed planet, but the Terran nations which colonized the place did so by nationality. There are consequently analogs of France, Germany, Spain, China, Japan, and so forth; the protagonist hails from a nation which sounds quite a bit like the United States. and his wife is from Balboa, the local equivalent of Panama. As Kratman says, history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme. In this case, it rhymes so closely that the reader might be forgiven for seeing it as a commentary on the current War on Terror. Kratman helpfully points out some other themes in his foreword (I mean that "helpfully"seriously. As an English major, I spent a lot of time wondering if authors really intended to say what my classmates claimed they meant).
The bad guys are bad, and some of the good guys aren't all that good. There's lots of violence and some sex, and a bit of each is gratuitous. Did I mention "Lots of violence"? This is definitely not for the squeamish. There are some actions the protagonist takes in his war on terror which may cause you to think "Yeah, we should do that"; and hopefully at times you'll also think "We should never do that."
If you like John Ringo's books, you'll like this. I hear Kratman has planned more books in the series; I'm looking forward to them.
Monday, July 13, 2009
From Mom in Zambia:
There have been a number of our friends that have asked what they could do for us on this missionary trip. We are self-supporting and really have not needed anything. However, we do now come to you with the following request.
About a week ago a little 8 yr old Zambian boy was run over by an ox cart and lost one foot. His name is Ebson Bwatu. We have an opportunity to help him get an artificial foot so that he will not have to spend the rest of his life on crutches. We are asking 100 of our family and friends to contribute ten dollars each so we can transport Ebson and a parent to the capitol, Lusaka, which is 6 hrs away. It
will take about 2 to 3 months for the foot to heal enough for an artificial foot. Then we will have to arrange an appointment to have the procedure of measuring and fitting and physical therapy. It is a long process. Travel is very expensive in Zambia. A vehicle will need to be rented and the fuel is about $4.10 per gallon. We hope one trip will do it.
If you want to take this opportunity to help here is specifically how to do it. But first let me say this. You will not be put on a mailing list. We will not know if you give or how much as this system will completely by-pass us. The only way we will know if you get this email and respond is if you email us back. That is entirely up to you. No response necessary. So, if you do choose to help Ebson, let me THANK YOU IN ADVANCE. Your help is very much appreciated and we thought that ten dollars would be doable for everyone and not a burden for anyone. So here is the information.
1. Please write a check made out to John Spurrier Discretionary Fund
2. Send it to: BICWM, P. O. Box 390, Grantham, Pennsylvania 17027-0390
3. Mark on the check "FOOT"
4. Email Dr. Spurrier spurrier(at)machamalaria(dot)org and let him know how much money you sent. Other money is in that fund for other purposes, so this step is ABSOLUTELY necessary for Dr. Spurrier to know how much money is in the fund specifically for Ebson. The check MUST be marked "FOOT" so your check can be kept separately for this fund. Please do not leave out any of these four steps.
Any contributions are tax deductible and you should request a receipt from the BICWM (Brethren in Christ World Mission) Office when you send your check if you want the tax deduction. Also, 5% of any money you send will be kept out by the BICWM for handling services. If we did this any other way, the charge for
handling was 10%. So, this is the best way.
THANK YOU! You will put a smile on this little boy's face when he can walk again.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
The context for the discussion was trade: "Is it ethical for a company to move because the labor in another country is lower? Isn't that exploiting those low-pay workers offshore?" Well, if you can make the same quality product cheaper elsewhere but you don't move, your company will probably have to compete with someone who does move, and you will go out of business. As long as the workers have a choice, i.e. it's not a one-company town, then the workers get to decide whether the wages are high enough or not; if not, they go elsewhere.
From there, the question arose as to what a person's intrinsic value is. The Compassionate member of the family held that each person is priceless; the Economist insisted that a person is worth what someone else will pay for his knowledge or services.
They're both right, since, as BB pointed out in the comments to a previous post, it depends on who's doing the pricing. I may value a random person on another continent at zero--I wouldn't pay anything to support him. Some unknown furniture worker might be worth $200 per year to me, as shown by what I'm willing to pay for the furniture. I don't know him, so there's no value in the relationship. On the other hand, I have friends to whom I've given hundreds of dollars, when I didn't really have a hundred to spare. And there are some people--my wife, my son, a friend or two--for whom I can say that I've sat down and thought it through and decided that yes, I would be willing to die for them if the need arose, or to support them indefinitely (however, Josh, you still need to plan on getting a job--Ed.). The value is in the relationship. The corollary is that you--I--need not to be a hermit, but to go out and create relationships.