Peace Like A River


It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Waterlogged

Temps around 90 again today, so a fine day to head to Bunker Beach. I took John to the wave pool twice, and again, strangers marvelled at how at home John is in the water. From his size, maybe they think he's younger than he is, too. We were there for a couple hours, maybe a little longer.

This morning, John was in a playful mood, and he wanted to have a pillow fight. He grabbed a couch pillow, said "Man the cannon!" and threw it at me. Man the cannon?! Where did he hear that?

On Saturday, when we were at the lake, it was quite busy. I went and stood at the water's edge while John and Hanna splashed around. While standing there, a little girl, barely a toddler if that, came and splashed around in front of me, at my feet. Hanna saw that and came right over and asked "Is she yours?" I said no, and she said "You're my daddy!"

Now, she said it in a playful mood, not all tense or anything like that. But, that instant thought to get some reassurance that she belonged to our family, and that I wasn't out shopping for other kids, is a reminder of some of the typical things our kids carry with them. For those of you who have had your kids since birth, how many times has something like this happened? I'm guessing a number close to zero.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Back from the wilds

Sort of at the last minute, we decided to go camping last night over at the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes park. (We were in F64)

Just about perfect weather for us. Warm comfortable evening for sitting around the campfire. Overnight temps were around 60. I didn't have socks so my feet were ever so slightly chilly. A warm morning, and temps were around 90 by this afternoon. We left the campground around noon, and went over to the lake for some swimming. (There were a lot of Koreans there. Maybe a family reunion or something. Parking lot was overflowing.)

Beautiful clear night. Crescent moon. I got up a couple times and enjoyed the stars. (We're still close enough to the core of the Cities that some of the fainter stars would be washed out.) I didn't really sleep like a log. We had an air mattress, but it wasn't the most comfortable thing. The kids were out cold. And, at least this time I didn't have vomit all over my only shirt.

Got home about an hour ago. Hanna needs a nap. We'll see if she settles down. For supper tonight I'll grill some peppercorn beef loin. Mmmm.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Me edjamacated

Since 9/11, one thing often heard about the perpetrators of that awful act, or about other suiciders since then, is that poverty is not a determining factor in driving someone to commit these murderous acts. In fact, often it is said they are "well educated".

I very much wonder just what that phrase means. Just what entails being "well educated"?

Do the suiciders have a keen understanding of, say, international politics? Can they balance chemical equations in their sleep? Rather than poking fun at the social mores in Jane Austen, who wrote of a time when going for a walk on a Sunday afternoon was a big deal, can they readily discuss the implications that such clearly defined moral standards have in other parts of society, and how that plays out in Austen's works?

Does being "well educated" imply something far more than just being able to balance a checkbook, or to fill out a job application?

There is little attempt in the media to examine just what makes up the education of these suiciders, and how it might or might not have affected their decisions.

I think the left naturally gravitated towards poverty as an explanation for terrorism because it is an external cause. It avoids the question of evil within the hearts of man. And, avoiding the question of evil means the left can avoid the problem of confronting evil while at the same time allowing arbitrarily determined moral standards. And if facing evil requires a moral standard from an outside source, that inevitably leads to the question of God, and more than anything, the left wants to avoid any acknowledgement of God as an Authority to be recognized, whether in our personal lives or in society as a whole.

Similary, the impulse to shake our heads and wonder how an educated person can commit acts of evil hints at a belief that knowledge can be a substitute for moral standards. Not for nothing does Proverbs 26:12 say "Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him."

Certainly, the left loves to pride itself on their knowledge. "We are educated", they say, in justifying their political beliefs, implying that the soundness of their beliefs rests on firm unassailable academic footing, and anyone gauche enough to practice conservative politics must be an uneducated rube.

No, we should never mention a suicider's education in the same thought where we describe their murderous acts. Education is not the right band-aid for the sores that cover our fallen souls. It never was, and it never will be.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A proper war

Over at NRO, John Derbyshire had a few posts decrying the US continued involvement in Iraq. His view is that the US should've gotten out right after the elections. (See here and here and here and here.)

I agree with him that the war against terrorists has not always been conducted "properly". His phrase "a lawyer's war" is somewhat apt, though maybe not an entirely accurate picture of what good professional US soldiers are doing on the ground.

In my opinion, there has not been nearly enough "shock and awe", to trot out a phrase that now wrinkles my nose after seeing the BBC fixate on it during the initial invasion.

At the time, terrorist powers like Syria and Iran stopped for a moment to see just what the US was about. Were we a mad raging elephant crashing about, trampling all in our path? Worse, were we a tiger, whose controlled rage and power could be coldly targeted against prey that was no match for us?

No, it turned out we didn't have the will and/or the resources to fully carry the fight to the enemy. And, Syria, Iran, the Saudis, etc... all heaved a sigh of relief and continued their smoldering war against us.

He wonders if "there is something in our national psyche that prevents us doing it right". I think part of it is a genuine moral restraint that says there must be other means worth trying first before we carpet bomb women and children. However, I do think there is something missing. Why, after 9/11, weren't the recruiting centers filled with American young people, eager to go kick the tails of the people who attacked us? Why hasn't President Bush called for such service?

The problem I see with his comment about conducting the war through covert ops is the question of how we would find the targets? Flying over head at 20K feet is not a very efficient way to find jihadis buried in Iraqi society. That is a chief benefit of being on the ground, we can get in their faces. "Close with the enemy" is sound military doctrine. So is "maintain contact with the enemy".

With covert ops, how do you kill enough of them to matter? It is no small feat to put a team in enemy territory. Attacking a house and killing one, or at best a few, terrorists is not a very cost effective use of resources. Little bang for the buck.

We are in Iraq, and we cannot leave before the Iraqis can provide their own security. To leave before then would just invite a bloody civil war. There may well be civil war anyway, but at least give Iraq a chance to stand on its own two feet. It does matter if there is a democracy in the heart of the failed dysfunctional Arab world. When young people in Iran dip their fingers in purple ink to show their desire to vote, you know the US is doing something right in Iraq.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Spices

First, should make a correction to a previous spice post. da Gama wasn't the first Western European to reach the spice islands. He was probably the first to get there with large cannons suitable for empire carving.

In the medieval mind, spices were associated with Paradise. It was believed that spices grew in Eden, and were part of their allure to medieval Europeans. In fact, Columbus believed when he found spices, he would find Paradise. By his third voyage, when success was not abounding, Columbus still believed he was close to finding Paradise. In a telling detail that he expected to find a biblical Paradise, Columbus had brought with him a translator who spoke...Hebrew, Greek and Persian. He wasn't much use in talking to the Carib people.

The book also briefly refers to spiced wine, in the context of being served to royalty. In fantasy stories, people drink spiced wine like it was water any peasant could get from a tap. But, spice was expensive, given the distance it had to travel (say, from the East Indies to England) and all the middlemen involved. So, it was expensive, and not likely to be drunk by a peasant spending what little money he had on drinking spice.

I had already planned to have an exotic trade coming up the river to the royal city in The Circle. Now, I'll also include a spice trade, and spiced wine will be drunk only by rich people.

The book points out that even in ancient time, spice trade flourished, and made its way around the Roman world. A Roman camp, circa 10 BC, excavated in Germany, had remains of pepper corns. (Pepper is native to India's Malabar Coast.) There is tablet dated to around the second century AD, from a Roman fort south of Hadrian's wall in Britain that details soldiers' expenditures on pepper.

All this got me to thinking, the study of history is really just finding out the answers to the questions "What did people want?" and "What did they do to get it?"

John Boy

Last night John was playing the Veggie Tales game on the computer. There's a part towards the end on a pirate ship that involves a puzzle. Sometimes he'll have me help him with it. But, I was upstairs, and when I came down to check on him, he had already done it. He said "It was kinda hard, but I worked at it." Ha!

This morning he wanted to hold the little American flag we keep up in a little basket. He kinda started doing this at Grandpa and Grandma's, but he likes to use it as a starter's flag, like for a car race. He kinda leans on one knee, and throws his arm out straight with the flag, and says "Gooooo!" I think he saw that on a Care Bears video or something.

Rhonda asked him how many stars were on the flag, and John started counting "1,2,3,4,5..." Ha. Rhonda then said there are 50 stars, for the 50 states. John knows he lives in the state of Minnesota.

John went to his preschool yesterday morning for awhile. He went so he could be in a classroom setting, as someone from the school district came to observe him in that setting. And, I guess John did some of the behavior he did in school sometimes. Which is a good thing, so the person could see what we're talking about. I think that was the last step in the school district's evaluation, and now they'll look at what we might do.

I'm not sure though. I mean, the symptoms are fairly apparent, but I don't know if we have any idea as to the cause. So, if we're not sure of the cause, I'm not sure how we can be sure we're doing the right treatment. I'm really looking forward to what this OT clinic comes up with for John.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Drums along the Mohawk

Here is a post talking about the University of Washington. They appointed a male to be chair of the Women's Studies dept. Wow. I thought such things just weren't done in those circles.

This post has some interesting links to the personal thoughts of a former lefty who had a change of mind after being confronted with the realities of 9/11.

From 9/11 on I have asked myself, and others, what would, say, (ancient) Rome have done, at the height of their power, if some backwater nation had attacked them like the US was attacked? I dare say every man, woman, child, cow, and fluffy bunny the Romans could have laid their hands on would have been crucified, and their cities plowed under and salted, and everybody else would darn sure have gotten the message. But...

I think the fact we do worry about collateral casualties is a good and healthy aspect of our civilization, and it's something worth preserving. I think there are moral arguments for not immediately practicing, say, Rome's barbarities. However, I have not yet reconciled in my mind the tension between the need to ruthlessly defend ourselves and the benefits of moral restraint.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Existence is futile, you will be vacillated

John had a bit of a hard time at Maya's b-day party. The kids and Rhonda went next door, and went in the house. So, it being a new environment, John's impulses were present, and he kinda messed around with stuff, saw a scooter that was a present for Maya that wasn't wrapped, and he wanted to play with that, etc...

Rhonda took him back home, and he just cried and cried. Poor boy. He loves to socialize and play with other kids, but sometimes his impulses kinda get in the way of that which he enjoys most. We're just not sure at this point where the problem lies, or what we might do. Hopefully this testing we're doing will bring some answers. Also, he has an appt on Aug 9 at another clinic that specializes in behavior like this, and hopefully that will be fruitful too.

It's hard for me as a parent to see him struggle, and not really know how to help him. He is aware too that his behavior poses difficulties sometimes for him, and that makes him sad too. I don't want to see his self-esteem affected.

Went to Bunker Beach yesterday afternoon for a couple hours. Was quite packed there. It was cloudy, but still plenty warm and somewhat humid. Then, I went to the church business mtg last night. (Kinda had to, as I chair the business mtgs.)

When I got home, I laid on the floor while the kids jumped on me and they pretended to be Batman and they captured me. They like pummeling me when I'm on the floor. They race by and I try to catch them.

Hanna was so funny, when she started running, she'd lift one leg, rare back and cock her arms and take off, like some cartoon character about to accelerate to Mach 200. Ha.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Our Man Saturday

Well, t'is a good thing we didn't go up to Minot today. This morning some rather strong storms raced straight down I-94, and got to our house around 10:30 am. Strong wind and rain for a short time. I'm glad we didn't have to drive through that last week.

The weatherman said it would be close to 100 today. Well, oops. After the storm it was in the 70s till mid afternoon. Then, edged into the 80s, so we took the kids over to Bunker Beach. Water was a tad cool at first, but not too bad considering. John just loves playing around in the wave pool. Other people saw him and marvelled at how comfortable he was moving around in the water. Those Astrakhan kids! Hanna is also playing more in the water. When I went over to her, she splashed around and then told me to say "Look at that girl swim!" Ha.

Rhonda and the kids are next door right now, a little birthday party for Maya.

Friday, July 22, 2005

please answer the question

Matthew Franck has an interesting post here about the legitimate questions that can and should be asked of a nominee to the Supreme Court.

Franck makes the case for what too many folks on the right seem to leave out of their judicial philosophies.

I am admittedly a neophyte when it comes to the great questions of the Supreme Court, but I've never understood the holy, let's all shuffle on our knees deference accorded to SC Justices, especially when it comes to the nomination process.

Yes, two critical components to a functioning legal system are objectivity and impartiality.

However, the Judiciary Branch is one of three branches of governments. I would say three equal branches.

When the Executive Branch changes hands, most of D.C. seems to get cleaned out, and the Republic doesn't fall. As we've seen with President Bush, the opposition has no hesitation about treating a sitting president like gutter sludge.

In the Legislative Branch, seats change hands every two years, and the Republic doesn't fall.

So, when seats come open on the Court, why is there this approach that the nominee, only a day before a flesh and blood human being, is now a sacred and untouchable paragon of law?

Why can't the Court be treated like an equal branch? Given its importance, we absolutely ought to be able to sound out a nominee on his or her views on the "gross" questions.

The value of law to a civilization does not lie in the law itself, in the words themselves. That value comes from citizens simply agreeing to live by the principles espoused in the law.

So, there is nothing improper in asking a nominee about their larger views on the law. It is simply part of that conversation we citizens have with each other about what how we will constrain ourselves. The nominee is as much a part of that society as the rest of us, so they should be more than willing to talk about the role they will play in devising those constraints. The power a Justice has is the power we as citizens give them. We citizens have a right to know what they will do with what we will give them.

to Arrakis!

This Spice book is fascinating. Portugal, in the person of Vasco da Gama,
was the first by sea across the Indian Ocean to the rich spice lands.
First Western European anyway. A rich trade had existed there for a long
time. (Spice was one of the main things Columbus was looking for, and the
fact he found little was rather irritating to Spain. Doubly so when
Portugal found the rich spice-filled east. Spain was a bit mollified
though by the incredible gold riches in the new world.)

Portugal proceeded to build an empire there through violence. In an
interesting 1494 treaty though, the Pope, who arbitrated such things then,
decided that Spain would have the lands west of a certain longitude (in
the west Atlantic) and Portugal would have things to the east.

As Turner says, this gave India to Portugal, though no one seemed to
consider that India belonged to the Indians.

However, given the very incomplete understanding of the true size of the
globe, it was not clear where the anti-meridian was. The line on the
other side of the globe that marked the boundary between what was Spain's
and what was Portugal's. Because the chronometer was still in the future,
even the meridian was a bit of a fiction, because no one knew for sure
where it was.

In fact, there was suspicion that, given they thought the Earth was much
smaller than it is, the rich spice islands of SE Asia actually belonged to
Spain.

This is a main reason why Magellan undertook his voyage. To discover the size of the globe so it could be determined what belonged to which country. (Magellan was Portugese, but Portugal didn't want to really support his voyage, apparently worried that the voyage would indeed show the spices belonged to Spain. So, Magellan went to Spain and got Spain to underwrite the voyage. The voyage was a tough one because Magellan thought the globe was smaller than it was, and planned accordingly, and had no idea of the size of the Pacific. He was not the first to think of sailing west to the Indies, Columbus obviously had the same thought. But Magellan did have the advantage of knowing America was in the way. He didn't know the route around America though, and so they spent a lot of time sailing up rivers and inlets, till they got to the tip of South America.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Potpourri

Here is a phrase taken from Ross Mackenzie's column. It's an example of
what many people have been saying about Roberts, just announced as Bush's nomination for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. Roberts does appear to be a good choice. Mackenzie said "Judge Roberts possesses a world-class legal mind". Conservatives have used this kind of phrase a lot recently, to defend the choice.

Actually, though, that kind of phrase always gives me the heebie jeebies. For me, it conjures up a person who is exceptionally good at finding emanations in penumbras, and constructing arguments around the idea that it "depends on what the meaning of 'is' is".

I've started reading a most interesting book entitled Spice, by Jack Turner. It's about the spice trade over the centuries. There was a sentence in the introduction I really liked. Turner said: "To say a spice was special was tautological, the words have a common root."

I also finished up The Immaculate Deception, the last in Iain Pears' terrific Art History Mystery series. Alas, I admit I'm dense enough not to have figured out the identity of the artist of the mystery painting in question, or how certain works made their way into the Vatican. Argh. I wish Pears would have spelled it out in detail.

Go south again, young man

Whew. Returned from a busy four days in North Dakota. T'was a good time seeing one and all. Fourteen people in the house, seven kids age 5 and under. Not for the faint of heart. But, we enjoyed ourselves.

I always enjoy driving through the North Dakota countryside. It's funny how well I know the terrain between Minot and Fargo. I've driven over it so many times it's about as familiar as neighborhood city streets. It must have been that way too for the Indians who roamed the plains.

If one looks beyond the open spaces between Jamestown and Minot, one can see some of the very interesting geographical features of North Dakota. Highway 52 roughly parallels the Missouri Escarpment. The highway proceeds north from Jamestown to Carrington, and then turns to the northwest, where the Escarpment also turns. You can see that line of hills to the west from the highway.

I also keep thinking that would be good tank country, the wide open relatively flat terrain. It must be a lot like the terrain in western Russia, which saw some enormous tank battles in WWII. Indeed, the terrain of North Dakota reminded many Germans from Russia of what they came from, which is one factor in why they settled in ND.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Go north, young man

We're heading up to NoDak tomorrow. All of John and Hanna's cousins will be there at Grandpa and Grandma's house. A full house. We'll come back Wednesday. Ellie will go to the dogsitter. I picture her in a scene out of Lady and the Tramp, a fragile flower, trapped in a cell with tough street dogs. Gritty bulldogs, sharp-tongued Chihuahuas, deadly wolfhounds that would slice you open in an instant to get your daily biscuit ration, etc...

I was watching a little bit of the British Open last night, and John was there. He saw those big sand bunkers the British Open, and St. Andrews, are known for, and he said "Are those big holes? Did someone dig those holes?" Heh.

Another comment on Design. I happened to see something on Animal Planet about bugs. Some guy was pointing out how this one species of cricket, a mole cricket, had two big front legs to help it dig down through the dirt to get at food. It's body was smooth, because, as the host said, this allows the cricket to slip more easily through the dirt. Well, that sounds like a design goal to me.

So my question always is, how does evolution explain how the cricket got this smooth outer skin? I mean, if the cricket had a rough outer skin, it might make it harder to get through dirt, but presumably it wouldn't be impossible. So, the cricket could still get at food, it just might have to work a little harder. So, how did Nature conspire to give this cricket this smooth coat?

Also, this cricket had ears out on the knees of the big front legs. The guy said this made it easier for the cricket to hear in stereo, and tell what direction sounds are coming from. Sounds like a design goal to me. So, how did Nature conspire to get these ear out on the knees, for heavens sake? Can anyone explain how this happens through random processes? (Again, if we're eliminating the possibility of an Intelligent Designer right off the bat.)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Under the Big Top

We went to the circus last night. A small circus, it is at the east end of the Northtown mall. Started Wednesday, goes through Sunday, I think. Shows at 5 and 7:30.

There were pony rides outside, so Hanna took a little ride. She quite enjoyed that. The person overseeing the rides was a woman not a whole lot taller than Hanna. While Hanna was doing that, John wanted to go jump in a big inflatable jumping thing.

I kinda felt sorry for the circus performers, in that there were only 25 people or so as the audience. I don't know where they've been publicizing it. I hadn't heard anything about it. We knew about it because someone where Rhonda works gave her some free tickets for the kids. (They handed out some free tickets at the end of the circus. Their strategy must to get the kids, but gouge the adults. It was $15 per adult to get in!)

But, they did their show, and it was enjoyable. The ringmistress would say showbiz stuff like "hold on to your seats", even though the acts really weren't something that would blow us off of our seats. Still, they were talented and did some neat things.

Hanna just loved it. She was enthralled. During a break, she said "do you want to see my tricks?", and then proceeded to do her own circus act. I held her hand, but she'd step or jump from bench to bench on the wooden bleachers, then stop and theatrically roll her hands and spread her arms, and kinda stick out a leg and point her toe. She was so precious. She wasn't giggly about it, she was very sincere, very "professional". Ha!

John was ready to leave before it was over, but he didn't fuss too much. At the end they had a decent-sized elephant come out and do tricks with a little girl. That was neat. (And the elephant did both jobs right in the middle of the ring before leaving. Left a nice pile right on top of a stand. Thanks, Dumbo!)

The circus would try to sell some things, brought around popcorn, cotton candy, etc... I don't think many people bought stuff. They offered "genuine circus roasted peanuts." Although, I highly doubt someone was out back roasting the peanuts just for us. That must be a hard life, going from place to place like that, performing for small crowds.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Languid summer

Went to Bunker Beach last night after a quick supper. The place is only open till 7pm, which is a rather early closing time if you ask me. So, on weeknights when we're coming home from work, we have to cram food down our gullets and get over there so the kids can have an hour or so having fun.

John had fun in the wave pool first off. Hanna spent her whole time in the kiddie pool. She liked doing "tricks" in the water. She'd fall into the water in various ways, sideways, backwards, twisting, etc... She also went down the slide a few times, which I applauded.

Just before closing time, a summer burst of rain came over. It was dark blue in the east, and shiny sun in the west, yet a decent rain fell for a few minutes. The kids in the pool didn't mind. Hey, they were wet already, right? I scampered under one of the shelter thingies they have to protect loungers primarily from the sun.

John had some more testing with the school district yesterday. I think some kind of IQ test. He had trouble with fine motor things, like drawing shapes, pencil grip, etc... which is no surprise. We know he's kinda behind on that stuff. But, Rhonda said the guy said on verbal, visual things John is very smart, was doing things at a 7 yr-old level. I think he has some more on Thursday.

So, a summer of fun continues for the kids. Somewhere along the way they've heard the word "stupid", and I'm trying to get them to understand that isn't a very polite word. They don't really know what it means. But, by and large I think we've mostly prevented a lot of slop from entering their minds. I'm happy they like Care Bears. Hopefully this time of their lives will be remembered as a time of fun with mommy and daddy, when the worries and troubles of the real world were still as yet unknown, and joy came from the little things, like pulling a jump rope around the driveway.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

the mysteries of nature

Here is an interesting physics article on mass.

A comment towards the end intrigued me. The author says "Hence, the family problem has two parts: Why are there three families when it seems only one is needed to describe the world we see? Why do the families differ in mass and have the masses they do?"

It is no secret that most people in the sciences probably do not believe in a Creator God, they hold to evolution as the Origin of Species.

So, I never quite understand why such people look at Nature and ask "Why?". I mean, if everything came from random beginnings, if things just "happened", why would there be an answer to "why" questions? Why the assumption that there is a reason to things? Why would there be any coherent design reasons to the way things are?

If they are going to throw out the possibility of a Designer right from the get-go, why do they then seem to start with the assumption there are design elements to be found?

Sometimes in biology these raises questions that confuse me as well. For instance, an evolutionist would look at a giraffe and say, oh, the giraffe evolved a long neck to help it reach food higher up in trees. Well, then I ask if giraffes just happened, why doesn't every animal on the African plain have a long neck, if it is such an advantage for getting food?

It always seems to me that looking at something (like a Universe) that appears to have been designed, and saying it wasn't designed, is like looking at a cake and saying nobody gathered the eggs and flour and butter and milk, mixed it in the right proportions, and baked it at the right temperature to produce something tasty and edible (a design goal).

Design goals are obvious in things we know are designed, like cars, buildings, computers, etc... For instance, someone starts out with a desire to build a car, so they start formulating design goals, where form follows function. The car will be operated by a human, so the design for the interior must fit the shape of a person sitting down, the steering wheel and controls must be within reach of a sitting person, etc... The car needs an engine to move, so an engine must be designed, etc...

Those who deny a Creator then, look at, say, the human body, and do not see intelligent design. Or, they see design by random acts of nature. The workings of the skeletal system, the nervous system, the digestive system, the biochemical processes in the body, the senses, the brain, and on and on. Do these not look like systems designed to fulfill a function, a design goal?

Update: I noticed there were some similar thoughts here. (Note: This was posted by Abednego, on the Parableman blog.)

Monday, July 11, 2005

oily

I'm due to have the oil changed in the truck. Might do that tonight, and might take Hanna with me, and Rhonda could take John to Bunker Beach. He was having so much fun yesterday, he wanted to stay and play some more in the wave pool. He likes going out a ways and getting bowled over by the waves.

Back to the oil change. I want to switch over to Mobil 1 synthetic oil, and would like to get a Mobil 1 oil filter as well. There's an Autozone on the way to the dealer, so I could just stop there. (Walmart and Autozone carry Mobil products.)

Here's another summary of the demographic problems Russia is facing.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

ah, blessed summer

It has returned, as it does every year for a few blessed days about this time of year. The summer heat. It's been in the low 90s here the last couple days. On Saturday we went to the lake. We were lucky to get a parking spot, I've never seen it that full. People ended up parking on the road. There was a wedding there in the shelter, so that brought a bunch of people, but it was still a busy place.

Today then, we went over to Bunker Beach for awhile. With the heat, the water felt so good, so John went swimming for a long time, and only went to the sandpit for a little while. Even Hanna swam for a long time. Ahhhh. It was quite busy there too, needless to say.

So tomorrow, the kids go to Jessica's house. At the end of the week we head up to ND. The kids are already looking forward to the trip, and seeing a bunch of cousins.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The war comes to London

Terrorist attacks in London this morning. Explosions in the subway, and on at least one bus. Truly amazing to me how the left in this country still cannot recognize what kind of enemy we are up against.

These pathetic, depraved terrorists attack innocent people who are simply on their way to work. They hope to make Britain cower in fear, to stand down in the fight against the terrorists. But they don't understand the British people, like they don't understand any free democratic society.

They don't understand because they are not free themselves. They are imprisoned by their hate. They seek to imprison everyone else. They use religion as a pretext, to excuse their murderous thirst for blood.

So, the terrorists will watch the British people gather themselves, mourn because they still have a human soul capable of valuing human life, and resume the fight. The terrorists will think, hmm, that didn't quite work as expected, and will plan other attacks.

They won't quit simply because there is a plea for peace. They need to be hunted down and exterminated. When terrorists are captured, they need to be interrogated, so that plans of this nature might be uncovered.

For our part, we cannot back down. It's why I think we should have gone into Syria and Iran a long time ago. I don't understand why in the days and weeks after 9/11 there wasn't a national call to service. Trying to fight this war on the backs of a volunteer army, at its current size, isn't working. As a nation we need to commit to seeing this through. otherwise who else is there to stop the terrorists? They are coming for us. What will they see when they come over the hill? People on their hands and knees in fear? Lefties saying "oh thank goodness you're here, save us from those evil conservatives in our midst." Or, will they see freedom-loving people armed to the teeth ready to turn any nations that support these terrorists into paste?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Megaton Explosives

Had a pleasant 4th. Went over to Bunker Beach for awhile. It was a tad on the cool side, and the water there is cold anyway, so Hanna wasn't much into swimming. After a supper of yummy peppercorn pork loin, we set off some explosives. The kids loved it, Hanna was exceedingly excited. They liked waving sparklers around, though they couldn't get the hang of not pointing the business end at people. They zinged me a couple times with sparks.

The 4th is, of course, Ellie's least favorite day of the year. All the boom-booms and pop-pops around the neighborhood always send her scurrying under the deepest darkest bed she can find. She won't even go outside to piddle, even though her bladder must be the size of a beachball.

Rhonda took the kids a few blocks over to try and see the fireworks show at the National Sports Center. But, John was a little scared of the booms, so they came home. The kids didn't get to bed till after 10:30, and since John hadn't had a nap, he was getting pretty frazzled. Hanna had napped, so she was doing ok.

Some more on Live8. Again, I don't doubt Geldof's sincerity. Admirable to take such a big swing at helping poor people in Africa. But, he said this, perfectly summing up the lefty attitude: "Something must be done, even if it doesn't work." It goes without saying that this does not generally represent the conservative viewpoint. Why do something if it doesn't work? Why not do something that does work?

Of course, the things that do work often do not comport with lefty mentality, because they so often involve sticky subjects like personal responsibility, evil, moral choices, etc... Here is an interesting column that ties Dickens to Live8.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Live Aid?

I'm here to tell ya, the kind of live aid Africa (and North Korea, and Syria, and Iran, and...) needs most is a few divisions of US soldiers rolling into town.

OK, you can admire Bob Geldof and Company for trying to do something to help the poor in Africa. But. Just parachuting buckets of money into Africa is not the solution. The problem is not a lack of money. The problem is a surplus of dictators, civil wars, lack of democracy, etc... You think Robert Mugabe cares one whit about Madonna preening onstage?

You can't blame the lefties, they have the same solution for domestic problems. Just set stacks of cash outside the apartment door of some poor person, hope they don't get caught in the crossfire of some gang war when they open the door to get it, and all will be well. Alas, that isn't how the world works.

Here is the incomparable Mark Steyn on the topic of Live8.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Fourth!

Should be a very pleasant day here. Will probably take the kiddies either to the lake or Bunker Beach.

On Saturday we went to Como Park Zoo. (Got there right when it opened so we'd get a parking spot. There was a lot going on there that day, and parking filled up quickly.) We managed to see the Sparky show finally. In the past, either we weren't there at the right time, or at one time Sparky had died so they were training a different Sparky.

After seeing the animals, the kids went on some carnival rides. They've redone that section, and there were new rides there. The kids enjoyed a fire truck one where they stood in the back of a fire truck and squirted water as it drove around and around. They also like a frog hooper one, where they sat down in this bench that suddenly went into the air on a post, then kinda bounced back down, did that a few times.

Rhonda and I went to see Sahara yesterday afternoon at a second-run theater. Tickets were only $2 apiece. That's a fun movie. A couple of gratuitous slams at conservatives, but otherwise pure escapist fun. It's from a Clive Cussler Dirk Pitt novel, but I don't think the movie's Pitt was much like the novel's Pitt. Too wise-cracky and the like. But, on its own, still enjoyable.

Happy 4th to all our soldiers serving everywhere. We enjoy the freedoms we do because people have been away from home on this day serving in harm's way. Salute.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Release the Hounds!

Peasants, report to your assigned stations to receive torches and pitchforks. Liberals, report to Fang-Sharpening Depot #2. Media, report to Smear Campaign HQ.

And conservatives, for the love of all that is good and holy, report to the Robert C. Byrd Cybernetic Center to receive your bionic steel spine implants.

Sandra Day O'Connor has just announced her retirement from the US Supreme Court. Let the Confirmation Wars begin! Oooh, this is going to be fun.

It's doubly interesting that O'Connor is the first to retire, and not Rehnquist. If Rehnquist had gone first, liberals might not put up too much of a fight if Bush nominated another conservative to replace him, because it's just trading one conservative for another.

But with O'Connor, nominating a true conservative (please nominate Luttig!) could change the balance of the court. O'Connor is the swing vote on a lot of issues. But, as this post says, "It is true that OíConnorís unprincipled approach from time to time yields a vote in favor of results that might be labeled conservative, but she has an uncanny knack for doing so in cases where her vote doesnít matter."

Controlling the judiciary is Items #1 through #22 in the secret liberal Plan for World Domination. It's the only way they get their socialist agenda into law, as they sure wouldn't get it past voters.

This could be a pivotal moment. Rehnquist is ailing, and could very well retire. Justice Stevens is 85. There could be more retirements in the near future. Bush needs to stand firm and nominate conservative, and then fight to get them confirmed.

If Bush nominates Gonzalez, I'm packing the car and moving to Idaho to live in the mountains and wait for The End. He's a moderate at best. As the terrorists think they are at war with us, liberals are willing to go to war over the Supreme Court. Do we conservatives have the stomach for a fight? We'd better.