To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Sunday in Advent

Now the holly bears a berry as white as the milk,
And Mary bore Jesus, who was wrapped up in silk:
And Mary bore Jesus our Saviour for to be,
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.

Now the holly bears a berry as green as the grass,
And Mary bore Jesus, who died on the cross:
And Mary bore Jesus our Saviour for to be,
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.

Now the holly bears a berry as black as the coal,
And Mary bore Jesus, who died for us all:
And Mary bore Jesus our Saviour for to be,
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.

Now the holly bears a berry, as blood is it red,
Then trust we our Saviour, who rose from the dead:
And Mary bore Jesus our Saviour for to be,
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.

Sans Day Carol, 19th century Cornwall

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So I'm sitting here waiting for the pies to cool so I can put them in the fridge, and eating a stolen orange.

Yes, I stole an orange from my neighbor's tree. We have an orange tree, but it apparently was neglected for awhile, or maybe the yard got a treatment it didn't like. We coaxed some blooms from it (and you could smell that sweet smell from the street) but the oranges stayed small and green and hard. Maybe next go-round.

But our neighbor's tree is stiff with oranges. She's been away for some time. Last weekend another neighbor told us that her family had moved her into a nursing home. They're gradually getting the house cleared out to sell but seem to be in no hurry. Meanwhile the oranges are going to fall on the ground and rot. He encouraged me to get some and eat them - they're good, he said.

And they are, they're delicious. Pink inside like grapefruit - I don't think I've ever seen oranges like that. Seedless. Very sweet. I got to thinking about them a minute ago and had to go and get one.

It's very dark between our houses, though, and I know there are snakes around. Last weekend the little girl kitties chased a good-sized one out of the backyard. I had my little mini-mag flashlight but the batteries are tired and I could only see, like, one step at a time. All the way back to that tree I kept thinking I'd step on a snake, and this wouldn't be a black snake, but a rattler or copperhead, and I'd lie down and die, and be found with a stolen orange in my hand. Didn't happen, though.
I hope you all are ready for Thanksgiving. R is flying home tomorrow to visit with his folks, and F isn't coming home until next week, so I will have dinner with my friend Kristina and her family.

Kristina told me that her sister instructed her to get at least a 24-pound turkey this year.

"Does your family kick in to help pay for this?" I asked.

"No, they don't have any money," K said.

"People left the table hungry last year?" I asked.

"No," Kristina said, "but they'll all want to take leftovers home."

That's family for you!

But I admit to having grilled Kristina about the kind of gravy she will have to put on the dressing. K doesn't have any strong feelings about gravy one way or the other. I then quizzed the internet, and my mom, about how one goes about making giblet gravy. And I put together some chicken broth I had in my freezer, some onion and celery, and a bit of flour I stirred into some of the broth and then returned to the mix, and separately, a couple of boiled eggs to be chopped and added, and delivered this to her today so that all she has to do is chop the turkey innards and put them in and simmer. And I'll be bringing chocolate chip pies as well.

Jeff at Quidplura offers this recipe that appears to have stood the test of time:

A goos in hogepotte. —Take a Goos, & make hure clene, & hacke hyre to gobettys, & put yn a potte, & Water to, & sethe to-gederys; þan take Pepir & Brennyd brede, or Blode y-boyled, & grynd y-fere Gyngere & Galyngale & Comyn, & temper vppe with Ale, & putte it þer-to; & mynce Oynonys, & frye hem in freysshe grece, & do þer-to a porcyon of Wyne.

He made a run at this dish, and offers his observations on the results, with pictures.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kill me now.

Along the same lines, check this out:

civics quiz

After you do the quiz, look at the table to see the percentage of citizens v. the percentage of self-identified elected officials who got each question right.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Brief shoulder update.

I have been off Celebrex for about a week now. I'm still taking turmeric, and that will probably continue indefinitely, but otherwise no pain meds.

When I read that adhesive capsulitis can last for up to two years I thought that I wouldn't survive that long. But the painful stage is mostly behind me. There's some pain when I get to the end of my range of motion: when I reach to the side, for instance, or too far in front. Last July and August, though, even with both Ultram and Celebrex, it was fairly excruciating just to pull up my pants. One can imagine what a drag that is. It came to my attention this morning that it really didn't hurt to get dressed, so there's definitely been some progress. I can't put my hand on my hip - it just won't go there, because the arm won't rotate in far enough - and I can't cross my arms on my chest. Putting on or taking off anything with long sleeves is an adventure. But the range of motion is continuing to increase in all directions so I reckon eventually I will wear this thing out. I'm thinking late Spring for the end of it, which will mean that it will have been about one year. Pity the people for whom it does last two years, and especially the small group who get it in both shoulders at the same time. They must be utterly disabled.

In other news, my dad called this evening to remind me that a shuttle launch was scheduled. I walked out to the end of the street, got there about 5 minutes before the launch, and called him to tell him I could see it. During the day you can see the sun glinting on the body of the shuttle. This was the first night launch I've seen, and what I saw was the rocket fire. It would be really cool if we could arrange for him to visit sometime when a launch is scheduled.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So I had to call an instrument company today to ask how to take the rotor out of the centrifuge, and when they put me on hold I found myself listening to "Every Valley". Had to look for it on YouTube when I got home. I found this charming video.

(I LOVE the little ornament he puts on at the very end - I've not heard that before.)

It's too early to get into the Christmas spirit, isn't it?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obama reviewing drilling, stem cells

Among the measures Mr Podesta raised were the Bush administration's move to authorise oil and gas drilling in the western state of Utah, and embryonic stem cell research, which Mr Bush has limited because he views it as destruction of human life.

"They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah that they're going to try to do right as they are walking out the door. I think that's a mistake," he said.

Oh, let's worry about the sensitive, fragile lands in Utah but totally disregard the destruction of human life. Is it just me, or is this a bit off-key?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

McCain's concession speech.

Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening.

My friends, we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.

A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.

In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.

I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.

But we both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.

America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.

Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.

Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day. Though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.

Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.

These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.

It's natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.

We fought as hard as we could. And though we feel short, the failure is mine, not yours.

I am so deeply grateful to all of you for the great honor of your support and for all you have done for me. I wish the outcome had been different, my friends.

The road was a difficult one from the outset, but your support and friendship never wavered. I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you.I'm especially grateful to my wife, Cindy, my children, my dear mother and all my family, and to the many old and dear friends who have stood by my side through the many ups and downs of this long campaign. I have always been a fortunate man, and never more so for the love and encouragement you have given me.

You know, campaigns are often harder on a candidate's family than on the candidate, and that's been true in this campaign.

All I can offer in compensation is my love and gratitude and the promise of more peaceful years ahead.

I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I've ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength... her husband Todd and their five beautiful children... for their tireless dedication to our cause, and the courage and grace they showed in the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign.

We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our country.

To all my campaign comrades, from Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, to every last volunteer who fought so hard and valiantly, month after month, in what at times seemed to be the most challenged campaign in modern times, thank you so much. A lost election will never mean more to me than the privilege of your faith and friendship.

I don't know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I'll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I'm sure I made my share of them. But I won't spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been.

This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.

I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.

Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone, and I thank the people of Arizona for it.

Tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama -- whether they supported me or Senator Obama.

I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.

Americans never quit. We never surrender.

We never hide from history. We make history.

Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.


Obama wasn't my choice, but he'll be my President.

Onward and upward.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I have discovered that I like to play free cell while listening to music that I pull up on YouTube. YouTube is like Alice's restaurant. If you want to listen to Louis Armstrong singing "Mack the Knife" in Germany, you can. Jerry Lee Lewis's cover of "Chantilly Lace", live in London, ditto.

What does it say that when I was listening to Zubin Mehta's conducting of "The Beautiful Blue Danube" I could not escape seeing, in my mind's eye, this:

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Australia denies residency for dad of boy with Down syndrome

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Thirteen-year-old Lukas Moeller has Down syndrome. His father is a doctor who came to Australia from Germany to help fill a shortage of physicians in rural communities.

But now Australia has rejected Dr. Bernhard Moeller's application for residency, saying Lukas does not meet the "health requirement" and would pose a burden on taxpayers for his medical care, education and other services.

The case has provoked an outcry in the rural region of southeastern Victoria state, where Moeller is the only internal medicine specialist for a community of 54,000 people.

Here's the chronology.

1 - People have special needs. Their families take care of them. It's rough sometimes. Usually extended family, neighbors, church members, etc., pitch in. This was before "family values" were talked about - they weren't talked about b/c it was taken for granted that families took care of their own.

2 - The government sees that it is a burden sometimes, so it steps in to help. Inevitably, over the years, as more and more people draw a paycheck for helping, the care from the government becomes more and more encompassing, and the families lose some measure of control.

3 - The government completely takes over responsibility for caring for special-needs people, or sick people, or whomever, and immediately begins rationing way beyond anything the original family/community help network would have needed to ration.

The community in this story isn't rejecting this kid b/c his care is too onerous. His parents certainly aren't. If the government had not presumed to take all that on, it wouldn't have to worry about it.

Think this couldn't happen here?

Health plan covers assisted suicide but not new cancer treatment

Her doctor offered hope in the new chemotherapy drug Tarceva, but the Oregon Health Plan sent her a letter telling her the cancer treatment was not approved.

Instead, the letter said, the plan would pay for comfort care, including "physician aid in dying," better known as assisted suicide.

Physician-assisted suicide is legal in Oregon. It's voluntary ... for now. For those whose healthcare is provided by the state (and for which they paid taxes during their working years) you see what the state's preference is.

Ronald Reagan said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

Eternal vigilance, folks.