Monday, February 28, 2011

Pass the milk

A unionized public worker, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table, there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the Tea Partier and says, "Watch out for that union guy; he wants a piece of your cookie."

h/t Gawain

The heresy of numbers

Let's talk about numbers for a second, shall we? Specifically church numbers, one of the great heresies of our time.

I'm not merely talking about the, shall we say, flourishes in the annual reports. I'm talking about the underlying heresy that numbers represent some eternal truth about a church's faithfulness. A church that is growing is doing something right; a church that is shrinking is doing something terribly wrong.

I hear that all the time, but all that's about is the bottom line; it might or might not have anything to do with faithfulness.

And I think, when I hear people make this correlation between success and faithfulness, have they read the gospels? Not just selected pieces, but the gospels straight through. Because you will notice if you read the gospels that Jesus' following grows and shrinks throughout his ministry. Unless they are saying that Jesus is less faithful when people turn away from him, then there's something else going on here. Most of the time what it seems to be is, is Jesus telling people what they want to hear or not?

Please, please, please, can we stop this? I understand the need to have viable and sustainable ministries, but please let's stop condemning people as somehow not being true to God if turnout is low.

Image by Dave Walker at

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Funnies, February 27

According to Steve Martin, last week was the observance of the Oscar High Holy Days. He spent the week "tweeting the traditions of our religion." Enjoy.

Oscar Palm Sunday: The Triumphal entry of celebrities past regular diners at the Palm steakhouse.

Oscar Holy Monday: The Ceremony of the Borrowing of the Jewels.

Oscar Holy Tuesday: The Holy Reading of Bad Reviews of Movie Classics.

Oscar Holy Tuesday Afternoon: The Holy Reading of Rave Reviews of Movies Never Seen Again.

Oscar Holy Wednesday: The Coveting of the Nomination

Oscar Holy Wednesday: The Ritual of the Scuffing of Soles of New Shoes to Prevent Slipping.

Oscar Holy Thursday: The Holy Reading of Presenters’ Banter from Oscars Past.

Oscar Holy Friday: The Holy Reading of the Grosses (On the first weekend, E.T. did take in…).

Oscar Holy Good - But We're Going to Have to Pass - Friday.

Oscar Holy Saturday: The Sacrifice of the Virgins. Oh wait, that takes place all through the year.

Oscar Holy Saturday: The Ritual of the Purchasing of the Purell.

Oscar Holy Saturday: Man-Waxing.

Oscar Holy Saturday: The Casting of the Seat Fillers.

Oscar Holy Sunday: Today you are forbidden to drive yourself.

Oscar Holy Sunday: The Ritual of the Wedging of the Spanx.

Oscar Holy Sunday: The Ritual Thanking of the Lord for Helping One Win and For Not Helping the Other Nominees.

will update if other Oscar Sunday rituals are announced.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blog updates

As you can tell, I'm futzing with the design of the blog. This is very much a work in progress, and I'm not exactly a design guru, so I'm open to feedback. Feel free to comment on font, colors, layout, etc. This is not the final product.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Various and Sundry, February 25

Anyone else having trouble keeping up with the news? Where to focus: Wisconsin union workers, protests and violence in Libya, the lack of defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, the moves to defund Planned Parenthood... Certainly they require more than my brief and ill-informed opinions and reflections. And lots of other people have lots of stuff to say about it.

Here's the one thing I'll say about all of this: I'm trying to keep an open mind, listening to arguments that don't already support my point of view and hammering out my own opinions. That is hard, hard work, so I'm taking my time. Mostly I try to keep my mouth shut until I have a clear thought in my head. Doesn't always work. One of the reasons I like Andrew Sullivan's blog is because he allows for the debate and the presentation of the strongest arguments on all sides of an issue. Be warned, though: if you go there, you will be inundated with ideas, many of which you won't agree with.

So let's go with some lighter fare, such as the "oatmeal" at McDonalds. I appreciate Ta-Nehisi Coates' response to the editorial in the Times (which said how it's just as easy to make oatmeal at home as to buy it at Mickey D's):

I think what Bittman urges in his writing is is consciousness. He wants people to think hard about what they're eating. I strongly suspect that people go to McDonald's for the exact opposite reason--to get unconscious. Understanding why that it is, goes beyond our food. It's about how we live.

I'm seeing the food curriculum everywhere!

Those fabulous and classy women at Dirty Sexy Ministry have posted a great entry on The Ballad of Booger Joe and Honey Butt. I can't summarize, but it's got great advice for living.

On the other hand, if you're looking for some thoughts on dying, you might want to check out this card game. "It’s a deck of 36 playing cards designed “to give you an easy, even entertaining way to think and talk about how you want to be treated” as you’re about to die." And it actually sounds very helpful. Created by the Coda Alliance, the cards go way beyond the "I don't want to be a vegetable" to help people sort through their values, priorities, and options.

In obituary news, I did love this obit for Chris Dale: "Chris Dale, who has died aged 49, was a 6ft 6in mountaineer with a passion for solo climbs among the hardest peaks of Scotland, Wales and the Alps. He was also an equally enthusiastic cross-dresser who went by the name of Crystal." Talk about larger than life!

And in other cross-dressing news, loved this historical snippet from the also-classy Futility Closet about Count Carlos Balmori in Mexico. I daren't reveal the secret.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Photos to Lillian

enclosed in the letter of June 25. Text below each photo is what is written on the back.

JB Campbell
commissary man
reception committee
tramway operator
furnace builder
amateur mechanic
radio operator?

note the dignified expression

J.J. Blackie in front of our tent.


Note the furnace
[which I think is the white edifice left center, but I'm not sure.]

I'm sorry for the quality of these photos!  They are much better in person. 

Letters to Lillian, June 25, 1922

Sampson Mine
Llanada Calif.
June 25, 1922

Dear Lillian.--I suppose that you are feeling greatly refreshed after your vacation. My vacation is progressing fine.

      My radio outfit has arrived. I went to the post office for it Wednesday. The post office is 26 miles one way and a little further coming back. There was a drum of gasoline belonging to the company in the vicinity of the post office so I asked permission to take the company flivver and Dutch Larios and go after it. While we were down, I straightened out some orders, getting my meat and eggs right. This commissary job keeps me guessing. Last week we were out of meat and eggs. This week we are out of flour and lard. The week before last we were out of potatoes. My main trouble has been the length of time necessary to get supplies. My first grocery orders came in today.

     I spoke of the radio. I thought that I was ready to recieve, but I find that I will have to finish my tuner first. I worked on it some today and will get it in running order tomorrow.

     Today was hot. Just after breakfast it was 86, at 10AM 95, at noon 104. I went swimming about 3 P.M. and about that time some clouds obscured the sun. The water was just right for comfort. At 7 PM it was 91. I was up early enough this morning. I rolled out at 5.30. I generally get up around 5:30 to six AM. This morning I was working on my radio and getting along fine when a truck driver came in with a 5 ton truckload of supplies, including the road camp. We have daily mail now via Mendota but I recommend sending my mail via Llanada as at present.

     I am sending some pictures as you will notice. [I'll post these soon.] The method of locating points is original.

     Yesterday I went up to the tramway terminal to see it work. Blackie was operating the lower end. I told him that I would as soon as not do it. So he let me. After about an hour and a quarter of successful operation I lost a bucket. After dinner I went to look for it. Blackie found it today. The bucket is about 2 1/2 X 3 X 4 feet and has a large hanger on it. The entire affair weighs about 1000 pounds. Blackie did not carry it in. In addition to losing the bucket we mixed things up generally. I say we, because there is a man on each end, the tramway being about a mile long. It operates by gravity, the loaded buckets going down pulling the empties up.

     Last night I received my second pay check. It pays for my radio and glasses with 22.10 to spare. In addition it is $7.50 short. In other words the increase that I was to get for my store work did not appear. I will get that straightened out when I see Mr. Haycraft again. Apparently I will have no difficulty in getting off to come down. My friend Miss Haycraft said that she would talk her dad into taking me one way. She is some girl. I hope to see her again soon.

     I am sending my negatives in for some reprints, The Camera Shop in Berkeley doing my work. My studio portraits have not arrived but when they do I will send some.

     I have to write another letter so I will have to close. I hope that you have located and returned that Library book or I will have the Berkeley cops on my neck.

Three fellows have quit and one was fired.

Dennis was fired, Gus Dennis quit, Dutch Larios quit and Adolph Holmes quit.

     Well as I said before I must quit. So write soon to your

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In the garden: pruning the fruit trees

Oh frabjous day! The pruning men came and pruned all the fruit trees, even the ones they weren't supposed to. ("The pear tree will grow back, right?" "Oh, absolutely.")

Here are a couple of pictures of the apple tree waaaaay in the back corner which, until last year, a) never got any light; b) never produced any fruit and c) never got pruned. I'm thinking it's much happier now.

Before.  And, yes, those are roses blooming on the arbor to the right. And lemons.

Much better!
Spring can come any time now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


What an exciting day! First I get a Stylish Blogger award, and the the curriculum I've been working on has its official launch! Whoo hoo!

As you see to the right, there, it's called Eat, Pray, Grow: Exploring the connections between food, faith and justice, and it's being produced by Every Voice Net who created the Via Media program. And I'm mighty pleased.

Here's the scoop:

Eat, Pray, Grow is a multi-media and multi-sensory curriculum designed to help you and your congregation consider the ways in which their experience of food shapes their lives and what steps they might take to more fully recognize food as a gift from God.

Each session begins with a meal, exploring different aspects of the ways food is prepared and experienced from pre-packaged food to kosher dishes. Session coordinators are provided with a PowerPoint presentation and a guideline to assist them in leading lecture and discussion as the meal draws to a close. Session 1 helps the congregation discover what food means in their faith community; Session 2 is a brief history of food; Session 3 discusses food in the Bible; and Session 4 explores food in your local community.

The final session, provided by The Hoop Fund is a dinner kit which contains the basic ingredients to feed 25 people using sustainable products from Alter Eco farms as well as instructions on making the meal and questions for discussion.

If your church is looking for a Lenten program, you might want to check it out. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Man, is this a satisfying feeling! It's like giving birth without worrying about future tuition fees. Or dirty diapers. Frankly, it's better than giving birth all around. Time to celebrate!

I'm a Stylish Blogger!

To my astonishment, I woke up this morning to find I'd been given a Stylish Blogger award from Buffy over at Situations Where You May Need It. Thank you so much! What a pick-me-up. Almost--almost--better than a milkshake. What a treat!

So now I get to pass the award on to three other bloggers--tough choice! But here we go:

1. Dirt Therapy Gorgeous photography, great garden advice, and delicious recipes--not that I've made the recipes, but they look mighty good.

2. Futility Closet Not a completely new blog for me, but newer than many. And the subtitle captures it all: an Idler's Miscellany of Curious Amusements. There's something for everyone here. Except maybe pop culture fans.

3. Dirty Sexy Ministry These women are smart, funny, and thoughtful. I love their slant on things.

Thanks again, Buffy! You've made my day.

Monday, February 21, 2011

On Presidents Day

In light of all the events in the news these day, I realized this morning that I am very grateful to George Washington. There was nothing to say he couldn't serve a third term, or a fourth, or a fifth, but he decided not to run again after a second term. What an amazing thing to see, someone who would rather retire to his farm than be in power.

I re-read Maira Kalman's reflection on George Washington this morning and was inspired to look up his Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior which are delightful.

It's hard to say which one is my personal favorite. I do like 25: "Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected." Number 79 could bear more use: "Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof." And who would gainsay this: "Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs roll not the Eyes lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak."

Truly, though, we were very fortunate to have Washington. He's worth remembering, and being thankful for.

A little news from Africa

There's a LOT of news from Africa. I feel better knowing that @texasinafrica is also overwhelmed, tweeting this morning, "It was so much easier when social movements happened one at a time. Gabon, Libya, Djibouti, Cote d'Ivoire - I can't keep up." Let's just say there's not a lot of fluff in the 15 minute Africa Today podcast.

Two things I did want to point out:

Uganda held its presidential election last Friday, which Yoweri Museveni won handily, though controversially. Lots of allegations of stuffing the ballot box, cash for votes, and intimidation. GayUganda links to an article from Reuters that reports that "Uganda has ordered phone companies to intercept text messages with words or phrases including "Egypt", "bullet," and "people power" ahead of Friday's elections that some fear may turn violent." No violence, but not entirely peaceful or trouble-free. And logistically flawed; even one presidential candidate found he wasn't registered at his polling place.

Museveni has now been president for 25 years. He promised to step down in 2006. So. Kind of missed that, there.

Meanwhile, developments in Cote d'Ivoire where last week the disputed former president Laurent Gbagbo's backers took over the foreign banks that had stopped operating in the country, but he's about out of cash to pay the army. And, I'm sad to report, Ivorian forces opened fire on protesters, killing at least two. Today, the presidents of four African nations have arrived in Abidjan to try to mediate the situation.

Then of course, there's everything else going on. Boy am I glad I'm not in charge of anything.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Various and Sundry, February 18

I'm preaching this Sunday at All Saints, San Leandro, and everything I see seems to me to be related to the readings this Sunday, a great set of readings that all, I think, boils down to the verse of the Psalm,

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes
and I shall keep it to the end.

One of my very favorite verses of the Psalms, and the section of Psalm 119 that was used at my ordination to the transitional diaconate. The thing I love is that "it"--the way of the statutes; it's not about each individual law.

ANYWAY, the point is, I keep seeing stuff that reminds me of the readings, or the readings make me look at the stuff I'm seeing through that particular lens. Such as Lionel Deimel's great aphorism, "If God had wanted to give us clear instructions for living, he wouldn’t have given us the Bible." Oh, you can say that again.

Another thing I'm seeing through this lens is both this article and the Ted talk below about what kind of incentives work for people. They are the antithesis of another grand aphorism, "The beatings will continue until morale improves." Can you see how this applies to religious life as well?

In the aid world, there's been a lot of chatter about World Vision distributing the leftover T-shirts from the SuperBowl--the ones that celebrated Pittsburgh's non-existent win. Fascinating stuff, very thought provoking. As Texas In Africa says,

It says something sad about our society's materialism and greed that we can't wait a few days for the NFL to print up accurate t-shirts while not wasting money on printing ones it knows will not be sold. But it says something even sadder when an organization that purports to be engaged in poverty alleviation with a faith-based motive won't tell the NFL "no" when it is asked to do something that actually contributes to the causes of poverty and injustice. It matters if theology motivates your behavior, and that should be reflected in decisions the organization makes about GIK [gifts in kind].

World Vision, I think you can do better.

So can we all. What is the way, not the law?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Service of Prayer for the Feast of Janani Luwum

I've been downloading the podcasts at St. Laika's lately, and today's was a service of prayer for the feast of Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, who was martyred by Idi Amin in 1977.

The prayers and music are all lovely. You might want to check it out--and the other podcasts too. Reverend Jonathan Hagger does great work, and has a soothing voice to boot.

Letter to Lillian, posted June 22, 1922

Introduction to Letters to Lillian

Sampson Mine
Llanada Calif.
June 21, 1922.

Dear Lillian—Although by rights you are not entitled to a letter, I am writing anyway.

     I have not been very busy with laboratory work, but I have not been idle. As I mentioned before, Mr. Haycraft came down Sunday. The girls were in the laboratory for a while on Monday and again yesterday. This morning they were also around. They left about 10 AM today so I can have a little more time. Last night I went over to the house and they made candy. I came home very late, 10:30 being the hour. That is the latest I have been up for some time, in fact since I left Berkeley.

     Monday I recieved a notice from the Post Office that my radio had arrived. Blackie and Dennis went to Hollister Monday, so I asked Dennis to get it for me. [Link takes you to a map showing the route from Llanada to Hollister.] He will be back today and I expect to have the outfit working tonight as I have everything ready to connect up the instruments and tune in.

     I have to stop now to make a filtration but will return.

Same day—later, I finished my analytical work and reported some good magnesite. Then I did some pick and shovel work at the boss’s house and by that time I had some customers at the store. Then chow, and now.

     The boss is going down with the mail soon so I will not be able to write long.

     Blackie and Dennis have not returned yet so I have not the radio.

     This morning I found a mouse’s nest in the laboratory furnace. I chased the mouse out, the Haycraft girls assisting, before I fired up. The girls, by the way, are from Berkeley. I showed them my pictures to see if they knew anyone I knew. They were acquainted with Bessie Bailar, having met her at school. They both attend the Willard School. They know a college fellow that I know too.

     Well, the boss appears to be ready to go so I must close.

     Your      Jim.

[Card enclosed]

We would remind you that the book noted below, taken on your card, is overdue.

Per     FW

630     Un35     U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.  Farmers' Bulletins.

[handwritten] This is the book I left at your place.  JBC

Second Notice.

[Enclosed with letter; text below]

June 16, 1922

Mr. James B. Campbell
2312 College Ave.,
Berkeley, California.

Dear Sir:
          According to the records of the Library, the book listed below is charged to you and is long overdue. Two postal notices have already been sent to you from the Loan Desk, to which we have had no reply. I assume that there is some misunderstanding of the matter on your part, but must ask that you give it your prompt attention on receipt of this letter.
Very truly yours,
C.B. Joeckel
630 Un35 Nos. 401-425
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Farmers’ Bulletin

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Job search update

Having finally decided what kind of job I'm looking for (a marketing position with an emphasis on social media), I'm deep in the networking phase of the job search.

The whole asking for help thing has been hard. As I call people I haven't spoken to in years, I keep thinking, "I'm just using them." But it finally occurred to me that if someone called me up and said they were looking for work, could I help, that I would be happy to do it. I wouldn't feel used; I would feel useful.

The only rule I have for myself is that I only call people for help if I would be comfortable offering them help in return. It's amazing how few people that eliminates from my inquiries.

I'll keep you posted.

Congratulations, Hickory!

Scottish Deerhound Grand Champion Foxcliffe Hickory Wind won Best In Show at Westminster last night. What a great face!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday, February 15

Thanks to all of you with your fabulous book suggestions last week. I have since then completely replenished the paperback book supply with a visit to the White Elephant Sale, "the biggest, the best and certainly the most enjoyable rummage sale in Northern California." Two boxes full of cheap mystery goodness.

Right now, I'm reading Jeffrey Archer's Kane & Abel, which hits the spot, in a sweeping saga from the '70's kind of a way. Here's the teaser:

At night, back at the little wooden cottage, while the other children would tend their violets and poplars that bloomed so fragrantly in their springtime garden, pick berries, chop wood, catch rabbits or make dresses, Wladek read and read until he was reading the unopened books of his eldest brother and then those of his elder sister. It began to dawn slowly on Helena Koskiewicz that she had taken on more than she had bargained for when the young hunter had brought home the little animal in place of three rabbits; already Wladek was asking questions she could not answer.

Is that not a classic of its kind?

So what are you reading this week?

Details on Teaser Tuesday can be found at Should Be Reading where MizB is your gracious hostess.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The only thing on my mind today... that I killed a dog last night while I was driving home from dinner with my parents.

I'm glad a friend of mine was with me who made me stay in the car while she checked whether the dog was dead or injured, and who assured me there was nothing I could have done.

He was a little chihuahua, black and tan, no tags, no collar. Neighbors came out to see what was going on, but no one knew whose he was, just that he had been running in the street all day.

His eyes were open, he had a wound on his head, he wasn't moving. We had boxes in the car from stuff of mine my mom had cleaned out of the attic. We took off a lid and put his body on it and carried him to the car. We put him in the hatchback. I petted him. He was still warm. I felt no heartbeat.

Still we weren't sure. My friend asked one of the neighbors, a woman, to borrow a spoon so we could check for breathing. Another neighbor, a man, said, "Oh, he's dead." My friend asked then if he knew where the chihuahua lived. "We just moved in today," he said. "Welcome to the neighborhood," my friend said, wryly.

The woman arrived with the spoon and I held it to the chihuahua's nose. Nothing. We put a towel that happened to be in the car over his body. My friend drove.

Poor little guy. I hope he didn't suffer. I hope he's happy now, and at peace. I hope I treat my own dogs and cats with care. If there's more I could have done, I pray that God will forgive me for not doing it.

On the way home, we found a place for him to rest with dignity, I think. At any rate, that is my hope and my prayer. May he rest in peace and rise in glory. St. Laika, pray for us. And God have mercy upon us.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Various and Sundry, February 11

Well, it all kind of pales in comparison to world events, but here are a few tidbits I've been seeing this week.

As we celebrate the release...of Justin Bieber's biopic Never Say Never, youth group leaders can rejoice to find there is a Bible study to capture tween hearts:

In conjunction with the new Bieber film, Allied Faith & Family has put together a 12-page Bible study discussion guide titled, “Never Say Never: For Nothing Is Impossible With God,” based on the film and Bieber’s own faith journey. The guide bills itself as “an opportunity to teach our children about the power of hope, prayer, faith and family.” It includes sections on “Discerning God’s Plan for Your Life,” “The Power of Prayer,” and “The Importance of Godly Friendships.”

Oh my.

For Star Wars fans, check out this photo posted on Futility Closet:

Looks like the Death Star, right? It is, in fact (if they tell true) a photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft while orbiting Saturn--in 2005. Well, I thought that was pretty cool.

In gardening/zombie news, I just learned of these zombie garden sculptures, the Zombie of Montclaire Moors, available to you for the low, low price of $89.95. Just the thing for between the azaleas!

If you write an e-newsletter, you might want to check out this article with 7 tips on making one effective. The tip I found most interesting: send the newsletter out midweek at midday.

Finally, the most intriguing obituary this week goes to Princesse Ghislaine de Polignac, who had quite a life. Let's start with her affair with the British ambassador to Paris.

Ghislaine informed the ambassador that — having married and produced four children — she considered that she had done her duty and was now determined to have a good time. He mused: “I have no doubt she will succeed in doing so. I shall do my best to help her.”

Oh my again! What would Justin Bieber do?


I was taken by surprise this morning both by the news that Mubarak had stepped down, and also that I found myself in tears when I heard. I'm watching the livestreaming video from Al Jazeera English, which you can find here. Below is a screencap.


Do I understand what's going on there? Do I have even the slightest inkling what ought to happen? That's a big old no. But I'm still moved by these scenes of jubilation after such valiant and overwhelmingly peaceful protest. A transfer of power without war--imagine. Well, I don't need to, do I? Let us pray for Egypt in the hard work and changes that will follow.

By the way, if I haven't mentioned it before, here's a link to demand Al Jazeera English on cable providers in the U.S. AJE has the best coverage of Africa I've seen (in my opinion, anyway) and generally has a very interesting slant on world news, one that's worth hearing.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Letters to Lillian, posted June 17, 1922 (part 3)

Introduction to Letters to Lillian

Part 1 and Part 2

Sampson Mine
June 16, 1922

Dear Lillian--Your most welcome letter arrived this afternoon. It is always pleasing to hear from you, so keep the pen in motion.

     I also recieved [sic] a letter from my sister. She is in Oakland now. She intends going to summer school at Corvallis. She sent her picture too. It is certainly a good likeness of her. She mentioned us too. She said the general idea was all right but said that we should wait a year or two until my position was well established, and I had a little capital. I believe that she has the right idea, but I don't like to wait. I also recieved a second notice about a certain overdue book.

     I am sending some pictures to the Camera Shop in Berkeley, but I am having them mailed back to me so as not to trouble you with them. I will send you copies of them, telling you what they are about, that is if they are good.

     In this camp we use boxes a good deal for furniture. The one I was sitting on just let me down. But I can still find room enough to sit.

     Well if I don't close I will get left again. So

          Good bye for this time.

               Your Jim

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fighting vainly the old ennui

Bookwise, that is.

I'm in one of those moods where I pick up a book, read a couple of pages, then let it fall listlessly from my hand where it falls to the hand-woven Indian carpet beneath the chaise longue. I am not cheered even when my primitive manservant Gustav plies me with Siberian delicacies. It all seems so tedious.

What books do you recommend to pull me from this slough of despond? Fluffy, my friends. I'm looking for good plot and good humor and no socially redeeming insight whatsover.

It's that or the laudanum. I await your response.

I'm not sure what this says...

Draw your own conclusions.

h/t The Daily Dish

Monday, February 7, 2011

Downright fishy

So the police in Kampala say that they have arrested the murderer of David Kato, and that he has confessed, and by a remarkable coincidence the reason he killed David was "the deceased coerced him into sodomy."

The Daily Monitor reports:

The suspect allegedly told the police he got tired of having sex with Kato but the latter would not have any of his excuses. “The suspect said he left the bedroom, went to a store and picked a hammer which he used to hit him [Kato] while he was still in bed,” the source said.

Very convenient. I for one don't believe it. Nor does The African Activist who takes us through the timeline. Meanwhile, GayUganda is enraged to find his words have been twisted or downright invented in order to smear David Kato's name and reputation.

Where's Sam Spade when you need him?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Funnies, February 6

A 12-Year-Old Explains the Information Age's Facts of Life to Her Mother

Mom, it's gonna be a long ride to Grandma's, and while we have some time alone together, I think it'd be good for us to talk about some things. I'm getting older, and I'm not always gonna be around the house to explain stuff to you. I know you have a lot of questions, and I want us to be open with each other. So, I think it's time you learned where blogs and tweets come from.

You'll want to read the rest.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cold Frame, day 1

Just as a point of reference. I've got...let's see...a couple of different kinds of Rudbeckia, sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, onions, huckleberries (!), and cuphea. Still to start: tomatoes and peppers. Plus a lot of stuff that will go in the raised beds. But it's a good start.

Garden update, February 5

"What have you been up to that you've been so busy this week?" my mom asked when she called last night. I'm trying to get the last little bit done on this food curriculum I'm writing so that I can spend the bulk of the weekend planting things.

Not done yet, however, because a friend of mine, despite knowing that I might have a little problem, lured me to a notorious gardening crack house in Petaluma. It's in what used to be a bank. Talk about a seedy neighborhood!

The so-called "friend" is hiding behind the stoplight, loitering with intent.

I might have gone a little crazy when I walked in.

"Kid in a candy store" might come to mind. If vegetable seeds were candy.

When we asked, the clerk told us they had 200 types of tomatoes. Two hundred! I kept myself to 2, but I needed that heirloom variety! I just NEEDED it!

I also got Iceberg Lettuce of all things, because I wanted to see if it was any different if you grow it yourself (I suspect the answer is yes); basil, slow bolt cilantro (here's hoping), Wonderberry, huckleberry, sweet peas, bachelor's buttons, Love-In-A-Mist (mostly for the name), gaillardia, cuphea, Mexican Torch Sunflower, and atomic red carrots. I'm not making that up.

So. I'm breaking out the cold frame and will be planting insane amounts of seeds.

I'll also be transplanting some dahlias. And I already put the five-spot nemophilia seeds in the bed beneath the magnolia, which I think will look bee-yu-ti-full together. And...and...and...let's just say there's lots to do. I'd better get moving.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Various and Sundry, February 4

Quickly, quickly, because there's much to do today.

You people out there in snow-land, be careful! And go easy on the shoveling, eh?

In sporting news, I'm rooting for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers for Sunday's Superbowl. Go Cheeseheads! And I loved this article about the guy who invented the Cheesehead hats, using foam from his mother's sofa.

I thought this obituary for Maria Schneider, who starred in The Last Tango in Paris, was a rather sad one. Kind of says something that she's quoted as saying, “Never take your clothes off for middle-aged men who claim that it’s art.” I also find it perhaps a painful image that she was cast as Mrs. Rochester in Zeffirelli's Jane Eyre of 1996.

Boy, do I have nothing intelligent to say about the protests in Egypt. But I did love this photo which shows "a team of Egyptian Christians forming a massive human shield to protect their Muslim countrymen as they prayed during the violent protests" on Tuesday.

And in other protest news, this 19-year-old makes the case for gay marriage as well as anyone I've seen:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Letters to Lillian, posted June 17, 1922 (pt. 2)

Introduction to Letters to Lillian

Part 1

Next day—same week.

I might as well drop a line to fill up another page.

     This morning I took stock in the store. I am scheduled to take stock in the warehouse this afternoon. Just before dinner it was 93 on the porch, and just after dinner 99 in the tent. The laboratory water supply was 104 degrees before dinner so I put some clothes to soak.

     I wound a while on the coil for my wireless this morning. The first coil is nearly wound, the second requires about two hours work to wind and the third is not started. Two coils will do for the present.

     The food question still has me guessing, but I have most of the supplies figured out. When I get a big crowd here, I will have to figure pretty closely to keep enough supplies on hand. One of the cook’s hens has the right idea. I broke an egg the other day, so the little hen came into the supply house and laid another. Today it laid still another. If she keeps up I will be ahead on my account.

     Well it’s 1.30 so I must get to work.

Your      Jim B.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Plan for your special Valentine's Day now!

Blogging will continue to be light this week. In the meantime, consider the best way to use the following sale items simultaneously.

Please note that is NACHO CHEESE flavored Orville Redenbacher popcorn. That makes it extra special.