Thursday, May 29, 2008

If it's random it must be Thursday...

Haven't had a random post for a while so here we go...wait, I have to remember the code for bullet points...okay, got it.

Warning for young people...this post wandered off and got needlessly mushy. If you are shocked and also appalled at the mere thought of people older than 30 acting romantic you should bail out now. Go listen to some Coldplay on your little Ipods and wait to get older. :)

•I have this song stuck in my head now, but Natalie says I have the tune wrong when I hum it.

•Should I listen to it a few more times to get the tune right? Eek! Okay, listening now whilst typing. Hey, I like that it starts out like "Heart and Soul"!

•I made Tom listen to this last night and now he's calling me his "personal penguin". Sweet :)

•Colin is in the back yard building a "structure". Should be interesting.

•We survived the homeschool convention without hearing any Man With A Plan seminars!

•David Cook won American Idol! (And there was very great rejoicing...)

• Which line makes me remember that at the NCHE convention someone was selling ukeleles and many young men, perhaps hoping to be the next Jason Castro, were strolling/sitting/standing around plinking and plunking on the dang things just to annoy me.

•And when I saw my third batch of ukelele players in one short morning I could only think this: "Then the winter came, and they were forced to eat Sir Robin's minstrels. And there was great rejoicing."

•Sir Robin's minstrels probably tasted better than the food sold at the concession stand at the convention center.

•In a sudden burst of brain waves I figured out last week why some people in our family think Natalie looks like David Cook.

•If I had a scanner I could post a photo of my husband at about the same age as would all have an "aha" moment with me.

•Although Tom's hair is lighter and he has blue eyes. And he was then and certainly still is now much hotter than DC.

•Yes, still. Because, as much as it will gross out you young whippersnappers, maturity is very sexy. Even when you've been married for over 20 years.

•When you've been married for over 20 years you know when it is safe to call your wife names like "my personal penguin".

•Free advice for any young men still reading...if you've not been married for long don't call your wife any animal names till you know her better.

•This goes double if she happens to be pregnant. (I do not speak from personal experience on this one...Tom was wise beyond his years when we married.)

•Or follow the example of King Solomon and stick with the slimmer, more graceful and attractive animals.

•Our pastor has a hilarious drawing he got in seminary of the Shulamite woman pictured literally as Solomon described her in the Song of Solomon.

•Colin just came in hollering because he thought he had a spider "attached to my body!!"

•It was a Daddy Long Legs and it was just wandering over the back of his shirt.

•I didn't see any sign of the "structure" when I took the DLL back outside. Instead there was much evidence of a water gun being loaded, shot, and reloaded.

•I am very hungry, though perhaps not hungry enough to eat Sir Robin's Minstrels.

•I always get very hungry on Thursdays when Natalie cooks supper. There is no real rational explanation for this.

•My new china cabinet is all aired out and cleaned out and ready to be filled up. Somebody is supposed to be crawling around in the attic finding my boxes of Depression Glass...

•Someday I will get this blog fixed up a bit with columns on the side showing what I'm reading.

•Or would it be better to just have a post now and then with lists of books I've read and some commentary on them? Hmmm....

•Is this enough bullet points yet?

•If this were a PowerPoint presentation would my husband be reeling in horror?

•Yes, he would...ergo, enough bullet points!

Time to go find some lunch!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sheep Sandwiches At Subway??

By now if you aren't living in a cave in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden you've probably heard that a great army of homeschoolers are quite royally peeved with the Subway sandwich chain for sponsoring a writing contest that excludes home schools. This issue has surfaced all over the Internet, including such unlikely places as a needlework message board I frequent.

People are calling for a boycott of Subway, writing emails and letters to Subway management, and even attempting to phone the CEO of Subway to complain to him directly. Home School Legal Defense Association has even thrown its considerable weight into the fray and has posted an open letter to Subway asking the company to allow homeschoolers to enter the contest.

Hey...homeschoolers...people...YOU!!! GET A GRIP!!! Since when did we become a flock of boycotting sheep, bleating "Discrimination, discrimination!!" when we don't get asked to play with the cool kids?

Aren't we the same ones who used to speak out against this kind of affirmative action stance? Aren't we the ones teaching our children about free enterprise and capitalism? Aren't we the ones standing against the status quo by choosing to home school in the first place?

Do we realize how ridiculous and petty and shrill this makes us look? For those of us who homeschool because we believe it is God's will for our families, does this kind of boycott help our testimony to the world? "You won't let my little Bufert send in his wonderful story about sandwiches, so I'm going to take my money over to Quiznos instead!" Well, that'll teach 'em. I'm sure the next time Subway execs think about having a contest they'll remember us homeschoolers with great fondness and go out of their way to come up with nice prizes for us.

Who wants to join me in boycotting the boycott? Oh wait, that's more sheep talk. Who wants to join me in getting on with our lives and not worrying about silly contests we weren't invited to participate in? Eat wherever you want to eat! You don't have to eat at Subway (I don't particularly like their food myself) but if you want to...go right ahead!

To the rest of you who think this kind of boycott is the proper response when things don't go your way...I can only say "Baaaaaaaa!!!!"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Throwing, Thrown, or Throne??

It's been nearly two weeks since I posted anything here...eek! I have had many things on my mind and plenty to say about them...but, unfortunately or otherwise, I wasn't free to blog about them. So, hey, how about some American Idol talk? And after you read this, head over to BooMama's place to see what everyone else had to say.

Last night was the big finale, the David vs. David showdown, complete with boxing motif and extra cheesy announcers. You've seen the show by now, you know how it played out, so let me indulge in some speculation.

Why did David Cook have a sub-par night of performances, and why did the judges ruthlessly point this out while praising David Archuleta to the skies? Three theories....

1. David C. threw the competition. Either he is the "genuinely nice guy" Simon thinks he is and he just couldn't stand to crush a little kid's dream...or his agent told him "Bail out now while there's still time!!" Whichever David wins gets stuck with the sappy AI ballad album and maybe David C. decided he just couldn't hack that?

2. The judges, especially Simon, praised David C. for the last few weeks and then threw him under the bus. This then would enable David A. to win, plus boost ratings and get people talking.

**Brief digression**Isn't that phrase getting a tad overused? The area under the bus is full, and David C. is now squished in there right next to the Reverend Wright and Barack Obama...who apparently, via some sort of logistical hoodoo, threw each other under there. **End digression**

3. Last night's show was all part of the shrewd strategy of Simon Cowell and company to put David Cook on the AI throne. They praise David A. and make his fans feel he is a shoe-in, while motivating millions of forty-something women loyal fans to vote for David C. because he was done wrong. Simon went on a bunch of chat shows and said David C. should win, and then awarded the win to David A. last night. Hasn't he used this kind of strategy before?

**Second digression with conspiracy theory content** Simon asked David C. why he picked the Collective Soul song instead of reprising Billy Jean or Hello and David answered that he thought he should do something new instead of reusing something he'd sung before. In response Simon made a face that some people interpreted as fierce anger complete with a twitching eye. I, on the other hand, thought it looked like he winked at David. Hmm...collaborative effort maybe?**End conspiracy digression**

Of course there are other, much more prosaic, explanations for the performances of the respective Davids. Maybe David C. was sick or tired...maybe his brother is doing worse...maybe his voice was just exhausted from all the rehearsals. Maybe David A. finally realized this was his last chance to really nail a performance...maybe not having his dad around for rehearsals made him more confident.

In the immortal words of the ever-lucid Paula Abdul "May the bessht man win!" And since there's only one man competing at this point...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

OCD...but we knew that already..

This afternoon my mom asked me to come over and talk to my father about a "procedure" he's scheduled to have next week. She was concerned because he couldn't seem to explain to her what was going to be done, he hadn't found out if their insurance was going to pay for it, he didn't know if it was going to really fix his problem, etc. Two problems parents don't specialize in good communication, and my dad is the ideal patient for a busy doctor...he tells the doctor a lame golf joke, he flirts with the office staff, he doesn't ask any questions.

So, because every daughter dreams of someday getting to discuss personal plumbing issues with her elderly father, I trudged over there to intervene. This is when I wish I had a brother. Oh wait, I have two brothers, they just live too dang far away to deal with this stuff!

We discussed, we clarified. I found out Mom thought he was going to be hospitalized for a week and in pain and peril for a long time after. Dad, on the other hand, thought he was going to have a quick 15 minute procedure and be instantly good as new and probably learn some new jokes in the process. I went online and looked at Mayo Clinic and WebMed, and if they are accurate, the truth lies somewhere in between those two extremes.

Dad felt ganged up on, and got miffed with me. I had to remind him that I didn't have a horse in this race; I was just trying to make sure he and mom both knew what to expect. Funny how this type of health issue makes one think in sports metaphors...good job Avodart ads!

Anyway, we got all that hashed out. Both of them are happy with me again, both of them feel better informed. Good has been done, super daughter saves the day. Haha!

So I stand up to leave and automatically turn the decorative pillow on the couch over so the zipper isn't sticking up. Zippers on pillows aren't supposed to be sticking up. Mom says "Oh, turn that back, I want it the other way so the brown stripe is on top like the other one."

I look and see that the matching pillow on the other end of the couch has the brown stripe on top and the zipper ditto. "I always like to put the zippers down!" I say.

"I'm always telling your father to turn those pillows over so the brown stripe is on top!" she says. "But, I really don't like those zippers sticking up, either."

I turn them both around so the zippers are down and the blue stripe is on top. That doesn't work for either of us, so I try turning them both so they are oriented differently. The stripes now run vertically instead of horizontally. Success at last. I turn to leave.

"Oh wait!" "Now the solid brown pillows have to be turned around!" Huh?

The solid brown pillows are behind the blue and brown striped pillows. They have a woven texture to them...and the texture is running horizontally and clashing dreadfully with the vertical stripes. I turn the brown pillows to a vertical orientation.

"But," I say, "the fabric on the back of the couch is running horizontally, so now we've got that problem."

We decide to try to ignore that for now. We discuss the family tendency toward OCD, and the ramifications of more than one person in a household being this way. Dad opines that at least he doesn't add to this problem because he never notices anything.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Fifteen Minutes of Fame?

This Friday a friend of ours was featured in the Web Sightings column in the local paper, the Winston-Salem Journal.

Scott, aka the Caledonian Highlander, is married to the inexplicably blogless Mandolinartist who faithfully reads and comments here.

Scott does not post silly things about American Idol or runny noses or cooking mishaps. He sticks to much weightier matters of theology, history, and Scottish heritage. He uses big words like "supralapsarian", which my spell-checker does not even recognize. :) We should all be thankful there are bloggers like Scott out there to balance things out and remind us of what is truly important.

Check it out, and while you're there tell him his wife needs to start blogging. :)

Friday, May 2, 2008

More Mumblings about Medical Care

Last week as part of a random, rambling post I mentioned looking for health insurance for Natalie and also watching a Frontline program about health care in other countries. I also made a few vague observations, as is my wont, about the information presented in the program.

I think I ought to connect a few dots, and maybe disconnect some others because I think my vague ramblings sometimes get taken more seriously than I intend. With that said, some more thoughts...

First of all, I am not about to complain about the health care system on a personal level. We have excellent insurance coverage through my husband's work, and we also have access to some of the best medical care available.

Secondly, I found when I was researching insurance options for Natalie that I had some misconceptions about what was available to people who didn't have insurance through their jobs. Insurance that you buy yourself costs more and is harder to qualify for than I realized. For someone young and healthy like Natalie it's not terrible; we'll pick an option with a fairly high deductible and we will stretch our budget to afford it.

But the plan we get for her won't cover her like our work-based plan does. There's no going in to the doctor and only paying a $15 copay, for example. We'll also be losing her dental insurance. Again, because she's young and healthy this won't be, Lord willing, too big an issue.

Thirdly, when I went looking online for discussions about and reviews of insurance plans and options, I read about quite a few young people in Natalie's situation who, although they were young, were not healthy. I also read about parents having to get coverage for their whole family under this same type of plan, and how many are struggling to pay extremely high premiums because of pre-existing health problems or just because of the number of people they need to cover. They are also struggling to get medical bills paid by these companies because, as I said in my other post, these insurance companies seem to do best at taking payments, not making them.

Fourthly, I watched the Frontline show about medical care in other countries. Of course this report was carefully edited and scripted to get across the point they wanted to make. Overall, the report featured patients and doctors who were happy with the way things were working in their system. They might have walked past huge groups of people who hate the system, who knows? :) I thought it was interesting mainly because I didn't know anything about health care systems in the countries they featured.

Obviously I have questions about all this, but not any firm answers. It's another one of those areas where I start feeling anxious about not having enough knowledge, but then I have to squash that feeling and remember that I can do what I can do and that's it. God hasn't given me the job of fixing the government or the medical system or the insurance industry.

But what would Biblical thinking be in this regard? God didn't specifically give government any role in health care in the Bible, but neither did He give it a role in building roads or educating children. As long as we live in a sinful fallen world we are going to have corrupt governing officials who like to take our money and redistribute it where they want it to go...while taking a chunk off the top for themselves, of course.

Another thought...if secular socialism is wrong, does it automatically follow that secular capitalism is right? I don't think so.

If I say to my neighbor "Hey, I've got great health insurance, too bad your husband can't get a job like mine has so you can get treated for that heart problem!" then I am sinning.

If I say to a country full of neighbors like that "Hey, I've got great health insurance and I want my health care to stay exactly the same as it is now. If you want to get your heart problem treated and you're self-employed with bad insurance...well, sorry sucker, that's the way the market forces worked out!" am I still sinning?

Finally, I mentioned the thought that government officials could use an economic downturn as a time to institute health care "reforms". Again, I'll say that I'm not trying to start or pass on a conspiracy theory. I don't really put much stock in that kind of thing, I lean towards being slightly more skeptical than

So, are y'all ready for me to go back to picking songs for the American Idol contestants now? :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Porcupine Pie

Just to wrap up the Neil Diamond madness for now. Next week's AI theme is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Woot!

Next post we'll get back to the serious, thought-provoking, intellectual material you've come to expect from The Cat. But for now...