Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
[T]here’s always been this other idea of America. This idea that says we have a stake in each other. That I am my brother’s keeper. That I am my sister’s keeper. That I’ve got an obligation. Not just for my self, not just for my family, but also for you. That every child is my child and every senior citizen deserves protection.
A commenter at Dryden Democrats said, "Barak Hussien [sic] Obama's motto could be: 'From each according to his abilities. To each according to his needs.' I understand that this was meant as a warning. But I have to say, it's not the worst idea in the world.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I heard an ad on TV for a prepaid Visa card. "Low fees. No interest. Helps control overspending." Well, that sounds like a good idea in this credit crazy culture.
- Shop online or by phone
- Pay bills
- Easy way to track your spending and stay within budget
Oh, Wait. There may be a catch. Oh, yeah.
Oh, look: purchase transactions - free. Live customer service - free.
Monday, November 24, 2008
This may take her from my desk, to the dining table, to the wide windowsill obstacle course that requires her to wend her way between the houseplants and the window - often tipping one or more of the plants onto the floor.
If I'm not around to disqualify her, she's nearly home free with a stroll across the counter with the glass surface electric range, an easy hop to the kitchen table, a longer leap to the kitchen counter and perhaps onto the top of the refrigerator for the coup de gras, up through a ventilation space into the second floor bedroom (the door of which is closed to keep cats out. Sigh.)
Returning for a moment to that counter with the electric range... I'm resigned to wiping off the kitty footprints in the morning and picking up the pile of papers they've pushed onto the floor. But last night they apparently turned on the stove. I'm serious. See those knobs on the right side of the range?
I came down this morning to notice the little glowing light that warns, "Hot Surface." I know I don't use the electric range this time of year, so I couldn't have left it on. I thought maybe the sensor that turns that light on was broken. So, in my pre-coffee fog I didn't look at the burner knobs, I just put my hand on the burners, one by one. Sure enough, one of the back burners was HOT. And sure enough, its knob was turned to "medium." Even when I use the range in the summer, I only use the back burners if the front ones are already occupied, maybe for a dinner party.
Then I noticed that one of the little wicker bread baskets that normally hangs above the stove was on the floor. Now I'm imagining that basket having landed on the hot, or at least medium, burner. And I'm thinking of the pile of papers that the cats push onto the floor most mornings. It could almost as easily go the other way onto the stove. So, I'm thinking, "What are the chances?"
Googling "fire caused by cat" brings me lots of stories about cats dying in fires and a few of cats saving people from fires. But the ones about cats causing fires should more properly be headlined "Carelessness causes fire," tho' that isn't really so newsworthy. I'll skip the one from the NYT in 1884 caused by the cat knocking over a coal oil lamp. And I'm ruling out unattended candles and faulty electric strips. Uh oh, this one looks bad: Fire Officials Blame Cat for Fire:
The gray and white cat apparently jumped on an electric range in the basement of a two-story home at about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday and turned on the push-button control, said Darrell Christy, the fire department's chief of operations. Plastic containers on top of the range smoldered.
"We eliminated everything except for the cat," Christy said. A smoke detector alerted at least three people in the home, who were not hurt, Christy said.
Push button control?! Who thought that was going to be a good idea? At least I've got knobs. Plastic containers on top of the range? I don't know.
I'm going to check my smoke detector, right now!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
My first home computer in the 1980s, set up on a card table, gave me easy access to a little wordprocessing and a lot of Pac Man. In the 1990s I plunged into the internet with AOL and a dial-up connection (where I'm pretty much stuck.) My teenage daughter and a friend quickly figured out IRC chatrooms. But I stumbled around thinking, "There must be something interesting here somewhere."
Voila! Along came web logs. Very early web logs were literally simple lists of new web sites as they came on line. As the number of sites exploded, lists of favorites were born and the terms "web log" was shortened to weblog and blog. I still think the best feature of blogs is the links. (And one of these days, I really must update my sidebar.)
So, here's today's link. Last week Intercollegiate Studies Institute released the results of this year's America Civic Literacy Program quiz. Last year the quiz was given to 14,000 college students and the average score was about 53%. Pretty dismal. This year, for comparison, the quiz was given to 2,500 adults of various backgrounds. The average score was 49%. Even more troublesome, the average score of the 164 people who reported having held an elected government office at some time, was 44%.
As I took the quiz, I wasn't sure whether or not I'd share my result. But I'm happy to say I scored 91% (and apparently I need to know more about Puritans.) I will say that some of the questions are deliberately tricky. But how can it be that 83 of those people who said they'd held an elected office can't identify the three branches of government even in a multiple choice quiz?
My experience as an elected official and the 2008 campaign for president have shaped my thinking about qualifications for elected office. There was the Sarah Palin interview in which she said she'd consider becoming McCain's running mate if someone would tell her what the Vice President actually does. There is no job description for President of the United States and the only qualifications are age and birthplace and the ability to survive a two year campaign. No job description for Vice President. Or Congressman and on down the list. So, if we're making our choices based on, "Well, this person seems to know what (s)he's talking about..." no wonder we're sometimes disappointed.
Friday, November 21, 2008
I'm starting over. Bear with me while I get back into the habit of thinking like a blogger. That is, actually having something to say. Since the last time I wrote we started siding the new part of the house. We've finished the log part and will continue on the second floor with cedar shingles. I use the pronoun "we" very loosely. I actually had very little to do with the siding.
I judged the local Halloween costume contest.
There are lots of prizes. But this might be my choice for cutest.
And most elegant.
I baffled someone by saying Halloween's my favorite holiday - except for the candy and costumes. I don't like sweets and I don't like to dress up. But Halloween is New Year's Eve in the Pagan calendar and I grasp at every opportunity for a fresh start - New Year's Day, first day of spring, first day of school, Mondays, daybreak, whatever...
I campaigned for Barack Obama and for Congressman Arcuri (far right) as well as our local candidates Don Barber, Jason Leifer and Joe Valentinelli.
And voted, perhaps for the last time on our beloved lever machines.
The cats are reminding me that the weather's turning colder and they're no longer willing to spend all day outside. Thanksgiving is around the corner. Before I know it Christmas will be past and I can celebrate another New Year.