Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
We lost half of this week's inhabitants at our home today. Her aunt and uncle left for a visit to cousins in Maryland. Miss Lois's stay is also over. My little Hoya is on her way to Honduras for a week-long trip with this group working at Copprome, a small orphanage.
Posted by RB at 4:18 PM
Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
We just heard that our LT is in Kuwait. He and the last five guys in his platoon left IQ with no plans to return any time soon. Some of his other men were back in Colorado Springs in time for Christmas. He is scheduled to leave Sunday for Germany and then on to Colorado Springs.
Today another son was given the day off with pay so he could spend time with his daughter. Is that a great boss or what?
The other night I saw something I thought I never would see: an argument between a toddler and her great, great aunt. (There is an 80-year age difference.) Miss Lois would cough and say “Sneeze.” Aunt Lois would respond, “No, that is a cough not a sneeze.” Miss Lois would say “Sneeze.” Aunt Lois would again reply “No, that is a cough not a sneeze. This went on for many, many rounds with neither one giving in. BTW, Miss Lois knows full well the difference between “cough” and “sneeze.”
Yesterday, the day after Christmas, I was in a store and noticed Valentine’s Day cards and displays are out.
We had a classic Christmas incident. A certain daddy bought his little girl a lovely baby doll. After pulling the doll out of the box, the little girl spent the next half hour playing with the box.
For the first time in my long teaching career, I did not complete my fall semester grading before Christmas. Some things came up at the end of last week so one seminar’s papers were not read. Since grades are not due to the registrar until January 3rd, I decided to wait until the New Year to grade and to endeavor to enjoy a few days before Christmas and this week without any compulsion or guilt about work I should be doing. So far it is working. (BTW, it feels wonderful.)
A certain little girl has yet to open her Christmas stocking. Of course, this same little girl does not understand the concept of a Christmas stocking. She’ll learn soon enough without our help.
A very special aunt and uncle of hers are again with us for Christmas. They have made Christmas into a longer-than-a-week event rather than merely a special day. We all have long realized their presence is more important than presents.
Posted by RB at 4:35 PM
Sunday, December 23, 2007
In the past week I have felt very grateful for my students this semester. I have enjoyed each of my students in each of my classes as well as each of my advisees. A few students did not always have the best attitudes but I enjoyed them still. One of the real joys of teaching at St. Lawrence is how wonderful our students are as persons.
God has so blessed me with these folks.
Posted by RB at 11:38 PM
Thursday, December 20, 2007
If I speak in the tongues of Christmas materialism and greed but have not love, I am only a tinny Christmas song or an out-of-tune choir.
If I have the gift of knowing what Aunt Agatha will give me this year and can even understand last year's present, and if I have the faith that I won't get yet more socks and ties this year but have not love, I am nothing.
If I clear out the house and give everything to charity and my credit cards are snapped in half but have not love, what can I possibly gain?
Love is patient when the fourth store you've tried doesn't have a bottle garden.
Love is kind and lets the couple with only a few items go in front of you and your bulging shopping cart.
Love does not envy your friend who gets mega-presents from everybody.
Love does not boast about the expensive bike, the Wii, the HDTV, DVR, and computer your dad gave you.
Love does not attempt to out-buy, out-wrap, and out-give the rest of the family just to impress.
Love doesn't cut Aunt Flo off your Christmas card list because she forgot you last year.
Love is not self-seeking and leaves a copy of your Christmas list in every room of the house.
Love is not easily angered when the young girl at the checkout takes forever because she is just temporary staff.
Love doesn't keep remembering how many times your mom forgets you don't like Brussels sprouts.
Love does not delight in the commercial bandwagon but rejoices with the truth of a baby born in the stable.
Love always protects the family from Christmas hype.
Love always trusts that the hiding places for presents will remain secret for another year.
Love always hopes that this year more neighbors will drop in to your open house coffee morning.
Love always perseveres until the cards are written, the presents all bought, the shopping done, and the Christmas cake iced.
Toys may break, socks wear thin, but love never fails.
Where there is the feeling of the presents to guess their contents, and Mom going on about being good so Father Christmas will come, and searching through the cupboards to find your hidden presents, they will all stop.
For we think we know what we are getting, and we hope we know what we are getting, but when Christmas Day arrives, all will be revealed.
When I was a child, I talked with big wide-open eyes about Christmas, I thought that Christmas was all about me, I reasoned that Jesus should have been born more often. When I became an adult, I forgot the joy, wonder, and excitement of this special time.
Now we just hear about the angels, shepherds, and wise men; then we shall see them all the time. Now I know as much as the Bible says about the first Christmas; then I shall know just how many wise men there were and where they came from.
Now three things remain to be done:
- To have faith that the baby born in a stable is the Son of God.
- To hope that the true message of Christmas will not get discarded with the wrapping paper and unwanted gifts.
- And the most important, to have a love for others like the one that God has for us.
Copyright 2001 Claire Jordan (email@example.com).
Permission is granted to send this to others, but not for
Posted by RB at 4:25 PM
Monday, December 17, 2007
We had a fun, snowed-in weekend with Miss Sweet Pea. She put the candles in her daddy's birthday cake (using her own unique decorating style), helped grandma decorate the tree, went on a toboggan ride with her daddy. helped grandma cook meals and bake cookies, and jumped on grandpa, among other things.
She also made kuchen (a German raisin bread) with grandma. This is a special holiday tradition in our home. Her grandma learned to make it from her grandma who learned from her mother. I don't know how far it goes back but Sweet Pea is the fifth generation of kuchen makers I personally have met.
The kuchen is good but the passing on of the tradition is even better.
Posted by RB at 10:14 AM
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The USA beats other nations by a mile in terms of charitable giving. As a percentage of income, we give over twice as much as Brits and Canadians. Germans are particularly closed-fisted when it comes to giving. The French give well less than one-tenth as much as Americans. Folks in each of these countries tend to view themselves as compassionate and look down on Americans as greedy and self-centered. Perceptions don't seem to match reality.
Chart from The Wall Street Journal 10 December 2007, p. R10.
Posted by RB at 9:26 AM
Saturday, December 15, 2007
The November 2008 election is already over. A Democrat, most likely Clinton, will be president. Look at the above electoral college map from 2004. If Kerry had won Ohio with its 20 electoral college votes, he would have been president. With Ohio going for Kerry, he'd have had 271 votes to Bush's 266.
Do you really think Clinton will lose any state that the more liberal Kerry won in 2004? So all she has to do is win Ohio. Remember: other than Ohio, the red states above do not matter. A Clinton-Obama ticket would certainly do the trick in Ohio.
Below is a cool map with states and DC resized to reflect their relative size in the electoral college.
Source: Election Results Maps
Posted by RB at 4:23 PM
Sunday, December 9, 2007
"Clean House: U.S. Army Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Alpha Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment instruct Iraqi police on room clearing procedures at Forward Operating Base Volunteer in Baghdad." ~ Source: Multi-National Force - Iraq
(This was published earlier this week and these troopers are in our LT's platoon.)
P.S. The trooper in the foreground is our LT's humvee driver.
Posted by RB at 9:04 AM
Saturday, December 8, 2007
I went off coffee and spent the first day of the month with a withdrawal headache. I will try to limit myself to a couple of cups per week to avoid a recurrence of caffeine addiction. Except for decaf, I only had a half a cup on Thursday.
It's one day at a time . . . .
Posted by RB at 10:14 AM
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
If you go to this web site, www.letssaythanks.com, you can pick out a thank you card, Xerox will print it, and it will be sent to a service member serving overseas. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services.
Last year folks from our church sent packages to my son in Iraq who then put together Christmas stockings for the men in his platoon. We were shocked when he told us that for a number of the men, that was the only thing they received from anyone on Christmas.
So if you can take a minute, please go to www.letssaythanks.com. It may make a real difference to one of our men or women deployed overseas.
Posted by RB at 4:50 PM
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Source: Callan Associates
The above chart shows indexes (like an average) for eight different financial sectors, or types of financial investments, for the years 1987 to 2006. They are color coded and ranked top-to-bottom by returns for the year in question.
Conclusion? No one part of the market out performs other sectors each year. On average, some sectors have beat other sectors over a long period of time, but not each and every year.
Implication? Have a diversified portfolio of investments from many sectors.
P.S. Want a better view? You can double click the image above. If that is too blurry for you, then you can download the original pdf file here.
Posted by RB at 4:42 PM
Monday, December 3, 2007
From The Teaching Economist:
Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, majored in economics at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. In September, he wrote about how economics has influenced his thinking: “I’m convinced that the study of economics changes brains in a way I can identify after about five minutes of conversation. In particular, I think the study of economics makes you relatively immune to cognitive dissonance…. The primary skill of an economist is identifying all of the explanations for various phenomena. Cognitive dissonance is, at its core, the inability to recognize and accept other explanations. I’m oversimplifying, but you get the point. The more your brain is trained for economics, the less it is susceptible to cognitive dissonance, or so it seems. The joke about economists is that they are always using the phrase ‘On the other hand.’ Economists are trained to recognize all sides of an argument. That seems like an easy and obvious skill, but in my experience, the general population lacks that skill. Once people take a side, they interpret any argument on the other side as absurd. In other words, they are relatively susceptible to cognitive dissonance.”
Posted by RB at 3:15 PM
Saturday, December 1, 2007
I am very grateful that one of my sons has a new job. With his previous job his entire day consisted of commuting, working, coming home, sleeping, and getting up to go to work. He worked a nine-hour evening shift. The new position is a nine-to-five, Monday through Friday job with a much shorter commute. In fact, he will have an extra four hours per day. (This is not an exaggeration.) It is similar work but more intellectually challenging and therefore more interesting.
He's happy. We're happy for him. Everyone should be happy for him**.
** If some bizarre reason you are not happy for him, then please seek help from a mental health professional. Referrals are available. :)
Posted by RB at 2:13 PM