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Howdy. We've moved from Cayce, but St. Elizabeth of South Rose Hill or Lizette de Waccamaw de Sud just don't do it for me.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Wrong Guy Won

Our incumbent Lieutenant Governor just won the run-off election--so he'll be on the ballot in November for re-election. This is the guy with the traffic and arrogance problems. He became sympathetic after surviving an airplane crash about a month ago.

"I voted for the man on the crutch," said C.A. Gatlin, 71, of Hanahan. "He's been a fellow that's been in the limelight. And even though he's been speeding and stuff like that, who else doesn't?" (The State)

Here's what else you'd know (1) if you lived here, (2) if you watched the main 11 PM newscast in this area and (3) you know something about the local correspondents.

My guess is that at least one of the local media expected the challenger to win. He'd done well in the initial primary (45% to incumbmet's 37%) and lots of folks were put off by the incumbent's behavior. So, WIS sends their "cuter" reporter to the challenger's campaign headquarters. They sent their "senior reporter" to the incumbent's party. They no doubt expected to open with eye candy at the upset winner's site.

We'll see what happens this Fall. I'm most concerned about the moron (IMHO) running for Treasurer.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Elephants in the Room, Part 2

Izzy and I went to Brother B2's house yesterday afternoon, joining about 3 dozen relatives for a send-off for B2S1. This nephew, now 19, has enlisted in the Army and is headed this week to Basic Training. After graduation, we expect he'll head to combat, most likely in Iraq.

After sandwiches (egg salad and chicken salad from B2 & B2W2's back yard), we all gathered in the living room to talk to this nephew. All the adults told him how proud we were of his dedication to his country, of his willingness to serve, etc. Those who had been there (or had friends who had been there) told basic training stories. Izzy reminded him to duck once he got "to the sandbox."

It took one of the kids to say first what none of the grown-ups would say explicitly. "I sure hope you don't die." They love their brother, their cousin, and their faces and tones of voice showed the fear that all of us were feeling.

Afterwards, several of us watched him play the guitar downstairs. B1 videotaped; Mom admitted that this is the sort of thing recall most clearly "afterwards, when things go...when...afterwards."

Maybe it was the Go Army T-shirt, but I noticed I saw this "kid" differently than I had before. I'd last seen him just after his great-grandmother's death--he's grown up a lot in the past 8 months of so. He'll be lots different in 15 weeks at graduation, and much different as a veteran.

And we'll keep praying until he gets back, tattoos and all.

Elephants in the Room, Part 1

Went to a pre-July 4 soiree last Saturday--thanks Dogwood & Mrs. D. We're enjoying the leftovers!

Great conversation wound its way to the Anglican Communion. I asked the token Protestant (Episcopalian) about the recent uproar in the Communion. He talked about the Lambeth Commission & the Windsor Report, the recent elevation of Bishop Jefferts Schori, and his local church's experiences in trying to foster dialogue around issues of human sexuality.

He used the phrase "the elephant in the room," which seemed to apply to a number of issues in their attempts to talk frankly about sexuality; not the least of these was undisclosed sexual orientations, whether of some of those involved locally or in the denominational hierarchy. (Undisclosed sexual orientation, except in discussions of members of the Village People, always means GLB or T.)

Talking about what it means to live celibately with SSA is difficult enough--it's even harder when people don't feel that they can describe this as being their own circumstance. But, knowing the Church and knowing the South, I cannot imagine a scenario where this could have happened.

We'll be watching the already strained communion. Elephants and all.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Peace, Unity and Purity?

Just in from an e-list I'm on. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted 57% to 43% to accept the Report on Peace, Unity and Purity in the church.

Some of the soul-searching on issues currently precluding unity & peace include the following.

  • Those of us associated with the Anglo traditions that have dominated the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) came to understand how much alienation and pain we have caused by past oppression of other racial and ethnic groups and by currently maintaining barriers to the full inclusion of those groups’ members, cultures, and gifts.
  • Those of us who identify our views as liberal came to understand how alienating it is for conservatives and evangelicals when their passionate commitment to holy living and upright conduct are labeled rigid and judgmental.
  • Those of us who identify our views as conservative came to understand how alienating it is for liberals when their passionate commitment to justice and compassion are labeled unbiblical.
  • Those of us who identify our views as moderate came to understand how alienating it is when those with passionate concerns on either end of the theological spectrum are labeled extreme and divisive.
  • Many of us came to understand how alienating it is for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons to be so regularly identified as a major threat to the peace, unity, and purity of the church.
So far, so OK. Lots of acknowledgement of how we've hurt one another.
  • Many of us also came to understand how alienating it is for those who support a ban on the ordination of non-celibate gay and lesbian persons to be accused of prejudice, and how alienating it is for those who oppose such a ban to be accused of moral laxity.
  • All of us came to see that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in its current factionalized state that we have all created together by our mutual stereotyping and misuse of power, fails to offer a suffering world a sign of the peace, unity, and purity that is God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, in order to stop arguing over ordination standards (my words):

...ordaining/installing bodies have the power to determine whether any officer-elect’s departure from the interpreted standard compromises essentials of Reformed faith and polity and thus should constitute a barrier to ordination.

What's the standard at issue? Variation from what standard might or might not be a barrier to ordination? This one:
G-6.0106 in the Book of Order:

b. Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life of obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historical confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman
(W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness
Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of Word and Sacrament.

Thought I'd mention it, since everyone seems to be paying attention to the Episcopalians this week. It'll be interesting to see what happens when Presbyteries begin to accept candidates for ordination who don't meet the standards of G-6.0106b. Another split? That's what they seem to be trying to avoid with this vote--wonder if the plan will work?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Well, something froze over

On a day when the temperature hit 90 degrees in Raleigh, the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup.

Who'd'a' thunk it?

I mean, a packed Hockey arena in roundball land?!? Hockey champions south of the Mason-Dixon line?

Izzy is sure it's a sign of the Apocalypse.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

End of Youth?

I've decided that this will be the last post I write before admitting, alas!, that I've hit middle age. Based on longevity of my family, especially the women (great-grandmothers who lived to 98 & 105, great-greats who lived to 95 & 99, healthy great aunts in their 80's, and my mom's health, I should expect to live to a ripe old age. Gotta balance that with death of Mom's mother at 28 (cerebral hemorrhage) and Dad's mom at 65 (heart, diabetes.) Then there's the male ancestry--heart attacks in late 50's and mid 70's, cancer in early 70's, etc.

At some point, no matter how risk factors are calculated and modified, one reaches the point where at least half of one's expected life span has passed.

My math says that I've reached (if not surpassed) that point--and that means I'm middle aged. We'll mark it tomorrow on my birthday and someday nieces and nephews can look back and note when the real onset of middle age actually was (will be?? One can always hope...)

Further proof of being middle (but not specified) age: I saw three (count 'em!) different types of medical specialists in the past couple of weeks. When I add two or three more specialties, it'll probably be time to look into getting the AARP card. ;-)

Father's Day

Three years ago, my family celebrated Father's Day twice. Once on the actual date, and once the week before. My Dad's health ( he had glioblastoma, an inoperable, invariably fatal brain cancer) had taken a marked turn and we worried he wouldn't be here for the "official" day.

After months of gradual decline, slowed by radiation, steroids and my mom's cooking, Dad had experienced a grand mal seizure at the beginning of June. No more would he shuffle down the hall in the morning towards the kitchen, a grin on his face as he called out Mom's name and looked forward to the breakfast she'd made for him. He wouldn't open the fridge door and look for buttermilk to pour over fresh, hot cornbread in the evenings.

In God's provident timing, a wheelchair had been dropped off just days before the seizure, and a male friend (important for men of Dad's generation) had talked to him frankly about adult incontinence products. Dad was mentally prepared for these changes before he had to face them with clouded cognition.

Dad settled down quietly, up in his wheelchair for meals and some visits, resting on the couch, and taking longer and longer naps in the bed he and Mom had shared for over 42 years. He recognized all of us kids, his friends, but couldn't focus on phone calls anymore. We knew the end of his time with us was approaching and we wanted to give him a Father's Day. We all were there, with spouses, grandkids, and a few close friends, Everyone had time to tell him of their love and to hear at least an "I love you" back.

To our surprise and great joy (and everything positive in these circumstances becomes a great joy), Dad stayed with us for eleven more days, leaving just after midnight on the day spring ended. We got to care for him, medically and physically, and tangibly show our love and appreciation. We got the "real" Father's Day.

This year, for the first time since my parents surprised me by appearing at our church in NC on a Sunday morning, my birthday coincides with Father's Day again. I was born on Father's Day--my Dad's 1st Father's day since I am the eldest. It's always been an extra special day for me, especially in those years when it coincided with my Bday. I expect to feel pretty emotional at some point tomorrow, as I will Tuesday on the anniversary of his death.

What I'm also feeling is that some sort of circle is now defined/completed as I pass a joint birthday/Father's Day. We've completed a full three-year liturgical cycle since Dad's death, nearly every Sunday of which Izzy & I have been in a Catholic Church. It will soon be three years since I moved back out of my parents' home (where I had lived while Dad was ill) and resumed life with Izzy. Three years since we moved our home to Cayce. Three years since we started inquiry classes before being received into the church.

Three years I never expected.

Happy Father's Day to any Dads, Padres or someday-to-be Padres out there.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Seems like something Mom always said would go well here:

"If you can't say something nice...."

Bush apologizes to vision-impaired reporter

(from CNN) President Bush, who often teases members of the White House press corps, apologized Wednesday after he poked fun at a reporter for wearing sunglasses without realizing they were needed for vision loss.

Bush called on Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Wallsten and asked if he was going to ask his question with his "shades" on.

"For the viewers, there's no sun," Bush said to the television cameras.

But even though the sun was behind the clouds, Wallsten still needs the sunglasses because he has Stargardt's disease, a form of macular degeneration that causes progressive vision loss. The condition causes Wallsten to be sensitive to glare and even on a cloudy day, can cause pain and increase the loss of sight.

Looks like the reporter was a good sport, but we might see less ribbing, fewer [poop] blossom nicknames....

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Manifesto for Father's Day

Saw this on Ultracrepidarian's blog, where he responds to a vehicle break-in and his feelings afterwards with "Well, here's the change I want to see in the world...", and then proceeds to passionately describe the love centered (but not mushy or squishy) world that comes only from radical conformity to Christ.

As I read it, parts of it are like a manifesto for Father's Day: only a real man can risk being known for his devotion to Mary, his open heart, his touching love of his kids.

Other parts are for all of us who need to recall "be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye tranformed by the renewing of your minds, that you might prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2.

What actually makes a society safe? What actually makes civilization civilized? Moral order and civilization proceed from the family. What happens to the family, happens to the whole society.

If I take a little hint from Gandhi, maybe I should be thinking about how to "be the change I want to see in the world". Well, here's the change I want to see in the world:

I want to see a renewal in men, who have abandoned the Church, their families and their wives. I want men to return to practicing their faith, taking a position of leadership in the home, especially in the teaching and practice of virtue.

"Maneant in nobis fides, spes et caritas: maior autem horum est caritas."

I want to men to build community and share with each other, support each other in being real men. Not promise-keepers. Not covenant-keepers. Something real, not a program-of-study, or a tract or a book. I want to live with St. Francis as a real role model. I want to shake the planet. I want to live with an open heart. I want to look like an idiot because of my devotion to Mary. I want to make friends with other men who would rather look foolish in front of the world, than look foolish in front of God. I want people who otherwise would never have stopped to consider that the world a doesn't have to be the way it is, to see a Catholic Christian about her daily life, doing small things with great love, making the world a better place. I want people to see that there are millions of little flowers of Jesus in the world. I want people to wake up to that part inside of them that says "hey, I want to do that too." I want the victory of the Cross of Christ to be complete and total, and absolute, and I want to see it happen now, not after I die.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Better, Longer Living through Chemistry?

It looks like 40 beverage servings per day, in the right combination, can prevent both prostate cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. This is obvious from a combination of 2 stories heard on NPR and local radio--I found "verification" (as much as a URL counts for verification.)

1. 17 beers a day keep prostate cancer away.

For many men, a finding by Oregon researchers sounds too good to be true: An ingredient in beer seems to help prevent prostate cancer, at least in lab experiments.

The trouble is you'd theoretically have to drink about 17 beers a day for any potential benefit. And no one's advising that.

...He noted that lycopene, an ingredient in tomatoes, and thus also in tomato sauce, has previously been linked to prostate cancer prevention.

"It's every man's dream to hear that beer and pizza can prevent cancer," he said. "However, the 17 beers and four large pizzas needed to get enough xanthohumol and lycopene to help prevent prostate cancer is unfortunately not advised."
2. Four cups of coffee per day cuts the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis.
In a study of more than 125,000 people, one cup of coffee per day cut the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 percent. Four cups per day reduced the risk by 80 percent. The coffee effect held true for women and men of various ethnic backgrounds.
The study was based on questionnaires completed by Kaiser Permanente HMO patients in California in the 1970's & 80's (initial admit forms, and not follow-up visits.) But still...

Heavy drinkers were defined as 3 alcoholic drinks per day. This is hardly fair, since at least half of these patients were obviously men who were trying to cut their risk of prostate cancer. Some of them were only getting 1/4th of their daily requirement of "beer ingredients" for cancer prevention.

Here's my math:

3 drinks + 4 coffees = No cirrhosis. (3:4 ratio)

17 beers = No prostate cancer.

Therefore, 17 beers/drinks + ~23 coffees = guaranteed no cancer or cirrhosis. QED.

Might wanna install a night light for all those trips to the little room.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Liturgical Dance Party

Mark Mossa has posted a You Tube clip of Stephen Colbert dancing while singing "The King of Glory" at the end of an episode of the old Comedy Central Show Strangers with Candy.

You must see.

I'm just speechless.


And so it begins

Five months and four days since the "season" actually ended.

If you had June 10 in the pool for when we'd see the first Atlantic tropical depression form, please stop by our office and pick up your free bottled water, plywood, and directions to get the heck outta Dodge!

At this point, we're likely only due for some welcomed rain.

We (in emergency preparedness) have just completed a two-day exercise and have at least identifed where our problems might occur in response & recovery. Let's hope we get some time to address some of those problems before we need to respond for real!

Helicopters & Humvees

Unlike the folks in the photo above, those of us who flew in Blackhawks in the Hurricane response drill on Thursday actually WORE our badges.

Izzy jokingly called Medical Investigation "Doctors without Badges." I found that hollering at the errors in the show was oh-so-cathartic for my Friday evenings.

Hurricane Exercise:

Back to the title of the post, yes, I got to ride in a Blackhawk to and from the areas in eastern SC "affected" by the landfall of "Hurricane Isabella" late Wednesday night. Notionally (now there's a great exercise term), there was an entire wing of a hospital destroyed by tornados spun off of the storm. There were railroad bridges and roads destroyed, power was out and communities were flooded. One cell tower was out, and the Internet messaging system was out (that one was actually real. No messages from the field were getting to the State Emergency Operations Center for several hours.) We got around the county to meet up with the county emergency operations center and from there to do assessment of the "damage" in Humvees.

No photos of us inside the aircraft; this was Army property.

Also in the Army tradition, there was a lot of "hurry up and wait" on Thursday. At one point our mission was nearly scrubbed, as authorities considered diverting the helicopters to fire-fighting activities. Seeing that we might not get to ride, I decided to check-off one of the items on my yet-to-be-written list of "Things to do before I die." I strapped on my backpack and helmet and jumped out of the aircraft. Not having packed a parachute, it was no shock that one did not deploy.

Summary of Thursday:

2 Blackhawk rides.
5 trips in Humvees.
1 jump, which I survived despite a parachute not deploying.

That's the story I'd tell the grandkids, were we to have had any. It's my spin on the truth and much more interesting that a discussion of what we'd do to set up special medical needs shelters.

Let's hope we don't need to use what we've practiced any time too soon.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Colbert Commencement Speech

Stephen Colbert, he of the ultra-humble Colbert Report (a new fave show), gave the 2006 commencement address at Knox University (in Galesburg, Ill, where Izzy & I once stayed while attending Cornerstone.)

And unlike dubious speeches "given" by Kurt Vonnegut or others, this one appears on the school's very own website.

Pretty funny. A couple of his best bits of advice to graduates:

But you seem nice enough, so I'll try to give you some advice. First of all, when you go to apply for your first job, don't wear these robes. Medieval garb does not instill confidence in future employers*unless you're applying to be a scrivener. And if someone does offer you a job, say yes. You can always quit later. Then at least you'll be one of the unemployed as opposed to one of the never-employed. Nothing looks worse on a resume than nothing.


Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what's going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say "yes." And if you're lucky, you'll find people who will say "yes" back.

Now will saying "yes" get you in trouble at times? Will saying "yes" lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don't be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don't learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying "yes" begins things. Saying "yes" is how things grow. Saying "yes" leads to knowledge. "Yes" is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say "yes."

And that's The Word.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

You, too, can have holy food to sell on Ebay

So, definitely click to see the larger image, then go to to see how you, too, can own one of these. Order extras--birthdays, Christmas, 18th anniversary of the Harmonic convergence, the 27th anniversary of the fall of Skylab--there are so many reasons to own and give one of these beauties.

Hattip to Izzy (or should that be cringe...?)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Crusade Music (but not Medieval)

Growing up, we weren't allowed to watch a lot of TV or listen to lots of "secular" music (although Johnny Cash & Ray Conniff albums seemed to be OK.)

What we did watch whenever they came on, were Billy Graham crusades. There was always the choir, directed by Cliff Barrows, plus Ethel Waters (whom I'd seen on the Daniel Boone show) singing "His Eye is on the Sparrrr-ow" and George Beverly Shea singing "How Great Thou Art."

No matter how it is annotated in the hymnbook, the congregation will always end with "how great Thou art, how GreaaaaaaaaaaaT Thouuuuuuuuu ArrrrrrrrT." Same with the ending in the picture: "Thiiiiiiis iiiiiis my storrrrrrrry, ..."

These two men (Ethel has gone to glory) will be in town tomorrow at my Mom's church. I'm hoping to go and listen--no doubt we'll all sing along--and remember part of my childhood.

This will be AFTER we've celebrated the "birthday of the Church" in AM Mass. Many tongues, many songs.

Update: More on what the content of the evening was here on the FBC website.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Izzy & Lizzie back in Virginia

We went back to western Virgina last weekend for our annual Memorial Day cabin weekend.  As has been the case for the past 4 years, we've arrived after spending a week apart. 
I was at the beach for a Public Health conference--I'm the new Nursing Czarina, or something like that.  Izzy gave final exams, lined up students for graduation, and worked on his last Master's level class for alternative certification. 
On the drive up, I managed to not get stuck in a 2-hour traffic jam in Nowhere, NC (last year, the traffic to get around an accident/fire was eventually re-routed through a pasture.)  Sadly, this year it was Izzy's turn.  Just a smidgen north of Charlotte on I-77, there was a tie-up that left traffic at. a. complete. standstill.
At one point, seeing a storm approaching, he put down the kickstand, donned his rainsuit, and stood out in the rain.  When the storm ended and as the temp and humidity both approached 90, he again put down the kickstand, doffed and stowed his rainsuit, and stood in the sun.  All in the fast lane.   2 1/2 hours to travel 26 miles.
Once we both arrived, we learned to our great delight that we had actually booked four nights, not three.  This is our sixth year at Rocky Knob, and so much of the long weekend was marked by the relaxation that accompanies the familiar.   
(Not our cabin, we were next door.)
There was no hurry to do or see anything, and we both read a lot, mostly in rocking chairs.  We rode down on stretch of highway for miles and miles, just following antique cars.  We worshiped with a small Catholic congregation that meets at a Lutheran church.  After Mass, we chanced on a restaurant with live music and no smoking--what we couldn't have imagined was that this would be the best meal we'd eaten in years
Back on Tuesday, avoiding Charlotte post-race day traffic.  We've already confirmed our reservations for next year--this weekend is such an amazingly restorative time for us.