Tuesday, July 06, 2004

We had a fairly relaxing weekend. Friday had some late-night excitement, that I will get to in a minute. Saturday, I had choir practice first thing. We were singing Sunday, so that was a pretty high-stress affair trying to get sound issues sorted out and actually getting the bits right that we had been singing wrong for 4 months. I got home around noon and immediately fell asleep until after 5pm. Understand that other than my Sunday between-services cat nap (usually no more than 45 minutes) I don't sleep during the day. When I woke up, my first thought was that I would be wide awake until 3am or some such, then be dog tired all day Sunday. Nope. Back in bed by 11pm and slept like a log until my alarm went off at 7am Sunday.

Sunday was interesting. The church was deserted. This has to be the lowest attendance we've seen in a long time. We did OK on the choir bit, at least compared to how bad we sounded in practice. Maybe it was a good thing we didn't have many people... Anyway, we went out for lunch to the Brunch Buffet at Mountain Jacks. MJ's used to be one of my favorite restaurants, but I don't know if it's just the one in Traverse City or all of them or just me, but I'm no longer impressed. The Sunday Brunch Buffet was $40 with tip for food about at the level of a mediocre family reunion. My wife and I agreed this would be our last MJ trip.

We didn't have our Financial Peace University meeting because of the holiday and we are done with choir for the summer. That gave us a few hours to scoot home before the evening service. Of course, we both took naps. Then evening service, then back home for more relaxing and early to bed. I must be running right on the ragged edge to sleep that much.

Monday was another day off for me, but Debbie had to work. She was let go early after sitting in the office for six hours and answering three phone calls. I had followed her into work so we could drop her Tracker at the garage. The steering is acting up on it, which to me seems a little important. More on that in a moment. That meant I had to go into town to pick her up, then later go into town to pick up her Tracker because they couldn't make it do it's little trick and didn't want to tear into things without knowing what they were looking for. I was pretty pooped at that point anyway after working outside, so Debbie grabbed some movies and we settled in for a quiet evening of mayhem and destruction (T3; somehow we've never seen it).

On the Tracker: I don't know if Canadians just can't build things well or they just do a sucky job on stuff they know is headed to the U.S. We have two big-ticket items from Canada; all the windows and doors in the house (other than the basement French doors... or is that Freedom doors?) and Debbie's Tracker. Both have been plagued by poor workmanship, junk materials, and bad engineering. None of our doors or windows work properly and Debbie's Tracker has a list of warranty repairs that defies the imagination. And we are not talking about small items. We are talking multiple repairs that would have cost us thousands if we had to pay for them. Rear main seal, both front wheel assemblies, leaks of every fluid in the vehicle. The thing sounds like a train wreck because of all the squeaks and rattles. It's latest trick that we are trying to get it to do for the mechanic (cars are like cats, they don't perform in front of strangers) involves the steering wheel sticking when you go around the corner. Not just hesitating to self-center, but staying in the "turned" position until forcibly turned back. Talk about something that will give the heart some exercise. So far it hasn't happened on curves taken at speed, just turning at intersections. If it happened on one of our curvy two-lanes, you would be dead before you could recover. I'm so glad we went $13,000 in debt so Debbie would have safe, reliable transportation...

In other news, we had an unprecedented occurrence: not once, but twice this weekend we had someone knock on our door. Understand that where we live, that doesn't happen often. In fact once a year is a busy year for us. Twice in one weekend... well... we need to move because there are just getting to be too many people. The first knock was around 9pm Friday. Understand that anyone we know, knows that we live in the basement and either just walks in a yells something (Our doors are never locked; it doesn't seem to make much sense given where we live. It's not like we have neighbors that will notice someone just breaking a window out, or cutting through the walls with a chain saw, for that matter.), or comes down to the basement door. We sat and stared at each other for a full minute while we tried to remember what we were supposed to do, then I scampered up the stairs and opened the door. There were a half dozen muddy late-teen to early-twenty guys on my porch wanting to know if I could help. They had not one, but two trucks stuck in the swamp. We tried everything we could think of, but neither truck would move. After we snapped every strap we had, I dropped them off at their place and called it a night. Saturday, we took a detour down to the swamp and they had managed to get the trucks out once they had daylight and heavy equipment.

Saturday evening there was another knock at the door. This time, we remembered what we were supposed to do and ran upstairs and opened the door. Another twenty-something was standing there with a map explaining that he was lost.

No crap, dude.

Anyway, he wasn't as lost as he thought, but unlike our previous visitors was smart enough to not drive into six feet of mud and standing water, and decided he had better ask a different way to get where he was going. We told him and he went away and didn't come back. So either our directions got him where he was going or got him so lost that he couldn't find his way back. Either way, it's all good.

Lots of good stuff on the blogs and journals: we will start with a joke or two. First from the Jerusalem Wanderings blog:

Two Arabs boarded a flight out of London. One took a window seat and the other sat next to him in the middle seat. Just before takeoff, an American sat down in the aisle seat. After takeoff, the American kicked his shoes off, wiggled his toes and was settling in when the Arab in the window seat said, "I need to get up and get a coke."

"Don't get up" said the American, "I'm in the aisle seat. I'll get it for you."

As soon as he left, one of the Arabs picked up the American's shoe and spat in it.

When he returned with the coke, the other Arab said, "That looks good, I'd really like one, too."

Again, the American obligingly went to fetch it. While he was gone the other Arab picked up his other shoe and spat in it. When the American returned, they all sat back and enjoyed the flight. As the plane was landing, the American slipped his feet into his shoes and knew immediately what had happened.

"Why does it have to be this way?" he asked.

"How long must this go on?

"This fighting between our nations?

"This hatred?

"This animosity?

"This spitting in shoes and pissing in cokes?"

Another from the AnalPhilosopher (which isn't anything like what you would expect from the name):

Another lawyer story currently making the rounds explains why one bar association's ethics committee decided to prohibit sex between attorneys and clients: "They didn't want the clients to be double-billed for essentially the same service".

And Fred Reed has a good article this week on his daughter back when she was seven or so and faced with a rock climb.


Jerry Pournelle on how to teach reading to children:

...California destroyed its school system and ruined the chances of half a generation when Bill Honig decided he knew better than the evidence, and imposed the ridiculous look-say (ideographic) system of reading instruction on the state.

Fools -- I do not use words like that lightly -- can do great harm if they achieve high office. They need not be evil; but sometimes the results of folly are more evil than if evil were intended. And the folly enriches some as well.

Reading is an essential skill. Some children will learn to read no matter what method is used to teach them, or indeed without any instruction at all, and they will probably be the best readers. Others, though, will never learn to read unless explicitly taught phonics. The good news is that if the instruction is done right, virtually any child can learn to read. (Yes, we know about dyslexia, which I've covered before; there are ways to overcome that, too, although true neurological dyslexia is quite rare.)

The children who are most harmed by Honig's maniacal folly are those who are of normal intelligence but who simply will never learn to read unless taught by the Honig-forbidden phonics method; and there are plenty of teachers in California from the Honig era, teachers who never learned how to teach phonics and don't think it is a good idea.

One wonders how Honig and the other Enlightened Arrogants feel now.

And an article about the fraud of diversity on our college campuses from the AnalPhilosopher.

Which ought to keep everyone busy for a while.

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