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Friday, March 6, 2015

Book Review: Setting Up Your Sewing Space

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Setting Up Your Sewing Space
Author: Myrna Giesbrecht

Author's web site:
Date: 1994
Publisher: Sterling Publishing Company
ISBN: 0-8069-0495-X
Length: 160 pages including graphics, charts,and index
Quote: “I live, eat, and breathe fabric.”
And yes, this is a book primarily about how to avoid breathing fabric if you prefer not to breathe to organize your supplies so that you have time for actual sewing rather than trying to remember where you put things. If you have trouble keeping your “creative clutter” in a genuinely creative, organic order rather than letting it turn into a hopeless mess, this book just might help you.
For some of us, I suspect, using this book with good intentions will be just another excuse to play with our toys (and possibly be inspired by them). I don’t sew, myself, but I’m like this about knitting. I collect yarn. Very early in my knitting life, there was one day when, inspired by Kaffe Fassett’s approach in Glorious Knitting, I just threw a lot of balls of yarn around the bland, beige, mostly empty sitting room just to notice what looked good next to what else. When the sitting room was fairly well wall-to-wall unravelling balls of mixed yarns, someone came to the door. The “don’t want to know what goes on in this flat” vibration was overwhelming. Not immediately, but before my flatmate came in, I sorted all those yarns by weight and color and repacked them all into wooden storage cubes...
Actually, if you’re interested in a book like Setting Up Your Sewing Space, you probably do want to know about my cubes. They used to be sold at Hechinger’s, which used to be a local hardware, furniture, home improvement store chain in Washington. They looked just like these, once you'd put them together, and cost about one-quarter to one-third as much. A Google search turns up lots of sources for 15" particle-board cubes, foreign and domestic, preassembled or not, and even a video showing how to put them together.
Anyway, organizing and reorganizing our craft supplies is one of the sensuous pleasures of doing handcrafts. Setting Up Your Sewing Space will tempt you. Maybe, after using these nifty organizing ideas, you could move in more fabric, a different sewing machine for different projects, a quilting frame...and you know authors of craft books, most of whom get their ideas by working in craft shops, aren’t going to tell you not to buy more supplies and plan more projects. (After all, there might be a yarn, fabric, wood, etc. shortage some day, and we all know that crafters don't survive their last project.) Or, if we plan projects to use up everything in the local craft store, and then realize that we’d have to pursue our crafts every day for 200 years to finish all those projects, the current owner of the local store can move to St Croix and we can keep the store ourselves...
Just kidding! If you’re determined to use this book sensibly, organize space, and have a place for everything and everything in its place even while you’re working on a maximum of three projects at one time, you can be that rare and exceptional member of our tribe, the constant crafter who never bites off more than s/he can chew or allows the craft supplies to spill out past the doorway of the workroom. Such people exist. If you’re determined to be one of them, this book will show you how.

If you’d rather be like most of us and leave 300 unfinished projects to your favorite charity, and why not, charity stores collect lots of money for good causes that way, this book can inspire you to have more fun fiddling with your supply collection. And even branch out...part of this book contains tips on sewing and quilting techniques you may not have tried yet.

Other online booksellers may offer a lower price but, so far as I know, this is the only site that will send Myrna Giesbrecht 10% of the total price of her book ($5) plus shipping ($5). You pay only one $5 shipping charge for as many items as can be shipped in one package, and Giesbrecht or a charity of her choice still gets $1 for each book you buy here. E-mail salolianigodagewi @

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Have You Been Cheated by Bubblews?

Drops of water turn a mill, Gentle Readers. There is power in numbers. Little tiny raindrops and snowflakes, together, made the snowstorms and floods that are doing so much damage today.

As regular readers know, owes me $120 and some change. (Yes, still.) I live in Virginia, as apparently do Arvind Dixit and Jason Zuccari. Virginia has no Small Claims Court; it costs more than $120 to go to court to collect a debt. For this reason Arvind and Jason have counted on being able to stay in operation without ever paying what they owe me. While some Bubblers have speculated that Arvind's and Jason's selection of whom they actually paid, and whom they shamelessly cheated, was random or based on personal favoritism, I suspect that the cost of processing different people's small claims was a factor.

I really did e-mail U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith about these scammers staying in business and announcing plans to continue to cheat people, even for substantial amounts of money, whenever the cost of prosecution would exceed the amount Bubblews would owe these people. Bubblews did well by some people before the boys got over their heads in debt, and I'm sorry about this, but Bubblews needs to be brought to a screeching halt.

To my surprise, one of the legislative assistants who actually read e-mail sent to Congressmen, many of whom are university students, tried to reply by phone rather than e-mail. I don't know what her problem with e-mail was--for me it's faster and cheaper to use e-mail for anything public--but I borrowed a phone that's on an unlimited-monthly-minutes plan and talked to her on the phone, so I could hear this young lady say that this kind of complaint ought to be shared with the Federal Trade Commission. Numbers are the key there, she suggested. She even said the FTC might be able to work something out with the governments of other countries where Bubblews has cheated people.

If you are an American Bubbler who never received a promised payment, e.g. +Coral Levang , +Theresa Wiza , Donald Pennington, and others, you can help all of us by contacting the FTC. Here's the page where you start:

Although your complaints will probably be processed separately, you may want to mention this Official Complaint Number somewhere in your complaint (as in "I'm another victim of the scam of which Priscilla King complained to you on March 4, 2015, in complaint #5993228").


Phenology: Pris on Snow Schedule

Well, the big ice/snow storm and freeze is moving in. I heard just a few minutes of bird songs this morning, in between sprinkles of rain. As I walked into town the rain began to change to sleet, stopped dripping and started forming slush ice on my umbrella, and during the last block or two the road became slippery. If I hadn't left my phone in town overnight I would've called to say I wasn't leaving my warm house.

As things are, I plan to stay here until 1 p.m. and go home. Unless the weather changes suddenly, or unless the electricity goes out at home, I plan to spend the rest of the week at home.

There are some people in Clinchport and Duffield to whom I owe favors. It is possible that some of those people might prefer to shelter in three very cold, dark, dusty, musty, cluttered rooms, with wood heat and bottled water, rather than crowd into the public schools with all the mod. con. If so, they need to confirm by e-mail or Twitter before 1 p.m. They will need to walk up a long, steep, icy private road at best. Cell phone service at the Cat Sanctuary seems to work about 50% of the time, off and on, with no guarantees.

If the snow is heavy enough and the power goes out, I may evacuate myself--possibly to Kingsport. If I have to go to Kingsport, I'll go on foot. If anyone is desperate enough to have come to the Cat Sanctuary, the place where I'll go will probably have room for them too, always assuming that that house still has heat and light. My plans rely on the fact that it's safer to walk than to drive in snow; friends from Clinchport and Duffield should bear this in mind.

Anyone planning to leave their home should get out NOW--before the black ice that's starting to form is covered in snow. I'd stay as long as possible and recommend that others do likewise, but if water is in your basement now, it's likely to get higher before it gets lower.

Book Review: The Viscott Method

Title: The Viscott Method
Author: David Viscott
Date: 1984
Publisher: HoughtonMifflin
ISBN: 0-395-34429-8
Length: 168 pages
Quote: “There is no secret to surviving happily. The best way to cope is to live through pain and experience it.”
David Viscott, M.D., was a psychiatrist who offered counselling rather than tranquillizers to people who he thought could benefit more from psychology than from psychiatry. Despite major advertising campaigns, funded by pharmaceutical corporations, intended to convince us that happiness lies in finding the “right” mood-elevating drugs, for most of us the Viscott Method (or similar methods) of reasoning our way through life’s difficulties is still safer and more effective than taking anti-depressant pills.
The Viscott Method, as practiced in 1984, relied on cassette tape technology. People didn’t have to pay someone $75 per hour to listen as they talked through their situation; Viscott demonstrated that most people, most of the time, would be able to spot their own “erroneous zones” and come to their own best conclusions if they used enough probing questions to reason with themselves. Tape-recording or cell-phone-recording answers to the questions this book asks is still possible, and easier than writing the answers, for most of us. It’s not essential; in the 1980s, when personal computers weren’t linked to one another and were confusing enough that it was usually safe to imagine that housemates wouldn’t peek at your computer the way they might hear you making tapes, some people typed their answers to the questions into their computers. It is important to record your answers to each question in some way, because subsequent questions will refer back to those answers.
How useful is this exercise? Depends on your situation. The Viscott Method is probably most likely to help the people who routinely sought psychological counselling and psychotherapy in 1984, whose insurance companies are discouraging them from getting that kind of professional help now. It’s a guide to navigating the decision points and major life passages ahead of you. If, for example, you’re an insecure student or recent graduate or drop-out, feeling anxious about the transition from the classroom where you knew exactly what to do into the business world where you don’t seem to know much of anything useful, I can personally testify that the Viscott Method can be very helpful. If you’re considering a change of careers, wondering what to do with your retirement years, debating with yourself whether you even want to drag a spouse or other family member to family counselling, trying to decide whether you need college or trade school and what you could hope to get out of either experience, or contemplating marriage or parenthood, this book would also be likely to help you.
If your problem is that other people refuse to listen to what a mysterious voice has told you, or you’ve suddenly remembered part of your early life in ways your old friends and relatives insist couldn’t possibly be true, or you are persistently plagued by the thought that your children need to be euthanized now before they develop a disease as painful as yours, then all this book is likely to do for you is help you understand why you need more help than a book can give. The Viscott Method can be used along with psychiatric treatment for psychosis, but it’s certainly not a substitute for isolation, observation, and treatment as indicated.
There’s another large category of people for whom the Viscott Method may have limited usefulness: the ones who are unhappy because they are unpopular. In 1984 American popular culture relied so heavily on psychological counselling that women turning down dates with repulsive men would tell those men they needed personal growth through psychotherapy, rather than giving those men the simple truth that those women didn't like to look at them. “Everyone can benefit from personal growth and there are probably some unresolved issues from the past that are blocking him from noticing how repulsive he looks,” was the rationale. Listening to recordings and/or watching videos of yourself answering these questions is a good way to identify things you can do, or stop doing, to make yourself more attractive to other people, especially if the problem is something simple: a repulsive person might, for example, think that nobody notices the dirt he’s not patient enough to scrub off, and the recording might correct this mistake. If the problem is a real character disorder, the person is likely to ignore what either the Viscott Method or a live counsellor might show them, and may need to “hit bottom” and go to jail before he or she can begin to improve.
In the 1980s there was an ongoing conflict between people who thought that the kind of questions this book asks ought to be topics of discussion for schools, churches, even friends and social clubs—people who wanted to share answers to these questions during lunch dates—and people who thought that asking these questions was likely to stir up psychiatric issues and uncontrollable emotions. I think most of the people who argued both sides have retired by now. Their concerns were valid, their fears usually exaggerated. Strangely, I don’t remember many people expressing fears of what really did happen when school friends routinely asked each other “What are the biggest problems in your life right now?” and “Do you feel you have to prove your worthiness before receiving love?” What happened was that we all got too much information about each other too fast, and used the information in thoughtless, unhelpful ways. The alternative to not talking about our emotions all the time is that people get to know each other better at a more realistic pace.
The people who were worried about “uncontrollable emotions” tended to be the people who had been taught that nobody else should be able to guess that they had emotions. Unfortunately a few of these people passed their fears on to their children; we still have people like Joyce Meyer believing that nobody else should know when a Christian feels angry. These people don’t realize that the unpleasant emotions we feel don’t do others any harm, that revealing our unpleasant emotions may actually help others and improve relationships. If her friends think that somebody like Joyce Meyer doesn't mind when they make plans for Monday, forget all about those plans, and call her on Friday, not only are they likely to do that kind of thing again, but they may also tell other people something like "Joyce is easy to work with but she has no idea how to organize her time. I wouldn't want to work with her in a responsible position."

The Viscott Method is meant to stir up a few uncomfortable feelings. If you are the kind of person who should read this book, experiencing those feelings won’t hurt you or anyone around you in any way. You might cry, you might yell, you might feel like chopping or pounding something; you don’t have enough unbearable pent-up emotional energy to do anything violent. Of course, if you are a person who has lost control of your emotions and done violent things in the past, then your psychiatrist and/or probation or parole officer should supervise any use you make of this book.

For most people, The Viscott Method is warmly recommended.

Unfortunately David Viscott no longer needs his 10% of the total price you would pay for this book, which is $5 for the book + $5 shipping, if you bought it here (salolianigodagewi @ If you buy a Fair Trade Book here, though, you may add The Viscott Method to the package and pay only one shipping charge.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Found Objects on Route 23

I'm sharing this just in case it helps somebody find a stolen vehicle...On Route 23, miles are numbered starting from the Tennessee border. The business route through Gate City branches off the main route around mile 4, and rejoins the main route via a half-cloverleaf overpass around mile 7. Just past the half-cloverleaf, within sight of the 7-mile mark, some objects were apparently dumped out of a vehicle.

Objects I did not think would be worth bringing in out of the rain included some store receipts, a pencil, some balloons that had lost their bounce, and a bright yellow sock. At least it was bright yellow this morning. I don't know what color it may be by now.

What I did bring in out of the rain were two handbags. If by any chance the car was being cleared out by a thief, it might be best that I not describe these handbags except to say that the inner pockets had been turned out--any money, cards, or identifying documents had been removed.

If your car was stolen on Monday or Tuesday, and it contained two handbags that could be cleaned up and reused after lying out in the rain overnight, you might want to visit that section of Route 23, westbound, between the ramps and the first exit, right about where the 7-mile marker would be. (The actual marker was knocked down in a crash years ago.)

If you want the handbags, visit the Mountain Treasures store on Jackson Street in Gate City. I asked the storekeeper to hold them for a while in case they came out of a stolen car. They were nearly new bags. The words "black" and "white" would probably be used to describe them.

Link Log for March 4

Categories: Animals, Censorship, Crafts, Disasters, Phenology, Poem, Politics, Religion, Sports.


Clever octopus figures out how to photograph itself, then photograph a researcher...but fails to figure out how to eat the camera.

Owls, snow leopards, maybe more if your computer was not "updated" in such a way that you've had to reinstall Chrome and now Chrome is infuriatingly trying to "personalize your settings."

Lots and lots of dogs here, and some cats.

More dogs, and song lyrics.

Indoor cats, and how not to have to look at litter boxes:


All I intended to do was retweet a quote that's already received hundreds of retweets all by itself. I wouldn't retype it here without some editing. However, since some sort of glitch, probably a cookie clash, allowed over two hundred Tweeple to retweet this image while telling me "Your account may not be allowed to perform this action," here's the image in all its rude glory...with apologies to real liberals, who by definition never oppose freedom of speech.


"A clean house is the sign of a broken sewing machine."


Virginia has floods. (Gate City's Grogan Park is under water. Big Stone Gap schools closed early as low-lying neighborhoods evacuated. This is a good day not to be in Clinchport. I smiled though when someone tweeted that Johnson City, Tennessee, is having nice sunny weather. Enjoy it while you can...the water is heading your way.) And South Africa has fires...


I think one reason why this computer has been throwing fits is that Twitter appears to be unable to handle the mass of phenology posts people are putting up. I follow local news headline feeds and just about every town out here in the point of Virginia seems to be represented by a few flood images. Highway police are encouraging people to go home and post these flood pictures to warn people not to drive if they can avoid it. Here's a sample:

And more of this is on the way...

The strangest weather news this week has been the "temperature gap" between Virginia and Tennessee. Really dramatic, as if warm breezes were stopped at the state line. On Sunday a friend in Carters Valley, just across the line, called to say it was 62 degrees Fahrenheit where he was. It wasn't even 42 degrees where I was; I think 38 was my afternoon high. Again today, a friend's cell phone reported the temperature from Johnson City as 61 degrees just as the bank thermometer on East Jackson Street was flashing an afternoon near-high of 49...which felt pretty good, actually, after last week's single digits. Johnson City's temperatures usually run about 5 Fahrenheit degrees higher than ours, due to lower altitude and local warming. This has been bizarre.

To our east, a pretty little bird--a male Painted Bunting--got lost and has been seen floundering about in the snow, looking very pitiful.


Poem for a black-and-white-and-gray day:


Publius Huldah's Ohio appearance has been rescheduled due to weather. (If I'd been online on Monday I would have logged the announcement of her Indiana appearances, too.)

Yes, I retweeted a graphic asserting that our current presidential administration is failing us by relying on a failed ideology. Yes, left-wingers often fail their fellow believers by failing to recognize the difference between correction and hate, or even condemnation. When we tell you that totalitarian government almost always implodes, and totalitarian methods do more harm than good, that's a correction--like turning the wheel while driving a car. When haters call for totalitarian measures like censorship or deportation, that's more like scrapping the car.


So, why don't decent Muslims denounce the sick-minded ones? In some countries physical intimidation explains it, but in the U.S. surely... ??? This Christian minister's explanation (e-mailed by Patricia Evans) may be true:

Golda Meir said: "We will have peace with the Arabs only when they love their children more than they hate us." (Tweeted by Lance Silver.)


Incredibly, the Gate City (Lady) Blue Devils are reported to be heading to flooded Tazewell for another basketball game. On their way to the state title...even if they get caught in the snow out there!

"Virginia boys regional games WILL be played tonight at Richlands. Girls WILL be played at Tazewell"

Right. This is enough links for one day. Local lurkers, time to tune in for the game.

Karen Bracken on Balance in Public School Textbooks

Karen Bracken shared this document from the Florida Family Association; my response (the paragraph I typed into the petition-to-the-company linked at the end of the F.F.A. report) appears below.

"Several news sites (Fox News and CreepingSharia) reported in late December 2014 that the Pitt County School District in North Carolina was using a vocabulary textbook with a chapter titled The Islamic World.  The work book contained several pages of vocabulary fill in the blank questions such as:
    • “There are such vast numbers of people who are anxious to spread the Muslim faith that it would be impossible to give a(n)___ amount.”
    • “The responses to Muhammad’s teachings were at first _____. Some people responded favorably, while other resisted his claim that ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad his Prophet.”
  • “The zenith of any Muslim’s life is a trip to Mecca.”
The entire Islamic World section is posted here.  
Florida Family Association submitted a Public Records Request on January 5, 2015 to the Pitt County School District  which asked for copies of the vocabulary textbook chapter titled The Islamic World.  The request also asked for the separate Christian and Jewish side lessons that the district spokesperson, Brock Letchworth, alleged were also distributed.  Mr. Letchworth complied with the request.  He provided Florida Family Association with a copy of the entire Holt, Rinehart and Winston Vocabulary Workshop Fourth Lesson and two separately created side lessons.
The Holt, Rinehart and Winston Vocabulary Workshop Fourth Lesson was first published 15 years ago.
Florida Family Association began a long drawn out email exchange with Roderick M. Spelman, Vice President of Holt, Rinehart and Winston’s parent company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  Florida Family Association asked Roderick M. Spelman “What other workbooks are currently offered for this grade level which give the same presentation of Judaism and Christianity that were presented in this workbook for Islamism, Hinduism and Buddhism?”
After several follow up email communications, Mr. Spelman finally answered on February 6, 2015 with:   "After reviewing past product  I cannot provide you with any vocabulary workbook titles that have been published by HMH (presently or via our legacy companies) that present Judaism or Christianity as the basis for a set of vocabulary activities.  That said, our range of Social Studies texts do present content on all major religions. I would be happy to direct you to those title if that would be helpful to you. Please let me know."
However, Mr. Spelman has not provided the alleged “Social Studies texts on all major religions” that he offered on February 6, 2015 despite Florida Family Association’s follow up requests.  
The Holt, Rinehart and Winston Vocabulary Workshop Fourth Lesson workbook is still offered for sale and used in schools. 
By Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s own admission they have not offered during the past fifteen years vocabulary workbooks that have included Chapters on Judaism and Christianity for this grade level but they have for Islam.  Omitting Judaism and Christianity from publications in this manner makes it difficult for school districts to present a curriculum with fairly and legally balanced religious content.
Florida Family Association has prepared an email for you to send that urges officials at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to stop omitting Judaism and Christianity from their publications and start providing fairly and legally balanced religious content in the future.
To send your email, please click the following link, enter your name and email address then click the "Send Your Message" button. You may also edit the subject or message text if you wish.

To which e-mail I added:

"I know it will be very difficult to discuss the U.S. "majority" religions, with all their diversity and disputes, in the same bland general way it's possible to discuss tiny minorities that are likely to thank publishers for mentioning them at all; publishers have my sympathy about that. I'm even willing to vet proposed texts from a conservative-Protestant perspective. However, it's unfair to students to assume that all children already know everything they need to know about Judaism and Christianity. Most elementary school students are taught about only one (and typically only one denomination), and many aren't taught about either."

Morgan Griffith on Immigration

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith:

"It's About the Rule of Law

For those who might have missed it, last week’s column discussed efforts to protect the Constitution and take action against the President’s recent actions on immigration.  I and others in Congress believe that these actions were improper, and that the President does not have the authority to take the actions he took on immigration.  These actions have also been questioned by the Judicial branch.

There is much debate about the tactics we ought to pursue in fighting these actions.  Some – myself included – think restricting funding for these programs is the way to go.  Others feel the President’s actions should instead be fought in the courts.  I believe the courts should be used, but the Founding Fathers anticipated each branch would use its powers to check another branch if it exceeded its authority.  Therefore, both the Legislative and Judicial branches should be engaged in checking an out of control Executive branch.

I believe the courts should determine the President’s immigration actions are unconstitutional.  That will take time.  In the interim, since I believe that the President did not have the authority to take these actions and that they are unlawful, I am of the view that Congress is obligated to hold the President accountable in its own way:  by exercising its power of the purse as an equal branch of government.

Sadly, Senate Democrats for weeks have blocked consideration of a House-passed bill that would defund the President’s unlawful actions.

Further, it seems they are not willing to even sit down with us at the negotiating table to have this important debate and work out our differences.  “We will not allow a conference to take place,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on February 26.  “It won’t happen.”  This is despite Senator Reid saying in May of 2013, “we aren’t afraid to try resolve our differences in a conference committee.  This has been the custom of the Senate and the House of Representatives for almost 200 years.”

The process spelled out in Jefferson’s Manual of Parliamentary Practice outlines that the two houses meet to resolve the differences in their respective bills or concepts.  That is how Congress is supposed to work.  But Senator Reid has indicated he will invoke the modern filibuster/cloture rule to stop the process established so long ago, a process that has served our republic well.  I find this outrageous.  Outrageous that any minority can stop the two houses from discussing their differences.

Accordingly, some of my colleagues in the House are now joining me in my calls for the U.S. Senate to return to the historical filibuster rule.  Readers of this column are aware that I have been urging this change for years.  I first wrote of on November 16, 2012, soon after the election that left the Senate controlled by the Democrats and President Obama returning to the White House.  For those keeping count, from November 2012 until now, I have written on this subject 6 times in this column alone and have spoken on it numerous times.

On the March 1 “Meet the Press” news program, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the Senate should get rid of the 60-vote threshold.  Congressmen Raul Labrador (R-ID), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), and others have made similar arguments.  Making this change would get a bill with immigration restrictions to the desk of the President.

The President has a pen, as he has reminded us (and a phone).  He will likely veto such a bill.  But the President needs to stop using Harry Reid as a shield from him doing his job.  Let Congress, elected by the people of the United States, work its will and do its job on numerous issues.  If you wish to face their wrath, go ahead, Mr. President.  Use that pen, veto that bill, and go against the wishes of the majority of the American people.

As I write this column, it is unclear how this DHS funding debate will play out, as the Senate Democrats are expected to continue with their obstructionism.  However, I would remind them that this debate is not about whether you like the President’s immigration policy.  It is about whether you like the rule of law.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at  Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives."

Robert Hurt on the Federal Reserve

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt...oh wow, I didn't mean to paste in all that fancy formatting, but let's see whether the system can take it...It can't. Let's see whether I can re-paste the text only so youall can read it. (The whole graphic shows up on the screen where I edit the post, but only half of it shows up on the screen that displays the post.)

"The Federal Reserve System supervises nearly all banking in the United States and plays a substantial role in the domestic and global economies. Since its creation in 1913, the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors has expanded its power, and its role in monetary policy has gone relatively unchecked. Given the impact that its policies can have on our economy, the Federal Reserve must be transparent and its leaders must be held accountable to the American people.
Enhancing the transparency of the Federal Reserve will improve the public’s understanding of the decisions the Federal Reserve Board makes, which have a profound impact on the American people and our economy. I am a cosponsor of the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, which would require a full audit of the Board of Governors within the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve banks by the Comptroller General of the United States.
Until we can institute more transparent policies for the Federal Reserve, we must continue to provide rigorous congressional oversight. Last Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testified before the House Financial Services Committee hearing entitled, “Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy.” I appreciate Chair Yellen's testimony, particularly because I have serious concerns about Federal Reserve policies that make life more difficult for hardworking Americans and disproportionately diminish the ability of Main Street banks to provide vital capital in our rural communities.
I am particularly concerned by the Dodd-Frank Act’s negative impacts and costs for community banks, small businesses, and consumers. A newly released Harvard studyarticulates how the Dodd-Frank Act has actually given Wall Street an advantage over Main Street - the exact opposite of what its proponents said it would do. The study found that since the enactment of Dodd-Frank, community banks’ share of the market has decreased due to the pressure of increased regulation. This means that community banks are providing fewer mortgages to customers and fewer loans to small businesses on our Main Streets.
The study’s findings represent the impacts Fifth District Virginians have felt for years now. Though the Dodd-Frank Act was intended to rein in bad actors on Wall Street, instead, we have seen that it is disproportionately harming small Main Street banks, credit unions, and their customers by imposing one-size-fits-all regulatory schemes on community financial institutions. These regulatory impacts represent real costs and eliminate choices for consumers – both families and small businesses – on Main Streets from Chatham to Warrenton.
The Federal Reserve has an obligation to tailor regulatory policy to account for the differences between large multinational institutions and smaller financial institutions and the customers they serve. During the hearing, I pressed Chair Yellen to explain what the Federal Reserve is doing to ensure that its system of regulation is not unduly impacting small financial institutions and dragging down our local economies as a result.
I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Financial Services Committee to maintain robust congressional oversight of the Federal Reserve, and I remain committed to promoting policies that will incentivize economic growth to provide jobs and opportunities to all Fifth District Virginians.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120."


Click the image above or click here to watch video of Congressman Hurt questioning Chair Yellen at last week's Financial Service Committee hearing.
Robert visited with Dr. Michael Hurst of Nelson County to discuss community health centers.
Robert met with Kim Hayden of Upperville while she was on Capitol Hill for the National Hemophilia Foundation’s Annual Washington Day.

Book Review: Fun Embroidery for Kids' Stuff

Title: Fun Embroidery for Kids’ Stuff
Author: Irene Fackler
Date: 1998
Publisher: Madeira / Urania-Ravensburger t Dornier Medienholding
ISBN: none
Length: 63 pages of text and illustrations, plus folded pattern insert
Quote: “In this book you will find ideas for making clothing and textile accesso­ries for children, and how to enliven them with appliqué and embroidery.”
Madeira is a manufacturer of sewing supplies; after seeing a pile of embroidered children’s things next to the introduction, you will next see an assortment of colorful threads, including metallic thread and multicolored thread. Then there’s an introduction to iron-on and wash-out interfacings, needles and hoops, and the Madeira Magic Pen, which is used to draw lines that will disappear in a few hours, making the finished product look as if you’d literally drawn a picture with a sewing machine. Then, after a short note on techniques, the author starts explaining how to sew and embroider things made from the patterns given in the insert.
Then, at last, we enter that terribly cute nursery world where the cartoon characters roam, plain white summer gear gets bands of multicolored embroidery, and it’s perfectly safe to make backpacks out of dress fabric because children that size aren’t likely to try to carry anything too heavy to be toted round in scraps from a cotton shirt. Measurements are calculated using the metric system, then converted to inches. Some words are used in European ways, as when a bath mitt made out of towelling is identified as a “Flannel.” 
In addition to the little shirts and dresses you expected, this book also explains how to make a not very realistic “strawberry tote bag,” a helicopter fan’s backpack with a real propeller that could be made to turn, key tags and brooches to go with everything, and a big quilted “book” on whose “pages” tots can practice buttoning, zipping, snapping, braiding, and tying bows.

How to tell whether you need this book: Look through a store copy with your favorite children. (Garments are designed to fit average-built children about three and a half feet tall.) If they like the finished products, the book is for you. If they’ve outgrown either the garments or the embroidery patterns, leave this book for someone else, as it doesn’t offer much guidance on ways to adapt the projects.

Should Fun Embroidery for Kids' Stuff be a Fair Trade Book? Google isn't helping us determine this. Apparently "Irene Fackler" is one of those names, like "Priscilla King," that doesn't sound as if it would be terribly common but is in fact used by several different people. The Irene Fackler who wrote this book was not young at the time. At least two Irene Facklers of what might be her age have died since the book was published. I don't know, at the time of writing, whether the author can benefit from the Fair Trade Books program or not. In any case, the best price we can offer for Fun Embroidery for Kids' Stuff online is $10 for the book + $5 for shipping. If you're buying a Fair Trade Book from this web site (salolianigodagewi @ you can probably fit this slender book into the same package and pay only one $5 shipping charge. If not, check around, you might find a better price. If you do buy it here, we will mail a real letter to the publisher and ask them whether Irene Fackler might still have a use for $1.50.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book Review: Birds of America

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Birds of America
Author: Lorrie Moore

Author's Facebook page:
Date: 1998
Publisher: Picador / St Martin’s Press
ISBN: 0-312-24122-4
Length: 291 pages
Quote: “She let her life get dull—dull, but with Hostess cakes.” obscure was that cultural reference? Some online readers may live in countries that don't have Hostess cupcakes, or even analogous products: cheap amalgams of lard, sugar, flour, mostly artificial flavorings, and chemical additives, frequently sold in gas stations. If not the quintessential example of “empty calories,” they’re among the top contenders.
A substantial proportion of the clever observations in this book rely on U.S. cultural references like this one. To figure out what happened to the woman whose life got dull, but with Hostess cakes, readers must also recognize: Scorsese, Brando, juice bars, Mother Courage, Vantage (cigarettes), Days Inn, Disney, St Jude’s Medical, Ecstasy (the illegal drug), seashore-and-self-esteem tapes, monosodium glutamate, hillbillies, ponchos, nougat, Styrofoam, paisley, Django Reinhardt, tapas bars, “vita” (curriculum vitae), and Patti Lupone.
What’s not well represented in this book: birds. There are occasional references to flipping someone the bird, eating duck, someone circling like a bird before walking out of the room, but these are not stories about birds, or even bird watchers, which were what I personally was hoping for. Bird watchers are a group of people I find interesting. The characters in these twelve stories are not people I find particularly interesting.
A disproportionate percentage of major characters in these stories are homosexual. Once upon a time, long ago, this would have been daring, reflecting either substantial research or a vivid imagination. (Back then I wrote minor, sympathetic, reality-based homosexual characters and wondered whether I'd be daring enough to leave them in when I was old enough to write fiction.) Now it comes across as bourgeois, even venal: to get a second-rate book promoted, throw in a piece of the homosexual lobby’s propaganda, and certain people will instantly pronounce your book daring and brilliant and important and, most ironic of all, original, however good or bad it may be.
Very little fiction is or has ever been original. Very few short stories appeal to me. Fiction about people who, mostly, blunder in and out of each other’s beds, practically never appeals to me. I down-rated a collection by Margaret Atwood for this quality, a few years ago; I'm down-rating Birds of America for the same quality now. Some people think reading about the sexual behavior of strangers or fictional characters is enlightening. I think it would be more enlightening to read about the nonsexual behavior of these characters. Well...when they're not having sex, they are consuming contemporary U.S. pop culture...and at least characters who express their authors' philosophical views in bed are more fun to read about than characters who express their authors' philosophical views by dying, or committing murder, or losing their minds.
So how was it possible for me to read these stories, given that I seldom like short stories, don’t care about these characters, and don’t agree with the main political statement made in this book? It was possible because Moore does have wit and talent. U.S. cultural references work for me; I think “dull, but with Hostess cakes” may be an inside joke but it’s a clever one.

If you like clever insights into U.S. pop culture and plots that are mostly about pop-culture consumers in bed, you will love Birds of America. If you would have preferred a collection of more stories like Sarah Orne Jewett's "White Heron," you'll find Birds of America disappointing, but you may still chortle while reading it--once.

Anyway, although I've sold the physical copy about which this review was written, Birds of America is a Fair Trade Book. Send $5 for the book + $5 for shipping to salolianigodagewi @, and out of this we will send Lorrie Moore or her charity $1.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Review: The Fierce Beauty Club

A Fair Trade Book

Title: The Fierce Beauty Club
Author: Elizabeth Herron

Author's online contact page:
Date: 2001
Publisher: Fair Winds Press
ISBN: 1-931412-70-7
Length: 223 pages of text
Quote: “Following the first two great waves of femnism, which focused on political and economic freedoms, ‘the next wave [of femi­nism] needs to be primarily devoted to developing our emotional that the cages of constrictive femininity have finally been opened, women, in many ways, have to be remade.’”
Do you feel that you have to be remade? I don’t. Who does? Maybe women in Elizabeth Herron’s predicament do; her introduction to this book begins with the statement that her mother, an alcoholic, had “completely lost her way,” that she lacked “social and spiritual guide­lines” through the seasons of her life. Herron needed to be “remade” to arrive at the degree of personal liberation from which many of us start. Well, specifically, from which women who’ve found meaning in their own religious traditions start.
To some extent this book tells the story of some friends of Herron’s, ages 22 to 71, whose identifying details have undoubtedly been falsified for book purposes but are mentioned anyway. This gives the book the quality of a novel. We don’t really need to know the details about Jenny’s oversized sweater and shoulder-length gray hair parted in the middle in order to understand that she's working through empty-nest syndrome; we’ll get the details, anyway, all the way. For some readers this helps bring Herron’s ideas to life. For others, it’s a distraction.
What Herron offers her friends is, basically, the experience of Jungian psychoanalysis as a group. They make lists of what they learned about being women as they were becoming women. They discuss both ways they can get more power, in the ordinary sense of the term, and ways they already wield power without realizing it. They reach some interesting insights, like this one:
“[W]hen I  was co-teaching gender communications seminars around the country with my husband, Aaron[, t]he participants frequently scrutinized us heavily for any possible signs of inequity in our relationship. Periodically,. some woman would come up to us afterward and mention that she had actually timed the inter­vals that we each talked and noticed that Aaron had talked longer...We began carefully timing all of our lectures. I felt constant pressure to talk as much as Aaron...It then occurred to me...that when I talked less, I was able to pay closer attention to the dynam­ics of the group.”
They explore the feminine archetypes of Pagan goddesses, with particular attention to “whole goddesses” whose complex stories reveal them doing both bad and good things. They embrace their “shadows,” another Jungian exercise that can easily go too far. (Everyone has some capacity for murderous hate, but only a few people commit murder.) They assure one another that they’re attractive enough. They talk, at length and in depth, about sex.  They look for ways in which each of them can consider herself “creative.” They try, with limited success, to improve their close relationships by trying to be more independent.
Jungian psychology has been a cultural influence in Europe and North America for a hundred years now, and it’s intriguing to reflect on the fact that this approach to personal growth is part of our Collective Unconscious culture by now. Women who have an active connection with a religious tradition might feel a bit bewildered by the idea that Herron’s friends felt a need to talk through all these things without the benefit of the religious framework in which we relate to most of the topics Herron’s friends discussed. I felt, as I read this book, very much as I’ve felt while reading first-year English textbooks for foreign students. There are people who don’t automatically associate the “eee” sound with the letter E! If you’re a practicing Christian or whatever-else, this book is just not meant for you and may not be useful to you.

If you grew up without a spiritual identity, this book is for you. And you'd be in a better position to review it than I'm in. And although Amazon offers review space only to people who've bought their copy of a book from Amazon, this web site welcomes comments and dissenting reviews from anyone who's read the book.

The Fierce Beauty Club is a Fair Trade Book. To order it from salolianigodagewi @ will cost you $5 for the book + $5 for shipping. (The shipping price covers as many items as fit into one package.) Out of this, Elizabeth Herron or a charity of her choice will receive $1. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Link Log for February 27

Categories: Animals, Car Trouble, Chortles, Constitutional Rights, Gardening, Good Thoughts, Language Quiz, Obituary, Politics, Tourism, Weather, Writing...


The Guardian picks the world's best wildlife photos...regularly. After scrolling through this eye candy (warning: one distressing picture), you can open more wildlife photo galleries.

This clever heron is training a hippopotamus to carry it out into deeper water for better fishing opportunities. (Herons can actually swim--not like ducks, but enough to get back to shore.)

Owl gone wrong:

Car Trouble 

Chevrolet Impala recall:


Twitter absolutely refused to let me open this page from the Twitter link yesterday, but here it is... totally bogus factoids about Washington, D.C. (True fact: a statue of Diogenes housed in a Maryland suburban school library has long been rumored to prowl around the building at night, but I never heard any rumors of his flying out beyond the campus...)

The "birthday song parodies" invitation was too easy, considering which politician (1) has a name that rhymes easily, (2) does not represent this constituent's point of view in Congress, and (3) recently celebrated a birthday.

"Happy Birthday, Tim Kaine,
In the Senate you're a pain,
You should live long and prosper,
Only maybe in Spain."

Definitely not good enough for the Post. Youall can do better. Please use the comment section, or Twitter, or both, to prove it.

Here's a silly quiz...immigrants may face other challenges to "belonging" in these United States, but the creator of this poll certainly sets the bar low for "belonging" in Texas.

More chortles lie ahead...a new novel by Daniel Handler:

Constitutional Rights 

It's not only Christians who need to support these victims of violations of their "pre-constitutional" right to freedom of speech. It's anybody who doesn't want to be sued for doing or saying anything that puts some rich, neurotic individual into a snit-fit. People have the right not to like each other. People have the right to hurt each other's little feelings. People have the right to sabotage their own businesses by asking questions and making judgments about customers; employers have the right to fire employees who do this, and they should, but if the owner wants to do it, it's the owner's own business.

And those who believe that two women have a "marriage" had better think twice about tolerating censorship, or interfering with other people's right to hurt those women's feelings--because, if a business owner's turning down an offer is horrible, terrible discrimination, how much worse is either of those women's turning down a more personal proposition from a man?

Same issue, different's not been so very long since all people of African or Native American descent were "suspected terrorists," or "insurrectionaries" as they were then called, and were denied the right to use firearms.


This lightweight cardigan has a lot going for it--easy lace trim, subtly flattering lines, graceful shaping.


Looking forward to a real thaw next week, Virginia Living shares photos of three invasive plant species that can become pests. Pretty, maybe, but these are weeds. Why would I share this? Because it's not too late to get some use out of an ailanthus tree if you have one. They're not the best firewood, but they will burn.

Good Thoughts 

How to overcome fears of what "Everybody" will think:

How to laugh at the worries of the Actuarial Generation:

Language Quiz 

The Washington Post recommends a foreign language for each reader to study based on their answers to seven quiz questions. (The position of this web site is that any high school diploma should require at least tourist-level fluency in at least two languages.)


Eugenie Clark, ichthyologist, died yesterday.

Leonard Nimoy, the best-known "Star Trek" actor and "alien"-sounding singer, died at age 83.


For those who wondered why all those wood stoves were banned from the, it wasn't that they were defective stoves.

Y'know the Cold War ended in 1989. The democracies won. So where did the Communist Parties go? Did those people learn something...or did they quietly sneak into major political parties (and the U.N.) and continue their service to their religion unchecked? And have they succeeded? Allen West asks us to consider the extent to which the goals of Marx and Engels are being met. For those who were turned off by McCarthyism, I'll add a request: Consider how well these feel-good policies have served Russia.

Goaded no doubt by charges that two left-of-center talking heads have lied on their shows, Media Matters unleashes its dogs on Bill O'Reilly...Meh. Most TV talking heads look and sound interchangeable to me. O'Reilly happens to be the author of a book this web site has promoted. But I'm guessing that all Media Matters will get by trying to bash O'Reilly is tired.

Tim Kaine sheds some light on his left-wing philosophical roots in this memoir of working with Jesuits in Honduras. Very good, kind people...very vulnerable, perhaps especially in the 1970s, to Old Left ideology. The El Pais page does not have an English translation button. I checked; Bing produced a readable English version in less than two minutes.

Tourism has put Gate City on the map...of "22 small towns to visit."

"Vintage and antique seekers will enjoy a stroll through Gate City, so named for its role as the gateway into Virginia from Kingsport, Tennessee. If an old mercantile, family owned restaurants and a walk through time sound like a treasure of a day, then this is your place at a slow pace. Enjoy pastries from The Family Bakery and an authentic short-order lunch at Hob-Nob Drive-In. There’s also a special LOVEwork in Gate City for you to find!


The snow is finally beginning, very very slowly, to melt. Did the February thaw, which typically occurs in the last week of February, come early this year? Were those two warm days around the beginning of the month it? Forecasters anticipate a real thaw around the beginning of March...with the possibility of floods.


When I started this blog, the contract banned explicit or violent content. Since I want The Nephews to be able to read what I write, and had no plans to post explicit or violent content, I've had a good time imposing, playing with, and occasionally lifting a ban on any mention of any specific body part. So when Google sent out the message "You will no longer be allowed to post explicit content," I wondered whether ongoing harassment by a recently blocked troll was involved. Moi?

Well, no...apparently some of the blogs into which you might stumble, if you noticed and used a "Next Blog" button at the top of this page, have been posting explicit content. Did they not sign the same contract? Wottha...?

Reading books and writing poetry help former inmates stay out of the D.C. jail:

(Does anyone remember Richard Stratton's Slam? I still have the book.)

Book Review: Seaward (Update)

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Seaward
Author: Susan Cooper

Author's web page:
Date: 1983
Publisher: Atheneum (hardcover), Simon & Schuster (paperback)
ISBN: 0-02-042190-7
Length: 167 pages
Quote: “Nothing is black and white, Westerly, in this long game we play.”
It’s a fantastic adventure quest: two teenagers running together through a surreal alternative world where anything may happen except life-as-usual. Blurbs on both the hardcover and the paperback edition specify that they come from different countries and speak different languages, in the everyday reality of the story; we’re never told which countries those are, although the girl identifies with an old myth from Scotland or Shetland. In the alternative reality of the story they can talk to each other. Both of them have English names, which become vaguely ominous in the context of the story: Westerly is going west and Cally is a phonetic version of a Gaelic word for “old woman”; Death is calling to these kids.
They do not fall in love. It’s not that kind of story. Both have recently lost their parents, and their adventures seem to be inspired, vaguely, by the idea of grief as a journey. A superhuman male figure who seems to represent life, or resurrection, or reincarnation, claims their allegiance in the alternative world. A superhuman female figure who seems to represent death, or a permanent death, a Great Sleep, tries to get them away from her brother. Nothing is black or white; neither figure will consent to be identified with good or evil. Lugan, named after the mythical ancestor-god of London, is gold and radiant. Taranis, named after a mythical god of thunder, is blue and usually quiet. It’s all a game to them; both offer death in the end.

The story is certainly imaginative, lively, and well written, but if read as anything more than a fantastic adventure—if chosen for the comfort to the bereaved its symbolism seems to offer—it’s not particularly comforting. Cooper, a specialist in British folklore, here seems to be trying to offer a British Pagan alternative to English Christian beliefs about life and death.

However, Cally and West are not dying in this story. They're grieving, and along the way they're having adventures, coming of age, testing their strength, and even helping other characters. It's possible to enjoy just going along with them for the ride.

Seaward is a Fair Trade Book. As usual, to buy it from salolianigodagewi @ you send $5 for the book, $5 for shipping; you pay only one $5 shipping charge for as many books as fit into one package. Living authors or the charities of their choice receive 10% of the total price you pay for Fair Trade Books, including shipping. I'm delighted to repost this review with Susan Cooper's assistant's comment, the first comment we've received that specifies a charity:

"If you'd like to add Seaward to the list, we certainly approve, and the charity could be Reading is Fundamental."

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