Thursday, April 30, 2015

In an Unexpected Manner

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where it appeared on July 22, 2014. Image credit (same shirt, different sizes): Puravida at

Although this true story was brought to mind by the question at the end of Myqute 's horror story, , this one's in a completely different mood...

Years ago, I was invited to a house party that lasted all winter. My boyfriend invited me, and his sisters invited their boyfriends, to stay at their parents' house in the city where we were working. His parents were professional foster parents and even had a foster grandchild that winter, and it must have been quite a winter for them, not being able to walk through a twelve-room house without stepping on a sleeping bag. Somebody would start a load of laundry before dawn, and the last load would be dried around midnight.

One evening somebody read a horoscope out of the newspaper. Somebody else pointed out that that was supposed to have been a message for the day that was now over. Then we all started checking what was supposed to have happened to us during the past day.

My horoscope said, "You could lose property in an unexpected manner."

Uh-oh! I didn't have much to lose! But I checked, and I didn't seem to have lost anything.

Next morning I started dressing for work. Something didn't feel right. I double-checked. Yes, something I'd put on was the same brand and color it had been before, but somehow the garment had grown a size overnight.

At least it hadn't shrunk. I went to work as usual. Nobody seemed to notice.

A few weeks later I wore the same outfit again, and one of the other young women in the house said, "Oh, that's what happened!" She had bought the garment I was now wearing--same brand, same style, same color, same store--laundered it, and thought she'd taken it out of the laundry. Needless to say, she'd got mine and I'd got hers. And since mine was a size too small for her, and she still had the receipt, she'd returned it to the store, where it was no longer in stock, and she'd bought something else instead.

How many times since then I've read what the horoscope in the newspaper predicted for some day that's already past, and seen no connection at all! But just once, on a day when we were all laughing at the irrelevance of our horoscopes, my horoscope's prediction came a most unexpected manner.

Book Review: Famous Brands Great Vegetable Dishes

Book Review: Famous Brands Great Vegetable Dishes
Author: staff
Date: 1985
Publisher: Brand Name Publishing Corp.
ISBN: none, but click here to see it on Amazon
Length: 128 pages including many full-page, full-color photos
Quote: “No child is likely to plead, ‘Mommy, fix carrots for supper, please.’”
Actually, that’s because the way children usually like carrots isn’t “fixed,” and it’s not usually “for supper.” Children like carrots scrubbed, scraped as necessary, and raw, to hold in their hands and crunch, and also use to represent any object they need in a make-believe game. Children can enjoy raw vegetables as snacks, even as treats, if adults encourage them to do so. The idea that vegetables needed to be boiled down into mush probably originated with adults who had dental problems.
Making vegetables appeal to adults usually requires a little more creativity than just serving them raw. Children are attracted to sugar; most vegetables are sweeter when raw. Adults are usually more attracted to fat and protein, and more likely to eat vegetables when they’re served with enough concentrated calories, in the form of dips or sauces, to qualify them as a main dish. Well, why not? Add a wheat pita, baked tortilla chips, or some brown rice to most of the vegetable snacks in his book, and you have a balanced, nourishing meal.
Most of these vegetable dishes contain meat, cheese, fish, or egg somewhere. This is actually a good way to cut down on the surplus fat in your family’s diet without trying to make everyone go vegetarian. Use the animal products as flavoring, and focus on the vegetables. You can still have steak as the main dish once a week, if someone still wants it, and use leftovers to flavor a vegetable stew.
The book was sponsored by corporations that advertise their products with brand names, so although the main ingredients in these recipes come from the produce counter and aren’t “branded,” don’t be surprised to read instructions like “melt ¼ c Our Brand Margarine...” (any margarine will do, in real life) or “add 8 oz. Our Brand Tomato Sauce” (you might find that you like Competing Brand tomato sauce better). Feel free to substitute competing brands, store brands, or in some cases homemade alternatives. The surprising thing I found in this book was the number of recipes that do not specify a corporate trademark.

Great Vegetable Dishes has entered the collector price range. Although it's not a Fair Trade Book, in order to buy it here you'll need to send salolianigodagewi @ $10 for the book + $5 per package shipped. The good news is that if you're buying a Fair Trade Book, this long, thin book will fit into the package and you'll pay only one shipping charge for two or more books.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It's a Complicated World

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where it appeared on May 10, 2014. Image credit: Pmcel at

The oversimplified philosophy in the Disney "Small World" theme song never worked for me...

Disney’s world was small, but God’s world is great;
To know God’s great world was not Disney’s fate.
What he tried to believe could only deceive
Both himself and others too.

(Refrain) Some smiles mean friendship, and others don’t.
Some people will love us, and others won’t.
It’s a great, wide world! It’s a wonderful world!
It’s a complicated world!

There’s a time for hate and a time for love.
There are things below us and things above.
What helps A and B may do harm to C.
We need Wisdom every day.

There are times when love must be stern and tough,
There are times when it’s soft as a powder puff.
We must always discern, there’s always more to learn
In God’s complicated world.

You’ll not find a true friend on every street,
And true lovers take many years to meet.
So, if you would be kind, search on until you find
Friends who will prove true when tried.

Don’t chase after people who like their space.
Don’t read your feelings onto another face.
Differences we see, for diversity
Is God’s plan for God’s great world.

Remember, if you want to dispel the gloom,
There’d be no wars if each one stayed in his room.
Don’t “reach out” for love, but just look above
This great complicated world.

Book Review: The Changeling (by Selma Lagerlof)

Title: The Changeling [translation of Bortbytingen]
Author: Selma Lagerlöf, translated by Susanna Stevens
Date: 1989
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN: 0-679-81035-8
Length: pages not numbered
Quote: “The troll crone pulled the birch-bark basket off her back, removed her own infant, and placed it beside the human baby. And  when she saw the difference between them, she began to howl.”
Then the troll switched babies. The human parents tried to switch them back, but the troll hid from them. Most of the humans wanted to beat or abuse the troll and be rid of it, but the mother insisted on treating it kindly. So of course, like all fairy tales about kind people, the story ended happily.
This is a nice little picture book with beautiful full-color paintings. Recommended to all present-time and former children. Selma Lagerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning novelist who lived about a hundred years ago, has no use for a dollar any more, but if you send salolianigodagewi @ $5 for this book, you can add it to a package containing almost any of our Fair Trade Books and pay only one $5 shipping charge. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Link Log for April 28 (#2)

Fun stuff: Animals, Books, Cheerful Video, Crafts, Language, News of the Weird, Phenology, Science.


Serval cat:


There are those who enjoyed The Dubious Hills even more than Tam Lin and Juniper Gentian and Rosemary. Takes all kinds. However, I enjoyed The Dubious Hills enough that this is "hooping" good news to me, too:

Cheerful Video 

If two very short videos constantly repeating, side by side, don't literally give you fits--as they do some people--you'll probably enjoy watching a patient demonstrate to a nurse that she no longer needs the wheelchair.


New knitting patterns:


Penn Jillette dislikes the word "tolerance." What about you?

News of the Weird

As if it weren't weird enough for the busybody teacher to nag the parents about the contents of the child's lunch, the teacher's notions of nutrition--and English grammar--are especially weird. "A milk" and "If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread"? ???

(I don't think this episode was what Lloyd Marcus had in mind, here, but his comments are cogent, not weird:

Phenology (other than mine)

Flowers and cats from Minnesota:


You can try this one at home, if you want to:

Robert Hurt on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt:

"The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which was created by the Dodd-Frank Act, is an agency intended to oversee consumer protection in the financial sector, but it is equipped with unprecedented authority over America’s financial system, defying the basic principle of separation of powers. The CFPB receives its funding directly from the Federal Reserve, which is not held to a minimal standard of transparency or accountability, and it is only subjected to limited congressional oversight – a semi-annual Financial Services Committee hearing with its Director.

The CFPB remains an opaque and dangerously unaccountable agency equipped with unrivaled power over America’s financial system and consumers’ personal data. In actuality, it is using its power to adopt policies that often harm, rather than help, the very Americans it is tasked with protecting.

Consumers, community banks, and credit unions from across Virginia’s Fifth District have relayed to me troubling stories about the impact of the CFPB indicating that the agency’s unchecked authority is restricting consumer choice, creating an atmosphere of economic uncertainty, and imposing undue regulatory burdens that increase costs. This has extensive and harmful consequences for our economy. Small businesses, the backbone of our economy, are not able to access the capital they need to create jobs if their community banks are fighting bureaucratic red tape instead of providing loans.

Without appropriate oversight from Congress, the CFPB will be able to continue imposing sweeping and restrictive regulations on community financial institutions across the Fifth District at a time when access to credit for small businesses, farms, and families is more essential than ever. Real consumer protection requires that we shift power from bureaucrats in Washington who implement one size fits all regulations to those who are most affected. True consumer protection empowers consumers, not bureaucrats in Washington.

Last week, the House passed the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Boards Act, which would create a Small Business Advisory Board at the CFPB. This bill is critical in ensuring that the CFPB considers the broad-reaching negative effects on our most dynamic job creators. I was pleased to see it pass the House with bipartisan support, and I urge our colleagues in the Senate to continue working with us to promote success for our small businesses.

Though this bill was a crucial step in the right direction, it is just the first of many. Congressional oversight is essential to holding the CFPB accountable to the American taxpayers. Effective, appropriate consumer protections are best achieved through legislative reforms, not by empowering one unaccountable individual with such a crucial task. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to advancing commonsense policies that will enhance accountability and transparency at the CFPB to ensure their actions do not come at the expense of Fifth District families and small businesses.

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.

Robert met with Debbie Donehey of Flint Hill to discuss the many issues affecting restaurants in Virginia.

Robert visited with William Hopkinson from Charlottesville."

Phenology: Canada Geese

This post really ought to have a picture of Canada geese, but I was too low on phone minutes to snap one yesterday, when I observed that (possibly for the first time) a couple of Branta canadensis seem to be nesting beside Gate City's Quarry Pond.

For a gallery of excellent Canada geese images, click here:

The geese are found all over North America, and sometimes in Europe. Canada is merely where those who object to finding large, soft wads of digested grass in their driveway futilely order the geese to go back to. If the geese had any idea what these people meant, they'd be saying "Whaaat?" Most of the geese soiling U.S. driveways were hatched here. Canada geese love lawns and golf courses. If those things are located near to a body of water, sooner or later the geese will move in.

Some people have eaten them, but by all reports they were awfully hungry at the time. You know how ducks seem to be mostly grease? Geese are the same way, only more so. It's that dense layer of goose grease underneath the dense layers of goose down that allow the birds to bask contentedly on the ice when their favorite body of water starts to freeze over.

Ann Mackie Miller includes most of the standard data about Canada geese with her photos, so what I'll add is an anecdote. Geese of all breeds are likely to stay with one mate for life, and they're not very sociable in the summer while rearing their young. They can get downright hostile if anyone approaches their babies. In winter, however, when they travel in flocks, they're unprejudiced; flocks of Canada geese often include a few stray geese of domestic breeds. Although domestic geese may or may not fly well enough to travel very far with their wild friends, they can make themselves useful to a flock that have settled down for the winter.

On the Anacostia River where my husband and I used to walk on sunny days, the flock of resident Canada geese included a pair of Brown Chinese geese. We observed that these domestic geese were weaker fliers, but faster swimmers, than the Canada geese. When the flock were swimming they often took the lead. After the female China goose died, the male (gander) seemed to step into the role of Tribal Elder, lacking a mate but apparently allowed to dominate most of the Canada geese.

This went on for a few years, and eventually, as the China Gander stayed on the section of the river most of the Canada geese left in summer, he was allowed to stay close to one couple as a nest helper. That winter, when the goslings grew up and paired off, a young female Canada goose started sticking to the China Gander like glue. We guessed that this was one of the daughters of the couple who had been merely tolerating this third bird around their nest site. In spring, she apparently mated with one of her own kind, but seemed to try to spend time with the China Gander when she could. This unusual three-way bond lasted for at least two summers--until I left the city. The last time I saw these birds, they were still together. The goslings showed no signs of successful crossbreeding; I don't know whether the Canada goose and the China Gander ever actually tried to mate, or were merely fond of each other.

It's hard for humans to tell geese apart, much less love them--but they do love one another. A goose that is harmed by territorial humans will be missed for a long time by its friends and family.

Further phenological notes: Dogwoods and redbuds have bloomed, but not in anything like their usual spring glory. Bidens, dragged in by the cats, are trying to take over the not-a-lawn at the Cat Sanctuary and I spent parts of Sunday and Monday uprooting them. Fleabane daisies--wispy little asters in the genus Erigeron that aren't even closely related to "real" daisies, like these shown at Morguefile--have been blooming abundantly...

...and, possibly because of the strange winter weather, some of them look different from usual. Our fleabane daisies are usually white, sometimes pale rose-pink, but this spring I'm seeing several flowers with pale lavender undersides; sometimes even the upper sides show a lavender cast.

Some people's blooms include iris and clover, already, but at the Cat Sanctuary violets, vincas, and dandelions still prevail. We're at a high enough altitude to get refrigerator-cold but not freezing temperatures at night, and I've not seen an iris bud yet. However, this out-of-season weather does seem to be encouraging some less common wildflowers to bloom more profusely than usual down along the road. I'm seeing trilliums, bloodroot, and buttercups. (Buttercups are common down in the old cow pasture below the road, but not common in the road.)

Songbirds are back! Last summer, after poison was sprayed along Route 23, we found lots of dead songbirds. I saw and heard very few songbirds, apart from crows and my resident wrens and cardinals (the Cat Sanctuary is a twenty-minute walk from Route 23). Then during February's deep freeze, several of the usual winter visitor species died, too. However, our usual spring birds are back. I'm seeing robins, warblers, chickadees, sparrows and lots of the Little Brown Ones. (People with astigmatism can't identify the hundred or so songbird species we call Little Brown Ones.)

Listening to their calls as I've walked along Route 23 this spring has been pleasant...but useless for identification, because mockingbirds have moved into Scott County. This morning I heard a mockingbird imitating the songs of at least two different native songbirds, with a few imitations of other species thrown in between them, in Duffield. This mockingbird is a creative and energetic little fellow, especially at night. The last time I walked through Duffield, around midnight, I heard him imitate different birds for more than ten minutes--as long as I was within earshot--without a break or repetition. Like most mockingbirds he wasn't badly distracted by the human passing by. I have heard mockingbirds imitate humans and humans' gadgets, but this one stuck to bird calls.

Link Log for April 28 (#1)

This one is getting long, because I'm catching up, and heavy, because of the Baltimore riots. There will be a Link Log #2; it should contain more cheerful links. Today's Categories: Animals, Baltimore, Books, Citizens Fighting Crime, Communication, Crafts, Makers & Takers, Music, News of the Weird, Politics, Privacy, The Events of September 11, Writing.


Cute political cat picture:


What one of the best doctors in Baltimore is saying:

What the rest of the world is saying:

Fair disclosure: I've been in Baltimore, and seen things that made me pretty dam'mad, and I'm not even Black. Like trying to summon help on behalf of a disabled geriatric patient, who happened to be Asian, and the dispatcher saying, "Is the patient Black or White?" and then, since the patient was in a Black neighborhood anyway, in the care of a Black nurse, nobody came out. In the present century that happened. The last time I was there, in 2006, Baltimore was still as functionally segregated by hate and bigotry as Johannesburg ever wanted to be. Nevertheless, the position of this web site is that rioting is not a useful way to communicate any of the reactions any decent human being ought to share to the lingering effects of the race war in Baltimore. Have these people in Baltimore ever heard of documenting stuff on a blog, like?

Or, as the very young would express it:

Here's an older, more sophisticated student's point of view:

Here's a Baltimore Raven's point of view:

But people in Washington aaalllways ridicule Baltimore, in all ways, serious or otherwise, and nobody takes it seriously. If people in Baltimore want to call attention to and enlist support for the changes they need, they have to document it themselves. Ta-Nehisi Coates is one living Baltimore writer who's widely read, trusted, and respected in Washington:

Except that, if Baltimoreans tried harder to think like Martin Luther King, it wouldn't be compliance. It would be boycotts and shut-downs and sit-ins that would make people sit up and take notice, all right...only without killing anybody.

Billy Graham is deliberately recycling an old sermon here...closest thing to MLK I've read today.

The President is trying to think like MLK, too. Should we celebrate and take a day off bashing this bashable administration?

Here are some of the nicer residents of Baltimore:


Nancy Hardin's review of The Transplants brings to mind a whole genre, from Out of the Silent Planet through A Wrinkle in Time, The People, Native Tongue, and the Acorna series, where the aliens are more enlightened than humankind. (Some speculative fiction I've written also fits into this genre.)

Citizens Fight Crime 

Who says schoolteachers aren't Real Men? This one didn't even have a gun.


Scott Adams tries on Ozarque's shoes...(Note to foreign readers: that's an English idiom meaning he's trying to do some part of the job she used to do so well.)

Here's a simple introduction to personality psychology (and communicating with other types of personalities). Although even the Myers-Briggs personality inventory is obviously oversimplified, and the four-temperament personality inventory is obviously four times more oversimplified, when it comes to describing any real person...nevertheless, I prefer this one myself. Why? Because more complicated personality tests measure some traits that may be primarily based in learned behavior patterns, such that people may find themselves in the middle ground--both thinking and feeling, both judging and perceiving. The LaHaye test measures only four traits that have been shown to correlate with hereditary physical characteristics: you have them or you don't. When people's LaHaye temperament profile changes, it's probably because they've either developed or recovered from a physical disease condition that was altering the expression of an hereditary trait.


American knitters have seen books about Latvian knitting, books about Estonian knitting. Where's the book about Lithuanian knitting? (Yes, there are differences...tiny, like the countries.) Here it is...and if it were on Amazon, it'd be on my Wish List.

Makers & Takers 

Heavenforbidandfend this web site should say anything against people with genuine disabilities who, over time, recover some ability to do some sort of useful work and even help others, like my late lamented blind client George Peters, or the late lamented wheelchair-bound writer known as Shalecka Boone, or like the real-life friends known here as Right Hand Man and Left Hand Man. When people like that use any part of their pensions to employ other people or even launch businesses, they are Makers Not Takers times two; they are giving something back to society, with interest.

Then there are the plain old welfare cheats, also known as the Trash Class, described here:


Have you been to a place that was photographed and used on an album cover? These people have:

News of the Weird 

Idjit wants to be protected from any exposure to language lessons at, of all places, a school:

Even more idiotic judge bullies the public over the "emotional damage" they did by not participating in the wedding of two spoilt brats who, at this point, are coming across as the kind of people who really ought to be given the publicity they so crave by being sent up on a space probe.

I hate to think of the busybody bakers as representing "persecuted Christianity." Why aren't the out-loud evangelical Christians more interested in less sexy Christian issues...e.g. the Bible's mandate for helping able-bodied widows stay off welfare? Nevertheless, since has taken sides and censored the bakers, here's a link you can use if you feel moved to encourage the Kleins in some way. (Note that this site, like too many otherwise excellent sites, uses pop-ups and cookies and spyware that this computer thinks it can handle, but that may foul up some computers; I wouldn't know.)

Here's a random sampling of everyday weirdness in Tennessee:


If your computer handles PDF documents well, this one-page PDF by Publius Huldah is worth printing out and framing:

Privacy's a bicycle pedal attachment that enables a bicycle to document your every trip, just like a "smart car"! (Actually, I'm publicizing this because I do like the idea...of removing the thing while you are riding your bike, and reattaching it when you park your bike so you can track any thief who might be riding your bike.)

More seriously: It's time for the heinously misnamed "PATRIOT Act" to expire. U.S. readers, please notify your Senators...unless you want recordings of you laughing at your Significant Other's dirty jokes to be stored and potentially made available to the terrorists, when they take over, because law enforcement has been distracted by federal employees listening to private dirty jokes.

Like these little kids who are apparently being recruited for careers in spying and snooping?

The Washington Post reports on young people feeling abused and depressed after they've been talked (or text-messaged) into sharing dirty jokes or nude pictures, which, under the PATRIOT Act, may become available to future employers or blackmailers or terrorists or who knows what. Rightly so. My question is: are they depressed merely because they acted on a stupid suggestion, or did they act on the stupid suggestion because they were depressive in the first place? With the obligatory message to The Nephews: anybody who tries to get you to participate in explicit talk, or share any kind of picture, in cyberspace, is not your friend.

The Events of September 11 (2001) 

Do you want to rake up the muck and find out what was in the 28 pages of documentation you weren't told about in 2001-02? Y'know, actually...I don't. But, if you do, Jim Babka has a petition you might want to sign.


Have you written something--not necessarily as long ago as 1967!--that seems about as relevant today as it did a few years ago? If it's online, you can link and publicize it here:

Morgan Griffith Acts Neighborly

Hmm. In the same batch of e-mail where some correspondents are expressing dissatisfaction with Congressman Goodlatte, Congressman Griffith is writing about a neighborly visit to his district. I don't know, I'm not involved, I'm not in sounds as if Bob Goodlatte needs to take a solid fiscal-conservative stand on a few things. He's supposed to represent Roanoke voters, not me, but I get e-mail from a lot of fiscal conservatives in Roanoke. Anyway, here is Congressman Griffith's e-report:


Jobs continue to be the number one concern in our region, with many parts of our area having experienced higher than average unemployment rates for years.  We often hear about businesses that are struggling or failing; however, there are real life success stories in our region of businesses that are still managing to hire and expand operations.

I had the opportunity to speak with some of these businesses at the April 27, 2015 jobs fair the City of Roanoke hosted in conjunction with my office and the office of Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA-06).  Though my staff and I participate in a number of jobs fairs, this was the first this year that was held in conjunction with my office.  I am hopeful additional fairs will be scheduled in other parts of the district in the future.  I enjoy speaking at events like this job fair with businesses and manufacturers interested in growing in our region and employing those who call it home.

This jobs fair included numerous employers from the Ninth and Sixth Districts – more than 50 organizations including manufacturers, universities, banks, hotels, etc. had agreed to set up booths that would highlight local job and recreation opportunities.

Information on the jobs fair and participating vendors can be found online here:$fairs.  It is important to note that several organizations have opportunities throughout the Ninth District.  The Virginia Department of Corrections, for example, had several jobs available at their facilities in Buchanan County, Grayson County, and Smyth County.  These positions can be viewed at  Other organizations at the jobs fair provided services to Alleghany County and Craig County.

Also present were representatives of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), who had information to help veterans struggling to get jobs.  Staff with the Workforce Services office of the Virginia Employment Commission’s office in Covington were in attendance as well.

Among others, FreightCar America is looking for welders, along with @Work Personnel Services, who had a number of available opportunities.  Additionally, the Lanford Brothers Company is looking for drivers and others to assist with their construction activities.

Tecton Products is looking to hire folks to assist with the design and manufacture of custom pultrusion products, and Virginia Tech has a wide range of position types available as well.

Supporting Manufacturing

Tecton Products – mentioned above, a designer and manufacturer of pultrusion products – is just one of the Ninth District’s composites manufacturers.  Another composites manufacturer is Strongwell Corporation in Bristol, Virginia.

Recently, I was honored to accept the American Composites Manufacturers Association’s “Legislator of the Year” award, presented in recognition of work that I have done in Congress in support of the composites industry.  Additionally, I was honored to have been awarded the National Association of Manufacturers’ “Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence” for my work to help enable American manufacturers to compete in the global marketplace.

One of the best ways to help grow manufacturers and businesses in the United States and here in Virginia is to get the government out of the way.  I will continue supporting policies to that end, and will keep looking for opportunities to help businesses and manufacturers find a home and settle in the Ninth District.

You May Be Great and Still Make Mistakes

In World War I, the First Lord of the Admiralty came up with a concept to defeat the Turkish (Ottoman) forces in the Middle East that involved an invasion of Gallipoli at the Dardanelles.  The campaign took place from April 25, 1915 through January 9, 1916, and was ultimately unsuccessful.

The First Lord of the Admiralty was removed from office after the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign.  But while great men can make mistakes, they also can learn and rebound.  The great man in question who came up with the concept of the Gallipoli Campaign would come back to lead Great Britain during World War II.

That’s right – that great man was Winston Spencer-Churchill.

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. "

White Lies as Mental Laziness

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where it appeared on July 28, 2014. Topic credit: &TheresaWiza . Image credit: Priyanphoenix at

Some adults like to believe in, and teach children about, a concept Americans often call "white lies." The idea is that these lies are told not for personal gain, but to spare someone's feelings. Actually, of course, if the person ever finds out that s/he is being "spared," the emotional repercussions may be worse than if the "white liar" had told the truth...or even blurted out the horrid half-truth that came to his or her mind.

The classic example that's often used is "Suppose your Aunt Agnes has a habit of buying frightful-looking hats and asking you how you like them. Of course you can't tell her you hate them. So you have to lie."

I suppose, just to get this possibility out of the way, that some people's aunts do enjoy forcing their nieces and nephews to lie and say "It looks beautiful!" None of my aunts ever seemed to be that kind, and now that I am an aunt, with a habit of knitting hats some of which The Nephews might describe as frightful-looking, I'm definitely not that kind. I'm guessing that a majority of elderly relatives 
would rather hear the truth.

I'm also guessing that, for a majority of younger relatives, "I hate it" is not really the truth. You don't lie awake in the middle of the night muttering to yourself, "Ugly hats! I hate ugly hats! I'll show those horrible old hats! I'll get those hats if it's the last thing I ever do!" So what you really think about Aunt Agnes's latest hat is probably "dislike," and it's probably more complex and interesting than the mere feeling of dislike:

"It makes your face look wider."

"The color clashes with your clothes, or with your face."

"It looks like the one I saw fall to the ground when a drunken female was arrested for soliciting the last time I was in the city. Please tell me you didn't buy it secondhand in the same city."

"It looks like one that Joan Crawford wore in one of her movies, and I know you love Joan Crawford's movies, but I don't."

"I usually recognize you by looking at your hair, so when you cover your hair you look like a stranger to me."

"For some reason I actually think it looks sexy, and aunts shouldn't be sexy."

"I suspect you're asking me whether I want it as a Christmas gift, and what I want is a computer video exercise game."

Most of these things don't even need much editing to be acceptable things to say to your ever-loving Aunt Agnes. She might think that nephews shouldn't know the word "sexy," and she might appreciate having #4 shortened to just "It looks like one that Joan Crawford wore," but unless she has a major mood disorder, the truth even about her silly hat isn't going to do all that much damage to her feelings.

Theoretical discussions of Aunt Agnes's hats have been posted at several web sites, and the possibilities can become quite improbable. I think the real truth, not the hasty blurt of emotion, is almost always the best choice for each possibility I've seen discussed.

What if Aunt Agnes wants to wear a flowerpot for a "hat" church? Would "I'm afraid it's going to fall off your head and break your toe" be the real truth? Is that such a cruel, hurtful thing to say?
I think this thought is worth posting at Bubblews because I think it's something we're practicing at Bubblews. I don't see a lot of flamewars on this site.

I see some comments that are close to outright lies--the "Great post..." comments on posts that certainly are not great literature and don't even report especially good news. I wondered, "Why do people even bother pasting those in, now that the 'like' button is working? Or is it not working for them?" Then I got one from a Bubbler whose posts I'd read, and all became clear. The person was using some sort of computer translation program to post in English. The person probably did not feel capable of writing a polite comment in English during the time reserved for commenting. How was the person going to attract readers to the person's own Bubbles without commenting on ours? Hence the mindless, to some people even annoying, comment. 

Why does "Great post" sound annoying? Because it reminds us of "I know you don't like Aunt Agnes' hat, nobody could possibly like Aunt Agnes' hat, but you have to say you like her hat so that you don't hurt her feelings." Nobody wants to be in the position of Aunt Agnes. And I'd guess that, the more dutifully somebody muttered "I adore your new hat, Aunt Agnes," the more their blood pressure rises when they read "Great post" as a comment on what they know is an average, even boring post.

I see other comments that actually seem to encourage other Bubblers. It's not necessary to pretend that a paragraph or two about what someone did this weekend is one of the world's great literary masterpieces. "Enjoy your holiday" and "Nice picture" and "I hope your dog feels better by now" may actually be more encouraging, because they tell us the truth--we already knew the Bubble wasn't a great classic of English literature, but it's nice that some of our friends read it and wanted to express their feeling that it's nice that we're still alive.

If I'm right about this, blog forums may be a real blessing to all the aunts out there...

Book Review: Better Homes & Gardens After Work Cookbook

Title: Better Homes and Gardens After Work Cook Book
Author: staff of Better Homes and Gardens magazine
Date: 1974
Publisher: Meredith Corporation
ISBN: none, but click here to see it on Amazon
Length: 96 pages including many full-page full-color photos and index
Quote: “Prepare the food in your spare time on weekends or the evening before the meal, then store it in the freezer or refrigerator. When you arrive home from work, simply add the finishing touches and put the dish on to cook.”
Making your own premixed and frozen foods is one strategy for saving time for home-cooked meals after work. This book provides recipes that work well with this technique and two others: choosing foods that cook quickly, and choosing foods that cook slowly but don’t require much attention.
This cookbook was put together while Better Homes and Gardens was still employing a nutritionist who believed that just about everything needs some kind of dairy product dumped into it. Several recipes that call for cheese (and butter and, in some cases, milk or cream) will work as well or better without a single dairy item. Others really do depend on cheese, at last for bulk, and you may have to experiment with tofu if you don't digest cow's milk or just think one form of animal fat is enough for one day. 
Gluten-intolerant readers are a little better off with this book; several recipes are wheat-free. Eggs, soy, and other common allergy triggers are also easy to avoid while using recipes found in this book.
Vegetarians and vegans, however, won’t enjoy this book unless they’re into cooking with “meat analogs.” (This is a fascinating school of cookery if you can digest highly processed mixtures of wheat and soybeans.) There’s an “Indian Pizza” that involves adding more cheeses to pre-frozen cheese pizzas, a baked bean dish that could be made without the bacon and sausage, a vegetable soup that could be made with vegetable stock rather than canned chicken broth, and a soufflé made with mushrooms and cheese...and all the other main dishes are meat or fish dishes. Some of them would work with “meat analogs,” but, being gluten-intolerant, I can’t say what the percentage would be.

Books "authored" by corporations aren't Fair Trade Books, but if you buy this one ($5 for the book + $5 for shipping) you may add it to a package along with a Fair Trade Book and pay only one shipping charge for the package.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Link Log for April 27

Short, because I won't be here long...


Sloth Sanctuary update:

Fun sloth tee designed by Todd Selby for American Apparel
Your gift when you donate an Almond Tree: limited edition sloth tee from American Apparel & Todd Selby
(Why am I sharing the cute graphic instead of the bare unadorned URL? Because I can. At least I think I can. This web site does occasionally like to try new things.)

Those for whom it works may also enjoy Taylor Swift's cat video:

Book Review

I remember reading this book and writing a long, detailed reaction/review explaining why, although I enjoyed the book, I didn't really trust or agree with it...well, you can guess, actually. Though the review is likely to show up here, eventually. Wendy Welch's review is more succinct, less patient...


Dave Barry says it all.


U.S. readers...this link should take you to the URLs where you too can find what we missed, back in March, at that historic gathering of Tea Parties and Seventh-Day Adventists. I can't download it here, but I'll definitely download it when I can. Print it, too, if possible.

Morgan Griffith on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Congressman Griffith's official reply to a petition many conservatives in Virginia's Ninth District have e-signed...I think it looked better in the original e-mail, but I'm re-formatting it so youall can read it on the screen:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other United States trade issues. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. 

As you know, the TPP is a proposed multilateral free trade agreement currently being negotiated among eleven countries, including the United States, in the Asia-Pacific region. The latest round of negotiations ended in August in Brunei. Negotiations among the parties are ongoing, and no public text of an agreement has been made available.

Fast Track authority is a mechanism that would allow the president to negotiate international trade agreements on behalf of the United States. Congress must then vote on whether to implement the agreement, but would not be allowed to amend or filibuster it. Therefore, Fast Track authority shortcuts the ordinary Constitutional process for implementing trade agreements. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power, "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations." I have serious concerns with processes that abdicate Congressional powers and responsibilities to the Executive branch. Checks and balances are in the Constitution for a reason, and each branch should be limited in its actions to its Constitutionally-defined role. 

Global trade is one of the keys to building a stronger economy, and it should remain on our economic agenda. However, we must ensure that global trade does not hinder our nation's ability to provide meaningful employment to America's citizens. Many parts of Southside and Southwest Virginia have experienced higher than average unemployment rates for years. We need solutions that promote job creation and rein in government spending, resulting in economic growth. Lower taxes, sensible regulation, and a playing field not tilted so heavily towards foreign countries will allow private enterprises in Southside and Southwest Virginia to regain their competitive advantage due to innovation and a strong work ethic. 

Please know that I will keep your thoughts in mind when I have the opportunity to vote on legislation in the House of Representatives regarding free trade agreements and Fast Track authority.
For more information on what is happening in Congress, please visit my website at . If I may be of further assistance to you on this, or any other issue, please feel free to contact me in my Washington, DC office at (202) 225-3861. I remain

Sincerely yours,

Member of Congress "

Morgan Griffith on Death, Taxes, and Bureaucratic Overreach

Belatedly, here's last week's update from U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

Death, Taxes, and Bureaucratic Overreach
Using a phrase attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “…In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”  I would submit that in modern times, nothing is certain except death, taxes, and bureaucratic overreach.

On Thursday, April 16, oral arguments were heard in a U.S. Court of Appeals in cases challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which I and others including West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey and President Obama’s former Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe believe is an example of bureaucratic overreach.  Challengers of EPA’s plan include many other states.

These cases argue that EPA is acting outside its authority in seeking to regulate existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act because the EPA already regulates them under its Section 112.  Prior interpretation by both EPA and the courts would prohibit such dual regulation.

I was hoping to join Attorney General Morrissey and others at a press conference following the oral arguments, but because of votes on “death and taxes” in the House of Representatives I couldn’t attend.

Had I been present, my remarks would have been similar to the following:
“On June 19, 2014 and again just a couple of days ago, I expressed to Janet McCabe, EPA Acting Administrator for Air and Radiation, that her agency is improperly interpreting statutory language and exceeding its authority with its so-called ‘Clean Power Plan.’  Today [Thursday], the EPA argued among other things it is premature to consider the court cases that would determine whether EPA has the necessary underlying authority for its proposed plan.”

“I think EPA’s desire to delay that legal question until after the rule is final serves only to close down coal mines, shutter coal-powered power plants and electric generation units, and cost many coal miners in the Ninth District alone their jobs.”

“I would submit that the courts should have their say on the legality of the so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ before states are required to spend a significant amount of money and resources on its implementation.  I believe the EPA’s arguments are very weak on Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, particularly given a prior court case* and the EPA’s own interpretation during the Clinton Administration that they could not regulate electric generating units under both Sections 112 and 111(d).”

“As these cases proceed, I will continue working to advance the Ratepayer Protection Act, which I am introducing along with Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) to, among other things, allow for completion of judicial review of any final rule before states would be required to comply.  If the EPA is convinced that they in fact have authority, why would they be afraid of the court’s ruling on that issue?”
The bill that kept me from the press conference was H.R. 1105, which would repeal the federal estate tax.  The “death tax” is imposed ‘on the transfer of the taxable estate of every decedent who is a citizen or resident of the United States’ (26 U.S.C. § 2001a).

This tax does not impact everyone, but is a significant burden on some Americans seeking to pass down their family farm or small- to mid-sized family business to the next generation.  Especially given increasing costs of land used in farming near urban and suburban areas, high-tech farm equipment, sophisticated small business equipment, etc. (technologies that make American farms and businesses competitive with cheap foreign labor), it is important to remember that what may appear on the outside to be a rather small operation may in fact be an expensive one which may have trouble paying the death tax.

Unfortunately, despite Americans having paid taxes during their lives, their earnings, equipment, and land are taxed yet again at their death.  The tragic consequence is that family businesses or farms sometimes have to be sold in order to cover these costs.

This is unfair.  I have long opposed the death tax, and voted to repeal Virginia’s version of the death tax while serving in the House of Delegates.  I am also proud to have now voted to repeal the federal death tax policy, and will continue fighting to protect American families, farms, and businesses from bureaucratic overreach.

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.

* New Jersey v. EPA, 517 F.3d 574 (D.C. Cir. 2008)