Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Speaking of Standard Bearers: Rick Perry Stands Up

This is what a successful leader looks like. Let's get America working again!

via And So it Goes in Shreveport: Rick Perry's New Ad

The President's Failure, and His Refusal To Be The Standard Bearer

So. The new book about President Obama and The Tech Coast Whiz Kids Administration is out. I rarely read political books, but plan to read “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President,” by Ron Suskind. From all accounts to date, it simply confirms that what many recognized early on: that the Obama presidency was premature, before he had acquired skill or experience, and as a result, this administration is immature to the point of incompetency.

We were sold the iPresident, a candidate was picked out and packaged like a  boy band. The promoters knew they were sending a teen idol to the White House but they didn't realize before September 2008 that it was going to take, not a spokes-model, but a man, to do a far more difficult job than they could imagine. After the "global" engineered - and false - economy began to crumble on its foundation of sand, the era of the Staged Reality Show was at an end, and cold reality reasserted sobering truths.

The country needed a statesman and we got a lip syncing TV personality.

I've said elsewhere that no one who loves America ever wants a president to fail, because the president's primary role is as standard bearer. Whether we voted for him or not, whether we like him or not, the president represents America as the Best of the Best, standing in our place for better or worse. Both Reagan and Clinton had their detractors, but even those who didn't vote for them were able to benefit from effective, lawful (yes, despite Iran/Contra, both generally maintained the rule of law, as opposed to Gunwalker), and predictable governance.

Of course traditional conservatives and those of us who respect liberty wanted Mr Obama's plans to fail. We said "No" to monopoly money & crony credit and "No" to brother-in-law bureaucracy and "No" to unelected, immature czar-babies.

But we can want his plans to fail and tranformations to fail and ambitions to fail without giving up hope on the man. This is why pollsters find that people still say they "like him as a person" while being completely appalled at his dismal performance. Or as Shelby Steele wrote earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal: "Indeed, on the matter of Mr. Obama's character, today's left now sounds like the right of three years ago. They have begun to see through the man and are surprised at how little is there."

What we who did not vote for him and were very concerned about what we knew (and especially, what we didn't know) about him had hoped about Mr Obama was what Richard Fernandez, of Belmont Club, said: "Nearly all the great captains of secular history have learned from their mistakes." Our hopes proved wrong, since President Obama will not learn, "He is doomed by his own hubris to tragedy…"

America must not elect this man again, and we must try to undo the harm, but we can stand with Rick Perry and pray that God look after President Obama in the interim and give him wisdom he sorely lacks - not for his own sake, but for the sake of the United States of America, for our friends like Israel, and for our own sakes.

A man may discover he is, ultimately, a success as a man, despite having to give up dream after dream in the effort of life for the needs of his family or his country or just being steadfast and accountable every day. That's what being the standard bearer is.

That is what the job of the President is. Not to push legislation or wrangle policies, but to learn from mistakes, to be steadfast and accountable where the best interest of the nation comes first, last, and always (to paraphrase Barbara Jordan). To fly our flag.

But President Obama is not willing to be the standard bearer. Even now, he will not fly our flag or plant crosses or lift the torch. Not in Afghanistan, not in America. All of our prayers cannot overrule the man’s own stubborn free will, cannot save him from himself.

President Obama is failing continually at the real job. And that is bad for America.

Pray for his conversion, for a change of heart. Pray that the Father will send a laborer to share the true Good News with him. There’s still time for good to come out of the rest of his term, if Christ is in his heart.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adding To Our Media Library: Best British Mysteries, Clean Comedy, and Awesome Nature & Travel Documentaries

So today I have been searching for DVD bargains on Amazon. We are fleshing out our collection with clean comedy, documentaries, movies we'll watch over and over. I do not have an Amazon affiliate account, so it you are going to buy from there, be sure and use the Amazon Search Box on your favorite blog. They'll make a little on it and it won't add to your cost. :-)  Amazon has great promos lately.

Clean Comedy: The funniest comedians make us laugh without embarassing us, and comics like Jeff Allen stand right up there with Jeff Foxworthy. My husband has a new by-word: "I'm a happy, happy, man." Heh.

Two great collections to pick new favorite entertainers from are the Apostles of Comedy and Thou Shalt Laugh (several volumes available - we started with Volumes 1 & 2. Read the reviews before buying - viewers say Volume 3 contains inappropriate material).

Used Boxed Sets on Amazon can be a real bargain. Be sure you are getting the DVD version, because there are still some VHS tapes down in the "lowest price first" sort!

If you don't yet own "Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series" with the original David Attenborough's narration, it's a great bargain right now. I got a pristine set last month for less than $15.00. That's 550 minutes - more than 9 hours - of magnificent footage. Get the regular dvd, not the HD one - the regular boxed set contains hours more programming with fascinating "behind the scenes" footage.

I ordered the "Reader's Digest Journeys of a Lifetime Boxed Set" today. It has 13 hours of armchair travel for as low as $5.00. These kinds of things are nice to unwind and settle down with right before bed time.

More than 6 hours of "TV Classics: Westerns Vol. 1 and 2 (Box Set)" for a penny - $3 once you add in shipping. Buy from Amazon for $2.98 with free shipping. Or find a "just launched" seller and buy from them - support home businesses by helping a new seller get of the ground!

The BBC did a series of "The Chronicles of Narnia (BBC)" in the 1980s that reviewers say is even better than the recent movies. One reviewer notes that the BBC version is carefully true to the story as written by C.S. Lewis, so the nuances of the books remain intact. I'm looking forward to seeing this.

Speaking of the BBC and Masterpiece Mystery, some of my favorite recent discoveries on the British Mystery front are:

New Tricks - There just aren't enough praises for this well written, perfectly cast ensemble series about an engaging trio of retired detectives dragged back into service by a cute, tough, woman inspector who's young enough to be their daughter, good (and old) enough to be their boss, and real enough to need their friendship. The age jokes are realistic - and funny - but it's the serious plots that won me over. Interesting cold-case crimes that unfold in fascinating detail, that require both deep historical research and human deduction to unravel. Warm and believable relationships between the characters (nearly all the supporting cast recur, just as they would in real life). Love the characters, love the scripts, love the theme song, love the series!

Sherlock - Another that rates pure applause. The premise sounded like a bad idea: Conan-Doyle's detective set into the 21st century world. I thought: "Yawn." I feared Romeo & Juliet in blue jeans. Then when the show started I sat up and paid attention. Wow. Simply, truly, brilliant.

Here's an idea of how good "Sherlock" is: 259 reviews on Amazon, and 247 of them are 4 star or better (224 are 5 star!)! Smart. Witty. Fast paced. Clever. Not suitable for young children, as the violence is dark, but not gratuitously so, and so far it is relatively "clean".  Martin Freeman's Dr. Watson is perhaps the best I've ever seen, and Benedict Cumberbatch pays tribute to Jeremy Brett's fearless high energy while making the role his very own.

Speaking of Sherlock, Gerard Van Der Leun of "American Digest", has a downloadable PDF of his book "The Quotable Sherlock Holmes" available free to his readers. Or, you can buy a print copy or the Kindle Edition on Amazon.  (I'll also take this opportunity to thank him for permission to keep and display the nifty "Welcome to Texas" Bilboard over on the left (my other left).

Other Greatest Hits of the BBC and PBS Mystery include Mr Palfrey of Westminster - a surprisingly clever (and believable) series about a cold war era consumate British spy catcher working within the heart of London to foil Russian efforts to undermine Western governments. Presents as a "cozy" but it is not.  The cloak and dagger deceptions extend even to his own staff, and Palfrey's counter-espionage skill will keep you guessing. It reminds me pleasantly of LeCarre's low-key approach.

I've written before about Inspector Lewis. It's still a favorite and I plan to buy the series soon. I'll watch this one for a long time. (P.S. Paul says "You forgot Lovejoy. You need to mention Lovejoy in there. It's still a favorite of your husband, who plans to buy the series soon." Hee!)

Once you get past the low budget cinematography, the BBC movies (actually mini-series - some are nearly 5 hours long) made from PD James' books that star Roy Marsden as Adam Dagliesh are very good. The two more recent, standard-length movies in which Martin Shaw is cast as Dagliesh, Death in Holy Orders and The Murder Room, are also excellent. Each man brings a different look at the complex poet-detective's personality.

I ordered a couple more neat dvds totalling less than $5 each with SuperSaver shipping, but I can't mention them here yet because I want to surprise Paul with them, and he reads Pecan Corner. Hi, Honey! Love you much! :-D

So what great media bargains have you found recently? Or have you discovered a fab British, Scots or Irish show that we all need to know about? Do tell!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Life Without Cable or Satellite TV: More Time & Money For Good Things!

During the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit debate, the storyline was that elderly people had to choose between buying medicine or buying food. Today, I guess the new storyline is that the poor in America must choose between Affordable Twitter and watching American Idle Idol, or feeding their children home cooked breakfast & home-packed lunchboxes.

I don't know which is worse: the FCC requiring a philanthropic subscriber gimmick as part of a business deal, or the requirement that a family be paying for cable TV while getting "free" school lunches as a requirement for Comcast (aka NBC Universal) "giving" them "affordable" internet as long as they keep getting government handouts.

No wonder Washington can't understand what "Stop spending!" means. They have utterly lost the ability to comprehend true needs.

Well, back to the real world - not that one, the real real one.  The one the rest of us, rich or poor, TANSTAAFL or free school lunch by necessity, live in.

About six months ago, we canceled our TV service.

First we gave up satellite TV. It would have been cable we were giving up, but we can't get cable here, so it was satellite.

I had gradually stopped watching TV altogether, but it was Paul who came up with the idea, after he figured out that he could catch every show he liked ("First 48", assorted sports, Fox News shows) by streaming them on the computer without paying extra - like the old days when rabbit ears or an antenna would pick up the network and local channels for free, like magic, just by plugging in the television set.

Except now it's still like magic, just by plugging in the thing that looks like a television set. Plus we save about $70, $80, $90 a month. Comes in handy at the gas pumps. And when the electric bill comes in during this record heat.

Next, after having a Netflix subscription for about a year, I've watched all their British mysteries on dvd (they aren't available streaming) and Paul has seen all the episodes of Lovejoy (not available streaming).  New movies aren't ever available. The things we tried to watch streaming, wouldn't complete an hour without Netflix (not our DSL internet) going down for extended periods of time. 

So when they announced yet another rate increase, and explained that they were raising rates to manipulate customers into using fewer features instead of compensating for rising costs, we looked at our own budget and cancelled Netflix.

The cost of our subscription now buys us 2 or 3 used dvds each month to add to our collection of favorites (go through your favorite blogger's site link to Amazon). And helps pay the water bill to keep the shrubs and trees alive during this drought.

We are both reading more books than we have in a long time. We've found some wonderful resources for Christian study, and discovered a whole genre of clean stand-up comedy. There's more time to do real things. There's less feeling of being addicted to flickering images and more awareness of bird song just outside our door.

Someday we'll probably join Netflix again, and someday we may get a subscription for TV service again. But for now, we don't miss either one.

And we're glad we took the big leap away from it all.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What Did People Do Before Blogs? The American Amateur Press Association (AAPA) is 75 Years Old This Month!

This is
A Printing Office

Crossroads of Civilization
Refuge of All the Arts

Against the Ravages of Time
Armoury of Fearless Truth
Against Whispering Rumour
Incessant Trumpet of Trade
From this Place words May Fly Abroad
Not to Perish on Waves of Sound
Not to Vary with the Writer's Hand
But Fixed in Time, Having been Verified in Proof

Friend You Stand on Sacred Ground

This is a Printing Office

Beatrice Wade -1932
Printed in the Heritage Center Print Shop
Lancaster Pennsylvania

"Printed by AAPA members Mike Donnelly, Ken Kulakowsky, and
Rich Rtladge on an O.S. 8x12 C&P treadle driven platen press."
                                                                     ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Interested? Check out the American Amateur Press Association,* now celebrating its 75th year of hobby journalism & printing arts. Don't let the word "Amateur" fool you - some of the finest professionals in their industries have published in these bundles  (and in eJournals)for simple pleasure since the AAPA was started by a bunch of teenagers in 1936. The AAPA welcomes writers, printers, publishers, editors, artists, illustrators, cartoonists & poets of all ages, from home schooled students to newspapermen to professional printers to true amateurs.

The great forerunners of blogs, amateur press associations have played a part in the lives and career choices and hobby pasttimes of thousands of ordinary Americans during the 20th century. In the AAPA, monthly bundles mailed to each member, annual Laureate Awards, and an annual convention bring everybody together.  Clean, friendly, and just for simple fun.

(*Please note, effective this month, dues have risen to $25 per year, to accomodate a move from bulk rate to 1st Class mailing. To receive a trial bundle, contact the secretary.)

UPDATE:  Linked by And So It Goes In Shreveport. Thanks! :-)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

And So it Goes in Shreveport: "Priorities"

Pat Austin proves once again just what an awesome blogger she is with her post about Governor Perry's response to the Texas wild fires that are raging across the beautiful, native, Texas Hill Country; raging through the gracious Pineywoods into Louisiana and into Arkansas, raging through the Post Oak belt that runs all the way up into Oklahoma (which is suffering too), raging through the prairies where the Red Wing Blackbirds fly.

Go over to And So It Goes in Shreveport, and see the terrifying pictures Pat has put up to give you just an inkling of what is happening to our state.  God bless our governor for having his priorities in order: lives come before politics, before money, before anything else.

God bless Texas.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Trying To Fight It: 62 New Fires, 2 Dead, 500+ Homes Burned Since Yesterday

 (Photo a reader-submited picture by@calebthefox via Twitter to the Austin Statesman Reader Wildfire Photos Gallery: Sunday, September 4, 2011 (updated on 9/05/2011 at 6:15 p.m.) 

Merv at Prairie Pundit, reports that Governor Perry returned to Texas because of the terrible fires that have burned more than 500 homes and killed two since yesterday, forcing him to cancel his plans to take part in the DeMint Palmetto Freedom Forum.

[9/6/11 Update: Losses have climbed to at least 1,000 homes burned to the ground as of this morning.  And the fire still burns.]

While Texas has fought fires constantly all summer, major fires that erupted yesterday in Travis & Bastrop Counties are threatening Austin's environs - Bastrop is commuting distance from Austin, as are Cedar Park, Spicewood Springs, and other areas being discussed in news reports. This is the heart of "the Hill Country" of fame and legend. In East Texas,  fires caused the deaths of two people yesterday.
Here is a link to Austin Statesman Reader Photos of the fires.  There are some really terrifying shots among these - and some that make very clear how dire the situation is. 

The Texas Forest Service updates can be found here. This page is usually updated each night, to reflect the previous day's information.

Links to information & a video about the massive blazes known as "fire storms" can be found at

Here is a link to a Wild Fire Map (via from the USDA Active Fire Mapping Program that is updated regularly to show wildfires for the whole United States. As you can see at the time of posting, Texas is on fire.

The InciWeb Fact Sheet on Texas Wild Fires can be found here. The stats updated as of half an hour ago include these sobering numbers:
Total fires in Texas since Nov. 15, 2010: 20,906
Total acres burned in Texas since Nov. 15, 2010: 3,601,775
(exceeds previous record of 2,105,361 acres set in 2005-2006)
Fires in Texas in 2011: 18,887
Fires nationally in 2011: 55,477
Proportion of total national fires in 2011 that have occurred in Texas: 34 percent
Acres burned in Texas in 2011: 3,538,852
Acres burned nationally in 2011: 7,213,113
Proportion of total national acres that have burned in Texas: 49 percent
Ten-year U.S. national average acres burned: 5,863,193 acres/year
Six of the 10 largest wildfires in Texas history occurred in 2011.
Total Aviation Hours: 13,577.05 (As of 9/5/11)
Total aviation drops: 40,950
Gallons of fire retardant dropped: 4,856,080
Gallons of water dropped: 20,851,869
Most flight hours recorded in a single day: 238.39 (20 June 2011)
Most gallons of water and retardant dropped in a single day: 1,188,883 (1 Sept 2011)
(Note: All air operation figures are from 21 Dec. 2010, when record-keeping began.)
Texas counties where Texas Forest Service has fought wildfires: 199 of 254
Homes and structures saved since November 15, 2010: 45,359
Homes saved: 29,055
Homes and structures lost since November 15, 2010: 3,523
Homes lost: 1,091
Record number of homes lost in Texas history on a single fire: 476 homes lost on the Bastrop County Complex Fire on Sept. 4 and 5, 2011.

How to Prevent Weevils & Pantry Moths & Get Rid of Them Forever

In Home Economics class, they taught us how to sift flour, but never owned up to the real reason sifters were invented: to remove weevils from flour back in the days when throwing it away might have meant starvation. Some people call them flour moths, mealy bugs, Indian Moths, pantry webs... lots of names because good housewives everywhere have been plagued with them for centuries.

I will never forget how horrified I was in my first home when weevils were in my flour. It really freaked me out. That was when I talked to my grandmother to find out what to do. She told me 3 things: (1) Put a bay leaf in everything, (2) store in airtight containers, (3) if you have them, clean thoroughly to get rid of them, then follow (1) & (2).

Getting weevils in grains or moths in the pantry doesn't mean you don't keep a clean house but once you know how to keep them away, you never have to cope with them again. 

(1) Put a bay leaf or two (a dried, culinary Bay Leaf) in each canister or bag. It will not put out any flavor or odor to the food, but will prevent weevils or moths. Mema told me that weevils come in the flour/grain, and that the secret is to keep them from hatching. That prevention is what the bay leaves do, and they really work. Even an airtight container may not prevent weevils, but the comination of a bay leaf in a closed environment well.

(2) Store everything in airtight containers. I like clear containers so I can see what I have. Otherwise I forget. And I like plastic because I'm a klutz, but glass is superior otherwise. Clear plastic, clear glass, or brand-name zip storage bags (like Zip-Loc heavy-duty gallon bags) are all fine. Tins and opague plastic, such as Tupperware, will work great too so long as you can remember how to find things.

I leave things in their original package, and use a container big enough to just drop them down into. The Bay Leaf can then go into the container and doesn't have to be directly in the package of flour or barley. Plus that way I can remember what brand I bought.

Keep birdseed and pet food in airtight containers too. These are notorious and easy to forget. If possible, keep both of these items outside the house, in the garage. Rubbermaid tubs are super for large quantities or for storing several kinds of items in their original packaging.  Airtight & watertight, Rover and the red birds will love you for keeping their food fresh. Birds don't mind the protein from the bugs but still I'm sure they'd rather have the sunflower seeds!

(3) To get rid of a problem with them if you already see pantry moths or weevils, empty the pantry and brush it thoroughly, including the joints, with a stiff brush, then vacuum using the crevace tool or a dust buster- including the joints. If you don't have a vacuum, use a whisk broom or other stiff brush and give it a good brushing on all surfaces.

If it won't hurt the pantry to get it damp, wipe it down after that with soap & water and allow to dry completely. Don't use pine oil or anything with a strong scent as foods might pick it up. Just use soapy water and wring out your washcloth well. No need to rinse - the soap residue will also help keep pests away.

When you put things back, put them into containers with a bay leaf first. Inspect the stuff you took out to be sure it doesn't have weevils before putting it back. Telltale signs are small holes in the packaging, webby
clumps in flour or meal, and of course, weevils themselves.

All of this may sound like a lot of work, but it's not really. Once you get the pantry set up, it's only a matter of keeping it up. So when a new bag of flour comes in, straight away it goes into the flour tub. New boxes of cake mix can go into the same Zip-Loc bag the others came out of. Easy-peasy.

And it doesn't have to cost much at all. Some will be free: recycle containers you'd otherwise throw away. Start one at a time, with flour and grains, as you get a container, put something in it. Any kind of containers that fit your budget are fine. My stuff is stored in pickle jars, Zip-Loc brand bags, mason jars, cannisters that rice came in, Tupperware from garage sales, big cannisters from the dollar store, sugar in a plastic sherbet tub.

Voila! Vintage living at its best: no more bugs, no more waste, and no poisonous pesticides. Just clean, all-natural remedies and a tidy house.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cooking at Home: How to Feed A Family Well on $___ a Month

The cost of essentials just keeps rising. To keep up a good standard of living even during tough times we often change our approach. Food prices are expected to climb during the rest of this year. How to avoid an empty larder and keep the pantry full when money is tight? How to keep those boys with hollow legs filled up and keep the lights on at the same time? One way is by stocking up and cooking at home. Make it an adventure! Think of economizing as "vintage living".

During the 1990's, we fed our family of 5 plus the assorted houseguests and friends that three teenaged sons brought home for around $300 per month. I think that would be about $450 a month in today's food dollars. We didn't have a garden, and we didn't receive food stamps. If one does have food stamps and/or a local food bank, there is still a need to make those resources stretch further.

Angel Food Ministries didn't exist at that time, but it is a neat way to save on your food budget and still buy high quality food. AFM is a Christian food ministry that operates on the order of a co-op: everyone qualifies, no applications or limits, and anyone can buy groceries through Angel Food Ministries for about half the usual cost of the items in each month's box.

What we DID have that "saved our bacon" in the food budget, then and now, were:
(1) a commitment to stocking up & eagerness to watch for bargains
(2) a Freezer
(3) a willingness to cook from scratch & eat only homemade meals
(4) a willingness to forego chips, sodas, cookies & other packaged foods

I love to grocery shop. Since I first married, that has been my favorite household task. So I go to all the stores and go up and down every aisle, just looking at things. If I see a bargain on something we use, I buy a lot of it - depending on how well it keeps & where you can store it, sometimes you can buy enough to last a year. I once bought a 50 lb bag of rice. That was a little much. I think I stumped my toes on the cans we stored it in for a couple of years. Ooops.

It's not good to overbuy, but you'll get to a point where you're always nicely stocked up and only have to buy when it's on sale.

For example, Alco recently had canned wild Alaska Salmon with an expiration date of July 2015. We don't use salmon that much so I only bought 5 cans. Had it been canned tuna, I probably would have asked for a whole case. On the other hand, canned evaporated milk does not keep well past its due-date, so I only buy a few cans at a time so that we can be sure to use it up before it expires.

One thing we do use a lot in our cooking is canned mushrooms. We buy the least expensive "stems and pieces" because there is absolutely no difference in the flavor. Big Lots has them right now at 50 cents a can (a savings of about 69 cents each over regular price in the grocery store), with an expiration of April 2012. I bought 20 cans! We're assured of mushrooms til March.

I don't know how families with children survive without a freezer. Ours has always made such a difference for us. I never have to buy meat that isn't an excellent bargain. Tonight, we had a lovely Boston Butt Pork Roast that I bought in July for $1.49 a pound. More than 4 pounds of meat for a little over $6.00. Paul cooked it in the crock pot and it is so tender! The two of us will get 3 or 4 meals from this - & we could stretch it further if needed. Over the next few days, we'll have easy Moo Shu Pork, a catch-all pork fried rice or stir fry, Mexican style in adobo sauce... 

Because we have a freezer, I was able to buy several roasts and put them away. If I had bought one today, not on sale, it would have cost twice as much. I wouldn't've bought a roast at that price, so it's not that I "saved" money so much as that we are able to eat better quality food while staying on a small budget. Here's a link to the USDA's website on safe food freezing practices, including how to save frozen food in case of a power outage. When our freezer is not full of food, we use bags of ice to take up the remaining space & help it operate most efficiently - this reduces electricity use & helps protect against loss in case the power went out.

Eating out is very costly over home cooking, but it is so hard to get off work and still put a meal on the table every night. The freezer saved us during those years because we could cook up meals in advance to pull out and reheat after working all day and having no time to cook. Beans ( I love pintos) freeze great and taste far better than canned. Sauces for pasta, chicken & egg noodles, enchiladas, meat loaf, casseroles, soups and stews...all will make you smile when you pull them out of the freezer for supper. has a special category with hundreds of "Make Ahead" recipes.

Even cooked hamburger patties, grilled chicken, and other chopped cooked meats in the freezer can make it easier to put a casserole or skillet dinner together than to fight traffic getting to & from the fast food joint. With sauces made up in advance, we could have pasta at the drop of a hat. German sausage was also a mainstay for nights we forgot to thaw something.

We also froze things for the boys to nuke in the morning for breakfast.  Paul used to make huge batches of pancakes, sausage patties or bacon, then put portions into baggies for the freezer. Ethan could heat them up and have his breakfast while waiting his turn in the shower.  Ditto with sausage biscuits, banana nut muffins, german sausage tortilla wraps, breakfast tacos ...

Our current freezer is a small, 7.2 cubic feet chest type Frigidaire. These cost between $250-$300. For more encouragement about how a freezer can help your food budget, read the reviews on the small freezers at the Frigidaire site. Lots of ideas for where to keep the freezer and stories about how people use them.

Cooking at home made a difference in more than our budget. We noticed that our tastes changed, and our sons became adventurous eaters. They liked eating healthy. They liked eating at home. Nicolas would make a salad for his after school snack. Ethan was on the swim team, and made ramen noodles when he came in - essential carbs and fats for energy. Canned tuna (in water, they requested), peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly), scrambled eggs in the microwave (lower in fat, they said) gave them protein between meals.

Now that they are adults, they all still cook for themselves and their families. And we all have a lot of nice memories to share about the shopping and cooking and eating we did together when they were growing up.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dr Martin Luther King Jr Memorial: "To Bring Glory To the Chinese People"?

It is a terrible sign of our times that what should have been a magnificent project, reflective of American craftsmanship, honoring one of the quintessentially great Americans of all time, has instead become a textbook example of all that is worst about arrogant professionals, outsourced manufacturing, arbitrary design standards, outrageous ignorance, and shoddy, cheap imports.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr.'s remembrance in a towering statue on the national mall was carried out in such a way that someone even had the hubris to rewrite the great preacher's own words, ignoring the true meaning of his great "Drum Major Instinct" sermon.  Poet Maya Angelou, who was on the committee of historians that recommended quotations, said of the faked version: "The quote makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit. He was anything but that. He was far too profound a man for that four-letter word to apply."  

Rationale given for chopping ~30 words off of the real quote? "Space constraints."  Click here to see just how constrained space was on that side of the monument.

More likely, the socio-politico-design group had a brainstorm that it would be clever to enhance the "Drum Major" theme to coordinate with the Obama administration's "MLK Drum Major for Service" brand element for the "Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service January 16, 2010" "Make it a day on, not a day off!" [1/16/12 note: the linked page has been edited since originally linked. It now contains the entire quotation.]

The monument is 30 feet tall, 46 tons of stone, that was built in communist China and cost $120 million dollars (of which $10 million was authorized by Congress), including $25 million from the Chinese government. Why would China contribute $25 million to an American memorial to a Christian minister?   More important, what patriotic American would take totalitarian money for this project? Yes, there is a difference between the Dr Martin Luther King memorial project and ordinary business deals. At least there is to me. What else do our government and intelligensia think is ok to barter away to China?

Commenter RossEmery on the Washington Post pointed out (in a fine and careful critique) that the uncharacteristic pose of Dr King and retro-red-Russian-revolution artistic style of the statue was objectionable to Americans on the US Commission of Fine Arts as far back as 2008, and probably before that. 

The statue of this devout Christian man was deliberately made to look "reminiscent of political art in totalitarian states" (which China still is), and Thomas Luebke protested that ""the colossal scale and Social Realist style of the proposed statue recalls a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries."

Yes, sculptor Lei Yixin may be a master craftsman, acclaimed in China for his carving of Chairman Mao Tse Tung, and yes, his rendering of Dr King is technically precise. I do not fault the artist in any way: he has accomplished the task he was given. But I've seen nothing, no explanation, no manner of thought, that would suggest him to be in any way artistically or philosophically qualified to carve a National Monument for the United States of America.  

In another 2008, article, the Post reported that the Commission had agreed to  approve the statue following changes that "smoothed away wrinkles in King's brow and reshaped the mouth to impart a hint of a smile." I imagine the rendering shown at this link (click here) depicts what they were expecting.

But this is what they got:

Click to enlarge it and try to find a smile, and try to ignore the creases in the man's brow - creases that never appear when a person is smiling, only when they frown. Do you see a smile in any of these angles of this image of Dr King? 

It gets worse. Apparently, China was allowed to import Chinese laborers to assemble the memorial in Washington DC- workers who did not know how much or even whether they would be paid for their work. They were housed for months, both teams, in two hotel rooms, hidden away, required to cook their own meals in their room, not allowed out. They were given "free" lunch and allowed to stop working long enough to eat quickly.

They were told only that they would not be paid until they returned to China.  They said they were working  "for "national honor...  To bring glory to the Chinese people."

I think Dr King would have called that something dangerously close to slave labor.

I know that it is wrong to treat people this way. It is wrong. It doesn't matter what other countries' "culture" accepts - this is America. This is why illegal immigration is wrong, and why Barbara Jordan opposed so-called "guest worker" programs. She pointed out that other countries have tried this and we do not want to be like that - America does not want to have a permanent underclass like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other countries who deliberately bring in destitute foreigners to work without any rights and little pay.

I think all patriotic Americans - Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal or progressive, Christian or Athiest - can agree that there is no room in the United States for human trafficking - or for anything that leads down that ugly and terrible road - whether in cherry orchards  on the West coast, or surrounded by ornamental cherry trees on the National Mall. 

The Martin Luther King Jr National Memorial foundation leadership need to step up and distance themselves from the appalling exploitation that's been committed on this project. I imagine most either didn't know what was going on or, knew but accepted smooth explanations that made it easier for them to pretend reality wasn't happening. They accomplished their objective, but at the expense of Dr King's example, and in opposition to his teaching.

In his Christmas Sermon, 1967, Dr King spoke about just such globalization as we have seen in the work on this statue. And if one stopped reading halfway through, or read only an edited version that snipped the real meaning, it would be easy to believe that he might actually approve what's been done. But don't stop halfway - because he speaks to ends, and means:

"But we will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process, and ultimately you can’t reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree."

It is only a statue. The man's legacy is not in cold rock or hard imperial edges. His legacy is in an America that's better than it was, in which for the vast majority of citizens, much of his dream has come true, and we live together as brothers and sisters, regarding only the content of a person's character and paying no notice to the color of anyone's skin.

The full quotation? Here are the paragraphs Dr King delivered, speaking about what he might like said of him after he was gone:

" I'd like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

" Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that's all I want to say.

" We all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. ... And the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct. It is a good instinct if you don't distort it and pervert it. Don't give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity."

Images from National Park Service (


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