Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Heaven and Hell

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, "Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like."

The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in.

In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, "You have seen Hell."

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The holy man said, "I don’t understand."

"It is simple," said the Lord. "It requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other. The greedy think only of themselves."

Stupid empty self-esteem

When our girls were young, we purchased some educational software for them.  It was a series that had a CD for each grade, and was not only fun to play but taught them quite a bit too.  They loved using these programs.

But one aspect drove me nuts, and it drove the girls nuts too.  One portion of the software allowed the girls to create a scene by dragging clips onto the screen and placing them wherever their imagination led them.  It was a rather nifty and fun game and they created some neat landscapes, farmscapes, cityscapes, etc.  But randomly throughout the process, the peppy narrator on the CD would say "Good job!" or "You must be related to Rembrandt!" or "Wow, you're amazing!" or similarly inane and irksome compliments.

This feature bugged the girls, because even at the tender ages of five and seven they knew darn good and well such expressions were merely empty praise.  The feature bugged me because I've never subscribed to all that stupid, empty "self-esteem" baloney that has so deeply infiltrated the public school system.

So this morning I read a very interesting piece by Dennis Prager called "Stop Nurturing Your Child's Self-Esteem."  He quoted a study which found that a healthy and (most critical) unearned self-esteem can actually be injurious to societyy.

"The 1960s and '70s ushered in what I refer to as the Age of Feelings," he writes.  "And one of the most enduring feelings-based notions that came out of that era was that it was critically important that children feel good about themselves. High self-esteem, it was decided, should be imparted to children whenever possible – no matter how undeserving... One result of all this has been a generation that thinks highly of itself for no good reason. Perhaps the most famous example is the survey of American high-school students and those of seven other countries. Americans came in last in mathematical ability but first in self-esteem about their mathematical ability."

This beautifully illustrates my point.  C'mon folks, what on earth is "self-esteem about mathematical ability" if you can't even do the blinkin' math problem?

Silly as this may be, the issue gets darker.  Turns out some experts are now saying "High self-esteem in children does not produce good character, and in fact is likely to produce a less moral individual."

You want to see a well-balanced and confident adult?  Show me someone who has earned it through the School of Hard Knocks.  Character is built by overcoming fears and adversities.  Confidence is built by handling and overcoming failure and setbacks.  If we don't allow children to fail because "we're all winners" or let them learn from mistakes because "there is no wrong answer" or whatever, you're doing them a grave disservice.

But if a child's ego is bloated by a bunch of empty hollow praise that follows him all throughout his formative years - if he's never allowed to "lose" in sports, for example - then what is there to strive for?  He's already the best of the best, isn't he?  So he walks around, cocky and cocksure because hey, he's always been told he's terrific despite doing nothing to earn that compliment.  According to recent studies, this attitude can translate into a sense of entitlement and superiority that can ultimately lead to criminal behavior.

Somehow that doesn't surprise me.  I know some people whose children are heading in that direction.

Please don't misread this to mean I don't believe children should be praised.  Of course they should, when they've done something praiseworthy.  But for pete's sake, let them learn from mistakes too.


Yesterday morning while reading WorldNetDaily, I came across an article on EMPs (Electro Magnetic Pulse weapons) that could conceivable take down the North American power grid.  I thought it was an interesting read, so I did something I've never done before: I sent the link to SurvivalBlog.

Last night I found out they not only used the link, but also linked back to my blog and also my list of preparedness posts.

Someone over there must like me!  At any rate, welcome to new readers, and you might check out my Welcome page.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Garlic in the snow

I made a grave gardening mistake this past fall.  I didn't order - and therefore didn't plant - any garlic.  Until now.

Hoping it wasn't too late, the search was on to find some garlic that was still available.  Most growers had already sold out to wiser gardeners than me.  After an internet search and several inquiries, I hit upon a place called Alpha Garlic Farm in upstate New York, operated by an incredibly nice couple named Erkson.

I spoke to Mr. Erkson and expressed concern that it was too late in the season to plant.  He disagreed and said he was still planting, and often plants into December.  I figured if someone in upstate NY can plant that late, so could I.  I went ahead and ordered 100 cloves.

And here's where the "incredibly nice" part comes in.  The Erksons don't take credit cards, so I would need to send a check.  But - can you believe this? - he told me he would ship out the garlic right away and that I could follow with a check.  In other words, he trusted that I, a perfect stranger, would be honest enough to pay for the garlic.

This conversation happened on a Thursday, and I had the garlic by Saturday.  You can bet I mailed the check on Monday.  If anyone needs to order garlic, I can highly recommend these folks.

But I still needed to plant it.  And as all my readers know, we've been having lots of snow and lots of cold!

Well, all I could do was try.  I decided to plant the garlic in the strawberry boat, since the deer and the weather got my strawberries last year.  The boat has some beautiful fertile soil, so it would give the poor chilly garlic the best chance to grow.

First thing to do, of course, was shovel it off.

Then, using a pitchfork, I lanced into the soil and learned to my dismay that the dirt was completely frozen.  Or so I thought!  It turns out it was just the dirt closest to the edge that was frozen.  Surprisingly, everything else was loose and crumbly and not frozen at all.  Phew!

Despite the temperature (25F) it was warm work.  First I discarded my coat.  Then my scarf.  Then my sweatshirt.  It must have been a funny sight to see someone working in a garden in short sleeves with a foot of snow on the ground.

I finally got all the dirt turned over, or at least all I could.

Time to get the garlic.

Not a great photo, but I'm pushing dirt aside with a trowel and planting the garlic with a gloved hand.

Once all hundred cloves were planted, it was time to mulch.  Fortunately there's a lot of old rotten hay near the feed boxes, left over from those four semi-rotten bales we stacked there.  We've already picked through the bad hay to feed the beasties the good hay, so all the rotten stuff is still on the ground, buried in snow.

I piled the hay on one of the kid's black plastic toboggan, invisible under the pile.

With all this snow, a toboggan is about the only way to move something from there to here.

That first toboggan-ful of hay covered about two-thirds of the boat to a depth of ten or twelve inches.

A second toboggan-ful finished it off.

I was racing the sun.  I needed to get this project done before dark.  We're expecting two to five inches of snow tomorrow, and the snow on top the mulch should tuck the garlic in nicely for the winter (I hope).

Loading up the tools.  I'm done for the day.

Will the garlic grow?  I have no idea.  I'm encouraged by how loose and friable the soil was, underneath the snow.  And garlic is pretty hardy.  Time will tell.

Canning cheese

A reader sent me a link to a website called Frontier Freedom that has a very interesting post on how to can cheese.

I haven't tried it yet, but you can be sure I will soon!

What happens when you leave your computer on overnight

A friend sent this brilliant and hilarious bit of animation.  Click on this link, then click play. Don't touch your mouse - just sit back and enjoy.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Why did my son have to die?"

 A friend sent this.  I thought it was powerful.

A mother asked this President: "Why did my son have to die in Iraq?"

A mother asked this President: "Why did my son have to die in Saudi Arabia?"

A mother asked this President: "Why did my son have to die in Kuwait?"

A mother asked this President: "Why did my son have to die in Vietnam?"

A mother asked this President: "Why did my son have to die in Korea?"

A mother asked this President: "Why did my son have to die in Iwo Jima?"

A mother asked this President: "Why did my son have to die on a battlefield in France?"

A mother asked this President: "Why did my son have to die at Gettysburg?"

A mother asked this President: "Why did my son have to die on a frozen field near Valley Forge?"

Then long long ago, a mother asked...

"Heavenly Father, why did my Son have to die on a cross outside of Jerusalem?"

The answer is always the same: "So that others may live and dwell in peace, happiness, and freedom."

If you are not willing to stand BEHIND our troops... please, please feel free to stand IN FRONT of them.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

REALLY funny cartoon

It took me a second or two to "get" this one.  Then I laughed so hard I... well, whatever.

Handy link for preparedness posts

You may have noticed a new "button" on the left-hand side of the blog called "Posts for Preparedness."  It's a summary of all of the relevant Preparedness posts I've accumulated, posted in one convenient spot.  Might make for interesting reading!

Sad diatribe

Please note that the person who wrote this is NOT a reader of my blog, so don't jump to any conclusions about who wrote it.  This is the same person who wrote the lovely note about firearms.

My pity for this person knows no depths.  Please pray for him

Even the atheist readers of my blog do not express themselves with this much anger and hate.   This person truly is to be pitied.

The bible is by far the worst book ever in humanity. It does nothing but breed hate and intolerance. It is filled with ridiculous and indefensible errors. I would sooner let a kid read Playboy that the violent, intolerant bible. It is not the word of any god. It reflects only the bigotry and hate of humans and belongs in a landfill.
I am ready and willing to provide CONCLUSIVE PROOF that the bible is WRONG on just about everything, but deluded people refuse to consider challenges to their crutches, preferring instead to just pretend there are no legitimate challenges as they move forward trying to shove this crap down everyone's throat. The bible is responsible for more hate, intolerance, violence, and death than any other book in history and should be burned into oblivion, along with the genocidal make believe god and religion it created.

I am sorry if you object to my opinions, but as an American, I have just as much right to express them as any of you do.
No splendor, no poetry, no joy, no majesty, no comfort, no knowledge, no insight, no salvation... that's what this person is missing by his attitude.  The Bible certainly has its fill of violence and death, and horrible things have been done because of some twisted justification found within its pages.  But it also has enormous and unspeakable beauty, and far more magnificent things have been done by those who take inspiration and direction from it.

During this season of praise and thanksgiving, I honestly do feel sorry for those unable to reap the benefits from this best-selling book of all time.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

It's been so busy today - the day after Thanksgiving - that I haven't had a chance to post. So, a little belatedly, here's what our Thanksgiving Day was like.

Naturally the day was filled with cooking. Here's my personal favorite, wild rice stuffing:

Since the stove was full, I pressed the woodstove into service:

Into the oven went the turkey:

I had a drawer-ful of dull knives.  Don took them into the shop and sharpened them.  It's become something of a tradition for him to do this on Thanksgiving Day after the time we had our pastor for Thanksgiving dinner, and he graciously offered to carve the bird.  The poor guy went through four or five knives before finding one sharp enough to carve with.  We still chuckle over that.

GG, our young guest for the weekend, asked for a special dish of which she's particularly fond: candied yams.  This is a hideous monstrosity consisting of mashed yams whipped with marshmallow cream and topped with mini marshmallows, then baked.  Yuck pitooey.  But hey, the poor kid's far away from home, and if she wants candied yams, it's a small thing to provide.  That didn't keep us from teasing her unmercifully about the palatability of the dish, however.

Bread stuffing from homemade bread.

While the turkey was baking, I sent the kids out to shovel a path from Matilda's stall to the manure pile so I could more easily clean her pen.

After this they romped with the dogs.

Our guests for dinner were some friends with three teens who had plans to travel several hours south to visit relatives, but were daunted by the snow and joined us instead.  Here are some of the collection of kids, playing a word came.

With nine people total, it's a good thing our friends brought a fold-out picnic table that we dressed up.

Hot out of the oven...

...and carved with a (newly-sharpened) knife.

We called this "north Idaho camouflage"...

...and this we call "San Francisco camouflage."

I hope you all had as blessed and bountiful a Thanksgiving as we did!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Random pix

I made roast chicken for dinner last night. Don carved. Lydia did her best to look as soulful as possible, hoping for a piece. (It didn't work.)

(Click to enlarge and appreciate the full depths of her mournful attempt to convince.)

Last leaf of the season.

Younger Daughter and her friend Miss Calamity watch the snow from a safe location.

Someone asked about Matilda because she's seldom seen by the feedboxes.  Spoiled Matilda is getting fed and bedded in her stall at night (along with her calf Pearly) because (a) she's a less hardy breed than the sturdy Dexters, and (b) she's lowest on the totem pole of the herd hierarchy, so she wouldn't get enough to eat if I didn't feed her separately.  Here's she's snacking alongside Don as he feeds the rest of the beasties in the afternoon.