Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Know Your Enemy

When we were on vacation at the shore with friends a few years ago, we bought a hurricane tracking chart. I thought it would be a fun addition to weather studies and map reading. During hurricane season, we'd keep tabs on devloping storms by listening to the weather report on the radio. When we heard about a named storm, we'd go to NOAA'a National Hurricane Center website and look at the storm's location and projected track and mark it on our map. Not only was this practice educational, but I thought it would also help allay Primo's nearly pertrifying fear of severe weather. "We live in central PA; we don't get hurricanes," I assured her one day.

Then Ivan arrived.

Now, the effects of Ivan on our land-locked region were nothing compared to that of coastal regions, but they were sufficient enough to finger me as a liar - or at the very least, highly misinformed. Thus, the hurricane tracking chart moved from the purely educational realm and into that of "emergency preparedness equipment." Primo became obsessed with listening to weather radio, keeping the hurricane map up-to-date, and making sure our emergency kit was properly stocked and easily accessible in case the need to evacuate should arrive. (By the way, this fear of severe weather is apparently inherited as my dad's state-of-the-art home weather center and obsession with interest in The Weather Channel can attest. Right, Dad? *wink*)

When Frodo was first looking at graduate schools, the University of Kansas came up and Primo put her foot down. There was no way she was going to live in tornado alley. She was happy when she found out we would not be moving to Kansas. Instead, we moved to Mississippi.... aka the forgotten victim of Katrina... right smack in Dixie Alley. (Yeah, we'd never heard of it either 'til we got here.) Primo learned all these wonderful weather facts after we got here. She was thrilled. [insert eye roll here]

Today we began tracking Tropical Storm Gustav.

It's projected 5-day track has it making landfall (at hurricane strength) at the Louisiana/ Mississippi border... right where Katrina made landfall three years ago. I attempted to comfort Primo by pointing out that the area where we live is covered by the map key. "The makers of a hurricane tracking chart wouldn't cover an area with the key if hurricanes frequently hit that area, would they?" She's still made plans for tomorrow.

Tomorrow, we'll be checking to make sure our emergency kit is up to date... replacing any expired canned goods (or at least making a shopping list), putting in fresh batteries, making sure changes of clothes will actually fit everyone, removing the diapers we put in for Quarto now that he's potty trained and replace them with a couple of "just in case" pull-ups, and making sure we have supplies and contact info for the two kids we watch during the day. We'll also:

-change the back-up battery in the weather alert radio and make sure our hand-crank radio and flashlights are easily accessible (and the flashlights have fresh batteries)
-set aside some containers to fill with drinking water should it look like we'll need it
-review what to do in case of an emergency
-read The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane and National Audubon Society First Field Guide: Weather (hey, we're homeschoolers; we see life's experiences as reasons to buy and read books)
-update any changes in Gustav's status and track on the hurricane chart
-be shushed by Primo every time the weather report comes on the radio

We are diligently trying to put into practice what Terzo learned in Cub Scouts (particularly during our family emergency preparedness sessions): Be Prepared

As Sun Tzu stated in The Art of War (and as I am trying to impart to Primo through this study of hurricanes and emergency preparedness):

So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will fight without danger in battles. If you know only yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wronger Than Wrong

I'm not really sure what to say about this:

Among some of the benefits of their prefilled communion cups, the website lists that the cups are 1) sanitary, 2) less messy, and 3) result in less waste. My thoughts when reading this list of "benefits" were:

1) Less sanitary than the little individual glasses that are run through the dishwasher after every Lord's Supper? Of course, I wasn't taking into account those traditions that use a communal chalice, but then wouldn't those taking part in a communion with a communal chalice loose the "community" part of their communion by switching to individual cups, prefilled or not? I guess it depends on what your priorities
are in taking part in the sacrament.

2) Less messy? Obviously the creators of this haven't attempted to open the orange juice or apple sauce that often come in these little foil-lidded containers. Or maybe it's just me. I always end up with applesauce all over my knuckles when I open those things. I can't imagine that I would be in a very worshipful mood after opening my communion-on-the-go and spilling permanently staining grape juice all over myself... not to mention what that juice is supposed to represent.

3) Less waste? Sure, many churches fill more cups with juice or wine than they think they may need to be on the safe side, but that would amount to what? Maybe a cup of juice would go unused - if that? And many priests in churches that use communal chalices drink the excess juice or wine since it has been blessed and should not just be poured down the drain, anyway. But what about the foil lid and plastic cup that now have to be thrown away? I know that many churches already use little ,disposable plastic cups, and I am not too thrilled with that either. Why not just use washable, glass cups? But that aside, the prefilled cups not only have the plastic juice cup, but they now add a foil lid and a seperate wafer packet. Are they going to put trash cans near the altar in churches where the congregants go forward to recieve communion?

The whole idea of prefilled communion cups just seems so wrong. It moves the idea of the communal sharing of rememberance into the modern fast-food culture. We're the children of God, right? Why not just go all the way and add a Bible hero action figure and call it a Truly-Happy Meal? Our praise choruses already border on being glorified (pardon the pun) jingles, so all we need is a catchy slogan and viola... God's entered the fast food market.

Seeing these cups reminded me of a story I heard on NPR a couple years ago about the comfort and sense of community a listener felt every Sunday as she heard the glass communion cups clink into the pew racks after the congragation finished thier Lord's Supper. I love that sound, too. I can't imagine replacing it with the sound of tin foil being pulled off of plastic juice cups.

To quote Mammy, "It ain't fittin'. It just ain't fittin'."

Yes, Minister... Mr. Secretary... Mr. President

Not sure whether to laugh or cry. Maybe we can take comfort in the fact that at least we're not alone... nope, still leaning towards crying... or at least fist-pounding. (And I'm definitely laughing. This is great stuff. Gotta love British sitcoms.)

If you've never seen the British television series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, I highly recommend them. You are missing quite a treat.

HT: Consent of the Governed - thanks for the reminder)

Because They're There

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Aw, shucks!

You all are making me blush.

Can I just tell you that I am amazed that there are people, other than my parents and in-laws, who actually read this blog on a regular basis (or at least check it regularly... kinda hard to read when I haven't been writing much) much less bother to email me and tell me that they miss me? (And want to hear my opinions on things political and religious. Really?) You're all so sweet.

I am actually missing writing here. I need the creative, goofy, ranting outlet. And you would think that I would have had plenty of time to hang out online and write and post considering that I have been basically house-bound all summer. I'll spare you all the gory details, but the long and the short of it is that after spending enough $$ to have replaced the engine in our Suburban trying to keep it running, we now more-than-likely need a new engine and don't have the money because, well, we spent it all on periphery things that apparently meant diddly-squat since the engine is no basically no good. Sigh. Two friends have graciously lent us cars, but I feel bad putting tons of miles and wear-and-tear on someone else's car, so I've been limiting my driving to what is absolutely necessary. Hopefully, soon we'll be able to get our truck fixed (or at least determine once and for all if it's even worth it or if we should start looking for a "new" vehicle). The up-side is that we've really saved on gas this summer.

Ironically, I have been finding more "me", thinking, creative time now that my life has gotten much, much busier. I am in the editing phase for the two books I've written in the last year. The target date for the first book to be released is April 2009. Send prayers, good vibes, good thoughts, what have you because I have never done this type of editing before and am finding it a bit overwhelming. I have also started watching two great kids during the day. The oldest is 2 and his little sister is 5 months. They are great kids (did I say that already?) and the 2yo and Quarto play together really well which has actually helped the older kids and I get more focused school done during the day. I just don't do well self-disciplining my time when too much of it is "free", so having all of these obligations really helps keep me organized and on my toes because I have to be.

I guess that's a good, relatively short summary of why I haven't posted anything in almost a month. *grin* Hopefully, I'll post more frequently as summer ends and fall begins.

Thanks for your encouragement and support. I really am astounded at the interest at my thoughts, rantings, and random musings. Who knew?