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A good time to give thanks November 19, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Uncategorized.
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Thanksgiving is a great holiday – in fact, it is one of the best.  It’s a time to give thanks for your blessings, and all of us have something to be thankful for.  Here are some of the things I’m thankful for:

  • The blessing of knowing the Lord and being in His project
  • That I live in a country where I’m free to speak openly about what I think
  • That my family loves me
  • That I have children who are healthy, smart, and talented
  • That I have a good job

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate and remember the time our ancestors gave thanks for the mighty deliverances the Lord had given them in the New World.  Even 386 years later, we have no less reason to give thanks.

Three Cheers for Ruth! November 19, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Books, Parenting.
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Ruth started reading Three Cheers for Becky, a Barbie book, today, and she’s doing awesome!

This book is notable for her because of several things:

  1. It is a chapter book
  2. It has very few pictures
  3. It is worth 1 Accelerated Reader point – her first book to be worth that much

We are very, very proud of her.

Bank of America Reviews November 8, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Work.
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Here’s an example of Bank of America’s ratings and reviews they are collecting and publishing from their consumers.  This is an example of forward thinking from a large, well-established financial institution:

Who gets to sit in the “nut free” seat? November 7, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Drollery.
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I saw this chair in the cafeteria at Ruth’s school this morning.  If you can’t tell from the picture, it’s a solitary desk situated away from all of the other chairs in the cafeteria.  On its back is a sign that reads:


The obvious question for me was, “Who gets to sit here?”  I could think of no better place to turn than Google, which happily obliged me with a list of 700,000 things that evidently cannot use this seat. 

It turns out that none of the following will be able to use this seat:

  • Tom Cruise
  • The State of California (also not eligible for the “fruit-free” chair)
  • That Guy
  • All 2008 presidential canditates from both major parties

If I find out who is able to actually sit in the chair, I will pass it along.

A Curmudgeonly Perspective on Bond Elections and School Funding November 6, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Education, Politics.
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Tonight, the election returns were coming in, and as usual, virtually all propositions were approved by voters.  The one that was the most interesting to me, though, was one that I did not have the opportunity to vote on – a $559 million bond election for the Leander ISD.  I watched a live, five minute segment on this particular bond on one of the local news channels.  During the segment, the reporter was at the site of the group that was supporting this bond.  When a sufficiently large enough number of precincts were reporting to guarantee that the bond would be approved, the segment showed the group popping a bottle of champaign and toasting their success.


The Hollywood Writers’ Strike is Taking a Particularly Hard Toll on Me November 6, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Media.
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Today would have been a good day.  It would have been, that is, if it hadn’t been for the Hollywood Writers’ Strike.  This strike is taking a particularly hard toll on me, and I could use your support.

 I thought I’d be able to watch a new episode of Letterman or Leno tonight, but it turns out these are the first and hardest hit shows.  I hope that the writers and the networks will be able to resolve thier differences, because I already miss the intellectually stimulating writing  we’ve all come to expect from cable and network writers.

Without new shows on TV, what am I supposed to do?  How will I fill my days?  How will I know what to laugh at or what to wear, if I cannot watch TV?  Please, I need someone to help me here.

The Christmas Creep November 4, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Uncategorized.
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Today, a waitress told a crying Weston, “Stop crying…Santa Claus is coming.”


It’s only November 4 – not even election day yet!  Surely Santa Claus is not already coming – doesn’t he have something better to do?  Like getting a nice shave or going shopping at the local Big & Jolly Man shop?

Yes, my friends, what we have here is the 2007 incarnation of the Christmas Creep – that is, the progressively earlier dates at which people begin to anticipate this holiday each year.

Now, all of you know that I don’t exactly have “Yuletide” tattooed across my back, but even so, I think we should invoke the Thanksgiving Rule, which states that Christmas anticipation can begin no earlier than Black Friday.

On a related note, I’ve read that it takes 73% of people 6-12 months to pay off their Christmas debt each year.  That means that the family starting their Christmas planning at the first of November will have about 2 months to plan, plus about 6 months to pay it off, for a total of 8 out of their 12 months every year.  Here are a few other pretty unbelievable stats about the holiday (not to mention the meta unbelievable-ness of yet another entire article devoted exclusively to tips on avoiding holiday stress):  http://www.worldwidehealth.com/article.php?id=239

As for me, I’m doing my part to reduce or eliminate holiday stress for me and those around me.  I hereby promise not to go into Christmas debt that will take me 12 months to pay off.  I also hereby ask that I receive no gifts, which will help you avoid going into Christmas debt on my behalf.  (This request is always a crowd-pleaser, I know.)  🙂

Finally, Santa, if you are indeed coming right now – please chill out for a few weeks while I’m voting and cooking my turkey.

My Grandfather’s Son November 2, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Books.
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This is the autobiography of Clarence Thomas.  It is well written and a quick read, covering Thomas’ life from birth through confirmation to the Supreme Court.

 I was particularly interested in the perspective of a successful, intellectual (black) man who grew up in segregated Georgia, because many of the tribulations he faced in his confirmation hearings were eerily similar to the persecutions he and his family faced several decades earlier.  Both were clearly racist in tone, and Thomas described the confirmation hearings (and the ordeal with Anita Hill) as a “high tech lynching”.

Overall, a great book about someone I respect, and even those who disagree with Thomas’ conservatism will find the book to be a great perspective on life growing up in (and overcoming) the segregated South.

Listen, my children October 31, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Parenting.
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On Monday, Ruth asked me to tell her a story before bedtime.  I couldn’t think of a good story on the spot, so I told her I’d tell her a poem instead.  This was perfectly fine with her of course, because it delayed turning her lights off.  I quoted her the following:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference.

She liked it because of the big words and the imagery (and because she has a certain penchant for poetry, I think).

On Tuesday before bedtime, she asked me to tell her another poem, so I told her I’d tell her a new one if she memorized the first one.  So she practiced a little and went to sleep.

Tonight (Wednesday), she informed me that she had stayed up late last night memorizing “Two roads” so that she could learn a new poem tonight.  I asked her to recite, and sure enough, she had it down.  This put me in the position of having to come up with a new poem on the spot – something I should’ve known I was going to have to do anyway.

I asked Mandi if she had any poetry books and she started looking through one for a poem for Ruth.  While she was doing that, I remembered that I had read “Paul Revere’s Ride” to Ruth back in August at Campmeeting and that she had really liked it.  I said, “Oh, Ruth, I just remembered the midnight ride of Paul Revere”.

“I already know that one,” she said.

“Well, I read it to you once at Campmeeting, but I don’t think you know it,” I said.

“No, I know it.”

“Ok, then, tell it to me,” I said.  “It starts like this, ‘Listen, my children, and you shall…’.”

Ruth said, “‘…hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.'”

Needless to say, Mandi and I just about fell over.  I had to confess to Ruth that I was wrong and that she did, in fact, know the poem.  So, I went in the other room to find my book that had that poem in it, and when I was out of the room, Ruth told Mandi, “Oh yeah, I remember the rest of it now: ‘…hardly a man is now alive’.”

We were both flabbergasted.  I suspect Ruth is a genius.  If so, I’d claim dibs on being the one she got it from.  🙂

Half as much as tomorrow October 1, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Drollery.
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Today at lunch, I heard “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday” on the radio.  It includes the following lyrics:

I love you more today than yesterday
But only half as much as tomorrow

This, of course, was the inspiration for the following careful, mathematical analysis:

If I love you half as much as tomorrow, that means I’ll love you twice as much tomorrow as today.  Since this song is played every day, I can only assume that I’ll love you twice as much the day after tomorrow as I will love you tomorrow.  That’s four times as much as today, my friend.

The day after that, I will love you eight times as much as I love you today, and if we carry this out through the end of the month, you’ll find that I will love you 1,073,741,824 times as much as I do today. Given that I’m merely human and have but a finite capacity for love, I love you only about one billionth as much as I will love you by the end of the month.

Relatively speaking, this means I’m really not that fond of you right now.