Monday, December 21, 2015

A Book on Every Bed

What a great tradition to start in any family: Let the children wake up on Christmas morning to find a book on their bed. I read about this idea last year in my local paper in the "Ask Amy" column.

Here's this year's "Ask Amy" column about "A Book on Every Bed" from the Washington Post.

The columnist wrote:
Working with the Family Reading Partnership ( familyreading.org ), a small literacy nonprofit in Ithaca, N.Y., we hatched a simple plan with a far-flung goal: to foster a generation of readers.

Our idea was to put a million books at the foot of a million beds for a million children on Christmas morning.

This very simple idea spread out from this column to parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, writers, readers — and those who love them.
 I'm pretty sure all my grandchildren are receiving enough books in the various packages I'm sending them that they can each have a book on Christmas Day, but how great would it be if they woke up to find a book right there on the bed next to them, or on their pillow!

Product DetailsSo I think I'm going to wrap a special book to put on the pillow or somewhere on the bed of everyone who will be sharing our house for Christmas this year.

For myself, I'm going to choose "The Happiness Project" (even though I've already started reading it). 






Sunday, December 20, 2015

Children, Go Where I Send Thee

From Kenny Rogers's new Christmas album---I only know about this b/c I heard part of it on the radio this morning in an interview with Mr. Rogers:



But I like this version, by Johnny Cash, even more:


Friday, December 18, 2015

We Are All Muslim

I just signed this statement online:

Dear Donald Trump,

In desperation and insanity, you call for a ban on all Muslims entering this country. I was raised to believe that we are all each other's brother and sister, regardless of race, creed or color. That means if you want to ban Muslims, you are first going to have to ban me. And everyone else.

We are all Muslim.

Just as we are all Mexican, we are all Catholic and Jewish and white and black and every shade in between. We are all children of God (or nature or whatever you believe in), part of the human family, and nothing you say or do can change that fact one iota. If you don't like living by these American rules, then you need to go to the time-out room in any one of your Towers, sit there, and think about what you've said.

Signed,

Everyone



Here's what Michael Moore wrote on his personal Web page about Donalt Trump:

FROM: Michael Moore
TO: Donald J. Trump
Dear Donald Trump:
You may remember (you do, after all, have a "perfect memory!"), that we met back in November of 1998 in the green room of a talk show where we were both scheduled to appear one afternoon. But just before going on, I was pulled aside by a producer from the show who said that you were "nervous" about being on the set with me. She said you didn't want to be "ripped apart" and you wanted to be reassured I wouldn't "go after you."
"Does he think I'm going to tackle him and put him in a choke hold?" I asked, bewildered.
"No," the producer replied, "he just seems all jittery about you."
"Huh. I've never met the guy. There's no reason for him to be scared," I said. "I really don't know much about him other than he seems to like his name on stuff. I'll talk to him if you want me to."
And so, as you may remember, I did. I went up and introduced myself to you. "The producer says you're worried I might say or do something to you during the show. Hey, no offense, but I barely know who you are. I'm from Michigan. Please don't worry -- we're gonna get along just fine!"
You seemed relieved, then leaned in and said to me, "I just didn't want any trouble out there and I just wanted to make sure that, you know, you and I got along. That you weren't going to pick on me for something ridiculous."
"Pick on" you? I thought, where are we, in 3rd grade? I was struck by how you, a self-described tough guy from Queens, seemed like such a fraidey-cat.
You and I went on to do the show. Nothing untoward happened between us. I didn't pull on your hair, didn't put gum on your seat. "What a wuss," was all I remember thinking as I left the set.
And now, here we are in 2015 and, like many other angry white guys, you are frightened by a bogeyman who is out to get you. That bogeyman, in your mind, are all Muslims. Not just the ones who have killed, but ALL MUSLIMS.
Fortunately, Donald, you and your supporters no longer look like what America actually is today. We are not a country of angry white guys. Here's a statistic that is going to make your hair spin: Eighty-one percent of the electorate who will pick the president next year are either female, people of color, or young people between the ages of 18 and 35. In other words, not you. And not the people who want you leading their country.
So, in desperation and insanity, you call for a ban on all Muslims entering this country. I was raised to believe that we are all each other's brother and sister, regardless of race, creed or color. That means if you want to ban Muslims, you are first going to have to ban me. And everyone else.
We are all Muslim.
Just as we are all Mexican, we are all Catholic and Jewish and white and black and every shade in between. We are all children of God (or nature or whatever you believe in), part of the human family, and nothing you say or do can change that fact one iota. If you don't like living by these American rules, then you need to go to the time-out room in any one of your Towers, sit there, and think about what you've said.
And then leave the rest of us alone so we can elect a real president who is both compassionate and strong -- at least strong enough not to be all whiny and scared of some guy in a ballcap from Michigan sitting next to him on a talk show couch. You're not so tough, Donny, and I'm glad I got to see the real you up close and personal all those years ago.
We are all Muslim. Deal with it.
All my best,
Michael Moore
P.S. I'm asking everyone who reads this letter to go here and sign the following statement: "WE ARE ALL MUSLIM" -- and then send post a photo of yourself holding a homemade sign saying "WE ARE ALL MUSLIM" on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #WeAreAllMuslim. I will post all the photos on my site and send them to you, Mr. Trump. Feel free to join us.
You can sign the statement, too:  Go to this page: "We Are All Muslim."  Then take a picture of yourself holding a sign, "We Are All Muslim," to post on your Facebook page. I *AM* going to get around to doing this!



Thursday, December 17, 2015

The "W" in Christmas

From my cousin Cris: 

The "W" in Christmas

Last December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant." I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song. Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment - songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.


So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title. Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row- center stage - held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W". The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W". Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

"C H R I S T W A S L O V E" 


And, I believe, He still is.

Author unknown

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Opposite of Camelot?

Where we live now is such a perfect place, we've even been known to call it Camelot. 



However, for awhile over the past two days, I was just thinking we are the opposite of Camelot:


I went for a run yesterday morning but got stopped where the lake overflowed onto the trail.


So I went over to the other lake, where the trail had been completely blocked by workers.



It was still beautiful. But hard to tell these photos are in color.

Anyway, turns out a "sky river" is running through our Camelot, with another one scheduled to arrive tonight.

Here's an old link explaining a little bit about sky rivers.  

When I find something more recent, I'll post that, too. 

Why, Google, Why?

I just don't get why Google wants me to "stay signed in" all the time. Every time I sign in to any of my Google accounts, I un-check the box that says "Stay Signed In." And every time I get this message:
"For your convenience, keep this checked. On shared devices, additional precautions are recommended. Learn more"
 Ever since I first heard of Google and its famous motto, "Don't be evil," I've doubted it. I mean, really, how can we trust this giant company which is constantly gathering information on every post we write, every email message we send and receive, every Internet search we instigate, and every Web page we view?

I realize they've changed the motto now. See this Wikipedia article for more.  For instance, the article notes:
Following Google's corporate restructuring under the conglomerate Alphabet Inc. in October 2015, the slogan was replaced in the Alphabet corporate code of conduct by the phrase "Do the right thing", however to this day, the Google code of conduct still contains the phrase "Don't be evil".
And I'm not the only one who thinks the idea that the company or its employees are bound to not do evil. As also noted in the Wikipedia article:
On 16 May 2013 Margaret Hodge MP, the chair of the United Kingdom Public Accounts Committee accused Google of being "calculated and unethical" over its use of highly contrived and artificial distinctions to avoid paying billions of pounds in Corporation tax owed by its UK operation. The company was accused by the committee, which represents the interests of all UK taxpayers, of being "evil" for not paying its "fair amount of tax". She told Matt Brittin, head of Google UK "I think that you do evil". In 2015, the UK Government introduced a new law intended to penalise Google and other large multinational corporations's artificial tax avoidance.
Well, I'm not going to write a whole essay about this. All I really want to know is why I should want to stay signed in all the time. Because they already know enough about me, don't they!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

It's National Brownie Day!




Yay! Here are a bunch of recipes, about half of which I want to try:

"Brownie Recipes That'll Make You Weak in the Knees"

 Here are some of the ones that made me drool, just looking at these pictures: Dulce de Leche Brownies, Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Brownies, and Ultimate Brownies. (I've pasted photos of these on this page.)









A couple that I don't want to even look at, let alone try, are Buttered Popcorn Crunch Brownies and Salted Caramel Pretzel-Topped Fudgy Brownies. 







But you can look at them and see if you want to try them for yourself. And let me know, okay?

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Gift of Life and Love

A gift of life in this story: A sister donates a kidney to her brother.

Where on earth did she get this idea?

Maybe from the example of Jesus Christ, whose birthday we celebrate this season:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Saviour Is Born

Why we're thinking of kindness elves:


Kindness Elves







I found this on Facebook, and I think the idea of Kindness Elves beats that whole "Elf on the Shelf" idea all to elve-dom and gone.







I'm going to do something like that in our home, but with a Kindness Kitty. And I think I'm going to send some Christmas Kindness Kitties to a certain family I know that lives not too far from here....