Sunday, September 25, 2005


Having been rather dismayed and disturbed at much of what I've been reading and seeing recently regarding the hurricanes and their effects, I wanted to do something in response, even if primarily symbolic.

I've been trying to drive less, although my plans to take the bus to work haven't happened yet. Saturday I determined not to drive my car. But I had a coupon that expired Saturday for half-off one item at Michael's, and I wanted to purchase a knitting book I'd seen there, The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques.

So I donned my Path to Freedom t-shirt (it seemed appropriate!) and pulled my bicycle out of the garage, where it has been stored for a couple years. (I don't think I rode it once last summer.) Both tires were flat, so I walked it over to the gas station after giving up using my little foot pump.

Then I rode down to the bike shop where I'd purchased the bicycle a number of years ago to see what sort of panniers they had. They are ordering in a few more samples, so I'll check back when they come in. I'm trying to decide between the wire basket kind and the nylon kind.

Then to Michael's and then back home, stopping at garage sales along the way. Today I went for another ride as it was so beautiful out. I'm trying to find the best streets to ride on that are fairly direct routes but don't have a lot of traffic.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Late night browsing

Attempt two after deleting original post. So this post has excerpts only and little commentary. From the CS Monitor, a series on Before the Oil Runs Out, nothing new to those who have been following Peak Oil, but a simple, clear presentation of the issues.
[I]s the world really running out of oil? The short answer is no. Earth is swimming in the stuff. What's changed is that the era of cheap oil - a period that has lasted 150 years - is showing its age. Only a dramatic breakthrough - either in technology or consumption patterns - can forestall its conclusion in a decade or two.
When major economic trends are apparent within two years, that is something to which to pay attention.
Some experts who follow these issues closely are getting worried. One big change, particularly in the past two years, has been increasing international competition for oil supplies.
And yet
[t]oday's suburban American lifestyle - built around long commutes to work and large, energy-hungry houses - assumes that low-cost fuel will be available indefinitely.
In a different article, the Monitor links to this helpful guide (.pdf) to eating during an emergency: The Healthy Hurricane/Disaster Cookbook.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Emergency preparedness or...

just nostalgia. Some time ago, I found an old Coleman lantern at the Salvation Army store. It seemed to be in working condition from what I could tell, although I didn't really know what to look for. So I bought it because it reminded me of one camping trip in particular, next to the Kabampo River in Zambia. I have a memory of pressure lamps hanging on a tree hissing and providing light.

I stopped by Berg Hardware to buy replacement mantles and asked someone at my church if he would look at the lantern and see if it was usable. I showed it to him in the church kitchen, where someone else saw it and gave me an animated lecture about how and why the lantern works. After learning what kind of fuel to get and finding it at a sporting goods store (fishing and hunting gear), I brought the lantern to the church member's garage, where we (that would be mostly he) took it apart and cleaned it a bit. (I still need to clean it more, but I just wanted to see how it worked first.)

My gamble was right that it was in good working order. We fired it up, and, WOW, I had forgotten how brightly those lanterns burn! The cap was leaking a bit of air, so I stopped by the tackle store again and bought a new cap. The proprietor, who also repairs lanterns, was enthusiastic about the condition mine was in, even though, cosmetically, it's not in the best shape.

From what I can tell by looking online and the ballpark age the proprietor guessed it was, I think the model is a 228 from the early 1960s perhaps. I can't figure out what the letter of the model is, maybe C, E, or F.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Knitting projects Web site

I've run out of room to upload pictures to this site, so I am copying some of my knitting entries and moving the accompanying pictures over to another site: JBB's Knitting Projects. (Yes, I know, very original title....) Eventually, I hope to revamp the Musings site (thanks to a kind offer of help), but for now I'm gradually moving a few pictures to the new, topical site.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The joy of knitting

From Sandra Tsing Loh's review in The Atlantic (subscription required for full article) of a book about the ghostwriter/author and publisher of the Nancy Drew mystery stories:
The real allure of Nancy Drew is that, almost uniquely among classic or modern heroines, she can follow—is allowed to follow—a train of thought. [...] For clever girls of all ages [...] it's a rare treat to read stories in which our heroine's emotions come alive not with the love of a good man but with the pursuit of a bad one. Who doesn't thrill to the adrenaline-charged arrival of a "hunch"—triggering Nancy's trademark excitement, her thoughts swirling, eyes sparkling, fingers deliciously drumming with impatience to get into the library and pore over long-forgotten River Heights records that might reveal a clue about some suspicious handyman with a name like Nathaniel Mordechai Crumbley? [...]

Because forget sex and romance; the solving of puzzles, mental trial and error, the deeply pleasurable act of raveling and unraveling—therein lies a secret part of the female psyche. (Knitting, anyone? There ought to be a movie celebrating this complex craft, which, if you ever get hooked, can give you—as it did me and a surprising number of women I know—no less than an emotional foundation. I see it as a Henry Jaglom, Sundance Channel movie, all monologues straight to camera: Women Knitting.)

(Now I have to watch a Henry Jaglom film.)
My library books this week are...

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges. I requested the book be transferred to my library branch after reading Byron Borger's short review of it in his introduction to a longer review of Hedges' new book on the Ten Commandments.

Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry, because I still have not read any of Berry's novels.

How to Organize Just About Everything, by Peter Walsh, because it was there on the new books' shelf close to the mid-700s section where there were no new knitting books.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

New growth

When I repotted my plants six weeks ago, one of them had a bent over branch from occasionally having gone too long without water. Soon after being repotted and watered regularly, new leaves sprouted at the break in the branch and two new flowers even appeared at the end of the branch until they got knocked off.

For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again....[A]t the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant. Job 14:7, 9 [RSV]

Friday, September 02, 2005

An unnatural disaster

From a free column in the WSJ, by Sharon Begley:
More than one million acres of Louisiana's coastal wetlands, or 1,900 square miles, have been lost since 1930, due to development and the construction of levees and canals. Barrier islands and stands of tupelo and cypress also vanished. All of them absorb some of the energy and water from storm surges, which, more than the rain falling from the sky, caused the current calamity. "If these had been in place, at least some of the energy in the storm surge would have been dissipated," says geologist Jeffrey Mount of the University of California, Davis. "This is a self-inflicted wound."
And tonight on NOW, a re-broadcast of a program from 2002 about the disappearance of the delta.
The Mississippi River delta is disappearing. One of America's most vibrant and productive ecological regions is slipping into the Gulf of Mexico at an alarming rate. [...] Some of this loss can be blamed on the levee system, which has channelled water and sediment into the Gulf of Mexico instead of depositing them on the coastal wetlands.
Other topics:

A primer on the Incident Command System.

From the discussion on the NewsHour tonight.
DAVID BROOKS: I think it is a huge reaction we are about to see. I mean, first of all, they violated the social fabric, which is in the moments of crisis you take care of the poor first. That didn't happen; it's like leaving wounded on the battlefield.

So there is just -- in 9/11 you had a great surge of public confidence. Now I think we are going to see a great decline in public confidence in our institutions. And so I just think this is sort of the anti-9/11 as one of the bloggers wrote. [...]

TOM OLIPHANT: I would say the fault lines are much deeper than that. I mean, on the one hand there is no question that we can see now with our own eyes the two Americas of which John Edwards began speaking a year and a half ago.

But deeper than that, I think, is the anger that is going to come from the realization that virtually all public policy -- state, local, federal, where this area is concerned, has been against the public interests for decades. And the realization that government is one of the reasons we have government has been violated by virtually everything government has done for decades.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Psalm 77

It has been quite incredible to see the pictures and listen to the stories of the aftermath of the hurricane in the Gulf Coast area.

This morning I woke early and could not go back to sleep, trying to understand and make sense of what is happening but dependent only on what is being reported on the news and then being fully immersed in my corporate, cubicle-and-computer-bound job, far from the reality of what the TV is showing.

My Bible opened to Psalm 77. It seemed especially fitting. A cry for help. Not able to sleep. Questioning God. Violent waters. God's footprints unseen/unknown through the waters. A people being led.

I'm searching for prayers or a litany for Sunday. The pastor is on vacation, and I want to help people—myself—find the words to offer to God. The Lutherans also already have published a hymn (.pdf). It struck me that, once again, the Christmas story isn't confined to December:
Joseph and Mary:
refugee people,
traveled together
to Bethlehem.
Joseph was weary,
Mary expecting.
There was no room for
them in the inn.
[Update 9/5/05: After listening to this discussion on the NewsHour tonight (only available in audio at this time), I came to understand that people are upset about being called "refugees" in their own country because it implies they are not true citizens. I did not think critically enough about the song before quoting it here nor did I consider the connotations of the word "refugee." In the verse I quoted, Mary and Joseph are travelling from the region of Galilee to Judea, more like "interstate" travel than later when they escape to an "international" destination, Egypt. The image that stood out to me was of pregnant Mary having to travel and TV pictures I'd seen of women who gave birth during the evacuation.]

Beyond the hurricane itself, the brokenness of the world we live in cannot be denied. The poverty of so many people. Greed and violence that seem suddenly evident in those who are looting and yet are the same greed and violence that led to the ripping up of the coastline's natural defenses for the sake of "development."

As I wonder how I'm implicated in this all, I'm taking delight and hope in a book my former pastor, Peg, gave me: The Sea, the Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle, by Lynne Cherry. It is a children's book, with wonderful illustrations, about the many creatures who shelter in mangroves along the coast during a storm. They are safe, and, after ten years,

dead bleached branches still tell the story of the hurricane. But new growth has sprouted from the mangroves' broken branches, and the mangrove island is even bigger, wider, and deeper.