Prairie View

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Wrapup--2/23/2014

News and inspiration both seem to be in short supply, but we'll see if blog material comes to mind as we go along.


Facebook quotes:

From my brother-in-law, Matthew--

I find it awe-inspiring to lie on my back and gaze at the night sky.

But I'm still learning to fully experience that sense of wonder when the lying down is unexpected and the resting spot is an icy sidewalk. 


From Josh, who helped sing the "Hallelujah Chorus" as a congregational song this morning at our church:

Hey, we should put complex choral masterpieces in our hymnals so congregations everywhere can amuse themselves by mangling them every sunday.

I liked some of the followup comments too:

F. K. Ha, ha!! I just heard you all sing that song--and it sounded LOVELY to me!  You should hear our singing at church. . . actually, you shouldn't.

(She lives half a world away and must have heard the recorded service.)

MarlinGlanette Smucker Or you could use the basic hymnal and mangle simple hymns. Only it's not very amusing...

ShaneDorcas Iwashige It was a good morning for John to be leading singing! Hey, at least we try. For a stretch of four services in a row several weeks ago I had to sight read a song as I led it. Uncomfortable, but I'll take that any day over a church that insists on singing the same poorly written songs week after week.


We had guests from other area Mennonite churches this morning.  They were participants in the MCC Friendship Meals fundraising program, which is a precursor to the MCC Relief Sale in April.  They were the guests of William Hershbergers and Dwight Millers.


I have a quibble with blogspot's formatting codes, which apparently capriciously preserve in subsequent text the formatting for cut-and-pasted material.  I hate it because it makes the quoted material hard to distinguish from my writing.  The previous paragraph is an example.  Usually, before I cut and paste anything, I remember to write something first--usually gibberish, before and after the quote--and then plop the pasted material in between.  This time I forgot to key the "aft" material, and one time it worked out OK and other times it didn't.


Last night the school staff from Pilgrim was invited to Mark Nissleys for an evening of food, conversation, and poetry.  After consuming entrees of Creole Food or Gnocchi (Italian potato/kale soup), and other good accompaniments, and visiting around the tables, each person read or recited a poem for the group.

It's my private opinion, but I thought Aunt Martha, who is almost 80, stole the show with her recitations of children's poetry, complete with the expression and embellishments that must have delighted her children.  Martha was there because her husband Paul, retired principal and bishop, still teaches one Bible class.


Elizabeth, the hostess's mother, informally recited a verse from Edwin Markham's poem "Outwitted."   She said she had clung to this verse when they were shunned by most of their family.  "It really works," she said.  Here's the verse:

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In !


I read/recited "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., a 19-year-old poet who was also an airplane pilot, explaining before I did so that I'm not really deeply in love with flying, but I liked the flight images that showed freedom, beauty, playfulness, reflection, and devotion.  Here's the text of that poem:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth 
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; 
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth 
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things 
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung 
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, 
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung 
My eager craft through footless halls of air.... 

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue 
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace. 
Where never lark, or even eagle flew — 
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod 
The high untrespassed sanctity of space, 
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. 

The poem was written in August, 1941.  The poet died in December of the same year, in a mid-air collision with another airplane over England.  Clouds had created conditions of limited visibility, and, according to one witness, after the collision, Magee prepared to parachute, but the plane was too low and the parachute could not be inflated.  He died on impact.

Other tidbits about the poet:

He was born in China to missionary parents, an American father and a British mother.

His father was a chaplain at Yale University when his son died.  The father was from a prominent and prosperous family, but, in choosing a missionary life, he turned his back on opportunities this privilege might have offered him.

This website has a lot of background information on this poet and this poem.


I lament the deaths of young men in WWII, and in other wars, young men who were likely as talented as Magee, but we'll never know about them or benefit from what they might have become.


We had night school last week on Friday.  First we had a normal day of school.  Then everyone except our principal went home, and came back for the start of another school day at 6:00 pm.  We dismissed a little after 12 AM, and then did our cleaning chores for the week.

A little late afternoon nap did wonders for me, and I got a huge pile of grading done in those two school days on Friday.

As usual, a festive air pervaded the second installment of school, and an abundance of snacks (and some caffeine) helped fuel the activities.  Several groups of visitors showed up.  All, however, cleared out on schedule--a request our principal had made earlier.  We have plans to take a day off at a later time.


I finally found someone to help me in the house several hours a week--Doris Nisly.  She's a neighbor and mother to some of my students.

Marian had to stop coming to help about a year ago, and I've missed her in so many ways.  After she died in September, I knew I really needed to work on finding someone else, and I tried several things that did not work out.

Coming home to a clean house on Friday was really special, thanks to Doris.


My brother Lowell and all of his family except Christy are in Costa Rica right now with Judy's family.  Christy is at Calvary Bible School.  The trip happened now because two of Judy's nieces are getting married.

Anthony (Tony) S., our music teacher at the high school, also was traveling recently, and his brother, Jared, substituted for him while he was gone.


Marvin Miller and the part of his family still at home are visiting here from Romania.  They left Kansas 30 years ago to move to Ohio.  From Ohio, they went to Romania when their youngest daughter was a year old.  She's at least in her upper teens now.  Another daughter is getting married while they're in the US.


Darrell and Karen Bontrager plan to leave on Tuesday for 3-month stay in the Middle East, in the same country they visited last summer.  They're seeking direction for their future, with a possible long-term stint in that area.

Joe and Marilyn K. and their baby Zora, are back after nearly five months in Nepal.

Oren and Jo are visiting Frieda in China.


Charlie Rhoades does not have cancer in his mouth.  Nerve damage is being investigated as the culprit in his discomfort.


Rachel Y. plans to accompany Perry and Judith S. to Oregon this week to visit their son Owen and his  family.


The composition class students have voted to send the bulk of the income from the "Anja" book to the Anja Miller Memorial Scholarship fund.  Pre-established percentages of the money from this fund will annually go to students wishing to attend "school" in one of three places:  Shenandoah Music Institute, Shenandoah Music Camp, and Faithbuilders Educational Programs.

I'm pleased with this decision.


Our curriculum review committee is working on a purpose statement for the Language Arts section of the Pilgrim curriculum.  Any reader input?

Arlyn N. is leading the effort, and giving us some good material to peruse in preparation for weighing in with our contributions.

On the side, we've been engaged in some vigorous email exchanges related to educational philosophy.  It's probably a good idea to  keep it "on the side" for now, in order to move forward on the assigned project.

I'm pondering some of what I see in the local homeschooling population now, as contrasted with what was present when our family was among them.  I also see changes in the group-schooling population.


David Yutzy, father to Lester, and brother to Elizabeth H., died yesterday in Arizona.  His home was in Montana, and that's where the funeral and burial will be later this week.


After some mild weather last week, this week looks like we'll have more cold weather.  In some years, people plant peas about this time of the year.  Not a chance this year.


I've planted an Italian rhubarb variety from seed, and the plants jumped up in a hurry.  I note that some tiny seedlings have redder stems than others, and I wondered if I could selectively plant only the red ones and have a higher percentage of red-stalked rhubarb plants in my garden.  I did some online snooping to see if this is possible and found that it is.

Now I wish I had planted more seeds to insure that I have enough red-stalked plants to fill out my row. I'm also wondering if I'll go to the trouble that Bob Marker suggests is important--planting rhubarb on a ridge, to avoid any chance of the roots rotting in water-logged soil.

The asparagus seeds I planted aren't up yet--much slower than the rhubarb.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Brother Grandpa

The extended Miller family has a new little lady:  Liliana Grace, born to Jeff and Joelle Beck today.  They live in Pennsylvania.  Joelle is my niece, the daughter of my brother Caleb and his wife Kara.

I think I really like having siblings who are also grandparents.  Among my parents' descendants,
the Iwashiges have been the first to produce children and grandchildren, so we're used to having to deal with a little lag time while the others catch up.  We love it when they do.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Students in High Places

On the evening of February 15, two seniors at our school gave speeches at an event in Wichita.  The event was in honor of Black History Month, and the Kansas African American Museum helped plan the event.

About a month earlier students from our school had gone there on a field trip.  The staff was impressed with our students and called later to ask someone from our school to participate in the event.  The governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, was to be at the meeting.  Our principal, Mr. Schrock, accompanied the students last night, along with several supporters and well-wishers.  One of them recorded the following video of our students' speeches.  Carol Nisly is the first presenter (Harold and Judith's daughter), and Jonathan "Jonny" Yoder (Joe and Twila's son) is the second presenter.

Here's the link.

I'm not positive if all readers will be able to see this footage.  If not, maybe some tech-savvy reader can figure out how to post a proper link.  This one may require a Facebook account and the right publicity settings in Krist Mast's account.  She's the one who made and posted the video.  For those who care, here's the address as I copied it from the screen on which the video appeared:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Link to Sports Article

Dr. Watney sent me the link to the article on sports that I heard being summarized and discussed in his Comp 1 college class.  I'll pass on the link for any interested readers to check out.  Feel free to comment.  I'm not prepared to do so at this point.  Maybe later.  Maybe not.

The article, "Freedom Between the Goal Posts," was originally published in Chrsitianity Today on February 4, 2005.  It was written by Mark Galli, who was the managing editor of the magazine at that time.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Second Comment Question

Here's a column I came across today while reading through The Week.  It was excerpted from The Washington Post and answers "yes" to the question "Is religion losing ground to sports?"  Read it for insights into the history of the relationship between religion and sports.  While it certainly does not mention Ravi Zacharias or Condoleeza Rice, I get the sense from this column that public acknowledgement of sports loyalties from Christians in or outside of public office or public ministry would have been quite unthinkable during most of Christian history.  The fact that it happens now marks a change that occurred mostly during the 1900s.

First, I want to be clear about not wishing to discredit these people.  I am certain, however, of several things:

1)  They aren't perfect.  Because they have apparently held loyalty both to Christ and to sports teams does not automatically make them role models worth following.  Following them as they follow Christ is safe.  Doing everything exactly as they do?  Not necessarily.

2)  Speaking of "Condi" mostly now, her role in government is not consistent with a traditional Anabaptist understanding of the Two Kingdom Concept.  That doesn't mean I can't learn anything from her, but it does mean that how she "slices and dices" matters of faith and life will almost certainly look very different from how anyone with reference to Anabaptist thought and practice will do it.

I know almost nothing about these people's personal lives.  Are they married?  With children?  Are they close to their parents and siblings?  Are they active in a local church?  I have the impression that Condoleeza Rice is not married.  I remember hearing, though, that she is "whip smart."  Is any of what they have accomplished in life because of their interest in sports or in spite of it?  We'll likely never know.  Might the record that counts in the Heavenly Father's eyes look different if they had ordered their "loves" differently?  Again, we'll likely never know.

I find it interesting that early Christians lived in a "sports-crazy" world, and apparently stood almost entirely apart from it.  Paul's writings include sports imagery, which was meaningful to his readers because it was pervasive in society.  Paul did not discredit physical exercise entirely, but relegated it to the category of "little profit."

We all know that the Roman games took a really grisly turn eventually, and great crowds gathered to be entertained by watching human combat, or humans being devoured by animals. When Christians participated in the games, they were more likely to be found in the arena, involuntarily, than in the stands, voluntarily.

The matter of competition is a can of worms I don't have the energy to tackle now.  I think it's worth asking whether the competitive element in sports is constructive.  It helps win games, but does it help in living well?

Outside of Play Structure

I may be on a roll here.  Success twice in a row with posting pictures almost makes up for failure dozens of times in a row earlier.

This is obviously the outside of the play structure.  See the previous post for an interior view, and see this post from several weeks ago to hear what those who use it say about it.


If a covered play area is what we want, I think we need look no further.

Play Structure Interior

A number of weeks ago I promised to post pictures of the play structure in use in a Christian School in Oregon as soon as I figure out how to do it.  Tonight I figured out how to do one picture.  The other may follow soon, or not . . .  This picture is obviously taken in the interior of the structure.  Note the comparative size of the walk-in door in the lower right area of the end wall.  The volleyball net also provides perspective.  Two volleyball games can be played simultaneously.  In this 66 x 100 foot structure, natural lighting is all that's needed during the day, even in rainy Oregon.  At its highest point, it's 25 feet tall.  The finished structure cost about $65,000.00, and those who use it report that it works very well for their purposes.  See this earlier blog post for more details.

A Place for Spectator Sports?

This post is an answer to a question from a comment in a previous post:  "Do you feel that there is a healthy (or "not harmful") place for spectator sports in society?"

I think I would answer that question exactly as I would answer if the question had been "Do you think there is a healthy place for entertainment in society?"  That's how I see spectator sports--entertainment.

My answer is a copiously qualified "yes."

In general, I think spectator sports are almost entirely useless, except as a temporary "untangling of mind knots" maneuver.   For that, spectator sports can serve a useful purpose (but so can many other activities, most of which have some other redeeming virtue--improvement of health, exercise of the mind, investment in relationships, etc. ).  I suggest, however, that watching the Super Bowl, for example, usually happens for reasons other than the one I've listed here.  In school, I'm also not at all enamored with the practice of girls lining up around the basketball court to watch the boys play.  I'm even less impressed when the reverse happens.

Spectator sports, in my estimation, are usually engaged in for one of the following reasons:

--Learning how to play the game better (This came through tangentially in what I heard from football players at the class at Sterling.)

--An ego boost (If I can't play out there myself, I'll feel better about it if I cheer for someone who can.  If they win, I'll feel good too because I've had a part in their win.)

--An intensely competitive personal drive (which can not be on display in another setting without negative social consequences)

--An opportunity for a social gathering with other fans (I believe almost no helpful relationship building happens here.  People seldom see others' best side at these times.  On the contrary, excesses are often in evidence, and everyone's behavior tends to slide toward the lowest level present rather than trending higher.)

--Seeking to fill empty places in an unsatisfying life--socially, intellectually, spiritually

--Sensual indulgence (Spectators have nothing to do except watch, and, in games beyond Christian school property, athletes and cheerleaders are often scantily clad--less so for players in some sports.)

--"Sheeple" behavior--not thinking, just following other sheeple

All kinds of entertainment are best taken only in small doses, according to my understanding.  One indication of that is the one to seven rest/work ratio that God Himself observed.  If all non-work activity is to fit into one-seventh of our total number of hours in a week, we can't afford to fill up much of that time with spectator sports because of big losses guaranteed to occur elsewhere if we do.  Simply put, if we're caught up with spectator sports,  many other good revitalizing things will be displaced.  This is especially the case on Sundays, as I see it.  Hence my discomfort with missing a church group activity to watch the Super Bowl.

Having conceded that entertainment has a legitimate place in society, if its time-share is kept well below one to seven ratio thresholds, I still have a very hard time seeing that watching the Super Bowl on a Sunday evening fits any legitimate parameters.

That's my stick-in-the-mud pronouncement for the day.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Out of My Element and Into My Alma Mater

It's been more than 30 years since I headed toward Sterling on bad roads and worried about whether I would arrive before class started.  I made it today.  The prof, though, was late.

Unlike my earlier days, today my only responsibility was to sit quietly in a corner and soak up whatever I could that might help me be a better composition teacher.  We've never done an in-service activity quite like this, but, in our debriefing afterward, everyone on staff at the high school agreed that it was a very worthwhile day.  Wesley and Norma observed at Buhler High School.

I sat through two freshman comp classes.  Dr. Watney taught one class, and Gentry Sutton taught the other.  (Do you wonder, as I did, if bowing is the appropriate greeting for a man named Gentry?)  Each class was quite unlike the other.  In both of them, I saw real professionals at work, doing a great job with a challenging task.

I learned that in second-semester Comp 1 classes, the classes are often largely made up of students who failed Comp 1 the first semester, or who were in a remedial composition class during the first semester.  I could see why Comp 1 is often a grit-your-teeth-and-do-your-share task.  Yet these men were courteous and encouraging, and used what seemed to me to be very effective teaching strategies.

One huge difference since my earlier Sterling days is the constant use of technology.  When the teacher walks into the classroom, his first task is to hook up his laptop to the classroom's system so that what is on his computer screen can be beamed onto a screen along the wall.  Instead of handing out content-filled sheets of paper, he might ask them to print out their own papers from "My Sterling" and directs them there to find instructions, source material, etc.

I learned things I didn't know about summaries in Dr. Watney's class.  He teaches in a clearly discernible British accent, acquired in his native South Africa, no doubt.  He used the phrase "author tag," which referred to the word "said," or more interesting approximations--used in referring to an author's ideas or words.  Like this:  XXXXXXXX said, in his article XXXXXXXXX, that . . . He asked students to include author, title, and author tag in the first sentence of their summary.  He required one quotation and two examples.  All the students read aloud the summaries they had written on an article about not taking sports seriously enough.  I should have asked for a copy of the article, or a link to it.

The next assignment in Dr. Watney's class is to write a response to the article.  That is a distinctly different task than a summary.  Part of the class time consisted of discussion on the main idea of the article.  I was smiling inside as I listened to students who were there on athletic scholarships (football) expressing their opinions.  It's probably a good thing they hadn't read my last blog post.  Then again, we might have had a really fun discussion if they had (more on that later).

In Mr. Sutton's class, I saw useful elaborations on the basic essay format, specifically about inserting a "Plan of Development" following the thesis statement.  Outside of class, I also learned from Mr. Sutton that he wrote a book on the use of the comma, due to be published this fall.  He also relies on ideas from the book, Everything's an Argument, as an organizing feature of the Comp 1 class.

I learned that the Suttons and the Watneys each have three sons, just as Hiromi and I do.  The "ayes" [I s]  have it in the Sutton household:  Isaac, Ian, and Ireland.

Benji, my nephew, emerged from the shadows in the student union to speak to Dr. Watney and me.  I learned then that he and Dr. Watney's son, Caleb, are good friends.  They have business classes together.

During lunch, I said hi to my friend, Linda Stubbs, who, with her husband and daughter, man the cafeteria from before breakfast through lunch.  While I was in the food line, Terry came up to talk.  Grant worked for him for several years.  He has a landscaping contract with the college and gets to eat for $3.00 a meal, and takes advantage of that opportunity.  Shout out to any local young men who want a chance at Grant's old job;  Terry is hoping to hire someone, starting early this spring.  Grant learned a lot from Terry, and could easily have started his own landscaping business with Terry's help if he had chosen to do so.  I sometimes wish he had.

Dr. Felicia Squires, the head of the English department, paid my lunch, and generally helped my time on campus go smoothly.  Her specialty is American Literature.  I think I'd like her classes, but I didn't have a chance to sit in on any of them.

Back to the academic side of Sterling.  I'm feeling a wee bit cheated that Sterling did not yet offer their Writing and Editing major when I was there.  Mr. Sutton tells me it's one of the few such majors offered in the country.  The passion for this offering grew out of what many English majors have discovered:  it's not always easy to market your skills in that field.  Mr. Sutton believes that honing the emphasis helps to address that problem.

All in all, I felt affirmed in what Pilgrim tries to teach its students.  I will also be glad to put in a good word for Sterling's Writing and Editing major to anyone who loves words and is considering how they might put that love to good use in earning a living or serving others.


The article the students read in Dr. Watney's class apparently promoted the idea that sports has too often become the wrong things to people--either a vehicle for becoming insanely rich, or a ho-hum, all-in-a-day's-work kind of activity.  The author (Mark Calls?????--I didn't see the name in print) believes that sports should be fun.  He likened enjoyment of sports to the Sabbath rest instituted by God, in that sports should be rest from ordinary labor.  Making it restful (rejuvenating) should be the focus of sports.

After hearing repeatedly that the author's thesis was that people don't take sports seriously enough, and hearing also that the author thought sports should be fun, I wasn't sure at all that he had used the words I would have chosen to convey that message.  I would have said something like this:  Sports are too often pursued for the wrong reasons.  Instead of light-hearted, fun-filled play, sports have become too deadly serious.  Instead of providing an occasional respite, they are often all-consuming and exhausting.

 I would NOT have said "Sports are often not taken seriously enough."  (Granted, not having read the article, I can't be positive that I'm analyzing it accurately.)

The funny thing is that I'm not convinced that people in the class really got what the author was saying.  What I heard them say in the discussion is that football should be taken seriously in that players need to be really committed to winning.  One way to help insure that is to work out faithfully.  Another is to work as a team.  Red-shirted players shouldn't feel slighted, but should see it as an opportunity to get better at the sport.  None of this seemed to me to have much to do with light-hearted, fun-filled, rejuvenating, restful activity.  It had everything to do with taking sports seriously--just not in the way the author was apparently promoting.

I'm still not sure whether Calls(?) said anything at all about spectator sports.  So maybe I don't have to re-evaluate my opinions about watching the Super Bowl after all.  That's a relief.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Salty Leftovers From the Super Bowl

Yesterday, in the kitchen at school, I happened upon an array of salty snacks in a very large bowl.  (I didn't hear anyone call it a super bowl though.)  Beside it was a sign inviting everyone to help themselves to the Super Bowl leftovers.  As others were doing, I gathered up a handful of wiener-sized "cheese curls" (these things have grown while I wasn't looking) and commented as I did so that this would be the extent of my involvement with the Super Bowl.  I seriously doubt that anyone within my hearing was particularly interested in that sentiment, but I said it anyway.  In the same vein, the following . . .

I'm not always a big fan of Bob Layne's column.  He is a retired Episcopal priest and community columnist for The Hutchinson News.  He really nailed something, however, that I referred to briefly in Sunday's post.  Layne calls the Superbowl mania "the yearly crowning of the masters of mayhem."   Here's a link to the column.

Layne has another great line:  "Remember, 'fan' is just short for 'fanatic.'"  He says this in the paragraph where he talks about the cost of tickets to the Superbowl game--$2,000-$3,000 each. Layne reminds us that the National Football League (NFL) enjoys tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organization.  Quote:  "That is absurd, if not criminal."  What is more, commercials dominate the TV broadcast of the game, generating phenomenal revenue on another front.  While often very clever and entertaining, some of the content "stinks" to people whose values do not run along Budweiser lines.  Art Linkletter said, as quoted by Layne:  "Television isn't a news medium, a sports medium, or even an entertainment medium; TV is simply and only a sales medium." Layne continues:  "Commercials rule, and those who hang on to every word are their obedient subjects.  The Super Bowl is their apex."   Also, this quote by Layne:  "The whole Bowl has become just another infomercial interspersed with enough gratuitous violence to keep the viewers'attention until the next commercial break."

Pharmaceutical drugs are often advertised during the Super Bowl, conveying the notion that life is greatly  improved when people ingest the right products.  Layne asks, "Is there any wonder our young people use drugs?  We tell them to, and then dramatically portray the wonderful benefits they can expect from popping a pill.  American pharmaceutical companies are the biggest drug pushers in the world."

Layne is also deeply distressed about the physical trauma--brain injury in particular--that is routine in football.  Average life expectancy for a veteran NFL player is 55.  Ongoing brain damage from concussions has, during most of the game's history, been ignored.  Memory loss occurs frequently after concussions.  Layne again: "Increasingly[,] watching two groups of professional brawlers bash and bruise one another's bodies and brains has lost any appeal."  He speculates that an increasing number of Americans feel like this, and football's twilight may be approaching.

At school, we just wrapped up a "Culture in America--2014" study.  Everyone there knows now, if they hadn't figured it out earlier, that sports is a huge part of American culture.  They also had a chance to evaluate how our culture compares to or contrasts with mainstream culture.  They gave some thought to Scriptural principles that should inform how we interact with culture.  And, by all appearances, many of them completely missed the point when it came to applying it to their own behavior.

When a traditional Sunday evening singing is canceled in favor of watching the Super Bowl, or when a singing shrinks to a fraction of its usual size because of the Super Bowl, it's obvious to me that we're very influenced by an aspect of popular culture that, in my opinion, has very little redeeming value.  I have not heard a single Scriptural principle cited in favor of this capitulation to popular culture.  I have not even heard recognition that Super Bowl mania constitutes capitulation.  What's obvious to an Episcopal priest should be obvious to all of us.  As is often the case, we're getting on board with the silliness just as those who've been on board for a long time are waking up and disassociating themselves from it.  This is embarrassing, at best.

The emperor has no clothes, and God bless Bob Layne for announcing it in appropriately salty language.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Sunday Wrap Up 2/2/2014

I wrote recently about people whose attitudes and actions are similar to those of their ancestors.  Some actions I was thinking of then (but did not mention) were either neutral or negative--things like chronic tardiness, being highly competitive, focused on financial success,  using sloppy language, parting with money only under protest, being organized, picky eaters, spontaneous, independent, etc.

Today I realized just how strongly positive such ancestral attitudes and actions can be.  I thought of it when Joe was expressing his appreciation for our ministers during the share time.  He is from a family that has, over several generations, done better than most at seeing the good in others and giving them the benefit of any doubt that might surface.  This generosity of spirit is revealed also in sharing readily of material things and of extending a helping hand.  We all know what to expect from that family.

Someone from another state once asked me what kind of people "they" were.  The questioner had learned to know well only one family member so far, but the parents had just been in the community for a visit.  After I had given a good report, the person who asked me said simply, "I thought that's how they seemed."


We're in an area for which 6-10 inches of snow is predicted to fall between Monday evening and Tuesday evening.  Blowing and drifting snow is likely.  That's unlikely to amount to the equivalent of an inch of rain, but the moisture will be very welcome for anyone who cares about gardening and agriculture.  Most of Kansas will likely get snow.

A second system is expected near the end of the week, with accumulating snowfall arriving with it. Between the two systems, temperatures will drop to almost zero.

It looks like a wintry week.


This is super-bowl Sunday.  I couldn't care less.

Such mania is too incomprehensible for me.  It is high.  I cannot attain unto it.


On Friday of this week our school staff members are scattering to various area schools for a day of observing other classes.  I will be going to Sterling College to sit in on several composition classes.  I also hope to talk to the professor who teaches most of the classes in their new writing and editing major.  I wish they had offered such a major in my time there.

To my surprise, the head of the English department invited me to have lunch with the profs in the department, so I plan to do that.

I think I'll be a little out of my element, but I plan to pretend otherwise.  Who knows?  Maybe going there for a few classes will make sense some time.  The immediate goal is to see what is expected of incoming students and to learn what I can about how better to prepare our college-bound students.  That's a little tricky, of course, because most of our students don't know for sure whether they'll go to college, and our preparation must also take into account "real life" for the non-college-educated adult.


For this Wednesday evening a group of six of us are preparing for a literature evening.  It's a fairly diverse group, and I am by far the oldest.  It's been fun to get together to plan, and I think it will be an enjoyable evening for everyone.  My contribution will focus on the "short story" genre.


Night school is planned to begin at 2:30 or so on Thursday morning at our high school.  We'll wind down around breakfast time and go home for the day.


The first group of CASP volunteers has come and gone.  We haven't been introduced to the new crew.


Darrell and Karen are hoping to visit again soon in the Middle East--for several months, perhaps.


Wyatt, the newest grandson, is doing great.  His Grandma Prettyman went home to Washington today.  He's two weeks and two days old.  Grant posts a picture of Wyatt on Facebook almost every day.  To think that Grant was just "that wonderful" when he was a baby, and most of the world had no idea.  Only Hiromi and I were privy to that information.


Two of my nieces, Andrea and Joelle, are expecting babies within the next few weeks.  That will swell my parents' great-grandchildren's ranks by two, for a total of six.  The other four are our grandchildren.   Great-grandchildren by the name of Miller are still a long way off, by all appearances.


My brother-in-law, Matthew's pain and difficulty with walking have diminished somewhat, at last report.  That is a real gift from God.  No obvious credit can be given to medical interventions.


I learned that the alfalfa sprouts the food production class members started at school met a variety of fates after they went home with students before the weekend.  One student finished the first batch successfully and promptly bought more seeds and started another batch.  He's on his third batch now.  Others spoke of having forgotten to do the rinsing regularly or not having kept them covered while the sprouts were elongating in the pan.  The uncovered ones dried out and the unrinsed ones got smelly--or maybe not, I was told later, since "Mom" had done some of the rinsing and had begun eating the sprouts without ill effect.

I'm waiting on a report of success from each student.

The Candy onions we planted are growing under lights in the lab.


I can't figure out why all the Atlas asparagus seeds are available only in the UK, since the sole producer is in the US.  None have been on the market for the past few years.

I did find one supplier whose physical address I can't find.  I suspect it's outside the country though, given the fact that the seeds are $4.95 for 10 and the postage is over $11.00.

Atlas produces longer than most varieties, and is quite disease resistant and heat tolerant.  The spears are thick.  I have some growing at the farm, but moving them seems like a lot of work, and I think I'd feel a little cheap taking them away from Shane's family.


This blog has had more than 1,000 posts.  We passed the milestone while I wasn't looking.