Archive for July, 2002

One Politician I Would Actually Trust

July 29th, 2002 No comments

Just went back through my old town this weekend on the way to some family R&R, and was pleasantly surprised to find the place covered with “Bruce Caswell for State Representative” signs. Mr. Caswell was my math teacher from 7th grade on (except for 8th grade, where he was detoured into English for some administrative reason I never understood). He was also the track coach. All the cliche’s about a fantastic teacher and/or coach making an incredible difference in kid’s lives — well, they’re true.

I hope he makes it. Besides, it’ll be nice to know someone in the legislature.

Fun Children’s Books

July 26th, 2002 No comments

Just found Sixteen Cows by Lisa Wheeler and Kurt Cyrus. It’s a romantic bit of rhyming whimsey about Cowboy Gene and Cowgirl Sue and their eight cows each. The kids love it; it gets the “Again!” seal of approval from Rachel.

I picked it up at the library because I’ve really liked Kurt Cyrus’s work before. Slow Train to Oxmox was one of our favorites for Josh and David a few years ago, and Tangle Town is great too. ( claims both are out of print, which is really too bad.) Funny, inteligent enough for the adults, silly enough for the kids, and beautifully illustrated — what more do you need?

Favorites from the previous library haul were Get Set! Swim! and Hello, Ocean. (Hmm, I’m sensing a water theme for last week …) I was all set to not like Get Set! Swim! for being too PC (our heroine is Puerto Rican, there’s a small bit of angst about having to compete against the rich suburban schools who Have It All™), but it turns into a very nice little story of sportsmanship, and I ended up liking it anyway. I thought Hello, Ocean was OK as far as the writing went, but the illustrations are gorgeous (and Nancy and I are both jealous that they depict the beach outside the author’s home). Both of these made the “read it again and again!” list for the last few weeks.

Categories: Homeschooling, Uncategorized Tags:

July 26th, 2002 No comments

Not much blogging for a while … been busy at work. At last, it’s released to the public! The result of my (and a whole bunch of other’s) labors is now HeritageQuest Online. We’re just getting started; before we’re done, we should have all census records from the U.S. Census from 1790 – 1930 searchable and viewable online.

The interface is simple, but we’re talking about hundreds of millions of names, and terabytes of image data. There are a few … technical challenges to doing this that I’ve never had the opportunity to wrestle with before.

So, lobby your library to sign up so you can use it! Or, go see our partners at and sign up for the new “Family and Local History” library. Help make the product a sucess, so that I look good for my bosses and can support my family!

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Drowning Your Investment Sorrows

July 18th, 2002 No comments
Categories: The Stupid Economy Tags:

Angel Angle

July 17th, 2002 No comments

Finally “sold” part of our first successful batch of angelfish — actually bartered them to the fish store in trade for some baubles to go in the new goldfish bowl we picked up at a garage sale.

Hmm … $20-something to complete setting up a borrowed tank, $12 in frozen baby brine shrimp, some unknown amount of extra adult flake food, and umpteen hours of tank maintenance. In exchange, about $4 in cheap plastic and ceramic. I’m not so sure about the economics of this …

On the other hand, it’s cool. The kids have all been very excited about our angelfish babies, and love watching them grow up. Josh actually will go sit by the tank “to calm myself down” when he needs to settle himself. What price should I put on that?

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The Genius of Hillaire Belloc

July 14th, 2002 No comments

… is shown by a comment on Mark’s blog referring to The Pelagian Drinking Song:

Now the Faith is old and the Devil is bold,
Exceedingly bold indeed;
And the masses of doubt that are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we that sit in a sturdy youth
And still can drink strong ale
Oh--let us put it away to infallible truth
That always shall prevail.


(There’s more. Much more. It’s the funniest bit of theology and Church history that you’re likely to read in this lifetime. Read it. Trust me.)

Categories: ChesterBelloc Tags:

Ooh! Me too!

July 14th, 2002 No comments

Wow. Rod Dreher captures a dynamic that I’ve noticed too. I seem to fall into the “crunchy-granola tastes, conservative religion, damned-if-I-know politics” camp myself.

My favorite quote:

Funny how I went straight from left wing to right wing without ever once passing through a phase where I trusted the government.

— Julianne Loesch Wiley

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July 10th, 2002 No comments

Amy Welborn is blogging some good stuff on family size (archive link is currently messed up, Amy). She also points to Greg Popcak on “Integral Procreation”.

This makes sense to me. I really love my kids. Children are an incredible gift and blessing. That said, I’m pretty sure I don’t have the fortitude (not to mention patience, prudence, wisdom, and other virtues) to deal with any more blessing right now. Or if I could grow the sufficient amount in less than nine months.

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Rant: Modern Building Insanity

July 6th, 2002 No comments

My lawn is dying.

This is not such a big deal in and of itself. (Blasphemer! shouts the spirit of Suburban Man™.) It’s just some plants, after all. Not big stuff on the Cosmic scale. But it’s the reason that it’s dying that has me ticked off today.

You see, it’s dying because we haven’t had any rain in a while, and I haven’t been running up my water bill by watering it religiously to golf-course-like greenness. The lack of rain shouldn’t be such a big deal — that’s pretty common in July. At least, it wouldn’t be a big deal if there were actually any topsoil there to hold moisture, rathern than just sandy subsoil.

You see, it’s been standard practice for I-don’t-know-how long for developers to start converting farmland to a new subdivision by bulldozing away all the topsoil first. That way, they can sell it back by the cubic yard to homeowners who actually want to be able to grow anything.

I used to blame some mysterious Suburban Ethic™ for the fact that everyone seeems to water contstantly to keep their lawns green. The SE does exist, but I see now that it’s also a practical thing. Fail to water, watch your lawn brown back and die off. (Yes, I know that grass goes dormant. This is beyound dormant.)

To add insult to injury, we’re on watering restrictions. The explosion of subdivisions has severely strained the water system, which can’t support these untold gallons being brought almost a hundred miles from the Detroit River to be dumped into the lawns of a hundred Washtenaw (and Wayne and Oakland) County subs.

Now, I grew up on farms. We always had acres of grass (I know, I had to mow it). We never watered our grass. It browned, but it was never in danger of actually dying and needing reseeding. Nancy is from older neighborhoods in Detroit and Livonia; she never saw such a thing either.

So our water shortage is not just the human vanity of homeowners, but the corporate greed of a generation of developers. Because, if they just left the topsoil where it was, the soil would work to retain water, and lots of this watering would be unnecessary.

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July 3rd, 2002 No comments
“Art? Never met the man.”

When Mark said modern art is crap, I didn’t think he really meant that crap is modern art.


And Dr. Bill back in college wondered why I couldn’t take modern “art” seriously, after having been introduced to Giotto, Fra Angelico, Michaelangelo, and the Dutch masters. “Zach, it’s almost like you think it’s just some sort of scam pulled over on the public.” Yeah, that about nails it.

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