Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Happiness Gap

"Some elections are defined by the gap between the rich and the poor. Others are defined by the gap between the left and the right. But this election will be shaped by the gap within individual voters themselves — the gap between their private optimism and their public gloom."

Read this fascinating op-ed in the NYT by David Brooks.

"If one were to advise a candidate about the happiness gap, you’d say: first, don’t try to be inspiring or rely on the pure power of authenticity. In these cynical days, voters are not interested in uplift.

Second, don’t propose any program that will interfere with the way voters are currently organizing their lives. They don’t want you there.

Third, don’t expect people to cast votes according to their income. Democrats do as well among top earners as Republicans. People are more interested in repairing the nation’s health than in boosting their personal bottom line.

Fourth, offer voters a few big proposals (and strategies to implement them) that respond to global threats. Repeat those proposals at every event and forget about everything else.
In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt could launch the New Deal because voters wanted to change the country and their own lives. But today, people want the government to change so their own lives can stay the same. Voters don’t want to be transformed; they want to be defended."

Bunky the witch wins lottery

Mild-mannered accountant and Wiccan priest Elwood "Bunky" Bartlett won $49 million in the Maryland lottery. He's using his winnings to open a school, but they won't just study Wicca - he's open to Druidism and Shamanism, too.

Read the story here - there's also a little video.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Best Sellers and Bombs

This is an interesting article in the NYT about home and design shops - what sells, and what doesn't. They interview shop owners around the country and take a look at their biggest sellers and their biggest flops.

The sleeping pig above was a success (at $125).

There is a slideshow at the end of the article - make sure you take a look.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sixty Minutes

Have you seen the 60 Minutes story on Joel Osteen? I had zero interest until I found out that Michael Horton was asked to comment on Osteen's "ministry."

This link goes to the transcript and video.

Reporter Byron Pitts doesn't appear to buy what Osteen's selling, and asks some interesting questions. The piece is only 11 minutes - watch it!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Aunt Martha

We left Nashville early when we received the call that Aunt Martha died. Charlie remembers his dear aunt well in this post on his blog.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Hermitage

We visited The Hermitage on Wednesday. If you're ever in the Nashville area, plan to spend a day there.

They have a great audio tour that takes you all over the grounds, and there are docents who guide you personally through the mansion.

Charlie and I had a blast - we couldn't have ordered a more
beautiful day.

The Opry

You should go to the Opry. Charlie grew up with this, and country music is a great love of his. Clarification: he loves country, not pop country; he loves bluegrass, too. Porter Waggoner was supposed to be there as well, but fell ill before showtime.

They pack a lot into 90 minutes. In order of appearance, we saw -

Ricky Skaggs and The Whites. Bluegrass, Southern Gospel, Charlie could have listened to them all night. They talked more about the Lord than most churches do on Sunday, and of course that was all right with us.

Trent Tomlinson - looks like Steve Van Zant, sounds like country baritone. He sang the "Angel with no halo and one wing in the fire" song which was hokey but humorous.

Charlie says the difference between country music and every other genre is that bad country songs are still fun. I think he's right.

John Conley - old-timer, sang a few songs and told a lot of jokes. Still entertaining, even for those of us who didn't know him and had never heard his music.

Emerson Drive - again, didn't know them either. Put on a good show, even though they had a picture on the jumbotron of their former bass player who committed suicide. They sang a song in his memory, but it was strange to be looking at someone's very large and alive face when they died at their own hand. So sad.

Jason Aldean - looks country, sounds more rock. I coveted his band - they could play.

Of course, Little Jimmy Dickens; an opry fixture. Even I knew who he was. Told more jokes than he played, but that was fine. He was a hit with the geriatric crowd, lots of old people/memory loss/little blue pill humor.

He was wearing an unbelievable sparkling purple suit; I had to admire the guy just for that.

And then, Carrie Underwood. I had to explain to Charlie who she was. We're not pop fans, but she had a great voice, and was even prettier in person. She ended her show with "How Great Thou Art," and nailed it.

When you go, remember this: you are allowed to take still photos! No video, of course, but this was a shock to me. While the announcer was speaking before C.U. came on, people got out of their seats (you're allowed to do that, too) and rushed to the front of the stage to get her picture.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Aquarium

The Aquarium is a restaurant chain. There's one in Nashville, at Opry Mills - right near our hotel.

We were on vacation, but I was sick; I didn't really have the energy to do anything. So we vegged out until lunchtime, and Charlie took me to The Aquarium.

I'm not a fan of chain restaurants, much less theme-y chain restaurants. I'd rather eat in a local joint anytime - but we gave it a shot.

It is a very strange experience. On one side of the restaurant is a gigantic aquarium; floor-to-ceiling, filled with all kinds of corals and tropical fish. The fish are absolutely elegant - yet on display in a strange way. Opposite the aquarium are tables, with banquette/booths lining the wall.

Everything is painted a fluoro-robin's egg blue, with nemo-light mobiles hanging from the ceiling, seahorse salt and pepper shakers, garish ocean murals. In other words, the decor is in direct opposition to the natural loveliness of the fish.

And so you're sitting there, looking at live, gorgeous aquatic wildlife in a setting of cartoony faux-cean. And of course you're there to eat them, too.

So I asked Charlie: When God told Adam to fill the earth and subdue it, did he have in mind something like this?

Monday, October 08, 2007


We visited a fascinating church on Sunday. One must be careful selecting a church when travelling. We're boring Presbyterians, and strange things turn us on: expository preaching, reverence, dialogical worship. Within our denomination there is little consistency in worship. You could find videos on the jumbotron, Batman and Robin in the pulpit, God knows what.

Charlie makes the call because he knows the city. The church is impressive; they're big - huge, even. I mean, their new building has buttresses for heaven's sake. Neo-gothic; billion dollar pipe organ; a hill overlooking the city. Worship was serious, music was thoughtful, sermon was biblical.

Not one person spoke to us.


Okay, Kate, so I've not been around much anymore. Short story: we took off for Nashville for fall break, I got sick, there was a death and a funeral, a return to work and a complete lack of posting passion.

When friends (that you see once a year) post a comment wondering on your whereabouts, perhaps it's time to come out of the cave. You'll notice that the post says October 8 - that, of course, is a lie. It's October 26th; but in the bloggin world, it can be whatever day you wish. I wish for the eighth - it was a Monday (I don't usually like to post on weekends) and I was going to chronicle my fascinating vacation for the entire world. Or my friends. Or my mother.

We arrived in Nashville on Saturday the sixth; a friend from church/school has a timeshare, and it was fabulous. Two bedrooms, whirlpool tub, outdoor/indoor pools, full kitchen, karaoke in the lobby. Good times.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Did someone say dachshund?

My friend Becca sent me pictures of Halloween costumes that she was considering for her pups. So I went looking for something that would be perfect for my dachshunds.

Here are the weiners!

I was so happy...until she sent me an email called "Why Dogs Bite People."
It was a photo collection of dogs in costumes - like this.

So I'm rethinking the bun-and-mustard thing for now...

Leg update

Okay, here's what happened. John Wood loses a leg in an airplane crash, but has it embalmed so he can have all his remains cremated when he dies.

He stows the leg in a barbecue smoker that he keeps in a storage unit. Alas, he does not pay the rent and the contents of his bin are sold at auction.

Enter Shannon Whisnant, high bidder. He discovers the leg and asks authorities to remove it - then has a change of heart, figuring he could make money exhibiting the leg ($3 adults, $1 children). Whisnant will go to court to get the leg back "I bought it. It's mine."

Police say he gave up his claim when he asked them to remove it. Read the article here.

Daisy the dachshund digs mammoth bone on beach

I am always on the lookout for stories like this one. Ah, the triumph of the dachshund spirit.

Read the story here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Custody Battle Erupts Over Amputated Human Leg Found in Smoker

Yes, beloved, that's the real headline.

Do you ever wonder how news makes it to print, video, or the internet? I sure do; I wonder all the time. Do newspeople sit around a table and say, "Well, we've got Iraq, North Korean nukes, Darfur, 2008 Presidential Elections, and a human leg found in a barbecue smoker in North Carolina."

I could say you must watch this video of the custody battle regarding said leg - but instead I'll just put it out there and see if you take the bait.

Really, I swear Jeff Foxworthy made this up, or put this on, or directed, or produced. The only shock that registered was the fact that it didn't happen in Alabama! Dang.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Michael Horton on 60 Minutes

Dr. Michael Horton will appear on 60 Minutes Sunday, October 14th. He's asked to comment on the ministry of Joel Osteen. I guess things get serious when the 60 Minutes chariots thunder towards your megachurch.

Dr. Horton is one of my favorite theologians, and his book Too Good to be True is splendid. I have a link to Modern Reformation to the right; check to see if there's a radio station in your area that plays The White Horse Inn. It's all good.