Reporters

Yesterday I shared the Queen Bee’s story about her encounter with a reporter, and I laughed about it. Yet the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I was.

Elsewhere on the blogosphere this week (sorry, don’t remember where) I read somebody else asking a question I’ve been asking- if all those reporters were able to get in and out of NOLA, why didn’t they bring some water and help? Could they have given people lifts out? Why didn’t they do something themselves, other than emote on camera?

The answer was something about the reporter’s job being that of a neutral observer, and that reporters are not supposed to cross that line and become part of the story. They are just to convey the story. In which case the story becomes “I’m standing here watching this baby die for lack of water, while I have two bottles of water over in the air conditioned news-truck, but I want you, the public, to feel so bad about this that you blame somebody and I am here to tell you that it is President Bush’s fault.’

We all know that rather than merely reporting the story in a neutral fashion our press has an agenda far too much of the time. So this week we have General Honore having to remind reporters live on CNN that they need to stop confusing their questions with the answers and that they are simply the message carriers. And we have the Cindy Sheehan story, which is no story at all, really, except that of a grief crazed woman humiliating herself and her family in public and being used by a handful of truly far left, out of the mainstream groups. The examples are too many to mention. They are the red meat for poliblogs.

The Queen’s experience is a small sampling of the larger problem. It really does not matter- but Queen Shenaynay’s reporter, like so many others, needed to ‘frame’ a story to match her predetermined decision about what sort of story she was telling. And while it doesn’t change anything much in the long run, we have to wonder… if predetermining the frames of this small story, and redirecting the interview in the way she wants it to go is so easy for a reporter in a small thing, what do we suppose happens with the big things?

Dominion Family blog has another example, very funny, very worthwhile reading.

Powerline has another, also funny, not so small and insigificant.

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Saints

I am not a Catholic, as I believe I have mentioned before. I do not repeat myself to belabor a point, but to make a new one. I do not agree with much of Catholic doctrine (which is why I am not a Catholic), including their teaching on saints. According to scripture, the word saints merely means sanctified ones, and it is used to refer to all Christians, as we are all sanctified and set apart by God when are saved. Nonetheless, I have been and will be posting some excerpts from a book on Catholic saints. Why is that? One reason is that I like this particular author. I like her words, her sentence structure, her gifts as a writer. The book is new to me, I hadn’t heard of it before. A dear friend with a gift for knowing just what I like mailed it to me this week, so I’m having fun sharing bits of it with my internet friends. The author of my sweet little book shares another reason, and I should like to borrow the words she uses to explain why she wrote a book about saints:

“And if I cannot learn how to fly like them or sing like them [DHM- or do not share their doctrine], I can learn a little of their ways. I can study the courtesy of Francis, the generosity of Bridget, the unpretentiousness of Philip, the self-command of Augustine, the kindness of Thomas, or that merriment in the face of adversity which was peculiarly Teresa’s. It gives me… an occupation, and I hope it will at length give me a little grace.”

Saint-Watching, by Phyllis McGinley

There is something to learn from every person in our lives. We can learn from those we know, and those we meet through books. A person with a terrible work ethic might just have a lovely sense of humour. A person with no sense of humour whatsoever, just might be able to model a complete dedication to truth for us. If nothing else, there are people who can serve as horrible warnings. Here’s to a stronger sense of grace in all our lives.

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Water, Water Everywhere, but Not a Drop to Drink

Permit me to introduce this post with the sentence I used to close the previous post:

As Glenn said in an earlier post on disaster prep:

“It’s useful to have the right stuff handy, but you also need the right knowledge, and mindset. That doesn’t come from a catalog.”

Exactly. Let me take up your time another minute with a brief story, a true story, about a woman who was complaining to a friend about the difficulties she was experiencing as she tried to plan for an upcoming storm. All the local stores were running out of bottled water, but she still needed to get some in case there was damage to the water lines during the storm, and what was she supposed to do if the stores ran out? How could this happen?! Turns out she wasn’t even the only person complaining about it.
Hmmm. What are people supposed to do if the stores run out of bottled water?

Hint: What do you have at home that you could put some water in? What do you do for water when there isn’t a storm coming?

Update: A friend sends in this great idea she has:

All of the bottled water being sold and so many of us without bottled water. What will we do?!!
I was saddened to realize that this situation could have been remedied at any time in the past had there been some sort of container invented to hold the water that we drink, instead of putting our mouths directly below the tap (as we must, apparently having nothing in our homes to hold water.)

Think how handy this would have been! No more water running down our faces as we try to lap up the falling water, no more lines at the kitchen sink during dinner time waiting for your turn to wash down your food. You could take a drink *anywhere* in the house and, dare I say it? Even outside the house! We could have large containers for holding larger amounts of water and maybe smaller ones for individuals to drink from. We could use the large containers to refill the smaller when the smaller containers were emptied. Maybe they could be sturdy and washable, so that they could be saved and reused instead of having to go to the store to buy the individual servings! How sad it is that we are just now realizing how useful the tap could have been if we only had these containers. As it is now, when the water does not run we must die from dehydration once the stores have sold all their water.

But I am sure that this is all ridiculousness. Whoever heard of having containers in your house to fill with water?! How silly.
That might help with the making lemonade, though. It is rough pouring the lemon juice and sugar into your mouth as the water runs in too.
Let us all go now and fill ourselves from the tap, in the hope that overfilling ourselves now will save us from drying out later!

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Getting out of Houston

We all know it’s a nightmare. Glenn Reynolds has a very interesting email from a reader all about their road trip out.

“As someone who recently evacuated from Houston, I can tell you the hysteria and overwhelming rush to get out was too much for the transportation infrastructure. …When we left at 4:20 a.m. yesterday morning we knew things would be bad as far as traffic….we decided to use my new Microsoft GPS software and hardware and hit the back roads. Almost exactly 12 hours later, we arrived… in Dallas…. “

Other points the reader makes:
We need more roads, the evacuation routes simply are already overtaxed on regular days in many of these large cities.

The media fest is making things worse, scaring people and crowding the roads with people who do not live in flood areas at all and are not under mandatory evacuation.

A huge problem- petty small minded officials who think in small minded ways:

As Glenn’s reader explains:

“Back to my Microsoft program, this allowed me to route a plan on back roads, thus relieving pressure on I-10 and I-45. We headed Northeast on the Beltway, hit I-10 toward Beaumont. By 10:30 a.m., we had not even gotten 1/2 way there (an hour drive on a regular day), so I decided to take the first open exit and head North. EVERY gas station on I-10 was out yesterday morning by 9:00 a.m., but miraculously, the stations 15 miles off the freeway had gas–must be something about supply and demand. We headed North & East–away from the mass of Houston/Galveston evacuees–for some time, until we hit a Texas Dept. of Public Safety roadblock on a Northbound road. The DPS officer simply said the “road is closed” without explanation, and told us to head BACK to Beaumont and join the parking lot/freeway. I asked him why the road was closed (locals could still use it) and that it made no sense to head back and add to the problem (I was 30 miles North of I-10) at this point, but he said he was just “told” the clear road due north was closed. I explained that he was in essence risking my family’s life, since stuck on the road with a 20+ foot flood surge, would be suicide. He didn’t care and when I said it was idiotic to shut down good roads to force people onto a jammed evacuation routes, he said what was idiotic was to have to talk with people like me. I can count the number of people I’ve hated in my life on 1 hand and he’s one–stupid, inflexible and unwilling to do SOMETHING (call, just move aside to let people go, etc.) to help take people to safety. My wife tried to keep me calm, and I decided to use the GPS to find an alternate route. We went east 1.5 miles, headed northwest on a dirt road (luckily on the GPS program!) and then hit the “closed” road with no problems about 1 mile north of the idiot DPS officer. No breaking the law, no roadblock at that point, and I was on my way North again.
The sad thing is that the back roads North were almost entirely deserted. Only when we hit the “official” evacuation route would we hit miles-long gridlock, which we quickly used the GPS program to get off and go through the small towns of East Texas. We found gas, food and incredibly nice people in all these small towns, and made it to Dallas (eventually coming in I-20 from the East) yesterday afternoon. When we arrived my wife said the program paid for itself and then some. I am no Bill Gates fan but I must say it was a life saver and stress reliever.”

The emphasis added above is my own. So add a GPS program to your emergency supplies. Not cheap, but in this case, think of the gas money and time this family saved.

Do you wonder how many of those cars stuck on the major arteries having a GPS that their owners have forgotten they have? So do I.

As Glenn said in an earlier post on disaster prep:

“It’s useful to have the right stuff handy, but you also need the right knowledge, and mindset. That doesn’t come from a catalog.”

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Storm Preparation

I’ve mentioned previously that we once lived on a tropical island. We lived there for five years, and we went through many hurricanes. There was no evacuation because there was no place to go, although I imagine if the threat had ever been really huge, we would have been airlifted out. I think our houses were solidly built to withstand far more than 75 mile an hour winds, too, and that helped.

The first typhoon we experienced was the same week we moved out of a hotel into our home. We had to unload our truck and then rush to the grocery store to buy supplies. The lines were horribly long and there was very little left on the grocery store shelves. Our pots, pans, and things like flashlights were still in boxes. Thankfully, we never lost power in that storm and our water supply remained pure. But it was such a nervewracking experience that I determined never to repeat it again.

From June to November of every year we were in Typhoon Condition Four. TC-4 meant that while no typhoon had actually be spotted, destructive winds of 50 knots or greater were possible within 72 hours. We were told that it was our responsibility to stock up on supplies. From December to May I stocked up on supplies. Every time I went to the grocery store I looked for sale items that could be useful in the event of a power outage, paper plates, diaper wipes, foods that didn’t need cooking, matches, batteries, candles, a good flashlight, a camping lantern, an ice chest. I bought at least one item each time I went to the store. I kept those items in totes in the laundry room. From June through November I replenished any supplies that were depleted, and continued to look for bargains. During TC-4 I also made it a priority to keep my freezer full. A full freezer will stay frozen longer when the power is out. If I didn’t have food in my freezer, I filled water jugs and milk cartons with water and froze them.

When a typhoon was spotted, we went to TC-3. Winds of 50 knots or greater were possible within 48 hours. This was the time to clean up outside, because nobody wants a trash can or bike blowing through the window. This was also the time when most people went to the grocery store to get those supplies they hadn’t stocked up on. Me? I went to the library to stock up on books.

TC-2 Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are anticipated within 24 hours. Most people continued (or just got started) cleaning up the outside. By this time we’d finished the outside, invited friends over- especially friends who are single and live in dorms, friends living near the seawall or in high rise apartments over. I started baking. And baking. I made sure there was plenty of ice in my freezer and added more containers of water if there wasn’t. I baked more cookies and bread.

TC-1: Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater within 12 hours. Schools were closed, the stores were still open and full of customers, but with depleted shelves. I made sure the kids and I had good showers, the laundry was done, and the dishes washed. I baked more. If the Headmaster didn’t have to ride the planes out of danger, he taped the windows. Otherwise I did it. We closed the shutters on the windows when we lived in a house that had them. I started filling containers with water. I filled jugs, bottles, the ice-chest, the laundry room sink, and the bathtub. I put buckets of water in the bathroom. We began welcoming guests if they were coming. I filled another ice chest with ice from the freezer and added some water bottles to the freezer.

TC-1C- Typhoon Condition One, Caution. Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater anticipated within 12 hours. Current winds were already up to 34-49 knots. All employees were sent home- nothing was open except essential services (police, hospitals, etc). We locked down. We began to have our typhoon party, which meant we sang, played cards, boardgames, twenty questions, read aloud, made hand shadows on the wall, visited, watched movies and ate. As long as we had electricity I cooked, saving the emergency supplies for genuine emergencies. I added a couple bottles or bags of ice to the refrigerator to keep it cold in case the power went out. We kept the radio or television on for notification of storm warnings. I washed my hair and the girls’ hair in the kitchen sink. We did sponge baths.

TC 1-E The E stood for Emergency: Actual winds of 50 knots or greater. All outside activity was prohibited. We continued to play indoors. We read aloud, sang, played cards and board games, played jacks with the girls, played hopscotch (marked on the floor with masking tape), and visited. When the power went out we brought out the no cook supplies, ate peanut butter sandwiches, and stopped opening the fridge or freezer. We used only the bathroom with the bathtub- flushing by filling a bucket of water from the full bathtub and then pouring it in the bowl. Not as clean a flush as a working toilet, but better than no flush at all. This might last a few hours, it might last two or three days. I always enjoyed the times when my husband was able to be home instead of flying out with the planes beyond the reach of the typhoon.

TC1-R for Recovery: Winds were dying back down, but everything remains closed, nobody goes to work, and nobody was allowed out on the roads. Our Typhoon house party continued.

Storm Watch: The typhoon was moving away, but there were still some storm effects, trees down, high waves, and the typhoon could always reverse course and put us back in TC1E again (and a couple of times that’s exactly what happened. People went back to work, the stores opened, but everybody kept the radio on in case the typhoon turned. If the power was on, we cleaned up and took the ice out of the refrigerator. If not, we continued to eat from the emergency supplies until it was on. Then we replenished them the next time we went shopping.

All year long we should behave as though we were in condition 4- that is, any emergency is possible between the next moment and 72 hours. I don’t succeed at this myself, but it’s a goal. It is better to have an aim and fall short than not to have any and never move forward at all.

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Saints

I am not a Catholic, as I believe I have mentioned before. I do not repeat myself to belabor a point, but to make a new one. I do not agree with much of Catholic doctrine (which is why I am not a Catholic), including their teaching on saints. According to scripture, the word saints merely means sanctified ones, and it is used to refer to all Christians, as we are all sanctified and set apart by God when are saved. Nonetheless, I have been and will be posting some excerpts from a book on Catholic saints. Why is that? One reason is that I like this particular author. I like her words, her sentence structure, her gifts as a writer. The book is new to me, I hadn’t heard of it before. A dear friend with a gift for knowing just what I like mailed it to me this week, so I’m having fun sharing bits of it with my internet friends. The author of my sweet little book shares another reason, and I should like to borrow the words she uses to explain why she wrote a book about saints:

“And if I cannot learn how to fly like them or sing like them [DHM- or do not share their doctrine], I can learn a little of their ways. I can study the courtesy of Francis, the generosity of Bridget, the unpretentiousness of Philip, the self-command of Augustine, the kindness of Thomas, or that merriment in the face of adversity which was peculiarly Teresa’s. It gives me… an occupation, and I hope it will at length give me a little grace.”

Saint-Watching, by Phyllis McGinley

There is something to learn from every person in our lives. We can learn from those we know, and those we meet through books. A person with a terrible work ethic might just have a lovely sense of humour. A person with no sense of humour whatsoever, just might be able to model a complete dedication to truth for us. If nothing else, there are people who can serve as horrible warnings. Here’s to a stronger sense of grace in all our lives.

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Carnival of LIFE!

Pro-life carnival- small, but important, and we hope it will grow.

See Part-time Pundit for more.

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The Bye-Low Song

Say, Birdies, when your bed-time comes
And underneath your mother’s wing
You’re tucked away so carefully,
Does Mama Birdie to you sing
The Bye-Low Song?

Say, little lamb, with curly hair,
That in the field is gamboling
The whole day through, when bed-time comes
Does Mama Sheep then to you sing
The Bye-Low Song?

I know that when my bed-time comes,
And I am tired of everything,
I cannot go to sleep unless
I hear my Mamma softly sing
The Bye-Low Song.

~unknown

From A Child’s Calendar Beautiful, compiled by Rebecca Katharine Beeson, First Year, September

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Feasting

Irish Bridget was a ‘saint’ known for her giving and her ability in coaxing others to give. So persuasive was she that according to legend she could wheedle even nature herself into giving beyond her ordinary means.

“For the story goes that once when she and her community had spent a hard long day feeding the poor- when they had disposed of every loaf of bread, every egg from their hens, every pear from their trees- word came that the Seven Bishops of Cabinteely were on their way to visit her and would expect hospitality. The nuns were atwitter. What would their reverences think of a convent so stripped of food for the episcopal table? Bridget didn’t turn a hair, “Go out and ask the hens kindly to lay more eggs,” she told one sister. “Speak to the trees- see what they have left in the way of fruit,” she advised another. “Talk gently to the cows and beg them for a little milk.”
She herself went into the kitchen, poked the fire, and opened the oven, and there on the hearth sat a number of beautifully baked loaves, hot and crusty. The hens cackled and gave eggs. The cows let down milk. The trees shook their branches and apples and pears fell into the nuns’ aprons. And the seven bishops that evening vowed they had never in their lives sat down to a handsomer feast.”

~Saint-Watching, by Phyllis McGinley

Fresh homebaked bread, eggs, milk, and fruit can make a feast. Have you the courage to serve so simple yet so celebratory a feast to your honored guests? Too many of us think that we cannot practice hospitality. I think one reason is because we have redefined hospitality to mean formal entertaining. If bread, milk, eggs and fruit is what you have, serve it with no apologies. In fact, if you only have bread and tea, make cinnamon toast and serve it with a smile and good conversation.

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Yes, Oh, Yes.

Indeed.

We have replaced familial obligations with the obsession of the self. Individual ‘rights’ and needs have become more important than family and community. The phoney love of self and ensuing need for self gratification, trumps all else- family and community included. We do not need to imagine a world where parents believe their needs supersede those of their children. We are living in that world, right now. Parents no longer owe their devotion to their chidren- it is the children that must accept conditional parenting.

~From the blog Sigmund, Carl, and Alfred- you’ll want to read the whole post, really you will.

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