Monday, December 21, 2009


{Note: I wrote the bulk of this post a few days before Christmas but decided not to publish it right away because I was feeling pretty crappy and wanted to make sure I wasn't coming across as too whiny or negative}

It's been a rough couple weeks. Two weeks ago I came down with a nasty gastrointestinal flu (my third in a year, if you can believe it). Over a week ago I caught a cold that refuses to go away. I've had laryngitis for the past three days. It's been very discouraging: I haven't been able to visit with my in-laws (we've been in Louisiana since Saturday), and communicating at all has been a chore. I haven't been able to talk to my newly returned sister on the phone or sing Christmas carols. I know three days doesn't sound like a lot, but try going even one day without talking, especially when visiting family.

This morning (laryngitis, day 3) when I woke up, coughing and still completely aphonic, I was overcome by a feeling of despair. My voice was worse than ever. I couldn't keep the negative thoughts away: what if it doesn't get better until after Christmas? What if I'm not able to sing with my sisters when I get home? I felt helpless and hopeless. Matters didn't improve much when I looked in the mirror and saw the beginnings of two (two!) cold sores on my lower lip.

Despite my best efforts (involving copious amounts of ointment and several prayers), those two cold sores have swelled my lip to a size even Angelina Jolie would be jealous of. Anyway, a little later, as I looked at my caricature-like lips in the mirror, I had to smile (though it looked more like a grimace) in spite of myself. And, later still, when I was mostly done wallowing in self-pity, I started thinking about Mary.

I felt out of control and helpless in the face of, let's be honest, a mild illness a couple days before Christmas.

Mary, no matter how faithful and chosen and amazing she was, must have felt somewhat out of control and truly helpless when her labor started as she rode on a donkey far from home. That feeling must have mounted as she and Joseph reached Bethlehem--finally!--only to find that there was no room for them to stay, no place for her to deliver her child. And then, as her contractions intensified, realizing that she would give birth in a dirty stable, surrounded by animals. Talk about helpless and out of control.

I would imagine she had a few moments of despair; perhaps she even snapped at Joseph. But I also imagine she buckled down, made the best of a bad situation, and ultimately chose to trust the Lord. I imagine she handled the situation with grace.

I wish I could say that I handle sickness and trials with grace; I don't. Generally. (Though every once in a while I do surprise myself). So here's one more resolution for the 2010 list: Be a little more like Mary--"be it unto me according to thy word."

{Post-Note: I started getting my voice back the next day. Though it was still dry and somewhat scratchy, the planets aligned and miracles occurred and I sang with my sisters at my sister Sara's homecoming. Just one more ounce of proof that I need a couple more mustard seeds-worth of faith that God is mindful of me.}

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Addition

Well, we spontaneously decided it was about time to add to our little family:

Meet Lucy.

She's about four months old and as cute as they come. We found her near Jay's grandma's house out in the country. For a feral cat, she sure warmed up to us fast. When it was time for us to go back home, I didn't want to leave her. Jay was surprisingly amenable (he later told me he'd been planning on getting me a kitten for Christmas), and we packed her up in the car and drove the seven hours back to San Antonio as she slept peacefully in our laps.

Lucy is fun. She's a mix of spastic and extremely good-natured. She loves the Christmas tree... a little too much. We quickly had to move all the ornaments from the bottom half of the tree, and as you can see, the lights from the lower branches are on the floor.

She's loving and playful and soft. She curls up next to us on the couch and runs to greet us when we walk through the door. I've been lavishing all of my pent-up maternal instincts on her (poor cat!).

Of course, most of the time she looks like this:

And after her bath, she looked like this (note that she's hiding and glaring):

We love our kitty!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rum Pum Pum Pum

I've never liked "The Little Drummer Boy." It's not that the tune is bad--I find the redundant melody rather soothing. I think a lot of it has to do with the lame attempt at onomatopoeia in the "rum pum pums" and, of course, the following jarringly off-key "ching ching" of a triangle or finger cymbals (I would personally like to punch the face of whoever decided the triangle was acceptable punctuation for symphonies and orchestras).

And then there's the lyrics: the story of the kid who plays a drum for baby Jesus. I remember my mom once skeptically questioned the idea that an infant, even the precocious infant Jesus, could volitionally smile at someone. I always envisioned this little boy with a snare drum strapped to his chest a la marching band. Rat-a-tat-a-tat-tat. Let's face it: drums are just not solo instruments. But even if he was lugging timpanis (the classy member of the drum family, in my opinion) to the stable, the resultant sound would still be a far cry short of a lullaby. What a joke. A drum solo for baby Jesus; honestly.

But then I thought about how little any of us have to offer the Savior; about how my small offerings--three steps forward, two steps back, and held in my tightly clenched fists--are really nothing more than pitiful noise in the vast scheme of things. So maybe my attempt at living a Christlike life is at times grating or useless--rat-a-tat-a-tat-tat--but it is earnest. And, really, it's all I have to offer.

And, thankfully, it is enough.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Flying Solo

I love to sing. My voice and I have a rocky relationship, but we make peace the best we can because I can't live without music. It fills me.

My stake (group of about 10 large congregations) just started rehearsing for a production of Handel's Messiah. I love the Messiah.

I tried out for a solo. I wasn't planning on it. I hadn't even considered it. But at the suggestion of some friends, and with the support of my husband, I decided to go for it. Not because I want a solo, but because I wanted the experience of trying out. And it went well, considering that I'd only heard the song twice before. And that I'd never actually sung it before. And that my voice was shot from rehearsal.

It was a funny thing, but after I walked out of the audition, I was hit by a surprisingly pleasant wave of tingly shakiness. It was a weird sort of rush, a quiet little on-top-of-the-world feeling.

Auditions are generally hellish experiences for me. I can sing a solo or duet in church and be okay 75% of the time because I'm doing it as a service and to praise God, but auditioning isn't like that. It involves competing against other people. And it's something you volunteer for, not something you're asked to do. So at auditions, generally, I choke.

But this time, though it was far from perfect and my voice shook in places and was tight and tense, most of my notes were clear and true. My body didn't shake uncontrollably. I enjoyed the experience. I liked the sound of my voice. I liked that I could (mostly) sightread in front of a panel of judges. What a big step for me! What a good experience.

I'm much happier and better equipped to be an ensemble member than I am to be a soloist. I don't want the part--I want to enjoy singing the glorious choral numbers without feeling nauseous anticipation of a brief moment in spotlight. I just wanted to prove to myself that I can be spontaneous. That I'm not a prisoner of my perfectionism. That sharing doesn't have to be self-conscious.

I left with a good taste in my mouth and without embarrassment or shame. It wasn't that the judges responded positively to my performance, it was that the judge inside of me was pleased.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Only Qualification for Winning a Nobel Peace Prize: Have Good Intentions

Did you hear? President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The conservative media is up in arms (as demonstrated by this amusing opinion piece). Even the liberal media, who didn't even mention Obama on its list of likely winners, is surprised. And I'm irked.

I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised or even all that upset; after all, the Nobel Peace Prize became a joke to me when Jimmy Carter won it in 2002 and again when Al Gore won it in 2007 for his propagation of scientifically baseless global warming hysteria. Jimmy Carter, who practically aided and abetted the Soviets by rolling over and playing dead in the name of "tolerance." Jimmy Carter, arguably one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, and certainly one of the biggest idiots of all time. Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize. And Ronald Reagan did not. But that's another rant for another time.

So why am I irked? Not because I dislike President Obama or because I disagree with 90 percent of his platforms and policies or because I think he's sneaky. Just because I honestly don't think he's done anything to merit the award. This doesn't mean that the President may yet do something in his presidency or in his life to deserve it, because--who knows?--he may. But at this point, and most of the world agrees with me, all he's really done is given some stirring speeches and pitched some big ideas (nearly all of which, thank God, he has not been successful in strong-arming through congress. Yet.).

Despite President Obama's countless campaign promises, speeches, and congressional petitions,
  • We are still involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the end still years away
  • Guantanamo Bay is still open
  • There has been little significant reduction in global nuclear stockpiles since he took office
  • He launched deadly counter-terror strikes in Pakistan and Somalia
  • No laws reducing carbon emissions have been passed
  • Nationalized health care is still a pipe dream at this point
  • Relations with Muslim nations remain strained at best
I, for one, see most of those things as positives, but leftists, like those on the Peace Prize awarding committee, do not. Which is what makes the whole situation more perplexing: Obama was chosen, not based on what he has done, but based on what he might do. Which is yet another farcical interpretation of what the award stands for.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Pledge Allegiance

In my last post I mentioned Texas flag shower curtains. You may have sensed from my tone that I think they're maybe just a little over the top.

Well, my friends, "over the top" has just reached a whole new level.

(Yes, this is for real: I saw one for sale at Burlington Coat Factory.)

Believe it or not, was actually sold out of Barack Obama shower curtains. I think I'm going to abandon my plans to open a Texas gift shop and start up an Obama memorabilia store instead. Because while our President may be a socialist, I am most certainly a capitalist.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gift Ideas

It's never too early to be thinking about Christmas, and I know there are a few type-A people out there who like to have a common theme for all the presents they give, so I decided to provide some themed gift ideas.

Here in Texas, many people derive great pleasure in airing out their state patriotism in myriad ways. Texas-themed gift shops do a booming business. You would be astounded to learn of all the items you can find that are in the shape of Texas, printed with the Texas flag, embroidered with the state flower, or emblazoned with Davy Crockett's famous "You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas" quote. Sure, you have your typical miniature Texas flags, Texas-shaped Christmas ornaments, and "Don't Mess With Texas" bumper stickers, but you also have

Texas Toilet Brush Holder $24.95
Texas flag toilet brush holders

Texas Flag $109.95
Texas flag patio umbrellas
Texas Shaped Waffle Maker, 8-1/4 Inch
Texas-shaped waffle makers

Texas flag neck pillows

Oil-colored Texas-shaped soaps
Texas Flag Mailboxes
Texas flag mailboxes

Texas Star, silver $9.95
Texas drawer pulls

Texas flag electric plug plate $5.95Texas flag electric  plate  $5.95
Texas flag electric plates

Texas jalapeno cooker $29.95
Texas shaped jalapeno cookers

Texas flag neck ties

Texas-shaped tortilla chips

Texas flag guitar cases
Black Nylon Collar with black ribbon overlay with repeated TEXAS flag $12.00Red woven collar with repeated TEXAS icon  $12.00
Texas dog collars

Texas Flag Clock $34.95
Texas flag clocks
Texas Flag Tuxedo Set $41.95
Texas flag cufflink/tuxedo sets (sure wish I'd seen these before I got married!)

Small Texas Dinner Bell  $23.00
Texas dinner bells

Texas-shaped ceramic bake pans

Texas Throws
4'x5' Texas flag throws

Texas Armadillo Candle $5.95
Texas armadillo candles

Texas Flag Windsock $6.95
Texas flag windsocks

and a whole bunch of other stuff you'd probably have to see to believe. But many people here aren't satisfied with just a couple Texas knick-knacks (do a google image search on Texas shaped pools and you'll see what I mean). I've also seen Texas-themed kitchens and bathrooms
(complete with giant Texas flag shower curtains) and Texas-shaped cement patios.

If you're looking for smaller gifts, a quick search will reveal a plethora of Texas themed mugs, aprons, magnets, bumper stickers and keychains.

No need to thank me--I'm glad to help. Happy Shopping!

Monday, September 21, 2009

It Happens to Everyone. ...Right?

Today, I walked out of a class. Just stood up, grabbed my purse and backpack, and walked out.
This is a first for me. Sure, I've snuck out of classes early before, but this was different. And maybe I could have passed today's episode off as just that--slipping out unnoticed towards the end of lecture to attend an important appointment--except for three small details:
  1. I had no important appointment
  2. I left just 10 minutes after class started
  3. I was not unnoticed
Thankfully, my departure was somewhat discreet--I was sitting on the back row and walked out the back door, so few people saw me go. Unfortunately, one of those few people was my professor. And she actually stopped whatever it was she was saying, walked out the front door of the classroom, and called down the hall after me: "Miss Lindsay! Miss Lindsay!"

I don't make this stuff up.

Perhaps it stems from the fact that people have often assumed I'm at least four years younger than I actually am (in fifth grade I was mistaken for a first grader, as a 22-year-old missionary someone asked me if I was 17, and a few days ago on my birthday a coworker guessed I was turning 21. I can understand how this might be flattering once I'm over the age of thirty, but right now it just forces me to wonder if I come across as immature), but I really resent being patronized. The worst offenders are diminutives like "sweetie." I hate being called "sweetie" (though close friends or relatives or members of the geriatric population are generally exempt from this rule), especially when it's by fast food employees or people who are my age or younger. Equally distasteful to me is the use of "Miss/Mr. + first name" for anyone over the age of five (exceptions would be from children: I had an 11-year-old client who called me "Miss Lindsay," and that was fine because it was a gesture of respect). I realize I'm being nitpicky about frivolous things, and I also realize that Texas/southern culture is different, but I don't think it's too much to ask to be treated like an adult. And being chased after by a graduate professor hollering "Miss Lindsay" when I was well within my rights to leave her class made me feel like an oversized escapee from daycare.

I've never really been one to get severe bouts of PMS. I'm not saying I'm not moody--because heaven knows I am--but my mood swings don't have a predictable cycle (if you are thinking, "your poor, poor husband," I completely agree with you). But today, I think my "girly hormone" levels were off the charts. And I'm going to blame PMS. Because I started to cry in class. I mean, seriously--how old am I?? Ten years ago, it wouldn't have been a big deal: I think I cried in my AP Chemistry class at least once a week. But I'd like to think I've come a long way since then. And while there are still some times when I can't control my emotions, 98 percent of the time I can. So when I felt my eyes gloss over with tears that refused to be blinked back, I did the only thing that made sense: I left.

"I'm very sorry; I have to go," I called over my shoulder to the professor as I walked briskly down the hall. The professor, I can only assume, returned to the classroom. I did not look back.

I had felt angry and humiliated in class, but by the time I got to my car, I felt like a fool. Still, staying in class would have resulted in a nose-sniffling, mascara-running disaster, so I couldn't regret my impulsive decision.

I should not have cried. The triggering experience was not remarkable or significant, I wasn't feeling physically fantastic but also wasn't feeling incapacitated, and I'm usually pretty good at keeping my cool. But for some reason, on this day, under these circumstances, I lost it. And as I drove home, alternating between laughing at my tears and shaking with an anger I didn't fully understand, I thought, "so this is what PMS is like."

I got home, wrote the professor a brief apologetic email, and started this post. Forgive the TMI and the personal-ness, but I think we all have days like this. And what could possibly be more therapeutic than sharing my ridiculousness with the world? So whether you're laughing with me, laughing at me, or just shaking your head, thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

And Wiser, Too

It was a good birthday.

We have two large bookcases in our living room, compliments of Jay’s parents (along with every other piece of furniture we own, save the couch and a small wooden chair from IKEA we put together ourselves). One of my goals, inspired by my own upbringing, has always been to have an extensive personal library. My parents have bookshelves in every bedroom, in the den, in the living room, and all of them are full to overflowing. We grew up with dozens of picture books and hundreds of chapter books. My parents have an impressive collection of religious and adult-level literature (I almost wrote “adult literature,” but realized that might give you the wrong idea about my parents!). I wouldn’t say that reading was “encouraged” in our home; it was expected. It’s just something we did.

My dream is to have the real-life equivalent of the library in Beauty and the Beast in my home. Every time I get to the part in the movie where the Beast tells Belle to open her eyes and she swoons at the sight of the shelves upon shelves of books complete with rolling ladders, a second story, and a winding staircase, I start falling for the Beast right along with her.

Back to my reality. We have a very modest book collection, but it’s growing steadily. I think books are the perfect gift: they provide hours of entertainment and enlightenment, and they look great on display. And I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but few things give me greater pleasure than seeing my line of books slowly inching their way across the shelves. Especially when they’re esthetically pleasing. I try not to judge a book by its cover, I really do, but the classier-looking tomes are by far my favorites.

So Jay basically got me 2 gifts in 1 six times over when he gave me books for my birthday: I’ve loved reading them (especially during class, but don’t tell anyone), and they look fantastic on our shelf. I’ve fallen in love with Barnes and Noble’s classics collection: they’re very reasonably priced, and they're beautifully classy. The hard covers, the dust jackets, the spines with the detail of the front pictures, and the pages with that "unfinished" zigzag look all contribute to their irresistibility: I'm pretty sure I've found a new obsession. Here are three of the titles that now grace my bookshelf:

So even though I read Catching Fire (the sequel to the amazingly haunting Hunger Games) and The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown's rather anti-climactic new Robert Langdon installment) in a flurry of pages earlier this week, it's these other books Jay gave me that I'm most excited about. Yes, they're pretty, but it's more than that--the books themselves are beautiful. And to me, that's the definition of a classic: a beautiful book that people read voluntarily over the course of time (not to be confused with literary tripe written by authors like James Joyce, William Faulkner or Herman Melville that the AP English teacher ilk delights in heralding and shoving down the protesting throats of young students who then decide they hate "classics" and English in general when in reality all they needed was exposure to Twain or Austen or Dickens or Alcott or Montgomery, and just so I'm not misunderstood, the term "beautiful" can encompass books that are tragic and comedic, heartwrenching and exhilarating; it's all about the timelessness of well-developed characters and a well-written story, and lest you begin to think that my passion on this subject has overridden my abhorrence for run-on sentences and all errors grammatical, allow me to explain that I am merely employing a literary device I learned from Faulkner (namely that of using absolutely no periods whatsoever and introducing at least 10 unrelated ideas in every sentence) in Intruder in the Dust). I am excited to enrich and edify my mind as I read and revisit these classics (because, let's be honest with ourselves, Dan Brown is entertaining, but he's hardly enriching).

And so, to sum it all up in true chiasmic form, entertaining is good but enriching is better, my definition of "classic" would not be well-received in a university-level English course, I'm in love with B&N's classics collection, books are for reading and decorating, the Beauty and the Beast library will someday be in my house, I want lots of books and, last but not least, happy birthday to me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Voice Geek

I just started my second year of graduate school this week. Second year speech pathology students do two different field placements (like a rotation or internship) in our last two semesters: a medical placement and a pediatric (generally school) placement. I started my medical placement on Monday at a large army hospital here in San Antonio. It's been exciting and scary and interesting and traumatic, all rolled into one. I have a great supervisor who is constantly pushing me out of my comfort zone (which is a blessing, though sometimes I have to remind myself of that). It's been particularly interesting because I eventually want to work in a medical/clinical setting with voice patients, and voice patients make up about 50% of our caseload. So I'm loving it.

One aspect of voice evaluation and therapy that I've been a little leery of, though, is scoping (or videostroboscopy). Basically, that's where the speech pathologist inserts a long metal rod with a light and camera on the end (rigid scope) through the patient's mouth to the back of their throat (without making them gag) to get a look at their vocal folds ("voice box") in action.

(See that metal rod in her hand? That's the camera. See the expression on that old guy's face? That's about how most people feel when they find out that thing's going to be getting acquainted with the back of their throat.)

(View of normal vocal folds (they're the whitish V-shaped things) from a videostroboscopy)

I've tried scoping people a few times before, and it's not easy: even if they don't gag, it's still hard to get a good view of the folds. But today, I did it. Grabbed the tongue, slipped the scope in her mouth, and all of a sudden a great shot of her larynx was on my screen. I got so excited that I totally forgot what to do next. It was fantastic.

Next on the list: learn how to insert a flexible scope (same idea, but this one goes up the nose). Woot!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Warming Shwarming

Just about everything I post is written by (and usually about) me. But I firmly believe that there are scads of people out there who can express my views better than I ever could. Sometimes because they know a lot more than I do. Sometimes because they're way better writers. And sometimes both. So when I found this review by Orson Scott Card on his Hatrack site (which contains columns where he reviews all kinds of different products for his local newspaper), it really resonated with me because it's exactly how I feel. And I would have written it myself, except that I'm an ignoramus when it comes to science. And because I'm lazy.

His review is of a book, but he goes off on a tangent about global warming and what a load of bull it is. And that pretty much sums up my own opinion about global warming: it's a load of bull. (Seriously. Did you notice they've now changed the name from "global warming" to "climate change" so that, if it suddenly starts getting colder, they can still blame it on sinful, polluting humans?) Climate change is a natural phenomenon, meaning it's a result of nature. It's been going on long before humans were around. Just ask the dinosaurs. Oh, wait... They were wiped out by climate change.

Some of my scattered thoughts on global warming/climate change:
  • I have no patience for a bunch of scientists and politicians adopting a new and unproven theory as scientific and immutable fact. Especially when it will affect my lifestyle and my bank account, because you know they're doing everything they possibly can to pass copious amounts of legislation to tax us all back to the 1700's (cap and trade, anyone?).
  • If the U.S. does adopt extreme legislation like cap and trade, hiking prices on U.S. companies and businesses, more jobs will be lost as plants shut down and move overseas where they will not only no longer be subject to ridiculous taxes, but they will also be able to pollute as much as they want. Which leads me to...
  • Unless every country in the world adopts similar restrictions, taxing and restricting U.S. businesses to death isn't going to affect the world's overall ecology all that much. So if companies or factories can't operate here because of costs, they'll move somewhere else. Even if every SUV and smoke-belching factory relocated to India or China, the U.S.' air would not be the way it was 500 years ago. It's not like there's some bubble over the United States that holds in all of "our" pollution. Air moves. Pollution spreads. If the laws and demands here on factories remain reasonable, they will stay here. Not only does this boost our economy, but it also allows for some environmental regulation (whereas if the companies moved to certain countries overseas, there would be no regulation and we'd have to deal with that pollution indirectly anyway).
  • I think we need to be responsible stewards over the Earth. I do. That includes limiting pollution, being responsible about deforestation, and using cost- and waste-effective energy sources (like nuclear power or wind/solar power where efficacious, because it doesn't work everywhere). That does not include pushing through extreme legislation by using threatening words like "apocalypse," "dooms day" and "panic."
Okay, so that was more than I was planning on saying.

In this review, Orson Scott Card mentions "Ekman" several times; Ekman is the author of another book that was reviewed earlier on in this article. Here's OSC:

Brian Fagan's books on climate change through history were recommended to me by a friend. I even passed along his mini-review. But I have now read The Great Warming, The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850, and The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization.

Fagan does a really excellent job of his project, which is history rather than science. He has gone into the historical record and correlated it with the scientific record of past climate changes.

What emerges is a series of warm and cold periods. First, there's the macro-climate pattern, which for the past million years or so has primarily consisted of a long ice age interrupted by warm periods that last ten or twenty thousand years at a whack.

Within those ice ages, though, there are brief warm spells, and within the warm periods (like the one we're in now, in which all of known human history has taken place) there are cold periods.

We are now in a warm phase that began about 1850. Previous to that was the Little Ice Age, a stormy, miserable period with bitterly cold winters, chilly summers, and shortened growing seasons. It lasted from about 1300 till 1850.

Prior to the Little Ice Age, though, there was a Medieval Warm Period that was much like the climate today -- only warmer. They were growing wine grapes in the south of England (not yet possible today); Greenland looked, amazingly enough, green; and Newfoundland could be called "Vineland" by Norse explorers.

Not surprisingly, when we're in a warm period, weather is better, summers last longer, crops are less likely to fail, and the world can, on the whole, sustain a markedly larger population than during the cold periods. All of this Fagan faithfully reports.

And yet ... somehow Fagan remains a believer in the alarmist idea that somehow human activities are causing our current global warming through our excessive carbon emissions, and the results of this will be a dire problem that must be stopped.

So even though every bit of actual evidence Fagan has found in the historical record and in the findings of scientists points to our present time as being well within the normal pattern of climate cycles, he still remains a true believer in the dogma that humans are doing bad things to the climate and must be stopped.

From time to time in his books, he will point out that religious leaders blamed bad climate events on the wrath of God. The people have sinned; we must repent. He doesn't actually ridicule these efforts to understand climate change by blaming it on God's reaction to human sins, but the message is clear. Weren't these people naive to think that sinning against God's will could have caused these storms, this shortened growing season, this famine?

They have the mindset that whatever happens must be God's will, and so when bad things happen, God must be angry.

And yet Fagan does exactly the same thing himself, over and over -- blaming human activities for climate events that clearly are well within the normal range.

When he is talking about facts, he carefully demonstrates causality, giving evidence. But when he blames current human activities for our present warmer climate, it's as if he switches off his brain and repeats the mantras of the eco-puritans. Suddenly our good weather is a bad thing. Suddenly a thing that happened long ago when there were no human carbon emissions worth mentioning can only be understood as the result of human activity when it happens now!

What's going on here?

Well, it's the opposite, really, of Ekman's attitude toward science. Where Ekman built up consensus slowly, by gathering evidence and by inviting other people to test his results, the global warming alarm hit the ground running as a full-fledged explanation. Somehow it made the leap from being a hypothesis -- what if human carbon emissions are causing a rise in global temperatures? -- to being a dogma, without any intervening skepticism allowed.

Fagan is not doing bad science. He's a historian, and he faithfully follows the historical record. You can actually find out true things by reading his books.

But just as the true believers in the wrath of God were able to assign human sins as the cause of whatever bad weather they had, so also Fagan is able to look past his facts and blame modern changes on forest-clearing and carbon emissions, not because he actually has any specific data proving it (if he did, he'd have produced it), but because that's what good, faithful eco-puritans have to say.

So Fagan is doing pretty good science.

But he has been utterly taken in by the people who do very bad science.

Global warming was seized upon as an explanation as soon as it was proposed. We were getting news articles about it as fact back when even its proponents could only claim it as a guess, backed up only by computer simulations which were not science at all, but merely visual aids.

In the years since then we have found out what we already knew -- that the Little Ice Age is over and we're in a warmer cycle now, which has not yet reached the high temperatures and long summers of the Medieval Warm Period.

But we have found nothing, nada, zilch that proves or even indicates that human carbon emissions have anything to do with the warmer trends since 1850.

First, the industrial revolution was highly localized and serious scientists agree that what was happening exclusively in Europe could not have had any noticeable effect on global temperatures. Besides, the industrial revolution began decades before the Little Ice Age ended in 1850.

Second, if human carbon emissions were causing global warming, we would expect that there would be some relationship between increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and rises in temperature. But the data show the opposite: There is not a correlation or even an inverse correlation. Global temperatures rise and fall in patterns similar to those that the weather has always had, and rises in human carbon emissions have no effect at all.

Sometimes as carbon emissions have shot up, temperature has fallen. Then it rises again, when no particular change has happened, and falls again even though carbon emissions have not decreased.

In the world of rational science, this would be taken as a very strong indicator that if human carbon emissions have any effect at all, it is probably negligible and not worth worrying about.

But we're talking about religion here, just as we saw during the Little Ice Age. It isuseful to the eco-puritans to keep blaming every bad thing (or even good things that they claim are bad) on human activities, because they want a good excuse to stop those activities.

The eco-puritans have been making war on civilization for decades now. We can't build a dam without lawsuits claiming that we are endangering species. They start from the assumption that if humans need it, it must be a bad thing and should be blocked or delayed as long as possible.

This bias continues. And the eco-puritans use all the tools of fanatical religion to try to get their way.

If a good scientist dares to speak up and declare that anthropogenic global warming has not only not been proven, but seems to be contra-indicated by the data we have, that scientist is punished.

There is no punishing in good science! You don't suddenly deny speaking engagements to a notable scientist because he dared to say the wrong thing. You don't attack anyone who questions your findings -- you welcome their scrutiny.

You don't hide your evidence or refuse to share it -- but that's what the "hockey stick" claimants did, until it became clear they had faked their data and suddenly the eco-puritans stopped talking about the hockey stick. It was a lie and it had always been a lie -- but it got swept under the rug because, after all, it was a pious lie in support of a "good" cause.

Even now, the eco-puritans confess the bankruptcy of their religion in everything they say. I just heard a spot that made me laugh -- but sadly. "Just because you don't feel any effects of global warming right now doesn't mean it's not important," said the message.

Yeah, well, maybe the fact that we don't feel any effects of global warming right now means that whatever is happening is part of the natural cycles of the Earth and Sun, and it is not caused by our eco-sins.

Good science: The methodology of a self-skeptic like Paul Ekman.

Pretty good science: The faithful reporting of the correlations between history and science in the books of Brian Fagan.

Bad science: The attempts by the eco-puritans to squelch or punish any dissidents and to pretend that an issue is settled when it hasn't even been examined. They leapt to believe because they wanted to believe it.

This is is the kind of behavior that will lead the public to conclude that scientists are just a bunch of liars who will say anything to get their way. Because, unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening with the false claims of human-caused global warming.

It is going to be used as an excuse to put foolish and onerous burdens on Western industry (but not on Chinese or Indian or Russian or African industry, as if they didn't share the same planet!)

It is a political ploy to hurt the West, and it is being backed by people so stupid that they don't understand that if they actually bring down Western economies, it will hurt the poorest parts of the world first and worst.

Meanwhile, though, the survivors can read Ekman's books and accurately interpret what emotions we're feeling about the eco-puritans who lied to us when they used global warming as an excuse to break the back of the global economy and bring to an end the ascendancy of the West.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Early Memories

Between the ages of two and five, I lived in San Francisco. I have a lot of memories of that place, most of them brief snapshots:
  • counting with beans and buttons in Kindergarten
  • the two-headed snake in the reptile section at Golden Gate Park
  • giving money to beggars on street corners
  • practicing holding a baby and changing a diaper on a cabbage patch doll in preparation for the birth of my sister
  • going on long walks with my mom up hills so steep the sidewalk was bordered by a set of stairs
  • the cubbies in my walk-in closet and my fears there was a bear hiding in the shadows
  • eating Better Cheddars in our tiny kitchen
  • learning to answer the phone ("hello, this is Lindsay")
  • clapping my hands until they hurt as my dad graduated from dental school
  • walking through all the apartments in our building with my mom (the apartment manager) and the bug spray man
  • the whales on our bathroom shower curtain
  • sprinkling sugar on my Wheaties and Kix (the only two cereals we usually had because they were cheap)
  • the window in my bedroom that faced the window of a super nice gay couple in our building
  • feeling out of place at the baby shower for the birth of my sister until a sweet woman arrived with a gift for me: a delicate gold butterfly necklace that I still have in my jewelry box
  • visiting my aunt in her studio apartment when she moved into our building
  • standing in my white nightgown (the one with little red hearts) and feeling a little scared as my mom prepared to drive a pregnant teenage girl who lived upstairs to the hospital. She sat in our living room, tears from pain and contractions and fear running down her face.
  • two different dreams and two hallucinations
  • when my cousins and grandparents from Utah came to visit for my dad's graduation: they stayed in our tiny one-bedroom apartment, and we terrorized our poor babysitter
  • the parking garage and little drugstore across the street we could see through our living room window
  • driving to San Jose to visit Grandma, who always had cupboards full of Lucky Charms
  • the blue flowered couch with the pull-out bed my parents slept on every night
  • spinning around in circles as fast as I could and then jumping on the couch where I watched the room spin and pretended I was Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz when she was caught in a cyclone
  • making a "guitar" with different sizes of rubber bands and an empty shoebox
  • feeling jealous when my sister would toddle around the apartment carrying my pink lunchbox
  • going to daycare at a woman named Barbara's house. She had long hair and a child gate I couldn't climb over
  • feeling sick and anxious every night before preschool because I hated nap time and I was scared of Patricia, a dwarf woman with red hair who was one of the teachers
  • crying when my mom left to teach college night classes
  • accidentally swallowing a fruit snack without chewing it
  • taking trips to Utah, just me and my dad, and putting melted Andes mints in the slots of the air conditioner to slowly firm up
This post was initially going to have a completely different focus, but once I started reminiscing, I couldn't stop. I love SF: the Giants, the 49ers, the bay, the parks, the skyscrapers, the hills, the colorful people, the constant overcast sky and 60 degree temperature. I've been back several times since, but my favorite memories of San Francisco are the ones where I saw it for what it was through fresh, young eyes.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Skills, Take Two

First, please allow me to indulge myself by stating that I have a very handsome husband. He is one dreamy, good-lookin' guy. Truly.

But sometimes...

well... can be rather difficult... get a good picture of him.

(These three are probably the best of the lot--the last one is a self-portrait. I have to say, though, that I kinda like #3 up at the top: it's 1 part freaky and 2 parts hot.)

Yes, I realize the lighting and angles and photography skills in general are bad (not all of us have SLRs, okay?), so I can't blame Jay for that. But still, after looking at these ten shots, I think it's safe to say that Jay's not going to take home the prize for Most Photogenic.

So why was I taking pictures of Jay in the first place? Believe it or not, I wasn't trying to showcase my portrait-taking ability or Jay's photogenic-ness (or lack thereof on both counts) or even our cool green accent wall; rather, I was documenting a new achievement of mine.

That's right: I have a new skill. It's actually one I never dared to make a goal of because I never thought I'd have the guts to try it. But like my parallel parking skills, I think it will serve me well in the years to come.

I cut his hair. By myself. And while it's not the best haircut Jay's ever had, it's certainly not the worst. And even though you're now scrolling back up to scrutinize (and probably find flaws with) his hair in those ten pictures, you have to admit that you didn't even notice his hair the first time you looked, did you? Which means that I didn't do too bad of a job according to Lindsay's Theory of Human Behavior #23, which states that people generally only notice things in passing that are either really good or really bad (explaining why if you play the piano in church and mess up a few times during the hymns you'll get a lot of compliments afterwards, whereas if you play without flaws no one will say anything because nothing brought their attention to you in the first place).

If I were a true blogger, I would have before and after shots and pictures of me standing with clippers and shears and (of course) a picture of the huge pile of hair on the bathroom floor. But I'm not. So you'll just have to imagine Jay with long hair. And me snipping away while Jay watched Nacho Libre on his laptop. And the pile of hair, which was really quite impressive.

Acknowledgments: I owe everything to Lindsey Whiting, a top-notch hair stylist/esthetician in my ward who gave me enough demos and coaching and pep-talks and affirmation that she convinced me this was something I could actually do. And to Jay, who really couldn't care less whether I messed his hair up or not.