Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fluff and Nonsense

Since that last post was so heavy, I thought that this one should be just what the title says. I was going to talk about "The Lotion Song", but Arwen pretty well covered it in her post. (But read the footnote* here after you've read the backstory.)

George has returned "home" to his apartment in Duluth after the big cruise. I would post a picture of him passing by upstream, but it happened at 9:15 at night in a rainstorm. We went down and waved (we could barely see him; he could see us because of streetlights), but we left the camera at home.

The other big event of last weekend was the great-crosstown-rivalry football game. Our team (the blue) was defeated by the red team 20-14, in a downpour. Roger and I were there, sitting in light rain, for the pre-game show --which included our band's halftime show, since we were "away" this year (our schools share a stadium)-- and the first half. But we skipped out at the start of halftime, because it had started to POUR, and Tommy assured us he could get rides, first to Pizza Hut, which is the band's after-game hangout, and then home. Unfortunately, he doffed his uniform in the car of the friend who gave him the first ride, and came home with someone else, so we didn't get the uniform back until Tuesday. Phew! It's going to the cleaners after this week's game, but I would have had to pay extra for rush service -- only one cleaner in town can safely do the uniforms -- and Tommy can live with it for this week. It looks OK (I pressed it) but smells musty.

I just realized that since I haven't finished Tommy's or Katie's stories yet (NaBloPoMo here it comes!) most of you may not know that Tommy is a drummer, or that Katie was Drum Major these last two years. Obviously I need to get my act together. (I just tried to post band pictures, but no luck.)

I have been sewing madly on a wedding present (personalized aprons, place mats, napkins) for a long-time friend of my daughter Maggie's, and also altering her mom's mother of the bride dress. As another friend who knew us all way-back-when, and with whom I recently reconnected on Facebook, says "What! 'Joyce' getting married?? Isn't she only 10 years old???" But the bitter truth is -- nope, they grow up. Both Rosie and Arwen were married younger than Joyce is now.

Incidentally, if those (few) of you readers who I "know" fairly well here online would like to connect on Facebook as well, email me, and I will let you in on my "real" identity. And I'll probably do something dumb like send you "rolled heel marching shoes" with the "Marching Band Geek" application. ;-D Or if you like word games, challenge you in "Ladder Mode" on Word Twist. (What, you think it's odd that a grandmother is on Facebook? My mother-in-law, a GREAT-grandmother, is on Facebook!! We are up-to-date old codgers!!)

My (three) typing fingers are getting tired, so I will end this post. And I hope to be back sooner, even if it's just more fluff.

*I personally think "My bottom is over the lotion.." fits the melody better. But then I've had more than twice as much lifetime to practice parody as Bryan has. :-D

Sunday, September 07, 2008

It's Not Really about Politics

As my sidebar "About Me" section says, I live in Michigan. We're the 11th largest state, and the eighth most populated. (If our largely-unoccupied Upper Peninsula was as densely populated as the rest of the state, we'd be fifth.) Unfortunately, we are also the state with the highest unemployment rate, which means that many people are moving elsewhere to find work.

The "Big Three" automakers are responsible for much of the employment slump here. But some people also place blame on the state government, which is currently run by Democrats. Of course, when we had a Republican governor, people blamed things on him. I'm not a student of economics; I even avoided taking a class in it in college, which was unusual for math majors. And I have never liked dealing with the political process -- in fact I was over thirty when I voted in my first presidential election. But over the last twenty-odd years I have become very well informed on Michigan (and national) politics for a very simple reason: I'm pro-life.

My husband, who grew up in Michigan, remembers his parents working hard to defeat a ballot proposal which would have overturned Michigan's laws against abortion. That proposal went down to defeat by a two-to-one margin. Unfortunately, that was in November of 1972, and the following January the US Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which overrode the abortion laws of all fifty states. Since we have been married, Michigan has dealt with votes on taxpayer funding of abortion (not anymore!), informed consent (yes!), parental consent (with the mandated judicial bypass), assisted suicide (NO --70 to 30%), partial birth abortion (still being fiddled with), and more.

I know some people for whom working on these campaigns is a challenge but a joy, because all this political stuff is right up their alley. Me, I do it because it's right, not because I like it. And this year I get to do it again.

In all the election years when Michigan didn't have some kind of a specific vote going, I still worked hard for the election of candidates at all levels who believe that life and death should be in the hands of God, not a doctor or any other individual. And this has been on both sides of the political aisle; my current state representative is from the "other" party. And he knows me by name and face, even though we disagree on just about every issue but this.

But this year Michigan pro-lifers have a bigger challenge. Yes, we will work to get candidates elected. Our main focus, though, is on the innocuously-named Proposition 2. Prop2, for short, has an attractive website called "CureMichigan". You can go there if you want (it's dot com), but I won't link there because I refuse to inflict the half-truths you'll find there on anybody without a warning. The crux of the matter is that the proponents of Prop2 are claiming that if only Michigan would relax its archaic (passed in 1978) law banning research on embryos which is not for the therapeutic benefit of the embryo, lots of other non-embryonic people would be cured of everything from diabetes to Parkinson's disease.

The facts don't bear this out. This site shows the large number of cures achieved with non-embryonic stem cells, while so far embryonic stem cell (ESC) research has come up empty. But leaving that aside, (and also, if you like, the morality of ESC research), the most dangerous part of Prop2 is "in the fine print."

Prop2, which is a proposal to amend the Michigan constitution, says in part :

All stem cell research and all stem cell therapies and cures must be conducted and provided in accordance with state and local laws of general applicability, including but not limited to laws concerning scientific and medical practices and patient safety and privacy, to the extent that any such laws do not:

(i) prevent, restrict, obstruct, or discourage any stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures that are permitted by the provisions of this section; or

(ii) create disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with such research or therapies or cures.

That's a bunch of legal language which boils down to "and nobody's allowed to make any new laws which might stop us from doing any of this, or even make us fell bad about it." So this would be a constitutional amendment that could never be changed. Even scientists found out we didn't need to do any of this stuff. Even if the culture changed, and most people agreed it was wrong.

History shows that at least some laws always need to be amended. As far back as Biblical times, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo wound up in the fiery furnace, and Daniel in the lion's den, because the king couldn't change the laws that put them there. And the American constitution has needed to be changed. When my mother was born, my grandmother had no legal right to vote. When my grandmother's mother was born [she's the one for whom I'm named] African-Americans weren't even citizens. Those things needed to be changed, even though they were "sensible" at the time when they were enacted. But Prop2's framers figure they're wiser and more enlightened than America's founding fathers.

So this election season I'll be out there dealing with yard signs and get-out-the-vote phone calls and fund-raising and all the other stuff of a political campaign, and hating it. But I'll be doing it anyway, because it's not really about politics -- it's about Life.

If you live in Michigan and are interested in helping -- or even if you think I'm off-the-wall --log on to and see where you fit in. And for those of you who live somewhere else, all prayers are appreciated!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Down the River We Go. . . .

The title of this post is from a song that was in one of the music books my elementary school used. I don't remember which grade, but the series was published by Silver Burdett, before they merged with Ginn. If anybody half-remembers it, the lyrics are here. I can remember singing this song with great verve, which is rather funny considering that the largest bodies of water I had seen at that point were some creeks (pronounced "cricks"), a couple of ponds, and the murky, muddy, "lake" in which I learned to swim, more or less... Roger would say less.

But then I married my man from Michigan, and now live in a town on the shore of a Great Lake. And although it's not the O-hi-o riv
er from the song, we also have a river. It's a big enough river that our town hosts its own tall ship. And we have lots of sidewalks right at the river's edge, from which this picture was taken. And this morning, Roger and I were down there with our camera.

George was on board this cutter, headed down the river. He's the tiny little dot about halfway up the superstructure, directly above the G in Coast Guard. He waved, we waved, and then down the river he went. And I, of course, went on my morning errands with a little bit of a tear in my eye. (In a week or two they'll be coming back up!)