Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Political Tuesdays: Media and a Crisis of Confidence

As I've been following news coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict, it has been dawning on me that I cannot trust the news media to present developing events in an unbiased manner.

This is really nothing new.  I was backstage at the Rally for Life in 1990 when a crowd numbering in the hundreds of thousands spontaneously turned to the media enclosure and chanted "tell the truth" for quite some time, in protest of entrenched media bias against the pro-life movement.  It was an iconic moment, and since then I've never quite been able to accept at face value the formula dished out by mainstream media.  I'm still a news junkie, just a somewhat cynical and suspicious news junkie.

The kind of coverage you see greatly depends upon the media outlet you choose as a consumer.  If I only read the Columbian (our local newspaper) I would know little beyond the current status of the legal marijuana shops in town.  I have an app on my Kindle that lets me read the Washington Post, and I'm enjoying having well-written articles on a world and national scale to read.  But the news feeds I choose to "like" on Facebook tend to lead in quite a different direction.  The cognitive dissonance is troubling, and leads me to question the most reputable of sources.

"Mainstream" media would have me believe that peaceful Palestinians live in Gaza under terrible threat from the warlike Israelis, who target mainly U.N.-run hospitals and schools.  Graphic photos show only one side of the story.  But the video by Dennis Prager I shared last week sticks in my mind.  I'm starting to question whether every mainstream outlet has a streak of anti-semitism.  Or is it just that Israel is a stable and relatively safe destination to fly into for journalists, and Hamas has a good public relations system and an abundant supply of gut-wrenching photos?  I don't see nearly the same amount of coverage, particularly photo coverage, from Nigeria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Syria -- all places where the death toll is vastly more than in Gaza.  But how safe would it be for a reporter to visit these places (assuming there was any desire to cover atrocities committed by Muslims)?  Maybe the very abundance of pictures from Israel tells us something about the stability and security of Israel -- and the laziness and corruption of those who publish only one side of the story.

If it bleeds, it leads.  As long as you have pictures and pre-packaged text that supports your

Monday, July 28, 2014

Design Wall Monday and Kid update

For the first time in a very long time I have something different about my design wall... that's because I stitched this block this weekend:
 It's the sixth one I've finished with that low-volume quilt-along.
 So I put them all up, and there has even been a tiny bit of progress on the string diamond star.  But the sunshine out the window will tell you, I'm not getting a lot of quilting done at the moment.  Summer is just too short!
Up to our eyeballs in plums, but they sure are pretty.
 Quarta has been delivered to camp, where she has many friends.  The house will be a LOT quieter this week!
Pretty cool treehouse.
Peter has been doing things like this,
and this,
 and this (yikes!)
and this for the last 4 weeks at Basic.  He was allowed access to his phone for half an hour yesterday to call us for the first time.  I think he's doing great but he's definitely reached the point of wishing it was done.  And it's a long way from done yet!  He very much appreciates everyone who's been praying for him and writing to him but doesn't have any time to write back.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Randomday, with plums

Try as I may, I am having a hard time keeping up with the blog this summer.  And I'm not really trying very hard!
These are the last two quilts I pinned for Grandma -- This one is sweet with the butterfly embroideries and appliques.
 She also had a small hexagon quilt with some "leftover" blocks.
The plum tree is loaded with big juicy plums.  Followers will know I have collected a lot of plum recipes.  I've tried a few more this year: a version of plum jam that I call "Plum Preserves."  It's no-pectin added, it' cooked 4 different times, and it is like a cross between plum jam and plum butter (Pflaumenmus).
This is the plum preserves together with a batch of plum-orange jam.
For a light refreshing dessert you might try Plum Flummery.  I nestled this serving in the kettle of plums... and there are a lot more on the tree.  I am not sure whether I'll be dehydrating any plums this year, but we recently defrosted the freezer so we'll be able to freeze quite a bit.  I have found a lot of recipes I would like to try on Pinterest.  These plums are wonderful eaten fresh ... I wish we could have them fresh all year long!
Quarta's 12th birthday was observed with appropriate fanfare and a gooey chocolate caramel cake.  And a trip to Joann's to buy a rubber band loom and beads.  And a date with Mom and Dad to see the Parade of Homes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Political Randomday

It's summertime.  My day has consisted of Duolingo lessons, making blueberry jam and plum preserves, baking a gooey caramel chocolate cake for Quarta's birthday tomorrow, browsing plum recipes on Pinterest, and picking plums. The political world goes on, and I'd just as soon it went on without me.  But here are a few interesting reads along the way, if you're interested.

Ted Cruz targeted by vampires in HBO's True Blood series: a brilliant response.

What happens in September, when the flood of immigrant children need to go to school?  Is the immigration crisis about to create an education crisis?

A level-headed and simple explanation of the situation in the Middle East, by Dennis Prager.  This is the best presentation I have seen on the subject.  And you should also read Charles Krauthammer's moral clarity.

Christians in Iraq presented with no options by ISIS: a mass exodus from Mosul.

John Kerry, apparently trying to cover for a bit of (?) anti-semitism caught on open mic, acknowledges that war is tough.  You know, I'm glad he has it figured out.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Today we picked blueberries.  At least, some of us did.  Daniel stayed home with Quarta, who is suffering from the worst blistering sunburn I've ever seen on her shoulders and can't stand to have anything touch her skin.  Which means she has worn a swimsuit top for the last few days.  She was taken out to see "How to Train your Dragon 2," so it was not a total loss.  Steve and I (and Tertia a little bit) picked a lot of blueberries, most of which need to be frozen.  I also need to make a batch of jam.  But not tonight.

Peter has sent us a few letters from boot camp; he says he is "not too miserable" and that most of the sergeants don't know his name, which is a good thing.  His battery has a facebook page, and some pictures of him have been posted so far.

A few cool things are happening on the internet.  Dutch for English speakers is now in Beta on Duolingo!  And Daniel brought this cool site to my attention: akinator.  Pick a character - any character, and play 20 questions with the computerized genie.  It's fun to stump it, but it doesn't happen often. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Yarn-Along and a finish

 It is a modest finish, a case for Daniel's Ipad mini, but this is my very first finished knitted project of 2014.  That's just a little embarassing!  But combined with my finish yesterday of the Celtic Solstice quilt top, I'm having a very productive July.  I hope it continues.
I put a little pocket on the back so it can hold his earbuds.  I want to make a similar one for my Kindle and one for Tertia's Samsung tablet eventually.  I'm also binding off the lower hem of my "Mint Chocolate" sweater, which will leave the sleeves yet to do.  I have pretty much given up on spinning during the Tour de Fleece, but who knows? Anything could happen.

I recently finished reading Mission at Nuremburg, by Tim Townsend.  I highly recommend this book.  It is the story of an American Lutheran pastor, Henry Gerecke, who in 1943 at the age of 50 decided to enlist as a chaplain in the Army, eventually becoming pastor to some of the most vile of the Nazi  war criminals at the Nuremburg trials.  It reads as a combination of military history, biography, and devotional theology.  What level of compassion would it take for any of us to pray with and for men such as these, and come to see them as individuals, even friends?  Material well worth pondering.  It was especially meaningful to read with a young son in Basic Training; I tend to worry about him, and this book is a good reminder of what the American military looked like in the past, and that sometimes the simple things; human contact, love, forgiveness, attention to basic needs -- are the things that make the difference on the spiritual level as well.

Another book I highly recommend is Things that Matter, a collection of essays and lectures by Charles Krauthammer.  He is a true intellectual renaissance man whose rich experience and life challenges have caused him to think deeply on a wide range of topics, and whose writing is a thing of beauty as few Beltway pundits ever achieve.  From the space program to chess to bioethics to foreign policy, I found him inspiring.  I listened to this as an audiobook, much of it read by Krauthammer himself, and I found myself agreeing with the vast majority of his thoughtful positions even if I differed on points of policy.  The only irreconcilable difference between us is apparently the Oxford comma.  And who knows?  He may eventually convince me on that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Finished Celtic Solstice Top!

I have not been sewing much lately, and it's been wearing on me.  I haven't been knitting much either, but I've been working my way through it, better than the lack of sewing.  So today I had some previously taped Tour de France going in the background and I finally wrestled the rest of the borders onto Celtic Solstice, which has been languishing in my extremely untidy sewing room since February or so.  That was when I attached the yellow inner border and the flying geese pieced border.
The biggest challenge was deciding what to use for the outer borders.  I rejected a second yellow border as being a little too assertive -- it needed some calming influence after all that sparkle and busy-ness.  I had some 4-5" wide strips of fabric from the epic estate sale of last year, but no yardage of either the light blue or the blue-green print.  I had to get a little creative to make it work, and the end result is a quilt top that is approximately 80.5" x 82.5" and used up - a lot of fabric.  I'm not really counting at the moment.
This is the FIRST finished sewing project I have turned out in 2014!  It has been a real wilderness for quite a while!  And yes, I know it's not technically finished until it's quilted.  But I will take it, especially as it looks so pretty blowing in the summer breeze over the limb of the sycamore tree.  Many thanks to Bonnie K. Hunter of Quiltville for the mystery quilt pattern and the fun of piecing.  The colors just sparkle together.  Cause for celebration!