Oct 29, 2007

Chuck Missler

I have long prided myself on being an "enlightened, intellectual Christian". I have an 'active faith', I talk to God relatively frequently, read my bible a little less frequently, but do seriously and honestly believe the statements of faith summed up in the creeds. Along with this I have been more than a little disparaging of young-earth 6 day creationist types. Largely dismissing them as young, stupid, uneducated fanatics (which I still hold to be true in a general sense). I have also run screaming from any aspect of the creation/evolution debate. I find it to be a waste of time and energy and a huge distraction from the real work of God (loving God and people and helping others to experience God's love).

And then someone lent us a copy of Chuck Missler's 'Learn the Bible in 24 Hours'. Which is 24 hour-long lectures starting at Genesis and working through to Revelation. I would highly recommend it to anyone already fairly familiar with their Bible who would like to know some pretty cool stuff. And here's the problem. Chuck Missler is educated, well spoken, respected, intelligent, and rigorous. His science is cool. I am very much enjoying this lecture series. What he says seems to tie in with my own experiences of God. And he literally believes every word of the Bible. He is a 6 day creationist (there is some very cool physics around Relativity and Time and the speed of the expansion of the universe and the different experiences of time in different parts of the universe). He believes the earth to be 6,000 years old. He believes there was a global flood.

So here I am, my thoughts are provoked. Creation science has come a long way in the 15 years since I last cared remotelyI still don't believe it, and I'm firmly of the opinion that it doesn't make any difference to my status with God, my salvation or anyone else's whether we accept 6 day creation or God's creation through evolution or whatever. But I can probably state that I'm now more open-minded about it than I was - and isn't open-mindedness the modern-day virtue?

P.S. I'd still recommend the 24 hour lecture series even if you can't stomach creationism - just roll your eyes and sigh loudly through the lecture that deals with the early chapters of Genesis - his exposition of the rest of the Bible is very 'thinky' (as a mate of mine would say). Read more...

Oct 28, 2007

The Experiment - day 41

Well, here they are, a week after I began watering them with the different waters. No discernible differences as yet - they all look pretty healthy to me. So that's a bit encouraging and a bit disappointing. Part of me was secretly thinking that this experiment would be my ticket to 15 seconds of internet fame. Still, there is hope. The experiment has another few weeks to run...

Is Microwaved water safe?
The Experiment - day 1
The Experiment - day 7
The Experiment - day 15
The Experiment - day 23
The Experiment - day 32
The Experiment - day 33

Oct 26, 2007

Worst. Dinner. Ever.

For dinner last night I made a lovely meal for those of us with teeth. Lamb kebabs in minted yoghurt marinade (made from lamb a friend of ours got fresh from a farm and mint from our garden), brown rice, steamed broccoli and tzatziki. Mmmmmm yum.

The baby of the house was offered brown rice, mushy broccoli and some pate stirred in.

She spent a good ten minutes with the broccoli kinda hanging out of her mouth looking pained before dribbling it down her chin, then choked down a couple of mouthfuls of rice and pate - complete with dramatic face-pulling and mouth puckering - before simply refusing any more food. Hilarious to watch.

Still - 20 yucks to 1 yum - as they say. Since she's still very much in the 'learning abut food' phase of life I cracked open a store-bought tin of peach and apricot semolina, which she practically lunged forward out of her high chair to swoop the spoon into her mouth. Read more...

Oct 23, 2007

Christmas is a-coming. Are you ready?

Before you start hyper-ventilating at the thought of organising for Christmas so soon, give it some thought. The more you do now, the less you have to do later - and the less you have to do at any one time.

Check out Flylady's Cruising Through the Holidays links - especially the clutter free gift ideas (scroll down the page a bit). These are wonderful. Anything to stem the tide of plastic junk that seems to wash through our house from who knows where.

Most of the clutter free gift ideas boil down to
- something to eat
- tickets to something
- a service or a voucher for a service (like a lawnmower service and sharpen, or 2 hours at a day spa for example)

To add to this, I'd like to suggest looking at Tear Fund's christmas catalogue - a shopping experience with a difference. What you do is buy a goat or a well or a packet of seeds etc. This gets donated to one of Tear Fund's projects. What you get in return is a gift-card with a picture of the thing you just bought (without mentioning how much it cost) so you can give that card to someone else. We did this for our siblings last Christmas - they are the proud 'owners' of some arable land somewhere in India I think.

We give 'proper' gifts for birthdays. For Christmas it's more about saying "hey, we love you and are thinking of you". This helps keep the focus off the toys and presents and on to Christ - who is the whole reason for Christmas after all. Read more...

Oct 22, 2007

Labour Day - hooray for the 40 hour working week

The Sunday Star Times yesterday had what I thought to be a good article on the demise of the 40 hour working week in NZ.

Of course, I'm a full-time domestic goddess who gets paid in the priceless currency of gratitude and affection, while my husband works a government-department 40 hour week and earns enough for our family's needs and a few luxuries. (depending, of course, on how you define needs and luxuries - there are no casual 'weekends away' in our lives). But, we do nonetheless feel the pressure to be working harder and longer to justify our existence. Read more...

Oct 21, 2007

Made in China baby

This morning Merl was having a good "daddy-daughter-time" swinging the baby upside down and receiving gales of giggles in return when he stopped and peered closely into her mouth.

"Hey, she's got 'Made in China" on the roof of her mouth"

On closer inspection this turned out to be one of those circular see-through stickers that is on everything these days. At 9 months old the 'baby' is now well-versed in the arts of paper sucking, and anything vaguely paper-like gets chewed to within an inch of its life. Last night it was a wodge of adhesive tape that I rescued from the roof of her mouth just before bedtime.

It's funny, but things that I would have had kittens over when Miss 3 was a baby, are just kinda funny now. Although I have now made a mental note to check her mouth for foreign objects before I put her to bed. Read more...

Oct 20, 2007

The Experiment - day 33

Merl duly concealed the identities of the water last night and I added water to the drip tray of each pottle this morning.

Top left = A
Top right = B
Bottom left = C
Bottom right = D

So I'll refer to each pottle by their letter from now on.

I'm very curious now to see what will happen as the weeks progress...

Here are the links to what this experiment is all about...
Is Microwaved water safe?
The Experiment - day 1
The Experiment - day 7
The Experiment - day 15
The Experiment - day 23
The Experiment - day 32

Oct 19, 2007

The Experiment - day 32

"What Experiment?" I hear you ask. The links at the bottom of the post will see you right.

Well, here is what my little seedling pottles look like this evening. Lovely and lush, a little overcrowded, but that's okay - I want a good number of plants in each pottle to give a more reliable result.
I have not moved their positions around - so the one that is "top left" has always been "top left" and shall stay that way for the next 4 to 6 weeks, and ditto for the other three pottles.

On Tuesday I set up the different water treatments but have been slack about blogging (while being un-slack about parenting), so here goes now.
As you can see, I have used 4 more-or-less identical jars (Chunky Marmalade for those with insatiable curiosity about such things). There may be minor differences in the amount of scratching each label has received but I have not paid much attention to that. Right this second, each lid has got a label on it identifying which water is in the jar, but when Merl gets home from being a responsible youth group leader (they're playing Laser Force, the lucky dog) I'll get him to label them A,B,C,D so that I won't know which plant is receiving which treatment. The jars and lids were washed in the dishwasher all at the same time.
Details of the treatments are;
  1. Plain tap water - from the cold tap after it was running for a bit
  2. Boiled in the electric jug - start with cold tap water as above, boil it, let the jug turn itself off, let the water cool to lukewarm before pouring it into the jar. We have a stainless steel jug with a concealed element.
  3. Microwaved in pyrex - start with cold tap water as above, fill a pyrex measuring jug, use the "Auto reheat" function on the microwave and repeat the 'reheating' until the water is properly boiling. Stir cautiously with a stainless steel teaspoon each time the microwave beeps or stops (but not the last stop - just leave it - microwave-boiled stuff can be extremely hot). Leave the jug in the microwave until lukewarm then pour water into jar.
  4. Microwaved in plastic - as with pyrex but using a 'microwave safe' plastic container from the last time we had Indian takeaways.
So here we are, all systems are 'go'. And now... only time will tell.

Here are the links to what this experiment is all about...
Is Microwaved water safe?
The Experiment - day 1
The Experiment - day 7
The Experiment - day 15
The Experiment - day 23

Oct 16, 2007

A Miss 3 original: pets

This just in from putting Miss 3 to bed:
Daddy, I have a story for you.

Once upon a time when I was five, I wanted some pets. So, some pets started growing in my tummy. My tummy got very big and sore, so I went to the doctor, and he gave me some medicine. That made me very sleepy, and I went to sleep. While I was asleep they cut a hole in my tummy and brought the pets out. And when I woke up, there were my pets.

Oct 15, 2007

Fertility Awareness - why I use it

Now, some of you may find this all to be way too much detail, so I'm warning you now - if phrases like "cervical mucous" make you want to run screaming from the room then this is not the post for you. In fact - since I'm planning to post about fertility awareness more than once, I promise to always use the words 'fertility awareness' in the title when I do. Fair?

I've been thinking about posting on this topic for a while because there is a lot of misinformation out there about 'natural contraceptive methods' - including that lovely old joke
What do you call people who use natural contraception?
I admit that I laughed and laughed in a superior sort of way when I first heard it because of course I was going to choose the way of pharmaceutical science when that sort of thing became necessary. And science said that natural methods were obsolete and unreliable. Which of course some of them are - the 'rhythm' method and other more 'intuitive' (i.e. unreliable) methods are not remotely useful if you actually want to prevent a pregnancy.

But when it came to my turn to actually use the contraceptives that the pharmaceutical companies provide, my body had other plans.

The first pill I tried made me depressed. Like, seriously contemplating hurling myself out of my 5th floor workplace window, depressed. As soon as I noticed what was happening (and thankfully realised it was cyclic and possibly due to the little cream pills) I immediately stopped taking them. Within two days the world was a wonderful place - birds were singing, the sun was shining and I felt like dancing. hmmmmm

The second pill I tried gave me migraines. great. Back to my GP and we try painkillers to stop the pain and we try a preventer to keep them away.
So at this point, I'm taking hormones to prevent conception, but they have side-effects so I'm taking more drugs to counteract the side-effects. And of course those other drugs have potential side-effects too...

So I got off the merry-go-round.

I vaguely remembered someone talking a couple of years earlier about a method where you record your daily temperature and some other stuff. So I mention this to my GP, and (praise God) he was familiar enough with the method to point me in the right direction to at least find out more about it. He was very supportive of the whole move, which was nice.

To cut a longish story short, I found that "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler was an excellent book, and since I learn best by reading books, that was enough for me.

The whole point of fertility awareness is to learn to read your body's signs to find out when you are fertile, and work around that. If you want children then you use that fertile time to its full advantage. If you do not want children then you take steps - abstinence or barrier contraception of some sort.

Weschler teaches the "Sympto-thermal method", which is, simply, taking note of your
  • 'basal body temperature' - your temperature first thing in the morning
  • cervical mucous texture/quantity etc
  • position of the cervix
And all of those three things together can tell you when you are likely to be fertile. Any method that misses out one of those observations is not giving you enough information, and will be unreliable.

A surprise benefit was not having to go get pregnancy tests all the time :-) Before I had children my cycle was really irregular - anywhere between 27 and 41 days was perfectly normal. This would have caused me great stress on an almost monthly basis as I tried to work out if I was pregnant or if this was a normal month. But when you chart your cycles, you learn that it's really only the first part of the cycle that's variable - the time between bleeding and ovulating. Once your body has released that egg (ovulated) it has a limited life span - 12-14 days only. Basically, if you know when you ovulate and you get to 18 days after that without bleeding, then you're pregnant. Yeehah. I don't know how much money we saved on pregnancy tests those first few years we were married, but it would be considerable.

So there you have it - Merl and I have used Fertility Awareness for almost 8 years now with 3 planned pregnancies and 0 unplanned ones.

(Oh, and you're right, those numbers don't add up - our first baby miscarried very early in the pregnancy) Read more...

Oct 13, 2007

Memory Book

Over the last few weeks I have been writing a 'memory book' story book for my girls about their Nana. I can't remember where I first read of this idea, but it seemed a good one.
The idea is that for kids to process grief they like to hear stories about their loss over and over again - kinda to help them fix it in their heads and explain it to themselves. And because it can all get a bit emotionally exhausting to tell those stories from memory each time it is simpler to write it down. This also means that other people can tell the stories when I am not in the right headspace to talk about my Mum.

Now, Mum is still with us (which is a daily blessing). However, time is precious and sooner or later I would be needing to write a memory book. So I decided to do it now - while I'm not dealing with my own grief too much.

What I've done is write a wee story - "This is me and my sister with our Nana..." and illustrate it with photos of my Mum with the girls. I just stuck the photos on A4 paper, wrote it in pen and placed the pages in plastic sheet-protectors. I also went around and took more photos as needed ("This is their house"). What was excellent was that it pointed out some major gaps in our photo collection - I found that we didn't have any at all of Mum and Dad and both girls in the same photo, that sort of thing. So we were able to get some of those.

For now, it's a story about Nana and the girls and what they do together and how Nana does knitting etc etc. It will only take the addition of a few more pages to turn it into a memory book - which I should be able to manage when necessary. I also plan to do the same for the other grandparents.

I like to think that my kids will remember my Mum after she's gone. Read more...

Oct 11, 2007

A Man is not a Plan

That is the wisdom of the lovely ladies at WIFE, the Women's Institute for Financial Education. In general women are in a worse financial situation than men - even if they earn more somehow they seem to be (subconsciously) waiting for some prince on a white horse to come and take them away from all this.

I'm aware that that's a huge generalisation, but looking around me I know more single, working, child-free men who own their own home than single women in the same situation. So, whatever the psychology behind it, women tend not to save for their retirement or have any sort of investment portfolio (except where their retirement scheme is made easy by their workplace - it will be interesting to see how NZ's kiwisaver scheme helps this along).

A couple of years ago I realised that I was pretty good at not spending money - I could save it okay - but I had no idea what to do with it after that. The phrase "investment portfolio" made me scared. So I decided to educate myself. I had a hunt on the internet, as you do, and found WIFE. I also found some good books (Your Money or Your Life) and a couple of other columns that I read periodically (particularly Mary Holme in the NZ Herald, also sorted).

The best place to start is just somewhere. I made a decision to read one financial article every week and sooner or later it would start to make sense to me. And it does.

I like to know that the choices we are making with our money are sensible. I like to be able to have a good idea about what our options are and what we might be able to do if things go a bit pear shaped. Read more...

Oct 10, 2007

The Experiment - day 23

This is how the seedings look today. I'm thinking that I'll grow them for another week and then start feeding them the differently treated waters.

As you can see, there's a mix of plant types coming up. Each pottle was sown randomly from what I plucked from the mixed seed packet. They're still mostly at the seed-leaf stage but they're so closely sown that they might run out of room if I leave them too much longer.

The Experiment - day 15
The Experiment - day 7
The Experiment - day 1
Is Microwaved water safe?

Oct 8, 2007

Miss 3's tyre garden

I've seen this idea in several places and thought it looked good. Use an old car tyre as the outside wall of a little raised bed garden.

We found a car tyre under the house (some days it is handy to have bought a house with a very large pile of junk under it), painted it with some leftover paint (so it doesn't get too hot in the summer sun) and left it to dry while we pottered in the garden.

Miss 3 chose a place for her garden. I had made the tactical blunder of suggesting probably the two best spots in the garden, which practically forced her to insist on a space in the cold and dark, but I managed to at least shift it into dappled sunshine, rather than complete shade. I dug over a patch to loosen up the earth and then we went to the garden centre.

Given the choice between pretty flowers to look at and things to eat, our wee cherub chose goodness for her tummy. So we picked a punnet of 4 herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme and garlic chives), and a punnet of 6 red-shaft silverbeet (chard). She really likes going out to pick things for the garden to put in our dinner, so this should work well.

Then we just moved the tyre into position, filled it up with a mix of compost and soil pilfered from elsewhere in the garden and planted it out. Voila! She's very proud of her very own wee garden. Read more...

Oct 6, 2007

Garden Hack and Slash

We spent parts of this afternoon in the garden. Very exciting.

I find that we must strike while the iron is hot as far as actually getting significant things done. Otherwise we get to dinner time and miraculously somehow nothing has happened. But today it was nice weather and we were in the mood, so out we went.

We have only lived in this house since January, and since we are in the Southern hemisphere, that means this is the first Spring we have seen this garden in. So surprises are arriving every week. There are daffodils and matchheads and crocuses and marigolds and clematis and all sorts of things springing to life. Earlier this week I noticed a very folorn looking blossom tree of some sort
being smothered by some boisterous shrubs. So that was the first thing we did - we reprimanded the shrubs. One came out entirely and the other got trimmed back quite severely. I am very keen to see what sort of tree this turns out to be. Secretly I'm hoping for it to be a fruit tree, but if I hope too loudly it will just turn out to be an ornamental I'm sure...

The next, and most major, item on the agenda was to remove a sycamore from our 'forest corner'. The previous owner of our house had been a keen gardener some years back, but as she aged the garden got more and more out of control. Apparently she spent the last few years in a retirement home and the house was rented out. Consequently the garden was in a sad state when we bought the house. It is still fairly sad I have to say. The 'forest' corner is great - several big trees providing good shelter from the sea winds. But as always happens there are a number of self-sown trees that have been left to grow - and they're quite big now. So the sycamore came out today. And Merl and Miss 3 spent a couple of happy hours feeding the sycamore into the shredder - lots of yummy fodder for the compost heap.

I can't believe how much bigger our yard looks now. There is definitely room for a play house for the kids to be built under those trees. very exciting. Read more...

IgNobel Prize winners

The wonderful people at Improbable Research have once again picked some funny stuff.
Here's the list as recorded at Treehugger since the IR site was not coping with the traffic...

Medicine Brian Witcombe of Gloucester and Dan Meyer of Antioch, Tennessee, for their report in the British Medical Journal, Sword Swallowing and its Side-Effects

Physics L Mahadevan of Harvard and Enrique Cerda Villablanca of Santiago University, Chile, for studying how sheets become wrinkled

Biology Johanna van Bronswijk of Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands, for a census of the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds

Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Centre of Japan, for developing a way to extract vanilla essence from cow dung

Linguistics Juant Manuel Toro, Josep Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Barcelona University, for showing that rats cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards

Literature Glenda Browne of Australia, for her study of the word "the" and the problems it causes when indexing

The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, for instigating research on a chemical weapon to make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other

Nutrition Brian Wansink of Cornell University, for exploring the seemingly boundless appetites of human beings by feeding them with a self-refilling, bottomless bowl of soup

Economics Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taiwan, for patenting a device that catches bank robbers by dropping a net over them

Aviation Patricia V Agostino, Santiago A Plano and Diego A Golombek of Argentina, for the discovery that Viagra aids jetlag recovery in hamsters

I thought the Linguistics entry to be particularly noteworthy, myself Read more...

Oct 5, 2007


My Tear Fund newsletter arrived today.

Aside from being overwhelmed by the hugeness of global poverty and need, I read a review of the movie Amazing Grace, which I have been meaning to go see, but will probably wait until it comes out on DVD. (How do other parents manage to actually leave the house as a couple in the evenings?!). The review states
"At the start of the film it is said there were 11 million slaves. Hard as it may seem, there are now more than 27 million slaves."
This includes, of course, child soldiers, bonded (debt) labour, third world prostitution, cocoa plantation workers in ivory coast etc etc (where 40% of the world's cocoa is produced - think of that the next time you munch into a Cadbury/Nestle/Herschey's product).

Slavery is a huge problem. These organisations (here, here and here) are full of information on getting actively involved in the fight against slavery. If (like me) you are a bit overwhelmed at adding yet another organisation to your 'save the world' burden, there are some simple purchasing decisions you can make.

It comes down to economics. As it states elsewhere in my Tear Fund newsletter
"Few parents would abandon or sell their children if they could afford to keep them. A sponsored child is unlikely to become a slave. A mother in a thriving Microenterprise business can keep and care for her children. A community where Aids and other diseases are being treated will have fewer vulnerable orphans. A country which is receiving fair prices for its goods and resources will be wealthier, more stable and more able to enforce anti-slavery laws... It may sound a bit far-fetched but when you buy fair trade products, you're actually fighting slavery in an indirect but real way" (italics mine)
So here's to Fair-Trade.

And the chocolate tastes even better when it's not blood-flavoured. Read more...

Oct 4, 2007

Monk e-mail

Something to keep the kids (and those of us with a childish sense of fun) amused.

Design a monkey and get it to read out an email message Read more...

Oct 3, 2007

War made easy

Even the trailer looks chilling. We will definitely be watching this DVD. I saw Noam Chomsky's manufacturing consent in the mid 90's. This looks like another look at the same subject. But of course, including president Bushes and Iraq. Read more...

Oct 2, 2007

The Experiment - day 15

Checked my wee seedling pottles again today. They are looking good. Lots of germination of a variety of plants in all the pottles. They're still at the seed-leaf stage so I'll let them grow another week or so before using the different types of water on them.

Have had a thought about the water treatments too. I'll get Merl to mix them up for me so I don't know which water is which - just that they're A, B, C, and D. Must remember to get him to write it down too, otherwise it'll be a complete and utter waste of time.

The Experiment - day 7
The Experiment - day 1
Is Microwaved Water Safe?

Oct 1, 2007

House dreaming

I was visiting Mum this morning while she got a visit from the community contact person from the Hospice. The Otago Community Hospice is a fabulous facility that do a wonderful job. But that is beside the point.

While I was 'round home, Mum passed on to me a small pile of New Zealand House and Garden magazines. Aaaaah. bliss. There is nothing quite so indulgent as sitting curled up on the couch with a pile of interior decorating pornography.

Don't get me wrong - I like my house just fine the way it is. Okay, the carpet in the living room is the ideal camouflage for baby poo and spilt dinners, and the laundry is the room with all the morning sun, but I can live with these things. (or at least, I can live with them being on the 10year plan to change them). But I do like to dream.

I dream of ripping out several internal walls and making one big kitchen/dining/living space, which would necessitate a total kitchen re-do. Of re-doing the bathroom - to install a bath, for instance - of extending the dining area into a conservatory. Even of putting a whole 'nother floor on top, with 2 bedrooms and another bathroom up there. Heck, those rooms might even get 'sea views' and 'all day sun' - big, big selling points if we were ever to re-sell.

And then I think - if someone gave me $100,000 to do whatever I want with it. What would God want me to do with it?

So I live with this unease. On the one hand there are things that could easily be done to make our house a bit more user friendly. On the other hand there are a billion starving people in the world who'd love the chance just to live somewhere as well-appointed as our garage (leaking and drafty as it is). Read more...
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