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May 2005 Archives

May 31, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend

We spent Memorial Day Weekend at my parents' house at the shore. It was a good time. Highlights:

The kids agreed that grandma has a very large sandbox, but thought the water was too cold.

The kids liked the small town parade.

The kids did not do well with having their naps shifted so they could go to a naptime parade.

It is a lot of fun to paddle around in a kayak with the littler man on your lap.

It is even more fun to paddle around with an articulate 2 1/2 year old.

Salt water makes for nasty diaper rash.

The littler man is no longer an infant, and now that he has cut back on the Frankenbaby walk, he is now a toddler. That means that his big brother is now officially a little boy.

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Red Ted
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May 24, 2005

But does it suck?

Well, I finished the first pass on the new second half of the new chapter two. I go from the 1790s to 1817, talking about infidel clauses, Presidential invocations of Providence, Sabbath mails, and the Episcopal-Reformed debate in New York State. I have no idea if the conclusion ties it all together, but that is what revisions are for.

In other news, I pulled my calf AGAIN, this time while walking the hound about half a mile from home. The second half of that walk was much slower than the first half, yep. The really frustrating thing about the calf pull and the lack of running is that, right on schedule, 10 days after my last run I got a cold. I am convinced (and this may be a self-fulfilling prophecy) that I get no colds when I run regularly, regular colds when I am not running.

I hear the call of sudafed and errands.

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Red Ted
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May 23, 2005


For the last week or so we have been having the good fun of playing with Frankenbaby. I suppose I could call him zombie baby, or sleepwalker baby, or Scooby-Do-Villain-Baby, but Frankenbaby has a better ring to it.

The littler man is just barely walking. As he walks he sticks his arms out in front of him, like Frankenstein's monster did. I had long wondered why it was that the stereotypical slow, clumsy monster - classic zombies for example - held their hands out. Now that I see Frankenbaby, I see that the arms out are a way of increasing the moment arm for rotation from feet onto buttocks, and thus a good way to keep your balance - sort of like the way that runners will stick their hands out to either side when running down hill.

It is also pretty darn cute.

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Red Ted
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Baby names we won't see soon

I am working with the Post Office and the Sabbatarian controversy of 1810-1817, and one of the major players is Postmaster General Return J. Meigs.

My random thought for the moment is that while there are a fair number of goofy baby names being used these days, and while some of the new goofy baby names are attempts to conjure up the pre-industrial past, we are unlikely to see many new babies named Return any time soon. I blame the commercial culture of America.

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Red Ted
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May 18, 2005

Alien Loves Predator

I like web comics. I think I will be adding Alien Loves Predator to my list of regular reads. You have to like a webcomic created with a digital camera, assorted action figures, and the premise of one heck of a strange odd couple.

The funny thing is that this is a web comic about life in New York, and I get the jokes even though I last lived in the Evil City when I was two. I blame La Sheila.

My other regular reads are below the fold.

Red Ted's Current Web Comix:

PVP Online - daily
Something Positive - daily
Gu Comics - weekdays. Gaming.
Diesel Sweeties - weekdays.
Queen of Wands - daily. Reruns.
Jennie Breedon - daily
Nodwick - weekly Thursdays
Dork Tower - irregular.
Frazz - daily. (syndicated)
Oh My Gods - rarely and then lots at once.
Rose is Rose - daily (syndicated)
The Order of the Stick monday, wednesday, friday.

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Red Ted
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May 17, 2005

Franklin Pierce

I have spent much of the evening trying to make sense of Franklin Pierce.

I know that I am not alone, and that many of us spend our time trying to figure the guy out. Most of the blogosphere is well aware that Frank was the 14th president of the U.S., that he came from New Hampshire, that he was a dark horse candidate elected on a late ballot as a pro-Southern Democrat from New Hampshire, that he was widely derided during the campaign as being the "hero of many a well fought bottle" because of his disastrous experience as a Brigadier during the Mexican-American War, and that he is widely considered one of the worst American Presidents.

He is confusing to me because of his religious beliefs. A New England Episcopalian, he chose to affirm rather than swear his oath of office. Unusually for Democrats (and political hacks, he qualified as both) his public pronouncements show a complicated sense of civil religion and national providence. Unlike the simple-minded triumphalism of James K. Polk et al, and unlike the civic Providence of Jackson, Harrison, and Taylor (so long as we hold to the Constitution, then the nation will prosper and be blessed), he called forward a sense of national frailty and contingency, a national providence that might not be granted for the future. His term as high priest of American Civil Religion thus looked far more like James Madison and John Quincy Adams than like his contemporaries. The closest similarity is Abraham Lincoln, and yet the two men's Gods, biographies, and backgrounds are mightily different. About the only thing they had in common was a sense of humor.

Then again, humor is tied to an awareness of pain, so perhaps it is not so surprising that the two mid-century advocates of contingent Providence were also much funnier than Buchanan, Fillmore, Polk, or the rest of the crew. For that matter, I have trouble imagining Andrew Jackson teasing his friends the way that Pierce teased Benjamin Brown Finch after the accident with the rum and the lemonade.

Pierce's public pronouncements are more explicitly and conventionally religious than most of his contemporaries. He emphasizes the power of God's Providence. Unlike most of his contemporaries, however, he ties Providential blessings to the proper performance of national duties. The nation is not entitled to good times, but must act properly in order to prosper. He phrases these national duties in one of those sentences that make undergraduates stop reading (see below the break), but he phrases them as a compact grounded in a national obligation to act morally.

Thanks - blogging this helped me make enough sense out of Pierce and the later guys that I should be able to go write up the actual focus of this subsection, James Madison and the Providential meaning of the War of 1812.

EDIT - Dr Curmudgeon helps clear up my confusion about Pierce's religious affiliation. The secondary source with the scanned texts of the annual addresses had him marked as an Episcopalian, so I went with that. I wonder if Carwardine Evangelicals and Politics or Holt Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party mention Pierce's religious affiliation.

Franklin Pierce, 4th2nd Annual Address (State of the Union), December 4, 1854, penultimate paragraph.

We have to maintain inviolate the great doctrine of the inherent right of popular self-government; to reconcile the largest liberty of the individual citizen with complete security of the public order; to render cheerful obedience to the laws of the land, to unite in enforcing their execution, and to frown indignantly on all combinations to resist these; to harmonize a sincere and ardent devotion to the institutions of religious faith with the most universal religious toleration; to preserve the rights of all by causing each to respect those of the other; to carry forward every social improvement to the uttermost limit of human perfectibility, by the free action of mind upon mind, not by the obtrusive intervention of misapplied force; to uphold the integrity and guard the limitations of our organic law; to preserve sacred from all touch of usurpation, as the very palladium of our political salvation, the reserved rights and powers of the several States and of the people; to cherish with loyal fealty and devoted affection this Union, as the only sure foundation on which the hopes of civil liberty rest; to administer government with vigilant integrity and rigid economy; to cultivate peace and friendship with foreign nations, and to demand and exact equal justice from all, but to do wrong to none; to eschew intermeddling with the national policy and the domestic repose of other governments, and to repel it from our own; never to shrink from war when the rights and the honor of :he country call us to arms, but to cultivate in preference the arts of peace, seek enlargement of the rights of neutrality, and elevate and liberalize the intercourse of nations; and by such just and honorable means, and such only! whilst exalting the condition of the Republic, to assure to it the legitimate influence and the benign authority of a great example amongst all the powers of Christendom.
This is, of course, a HUGE difference from Lincoln's sense of contingency, "with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right." Not only was Lincoln a much better writer, his civil religion also emphasized that we all believe that we are right, and all that we can do is hope that we are indeed correct in this belief as we continue to do the best we can, knowing that no prayer will be answered fully.

EDIT - correct the ordinal on the annual address.

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Red Ted
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May 13, 2005

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is a very good day - the littler man was born on Friday, February 13th 2004.

All Fridays the 13th (Friday the 13ths?) are now lucky days for us.

(and a very good subject for what MT tells me is the 1,000th post.)

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Red Ted
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I have not had any thoughts or ideas that I had to write down to get them out of my system. So, I have not been blogging. I have had a couple of random thoughts . . .

Grades are in. Yay!

The advisor liked chapter 1, bigger yay!

I have been working on the revised chapter two. I am fairly happy with the first 30 pages. I have been working on how to end it. My current intention is to talk about National Providence, presidential messages, and the Sabbath mails controversy of 1810-1817. Right now I am in the process of commonplacing the Providential language of Washington through Jackson. The chapter will focus on Madison, but I want some context from which to bloviate.

I have been running regularly ! Yay!
I even had my heartbeat start to drop down to the exercising levels. I won't get down to the resting heart rate of 44/minute that I had when running a lot, but at least I am regularly back under 60 beats/minute.

The running has been going better because I traced the knee pain to the point where the ITB runs across the tibia/fibula connection at the bottom of the knee. Once I realized it was ITB, I knew how to treat it - massage the thigh muscles before exercise, stretch the hips and the outside of the leg, and the knee stops hurting.

Of course, on Wednesday I then pulled my right calf. But I was able to jog today.

Ben Gay is strong stuff. I have to be careful though, as the Ben Gay tube is the same size and shape as the KY Jelly.

Speaking of the KY, the cat is doing well, despite poor prognosis. She is up to two or three enemas a week, and we ran bloodwork that shows that in the last year her kidneys have started to fail. So, we gave the cat a budget for health care and had the vet teach us how to inject saline fluid under her skin. Poor kitty, and only 16 years old.

One of J's friends gave us a copy of Baldur's Gate and its sequel and expansions. I messed with it enough to confirm that, sure enough, you can win the game with any character class so long as you pick the right part. I then re-started with Falmar O'Shea, a cheap knock off of Elric of Melnibone but with a faux-Irish accent.

I need to work on job applications. I decided to look for some high-school teaching jobs as a backup plan to the college teaching. Adjuncting does not pay - I would be better off taking a desk job. I do like to teach, so I get to take the Praxis II exam in June. Seeing as how I could teach about half of the classes on the teacher-prep college curriculum, I don't expect much trouble - although I do feel the need to brush up on my econ and my poli-sci.

I have had to stop reading the lefty political blogs. I get all filled with outrage, and I want to read more and follow up - but I am not teaching, I don't need to stay up on current events, and it eats my time and energy from writing.

Speaking of which, I hear John Quincy Adams calling me. It is a querulous sort of voice.

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Red Ted
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May 06, 2005


J.'s office got a subscription to the Thursday night series at the Philadelphia Orchestra. They will be giving them up, as it turns out that few of their clients who like high culture are free for wooing on Thursday nights.

So, J. and I used the spare box seats last night and went to see some fiddle music. It was a nice date.

A couple of highlights:

There is little that is as inherently amusing as a tuba mute.

You can amuse yourself for hours watching the timpanist - picking drumsticks, setting his feet as he waits for his cue, lifting in the air as he goes BOOM BOOM BOOM and then stifles his drums, and then bowing down as if in prayer as he tweaks the tuning on the timpani for its next set of notes.

This was my first show in the Kimmel Center, and my first time to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra since the early years of Muti. My ear still expects to hear Ormandy's later years, with the lush sentimental strings and Mason Jones horn work. The current director is very dramatic, overly so in the early pieces, and the hall was, to my ear, tuned for bass viols, brass, and lower woodwinds. The flutes and violens sounded thin and whiney to me. Ah, but the brass!

There were no bagpipes.

It was a lot of fun, and the teenager from the neighborhood did a good job putting the boys to sleep. The boys were well-fed, in their pajamas, and primed to play nicely with her, and they were their usual good selves. Well done lads!

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Red Ted
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May 04, 2005

Alternate Fuel Lawnmower

I took a break from grading blue books this morning and used the alternate fuel lawnmower. I broke the connecting rod that hooks the motor to the cutting assembly last time I used it, and so I had to be careful going around corners. Luckily, Sears has a goofy on-line thing that lets you order parts by part number, and I still have the manual that shipped with the mower. New parts should be here in about a week.

Today the alternate fuel was raisin bran and a full pot of coffee. The usual alternate fuel is bread and jam.

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Red Ted
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