October 25, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 2.0 – 1.11.14

tulsaWhile you, my iMonk friends, are carefully removing your bagels and English muffins from the toaster, pouring your juice and coffee, and lounging around in your jammies, I, Chaplain Mike, am flying over the heartland on my way from Indianapolis to Tulsa, OK, to visit my friend and colleague Jeff Dunn. In last week’s installment of Saturday Ramblings, Jeff announced that he is leaving Internet Monk. I appreciate your prayers as I travel to say thank you and enjoy a couple days of mutual encouragement.

While I am navigating airports and air space, it’s your turn to ramble (in the metaphorical sense, of course — you can keep your jammies on).

It was well nigh impossible to ramble anywhere in the midwestern and eastern parts of the country, along with eastern portions of Canada this last week. Our high temperature here in Indianapolis on Monday, for example, was -9˚F (that’s minus freakin’ 9!) and we were snowed in during most of the week.

The “polar vortex” that blew across the land caused Donald Trump to call global warming “bull****,” prompting Eric Roston at Bloomberg to explain the phenomenon and why Trump’s comments were sillier than his hairdo. Rush Limbaugh chimed in and asserted that the whole “polar vortex” thing is a hoax cooked up by today’s liberal media to justify their support of that looney climate change theory. Then good ol’ Al Roker pulled his 1959 meteorology textbook off the shelf and found that the term had been explained way back then, proving — surprise! — that Rush had said something rash and unsupportable. “It’s Meteorology 101,” Roker tweeted. “No political agenda.”

Hands down, for this Chicago boy, the funniest take on the weather came from Scot McKnight.

Speaking of Chicago and the cold, I remember when we moved there to go to seminary in 1983. The Weather Gang at the Washington Post recalled that year too, and wrote an article to make those who are complaining about this winter feel like weenies. On Christmas Eve 1983, the temperature in Chicago was -25˚F and the wind chill was -82. We lived in a mobile home and I spent the next two weeks lying on my back on the frozen ground fixing broken pipes. Our little VW diesel froze up solid. I still have a bit of a habitual shiver.

What is the coldest, most uncomfortable winter weather you have endured?

braves-madduxIt was so cotton-picking cold this week that the only thing able to warm my heart was hearing that Greg Maddux was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot with 97.2% of the votes. As a lifelong Cubs fan (I know, I know. Just be quiet, please.), I consider losing Maddux to the Braves the worst deal for the Cubs in my lifetime. USA Today called him “baseball’s Rembrandt,” and Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports said it well: “Simply put, there was no one like Greg Maddux.” In my opinion, he may have been the best pure pitcher in baseball history.

The Christian Music Industry™ received a boost this week when Pepsi Mid America announced it has produced and distributed 12 million special edition cans featuring four contemporary Christian music artists: Matthew West on Pepsi, Francesca Battistelli on Diet Pepsi, Matt Maher on Dr. Pepper and TobyMac on Mountain Dew. Each can has a picture of the artist and a code for a free song download. PMA’s marketing director said they did this to provide something that fit the values of Pepsi drinkers in the U.S. Midwest. I guess that makes me a target customer. Why don’t I feel more excited about this?

While the snow was falling on Sunday, a lot — and I mean a lot — of folks were watching the season premiere of Downton Abbey. CNN reported that at least 10.2 million viewers tuned in, numbers unseen for a PBS premiere since the Ken Burns “Civil War” event nearly 25 years ago. I thought it might be fun to ask you iMonks who are devotees of Downton what character in the series you relate to most. Do you see yourself in one of the elite family members? One of the service staff? I warn you, if any of you say you identify with Barrow or O’Brien, I’m going to moderate your comments much more closely.

In one of my favorite blog posts of the week, Father Dwight Longenecker tells about his experience witnessing to the faith at a local Krispy Kreme donut shop. Seems everyone who came in while he was there noticed his priestly attire — his cassock and Benedictine scapular — and it prompted conversation after conversation. Who’d a-thunk it — sharing Jesus by being completely and intentionally irrelevant!

A reminder: Make sure you check out the iMonk Bulletin Board regularly (upper right hand corner of the page) for links to articles we think worthy of passing along. We don’t always agree with everything these articles say, but we hope you will find them challenging and thought-provoking. Links get updated once or twice during each week.

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Notable Birthdays this past week include: actors Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Nicolas Cage, Larry Storch, Ray Bolger, Rowan Atkinson, Rod Taylor, and Yvette Mimieux. And what a group of musicians deserved cake this week: David Bowie, R Kelly, Earl Scruggs, Joan Baez, Jimmy Page, Dave Matthews, Rod Stewart, Donald Fagen, Shawn Colvin, and Sam Phillips, whose little company called Sun Records changed pop culture history. Speaking of history, this week gave us such eminent folks as writers Carl Sandburg and Khalil Gibran, religious figures Sun Myung Moon and St. Bernadette, Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and U.S. presidents Millard Fillmore (#13) and Richard M. Nixon (#37), renowned agricultural scientist, educator, and humanitarian George Washington Carver, and philosopher William James.

Since Steely Dan’s Aja is one of my top five albums of all time, I will take this opportunity to wish Donald Fagen a happy birthday by posting my favorite song from that record: the sublime “Deacon Blues.” If you “want a name when [you] lose,” you’ll find it’s the pop equivalent of the theology of the cross. And oh, that sax.


  1. Worst weather I have ever experienced…

    Canadian Armed Forces winter survival exercise in 1981. Temperature hit -44 F, -62 with the windchill. Broke every record that weekend, and I was sleeping in a tent. I dug up the weather records a couple of years ago, just to make sure that I remembered the temperature correctly.

    Our tent has a little Coleman stove that we kept going through the night to make our tent liveable. My shift ended, I woke up the guy to replace me, and he promptly fell back asleep. It made for a very cold morning. The sleeping bags were pretty amazing though, they had four layers to them that kept the cold out and the heat in. Oh yeah, we pulled all of our equipment on a 200 pound sled while snowshoeing for 20 miles through the wilderness.

    Good times. Good times.

    • Reminded me of a Moldovan friend who said when he was a soldier he remembers night guard duty in the winter – they tied themselves to shovels pushed into the snow to stay upright when they fell asleep!

    • We had, in NW Arkansas, a string of severe winters by our standards in the late 70’s-mid80’s. I made my living producing livestock, so I spent a lot of time outside. Also heated our residence and the farrowing/nursery house with wood. I was in great shape….

  2. Please give Jeff a hug from me.

  3. I really enjoyed Father Dwight’s post. Really cool.

    Curious, though – why the “irrelevant” comment? I’m assuming you’re juxtaposing his story to hip-mainstream-inyourface evangelicalism (do correct me if I’m wrong). But don’t you see the rub? The good Father has a built-in conversation starter that most regular folk don’t get to take advantage of. This was my favorite part of being in seminary – having an automatically interesting/weird answer to “so what do you do?” – and when I’m (hopefully) ordained, I look forward to wearing a collar out in public so I can chat it up with the curious, nostalgic, needy, etc. If what the reverend did is intentionally anything, it’s clever.

    But for plain ol’ day-to-day Christians, who care to share Christ, it’s not as easy… hence the need for invitations and advertisements and tactics and cliches to be “intentional.” It’s a shame and we need to do so so SO much better, including learning from the wonderfully easygoing and curious posture Fr. Dwight took with his donut shop compatriots. But for those who don’t enjoy the privilege of displaying their faith so naturally, we should give grace and model maturity and neighborliness.

    Anyhow, major kudos to Fr. Dwight for using his position in the community lovingly & wisely.

    • We could start a new custom of tattooing a cross on our foreheads. That would sure be a conversation starter. 😉

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > I look forward to wearing a collar out in public so I can chat it up with the
      > curious, nostalgic, needy, etc.

      It is a great idea. It is a completely non-invasive non-intrusive way to make oneself available; so much more *inviting* than cornering people on the bus or on the train, or accosting people just out to get milk.

      > But for plain ol’ day-to-day Christians, who care to share Christ, it’s not as easy…
      > hence the need for invitations and advertisements and tactics and cliches to be “intentional.”

      “need” is a too strong a word. Being approached by some random religious guy in civies [no uniform – everyone knows what a Catholic collar looks like, etc…] on the street – first you have to try to figure out if he is a cult crazy or not [probably is]. It seems as though most Evangelicals are oblivious to how confrontational their “intentional” is. They almost completely miss the conduct ethic of a public space.

      Why is the idea that “If someone wants to talk to you – – – they WILL TALK TO YOU!” so impenetrable for some people. People like to talk.

      If nobody wants to talk to you, start with the mirror, not the other people.

      • Being approached by some random religious guy in civies [no uniform – everyone knows what a Catholic collar looks like, etc…] on the street – first you have to try to figure out if he is a cult crazy or not [probably is].

        Or Amway. Last time a stranger started chatting me up it was Amway.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Like ATW said above, Cult Crazy.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            Yep, Amway is a cult. I’ve even had those people come up while I was eating lunch [at a community table] sit down and start preaching the Holy Amways to me – while I was eating. It is very tempting to throw your food at them.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      “Curious, though – why the “irrelevant” comment?”

      My guess is that it is a reference to why priests and nuns trended away from wearing distinctive garb back in the 1960s or ’70s. The idea at the time was that the garb set them apart from the general populace, creating a barrier and rendering them irrelevant. Switching to civilian clothes let them interact better with the community. I don’t have a strong opinion on the notion. I am too young to have a good sense of how it had been before. They may have had a very good point, in the cultural context of the day. People do interact differently with clergy. I remember when I was in college (this would have been 1982 or ’83) when my father picked me up from the dorm at the beginning of some break. I usually took the bus, but he was in the area for some sort of ministerial conference. So he steps off the elevator and is striding down the hall in his black shirt and clerical collar. One of the guys is standing in the hall holding a beer. He sees this clergyman, and his instinctive reaction is to leap from the hall into a room and hide the beer. I had a hard time explaining that we were Lutheran, and he should have offered my Dad a beer rather than hiding it.

      That being said, times have changed. I like the idea of distinctive garb, for the reasons people have given.

      • Nuns were burdened with full habits, including wimples and veils, all through the summer months. The simplified veil that most orders switched to was a to send, along with the ability to wear simple black and white clothing to work and official functions. And yes, the old habits really did setnuns apart… Am sure this is true for men wearing clericals, but at least their attire was more practical – not a holdover from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

  4. Weather: I lived on Lake Erie, and then south of it, in the lake effect snow belt, during undergrad and for a few years after. By no means was it as bad as Duluth or Chicago, but it felt like Frostbite Falls almost all the time during winter. Not an experience I’d care to repeat.

    Downtown Abbey: not a fan, though I do like Maggie Smith and the way she plays her role. The characterization seems a bit one-dimensional on the whole, though. I like the original (1970s) series “Upstairs, Downstairs” much better – some episodes are sub-par, but there’s much more depth to it. Good contrast between the two groups of people, especially in the WWI episodes. Downtown fell totally flat there.

    • I’m not a fan of DA either, but I did watch much of this season’s first episode with wife.

      Maggie Smith’s character seems to be much more humane this time around.

      • Yes, she’s got something to play besides snappy one-liners. Good to see, although I don’t expect it to continue.

    • Feeling left out of the Downton Abbey craze because the [expletive deleted] digital broadcast conversion won’t let us get PBS very often. Have only seen one episode. And I’m too cheap to get a dish.

      But I’m with Numo that Upstairs, Downstairs is one of the best series EVER.

      • Get a Roku box and stream the PBS channel to your TV.there’s a one-day delay for streaming, but at least you could actually watch their programs, plus Netflix and more.

        • Thanks for the suggestion. I may try that, because we’re about to get a flat-screen TV as a combination Christmas/anniversary present, planning to plug a laptop into it for streaming Hulu. It looks like Roku may be a short cut.

          By the way, besides Downton Abbey, another great British reason to own a TV is Doc Martin. Available on Hulu, thank God.

          • Hey, you get that Roku and try out the Acorn TV app – the latest season of Doc Martin is available there. It ran on Monday evenings and for now, is an Acorn exclusive.

          • Roku is dead simple and more versatile for online TV than a laptop, imo…

          • Get one with 4 or more HDMI inputs. Trust me on this one.

            Roku. Then AppleTV. Then Chromecast. Then a BlueRay player. That’s 4.

    • Loved Upstairs, Downstairs. One of the best TV shows ever. Thankfully, it can still be watched on either Netflix or youtube.

      Downton Abbey is very good and worth watching; I patiently waited for this season’s first episode. I was a little disappointed, but enjoyed it nonetheless. Here’s hoping they don’t jump the shark this season.

  5. I’m hoping you two’s mutual support involves something relaxing and fun. No baseball games this time of year, even in AZ.

    On Sunday, before it got super cold, I cleared the snow from the back of the alley for my garage and my neighbor’s (detached garage, it’s a Chicago and near burbs thing). Even then, when I faced north, I faced a bitter, chill wind. Once that task was done, I stayed inside until Wed when it started to warm up.

    Worst weather I remember was in the winter of 1976/1977. Lots and lots of snow in central IL. And in Chicago, I think that might have been the snow that did in Bilandic.

  6. I live in California. Our “worst weather” pales in comparison. The worst I’ve ever encountered is when some unwrapped pipes burst during a bout of 30-degree weather, and the downpour wrecked the office fax machine. Big deal.

    I’ve always found it strange that Christians, who claim to believe Adam’s fall opened up a vortex of sin upon the world and (thanks to Christ, reparably) wrecked the planet, can’t fathom that human pollution can likewise damage our world. Maybe it’s cause they figure the Fall was an ontological change, not a physical one. But it was indeed a physical one, for human death entered the world. In any event, the basis for their belief isn’t a theological one; it’s self-interest as usual. The Fall caused climate change too.

    Incidentally my favorite track on Aja is “Time Out of Mind.” It easily gets stuck in my head. It’s stuck there now.

    • Waitaminnit… “Time Out of Mind” is on Gaucho. My mistake. My favorite on Aja is the title track.

    • The reason why so many Christians have become captive to the denial of human caused climate change is because they first, and strangely, became captive to the ideas of the economic philosophy of laissez faire capitalism. Which is also the reason why the philosophy of Ayn Rand, despite her atheism, has found popularity among some evangelical church leaders. And the reason they’ve come under the influence of capitalism is because they distrust government and its regulations, a distrust that has historically existed among Christians who had to live under governments that were wed to different versions of Christianity or different religions, but which has metastasized and became borderline paranoid now that government has become secular in many places and Christians find themselves no longer in the seat of power.

      • So true, Robert F. So true.

      • “Which is also the reason why the philosophy of Ayn Rand, despite her atheism, has found popularity among some evangelical church leaders.” Hmm. Can’t seem to recall one name, can you?

        • Of course he can’t. It’s a typical Cultural Marxist rant. They think they can control not only you and me, but the weather too.

          • Goes along with this particular rant: “Fox News, blah, blah, blah…Rush Limbaugh, yada, yada, yada…Tea Party, natter, natter, natter…Religious Right, blah, blah, blah”. And on criticism of the OTHER side of the spectrum: “(SILENCE!)”

          • Maybe the “other side” just doesn’t stick their feet in their mouths so regularly and spectacularly.

          • So, if I’m not a “Greed is Good” capitalist, then I of course must be a Communist Manifesto-toting Red Marxist? Can anyone say “reactionary,” Comrade Clark? Can anyone say Red Scare?

          • Why is it that so many in communist Cuba would prefer moving to the US? “Red Scare” is not so much the reason my family left and came here, it was more like “Red Reality”!

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            Right.. because between Revolutionary Marxism, Castro-style Latin Communism, and totalitarian-justification-of-the-week … and …. healthcare reform, food stamps, and public transportation [because somehow ***ROADS DON’T COUNT**** ???] … yeah … there is no daylight whatsoever between those sets of things. Bull @^$&^@*&$ crap. If A==B for someone, they need medication.

          • CalvinCuban,

            I respect your opinion and experience, and I’m no lover of Communism, which has murdered and oppressed more people than any other form of government in human history, but the knee-jerk reaction exhibited by Clark’s comment is evidence that anti-Communism can be rabidly dogmatic and paranoid. “They think they can control not only you and me….” Please; how did I become part of the ubiquitous and evasive “They”? Clark’s inability to discern any gray areas between the most extreme alternatives on the continuum, that’s how.

            Clark should heed Nietzsche’s advice to be careful lest he become what he beholds…

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > Clark’s inability to discern any gray areas between the most extreme alternative

            I object to any other position being termed “grey areas”. This implies they exist on some continuum or axis between light and dark [good and evil]. This is (a) not true and (b) a debilitating way to think about policy issues – it makes compromise between parties seem “dirty” and makes all activism and activists automatically suspect [don’t we have enough conspiracy nonsense].

            These things are not “grey”, A is A, and B is B, and every other variable is itself as well.

            Policy is not Spiritual Warfare, it is trying to solve problems.

          • Give me a break, Adam. Using the term grey may indeed not be the best way to talk about it, but your criticism suggests that using that word is itself tantamount to an evil act. Really?

            How’s this: Clark’s inability to discern any colors on the visible spectrum between the most extreme alternatives of red and violet….

            That better?

          • Adam,
            Btw, ” Bull @^$&^@*&$ crap” certainly makes it sound like warfare of some kind.

          • CalvinCuban: It’s true that a lot of Cubans would like to come to the US. But why also the Mexicans, Dominicans, Haitians, etc, etc? They are not living in communist countries.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            Robert F,
            > Btw, ” Bull @^$&^@*&$ crap” certainly makes it sound like warfare of some kind.

            Yes, it does. Because it is. It is nothing short of warfare for those who can’t see the distance between these sets of items. I accept that, it is warfare between them and pretty much everyone else. But it is warfare because they demand that it is so; if they so demand it then it is senseless for others to deny that such is their demand. If someone “declares war” on me, then war has been declared, my denying it will profit nothing except conceding the position of sense. Things should not be as confrontational as they are – but they are so because someone has demanded the confrontation.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            Robert F,
            > Give me a break, Adam. Using the term grey may indeed not be the best way to talk
            > about it, but your criticism suggests that using that word is itself tantamount to an
            > evil act. Really?\

            Really? I called it evil? I did not. I do not think the terminology is illustrative. And terminology is very important. Is not the `gridlock` and confrontationalism a testament to that? I am completely convinced that sloppy rhetoric and often just at a poor choice of words feeds this. “grey” is a very Moral term to many people – that may be regional, but in Western Michigan referring to a “grey area” will get many hackles, or at least sensors, up and running. “grey” has a built-in moral connotation; which many of these topics, mostly techocratic, do not warrant.

            > How’s this: Clark’s inability to discern any colors on the visible spectrum between the most
            > extreme alternatives of red and violet….

            Works better for me. But, honestly, I do not know how best to describe it. I am baffled, simply baffled, by how the Food Stamps & Health Care= Marxist Communism thing works. Like… what???? Other than thinking “They cleary have ZERO NADA NILL idea what Marxist Communism is” I don’t know what to make of it. But any terminology that grants any credibility to such a position is just fallacious and only adds more bile to already poisoned water.

            I mean the Castro regime just this year decided to loosen regulations and tariffs on the import of automobiles…. the USA has been a signatory to NAFTA for more than a decade. A is B? Sorry, that’ is just whack.

            > That better?

            Yes. Put “extreme alternative between periwinkle and fuchsia” has more of a ring to it.

          • There are grey areas. My father, who was fired in mid 1960 from his position as a production foreman for PepsiCola simply because he objected to the nationalization of the company, was a lifelong socialist and big-time union supporter. He had to leave because his objection branded him a “counter-revolutionary” (catch-all phrase for “you disagree with us therefore you’re an enemy of the state”). He was tried in abstentia and sentenced to ten years in prison (or was it five, can’t quite remember). So, he remained in this grey area for life where he hated Marxism but promoted European style socialism.

            As for Mexicans and others wanting to come here, their reasons are mostly economic. I’m not saying those are invalid reasons, just that in our case it was to escape political oppression.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > My father, who was fired in mid 1960 from his position as a production foreman for
            > PepsiCola simply because he objected to the nationalization of the company, was a
            > lifelong socialist and big-time union supporter. He had to leave because his objection
            > branded him a “counter-revolutionary”

            That was *IN CUBA*.

            Applying this kind of thinking to policies in the United States is not rational.

        • Oscar,

          Thinking about it for a little while now, and I suspect you’re probably right: there are few if any evangelical leaders who’d actually pick up “Atlas Shrugged” and base their next sermon on it. “Howard Roark laughed” just can’t hold a candle to “In the beginning was the Word” as a way to start a book. Objectivism is pretty thin gruel, as I learned during the obligatory 3 months I was influenced by it in my mid-20s.

          However, if one puts the particular figure of Rand aside, I think it still is true that you don’t get very far in most evangelical circles if you criticize capitalism, except in its most blinged-out forms. (One might be labeled a cultural Marxist, say.) Since the main objection (Objectionism??) to global warming seems, quite clearly, to arise from the very real concern that it may cost money to address, the best shortcut is simply to disparage the science. It’s this underlying attachment to the economic dimension, rather than any actual anti-scientific attitudes, that leads some to suggest a Randian motivation, but it’s surely just commonplace American values at work.

          It’s also a bit difficult to square Rand’s foot-in-the-face attitude towards the downtrodden with Christ’s message. No one in any evangelical church would say, “The poor are not welcome here!” even as the actual way things are structured may scream, “Come ye that are prosperous suburban professionals, and I will give you rest.” Rand would just simply tell the poor to get a job and to leave her alone. So, again, blaming some churches’ clubishness on Rand misses the mark, even while identifying a very real problem.

          • Since the main objection (Objectionism??) to global warming seems, quite clearly, to arise from the very real concern that it may cost money to address, the best shortcut is simply to disparage the science.

            I rub elbows with a lot of folks who deny. It’s not really ab out the money although it plays a part after their main reason. That is that us little people just can’t be causing something as huge as the Earth to be changed. Just can’t. Reagan was of that belief. Now you ask them to pay to fix something that THEIR common sense can’t be true and you start to get folks riled.

            As to the arguing back and forth. Much of the sound and fury seems to come from folks on BOTH sides who don’t understand the science and just re-iterate the talking points they like. And when asked to back them up just start yelling that you must be a fundamentalist/atheist/liberal/Christian/LeftWingNut/RightWingBigot/whatever.

        • Oscar,

          Your criticism regarding not referencing a single name is fair; I’ll confess to parroting what I’ve read on this site. I’ll be happy to retract my statement about Rand’s influence over evangelicals leaders. But my comment about the evangelical Christian tendency to distrust government, and its fallout in inordinate support for capitalism, and resulting resistance to governmental attempt to rein in human produced climate change, stands.

          FYI, I’m more than willing to make common cause with my brothers and sisters on the right in stating that I distrust over-reaching government, even when the cause motivating the over-reach is a good one. For instance, I think universal healthcare is a wonderful goal for our nation, even as I think the Affordable Healthcare Act is an example of government over-reach, and a not so slow moving debacle. Unless the plan was to scuttle the existing insurance dispensation in order to destroy it and replace it with something completely new, in which case AHA is a singular destructive success that will clear the way for a nationalized healthcare 15 years down the road. But oh what suffering will occur on the way to that objective, and the ends don’t justify the means.

      • Robert F, you forgot the sad fact that most (under a certain age) have no real understanding of many basic concepts re. science…

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          And what would that age be? I know an enormous number of younger well educated and well informed persons with nuanced positions on a panoply of issues.

          • I was thinking of people who were fed a steady diet of YEC, Adam, and didnt specify… The thing is, that really took off in the early-mid 80s. So people born before then are far less likely to have had to endure none science presented as being scientific fact/truth.

          • YEC took off in the 80’s? Seriously? I was under the impression this sort of cosmology pre-dated evolutionary science by millennia. Am I missing something?

          • Miguel – I’m referring to the kind of YEC thinking that Chaplain Mike has written about extensively on this site, particularly as it applies to many within the homeschooling movement. I don’t have links handy, but am sure you can find the relevant series. The wartbur Watch also has quite a bit of material on this.

            It came up last week in comments here as well – the kind of YEC informed by Seventh Day Adventist “prophet” Ellen White’s visions, and how those ideas have been incorporated into the current wave of YEC beliefs, by Ken Ham and many others. It’s in the post on the debate between Ham and Bill Nye.

          • Numo, I grew up in that environment and was probably influenced by all of the above, but I had no idea SDA’s and Ellen White had anything to do with it! That’s an interesting twist on the history of ideas as I thought I knew it. I usually don’t follow YEC debates too closely ’cause I’m not really invested in either extreme, I see believing in young and old earths as compatible under a big tent sort of orthodoxy, even though I lean young. But this background story sounds worth reading up on, especially seeing as how YEC has some strongholds in the LCMS. Yikes!

          • In my mind (I was born in 54) I think things transitioned from “God made the earth about 6000 years ago in a miracal” to the earth is 6000 years old and here’s the science to prove it.”

        • I’ve come to the curmudgeon mind set that most of any age don’t understand much in the way of science except what they remember from that 9th grade class.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > Which is also the reason why the philosophy of Ayn Rand, despite her atheism

        As someone who flirted with Randianism in my youth there is a more complex mix of things at play. Rand’s description of the world DOES MATCH what a lot of people FEEL – especially those who also feel they are on the Outside [if that feeling is warranted or not is a different question, it is there, regardless]. It also melds well with a very aggressive `testosterone` confrontational cowboy kind of meme that is very prevalent in the America over-culture; she is Up-By-Your-Bootstraps writ large. She also tells a great yarn.

        In contrast most of the Literature of the traditional Left is ****HORRRRRIBLE****, often dreary and just creepy. but if you do not believe in the uber-man conquering hero… some types of Literature become harder to write.

        • Yes, things are certainly more complex then my comment made them. But the idea that Rand tells a good yarn is just preposterous to me. “The Fountainhead” was a pretentious philosophy dissertation masquerading as literature, full of wooden dialogue and stick figure characters. You can’t seriously compare it with the masterly philosophical fiction of Camus, or Sartre, for that matter, who in the second half of his life made common cause with the Left.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > “The Fountainhead” was a pretentious philosophy dissertation masquerading as literature,

            I read the Fountainhead years ago – I still remember some of the characters and scenes, so it was effective as literature at least that much. I wouldn’t say it was great; but I know many people – not Randians my any means – you enjoyed and reference both Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

          • Yes, and I’m sure that many people (perhaps not a few Christians among them) will remember characters and scenes from Fifty Shades of Grey (the word “grey” as used here is a completely independent of and has no connection with the use of the same word in the above comments…. I promise) many decades hence. I have only one thing to say to that: “Call me Ishmael.”

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            >will remember characters and scenes from Fifty Shades of Grey

            Which means: 50 shades succeeded as Literature. We can both get a beer and commiserate/shudder about it, but there it is. I know a really great pub not far from here.. 🙂

          • Sounds good….too bad I don’t….make that can’t drink.

            Btw, as I was using the word grey that you objected to in the above comment, I wondered if it wasn’t a wrong choice of word, given the fact that it plays off the black/white alternatives, which tend to equate to good/evil, but I was being lazy, and told myself it was okay because I was just using the term to denote gradations between two separate points, A and B, as you say. And so if only I had heeded my own best instincts, we could have avoided this whole excursion into the discussion of the deficiency of my terminology. I accept the correction, since, as you say, terminology is important.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I’ve always found it strange that Christians, who claim to believe Adam’s fall opened up a vortex of sin upon the world and (thanks to Christ, reparably) wrecked the planet, can’t fathom that human pollution can likewise damage our world.

      Or they figure “It’s All Gonna Burn(TM)”, fulfills some End Time Prophecy, and The Rapture is coming before it can personally affect them.

      “I’ll be Gone… I’ll be Gone…”

  7. I miss Jeff already. Coldest weather I had….Helena, Montana in 1997 where it got -42 during an ice blast. Man I remember leaving my dorm and being hit by cold wind!!

    I like snow!! I LOVE snow….its the people in DC who don’t know how to deal with it that gets me. But in Wisconsin, and Montana snow was a part of life.

    • now that’s the truth! The reason it gets so danged awful when ice and snow descends on Memphis or Raleigh is because these people don’t know how to deal with it so it’s far worse for them. Plus they seem to bury their water pipes like, what, an inch deep?

    • I grew up just outside DC and part of my driver training for snowy conditions included ‘before you pull out into traffic, check for diplomatic plates” Good advice for any time really, but brought home when a family from Kenya moved in next door and were a little overwhelmed by the experience.

  8. Coldest weather, eh?

    That would be the winter of 2002-2003 in Taiyuan in Shanxi Province. It was my first time in China, and I was spending the hols teaching English with a couple of fellow compatriots at a middle school there. We were there for about a month-and-a-half and were hoping to get out at weekends to see some places of historical and cultural significance in and around the city. A couple of the regular teachers at the school helped with this.

    One particular weekend, our plans had to be suspended. The roads were frozen over, we were told. Well, we weren’t going to let a little thing like that get in the way! We were Australians with limited time, and no frozen road would lose us a weekend of potential cultural enrichment! So, failing to take the hint, we decided to make a trip to a traditional-style park which lay within the bounds of the city. When we arrived there, we discovered it was rather cold and the park was, unsurprisingly, empty. Still undaunted, but also shivering uncontrollably, we decided to go for a bit of a jog around the park to warm up. This, contrary to our expectations, had absolutely no effect. So. somewhat crestfallen and having seen very little of the park, we returned to the warmth of our apartments.

    Later, we discovered the temperature had been -24C. Not sure what that is in Fahrenheit, but it was colder than I’ve been before or since. These days I stay out of the north in winter. It’s chilly in Wuhan, but nothing like that. We haven’t even had snow yet this year. And I’m not unhappy about that.

    • That would be -11F. My own coldest weather, experienced in northern Michigan, was a thermometer reading of -28C, with a windchill factor of -56C. It didn’t help that we were about 500 feet from the shores of Lake Michigan, with nary a tree in between.

  9. Downton is horrible, horrible horrible. Its Tory pap, meant to remind us that our betters only have our best interests at heart.

    • Coronation Street is a much more interesting soap for us lessers.

    • Not being a Brit, I don’t see it that way. I don’t think it shows the “upper class” as being any better than those who serve them. What it DOES show is the stultified and ossified class structure at that time in the U.K. . But take heart, the Great Depression and WW II will begin to even things out. Even so, there are probably vestiges of that same thinking left in society today, no?

      • Julian Fellows, whose show it is, is an open and unabashed admirer of the aristocracy…

        • His mother, however, was in service and badly mistreated.

        • Well, here in the States I have yet to speak to a “Downton” fan who doesn’t relate more with the help than with the aristocracy. It probably depends on prevailing culture, custom and country.

          • I’m sure that’s true in the UK as well, but they’re much more conscious of things in the scripts that go right over our heads. Am sure there are plenty of things I’ve missed!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        In America, the hot-button divide is Race.
        In England, the hot-button divide is Class.

      • The upper class of Downton have NEVER done anything bad to the lower orders. They have ALWAYS looked out for them, they have always helped them, they have always been kind. Bad actions only over originate from the lower classes to the upper classes. NEVER the other way round.

        • That’s how they view themselves. There are obvious parallels with the antebellum South, over here.

      • I just adore DA. It’s my one must-watch-or-record show of the week. My favorite character *was* Sibyl (sob). But I took a quiz and found out I am most like Lord G. (Since I handle money badly, I admit there are resemblances.)


        Of course I do not take the DA class relations as a documentary picture of reality, and I can’t imagine anyone doing so. I just like the costumes and the little subplots and of course, those great British accents. Such a refreshing change from the cop shows and explosions, or the really disgusting sitcom vulgarity, of American television.

        The last show that hooked me like this was Lost. Same reasons for enjoyment (minus the accents, of course).

        • I am also a fan of the show and the interplay of characters……and I am head-over-heels in love with “Call the Midwife” for the same reasons. Of course, as a nurse, the medical stuff in the latter PBS show also grabs my attention.

          In DA, I don’t see a glorification of the upper classes, but instead a way of life that is dying and doesn’t yet know that fact. Human beings are universally wierd and self-focused (I know that I am a fruitcake….) and the manner in which this is presented is high quality entertainment..

          • I love “Call the Midwife,” but it’s an entirely different kind of show, and has very good scripts and character development. by contrast, I feel like DA is being made up from week to week – unlike, say, “Upstairs, Downstairs,” which was *so* carefully developed for character, plot and continuity. (Some really bad episodes aside!)

      • Oscar. well said. the uppers at DA are really going to feel it yet with the looming depression, WWII and the death of the empire.

  10. Give Jeff a hug and share a bottle with him let him know that he has made a positive difference in another’s life and walk. Shalom

  11. flatrocker says

    Coldest Weather…

    When I told my wife she’s too focused on her own needs.

    Damn blizzard lasted for two weeks.

  12. We lived in the Chicagoland area, too, in 1983. That is the coldest I ever remember. We took off on Christmas day to see family in another city. The car didn’t work well in that cold, but we did make it. We left a bottle of wine in the car overnight, however, and it froze. That is cold!

    I like Downton Abbey! Soap opera-ish, yes, but classy soap opera. Several key players have quit the show making a few awkward transitions (Matthew!!!) but I hate to miss it. Even my husband has become hooked. I relate to the lower crowd, I think, more than the upper although that upper class amazes me in their belief that they really are better people. I have a few wealthy relatives who definitely have that same mindset.

    • I believe that mindset still exists in some segments of British society. There are still “landed” titles that some hold and they are resented fiercely by the lower classes. I remember watching a UK detective drama that featured a titled male chief detective (DCI) partnered with a female mere detective (DI). She dismissively referred to him as a “ponce”, obviously a dismissive term. Some of our British readers may clear this up.

      • Ah, you speak of Detective Inspector Lynley (aka Earl of Asherton) & Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, by Elizabeth George, in the original novels. Yes there still exists in some isolated places, amongst those who do not mix with their lowers & betters, a sense of personal superiority & grandeur, left over from the days of believing that the Lord Almighty created them as an upper class to rule over the peasants. That was the ordained order. Lynley breaks the mould in that despite all his privilege, he chooses to serve as a Police Officer, thus serving the public. And yes, ‘ponce’ is dismissive, with overtones of weak, effeminate, dandified, up himself…& so on.

        Class is still an issue in some places, in others it is utterly irrelevant. I speak as one from a family that spans the classes – upper middle class English Barrister Father (son & grandson of Judges) & Dublin working class Mother…met while she nursed him in hospital. Not a match that would have happened in their parents generation.

        And please send my best to Jeff, what a great help your visit will be.

    • I’m also voting for the winter of 1983. I lived in Ann Arbor, Mich. at the time. Coldest day I remember was -24F, but lots of days below zero and even more from 0-10F that winter. [Spring came in, what, mid-April that year?] I still remember hearing the electric transmission wires outside our apartment building buzzing on the -24 day, and the way the snow crunched in an entirely different way at that temperature.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > I’m also voting for the winter of 1983

        Yes, I remember that one. Being ~12 years old in Michigan that year was fantastic. Tons of fun, very little school. We had several lakes frozen solid, people driving all over them, as well as sleigh races… good times.

  13. I am an Downton Abbey fan, but I found the first hour of the two hour show this season plodded. The second hour picked up a bit. I like the characters you would “expect” me to like, I guess…Mr. Bates, Anna, Mrs. Hughes, Tom Branson I do get a kick out of Maggie Smith’s character too, Violet Crawley. I don’t like Mary…she is rude and condescending.

    That was a great take on the cold weather from Scot McKnight! I can relate. After so much below zero weather here in Maine, 10 degrees felt wonderful! I walked around town with my jacket unzipped and my face turned toward the sun. Ahhhh! Some of the worst weather I remember was when we were living in the very cold log cabin on this property before we built this kit log home. It was VERY drafty and when it was 27 below zero, it was bad. The pipes would freeze and I had to go into the drafty dirt floor crawl space under the house with a hair dryer to warm the pipes up. We put heat tape on them and still had problems. I do not miss that at all.

    I like Father Longenecker’s blog too. I particularly liked the Lutheran’s comment to him: ““You look real sharp in that outfit.” 🙂 I bet it perks people’s interest when they find out he is a Catholic priest with a wife and children!

  14. The worst weather might be driving through interior Alaska in early January, from Anchorage to Nenana (near Fairbanks, about 300 miles straight north of Anchorage). It was below zero, snowing, and foggy. I drove right by Mount McKinley and couldn’t see it. I drove between mountains on passes with so much wind my 87 Pontiac stopped on the bridge, and later almost slid off the side. It was light for about 3 1/2 hours of the trip, and once you got about an hour north of Anchorage it was quite desolate. And it was awesome.

  15. We Evangelical pastors have nothing particular to wear, not even during the service! That is, unless you consider a Hawaiian shirt and skinny jeans “particular.” Any suggestions for the liturgically challenged?

    Apparently vicars in England are quite particular about their attire. Fr. Ernesto shared this a while back on his blog. It’s called the “Clergy Catwalk – Vicar Fashion Show” and it’s a must-see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIBeiFzl3do

  16. Coldest winter? Central Asia at 7,600 feet was cold — it never got up to 0 degrees F. in January, which is no fun with an outhouse — but it doesn’t compare with Upstate NY in 1975-1976. I was at boarding school there, in the French dorm that year, which was almost a half mile from the rest of the campus. All the other buildings were connected by tunnels (Never a snow day there!), but we had to walk. With the windchill, it was -64 degrees. That spring was cold, too. It snowed at the end of May, and in June the pale blue of our skin toned well with our white graduation gowns.

    And here the British comedy team of Armstrong and Miller set us straight on global warming. Someone forward it to Rush.

    • Damaris, you beat me to that video by minutes! I had just copied/pasted the link to put up here.

      “Still, I’m sure it will average out statistically to indicate a long-term warming trend.” 😀

  17. My wife (who grew up in Chicago) remembers episodes of this polar vortex variety every now and then.

    Weather changes. Climate changes. It always has…and it always will. Our efforts to change it are like spitting in the ocean for what might be accomplished.

    But we are always suckers for the next big scare.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Yes we are suckers for the next big scare. Including the one that the current concern overclimate change is a plot…

    • Yes …I see…they say that we are “warming”…and that that causes colder weather.


      I may have been born at night. But it wasn’t last night.


      In the seventies it was the next ice age is coming…and The Population Bomb…they fizzled out so let’s try this to make a few bucks and get those lucrative govt. grants.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        I really hate to tell you this, but you are displaying your ignorance for the world to see. Average temperatures have gone up, stepwise, for a while now, at a above average rate of change. This does not mean that it is uniformly warmer across the planet. Also, you are essentially keeping more energy in the system, thus the potential for instabilities, with diverse effects, increase. The data is pretty clear. I do think though that as with any nonlinear system, predicitons are perilous.

        Never confuse weather with climate.

        The global cooling thing in the seventies was not widely supported in the scientific community.

        Note: I am not a climitologist, but a geologist, with a special interest in applied geostatistics (among others). I do understand the effect of long-term climate change somewhat, plus the significance of statistics about the natural world.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Klasie, I’m old enough to remember the Global Cooling Crisis of the Seventies. On all the media, using almost the same hype as Global Warming/Climate Change today.

          What touched it off was Antarctic ice core analyses showing that Ice Ages began a LOT more abruptly than anyone had previously thought — in a matter of years (decades max) instead of centuries or millenia. This discovery was made during the middle of a short-term cooling trend. And the panic was on, over all the media. “THE SKY IS FALLING!!!! THE SKY IS FALLING!!! WE HAVE TO DO *SOMETHING*!!!!! URGENT!!!!! URGENT!!!!!! URGENT!!!!!! URGENT!!!!!!”

          I remember the solutions — massive use of thermonuclear weapons to melt The Coming Ice Sheets; dusting the entire Arctic with lampblack to absorb heat and melt the Growing Polar Cap; putting as much CO2 into the atmosphere as possible to increase the Greenhouse Effect and melt The Coming Ice Sheets.

          I remember the TV “documentary” about the Coming Global Cooling — “THE SKY IS FALLING!!! THE SKY IS FALLING!!!” — with its ending scene: A globe of the Earth slowly being buried by snowfall, while an Ominous Voice Intoned “One Spring, the winter snow Will Not Melt. That Is How IT!!! WILL!!!! BEGIN!!!!!”

          Anyone over 50-something in the US would remember that. And after that URGENT! URGENT! URGENT! Crisis (and the continuous stream of others since), you’re going to have an uphill fight convincing them that this time The Sky Really IS Falling.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            HUG, a study of the scientific literature between 1965 and 1979 indicates that those supporting cooling were outnumbered 6:1 by those that supported warming. It was never a major scientific thesis, but that of course did not stop sensationalism in the media.


          • Richard Hershberger says

            “On all the media, using almost the same hype as Global Warming/Climate Change today.”

            This is your mistake: judging scientific opinion by the media hype it generates. Global climate change in either direction is just the sort of flashy idea the media latches on to. This has little relation to either its being true or its being generally accepted within the scientific community.

            What is different today is that there is a genuine scientific consensus. Yes, you can find some guy wearing a lab coat who says otherwise. He might even have some sort of relevant scientific training. “Consensus” does not mean unanimity. Another difference that the organizations with actual skin in the game take it very seriously. I don’t mean hippie co-ops. I mean the Department of Defense, insurance companies. and the like. The organizations denying it also have skin in the game, on the other side: carbon-based energy industries, or an ideological ax to grind.

          • No. YOu are old enough to IMAGINE that your remember the global cooling crisis.


          • HUG, I REMEMBER!

          • I also remember that in the 70’s the constant mantra was that we only have a 15 year supply of oil left.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            No. YOu are old enough to IMAGINE that your remember the global cooling crisis.

            Oceania has never been at war with Eurasia, Comrade.
            Ees Party Line.

          • No, comrade. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia. It is Eastasia that Oceania has never been at war with. We have been through this before.

          • Should I pretend to be surprised that HUG refuses to look at actual evidence and instead repeats his nonsense phrases as if they mean anything?

      • Richard Hershberger says

        “Yes …I see…they say that we are “warming”…and that that causes colder weather.”

        The Parable of the Great Hall:

        There once was a great hall. Many people used it, but in truth, it was drafty and hard to heat in the winter. There was a stove at the east end, but even going full blast only the east end of the hall was comfortable. After some years, the stove had clearly reached the end of its useful life, so that summer the people took it out and put in a new one. They decided to put in a larger stove, to better warm the hall. There wasn’t space in the old location at the east end, so the new, larger stove was installed at the west end. The following winter they found that it still didn’t make the entire hall comfortable, but now the center and the west end were warm.

        There was an old man who spent his days in the hall sitting in his chair. The people, out of deference to his age, always made room for him at the east end by the small stove. After the new stove was installed, he insisted on still sitting at the east end, as that was where he always sat. He loudly complained, as he sat shivering, that the new stove was a fraud. If, after all, the hall was warmer, how could it be that his favored spot was colder?

      • NO. There was no global cooling idea that gained the consensus of scientific opinion. Every time you say that there was, you are lying.

        • Richard Hershberger says

          I vaguely remember the idea occasionally bandied about in middlebrow science popularizations and science fiction. I also remember warming similarly being bandied about. I don’t think any serious climate scientist thought they had either the data or the theoretical chops (or computing power) to make any sort of prediction. It was something that might make for an interesting “ideas” article in Popular Science. My guess is that the modern meme started from one of those articles and spun it into something it was not even close to actually being.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says


        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          NO. There was no global cooling idea that gained the consensus of scientific opinion. Every time you say that there was, you are lying.

          “You do not exist.”
          That was doublethink.

  18. IPCC confirmed in its fifth assessmernt report from last September:IPCC confirmed in its fifth assessmernt report from last September – There has been no statistically significant warming in the last one and half decades. […]

    Thus global warming has stopped – and has done so even while CO2 emissions have increased unhindered.

    You can google the report.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      I did google it. Nlte that this is part 1 of 3, with thefinal report coming out later this year. I scanned the report, and did not find any statement supporting what you said.

      A common mistake people make is to suppose that the change is a consistent linear change. Looking at the graphs one can see several steps – ie, sudden sharp change upward, then a period of stability at a higher average, then amother change, then another stable period at an even higher average etc. The long-term trend is still upward…

    • Steve — You can’t imagine that a geologist like Klasie is going to notice a time span of a decade and a half! Even to a medievalist like me it’s an insignificant amount of time. Compared with a tweet, yes, fifteen years seems long; compared with the spans of recorded or geologic history, it’s nothing. It certainly does not provide us with a conclusive data set about climate trends.

  19. “What is the coldest, most uncomfortable winter weather you have endured?”

    We had a pretty rough one here in Southern California about 30 years ago.

    I remember having to put on a sweatshirt one windy night to fix some dangling Christmas lights.

    I think it was down around 52…with the wind chill.

    • One of my friends from childhood was posting on facebook about the extreme winter conditions in southern CA. Cracked a lot of us up, the way he wrote about the mild discomfort and the fact that it was too cold to even wear just shorts to the beach.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      First, SoCal does NOT have winter weather.
      We have a Rainy Season instead. (The remainder of the year is Fire Season.)
      Think “WETTEST, most uncomfortable winter weather” instead.

      For me, it’d be the Big Rain of 1969, when storm after storm hit the SoCal coast in a continuous barrage. Didn’t stop raining — HARD — for three whole months. First time I ever heard the word “mudslide” as canyons and waterfront property literally slid downhill en masse. And only time I’ve ever seen the flood control basins full to capacity and “rivers” (actually concrete-lined dry washes) overflowing.

      Second would be that Pineapple Express between five and ten years ago, where major roads and railroad tracks were washed out up and down the state, including that big landslide that buried most of a small town along the 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara.

      • I remember those events.

        Aside from the property damage caused and any harm to people…I like those episodes of REAL weather.

        We get so little of it.

        Current temp. here in ‘chilly’ Newport Beach – 68 degrees. But the windchill makes it feel like 67.

  20. Coldest Weather? Not so much physically, but spiritually when in deep depression some years ago. God is seeing me through, though. Fav Downton character? The Butler. I see my walk like his through tradition being changed and his difficulty handling those moments. I see my walk in life and with God being the same journey, realizing after my complaining, the view of God is improving in my heart. Sidebar: Not knowing Jeff, yet knowing his descriptions of struggle make me a brother in the mutual journey of recovery. May the closeness of God’s presence protect you

  21. today it is in the seventies . . . four days ago, it was below freezing . . . for some time we have varied between semi-tropical warmth-rain-humidity and unusual cold, cold weather from arctic air coming lower than expected into our area by the sea

    not a ‘pattern’ we have ever seen before here by the sea, no

    the ’cause’ or ’causes’ – open to conjecture, but when it’s almost eighty here in the January mid-winter, and below freezing a few days later, SOMETHING is different and it is showing in the extremes we are experiencing

    this pattern has lasted through the fall into the winter of sharp cold and humid tropical warmth alternating . . . ??????

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And here in SoCal, we’re actually getting winter heat waves up to 80F (30C). Very clear, dry winter so far, with hardly any rain in our rainy season. They’re talking water rationing later this year, as the Sierra Snowpack (watershed for the major cities) and all reservoirs are at near-record lows. (And droughts here often last years and end with a Big Rain of ’69.)

    • That’s exactly what we’re experiencing here (PA) too… it’s raining and a bit ago it thundered… 3-4 days ago it was in the single digits all day. I wouldn’t say the scientists/environmentalists have all the answers but the deniers certainly have less to offer with their heads stuck in the dunes of the mid 20th century, wishing the changing would just go away and we could all return to the pre-EPA days of oblivious gas-guzzling, coal-burning, sprawl everywhere… ‘freedom’

  22. Coldest I’ve seen was in 1995 here in Minnesota when it dropped to -58 not counting wind chill. Fortunately, except for a brief dash outside for the experience (and to toss a cup of boiling water in the air to watch the explosion), I was able to spend the night inside. Real cold is an awesome thing.

  23. I don’t watch DA or any other shows much these days. My clarinet family seems to consume all my free time. I may not be getting a lot better at them, but it sure does feed me emotionally and spiritually.

  24. Adam Tauno Williams says

    I live in Grand Rapids, MI. It has been colder than this before a couple of times. I really enjoyed Polar Vortex 2014. It got really cold, there was lots of ice, lots of both whining and irate/furious commuters, but everything pretty much kept working. Some things ran behind schedule.

    I even walked the 1.8 miles home from work on Wednesday.

    Maybe it is my Finnish blood; I find the cold is really bracing in a nice way. It clears the thoughts and keeps one alert. And, especially in the early morning, I can stand on my sidewalk – it is so very quiet, like the whole city is on pause.

    • I agree that it was beautiful. The big challenge for me was having to carry our twenty-pound sheltie through thigh-high drifts down to the plowed road so he could relieve himself before his feet froze. Normally he likes the cold and snow, but this was a bit intimidating for him.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.”

      Looks like only mad dogs and Finnishmen go out in the arctic cold.

  25. Richard McNeeley says

    2.8% of the baseball writers got it wrong by not voting for Greg Maddux.

  26. I am a fan of Downton, but found the season opener to be boring. I didn’t realize it was a 2-hour show, and when it started it’s second hour I was ready for it to be over. I have never been able to stand Mary. Even when she was grieving her husband’s death I was rolling my eyes. It really did make me feel like a horrible person! I’m also over the love quadrangle in the kitchen. Someone make a move! My favorite characters are Anna, Daisy, Mrs. Patmore and Isobel.

    I grew up a couple of hours south of Chicago and can remember walking to school in the winter or waiting for the bus. Brrr… My kids have no idea how easy they have it in the Pacific NW!

    • Christiane says

      I loved the character of Lady Sybil. The addition of ‘Rose’ as the ‘replacement rebellious young person’ doesn’t compare to the attachment people felt to Sybil, who was more of a developed character. ‘Rose’ might still yet be ‘developed’ as a character, but I can’t for some reason take to her like I did to the character of Sybil . . . Sybil had ‘depth’ as a character . . . perhaps that makes the difference . . .

      I also adore the characters of Anna, and Mrs. Patmore. They are easily lovable.
      I am very fond of Mrs. Hughes’ kind yet firm character.
      And I have to say the whole show would not be the same without the great casting of the actor in the role of ‘Carson’ . . . what a great character . . . what a great actor.

      Yes, I too am an addict of this show. I see its flaws, but I ‘willingly suspend disbelief’ and enter into the magic like everyone else, enthralled with my cup of ‘PJ tips’ English tea, and a cosy wrap on Sunday evenings.

      • Yes, I agree on Sybil too. I actually cried when she died and was so upset that she wouldn’t be on the show any more. I can’t say I felt the same about Matthew – although, I had read spoilers that he would be dying at some point in the show.

        • A Sybil second from here. She was endearing and her death was a shock…I’ve seen ‘death’ before in film/tv but her’s hit me in a way that was unexpected.

  27. Coldest temps I remember was in PA in 1977. We had a spell of -17 that last for a few days. We lived in a mobile home and the pipes all froze. Hubby kept going out with the hair dryer to defrost them, but had to come in every 15 minutes or so to defrost himself!

    Coldest I’ve endured? Just a few weeks ago while staying in an RV at a relative’s home. The temps dropped into the low 20’s at night. On my first night there, the propane tank went empty at 2 AM. Trust me when I tell you RV’s don’t hold heat for long!

  28. I can’t refuse the Downton question…my wife and I enjoy it immensely. It’s a bit of a soap sometimes but I think it does well in exploring the good to bad that can come out in all of the characters whether they’re upper or lower class.
    Those of you not liking the aristocratic arrogance; I understand, and it gets me too…but the arch of the story and the march into the 20th century is constantly hounding and unsettling the uppers and I think we’ll see more of that as the story progresses. And through that we may see some refining fire that will make some of them worse…some better. I know it’s made me consider more deeply the complex relationship between classes and the complexity of anybody, rich or poor and that all need God’s grace.

    As for characters I can relate to (vs ‘liking’) Being an eldest and having a traditionalist streak, I think Lady Mary is one I can ‘relate’ too. I can relate to Tom as well because social justice and fairness, etc are also interests of mine as well.
    As for liking – Daisy, Anna, Mr Carson, Ms Hughes and Lady Edith.

  29. Coldest: January 1963, Butte, Montana, -40. The local newspaper sent a photographer to take a picture of some of us first-graders coming through the doors of my school, before the schools were closed for a couple of days. It was hard to tell who was who in the photo because of the hats & scarves obscuring most facial features. Whenever I watch “A Christmas Story” the part that cracks me up the most (after the duck) is Randy getting ready to leave the house for school. (“I can’t put my arms down!!!!) That’s exactly what it was like, what with multiple layers already underneath the snow suit, and then snow suit, mittens, scarf (always wrapped over the nose & mouth), hat and galoshes – and moving very carefully over the icy sidewalks. My snow suit was cuter than his, though…

    Most dangerous: the tule fog of California’s Central Valley. Wretched stuff. One can see about as far as the exhaled condensation in front of one’s face. And many people have to drive in it.

    Most fun: a midnight cross-country ski in Lassen Nat’l Park with a group of friends under a nearly-full moon, when I was in my early 20s. Never did hot chocolate taste so good as on that trail. It took a very long time to warm up even after I got home to bed, but it was worth it for the beauty.

    HUG, I know something about the weather in SoCal – husband grew up in Simi, and we lived in Woodland Hills for +6 years. While we were there, we had a few days with the highs in the 40s, and – I have seen water in the LA River… in fact, to the top of the concrete and overflowing. Husband says that when 2 dogs pi$$ on the same fire hydrant at the same time in LA, that’s called a flood,,. LA drivers seem constitutionally incapable of functioning when the street lights go out. Here in NoCal our local gov’t has just declared a water emergency, but today we are getting some light rain. I hope it’s the beginning of some steady, moderate precip, or we’ll be really hurting soon. Brown lawns and dirty cars all year…


    • do you mean the street lights that are overhead illuminating the roadway or street lights as in stop lights? Here in Chicago, no one seems to care about the street lights, other than thieves who take it as an opportunity, but the stop lights. Good grief! You would think there were no rules. And I’m convinced the police will only be ordered to direct traffic after at least one fatality.

      • Stop lights, thanks for asking for clarification.

        Nobody understands the concept of taking turns, and watching for whose turn it is next. Traffic gets paralyzed waiting for someone to make a move. It’s enough to make you tear your hair out. And there aren’t enough police to direct traffic at all the large intersections.


    • Dana – those snowsuits were so stiff, bully and horrible! I can remember feeling immobilized while wearing one.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      LA drivers seem constitutionally incapable of functioning when the street lights go out.

      They’re also incapable of functioning when it rains. Either they barrel along at 70+ like it’s clear and dry until they ram something, or they get paranoid, slow down to 25 in the fast lane, and get rammed. First good rain of the rainy season always has lotsa crashes and freeways turned into 50-mile linear parking lots.

      As for street lights, I’ve stopped driving side streets at night unless I absolutely have to. In California, any vehicle vs pedestrian accident, the driver is ALWAYS the one at fault; state law dating from the Roaring Twenties when we had REAL Car Wars wheels vs feet on the major streets. Well, there’s this new extreme sport where I am — jaywalk across a dark side street just in front of an incoming car wearing head-to-toe black — hoodie pulled up, hands in pockets. There have been times when the only reason I’ve dodged a vehicular manslaughter rap was the glow from the texting screen or those flashing tennis shoes or I got real good at reading silhouettes against distant lights.

  30. blessedarethepeacemakers says

    I think the coldest was not the “coldest” but I remember it as the coldest.
    I think my daughter was about seven months old and my son, just over 31/2
    we lived in a small two bedroom house with electric baseboard heat and a wood burning stove.
    The electricity went out, but we had plenty of wood and because the house was small
    we were able to heat the house with the wood stove.

    But something happened with the flue and the draw —
    Something about it being so cold or something
    And the fire, although stoked for the night, went out.

    In the morning, the toilet bowl had cracked and the water in the toilet was frozen
    I could see my breath as we spoke…

    I had doubled up the night dressing of the baby with long underwear under
    two blanket sleepers…

    When I went to check on the two wee ones, my baby’s cheeks were bright red
    her lips bluish-cold and when I tell the story, I say her runny nose had frozen to her upper lip.
    She looked at me with such a face as if to ask, “Is this what I need to learn to expect in this life when it is winter?”

    We packed a few things and left to stay at my husband’s parents house
    In a back room with it’s own gas forced air heater.

    My husband bought a heater to thaw the pipes and mark where they had broken.
    Fixed the piles under the house and he replaced the toilet…

    I remember being so thankful to have a house to stay while ours was
    too cold to be a warm shelter.

    After the pipes were fixed… we moved back into our little house.
    It was still a cold winter, but we didn’t lose heat and the pipes didn’t freeze after that, then,
    and the years to come.

  31. Bulky. Darned autocorrect!


    December 8 – 6:00 PM
    It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses Print. So romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow!
    December 9
    We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the whole world? Moving here was the best idea I’ve ever had! Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplough came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life!
    December 12
    The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a disappointment! My neighbor tells me not to worry- we’ll definitely have a white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we’ll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I’ll never want to see snow again. I don’t think that’s possible. Bob is such a nice man, I’m glad he’s our neighbor.
    December 14
    Snow, lovely snow! 8 inches last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snowplough came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn’t realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I’ll certainly get back in shape this way. I wish I wouldn’t huff and puff so.
    December 15
    20 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4×4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife’s car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that’s silly. We aren’t in Alaska , after all.
    December 16
    Ice storm this morning. Fell on my butt on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like heck. The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.
    December 17
    Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should’ve bought a wood stove, but won’t admit it to her. God I hate it when she’s right. I can’t believe I’m freezing to death in my own living room.
    December 20
    Electricity’s back on, but had another 14 inches of the damn stuff last night. More shoveling! Took all day. The darn snowplough came by twice. Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they’re too busy playing hockey. I think they’re lying. Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they’re out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they’re lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he’s lying.
    December 22
    Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white shit fell today, and it’s so cold, it probably won’t melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to pee. By the time I got undressed, peed and dressed again, I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plough on his truck for the rest of the winter, but he says he’s too busy. I think the guy is lying.
    December 23
    Only 2 inches of snow today. And it warmed up to 0. The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she, nuts?!! Why didn’t she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she’s lying.
    December 24
    6 inches – Snow packed so hard by snowplough, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the son of a bitch who drives that snow plough, I’ll drag him through the snow and beat him with my broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I’ve just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the darn snowplough.
    December 25
    Merry Christmas! 20 more inches of the darn slop tonight – Snowed in. The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil. God, I hate the snow! Then the snowplough driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she’s an idiot. If I have to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” one more time, I’m going to stuff her into the microwave.
    December 26
    Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She’s really getting on my nerves.
    December 27
    Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze; plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my pipes.
    December 28
    Warmed up to above -20. Still snowed in. The woman is driving me crazy!!!
    December 29
    10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That’s the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?
    December 30
    Roof caved in. I beat up the snow plough driver, and now he is suing me for a million dollars, not only the beating I gave him, but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel. The wife went home to her mother. Nine more inches predicted.
    December 31
    I set fire to what’s left of the house. No more shoveling.
    January 8
    I Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?

  33. I spent two years living in a high altitude valley of Colorado. We were higher than Denver, lower than Breckenridge. But all the cold air sunk to the lowest point in this high altitude valley in the foothills of the Rockies making it one of the 10 coldest cities in the US. On a good winter morning, the temperature was negative 50. When you walked outside, you could feel the snot freezing in your nose. It’s an experience everybody needs to have at least once.

  34. When you walked outside, you could feel the snot freezing in your nose. It’s an experience everybody needs to have at least once.

    Got to think about that one a bit before it goes on my bucket list.