Month: April 2006

  • It'll be interesting to see how Dmitry reacts when he gets the news I received from his ESL teacher this morning:  he's been exempted from the TAKS tests next week.  Last week I'd heard they were trying to get him an exemption, and there was certainly a classification into which he fits the country two years/second year of school, roughly.  If memory serves. 

    There's simply no way he'd pass those tests.  His conversational English is very good, but when it comes to "academic" English, written tests, etc. he's not there yet.  His teacher says academic English is quite different from conversational English, and it's common to be competent in the latter while struggling with the former.  Never mind math

    This way there's still a chance he'll be passed into 9th grade, which he's most anxious to do.  Being in 8th grade for a third year, at age 16, is not an attractive prospect.  OTOH, as I've pointed out to him, since it is Eagle Academy, even if he begins the school year still in 8th grade, doesn't mean he can't complete that year's work and go on into 9th grade. Other kids have done so that he knows.

    It's also interesting how now his teacher is asking if we're going to get Dmitry evaluated at the Child Study Center or somewhere for FAE (fetal alcohol effects).  Last semester she shrugged off the thought there's an organic reason for his scholastic struggles, but apparently she's come around. 

  • It's hard to believe how the end of the school year is rocketing up on us, isn't it?  How'd it turn into mid-April already!?!

    Next week are the infamous, dreaded TAKS tests, meaning the tutoring Dmitry loathes so deeply should finally come to an end.  There's no denying being in school from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. four days a week is tough, especially for one who comes from a culture where a school day lasts 4-5 hours.

    Next week is also the registration for the '06-'07 session of BSF, which will cover the book of Romans.  I'd been rather ambivalent about it in the first place, but thought it might be worth it to get to hear Betty, the teaching leader, but that was blown out of the water this morning when it was announced she will be promoted to area director or something along those lines.  The next teaching leader is a lovely, lovely woman, and one I like very much, but her soothing, quiet voice lulls me to sleep. 

    So I'm gonna give it a miss next year, I suppose.  Fighting to stay awake for 45 minutes wouldn't be of any particular spiritual benefit.

    Isn't that just the way?  Get in on the tail end of a powerhouse speaker like Betty!  Turns out she'll have completed the entire seven year cycle as teaching leader when Genesis ends next month.  Oh well!  She's pulled stuff out of Genesis I'd never noticed 'ere this, so must be grateful for having benefited as much as I have.

    After BSF today I sallied forth to have lunch with Dad at a new place in Ridglea.  To my surprise, when I arrived right on the stroke of 11:30 a.m., he wasn't at Baker Bros. Deli.  Huh.  He's usually early.    Waited outside, but he didn't come, so finally called Mom, who assured me he'd left awhile before, aiming for there.

    At 11:45 she got in her car to head down Camp Bowie, to make sure he hadn't had car trouble or something.  A few minutes later I saw Dad coming from the southern end of the shopping center.

    Turns out there is a Baker Street Pub back there I'd never seen nor heard of!  He'd been waiting at one of its outside tables while I'd been on the corner at the north end of the center, at the Baker Bros. Deli.  e-hairout

    The two restaurants are not connected in any way except for the coincidence of their names.  One would think someone would have realized having two restaurants whose names begin with "Baker" at the 6333 Camp Bowie shopping center isn't too bright.  According to the wait staff at the Baker St. Pub, two people waiting for each other at the different establishments is common. 

  • Don and I are watching (well, he's "watching" while I'm listening with one ear) a show on the History Channel and there's something on it about World Fairs. 

    Which led Don to ask, "Whatever happened to World Fairs, anyway?"

    Excellent question.  I recall when they occurred with some regularity.  Most likely the cities holding them also regularly lost money on them, which would pretty well put the kibosh on 'em.  Still, they seemed to be popular for a long while.

    Who remembers that Seattle's Space Needle was built because of that city's 1962 World Fair? 

  • Sorry for the silence, but it's been a quiet weekend.

    Sometimes "quiet" is good. 

    Most exciting thing, and it wasn't particularly, was on Saturday afternoon when I'd made a trip to the East Berry branch library.  On my way to return to the freeway there was a woman sitting in a powered-wheelchair by the side of the access road, and said wheelchair had a flat tire.

    Never thought about those critters getting flat tires, but I suppose they do.  Well, I know they do, for she had one.  Anyway, circled around and came back to her.  Then another woman, who had a couple of kids in the car with her, also stopped.  Won't bore y'all with the saga of how we managed to get the tire off, find a place to patch the inner tube, and it put back on (those who know me will not be surprised to learn I was mostly involved in the hauling her and the tire to a place to be fixed, while not at all involved with actually removing or replacing it), except to say those wheelchairs are incredibly heavy.  It had to be left tumped over on the side of the road, pulled up off the street, while the tire was mended.  I'd never grasped the weight difference between an ordinary, hand-powered wheelchair and one battery-powered. 

    Mary (the name of the woman with the afflicted tire) said a man had stopped earlier and tried to use a can of Fix-it Flat or whatever the stuff's called, but it didn't help.  Has anyone ever heard of that stuff doing a particle of good?  I haven't.  ISTM every time I've heard of it being used the rider is, "But it didn't work."  How come it's still on the market if the stuff never works

    Called Charles last night on his new cell phone, and was puzzled to the point of being taken-aback by hearing music instead of ringing.  Figured this was his new "message", only it turns out, no, it's what a caller hears in lieu of a ring tone.  What the point of that is, I can't imagine.  He's doing fine, and he and his friend, Joseph, are busily putting together application packets for a Navy program called "Seaman to Admiral 21".  Essentially if someone is accepted into it, that someone gets $10K per school year to attend a college with a Navy ROTC program, plus living expenses.  One would be in some shadowland, no longer enlisted but not exactly an officer, either.  An officer candidate or something.  Charles is hoping he has a decent shot at being accepted, what with his 1300 SAT score, his good ASVAB score, and his meritorious advance in boot camp.

    He acknowledges if they heavily weigh his early high school grades and his lone college semester grades, he's in trouble. 

    Perhaps if he works really hard on his classes...which begin today, AAMOF...he'll pull it off.  It'd extend his tour of duty, but he'd become an officer plus get his degree, which is good.  Only significant problem I see with it is a candidate is given 36 months to graduate.  Three years.  I suppose if one takes a full load of classes on a year-round basis it can be done, but mercy Maud....!  Talk about a grind. 

    Last year there were 4500 applicants for the program, of whom 450 were accepted, so we'll see what happens.

    It's April, and it's been spring for quite a little while, but I'd noticed the bluebonnets have been AWOL.  Well, this morning the Dallas Morning News had an article about that sad fact, saying it's true....this is largely a bluebonnetless spring.  The weather last fall and winter wasn't beneficial for them, somehow.  I've spied one tiny patch, and that was a week ago.  It's gone now.    Bluebonnets are one of my very favorite rites of spring, darn it.

    Easter is next Sunday and I've promised to provide a glazed, spiral-cut ham for the lunch at Kirstin's.  Anyone know of one that's gluten free?

  • At Frank's service this past Monday, Pastor Burk Parsons gave the background of one of my favorite hymns, "It Is Well With My Soul," one of those sung.  I did some checking online to verify it, and between the online info and Pastor Parsons, this is it:

    In 1870 a man named Horatio Stafford, a resident of Chicago, lost his only son.  A year later the great Chicago fire destroyed him financially.  Two years after that, in 1873, he put his wife and their remaining children, four daughters, on a ship to Ireland (from whence he hailed).  That ship was rammed by another, causing the deaths of 226 people, including all the Stafford daughters, though sparing Mrs. Stafford.  When she landed in Great Britain she alerted her husband of the outcome with a two word telegram:  "Survived alone."

    On his way to join his wife, the captain of the ship brought out maps, showing Mr. Stafford where his daughters' ship had sunk, and pointed to the general area of the ocean as they sailed past.  He stood and stared out where he'd lost his children, then returned to his cabin.  It was then he wrote this beloved hymn:

    When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When so
    rrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.


    It is well, with my soul,
    It is well, with my soul,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.

    Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blessed assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

    My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

    And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

    Okay, add Horatio Stafford to George Mueller as my spiritual heroes.  Oh to be blessed by the LORD with such faith!

  • I'm writing this from Kirstin's house, where I'm babysitting Benjamin and Bryson while she is on a field trip to the Fort Worth Zoo with Bethie's class.

    There is a particular area where technological advances are nothing but a pain in the caboose, and that's the realm of television/VCR/DVD.  Once upon a time, many and many a moon ago, televisions were pretty dang simple.  Turn it on then turn the dial to the desired channel.  That's it.  Simplicity itself.  Anyone could work anyone else's TV.

    Nowadays, though, we have "entertainment systems." 

    And rotsa ruck trying to turn on a DVD at someone else's house!  Heck, the last time I was here I couldn't manage to get their TV off the blue-screen-of-death, never mind get a DVD to play.  Had better luck this morning, having managed to somehow get "Home Alone" to play; unfortunately when I went to increase the volume, I accidently hit the Channel + button.

    Back to the blue-screen-of-death.  Figured just hitting the Channel - button would correct the problem, but mercy Maud....of course not.  Scroll channels up, scroll channels down, it didn't matter.  Finally called Kirstin on her cell phone in some agitation; she suggested a couple of options, with hitting the power button on the VCR fixing it.

    Let's see.  I accidently hit the "channel up" button on the television, but the way to fix it was to hit the power button on the VCR?  Does this make any sense at all?

    Of course not.  Why should it?  None of the peculiar, unique workings of so-called "entertainment systems" are comprehensible to anyone other'n the owners of said systems.  And let's face it....even we get confused sometimes. 

    Technology!  HA! 

  •  I'd hoped to manage to be with Kathryn and Margaret and Heather for a couple of days without humiliating myself, but no joy.

    OTOH, at least this time I didn't spill something on myself, which is my usual mode of embarrassing myself.  No, this time I took a new tack entirely.

    On Sunday, after attending the 9:30 service at St. Andrews with Heather and her family, we stood around outside chatting with the Doskeys and Kathryn.  I noticed a man standing behind Margaret and while I knew he looked familiar, I could not put my finger on where I'd seen him, try though I might.  Worried at it and worried at it.  Could he be, I speculated, Burk Parsons, the other pastor (besides RC Sproul)?  Finally I went up to him, seeing as how he was hovering around the people I was with, and held out my hand, introducing myself.

    He smiled hesitantly, shook my hand, but didn't introduce himself.  Darn.

    Finally I prodded Margaret, indicating the man-I-could-not-place, and whispered, "Who is that?"

    She looked justifiably startled as she exclaimed, "Why, it's Conrad!"

    Conrad.  Her husband.  The one who'd I been sitting next to at the Olive Garden restaurant the previous evening, having a discussion about the Navy, submarines, etc.  That Conrad! 


    Talk about a "Take me now, LORD!" moment.  How I didn't recognize him, I can't imagine.  Okay, fine, he cleans up real nice and was in a dark suit, but still....! 

  • Are they nuts??? 

    I'm not a fan of flying in any case, but lemme tell you....implement these miscellaneous fees (found at CNN) and my lack of enthusiasm will swiftly morph into downright loathing:


    Intense competition from low-fare airlines and high jet-fuel prices have forced many established carriers to cut back or charge passengers for amenities. Among the items that some airlines are charging for:

    Paper ticket vs. e-ticket (domestic, $20-$30; international, $50)

    Telephone reservations by airline ($5-$10)

    Changing a seat once booked (low-cost carriers, $25-$50; traditional airlines, $50)

    Assigned seating ($10 per flight leg)

    Fees for exit row, bulkhead, or aisle/window seating ($15 trial this summer)

    Booking travel using frequent flyer award miles/points ($10-$50)

    Switching a ticket to standby status ($25-plus)

    Unaccompanied minor child ($40-plus each way)

    Overweight bags ($25-$50 for any bag over 50 lbs.)

    Extra bags ($40-$80 per bag beyond two checked per person)

    Curbside check-in of bags ($2-$3 per bag)

    Checked bags ($4-$7 per bag on international flights)

    Food on board flights ($5-$10 per meal)

    Soda ($1)

    Snacks ($1)

    Blankets ($1)

    Pillows ($1)

    Headsets ($1-$5)

    In-cabin pets (under seat, $50-$100 each way)

    Some are worse than others, with a few already here (charging for headsets, as an example).  Can you imagine forcing people to pay for checked baggage on oversea flights?  The very flights nearly guaranteed to have checked baggage?

    Charging a fee to sit anywhere except in a middle seat?  That's just stupid.  What they ought to do is raise the price of the ticket $15 then offer a discount for a middle seat.  Same monetary effect for the airline, but a completely different psychological effect on the passenger.  Lots of people would be willing to save a few bucks by sitting in a middle seat, after all.

    And charging for assigned seating sounds like an invitation to "Bump me!  Please!  Bump me!"  Surely it's easier to bump those without assigned seats.

    "Friendly skies" my left foot

  • I'm back!  It was a lovely trip, though obviously I wish the impetus for it were happier.  Still, nothing beats getting to meet good friends in person, make new friends, hear Dr. Sproul preach on Sunday then chat with him for a very few minutes, and attend one of the most hands-down moving memorial services ever conducted. 

    It's a bit late so I'll just settle for sharing a few pix now; details to be added tomorrow:

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    I took a picture of a picture, one take about three years ago, judging by little Hoppy's (aka: Hannah's) age.  I loved it. 

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    A photo of Kathryn with Heather, my kind hostess.  It was delightful to stay with her and her husband and children.  

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    This was a howl!  Little Hannah donning a scary mask, grasping a threatening instrument of destruction, then chasing her cousin Steven all over the living room.    

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    Margaret, Kathryn, and me, this morning before the official police escort arrived.   e-aw