Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last week I took Nicholas to an interdenominational service celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  There was only one other child there.  We didn’t stay for the whole thing, just the singing and opening speech and readings from Dr. King’s speeches; then Nick got bored and we left, but I got a lot out of hearing Dr. King’s words read aloud.

I told Nicholas about the service a few days in advance because I wasn’t sure if he was old enough to be interested–he just turned 3.  We had never had a reason to discuss racism before.  I explained that there was a time when people with light skin treated people with dark skin as if they were not real people and were mean to them (examples: back of the bus, not allowed in restaurants, separate not-as-good schools) and that Dr. King told everyone that this was wrong and led big marches to insist that all people be treated fairly.  Nicholas understood this and was pleased by it.  He asked if Dr. King would be at the service.  Read more…

That’s all.

Just as I thought it was going all right,
I found out I’m wrong when I thought I was right.
It’s always the same.
It’s just a shame.
That’s all.

These are the opening lyrics to a Genesis song that comforts me when things go wrong between Daniel and me.  It’s about the frustration of hitting the same conflict again and again, of having to admit that you’ve screwed up, of being unable to see how to resolve the problem but knowing you have to resolve it because you can’t just walk away.  After almost twelve years of living together, we are painfully familiar with that situation.  We don’t disagree often, so when we do it feels as if everything is out of kilter.  How is it that the same dumb problem keeps popping up like a brick wall between us, and we just can’t resist banging our heads against it again in exactly the same way as last time??

I don’t have an answer to that question, but I have learned a few things through experience and reading.  One is that finding out I’m wrong when I thought I was right is an important moment which is easily lost if I’m too wrapped up in self-righteously casting myself as the victim.  Another is that just because we disagree doesn’t mean he’s my enemy–remembering that we love each other and have so much in common helps me find hope that we can work through our conflict together.  We’ve learned that sometimes it helps to face each other and hold hands while arguing: It’s harder to coil up inside your shell and yell at someone when you’re physically connected in a way that reminds you that you love each other. Read more…

Links for the new year!

Have you been wondering if anything is made in USA these days?

Norka Futon makes all its mattresses and frames in the United States.  We bought one of their 8-coil mattresses for our bed four years ago and have been very happy with it.  Last month, we bought another such mattress with a sofa/bed frame to use in our living room.  The guests so far have liked it, and (even with a very nice slipcover) it cost considerably less than the foreign-made sofa/beds we saw in other stores.  The only bad thing I can say about it is that folding it from a bed to a sofa is kind of difficult for two people and impossible for one.

How much do you know about sex?  Take this pop quiz!

Children allowed to play outdoors unsupervised grow up to be healthier and more sociable.  This editorial about recently published British research makes a point that I think is very valid in the United States as well:  “I further think that the biggest difference between ‘these days’ and better days is not an increase in risk but a huge increase in artificially stimulated alarm.”

Costco is better than Sam’s Club.  It’s disproving the common claim that spending money on employees’ wages and benefits (and paying the CEO in thousands rather than millions) is bad for business.

Have you heard that freezing water in a plastic bottle will expose you to cancer-causing dioxin?  Not true.

Drivers talking on cell phones are not only dangerous but also slowing down traffic, increasing annoyance and air pollution for us all.

My three-year-old and the people next to us on the bus were very interested in this infographic explaining why corn-based ethanol isn’t such a great idea.

Here’s a good argument that The Onion is one of America’s best newspapers–not just funniest but most honest, intelligent, and well-written.

Find out where to recycle unusual items not accepted for curbside collection.  This place takes crayons, or you can recycle them yourself.

Here are photos of fifteen families around the world and what they eat.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a great source of understandable, well-researched information about nutrition and food safety.

On road trips, we often eat at Burger King because their veggie burger is very tasty and their coffee is pretty good.  We usually don’t get fries because (thanks to CSPI, above) we know they’re high in trans fat.  Last time we ate at a Burger King, our tray liner had their nutrition information, and we were appalled to see that there is trans fat not just in their fried foods but also in their meat burgers!  There’s none in the veggie burger, however, and it has less saturated fat than any of their other sandwiches.

After that, we started to think more about the restaurants where we do eat fried foods.  We asked Kazansky’s, our neighborhood deli, and learned that they use trans-fat-free oil to make their delicious home fries.

Here’s another scary article on plastics, this one with a handy chart for choosing safer plastic food containers.

While shopping at after-Christmas sales, consider that LED holiday lights use one-tenth as much electricity as the incandescent kind, which saves you money as well as helping the environment.  But if you still have strings of incandescent blinky-lights that are working just fine, don’t rush to throw them into the landfill.  Wear them out and then replace them with LED ones.  We put up a string of LED lights in December 2006 (after discovering that our ten-year-old incandescent blinky-light set had both burned-out bulbs and broken wires) and liked them so much that we kept them up all year!

One of the largest oil spills in the world is underneath Brooklyn.

The United States abortion rate is at its lowest level since 1974.  It’s still pathetically high–about one in five American pregnancies is aborted, which means way too many people are getting pregnant when they don’t want a child–but it has not increased as a result of medication abortion (RU-486) becoming available, as some people predicted it would.

My latest favorite cartoon is The Evolution of a Hip, Ironic Catchphrase.  (This is one episode of a highly recommended comic strip, not an animated cartoon; you won’t need special software to view it.)

But speaking of animated things that require software (Flash), a question that’s been weighing on my mind is, Who Is Double Cat???