Saturday, February 28, 2009

60 minutes of...

How did I spend sixty minutes of my life on February 25? The post is on its way and will require your participation...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lost Robes and Nuclear Power

I must admit that last Wednesday I did not substitute The Robe for Lost as promised in a previous post. My intentions were good. I had the book next to the recliner. I...............

39 hours earlier…

I just dropped my daughter and her friend off at the mall and was going to do a little shopping for myself. As I pulled into Dick's Sporting Goods I heard Dennis Prager introduce an upcoming guest on his radio show. Gwyneth Cravens was going to discuss her book concerning nuclear power.
Nuclear power. I think of my son's autobiographical descriptor on one of his blog posts, "I am a die-hard conservative, Reagan politics, pro-nuclear power, confessional Lutheran." Thinking little of the interview, I stepped out of the car, locked the door, side stepped the slush and went inside.

17 minutes later…

The automatic doors herd me out the store as I leave with more than I entered: a headache from the over-priced, under-stocked big box sporting goods store. Pulling out of the parking lot, I heard Cravens explain her initial skepticism about nuclear power and her subsequent transformation from opponent to proponent.

I’m not a numbers guy. I don’t like formulas, never understood mathematical theories, theorems and/or serums. I like that last sentence, however. The syntactic balance of phrases and the alliterative rhythm create a powerful, linguistic treasure. I’m a word guy. And this is why I found my intrigue in Cravens’ book odd.

27 hours earlier…

I reached under the lampshade and clicked on the light. Tuesday morning blackness was immediately transformed to a soft amber glow easing me into the week’s duties: logging into, grading papers, listening to excuses, challenging intellect and helping young ones grow in their ability to write, think, learn. Before any of that began I logged onto the library’s website and placed a hold on Cravens’ book, Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy

16 hours previously from the spot of the foul...

A voice on my answering machine informed me I had a book on hold.

Four-score and twenty minutes after the second overtime…

After Wednesday’s bell dismissed the building’s human contents, I headed to the library, checked out the book and journeyed home.

7 dog minutes later…

I hunkered down into my favorite reading chair, glanced at the clock and knew I had two hours before I covered myself with The Robe. As a kind of reading warm-up, I grabbed Cravens' book.

“The worst large-scale consequence of Chernobyl has been thyroid cancer in Ukrainian and Belarusian children. I am told by Dr. Stanislav Shushkevich, the first Belarusian head of state and a nuclear physicist, that every Soviet fallout shelter held a supply of potassium iodide that would have protected the children by saturating their thyroid glands, preventing the uptake of radioactive iodine-131, but that Moscow refused to allow the tablets to be distributed until it was too late and the children had already been exposed. Chernobyl was a failure not of nuclear power but of the Soviet political system.”

With those words, I was hooked. With these words from the inside cover, so will you.

“She refutes the major arguments against nuclear power one by one, making clear, for example, that a stroll through Grand Central Terminal exposes a person to more radiation than a walk of equal length through a uranium mine; that average background radiation around Chernobyl and in Hiroshima is lower than in Denver; that there are no ‘cancer clusters’ near nuclear facilities; that terrorists could neither penetrate the security at an American nuclear plant nor make an atomic bomb from its fuel; that nuclear waste can be – and already is – safely stored; that wind and solar power, while important, can meet only a fraction of the demand for electricity; that a coal plant releases more radiation than a nuclear plant and also emits deadly toxic waste that kills thousands of Americans a month; that in its fifty-year history American nuclear power has not caused a single death.”

So I didn’t read The Robe. I will. For now, I’m going to satisfy my Cravens craving and learn more about nuclear energy.

5 card-carrying, union breaks later…

As for next week, I won’t be watching Lost.
Not then, not ever.
I mean that.
I’ve expunged that show from my existence. Unlike Jack and Kate, who are now on the island but about to be shot by Jin, I won’t be back.


I promise.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Matthew Fox is no Michael J. Fox

I'm Lost no more.

I've endured the first four episodes of this once intriguing show, but I've grown weary of Lost, being lost, not caring about others who are lost.

I was skeptical of the time-travel idea. Who wouldn't be? The time travel concept hinges around some archaic, iced wheel that is now off its axis? This is how the current generation of writers depict time travel? The wagon-wheel concept is as old as Half-pint bumbling down the hillside on Little House on the Prairie. T.J. Detwieller and Gus concocted a better time machine in Recess, episode 16.
As soon as time travel became the hub, pun intended, of this season's plot, the shark had been jumped. Now everything is possible, all previous conflicts are tainted because of the possibility of going back in time and affecting the future.

You can't do time travel better than Marty McFly and his flux capacitor. However, I'm sure that once these writers figure this out, a mysterious tide or cloud or smoky-monster thing will deliver McFly and his McFlux Capacitor to the island.

However, instead of simply raging against the time machine, I have a scintillating alternative. I won't fill my mind with niggling nonsense. I'll devote the sixty minutes to reading something that possesses great literary merit. The following day I'll provide a brief synopsis and review. Next week's "episode" will be my initial reading of Lloyd Douglas' The Robe. It has been recommended by people whose literary tastes I trust. The jacket synopsis is also very intriguing. "A Roman soldier, Marcellus, wins Christ's robe as a gambling prize. He then sets forth on a quest to find the truth about the Nazarene's robe-a quest that
reaches to the very roots and heart of Christianity and is set against the vividly limned background of ancient Rome. Here is a timeless story of adventure, faith, and romance, a tale of spiritual longing and ultimate redemption."
I don't own a Garmin.
I don't need a compass.
I'm no longer Lost.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ice Fishing: An Oxymoron's Guide to Saturday Morning

Nothing says Saturday morning like sitting on a bucket in the middle of an iced over Stoney Creek hoping some finned aquatic creature mistakes my hook for breakfast.

During a recent morning devotion, I simply said to Gary Faszholz, LHN fisherman extraordinaire, "I've never been ice fishing. Let's try it some day."

When Bryan Oechsner chimed in with, "Hey, I have a power auger," I knew I should have remained silent.

My usual pattern for a Saturday morning involves java and the newspaper as I ease into the day's activities. On this fated, frigid day, I was trudging over ice while pulling a sled of buckets, minnows, wax worms and one cup of coffee. I know, I know, one cup does not a morning make but my fishing compadres said there would be no outhouse on the ice.

We trusted Fisherman Faszholz and the Stoney Creek fishing blogs to figure out where to dig, auger, chip a hole. Moments later we were pulling in bass, crappie and blue gill like you wouldn't believe. Well, at least you shouldn't believe it because that's a bit of an exaggeration. We caught nothing. Lest you think we are some weak, ill-informed, naive ice fishermen, let me reveal that Bryan Oechsner is from Milwaukee, the ice fishing Mecca. Well, that's his claim.

We broke camp and headed to a fishing hole just off 28 mile. Success was ours. The Faszholz Fishing Report assured us this pond was teeming with bass and panfish. I questioned not this man's fish knowledge. I just wish he would have said his report was based on his summer fishing experiences. You know, summer, when people wear shorts and a t-shirt, not five layers, thermal cycling tights and a snowmobile suite. Hey, don't sweat the small stuff. Catch fish.

Catch fish we did. Catch many fish we did not. Instead of lowering the nets on the other side of the boat, we simply augered more holes in the lake. It worked for Christ but not so much for us.
At the end of the day we had a lot of stories, blog fodder, cold hands, numerous leftover minnows and the memories of catching four fish in six hours. I know nothing about good ice fishing days but Faszholz claims that's a good ratio. I was never good with numbers so I'll simply believe him.