During the past year, I’ve had more time to think, mull, ponder, obsess…well, you get the idea…than I have in probably a decade. Truly, I am sick of ‘introspective’ me. And I’m sure my friends, while way too kind and compassionate to say so, are too (thank you especially Susan, Holly and Jean).
I was fearful blogging would make me self-absorbed. Or maybe I already was. Ouch. Simply, my goal was to write about family, faith and that ‘F’ word, which I promised not to mention again. I also wanted to commit to paper, or rather computer screen, stories about my children that have been rattling around in my head for years.
The notion of ‘holding on and letting go' runs strong in my psyche. In another life I was on the journalism faculty at a large university and the director of advising for that program. During the summer, I’d face hordes of eager freshmen and their parents. Part of my job was to soothingly explain to parents they wouldn’t be joining their sons and daughters during the scheduling process. Rather they would attend a special session called ‘Holding On and Letting Go.’
I must confess I may have been a bit testy the year Erik left home at sixteen to spend a year abroad as a foreign exchange student and a parent would ask me ‘what classes are we taking.’
My flaws are legion in my book, but I also know my strengths. Putting myself in the place of the other is one of them. My husband is both amused and bemused that I argue both sides of a dispute between us, his and mine. Just because I am adept at ‘letting go’ does not mean I don’t understand how difficult it is. Just measure my waistline.
The mall bookstore is going out of business, like so many of its ilk. Today I was standing in line to buy 40-percent-off books that I can get at the library for free, including a mid-life mom memoir. Behind me two women were having a conversation. One said she couldn’t believe her daughter would be 18 months soon. Turning around, I saw that the woman agreeing with her about how fast time went had an infant strapped to her chest.
Instead of ‘sagely’ weighing in, I kept my mouth shut. Suddenly it does seem like a very long time ago that I had a three-month-old infant strapped to my chest at the Phoenix airport awaiting his first flight to grandma and grandpa’s.
Many flights and many years later, that child is spending New Year’s Eve in London with his girlfriend.
As my wise mother once said, “You don’t get to keep your babies very long.”
And that’s just fine.
Happy New Year.
Compiled by W.R. Baldwin
Although Bill and Birdie Baldwin were both born in Utah, they were born in opposite ends of the state so it is interesting how they got together. Bill was born in Beaver and Birdie was born in Lawrence.
They met in Mohrland, Utah where Bill had gone to teach school and Birdie’s family had moved there so the men in the family could find work in the coalmines and Birdie worked in the Hotel there.
One evening Dean Bench, the principal of the school in Mohrland asked Birdie if she would like to be in a school play entitled. “Not Such A Fool As He Looks.” She thought it might be fun so she accepted and was to be at a practice in the Amusement Hall the next night. She showed up for practice and there was Bill Baldwin. She was told her part was to be Bill’s Mother and the principal was to be her husband. Bill and Birdie became well acquainted during the play practices and as he walked her home from practice each night. They also found out that Bill had two of Birdie’s brothers in his school class.
This gave him a lot of reasons to spend time at Birdie’s home and he did that. In fact he spent more time there than he did at the hotel where he was boarding with his good friend “Curly” Dugmore.
Things progressed in the relationship and the first thing you know they were “going steady” as they used to say in those days. In December 1929 Bill gave Birdie a diamond ring and asked her to marry him. They were married in June 1930 in Beaver, Utah at the home of Bill’s parents.
Bill received his higher education at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1927. His first teaching job was in Mohrland, Utah.
After getting married Bill & Birdie found out they could not survive on the salary they paid teachers so Bill took a job with the U.S. Fuel Company managing the Amusement Hall complex which consisted of; the Show Hall, Dance Hall, Soda Fountain, Bowling Alley, Card Room and Pool Hall. Birdie went to work for him running the Soda Fountain.
In 1938 the town of Mohrland was shut down and most of the people moved to Hiawatha where Bill and Birdie settled into East Hiawatha where over the years they made many friends and became involved with the town.
They loved to go to dances that were held almost every weekend in one small town or another in the area. If the band was a good one the couples would follow them from town to town on every weekend. They might be in a town in Emery County on weekend and then in Carbon County the next but they did not care if the music was good and they had a great time.
One place they really liked and talked about a lot was Wilberg's dance hall just outside of Huntington. It was an outdoor pavilion, with lights strung all around the perimeter. There were also peacocks and guinea hens strutting their stuff all around the property as the Piano and the rest of the band made the whole place rock. Is was not unusual to have a baby wrapped up in a blanket behind the piano sleeping on the floor as the young couple danced away. Birdie told her kids that one orchestra they really loved to dance too was Jimmy Dart’s however she only recalled it playing at Wilberg’s a few times in the last part of 1941. They really played some swinging tunes.
In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s the people in Hiawatha were like many people in small towns across America. They made their own entertainment and many times it was just getting together as a group. One of the big social activities for Bill & Birdie was just getting together and visiting neighbors. They did not have to have a reason to drop in for a visit it just seemed to be the thing to do.
Bill and Birdie had a lot of friends and they all enjoyed just socializing together, whether it was just dropping by for a cup of coffee or for a more formal organized thing like one of the social clubs. They belonged to groups that got together for card playing, dinner parties or special activities on Easter, Halloween, Labor Day or the 4th of July. Birdie also belonged to sewing groups, and quilting groups where many time there was more talking going on than there was sewing.
One party that was held each year for several years was a Halloween Party at the Baldwin’s where everyone came in costume and visited and sit around in a pitch black room and listened to a gruesome ghost story as different things were passed around for “body parts”, such as “peeled grapes” for eye balls, “cold cooked spaghetti” for brains and “a bone from the butcher shop” for a leg bone. The Baldwin kids, Wally & Geri talked about this for years even thought they were not allowed to be involved in the party.
Of course in the 1940’s travel was curtailed because gas and tires were both rationed because of the war. There were many other things rationed and you could not buy them without ration stamps or coupons. Among them were sugar, coffee and it seemed anything wrapped in tin foil. All the kids in town would save tin-foil and roll it into a big ball and then take it to school to give for the “war effort.”
Although the rationing curtailed travel it did not slow down the “pot luck” dinners that were enjoyed by the Baldwin’s and their friends. In those days they truly were pot luck gatherings, not organized ones, like today, where everyone is assigned what to bring. In the 1940’s in Hiawatha it was a case of grabbing whatever you had in the fridge or cupboard and meet at someone’s house. They might end up with six desserts and two main dishes or the other way around but it did not matter much because the purpose was to get together and visit and they always had an enjoyable time.
One of the sewing clubs that Birdie belonged to for years got together almost every week to sew or stitch or crochet on something while they visited. The ladies were: Sadie Frandsen, Rhea Larsen, Helen Jeffs, Louie Allred, Lucille Olsen, Frances Day, Vivian Yates, Ruth Davis, Belle Reaveley and of course Birdie.
In the 1950’s Bill was given the job of Secretary and Treasure of the local 6363 United Mine Workers Union of America. He must have done a pretty good job of it because he had that job for over 20 years. He was a staunch supporter of the United Mine Workers Union all of his life. While Bill was in that position there were many men, who did not speak or understand English very well, come to Bill’s home to get him to explain something to them.
Birdie was a naturally outgoing and friendly person. Several people have said she was a friend to everyone, no matter their age, who they were or where they came from. She also was a wonderful cook and there was always some of her Greek cookies or Italian Biscuits of fresh homemade bread and butter in her home for anyone who dropped in to visit. And of course there was always a warm pot of coffee on the back of the stove to go with them. Anyone who came to visit always got a snack or a sandwich of some kind whether they wanted it or not.
Even after her son Wallace left to go into the Air Force many of the kids his age still stopped by Birdie’s for a cup of coffee and a cookie or a piece of cake.
Bill and Birdie enjoyed the annual “Miners Vacation”. Because the economy of Hiawatha was completely based around the mining of coal it was not possible for people to take a vacation anytime they wanted to so in the summer they would shut down the mine and the tipple for two weeks and it was miners vacation time.
Many of the families went places together and Birdie and Bill were no exception. The one place that they and their family enjoyed going was Fishlake. There were usually eight to ten families in a group that camped in the same area and it was almost like one big family. Everyone, old and young would jump in and help with setting up camp, food preparation, catching minnows for bait or even bathing the smaller children in a #3 galvanized wash tub that was brought along just for that purpose.
Bill and Birdie’s two children, Wallace and Geraldine had lots of friends and they were all welcome in their home either for lunch, a quick snack, to play Monopoly or to “watch the radio.” Of course it was before TV and the kids used to lay on the floor in the front room and watch the radio. Just like kids do TV today, except there was no picture. They just stared at the radio and listened to Superman, The Shadow, Dick Tracy, Amos and Andy and many others. Of course they all ended with------“Be sure and come back for the next episode.”
After people started moving from Hiawatha many of the old Hiawatha friends continued to get together. One that Birdie fondly remembered was in 1962 when they met at the home of Lavar Scow in Dragerton, Utah. They enjoyed a turkey dinner and talked about the “good old days” most of the day and evening. Those who attended besides Bill and Birdie were: the Lavar Scow’s, Leslie Allreds, Clair Clement’s, Verge Olsen’s, Vic Christensen’s, Domminic Malatchie’s, Myron Grange’s, and Spencer Day’s.
In 1964 Birdie was called to be the Relief Society President in Hiawatha. She says she was almost “swept off her feet” by that. However because of her friendly nature, her cooking and sewing skills and her outgoing personality she enjoyed it very much. She served in that position with Belle Reaveley and Gladys Bearnson for many years. Birdie said many time the thing that she enjoyed about that calling was that she got to know many ladies in Hiawatha better than she had known them before.
The Labor Day celebration held each year in Price, Utah was one of the highlights of the year for the Baldwin’s as it was for almost all the towns in the vicinity. Everyone became involved in the food booths, the games, the rodeo and the parade and anything else that went with that wonderful celebration.
After the Labor Day celebrations were discontinued a group from Hiawatha started meeting together for what was called the Hiawatha Day Reunion. It was held in various places over the years. Some in Granger City Park, Murray Park and Helper City Park but more recently it has been held in the Price City Park. It is a wonderful time to gather and visit and talk about the fun times had in Hiawatha. There are stories to be told and pictures to be seen and “Tall Tale to Tell.” Everyone with a connection to Hiawatha is invited and the attendance varies from year to year from 100 to 150.
Like many families in small towns Bill and Birdie loved to keep a nice looking yard. Bill always kept a small vegetable garden and you could almost judge the coming of spring by seeing Birdie on her hands and knees digging in the dirt to get her flowers planted.
After retirement The Baldwin’s moved to Salt Lake City to be closer to their children and grand children. However they loved their ties to Hiawatha and their friends and they kept in touch with them whenever possible. Their son Wallace must have inherited this love of Hiawatha as he has set up a web-site on the Internet devoted to Hiawatha and its people.
In March of 1980 Bill and Birdie celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Kearns, Utah. They decided not to send out invitations but just to invite people by word of mouth. It was amazing. People kept coming all afternoon and into the evening and when the time came they did not want to leave. There were people of all ages from Hiawatha, Mohrland and Salt Lake that had come to visit and reminisce. I am sure Bill and Birdie had not realized how many lives they had touched.
Some things everyone seems to remember about Birdie was that whenever you came to visit she wanted to feed you. The other was that she was always busy doing some kind of handwork, knitting, crocheting or making doll clothes. She never just sat.
Everyone who knew them said they were just the “typical Small Town American Family” but to their family their love and caring were not typical of the world today but they were extraordinary!
An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument toward the person" or "argument against the person") is an argument which links the validity of a premise to an irrelevant characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise.
Structure of the argument
An ad hominem argument has the basic form:
Person 1 makes claim X
There is something objectionable about Person 1
Therefore claim X is false
The first premise is called a 'factual claim' and is the pivot point of much debate. The contention is referred to as an 'inferential claim' and represents the reasoning process. There are two types of inferential claim, explicit and implicit. The fallacy does not represent a valid form of reasoning because even if you accept both co-premises, that does not guarantee the truthfulness of the contention. This can also be thought of as the argument having an un-stated co-premise.
As an example,You may see a member of AZU responding to a blog post or an article. You'll likely see a reference to Wikisposure as the basis of not believing the article. Or take, for example, Stitches 77's infamous attack on Child Victim Advocate Patty Wetterling. The ad hominem chart now looks like this:
Patty Wetterling states sex offender laws need reform
Stitches 77 claims Patty Wetterling has a sex offender son
Therefore, sex offender laws do not need reform (PS KILL ALL SEX OFFENDERS* [*except AZURSOs)
Such errors in logic are standard at Absolutely Zero Understanding. Is it any wonder Stitches and Co. never debate the facts?
Now that’s a true-blue friend.
I had the best birthday ever. Thank you Leigh, my husband, my mom, my sons, the friends who joined us tonight and the friends and family near and far who gave me the best birthday wishes ever.
Fifty is the new fifty.
There is the poetic and profound:
The Young Man’s Song by W. B. Yeats
I whispered, "I am too young,"
And then, "I am old enough";
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
"Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair,"
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.
Oh, love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away,
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.
Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
There is the concise:
As we grow old…the beauty steals inward. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is the tongue-in-cheek approach, such as this one for soon-to-be-empty nesters:
The best way to keep kids at home is to make the home a pleasant atmosphere...and let the air out of their tires. -- Dorothy Parker
I’m rather fond of this folksy truism:
Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. -- Mark Twain
Finally, I derive comfort from the following:
I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming... suddenly you find - at the age of 50, say - that a whole new life has opened before you. -- Agatha Christie
Anyone who’s been within close proximity, literally or cyber-ly, to me this fall knows I’ve been moaning and groaning my way toward fifty. Dear Husband and I went the other day to order the cake for Saturday’s birthday pasta party (if the ground blizzards and fitting 50-mph winds don’t keep even in-towners away!). The bakery manager, a cancer survivor and recipient of a two heart stents, told me she’ll hit that number in July and embraces every birthday. She reminded me to do the same. When I wasn’t begging my husband to tell me I looked much younger than her, despite the gray in my hair, he gently pointed out cancer will age a person.
Personally I think the stress eating I’ve done this month has plumped me out so much a wrinkle won’t show until the spring thaw.
But enough about me.
Or at least about this blasted birthday. So I didn’t lose the ten pounds I wanted to, instead managing to find a few. I will, I always do. Beginning now, I’m a full-time free-lance writer, my childhood goal. And for the record, I’m glad I’m not Mrs. Donny Osmond or Mrs. David Cassidy (like there ever was a chance).
And the best piece of advice about this birthday came today from my Great-Aunt Lou, who turns 90 in February.
“It’s just a number, don’t sweat it.”
Thank you poets and scribes and Aunt Lou.
Earlier today, I wrote the following:
Tonight my husband’s parents, siblings, spouses and families are gathered in Minnesota celebrating Lille Juleaften or Little Christmas Eve. In Denmark, ‘the old country,’ the main celebration of Christmas falls on the night before, December 24th. In Minneapolis the Hanson/Knutson clan is eating oyster stew. The nasty liver paste I can’t spell, let alone pronounce, is probably on the menu too. Over the next few days the exquisite risalamande will be made and served. It’s a dish of rice pudding, whipped cream and almonds served with raspberry sauce. A whole almond is hidden in the dessert and served to the youngest member present who receives a gift of candy, sometimes even the traditional marzipan pig.
There’s more, but believe me it just gets worse.
I can’t find the words to say what I want to say, to tie the examples and the theme and wrap it up all nice and neatly like a Christmas package. One not wrapped by me.
Maybe it’s all the sugar fumes I’ve inhaled during my baking binge today.
Hard to believe reading this, but I do get paid for writing. But not this. This is about things that have been on my mind for years or minutes.
Tonight Denmark is on my mind. Erik, is just a hop, skip and a ferry ride away from the ‘old country.’ I want to write about Vikings, and wanderlust and the unaccompanied bus ride my husband took in Aarhus, Denmark when he was seven. I want to wax eloquent about how I'm the poster child mom for ‘letting go,’ but this holiday season I’m in a ‘holding on’ mood. I want to articulate how I’ll be happy when my son’s gorgeous, generous girlfriend lands in Heathrow at the end of the weekend. And I want to thank her parents for letting her go. Instead, I’m waning.
So I’m going to go dip the second batch of buckeyes in chocolate and direct you to my son’s latest blog post…on homesickness. It’s eloquent and expressive, and I’m a proud mom.
Happy Holidays all.
A blizzard plunged the mid-Atlantic region and the East Coast into chaos over the weekend, dumping snow, snarling travel and sending Weather Channel reporters scrambling for shelter. A couple weeks ago a large storm hit here in the Midwest, but since fewer people and less major airports were involved it didn’t merit around-the-clock television coverage.
Nineteen years ago a similar spell of weather affected this part of the country, stretching into the Southwest. It was so cold there was even snow on the ‘cactuses.’
Snow dusting the prickly pears down in Phoenix became part of the ‘mythos’ surrounding the December 21st, 1990 birth of our first son, Erik, in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was so cold in ‘Flag,’ as the locals called the town nestled at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks, that the pipes in our townhouse froze. My doctor finagled another night’s stay for baby and me so we didn't go home to no water.
My parents braved the bad weather and flight delays to come out to see their first grandchild. At six pounds, Erik was so tiny we called him our little monkey baby. Every year on his birthday, I pull out the scrapbooks (old-fashioned notions in this digital age) and marvel at the small, serious infant cradled in his grandmother and grandfather’s arms that first Christmas. His father looks tired but happy, and I look exhausted.
You start to collect the stories of your baby’s life through photos and memories. The endless sleepless nights that give way to finally sleeping through the night…or not as the case may be with Erik. Thanks to Facebook, even though he’s a world away, tucked behind the old ‘Iron Curtain’ on study abroad on his second sojourn to Germany…I can see he still stays up all night.
Parents of newborns don’t have time to ponder deep truths, such as the goal is to someday have them leave you and go out on their own. Constant diaper changes, 2 a.m. (and 3:00 a.m. and 4 a.m.) feedings, teething, and ear infections all keep a weary mom and dad occupied. Before you know it, your baby walks and talks and turns that milestone of one.
Sooner or later, that toddler gets toilet trained and the momentous first day of kindergarten comes.
Then one day you’re sitting with your spouse at a departmental beginning-of-the-year picnic, and your high school sophomore wanders up and tells you, out of the blue, that he’d like to go to Germany. Glibly, parents say in unison “Find a way to pay for it.”
So your child does and off he goes, at 16, to a foreign country for a year as an exchange student. He writes a new story of his life. The Cliff Notes version: he gets accepted to college a year early, comes home, drops out of high school, gets his GED, goes to college a year early. Then goes back to Germany on a university exchange program.
I was afraid for a moment when we left the hospital 19 years ago that the nurse wasn’t going to give me my swaddled-in-yellow-bunting baby. Somehow I though she was going to tell me I hadn’t studied the mythical ‘parenting manual’ enough and was going to flunk motherhood.
The manual doesn’t exist, and motherhood is a fluid occupation. You love them, and squeeze them and roll with the punches.
And collect all the stories you can.
Happy Birthday, Erik.
NEWS FLASH: Tsand trains kitten to kill pedophiles. Unfortunately for him, pedo attack kitten killed Tsand. Static went next. The rest of AZU hightailed it out of town!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE! Though AZU are all Pagans and devil worshipers anyways, we still wish them a Merry Christmas. Give your "anti" the gift that keeps on giving! Give them a subscription to AZUnites! Remember, there is no cure for an "anti" but they can be civilly committed!
In a week, I’ll be fifty.
Recently my mother and younger son helpfully pointed out that technically I already am since I’m closing out my 50th year. It’s a polite way of telling me to quit moanin’ and groanin’ and move on.
My three-months-younger-than-me husband is looking forward to the next decade because his forties tried to, if not kill, at least severely maim him.
A diabetes diagnosis, a big chunk of melanoma and an oddball case of cholesterol-drug-induced hepatitis that exacerbated the diabetes and tromped on his liver all paid calls.
The only casualty of my forties?
In addition to being the smart one, my husband is also not the shallow one. That title belongs to moi.
In pulling out pictures for my ‘special’ birthday blog, I noticed something disconcerting: I have basically the same haircut on my 20th, 30th, and 40th (except for the addition of bangs and even chubbier cheeks) birthdays. This year will be no different, except for the amount of silver.
Now, mind you, over the years I have had perms (good and bad), bobs and even shoulder-length hair.
There was even the unfortunate incident of January 1997 when my foray into Lady Clairol’s ‘Hibiscus’ resulted in purple tips in my short coal black hair instead of the all-over auburn I was hoping for.
Is it any wonder I’ve chosen to go gray?
AZU has all but rolled out the red carpet for Tsand/ "Roar for Truth." You know, THAT guy who used Jessica Lunsford's picture as an avatar!
You know, that Tier 3 sex offender with a lengthy criminal record:
Funny how a little ass kissing goes a long way at AZU. Tsand's just a troll, not really worth my time. However, I just thought I'd post a few gems he wrote this year before be borrows two brain cells to rub together and realize how much shit he left lying around. Hypocrisy and AZU goes hand and hand so Clay Keys will fit right in:
Stitches bashing (or is it "blaspheming the almighty Stitches of the seventy and seven?"):
Hey Tsand, just reminder, AZU worships Lunsford!
Just a reminder: The quote TSand mentioned was found at RSOL: http://www.reformsexoffenderlaws.org/digest.php#0019
I guess TSand got IJED so I hope he took my advice LOL:
PS: You're welcome!
I'll post this one just for kicks!
And on Static:
and finally, let me remind ol' Clay Aiken... er, Keys of this:
Those were good for a laugh, but admittedly I made one little mistake. My only mistake was ever giving TSand a chance, because he is a troll and attacks anyone and everyone simply for kicks. . I almost feel sorry for AZU but they deserve TSand. I hope they destroy each other for all I care.
I’m not going into details, but suffice it to say I’ve been whiney and weepy and self-absorbed.
But for a few hours tonight I was transported when I expected to be traumatized.
Dedicated church youth group leader, Perry Wayne Hanson, another mom and I took 25+ sixth graders to Target to shop for Secret Santa gifts for each other. Nothing got broken, and they bought thoughtful gifts for each other.
As the mom of a 14-year-old and an almost 19-year-old, I’m a veteran field trip chaperone. I’ve been everywhere from a pumpkin patch with kindergartners to New York City with a busload of seventh graders. My finest hour was not a class trip to a Pittsburgh museum when my older son was in fifth grade. I watched helplessly as one of my charges leaned on a glass shelf full of snow globes in the museum gift shop. It snowed all right...
I’m transitioning….too old to have more babies, too young (given the age of my babies) to have grandchildren. Age is creeping up on us, and in some cases galloping. My husband’s 82-year-old mother had her appendix out this week, which was fortunate because a slow-growing spot of cancer was spotted and removed.
That and other concerns made for a long week on the prairie. But it hit a balmy 30 degrees today, and no snow globes crashed to the floor.
Sometimes that’s enough. And sometimes you get caring middle schoolers who remind you of the real reason for the season.
I am writing this as a Catholic priest and therefore from a Catholic perspective. The presentation of the so-called "mainstream" assessment of Global Warming has caused serious concerns in the minds of many scientists and non-scientists, and these concerns include certain ethical questions about the nature of the presentation itself as well as questions relating to scientific methodology and the necessity of maintaining a rigorous commitment to the truth.
In recent weeks we have heard a British Government spokesman say that the scientific objection to the usual presentation of Global Warming comes from a "tiny minority" of scientists. Elsewhere it has become common to hear some scientists and politicians, as well as expert commentators, suggest that most of those academics who object to the so-called "consensus" opinion are not real scientists at all, or have no expertise in climate related disciplines. Both of these statements are unfair and misleading, and one of them is completely untrue.
The Wikipedia website, List of Scientists opposing the mainstream scientific assessment of global warming, tells us that those who oppose the usually accepted presentation fall into three groups; those who believe global warming is not occurring or that it has ceased, those who oppose it on the grounds that the accuracy of IPCC (The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) climate projections is questionable, and those who believe that global warming is caused by natural processes. Whilst it is true that many scientists the world over accept that some kind of global warming is taking place, there are many who do not believe that human activity is a major factor. There is a petition on the internet (Global Warming Petition Project) which, to date, has been signed by 31, 486 American scientists. The petition itself reads;
"We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth"
On the website of the Petition the qualifications of the signers are listed. The broad categories are; "Atmosphere, Earth and Environment" (3,804),
"Computers and Math" (An important category given the reliance on computer models) (935), "Physics and Aerospace" (5,812), "Chemistry" (4, 821), "Biochemistry, Biology and Agriculture" (Another very important category given the measurements related to these disciplines), "Medicine" (3, 046), and "General Engineering & General Science" (10, 103), of which the larger number (9,834) includes the disciplines, Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Metallurgy.
Some will argue that the larger group has nothing to do with climate change and may be dismissed, but part of the problem many people have with the usual presentation of global warming is with the quality or reliability of the scientific methodology. At the same time, as we will see, the credentials of some of those most prominently involved in the IPCC are questionable.
One of the common accusations against scientists who are classed as "Global Warming Sceptics" is that they are in the pay of big business. This has been shown to be unfair and, in some cases, entirely untrue. To take one example, William M. Gray is the Professor Emeritus and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University. He has been quoted as saying;
"This small warming is likely a result of the natural alterations in global ocean currents which are driven by ocean salinity variations. Ocean circulation variations are as yet little understood. Humankind has little or nothing to do with the recent temperature changes. We are not that influential" "I am of the opinion that [global warming] is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people" "So many people have a vested interest in this global-warming thing-all these big labs and research and stuff. The idea is to frighten the public, to get money and study it more"
Whatever one thinks about this last comment, it is clear that some highly qualified people are not at all convinced by the data presented and are, in some cases, even concerned about the reliability of some of those presenting it. Added to this is the often unfair and even scandalous treatment meted out to some of those who dare to question the apparently prevailing view. Little of this is reported in the major newspapers or on the TV News Networks. Some sceptical scientists are now quiet - not because they have changed their views, but because they have been threatened with job loss or have been sidelined. Where sections of the Media have signed up to support the prevailing view, it is difficult for opposing voices to be heard at all. Government Spokesmen and women are allowed to use unscientific terms like "overwhelming evidence" and make unscientific statements like, "The science is indisputable", "The science is there", "The science is in" etc, without any fear of contradiction. For the most part TV News presenters ask no challenging questions, and in referring to sceptics even suggest, by their attitude, the unspoken view that, "of course, no one really takes this seriously, do they?"
Youtube is a good source of information about pro and anti global warming commentators. I discovered a story which will be unknown to most people in the United Kingdom. It concerns a scientist called Dr. Alan Carlin who was a senior research analyst for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), which is now an arm of the American Government. He was asked to draw up a report based on a study of data related to Global Warming. To begin with, the report was not forwarded to others in the EPA, but was held back. A leaked email to Dr. Carlin from his superior leaves us in no doubt that the report was deliberately suppressed because its findings were inconvenient. The Youtube url for the most startling report on this situation is;
This is a report on Fox News which is one of the few News Networks to allow sceptical scientists and commentators a voice.
Since Catholics are, or should be, devoted to truth and justice, it is important to look back at the beginning and early development of the IPCC. As the name suggests, this was not intended to be simply a panel of climate scientists. The IPCC is not only scientific, it is also heavily political. We can see this by looking at its origins.
Shardul Agrawala is a senior economist at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), environment directorate, where he leads the work programme on climate change and development. He is the author of a chapter in the Fourth Assessment report of the IPCC. He has done important work on adaptation to climate change (for example with relation to glacial retreat in Nepal). He is not a climate sceptic but seems to have some concerns about the political aspects of the presentation of climate change. According to him, the IPCC has its roots in a workshop held in 1985 in Villach which was organised by The United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP], The World Meteorological Organisation [WMO] and the non-governmental International Council for Science (ICSU). At that workshop, some scientists, speaking in a personal capacity (not representing their own governments etc), announced a consensus that, "in the first half of the next century a rise of global mean temperature would occur which is greater than any in man's history". It was the United States Government which took this up and promoted it. The US wanted an inter-governmental mechanism. There was some concern in the US that this "consensus" would encourage costly policies, and so, there was a need to "buy time". This formal recognition of scientific expertise was of great importance since it allowed wider publication of this information and invited other governments to become involved and enter into negotiation with each other.
The conference statement mentioned other factors thought to be connected with climate change: sea level rises, greenhouse gases, acid deposition, and threats to the ozone shield. It was suggested that use of coal and oil should be reduced and energy conservation should be encouraged to help reduce acid deposition. This, it was thought, would also reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Concern about the ozone layer led to the suggestion that the release of chloro-flurocarbons (CFCs) should be discouraged (it was also thought that the reduction of CFCs would slow the rate of climate change).
There had been previous conferences on climate related matters, but the conclusions of the 1985 meeting went further than anything that had been said before. In 1983 a US National Research Council report had advocated "caution not panic". There had been a previous conference at Villach in 1980. The conclusions of that meeting were also far more cautious. What happened in five years to cause such a radical response? The world situation had not worsened to any great extent, so why the change of pace?
In a paper published in 1997, Wendy Franz (then at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) suggested the answer lies in the fact that the United Nations agencies invited the eighty-nine scientists to attend in a personal capacity, without domestic governmental restraints. These agencies, acting together, were able to encourage policy recommendations under the name of the United Nations, freeing those scientists from the need to seek approval elsewhere. This was an expression of a supranational body answerable only to itself. It is an example of the move towards international policy making which we have seen elsewhere (for example in the European Parliament). This brings in another question which we need to consider, that of "World Government".
Mention of World Government brings to mind the phrase conspiracy theories. Another well-known phrase also comes to mind; "Just because I am paranoid, it doesn't mean that they are not out to get me!" In other words, we may need to look at fears and theories we have dismissed as "off the wall" to see if there is any truth in them. Before I became involved in researching climate change I never took suggestions of people promoting "world government" very seriously. I would have been tempted to consign such fears to the "lunatic fringe". Didn't somebody once say that the lunatics are often right?
One of the most important people in the story of the climate change controversy is Maurice Strong. He was asked, by UN Secretary General, U Thant, to Chair the first 'UN Conference on the Human Environment' (Stockholm 1972). Strong had risen to these heights from his post on the security staff at the United Nations in New York. Christopher Booker ("The Real Global Warming Disaster". Continuum 2009) tells us that Strong was born in Canada 1929. He experienced the hardships of the Great Depression and became a socialist. Inspired by Roosevelt and Churchill and the beginning of the United Nations after the war, he became a believer in world government. Through his experience in the energy industry and his contacts with senior politicians, he found himself in charge of Canada's overseas development agency under the Prime Minister, Lester Pearson. This was in the 1960's when the environmentalist movement was becoming popular. Strong saw it as a cause that could bring about his dream of world government. By 1976 he had retired and became a wealthy business man. He became a member of the Club of Rome which had been set up to call world leaders together to discuss the question of over-population, a concern fired by Paul Ehrlich's "The Population Bomb". In 1972, the Club of Rome published a book called, "Limits to Growth". It sold thirty million copies and became the biggest selling book in the history of the environmentalist movement. In 1983, Strong was picked by the Secretary General Kofi Annan to join the 'World Commission on Environment and Development' This was chaired by the Norwegian prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland. Strong was convinced that man-made global warming should be one of the Commission's main concerns. He had been impressed by the 1985 Villach meeting. One of the UN bodies involved, the UNEP, was his creation.
It should be no surprise that the question of over-population has been raised again at Copenhagen (December 2009). The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has called for a reduction in world population in the interest of the environment. An article in the Daily Telegraph of Friday, December 11th, 2009 suggested that the topic was in the air but had not yet been openly acknowledged. Now it has, and as many Catholic watchers of these events will have predicted, it will now move centre stage. It is clear from the UNFPA report (see LifeSiteNews.com) that the focus will be on encouraging both contraception and (when deemed necessary of course) abortion. Many of us saw this coming. Once again it will be the people of the developing countries who will fall under the weight of the propaganda. I suspect some of their leaders already know this. Not only are the developing countries at risk with regard to their economic development, but their moral and social environment will soon be under attack by those who may have set out to seek to alleviate poverty but have ended up controling the poor. Some may wonder how I can say this. The control of the poor is already under way in the major countries of the West. Studies on this include Star Parker's book, "Uncle Sam's Plantation". In any case we have already witnessed insidious attempts to control the population of the poor in Africa. The policies of the Chinese Government, especially with regard to Tibet, have hardly raised an eyebrow in Western corridors of power, and those atrocities have rarely been reported in the Western Media which, in many areas, is controlled by liberal pro-contraceptive "progressives" who are not only "anti-life" but, increasingly, anti-Catholic.
Having said all that, and knowing that some will argue with my interpretation of the facts, there is still the problem of justice and the need for truth in the widespread scientific community. We do not need to deny that something like global warming is taking place, but there is still room - and time - for further discussion about the causes and the seriousness of the situation. Name-calling is no way to deal with dissenters. Earlier this year (2009) a special report was submitted to the United States Congress. It was not widely reported although the whole text was available on the internet. The report was signed by over 400 scientists who disagree with some aspect of the prevailing presentation of global warming. Many of them are at the top of their profession in climate-related science. This number has increased over the last five years, and increased by 100%. The fact that this is not widely known should make us think. What else is being kept off our news bulletins?
Unless we watch and read up on these things we are liable to find ourselves in very difficult situations when it comes to dealing with the Press. If Catholics too readily accept the common view of climate change and global warming, they may find themselves struggling to defend the right to life and the right to bear children against anti-natalism and the misuse of the propaganda they have already accepted as the truth. The present situation calls for careful discernment. Those who are concerned about these things are not all "global warming deniers", and many of them are certainly not ignorant of most of the facts. Unlike some of the media-supported climate change scientists and politicians, they do not make definitive statements, but try to ask questions and point to uncomfortable inconsistencies. They are not "flat-earthers" as Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called them, and they just might be the voice of sanity in the mad house.
Fr. John Abberton
This week marks the end of an era for me. After not quite twenty years of working with college students, I’m ‘retiring.’ Teaching was something I literally fell into, first as an adjunct then working my way up to teaching and directing advising for a journalism school at a large university.
As chronicled previously, my husband and I were ready for a less hectic lifestyle and eager to be closer to family so we made a big move. I spent last year tutoring students three days a week in the writing center of the much smaller university where he accepted a new position. This was my ‘rehab’ job to ease me into fulfilling my goal of staying home fulltime to write. Despite the dismal job prospects for me in our new location, I simply couldn’t go from what felt like working outside the home 24/7 to zip.
By this fall I whittled my tutoring schedule down to one day a week and by Thanksgiving had made the decision not to return in the spring.
It’s a good decision, and certainly a well-timed one emotionally. My writing partner/mother and I sold our first book together when my older son was a toddler. Nearly 30 books later, he’s toddled off to Germany for the second time as a college sophomore doing a study abroad. His younger brother is a freshman in high school and already talking colleges and career choices. I want to spend more time with my mother, who was always there on snow days, sick days, and goin’ to one-more-work-event days (usually nights) for my children. And the timing is just right to pursue my long-time dream of making ‘free-lance writer’ my full-time occupation.
I loved college. I loved everything about it. Well, not the math or science classes but those were irrelevant to the rest. So much freedom, so many choices, but still that cocoon of not yet being tossed out into the ‘real world.’ Of course by the last semester of my senior year, I was ready to hurtle into that real world. But that’s the natural order of things.
Perhaps because of my affinity for those years, I adored teaching college students. I love my sons desperately, and it’s a good thing I never had girls because I can’t do hair and hate to shop, but have had many honorary daughters over the years. Honorary sons, too.
A fellow tutor and ‘honorary’ daughter is graduating from the University of Nebraska at Kearney at the end of the week. She’s heading across the world to fulfill one of her dreams. I’m going to miss her something fierce, the way I miss other students whose lives have touched mine over the years.
It was a good run.
Interesting that Derek doesn't object to the RSOl plugging his website! I don't think the RSOL has any plans to condemn the pedophile NAMBLA group anytime soon, Like Sosen recently did. Derek will condemn the RSOL in a private email but won't public-ally condemn them & why is that Derek? Your "silence" only sings praises. Your silence says you APPROVE!
I see TSand has learned Distortion 101. By the way, the fact that AZU posts so much boychat stuff on their site and links to them must mean AZU supports Boychat. After all, AZU is the biggest promoter of Boychat material there is. And going by his logic, then this anti-anti blog supports the antis simply because the antis have put links to my sites and vice versa. .
It is funny how AZU has accepted TSand into their ranks. Why, just a couple of months ago, TSand was attacking AZU while using Jessica Lunsford's photo as an avatar. Or the old "Cunty" Stitches 77 blog
They even added him to their idiotic Wikidposers site
- Clay Keys - aka Tsand, flahaulboy, brownbilly68, jhnjoneson, jonbulb, BigBird, Big John, toesinthemud - convicted of LEWD AND LASCIVIOUS ACT Child under 16, in addition to a long rap sheet.
Jeremy Jason Bolick - aka static - staff Member of SOSEN, convicted of 3 Counts of Possession Of Child Pornography, and 2 Counts of Indecent Exposure, in two different places, at two different times.
Its amazing what a little ass kissing at AZU does. Lets not forget TSand's old feud with Stitches:
http://www.blogger.com/profile/12567799197450887448http://stitches77azu.blogspot.com/ (still up but with articles erased)
Stitches has stated many times in the past these two were imminent threats. Now, since they attack a common enemy, they overlook such things like how TSand's following all sorts of children groups on Twitter.
http://twitter.com/ROAR4Truth -- simply click on the tab to see who he follows. Again, AZU misses this... at least until TSand pisses them off again.
For more than a decade I taught beat reporting to journalism students at West Virginia University. This was always their first assignment:
For more than a decade I taught beat reporting to journalism students at West Virginia University. This was always their first assignment:
Interview one classmate on what/where his or her favorite place was as a child.
Consider the following:
- sights, sounds, smells it evokes
- memories involved
- ever revisited?
- Still derive comfort, enjoyment, etc. from it?
After the interview: Making as much use of description as possible, write a short story (minimum 1/2 page).
Every semester ‘grandma’s house’ was the winner, followed closely by the beach or a backyard filled with swing sets and childhood innocence.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about place, especially this week when a ‘storm of the century’ blizzard whipped across the prairie, dumping snow, bringing fierce temperatures and high winds.
I grew up in Michigan, and even though I haven’t lived there in nearly 30 years, that still defines me. When I was 14, my best friend was Heidi Flower. Her German-born mom, artist Helga Flower, made the best ever peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate. To this day I can close my eyes and taste that perfect sweetness and feel the dry chill of that particular Sault Ste. Marie December.
Perhaps because the following month, a boy kissed me for the first time.
I married an Iowa boy, and years later gave birth to my first son, Erik, in Flagstaff, Arizona during one of the coldest Decembers on record in the Southwest.
We moved to West Virginia, had another son, Andrew, and spent 15 years in that rugged, beautiful state before moving to Nebraska.
After this blustery week, even a Michigan girl who has lived in Iowa and hauled a bundled baby to the pediatrician during the winter of 1991 when 80 inches of snow fell in one month in Flagstaff, Arizona…gets defeated.
Now in addition to missing the Great Lakes and the San Francisco Peaks, I miss the Appalachian falls and springs.
I ask my son in Germany what the weather is like, remembering the beautiful snowfall we encountered on our visit two years ago. His answer is always the same: rainy, cold, dreary.
The prairie is growing on me…slowly. I’m learning to appreciate the year-round blue skies, something I missed intensely when we moved from Arizona to West Virginia. I remind myself it rained non-stop that first fall in Morgantown, West Virginia when Erik was a toddler, and we were both used to being able to go to the park every day. Instead of noticing the lack of trees, I’m starting to find the trees.
A friend of mine, poet and essayist Rob Merritt, teaches English at a college in Virginia. He was born in North Carolina, which seems like a foreign country to a northern girl. He writes about place in The Nantahala Review.
I’m thinking place can be fluid, carried around inside of us then coaxed out when we need the memory of that first kiss to take away the chill of mid-life.
As a child the words filled me with glee: Snow Day!
As the mother of two school-age children, for many years the words filled me with incredulity. Not another snow day!
Today’s snow day found my husband and me crunching along the back way to the YMCA to get some exercise. The place, slated to close mid-morning, was fairly empty.
As I walked around the track, the strains of Andrea Zonn’s Galilee Road wafting through my ears, I glanced down at the gymnasium floor. Childcare providers were riding herd on a passel of pre-schoolers. One girl had a tow headed little boy perched on her hip. Her stance was so achingly familiar to the way I held my boys, to the way all mothers seem to stand when their children are that age.
Only the fact I had one ratty Kleenex prevented me from bursting into tears.
I don’t miss my children being little. Really, I don’t. I relish their independence and self-reliance. This week I’ve had several conversations via Skype with my older son, Erik, about his potential plans for next summer.
I found myself repeating over and over, “I don’t care what you do,” then adding “You know what I mean.”
He reassures me each time that he does know what I mean.
Maybe that’s what nearly had me scrounging for tissues this morning. My flaxen-haired serious toddler has grown into a world traveler, is in love with a wonderful girl, and likes talking potential graduate schools and urban planning issues with his father.
When I say I don’t care, my son knows it really means “I trust you.”
…or random musings that have nothing to do with anything.
- Georgia O’Keefe or Curious George?
- Maine or Miami?
- Mayflower or Santa Maria?
- Hibiscus or hyacinth?
- Subtext or subterfuge?
- Centrifuge or centimeter?
- Arbor Day or May Day?
- Lions or tigers?
- Zoos or amusement parks?
- Pink or blue?
- Gum or mints?
- Football or Food Network?
- Long or short?
- E-mail or texting?
- Yesterday, today or tomorrow?
In three weeks plus change, I will be 50. There I said it, out loud, well kind of. As I finish up on the treadmill, I mull (over a Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris duet), how I can still be whiney about this birthday?
Two dear friends never saw their 40th or 50th ones respectively. I so need to embrace the next decade, not continue to gripe about it. Nevertheless, why does fifty feel like a popcorn kernel that gets lodged between a tooth and the gum, causing the tongue to worry it out after days of flossing and brushing fail to?
I can clearly remember details about each birthday that ended in zero, going all the way back to the first one, including how I wore my hair and what I weighed. But you knew that was coming.
Ten ushered in the 1970s and the death of my beloved grandfather, 20 was all about hope and optimism and a very small jeans size, 30 brought the birth of my first son (by just a few days), and 40, well, started rocky but heralded an amazing decade filled with highs and lows.
Fifty feels like being perched on the edge of a precipice, knowing full well you’re not going to fall but wondering if it’s time to take a leap of faith anyway.
My sons are turning into the men they’re destined to be. Time for their mother to quit complaining and take joy in a new decade.
If you’re traveling along I80 in the middle of the country on the day after Christmas, stop in and have some pasta. Don’t worry, I’m not cooking. There will be cake and no whining.
The other night I dashed off what I thought was a clever little blog entry. Following are the first few paragraphs:
I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled content of this blog to express shock and dismay about an oh-so-trivial matter. My media savvy college professor husband does not know what Jon Gosselin looks like.
This was revealed to me when I commented to him how the husband of someone we know resembles the TLC-traumatized male half of Jon and Kate Plus Eight. In my defense, I have never watched the show. Ever.
However…I have been known to peruse the glossy tabloids in the supermarket checkout and even to plunk down some hard-earned dollars if the cover promises a story on a contestant on the Biggest Loser or Kirstie Alley’s weight battles.
Jon and Kate’s marital woes had been plastered on magazine covers for so many months that one magazine promised a ‘Gosselin-free edition’ on its cover.
I then segued into talking about my favorite TLC show, ‘What Not to Wear,’ and how I love makeover shows. How the power to transform oneself never ceases to fascinate me.
Somehow I wrapped it all up by proclaiming that unlike Kate Gosselin, I love that man of mine, even if he wouldn’t know a picture of Jon Gosselin from a picture of Celebrity X.
And that’s when I got into trouble.
I like my husband to read my blog posts before I put them up. Husband said he certainly would know the difference between Kate’s mate…and Gilligan. Yes, I used Bob Denver as my example. There’s a slight resemblance, after all. Okay, very slight.
It is important to note that in our marriage I am the mercurial, clever (or so I thought) one. He is the highly intelligent calm one. His feathers are never ruffled, and if they are, woe unto the ruffler. My dh took umbrage with my not-so-clever wordplay, and I took umbrage with him.
We joke about it nearly twenty years later, but we once had a horrid argument about the grammatical correctness of a sentence in The New York Times. Husband said to me coldly: “I could diagram it for you.”
When two journalism majors marry, life can be weird.
Our second year of marriage we rented an old farmhouse in rural Iowa. We were both working at the local newspaper, he in the newsroom, me in circulation then composing. A ‘nepotism’ policy prevented spouses from working in the same department. I was miserable.
That house was so cold we literally had ice in the bathtub and needed to thaw the tub before using it. As the wind howled around us at night, huddled as we were in our long underwear in bed, we wondered what we’d gotten ourselves into regarding marriage. It would have been easy to go our separate ways at that point. But when I thought about what kind of future I wanted, it always came back to wanting babies with the man I’d married. The man I loved. He felt the same way. One night I sprang up in bed and told him I thought he should apply to grad school. He really wanted to be a college professor.
The rest is marital and parental history.
Now it doesn’t even take ice in the bathtub to set me off sometimes. I’m happy to pout over petty annoyances if I’m feeling cranky. But when I think about the imminent empty nest years (and I suspect the blog ‘incident’ was triggered by my realization that my youngest goes to college in just three and a half years…my youngest!), I can’t imagine not spending them with my husband of two and a half decades plus.
Even if he doesn’t know what Jon Gosselin looks like.
Then, last night, I was informed that the date has changed. At least with regard to the Minneapolis Honorary Consulate. For those in the Midwest, the Honorary Consulate will still accept passport renewal applications until sometime in April 2010. I haven't been given an exact date, but this does buy Norwegian nationals at least another four months to start the process (though I strongly suggest that if you have a passport that expires in the next couple of years start the process ASAP). Once I have a firm date in April I'll pass it along.
Also, has anyone heard if the other Honorary Consulates have been allowed the same extension? Leave a comment if you know.
At least he is the cutest little stink bug in the world, though!
I am blaming my lack of pictures partially on my sister, Caitlan, who, after using my camera to take some pictures of herself to send in with her mission papers, accidentally left Idaho with my memory card. I am too cheap to buy another one, so I borrowed my dad's for a while until Hooray! she gave my card back this weekend. Caitlan, by the way, received the most enviable news, and I'd like to think that her fabulous pictures with my camera helped.
Anyway, I didn't take any pictures of our weekend, but we really had the most splendid Thanksgiving. My mom made the turkey and it was divine-- probably the best turkey I've had in years and years. Her trick? She let the turkey sit under its little foil tent for an extra 30 minutes. That's it. My contribution to our Turkey day, aside from some darling (if I don't say so myself) little place cards and napkin holders, was the gravy. This was my very first time attempting a real (read: not from a packet) turkey gravy, with drippings and everything, so I was a bit nervous. But, success! Compliments even! I may even be able to make a homemade gravy again! Next time I'll have to take a picture.