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Two Cows … No Hoof Left Unstepped On!


During much of my adult life I enjoyed reading and hearing about politics. I've always voted since first becoming old enough to do so. Yet as important as this aspect of responsible citizenship is, I've known all along that politicians are not the answer to the problems of society. In recent years the political scene, especially on the national level, has left me increasingly disenchanted.

I usually stay away from political things in my iv's because it's a realm of life where people hold very strong personal views, and ivman.com is about a break from stress and tension rather than being another cause of stress and tension. 8-)

However, several things lately have me more sick-to-death than ever of most things political! Is anyone else out there sick of the politicizing of this war, with little or no regard for what's best for our country or our military personnel in harm's way?! It seems that for some, power and advancement of an agenda far outweigh what is right and prudent! Also, is anyone else out there already sick of the 2008 presidential campaign?! Give us a break already!!! Starting the whole thing up over a year before the first primary! Good grief! I keep hoping that everyone will be so sick of all the candidates with hats currently in the ring that by the time the primaries actually roll around, these candidates will be off the scene and the voters will finally be presented with some real candidates worth voting for!!!

Because of my frustration, I'd like to poke fun at it all - and then some! I think enough "sacred cows" are lampooned in today's iv that everyone should be amused through most of it.

Anyway, off those soapboxes and on to the iv....

TWO COWS - A Bovine Guide to Political, Corporate, and Societal Theory

Here are some philosophical insights based on COWS, with no hoof left un-stepped-on...

FEUDALISM: You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

PURE SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.

BUREAUCRATIC SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and as many eggs as the regulations say you should need.

PURE COMMUNISM: You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

RUSSIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

DICTATORSHIP: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

ANARCHY: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors try to kill you and take the cows.

TOTALITARIANISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.

FASCISM: You have two cows. The government seizes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

PURE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

SINGAPOREAN DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed farm animals in an apartment.

DEMOCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair "Cowgate". Or if you already have two cows, the government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

REPUBLICANS: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?

DEMOCRATS: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office that put a tax on your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money, buy a cow, and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous. Barbara Streisand sings for you.

LIBERTARIANS: You have two cows. You let them do what they want. You tell everyone else to go away. What you do with *your* cows is no one else's business!

UNITED NATIONISM: You have two cows. France vetoes you from milking them. The United States and Britain veto the cows from milking you. New Zealand abstains.

REDISTRIBUTIONISM: You have two cows. Everyone should have the same amount of cow. The government takes both cows, cuts them up, and spends more than the cows are worth giving everyone a small portion of cow.

BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. After that it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

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some corporate and personal philosophies...

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead and hire a consultant to analyze why.

A BRAZILIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You enter into a partnership with an American corporation. Soon you have 1000 cows and the American corporation declares bankruptcy.

A BRITISH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You feed them sheep's brains and they go mad. The government doesn't do anything.

A FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

A GERMAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You worship them.

AN IRAQI CORPORATION: You have two cows. They go into hiding. They send radio tapes of their mooing.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called Cowkimon and market them worldwide.

A MEXICAN CORPORATION: You think you have two cows, but you're not sure where they are. You'll look for them tomorrow.

A SWISS CORPORATION: You have two cows. Somebody else has 5,000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge them for storing their 5000 cows with yours.

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some off-center societal movements...

ARISTOCRATISM: You have two cows. You sell both and buy one really big cow - with a pedigree.

ENVIRONMENTALISM: You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them and fines you for the methane gas they emit.

FEMINISM: You have two cows. You don't need a bull - just adopt a calf.

IDEALISM: You have two cows. You get married, and your spouse milks them.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: You are associated with (the concept of "ownership" is a symbol of the war-mongering, intolerant past) two differently-aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender....

POP CULTURE: Whoa, dude, there's, like...these two cows, man. You gotta have some of this milk, ya know?

SOCRATIC METHODISM: How many cows do I have? Why?

SURREALISM: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

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All is well here at our house. The weeks between Bible Conference and graduation always fly by, and this first week has been no exception to that! Megan and Drew are doing well, but since he's not been sleeping well during the night, he has two tired parents. Mark and Katie are going up to see them all this weekend. Grandma and I wish we could be stowaways....

This coming week is the annual Living Gallery on campus. We are looking forward to seeing the presentation which has become a part of our Easter celebration here.

quotation...

"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - Ronald Reagan

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Rob

Sacred cows often make the best hamburgers!

Roller Coaster Rides


One of the neat features of posting to the blog instead of sending the iv's by email is that I can include pictures or even have an almost totally pictorial iv. The way I used to have to send the iv's by email was text only, so pictures were an impossibility.

Today's iv is a series of pictures I received this weekend of one of the roller coasters at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. I grew up about 50 miles from Cedar Point, and going there at least once each summer was just a given in our family. The place has grown and changed immensely since the days of my youth, but it's always been known for roller coasters. I haven't been to Cedar Point in about 10 years, but when I went there last, I loved their roller coaster called the Magnum. As much as I love roller coasters, from the pictures below, I don't know if this grandpa's heart could take the kind of ride delivered by this roller coaster that debuted at Cedar Point in 2003 - the amusement park's 16th roller coaster!

Though it has since been succeeded in 2005 by Kingda Ka in New Jersey as the highest and fastest roller coaster, with an at-that-time record-breaking height of 420 feet and record-breaking speed of 120 mph, Top Thrill Dragster delivers on its promise of thrilling riders at Cedar Point. The last picture in the series below says it all.

Top Thrill Dragster - shot 1

Top Thrill Dragster - shot 2

Top Thrill Dragster - shot 3

Top Thrill Dragster - shot 4

Top Thrill Dragster - shot 5

As promised, this final picture says it all....

picture of that says it all

It's not for certain that that picture is actually of someone who had just been on Top Thrill Dragster, but I'm not sure it's not authentic either. That's what I would probably look like if I rode this roller coaster!

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After the roller coaster our daughter and son-in-law have been on for the past few weeks, we are delighted that Drew was able to go home this afternoon - without even a monitor on him! Grandma and I got to hear him cry on the phone tonight. What a blessing! He goes to see his pediatrician Tuesday morning, and Megan goes to see her doctor Wednesday morning. Her 6-week check-up is already scheduled - it will be two days before her original due date! We are praising the Lord for so many direct answers to prayer! We hope that the roller coaster we've all been on for the past several weeks has finally pulled into the station.

Below is a picture of Drew without tubes!

picture of no tubes!

Below is a picture of Drew in his car seat during a trial run at the hospital the other day...

picture of Drew in his carseat

quotation...

"Can you honestly look at the emptiness of our culture and say 'that's what I want for my life.'?" - Rev. Rick Cross

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

A picture is worth a thousand words, but it uses up a thousand times the memory.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…


A while back I received an email with what purported to be some winning entries to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC). During my 34 years of teaching French, I've graded my share of student compositions. Some things that students have written, not always intentionally, have made me laugh out loud. The most memorable is what one student wrote in a composition for second semester French - they have to write the first paragraph of a thriller. One student wrote (and I translate) something like "The man and his dog rounded the corner and found the baker lying in the alley behind the bakery with a spoon in his chest." This student had obviously not taken the time to look up the French word for "knife" in the dictionary and gone with her memory. I commented on her paper that that must have been a horribly painful way to die! I still laugh at this one, but the really humorous twist on this is that that student went on to minor in French and is now living in Paris, France, where she's been transferred to work for three years with the Ernst and Young accounting firm.

I did a little research online about this contest. If you go to the Bulwer-Lytton site, be warned that some of what you find may not be to your liking. I trudged through a lot to give you what I'm posting today. 8-) Here's some of what I learned from Wikipedia and from the official site for the BLFC:

Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton (May 25, 1803–January 18, 1873) was an English novelist, playwright, and politician. Lord Lytton was a florid, popular writer of his day, who coined such phrases as "the great unwashed", "pursuit of the almighty dollar", "the pen is mightier than the sword", and the infamous incipid "It was a dark and stormy night." Despite the popularity in his heyday, today his name is known as a byword for bad writing. Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. The first year there were only three entries, but the contest has really taken off since then.

Here's the opening sentence of Bulwer-Lytton's novel Paul Clifford (1830): "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents - except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

(And here I had always attributed "It was a dark and stormy night..." to Snoopy sitting atop his doghouse with his typewriter! Is nothing sacred?! The "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized Bulwer-Lytton for years!)

"Lyttony" of Grand Prize Winners (I'm posting the ones I enjoyed most.)

The camel died quite suddenly on the second day, and Selena fretted sulkily and, buffing her already impeccable nails - not for the first time since the journey began - pondered snidely if this would dissolve into a vignette of minor inconveniences like all the other holidays spent with Basil. - Gail Cain, San Francisco, CA (1983 Winner)

The bone-chilling scream split the warm summer night in two, the first half being before the scream when it was fairly balmy and calm and pleasant for those who hadn't heard the scream at all, but not calm or balmy or even very nice for those who did hear the scream, discounting the little period of time during the actual scream itself when your ears might have been hearing it but your brain wasn't reacting yet to let you know. - Patricia E. Presutti, Lewiston, NY (1986 Winner)

Professor Frobisher couldn't believe he had missed seeing it for so long - it was, after all, right there under his nose - but in all his years of research into the intricate and mysterious ways of the universe, he had never noticed that the freckles on his upper lip, just below and to the left of the nostril, partially hidden until now by a hairy mole he had just removed a week before, exactly matched the pattern of the stars in the Pleides, down to the angry red zit that had just popped up where he and his colleagues had only today discovered an exploding nova. - Ray C. Gainey, Indianapolis, IN (1989 Winner)

Paul Revere had just discovered that someone in Boston was a spy for the British, and when he saw the young woman believed to be the spy's girlfriend in an Italian restaurant he said to the waiter, "Hold the spumoni - I'm going to follow the chick an' catch a Tory." - John L. Ashman, Houston, TX (1995 Winner)

The moment he laid eyes on the lifeless body of the nude socialite sprawled across the bathroom floor, Detective Leary knew she had committed suicide by grasping the cap on the tamper-proof bottle, pushing down and twisting while she kept her thumb firmly pressed against the spot the arrow pointed to, until she hit the exact spot where the tab clicks into place, allowing her to remove the cap and swallow the entire contents of the bottle, thus ending her life. - Artie Kalemeris, Fairfax, VA (1997 Winner)

The corpse exuded the irresistible aroma of a piquant, ancho chili glaze enticingly enhanced with a hint of fresh cilantro as it lay before him, coyly garnished by a garland of variegated radicchio and caramelized onions, and impishly drizzled with glistening rivulets of vintage balsamic vinegar and roasted garlic oil; yes, as he surveyed the body of the slain food critic slumped on the floor of the cozy, but nearly empty, bistro, a quick inventory of his senses told corpulent Inspector Moreau that this was, in all likelihood, an inside job. - Bob Perry, Milton, MA (1998 Winner)

Through the gathering gloom of a late-October afternoon, along the greasy, cracked paving-stones slick from the sputum of the sky, Stanley Ruddlethorp wearily trudged up the hill from the cemetery where his wife, sister, brother, and three children were all buried, and forced open the door of his decaying house, blissfully unaware of the catastrophe that was soon to devastate his life. - Dr. David Chuter, Kingston, Surrey, ENGLAND (1999 Winner)

A small assortment of astonishingly loud brass instruments raced each other lustily to the respective ends of their distinct musical choices as the gates flew open to release a torrent of tawny fur comprised of angry yapping bullets that nipped at Desdemona's ankles, causing her to reflect once again (as blood filled her sneakers and she fought her way through the panicking crowd) that the annual Running of the Pomeranians in Liechtenstein was a stupid idea. - Sera Kirk, Vancouver, BC (2001 Winner)

She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight...summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail...though the term "love affair" now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism...not unlike "sand vein," which is after all an intestine, not a vein...and that tarry substance inside certainly isn't sand...and that brought her back to Ramon. - Dave Zobel, Manhattan Beach, CA (2004 Winner)

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Here are some that weren't chosen as winners, and some were actually given "dishonorable mention!"

It was a day, like any other day, in that Linus got up, faced the sunrise, used his inhaler, applied that special cream between his toes, wrote a quick note and put it in a bottle, and wished he'd been stranded on the island with something other than 40 cases each of inhalers, decorative bottles, and special toe cream. - Chris Harget, Campbell, CA

As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it. - David C. Mortensen, Pocatello, ID

He loved her like no other, their romance developing quickly, like the rapid growth of farm swine which grow from 2 to 4 pounds daily until they're fully grown and put to market for slaughter, or like the rapidly growing cells that produce moose antlers until they fall off in early spring, and suddenly Bill sensed the imminent doom of his romance lying in wait. - Jeremy Perreaux, Sarnia, Ontario

She looked at her hands and saw the desiccated skin hanging in Shar-Pei wrinkles, confetti-like freckles, and those dry, dry cuticles - even her "Fatale Crimson" nail color had faded in the relentless sun to the color of old sirloin - and she vowed if she ever got out of the Sahara alive, she'd never buy polish on sale at Walgreen's again. - Christin Keck, Kent, OH

The victim said her attacker was nondescript - 5' 10 and 3/4", 163 pounds, with Clairol #83N hair (a hint of #84N at his temples) - and last seen wearing Acuvue2 contacts, a white Hanes 65/35% poly-cotton t-shirt with a 3mm round Grey Poupon stain on the neckband, Levi's 501s missing the second button, and Nike Crosstrainers with muddy aglets. - Linda Fields, Framingham, MA

Lisa moved like a cat, not the kind of cat that moves with a slinky grace but more like the kind that always falls off the book shelf when he's washing himself and then gets all mad at you like it's your fault (which it wasn't although it probably was kind of mean to laugh at him like that), although on the bright side, she hardly ever attacked Ricky's toes in his sleep. - Debra Allen, Wichita Falls, TX

When he heard the woman upstairs scream, the Maytag man's heart thumped in his chest like an off-balance washer full of heavy bath towels. - Linda Shakespeare, Elk Grove, CA (real name? I don't know - that's how it came! Rob adds on 15 Aug., 2007 - if you look at the comments to this post, Linda Shakespeare herself commented on this!)

Words cannot describe the exquisite loveliness of the brilliant azure sky with its cerulean striations of periwinkle, cornflower, and cyan. - Mary Barberio, Northville, MI

Like an over-ripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor. - John Renfro Davis, Conroe, TX

"This is almost worth the high blood pressure!" he thought as yet another mosquito exploded. - Richard Patching, Calgary, Alberta

Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do. - John Witschey, Alexandria, VA

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Many have been asking how Megan and Drew are doing, so I'll give a quick update. Megan is steadily feeling better and stronger, though she is still anemic. Drew is still in the NICU, but he's gaining an ounce or two a day. Several times in the past few days, he has stopped breathing as he is eating. Each time this happens, it pushes his release from the hospital off by 48 hours. Jim is cheerful but tired - on top of his work schedule, he's got a lot of running around to do since Megan can't drive yet. It's hard to believe the baby is already two weeks old today! Wow! *So much* has happened in the past two weeks!

This week is our annual Bible Conference here on campus. It's been a great time of spiritual refreshment and fellowship. My wife and I have been invited to drop in on several class reunions tomorrow evening. I guess this is all part of our being among the "old timers" now. It's been great to run into people from all over the world and from many decades of my life and teaching!

quotation...

"When was the last time your king heard your voice?" - Dr. Will Senn

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eeking out a living at a local pet store.

The Memory of an Elephant


I'm constantly amazed at what I forget these days and also at what I remember! (It's *not* because I'm now a grandpa, I'm sure!) I sometimes find myself wishing I had the memory that elephants are reputed to have. I received a story this week about an elephant's memory, and I just *loved* it! It might bring a tear to your eye ... it did to mine.

The Memory of an Elephant...

In 1986 Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.

As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later Mbembe was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son, Tapu, were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant.

Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe's legs, and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant....

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Becka, Nora, and I had an uneventful trip back to Greenville yesterday, thankful for the opportunity of being with our loved ones in Detroit, for the improvement in the condition of both Megan and Drew, and for our safe arrival here. The baby has gained an ounce a day in the past 2 days. If he continues to do well, he may get to go home by the end of the week. As Megan read her discharge papers from the hospital, she learned that, although the hospital personnel kept talking about preeclampsia and her preeclamptic symptoms, the diagnosis on her release was HELLP Syndrome. Though the two conditions are similar, there are differences, and what she encountered lines up more with the description of HELLP Syndrome. Hmm.

Earlier today I put a few pictures on the blog for those who might be checking for something new. You can see them in the blog post below this one. Here's another picture that Grandma thought should be shared with the blogosphere also - Drew in his first preemie clothes....

picture of Drew in his first preemie clothes

chickadees again...

Some of you might remember that we had a nest of Carolina chickadees in our bird house last spring. There's another nest of chickadees in there this year. If you'd like to check out last year's adventure, click on "birds" in the Tag Cloud in the right sidebar

quotation...

"God doesn't expect us to be perfect, but He expects us to be making steady progress toward what we ought to be." - Dr. Gary Anderson

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Rob

My memory's not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be.

A Few More Pictures…


For those who check in on the blog more frequently, I thought I'd reward you with a few more pictures. Jim lovingly dubbed Nora the "baby paparazzi" for her picture taking prowess. The first two pictures are from her camera, and the third picture is one of the few there are of the Hawkins family since only two people can go in to see Drew at a time. This picture was while Megan was still in the hospital.

Aunt Nora and Drew...

picture of Nora and Drew

With eyes wide open...

picture of wide-eyed Drew

Presenting the Hawkins family...

picture of the Hawkins family

I'll post the next iv late this evening.

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob