Saturday, May 01, 2010


Several people have recommended participating in freecycle. Today I finally signed up for an account. Over a dozen people jumped posthaste at my first listing, a musical instrument. And suddenly I become suspicious.

I have to arrange to contact somebody. I need to give somebody my address and arrange for a time that they can pick up the item. How do I know the person isn't just trying to find out when a house will be empty?

And how do I know whether these people are telling the truth? People say, "My husband is a musician, and our child wants to play music like her daddy," or "My sister --a music teacher-- would be thrilled to use with her classes." These people may be telling the truth. Or they may be spinning an attractive tale so that they can get something for free and then try to sell it. At this point, though, I've tried to sell it at garage sales, on ebay, and at sales for used homeschooling materials. I'm ready to start making space in my garage whether I make money off the items or not.

It's sad that I'm not sure how to tell the difference between being cynical and being wary.

Today's Laugh

A little boy went to the store with his grandmother and on the way home, he was looking at the things she had purchased.

He found a package of panty-hose and began to sound out the words "Queen Size".

He then turned to his grandmother and exclaimed, "Look Grandma, you wear the same size as our bed!"

Friday, April 30, 2010

Experiment: Male Pattern Baldness

We used to tease that my husband is bald "just like his father." I was told repeatedly that this is wrong wrong wrong. Men do NOT get their baldness from their dads; they get it from their moms. Genetics says so.

I'm not so sure I believe the scientific proof.

My husband is bald. His dad was bald. His mom's dad was bald. (Gary didn't stand a chance!)

My dad had hair. My brother has hair. My grandpas both had hair. My uncles have hair. There doesn't appear to be a smidge of baldness anywhere on my side of the family. (Shoot. I said that right out loud. You know Murphy's Law will have me bald as a cue ball in about three weeks....)

If baldness comes from the mother and not the father, seems to me my sons should keep their hair. But at their tender young ages, they're already getting thin on top.

Maybe male pattern baldness does come from the mom's genes. Science proves it [coughcough] and we must never doubt science. I am suspicious, however.

Funeral Sermons

The best way to tell what a church believes is to attend a couple of funerals. Is the focus on Jesus' redemption of sinners? Is the focus on our feelings? Is the focus on upstanding character of the deceased? What the pastor and the congregation believe --the message is given to the bereaved-- is seen clearly at a funeral.

Unbelievers come to church more for funerals and weddings than they do for any Sunday service. It's the pastor's chance to preach the gospel to those who usually don't bother to listen. What does he say about the Faith when we're staring death in the face? What kind of conditions does the pastor attach to the forgiveness Jesus won? At funerals we see how a church "does evangelism."

Today's Laugh

An old man lived alone in Idaho. He wanted to spade his potato garden, but it was very hard work. His only son, Allen, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Allen,
I am feeling pretty bad because it looks like I won't be able to plant my potato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. If you were here, all my troubles would be over. I know you would dig the plot for me.
Love, Dad

A few days later he received a letter from his son:

Dear Dad,
For heaven's sake, Dad, don't dig up that garden. That's where I buried the BODIES.
Love, Allen

At 4:00 the next morning, FBI agents and local police showed up and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son:

Dear Dad,
Go ahead and plant the potatoes now. That's the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love, Allen.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Man After God's Own Heart

I don't know about you, but I always heard that phrase before to mean, "David had such a great heart, so God wanted him to be His own" or "he's doing all the right things to make God like him."

That's how I've heard the phrase used so often. Don't we often hear people admonish us to raise up our children so that they will be people "after God's own heart"? Don't we hear what they should do, how they should act, what kind of morals we should instill, so that they can be people "after God's own heart"? Aren't we told to pray more and strive to be good so that we can be people "after God's own heart"?

Our Bible class this week was on the story of David. Pastor started with this scriptural description of David. And he started with "WHO is after WHAT?" It's not that God likes David because he's such a swell guy. David wants to go after God's heart. (Hey! Look! That's actually what the words say!)

And what is "God's own heart"? A heart of mercy and grace and sacrificial love. "A man after God's own heart" is a man who desires the Lord's love which he has not earned.

Today's Laugh

My mother and I returned to my parents' house late one evening to find my father, my college-age brother, Steven, and my ten-year-old sister fast asleep.

Mom had forgotten her house keys, so we knocked loudly, first at the back door and then the front and side doors. We yelled my father's name over and over, with no answer. The car horn aroused the neighbors but no one at our house. We drove into town and phoned home, finally waking Steven.

When we got back, he let us in. Dad was in bed, snoring, with the television on. Mom quietly switched it off. Dad woke right up.

"Don't turn that off," he said. "I'm watching it!"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Access to the Father

Romans 3 -- In Christ Jesus we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

Pastor loves to refer to this picture of President Kennedy. He uses it to illustrate our privileged status as the sons of God. You and I cannot go visit the President whenever we want. We don't have the right to do that. But John John? He could crawl around under his daddy's desk, climb into his daddy's lap, or whatever. He had special privilege because he was his daddy's son. He had access that reporters and politicians didn't have.

Once upon a time, when I still didn't know very many pastors, we were at a district pastors' conference. The featured speaker for the conference was Robert Preus. Gary and I were at dinner at a restaurant. At a table not far from our booth were all the bigwigs: Dr Preus and our district president and some other men. There was one young whippersnapper, not much older than us, in there with the gang of revered men. I didn't know who he was or why he "rated." Later, Gary introduced me to Rolf. Oh, I get it. He "rated" because he was at supper with his daddy and his daddy's cohorts. He had access to that dinner table that not everyone had. He was a son.

We have access to God. Yes, He is the King of the Universe. Yes, we respect Him. But we have boldness of access as His sons.

When the car was in the shop recently and I had to figure out ways to get around, our mechanic let me have his loaner car for a day. I had access to a vehicle without figuring out whether I was going to walk, bike-ride, or hitch a ride from a friend. It made everything so much simpler.

When our friend Leah is visiting our house and needs to use the computer, she doesn't sit down and start web-surfing. She asks first. She needs to have us input the password to open the computer to her. But Maggie and Andrew? They pretty much have free access to my computer.

I have access to my mother's house in a way that I wouldn't have if she had moved away from the home where I grew up. I feel comfortable there and know where a lot of things are stored, even decades later.

When I finally got the car back, all nice and repaired, I was struck by how much freedom it gives me to have full & free access to that vehicle. I don't have to ask anybody to use it. I don't have to borrow keys. I don't have to worry about whether somebody is going to be upset because I put too many miles on it. I have free access to that hunk o' metal.

Because of baptism, because we have the status as sons of God, we have free access to speak to the King of the Universe, that He will hear us, that He will give us an abundance of good gifts. That throne room of heaven is ours and we have every right to be there bending His ear.

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

Today's Laugh

The proud father brought home a backyard swing set for his children and immediately started to assemble it with all the neighborhood children anxiously waiting to play on it. After several hours of reading the directions, attempting to fit bolt A into slot B, etc, he finally gave up and called upon an old handyman working in a neighboring yard.

The old-timer came over, threw the directions away, and in a short while had the set completely assembled.

"It's beyond me," said the father, "how you got it together without even reading instructions."

"To tell the truth," replied the old-timer, "I can't read, and when you can't read, you've got to think."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Am I an Unschooler?

A young friend asked the other day about whether I'm really an unschooler; she said there are a lot of things that I write about on my blog that sound similar to how she'll be homeschooling. And she doesn't see herself as unschooly.

I never set out to be an unschooler, and depending on your point of view, I may or may not be an unschooler.

We first heard about homeschooling via Focus on the Family in 1985. I read all the library books I could find by Raymond Moore, John Holt, and later one by the Colfaxes. When we began homeschooling, families didn't label themselves as this kind of homeschooler or that kind of homeschooler. If you were nutsy enough to not enroll your kids in school, you were thrilled to find another nutso to hang out with, regardless of what they thought about religion, politics, or educational philosophy. As we began homeschooling, what we did each day was mostly enjoying unit studies and learning-through-literature.

As the years passed, I had more students in my tiny school, less money in the household, and eventually a calendar full of doctor appointments and surgeries and therapist appointments. We became what has been termed unschoolers-by-default. I had kids who were oh-so-curious and gobbled up books and explored the world with vigor. My time was increasingly spent washing diapers and sheets from wet beds, feeding lots of people, driving to doctor appointments, etc. I certainly still read with the kids (a lot!) and bought them cool toys (such as electricity kits, educational games, maps, and more) and practiced strewing.

Is unschooling my educational-theory-of-choice? Nope.

Have I observed that unschooling produces bright, capable learners who are pleasant people, and serve graciously in their callings? Yup.

Even though unschooling does not exactly reflect my educational philosophy, do I support unschooling for those who choose it? Most certainly. Children are different; they have different strengths and weaknesses; they have different interests. An educational method that works for one child may not work at all for another. The parents know the child best. The parents are the ones given the responsibility to care for the child. Parents are the ones who have the most incentive/desire to help a child live up to his potential.

Families, too, face different challenges. Depending on family dynamics, geographical location, finances, proximity to extended family or other support, health, and other issues, parents may not be able to give their children what's best, but only what's second-best, or even third-best. It doesn't matter whether a family considers "third-best" to be unschooling or a traditional textbook curriculum or enrolling a child in a private school, the parents are the ones who must make the decision of what to do if they are unable to provide the BEST. (By the way, public schools can't compete for the rank of "best." Homeschoolers who aren't living up to all their goals still provide a better education than the government schools.)

Should school-at-homers support the rights of unschoolers to homeschool? Of course. Should unschoolers support the rights of textbook-users and classical-ed folks to homeschool? Of course. Should classical ed folks work with people who have entirely different educational philosophies? Yes, if they want to maintain their own homeschooling freedoms. When homeschoolers divide themselves up into groups, determining which ones are Real Homeschoolers and which are not, we are succumbing to the mentality that someone other than parents (whether govt or society or some organization) should be monitoring the parents' decisions on behalf of the child's well-being.

Today's Laugh

Little Johnny's teacher asks, "What is the chemical formula for water?"

Little Johnny replies, "HIJKLMNO"!!

The teacher, puzzled, asks, "What on Earth are you talking about?"

Little Johnny replies, "Yesterday you said it was H to O!"

Monday, April 26, 2010

It Wasn't Traumatic

So if it wasn't traumatic, why do I still have this unreasonable urge to cry about it?

This afternoon I headed to town to do errands, including hitting up Goodwill and Salvation Army for a dresser and a bookshelf for Paul's new apartment. I was thrilled to find an $8 bookshelf at Salvation Army. The bottom couple of inches sustained some water damage in the past. But for eight bucks, it will hold his books.

I was also thrilled to find a very nice 5-drawer chest for $50. A bit high for resale, but the drawers pull nicely, the finish is excellent, and it's a nice size. Mostly wood, not that cheap material of glued-together sawdust. Then ... ah, ... then was when the trouble began.

I found another dresser. Four drawers. Nearly as big in drawer space, but narrower -- all the better for carrying into and out of apartment buildings and around corners, my dear. This one was all wood. And only $20. The other $20-30 dressers in the store were not worth bringing home. This one was surely a great deal! So I bought it. Paid. Loaded it into the van. Needing to hunt for shorts and a blender, I headed back into the store.

A few minutes later, I heard yelling by the cash register. As the customer ranted on and on, pretty soon I heard the words "dresser" and "took it" and "removed my sold tag and claimed it for herself." I approached the clerk and the woman making the scene and asked if they were discussing the $20 dresser that had been sitting near the back door. Uh. Yeah. That's it. So she yelled at me for taking her dresser while she was transporting a different load of furniture home.

Yikes. I told her there was no sold sign on the dresser I bought. I asked some more questions to verify whether we were talking about the same dresser. We were. The clerks and manager clearly were expecting a big argument over who got item. Instead I apologized and told them I'd bring my van around back and give her the dresser back.

Shoot. I knew that dresser was too good to be true.

I was stunned when the clerk told me that she couldn't refund my money but that I could find $20 worth of other merchandise in the store. Granted, I wanted the other dresser, so it worked out. But if there hadn't been another dresser I wanted? Then what? I understand that they don't give refunds. But c'mon -- when they sell the same piece of furniture to two different people??? At least the manager offered to split the cost different; she said I could have the more expensive dresser for $35 instead of $50; that helped a bit to make up for the clumsier size of the one I ended up buying.

I keep telling myself that I got a nice dresser. That it will hold Paul's socks and jammies. That it does fit --with some finagling-- into the van for transport purposes. I keep reminding myself that I bought this dresser for $15 less than I had originally intended to pay for it. This is good. Right???

How come I still feel so unsettled about the whole icky mess?

I wonder if I would feel differently now if the woman had apologized for accusing me. Or if she had apologized for my not being able to have the dresser. Or if she had thanked me for not giving her any guff about letting her take it.

Cats and Joseph and Superstar

The kids attended their friend Matthew's musical this weekend. Matthew played Judah in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

As they talked about the show the next morning, suddenly the songs were resurrected in my mind. When Joseph was first written (and was only about 15-20 minutes long) we learned it in Sunday school. I can't remember whatever happened to performing it; maybe we never did. The songs were still very new at the time; the full show hadn't been developed yet. Until the kids started singing parts of the musical, until we started bopping around YouTube clips of the song&dance routines, I didn't realize I remembered anything.

1. Watching YouTube clips, I couldn't believe how very very very similar Joseph and Cats are. The sound and the whole feeling of Cats, Joseph, and Jesus Christ Superstar make you wonder if you're watching the exact same show.

2. Boy, Joseph has horrid theology. Whenever we work our way through the last quarter of Genesis during chapel or Bible class, I'm offended by the cockamamie theological notions I bear regarding the Joseph story. Watching some of those bits of the opera, I see where my warped ideas come from! PS: Horrid theology aside, Rice & Webber sure produced some fun music!

3. A little memory jog brought all those songs to the fore. Think what that means for those of us who are trying to teach GOOD things to kids. Even if those hymns and Bible verses lie dormant for years --for decades-- they can come back.


Some homeschoolers I know have been talking about decompression time, when a family new to homeschooling takes some time off to recuperate from the school-way of studying, resting first, and allowing the kids to begin to find their own interests, to discover books or projects that excite their minds. In a similar way, I keep wondering if I'm still in "decompression" from autumn 2007.

For a long time, I've been wanting to learn something about photography. When [free] workshops were offered at the Janesville library, somehow they never worked out with our schedule. Last Thursday, our local library offered a photography class. I was hyped for it. But the other activities of the day (supremely fun activities) pushed back dinner-prep, and I wasn't ready with food early enough for us to be on our way by 6:15. (By the way, I don't regret how I spent Thursday at all.) A day or so later I realized that other families might have gone to Culvers and picked up burgers on their way to the library. Spending money at a restaurant never crossed my mind.

Maggie and I are reading about birds these days. It would be a great fieldtrip to visit Sand Bluff Bird Banding Station. Even though it's a 4-hour roundtrip, I think it would be worth it. Thing is, it's only open on the weekends, and you really want to arrive between 8 and 9:00 because the birds are more active in the morning. I was trying to gather my energy and my will, and make this Saturday the day for the big trip. Thing is, the kids decided to attend Matthew's play on Friday night with a bunch of the other folks from church. There was no way we were leaving the house at 6am, for a long day, a long drive, and hiking, after teenagers put themselves to bed at 11:00 or later. Two fieldtrips untaken this week. As it turns out, with the rain this weekend, we wouldn't have gone anyway.

It's that time of year when I long to visit Mackenzie Environmental Education Center. We often stopped there on our way to the state homeschool conference which used to be held in Stevens Point. I love that place. I love the wildflowers in late April and early May. And the kids love the two-headed pig in formaldehyde.

If we drove as far as MEEC, another great fieldtrip for learning about birds is the International Crane Foundation.

I really need to look into finding some volunteer opportunities for Maggie. We've done some websurfing, looking for stables that offer therapeutic riding for the disabled. I should talk to the folks back at Smiles and see if they can point us in the right direction.

I think we should go to museums more. To the zoo. To nature centers. To the beach when it's warmer (IF it ever gets warmer... thankyouAlGore). To re-enactments. To art shows. To concerts and plays. To ball games. And then there are music lessons, sports teams, and summer-school classes from which the kids might benefit if we signed 'em up.

Especially since we moved and the economy tanked (thankyouBigGovernment), the cost of these activities is usually prohibitive. The county parks and the state parks require different entry passes. This year we're going to have to pick one vehicle to be the going-to-the-park car, because it would be wasteful to buy passes for both cars. But it's not just the money. Finding time to go to the zoo or the museum is the bigger problem. I'm just too tired.

We go to chapel most mornings, and we take Maggie to choir 3x a week. We buy groceries now and then. Pretty soon we need to make a trip to Mankato to get Paul's car back to him; we'll hit up some Betsy-Tacy sites and may consider stopping to see cranes. There's a homeschoolers' beach day coming up that I want to attend with friends. We'll have to get to Chicago to see Rachel and Matt's new place. There's also a family reunion and symposium. It's not like we never go anywhere!

How do we fit in more activities? How do we make time for volunteering at a horse barn or at the library or some other opportunity for Maggie? Why can all these other families provide music lessons and art lessons and dance lessons and softball teams and 4-H, and still fit in cool outings? I'm doing good if I can remember to make supper every day.

I want to give my kids the mind-broadening, fun opportunities that can acquaint them with new ideas and give them new skills. But it seems like laundry and supper take everything I've got. So schoolwork is done the lazy, sit-on-the-couch, read-the-book way, and not the fulfilling way of experiencing all those different places & people & concepts. It reminds me of the Erma Bombeck essay about the mom who was old, and how her youngest had such a different life from the older brothers.

Sometimes I think maybe we're the ones with our act together, not over-committing and running around like crazy. But other times I wish we could be free to get out there in the Real World the way we used to.

PS: This is blogpost #2500. Good grief....

Today's Laugh

A kindergartner was practicing spelling with magnetic letters on the refrigerator: cat, dog, dad, and mom had been proudly displayed for all to see.

One morning while getting ready for the day, he bounded into the room with his arms outstretched. In his hands were three magnetic letters: G-O-D.

"Look what I spelled, Mom!" with a proud smile on his face.

"That's wonderful!" his mom praised him. "Now go put them on the fridge so Dad can see when he gets home tonight."

The mom happily thought that her son's Catholic education was certainly having an impact. Just then, a little voice called from the kitchen: "Mom? How do you spell 'zilla'?"

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

Okay, okay, so cinnamon rolls isn't exactly the most nutritious supper. Gary was watching an episode of Man vs Food, and the food challenge was a massive cinnamon roll. So Gary was trying to surreptitiously wipe the drool off his chin. He managed to get control of himself.

Later, Maggie and I were reading Betsy in the living room where Gary was working on his Latin translation. The new housekeeper at Betsy's house is, apparently, absolutely famous for her cinnamon rolls.

All right! All right! Hie thee off to the kitchen and start that dough a-risin'.

Why do recipes always call for us to roll out the dough to a 10x15" rectangle? Or 9x13"? Or even 12x17? And they always tell you to roll it from the long side. I rolled my dough into a thin 8x22" rectangle, and I rolled it from the skinny side. Whenever I follow instructions, it seems like I barely have any swirls, any spirals, any loopies. If I roll the long side across the skinniness of the dough, the cinnamon-sugar isn't spread nicely around and around and around. Drives me nuts. Am I the only one who wants my cinnamon rolls nearly flat but with a spiral that just keeps spiraling?

High-Speed Kitties

Rosie is not fond of cars and noisy engines since her accident in kittenhood. During lunch today I saw Rosie, way way far from the house, making a bolt for it. I had no idea what she might have been chasing. But, whatever, she disappeared. About a minute later, she came running to the house faster than I've ever seen her move, and for a longer distance than I've ever seen her run.

Hmmm. Don't know what frightened her. But we let her in.

Pretty soon we see an ATV in the property out back, near where Rosie had been loitering. Ah. Fear of engines. Of course. Rosie finally learned that big, scary, dangerous, kitty-squashing cars stay on asphalt or concrete. If you're on the grass, you're safe.

Not today. No wonder she panicked.

Funny thing was that, about 2 minutes later, Athena also came careening from several houses away. Same high speed. Same long distance. And sure enough, shortly after Athena made a run for it, the ATV was zipping loudly past those woodsy spots where the cats hang out.

The Sword That Killed Goliath

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. (1 Samuel 17:50-51)

As we discussed the story of David and Goliath this morning, Pastor quickly squeezed in a comment at the very end. This verse is not merely about the story of Goliath being trounced by a young whipper-snapper.

The reason Satan had power was because of God's own word to Adam and Eve: In the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die. God had said it. Adam had transgressed. The punishment must be exacted. It wasn't Satan being an ol' meanie. It was that God's word always is true. God said they would die, and they would indeed die.

God became man and took the punishment that man had to bear for his sin. David (the type of Christ) had no tool to kill Goliath. Instead, he took the sword from Goliath (as Jesus took the sword of the law from Satan's misuse) and used it to defeat the one who would not have anything to do with God's grace and mercy. Goliath's own sword was used to chop off his head. The law which Satan tried to use to damn man was the law used to chop off his head: He shall crush your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

The Stone That Took Down Goliath

This morning's Bible class was on David and Goliath. David -- a type of Christ. Goliath -- a type of Satan.

Goliath had his own armor to fight against God's people. Psalm 147: The Lord does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.

David used a stone to kill Goliath. It just so happens that that word for stone is the same word which refers elsewhere to Jesus. Psalm 118 and Matthew 21: The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

David put his hand into his bag and took out a stone. He slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. (1 Samuel 17:49)

Jesus told the Jews, "Whoever falls on this Stone will be broken, but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder." (Matthew 21:42-44)

Your Debit Card

The bank sent a notice this week of policy changes. I skimmed it, expecting to throw it out. You know how most of those notices are -- they are "privacy notices" which tell a gazillion places they can send your private information as they protect your privacy. [Can anyone say "1984"???] The notice wasn't about privacy, though. It was about fees and overdraft protection. I read it more thoroughly. Still didn't understand it. Gary looked it over and we discussed it. We still weren't sure what it said.

Saturday I took the paper to the bank and asked them to explain it to a dummy. They assured me I was no dummy. As they began to explain about new government policies regarding overdraft protection on debit cards, the lightbulb began to glow dimly. I told the tellers that the reasonable procedure would be for a debit card to be rejected if there were insufficient funds to cover a particular expense. The girls told me to "X this box here to opt-out, and sign the document, if that's what you want."

I asked what current policy is. They told me current policy is for the nationwide system to accept any attempt to use a debit card, even if there are insufficient funds; the bank will provide overdraft protection (in essence, shuffling money in your accounts or even possibly giving you a tiny insta-loan, with all associated fees). I looked at them skeptically and then asked, "What was the policy a couple of months ago?" They told me that, until recent government regulations demanded banks change their policies, a debit card would indeed have been rejected if there wasn't enough money in the account to cover a charge. In other words, if your debit-card "check" isn't going to clear, then it's not okay; you just cannot use the card. But ... the government is here to help us. And the policy is now that all charges go through unless you opt out.

So my brain is spinning through possible scenarios. How is this "help"? By what stretch of the imagination did somebody in Washington decide that this policy change would help ANYBODY?

If somebody steals my debit card, he can clean out my checking account. According to new helpful policies, he can clean out my savings account too.

What if I make a math error in my checkbook? Or what if there's a glitch in communication between my husband and me, in different places, both trying to use the same money at the same time? Do we want the computer-system to allow us both to spend the same dollars in different places at the same time, so that we have to pay fees to the bank for covering our butts when we bounced a check? Or do we just want the computer-system to say "NO, you can't spend the money; it ain't there"?

Will this policy change encourage people to spend money they don't have? Will this policy end up costing consumers a lot of money in bank fees?

Maybe you can help me. WHO might this policy help? I figure that maybe the people who are stuck in Europe and Asia because of the volcano, who are running out of money, who don't have any way to transfer funds or restock their checking accounts, maybe they would be glad to have access to extra cash. Maybe. However, running up debt on a credit card would probably be more frugal than incurring overdraft fees on a debit card.

So ... short of unforeseen once-in-a-lifetime disasters that cause a person to be stranded without access to credit ... who could benefit from the government's recent help with regard to debit cards and overdraft protection?

Today's Laugh

A man walks into the front door of a bar. He is obviously drunk. He staggers up to the bar, seats himself on a stool, and with a belch, asks the bartender for a drink.

The bartender politely informs the man that it appears that he has already had plenty to drink -- he could not be served additional liquor at this bar, but the bartender offered to call a cab for him.

The drunk is briefly surprised then softly scoffs, grumbles, climbs down off the bar stool, and staggers out the front door.

A few minutes later, the same drunk stumbles in the side door of the bar. He wobbles up to the bar and hollers for a drink. The bartender comes over, and still politely --but more firmly-- refuses service to the man due to his inebriation. Again, the bartender offers to obtain a cab for him.

The drunk looks at the bartender for a moment angrily, curses, and shows himself out the side door, all the while grumbling and shaking his head.

A few minutes later, the same drunk bursts in through the back door of the bar. He plops himself up on a bar stool, gathers his wits, and belligerently orders a drink.

The bartender comes over and emphatically reminds the man that he is clearly drunk, will be served no drinks, and either a cab or the police will be called immediately.

The surprised drunk looks at the bartender and in hopeless anguish, cries, "Man! How many bars do you work at?"