Sunday, March 29, 2009

what influences me as a writer

video

Amity tagged me. Check out her post--it looks like if you're a Mormon, consider yourself tagged. :) If not, you can steal the meme as it seems she did.

Here is one of my influences--more later after I get this Sunday school lesson prepared.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

the ideal





A long time ago a friend wrote about her dreams of "the ideal school" in a blog post. The day I read it I planned to post on my ideal school. But I didn't do it that day, and now I think it's been well over a year since then. Every once in a while, when I'm out walking or doing dishes, or what have you, I start dreaming my ideal school dream. It has amazed me how many forms this ideal has taken, based on what is important to me at the time. It scares me a little. Am I as fickle as all that?

I used to think I knew what the important things to know are. As my children grow older and develop their own opinions and relationships with knowledge, I feel that the best I can do, or anyone can do, is stand back and let them fly.

Children have a natural curiosity about the world. My ideal school for children from age four to eight would be one that helped satisfy that curiosity in as natural a way as possible. I loved the Montessori school Lidia and Marcus went to. Lidia wanted to learn multiplication, so they let her do it. There wasn't any of this, "That's not consistent with our desired outcomes for a four-year old." They let her fly. At that school, Lidia and Marcus learned to take responsibility for their own learning. They were encouraged to develop the skills they needed to do so: focus, precision, dedication, and respect. Fun was not forced upon them as an unnatural part of the day. The fun part was the learning. Is there any more valuable lesson to learn about education than that learning is fun?

In my ideal school for children ages four to eight, most science classes would take place outdoors. (Guess what? My ideal school is not located in Minnesota.) The children would be read to a lot from children's literature of the highest quality that would spark their interest in learning to read themselves. Children would be exposed to great literature, art, and music (why shouldn't we give our children our very best?) and encouraged to make their own relationships with these works.

By the time children are ten or eleven, they would be meeting with a teacher at the beginning of the week and at the end. At the beginning of the week they would set goals, and at the end of the week they would review what they'd accomplished. They would be encouraged to gain knowledge in a variety of subjects, but they would be responsible for setting their own course of study. Obviously, most ten-year olds plucked from our current public school system would not be capable of such a task. However, if they were brought up to it, they could absolutely gain the necessary skills. Children would be able to decide, usually, if they want to learn independently or in a group. However, they would sometimes be required to do one or the other, because though we all have a preference, we have to be able to do both.

Children would have guidance in setting long-and short-term goals. Teachers would serve as mentors and facilitators, sharing their educational passions and helping children learn to help themselves. The children would be completely free to set up their own schedules. However, they would be held accountable for achieving their goals every week. There would be no grades. There would be feedback from mentors and peers.
What Lidia dislikes the most about school is the wasted time. It's hard to go back to that after a year of doing a couple hours of school work every day, and then having the rest of the day to pursue other interests--both academic and otherwise. It bothers her that this year she spends many more hours doing "school," and yet accomplishes much less academically. She would like more time to read, cook, knit, garden, play violin, etc.

What would my ideal school look like? That's not the important part, but it's fun to imagine. The top two pictures were taken in the gardens of Pena in Sintra, Portugal. It is one of the most enchanting places I've ever visited. There are winding paths through luxurious foliage, little crumbling buildings of stone scattered here and there--including this little castle for ducks! I can't imagine a more ideal place for children. You have the feeling that anything can happen there. A garden like this one would be the perfect grounds for my ideal school. Children would be free to wander at will. The third picture is of Dartington Hall in South Devon, England. It used to house a progressive school that the writer Eva Ibottson attended back in the 30's. Don't you think that going to school in such a building would inspire a curiosity about the past? I'd like our school building to have an enormous media center, a good stage, and a dining hall where all the of the food would be prepared by the children. Other than that, lots of nice little nooks to curl up and read in.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

mini rant

Last week I was talking about stress, I don't even remember in what context. One of my children said, "I'm really stressed about the MCAs" (some standardized tests we take in our state).

"What?" I said, at first doubting I'd heard right. The child repeated what s/he'd said. This is a child who usually misses just one or two questions on this test, always passing with flying colors.

"I'm stressed about it. Because that test is so important."

I proceeded to assure the child that the MCAs are not important and that while s/he should put forth reasonable effort, it was not necessary in any way to feel stress about it.

I was surprised to hear this concern, especially from this child, but then I was not surprised in this day of No Child Left Behind. The tests are monumentally important to the schools. My children bring home fat packets of test questions from past years they must complete at home. I got a letter from my child's school reminding me of the importance of my child being in school on the test days (over four weeks from now) and that they get more than adequate rest and breakfast, etc. In one of my children's school, room parents must provide cut-up fruit, granola bars, and bottled water for the students on test days.

Why have we done this to our schools and our teachers? As mentioned in a previous post, I love our teachers. They are probably one of our country's finest assets. But we've made their job so much harder and, worse, drearier.

A friend of mine said, "I wish our schools cared about instilling a love of learning in our children." I've seen many teachers who, because of their contagious examples, do just that. However, the intention of our public school system is NOT to instill a love of learning in children. It is obsessed with "outcomes." The overriding goal is to match student "outcomes" (even the word bugs me) to state and national standards. It seems that many children in our country are not able to reach those standards, which is why we now have this focus on testing. We are, supposedly, holding schools accountable.

Schools should be accountable. But so should parents. No matter how wonderful the school, a child needs to WANT to do well to succeed. That comes, largely, from their family culture. Most children are not going to have what it takes to rise above a family culture that does not value learning. I have friends who are teachers in schools where the students come from families who do not, seemingly, value learning. "These kids do not come to school prepared to learn. They are just trying to survive," said one friend. How is an emphasis on testing going to help those children?

How is an emphasis on testing going to help my children, who like nothing better than learning?

Friday, March 20, 2009

so many books, so little time

I'm in trouble. I have six books on my "currently reading" Goodreads list right now. And yes, I'm reading all of them, except one that I'm listening to on the school commute. I don't think I've ever done this before.

In the order that I started them:

Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. Nearly finished. I love how it puts Joseph Smith in the context of the times he lived in. I haven't finished it because I became completely fascinated with the information about the fairly widespread use of magic in the early 1800's. So that led me to...

Early Mormonism and the Magic Worldview. Exhaustively researched. And exhausting. This is a new edition in which the author, Michael Quinn, responds at length to criticism of the first edition. I've learned to skip those parts. Fascinating, though, is the information on folk magic of the time. This is probably not quite the right book for me because I'm not that interested in the Smith family's connection to folk magic. I need to find a book about how run-of-the-mill Christians of the time practiced folk magic. I look forward to more research! I'm 3/4 through.

Farm to Factory: Women's Letters, 1830-1860. This is about the New England mill girls. I've read 1/2.

Way too much non-fiction for my taste, so I started reading...

The Three Musketeers, highly recommended by Georgie and J. Entertaining and sly. 1/2 way done.

Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving. I'm going to southern Spain next month, and a friend told me this is a must-read. I love it! 19th century writers were so romantic and atmospheric. Very sensual.










The Dragonfly Pool, Eva Ibbotson. I just read a friend's negative review of this one on Goodreads and it threw me a bit. Lidia and I are really enjoying the audio version read by Patricia Conolly. It takes place in Europe at the start of WWII. It's about some students at a "progressive" boarding school in England who go to a folk dance festival, meet a crown prince, and help save him from the Nazis. Eva Ibbotson just turned 84. She based some of this book on her own experiences at Dartington School. One reason I love Ibbotson's writing is that her heroines always remind me of Lidia. Another is that Ibbotson reveres the natural world. That sense of wonder comes through in every book. I also thinks she's really funny in a quiet, sometimes sly way. [Edit: I think Lidia loves Ibbotson's books because of how empowered and independent the children are. They solve their own problems and seek their own adventures. And they do so with kindness, selflessness, and creativity. We are not quite to the end of Dragonfly Pool, but so far I like the theme of friendship triumphing over war.]

Thursday, March 19, 2009

a rare bird

J and I talked about this during the presidential race: why do blacks and hispanics identify so much with the Democratic party?

Shelby Steele, in this WSJ article, The GOP's Minority Deficit [Edit 2: this article is now only available for subscribers], makes sense on this issue. A few things he says reminded me of the hilarious Stuff White People Like. And I didn't know why I was making that connection at first. I think it's because he addresses bluntly what SWPL laughs at--white liberals' self-congratulation and condescension.

Steele says:

What drew me to conservatism years ago was the fact that it gave discipline a slightly higher status than virtue. This meant it could not be subverted by passing notions of the good. It could be above moral vanity. And so it made no special promises to me as a minority. It neglected me in every way except as a human being who wanted freedom. Until my encounter with conservatism I had only known the racial determinism of segregation on the one hand and of white liberalism on the other -- two varieties of white supremacy in which I could only be dependent and inferior.

The appeal of conservatism is the mutuality it asserts between individual and political freedom, its beautiful idea of a free man in a free society. And it offers minorities the one thing they can never get from liberalism: human rather than racial dignity. I always secretly loved Malcolm X more than Martin Luther King Jr. because Malcolm wanted a fuller human dignity for blacks -- one independent of white moral wrestling. In a liberalism that wants to redeem the nation of its past, minorities can only be ciphers in white struggles of conscience.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

teachers


A few days ago I decided I wanted to write a teacher appreciation blog post and today I finally have a chance to do it. But Mama Ava beat me to it, and her post is much better than mine would have been. [Edit: Had to laugh when I re-read this last sentence. It suggests that I decided against writing the teacher appreciation post. What is this, then?]

The gospel of Jesus Christ and a family that loves me in spite of my faults, I suppose, would be highest on my gratitude list. After that? My children's teachers. I can't believe how many wonderful teachers we've been blessed with. I mean, really amazing. Within two blocks of my house we have a violin teacher and a piano teacher. The violin teacher is young, passionate, enthusiastic, and energetic. The piano teacher is a sweet, elderly lady who possesses an uncanny knack for inspiring a love for piano in a squirrelly eight-year-old boy. Both of these teachers are committed to excellence.

I thank God for the day I signed Lidia up for Irish step dance classes, because that was the day Fauna came into our lives. All of us are a little in awe of Fauna and how she uses her many gifts to bless our lives. It is rare to find that much professionalism in anyone, say nothing about one so young.

My children like to go to primary and Sunday school. That says a great deal about the preparation of their dedicated teachers, all volunteers. I've already posted on this blog about the enormous influence the Young Women's program teachers and leaders have had on Georgie.

And on top of all that, my children have had many outstanding public school teachers. When my eldest started school, she had three incredible teachers in a row for kinder, first, and second. I thought to myself, "Wow! Do we deserve this? This is just so--unusual." But then the same happened for Lidia. I soon realized that, at least in the places we've lived, "exceptional" teachers are the rule. They have been different in their gifts. Some have been obviously highly intelligent. Some seem to have this sense for what a child needs to make rapid progress. Some are very organized. Some are funny and theatrical. Some connect very well emotionally. Most have a combination of these characteristics, but every single one has shown how dedicated they are to helping my child progress.
When I hear things like, "those who can't do, teach," it makes me sick.

Obama has come out in support of merit pay for teachers. What do you think about that? I don't think it is a bad idea in theory. However, what I'd like to know is, who is going to decide which teachers are deserving of merit pay? Would only the suck-ups end up getting it? And what happens in a school district like mine, where there are SO MANY great teachers?

Monday, March 16, 2009

why mormons build temples

Here we go with two "religious" posts in a row. Hope I still have readers left after this. ;-)

For every person who stands outside our temples screaming racial slurs at the black members walking in, for every tv writer, director, or producer who publicly mocks and misrepresents our sacred ordinances, there are people like the two Harvard professors, not members of our Faith, in this video.


meetin' clothes


There was a discussion this morning on NPR about the huge increase in "nones" in this country--people who don't affiliate themselves with any religion. Maybe you've heard about this new survey that suggests that Americans are turning away from organized religion, and perhaps faith in God.

I only heard a few minutes of the program. I hope to catch the podcast later today. But I did hear one caller, a man who does not attend church, say words to this effect: "When I was growing up going to church was a special event of the week. Men and boys wore suit and ties, women and girls wore dresses. Now people show up wearing any old thing and it has taken a lot away from the experience. There used to be choirs and now it's just canned music. It's become tacky. It doesn't seem special anymore."

I have heard people of various faiths express this same opinion. I think it's inconceivable for most people of my religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to imagine showing up at church in jeans and t-shirts. We wear I suppose what would be categorized as traditional semi-formal. Dresses or skirts for women, suits for men (or at least dress pants and shirt w/tie). Hearing the comment this morning on the radio show made me feel a greater appreciation for that. Church is special. It is where we go to experience the sacred, and outward preparations, though they are not necessarily reflective of inward reverence, do help us get into that mindset. Perfect evidence of this is in the above photo. It was taken on a Sunday morning years ago. Bernie is two. She knows she's being encouraged to do something (we were trying to get her to smile), but she's not sure what. She sees that everyone's got on Sunday duds, so she folds her arms in case what she's supposed to do is pray!
When I sit in sacrament meeting Sunday mornings, it's nice to look around and see that most of us took a little care somewhere between rolling out of bed and entering the chapel.

I love to participate in the music at our meetings. Sure, there are some hymns I greatly prefer to others. We happen to be in a ward right now that has a lot of musical talent, and I know that isn't the case in all congregations of the Church. But I think all of our music contributes to the feeling of reverence and sacredness. Georgie and Lidia played at our sacrament meeting Sunday and it was lovely.

Friday, March 13, 2009

10 things that make me smile

I got about three hours of sleep last night due to an uncomfortable head cold. (Not that it even takes that much for me to not sleep.) Lidia is in the midst of her dance school's St. Pat's tour. They are doing ten days of shows around the Twin Cities, and Lidia is scheduled for four of those days. Early this morning we set off for a high school show in St. Paul. Before the show started, I went to see how Lidia was doing, as she hasn't felt well for the past three days. We thought it was finally over this morning, but I found her backstage slumped over a little table. When she looked up, her eyes kept rolling back like she was going to faint. The Tylenol Cold hadn't done much for her fever. She was able to rally for one dance number, but we had to bow out of the rest of today's shows. It's a serious bummer. They spend a LOT of time preparing for these shows, and she was so excited. I did get some video of her dancing Monday. I tried to upload it to my computer but no luck. I'll try J's computer later.

I just tried to take a nap but couldn't. So instead I'm going to jot down 10 Things That Make Me Smile. I could use a smile right now.

1. Looking at my children's baby pics. I don't know how we did it. I think J and I were so-so cute as babies. But my babies? Off the charts.

2. Reading Ave's blog. My Mom used to say Ave and I were Sense and Sensibility. I guess it's not so bad being the older, responsible, boring sister when you have a hilarious counterpart to make you smile.

3. Hanging out with my brothers, Link and Dtv. These photos are the only evidence I need.

4. Watching Seinfeld while I make dinner. It comes on at 6 pm and sometimes I put off making dinner until then just so I can watch it.

5. Galaktoboureko. Just the thought of it.

6. Marcus's laugh. This little guy hasn't lost the spontaneous belly laugh of babyhood. When he laughs, the world is suddenly delightful again.

7. Turning the heat up and looking at pictures of warm places. (seasonal)

8. Screwball comedies: The More the Merrier, It Happened One Night, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby (see video--although it's funnier in the movie because there's this build up...).

9. J's open-mouthed grin w/ eye squint. I can't explain it. It just makes me smile every time.

10. Renewal.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

where's the "love"?

I wasn't going to post about this because it's just so stupid and I didn't want to give it more attention.

If you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, you may have received one of those forwarded emails about an upcoming Big Love episode. I don't know much about this show, but seems it's about polygamous folks in Utah. The show has ruffled feathers in our flock because it blurs the distinction between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a worldwide church of over 13 million, and the bizarre polygamous splinter groups (about whom I know little and care less) who live out there in the western United States.

An upcoming episode of this HBO show depicts our sacred temple rites. The show hired an ex-Mormon to help them get everything "right." Why ex-Mormon? Because practicing members of our faith hold these rites sacred, and would consider it a desecration to mock it on cable TV.

Naturally, this is colossally bad taste on HBO's part. But really, it's not like the people who dictate our television entertainment have set themselves up as the guardians of all that is wholesome and goodly. What do we expect? These forwarded emails (NOT from Church headquarters--more on that presently) call upon us to cancel our subscriptions to HBO.

That I know of, I have never had a subscription to HBO. I believe we had that channel briefly for a trial period or something, back when we had cable long ago.

A couple years ago I was flipping through channels and I came across... something. I realized it was one of those reality shows. A contest. There was this guy, handsome and successful, and a large group of women. After watching pieces of this show here and there, I found that the point was for the guy (abominably conceited) to whittle down the group of women until he found "the one." This show offended me on so many levels, I can not even think about it now without foaming a bit at the mouth. Yes, I know that "The Bachelor" is a wildly popular show. I would never watch it because when stupid, pathetic people are making fools of themselves, I prefer to avert my eyes.

And that brings me to the reason I am posting about this idiotic Big Love show in the first place. I LOVED our Church's response to the whole sordid mess. Rather than urging Church members of cancel memberships or send emails, we are encouraged to avert our eyes. We are not some podunk group of weirdos. As the Church response notes, what others say of us speaks volumes about who THEY are, not so much who we are. We go along our happy way, and let others wallow in their own sick tastes, if that is what they choose to do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

just say no to daylight savings


I honor Benjamin Franklin as a wise moderate and founding father of our country. But I curse him every spring. Daylight savings really messes me up. It never fails to provoke a terrible insomnia bout lasting at least a week, usually more.

If it does help us to conserve energy than I suppose that is a good thing, right? Yeah, okay. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

history through literature


Just read this thought-provoking post by Mama Ava, talking about how some people would rather not discuss distasteful history anymore in the classroom. You know, that darn history will insist on being SO un-pc!


Mama Ava says, "I have learned more, felt more, and grown more from these men [Boo Radley, Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson, Huck Finn, etc.] than I have from any history textbook."


Amen. When we first started homeschooling Georgie, we used a curriculum that thoroughly integrated literature and history. Georgie was always reading books that were set in the time and place she was studying in history. It was wonderful! I learned a lot, and I realized that like Mama Ava, the really important things in history, the things that I've puzzled over, cried about, and remembered, I've learned through literature. Quoting Mama Ava again, "We are all of us shaped by our past, even if it's a past that we don't feel like we can 'relate' to anymore. That's where literature comes in. I can read about any event in history and learn all about it. The only way I can even begin to emphathize or get any glimpse into what it was really like is through the arts, and that's literature for me. It's those words, those images, that we are so fortuneate to have received, that show us what those historical events mean, what they did to people."


Last year Lidia read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry for her homeschool studies, which also integrated literature and history. It was a very disturbing read for her and at times I thought it might be a little beyond her maturity level. However, she later said it was the best book she read for school that year.


Lidia pointed out to me a few days ago that every single book on CD we've listened to this year on our school commute has been historical fiction. We've been in 8th century England and Scandanavia, WWII England, Commonwealth London, Victorian London, and now Victorian New York. (We HAD to get out of England!)


I wonder why history is not taught through literature to a greater extent in our schools. Any thoughts?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

i, coriander on audio


I grabbed this on CD at the library not having heard anything about it, which is unusual for me. Lidia loved it. I am less enthusiastic.
It led to a wonderful discovery, however: Juliet Stevenson as an audio book narrator. I love her work as an actress, and she is an incredibly gifted reader. Wow! The best I've heard, I believe. I see that she's narrated a lot of Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskill, so I'm definitely picking those up.
The setting for this book is the Puritan Commonwealth, which sparked my interest since I'd just learned a bit about that period of British history. There is a fantasy world too, and fantasy mixed with historical fiction is my favorite combination.
Sally Gardner writes gorgeous sentences. There is an author interview at the end of the CD and the interviewer mentioned that Juliet Stevenson said the sentences rolled right off the tongue and she thought the author must have read her work aloud while writing it. Sally Gardner replied that she did read her work aloud because she wanted the sentences to be smooth and flowing. It also comes out that Gardner had some theater and illustration experience. I can see how both positively influenced this work.
The characterization is very well done. All of the characters came alive to me. Even the less prominent characters were obviously written with great attention to detail. And there is amazing sensory appeal. I could see, smell, and hear 17th century London. It is obvious that the setting was meticulously researched.
There were a couple things, however, that didn't work for me. A major character makes several decisions that I found inconsistent and simply implausible. There was a reason given for these unlikely decisions, but I didn't buy it. There was also something else I found disturbing and uncomfortable, and after I heard the author interview, I said, "Ah-ha!" The religious people in this book are portrayed as very, very evil. Abominably so. And one gets the impression it is because they are religious that they are so wicked. Well, during the author interview Sally Gardner was asked about religion, and she said that she thought it was vital that people realize that organized religion has always been used to suppress and control people. I would like to hear the interview again so I could quote it verbatim, but that was the gist.
Organized religion has been used for terrible reasons. However, for many it has been a wellspring of joy, freedom, knowledge, and imagination. In two of Nancy Farmer's books, The Sea of Trolls and The Land of the Silver Apples, the author presents that fascinating dichotomy. There are characters who believe exclusively in folk magic, and others exclusively in religion. The main character sees good in both. There are both Christians and "pagans" who are good, and others who are evil. In contrast, Sally Gardner presents the much narrower view that organized religion is necessarily constricting and negative.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

whoooop

I wrote 1107 words today. Do I deserve a bowl of ice cream?

Actually, J does. He took all of the kids to church tonight, leaving me with free writing time. I was able to write nearly 700 words in the last two hours.

This is a very rough draft and I would never show it to anyone in its current form. But it's happening, folks!

Yesssah!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

got wigs?


miscellaneous

Sometimes so much happens. I sit down to blog about it and I don't know where to start.

Georgie had a great time at the Rubik's cube tournament. It sounds like she met some very interesting people! J says that he, Marcus, and Bernie enjoyed themselves, too. G's cube fell apart on every attempt, which I guess is fairly common. Her lowest time was 49:44, which is normally her average. Other times were over one minute, but again, that's with the cube falling apart! She says she can't wait for next year's tournament.

Lidia did very well at the feis, placing in four out of five dances. In a couple of her dances she now competes against girls who have qualified for Nationals and even Worlds.

I've been doing a lot of writing lately and it's going so well! I love it! I hope to keep it up this time, though it's a little scary to realize that making writing an everyday priority means giving up other things. Like blogging, to some extent.

J has been exercising every day now for months. I do not dislike his abs of steel. He also has a lot going on at work. I haven't seen him this busy since he started the original company six years ago. Some of his customers are finally starting to pay, months overdue. That is a relief. Also, there is this incredibly major thing that just happened that I'm not even sure how to explain, as I have never mentioned it on this blog.

J's company competes with just two other companies for customers worldwide. When J and his partners acquired this company two years ago, things were a bit of a mess because its existing customers had been neglected for a while, and they weren't happy. Unfortunately, J soon found out that an Australian customer with an enormous contract had decided to switch to one of J's competitors. This was devastating. J and his partner tried to save it, but seemingly to no avail. Well. Then the project was delayed. J and his partner persisted in trying to get back into the running for this contract. Many resources were used in trying to retrieve this business--trips to Australia, changes to the product, etc. The Australian customer kept opening the door a crack for them, and then closing it in their faces. For leverage to use in driving down the price of J's competitor, who had supposedly been awarded this contract? Who knows. This has been going on for two years. About six months ago, things started to look more favorable for J's chances. But it kept teeter-tottering between his company and the competition's. They were going to decide in December. And then January. Three weeks ago, they heard news that made them rejoice. Australia wanted them there immediately for some training on the product. J's partner and the software engineer went. We all assumed it a done deal. Yay! And then a week and a half ago they found out that no, it was still up in the air. There were some things the customer preferred in the competitor. Boo! J told me that at lunch time. Just a few hours later he got news that yes, his company had been awarded the business.

I should have been jumping for joy, right? It was oddly anticlimactic. For one thing, I was in one of those I-am-the-only-one-who-ever-picks-up-around-here moods when he told me. Also, I think by that time I was emotionally spent on the whole thing. There had been too many highs and lows. I felt like protecting myself against further disappointment. "I'll believe it when you get the PO," I said. I do feel bad that I can't work up more enthusiasm. This contract insures J's company against a bad year, no matter what happens with the economy. This can totally carry them through. And yet, I'm still skittish. Notice that I said, "This can totally carry" rather than "will totally carry?" What's wrong with me? Why can't I be thrilled?