We went out to the mill yesterday morning for whole grains and conversation.

The conversation was wide-ranging and lively. What’s the best way to deal with students who monopolize the discussion? Should people have to be licensed to have children? What’s the fairest way to grade papers? Is it possible to slow down global warming? Was the eugenics movement ever a good idea (this one included Nazism and Child Protective Services court)? Do most people hate their jobs? Why is the divorce rate slowing? If it’s not possible to slow global warming, then is it possible to prepare? What’s the difference between intelligence and learning, and is it possible to become smarter? Is getting married a good life goal? Just how laughable is the concept of privacy on the internet? Is a PS3 worth the price?

Having dealt with all these important questions, and eaten breakfast, we did a bit of holiday shopping. We also bought beans and cinnamon-pecan pancake mix and seven-grain cereal and flour.

We’re going to see whether the mill would send one of their more picturesque boxes to New Zealand for us.

As we waited in line to pay for these things, an old gentleman came up and chatted with #1 daughter. He had no teeth, which made him hard to understand. #1 daughter and #1 son both laughed and smiled with him courteously, as though they had some notion of what he was saying. We think perhaps he was telling them how old he was.

We got up to the counter, which has a window with a grill, like a jail or something, but it’s very old so it seems picturesque. The woman who wrapped up our stuff asked where we were from. People here, once we get out into the rural areas, tend to think we’re from off. She had a bit of trouble getting our giant bag of foodstuffs back out to us under the grill. It had lots of brass curlicues and things.

On the way home, we discussed whether things ought to be beautiful.

I took the position that, if you’re going to build a cell phone tower — or a bridge or a grill at a window or whatever public item it might be — then you ought to make a beautiful one. People have to look at it, after all. #1 daughter took a utilitarian position. #2 son did not, as I recall, commit himself, though he joined in with examples.

It was fun. #1 daughter left not long after, and then after a bit #1 son took off for climbing and then work, and it began to rain, and I did a bit of work but also spent some time lolling around reading.