Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Out Like a Lamb

I'd like to tell you exactly how warm it is outside right now on this last day of March, but my Classroom Thermometer is in the chick brooder.

Sadly, this is the first year in a while that I have not started the month with the big head of a lion drawn on our blackboard which I morph slightly every day until it finally looks like a lamb on the last day. In fact, I can't even find the photographic evidence of that fun little activity. (Now that's frustrating.)

Never one to be defeated by my own bad filing, I recreated the slow, painstaking process in 10 minutes (with the help of my youngest) and present to you March: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb quick chalkboard morph.


Okay. So what it lacks between steps 4 and 5, it more than makes up for in low contrast and blurry picture taking. And I forgot to put a colorful bow on the last picture. Darn it.

Oh well. I'll leave you with some lamb cooking tips.






And a simple request: To anyone who reads this and might have some spectacular April Fools Jokes to play on kids, please let me know asap - the hardware stores are only open for another 10 hours!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Putting on the Red Light

Contrary to The Police’s sage advice for Roxanne…




I do have to put on the red light in order to prepare for the imminent arrival of our baby chicks!

And, as if watching the video of the boys from so very long ago isn’t enough fun for today, I present you with this little ‘fore and aft’ peak at a tiny bit of my house cleaning efforts and our set-up for the baby chicks. Here are two shots of our 3'x4' catch-all area.

On the left, giving the term "mudroom" a very literal meaning, is a mish-mash of dog treats, gardening stuff (including but not limited to actual mud), an Ollivander’s Wand Shop pot for a wand-making activity at my youngest’s birthday party – two years ago! – and other sundry what-the-hell-do-I-do-with-this-stuff-now items. On the right is the same area cleaned out and improved with a home-made chick brooder, the subject red light, and some colorful, original art canvases (also known as acrylic paintings done by the kids years ago). I think the art work lends the whole chick-raising experience that certain je ne sais quoi which is so important to the success of any Green Acres endeavor.

By the way, the sad looking spathiphyllum in the back on the left is much happier after a bath and a haircut and is notably the only plant that I’ve ever been able to keep alive (going on twenty years, now). Amazing, I know.

3 Apr 09: Fixed 'left' and 'right' lysdexia.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"The Civil Heretic"

The Civil Heretic, by Nicholas Dawidoff, in today’s New York Times Magazine is a really good article about an unlikely opponent of the theory of climate change. At age 85, Freeman Dyson is an eminent scientist among the many who live within one of grandest ivory towers, The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. Mr. Dyson isn’t merely a preposterously decorated, endlessly vetted, and widely esteemed physicist, he is a man who has integrated the role of science as a tool for happiness in life.

Part of the article is absolutely inspiring: Dyson’s early autodidactic education, his thrill at the thought of coming to America where “all sorts of weird things could happen,” his interactions with Feynman, Oppenheimer, and Fermi, to drop just a few names, and his interesting brand of pithy wisdom. “Being bored is the only time you are creative,” “life is always changing,” and “humans have a duty to restructure nature for their survival,” are just a few of the great lines attributed to him in the article. Further than his scientific credentials, the great respect afforded him by other eminent scientists, and his uncommon wisdom, Dyson’s car still sports an Obama bumper sticker. By this, I simply mean to imply that he can not easily be brushed aside as a right-wing climate change denier.

Dyson, whose own climate studies range back into the 70s, describes how local warming, not global warming is occurring. While he admits that many scientists have jumped on the “Grand Guignol” of climate change, he accuses the “chief propagandist”, what he calls Al Gore, and NASA’s Jim Hansen of using “lousy science”, further stating that “Hansen has turned his science into an ideology.” The result of their misguided and at times disingenuous efforts, Dyson explains, is that people are distracted from real devastating issues, such as war and poverty. He thinks that global warming has become “the primary article of faith for ‘a worldwide secular religion’ known as environmentalism.

Unable to convince even his wife of 50 years that the polar bears will be okay and that the Prius is a toy for the rich, Dyson acknowledges that his opinion may be viewed as heresy, but doesn’t seem too bothered by the epithet.

Further Reading:

Dyson, F.J., 1977: Can we control carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Energy, 2, 287-291.

Some Inconvenient Thinkers

Tierney Lab: Tragedy is not Freeman Dyson's Business

Heretical Thoughts About Science and Society

3 Apr 09: The grammar police stopped by.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

3 Good Things (video edition)

Here are a few of the videos I've enjoyed watching recently:

1. Sheep are fun. And now, they're art! (via Noodlefood)



2. At least someone in the government is talking sense - too bad he's British (and only an MEP)! (via Titanic Deck Chairs)



3. And this bittersweet beauty, You're My Best Friend. (Reminded of how much I love Freddie Mercury via Myrhaf - and a recent serenade.)

Update on #3 - And Gus Van Horn (whose recent link to my poem makes me want to call him "Spike") who posted a Queen video helped me remember that too!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Vamped in Boston

Teenage Twilight fans? Have I got a school for you!

Revolutionary Healthcare

I couldn’t make this stuff up.


One hospital administration is actually taking its revolutionary healthcare ideas to the streets. CaritasChristi has developed not only this lovely “clenched fist” propaganda poster, but also a little video manifesto which starts off with the old-fashioned TV static of an analog set zeroing in on the station. As if we are in a state of emergency and someone, some one of The People, has had to commandeer the station to bring you news of the revolution which brings healthcare to the people.

How will Caritas provide this revolutionary healthcare?

Simple: “Quality By the People, For the People, and To the People.”

This is so disingenuous I don’t know where to begin. Clearly, the literally entitled People are not the doctors or other producers of medical devices or services, because I think they may have always thought of themselves as Quality. How about the consumers who are demanding, with a clenched fist no less, that the efforts of those producers be provided to them in a manner they see fit?

Nah. It can't be the consumers, because we've always had the right to demand that our needs be met by going elsewhere when the services are not to our liking. Caritas claims that as part of their “To the People” campaign, they bring those services to the consumers. So if the healthcare providers are not benefitting from clenching their fists, and the patients don’t need to clench their fists, one has to wonder – who exactly is the symbolic clenched fist?

In a word: government.

Poetry Friday: The Investment

by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Read it here. I think it's worth the time invested.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Between the Covers

Although my husband has done this seamlessly for as far back as I can remember, I have only recently been able, or saw fit, to read more than one book at a time. Of course, I don’t mean actually simultaneously, but more in the I-could-grab-any-one-of-these-and-continue-reading-and-it-would-still-make-sense sense.

Rather than confusing me, as I thought it most definitely would, the multiple book strategy gives me two distinct advantages to my previously one-book-to-finish paradigm: 1) I can prioritize my reading time, and 2) I always have something I want to read on hand. Apparently, my late adoption notwithstanding, this multiple-book strategy is wildly popular.

Recently, a friend of mine lent me Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope in order that I might comply with her “emergency Victorian novel” recommendation which holds that everyone must have one in the car for those times when you get stuck somewhere (Stephen has always practiced his own “emergency Russian pocket novel” habit). Luckily, I have had no need of it yet, for the following is a list of the several books, kept in different places, in which I am somewhere between the covers but intend to get to the end.

The order in which I began to read them:
(Range: more than a year ago – yesterday)

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
W.B. Yeats: Selected Poems
The War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells
Whatever Happened to Justice?, by Richard Maybury
The Forgotten Man, by Amity Shlaes

The order in which I am likely to finish them:
(Range: today – years from now)

Whatever Happened to Justice?
Economics in One Lesson
The Forgotten Man
The War of the Worlds

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice*
Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand

W.B. Yeats: Selected Poems

*While I've read many novels since I began to read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, I have only recently recommitted myself to the idea of reading it.

Obviously, I have always been able to distinguish between reference books and those which should be read cover to cover. However, reading and absorbing the material presented in non-fiction books s l o w l y is relatively new to me, as is the idea that reading multiple books of less weighty material dealing with non-related subject matter can be accomplished at the same time. When the ideas are related, it’s plain fun to compare and contrast them on the fly!

The multiple book strategy, while having its advantages, does not cure lack of focus. Clearly, even with this varied list, I prefer to write about these books rather than read them at this moment.

What’s on your list of Books in Which you are Currently Between the Covers?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Old Socks Get New Life

I thought this little video (by the daughter of the founder of America's Test Kitchen, Chris Kimball) was cute and answers the age old question: What do you do with old socks?



Answer: Be creative.

That, and Billie Holiday (or could be Ella Fitzgerald) music always adds style.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sometimes you just need to be reminded


about the days of the whole face-eating kisses.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Poached Pipes

LB's homemaking tip of the day:

Do NOT pour egg whites down the drain followed immediately by a hot water chaser.

Just call me Hell, Louise?!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Woman Reasons

Four reasons prompt her choices of the day;
There are four reasons in the woman’s mind:
She has her Home, clutter to keep at bay
Safe for living, even for the dirt-blind:
She has her Children, oh sweet young being
Whose righteous growth she must attend
And remind herself that daily overseeing
Is about the means and not the end:
Her Husband is part of her ageless plan
That halves the sorrow and doubles the joy
Remembering that while she married the man,
She remains the girlfriend to the boy:
She has her Self and about this she is wise;
Knowing Self is that on which all the rest lies.


Inspired by and with apologies to John Keats’ The Human Seasons

Friday, March 20, 2009

Poetry Friday: The Folly of Being Comforted

by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

One that is ever kind said yesterday:
"Your well-beloved's hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise
Though now it seems impossible, and so
All that you need is patience."

Heart cries, "No,
I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain.
Time can but make her beauty over again:
Because of that great nobleness of hers
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs,
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways
When all the wild Summer was in her gaze."

Heart! O heart! if she'd but turn her head,
You'd know the folly of being comforted.



To learn more about this beautifully romantic poem, here is a good essay on Yeats and his unrequited love.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish

I am reading this little book entitled The Supremes’ Greatest Hits. My sudden interest in it may be due to my recent viewing of “Dream Girls”, or because like many books I own, its smooth spine mocked me from its place of prominence at my bedside for more than a year, and I had had enough of it.

Whatever the case, the spine is now irreparably stretched out and I’m hooked!


Michael Trachtman, author of the book subtitled The 34 Supreme Court Cases that Most Directly Affect Your Life, is a practicing attorney who claims that he has “spent thousands of hours learning how not to write like a lawyer.” I believe it because I can understand him! I recommend the book to anyone who lacks his J.D. but is interested in the history of liberty and the impact of Supreme Court decisions in this country.

The decision of the title case I’d like to present here was issued in 1937. Trachtman subtitled it, What Gives Congress the Right to Regulate Private Businesses? I thought it might be of particular interest to many of us right now.

1. DEPRIVATION OF LIBERTY TO CONTRACT IS FORBIDDEN BY THE CONSTITUTION IF WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW; BUT RESTRAINT OR REGULATION OF THIS LIBERTY, IF REASONABLE IN RELATION TO ITS SUBJECT AND IF ADOPTED FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE COMMUNITY AGAINST EVILS MENACING THE HEALTH, SAFETY, MORALS AND WELFARE OF THE PEOPLE, IS DUE PROCESS.

The entire text of which can be read here.

There’s a brief reference to and a chilling qualification on the Fourteenth Amendment at the very beginning of the Supreme Court’s decision. It’s interesting to note that at time of this decision, The Court was made up of conservatives known as the “Four Horseman” and the liberal “Three Musketeers” plus two swing votes.

Trachtman tells us that up until the time of the West Coast Hotel decision, the Court had been successful overturning President Roosevelt’s New Deal attempts to control businesses by using the Lochner v. New York (1905) precedent. That decision, about the unconstitutionality of New York’s attempt at limiting a baker’s work week stated “‘limiting the hours in which grown and intelligent men may labor to earn their living’ are ‘mere meddlesome interferences with the rights of the individual.’”

However, in this case, about the minimum wage of a female hotel employee, after a stall in the decision process brought on by an ill jurist and a desire of the chief justice to have the full court decide the matter, the final 5-4 decision handed down by the Court upheld the constitutionality of the minimum wage. Associate Justice Owen Roberts, who had previously sided with the conservative bloc against the New Deal measures, is generally credited with (or blamed for) the deciding vote.

During the time between the Court’s taking the case and rendering its decision, FDR, frustrated by his inability to get measures past the Supreme Court, introduced his “court-packing” plan in which he proposed to put up to six more justices on the bench to reportedly lighten the load of the over-70 jurist crowd. Coincidentally or not, Roberts’ decision to uphold the minimum wage laws has come to be known as “the switch in time saves nine” as it is widely regarded as the measure which helped put Roosevelt’s Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937 to bed and saved the Supreme Court as we know it.

This is all fascinating to me for several reasons. The Supreme Court is charged with interpreting the Constitution, and therefore with upholding the government of laws and not men; it is the final arbiter in all things legal. It has made some horrific mistakes (Dred Scott) and is not subject to censure – by anyone. As the number of jurists on the Court is not mandated by the Constitution, it is also subject to the threat of being overrun by any power-crazed Chief Executive who sees his mandate as bigger than his office. Finally, manipulating the Constitution to serve as a tool of social justice has become the Court’s dark and serious tradition.

So, are you like me wondering…where does the Court stand on the latest slate of “meddlesome interferences with the rights of the individual”, or can they now be counted on to affirm the social justice of it all?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Subsidizing Industry X

First, I’d like to define the word subsidy:
Monetary assistance granted by a government to a person or group in support of an enterprise regarded as being in the public interest.
(from the American Heritage Dictionary)

Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson © 1946, is a must read for anyone who wants to understand what the hell is going wrong in today’s economy. I quote the referenced chapter liberally because I could not possibly present as concisely as Mr. Hazlitt.

From Chapter XIV, Saving the X Industry,
“We are concerned only with a single argument for saving the X industry – that if it is allowed to shrink in size or perish through the forces of free competition (…) it will pull down the general economy with it, and that if it is artificially kept alive it will help everybody else.”
Does this sound like a familiar argument?

Hazlitt goes on to explain that direct subsidies to certain industries are better than tariffs, price fixing or monopolistic exclusions because, he says, “there is far less opportunity for the intellectual obfuscation that accompanies (those) arguments." His matter-of-fact tone causes me to be even more concerned that we, as a country, have blindly accepted the above “emergency” argument with nary an attempt at reason by its proponents, let alone any efforts at subversive obfuscation.

When did we become uneducated legislated pawns instead of informed citizens?
“It is obvious in the case of a subsidy that the taxpayers must lose precisely as much as the X industry gains. It should be equally clear, that as a consequence, other industries must lose what the X industry gains. They must pay part of the taxes that are used to support the X industry. And customers, because they are taxed to support the X industry, will have that much less income left with which to buy other things. The result must be that other industries on the average must be smaller than otherwise in order that the X industry may be larger.

“The result is also (and this is where the net loss comes in to the nation considered as a unit) that capital and labor are driven out of industries in which they are more efficiently employed to be diverted to an industry in which they are less efficiently employed. Less wealth is created. The average standard of living is lowered compared with what it would have been.”
Finally, he exemplifies the opportunity costs in artificially supporting any industry.
“If we had tried to keep the horse-and-buggy trade artificially alive we should have slowed down the growth of the automobile industry and all the trades dependent on it. We should have lowered the production of wealth and retarded economic and scientific progress.”

“We do the same thing, however, when we try to prevent any industry from dying in order to protect the labor already trained or the capital already invested in it.”
How is subsidizing the failing financial industry any different?

What should be obvious to us all has instead become a big blind spot – rather than demand that government be limited to protecting our individuals rights which gives us the freedom to make our own choices, we increasingly rely on the omnipotence and worse, the assumed omniscience of government to give us what we want.

This behavior is antithetical to the foundation of this country.

To a Friend Whose Work has come to Nothing

by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honour bred, with one
Who, were it proved he lies,
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbours' eyes?
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known,
That is most difficult.

It seems this poem provides the type of encouragement one needs to blog on the state of the world these days.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SE7EN

1. Scary movies scare me (homage in title).
2. I prefer Murphy’s to Guinness.
3. In my 30s, I got a 4.0 in electrical engineering for a semester.
4. I designed and sewed my own jacket when I was 12.
5. My ears begin to corrode in the cold - really - it's weird.
6. I am conflicted by wanting to both sit on my ass and kick someone else’s.
7. I'm all a twitter about Twilight coming out on DVD this week.

As a blogger in the Boston area, I have risen to the call to provide these random notes about myself to my poor, embattled readers. Why embattled? Aren’t we all?

What are your seven things?

Emergency Government Intervention...

Details to follow.




I watched Nancy Pelosi on Charlie Rose yesterday for about 15 minutes. In addition to yelling invectives at the TV like an armchair quarterback, I haven't felt good since. What was most appalling was her ability to remain plastically enthusiastic while repeating some form of "details to follow" about further government intervention in healthcare, education, and the economy.

Is anyone listening to this nonsense? Where are the American people? What failing of ours has given these people their mandates to violate our rights with impunity?

Doesn't everyone see that "government plans" happen only at the expense of our individual plans? That for every dollar spent on a government program there is one less dollar spent by a private enterprise?

Have we become so soft in our easy lives that we've forgotten that freedom from government intervention is what allowed us to develop our own lifestyles? Have we really begun to rely on the efficiency of government force to make our collective lives better?


I'm going to try harder to stop this nonsense. Details to follow. I can say this without irony because I'll be using my own resources and will not be violating anyone's rights in pursuing this course of action for myself.

Monday, March 16, 2009

3 Good Things (taxes edition)

1. It’s not a real audit, just an examination of an old filing.
2. It won’t affect this year’s filing.
3. The phone number for the IRS is toll free.

All right. This isn’t really in the spirit of 3 Good Things, but I’m trying to remain calm which we all agree is a good thing.

The Fiddler of Dooney

by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

When I play on my fiddle in Dooney,
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Moharabuiee.

I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.

When we come at the end of time,
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle
And the merry love to dance:

And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With "Here is the fiddler of Dooney!"
And dance like a wave of the sea.



I'm preparing for the wearing o' the green this week.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Floored

My decluttering efforts sent shockwaves not only through the house, parts of which I hadn’t seen in quite a while – namely, the floors, which suddenly screamed out “HELP ME” – but also in my appreciation for the art of homemaking with style.

It was only natural that I expand the scope of my housekeeping to include floor maintenance. The central vacuuming system that came with our house, in addition to sounding like a 747 which would soon land in our yard, never worked quite well on the carpeted floors. Our upright vacuum was too big and clunky to clean the carpeted stairs, and a mass of hair (let’s be fair to the dog – it was mostly the long human hair that screwed things up) constantly caused the driving belt to slip which created tremendous friction and eventually caused a nice burnt rubber smell to permeate the house each and every time we vacuumed. Yes, these are some of the better excuses reasons my floors are never quite as clean as they should be. Now, those reasons no longer exist.

On Friday I brought home my new best friend, Antares, the Miele vacuum cleaner. She’s as lightweight as a train case, as sleek as German engineering gets, and as red as my new patent leather clogs. You know you’ve arrived (not sure where) when you’re able to match your tools to your shoes. This is not to be confused with using your shoes as tools which I have also been known to do.

Clearly, I am not the only one waxing poetic over her (or his) vacuum cleaner.



And with the donning of a vintage apron, my transformation into a 1950s housewife is nearly complete.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Crap Creep + Stair Stuff = House of Horrors

I have a problem. Okay, I may have more than one, but right now I want to address only one: Crap Creep.

Those of you who are also afflicted with the problem know what I mean without further explanation. Those of you who are excellent housekeepers, who have a place for everything and manage to keep everything in its place, those of you who would never, ever, even temporarily, store stuff on the sides of the stairs because you didn’t feel like going up them to put that stuff away, I’m here to explain the issue.

Crap Creep occurs when the stuff of your life begins to take on “hazardous” proportions; when no horizontal surface is safe from your stockpiling stop-gap measures at keeping your house livable; when you can put your finger on Christmas decorations without leaving the kitchen – in July! These are some of the signs that Crap Creep has reached capital letter status.

Until very recently (maybe a few weeks ago) I could live with my random piles of “Stuff I’ll Get to Later” because I had never breached what I consider to be the very symbol of out of control housekeeping: Stair Stuff. I grew up in a house where going up and down the stairs was like running the gauntlet: small piles of stuff dotting the left or right of random steps. Even now I wince at the distinct sound a human body makes while travelling the stairs without the benefit of its feet. I promised myself to never let my housekeeping reach that nadir. Alas, I have broken even that simple pledge.

So now what do I do now?

Well, cleaning off the stairs is the obvious first step. Since this was just a newly acquired bad habit, it was easily fixed (and hopefully broken). But for me, the bigger problem is recognizing the distinction between clutter (aka: crap) and piles of stuff which must be put away for when I might need to reference or use them. I can’t throw out potentially useful things – that would be wasteful. But I can’t just keep everything that has ever been brought into this house by any of its inhabitants – we’d need to move out! Let’s not even begin to discuss how we can’t find any of the stuff when we need it because it’s scattered like buckshot throughout the house.

So here are some web resources which offer helpful hints in de-cluttering:

1) The Fly Lady: The queen of housekeeping ideas.
2) The HouseKeepingChannel: just a funny name for a good online resource.
3) HGTV’s Mission Organization: for those who’d rather watch TV than dust it.
4) TLC’s Clean Sweep: Some tips & tricks from the show.

I did permanently adopt Fly Lady’s idea that a clean kitchen sink goes a long way toward better mental health, and have successfully employed the four bin system used in Mission Organization on a room into which I was once afraid to enter. But now it’s time for some serious effort.

Because I can't help but notice that the Crap Creep increased in direct proportion to my Digital Distractions, here’s my plan to combat it. Instead of sitting in front of my computer, searching, reading, writing, and commenting, I am going to use that time to sort stuff for keeping, storing, donating, and throwing (the four-bin system mentioned above). Instead of watching the television, I am going to be washing the appliances (not that easy – they’re stainless) and the cabinets. Instead of keeping in touch with friends on Facebook, I’ll be reacquainting myself with my actual books and deciding how and where they fit in our home (it will be a tremendous challenge getting rid of any books in this house). Instead of twittering, I’ll be dusting (with a feather duster, of course). Instead of learning about the human condition through good movies, I’ll be learning how to make repairs and improve the condition of our house. Other than checking my email each morning, watching HGTV while on the treadmill (I have to distract myself from the monotony), and watching Castle tonight (because it looks like a boatload of fun not to be missed), I am essentially taking the next week off of electronic visual media and replacing my time spent on it with time spent working toward providing myself and my family with a better place to live – for free!

Because I started my efforts this weekend, I hope to be able to post some good news by next weekend. As of this writing, our tiny library (where we homeschool) is 75% of the way toward a new Serene State.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Weekend

But without the singing, dancing, or helpful vermin.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Poetry Friday: Henry David Thoreau

Speaking of Civil Disobedience (and of missing the point), here is an interesting little poem by Mr. Thoreau.

What's the Railroad to Me?

What's the railroad to me?
I never go to see
Where it ends.
It fills a few hollows,
And makes banks for the swallows,
It sets the sand a-blowing,
And the blackberries a-growing.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Civil Disobedience

I have an unlicensed pug and I'm not afraid to use it.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

I'm with the band.

This was kind of fun.

If you had a band, what would your album cover look like? This would be mine (as randomly generated through Wikipedia, BrainyQuotes, and Flikr).


If you're curious about what your own randomly generated album cover would look like, here are the instructions found over at Gus Van Horn .

1 - Go to Wikipedia. Hit "random," or click here. The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band. [I got Gordano Valley.]

2 - Go to "Random quotations" or click here. The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album. OR, if quotationspage.com is down, try going to Brainy Quotes and use the Quote of the Moment as your quote. [I got this Groucho Marx quote.]

3 - Go to flickr and click on "explore the last seven days" or click here. Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover. [I can't remember the third, but this one was my second, so how could I resist?]

4 - Use Photoshop to put it all together.

While it may look a lot like a folk album, I'm guessing that if I had a band, only dogs might appreciate the sounds of it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It worked for Prince Charming.

It is wrong to design my life around a shoe?
It’s not so much that I want these shoes, because really, I have no use for them. They are ridiculously impractical. What I want is a use for them, or more specifically, a lifestyle in which purchasing and wearing these shoes would somehow be right. But I have to face facts: even I were enormously wealthy, inordinately thin (not to mention graceful), and worked in the fashion industry I’ll just never again be young enough to pull off this look – I'm not even positive I was ever that young.

Even knowing this, I still find the red patent leather heels, pony hair animal (Dalmation?) print, and the peep toes beckoning to my very soul! C’mon – these shoes were designed for my alter ego who becomes apparent only through her wardrobe of unworn clothes which bedeck my closet.

I may appear to be a harried middle-aged mother of three on the outside, but inside, my attitude is rocking these shoes, and I do think that’s a good thing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Square Root Day!

That’s right – another random calendar date is cause for a celebration of mathematics.

According to today’s Boston Globe, Square Root Day was invented by a California teacher who wanted to promote some enthusiasm of … well I’m not quite sure, but you can read the little blurb yourself. Dates like 3/3/09 come around only nine times in a century, so there’s that.

I support teachers who are tireless in their efforts to actively engage the minds of their students, and I certainly appreciate how difficult it is to sometimes generate enthusiasm in children who may actually fear mathematics. I can even see the fun in an exercise trying to find all the “Square Root Days” in a century. I’m just not sure how promoting celebrations on specific dates through a forced association with a mathematical process accomplishes that goal. (Not to mention that the kids in the second half of the century get totally ripped off.)

Could it be possible that I’m just no fun? Nah.

Take Pi Day – that’s a different story. Actually, it’s remarkably the same story. But Pi Approximation Day, and Mole Day – now those are funny.

I guess the difference is that those are celebrated by students who already understand the importance of numbers and are just using the dates as excuses to get geeky about it, not as a substitute or odd incentive for math mastery.

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Speaking of Pie and randomness, have those of you who use Site Meter ever wondered what browsers your readers use?

Me neither, but apparently, 7% of my readers need to upgrade their Internet Explorers.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Heroes of Capitalism

I added this terrific blog to my sidebar a while ago, but I really needed to introduce and highlight it.

Check it out.

It's an important reminder of not only the great successes of the capitalists featured, but also what is in danger of being lost if we continue to ignore or evade how actual wealth is produced: not by forced government redistribution, but through the efforts of men left to pursue their own values.

3 Good Things (bathroom cleaning edition)

1. Our main floor bathroom is very small.
2. Hardly anyone uses our ½ bath.
(Could be due to the huge painting of the scary lady.)
3. The boy is away at college.

Fearing that I will someday lose my mind and mix Clorox with Bleach with Windex with Ammonia (or mix first then lose my mind along with my ability to breathe), I’m glad bathroom cleaning is over with for this – well – let’s just leave it at “for now”.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I am the King



If you substitute the words "scrambled eggs" for the king's various attempts at instructing the guard, and every other known egg preparation for the guard's questions to the king's request, you will have a fair approximation of our Sunday morning discussions in which I am the king and Stephen is the guard. Unlike the guard who is just plain dumb, however, Stephen finds it inconceivable* that I detest all egg preparations but scrambled (*it does mean what I think it means).