La Leche League Turns Fifty

Polly had this on her site. Thanks, Polly. This is quite beautiful.

The little brother

This is a picture of my husband's little brother. He's so little, in fact, that he stands on the skill saw and waits to ride it again. See 'im? Off to the side there - near where my husband is measuring. Isn't he cute?

Leftover cookie dough ... oh sure

It's too bad that the cook would be as confused as everyone else ... otherwise it would be a great invention if a person could somehow cover the leftover cookie dough with wrappers that look like blue cheese ... or edible flowers ... or cut up carrot sticks ... if it didn't look like cookie dough, then when the cook re-opened the formerly full plastic tub so as to cook the remaining dough, said remaining dough would not have spoon shaped divots in it.


As long as you're cookin' ...

"I want tacos tonight."

"We don't have any ingredients for tacos."

"So make a list - I'm going to the store anyway, to check on my schedule."

"That's a lot of stuff! Oh, wait. We have some chicken ... how about chicken tacos?"


"Do we have beer?"

"No, we're out. -- But I can't buy beer."

"Right. Never mind."

"No - put it on the list - I'll go get John."

"He's probably not ready to go anywhere ... I don't think he showered today."

"I don't care about that!" (said while voice fades up the stairs, on the way to roust brother of the age of majority)

(fast forward to chicken in pan ...)

In fridge, leftover carmelized corn with sweet onions ... leftover wild and brown rice mixture ... add those and the seasoning mix (Taco Bell seasoning of all things! Fewer weird ingredients than the other one) ...

"Can we eat yet? Is it done?"

"Yeah - dad's on his way, but go ahead."

"What did you put in this???"

"Corn and rice."

"Hm! Weird."

..... (chewing)

"Wow. This is really good!" (How old will he be when he doesn't sound surprised when he says that?)


OOoooooh, yeaaaaahhh!

Your Superpower Should Be Manipulating Electricity

You're highly reactive, energetic, and super charged.
If the occasion calls for it, you can go from 0 to 60 in a split second.
But you don't harness your energy unless you truly need to.
And because of this, people are often surprised by what you are capable of.

Why you would be a good superhero: You have the stamina to fight enemies for days

Your biggest problem as a superhero: As with your normal life, people would continue to underestimate you

Marvelous Maggie

"It's true I don't tolerate fools but then they don't tolerate me, so I am spiky. Maybe that's why I'm quite good at playing spiky elderly ladies." Maggie Smith (whom I very much admire)

Once upon a time ...

...there was a tiny creature born into the world. The creature began as a thought, and came into the world in a little bubble, and would live forever.

As the creature grew, the walls of the bubble grew thinner and thinner, so that more and more of the world around it could be seen more clearly and felt more certainly. There was much, of course, that the tiny creature did not know, but its curiosity was unbounded and its ability to learn unceasing.

Sometimes, though, a very confusing thing would happen. Sometimes other creatures, in similar bubbles, would pass by, and bump the tiny little bubbled one. Sometimes it hurt. Sometimes other creatures - these with no bubbles at all around them - would pass by, and these brave ones would point and name things and talk about the world beyond the horizon. And so sometimes the tiny creature thought that the great wide world must be terrifying and full of things that will hurt a body, and sometimes the tiny creature thought that the world was calling out to it, wanting the creature's company, and longing for the creature's un-bubbled footprints to be added to the prints of those who had already been un-bubbled.

The creature grew slowly, and then one day, the bubble popped!

Blinking, it looked around itself, and saw that both the bubbled and the un-bubbled were right. The world had many dangers in it. And the world was a wondrous place waiting to be explored and lived in. And so the grown creature began to walk.

And it walked and walked ... and bumped into things and hurt itself ... and got bumped into and hurt by others ... and walked some more, not quite ready to admit that the dangers were stronger than the adventure. The creature walked until a summit was reached, and from that summit the creature could see far, far away in all directions. And it was then that the creature noticed something about the bubbled creatures.

When the bubbled creatures were small, the bubble was a protection and a filter and a shield against all harsh things. From the summit, this much was obvious. All the smallest creatures had transparent, protective bubbles. But as the creature stood and watched, over and over, it saw that whenever a bubble popped, the same thing would happen. The newly released creatures would invariably get hurt. They would trip - or some other creature would throw something - or they would fall in holes. Something would always happen.

But then some of the injured creatures got up and walked some more. In fact, some of the creatures who had been released and then injured were right then coming up to the summit themselves, and some further along, descending the other side, striding out to the far summits ahead. The creatures who kept walking had learned how not to hurt themselves (mostly), and how to duck whenever something was thrown at them (mostly), and how to avoid stepping into holes (mostly). And when those walking creatures did hurt themselves or stand in the way of projectiles or fall into holes, they just kept going. It wasn't that they didn't get hurt. It was that they learned how to heal.

The perspective from the summit showed the other choice too. The creatures newly popped out of their first bubbles who decided that the vast wide world was too frightening were able to make their own bubbles. They stopped walking. Or they walked in circles. Or they build up all sorts of interconnected bubbles with other frightened creatures. And over time, the walls of the self-built bubbles got thicker and thicker. Whereas the bubbles they all came with had been transparent, the self-made bubbles were of sterner stuff, and over time it thickened. It yellowed. It got odd creases and waves and opaque spot in it.

And then the creature saw the thing that called it to head toward the summits in the distance, no matter what the dangers or the distance would become. The wondering creature saw that the striding walking creatures up ahead were leaving their footprints in the ground. Big and little footprints, deep and shallow footprints, vague and clearly-edged ones - no matter their apparent kinds, all the walking ones made prints.

But the self-bubbled ones never touched the ground at all. And when they died, no one could see that the enclosed creatures had ever touched the earth.


Want to harness the energy of the kids? Someone's figured out how!

These children are having a blast. They're playing on ... a pump!— a merry-go-round like a playground toy. As kids spin it around, they draw gallons of pure water from an underground well and into an elevated storage tank. It all flows to a free tap for this community of 1,000 people in rural South Africa.

I've often wondered what could be done on a practical level. They've got so much energy - shouldn't we be able to harness just a bit of it? There are reasons child labor laws exist in this country. Good reasons. But shoot! Give them a toy that pumps water to the village? Brilliant!

She did it!!

Bulgarian nurse Valentina Manolova Siropulo is offered a rose by an unidentified relative outside the French presidential plane after her arrival at the Sofia airport. AFP/Getty Images

And why?? Why is this nurse offered a rose? Because
the wife of French President Nicholas Sarkozy managed to go to Libya, and engineer the release of the six foreign medical workers sentenced to death in Libya for the horrible crime with which they were horrified to find themselves charged - that of deliberately infecting children with HIV. Their sentences had gone from death to life in prison, and today, after an eight year ordeal, they are home!

I don't know which part is the bravest. The fact that they went into Libya to do medical aid work, or the fact that although they were tortured into "confessing," and stayed alive and sane, or the fact that after all of that, this would be the quote:

"Now I still can't believe that I am standing on Bulgarian soil. We were told the news at 4 o'clock in the morning and we left the jail at quarter to six to board the plane," she said. "Now I will try to get my previous life back."

Hail, Celilia Sarkozy! What a coup! In a phone conversation with Sarkozy, Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov "expressed appreciation for the active role and the personal engagement of Mrs. Cecilia Sarkozy and the European commissioner in charge of foreign affairs ... for solving the case," his office said. --- Expressed appreciation? I bet they did!

Ah, Sophocles ...

The keenest sorrow
is to recognize ourselves
as the sole cause
of all our adversities.

Five hundred years before Jesus came ... a couple of thousand years before the Renaissance Man became possible during the Renaissance ... before all the possibilities in the universe were available to First World Average Joe, and before we could have only anxiety to be worried about all day ... irrespective of religion, race, creed, culture, age, or geography ... it's true. The path to freedom is telling the truth to ourselves about ourselves, and then, "to ease the pain, stop hitting yourself on the head."

Blueberry Bash

It's the picture that got to me, really ... but the recipes look wonderful too. This is put together by a group of Roman Catholic homeschooling moms, some of the most staunchly cheerful women one could ever meet. I glance at their blogs once in awhile. Maybe it's a stop gap measure for me during the season between kids of my own and kids of my kids (a season a lot of these women skip - they've still got the one when they start getting the other). There is a lot of joy for me in the snapshot scenes from their lives. Anyway ... it's Blueberry Bash at the Virtual Kitchen. Yum!


And I betcha they keep finding it

Okay. Here's the way I see it.

Abstinence is better than gluttony ... but temperance is better than abstinence. Study after study keeps coming out and proving what all of Europe has known for a very long time. Wine is good for you. Being chronically drunk is not good for you - and either is having too much food - or too much rest - or too much time sitting down - or too much hard labor. But wine is good for you and so is good food in the right proportions, enjoyed slowly. So are rest and exercise.

Soda pop, however? Not good for you.

"Even one soda per day increases your risk of developing metabolic syndrome by about 50 percent," says Ramachandran Vasan, MD, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and the senior author of the study, published in the July 31 issue of the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.

Women who regularly enjoy an alcoholic drink or two have a significantly lower risk of having a non-fatal heart attack than women who are life-time abstainers, epidemiologists at the University at Buffalo have shown. And wine also: "helps kill bad oral bacteria," "helps the kidneys," "delays dementia," "protects brain cells," and tastes really amazing sometimes. They can just keep studying it. Find lots of reasons. Whatever. As for me and my house, we will offer wine with dinner. It's good for you!

Lovely basil-y sausages cooked with yellow and green summer vegetables, and served with brown rice tonight for dinner. And red wine.

Life work

La vie d'un artiste, c'est son oeuvre.
The life of an artist is his work. --Jérôme Garcin

See? Here it is again. An artist's "life's work" - his work is his life - his life is work - he lives to do his work - he works. Turn the thing round and round and you keep seeing the same thing in a slightly different light, and it always has the trio - the triad - life, art, work. Interchange them. Pull them apart and put them back together. Stack them. See each through the light of the others.

And find nowhere in this sphere of light in your hand, turn it as you will, any way to separate the three parts of this unity. It is creative. It is vital. And it is work. (Thanks for the succinct statement, Garcin ... and Kristin.)


Every once in awhile, sitting in church, listening to the sermon, a flash of light comes to my awareness, and after that I can't unknow what I now know. (Or, I should say, I can't unknow it, but I so easily forget it!) Yesterday, it was an awareness of my own silliness. Okay, it's usually an awareness of my own silliness. To be specific about this time's awareness, I have realized that I was surprised that it takes effort to "do" - to do anything. As much as I thought I had rejected the popular pablum recommending that I "let go and let God," I have found a pocket of treasured outrage that the effort of doing exists.

Here's what I mean. This is a Rembrandt painting, showing the return of the Prodigal Son. The painting shows the moment most often heard about - most often meditated upon - most often the focus of the story.

You know the story, right? The father is rich and has two sons. The family inheritance will be divided, but the younger son doesn't want to wait. So he goes to the father and asks for his share so he can go out into the big wide world and have his own life with his own money. The father gives it to him, and out he goes.

He has a grand old time. Wine, women, and song ... he parties like ... well, like the son of a rich man. And he's got lots of help for spending all that money. And, just as would happen at any time in history, wherever there are people who want to party, when the money ran out, the friends went away. So there he was. Far from home, deserted by his party pals, and idiotically without a penny to spend on food for his own lunch. We don't feel sorry for the fool at this point. What an idiot. How foolish. I'd never act like that, that's for sure.

He takes a job slopping the pigs (and he's a Jew - this isn't exactly a job he was eager to have), and then he becomes aware of the fact that the pig food looks good to him, and the servants in his father's household eat better than this. Clang! He gets an idea. He decides to go home and work for his father. At least he'll get decent food in his belly and a roof over his head.

The father in the painting is obviously not hiring a new servant. The father has been watching for his wayward son - and he sees him - and goes out to greet him - and throws a party because his son has returned. (And the older son gets his knickers in a twist over this party because nobody ever threw him a party, and he didn't go out and squander the family wealth making an idiot of himself ... you've gotta be kidding me! A party? The old man certainly has an interesting set of priorities.)

And the teachers talk about the foolishness of a sinner, and the open arms of the waiting father, and the foolishness of the faithful son for being jealous over the delight of his father, and the inheritance the older son will have forever ... but yesterday a new idea inserted itself into my head, and the readings weren't even about the Prodigal! The readings were about the difference between being a slave with no choice and a servant with real responsibility and the attendant necessity to work - to do - to take action. And that's the point where the Prodigal peeked 'round the corner and winked at me. (That guy irritates me sometimes.)

I just saw something.

A couple of somethings.

1. The father knew perfectly that there was nearly no chance that the younger son, with all that inheritance ready at hand, would become a successful entrepreneur. He had to know what kind of person this young man was. And he gave him the money. He was ... well ... he was an enabler! He did not take over the situation for the son's own good. He left the decision-making to the son.

God does that. He won't make our decisions for us. He waits - every time - for "be it unto me according to thy word."

2. The son didn't just "repent" in his heart. (This is the thing that made me groan with new insight.) Once again, it's not what you know, it's what you do. He did know he was in a mess. He was sorry. He didn't really want to join the pigs at the trough. He had the right "attitude" -- and that means nothing without the getting of himself up off his fanny, and the moving of himself down the road to travel back to he knew not what, but he was ready to take the action because ... well, because all his other options were rotten.

The point I'm trying to make is this. After all this time, it has become apparent that I'm right back in that same danged wheel groove. My cart has lurched back into those deep ruts I dug for myself during years of modern evangelicalism. I was careful, back then, always to keep in mind that my mind and will were fallen and were always to be suspected of deep betrayal against God, and that I must fix this by understanding more and more. I believed that it was possible to "let go and let God" and to relinquish all "struggle" except the struggle to understand more perfectly. I could be changed from the inside out. As my perspective became more Godly, so would my life. In no event was I supposed to "work" - works are of the devil. All works. Work. Effort. God already did it all for me, and I was irreverent and ungrateful not to realize it.

sigh ...

As one of our kids said more than a decade ago, "they b'lieve some of it, and we b'lieve all of it." He was right about that, and the all of it to understand here is that it works from the inside out and from the outside in. People aren't pure spirit. Our bodies and what we do with them matter. Habits make character, and it takes real effort to build habits of that kind. It's not that God hasn't paid the price. It's not that we can ever be good enough to get to heaven on our merits - at all - in any way. The father was the rich one, and the money for the son was inheritance money. Old money. He didn't earn any of it.

But when he'd squandered it? When he needed to buck up his ideas and straighten up and fly right? Was it a matter of understanding only? Did he have a bad attitude?


He was in the wrong place.

And so, in order to rectify the situation, he had to take action. He had to use his will and he had to work at it to get back home.

Why am I always surprised by this? The deep ruts in the road catch the wheels of my cart every time, and there I am again, going where the ruts take me - there I am again, surprised that it's my will and my work that are required. Again I find myself believing the currently favorite idea of our whole modern world ... that we are all the sum of our situations, and are somehow not to be judged by what we do. "I am not my fat" - well, duh. I am, however, fully responsible for my food intake and energy output and sensible or silly self-care, as the case may be. "That's the drink talking." Oh, really? You've found a talking bottle of booze? Wow. Take that show on the road. You'll make a million.

There's no going to where I want to go unless I free the wheels of my little cart from the ruts in this road - again. Again!

Again it seems to me that Heaven is where we will be what we know, and we will do what we are, and we will not have to be reminded all the time.


Full Steam Ahead

This is an air compressor.

It runs this:
That is an "air nailer." It's so satisfying to use that this was heard today: "That felt so good I think this board needs eight more nails." (It didn't, by the way.)

And yesterday, this new Amazing Machine was so cool to use that this other one had to be added to the selection of options.

If you live in the country, and your buildings aren't so much a cluster of buildings as a scattering of them, there's a huge problem with the idea of "a garage" or "a workshop." Those are code words for more specific ideas - such as, "across the road," and "not here where I need it right now and it's a real pain in the butt to clear out a truck and go get the thing."

Hence, the nearly palpable glee in the second picture. See what he's doing? He collapsed the table because it's made to do that, and he can roll the new table saw back to the garage, and roll it back out into the yard again when he's ready to use it. He can roll it to the other side of the house. He can roll it to a different building. He is having a hard time restraining himself from rolling it all over the yard and driveway just for fun!

Today's task involves sawdust, and old, decomposing cellulose insulation, and mouse and fly and stinging insect droppings, and bits of clipped pieces of wires, all trying as hard as they can to get into my bedroom because today (happy happy day!) is the Day of the New Windows and Sensible Plug-ins. When fall closes in this year, and I wish to make my newly cozy room more light with lights, I'll use an electrical outlet that it nearer the floor than the ceiling, and when winter gets here, I'll have two brand new windows that are not winter condos for flies, do not actually funnel cold air from the outdoors and directly onto my bed, and can be opened just a crack if I want to have some fresh air.

I know this is nothing compared to that, but I really do have some new sympathy for great-grandma. The family lore is that she spent one winter, and one winter only in the "Indian shack" (with I don't know how many of the six children) -- and then was built the "woodshed" (that's what the building became), and that building is still as tight as a drum, 105 years later.

Think you're well-read?

You know the joke about "classics" being the books you want on your shelves but never really get around to actually reading? Well, take the BBC quiz! See how many works of literature you know just by their opening lines - no, really. Try it. (You might want to get a small glass of Sherry first - it's pretty humiliating.)

Leading literary firms failed to recognise the work of Jane Austen when it was sent in by a prankster.

The opening chapters of three novels were submitted under an invented name, with titles and character names changed.

Think you can do better? Try our opening line quiz.


"I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale." Marie Curie


Thursday's lessons: stop asking questions and just cook the dinner

Much has been written about bigger boys wanting bigger toys - it sounds so belittling. Now, granted, the bigger boys (we call them "men" here, thank you very much) are, in the unguarded moments, as gleeful with their toys as the littler boys are with theirs. But I for one am exceeding glad above all I could ask or think for the fact that the big boys want to play with the miter saw.

It seems to me to be a very good idea indeed. Especially when the result is the cutting and then air-hammering of these little lengths of lumber. See that? See what he's doing there? They go all the way across now, and I just asked why he's doing that.

He told me.

"So your walls don't become chimneys."

(mmm-hmm... yes, I see ...)

"And so the mousies can't just go anywhere they want to."

(ah. very good reason. I'll stop asking questions now.)

And this is what happens when the deputized shopper forgets to buy salad macaroni. We use the asparagus we have, the lovely new blackberry balsamic vinegar, the pasta we have, and some sea salt and lemon pepper and call it good.

Here comes the sun

This morning, the rain is gone and the sun is streaming through the trees. This little tulip tree is the most pathetic and bedraggled little thing you ever saw, and I think it needs to be put elsewhere if it is ever going to flourish. But in the morning sun today, even the little tulip tree is singing back to the sunlight, and the pair of them have quite the counterpoint going.


Well, there's rain and then there's rain

Uh ... it's picked up a bit out there. It was so gentle and calm this morning. Everything got a good soaking. And then the sun came out.

Ahhhh... very nice ....!

But it's not exactly soft or calm any more!

And the World's Ugliest Goat? Not happy.
You'd think he'd be happy to have some of the stench washed off of him, but he is most seriously not happy. At all.

The trumpet vine is happy. The trees are happy. The lilac hedge is happy.

The goat is not happy.

And I don't see the dogs anywhere! Oh. Wait. Libby's moping in the well house.

Lucky for the animals, it's July not January. This will all be over as suddenly as it started.

Good idea

Over at Pioneer Woman's blog, buried in the comments about the contest just held to "name that photo" (and the woman got more than a thousand entries!!! - I'm not the only one who loves her writing, apparently!), there is a piece of advice we can all use. I thank the person who gave it to the person who gave it to the world in Pioneer Woman's comments section today. Here it is.

Now, I ask you. What parts of life wouldn't be better if we all followed that advice?

Proper Summer Weather

Sadly, I do not have the photographic equipment necessary to really show this very well, but ... well, can you see it?

The driveway that is this color in the heat, is this color today:

And the plant growing up the corner of the woodshed, just outside the kitchen door is all wet too. See? There is a gentle, soaking, quiet, refreshing, cooling, steady, windless rain falling today.

There are people in this world who've lived here in the maritime Northwest, and who've left it in favor of more sunny days per annum. And those people lived where there are about 25-50 fewer inches of rainfall than we get here where I am, very near the center point of the Cascades where the rainfall has been known to reach numbers like 140" in a year. It's wet here. Or ... it's supposed to be wet here. And that's the way (uh-huh, uh-huh) I like it.

If you're gonna hire a repo guy...

Maybe it appeals to our sense of justice ... or maybe it just helps us feel a bit smug ... but "stupid criminals" stories are endlessly amusing.

I once heard of a guy who went through the bank drive through, and couldn't figure out why they were taking so long to hand him back a receipt for the cash in the money bag. When the police pulled up behind him, it became apparent that the bag he'd put into the drive-through drawer thingamajig was the wrong bag - he'd tried to deposit his stash of weed.

And then there was the guy who couldn't quite manage to lose the police chasing him through the dark woods ... because he was wearing the kind of tennis shoes that light up when you take a step.

Well, today, a new winner in "clever? or dumb as an old truck tire?" class emerges. Get this.

First, these inmates in federal prison in Oklahoma copyrighted their names. (Is it perhaps possible that the "rights" given to prisoners have become a bit over-generous? How on earth did that even happen?)

Then demanded money from the warden for using the names without permission.

"The indictment alleges that inmates Russell Dean Landers, Clayton Heath Albers, Carl Ervin Batts and Barry Dean Bischof sent demand notices for payment to the warden of the El Reno federal prison and filed liens against his property."
(Now I'm wondering if the lawyers for these Bozos need to be charged with Criminal Silliness!)

Then they offered to back off — in exchange for freedom!
(How much free time did these guys have anyway?)

It didn't end well. The repo man they had hired to seize the warden's belongings was an undercover FBI agent.
(And the party at the FBI office that night was a real hoot.)


So much for plans

In the morning, when the sun is coming up over the trees, and there is still a shadow in the yard, my husband is generally on his way to work up the river.

Today, however, he drove first to the other field, where bails have been waiting for the buyer to gather them up, and they were quite ungathered. And rain is on the way. So ...

A few sharp raps on a bedroom door, and the older of the two Young Giants was roused, and off they went in the "white pickup" (see it? It's a stake truck. A big one.) to put the hay into the barn so it won't get wet and therefore moldy and unsuitable both for sale and for our own antique bovine critter or even the World's Ugliest Goat. (Oldest living domesticated cow, I figure. An experiment in bovine longevity.)

And then they returned, and the dad person went into the garage to look for the tarp so that he could cover the bailer. And was the tarp there? Waiting? Handy? Ready for the man who's at this point two hours late to work? No. Of course it wasn't.

So off he went, down the driveway, across the road, to the other garage, to get the tarp. And then back to cover the bailer, and back inside to take another shower and get ready for work again.

Where is that guy who said he wants to buy the hay? That's what I want to know.


One of the sounds I like

(shhhh...) Don't tell him I'm listening ... but at the moment, our nearly 19-year-old son is brushing his teeth after his shower. There's some very cool blues guitar work on the boom box in the bathroom, and I just heard the drum part done with a toothbrush on the edge of the sink. Some days it's Tom Petty, and some days (the ones when he's got to get to work, and he can't wake up very well) it's Rage Against the Machine. Today, I'm not sure of the name of the guitarist, but the rhythm was "on the toothbrush, ladies and gentlemen ... Steve!"

Miniature Earth

Go here. Watch the video. Say thank you.

The rumors of the deaths have been greatly exaggerated

In my not-all-that-long lifetime, there was a period of time when school children had to learn to do "base 2" math. Why did we have to do this? Because the day was coming, they said, when ordinary people would use computers, and computers use Base Two Math, and we would need to know how to talk to the computers. Our familiar counting on our fingers and toes wouldn't apply here. Base Ten was dying - at least for the world of technology.

Nobody thought about the possibility that the people who make computers would make computers people friendly. Base Ten didn't die, and the only use I can think of now for the Base Two math that's stuck in my head is as a boredom game of figuring things out - it's good for waiting rooms and things like that.

Another death that has been predicted is the Death of Paper Use. Oh, bruther has that been a crock of full and overflowing (literally!) poopums! Library books: obsolete -- yeah, right! The opposite effect is the reality of the situation. Our books are made of better paper, and better bindings than they have been for a very very long time, and the use of paper has become so insane (and cheap, comparatively) that now it's a virtue to recycle all that paper. In fact, the use of paper isn't really discouraged - it's good to use paper - use lots and lots of paper - because in the end, what can you do with it? This:

Nice, eh? Tidy. Clean. Green. (Fortunately, there are always people who will be sensible and realize things like ... oh, like maybe there's a better wood to use for paper than Douglas Fir, and maybe we don't need to use trees at all for really good paper ... people figure things out.)

And that, my friends, is why I do not panic at the gloom and doom predictions of humans having caused global climate change that will lead to a great warming of the earth and melting of the polar ice caps and flooding of everything in the Northern Americas, right up to the Dakotas and parts of Canada. (Okay, I haven't heard it stated in quite those terms, but very nearly.) See, when I was in high school, shortly after the Base Two Math craze, and at the beginnings of the Paper Will Be Obsolete craze, we were also in the midst of a Global Cooling craze. Thaaaat's right. Global Cooling. It was imminent. Immediate. On our very doorsteps. Another Ice Age - right around the corner. Uh huh. Right. Climates change - that's what they do. And people figure things out. That's what they do. (And meanwhile, they sell magazines with headlines like "be worried - be very worried.")

Today I heard about one more thing that people have figured out. It's just so cool! Or, should I say, she is just so cool? Her name is IRENE - and in this picture, Peter Alyea, a digital conservation specialist at the Library of Congress, scans a record from the 1930s.

See, here's the deal. These old recordings are so fragile that if they're played, they fall apart. So they're taking pictures of the recordings, and playing the pictures!

IRENE isn't perfect. It removes pops and clicks, but it sometimes has a hissing noise in the background. Still, the Library of Congress finds all this encouraging enough that it has started testing the system on hundreds of discs, what Alyea describes as a kind of simulation of what a mass digitization project would be like.

When taking flat photographs, it can create a three-dimensional image of the groove on a record, or on an old wax cylinder. Haber been working with the University of California's Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, to reconstruct sound from field recordings, like one wax cylinder made around 1911 that features a Native American called Ishi.

Haber says it's amazing to hear these voices from the past. "There's this whole human and cultural component to what we're looking at," says Haber, whose main job is studying subatomic particles at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. "That makes it wonderful."

For the full story, and an interactive test you can do to listen to the results, go to NPR's website. And please. Don't talk to me about the doomed anything. I'm not stupid - stuff on earth comes and goes - I know the going happens. But so does the coming. People figure things out.


You Are a Plain Ole Cup of Joe

But don't think plain - instead think, uncomplicated
You're a low maintenance kind of girl... who can hang with the guys
Down to earth, easy going, and fun! Yup, that's you: the friend everyone invites.
And your dependable too. Both for a laugh and a sympathetic ear.
What Kind of Coffee Girl Are You?

That's what this quiz site said about me ... but ... I dunno ... they didn't have the options I really wanted. I bet they'd draw a different conclusion if it was an essay test instead of multiple choice.

Our House is a very very very fine house

We have one of these:

His name is Yogi - World's Ugliest Goat. His other name used to be The Defoliant - but now he's so old he's more on a par with other goats. In the fall, we all know (for miles around) that he is a Billy. If you don't know what that means, look it up - unless you can smell him - and then you already know the what if not the why.

And we have these:

The one on the left is "my" dog - her name is Libby. She's supposed to be a Border Collie, and several pounds ago, you'd have believed me. At this time, however, she is in imminent danger of becoming a formless heap of dogliness. I should walk her more (ha! yeah, right). The one on the right is Sarah's dog and her name is Katie, and for some weird reason she never gets matted hair or too much bulk. We do not understand this because taking her for a walk entails perpetual motion. If the humans stop walking, Kate does not just sit. She lies down. And stays.

Sarah also lays claim to this:

Please note: the member of the household with the most claim to the critters is the member that does not reside at this address. I saw this happen in my uncle's family ... and then in the one my parents run ... you'd have thought I'd have known better. But here we are. Kate the dog and Gemma the cat, and they're both Sarah's critters.

It's July - and this year, it's the first time there have been as many good weather days in a row as are necessary for getting the hay in sometimes we don't have to wait until July.

This means that in the month of my birthday and our anniversary, we have the house being assaulted for its own good and the hay being gathered for the good of the animals (only, there's just the one cow and the World's Ugliest Goat now, so we're selling most of it when it's bailed).

Next year, the anniversary will be #25 -- I'm thinking someone else can put in the hay.