Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday cheer

funky Christmas treeOr, at least an end-of-year batch of cheerful and/or fascinating links to tide you through quiet afternoons of eggnog recovery. Hooray!!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quote of the day

a single candle lightedThe only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn't live boldly enough, that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.
- Ted Hughes
(via whiskey river)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Taking the long view

Really good piece over at Hullabaloo about what liberals should be trying to accomplish not only in terms of near-term domestic policies but in terms of the future evolution of the truly global economy and its level of justice toward all. It's a little on the long and chewy side, but really important. It's hard for me to imagine the political mechanisms for this level of global organization of the "90%," even if they feel some psychological kinship already, but lack of imagination is no excuse -- we need to find a way to give labor some kind of voice/leverage before it's already plutocrats all the way down.

Go, read it already. Things to mull.

(via a Medley tweet)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Widespread frustration

Am finding this a very frustrating time to be a well-informed citizen of the world -- rabid politics is dooming us to extended recession, America seems to be near-single-handedly preventing the world from addressing global warming before it's too late, and our government is reacting violently to expressions of free speech and public demonstrations. I'm short of time, but I hate to let my "grumpy" file get any thicker before Christmas, so here's a big frustration dump from the last month or two, without much additional comment:

Thursday, December 08, 2011


This bit at Animals Talking in All-Caps is right on, with an amusing finish to take the edge off of what would otherwise be a head-banging frustration frenzy of agreement. Wow.

(And can I just say, how does that guy keep the creativity coming at this impressive level day after day? It just blows my socks off.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Tuesday kid-blogging

Been a while, I guess! Here are some of the Many Faces of Speck from recent months:

Speck gives a little smile while hanging from her chin-up bar
A playful grin during her midsummer obsession with hanging bars.

Speck with red curls and serious expression, in haircut apron
Speck during her second haircut, admiring the effects of (ahem) combing!

Speck in zebra warpaint for Halloween
Zebra warpaint for Halloween, very dramatic!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quote of the day

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.
- Carlos Castaneda
(via whiskey river)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy is not "visit"

Rachel Maddow gives a little history of organized protest and suppression of same in the last 50 years and how it's likely to apply to efforts to get rid of Occupy Wall Street protests in cities throughout the country. Heartening to see people returning after armed thugs chase them out; I hope she's right that this will be counterproductive.

people protesting, line drawing of

More here on how the apparently coordinated clearings out took place and how the media is handling them. Will be interesting to see whether the country's sympathies rebound as quickly as the protesting crowds; I hope that these dictatorial actions aren't rewarded...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Planning ahead

Looking ahead to Thanksgiving with anticipation/dread? Need to figure out just the right thing to bring? Here's the perfect flowchart, covering possibilities from the college party-on to Grandma's traditional show and friendly to hostile. Hilarious.

(via a Medley tweet)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday frolics

A heaping helping of cheery and interesting links to unburden my browser and lighten your weekend (with apologies for how old some of them are):


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Pumpkin silliness

Am way behind in blogging, kid pictures, and all the rest of my non-mission-critical life, but wanted to put this out there, as it's possibly a first in Halloween revelry: the frog pumpkin (by request, of course).

silhouette of a smiling frog, jack-o-lantern style

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quote of the day

Life is a garden,
not a road
we enter and exit
through the same gate
where we go matters less
than what we notice
- Bokonon
(muse of Kurt Vonnegut)
(via whiskey river)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Making the right people nervous

A couple of signs that Occupation Wall Street (and associated protests) are on the right track: powerful people are worried that it could induce policy changes (what? in reponse to public desire?), and financial bigwigs are overreacting out of panic and looking a little crazed as a result. From the latter link:
So who’s really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America’s oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth.
Indeed. Keep up the good work, frustrated average citizens! The public understands where you're coming from!!

fists raised in solidarity

Thursday, October 06, 2011

GOP horse race

Hilarious -- Slate actually animates the polling data for the last 18 months, so you can watch the candidates pull ahead, fall back,...

(via pourmecoffee on Twitter)

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The people are speaking

I'm not sure what to make of Occupy Wall Street, as a movement or as a name, but it seems somehow to have come to embody all the injustices of the last few years, in economic and moral terms -- that possibility is discussed here and the sentiment summarized thusly:
There are a lot of people who are getting an unusually raw deal right now. There is a small group of people who are getting an unusually good deal right now. That doesn’t sound to me like a stable equilibrium.
Only time will tell whether this set of demonstrations becomes symbolic of such woes to the more general American public, but if that connection persists, we might have the start of a real revolution, which is something I think that this country is in dire need of.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mr. Rogers

Speck was a little under the weather recently, and I took the opportunity to show her her first episodes of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. She was under the impression that she wouldn't like them (having seen some documentary footage about him, maybe?), but she was totally engrossed, from the first shoe-change to the bonus-materials tour of a construction paper factory, and eager to see them again.

photo of a smiling Mr. Rogers on setFor me, the experience was less of recall from my own childhood -- honestly, who remembers anything specific from age 4? -- than of an overwhelming wave of appreciation for this man and his approach to children, his understanding of their questions about the world, and his ability to talk to them right out of the television in a way that made them want to answer back and care about their friendship with him. It was all I could do to not openly weep right there on the couch, and this little exchange of letters allowed me to do it just now at the office instead. What a delicate appreciation he had of the people he was addressing, and a gentle way of giving them a gift from a distance.

Thanks, Mr. Rogers, for all the time you took making good things in this world, and for the rare devotion to focus on little kids as people for so many years. A higher being in a sense that many religious traditions would aspire to...

(via Medley on Twitter)

Edit: idiotic to write about Rogers without linking to this profile, about which I can only say, Holy crap!

(via kottke)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday giggle

Well, *I* just had a 2-hour staff meeting, so I could use one, anyway:


Great annotated photos expressing many goofy things; it's like a cross between Cute Overload and Demotivators, Inc. Righteous!

(via NowThis)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday baby-blogging

A few recent cute ones, taken upon the first testing of a new skateboard!

Speck on new skateboard, with helmet and elbow pads
This serious, helmeted look cracks me up a bit.
Maybe it just looks like a kid older than 3.5.

Speck giggling in front of her new skateboard/scooter
Skateboarding was a hit!!
(Not a surprise, since this was a direct request.)

Will be interested to see how/when the eventual transition to no-hands skating goes, and then to a proper higher deck placement as her confidence increases. But right now, this takes plenty of concentration, and apparently wore out her legs on the way to the playground. Still, seems fun to me!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thought for the day

The only thing that is real is that we have six roots within us. Three roots of good and three roots of evil. The latter are greed, hate and delusion, but we also have their opposites: generosity, love and wisdom. Take an interest in this matter.striated pebble If one investigates this and doesn't get anxious about it, then one can easily accept these six roots in everybody. No difficulty at all, when one has seen them in oneself. They are the underlying roots of everyone's behavior. Then we can look at ourselves a little more realistically, namely not blaming ourselves for the unwholesome roots, not patting ourselves on the back for the wholesome ones, but rather accepting their existence within us. We can also accept others more clear-sightedly and have a much easier time relating to them. We will not suffer from disappointments and we won't blame, because we won't live in a world where only black or white exists. Such a world doesn't exist.
- Ayya Khema
(via whiskey river)

Friday, September 23, 2011

To hell in a handbasket

I apparently just read, seethe, and file the links away for some imaginary future date when I'll have lots of spare time to analyze, ponder, and blog. But that's not happenin'! So here's a record-breaking heap of links from the last three months, that pain me to varying degrees and/or foreshadow the end of the American experiment:

I. Politics

II. Economy

III. Health Care

IV. Other stuff

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Say it ain't so

Digby notes some disturbing parallels between our response to the current economic situation and steps taken during early stages of the Great Depression. Nontrivially alarming how little we've apparently learned...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Maybe I'm just grumpy

...but I think this current headline could sort of summarize the GOP's problems/strategies on most fronts over recent years:

Super Committee Riven By Major Divide Over Basic Facts

If those tasked with preventing disaster are going to sit around yelling "Earth is flat!" "Earth is round!" then we're already lost.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Quote of the day

Apropos to my previous post, but from a different context:
I no longer fear bad men doing bad things. I now fear ignorant people doing ignorant things out of their own misguided fear that the world is a horrible place.
Ridiculous that we are afraid to exercise our own parental judgement, to live our lives as if those around us were doing the same...

Who we became over the last 10 years

I was discussing with Spouse the degree to which I was resistant to this weekend's memorialization of 9/11. A part of me is fine with our sharing as a nation the shock and sorrow of that day, finding some unity again, but that possibility has been obliterated by ten years of politicization of the event, of claiming it as justification for unwarranted actions overseas, civil rights intrusions at home, and a general willingness to make our decisions out of fear and defensiveness rather than rationality or our founding principles. It leaves me frustrated with our nation and our leaders, and unable to get back to the reality of the searing moment we're trying to commemorate.

sorrowHow have we changed in the last ten years? Only insofar as we've learned nothing, continue to give up our freedoms, get used to continuous intrusions on our rights and persons in the name of "security." Just ask this everyday Ohio mom who was detained and treated like dirt for having the nerve to, um, fly in a plane while brown? There appears to be no penalty for cruelty and injustice anymore, as long as somebody is sufficiently nervous along the way, and nobody has any concrete rights that they can rely on once DHS is involved. It's more than scary -- it's alienating, infuriating, heart-rending. This isn't who we wanted to be; why have we let bin Laden push us there?

Monday, September 12, 2011

About my feeling

I guess I'm with Krugman on this one. That, and Sunday's comics pages were really poisoned. Enough that my tennis and football frolics were all soberized -- the comics too? Have we lost all sense of humor in this country?

Friday, September 02, 2011


Am left speechless by this conservative columnist who admits that he's against registering the poor to vote. I guess I'm just amazed that there are really people who think that moving big blocks of money around is more "productive" than fixing your sink or assembling your gadgets. Or that the poor care about robbing the wealthy more than just being able to live their lives happily and safely. Loathesome.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Seems obvious but it's not

A very cogent and concise argument against the current Google+ "real-name" policy: Google+ Can Be A Social Network Or The Name Police – Not Both
The Google+ common name policy is insane. It creates an antisocial space in what is supposed to be a social network. It is at odds with basic human social behavior; its implementation is NECESSARILY arbitrary and infuriating, and it is actively damaging the Google+ brand and indeed the broader Google brand.
Indeed, people are fleeing the network, the Blogger host, and even finding alternative search engines. The wondrous allure of "starting over" with all the lessons of Facebook in hand has been wiped away by this demonstration of complete obliviousness to how people operate in the world (of which the Internet is just one slice)...

(More on the arguments against using/requiring real names, when pseudonyms do the job just fine, here.)

Thought of the day

A Modest Proposalmoney growing on a tree!

Since conservatives claim to believe that the stimulus destroyed the economy, how about we have Stimulus II which only goes to states with Democratic governors. Everybody's happy!
- Atrios
(directly from Eschaton)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Best website ever?

That's a hard thing to judge but this must be a contender: The Kid Should See This collects pictures and video clips that should fascinate kids, whether about science or art or just neat stuff. I was going to save this for my next bunch of parenting links, but I've spent the last hour watching clips on the site (Baryshnikov from 1969! an octopus doing amazing things for camouflage!), so I think it can't wait...

(via kottke)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Belated stones of July

Ok, so I think this proves either that I'm incapable of a sustained project in the summer or that this particular summer got the upper hand over me. I basically managed almost no small stones for July, but here are the few that have been rattling around in my bookbag...
pebble 1

winds rising --
in the middle of the sidewalk
a single shoe

pebble 2

mossy shingles --
a sparrow calls from the sycamore

pebble 3

the high bounce of my eraser
as if trying to come back to the desk,
to have another chance...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Warren "no-B.S." Buffet

Buffet points out to our buffoon Congress that the ultra-rich don't need protecting from higher taxes and would be happy to pay more to prevent widespread pain among the working classes.
My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.
You tell 'em, Warren!

Monday kid-blogging: Action edition

Man, Speck is all swinging and jumping, ALL the time. Jumping from the kitchen stool, swinging from a stair rail, and on and on. All accompanied by "watch this! watch this!" wow. I'm throwing in one picture here from a quieter occupation, just to give us all a breather...

Speck hangs from bar, climbing doorway
Here, both hanging and climbing!

Speck coloring on the big chalkboards
A little updating of math on the big chalkboards at Dad's work.

Speck hangs from the low monkey bars

Dangling from the monkey bars -- oh how she wants to swing to the next bar!

Hope to upload some videos of swinging and jumping soon!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Poem of the day

Questions Before Dark

Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down, consider
your altered state: has this day
changed you? Are the corners
sharper or rounded off? Did you
live with death? Make decisions
that quieted? Find one clear word
that fit? At the sun's midpoint
did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites
the possible? What did you learn
from things you dropped and picked up
and dropped again? Did you set a straw
parallel to the river, let the flow
carry you downstream?
- Jeanne Lohmann
The Light of Invisible Bodies
beyond the fields we know
(via whiskey river)

Friday, August 05, 2011

Making a mess that can't be cleaned up?

Just my feeling about the downward spiral of American politics these days. Sigh.
  • Lessons of the Crisis -- The debt-ceiling debacle revealed that politics is broken in every possible way and there's no point in explaining complicated matters to the American people. (author's subtitle)

  • On Rules and Norms: Four Reasons to Regret This Moment -- once somebody has tried "things that just aren't done" and succeeded, is there any going back to rational discourse?
Every economic study seems to indicate that the economy needs more stimulus, but our idiot leaders are going with austerity instead, and I fear that Ireland and Greece are our future. Hard to know what to do with one's own savings and future planning in that light, let alone how to steel oneself for the wider national suffering to come...

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Maybe if I post this here, I can get back to work

A little frog-obsessive today, sigh. Anyway, here's a screenshot of my frog nursery, complete with a number of eggs waiting to hatch (that is, tormenting me with their lengthy maturation times)...

Frog Nursery 1, with pink rock and floating eggs

When I get some of my other habitats filled with thematic frogs (earthy amid dry leaves, or neon on black gravel, say), perhaps I'll share some more.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Link dump: We can all use some cheery distraction edition

Informative and interesting:


Summer fun/try at home:

sunshine and flowers made from food, by A Mindful Life
(a cheery toddler lunch by A Mindful Life!)

Twitter quote of the day

A good jobs program would be paying people to whiteout 2011 on calendars and replace with 1937.
- ntoddpax
(NTodd Pritsky)
(via Medley)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quote of the day, soulless edition

Wow. Boehner on whether his bill will prevent downgrade of U.S. creditworthiness: "That is beyond my control."
Josh Marshall, at TPM

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's rare that I think that the Chamber of Commerce is with the white hats

...but the TPM scorecard for internal GOP fault lines shows that there's plenty of crazy to the right of even traditional Wall Street interests. So pround to note that the Club for Growth (and PA Senator Toomey) is there in the thick of the crazy.

As if this isn't all enough, we have another heated battle ahead, as most of this year's budget agreement was put off after the last round of negotiations blew up. Thanks, Tea Party, for really degrading what little residual comity and dedication to service remained in Congress before you showed up! Sigh.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I blame Speck

I've downloaded just a few Speck-oriented iPhone apps, with the thought that they'd help out when we got stuck waiting somewhere. Of course, she saw them before that, so now I mostly have to keep the iPod hidden if I want to do other normal play things.

Anyway, one of my more recent Speck downloads was Pocket Frogs, which allows you to breed and raise ever-more-colorful and patterny frogs over time, with a slowly growing complexity of habitat and choices to be made about which you keep and which you sell, etc. Speck likes the idea of it -- or, at least, she liked hopping the frogs around the pond, and was very motivated to get from our starting brown and green frogs to her favorite color, blue -- but really I'm the one who has gotten sucked in. In the one day since I tried it with her, I've collected a rainbow of crazily patterned frogs, mastered some of the subtleties of managing the limited resources for growing them, and wasted entirely too much time generally messing around.

blue Pocket Frog on a wet rock

I can't yet tell whether my obsession will be sustainable, or whether Speck will be pleased or annoyed that I've grown our colony in her absence. For my part, I've managed to avoid any temptation to spend money for more in-game resources, taking the need for time to pass as a spur to, you know, do other things. But this pushes my cuteness and collection buttons, as well as yay! tangible progress! circuits, so I suspect I'm not done yet...

Edit: Turns out that more advanced frogs take longer to mature, reducing the drive to play for long stretches (as it's better to let eggs hatch and grow overnight, say), so there's a natural slowing down to a stable level once you're hooked. Good design.

The criminalization of caring

You might be a sex offender if you do any of these normal things, including love your kid or be a teenager with a significant other. We really live in ridiculous times in many ways, but the lurid way we now view all contact with children is one of the sickest.

(via FreeRangeKids)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quote of the day

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

- David Whyte
Sweet Darkness
The House of Belonging
(via whiskey river)

Wake up and smell the crazy

I'm tired of the Republicans holding our country (and especially its poor and elderly) hostage to their every crazy economic whim, and I agree with Krugman that the fact that the commentariat seems to have just noticed the extremism doesn't mean that it's new.
A number of commentators seem shocked at how unreasonable Republicans are being. “Has the G.O.P. gone insane?” they ask.

Why, yes, it has. But this isn’t something that just happened, it’s the culmination of a process that has been going on for decades. Anyone surprised by the extremism and irresponsibility now on display either hasn’t been paying attention, or has been deliberately turning a blind eye.
elephant eating a woman's headI also agree with Krugman that this craziness has spread in large part because there has been no cost associated with it -- no outcry, no push-back, not even really much negotiation against it. Perhaps the uncrazy just dismissed such things, forgetting that repetition leads to establishment as truth. Anyway, am happy to see any amount of debunking and disgrace that can be mustered, but a little pessimistic that we can manage such before the ship of state hits one iceberg or another...

(via Eschaton)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Parenting-related link-dump

  • Man, I wish we had something like this outdoor preschool available near us (video link, sorry) -- looks great, and I'll bet those kids are go-getters!

  • Is it possible to give too much positive praise to preschoolers? Actually, the article refers to lots of good research showing that it's the specifics of how we give praise that matter -- paying attention to details is key, as is rewarding effort/strategy more than just success/completion. Not always intuitive!

  • 5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Make Kids Smarter -- some of these require lobbying your school/district for changes, but they seem like they could really pay off at little or no additional expense.

  • Age Specific Responsibilities: Practical Suggestions for Responsibilities You Can Expect Your Child to Begin at Specific Ages. Great guidelines for all those times when it can just seem easier to do it for them.

  • What Difference does Difference Make? An Appreciation and Review of “Equally Shared Parenting” -- I link this less because of any absolute advice she might offer on how to divide caretaking than because of the utility of the framework in which the discussion is set: that partners need to find a workable balance in the "four domains of childrearing, breadwinning, housework and time for self." I think we often don't think in those terms, and a lot of reasons for conflict can come from leaving one or more of those domains out of the conscious discussion.

  • I love this part of parenthood -- Heather showing the mix of humor and heart that have made a huge hit through the years.

  • TLG Made it to 3! -- just a parental reflection that rings very close to our aspirations and experience. Onward to each new day!

  • To the Time Machine! -- a nice reflection on the simplicities of a good summer camp, on wriggling your toes in summer, and on parental nostalgia. sniff.

  • Finally, two epic records of one man's trip through parenthood, filled with wisdom and wacky dark humor: first a week-by-week journal of the first year, and then a monthly look at toddlerhood that follows. Really two pretty thick books there, but fun, and might be illuminating for new parents to read in semi-real time...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


What is up with this milk-for-PMS woman-hating campaign? It feels satirical (including the Fear Factor way that the guys are lit), but appears to be part of the GotMilk family of websites, so I think it's actually legit! "Everything I Do Is Wrong?" The mind boggles!!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday kid-blogging

Summer continues to be full of activity -- Speck literally jumps out of bed in the morning ready to go! (This is leading to much increased parental caffeine consumption.) Here are just a few out-takes from recent adventures...

Speck climbs a playground climbing wall
Attacking a climbing wall!

Speck in purple swimsuit jumping and grinning
Jumping for joy!!

Collapsing after a burst of activity (at least for a moment).

Have a good weekend, and remember to squeeze in some fun -- that's what all the work is for!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Bring back the jedi master!

I don't know if it's the bubble of the Presidency, or just poor advisors, but the Obama folks really seem to have lost their ability to judge what's going on, particularly where modern Republican "negotiation" strategies are concerned, with the result that they're failing to step up the pressure/rhetoric either in the media or behind closed doors. I'm not just worried about our national credit rating; I'm afraid they won't wake up until they've given away the store.

Perhaps some wake-up call can be had from watching Governor Christie in New Jersey essentially rape the state legislators who'd been bargaining in good faith on the budget there. The rules have changed, kids; there's no more trust and compromise to be had, only leverage and positioning!

Update: Quote of the day, on this:

"I'll take [Boehner/Cantor/Lannisters/Littlefinger] at his word!" I just realized: Obama negotiates like Ned Stark. Now, winter is coming.
- Kevin Murphy (kcm74 on Twitter)
Holy crap! Apt, and not at all funny...
(RT'd by Medley)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A river of summer stones

Making a go of July at the second iteration of this project. Will see how well I can remember to stay attuned, and how my glimpses are different in summer than in winter.

Day 2

a pleasantly cool morning
soft breeze in the trees and against the skin
from the rooftops, sparrows shout back and forth
as if energized to get things underway

Day 3

reading aloud;
she scoots closer
for the scary part

Day 4

patio grilling ---
the shared relief
as the A/C compressor goes off

Friday, July 01, 2011

Have some fun this weekend!

fireworks burstWhether success or failure: the truth of a life really has little to do with its quality. The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.
- May Sarton
Twi Chi
(via whiskey river)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday link-dump

Accidental free-time this afternoon! Let's get some recent infuriators out of the tab-heap! (with apologies for how old some of these are...)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I think he didn't like them

Wow, this boing boing product review is a brilliantly artistic reaming of a terrible product (LED "candles"), which the author felt required somber background music and deep, grievious disappointment.
tiny candle in the darknessTo call these candles at all is an insult to every pig that died to yield the tallow fat that lit the literary and creative endeavors of mankind up until the electric era.
Worth a listen. I have yet to find any lamp-like LED product that didn't make me feel this way; there are some tragically appealing but useless stone garden lights in my furnace closet as prime examples...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Today's Twitter funny...

It doesn't TAKE all kinds. We just HAVE all kinds.
(via Medley)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why I love heritage tomatoes

But really, reading Why Supermarket Tomatoes Suck makes me want to skip tomatoes altogether from October through May...(sob)
It is more profitable for them and their large fast food and supermarket customers to handle and sell tomatoes that are harvested in two or three passes when they are green, indestructibly hard, and impeccably smooth skinned and have a couple of weeks of shelf life ahead of them. Taste does not enter the equation. "No consumer tastes a tomato in the grocery store before buying it. I have not lost one sale due to taste," one grower said. "People just want something red to put in their salad."
Ack! Gotta get a garden plot up and running!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Not always what you imagine

Here are some misconceptions about introverts that resonate with me -- that's right, nay-sayers, I am a person who dances, jokes, and makes small-talk, but actually recharges while in woods, reading, or by myself. Yes, high-school interviewer, the answer is "introvert" -- thanks for not waiting for an answer! Anyway, it's useful to see these laid out...

(via kottke)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday baby-blogging: Summer frolics edition

Finally some new kid pictures, yay!

Speck and Brian make toddler fake smiles for their moms
Ran into an old gym class pal at the playground...

Much watery frolic ensued (complete with cute ball-sharing and hops)...

Speck sits in Dad's lap while clicking to save a baby dolphin!
This one looks innocuous, but the thing here is that Speck is driving --
she's a regular master of the mouse as of the last couple of weeks!

Rip van Sullivan startles to life

Andrew Sullivan notices that the Republican Party has left him (and rationality) behind:
On these terms, today's GOP could not be less conservative. I'd insist it's less conservative than Obama. It does not present reality-based reform for emergent problems. It simply reiterates dogma and ruthlessly polices dissent or debate.
new elephantI don't know what it will take to undermine the ascendancy of the Tea Partiers and other frothy right-wingers, but I hope that some sanity can return before they drive our country to financial ruin and the loss of any moral authority that our national ideals once gave us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

No really, we were trying to find him too!

Apparently Pakistan is rounding up the informants who helped the CIA locate bin Laden, and their fate is unknown. But these guys are our friends, right?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Link dump: Cheerful edition

  • Ever wonder where your tax dollars go? Enter a few numbers and find out using this spiffy White House form.

  • Vitamin Poppers May Make Less Healthful Choices -- got my healths all covered now!

  • (In)(di)visibility -- a fascinating exploration of differences in how we treat people relative to "failings" that they can be "blamed for" (e.g., weight) versus those they "can't help" (e.g., autism) and what it says about those doing the judging.
    But for most of us, achieving the state expected of us wouldn’t just be a matter of trying, it would be the equivalent of earning a Ph.D. in astrophysics while simultaneously working swing shift as a police officer and raising triplets as a single parent — and we’d never get to stop. Maybe someone can actually do this, but expecting it to be a routine occurrence is, frankly, an expectation not supported by existing evidence.
  • When Did You Know Your Gender? -- another of those questions (like "when did you choose to be straight?") that make you rethink your assumptions/privilege.

  • How Teens Understand Privacy -- as a much more subtle and multifaceted matter than we tend to give them credit for!

  • Lost in Translation -- the experience of taking on something new, mastering it (you think), gaining humility, and learning some more... Funny and insightful.

  • Top Ten Myths About the Brain
Amusements and cheer:
Just plain awesome:

An amazing collaboration between Yo-Yo Ma and dancer Lil Buck -- Ma just keeps on pushing the boundary of where people think a classical cello should go. This is lovely and joyous.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Poem of the day

You, as you are, you're just right.
Your parents, your children, your daughter-in-law, your grandchildren,
they are, all for you, just right.

Happiness, unhappiness, joy and even sorrow,
for you, they are just right.

The life that you tread is neither good nor bad.
For you, it is just right.
Whether you go to hell or to the Pure Land,
wherever you go is just right.

Nothing to boast about, nothing to feel bad about,
nothing above, nothing below.

Even the day and month that you die,
even they are just right.
- fragment of a Shin Buddhist poem in Taitetsu Unno's book,
River of Fire, River of Water
(via whiskey river)

Where tribute ends and remake begins...

Madonna in golden bra daysHave been listening to Lady Gaga recently, and I like her stuff very much, but it's impossible to have been a teen in the 1980s and not hear classic/early Madonna in many of her songs (as well as influences from other stars of a similar era). I picked up that the bridge in Born This Way was a hat-tip to Vogue, but I had no idea that the parallels ran this close; give anything 30 years and it's new again, in the right hands at least. More power to her for having learned the right lessons from that previous incarnation -- boppin' pop + continually repackaged outrageousness can make for serious longevity!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Graphical good taste

I tend to an excess of seriousness in picking my wines, but am in no way above appreciation of this categorization of wine labels as an alternative way to make sense of the crowded shelves. Hilarious (and not without truth)!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The air's just fine where *I* am!

I'm pretty much just going to cut and paste from Atrios about the state of our economy and the lassitude (or stupidity) in dealing with it:
The overall May 2011 unemployment rate still hovered around 9% and the rates for African Americans (16.2%) and Latinos (11.9%) were even higher, not to mention the youth unemployment rate (24.2%). But guess what the most relevant rate for those Washington insiders themselves might be?money growing on trees! Probably the rate for individuals over 25 with at least a bachelor's degree.

Now that was a relatively puny 4.5% in May. Which explains why the Village can concentrate on worrying about the deficits.
Deficits, schmeficits. We need to do something to create jobs -- short-term, long-term, make-work, whatever -- before the bottom really falls out of things. When 60% of the unemployed have been out for more than 6 months, you're looking at a huge swath of people just giving up...

Friday, June 03, 2011

Peaceful stimuli for a Friday afternoon

Two bits that are pretty neat:
  • A video montage of images and short clips that make neat visual or intellectual pairings. I don't want to spoil it for you by saying more...
    (via dooce)
  • Similar but different, out-of-phase pendulums make a constantly varying and remarkably beautiful set of patterns. Almost poetic.
Have a good weekend, all!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

When logic and selflessness meet

This is pretty touching: some elderly Japanese former engineers have volunteered to clean up the contaminated nuclear reactor, sparing the futures of the young people who would otherwise do the work. I can hardly begin to respond to this...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Filthy hippies proved right again

no cell phones symbolThat is, cell phones may well increase cancer risk -- not enough data to confirm, but enough to flag as a concern. Now who's paranoid?

Update: boing boing points out that there's actually no new information here, just a legalistic designation. So ignore the whole thing, I guess, or continue as you were...

Monday, May 30, 2011


Enjoyed this video survey of people's listening habits, in part because my brand new iPod has made me think about my dissipated listening habits and more curious about how others fill their audio time. But also, the video captures an interesting mix of people and musical types, and it's hard not to see it as a reflection of how fractured and complex the space of musical possibilities has become, when one might recognize only a small percentage of what was being enjoyed by folks walking on the street next to you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Working blind

I think that the Patriot Act is a pretty grim document, so I'm more than unnerved to hear that the government has a secret interpretation of that legislation that expands its reach beyond what the public realizes. I'm sure that massive data-sifting feeds into how intelligence agencies think they'll foresee terrorist activities, but the dangers it raises for average citizens are not at all trivial...

Quotes of the day (aging-related)

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.
- Louise Erdrich
ladybug on a leaf

I have learned to be happy where I am. I have learned that locked within the moments of each day are all the joys, the peace, the fibers of the cloth we call life. The meaning is in the moment. There is no other way to find it. You feel what you allow yourself to feel, each and every moment of the day.
- Russ Berrie

You have used up the years and they have used up you, and still, and still, you have not written the poem.
- Borges
(via whiskey river)

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's not just me!

Man, it's hard to get a key to work decently in our front-door lock. Turns out that copying is even worse that I expected -- the photo makes it clear that by a half-dozen copies you're not even dealing with the same key any more! I suspect that ours are all at least third-generation at this point (although presumably *somebody* that we know has the original)...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Link dump: Latest outrages and frustrations

Man, most of these deserve a freestanding post, dissection, pull-quotes... but it's just not going to happen. Here's a heap of things that just make me want to cry in a darkened room (or maybe bite somebody).

Quote of the day

An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
- G. K. Chesterton
(via riskywiver)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

No plastic at all?

rainbow of tupperwareHave been driven to action by this study, which indicates that it's not really safe to store any of your food or drinks in any kind of plastic.
The researchers were able to measure some type of estrogenic chemical leaching from roughly 95 percent of all the plastics tested, including 100 percent of the food wraps and 98 percent of the plastic bags. Even when the plastics were unstressed and just exposed to various solutions, they still leached estrogenic chemicals.
Am trying to find glass or stainless steel alternatives to our mishmash of plastic containers, while also factoring in the need for unbreakable toddler options and leakproof lunch solutions. Looks like a pretty big project, but I expect to have many decades yet in which my body can thank me...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Quote of the day (Twitter edition)

Since the media is so stuck on the passive-aggressive phrase "openly gay", can we also get them to use "current wife" for politicians?
- urbanbohemian (Brian Gray)
(via nowthis)

Monday, May 16, 2011

A little quiet here...

...because we have a significant local election tomorrow. (Speck helped us slide lit under doors yesterday!) I have many links queued up for dumpage here, so presume I'll get to them later this week.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Without past, without conscience...

The modern GOP: I just can't decide whether they think playing with fire is harmless or just don't understand our nation's history and principles. Sure, an amendment like this is pretty much dead on arrival, but what does it even say to propose such a thing? (and every such proposal, of course, makes it more imaginable in the future...)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Poem of the day

Advice to Myself

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
a single pebble with a light striationwho uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic - decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.
- Louise Erdrich
Original Fire: Selected and New Poems
(via whiskey river)

Planes, trains, and automobiles

Really, with regard to making train security as stupid as plane security, I agree with Atrios. Even in the abstract this makes no sense.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


Reflections on Mother's Day, from a mother to those she's raising. So much loving, so much letting go...

(via Free Range Kids)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

To Speck at 38 months

Speck eats a chunk of snowWow, hard to believe that 6 months have sneaked by, but I seem to have the list of new developments to support it. Most obvious to the casual observer is that you've become a creator of games -- crawling or slithering across the floor, jumping down the stairs ("don't touch!"), making up rules for kicking and chasing a ball outdoors (even if not always followable by mortal parents), and inventing other silliness on the fly. You love to pop any bubblewrap that crosses your path (initially it took great zen-like concentration, but recently you discovered the destructive power of dancing across a sheet of the stuff on your heels!). And you craftily substitute a triumphant raspberry for the occasional good-night kiss, much to your own amusement.

Language continues to be your unparalleled forte, wowing your teachers with your fluency and continually surprising us with your dexterity and variety of words. There are still plenty of signs of Work in Progress Speck grins in a bubble bath-- most notable is that as you began to give some common words their full three syllables, they didn't always end up in the right place ("beanna," "amitals," and "elphantant" are the most notable). But you've picked up on the family game of substituting topical lyrics into familiar songs (especially anything that can be sung to the theme of "Maisy"), and you like to make up your own words for things (like "cun") and ask for them to be worked into books that are read to you (a challenge to tired parents!). Further, there are *many* signs that you are hungry to be able to read: you want to take your turn at "reading" favorite books aloud, sometimes riffing on the images and other times working in turns of phrase from the original text; you recognize all the names in Winnie the Pooh, and can integrate them smoothly into your concoctions when you read those tales to us; and you are picking out more and more individual words (apparently deciding for yourself the controversy between word-recognition and phonetics modes of learning).

Speck poses lying atop a pile of her stuffed friendsThere are things we have enjoyed less: a period when you wanted us to read you one book while you flipped through another; the congealing of the frog nap game into a sort of running discipline proxy battle; a rise in violent rhetoric, including threats to "chop you up to bits" (or "make a mama-loaf") or "throw you out of the house"; elaborate rituals of reverse psychology, as when every peanut-butter sandwich had to be accompanied by great shows of longing from Mom, combined with "you missed your chance" taunts; and a return of biting, most dismaying at times when it arose in a context of snuggling and affection. I guess we're getting resigned to the idea that such things are never a phase that is truly past, just a cycle that comes and goes, and to trying to find the connection even amidst the exhaustion and conflict.

Meantime, you've learned to use scissors with amazing success, took a few months of swimming instruction that got you from terrified clinger to confident and cheerful kicker, learned to carry on a nearly functional phone conversation (and became obsessed with same), and decided that 45 is your favorite number (45 minutes also acts as your definition of Nearly Forever). And you expressed your first bit of night fear, talking about "blue dots" that could only be kept at bay by a nightlight.

Speck grins out from a dinosaur egg

You like to laugh at the idea that Mom had your bear Tsah (a little battered these days) on a shelf for many years without realizing how special she was. Have no worries for yourself on that front; whatever the challenges, your parents are completely enchanted with you, your explorations, and your crazed giggles. Looking forward to more!