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Even Hitler Hates the Vuvuzuelas

I couldn’t resist posting this video. It’s another clever entry in the new genre of Hitler-in-the-bunker videos with alternative dialogue. Very well done, and I really sympathize with his frustration!



One of my little hills of squash

Nothing will make you more popular than a tomato patch in summertime. I already have quite a list of friends claiming my “extra” tomatoes, once they come in. I hope I have enough to satisfy everyone.

At this point my six plants are growing inches every day, so the tomato situation is looking promising. I have six plants, six different varieties. Four are heirlooms: Brandywine, Green Zebra, Carbon and Cherokee Purple. Two are hybrids: Lemon Boy and Rutgers. Some are old favorites of mine, but the Rutgers and Carbon varieties are new to me. Carbon is a black tomato that supposedly won a tomato taste test at Cornell, so we’ll see.

This is the most beautiful time in the vegetable garden, when everything is young and healthy and full of hope. The true heat hasn’t set it yet, the bugs haven’t gotten out of control, and the gardener looks forward to the fruit of her labors with expectation and optimism. My photographs can’t capture my sense of satisfaction in looking at the orderly rows and well-weeded paths. Over the weekend I put a few marigolds around the borders. They say that marigolds are a good companion plant for reducing insects, but I just think they add a nice splash of color to the unrelieved solid green.

In addition to the tomatoes, there will be zucchini (green and yellow). I love ratatouille and eat it all summer long. I have a row of pepper plants in all colors and heat levels, basil (both Italian and Thai), carrots, and zinnias for cutting. We’ve already been eating salads for a month from a separate patch of lettuce and arugula. Although I have the lettuces under a shade cloth cover, I’m afraid they may not last much longer. The hot weather will set in for good soon, and the plants are already thinking about bolting.

Curiously enough, no-one has tried to claim any extra zucchini I may have this summer.


Fossil Ammonite PleurocerasA recent visit to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum with my young nieces made me realize how much science education can foster a sense of wonder about life. The dinosaur skeletons, the enormous gems, and even things like the bug zoo make you realize how fantastical this Earth of ours really is.

I also love television shows about science, especially programs about geology and the early Earth. I have an inexhaustible fascination with the ways our planet has changed, and how dramatically, over the millennia since its creation. With the exception of Deadliest Catch, my current favorite is a program on the History Channel called How the Earth was Made.

I think this goes back to a time when I was about 8 or 9 and and my family was living in Dallas. One afternoon I found a fascinating piece of stone in a friend’s backyard. I was deep in the throes of dinosaur madness at the time and was convinced I had found some kind of fossil. My father tried to tell me it looked like a piece of statuary, but I remained certain I was on the road to becoming a great paleontologist. Finally my dad suggested I go talk to our neighbor Mr. White, since he was a geologist and might actually know what my rock was.

Mr. White was a kind and patient man. He took a good look at my stone, and pulled out one of his books. He opened it up to a page and showed me that my stone actually WAS a fossil. It was a piece of an ancient ammonite (like a modern Nautilus). I was thrilled to the core. Then he told me that where we stood was once underwater, under the surface of a huge ocean millions of years ago.

I walked around for days, trying to picture my house and neighborhood on the bottom of the ocean. Just thinking about it, the world became a more magical place for me. I never forgot it.

Later, when my family moved to upstate New York I had a similar experience as I learned to recognize the signs of the scars and rubble left by the ice ages, when glaciers miles thick dragged over the surface of my home state. I looked around at the trees and lakes and waterfalls and realized that all of this is temporary. An ice age, or an ocean, may come again to cover over the traces of what came before.

In all the current political discussion about global warming (Is there or Isn’t there? And whose fault is it?) I never hear any recognition of the fact that our planet’s climate has already changed many many times, and in much larger ways than a few tenths of a degree. It seems to me that there’s a serious lack of perspective in much of the writing about the issue. And by perspective, I mean having a view over the very long haul, as in millions of years. As the geologist Iain Stewart once said, “We shouldn’t worry about destroying our planet. It’s been here for billions of years and gone through much greater changes than we realize. The planet will be fine. It’s us we should be worried about.”

Goodbye Facebook

Well, I did it. I stopped complaining about it and just did it. I deleted my Facebook account today.

I’ve been unhappy with Facebook for a long time. You are too, admit it. I finally decided I’d had it with their cavalier treatment of my personal information, which apparently goes way back to the founding. I’ve had it with their sloppiness, their constant changes to the site that only made it harder to use, their obvious aim to squeeze as much money out of the site as they possibly can. I’ve worn out my poor (non-Facebook-using) husband’s ears complaining about it. In short, I really believe that Facebook is evil and can’t be trusted.

I worry a little bit about losing contact with all my friends who don’t actually e-mail anymore. They seem to be much more comfortable living their lives on the public stage than I am. Lately many of them have stopped communicating any other way. Facebook is the medium for party invitations, photo sharing, personal news, even invitations for drinks.

But if you have even a little bit of concern about your privacy, don’t you feel a little uncomfortable too? Let’s face it, Facebook isn’t set up for anyone with even a shred of compartmentalization in their life. Speaking for myself, I have close friends and not-so-close friends. I have friends I know through yoga, friends I met professionally, and other friends I met in my nightclubbing days. I don’t necessarily want all those groups to mix. I like being able to present a more limited persona based on context.

And that’s exactly where Facebook fails. There’s no context. I may “like” Victory Brewing Company, but it’s because I’m an investor, not because I’m a keg-buying partier. I may choose to “like” a business just because I’m researching them, not because I want to be identified with their actions. Facebook, in not allowing me to limit access to that list of “likes”, forced me away from the whole enterprise.

I’m not alone, it seems. The next issue of Time magazine has put Facebook privacy concerns on the cover. There’s even a movement to delete accounts en masse on May 31. But I’m not waiting.

I’m not giving up on social media, by any means. I have to keep involved for my work. I’ll keep my LinkedIn account, I may even go back to Twitter, if only to tell friends when I’ve posted a new blog entry. But Facebook and I, we’re done.

Spring Blog Cleaning

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. I’m doing work to the site this week to update the site theme and clean up some broken links. In the meantime pages may not look as they should. I should have everything back up and working by sometime next week. I hope.

Any problems after that should be brought to the attention of the management. (Me.)

Iceland from the Air

I had seen literally dozens of dull shots of stranded travelers, but had to go looking for some shots of the Icelandic volcano itself. (I’m not even going to TRY to spell it.) In the search I found this collection of high-definition photos collected by The Big Picture, a photo-journalism blog on the Boston Globe’s website. These are breathtaking shots, beautiful and frightening at the same time.

The volcano in Iceland taken at night

How (Not) To Apply for a Job

This advice was gathered from actual submissions a good friend of mine received for a part-time administrative assistant and receptionist position (thanks Jamie!) What has happened to business education in our schools?

Do not:

1.  Write your cover letter in “text speak”
2.  Submit a 2+ (or no kidding 6+) page resume for a part-time entry-level position
3.  Spell the person’s name to whom you are submitting said resume to, incorrectly
4.  Say that you are “detail oriented” when in fact your cover letter contains dozens of typos
5.  Tell me to have a “Blessed Day”
6.  Write your cover letter in a series of incomplete fragmented sentences
7.  Demand that I call you to find out what your qualifications are
8.  Ask me a bunch of questions prior to even submitting your resume
9.  Misspell your own name
10.  Leave important words out of sentences (which oddly happened a lot…)
11.  Ignore the fact that I requested a cover letter
12.  Include a one-sentence cover letter that says “This is my resume”
13.  List the following qualifications (for an admin position): Venipunture (??), Injections, Vital Signs and Surgical Tray Set Up
14. List your only job experience as “Professional Basketball Player”
15.  Give me too much personal information (seriously, I could open credit cards…)
16.  Begin a letter with “Hello, my name is…”
17.  Send me an email from your current work email address during work hours
18.  Answer your phone “yeah?” when being called for an interview for a RECEPTIONIST!

Kitty Bank

Oh man, WHERE can I get one of these? Normally the Japanese obsession with kawaii (cuteness) isn’t really my thing, but this video gave me a huge belly laugh this morning: