Thursday, July 23, 2009

Twitter world

I do not twitter. Yet. Then again, ten years ago I had never surfed the Web. Five years ago I had never blogged. Two years ago I had no idea what Facebook was. In time, I probably will twitter.

In the meantime, those of you who are tech-savvy and/or own small businesses, might find this article of interest:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All your books are belonging to us

The following column exposes a terrifying possibility with that trendy innovation, the ebook, as typified by Amazon's Kindle. Such books have "digital strings" that can yank them away from you.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Threaten a dog with a stick and he will do one of two things: Attack you or cower/flee.

Lay a slab of meat in front of him and if he is not sick, he will invariably eat it.

Present him a female in heat and he will invariably mate.

Such behavior is necessary for the survival of the beast and his species.

He does not care about the consequences of biting the man with the stick -- that it could get him shot, for example, or land his owner in trouble.

He does not count the calories in the meat or measure his body fat index before indulging.

He does not ask his would-be mate about her past s$x partners or consider how he will support the possible puppies financially.

For the beasts, such questions are unnecessary. Aggression must be responded to in kind; turning the other cheek gains no advantage in the jungle. In nature, food is rarely over-abundant. Most creatures are lucky to live long enough to reproduce and to hesitate or demur is to risk having your genes die with you.

What of man?

We have eliminated or pushed back many of nature's boundaries and yet we still grapple with the internal beast.

Some of the world's most miserable people seem to be those who have triumphed over those natural limitations but not their own minds.

I submit that self-control is what leads to peace of mind, is evidence of true strength. How pitiful the person who flares up in rage at every provocation -- he is a slave, his emotions are at the mercy of anyone who pokes at him. How pathetic the glutton or the addict, ever craving.

The ideal: To be a man or Woman of temperance, who enjoys a life of positive emotions regardless of circumstances. He or She is in constant control, impervious to negative influence.

What are you feeding your pet?

I just learned about this controversy today. If you have a pet, you should do your own research. Apparently, some big name pet foods on the market may contain the processed carcasses of diseased animals, roadkill, even euthanized animal carcasses from shelters still containing the drugs used to put them to sleep.,8599,1607483,00.html

Monday, July 13, 2009

Peachy shortcut?

Sweetie and I bought some Carolina peaches from the farmer's market the other day -- so tangy and delicious -- and I discovered that the one I had for lunch today had a split pit.

In the peach business, that is apparently a defect.

But I am curious. It looks ready to sprout. I wonder if that means I can short cut the whole "bag it in moist dirt, refrigerate three weeks and plant it in the fall" thing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Flat Earth

Ever wonder why the old Christian church fought so hard against the concept of a round earth?

It's a tragedy, because it was a fight that never had to happen, based on ideas that had no basis in the Bible.

Many people in antiquity actually believed that the Earth was round and bounded by a wall of fire near the Equator. Beyond that impassible wall was a portion of Earth called the Anti-podes. Some of the ancients believed that people lived there, on its bottom half, hanging upside down. To their credit, some of the medieval Christians scoffed at such a bizzare idea. However, they threw the baby out with the bath water. No topsy-turvy people down there -- no people at all, no people possible, because they could not be sons of Adam living trapped behind that wall of fire, beyond the reach of the gospel.

Rather than dump the idea of a ring of fire, which had no basis in scripture, they trashed the idea of a round Earth instead, which scripture doesn't preclude.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Amazon Mystery and Soil Appreciation

Today is Soil Appreciation Day, with a focus on one very special type:

Deep in the Amazon jungle lie layers of thick, rich soil, dubbed "terra preta," and they abound in mystery.

They are not a natural phenomena. The natural Amazon soil is poor and quickly stripped of nutrients when farmers cultivate it.

The experts are quite sure that terra preta is man-made -- and it is amazing stuff. A thousand years after first being laid down, five hundred years after its creators were exterminated by European weapons and disease, taking the secret of its formulation with them to the grave, this soil is still incredibly rich.

Some people believe that terra preta once enabled a population of millions to inhabit the jungle region, living far more in harmony with the environment than the settlers who replaced them.

Their destruction disgusts me. What a holocaust of humanity and wanton obliteration of wisdom it was! I wonder what other secrets of knowledge perished with them. But careful research is underway to unlock the terra preta formula, which could be a blessing all over the world, just as are the Native American gifts of corn, tomatoes, chocolate, avocadoes, chili peppers, allspice, vanilla, sunflowers, turkeys, chinchilla, quinine, llamas and potatoes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In praise of pencils

I declare today National Pencil Appreciation Day.

Do you realize how long humanity has struggled to find the perfect writing implement?

For permanent scribbling, chisels and stone, wax tablet and stylus, feather quills and parchment were all we had since the dawn of time. Writers endured the flaws of all these tools until the typewriter, then the computer keyboard, finally liberated them.

But we have long had, and perhaps always shall have, the humble pencil. An elegant sandwich of wood and graphite-clay, it offers its little round head without complaint to scrub out errors.

I love a good, sharp pencil with no mutilation of the eraser. Always have. I never use the eraser -- I buy one of those little rectangular ones and leave the pencil top alone. It's nerdy. So be it.

I don't chew my pencils, either. I cringe when others attack the poor defenseless thing like some kind of overgrown beavers ... but there was that time, back in eighth grade, when beautiful Brandi borrowed my pencil and it spent the rest of history class alternating between Her fingers and Her lovely lips and sharp, pretty teeth, and that once, I didn't mind at all.

Somebody, I have read, sells cleverly fashioned "pre-chewed" pencils these days, to discourage nibblers.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Celebrating the Avocado

Life should be about celebration, of all that is good. The Creator gave us eyes,ears, fingers, noses and brains for a reason.

I declare today, July 7, Avocado Appreciation Day.

This weird but tasty fruit is another gift from the New World, like tomatoes and chocolate. Doesn't taste anything like a fruit. Not tart. Not sweet. Not juicy.

You either love it or you hate it. And guacamole, its most typical performance, is, like chili, something you enjoy with the tastebuds, not the eyes. Think too hard about what the green goop looks like, or ask a ten year old boy for ideas, and you probably won't finish your serving.

Don't look up the etymology of the word "avocado," either, if you are of a Puritan mindset.

You looked it up, didn't you? Serves you right.

Avocadoes are a reminder that God has a sense of humor or perhaps that He/She got a little bored with making fruits that were all basically variations on one theme.

Monday, July 6, 2009


My blogfriend Kat's healthy, well-informed attitude towards snakes is an inspiration to me. She knows to watch out for them, but She doesn't panic at the sight of them nor seek to kill them.

Lately my state seems to be racked with snake-a-phobia. I overheard someone at a meeting last week express relief that another friend had run over a snake in their neighborhood. My nephew-in-law,who does maintenance work at an apartment, told me with great exaggerated gestures the other day, about how he had deliberately run over a "big copperhead snake" with his riding mower and "chopped it all up."

When I conjectured that perhaps what he saw might have been a harmless black snake, gestures of annoyance were sent my way and insistence that indeed, it was a copperhead.

Now I know that copperheads and water mocassins do live in my area. I also know that they don't seek out people and are part of a snake population that also includes serpents of a non-venomous nature. I have hiked the swamps and hills of my surrounding woodlands for more than ten years and failed to see a single snake, whether venomous or non. In other words, we are hardly in peril.

And I really get annoyed with people who kill a harmless, even beneficial creature, just because it is a snake.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Faux Cicero

"A bureaucrat is the most despicable of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly admires vultures whom bureaucrats so strangely resemble. I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog. Who can trust such creatures?"

We all nod our heads, remembering the last time we encountered some office zombie with ink-stained fingers ...

This pithy quote appeared in a letter to the editor of my local paper recently and I cut it out and was going to file it, as its authorship was attributed to the ancient luminary Marcus Tullius Cicero. (106-43 B.C.)

Alas, credit for the paragraph goes not to the old philosopher but to one Taylor Caldwell, who in 1965 wrote a novel,A Pillar of Iron,based on the life of Cicero, and put those words into his mouth.

Unfortunately, like so many hoaxes that began innocently enough, this faux quote will probably make the rounds forever and a day, incessantly being applied to a man who lived centuries before the Roman bureaucrat was even invented.