Thursday, July 30, 2009

knit 1, purl 2, yo Adrian, I mean yo

Mrs. RWP recently took a break from her ubiquitous counted cross-stitching hobby, which she finds very relaxing, to return to another activity she hasn’t engaged in for a long time. No, it’s not skydiving or horseback riding or long-distance running. I’m talking about knitting.

Her first project was a lovely pale green baby blanket (it’s the blanket that is pale green, not the baby) that she created using circular needles. She also crocheted little shell stitches all around the edges and then threaded 1/4-inch white satin ribbon through the little loops between the crocheted part and the knitted part. Finally, she made a bow of the ribbon ends at one corner. For the basic blanket she followed a pattern. The crocheting and adding the ribbon were her own idea. It was very pretty! It was lovely! It was exquisite! I would show you a picture of it, but we still don’t have a digital camera or one of those multi-functional iPhone thingies that does everything but wash and dry the dishes and put them away.

So did she save it for our first great-grandchild, whom we expect to be along in ten years or so? No, she did not! She gave it away at a baby shower to one of the sopranos from our church choir. Three other ladies put in their orders for one on the spot.

It was a tough fight, Ma, but I lost. I guess our great-grandchildren are just going to have to wait their turn.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pandemics, conditional tenses, and some really disturbing news

The other day I blogged about how the media’s use of conditional tense (could, can, might, may, possibly, probably, etc.) in their news stories has caused considerable chagrin among (or, for U.K. readers, amongst) the male half of the population.

Now, bless ’em, they are attempting to spread the chagrin caused by uncertainty about future events to the entire population, regardless of gender. May it please the court, I enter into evidence the people’s Exhibits A and B:

Exhibit A: Swine flu could hit up to 40 percent in US

Exhibit B: State official: Millions of Floridians could contract H1N1 virus within a year

You have been warned (terrified, had the pants scared off ya); now go and do all you can do to protect yourself and your family, beginning with making sure you (and they) get the shot when the vaccine is ready, eat oranges until they’re coming out your ears, keep a hanky at the ready, and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Oh, and you could stop going to raves.

But now for the really disturbing news.

I thought I had caught the aforementioned media in an egregious spelling error in the headline of Exhibit A, namely, the word percent, which, as all of us of a certain age were taught, is wrong. Just to double-check myself, I hopped over to and found that life as we know it is over, kaput, gone with the wind.

After the definition, Random House Dictionary (© Random House, Inc. 2009) added the following:

Usage note: Percent is from the Latin adverbial phrase per centum meaning “by the hundred.” The Latin phrase entered English in the 16th century. Later, it was abbreviated per cent. with a final period. Eventually, the period was dropped and the two parts merged to produce the modern one-word form percent. The two-word form per cent is still used occasionally, but its use is diminishing. The percent sign (%) is used chiefly in scientific, tabular, or statistical material and only with numerals preceding it: 58%.

The penultimate sentence in that paragraph is what caused my jaw to drop and what caused Mrs. Mary Lillard, my eighth-grade teacher, to spin in her grave even faster than usual. The two-word form is still used occasionally? But its use is diminishing? Give us old codgers a break, Random House. Just say plainly, why don’t you, that the two-word form will join the dodo as a relic of the unlamented past just as soon as the generation of people who were taught that spelling matters diminishes to the point of dropping off the face of the earth altogether.

My rant is ended. I now return to my usual calm, sweet, shy, reserved self.

As Robert Browning (a once-famous poet, kiddies) said, “God’s in His heaven; all’s right with the world.”

Or, as the ravers say, “Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect.”

Friday, July 24, 2009

Is this the party to whom I am speaking?

A gracious hello....

Mrs. RWP and I did something yesterday we both said we would never do. Before you let your imaginations run wild, let me hasten to explain that we both joined Facebook. So we are slowly being dragged forward into the twenty-first century and despite all the kicking and screaming it may turn out to be fun.

Already I have been contacted by a former classmate, and by “former” I mean from 51 years ago. Wait, I did see him and his wife at a reunion in 1988.

So as the world continues to get smaller, boys and girls, we also discover that we are even closer than one ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingies....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This just in: Auckland is now a suburb of Sydney...

Not really. But it could happen. Read this.

For those of you who never follow instructions, here’s an excerpt:

Massive quake moves NZealand closer to Australia

WELLINGTON (AFP) – A massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake last week has moved the south of New Zealand closer to Australia, scientists said Wednesday.

With the countries separated by the 2,250-kilometre-wide (1,400-mile-wide) Tasman Sea, the 30 centimetre (12 inch) closing of the gap in New Zealand won’t make much difference.

But earthquake scientist Ken Gledhill of GNS Science said the shift illustrated the huge force of the tremor, the biggest in the world so far this year.

“Basically, New Zealand just got a little bit bigger is another way to think about it,” he told AFP.

While the southwest of the South Island moved about 30 centimetres closer to Australia, the east coast of the island moved only one centimetre westwards, he said.

The biggest quake in New Zealand in 78 years caused only slight damage to buildings and property when it struck the remote southwest Fiordland region of the South Island last Thursday.

A small tsunami was generated by the earthquake, with a tide gauge on the West Coast of New Zealand recording a wave of one metre.

(end of excerpt)

So if the article is correct and the distance across the Tasman Sea is 1,400 miles and the gap was just diminished by 12 inches, I calculate that if a 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurs once a year moving forward (no pun intended), the title of my post will become fact in a mere 7,392,000 years (that’s 5,280 years to move one mile -- because there are, you know, 5,280 feet in a mile -- multiplied by the 1,400 miles across the aforementioned Tasman Sea). Actually, that is wrong. Including the foot already gained by last week’s earthquake, I should have said 7,391,999 years.

I have my own theory about last week’s earthquake. I think it was caused by Kiri Te Kanawa attempting to hit an extraordinarily high note whilst rehearsing an aria.

The spelling of “metre” and “centimetre” and “kilometre” can be explained by the article’s having been originally published in a country that is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The use of the term “NZealand” in the headline is somewhat curious. My use of the word “whilst” cannot be explained at all.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thank God for the Conditional Tense

At a website where one can learn Spanish online, I found the following:

“Frequently, the conditional tense is used to express probability, possibility, wonder or conjecture, and is usually translated as would, could, must have, or probably. For example:

The student said that he would study one more hour. (probability, possibility)
What time could it have been? (wonder, conjecture)
He must have been at home. (wonder, conjecture)
We were probably busy when you called. (probability, possibility)”

I hasten to add that in English, conditional tense also involves the use of such auxiliary verbs as may, might, can, and could.

Why this sudden interest in grammar? I’ll tell you why this sudden interest in grammar.

This morning over at Yahoo I read an interesting article by Radha Chitale of the ABC News Medical Unit entitled, “Will Chromosome Y Go Bye-Bye?” and its sub-title was “Is the End of Men Imminent?” Judging from the comments on my blog, most readers here are female and are probably thinking right now, “I hope so,” followed shortly thereafter by “Would God that it were so.” But that’s just conjecture on my part. I suppose I am far more interested in the possible demise of men than a woman might be (remember the old joke about ham and eggs? -- for the hen it is a commitment, but for the pig it represents a real sacrifice).

So because it hits a little too close to home, in a manner of speaking, and since this is my blog you’re reading, here is the entire article, with all its conditional constructions italicized by yours truly.

Will Chromosome Y Go Bye-Bye?
(Is the End of Men Imminent?)

What makes a man a man? Socially, that is a complicated question. Genetically, however, it is as simple as a single Y chromosome.

But guys, that chromosome is in trouble.

In a new study, researchers say there is a dramatic loss of genes from the human Y chromosome that eventually could lead to its complete disappearance -- in the next few millennia. While the Y chromosome’s degeneration has been known to geneticists and evolutionary biologists for decades, the study sheds new light on some of the evolutionary processes that may have contributed to its demise and posits that, as the degeneration continues, the Y chromosome could disappear from our genetic repertoire entirely.

“It’s certainly possible, but it’s difficult to predict when it will happen,” said Kateryna Makova, an associate professor of biology at Penn State University, who led the study, which was published Thursday in the journal PLoS Genetics.

Although geneticists and evolutionary biologists agree that the Y chromosome is degenerating -- and far more rapidly than its X counterpart -- they reject the idea of a world far in the future where men are obsolete.

“The idea that the Y chromosome has just bailed out of an airplane without a parachute simply doesn’t fit the facts,” said Dr. David Page, director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., and a Y chromosome expert. “The evidence from studies on natural deletions of [genes on] the human Y chromosome shows there are consequences, especially for sperm production, that implies very strong natural selection against the loss of genes on the human Y chromosome.”

Y Chromosomes Had Problems From the Start

Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes packed with genes that dictate every aspect of our biological functioning. Of these pairs, the sex chromosomes are different; women have two X chromosomes and men have an X and a Y chromosome. The Y chromosome contains essential blueprints for the male reproductive system, in particular those for sperm development.

But the Y chromosome, which once contained as many genes as the X chromosome, has deteriorated over time and now contains less than 80 functional genes compared to its partner, which contains more than 1,000 genes. Geneticists and evolutionary biologists determined that the Y chromosome’s deterioration is due to accumulated mutations, deletions and anomalies that have nowhere to go because the chromosome doesn’t swap genes with the X chromosome like every other chromosomal pair in our cells do.

Y Chromosomes Are Rapidly Losing Genes

However, Melissa Wilson, lead author of the study and graduate research fellow at Penn State University, pointed out that if there is no difference between a male who has lost a particular gene and one who still retains it, especially if both are still fertile, then that gene must be nonessential.

“Because they can lose [a gene] ... we conclude that it’s on its way to dying in humans,” she said.

Yet the Y chromosome perseveres, despite its rapid rate of deterioration.

“The key flaw in the logic [of Y chromosome deterioration] is the assumption that the Y chromosome can only lose genes,” Page said. “But the human Y chromosome has gained genes not even on the X chromosome. Men who lose those genes do not transmit their Y chromosome.”

Y Chromosome Can Gain Genes

Page pointed out that, while the Y chromosome may not share genetic material with the X chromosome, it can swap genes with other chromosomes as well as keep multiple copies of functional genes to increase their number on the Y chromosome. Makova and Wilson said that the increased rate of mutation on the Y chromosome could give rise to new genes that may prove beneficial and, therefore, remain on the chromosome.

Genetic change, whether by mutation, environmental stressors or by swapping bits of chromosomes, is the natural course of evolution, and evolution is weighted towards survival. Perhaps most importantly, Y chromosomes with defective male-specific genes, especially those involved in sperm production, are unlikely to reproduce and pass on those genes to their sons, which knocks highly defective chromosomes out of the gene pool. Genetic changes that do not favor reproduction are likely to get weeded out of the system.

“The most fundamental [principle] to all evolution is reproduction,” said Dr. Ronald Crystal, chairman of the Department of Genetic Medicine at Weil Cornell Medical College. “No one knows why the Y chromosome has more pressures to evolve. It may be that the genes are irrelevant. ... But evolution figures out a way to maintain reproduction.”

Reproduction Is Still Paramount for Evolution

Even if the Y chromosome becomes obsolete, reproduction will continue, in some form. Makova and Wilson said that new sex chromosomes may rise from non-sex chromosomes or that essential genes might move to other chromosomes, which has happened in some species of deer. “Presumably, we will have moved genes around,” said Dr. Harry Ostrer, director of the Human Genetics program at the New York University School of Medicine. “But the reproductive structures will be well conserved.”

In other words, men will not fade away, even if their Y chromosomes do.

[end of article] (emphases mine)

Well, I don’t know about you, but the original article (without any italicized words) scared the bejeebers out of me. Adding the italics helped a little in pointing out the uncertainty of it all, but not much.

After reading the article and letting the possibility roll around in my brain, and even after understanding that much of the article is mere conjecture clothed in scientific language, I can’t help it.

I’m still very tense.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I don't know how we could possibly have overlooked it, but...

Yesterday, July 15, was St. Swithin’s Day.

That's him there in the stained-glass window.

St. Swithin was born about 800 near Winchester, Hampshire, in Great Britain and died July 2, 862. He was bishop of Winchester from 852 to 862. At his request, he was buried in the churchyard, where rain and the steps of passersby might fall on his grave. On July 15, 971, more than a century after his death, his remains were moved inside Winchester Cathedral. According to legend, after his body was moved inside the cathedral, a great storm ensued.

English tradition teaches that since it rained heavily on that day, July 15th will mark the start of a 40-day rainy season. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, it is a popular belief that if it rains on St. Swithin’s Day, it will rain for 40 days, but, if it is fair, 40 days of fair weather will follow.

Here is a picture of Winchester Cathedral, the only cathedral to have had popular songs written about it, with the possible exception of the ever-popular “Caaaaaaaaaan-terbury, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain.”

According to Wikipedia, the song “Winchester Cathedral” was a top ten hit in the U.K. and a number one song in the U.S. in 1966. In related show-biz and political news, Rain was a 1932 movie starring Joan Crawford, and there was once a U.S. Senator from Idaho named Frank Church.

We will close this St. Swithin’s Day observance by listening to Johnny Cash sing “How High’s The Water, Mama?” while watching a clever rebus that illustrates the song’s lyrics perfectly.

If our celebration seems to have become more and more madcap as we went along, we can always blame it on having entered the dog days of summer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Separated at birth?

If this post’s title sounds familiar, it’s because I have played this little game once before.

Now I am playing it again.

Don’t you think country singer Tanya Tucker...

could be the long-lost twin of Paula White, American televangelist and pastor of the Without Walls Church of Tampa, Florida?

Blogging is so educational. I saw Tanya the other night on Mike Huckabee’s program, and she sang, among other things, “Delta Dawn” -- it was her first hit when she was 13, Mike told the audience. But I distinctly remembered that it was Helen Reddy’s voice I used to hear singing “She’s 41 and her Daddy still calls her ‘Baby’; all the folks around Brownsville say she’s crazy,” so I looked it up on Wikipedia to make sure.

Here’s what Wikipedia had to say. The final sentence (emphasis mine) is what I found so educational:

“Delta Dawn” is a song written by former child rockabilly star Larry Collins and songwriter Alex Harvey, and recorded by a number of artists, most notably Bette Midler, Helen Reddy [I was right. --RWP], Tanya Tucker and Waylon Jennings. Tucker’s version went to #6 on the country music chart, and Reddy’s topped both the pop and adult contemporary charts. Included on Tucker’s first album, the song was released as a single, and it became the 13-year-old's first hit [Mike Huckabee was also right. --RWP]. Reddy cut the song shortly after Tucker’s version became a hit, and her version became the seventh-highest selling single for the year 1973 on the pop charts, hitting number one on the week ending September 15. It borrows, in large part, the melody from “Amazing Grace.”

What? Amazing Grace? Surely they were kidding. After thinking about both songs for a little while, though, I came to the conclusion that they were not. Try it for yourself. Sing “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me” and then sing “Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on? Could it be some faded rose from days gone by?” and you will find them amazingly similar. Sing through to the end of both choruses, and you won’t change your mind.

[Note. Many songs do seem remarkably similar, but a scale has only so many notes, and they can be combined in only so many ways. Chords have names, and the chords used to play “Amazing Grace” and “Delta Dawn” are known to musicians as I, IV, and V. As songwriter Harlan Howard once said (and it is etched in stone at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee), “Great music is simply three chords and the truth.” That’s pretty profound, actually. I don’t think a song is intrinsically any better or worse because it is simple, but a simple song is certainly more accessible; it can be performed by less-accomplished musicians. --RWP]

Reading my blog turns out to be educational, too. You can see with your own eyes how beneficial American televangelism can be, especially to the televangelist.

Monday, July 13, 2009

401G, 401H, 401I, 401J...


401 goes together with K like love and marriage, like a horse and carriage, like peanut butter and jelly, like Michael Jackson’s memorial service and round-the-clock TV coverage.

Never fear! I am not going to explain to you the intricacies of a 401K account. Instead, in honor of this, my 401st post on this blog, I have decided to keep it simple and tell you what the letter K means to me.

In Wikipedia you can learn more than you ever thought possible about the letter K, including the fascinating fact that in the International Phonetic Alphabet, K is the symbol for the voiceless velar plosive.

K makes me think of Kellogg’s Special K breakfast cereal.

K makes me think of singer Kay Starr.

K makes me think of actress Kay Kendall, seen in this clip from the movie Once More, With Feeling. As an added bonus (is that redundant?), you can also watch Yul Brynner and brush up on your Spanish at the same time.

K makes me think of bandleader Kay Kyser and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge. The band was popular in the forties.

K makes me think of Kaye Ballard. (If you don’t want to sit through several minutes of Muppet carryings-on, Kaye’s segment starts at 5 minutes, 30 seconds into the video)

K makes me think of Danny Kaye. He made many movies, but I chose two clips, this one from The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and this one from The Court Jester. A transcript of the famous “The Vessel With The Pestle” scene is included.

In the interest of keeping an audience, I have decided not to include Kay Armen, Mary Kay Ash, or K. D. Lang at this time.

K makes me think of the stuttering song from the World War I era that my Dad used to sing, “K-K-K-Katy”:

K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy,
You’re the only g-g-g-girl that I adore;
When the m-m-m-moon shines over the cowshed,
I’ll be waiting at your k-k-k-kitchen door.

I suppose nowadays that song would be considered insensitive and not politically correct.

K is also commonly used as an abbreviation for 1000, probably because of the Greek prefix kilo-, which means a thousand, as in “kilogram” (a thousand grams) or “kilometer” (a thousand meters). This is fine when you’re referring to weight or distance or money (for example, $10K means $10,000.00). But when you’re referring to the innards of computers, a K does not mean 1000 bytes of storage (10 to the third power). In Computer Land, K means 1024 (2 to the tenth power -- you know, 2 squared is 4, 2 cubed is 8, and so on; 2 to the tenth power is 1024). So the bigger the quantity you’re talking about, the more misleading the reference becomes if you think K means 1000. It gets worse. Not only does K not mean a thousand, a meg (M) does not mean 1,000,000 (10 to the sixth power or 1,000 times 1,000). In Computer Land, M refers to 1,048,576 bytes of computer storage (1024 times 1024; that is, 2 to the tenth power times 2 to the tenth power, which is 2 to the twentieth power).

I know just enough about this to make me slightly crazy, and since I’m slightly crazy, I thought I would make you slightly crazy too.

You’re welcome.

Don’t even get me started on hexadecimal notation.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Into the valley of death rode the four hundred

I know, I know, in Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” it says six hundred, not four hundred, but Lord Alfred was referring to British troops at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War in 1854. I was not. I was referring to my posts.

I began blogging on September 28, 2007 -- 653 days ago, to be exact -- and I just happened to notice that this is my 400th post. Maybe not a major milestone, but a small accomplishment nonetheless that shouldn’t pass unnoticed. My handy-dandy calculator has informed me that my rate of blogging, if there is such a thing, works out to be an average of 0.61 posts per day (400/653) or 1.63 days between posts (653/400).

When I began, I thought I might run out of things to say. Some of you think I did a long time ago.

My new motto, at least for today, is “Keep on keepin’ on”....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Turn again, Dick Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London

This post has absolutely nothing to do with Dick Whittington or his having been thrice Lord Mayor of London, but how many times does a person get an opportunity to use the word “thrice”?

Mrs. RWP and I are back in hilly, beautiful, and definitely cooler North Georgia after spending nearly two weeks in Tampa Bay. Well, we were not actually in the bay. You know what I mean.

Some people say things happen in threes -- I don’t -- but three things did happen to me for the first time during our Florida trip. One was fun, one was scary, and one was mind-boggling.

On June 26th, for the first time in my life, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, I attended an American League baseball game. I have seen several National League games before in Atlanta and Philadelphia, but this was my first chance to witness a designated hitter up close and personal. The Tampa Bay Rays (formerly known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays) defeated the Florida Marlins by a score of 7-3, as I recall, after a three-run double by B.J. Upton in the bottom of the eighth inning broke open a game that had been tied three times. Afterward, on the way to our car, we could see that the roof of the stadium was illuminated in brilliant orange, indicating a home-game victory. That was the fun one. I wondered why so many people were wearing Evan Longoria shirts when B.J. Upton did all the heavy lifting. A few days later in Toronto, B.J. took the first pitch of the ball game and knocked it out of the park. (A slight clarification is in order: B.J. Upton was not the designated hitter.)

On June 29th, I rode in an ambulance for the first time in my life, accompanying Mrs. RWP on the first ambulance ride of her life. This is an event we both would rather have done without. She stayed in a very wonderful hospital until July 1st, when we were able to put this three-day scary event behind us.

Finally, on July 7th, along with my two grandsons, I saw the first Transformers movie in my life. It was called Transformers: The Revenge of the Fallen. I fervently hope it is also the last one I ever see, as the movie consisted of very little plot and very many explosions and great climactic battles, one after the other, from start to finish, for two hours and thirty minutes. This event was the mind- boggling one. I can report that both Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox emerged triumphant and relatively unscathed, so there will probably be another sequel if Hollywood has anything to say about it. (If you want to know more about Shia or Megan, you can seek out their Wikipedia pages on your own, but I am not going to do anything more to further their acting careers.)

I could go into much more detail about each of these first-time events, but I’m not going to. I’m going to concentrate instead on trying to insert the word “thrice” into my conversation as often as possible.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rule, Britannia!

A week ago today, on June 30, 2009, the facts in this post appeared on page 4A of the St. Petersburg Times; I waited until after our own celebration of the anniversary of America's independence to bring them to your attention. I thought that was quite magnanimous, splendid, and downright sporting of me. Here are the facts:

The office of Queen Elizabeth II has released a report on how much public money the royal family spends. Some highlights:

$68.6M -- total public funds spent in the 12 months ending March 31. Security is not included in this total.

$2.48M -- increase from previous year

$10.76M -- spent on travel

$661,302 -- spent to relaunch the royal Web site

$496,000 -- spent cleaning royal homes

$827,209 -- spent on food

661,302 -- spent on garden parties

$1.14 -- cost to the average British taxpayer, up 5 cents

[end of article]

I want to make a few comments.

First of all, the amounts were shown in U.S. dollars for the benefit of the U.S. reading public, which would be completely in the dark about crowns and pounds and guineas (thank you, A. E. Housman) and quid and shillings and sixpence and such.

Second, it is unclear exactly to whom the phrase “the royal family” refers. Liz and Phil only? All the next generation as well? And the next? Camilla Parker-Bowles? What about third cousins, twice removed, who even as we speak are probably affectionately known as the Duke and Duchess of Kent? I’m not sure.

Third, why all the fuss? The last number shown indicates that the total cost to the average British taxpayer to support the British royal family is the huge sum of one dollar and fourteen cents, up five cents from the previous year. It must have been a slow news day on the Thames.

Finally, if all the numbers are accurate and if I have understood the article correctly, I can divide the total public funds spent in the 12 months ending March 31 ($68.6M) by the cost to the average British taxpayer ($1.14) and determine that there are 60,175,438 British taxpayers. I can further learn, by reading the Wikipedia article on the United Kingdom, that the estimated population of the United Kingdom in 2007 (the year for which the most recent figures are available and also the year in which the photograph above of Her Majesty was made) was 60,975,000 persons.

So, dear reader, there are apparently only 800,000 Brits who do not pay taxes in the United Kingdom. In my opinion, this is the most shocking and outrageous statistic of all. One can only assume that these ne'er-do-wells are still in utero and that the British Parliament will correct this oversight posthaste.

No Britons were harmed in the making of this post.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
An air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

-- Emma Lazarus, 1883

1. The post’s title, which is also the title of the poem, refers to the Statue of Liberty.
2. The first two lines of the poem refer to the ancient Colossus of Rhodes.
3. No matter what you may have learned in school, the twin cities mentioned in the poem are not Minneapolis and St. Paul. They are New York and Brooklyn. Brooklyn became a part of New York City in 1898. Emma Lazarus is buried in Brooklyn.
4. New York Harbor has not been “air-bridged” since the Verrazano- Narrows Bridge was completed in 1964. --RWP]

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Carrying the Montessori method a little too far?

Thanks to flurrious over at flurrious and a little more searching of my own, I now know:

How to eat an apple

How to eat an orange

How to eat a banana

How to peel a banana.

and even, God help us, How to make watermelon donuts.

Somewhere Maria Montessori is either turning over in her grave or else she is dancing a jig.

I even found instructions on how to make a vodka watermelon, but if you want to know how, you are going to have to look it up all by yourself.

<b> Mundane is also a word</b>

My blogger friend Rachel Phillips is currently in the midst of a series of posts (three so far) about a trip she took with her friends Liz...