I first heard about the amazing usefulness of hemp when I was in college, 25 years ago. I had gotten onto the mailing lists of various environmental organizations, and from time to time they mentioned that hemp is excellent for making biofuel, food for humans and animals, rope, clothing, paper, plastics, construction and auto-body materials, … Continue reading Peeking Over the Hemp Horizon
My brother got me two books about cities for my birthday--one fiction and one nonfiction, both great books with great covers! Here they are, along with reviews of the other books I've read recently. Walkable City by Jeff Speck I love living in a walkable urban neighborhood! This book by a city planner told me a … Continue reading Walkable City, Visible City, and 4 more book reviews
My three-year-old Lydia and I recently enjoyed a picture book from our local library, Jacob's New Dress by Sarah & Ian Hoffman, illustrated by Chris Case. Jacob is a preschool boy who enjoys wearing dresses from the costume box but is criticized by his classmate Christopher. His mom is kind about his hurt feelings, but when … Continue reading Every school needs a Jacob!
My daughter Lydia, who is two and a half years old, noticed this picture in the newspaper I was reading. This is a photograph by Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images, as it appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday, February 12, 2017. LYDIA: Who are they? MAMA: They are standing in line to vote in India. LYDIA: … Continue reading Muslim women in India: Are they like us?
In photographs of last Saturday's women's marches in Washington, D.C., and around the United States, many pink hats are visible, most of them with ears, indicating solidarity with the Pussyhat Project that was so popular it caused shortages of pink yarn in some parts of the country. It's obvious that many thousands of pink pussyhats … Continue reading Is Your Pussyhat Keeping Someone Warm?
I was devastated by last Tuesday's election results. There are many reasons I object to Donald Trump (like his racist lies about crime) and many reasons I hoped for a Democratic majority in Congress, but what I'm writing about here is our environment. Even if you voted Republican, you may not want to live in … Continue reading How to Save the Earth from Donald Trump and the Republican Congressional Majority
I worked with crime data for 17 years, and occasionally someone would say, "Gosh, that must make you so worried about your safety!" No. It didn't. It had exactly the opposite effect. There are four patterns I saw, over and over again, that made me feel safer: Crime rates in Pittsburgh and in the United … Continue reading America is SAFER now than it used to be.
This month I read two books that were new to me and two I'd read before but didn't remember well. 36 Children by Herbert Kohl Mr. Kohl was a white, Jewish graduate of Harvard and Columbia who agreed to teach sixth grade in a public school in Harlem in 1962. The school was only 29 … Continue reading Some Old and Some New: September Book Reviews
On days like this, when the sky is so heavy with clouds that we never glimpse the sun, and the wind is cold and damp, and it seems like winter will never end . . . I think of Eminem. I guess I don't mean the rapper himself so much as the character he played … Continue reading The City of Slim Shadies
When I was born, my mother quit her paying job so she could be home with me. When my kids were born, I took 12 weeks off and then returned to my job. It's my father, not my mother, who has been my role model for balancing parenthood with employment.
The healing of our ozone layer is a great example of what Earthlings can do when we admit our mistakes and change course!
In the 1980’s scientists discovered the devastating effect we were having on our ozone layer. By using various chemicals in manufacturing, and particularly in aerosols, we were inadvertently chipping away at our precious shield from the worst of the sun’s damaging radiation. Wasting no time, these savvy scientists educated us as to the importance of the ozone layer and warned us that its existence was threatened if we did not act.
Put aside for a minute the hilarious image of an 80’s scientist; yes, they existed. It wasn’t all crimped hair and leg warmers, some people were off being intelligent and learning things! Thank God for these serious souls too, because without them we likely would have happily continued to spray away our entire protective coating by now.
Fortunately, we didn’t continue living in ignorance. We were alerted to our unwittingly destructive behaviour and could therefore make the necessary changes in order to save our skins (literally).
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This photograph, which was in Sunday's newspaper, is the image I'm keeping in my mind this Good Friday. That is a place on this very same planet where I am sitting comfortably in my office. That is a boy who is growing up in the very same time as my son Nicholas, who is visiting … Continue reading Elsewhere on Earth
I am putting this post in a variety of categories because it's kind of silly but I'm kind of serious, too. I would like to believe that in this very complicated world, my actions truly do make a difference, even in unexpected metaphysical ways. Purple is my favorite color. At this point in my life, … Continue reading The Power of Purple Is Real!!!
More than three years ago, I explained why I was boycotting Facebook. Yesterday, I joined Facebook. My intention was to join as The Earthling's Handbook, but Facebook immediately responded, "You have to join with your real name! I'm the only book allowed here!" so I joined with my own name but used The Earthling's Handbook … Continue reading Oh, all right. But they didn’t Book my Face!
It's a real holiday! It's today, January 21st. Keep an eye out for squirrels as you go about your day, and appreciate their resourcefulness, climbing ability, and cuteness. (Photos are from http://squirrelworld.lincatz.com , a site for squirrel appreciators.) I live in a solidly urban area of a major city, but even so, the neighborhood where … Continue reading Squirrel Appreciation Day
I'm an Episcopalian. In almost every service at our church, we receive Communion this way: The priest tears a morsel off of a round, flat bread and places it in the palm of your hand, and you eat it. The chalice-bearer holds the silver cup of wine as you sip from it, then wipes the … Continue reading The Common Cold and the Common Cup: Does Communion spread germs?
This article from The New York Times was reprinted in my local newspaper. In Afghanistan, a mullah who raped a 10-year-old girl in the mosque was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Most Americans would agree that anybody who rapes a child is a horrific criminal for whom 20 years is a light sentence, would … Continue reading One Brave Girl
I just happened upon this article from Wired magazine, which is undated but appears to be from right around 1994--the era when the World Wide Web existed but many major corporations still had no clue about what this Internet thing was, and when most people who did use the Internet still knew what a "shell … Continue reading The Internet of 20 Years Ago
This post is not meant to criticize parents who make different decisions, just to explain our point of view. "Do you know what you're having?" I am in my last month of pregnancy, and oh, how tired I am of that strangely-phrased question! I just smile and say, "It's a baby!" Of course that doesn't … Continue reading Why we didn’t have a Gender Reveal Party
We aren't sports fans in our family. Exercise is good, but we're not much interested in playing sports and even less interested in watching sports. But we live in Pittsburgh, a city with three professional sports teams that are a major focus of the local culture. We can't help noticing when one of the teams … Continue reading Saving Money on Sports Fan Gear