Friday, May 29, 2009

Taking off the crankypants...

For the last few days I've been very cranky. Since I'm not four, I have refrained from stomping my feet and screaming; instead, I had the adult version of a tantrum - sulking, not talking to others and taking out the stupidest things on other people who didn't deserve my nonsense. The reasons for being cranky varied, but it became clear this morning while reading an interview on that all of those "reasons" were pathetic when compared to things other people have going wrong in their lives.

Bob Woodruff was a journalist embedded in Iraq when he suffered brain damage after being caught in a roadside blast. He developed aphasia, which results when damage occurs to the part of the brain that affects speech. Here was a man who made his life's work explaining what was happening in the world to other people, and now he couldn't form the sentences he wanted to? Fortunately, Woodruff recovered and is now using his fame and reach to help wounded soldiers and their families receive the help and medical care they may not get using just their own resources. 

The city of Montreal is taking a novel approach to reducing, reusing and recycling its own resources. United Press International had a story earlier this month on the new Bixi program in Montreal. Members of the subscription service can pick up city-owned and maintained bicycles, ride them wherever they need to go and then return them to kiosks. You can do this as many times as you want per day. The pick up/return stations are all solar-powered, so they can be placed all over the city without the need to dig up anything. It's kinda like ZipCar but better for the environment and your health

A group of 293 fourth- through eighth-graders proved children are still very interested in improving their intelligence. Last night Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, was crowned the champion of the 82nd Scripps National Spelling Bee. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, she earned the honor after correctly spelling Laodicean, which means halfhearted in respect to religion or politics. Nearly all of the words in this article cited as ones the kids had to spell would have been too difficult for me, so hats off. While it's unfortunate most kids are attracted only by glitz to pursuits that used to be attractive in and of themselves, I'm glad the bee had a good time slot on a major network so it will continue to attract children's interest.

(Photo credit:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The science of entertaining children...

A while back I went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore with my little cousins, and it is one of my favorite memories with them. The boys love animals and wildlife and facts about animals and wildlife, and the aquarium then was hosting an exhibit on seahorses. There were loads of different varieties in all sizes and colors. The boys (and I) were fascinated. 

I was intrigued by a story on the Top 10 New Species of 2008 I found on first because I live with three physicists and used to live with one marine biology PhD candidate. I was curious to see what new things were found. But when I saw one was a very tiny seahorse, I got very excited and nostalgic for the day I took my cousins to the aquarium. 

In another fun combination of children and science, I found a review of a show in Malaysia that seems to be the latest incarnation of Mr. Wizard or Bill Nye, the Science Guy - depending on your generation. : ) The Star Online reported Dr. Bunhead (real name: Tom Pringle) kept children entertained with loud explosions and lighting bubbles on fire (among other things) and managed to teach them some basic science as well - delighting both the parents and children in attendance.

Myron Rolle was another child whose interest in science and biology was encouraged, and he turned out to not only be a star safety for the Florida State football team but also a Rhodes Scholar. Yahoo! Sports had a fairly lengthy and good article on Rolle and how his tremendous family influence as well as his personal drive and intelligence propelled him toward a feat as unusual as a shooting star - being an elite student and an elite athlete. As much as the NCAA does not like to admit it, those two things are usually mutually exclusive. But Rolle is a wonderful exception to that, and to him I wish nothing but the best of luck. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Little faces...

Over the weekend I found out that one of my favorite relatives (yes, I know it's bad form to admit you have them, but come on, people, everyone does) is pregnant. Yay for more good news. : ) 

Britain's The Sun had a story two days ago on a single mother of five who won the lottery in December to the tune of 7.5 million pounds, which to my guesstimate is about $5 million. I don't know if there is a British equivalent of Sally Struthers, but the lotto winner was affected all the same by the commercials about poor children in Africa. She committed some of her lotto winnings to help orphanages and organizations that help orphaned children in Ethiopia., a TV news channel in Atlanta, has a lovely little story about five year-old Maddi Goss. When she was three, Maddi was diagnosed with liver cancer but received a life-saving liver transplant. This story seems to catch up with her as she celebrates her fifth birthday, cancer-free.

The story of Tustin Mains, a six year-old Nebraska boy, is showcased on His father was driving home with Tustin and his three year-old younger brother when the father passed out from low blood sugar. Tustin climbed up front,  took the wheel and guided the truck along the road until he was spotted by a passing police officer who stopped the car. The local police chief hails the little boy as "a very special young man."

(Photo credit: The Sun)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Best weekend in recent history...

This past weekend I had Memorial Day off for the first time since I graduated college. I decided to go home and surprise my mom for her birthday. It was a total success, helped along by the fact her birthday is not until next weekend. : ) 

Memorial Day itself isn't necessarily a happy day since it is set aside to remember both the surviving veterans and the soldiers who sacrificed their lives during war. Even though it has come to signify a day of leisure, all the stories I found on the day's celebrations, including the one I cite from the San Francisco Chronicle just below, served to remind me there are still people out there who remember the true meaning of the day and are grateful for what the men and women in the military give up on a daily basis. 

On a similarly patriotic note, I saw a story in the LA Times about the upcoming reopening of the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Closed since the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the crown viewing station will reopen on July 4, 2009 to small groups. The rest of the lower viewing platforms have already reopened. 

Not all war news is unhappy. had a story posted this morning on a reunion of Army National Guard troops and their families at Fort Dix yesterday. These men and women were the first wave of returning soldiers in New Jersey's largest National Guard deployment since World War II. All in all, nearly 3000 NJ National Guard soldiers were deployed. The remaining 2500 will be returning in the next two weeks. 

(Photo credit: San Francisco Chronicle)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Angels in the Outfield...

They must put something in the water up here in Boston. Hatred for the Yankees is practically viral here. I'm not even from New England, and somehow it sucked me in during college. I have since regained my level head (after graduating and moving back down south), but now I'm back up here, and I just have to shake my head at the potency of "us vs. them" mentality. 

Regardless about how you feel about the pin stripes, this story from (and the follow up in Newsday) is amazing. Yankee Brett Gardner made what, at the start, was probably a routine community service visit to a local hospital. While there, he met a special little girl who had been waiting 107 days for a heart transplant. She gave him a Project Sunshine bracelet and told him if he held onto it, he would hit a home run. Gardner is no power-hitter, but he is apparently very speedy. In his next game, he hit a looping shot to the warning track and flew around the bases for an inside-the-park home run. He went 0-for-4 in his next game but found out afterwards the little girl had received her new heart that day and was doing better

England's Daily Mail reported on a woman who turned her grief at the loss of her husband into a 'round-the-world trek to raise money for prostate cancer. After losing her second husband to the cancer, Rosie Swale-Pope ran 20,000 over five years on a continuous solo trip around the world. I'm still trying to decide if this was foolish or inspirational, but her story is quite amazing.

My last article for today is from, and it highlights a bat boy. Ty Godfrey is 13 years old and collects bats and shags flies with the Monmouth University baseball team. That all sounds normal, but he was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 7 1/2. He has gone through chemo, radiation and rehab to learn to walk again. He's also on growth hormones, but he goes out every chance he gets to the ballpark. The little boy and the team really seem to have bonded

(Photo credit: Star-Ledger)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Make way for ducklings...and cats...and horses...

I'm not sure if this says more about me or others, but within the last year I've been appalled to come across two people who live in Boston (though are admittedly not natives) who have never read "Make Way for Ducklings." It is a classic children's story set in Boston about a family of ducks that makes its way from the Charles River to its new home in the Public Gardens. There's even a set of bronze statues in the Gardens commemorating the ducklings and their mama. I have the book on my shelf and am perfectly willing to lend it to anyone in the area who wishes to read it. 

Recently I posted a story on a police officer on Long Island who rescued ducklings from a sewer. It turns out those lucky ducks (sorry, I had to) were not that far from my college roommate's current address. Today I found a story on a man in Spokane, Wash. (far from anyone I know...I think) who helped 12 ducklings off a ledge. According to United Press International, the mama duck had made her nest on the concrete ledge of a downtown office building. The ducklings' birth and subsequent lives were recorded by the office workers and posted online. When it came time for the ducklings to jump 12 feet to the ground to go to water, Joel Armstrong caught each one and put it on the ground then, with the aid of some co-workers, stopped traffic so the little family could go to a nearby pond. 

I spotted a potential new entry into the Guinness Book of World Records when I logged onto my email this morning. A video on shows Bitsy, a 6-inch, 1.5 pound cat, who lives in Pensacola, Fla., and is a contender for world's smallest full-grown cat. The kitty is very feisty, but half the fun of this particular video is watching Anderson Cooper try to contain his annoyance at having to report such a fluff piece. 

As part of MSNBC's "Making a Difference" segment, the station told the story of a woman who suffered the loss of her beloved show horse at the hands of a tornado. The community rallied around her, and in a miracle of science, she now has a piece of her lost companion alive and well and prancing around the pasture.
(Photo credit:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Classic American Inspiration...

Browsing through the stories today, I came across a link to US Magazine's story about the 25th anniversary of the first season of the classic '80s TV show, "The Cosby Show." I loved this show. I mean, flat out loved it. It is a fond piece of my childhood, so I was delighted to see the article about the cast reuniting on the Today Show this morning to talk about the show. had a great story on a 20-minute "Pumpkin Pickle Pop Cookies Opera" performed by 10 four and five year-old visually impaired children in Atlanta. It was a "thank you" to their parents at the end of the program's session for all the time and work the parents put in to help the children get ready for kindergarten. The program helps children, who range in age from newborn and up, and their parents adjust to the visual impairment and excel despite it.

The last story is actually courtesy of a friend of mine at Drexel. Each year the Honda Inspiration Award is given to a senior female student-athlete who best exemplifies excellence on the field/court and in her personal life. Drexel's Nicole Hester battled Hodgkins Lymphoma her junior year of college then returned to lead the Dragons' women's basketball team to its first CAA Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance. Hester has also been honored by her athletic conference, the Philadelphia Sports Writers' Association and the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

(Photo credit: US Magazine)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Right in my wheelhouse...

Looking at the three stories I found today, the theme would only be apparent to me. Yes, all three are good news, and yes, I did find them all the same way. But a theory of communication I learned in college that is coming back to me now quite randomly and only vaguely holds that stories in the news grab people's attention more quickly and for longer when people have a tie to or stake in them. 

Last night I was at a meeting at the MSPCA about a certain breed of dogs which I have mentioned a lot on here, so I won't do it again. : ) I want a dog terribly, so this story in the LA Times about the two dogs which stopped traffic on a NY expressway yesterday caught my attention almost immediately. It seems the mama got hit by a car, and her son made sure to stay between her as she lay on the ground with a broken leg and anything that came nearby - human or car. Mama is recovering nicely, and the son has been taken home.

The inspirational story I found in Florence, Ala.'s Times Daily about a cancer center nurse who contracted breast cancer and proceeded to beat it grabbed my attention since my father and uncle are both recovering from cancer, and I just found out a friend's boyfriend's mother has been diagnosed with it. Jamie White started her career as an ER nurse but moved to oncology after having a baby. Her grandfather went through his cancer treatments at her center and recovered before she herself was diagnosed. White went through her treatment at her own center and became an inspiration to the other patients by encouraging the nurses to share her story with them. 

My last homegrown tale comes from President Obama has made a firmer commitment to rescuing the Chesapeake Bay with his latest executive order. Citing the Clean Water Act, he put the Environmental Protection Agency in charge of restoration efforts. The Bay is in very poor health and is in danger of becoming unable to support not only the wildlife who call it home, but the watermen who make their living off the estuary. Obama's order will send funding and oversight to the cleanup efforts at the watershed and hopefully will put pressure on the surrounding states to do more.

(Photo credit:

Monday, May 18, 2009

The blog post has two faces...

Today I have two mini-themes. It's kinda funny how neatly it fits - two stories to each theme. I like when things work out like that, nice and tidy. 

One story from last week comes from, and it highlights the city of San Francisco's astounding 72% recycling rate. That is the highest rate in the entire United States, and it doesn't just include bottles and cans. The mayor has also decreed the city recycle all waste from construction sites too. 

Patagonia Inc., outdoor equipment and clothing extraordinaire, has made the news for its program encouraging employees to take green methods of transportation to work. reports the Reno, Nev.-based organization actually pays its employees company credit to bike or carpool to work. The company is hoping to reduce its carbon footprint and promote the benefits of exercise and sunshine to workers. 

The other two stories I found very cutely feature public service workers rescuing animals. 

Everyone always jokes about how in safe towns the only thing the firefighters have to do is rescue kittens from trees.

Milford, N.H.'s has a story on firefighters who were called to do just that. A large crowd of neighbors and friends of the family who owned the 10 month-old cat gathered below for 52 hours to watch the rescue operation and offer support to the family.

A police officer in Patchogue, Long Island, went above and beyond, I'm sure, of what she signed on for the first day at the academy. Looking at it, I guess technically she went below... Eileen Emiddio responded to a call from a bystander of a frantic mama duck pacing by a storm grate. Emiddio found 14 ducklings had somehow fallen into the sewer, so she climbed down and rescued all 14 of the little fluffballs. The ducky little family swam away happily after being released in a stream.
(Photo credit:

Friday, May 15, 2009

The kindness of strangers...

Despite being told repeatedly as a child about Stranger Danger (thanks, Mom!), I have more than one occasion when I've been able to count on a helping hand from someone I don't know. Whether it was something simple like a man with a cart full of groceries letting me go ahead of him when he saw my three items or something larger like a woman inviting me to her house for tea after she recovered my cell phone on a Dublin bus.

The stories I found today all center on Good Samaritanism - people helping people (they usually don't know beforehand). Stories like these definitely make you feel better about humanity and that we've staved off the apocalypse for just a little while longer. 

I've luckily never been out of a job involuntarily, but I have changed jobs frequently since leaving college. It's to the point when May rolls around, and I feel like I should start heading to I am familiar with the feeling of not knowing what to do with my time when I'm not job-hunting. Seth Reams of Portland, Ore., got laid off and had a similar feeling, and he did something productive about it. Reams started a local volunteering group called "We've Got Time to Help" that consists of other job-less folks looking for something to do that's also good for the community (

One of my friends is a fan of the TV show "Chuck." I've never been able to get into it, mainly because I always forget to watch it, but apparently it's on the bubble to be picked up for next year. The fans of the show initiated a campaign to show NBC how much they care about the show returning, but instead of some wacky scheme or online petition, one of the viewers decided to do something for charity. She created an account with the American Heart Association in the name of Chuck Bartowski, the main character. With every donation in his name, the AHA sends a thank you note to NBC for the contribution. I personally think that's genius. The network office gets flooded, and the AHA gets money (

I love local papers. They're so much more folksy (and more inclined to print good news too!). The Honolulu Advertiser recently did a feature on Frank Amorozo, a man who decided to help Oahu's homeless children by collecting books. He went onto eBay and bought 900 books. He ran into a storage snafu, but now the local United Way has partnered with him to distribute the books. Amorozo believes books are the key to learning, and he wants to give these kids a good start.

Habitat for Humanity got a huge boost from a private citizen. Well, it will someday. Georgia-area housing developer J. Ronald Terwilliger announced a $100 million gift to HH upon his death. He is currently 68. It is the largest individual gift in HH's history, and, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, $70 million will fund micro-loans for work overseas and the remainder will go into a fund to perpetuate the organization's work. 

I've purposely avoided reading about the H1N1 virus (aka Swine Flu) except to read about the symptoms, but I could not avoid a story I heard about in the office on how Egypt's government officials decided to slaughter all the pigs in the country in a misguided attempt to stem the pandemic. It's a little ironic the country that produced one of the most advanced civilizations in history could make such a misstep, but there you go. However, caught up in this silly choice were lots of pig farmers who suddenly lost their livelihood. One was Abu Sayed. He lost his only source of income to feed his extended family of 14 when the government killed his livestock. Hazel and Nazih Zebian, half a world away in Massachusetts and struggling in the economy with their furniture business, decided to help. When they realized it would only cost $1125 to replace the pigs, they sent a Western Union moneygram to help Sayed. Sometimes in this country you forget what wealth really means... (

(Photo credit:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oldies but goodies...

Today is my 50th post. I can't actually believe I've been doing this for 50 days already. And while I don't think 50 is anywhere near old, it is a milestone, which is why it tickles me that the stories I found for today all have ties to the elderly who have reached milestones of their own. So please, no hate mail from the over-50 crowd. : ) 

The 60th anniversary of the day the Soviets lifted their blockade on West Berlin was May 12, 2009, and reported on the 100,000 Berlin citizens who turned out to honor the 120 Allied pilots who made daily food and supply drops to the starved people of West Berlin. On Tuesday, American pilot Gail Halvorsen flew a WWII-era cargo plane that dropped chocolate-covered raisins to mark the anniversary. He was known as the "Lollipop Bomber" after he shared two sticks of gum with starving German children and returned to bring more candy from his own rations after that. He inspired other Allied pilots to do the same and the result was "Operation Little Vittles." How cute is that?

The "Canton Citizen" out of Massachusetts had a local feature on a family who surprised their matriarch, for lack of a better word, with a home makeover. Maggie Koelsch, mother of eight, grandmother of 15 and great-grandmother of one, went to California to visit one of her daughters, and 14 enterprising East Coast members of her family completely updated her house. The 83 year-old woman raised her children on her own after separating from her husband, and she is determined to stay in her own home now. Her family wanted to be there for her since she's always been there for them.

This last one from is a little quirky. My brother used to be an athletic trainer at the minor league level of professional baseball for the Baltimore Orioles. I'm not sure he's familiar with a pitching prospect named Josh Faiola, but the young man is making news lately for his life off the field. And for once, in the world of athletes, it's for something good. Minor-leaguers are often hosted by local families since they don't get paid much. Faiola's proposed host family didn't actually have a room for him at their house, but they run an assisted living facility nearby and decided to put him up there. He's the new darling of the residents, even inspiring some non-sports fans to pick up baseball. Faiola has a terrific attitude about it too, understanding the value of having so many "grandparents" around to care about him and how he does. 

(Photo credit:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

School daze...

I've commented before on how many mothers with strollers and people with dogs I've seen walking around my neighborhoods now the weather has turned nice. I'm even hitting the pavement more now that I don't need to add six layers of clothing just to avoid losing a limb to frost bite. 

Aside from mamas and mutts, one thing that has struck me since I started my current job (and thus started commuting in the opposite direction of before) is the amount of kids who walk to school in one of the more affluent neighborhoods I drive through. Growing up where walking to school simply wasn't an option unless I really wanted the pioneer experience and rose with the dawn, the sight of middle- and high-schoolers walking to school took me aback. I thought that went the way of soda parlors and drive-in movies. notes a school district in California that is pushing for a comeback for strolling to class. I'm not entirely sure what qualifications you need to be a "walking expert" (putting one foot in front of the other with minimal falling over seems to be a given), but the article cites the wisdom of such luminaries in explaining why the enforced exercise not only saves money but turns the children into better students

The brilliant resiliency of children was highlighted by today in a story perfectly titled "From Heavy Hearts, a Song Soars." While waiting for his morning school bus, 15 year-old Soheil Turner was shot dead; his killer remains unidentified. His school, Warren-Prescott in Charlestown, is a combined elementary and middle school, and many of the students and teachers had known him for years. While still grieving for the loss of their friend, the school chorus boarded a bus the next day for a choir competition at an amusement park. Their rendition of "What a Wonderful World" blew away the judges and the competition - which consisted of middle and high school choirs much more established and accomplished then Warren-Prescott. Several W-P soloists and musicians won individual awards as well. 

Escambia County in Florida recently held its 15th annual Cox Inspirational Hero Celebration honoring 40 kindergarten through high school students for overcoming all sorts of barriers from language to physical disability (you may have to scroll down a bit; the picture is not showing up on my computer so I'm not sure if it works). First of all, it's awesome this is the 15th year they're doing this, and second of all, make sure you read the bios of two of the children who won a big award. They're sweet and sure to bring a smile to your face. 

(Photo credit:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A crusader, minus the cape...

I will fully admit to having completely taken up the cause of pit bulls. Working at the shelter I see so many come through who are smart, sweet, loving and energetic. They sit there forever while aged cocker spaniels, biting chihuahuas and bull mastiffs with hip dysplasia are adopted left and right. I actually had one pit bull there so long I taught him to take a treat out of my mouth without so much as a lick to my face. Yes, this was the breed of dog that is perhaps the most feared on the planet, particularly by SUV-loving moms with 2.3 soccer-playing kids. I had one "little" girl who got jumped by the other dogs in her house crawl into my lap for pets when I sat down in her cage. 

I stole the December 29 issue of Sports Illustrated, pictured at left courtesy of livejournal blogger rinalia, from my dentist's office, so I could mail it home to my mother for her to read. Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels were the talk of the sports and the dog world for awhile as well as the general public (for about 15 seconds). I found a story yesterday from the Washington Times that followed up on Gracie, one of the 47 pit bulls rescued from that hell hole. 

ABC News' web site had a story with the family of the three year-old who wandered into the Missouri woods for three days, which you should check out if you're really looking for irresponsible "ownership." I still think people should be made to take tests before they are allowed pets or children. Granted, this child did unlock a deadbolt, but these parents, from all the accounts I've heard, do not seem like the brightest bulbs. I suppose I should actually get to the good news bit - the child was found in very good shape by a volunteer searcher who was only out looking because he was rained out of his construction job. The child suffered only a few scratches before being returned to his parents. 

Scripps News Service reported on the graduation of a very special Clemson student last week. Meredith Harper, diagnosed with Grave's Disease in high school, worked through her health condition until junior year of college when she suffered a stroke and basically had to relearn everything - walking, talking, math and science, how to eat with utensils. But two weeks ago, she graduated at age 25 with a bachelor's degree in health science.  Harper had a lot of ups and downs, but she had a great attitude and a large support group to help her through, many of which were at her graduation to cheer her on.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A good reason for narcissism...

So the picture to the left was in an email my parents forwarded me. I have no idea where it came from, but it made me smile. Since it's Monday (and I hate mass chain emails), I thought I'd share it on my blog instead. The subject line of the email was "A good reason for a twirl in front of the mirror."

I happened to log into my computer over the weekend, which is something I rarely do. I spend so much time online at work that I just don't want to be anywhere near my computer at home. But I found, when signing onto Yahoo!, Forbes listed its annual World's Happiest Places. This year, the winner was Denmark. For the past couple years, it was Iceland, but I'm pretty sure the nation going bankrupt had something to do with that country's drop from the top. 

The other mood-lifting story Yahoo! had listed was a list of foods that make you happy. Most food makes me happy, but I'm pretty sure I'm an exception. I'm just as content with Greek yogurt and honey as I am with a perfectly plated meal from L'Espalier. 

When I was in high school we joked our school fight song was "Dueling Banjos." Yes, I am definitely a country girl. The following video I found on Yahoo! via Flickr is a pretty cute update to the Dancing Baby. You'll get the "Deliverance" reference upon clicking on the link...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mamas and babies...

This Sunday is Mothers' Day; I thought, since I don't blog on the weekends, I would take a moment today to mention mothers. Whatever you call her - Mom, Mommy, Mum, Mama, Maman or even by her first name like one of my co-workers - she totally deserves at least a day devoted entirely to her. For the longest time, women stayed home with children and it was considered, to use an unfortunate present-day corporate buzzword, a "best practice." Somehow it got twisted around and women who stayed home to take care of their families and their homes became less valued. Their contributions to society were looked at as less than those contributed by working women. 

I don't believe that's entirely fair. I'm not one to champion either Donna Reed or Gloria Steinem, but mothers on both end of the spectrum and those in the middle do a heck of a lot and give a lot of themselves to make their families go. My mother was one who landed in the middle of that range, and I happen to think she did a darn good job. She worked, raised two kids and ran a house. She is, in part, the inspiration for this blog. I very much like how I turned out, so thanks, Mom! : ) 

Stepping off my soapbox now, the rest of this blog is devoted to the reason women can be classified as mothers - babies and children. 

East Side Elementary in Oklahoma were chosen among 13 sites across the country to participate in "Planting for Success" in conjunction with The Home Depot Foundation and Arbor Day Foundation. Read all the way to the bottom of the article - I promise it's short - to see the adorable reasons children think trees are important. (

At the beginning of April, the Los Angelos Zoo announced the birth of a Masai baby giraffe. He's in the little cutie in the picture to the left. 

Earlier this year, the Iraqi EPA moved to protect natural lakes, and now the government is attempting to protect another of its natural resources - its children. UNICEF announced on May 4 the Iraqi government has allocated $30 million (USD) to help provide clean drinking water and schools to children of the impoverished Marshlands. 

Finally, while searching for another story I stumbled on this one. Most of you know how much I love to cook and have no problem forcing, ahem, giving friends and family recipes I love and think they should try. Someone recently asked me what my favorite food was and the answer I gave, which surprised even me a little bit, was comfort food - mac and cheese, meatloaf and all the other goodies Mom used to make. : ) The Wilmington Star had an article about two daughters who have recently published a cookbook of recipes from three generations of women in their family. They took recipes they loved as children and adjusted them to meet today's time constraints. Somehow that makes a fitting circle - taking the best of the past and fitting it to your life now. 
(Photo credit:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mmm...chocolate. And other good ideas...

Most of you know I am not a giant fan of driving. I don't really know why, but I've just never seen the appeal of road trips, and I really don't like being stuck in a car for hours on end. I will make trips that are four hours or less simply because the hassle of flying (which I actually hate more than driving) is too much for me. But maybe what develops out of the following story will improve my dim view of motor vehicles. I mean, how can the addition of chocolate make anything worse?

Researchers from the University of Warwick in England have built an F3 race car out of biodegradable materials that can go up to 145 mph, and it runs on chocolate factory waste. Seriously. I found in on, so it must be true. : ) Can you imagine, driving down the Mass Pike and all you smell is chocolate? That would make my trips surrounded by Mass-hole drivers much more bearable. Maybe in this time of the restructuring of the car industry, the people on top will take notice that it is possible to build a fast, environmentally friendly car.

Yahoo! announced the winner of the most-publicized job search in the world yesterday. A British man is the lucky one chosen for the "World's Best Job" - blogging about northeastern Queensland, Australia. He gets free accommodations in a gorgeous locale for a year just for blogging about how terrific the reef is. He also gets paid $111,000. This guy sounds perfectly suited - having ridden an ostrich and kissed a giraffe. Yes, Virginia, dream jobs do still exist...

Yahoo! this morning had the final story for today. Clayton Homes has created the "i-House" - a prefab, "green" home that is so far from a trailer that it's not funny. It has bamboo floors in addition to solar power and other energy-saving appointments. It has a V-shaped roof which holds a roof-deck, and at $100 to $300 per square foot, it's much cheaper than green AND conventional alternatives. I'm not really a fan of modern architecture, but this looks appealing, even to me. 

(Photo credit:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Back on course...

Fortified by surprise bagels from a co-worker, I'm back with a theme for today's post. Dun-dun-DA! It's the power inherent in positive thinking. Shocker, right? : ) Ground-breaking information on a happy news blog... :-P

The Minneapolis Star Tribune posted an article with some sound, sensible advice to those who have been left unemployed by the current economic crisis. I like this article because it manages to acknowledge the recession without getting down about it, and still offers solid steps to take to get back on the job with minimal wallowing. 

I myself have been guilty of looking at people who "have it all" with some curiosity and not a little envy. I mean, seriously, how do they do it? The Huffington Post has a column that drew its inspiration from the book "Living a Charmed Life" by Victoria Moran. The book takes the power of positive thinking and turns it into action to help people become someone who "has it all." I'm not sure how effective it is, having never read it, but if you're so motivated, I don't really see the harm in going after what you want. You might actually get it. : )  

One little girl who did take that step to go after what she wanted got the ball rolling in a major way. Middle-schooler Ty'sheoma Bethea wrote a letter to Congress asking for money from the stimulus to fix up her run-down, rural South Carolina school. Her letter caught the eye of President Obama and a Chicago-based industrial furniture dealer. The dealer donated over $250,000 worth of new furniture to replace desks and chairs that date from 1940 and were still in use. Teachers and volunteers spent a whole weekend on the surprise transformation that also included painting the cafeteria in school colors, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.

(Photo credit: Charleston Post and Courier) 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tuesday morning roundup...

It's a rainy Tuesday morning on what my friend Joel and I have termed the longest week of the month. I'm more than a little sleepy and just a tad lazy, so I'm going to stick with a relatively random group of links today. I just really don't have the energy to find a theme or common thread beyond the obvious. I'll try harder tomorrow, I promise. 

Yahoo! had a story up yesterday about a man who bought a ledger for $200 that may contain the original formula for Dr. Pepper and now stands to make $50,000-$70,000 from auction. Personally I think the whole history aspect of finding a nearly 130 year-old book with such significance is cooler than the making a huge profit thing, but that may just be me.

Continuing in the food vein for a second, gave a nod to the slowly recovering economy. The site noted retail sales in general rose in the last few months (excluding auto sales). Anytime the economy stays in the black, even if it's only by another percentage point, it's a good thing

I could be completely wrong about this since I did not pay much attention to the rest of the world as a child, but I could swear the Summer and Winter Olympics both used to occur every four years. I have no idea why I continue to cling to this thought, but a story I saw yesterday reminded me the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are coming up. Canada has chosen its first Olympic torch-bearer for the Games. Ironically it's a man whose wife applied to be a torch-bearer for the 1988 Games and didn't get picked (Calgary Herald). 

And finally, May 3-9 is Be Kind to Animals week. The American Humane Association has been celebrating the relationship between animals and humans and trying to reach out to the community on this subject since 1915. had a press release on the six children from around the country who won the AHA's "Be Kind to Animals Kid" contest for their efforts in volunteering and helping homeless animals

The Benton Courier had a story on kindness towards both humans and animals. Two women helped return a man's beloved dog who went missing in Arizona after the pair took a trip from Arkansas. Not only did they rescue the dog from being euthanized, they paid for his plane fare back to Arkansas when they found out the dog's owner couldn't afford it. 

Image from

Monday, May 4, 2009

It's rainy and gross out...

So I decided to go with a simple YouTube video that makes me laugh every time. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Going global...

I found out today that May 1 is the fourth-annual Global Love Day. I had never heard of this. The website is a bit touchy-feely, but I think the concept of focusing on love and understanding is a good one. The main idea is "Love begins with me." Simple but effective. So for today, I will be showing the love to the international community. All the stories come from outside the US. : ) 

Beginning on the continent of North America, the Montreal Gazette does a weekly feature on a local teacher who has made a difference in the lives of his or her students. The article I found profiles Gail Gagnon, a woman who came to teaching later in life and now works with adults who are learning while working full-time jobs. They credit her with creating a vibrant and welcoming learning atmosphere.

We'll cross the Atlantic and then the Irish Sea for the next two stories. tells the story of a 70-year school reunion for the students enrolled in a Welsh school in 1939. The students of an all-boys grammar school were too young to fight in WWII, but they were not unaffected by the constant danger. However, the boys thrived under the guidance of a good headmaster and went on to succeed in their chosen professions., an Irish tech website, highlighted the recent launch of Eurocreator, a YouTube-like site for educational purposes. It was created in line with the EU recognizing 2009 as a Year of Creativity and Innovation. The site encourages kids to create their own media, but all submissions are moderated and the creators are offered constructive feedback. 

The last story comes from Africa and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Researchers have found "super reefs" in the waters off Madagascar, northern Mozambique, Tanzania and southern Kenya. These reefs not only survived a "bleaching" event, but they appear to have thrived under a ban on commercial fishing. Bleaching is caused by rising water temperatures (aka human-caused global warming), so for these reefs to basically reconstruct themselves with some simple help from people is a very good sign.

(Photo credit: