Archive for June, 2009

“Corn and Capitalism” review #8 of 2009

30 June, 2009

I love this book. Corn and Capitalism: How a botanical bastard grew to global dominance is a fantastically interesting read by Arturo Warman. I highly recommend it.

(I should note, that Michael Pollan calls it an “indispensable book… on the history of corn” pg 418, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.)

I took two pages of notes, of stuff I want to further investigate, such as, “Great Grain Robbery – 1972, USSR buys 30 million tons of grain”…”Ron Reagan boast not pay taxes on ranch” (pg 195), USA destroyed food reserves during Great Depression (pg 195), British coerced corn planting in Malwai (pg 79), most imported slaves went to Brazil, not USA, (pg 54)…. LOTS of stuff.

Warman doesn’t solely talk about corn, other plants, history is thrown in, corn is not the answer to the question of history. (Unlike Cod, History of World in 6 Glasses, Potato,…these type of books seem a bit cheesy in over-playing the significance of their topic.) Possibly, because Warman is an actual historian, and not a journalist.

Corn was adopted by so many cultures because it works. It is versatile, has great yield, easy to store, easy to be used as feed, or turned into alcohol.

One thing that I am thinking about, how does one get plain old, generic corn. Currently, seed companies have genetically engineered corn that has great yield, but won’t breed true. Meaning, if you keep the seeds, the yield next year will only be a fraction of what it had been, so, growers have to keep going back to company for seed. It wasn’t always that way. I would think that corn, without a trade mark, could be in the public domain, the Americas gift to civilization. I’m sure the corn I have in my backyard, the genetics are owned. If I save seeds, no one will care. But, if I gave seeds away, on an industrial scale, to poor folk … I’m sure Ferry Morse will send their lawyers. True, the poor folk wouldn’t get the yield that rich folk get, but, the seed would be free.

well…I’ll just leave with two quotes:

“Corn, the main staple of the African slave trade, became the mainstay for armed mobilization and military expansion of secondary empires in nineteenth-century Africa…” pg 68

“Corn generated wealth for landowners, shopkeepers and moneylenders, overlords, and the new middle class. Ironically, most of those who stood to gain the most from corn never even ate it. They ate wheat instead. Corn was a commodity with an unlimited market: that of the poor, who made up the vast majority on a continent that was bracing itself for the coming modern capitalism.” (pg 131)


100 Scientsts who shaped word History

30 June, 2009

review #7 of 2009

I admit, this was an easy read.

Where the scientists better back in the old days? You could say that it was easier to discover things, because we knew so little. But, we have technologies that make things much easier today, we can communicate with others easier, faster, more reliably. We can type up & easily edit manuscripts. We can get lots more information.

Where are people like Newton, Franklin, Hooke…make brilliant advances in multiple fields.

Where are the people today that overcame obstacles? … like George Washington Carver (born a slave), Lise Meitner (refuse lab space because female)

Best quote: students, trying to scare Georges Cuvier, dressed as a devil, woke Cuvier from his sleep. “Wake up! I have come to eat you.”  Cuvier responded, “Creatures with horns and hooves eat grass.”

A quick fun read.

strawberries and skin cancer

28 June, 2009

It is cute now to watch the toddlers, when they are outside, they will go up to the strawberry plants, and look for strawberries. If Miss Squeaky finds one, she will spend a minute picking the stem off, maybe that’s why she tears off the crayon paper – practice.  Mr Grunty just hands the strawberry to me to de-stem.

So…remember this for many years from now… A while ago at the zoo, I didn’t do a perfect job of putting sunscreen on the toddlers. I forgot Mr Grunty’s feet, and now he has sandle tan lines on his feet. And I missed a diamond shape spot on Miss Squeaky’s left upper arm. I wonder if now they have a highr chance of skin cancer in those particular regions?

Happy 4 months, Mr Cuddles

25 June, 2009

has it really been 4 months since Mardi Gras?

Today, to celabrate, we took all the childrens to the doctor for 2 year, 2 year and 4 month check-up. And they all got shots. Mr Cuddles went first, and was very angry. I held Mr Grunty, he was tough, until the nurse rubbed the owie, then he cried. Miss Squeaky was last, and reminded us that she can still scream like guitar feedback from a Marshal stack.

Mr Cuddles lived up to his name today, he just wanted to be held, preferably whilst I was walking around. He would take a few short naps, but wake up crying. He would drink a bit of milk. But then go back to crying.

Surprisingly, I got the toddlers to take a 2 hour nap this afternoon.

Last night, I taped a few b-day cards to the toddlers door. This morning, Miss S found a card in the livingroom, picked it up, showed it to me, and then pointed to her door. Awww…she knows what to do with b-day cards.

Before the toddlers were sleeping, I heard Mr Grunty calling out, “papa…papa”…I went to investigate. Mr Cuddles asleep in my arms. Mr G was laying on the floor, his sister was sitting over him, pulling on his hair. I tried to pull her fingers out, wasn’t working, I slapped her hand, she let go of the hair, and then she hit Mr G on the head. (OK, slapping her hand didn’t work. This is only the third time I’ve slapped her hand. The other two times was when she was playing with an electrical socket. Those times, she looked at me with “how could you??? I thought we were friends!!!!” look in her eyes, before she cried.) Miss S is bully sometimes….I’m sad.

Happy story…we sometimes ask, “what sound does a cow…”MOO”– shout both childrens.

Another happy story, when MyBetterHalf got home, and after she cuddled Mr Cuddles for a bit, I was holding onto him, and he smiled at me. Which he hadn’t done since the shots.

Sometimes, when we hang out, I’ll be slouched over, knees up in the air, and prop Mr C on my legs. Then, we’ll play drummer boy, and I’ll take his hands and drum and make drum sounds. He finds it funny.

He also gives me big smiles when I kiss his nose, or forehead, or cheek. And I can occassionaly get a giggle when I “num-num” his neck.

Tonight, at bedtime, Mr Oliver-kitty went up and gave Mr Grunty some love.

“Short History of Nearly Everything”

25 June, 2009

Stephen King counts books on tape/CD/iPod … as part of the books he reads.

I won’t.

I listened to Bill Bryson read his “A Short History of Nearly Everything”, over the past two weeks when I was giving Mr Cuddles a bottle.

It was fun. Two thumbs up.

Interesting trivia…same dude that put lead in the gas, (to quit the knocks), also CFCs in refridgerants.

Canned food used to be sealed with lead…so we’re way better today.

Father’s Day Eve 2009

20 June, 2009

remember last year, I planted potatoes?   well, a few of them evidently were in the ground over winter, and now I have baby potato plants popping up in corn plot #2.

The green beans are popping up. They seem to be doing better in corn plot #1.

I fed grumpy toddlers fresh picked strawberries. They got less grumpy.

Quote of the day, we were looking at TV, a show about the vice “Anger”, BiLR said, “I liked it better when it was called wrath.”

Today, was Mr Grunty’s & Miss Squeaky’s 2nd birthday party. We rented out a shelter at “BirthdayPark”. Yesterday, it was raining, a bit, and forecast called for more of the same. After discussions, MyBetterHalf and I decided that the childrens are Seattle-ites, and better get used to rain on their out door events. (I might add, that Seattle was almost – only minutes away – from breaking a the record for a Seattle dry streak of 29 days. We tied the record.) So, with faith, and a giant umbrella ready to hold over the BBQ pit…we said, “party on at the BirthdayPark”.

And the day was beautiful. Cloudy in morning, so it was cool when I was lugging coolers of ice. Sunshine with a slight breeze during the party. I had lots of fun, talking with friends haven’t seen in awhile, playing with fire, holding Mr Cuddles as he napped. Miss S & Mr G seemed to have lots of fun. They really enjoyed the set up time, when the table clothes were flying all over. I did scare Mr G, when I yelled LOUDLY at him because he was within 5 feet of the fire.

When we got home, the childrens stayed up, playing with their new tea set. Miss S went around with a spoon & cup, giving people pretend bites of “ap-ole oss”.

When we put them down for a nap, of course they played more. When I went in to scold them, it took a bit, because they had moved the hamper in front of the door, delaying my entry, so they had time to run back to bed. Those childrens are getting crafty!

After nap, and after strawberries, me & BiLR took toddlers to TwinPonds. Mr G thinks that BiLR is very cool, and hung out with him. When I offered to push Mr G in the swing, he said, “no.” and then held his hands out to BiLR!

Once, Mr G & Miss S were a bit away from each other, yelled at each other, then ran towards each other, stopped and laughed. BiLR asked what that was about. “It’s a twin thing.”


19 June, 2009

Mom-in-law, and Bro-in-Law_R (BiLR) vist today.

Tonight, MyBetterHalf went to the store for supplies for toddlers party tomorrow. Miss Squeaky screamed that she was left behind. For half an hour. All the while, Mr Cuddles was watching things from the comfort of his swing. BiLR & Mr Grunty were playing with blocks, Mr G was showing how to sort them and line them up by color and telling an amazing story too. Eventually Miss S calmed down, I tried holding her, not holding her, snuggling her, putting her on her bed.

Later, we played ball. BiLR and I would throw a ball, and the toddlers would chase after the balls. Laughing.

We read books. Mr G was cute, he got a book, sat on the floor, and said, “Papa!” and patted the floor next to him, for me to go join him.

When I was getting Mr C ready for sleep, I heard lots of laughter. The toddlers were trying to sneak by their uncle, but he would grab them.

Since they stayed up so late, bedtime was fairly easy.

It is cute when they say “ah-man” at the end of the prayer I say with each of them.

Paternity Leave – day 6

19 June, 2009

Thursday morning…whilst toddlers  sat on the potty, we were reading books. I asked Miss Squeaky, “where’s the banana?” she pointed to the small banana, just a detail in the picture, and then she pretended to pick it up by pinching it, pretend to put it in her mouth, and then chew. AWESOME imagination at work!!

Later, she engaged in her favorite hobby of the now, peeling the paper off the crayons. Then she had to show off her skipping and jumping for grandpa. First time I’ve seen her get both feet off the ground.

Mr Grunty’s new word, “No-ah” for the Noah’s Ark play set he has. At the park, he notified me of a “bee” before I even saw it. While his sister was showing off, Mr G was pushing the vacuum cleaner around the living room (foreshadowing?) . At the daycare, they put out the 4-colored dinosaurs and bowls. He yelled at his sister for putting green & red dinosaurs in the blue bowl. One of his hobbies is to sort out the blocks by color, and make sure they are in a perfect line. Another hobby, grab a fist full of colored pencils and either tell me the color (black or blue) or ask me “wha’s t’at?”

At the park, I was calling up the slide to both toddlers. I think Miss S was upset that Mr G was pushing her. Later, she went down the slide. Look of terror on her face. And at bottom she was doing the nervous laugh. Then Mr G went down, scared look on his face. Laughing happily when at bottom.

Mr Cuddles took a couple of long naps. And he also did an 8 minute session of tummy time. He likes it more, when I get down on the floor and do tummy time with him. We called MyBetterHalf, because he was being very talkative, so she got to hear coo-ing.

We saw “Itsy”. As in Itsy-bitsy-Spider. It was crawling across the carpet. I pointed it out, and the childrens were fascinated. Luckily I was able to capture it under a glass, they watched for a bit, and then we put it outside.

Once again, screaming at bedtime. This time from both of them….because they were playing tag in their room when they were suppossed to be sleeping. They both cooperated and went to bed, no trouble. Because I think they knew they would keep playing once the parents left. Miss S is more prone to run back to her bed, and get in it if a parent opens the door, trying to play Miss Innocent. 45 minutes before they quieted down…

I’ve started doing nightly prayers with each of them, folding my hands of theirs, bowing my head, “Dear God, thank you for Mommy & Papa, [sibbling] and [sibbling], Oliver-kitty & Sophie-kitty. In Jesus name we pray, amen.” Then they say “ah-mun”.

this week in tumbles…Mr G took a tumble down the thankfully carpeted stairs. Miss S had been straddling the passenger front hold-bar on their stroller, I took her down from there twice, third time, I didn’t get to her soon enough and she tumbled off onto the deck.


18 June, 2009

yesterday, whilst pops-in-law was here, he was helping with my morning.

Mostly he was hanging out with Mr Cuddles and making Mr C laugh lots!

Whilst on the potty-chairs, Mr Grunty has a new word, “Tschjo” …aka Joe, the zoo-keeper in GoodnightGorilla. And he pointed at picture of clock, and said, “glock”. He seems to have a new word or two every day!  I was working with Miss Squeaky, asking her to point to where objects were in the picture. She was doing pretty good, but Mr G kept trying to be teachers-pet and give away all the answers, even when I wasn’t asking him. I think she knows as many words as Mr G, she just doesn’t say them. Because as soon as Mr G says a new word, I’ll ask her to point to it, and she can.  (I did learn last night, when it was evening potty time, that Miss S knows how to quickly take off her pants & diaper!)

Mr Grunty and I have a new game whilst changing his diaper, he started it. He’ll say, “Papa” and then sing “Ah-ah-ahhhh”. And I say, “Benjamin” and sing. I really enjoy this game. But sometimes I get it wrong, and he just laughs at me.

While trying to lend a hand every-now-and-then, to Pops-in-law who was sanding our deck, I brought Mr Cuddles outside. I found that if I move him from place to place every 15 minutes or so, it keeps him from getting bored. I guess that the fish on the swing only have so much to talk about.

We went to TwinPonds right after daycare. Mr Cuddles was in the BabyBjorn. Miss Squeaky is much better at climbing on the big toy, and remember that you get better traction if you are barefoot. She got to the top, and would look down one of the big long covered slides, and yell “papa!”. I would go to the bottom of the slide, and yell back. Then she went to the top of the other slide, only two feet away, and yell for me, and I had to go all the way around to the other side of the big toy to yell up at her. I had to take a pause from running around the big toy to go lend Mr G a hand to help him up, he was getting very frustrated.  After awhile Miss S wanted down. And then I put her at the bottom of one of the slides, to see if she would try and climb up it. Instead, she started yelling up it to Mr G. He found it funny, and soon they were having a conversation. When she was done, she turned around, sat at the edge, and was swinging her feet. And then Mr G slid into her, laughing. He went down the slide, solo, maybe on his own accord, maybe Miss S talked him into it.

At bedtime…I had just shown Mr G a new feature of one of his toys, and he did NOT want to go to bed, and was crying and screaming, and opened the door and cried and struggled when we put him back in bed. This went on for half-an-hour.

stuff I may have already mentioned…

When we saw the tapir at the zoo, the toddlers insisted to me that it goes “MOOOOO!!!”…I quit arguing. Because really, I don’t know.

When Miss Squeaky is frustrated at her brother, or at me, she calls out “MOM!”  When Mr G is frustrated with his sister or a toy, he yells out “OW!”

thanxies pops-in-law

17 June, 2009

although, father-of-MyBetterHalf did all the work sanding the deck today