Showing posts from September, 2019

Acquiring Mathematical Literacy and Cyanotype 9.30.19

Dear Henry, 
The Washington Post ran an article regarding the correlation between mathematical proficiency and financial success.  They even offered a math problem as a test.  I tried to solve this math problem and got the answer wrong, and I had thought, until today, I was fairly good at math.
It turns out, most people got the answer wrong and general lack of mathematical knowledge is affecting all sorts of our financial decisions.  The lack of mathematical ability, and its repercussions on the finances of the country, reminds me of a quote from Joan Didion's book Slouching Toward Bethlehem where she wrote "The ability to think for one's self depends upon one's mastery of the language", I am afraid that we (as a people) don't have a good understanding the language of math and it is causing us financial woe.
I think the problem with math is a problem in education.  Recently, while at a writing seminar, I spoke to a math teacher about this,  she is currently w…

A Hyena Named Bill with Cyanotype 9.18.19

Dear Henry,

We both know that President Theodore Roosevelt was quite the character, but I really think he stands out as a presidential pet owner.  During his presidency, the White House was a zoo, and briefly, was the home of a hyena named Bill.

Bill was a gift from Ethiopia's Emperor Menelik II in 1904, and despite President Roosevelt's dislike of hyenas (he thought they were cowardly) he did eventually grow to love the hyena, feeding it table scraps and teaching it tricks.  The hyena, though, grew too large for the White House and was moved to the National Zoo.

Other unusual pets owned by the Roosevelt's include a chicken named Baron Speckle, Bill the lizard (to distinguish from Bill the hyena), a garter snake named Emily Spinach, and finally, Josiah, the badger.  Jonathan Edwards, a bear, was also a brief member of the family before he also became too large for the White House and was moved to the National Zoo.

President Roosevelt wasn't the only president who main…

A Little Town Called Rachel - with Cyanotype Image 9.16.19

Dear Henry,

I have been totally enthralled the news surrounding the "Storm Area 51" fiasco that is supposed to take place this Friday.  But only because I have been to Area 51 and Rachel Nevada and only because I can't imagine this turning out in a way other than comical.

If you haven't heard about this yet, let me fill you in. Back in June, a college student created an event on Facebook called "Storm Area 51: They Can't Stop All of Us" as a joke.  Only everyone decided to attend....right now there are currently 2 million or so people who plan on attending.  Fearing the worst, Matty Roberts (the student) began coordinating with Connie West, the owner of the Lil A'le'inn in Rachel Nevada to host a festival.

But that partnership has come to a close, with Matty Roberts now calling the party off and throwing a party in Las Vegas.  Connie West, however, is still planning on a potential party, however, just in case.

If you do decide to go to Rachel N…

Barbed Wire - A Cure for Depression with Image 9.9.19

Dear Henry,

Would you believe me if I told you that barbed wire once cured depression?


Maybe I should explain.

Prior to 1874, when Joseph F. Glidden patented barbed wired it was difficult to corral livestock (there was a previous patent held by Lucien B. Smith which inspired Mr. Glidden, but it wasn't commercially available until after 1874).

Wood and/or rock fencing was prohibitively expensive (both in cost and in labor hours) and living fences (like India's giant hedgerow) were too challenging to maintain over large areas for the average small rancher and couldn't contain a herd of cows anyway.

Barbed wired changed that completely, it was very cheap to buy and very easy to set up and. most importantly, very good at containing cows.  The importance of barbed wire to the United States westward expansion and to the development of agricultural strength can not be understated.

However, as people began to move into the far reaches of the West, settlers were plagued by lon…

HMS Terror with Image 9.4.19 - a Cyanotype Process

Dear Henry,

Today I fell into the rabbit hole of arctic explorations, the tale of HMS Terror, in particular.

You would think that with a name like "Terror" the boat would have been doomed from the beginning, but she has turned out to be a stout little ship.

Built for the British Royal Navy in 1813, HMS Terror participated in the War of 1812 naval Battle of Baltimore and in the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (we shall forgive her for this).

She was later outfitted as a polar expedition ship and successfully participated in George Back's Arctic Expedition of 1836-1837 and The Ross Expedition of 1839 -1843.

It was during Sir John Franklin's attempt to clear the Northwest Passage that she was lost. She left England, along with HMS Erebus, in 1845 and then, nothing.

There have been many expeditions looking for the both of the boats and the crew, the first occurring in 1848 (at the strong urging of the Lady John Franklin) and again in 1850 a large expedition, consisting of 1…

A Flock of Flamingos

Dear Henry,

Today I read what a flock of flamingos is called and fell in love with the term.

Of course, it also reminded me of my favorite flamingo - Flamingo 492 - the Kansas flamingo that broke out in 2005 and has haunted the Gulf Coast ever since.

While I applaud the bird's bid for freedom, I wonder if it's lonely. 

492 (a South-African flamingo) has been known to associate with a flock of the Gulf Coast Carribean flamingos but doesn't remain with them always.  It has just as often been seen alone (and as far north as Wisconsin).

Flamingos are such social birds, with colonies that can number in the thousands.  The birds like to form couples as well, oftentimes mating for life and I can't help but wonder if this poor flamingo is lonely.

In any case, the bird has struck a chord with me and I am always on the lookout for new sitings and information about it. 

I think its story would make a good children's book.

xoxo a.d.

Bird in the Window

Dear Henry,

The recent storm we have had has caused havoc with the area birds.

With so many trees down, many have found themselves homeless and searching for new places to live.

For example, a wren (formally of the strawberry planter, I think) briefly thought about moving into our bathroom.

I say briefly because, as you may remember Henry, I have three cats.

Fortunately, my girls are far too chubby to be great hunters and I found the bird before anything bad could happen.

The next ten minutes or so was quite the adventure, as I, standing in my bathtub, attempted to open the window next to the bird and quickly remove the screen (snort, screens never come of windows easily), all without any fatalities.

It was very loud.

Ziggy, attracted by the yowling of the girls and the squawking of the bird, added his own brand of mischief by encroaching into the girl's space, sandwiching them between the bird and himself, and then barking at them all.

It seemed like an eternity before I got the…