A Love Letter from my Governor

Have you ever had some extra time and decided to get nostalgic by reading through old things that make you happy?

Please join me. Read this: http://www.leg.state.mn.us/archive/vetoes/2013veto_ch99.pdf

Wikipedia (obviously the ultimate source on love letters) claims that a love letter can be “anything from a shot and simple message of love to a lengthy explanation of feelings” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_letter). The letter I’m referencing is a short and simple message of facts and feelings that I happen to love, so I’m going to call it a love letter. Continue reading

Watching the Clock

Remember back in 2008 when news sites spun into a tizzy over the National Debt Clock? The debt had topped $10 trillion and the clock ran out of digits. Bigger debt called for a bigger clock, and the machine was replaced in 2009.

Today, meet the Student Debt Clock.

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My, What Long Data You Have!

Isle Royale, looking lovely. Photo by the National Parks Service via Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons info.

Isle Royale, looking lovely. Photo by the National Park Service via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

One of the challenges of ecology is that its data take time to exist. If you want to study the offspring of some yeast cells you poked somehow, just take a long lunch break and they’ll be waiting for you in about 80 minutes. Go away for a full day and you’ll come back to the 18th generation of baby yeast cells. (That’s not to say yeast studies are easy, their time investments just come in different forms.) If you want to look over the same number of generations of a larger, longer-lived mammal, you need a longer data history.

So imagine if you had 55 years of data about wolves and moose on a small island. And now imagine if the wolf population was in trouble–small and inbred. Would you sit by and let the wolves die out, or would you try to throw them a life vest? And in either case, how does the value of your data change?

Those are some of the questions being asked on Isle Royale, a small island 15 miles into Lake Superior. But they’re also being asked of you.

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Kindle: 1 Year Later and 400 Years Ago

A year ago this weekend, with quite a bit of trepidation, I bought myself a Kindle. I grew up in a house full of books and have always been a devout dead-tree type of reader, and working in publishing has given me a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to a certain company that starts with A. Buying a Kindle felt a bit like pinning said A (lowercase, upright, sans serif) in scarlet to myself. On the other hand, working in publishing also means a not-insignificant amount of time spent reading books before they’re actually physical books, which was getting impractical since I don’t read long things well or cheerfully on a computer screen.

So I made a compromise with myself that I could try a Kindle and just not put any paid content on it, and a year later I am very glad I did.

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Almost Heaven, West Virginia

Photo courtesy Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity

When this post publishes, I’ll be a few hours away from my normal residence, devoid of telephone or email, and hanging with high school students. No, I’m not creepy, and I’m not a luddite. My side job is working as the Children and Youth Programs Associate for a church in DC. As part of a larger group of churches, we’re headed to Franklin, West Virginia to work with a Habitat for Humanity affiliate for a week.

Whatevs, right? Maybe you did some Habitat for Humanity stuff for your college application or at you at least know how to use a hammer (sure, IKEA counts). Why is this a big deal? What makes it so cool? All of these reasons: Continue reading

A short and incomprehensive history of BBQ

Last weekend, I went to the National Pork Championship at a barbecue festival in Washington, D.C. I was a fish out of water: Barbecue in Texas doesn’t mean pork.

I told someone this. Her reaction: There are different kinds? Isn’t pork normal?

That’s not the first time I’ve heard that. If you’re from any of the major barbecue regions of the country and have ventured elsewhere, you’ve probably heard it too.

So, to clear things up, here’s a quick and dirty guide to the BBQ.

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Is faithfulness important?

Matt Damon and George Clooney on the set of The Monuments Men (photo courtesy http://www.justjared.com/2013/03/25/george-clooney-monuments-men-set-with-matt-damon/ )

Matt Damon and George Clooney on the set of The Monuments Men (photo courtesy http://www.justjared.com/ )

As I mentioned in last week’s post, The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel is currently being adapted as a motion picture. As a student of art crime, I’ve been both curious and anxious as to how faithful the movie was going to stay to the book and to history. Clooney et al have a fantastic opportunity to showcase an often glossed over part of WWII history, but will the producers end up changing aspects in order to make a more Hollywood-style film?

Does it matter if they do?

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