Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Today I'm thankful for: Planet Money

Today (and every day) I'm thankful for the Planet Money podcast.

They uncover stories I never would hear about otherwise, like this week's great episode on the (second) Bank of the United States, its downfall, and the subsequent Panic of 1837 (http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2017/03/24/521436839/episode-761-the-bank-war).  I dimly recall learning something about this in eighth grade U.S. history, but Planet Money explains it in a way that sticks.  Planet Money discusses economics and history in a way I can understand, and I am thankful.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Today I'm thankful for: EPA's regulation of pesticides

Today (and every day) I'm thankful for the EPA's regulation of pesticides.

Pests kill crops, which means that pests kill people.  A million people died in the Irish Potato Famine.  Humans have therefore developed pesticides to kill pests and protect human health.

You want to be careful when you're applying biocides to food.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) therefore regulates the use of pesticides.  Before a company can introduce a pesticide into the food supply, they send an application to EPA, who reviews it to make sure it's safe for humans.

The biggest threat to food safety right now is, unquestionably, bacterial contamination of fruits and vegetables.  We know that eating more fruits and vegetables is good for your chronic health, but the fact remains that you're taking your life into your hands every time you place a raw fruit or vegetable in your mouth.  We need interventions to reduce the risk of pathogens on these foods, not just to improve food safety, but also to increase our confidence in eating foods that are good for our longterm health.  EPA is responsible for making sure these interventions are safe, and I am thankful.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Today I'm thankful for: Morgan's taking parental leave

Today (and every day) I'm thankful for the fact that Morgan was able to take parental leave.

I remember the day I woke up and actually felt well for the first time since the babies were born.  It was week 7, day 6, which is fortunate, because my employer allowed me to use only eight weeks' sick leave for a C-section.  This was not just the first time I felt well since the babies were born; this was the first time I had felt well since February.

I can only imagine how much more exhausted I would have been, and how much longer it would have taken me to recover, if Morgan hadn't also taken leave and done the lion's share of baby care.  He didn't just take care of the babies; he took care of me, too.  Alice, Katherine, and I are lucky to have him, and I'm thankful.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Word of the day: bilharzia

The word of the day is bilharzia:

schistosome

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bilharzia)


"Invalided back to France with bilharzia, he had opened a practice in Grenoble."

 - Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets

Word of the day: millenarian

The word of the day is millenarian:

  1. of or pertaining to a thousand, especially the thousand years of the prophesied millennium.
  2. of or pertaining to the millennium, especially of Christian prophecy, or millennialism.
1550s, "one who believes in the coming of the (Christian) millennium," from L. millenarius (see millennium) + -ian. As an adj., from 1630s.


"After the Battle of Armageddon would follow the second coming of Christ, when his elected would reign in happiness and prosperity for a thousand years.  Much of what Darby preached was not new, but he wove the strands of earlier millenarianism and prophecy into a tightly spun system of his own, supported by Biblical texts, then communicated it to his followers in his endless writings and during his impassioned speaking tours."

 - Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Word of the day: roneo

The word of the day is roneo:

  1. :  to produce (printed copies) on a duplicating machine that is similar in principle to the mimeograph
    (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/roneo)

    "They had hastily typed out and roneoed forms bearing the words 'Paternal responsibility and rights of guardianship abandoned by me' – a necessary formula under French law – and leaving room for names and signatures."
     - Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets

Word of the day: soutane

The word of the day is soutane:

  1. a cassock.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/soutane)


"He was a shabby, dishevelled-looking man, of great charm and energy, with an old soutane and shoes with flapping soles."

 - Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets

Word of the day: clinker

The word of the day is clinker:

  1. a mass of incombustible matter fused together, as in the burning of coal.
  2. a hard Dutch brick, used especially for paving.
  3. a partially vitrified mass of brick.
  4. the scale of oxide formed on iron during forging.
  5. Geology. a mass of vitrified material ejected from a volcano.
1769, from klincard (1641), a type of paving brick made in Holland, from Du. klinkaerd, from klinken "to ring" (as it does when struck), from M.Du., of imitative origin. 

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/clinker)


"The courtyard was made of clinker, which turned into dust in the summer and mud when it rained."

 - Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets

Friday, March 17, 2017

Word of the day: prevaricate

The word of the day is prevaricate:

  1. to speak falsely or misleadingly; deliberately misstate or create an incorrect impression; lie.

1580s, "to transgress," from L. praevaricari "to make a sham accusation, deviate," lit. "walk crookedly;" in Church L., "to transgress" (see prevarication). Meaning "to speak evasively" is from 1630s.

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/prevaricate)


"At every stage, the bureaucrats prevaricated.  The prefect of the Bouches-du-Rhône did all he could to keep too many would-be emigrants out of Marseilles, while the individual camps dragged their heels about transferring people to Les Milles, the only camp in which they were permitted to complete the formalities."

 - Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets

Word of the day: chilblains

The word of the day is chilblains:

  1. an inflammation of the hands and feet caused by exposure to cold and moisture.

"Unable to go outside, permanently damp, the inmates huddled close together; their faces were red and chafed, their hands and feet purple and covered in chilblains."

 - Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets

Today I'm thankful for: my immigrant ancestors

Today (and every day) I'm thankful my ancestors were able to come to this country.

On St. Patrick's Day in America, we celebrate Irish heritage.  I might be Irish: I don't actually know for sure, because I have had a cushy life in this country, and my specific ethnic background hasn't really mattered.

I would be terrified to pick up and move to another country, uninvited, leaving behind friends and family, not knowing the local language, and having to start over from scratch.  But that is precisely what my ancestors did.  And because they did, I had a comfortable childhood, I have had an excellent education, I have a good job, and I am able to provide an equally cushy life for my daughters in this great country.

Today, we are all Irish, which is to say, we are all immigrants, and I am thankful.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Word of the day: rota

The word of the day is rota:

  1. Chiefly British.
    1. a round or rotation of duties; a period of work or duty taken in rotation with others.
    2. an agenda or circuit of sporting events, as a round of golf tournaments, played in different localities throughout the year.
  2. a roster.
  3. Official name Sacred Roman Rota. the ecclesiastical tribunal in Rome, constituting the court of final appeal.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rota)


"A 'commission for children and old people' was set up and arranged for deliveries of fruit, olives, jam, cereals, rice, milk products and, just occasionally, chocolate.  A rota was established, providing extra meals to the most malnourished for a fixed number of weeks."

 - Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France

Word of the day: impetigo

The word of the day is impetigo:
  1. a contagious skin disease, especially of children, usually caused by streptococcal bacteria, marked by a superficial pustular eruption, particularly on the face.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/impetigo)


"The internees were now losing weight steadily and beginning to show the first signs of malnutrition: loose skin, weakened muscles, trembling.  The cold brought rheumatism.  Fleas made people itch and scratch, their bodies covered with sores, eczema and impetigo."

 - Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France

Word of the day: gauleiter

The word of the day is gauleiter:

  1. the leader or chief official of a political district under Nazi control.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gauleiter)


"But the camp at Gurs had room for many more when, at dawn on 22 October 1940, the gauleiters Joseph Bürkel and Robert Wanger began to round up 6,508 Jews in the newly annexed territories of Baden and the Palatinate and, without consulting the French, dispatched them in sealed trains over the border into south-western France."

 - Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France

Today I'm thankful for: that new-baby smell

Today (and every day) I'm thankful for that new-baby smell.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Today I'm thankful for: insulin, insulin pumps, glucose monitors, smart phones

Today (and every day) I'm thankful for the modern technology that helps my sister-in-law Kara take care of her health.

I used to teach metabolism to medical students, and we taught them that no disease requires such active participation from patients in their treatment as Type I Diabetes does.  Modern technology can make this process easier, as Kara nicely demonstrates in this video (well worth the fifteen minutes): http://www.bootcampforbetics.org/blog/pre-existing-condition-coverage-is-an-effing-joke.  I'm thankful to have Kara in my life, and I'm thankful that modern technology makes her life easier.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Monday, March 06, 2017

Today I'm thankful for: the gift of the Everyman subscription

Today (and every day) I'm thankful for the Everyman Theater subscription Heidi and Steve got for us.

They didn't just give us the subscription; more importantly, they volunteered to watch Alice and Katherine during our theater dates, so we wouldn't have to make our own child care arrangements.

And as if that were not enough, they have even, on several occasions, also volunteered to watch Alice and Katherine's friend Ramona, so that Ramona's parents can go to the theater with us, and the four of us can have dinner afterwards.

I treasure these times, and Alice and Katherine treasure these times with their Nagymama and Poppy, and I am thankful.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Word of the day: indite

The word of the day is indite:

  1. to compose or write, as a poem.
  2. to treat in a literary composition.
  3. Obsolete. to dictate.
  4. Obsolete. to prescribe.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/indite)


"So I kissed his hand, and lay quiet, while he proceeded to indite a note to Biddy, with my love in it."

 - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Word of the day: exordium

The word of the day is exordium:

  1. the beginning of anything.
  2. the introductory part of an oration, treatise, etc.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/exordium)


"There was something charmingly cordial and engaging in the manner in which after saying 'Now, Handel,' as if it were the grave beginning of a portentous business exordium, he had suddenly given up that tone, stretched out his honest hand, and spoken like a schoolboy."

 - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Today I'm thankful for: diapers

Today (and every day) I'm thankful for diapers.  Diaper technology is just amazing, and I am thankful.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Word of the day: wherry

The word of the day is wherry:

  1. a light rowboat for one person; skiff.
  2. any of various barges, fishing vessels, etc., used locally in England.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/wherry)


"Early as it was, there were plenty of scullers going here and there that morning, and plenty of barges dropping down with the tide; the navigation of the river between bridges, in an open boat, was a much easier and commoner matter in those days than it is in these; and we went ahead among many skiffs and wherries briskly."

 - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Word of the day: collier

The word of the day is collier:

  1. a ship for carrying coal.
  2. a coal miner.
  3. Obsolete. a person who carries or sells coal.
1276, "charcoal maker and seller," from M.E. col (see coal). They were notorious for cheating. Sense of "ship for hauling coal" is from 1625.

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/collier)


"At that time, the steam-traffic on the Thames was far below its present extent, and water men's boats were far more numerous.  Of barges, sailing colliers, and coasting-traders, there were perhaps, as many as now; but of steam-ships, great and small, not a tithe or a twentieth as many."

 - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


Today I'm thankful for: my job

Today (and every day) I'm thankful I have a job, doing what I love to do, using my education, keeping the food supply safe, working with talented and dedicated colleagues.  I really am very fortunate, and I'm thankful.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017