7-8-2015 Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day

DSC02062We haven’t had to water the garden this week, and it’s been both hot and sticky as well as cool (usually on different days). The day lilies and daisies are blooming like crazy, and the daisies are gladdening. I fear I haven’t picked enough- the nasturtium are not blooming as much (I did go out and grab some of their seed pods and have thrown them in pickle as I understand that makes a good caper substitute. Not that I eat capers. I also haven’t been pickling watermelon rind, which I could, but the last thing I need is something sitting on the shelf not being used. Most mornings I’ve been making a bowl of melon pieces for breakfast- it’s light and easy, but I think maybe we need more protein. We are trying to eat through the old stuff in the freezer, but fresh stuff tastes better. The morning glories are beginning to climb the string by the door- only a foot or two so far. I should look for some to take to Pennsic.  Fitch’s farmstand has had fresh local cherries, and raspberries this week. This is the best time of the year for eating.
John has pretty much taken over feeding and checking the chickens. I blush to admit that we still haven’t gotten a fence up for them yet, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen before we head off to GNEW. Willow has gathered plantain and jewelweed and started making oil for the medications she makes for Jane. The back yard is full of it. It’s amazing, in the fall it will be full of asters and goldenrod in the same place. I’m sure they’re under the jewelweed (and mint) somewhere, but it doesn’t show. Sadly, I can see sumac coming back where it was mowed/ripped out two years ago. Phoeey, I don’t want it there, neither do I want to pay to have it done again, nor go out and rip it out myself.  On the bright side, the Black Eyed Susans are coming up.

I put up the Pre Pennsic Planning Calendar last week, and it’s already dwindling. Since Pennsic has shifted backwards, we don’t have all of July, and having the Great Northeastern War taking a four day hunk out of it doesn’t help either. My chest is mostly packed and the camping stuff is in the trailer, so that’s not too hard, but I had a bit of a panic when I realized that I couldn’t remember what I was going to be teaching, and looking at the website, that I’d neglected to ask to sell this year. Luckily, the merchant coordinator let us in, and Willow reminded me that there’s a face book page for GNEW, and the class coordinator put up the list of classes there, if not on the main website. This is the REAL problem with “social networking”. There are too many different venues, and you can’t keep track of all of them, so you inevitably miss something. That’s what I think anyway. Still, I have to admit that I didn’t record the classes I’d put in to teach, at least not under any name I can think to look for in the computer. It’s probably there somewhere.
The other night Kat mentioned at supper that she thinks what’s she’s doing right now is figuring out what it is she wants to do with her life- which includes finding the style of clothes she likes, making her room look as she wants, figuring out which soaps or powders she prefers. That sounds about like what most people do in their late twenties. Being in my sixties, I’m trying to figure out what things are the things I really like in my life, and which things I can let go because it was important in a different stage, but not now. Clearly I’m not a young mother any more, or a belly dancer, and while I love the animals and gardening, the big garden isn’t right for me these days. What is habit, and what is things worth trying to keep in my life? I THINK the SCA is something I still enjoy, but not the same way as I used to. I like the SCA because I like doing things, and it seems that the only thing I’m doing lately is chatting with old friends, not learning new stuff. Most of what I learn is stuff to teach, and I enjoy that, but I’d rather be making stuff.
One thing I’m pretty sure about- I like shiny things. People expect that when you’re a kid, but I have to admit that I still feel that way. Of course, this is at odds with my wanting to have an affect that doesnt’ turn people off. I’ll admit that the color (which persists) in my “racing stripes” seems to amuse people. People often say “I like your hair!” and I wonder for a moment what they are talking about. Many years ago I saw a teen and his mother both with brightly colored streaks in their hair- hers looked like a peacock, or a duck’s neck. Gorgeous. I suppose it says to people- I’m not concerned with convention. On the other hand, I AM concerned with authenticity. When I put the color in, I assumed it would be gone by Pennsic, and I’m going to have to be very liberal with my use of veils this year if it doesn’t fade a LOT more in the next three weeks. For GNEW, I’m definitely under wraps. That said, if it sparkles, it attracts me. I still like glitter, and rhinestones- especially multicolored. I have a very hard time throwing away a foil envelope liner or candy bar wrapper because “of course” we need to save those to make Christmas ornaments or Barbie jewelry. Balancing that is my feelings of discomfort thinking about crafts projects my grandmother and other “old people” used to do, and what I thought of them when I was a kid. I don’t want people thinking of me that way. Sigh. I have to suck it up, and admit that I like what I like, figure out when it’s appropriate to indulge it, and enjoy more dignified/classy stuff when that’s appropriate. Sometimes I wonder how much of this is the carry-over from the depression era into my childhood in the 50s; sometimes I figure it’s more the ecological, sustainability stuff that makes so much sense to me. Reuse, Recycle! And also- “oooh, sparkley!”  Liked it then, like it now.
It’s a great joy to me to have the kids tell me things that I hadn’t already learned- it’s a reminder that they are adults with their own lives, and their ability to teach me stuff. Last week she told me that some of those “lazy people” tools they sell on late night TV were originally designed for the handicapped. So while it seems like a silly thing to have something that helps you lift your spoon to your mouth, it could be important with someone with tremors from some disease or other. The manufacturers simply are expanding their customer base to other people who just think they’re cool. For instance, she says, Snugglies were invented for people in wheelchairs, so they can be tucked around without standing up to wrap oneself. But anyone who wants to cover up and yet be able to toss it off quickly to answer the phone or something would find it useful. Sippy cups may have been invented for spastic folks, but are a godsend for parents of toddlers. I found that interesting (hence passing it on).

DSC02060Friday, Steve came up, as he had the day off. We had a pre-independence day barbecue. Some lovely German potato salad, and three kinds of hot dogs: I think Hebrew National, Pearls and Kahns. I always feel it’s easier to compare two similar things side by side rather than trying to remember how much you liked them in two different meals. I almost always think whatever I ate was absolutely delicious, so I need help to decide what brands to buy.  We used to have a charcoal chimney to start the charcoal, but it’s gone missing. It was getting pretty rusted out and was probably chucked. So I found an almost empty canister of Iced Tea mix, and cut the bottom out and used that. It worked pretty well, but I’ve ordered a replacement.  It seems strange to me now that we used to drink so much of the powdered drink mixes. IDSC02061
suppose they were alright, but we’ve gotten out of the habit since we have the iced tea brewer. Another funny thing is that we now habitually use natural lump charcoal rather than briquettes (I don’t appreciate the gunpowder taste). The latest brand however is not what I’d call sufficiently broken up. There were several pieces much bigger than my hand, and some still looked like tree branches. I suppose that turning them to charcoal is better than mulch.
While puttering around the kitchen talking to Steve, I noticed that I do the exact same thing in my actions as I do in my speech. I start to do something, then in the middle of the job notice something else, and go take care of that, which results in me being in process of doing a dozen things at once. In a similar way, in speaking I have a tangental thought and too often start on that new topic without even finishing the sentence I was in the middle of. Oops. I shall continue to work on that. Steve is marvelously tolerant of all my foibles. I showed him our wii fit gadget. (I suppose Kitty showed us hers which is what got us hooked.). Mostly I wanted to show him the way one of the silly games is “bicycling” around the island. It’s fun to ride off cliffs, or see the reaction if you aim at the pedestrians (they flee in panic). I’ve finally figured out where they hid all the flags and am trying to figure out the most efficient way to get to them all. I sort of pushed him to get one for himself. At least you don’t have to change your clothes or go anywhere to do it. And if you have a perverse sense of humor like mine, you can have fun with it. Clearly the people who designed it were aware that some of us would want to see what happened if we jumped off a cliff or ran over the cat. I am now at a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 44.01 according to them. (all I want to know is weight, and probably should only check it once a week- the electronic coach pays way too much attention to daily fluctuations.
After supper Steve and I were talking about how we used to go up to Maine the week before the fourth, (and I was sort of melancholy about not doing it this year), and mentioned that we always watched the new Disney Summer Solstice movie. I had no idea what it might be this year so we googled it. Inside Out The trailer looked so good, we went to see it. Inside out was probably not up to the classics, but still showed all the Disney talent. It’s about people’s emotions- personified. There were so many details I am looking forward to getting a copy someday so I can catch more.4th of July
Saturday we went to Megan and Dennis’ Fourth of July party. They have a ton of friends, and the party was on the huge porch, which they’d decorated with stars and stripes table cloths, candles and other cool stuff.  This is an old fashioned HUGE porch- probably twice the size of your living room. There were chairs and tables for relaxing, and tables for the grilled stuff, the drinks, the desserts… Dennis was running the grill pretty much non-stop with hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and some excellent ribs. I thought I’d missed them but discovered a boneless piece, and it was indeed delicious! Someone kept coming around with corn. Rather than refusing I ate it slowly, row by row as I did when I was a kid. We brought Willow’s bean salad, and kombucha tea. As expected, Dennis mocked it, but Megan seemed to like it- Maria loved it. (It’s a variation I made with Red Rose Chai tea bags.) The only downside was that poor Vito was probably overstimulated, because he returned the favor by barking almost constantly. I’m sure he was simply registering that the house that usually holds just the two of them had twenty or more people. I don’t think he remembers me any more. I’ll have to stock up my purse with jerky at the war.Willow and Kat fourth
When we were sufficiently stimulated, we went home and rested until it got dark, then set of a few  fireworks- just a couple fountains and a spinning wheel that turned into a lantern (you might be able to spot it in the picture of the garden). I continued to play catch up- while finishing Jane’s painting, I’d let my on-line courses go, and remembered them Saturday morning. It’s a good thing I wasn’t doing it for credit- I did manage to catch the last week’s series of lectures, and quizzes, but I think I missed the final writing project. I also spaced the Permaculture class I signed up for through the Cherry Hill Seminary. It seems to be mostly a weekly skype group conference, reading in Gaia’s Garden, and working out how we can incorporate these techniques in our own land. The participants range from Selina, Donna and I in New England, to a lady in Hawaii, and another in the southwest who has to do very water sparing gardening. I did finally remember to be at my computer with skype on 8-9 this Tuesday. (On the other hand, I totally spaced getting a guest/topic/announcements for the New Normal for this week. I’ve asked the producer to put up an archived show. I can use the time to get ready for GNEW.)Canobie Con `15
Sunday I worked on my Pennsic classes (and figure out what I was up to for GNEW), and tried to figure out how to plan CTCW with such a late start, while the girls went to CanobieCon. They had carefully made costumes well suited to keeping the sun off of them (Willow bragged of three layers off cloth over the back of her neck.) Kat used some fabric I’d bought to make her a dress when she was in kindergarten.  This year Avi was able to make it, although I’m not sure she was doing cosplay. The important part is fun with friends. In theory they took some pictures, but these I gleaned from their friends facebook pages. Avi & Kat carosel(I also neglected to take my camera to the Anfuso fourth of July party. I’m pretty sure I saw a picture of myself there go by, but I guess I didn’t save it It wasn’t very flattering anyway. The older I get the more I think I look like Aunt Shirley.) Unsurprisingly the girls were tired after the big weekend and trying to rest-up for the upcoming one.happy kat_canobie 15

On the whole I think I’m doing better, although as is usual when you let things go, catching up again is a bitch. Today, for example, I got a letter from CT Department of Revenue. The last time I talked to them the nice lady suggested that if we’re not selling anymore, we should get rid of our account. Since when we aren’t selling, I forget to file the returns, that gets us in trouble. We may not owe them taxes, but now I owe them fines. I also talked to our lovely lawyer on Monday, and while he agrees that the internet copyright company may be scamming us, it’s a legal scam, and it would cost much more to fight it than just pay them off.  I’m sure they set it up that way. Feh. Jane is fronting paying them off, and will take it out of what she’s paying me for the book cover. (I’ve set up to start the portraits I’ll be delivering at the war.) I also faxed a release to her publisher for the book cover.  These little things fill up the days and add stress, but I suppose it’s less stressful than wondering if you’re going to live through the next winter if too much rain means you can’t make hay to keep your animals alive. The modern world doesn’t have a monopoly on stress.
We do have our own variation on weird stuff happening. The other day Willow and I were talking and the blender suddenly turned on over on the other side of the kitchen. That was probably just having left one of the blender buttons slightly depressed so that a tiny jar caused it to slip into place. On the other hand I suspect electronic glitches for the way the printer/scanner/fax machine has taken to suddenly (and musically) running through all the options any time it’s on, even when we haven’t touched it. At least we can suspect mechanical problems, not fairies, when dealing with machines.
This week we had three appointments- Kat saw Dr. Gunning in Peterborough, Dr. Edwards (teeth cleaning) in Amherst, and I went to the Eye doctors (Milford). I was moderately annoyed with them when the assistant led me into the exam room and we discovered that the doctor with whom they’d scheduled me only does glasses- no contacts. Last time Willow went in she’d mentioned that she was coming specifically because she needed a checkup before she could get new contacts, and they did the same thing. I haven’t had glasses at all since 1979, when I discovered that my brain has gotten so used to contacts that I walked into things and felt dizzy (certainly couldn’t drive) with glasses. I suppose at some point if I go without my contacts for a few months, I might be able to adapt to glasses again, but I’m sure not looking forward to a week of being unable to do much. (OK, I could read and paint with my nose close to the page, but I certainly would be very dependent on everyone else for getting around.) Given a situation such as Willow dropping her car off to get inspected next week, not having two drivers could also be problematic.
I started working on my classes for Pennsic this year.  As I came up with last year, I’m doing a series on the Anglo-Saxon Context, the peoples around the Anglo-Saxons: the Celts, the Franks, the “Vikings”, the Normans (boo hiss), the Romans who came before, and frankly, persisted in altered form. I’ll probably also mention the Visigoths in Spain, the Slavs, and the Empire of Islam. (I often have to remind myself that when I say Anglo-Saxons, many people don’t only think of the sixth and seventh centuries as I do because I’m working on MY persona.) Anyway, I can see it will be a busy couple of weeks. I am hoping to finish the letter soon so I can finally rebuild my booklet rack and maybe even get a coat of finish on it before we leave tomorrow. (I’d hope to put a coat of poly on the front steps now that the boards have shrunk back down, but then it rained again last night. Apparently using the oak flooring for the front step wasn’t as brilliant as we thought.)

We have had some spectacular eating this week, there were some stuffed mushrooms. Willow got the big ones so I stuffed them, and  WOW! they were wonderful- sautéd onions, the stems, bacon (which I would NOT have considered), with shredded cheese and matzo meal in lieu of breadcrumbs (I want to use them before they go stale), and then baked until the caps were soft. I am SO making those again! I baked some chicken strips coated in crushed tortilla chips (also with a bit of parmesan, matzo meal, and herbs), it’s a variation on one I used to do, 1/3 each parmesan, parsley and crumbs. I also (while searching for my GNEW classes, found a recipe for garlic spread from last year.  I think it’s based on a Roman recipe. What I’d written down was:
GNEW garlic spread:
4 bulbs garlic
7 oz Feta
3 stalks celery
bunch coriander/less rue (try parsley)
2 tb olive oil
4 tbs white wine vinegar
sea salt
I have always had a problem with bulb vs. clove of garlic, trying to figure out what the person writing it had actually meant. The only garlic I had on hand was an elephant garlic, and having peeled two buds- each as big as a clove, I thought that might be plenty. I THINK one might have been plenty. It was very strong so I added more Feta (to a pound), a bit more celery, and it’s still pretty darn spiky to the tounge. Maybe it will mellow in storage. It really needs some lovely whole grain bread to spread it on. I also used the blender to process it and discovered that a celery stalk is a wonderful “pusher”. Next time I’m making a smoothie, I think I’ll use celery to push the whole pieces into the center. Far better to have a little celery in the mix than the tip of a rubber spatula or wooden spoon (both of which I have done in the past).

I just got a call from my friend Kerensa warning me about a story that Adobe Flash- which is apparently a program used for watching movies, presents a huge security risk- hackers can get your financial information with it. Luckily Willow was aware of the problem and helped me check out my settings. You might want to check yours, but I am not someone who is able to advise you on it-
Not painting, I watched fewer movies this week. The Frighteners was a fun 80’s ghost movie about a real psychic who was doing a ghost busting scam with some friends from the other side. The bad guy in the movie was a ghost of a serial killer who had carved numbers on the foreheads of his victims, and as a ghost, killing folks telekinetically, the psychic could see glowing numbers on the foreheads of the intended victims. Glowing numbers- OK, physically doing it? I kept thinking: “You’re showing this movie to kids‽” I suppose it’s OK for teens, but the silliness factor made me assume a younger audience. It was one of the last ones I’ve seen in the afterlife films I’ve been watching. It was a fun view of the afterlife. I finally got around to watching the Boys from Brazil. Wonderful cast! Laurence Olivier, Gregory Peck, James Mason, this is a 1978 film (which probably accounts for why we didn’t see it, I don’t think I did anything but SCA and have babies that decade). We were also nearly four decades closer to WWII back then, when Levin was writing the book it was only 30 years since the end of the war, there were probably still ex Nazis alive. Mengele was still at large. Now the movie’s been out for longer than that the time between the war and the book. Clearly the cloning was science fiction at the time, but I think the intervening years may have reduced the tension- also going in knowing the premise of the book deprived me of the surprise (although most movie goers probably knew when they went). So it has suffered a bit from aging, but is still a good adventure.
I also watched Gaslight; Kat had explained the term to me, and told me about it. Sending for it from Netflix I got to see both the 1940 version and the 1944 remake with Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, and Angela Lansbury in her first role (as the cheeky maid). Apparently “gaslighting” means psychologically manipulating someone so they doubt their perceptions or sanity. Both film versions were quite good, but for me the creepiest bit was when some of the new neighbors saw the couple at church, and a woman suggested that they call on them, and her husband said “not in London, it wouldn’t do.” and when she started to question him, he said “I’ve spoken.” This may have been to remind “modern” audiences just how much control was automatically ceded to the male head of household, so that they’d find the way Paula accepted her husbands manipulation with so little apparent resistance. It reminds me of other aspects of life in the past that we can occasionally catch in old movies, ubiquitous smoking, the casual and accepted sexism in early Bond movies, racism shown with out disclaimer or shame. I think having it be accepted without embarrassment that bothers me most. I am still physically sickened when I remember the scene in Keaton’s Heaven, of “Colored Heaven” (I have no idea what the original movie in which she found it was) with black dancers emerging from a giant watermelon. More than a week later and don’t really expect to ever stop having that reaction. It’s too bad that we can’t easily spot the things we will later be able to identify as offensive while they’re still going on.
I have continued to watch the occasional episode of Midsomer Murders. The quality of writing and action continues to be so good that I usually want to go back and re-watch it to catch the details/clues that I missed (I don’t because I haven’t time, but maybe some fabled year when I’m not busy). I am beginning to think that since so often crimes happen when he happens to be right there, that people should stop inviting Barnaby places. As someone joked, one of the most dangerous people to know or be related to is Jessica Fletcher (from Murder she wrote- her friends and relatives were always either being killed, or being accused of killing someone). At least when they have to call him in it makes sense. But too many things happen around him. This week I saw one (Four Funerals and a Wedding) where he was opening a “traditional” challenge: the Skimmington Ride where the townswomen (all in period costume) got to whack a poor man (I think the vicar) who’s riding a donkey, backwards and blindfolded, with skimming ladles until he’d completed the course. The murderer shot the poor jerk exactly at the moment DCI Barnaby fired the closing shot into the air. As I said, it’s fun, well done, but as unlikely as any American drama. My goodness, if you used that as an indicator, you’d think half the people in England were heavily armed!

This week I’ve finished a couple of the medical books. How We Do Harm and Overdiagnosed. Both books cover much of the same ground, deploring how we fool ourselves into choices that are not supported by scientific testing, and how doctors are sometimes fooled, sometimes pressured into doing things that are more likely to harm than help the patient. How we Do Harm is by Dr. Otis Brawley (who is the chief medical and scientific officer of The American Cancer Society), and he gives the point of view of a black man who has risen to the top of his field, and can often clearly see how both racism and classism work against his patients. Dr. Gilbert Welch practices up in Dartmouth Medical School in Community and Family Medicine, and brings both the practical “country doctor” experience with a lot in epidemiology. Overdiagnosed is mostly about how people are working from the assumption that earlier detection leads to better outcome without actually checking whether that’s true. Brawley keeps repeating that we need to know what we know, what we don’t know, what we believe, and the difference between them. Welch keeps showing where we don’t know, and how even when the evidence is there, what we believe can often override the better outcome. I encountered some new terms in these books, for example “wallet biopsy” is when they check to what treatment you can afford. An “incidentaloma” is a spot that appears on a reading that is NOT pertinent to what they were looking for, but they pursue anyway. These seem especially frustrating for him as his main problem is treating things that don’t need to be treated, thus incurring the harm of side effects without benefit. The main thrust of the book is differentiating between diagnostic tests (trying to nail down exactly what a symptom means to better treat the patient) and screening. Screening is testing someone with no symptoms to see if you can find anything. He also is not fond of the assumption that IF catching something earlier makes it easier to treat, we should keep redefining conditions more broadly. To put it simply: if you include more people in a pool of people with a disease/condition who aren’t sick and may never be, then of COURSE the prognosis for that group is going to be better than if your group only includes the people who are actually sick. This is where so many of the “earlier detection means better outcome” statistics come from.  Both doctors point out that there’s such a thing as non progressive cancer. Some cancers just sit there, some cancers rip through really fast. If you include the ones where treatment would make no difference (whether because it’s non-progressive, or so advanced that there’s no point), it effects the outcome.
Both of the doctor authors push really hard for being able to get the facts and to make decisions based on them. My personal experience is that real choices are very limited, you aren’t generally given a choice of what you want to do, but a choice between two or three things you don’t want to do. Welch points out that while some people say that the big motivator is financial, he points out that most doctors are just covering their own butts because there’s an asymmetrical legal risk: they can (and often are) sued if they don’t do every possible test, but aren’t sued if they only test reasonably. This is an excellent point, and one that might be able to be addressed legally, although I wouldn’t expect it to be. I think there’s also probably an emotional issue because doctors DO want to help. If they feel they’ve screwed up by not pursuing testing aggressively, in future cases they may show a “not on my watch” attitude that biases the risk benefit analysis.
I also REALLY like that Welch considers the “hassle factor” as well as unnecessary worry as reasons to avoid over-diagnosing.  He points out that marketing treatments produces an atmosphere of fear, so although the odds are against us getting most cancers, we live in dread of it, and they can dress relief after a screening (or worse after checking a “false positive”), as being good for the patients they put in fear in the first place. It’s just human nature, if you can’t change something, you tend to convince yourself it’s good, whether it’s your kids school system, your doctor, your political situation, or whatever. We sell ourselves on how good something is so we can stop thinking about what bothers us. There’s a huna principle Makia:  “What you think on grows” or “Energy flows where attention goes”, so basically, if you spend all your time thinking about being sick, you’re liable to make yourself sick.    Prostate cancer is one of the slow moving cancers. It’s really easy to find cancer cells in a prostate by screening, but men rarely die from it, but if you look you can find it, the poor guy is now worried because he has “the big C”, he gets treatment, ends up incontinent and impotent, but is then “grateful” that his life has been saved, when it was almost certainly not at risk.
The problem is that most modern Americans are not good at science, and crap at statistics. They don’t know the difference between mean and median, they don’t know the difference between cause and correlation. I remember a “joke” someone told correlating the eating of bread with committing murder. It collected a whole slew of facts about bread and murder- for example (making up numbers) “96% of murderers had eaten bread within the past 24 hours.” and similar totally non-applicable facts. But that’s the kind of logic we use to make our medical decisions these days. We all “know” that screenings save lives”- except that they don’t, or if they do, it’s only by gerrymandering the facts.
Lucky you, I will probably not have the time to read any more medical “what we need to fix in our system” books until after Pennsic.
I also finished the book Proof of Heaven, (read it in two sittings, it was REALLY good!) a book by a neurosurgeon who had a near-death experience (NDE) and came back, as is the case so often, eager to talk about his experience. This contained very little surprise information for me about the afterlife, but the chapter in the book where he addressed the usual theories skeptical doctors suggest to explain the experiences people describe. As a neurosurgeon who understands how the brain works, he is able to argue convincingly against those at least in this case. Personally this reminds me of the Kierkegaard quote:  “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” Pity the poor doctors and scientists who have to deny the evidence that proves that they may have not been giving their patients the best care. What could be worse than to discover that you’ve accidentally done something you’d never have wanted to do? It’s so much easier to insist that you’ve done what you were trained, and that science supports it. I think this is the reason that medicine has a much harder time changing than so many other sciences, because the need not to have caused harm is so strong.
In the Permaculture class last night Selina talked about Allan Savory. He’s found a way to bring the deserts of the world back from the brink. The surprising thing is, that it’s done by running large herds over these already devastated lands. That goes against everything we “know”. Indeed, when he was younger, he talks about having tried to save parts of Africa by killing vast numbers of elephants to reduce the demands on it. But then he found out he was wrong, and the elephants, while they ate, and trampled and knocked things down, actually benefitted the land. But rather than looking harder for evidence to confirm what “everyone knew”, he experimented, and is greening the desert. If you have 22 minutes, do watch this talk. We have to learn to be willing to have been wrong, to be willing to change our minds in the face of evidence. As Eben Alexander did after his bacterial meningitis, as Savory did after killing the elephants.  Admitting having screwed up is the first step to fixing things.
I also read Well Witched this week. A lovely juvenile book about some kids who take coins from an old well and get “cursed” with having to grant the wishes of others who have made wishes there. The magick was well done, with good internal logic, and based firmly in folklore. The characters were mostly appealing (except when they weren’t supposed to be). I will probably look for more in this series. It played the trope of “be careful what you wish for” really well, even going as far as to explain it- comparing the wish you make with what it is you really want. It also has some good thoughts about motivation that I wouldn’t have expected in a juvenile book. Frankly, I think this is better for teens than some of the “great” books like the Bell Jar.


Whenever a doctor cannot do good, he must be kept from doing harm.

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