Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Caddisfly (Jewelry)???

Over the weekend I was reading an article in the wonderful science journal Seed. In this 2004 issue was an article about Ben Stout and Caddisflies. Well, I had never heard of either Mr. Stout or Caddisflies, but the article looked like the sort of topic that has always appealed to me. I love stories that are about some person doing what they love, doing something utterly fascinating to them, and after I read about them, uttlerly fascinating to me. It assures me that there are people out there leading authentic lives.

So first of all the article explains who Ben Stout is and what exactly are caddisflies. It turns out Ben Stout and his wife Kathy have been studying caddisflies for two decades. They are West Virginia wildlife biologists and have dedicated a good portion of their lives to caddisflies. Caddisflies, or Trichoptera ,(trich means hair, ptera means wings) are insects that build their homes out of small rocks and twigs that they glue to themselves with their own silk. They make their homes in streams and creeks.

Here is a very thorough treatise on caddisflies with a bit of trivia that I find fascinating. Apparently the word cada or cadace (caddys) was used to refere to a ribbon made from a certain kind of yarn that was sold by traveling vendors who were sometimes called "cadice men". These cadice men would attach samples of the ribbon to their clothing "a habit which may have suggested the name caddisfly or caddisworm for the aquatic larvae, who exhibit the analogous behavior of attaching bits of leaves and twigs to the outside of their cases (Hickin 1967)."

So getting back to Ben and Kathy Stout. Ben Stout was presenting a research paper on Caddisflies in New Mexico and he ran into a student who had made earrings out of caddisfly cases. Ben thought they were intriguing,but not very attractive as jewelry goes, but he purchased a pair for his wife. Later when he was touring Santa Fe he noticed beautiful Native American artwork displays and was very impressed by the use of gemstones. Ding, ding, ding!!! When Ben got home to West Virginia he told his wife."Kathy, if we can get these Caddisflies to build their cases out of gemstones we'll really have something special." The Stouts turned their garage into a simulated ecosystem and after much trial and error if finally happened-the Caddislfies began to build their cases out of gemstones.

The Stouts story can be read here.

Here is a photograph of a caddislfy emerging from an opal-encrusted cocoon. Kind of odd, but also amazing.

When I first started reading about the Stouts I thought, "Oh someone else exploiting animals/creatures for profit". I'm glad that this is a bit different.

Will I be purchasing a piece of caddisfly jewelry? I don't think so. I am very fascinated with the process, but it's sort of giving me that same uneasy feeling I get when I see an insect trapped in amber hooked on a chain around someone's neck. I know, I know, but it just gives me the creeps.

Monday, March 28, 2005


I often wonder what it would be like to have a job that is not just a vocation, but an avocation. To actually have a job that I love so much it doesn't seem like work. I have never been that fortunate.

I think what annoys me the most about this particular hell hole is the fact that I have a ridiculously physically demanding job. While the other women sit around on their flat butts and type in the computer all day, I am unloading boxes of books and boxes of serials and boxes of copy paper. Do I feel demeaned by this? Hell yes. Did I feel demeaned by this even before I got my masters? Hell yes!!!

My theory on office work is that everyone is a clerk. There are high-paid clerks and there are low-paid clerks. I fall into the latter category. What's so annoying about these particular clerks is that the majority of them think there jobs are so important. Are any of you saving any lives? No. Are any of you making even a miniscule corner of the world a better place with all of your data entry, paper-shuffling and shelving? No. So please folks get off of your high horses and realize that 25 years from now what you are doing in your junky offices isn't going to amount to a hill of beans in the scheme of the universe. And while you are at it-KISS WHERE I TWIST!!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Well, well, well-people are stealing gas. Not surprised. I knew as soon as the price of gasoline went up, that people would start "acting out". My remedy-purchase economical, fuel-efficient vehicles. I personally hope that gas goes up to $20.00 a gallon. (I also hope that cigarettes go up to $20.00 a pack). Europeans have been paying what we would consider to be astronomical prices for gas for years. It annoys me to no end to hear some twit on the news complaining about gas prices and that same twit is driving a Range Rover. Good enough for ya!!!! Why do people feel that they need these "freezers on wheels". I grew up way before these abominations were invented and my 4 person family got along fine with 1 car and 1 truck. I grew up in the country and everyone generally had 1 car and a truck. And not these ridiculous, nose-bleed inducing high-ass-off-the-ground things. Just a regular old truck. We took the car on vactions, etc. and we were fine. Both of my parents worked and that is why we always had two vehicles. Yes, my dad used the truck for hauling garden supplies (we had gigantic gardens), etc., but he used the truck mostly as a work vehicle.

Perhaps it would be best if we went back to horses and horse and buggy transportation. I would love that. I have always felt that my personality is more suited to living on some small island where you only have bicycles and horse-drawn transportation. A place where a person could put on a good pair of walking shoes and do just that-walk. One thing that I have always tended to notice about peoples shoes is the way they lace them. I was reading about bunny-lacing the other day and I attempted to lace my shoes like that and believe it or not, the shoes that I have on today are much more comfortable. I found that I am not the only person interested in shoe lacing. Ian's Shoe Lacing site is terrific. Even the names of the different styles of lacing are interesting-Sawtooth Lacing, Over Under Lacing, Hash Lacing, Shoe Shop Lacing and Riding Boot Lacing are just a few shown on this site. Ian includes easy to follow instructions on how to lace your shoes in each style.

This UK site shows how to lace your running shoes according to what sort of foot you're toting around. If you have a high instep or narrow foot there is a description on how to accomodate your feet. Actually the first image on this site, the Loop-lacing lock, sort of looks like bunny-lacing. I think we learn how to tie our shoes in kindergarten or pre-school and that's it. I know that I have purchased a lot of shoe through the years and I don't ever recall being shown how to accomodate my feet. In my case I have a very narrow foot (was AAA, now AA)and my feet are perfectly flat. Yep, you got it-no arch at all. The shoes that I have on today are Ecco walking shoes that have never really felt all that comfortable. I love Ecco and I've been wearing their shoes for years, but for some reason this pair of shoes just wasn't cutting it. Just tying them differently has made a world of difference. Amazing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Spring Sightings

Even though it's raining today I have been noticing the signs of spring. Last week I saw a small flock of robins. It struck me as being very odd because I generally have seen a robin here or there, never a group of them. I don't know-maybe it's just me that thinks this was odd. Where is an ornithologist when you need one??

Some of the saucer magnolias by my job are starting to bloom and there's a whole grouping of daffodils (a host of golden daffodils-Wordsworth if I'm not mistaken)around my workplace are blooming as well. I saw in my handy-dandy 5 year journal that the saucer magnolias were blooming on March 18 last year, so spring appears to be right on time. Now if it could only stay spring and skip the dreaded summer months all together.

On another note I found this very cool sight-Amaztype-a typographic book search sight. This sight is so much fun. It's an "applet that creates a graphic of your search on". I typed in "dogs" just to see if it would go wild. It did. Once all of these book choices pop up the user can click on one of the book images and you will be sent to Amazon.

I love handbags even though you would never be able to tell that by looking at the boring, black bags I always seem to be carrying. When I used to wear dresses and heels, etc, I would change my purse every day to match my bag. These days I'm a jeans and sweater woman. I carry the same black bag every day and change to a smaller black bag on the weekends. I found beautiful individually- designed bags on the Carryhandbag site. There was a time when I would have paid a lot for a handbag, but these days I'm trying to be wiser about my purchases. I just love the totes on this sight.

For the knitters and crocheters out there Afghans for Afghans seems to be a nice charity. This charity sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and garments to the people of Afghanistan. There are a lot of "needlework for charity" opportunities out there. The Wool Works Resources site has numerous listings of charities to knit/crochet for.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Sad to Hear and Misc.

It saddens me to hear that the Senate voted to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that 51 Senators voted to pursue special interests instead of energy solutions. It annoys me every time I am on the road and see all of these horrid "freezers on wheels"-SUVs. I have loathed these gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing death traps since they first came on the scene. And don't even get me started on Hummers. What a fearful, insensitive bunch of folks we all have become. I shudder to think that I have to try and live through 3 whole years with this blundering asshat and his henchmen. I have always wanted to visit Alaska-it has been my mental refuge. I always think someday I am going to pack up everything and move to beautiful, pristine, wild Alaska. It looks like I had better hurry.

On another note I came across this amazing story about the Armagosa Opera House. The story of how this opera house, located in Death Valley Junction, CA came to be is amazing. Marta Becket, a retired ballerina from New York took over what was once a theater. Marta painted murals the walls with a trompe l'oeil image of an audience, and began giving musical theater performances to audiences that the images usually outnumbered. Here is a delightful story of Madame Becket and the opera house.

I thought this was a nice idea even though I would never have my image on a stamp. Photo Stamps allows you to take an image and turn it into a postage stamp. That's right-customized postage. I think it could be really cute for invitations-it's your kid's 1st birthday. You turn an image of the tyke into a postage stamp and use it when sending out the invitations. You do most of the work and then send the images off and Presto-you'll get your image postage stamps in the mail.

Generous Adventures Travel Auctions is a really great idea. Donated trips are put up for auction and all of the proceeds go to groups like Doctors Without Borders (my personal favorite) and National Parks Conservation Association. These vacations sound wonderful-8 day photo tour of Crete, 5-day riverboat trip on the Amazon and a 3-week Himalayan trek.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Things To Do, Things To See


When the book 1,000 Places To See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz came out I could not wait to read it. I love travel literature and this is like a long, exotic fantasy list. I purchased the book and loved it.

I started seeing that other bloggers were placing lists such as 50 Things I Would Like To Do Before I Die, 100 Places I'd Like to See Before I Dies, etc., etc. I just came across an interesting book entitled, 50 Places To Flyfish Before You Die by Chris Santella. Everyone is getting into the act. I thought I would give it a try. So without further ado here are 50 Things That I Would Like To See and Do Before I Die:

1. Learn how to whistle.
2. Skydive
3. Learn how to bellydance.
4. Learn how to weave.
6. Leave my body to science-either car crash research or Body Farm
7. Visit Tuktoyaktut
8. Become a chocolatier.
9. Learn how to swim.
10.Drink absinthe.
11.Visit the Serengeti.
12.Live some place that doesn't observe Daylight Savings Time.
13.Fly first class.
14.Own an island.
15.Finish the children's book I've been writing.
16.Learn yoga(properly).
17.Learn the names of the constellations.
18.Stay in a lighthouse.
19.Help build a house with Habitat for Humanity.
20.Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.
21.Learn to rumba, merengue and samba.
22.Learn Krav Maga.
23.Compete in a Scrabble Tournament.
24.Visit El Santuario de Chimayo.
25.Land a float plane.
26.Learn to forgive.
27.Track Spirit Bears on Princess Royal Island.
28.Have a llama sanctuary.
29.See gorillas in the wild.
30.Visit Petra.
31.Get a tattoo.
32.Learn how to juggle.
33.See the Northern Lights.
34.Get more piercings.
35.Learn how to throat sing.
37.Own a Coach bag(and not one from eBay)
38.Or Kate Spade, Bexley or Maddox.
39.Learn how to ice skate.
40.Own a Aga Range.
41.Ride in a horse-drawn sleigh.
42.Tell people what I really think of them.
43.Take a train across the United States.
44.Drive on Route 66.
45.Walk barefoot across hot coals.
46.Go to an authentic Day of the Dead celebration.
47.Enter a baking contest.
48.Walk up to a total stranger and kiss them. (it happened to me once).
49.See an iceberg.
50.Speak like a pirate for an entire day.

Monday, March 14, 2005


When I was growing up my mother did not allow me to drink pop. She and my dad drank it, but she always felt it was just too harsh for children. Yes, pop. In Southwestern PA it was, and as far as I know, still is called pop. If you went into a store and asked for soda you would get soda water. When I moved below the Mason-Dixon Line I had to get used to saying soda. The Great Pop vs. Soda map shows just what I am talking about.

I remember once when my family was at a drive-in. My entire family has always been big movie buffs. We were always going to the movies when I was growing up. Either the movie theater or the drive-in. Anyway we were at the drive-in and my mother was drinking either Royal Crown Cola or Fresca. I begged her to have a sip of her pop. She relented and she still talks about the face I made. Boy how things changed.

Anywho, soda never passed these lips again until I was in college. Then I quickly became addicted to Coca-Cola. (At times I have had heated discussions on the Coke vs. Pepsi challenge. I never liked Pepsi. Never. Ever). That sugary, caffeine-laden liquid became my constant companion. I would take a glass of coke with me to classes. This addiction increased as time went on. At different times in my adult life I've become addicted to Mountain Dew, but Coca-Cola was always right there, taunting me with it's delectable, sugary goodness. I have never been a coffee or tea drinker. Hot beverages really don't appeal to me very much. Even with a wind chill factor of 10 below 0, give me an ice-cold fountain Coke.

I've given soda up entirely for years at a time. I could give a lot of excuses as to why let the sugar/caffeine monkey climb on my back again, but it's just weakness and I've grown weary of my own excuses. So now I am trying to give it up again. Ever since Vanilla Coke came on the market it was like-Yes, Yes, Yes. I would have it coming out of my spigots at home, I would like to have a Vanilla Coke IV streaming into my arm 24/7. Since I started drinking this ambrosia I've started experiencing some odd health problems. Are they related to this particular drink? Don't know, but I do feel better when I am soda-free. My skin looks better,I sleep better and I just feel better. Now for the past so many years I limited myself to only 1 soda a day. Not since my early 30s could I handle more than that. So you are probably saying-why not drink diet soda. First of all there's that nasty after-taste. Secondly, I know the harm that sugar can do. I don't know all of the harmful side effects these artificial sweeteners may cause, and that metallic, odd taste just doesn't appeal to me at all.

Since January of this year I have been cutting back on my soda consumption. I went cold turkey for awhile. Suffering with the headaches, moodiness and all of the other withdrawal symptoms wasn't fun. Then we went to the movies and I thought, darnit, I'm having a soda with some popcorn. So I had a small Coke and Hello-it was heavenly. I still have a coke every so often, but not every day. Hopefully in the next month or so my taste for it will go away completely.

I've been sublimating my addiction by reading about soda/pop. Galco's Soda Pop Stop sells all sorts of soda. They sell all of these soda pops that I remember seeing when I was growing up. Things like Dad's Root Beer and Faygo's Vanilla Cream Soda.

Pop The Soda Shop sells a lot of different kinds of soda pop too. They have Wink. Wink had a really cute commercial out when I was grwoing up. Wink-The Sassy One from Canada Dry!! Beverages Direct is a great site with all sorts of beverages; not just soda pop.

For those of you that are soda pop collectors and enthusiast there is the magazine Soda Pop Dreams. I've never seen an issue of this magazine, but it sounds as if it would be interesting.

So I'll sit here with my Deer Park water and think about how much better this is for me than any soda. At least I can go to one of the above-mentioned sites and dream.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Film Festival

For those of you in the Washington, DC area remember to check out the D.C. Environmental Film Festival starting this weekend. The dates are Thursday, March 10, 2005 to Sunday, March 20, 2005. The festival will feature 108 documentary films about the environment. Two of the titles that caught my attention are Terminator Tomatoes, a film shot with a 35mm camera. This film features animation puppets and miniature sets. Genetically modified seeds and produce are taken to task in this adorable sounding film. Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers was produced in 1980. I know I have seen this one a few times. The film covers a lot of history about garlic, garlic trivia and a stop at the Gilroy (CA)Garlic Festival. (Gilroy, CA. is the Garlic Capitol of the World).

These films are shown at different venues throughout the DC area.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Serendipity 2

I read a story about a couple in Cottonwood, Idaho (population 944) who have opened up a bed and breakfast. Of course, there's nothing all that unusual about that. Except that this bed and breakfast is located in a 30 foot wooden dog.

Dog Bark Park is the home of 2 gigantic beagles. Toby is 12 feet high and Sweet Willy Cotton is 30 feet high. Sweet Willy Cotton is the home of the B&B. His hind quarters house the bathroom (how apropos)and visitors can climb the ladder in Willy's nose and find a loft filled with board games and a sleeping area tucked away in his snout. I think it would be a "howling" good time to camp out in the big pup. Not ruff at all!!!

Dennis and Frances Conklin created Dog Bark Park and the B&B. The Conklins are chain saw artists. Their primary business was running an unusual gift shop that sold their chain saw cut wooden dogs. They got their big break in 1995 when they started selling their carvings on QVC. These adorable carvings can also be purchased from their site. They don't just carve beagles. Moose,cats,bears (oh my) and other dog breeds are all members of the Conklin's menagerie.

I really enjoy all sorts of poetry and love to attend poetry readings. I came across a rather interesting group called the Fisher Poet Society. I actually thought Fisher was the name of a poet that I had never heard of, but Fisher refers to well, people who fish. Yup, that's right. Fisherpeople (their site indicates "fishing-industry related people, but I like fisherpeople) get together and read their poetry, sing and have a great time. They had their 8th annual event the weekend of February 25, 2005 in Astoria-Warrenton, Oregon. The readings are recorded and there is a CD available for purchase (there's a point of contact on their site for information on purchasing). I love t-shirts. I wonder if they have one from this gathering.

I have always been interested in the many ways that information is presented. I have been collecting volvelles for quite a few years because I think it is an ingenious way to present information. The military has come out with The Iraq Culture Smart Card. These are given out to military personnel stationed in Iraq. These pocket cards contain information on Iraqi culture, language and customs. Even though I abhor war, any war, I do think something like this is necessary.

With two back surgeries in my history I am thankful that I can walk and have relatively little problems. However, there are some occasions when my poor, tired body longs for a soak. Not the usual bubble bath or Epsom salt sort of soak. I mean in a hot tub or even better hot springs. is the place to find natural hot springs. You can search for a hot spring either by name or by state. There are also maps and images of hot springs around the world. Ahhh!!!!!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

100 Things....

I've noticed that a lot of bloggers have entries consisting of 100 things about themselves. I thought this was a cool, self-absorbed thing to do. It could be cathartic and fun. I had no idea how difficult it would be to come up with 100 tidbits about oneself. It took me awhile, but here goes.

1. I can't swim.
2. I can tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue.
3. I recited Twas the Night Before Christmas in its entirety at the age of 5.
4. Pretzels mashed up in French Vanilla ice cream-Yum
5. I have never seen the movie E.T. or read the novel Moby Dick.
6. I am absolutely crazy, crazy, crazy about dogs.
7. I had a blood transfusion in 1993.
8. My blood type is A-.
9. I attended nursing school, but did not graduate.
10.I was a Girl Scout for a very long time.
11.I absolutely adore Julie Andrews and Judi Dench.
12.I have never read a comic book.
13.I was president of the Science Club in high school.
14.I attended a small, Catholic, all girls college.
15.I want to change all of the YIELD signs to STOP signs.
16.I would love to own a Craftsman's home.
17.Pizza without pineapple annoys me.
18.I love fall, spring, winter-loathe summer.
19.Favorite cartoon-Jonny Quest (had a crush on Race Bannon).
20.I watch hours and hours of ice skating.
21.I think the world is a better place because of WD-40, Duct Tape and Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser.
22.I am not a huge fan of reality shows
23.Would love to spend my days going on factory tours.
24.Do not like to talk on the telephone.
25.Love train travel.
26.For a very short time period I played the flute.
27.My favorite musical is Flower Drum Song.
28.Have been working in libraries on and off for the last 31 years.
29.I love to dance.
30.And see dance movies.
31.I was never baptised.
32.Love the smell of Play-Doh.
33.I was very good at archery in high school.
34.Don't like baseball-like baseball movies.
35.I am child-free by choice.
36.It annoys me when I find out that people don't read.
37.I am a knitter.
38.Desperately want a tattoo.
39.I would really like to treat others as I want to be treated.
40.Can eat raisins out of a box, but not eat raisins in anything.
41.I suffer from nightmares.
42.They are recurring.
43.I can milk a cow.
44.If I am outdoors at twilight I become extremely melancholy.
45.I like the smell of gasoline and fire.
46.I miss my grandmother terribly. She was such a kindred spirit.
47.People seem to always underestimate me.
48.Bright light, especially artificial light affects me like noise.
49.Was one of the first females in my high school to take woodshop.
50.People who blow their noses at the dinner table-smack them-lots.
51.I would like to be a better listener.
52.I save dryer lint and hair and put it outside for the birds.
53.Peonies are my favorite flowers.
54.Lilacs are my favorite flowers for scent.
55.I have every card that my beloved has ever given me.
56.I am a maniac about being on time.
57.I have had 2 back surgeries.
58.I love board games.
59.I always feel that life is passing me by.
60.All of the women in my family have a much longer 2nd toe.
61.I loathe my workplace so much that at times I could just shriek.
62.I always think the crows are trying to tell me something.
63.I named my younger brother. That was my gift.
64.I have very expensive tastes, but a poor pocketbook.
65.I like bagpipe music.
66.I have never tasted Kool-Aid.
67.Dyed my hair with it once though.
68.Spiritual-yes. Religious-hell no.
69.The love of my life still makes me shiver (George Benson song)
70.I love all kinds of music except gansta' rap.
71.Find manicures and massages heavenly.
72.I weighed 39 pound in 1st grade and 72 pounds in 6th grade.
73. The theme song to the Magnificent Seven is one of my favorites.
74.I abhor boxing, wrestling and Nascar.
75.Like magicians-don't like mimes.
76.I do not get Bob Dylan.
77.I am scared of water lilies.
78.And the garbage disposal.
79.I love movies.
80.I do not drink coffee.
81.I am an introvert.
82.I love single-malt scotch.
83.I don't care for the scent of lavender-and feel bad about that.
84.Cheapskates get on my last nerve. I just want to moon them.
85.I like harpsichord music.
86.I find loud people to be annoying.
87.Find snow to be magical.
88.Prejudice of any kind sickens and saddens me.
89.I am a procrastinator about the big things in life.
90.I dearly want to live by the ocean. Have since I was a kid.
91.I want to learn how to play bridge, bellydance and weave.
92.Baskin & Robbins Pralines & Cream ice cream-to die for.
93.Went to camp numerous times as a child and loved it.
94.I have a thing about hands. Especially male thumbs.
95.Suffer from test anxiety.
96.Find office work stifling.
97.Love Canada.
98.I transport insects outside and free them.
99.I sang in the chorus from 7th grade to 12th grade in high school
100.I love card games-Bid Whist, Spades, Tonk, Gin, Rummy & Poker .

International Women's Day

Most holidays celebrate the lives and achievements of men. Today, March 8, 2005, is a day to celebrate the lives, work and achievements of women. International Women's Day was originally inspired by mid-nineteenth century ladies' garment workers strikes. This day was first celebrated in 1911. Three years later the United States Congress passed a resolution establishing Women's History Week. This was expanded to a month at the request of the National Women's Project in 1987.

The United Nation's sponsors numerous International Women's Day activities. The International Women's Day site contains listings of both national and international events.

This day has caused me to stop and think of the numerous women that have had a positive influence in my life. Here are a few:

My maternal grandmother
Jane Austen
Angela Davis
Jane Goodall
Ellen DeGeneres
Wangari Maathai
Florence Nightingale
Margaret Sanger
Alice Walker
Oprah Winfrey
These amazing women have influenced me in many ways. When I look at the list I feel so proud of them and proud to be a woman.

Google always has wonderful banners. Take a look at their nod to International Women's Day.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Google Uncle Sam

Google Uncle Sam was a search engine that I used time and time again when I was taking a Government Documents class in library school. I actually enjoyed that class very much. It was a tremendous amount of work, but I really got into it. Two of the other very useful resources in the world of free niche search engines that I used while taking the class were the Government Printing Office's (GPO) GPO Access site and, the United States government's official web portal.

Apparently the United States Government Manual is questioning the popularity of Google Uncle Sam because Google Uncle Sam doesn't include all U.S. federal government information. Not all federal sites have the .gov domains. For example, the United States Postal Service has a .com domain. One of the other complaints that the U.S. Government Manual has is that Google Uncle Sam does not have an Advanced search function.

FirstGov. does offer those features. FirstGov. has become more of a directory-based site. It allows users to search federal sites and state and local government sites. FirstGov. also permits users to search entities such as the U.S. Postal Service and National Defense University. Two enties without the .gov domain. FirstGov. also has an advanced search function. Some of the things that FirstGov doesn't have that Google excels at are relevance ranking.

I think both Google Uncle Sam and FirstGov. are good. If I had to pick one that I would use on a daily basis it would be

Thursday, March 03, 2005


We had another snowstorm last week and I was thinking how much I love snow. Yes, I know that it really causes problems for people. There's the people with children who have to find childcare when the schools are closed. Snow causes traffic snarls, especially in this metropolitan area,but it is also a miracle of wonders, a science and an art.

Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley also loved snow. He wanted to find out if the old adage about no two snowflakes being alike was true. In 1880 on his farm in Jericho, Vermont, he started collecting and photographing snowflakes. He used a box camera, a microscope and black and white film. He photographed snowflakes over 46 winters and published his images in a book entitled Snow Crystals. It was published in 1931. The book was deemed to have little scientific value because Bentley sometimes edited the photographic images, but he never did find two snowflakes that were alike.

The Snowflake Bentley site has links for the Snowflake Bentley Museum and a Gift Shop . Every year the Jericho (Vermont) Historical Society puts out a snowflake ornament. The ornaments designs are taken from the original snow crystal photomicrographs taken by Bentley.

It appears that the old tale of the Inuit having 100 words for snow is a bit of an urban legend. Or is it. Bill Bryson, author of Mother Tongue indicates that the Inuit do indeed have fifty words for different types of snow.

Here are a few: annui-falling snow,api-snow not yet driven by wind,natatgonaq-snow surface of rough particles,qali-snow that sticks to tree branches as it falls and upsik-snow altered by the wind into hard mass.
Here is a more extensive list and also some of the scuttlebutt about this claim. Actually when I searched Google using the search terms"Inuit words for snow" I came up with 640 hits. Seems like I'm not the only one wondering about this old tale.

My love for snow and cold weather has also segued into my choice of mysteries to read. Many years ago I got addicted to the Dana Stabenow series that takes place in Alaska. I've read all of her Kate Shugak and Liam Campbell books. Reading these books lead me to more cold-weather authors such as Sue Henry, Kerstin Ekman, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo,Christopher Lane and Megan Mallory Rust.

If you are one of those who don't like snow why not the next time it snows take a few minutes, bundle up and go outside on a moonlit night. Take a loved one. Go for a walk and stand still for just a moment. Ahhh, Pure magic.

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Herodotus (484 BCE-430 BCE), Inscription, New York Post Office adapted from Herodotus.