Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Total lunar eclipse

There's a total lunar eclipse tonight! Details, including diagrams for different time zones, are available on NASA's Eclipse page.

8:43 pm ET: partial eclipse begins.
10:01 pm ET: total eclipse begins.
10:51 pm: total eclipse ends.
12:09 am: partial eclipse ends.

Local, Small-Scale Dairies

Here's an article in the NY Times about local, small-scale dairies. (Free registration required.)

I still remember the first times I had fresh, local milk and butter. Then I had really fresh eggs for the first time -- what an education. The eggs, like the milk and butter, were amazing, and far, far different from what I grew up on.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Home Energy Saver Answer Desk

We recently got a programmable thermostat, something I've wanted for quite a while to save on our heating bill. When I asked our landlady, she and our handyman both thought it was a great idea, and they installed them in both units of our building last weekend.

I haven't had it long enough to know if I'll see an immediate difference in our heating bill, but I already love the convenience.

When I went looking to see if there are recommendations for actual temperature settings, I also found The Home Energy Saver Answer Desk.

The site has answers to common questions under the following headings:
~ General
~ Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
~ Comfort and Indoor Environment
~ Windows
~ Water Heating
~ Computers
~ Lighting

They include answers to all sorts of questions, including those niggling things like, if I turn my heat down to 55 F, does it take more energy to heat back up than it would if I'd left it at 65 F the whole time? (No -- go ahead, and "turn it down when you're not around.") Or, how much energy does my answering machine use vs my computer? (You'll be surprised.)

Anyway, it's a great resource for all sorts of everyday energy-use and energy-savings questions.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Executions in Nebraska

Good news: Nebraska's Supreme Court has outlawed use of the electric chair. For the AP newswire story, click here.

Friday, February 8, 2008

More on biofuels

National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation had a segment on Science Friday today on this very topic.

For more info, including links to this segment as well as to the NPR news story, click here.

Biofuels deemed not environmentally friendly

I've long been dubious about the promise of biofuels, particularly ethanol (I have real concerns about corn, for example). There's an interesting article in today's New York Times about two studies which have just been released that indicate that biofuels are actually an environmental threat.

Click here for the article. (Free registration required.)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Breaking the Silence Exhibit

Breaking the Silence Exhibit
Israeli Soldiers Talk about the Occupied Territories

February 9-24
at the Rotunda
40th & Walnut, University City
Opening night reception: February 9 at 7 pm

March 1-16
Whitehead Center for International Studies, Cambridge
Opening night reception: March 1 at 7 pm

For more information, see

The reality of life on the West Bank and Gaza

In the summer of 2002, I went to Israel-Palestine for several weeks, as part of two different peace witness delegations. One of those was with Christian Peacemaker Teams, an organization I highly recommend.

I spent time in Jerusalem (especially Old City, which is beautiful and which I loved), Hadera, Megiddo, Jenin, Jenin Refugee Camp, Hebron, and Beit Ummar.

Hadera and Meggido are in Israel proper; Jenin, Jenin Refugee Camp, Beit Ummar, and Hebron are in what is commonly called "the West Bank" -- the Israeli-occupied West Bank of the Palestinian Territories. Jerusalem is on the edge of both Israel and the West Bank, and is primarily Israeli-administered.

(Two geography notes: 1: The West Bank of what?, I used to wonder. Of the Jordan River, with the country of Jordan to the east. 2: The other Occupied Palestinian Territory is the Gaza Strip, in the southwest, on the border with Egypt.)

One of the things I learned during my time in Israel-Palestine that summer is how little we Americans understand of daily life in the Occupied Territories. What we hear, read, and watch in the news bears little resemblance to the reality of life on the ground. There is, really, no way we can grasp it from what's available to us in the media.

Spending a little time living with Israelis in Israel, and then Palestinians in Jenin, Jenin Refugee Camp, Hebron, and Beit Ummar, I witnessed first-hand what life is actually like there -- in the West Bank, both for Palestinians and for Israeli soldiers. I made a commitment to share that reality when I returned to the States.

Why should we care what is happening in Israel-Palestine, any more than what happens anywhere else? Aren't there enough peacemaking opportunities right here at home? Enough hungry and homeless kids in our own cities? These were arguments I made when I found myself led to go half-way around the world. I had plenty to do in my own backyard in Philadelphia, thank you. And it always irritated me when people hared off to other places rather than paying attention and doing needed work right where they were.

But there are huge links between us here at home in the US and what happens in Israel and Occupied Palestine. My tax dollars, and yours, are one of the largest sources of external funding for the Israeli Defense Force. As Americans, we need to understand what is being done with our money and in our names.

There's an organization called Breaking the Silence, staffed primarily by volunteers who are former Israeli soldiers, which does work geared to helping ordinary Israelis understand that is happening in their backyard, in the West Bank and Gaza. They are now bringing their work to the US, to help ordinary Americans understand what's really happening.

Here's how I first learned of them:

personal blog entry, February 15, 2007

I was listening to the radio -- NPR's Day to Day -- on my way to work today, when I heard this piece on an Israeli organization called Breaking the Silence. Staffed by former Israeli Defense Force members, they offer tours to ordinary Israelis of the Israeli-controlled portion of Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank [of the Jordan River].

Thank you, Goddess. When I was in Israel and Palestine, it was so clear that most Israelis had no idea what is going on in their names, no idea what the reality in the Palestinian territories is that accompanies the violence Israelis and Palestinians live with every day.

I am familiar with almost everything they presented in this story. I have walked through H2. I have walked down Shuhada Street. I still receive CPT updates about accompanying Palestinian children past the settlement on their way to school. I can't tell you how wonderful and refreshing it was to hear reality presented through more mainstream media.

I wish I could be in Philadelphia or Boston while their exhibit will be here. I encourage folks to attend.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

"What's the Matter"

This is stuck in my head; it's from the Catie Curtis song "What's the Matter":

What if I am Black or Jew
straight or queer or mother of two
run around in a hippie dress
ride my bike in a leather vest?
What's the matter?

Friday, February 1, 2008

It's not too late for MWG...

from FLGBTQC's Mid-Winter Gathering Planning Committee:

IT'S NOT TOO LATE... to register for the 2008 FLGBTQC Mid-Winter Gathering!!!

In 2008, the FLGBTQC Mid-Winter Gathering will take place February 15-18 in Maple Lake, Minnesota (near the Twin Cities). Not only will you get a chance to meet new friends and catch up with old ones, you'll also have opportunities to:

* Hear a plenary address by Wendy Sanford, one of the original authors of "Our Bodies, Our Selves"
* Eat wonderful meals
* Dance to music by Minnesota's best contra and square dance band, Pig's Eye Landing
* Sit in front of a fireplace (either in the main communal spaces or in any of the lodges)
* Listen to Canadian singer/songwriter/spoken word artist Evalyn Parry
* Attend workshops or activities
* Play in the snow (or NOT play in the snow, should you prefer)
* Hear Minnesotan Friend Anne Supplee share stories of courage from the Bible
* Participate in the FLGBTQC silent auction
* Sing around the piano
* Participate in Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
* Bake cookies (and eat them, of course)
* Gaze at millions of stars (and maybe even some Northern Lights)
* Enjoy a bonfire
* ___________________ (Fill-in-the-blank with whatever YOU are bringing to share with others!)

There are still plenty of spaces remaining. Costs are only $175 per adult and $40 for anyone under 18 years old. Work grants and scholarship funds are available. Additional information and registration forms are online at Questions can be addressed to us through that website or by phone (John Skinner at 612-371-4769 or Nordis
Heyerdahl at 952-927-5765).

All are welcome to Mid-Winter Gathering. We hope you can join us!