For months I've been telling myself that I should try rock climbing. For months I have put it off. Until today. I DID IT!

I am so proud of me :)

Check out my right leg--I'm climbing with my beach pylon to give more steadiness than my everyday prosthesis. It worked fairly well, but I can tell that I'll need a lot more practice.



How's this: an article on the campylobacter virus (the one that's often in poultry) just in time for Thanksgiving. Studies are showing that the virus is more likely to be in organic and farm-raised poultry than in the anitibiotic-fed, shed-raised, beak-clipped variety. Here's some great details from the slaughtering process:

How else does the contamination spread?

Large numbers of birds are contaminated at the processing factories where they are slaughtered, according to previous research from Bristol. The campy bug is carried in faeces. Chickens tend to defecate when being transported and any birds waiting to be killed are stacked up in crates with holes in them. Droppings from chickens at the top of the stack can fall down on to those below. After slaughter, the birds pass through scald tanks which loosen the feathers, but the water is generally only changed once a day, and after a few hours is often a brown soup. The biggest problem comes at the plucking stage, though. Plucking machines exert a fair amount of pressure on the dead birds which can squeeze faecal matter out on to equipment, so that one bird colonised with campylobacter can infect many others.

Is that what happens to organic and free-range birds too?

Yes, the vast majority of organic and free-range chickens are slaughtered in the same large plants as intensively reared ones. A few organic farms use small abattoirs.

Bon Apetit!


Today I saw the most beautiful sight. It was our school crossing guard's 80th birthday. As she walked each child across the busy street they handed her a single flower. By the end of the rush hour her arms were laden witha huge bouquet. She was much more radiant than any beauty queen I've ever seen as she cradled her flowers in one hand, and with the other held her STOP sign.


John was in his first anti-war rally yesterday. He participated in the "die-in." When I told the kids about it they cheered, though C said they should've used ketchup instead of flour--"maybe then people would've listened, Mom."


A few days ago my kids asked why people in Afghanistan hate us so much. I tried, in my simplest language to explain the problems of the Middle East--oil, religion, bombing, sanctions, etc. They looked at me wide-eyed. I could see their amazement that grown-ups had problems that were, from their perspectives, so much like the sandbox rivalries that we're carefully taught our children to avoid or to solve with words, rather than anger.

When I told them about Saddam Hussein my son replied, "Gee, Mom, why don't we just kill him if he's that bad?" I replied, "and what would be the consequences?" He thought for awhile, and reached his own conclusion that it would only bring more violence like what we saw on 9/11. My daughter, with tears in her big brown eyes, asked "Why can't we just tell him it's wrong for him to hurt people?"

Our conversation left me feeling so empty. I was angry at a world where our quick answers, the ones that lead to more killing, are pursued wihout thought to the long-term consequences. I am so angy at power--the power of totalitarian governments, of men with willingness to kill others, of sanctions that kill more than bombs, of Bush's preparations for war. And, I think again of Hiroshima and am so afraid....I have to ask, what is the end of the path we are walking, this path of violence??


I found this song, Salaam Shalom, today while searching for some other Raffi lyrics. Please take the time to listen...

The lyrics:

Salaam shalom, salaam shalom
side by side, we live salaam shalom
Salaam shalom, salaam shalom
side by side, we sing salaam shalom

verse 1
Children of Israel, children of Palestine
all want a place to live, a time to shine


verse 2
Now in this ancient sand, holy land
time for the pain to heal, a time to mend
and understand


Sister brother, mother father
learn a new dance, sing a new song, walk a new
path, make a circle where we all belong



I finally chose the topic for my thesis. I am researching race relations in Kern County from 1899-1930.

I guess it's obscure, even irrelevant to today's world, but it sure is fun. I spent over 6 hours last weekend in libraries doing research. It was great! I feel like I've finally found something that I truly love to do.

BTW, I got another midterm back today....an A!! Whew :)


Today I got my first paper back. I got an A. :)

(hopefully I did just as well on my fiirst midterm!)


The last few days I've been doing a lot of thinking about academics, research and my future. Though I love school and could easily submerge myself in the ivory tower of the academy, I realize that it would be a lonely existence. To write and publish papers that only a few can understand and even fewer will care about, well, that's just not enough for me.

I thought of the authors who make the study of history come alive for me: Stephen Ambrose and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Ambrose and Ulrich write hstory that is fun to read--that can be released in paperback and dominate best-seller lists. And I vowed yesterday that whatever research interests I pursue, they will be topics with appeal to the masses, which are written simply and powerfully, and can make an impact on the world.

Today Stephen Ambrose died. I will miss him. Though I am grateful for all he taught me.

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Words of Wisdom:

I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he had imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

by Thoreau

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