Ode to October II

Can't do this with a Kindle
 Neighborhood Girl (approximately 13 years of age) and I share a penchant for pumpkin carving.

We got together to create art, bake & eat seeds, and get a culture lesson (Tim McGraw okay; Josh Ritter better).

Happy Jack & Andy Rooney. (Guess which one is mine.)


Ode to October

Brainy cupcakes
I've always loved October.

It's the season of pumpkins, zombies and first kisses backlit by a bonfire. 

I nerds: Jenn & Mike's bookish cake topper

Two of my wonderful and book-loving friends (Jenn the speed reader and Amy the librarian/dedicated blog reader), must think October is as romantic as I do. 

They're both getting married this Halloween (party) weekend. 

 Autumn in Florida is hardly an ending. Around here it seems more like the beginning.

The Panic Virus

Science and media are two of my favorite topics. When done right, they can bring such good into the world. 

But evil (or at the very least, lazy) scientists and media makers sometimes produce sloppy if not dangerous work

Both fail miserably when they can't break down complex subjects and communicate the importance of these topics in our daily lives. Or if they make stuff up.

This week I interviewed journalist and science writer Seth Mnookin on his book The Panic Virus, which examines the massive fear bad (rejected!) science brought to vaccinations. Vaccines, by the way, are considered one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th Century (i.e. a major reason 30 is no longer considered old).

Mnookin is speaking on this topic Thursday, October 27th at the University of South Florida at noon at the Samuel Bell Auditorium in the College of Public Health


These are Days


In 1999 I earned a $325 speeding ticket in the Nevada desert because of this song. Totally worth it. The video has aged pretty badly, but at least I haven't. (And of course, I'm a much wiser driver now, too.)


Life on Training Wheels

There's a 2002 episode of This American Life that featured prisoners performing Hamlet. Many of the inmates were so frustrated by the play's language that they missed its meaning at first.

My own high school experience was similar. While good teachers helped me to cultivate my love of civics, community service and journalism, I lacked proper guidance to awaken in other areas, and purposely overlooked Shakespeare, history and math.

To use my favorite Barbie quote, "Math class is tough!" Especially when you already think you're an idiot.

Near the end of that episode of TAL, a prisoner/performer said the line that made me cry (there's at least one teary do-gooder moment per show). It was something like: "I always thought I was dumb. But I'm not. I just wasn't educated."

While the passion in Shakespeare or math can be challenging for a novice learner to uncover, it isn't impossible or even tough. Life is tough.

Tough is trying to be wholesome & make good choices after nearly 33 years of living sans boundaries. Tough is becoming the teacher you always wanted but never had.

I'm absolutely aboard the Steve Jobs-as-master bandwagon. A few years ago when his Stanford speech began circulating, I was reminded of the idealist I was. I refocused.

But time passes and it's easy to lose sight of goals & self. We humans need constant reminders. (And especially to be reminded that we're only human.) Although I'm saddened by his passing, I'm overjoyed and renewed by his urging and earnestness once again.