A Halloween morning walk

Hey Jude


Mining the YouTube

Office cubicle lip-syncing. This is what Sara, Molly, Sally, Megan, Mimi and I do after we close the office. We’re just not as good as these guys, so I cannot show you our videos yet. (Best part is the lady that refuses to participate.)

This one doesn’t really need explanation. Just start tapping your toes now.

30-year history of “Chap-Hop” by Mr. B, the Gentleman Rhymer. “Other rappers can’t stand me, but give me respect. They do give respect really. I mean they do act tough, but generally speaking, they’re awfully nice chaps.”

An Anniversary Worth Celebrating

On October 26th, 1977, a hospital cook in Somalia named Ali Maow Maalin was diagnosed with smallpox. What makes this so remarkable is that no naturally-occurring cases of smallpox have been diagnosed in the 32 years since.

The global eradication of smallpox was certified, based on intense verification activities in countries, by a commission of eminent scientists on 9 December 1979 and subsequently endorsed by the World Health Assembly on 8 May 1980[10][48] as Resolution WHA33.3. The first two sentences of the resolution read: “Having considered the development and results of the global program on smallpox eradication initiated by WHO in 1958 and intensified since 1967 … Declares solemnly that the world and its peoples have won freedom from smallpox, which was a most devastating disease sweeping in epidemic form through many countries since earliest time, leaving death, blindness and disfigurement in its wake and which only a decade ago was rampant in Africa, Asia and South America.”

Smallpox once killed millions of people every year, and may have been responsible for up to 500 million deaths in the 20th century. National vaccination programs began in the early 1800s, but it was a global push by the World Health Organization begun in 1958 that finally led to the eradication of the disease worldwide.

Link -via Bad Astronomy Blog

Squam Swamp Alphabet


Went out early yesterday morning to watch for meteors. Halley’s Comet passes by every 75 years. Most recently in 1986. But every year we orbit through its tail twice, and the dust in the tail leads to the Orionid meteor shower. The Orionids can be seen from October 15 through October 29, but the morning of October 21 was supposed to be the peak, allowing us to see about 20 meteors an hour, seeming to shoot out of Orion’s right shoulder.

New Music

Two of my favorite current artist each released new recordings this past month. Thought I would share.
Brandi Carlile, Give Up The Ghost


Dreams – Brandi Carlile

Caroline – Brandi Carlile

The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You


I and Love and You – The Avett Brothers

Slight Figure Of Speech – The Avett Brothers

Hang this up in your Time Machine

Comfort Food

What is it about rainy days that makes us turn to comfort food? Amy and I woke up this am and both thought that it would be a great day for chili and cornbread. (Not to mention the grilled cheese and tomato soup lunch, and the fried egg “chicken on a raft” breakfast.)

Good time to share a couple of recipes.

We’ve tried dozens of chili recipes. But generally come back to this one, that Amy has perfected with time. I think it originated with the Cook’s Illustrated Best Recipes cookbook which, if you only have room for one cookbook, should be the one.

Beef and Beans Chili

2 T canola oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chili powder (choose the best quality you can find, such as this one)
1 T cumin powder
2 t ground coriander powder
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t ground oregano
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 lbs ground beef (shoot for 85% lean)
2 cans (15-oz) dark kidney beans
1 can (28-oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (28-oz) tomato puree

Heat the oil (at medium) in a Dutch oven and add the chopped vegetables and spices, stirring until the they’re soft and starting to brown. Increase the heat to medium-high and add half the beef and cook 3-4 minutes until just no longer pink. Then add the rest of the beef and do the same, breaking it up and cooking until just beyond pink.

Add the tomatoes, the puree, and the beans, and salt to pleasure, bringing the whole thing to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Then do the same for another hour, with the cover off.

Plain and Simple Cornbread

4 T butter
1-1/2 cups medium-grind cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1-1/4 cups milk

Heat a cast iron skillet (10″ would work best with these amounts), with the butter in it, in the oven to 375 deg. Meanwhile, stir together the dry ingredients. Mix the eggs into the milk. Combine the two, stirring only enough to wet all the ingredients. Once the oven is preheated, the butter will be melted. Pour the mix into the hot skillet and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sides have pulled away.

That’s it, though you can certainly fancy this up if you’d like. Over the years, we’ve added sour cream, creamed corn, fresh corn kernels, scallions, bacon, jalapenos, roasted red peppers, and more. You will just need to adjust the amount of liquid in the original recipe to accommodate the additions.

How a Malawian teenager harnessed the power of the wind

From Mark Frauenfelder and the Good.is blog:

William Kamkwamba’s parents couldn’t afford the $80 yearly tuition for their son’s school. The boy sneaked into the classroom anyway, dodging administrators for a few weeks until they caught him. Still emaciated from the recent deadly famine that had killed friends and neighbors, he went back to work on his family’s corn and tobacco farm in rural Malawi, Africa.

With no hope of getting the funds to go back to school, William continued his education by teaching himself, borrowing books from the small library at the elementary school in his village. One day, when William was 14, he went to the library searching for an English-Chichewa dictionary to find out what the English word “grapes” meant, and came across a fifth-grade science book called Using Energy. Describing this moment in his autobiography, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (co-written with Bryan Mealer), William wrote, “The book has since changed my life.”

Using Energy described how windmills could be used to generate electricity. Only two percent of Malawians have electricity, and the service is notoriously unreliable. William decided an electric windmill was something he wanted to make. Illuminating his house and the other houses in his village would mean that people could read at night after work. A windmill to pump water would mean that they could grow two crops a year rather than one, grow vegetable gardens, and not have to spend two hours a day hauling water. “A windmill meant more than just power,” he wrote, “it was freedom.”

Read the rest of the story here.
Here’s a link to William’s TED Talk.

© 2009 ackdoc - Greg Hinson, MD 508/325-9981 info@ackdoc.com Purchasing help RSS feed