Monday, September 21, 2009

World War II Escape Tool: Monopoly?

I love this!

Lots of military and espionage organizations have escape and evade kits that they give to their operatives who are in hostile territory. Information on local plants that can be eaten, maps, places or roads to avoid. Today they are usually printed on tyvek.

In World War II, they frequently printed maps and information on silk, because it wouldn't ruin if it got wet and unlike paper it wouldn't make much noise while viewed. The maps were sewn into linings of suits, printed on the inside of ties, and various other places. Very clever.

Last week, I ran across an article about taking that idea to the next level. Apparently during World War II, the Germans allowed certain items to be given to POW's through charity groups. One item deemed acceptable was board games. So Waddington's, a company in the UK, made 'special' Monopoly games to be distributed to POW's.

The airmen were told ahead of time that if they got captured to look for the marked games and dismantle the set to find their escape maps. How ingenious! :)


ps. If you want to read the entire article, here's the link:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

social decorum...where have you gone?

So I'll admit it I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to behavior in public. And it seems that this last week has proven something that has been niggling at me for the last few years.

We as a country have lost our sense of social decorum.

I actually began this conversation with Sophie Littlefield and Rachelle Chase on our monthly trip into Berkeley for the RWA meeting last Saturday after the Congressman shouted out "you lie" during President Obama's speech. I found that shocking. Seriously.

While that was the most grossly inappropriate, the last few days have shown a growing deterioration of behavior in public situations. Kanye West. Serena Williams. It seems every time we turn around some public figure is behaving badly. And if people who are supposed to be role models behave this poorly what example are we setting for our kids and for ourselves?

This isn't to say that I always behave perfectly. Far from it. But shouldn't we hold ourselves and our country to a higher standard?

So the next time you're tempted to blurt something out...Don't!
And I'll do the same. :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

the journey's the thing

View of a dirt road lined with trees

i'm fresh from back to school night at the high school, sitting through quick ten minute presents from the teachers about the class and i was struck by a very sad fact. most of the teachers made sure to tell everyone how they grade and the weight of tests vs. homework and meeting the benchmarks and yada, yada, yada.

example: honors chemistry. i was a chem major in college (for a year and a half anyway) and i LOVE chemistry. i would have liked to have known what kind of experiments they are going to do, what cool stuff they might learn. sure i'd like my kids to get good grades but i'd rather they have enthusiasm and a joy for a subject than an A.

parents here (and maybe it's everywhere but definitely the case in my little slice of california) are so focused on the end, on putting that A or B or weighted grade on junior's report card so they can get into Harvard (yeah, probably not, and definitely not in our house :) ) that very few teachers discuss what they are going to teach. and to me that makes for a sad day.

to me, learning should be the absorption of new concepts and ideas and the steps along the way, the journey's the thing.

Friday, September 4, 2009

end of summer and the apocalypse garden

The end of summer is almost here (no matter what my misguided friends think :) ) and I thought you might like a picture of my garden now. It's needs a little fertilizer (yellow leaves give it away). Some things were an amazing success. I've had plenty of zucchini. And one in particular that got away from me. It hid under a leaf right next to the box and I didn't see it until it was the size of a baseball bat (seriously--okay not completely serious. It was as big around as a baseball bat tho).

The lemon cucumber is really yummy. Now something seems to be attacking the leaves and it's looking a little sickly. The beans never really took off. I'm about to harvest them and have one decent side dish. The corn was a bust. I have ears that are small but the ants got the corn so I'll have to figure out what to do about that next year. However, I'm going to have a great front porch decoration with those stalks so all is not lost. :)

I've got watermelon, honey dew, and canteloupe that has yet to fully ripen. And if the damn squirrels would leave my tomatoes alone I'd be ready for my own Tomatina.

We've had a great time eating from our garden already this year. Although I'm thankful we aren't really headed for the apocalypse because while we had some tasty meals, we'd starve if we had to live on my gardening. :) But hey, it's a start.

And I've been bitten by the gardening bug. I'm looking forward to planting my winter crop soon....