Caught My First Gopher

And so it begins. I set my very first gopher trap today.

I planted a wildflower meadow in my backyard and it’s looking terrific except for… An increasing number of gopher holes!

Last year, I finally got approval from the wife and child to set traps after the gophers destroyed THEIR plants. We are done with repellants and thoughts like “there’s enough plants for everyone to share”.

It’s on!

 

 

Same day Update!

Holy moly! I just caught my first gopher!

 

Donated to Khan Academy

This year I wanted our family to donate to a worthy cause. A few factors went into my choice of who to donate to:

  • I’m reminded of how many adults are always willing to sign petitions on banning dihydrogen monoxide.
  • Last quarter, Abigail went to a “fun environmental science” after-school program. In actuality, she (a first grader) learned about all the unsolved global environmental disasters of our time: climate change, the acidification of the oceans, the pacific garbage gyre… fun stuff! No, not really. I strongly believe that she should have learned about how the world’s system work before being alarmed about how they don’t. It’s a matter of putting the cart before the horse.
  • Political discourse in the US has taken a dangerous anti-science bent in the past few years.

This year, our family donated a sizable amount to Khan Academy to promote early science education.

The goal is to help helping to raise the science literacy of the most number of people. Originally, I set a goal of finding an organization that teaches the fundamentals of science to adults, but that, sadly, sounds like a political act these days.

Encouraging Omicron Numbers

This is an encouraging pair of COVID charts

(via, and)

What I see is that the number of Omicron cases per week is soaring but the number of deaths has not increased. Maybe just maybe this means that Omicron doesn’t kill people and (maybe maybe maybe, fingers crossed) Omicron is a contagious vaccine.

Omicron hit California on about December 22nd. Deaths usually follow confirmed cases in 2-4 weeks, but that doesn’t appear to have happened yet.

Yes, there are lingering fears about long COVID, delayed deaths and bad bad things. Heck, have you seen the Rick and Morty episode where Rick makes a love potion for Morty? Hilarious, right?

 

 

Ways to Cook Eggs

I had a really good time making many of the eggs in this video! My new favorite way to make an egg: French Omelet

Participate in this Flickering Light Experiment in Portland

If you are bothered by flickering lights and can get to Portland, Oregon in the next month or so, please join this research experiment! If you know someone that is bothered by flickering lights, tell them about this research project!

This is important research that will help science understand more about the light flicker some people see in car tail lights, building lighting, LED string lights, and other places. The research will help characterize people’s response to it, which will ultimately solve this modern scourge!

The experiment is happening in-person, in Portland, Oregon, in mid-January to mid-February (please disregard what the flyer says for timing, email for actual dates!).

PNNL Lighting Lab Flicker Experiment Recruitment Poster

What the heck am I talking about? Look at my Flickering Light Project website.

If you’re interested but can’t attend, I’d still love to hear from you in the comments below! This coalition to improve lighting is slowly gaining momentum and every voice is important!

 

 

 

 

 

Using a Lightbox to Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder

Over the years, I’ve used a few different lights to combat seasonal affective disorder, AKA getting depressed during winter because there’s not enough light.

For a while, I used a giant CFL light. I set it up so it was shining just over my desk. It helped!

 

Charlotte got me a dedicated lightbox, a NatureBright Suntouch Plus light with short fluorescent tubes in it. I’ve got to admit that it is a little better at pushing the blues away, possibly because of my intention (reciting in my head, “I’m turning my light box on now! It’s going to help me!”) possibly because of it’s placement (it sits right on my desk next to my computer, blasting my face). It has a 30 minute timer on it. When I need it, I run it for way longer than 30 minutes, more like 2 hours at a stretch. That lightbox isn’t for sale any more. I’d guess that  the new LED light boxes have replaced it at 1/2 the cost in 1/2 the space.

What is the light good for?

I haven’t had seasonal affective disorder (SAD) this winter yet, though here we are, right at the beginning, it’s not too late for me to need to pull that thing out!  I didn’t need it last winter since I spent all my time sitting in front of my home Zoom studio lighting. I used it 2 winters ago and it totally helped.

What my SAD feels like is a heavy, dark cloud, pushing down, almost literally, on my head and shoulders. I can literally feel it in my face, pushing the sides of my mouth down into a frown, pulling my facial features down, weighing on my neck. I can feel my ideas and emotions being smothered by that dark cloud. One of the worst things is how incessant it can be. Anyone can survive feeling like crap for a day, or even a week. But the damn feeling lingers for months, pulling everything down!

When I turn on my light box to counter SAD, within 3 minutes, I have a subtle, pleasant sense of mania, coupled with a slight, high pitched ringing in my ears. In a few minutes, I get that elated, expanded feeling like an espresso coffee just hit my bloodstream. It’s nice! Heck, I just pointed my desk lamp into my face and, woo hoo! it’s like cheap drugs! I’m exaggerating a little, but… not that much, really! A simple lightbulb really does all that!

When I don’t need a lightbox, it doesn’t do anything to push away the dark cloud of winter. But when I do, it totally works.

 

We’re on vacation in Oregon!

Abigail getting out for her first bit of snow fun on the side of the road

We couldn’t get her to come back to the car. Would you blame her?

We made it to Lassen Volcanic Park before sundown! A much longer drive than we expected because snow!

Driving in Lassen

The lodge at Lassen!

After hours of rough driving, we pulled over and Megan’s wonderfully packed sandwich fixings became wonderful sandwiches!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! Wishing peace on earth!

Science Ruins Everything

The myth of = the science of

Dragons = Dinosaur fossils

Why does every world culture have myths about dragons? Because people all over the world have discovered dinosaur fossils. Realizing this truth got me down in the dumps.

 

Most witch hunts, Salem witch trials etc…  =  Ergot poisoning

Ergot is a fungus that grows on rye when conditions are just so. People that eat that rye flour have bad hallucinations. Not knowing the source, who wouldn’t think they had been cursed by a malevolent neighbor?

 

 

 

 

A Eulogy for Hank Faunce

I had a radio show at WMFO when I was a student at Tufts University. I had the great pleasure of meeting Hank Faunce in the studio several times and seeing him spin discs and offer his commentary.

He passed away a few years ago. The author of the eulogy below found a similar spark and beauty. I wanted to leave this here as a remembrance.

 

Originally posted here

August 8th, 2013

Delivered by Edward Beuchert
At the Community Church of Boston
June 30, 2013

Hank Faunce’s Promethean Commentary Plus Jazz radio show aired on WMFO 91.5 FM for a total of 23 years, starting in 1975 after he had been at WGBH for 9 years. Hank was an eloquent and erudite man, an expert on New Orleans jazz, socialism and weight lifting. The program generally consisted of him reading excerpts from books and essays, commenting on them and other issues that concerned him, plus playing jazz music — it was unlike anything that I had ever heard before, and an outstanding example of intelligent, high quality, non-commercial, freeform radio.

I first discovered WMFO in 2001 — scanning various stations while driving along McGrath Highway in Somerville, I remember tuning in another WMFO DJ, Joel Simches, playing a lesser known AC/DC song and promptly adding 91.5 FM to my presets. Promethean Commentary Plus Jazz was variously scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings and I was often able to catch Hank on the air. When I joined the station as a DJ in 2004, I especially looked forward to the possibility of making his acquaintance at a station meeting, and we soon afterwards became friends…

Although in many ways our politics were very different — Hank was an ardent Socialist and I consider myself a Green Libertarian, we shared many core beliefs, particularly on the nature of human beings, power and what happens to people when they get too much of it. He was a contrarian thinker, and introduced me to many important ideas, “things you’re not supposed to know.”  Just to mention a few, it was from Hank that I first heard some of the last thoughts of Hermann Goering, one of Hitler’s top officials. Goering was certainly no hero to either one of us, but we both believed that Goering’s following words on war and patriotism uttered right before his death ring true: Naturally the common people don’t want war. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country. Goering was a pretty sharp guy, actually; that’s the scary thing. When these types of people are in power they can win over millions who just don’t think. Hank was a great thinker, and he encouraged others to do so as well.

I also remember Hank briefly disparaging Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa on the air, which greatly surprised me: Was no one sacred to Hank Faunce? But when I later talked to him about that, and researched her myself, I discovered what Hank was getting at: Between taking money from crooks like Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier and Charles Keating, an American banker famous for his role in the Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980s and 90s, to the haphazard medical attention that those in her care received, Mother Teresa displayed an almost Jack Kevorkian fascination with pain and death. As she herself revealingly recalled One day I met a lady who was dying of cancer in a most terrible condition. And I told her, I say, “You know, this terrible pain is only the kiss of Jesus — a sign that you have come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss you.” And she joined her hands together and said, “Mother Teresa, please tell Jesus to stop kissing me”.  Yes, Mother Teresa showed a disturbingly lacking approach to managing pain. For various reasons a powerful public relations machine was built around her, and significant amounts of the money she raised went not to support the sick and dying, but instead to the general operations of the Roman Catholic Church, which has been responsible for some great evils including hundreds of years of institutionalized child abuse.

And it was from Hank Faunce reading passages from an Ivan Illich book on the air that I first learned of that philosopher, maverick social critic and ultimately former priest, who among many other things, pointed out in the 1970s how Western medicine frequently caused more harm than good and in effect rendered many people lifelong patients, predicting and ultimately diagnosing the incredibly expensive, wasteful and often ineffective American health care system we have today.

Hank and his wife Irene were married for 44 years, and when she passed away on April 19, 2002 (his birthday), it had a profound impact on him. He truly and deeply loved her. Hank was 90 years old when he died, and except for the last few years of his life, he was in excellent physical condition, regularly going to the gym to lift weights and able to get around quite independently. And, as a point to ponder, despite his long time associations with many jazz musicians, Hank never drank or smoked, which may have had something to do with his long and healthy life…

During the end of Hank’s tenure at WMFO, the technology was developed to broadcast and archive shows on the web, and I’m very happy to have saved MP3 archives of more than 20 of Hank’s shows from 2004 and 2005. Many people who learned from and admired Hank never personally met him, but knew him only through those broadcasts of Promethean Commentary Plus Jazz on the radio. With those recordings preserved for posterity as they are, in a very real way Hank is still with us today, and will be here in the future. I look forward to ultimately excerpting more of Hank’s words and thoughts on my own radio show sound collages and even rebroadcasting some of them more completely on weekday mornings on WMFO. Thank you Hank Faunce, for all that you were, all that you thought and all that you said on the 91.5 FM airwaves…