Two Documentaries About The Arctic
Published on May 31, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about two documentaries about the arctic, both silent, that are well worth checking out: "Nanook of the North" and "South."

Click here to learn more.

Planting Time
Published on May 30, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, my colleague Margaret Hartley writes about the planting season in her weekly column, Greenpoint.

Here's an excerpt:

"Beyond the parades and backyard picnics, the flags and the hotdogs, Memorial Day weekend is the traditional time for garden planting.

Some of you, those in the tropics of Albany and Schenectady, may have already put in your tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other heat-loving plants that cannot tolerate a frost.

Up north where I live, we prefer to wait. Our plants are growing nicely in their little pots, strawberry boxes and coffee cups, staying out in the day and getting tucked in at night like the babies that they are.

Our garden beds are ready for them but really, it doesn’t hurt to wait. Where they are — hanging out in a plastic-covered shelving unit that we refer to as the incubator — they are gaining size, girth and root systems, and a lot faster than they would in the still-warming soil.

And we’ve been known to have frost as late as June 6, although that’s not likely this year."

Click here to read the whole thing.

NBA Playoff Picks, Conference Finals
Published on May 30, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my NBA conference finals picks.

Click here to read them.

Quiet in Wisconsin
Published on May 29, 2012 by guest author: A Espeseth

It has felt a little quiet in Wisconsin these past few months.

With the recall election pitting the state’s current governor, Scott Walker, against the Democratic candidate, Tom Barrett, occurring in early June, you would think things would be abuzz. Since spring of last year, I had been very active in the effort to push for a recall of Governor Walker and it was an astonishing moment when nearly a million signatures were collected through a public-generated campaign to spark this special election.

But since that moment, I’ve felt I know little about what’s going on. Once the signatures were gathered and it quickly became apparent that a recall election was going to happen, I sat back and took a deep breath. But maybe I’ve sunk too deeply into the couch cushions. Maybe my partners in this effort have, too.

With two young kids and a job, I have my hands full these days. I became more than a little involved in the recall campaign because its importance, in my mind, placed it nearly on par with that of raising children and keeping up with work responsibilities. I felt that the opportunity for equity in life, liberty and happiness was at stake for the majority of Wisconsinites, and that standing by and watching wasn't an option. Many of those I know – even with other critical responsibilities nagging – felt the same way and took some part in – some extra action toward - propelling the effort and keeping energy up.


A New Face in the Family
Published on May 29, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the birth of my new niece.

"There’s something very relaxing about having a baby fall asleep on your chest.

Last weekend I got to see my new niece, Kenzie, for the first time.

Born on a Wednesday morning, she was 4 days old when I finally got to spend some time with her. She weighed less than my cats but fell asleep just as easily, her tiny and delicate little body rising and falling with each breath.

When my sister and I sat down for a lobster dinner, we propped her up on my lap, draped a lobster bib across her body and took her photograph next to the boiled crustacean.

This activity failed to rouse her, but she began stirring in her Moses basket when we sat down to eat, as if sensing that something exciting and meaningful was taking place without her. There was some speculation about what she wanted — was she hungry? Did she need to be changed? — but as soon as my brother-in-law, Tom, picked her up, her cries ceased. All she wanted was to be held."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Message From the Publisher
Published on May 24, 2012 by Sara Foss

We are on vacation until sometime next week.


Great Covers
Published on May 23, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I list my favorite cover songs.

Click here to see what they are.

A Pile of Pill Bottles
Published on May 21, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, my colleague Margaret Hartley writes talks about the challenges of recycling pill bottles ... as well as the useful things you can do with them.

Here's an excerpt:

"Ever since my husband acquired a few chronic health conditions, we have developed a chronic prescription pill bottle problem.

They keep coming in. The pharmacies won’t refill them, so every month more and more show up at our house.
Of course, they are useful little bottles, straight sided with lids that screw on tightly, and we are lucky enough to receive three different sizes. Or four, or even five some months. They are handy for holding small things, including nails, bolts, screws, hair pins, seeds, fishing hooks or those little gripper things that pop off our ice creepers and need to be put back on.

Our tool boxes and junk drawers are full of the bottles, stripped of their labels and marked with content info with a Sharpie: 'okra seeds,' 'thumb tacks,' 'roofing nails.' The tackle box has a few, the seed drawer has more. There are some in the freezer and spice cabinet, holding caraway seeds and xanthan gum, and in the sewing box, holding pins and buttons.

Click here to read the whole thing.

Film Capsules
Published on May 21, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about some of the recent films I've watched on DVD, including "The Secret of Kells" and "The Man in the White Suit."

Click here to read it.

New Afghan Whigs!
Published on May 20, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at Rolling Stone, you can listen to the Afghan Whigs' first new recording in five years - a cover of Marie "Queenie" Lyons 1970 song "See and Don't See." Every Afghan Whigs song I've ever heard is excellent, and this one is, too.

So Now I'm a Gardener?
Published on May 20, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about my unlikely new hobby - gardening.

Here's an excerpt:

"I’ve never been interested in gardening.

To me, gardening sounds a lot like work. Sure, you get some vegetables, but I can buy those fairly easily — at the store, the food co-op in Albany or one of the region’s many farmers markets. Whereas gardening takes real effort. The vegetables don’t just grow. You have to plant them. And water them!

Nevertheless, I can see the appeal of being able to walk outside, retrieve some vegetables from your garden and eat them for dinner. And I’m sure those vegetables taste better, because they’re fresh and you grew them yourself. But how much better do they taste? I bought some asparagus the other night, and it tasted pretty good sautéed with garlic and olive oil, despite being from New Jersey.

So I’m a bit of a gardening cynic, although let me clarify this a bit by saying that my cynicism mainly concerns my ability to maintain a garden. I’m perfectly fine with other people gardening, especially when they give me vegetables. I generally think growing your own food is a good thing because I generally support activities that allow people to avoid going to the store and spending money, and because I think it’s probably better, for both the earth and our bodies, to eat food that wasn’t transported to our dinner plates from 2,000 miles away."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Top Reads of the Week
Published on May 18, 2012 by Sara Foss

Role Models: Adam Rust on two unlikely mentors

Parenting: J LeBlanc on Hollywood and parenting

Movies: Sara Foss on "The Avengers"

Sports and gender: Sara Foss on being the only girl

Fashion: Sara Foss on grown up clothing

Last Dance
Published on May 17, 2012 by Sara Foss

Summer Concert Preview
Published on May 17, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I list some of the concerts I'm excited about this summer.

Click here to see what they are.

Lessons in Parenting
What to Expect From Hollywood
Published on May 16, 2012 by guest author: J LeBlanc

The new film "What to Expect When You’re Expecting" caught my eye the other day. It shares its name with a book known as the “pregnancy bible” and I wondered what, if anything, the two had in common. So, I watched the trailer. It appears the resemblance ends with the name. Far from having the desired effect of making me want to watch the movie, it made me wonder how it is possible that Hollywood is still beating to death the same tired stereotypes about birth and parenting.

A large part of the trailer features a group of morose dads saddled with babies and their bulky paraphernalia telling the new guy about how parenting means your life is over — stereotype number one. They also inform the newcomer that his girlfriend is really running the show; in this case, if she wants to look at houses, they will get a house —enter stereotype number two. To cap off this optimistic lesson, they inform him that within their group of “dudes” there is “no judging” – no matter what heights of incompetence or neglect they may reach. Thus we come to stereotype number three: the incompetent father. To the credit of the fathers out there, I don’t think this one is merited. 

The final stereotype involves the birth process. The several-second clip told me that it was the same comedic birth scene I’ve seen so many times before. Woman in labor verbally and/or physically abuses significant other while screaming for drugs. How about a woman who toughs it out for once? Or even one who genuinely tries? Or one who gives in out of exhaustion rather than because the pain is too much for her delicate feminine sensitivities? These fictional women must have super human energy — most of the actual births I watched on video involved a lot of moaning, but not a lot of yelling, except perhaps at the final pushing stage.


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