Showing posts with label resources. Show all posts
Showing posts with label resources. Show all posts

Saturday, July 12, 2008

An 'average' wildfire year, so far, sort of

Having been a bit too close to a few, I know there is nothing "average" or otherwise all that statistically interesting about a wildfire if you're close to it. But...

Having said that, what with the rash of fires in California this year, I was surprised to see at the National Interagency Fire Center website that as of July 12 (the page updates daily), this year is actually just slightly below the five-year average in acres burned in the United States. This year: 3,024,762 acres. Five-year average for this date: 3,164,599 acres.

When you look at the ten-year average for acres to date on July 12, though, it's another story: 2,564,126 acres. (There were some really good early fire seasons in there, which skewed the average down quite a bit, like 1,031,086 acres through July 12 in 2003, and 1,254,208 acres through July 12 in 2001.)

Another website with official wildfire news and information is InciWeb.

(P.S. The National Interagency Fire Center is commonly called Nif-see, from its initials: NIFC.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A memory to hold, someone to mourn, bills to pay

Some mothers who have lost a baby before birth (or shortly after) are working on ways to help other mothers get through a similar loss, sometimes (in part) by making sure the mother has something to hold in her aching arms when she leaves the hospital. See A memory to hold, by J.J. Harrier (Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, June 7, 2008). The article highlights a local campaign in Alaska called Hunter's Hugs (inspired in part by The Angel Teddy Bear Foundation) as well as other programs and projects designed to help families that lose infants.

As someone who lost a twin sister the day we were born, I am all for acknowledging that babies who die in the womb or shortly after are family members whose loss hurts. My parents tried to cope by not naming my sister, and by donating her body to science, but for reasons I won't go into here I don't think that's a great idea. I understand that they did what they thought was best at the time, and thought they were making the best of a bad situation. Let's leave it at that for now.

I was impressed by this from the Frontiersman article:
As her mother comforted her in the hospital during her three-day stay, [Hunter's Hug founder Cari] Lester received a blue box from the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center staff with several keepsakes they had collected: a lock of her son’s hair, his footprints stamped on a card, a fabric heart and grief support pamphlets. Lester said the gesture was heartfelt, but there was nothing in the box to help her with the pain she felt leaving the hospital empty-handed.
Kudos to the hospital for providing keepsakes. There are places that would try to claim he wasn't a person yet, and try to leave it at that. Sad to say. So, "Yay!, Mat-Su Regional Medical Center."

From the same article:

[Wasilla Mayor Dianne] Keller said after [her unborn daughter] Erin died, a flood of medical bills came her way from the funeral home and hospital. She said she hopes the federal government will eventually offer a tax deduction for families of lost unborn children, adding that she is working with congressional delegates to change the current system.
P.S. While I was writing this, I was interrupted by a friend. I mentioned what I was writing about, and also mentioned the mother's comment in the Frontiersman article that “Going through this, you want to hit, throw and cuddle something all at once” - and he said that the adoption and foster care agency he used to work with, in a large city I don't see any point in naming, tried putting babies into foster care with mothers who had recently lost their own, but found that without constant supervision by a third person the babies tended to get hurt, so they stopped doing that. What did work pretty well, he said, was a program they put into place after a minister approached them about supplying Bibles to mothers who were leaving the hospital without their baby. Dealing with freshly bereaved parents isn't something that I would have thought a foster care and adoption agency would see as a core mission, but I guess (from what my friend said) that they jumped in with both feet and had a team that usually got called out once or twice a day, just to deal with a family coping with the loss of a preborn or newborn, and to make sure they had a Bible if they wanted one.

Previous semi-related post: Remembering those who die very, very young, which links to information about photographers who donate their time and talents to families facing the loss of a baby.

Monday, June 02, 2008

How is freedom born? A new film explores the question.

I see that Acton Media has a film coming out this month that looks like it addresses some important issues and provides some useful historical context. See The Birth of Freedom - A Documentary on the History of Freedom for more information, to view the trailer, or to arrange a screening. (Warning: the trailer includes images of torture and war dead and other nasty stuff. It's in context, but it might not be suitable for children.)

The official website also has a useful list of primary documents and websites, information on important people, and relevant court cases.

hat tip: Acton Institute

Update: The film is just shy of an hour long, if that makes any difference to you if you're hoping to set up a screening.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tsunami Warning Center map

I see the NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has an easy to read world 'event' map, and a table of tsunami messages. There are tabs to take you to regional maps: Pacific Ocean, Hawai'i, Indian Ocean, and Caribbean Sea.

At the top of the page is a box for current warnings, watches and advisories, if any. None are in effect at the moment.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Latin today: an update

Mary Beard asks Do we need Wikipedia in Latin? Because there is, surprisingly, just such a thing being built. From another link in her article, there are ways to get news in Classical Latin in Finland. (Or on the Internet, I guess. I can't read Latin, or speak or understand it, for that matter, so I'm not quite sure what to do with the website.)

What I find almost funny is that she chronicles these and other instances of Latin being used - for instance:

I’m pretty keen too on the general idea of using Latin in books meant for modern classical scholars. If you are a publishing a collection of ancient Latin inscriptions, you might just as well publish the commentary and explanation in Latin too. After all, anyone wanting to consult a Latin inscription is, by definition, bound to know the language – so it can be more inclusive to publish the commentary in Latin than in one particular vernacular, whether English, Swedish, or Japanese. It’s the lingua franca argument.
- but at the same time concludes:

The whole point about Latin is that it is a wonderful language, with wonderful literature worth reading on any evaluation of the world culture. But it is also well and truly dead. It doesn’t help the cause of Latin one bit to pretend that it is remotely worthwhile inventing new Latin words for “web” or “wind turbine” or “EU”.

So sorry if I’m being a killjoy, but I’m hoping that Vici dies a death.

Uhm. I'm not sure killjoy is the right word. Snob, maybe?

What in the world is wrong with more and more people learning Latin, and finding ways to keep practiced in it? Or keeping it up to date? Of making it another world language, even if on a smallish scale? English can handle the competition, at a guess. (And this is not to mention that studying Latin seems to help people become better at using English.)

For that matter, what would be wrong with just a handful of devotees using it, without it catching on in any big way?

Or with enough people using it that some more of it sloshes over into English, adding a bit of precision or color here and there? Not to mention fun?

I guess that if people keep using Latin, it will probably evolve the way other living languages do, and that might make it harder to get a handle on classical works? But how would that be different from any other language? Not a whole lot of people can read untranslated ancient English without training and/or good footnotes, either. So?

She reminds me a bit of those sad, distressed official wannabe protectors of the French language, who are forever shouting "Stop!" (more specifically, the French equivalent deemed most proper by the current panel of language police) when they find nearly everyone else around them delightedly shoving French both higher and lower as they pick up new ways of saying things from each other and from the rest of the world.

I'm not saying that all the language changes that get invented are good. Uhm, no. I have several word origin books, and several history of English books, and it has not escaped my attention that words tend to degrade and dissolve in meaning as time goes on. It's not all that uncommon for them to take on contrary meanings, for that matter. I sometimes take a stab at protecting a word or phrase from being misused into uselessness or confusion. (Sometimes I find it impossible, however. Not all that long ago, I found myself diving out of the crossfire when one group started demanding that the word tragedy be used only under certain circumstances, and another group was stoutly defending another, utterly incompatible, exclusive definition of the word. Harboring respect for the leaders of both camps, I picked up my marbles and went home, as the saying goes, vowing only that I would try to remember to think twice before calling anything a tragedy.) But to declare a language not only dead, but rightfully and properly dead, in the face of an enthusiastic and growing fan base for it? It seems a bit too much like standing on the seashore telling the tide what to do, doesn't it?

For what it's worth, I also find Beard's statement "After all, anyone wanting to consult a Latin inscription is, by definition, bound to know the language" questionable. Don't rookies who are in way over their heads ever make a brave or comical or deluded go at it? What is this attitude that there are modern classical scholars and then there is the rest of the world? Do scholars in her world spring fully formed from the womb? Or are her 'Latin inscriptions' (I'm not sure precisely what she means by that) something that is zealously guarded by some equivalent of an ever-vigilant three-headed monster, and only friends of the beastie's master get access to them? What?

Is she serious? Or joking? I guess I might have asked that earlier. Perhaps she thinks that looking down her nose at anyone who uses Latin without belonging to her little circle, or without their reluctant but gracious consent, is a variety of sophisticated jest?

For that matter, I'd like to clarify that I'm not angry with Beard, or offended. Mostly I'm perplexed. Tinged with amusement.

Perhaps I should have some pity. It must be rather difficult, being an academic sort in a day and age when academia can no longer control the flow of information and ideas to the extent it used to, even a generation ago. I can see where it might make anybody inclined to be defensive and dismissive. I'm not saying it should. I'm saying I can see where a person could get that way, if she wasn't careful.

hat tip: Frank Wilson

Friday, February 08, 2008

YoungLives program for teen moms

Just in case you're looking for help...

In Young Life, we have the privilege of extending Jesus Christ’s love to kids as they are, where they are. For high school and middle school girls who are expecting or are raising a child on their own, that love takes the form of a program called YoungLives.

Treating each mom and her child or children with unconditional love and respect, YoungLives offers teen moms relief from the isolation and struggle of their daily lives and hope for the future. YoungLives mentors provide friendship, parenting advice and help meeting the practical demands of raising a child. At YoungLives club and camp, moms get to socialize and have fun while their babies get the best possible care.

More information here

Young Life is just one of many places for teens to turn, regardless of what's up (or down) in their lives. I don't know about where you live, but around here there are a number of churches that do a great job of accepting and helping people of all ages regardless of their past, or their present circumstances. Keep looking until you find them. They want to help you.

Update: I should mention that you don't have to be Christian to get help from Young Life, or from most other Christian groups that I know about.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Historic Sunday School Books online

From American Memory (The Library of Congress), "Sunday School Books: Shaping the Values of Youth in Nineteenth-Century America":
This collection presents 163 Sunday school books published in America between 1815 and 1865, drawn from the collections of Michigan State University Libraries and the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University Libraries. They document the culture of religious instruction of youth in America during the Antebellum era. They also illustrate a number of thematic divisions that preoccupied nineteenth-century America, including sacred and secular, natural and divine, civilized and savage, rural and industrial, adult and child. Among the topics featured are history, holidays, slavery, African Americans, Native Americans, travel and missionary accounts, death and dying, poverty, temperance, immigrants, and advice.
The home page for the collection at Michigan State University is here.

Can spring be far behind?

Our Seed Savers Exchange catalog arrived in the mail yesterday. I must say, seed catalogs do make winter more fun. (Not to mention spring, summer, and fall, if you're a gardener. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Child-friendly candlemaking

As Cozy as Spring: Making Candles with Children has info on making beeswax candles. The blogger says even her three-year-old can make a candle this way. (And she claims there's almost no mess.)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Crater Lake National Park Nature Notes

All of the articles published in Nature Notes from Crater Lake since 1928 are online. It's a pretty eclectic collection of articles.

The website is still under construction, but it promises to be quite an enjoyable and educational resource.

If you've never been to Crater Lake here in Oregon, you're missing an experience, in my book. I'm not saying your life would be incomplete without it (far from it), but it is one of those places that tends to strike people as not what they imagined it would be. And besides, it's a fun drive to get there. (A word of caution: Some of the roads in that part of Oregon - like in my part of Oregon - are seasonal. Especially in winter, you should check ahead.)

hat tip: my husband

Friday, February 23, 2007

British World War I records coming online

From WWI soldiers' records go online, BBC, Feb. 23, 2007:

Service and pension records for more than two million soldiers who fought in the British army in World War I are being put online for the first time.

The documents provide a broad range of detail, from name and next of kin to wounds suffered and conduct record.

The release by the Ancestry website, working in partnership with the National Archives, is taking place in stages over the next two years.

The images are available to view on a subscription or pay-per-view basis.

All the records are already viewable on 28,000 rolls of microfilm at the National Archives in west London, but it is hoped the digitisation process will make them available to a much wider audience.

For an account from a man using newly released documents in a quest to learn more about a grandfather he never knew, see Uncovering the trenches, by Rob Liddle, BBC, Feb. 23, 2007.