Best of InTheFray
A 2009 retrospective.
Image courtesy of Mashable
Stunned Haitians piled their dead
on the crumbling streets
Annette Marie Hyder
The earth did not open
an angry mouth
and there was no betrayal
in the lips of stone
that kissed them to their rest.
Forested fists were not shaken in rage.
It was weariness that caused it.
Haiti’s shoulders shuddered.
Her feet faltered in the steps
she’s used to taking
and she trembled
because she could no longer carry
in that moment
of so many souls on her back
that started out as beads
on a necklace
whose decoration dimmed
as burden burgeoned
and ankle bracelets whose bells
and began to weep instead.
Now Haiti weeps too
and we who have not faces of granite
weep with her, tears like gravel
for the way that they cut
and prayers slide like pebbles
into a landslide of mourning.
Huffington Post reports:
A day after the great Haiti earthquake, government officials today estimated the death toll could surpass a seemingly unimaginable 100,000.
Disaster teams, a Navy carrier and a hospital ship are headed to the country.
Stunned Haitians piled their dead on the crumbling streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and President Andre Preval reported stepping over dead bodies.
While specifics on the number of casualties from the earthquake remained unclear, early reports point to heavy and widespread damage in a country that is the poorest in the western hemisphere.
President Obama today said the United States government would offer “swift, coordinated, and aggressive” aid to the estimated three million people caught in the disaster.
The quake struck late Tuesday afternoon, centered just 10 miles from the densely-populated capital.
Read the entire article here.
Would you like to help?
The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti has many looking for ways to help.
In a blog post on the U.S. State Department Web site, Clinton’s Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills called for those wanting to help to donate $10 by texting “HAITI” to “90999.” The $10 donation will go automatically to the Red Cross “to help with relief efforts” and will be charged directly to your cell phone bill.
One of Haiti’s most famous sons, musician Wyclef Jean, has used Twitter to rally web users to contribute to his grassroots Yele Haiti earthquake fund. He’s urged his followers to text “Yele” to the number 501501. If you send the text, the organization will receive $5. The amount will be added to your next cell phone bill. You can retweet Wyclef’s updates and get some of your Twitter followers to donate, too.
The U.S. Better Business Bureau runs a site where U.S. donors can verify that a nonprofit is legit before donating. Source
Update 01-20-10: You might want to stick with tried and true Red Cross for donation-by-texting since there have been questions raised about Wyclef Jean’s charity, Yele Haiti. It has come under fire with accusations being made that In 2007 the foundation’s spending exceeded its revenues by $411,000 with a large percent of its expenses benefiting several of Jean’s for-profit businesses. Source
Fox News: Fast facts about Haiti earthquake
USA TODAY: How to help victims of the Haiti earthquake
Phoenix Business Journal: Be wary of earthquake relief scams
ABC News coverage
Gawker’s updates on Wyclef Jean’s charity, Yele Hait
Image courtesy of Jackie’s Page
My mom tells me that the leaves in Florida, which never do, have changed: a blushing profusion of cold bitten flush. And of course the iguanas, which have become proverbial as indices of cold, are falling from the arboreal sky.
(Where she lives, in Hardee county, it got down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit last night!)
Urban legend caught on video
Record lows across South Florida are literally freezing the invasive iguana in its tracks.
Kamikaze iguanas, plummeting from their treetop perches, have long been a Floridian urban legend. On Wednesday morning, Local 10 caught the free-falling lizard on tape.
Scientists said these seemingly suicidal lizards are a result of South Florida’s record cold weather. Iguanas prefer temperatures in the 80s and 90s. With Wednesday morning’s temperatures at around 35 degrees, a handful of lifeless lizards hung from branches and fell to the ground.
While these iguanas appeared dead, experts said they are not. When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, iguanas go into a type of hibernation in which their bodies essentially turn off, only allowing the heart to pump blood. When the temperature rises above 40 degrees again, the iguanas are revived.
“It’s almost like they go totally to sleep. Generally speaking, if it warms up afterward, they can recover,” said Ron Magill of Miami Metrozoo.
Ron Magill adds this cautionary note:
“I knew of a gentleman who was collecting them off the street and throwing them in the back of his station wagon, and all of a sudden these things are coming alive, crawling on his back and almost caused a wreck.”
you can tell it’s cold in florida because
Annette Marie Hyder
this morning the scrub oaks
woke up confused
to find their leaves changed
since they went to bed
the mangroves wont walk
with the cold in their bones
arthritic concerns nod their heads
the palms shiver in silver
that criss-crosses their trunks
their fronds are fast frozen
even the shoreline
wears a sweater of rime
sequined with seashells
that tinkle and clink in surprise
at the frost-rimmed cup of the sun
gulls and cormorants —
feathered teeth of the sky —
click and chatter with cold
but it’s the blankets of ice
that the oranges are wearing
that really give it away
that and the way the iguanas are airborne
on their way to kerthunk at your feet
Links of interest:
Many Floridians, in wonderment and delight, took to flickr to share their amazement at, and photographic proof of, the rare beauty of ice in Florida:
Coffee, good for some, bad for others
I had a friend who was anti-coffee and would sneer at my ‘essence of death’, as he put it. Well, I have known all along that coffee is good for me. Scientists have waffled back and forth about the benefits and I do what most people do. I listen to the complimentary things researchers say about coffee as well as the negatives and then decide what to do based on how the research results apply to me. In my case (no high blood pressure, not pregnant, non-smoker), rejoice.
Here is an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal, Good News in the Daily Grind, that discusses the latest pros and the cons:
To judge by recent headlines, coffee could be the latest health-food craze, right up there with broccoli and whole-wheat bread.
This month alone, an analysis in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who drink three to four cups of java a day are 25% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who drink fewer than two cups. And a study presented at an American Association for Cancer Research meeting found that men who drink at least six cups a day have a 60% lower risk of developing advanced prostate cancer than those who didn’t drink any.
But don’t think you’ll be healthier graduating from a tall to a venti just yet. While there has been a splash of positive news about coffee lately, there may still be grounds for concern.
Continue reading here for the rest of the article and to check out the nifty ‘cup o’ joe’ graph that illustrates the pros and cons.
With that in mind
Remember when butter was bad and margarine was touted as the healthy choice? Now, years after I ignored the advice that sullied my ears, to eat margarine instead of butter, I am rewarded for my prescient consumption of the real thing as opposed to the artificial substitute by the acknowledgment by scientists that, why yes, butter is better than margarine.
Harvard Health Publications reports, in Butter vs. Margarine:
Today the butter-versus-margarine issue is really a false one. From the standpoint of heart disease, butter is on the list of foods to use sparingly mostly because it is high in saturated fat, which aggressively increases levels of LDL. Margarines, though, aren’t so easy to classify. The older stick margarines that are still widely sold are high in trans fats, and are worse for you than butter. Some of the newer margarines that are low in saturated fat, high in unsaturated fat, and free of trans fats are fine as long as you don’t use too much (they are still rich in calories).
Read the entire article here.
Now if incontrovertible proof were presented that coffee was bad for one’s health, the way that smoking has been proven to undeniably be detrimental to health, well that would be a different story. Until that happens, coffee is my friend.
To go with my coffee, in happy accompaniment, apple pie. Here is, via Neatorama, Carl Sagan’s Apple Pie Recipe:
A beverage as black as ink, useful against numerous illnesses,particularly those of the stomach. Its consumers take it in the morning, quite frankly, in a porcelain cup that is passed around and from which each one drinks a cupful. It is composed of water and the fruit from a bush called bunnu. — German physician and traveler,Leonhard Rauwolf, in 1583
No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness. — Sheik Abd-al-Kadir
A morning without coffee is like sleep. — Author Unknown
The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce. — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
We Are All Connected, featuring Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye
Is Margarine one molecule away from being plastic? Read Snopes.com: The butter truth
Drinking Coffee, Decaf and Tea Regularly Associated With A Reduced Risk Of Diabetes
Coffee Consumption Associated With Reduced Risk of Prostate Cancer
Midlife Coffee And Tea Drinking May Protect Against Late-Life Dementia
When my mom was growing up they had ‘milk of the gods’. It was delivered to their front door in a glass bottle and fresh from the cow with cream on the top and she and her brothers and sisters would argue over whose turn it was to ‘get the cream’. ‘Getting the cream’ meant scooping off the cream into a bowl and eating it in front of the jealous siblings.
Fast forward from her childhood to mine. At one point when I was growing up my widowed mom was having a hard time financially and had to get government food assistance from the US Department of Agriculture: cheese, milk, butter, rice, oats and peanut butter. The butter was really good. The peanut butter, rice and oats were OK. The cheese was a long yellow rectangle that came in a box (kind of the way that Velveeta is packaged). This cheese was not delicious. But it was the government milk that was particularly loathsome. It was made from powdered and dried milk solids with ‘just add water’ on the package directions.
My mom kept the plastic milk jug from her last store-bought milk when it was empty (she knew she would have to resort to the powdered milk) and she rinsed it out really well and prepared the noxious ‘govmilk’ in the recycled milk jug to try to trick us kids into thinking it was regular milk. We were not fooled. We refused to drink it. But in refusing it we were not turning our noses up at it because it was government milk. We turned our noses up, justifiably so, because it smelled horrible.
Since the sense of smell is so intricately entwined with the sense of taste, how could we be expected to drink that stuff?
What has me thinking about milk as a beverage in its highest (from my mom’s childhood) and lowest (from my childhood) embodiments is what I found at the grocery store the other day.
Yes, right at my local Super Target, the legendary glass-bottled milk is to be found:
“Simply the Best
Delivered direct to your door
At first, in my shock at seeing the ‘home delivery’ blazoned on these bottles of milk I didn’t notice exactly what they were. I was repulsed to see imperfections in the milk–right there proudly on display. And the milk was not the pure white I had imagined from my mother’s rhapsodizing. Maybe the milk was just so much better back then? The bottle shape wasn’t what I expected either.
Then I looked closer and saw that it was eggnog. Huge relief for the quality factor there! The imperfections were traces of nutmeg and were, in their proper context, lovely. There was no milk actually–just the eggnog. So now, intrigued, and wondering (based on the jaunty promise on the bottle) if I too might experience ‘milk of the gods’ delivered directly to my door, I looked up info about the Oberweis company.
Here’s what I found out:
It was important to me to see that the milk is antibiotic-free and free of artificial growth hormones–I require that in the milk I buy. So, I’ll be getting some Oberweis milk from one of the stores listed in my area and doing a taste test. I’ll let you know how it turns out!
And finally, I remembered that there were always sheets of recipes that came with the USDA food and sure enough, they still have them:
Index Of All Commodity Fact Sheets
And here is a special shout-out to the non-fat dry milk recipes:
USDA’s collection of non-fat dry milk recipes
Image courtesy of inhabitat.com
Annette Marie Hyder
each new year’s a guest
who brings hostess gifts for me
gift wrapped and ribboned
i can’t wait to open all
three hundred and sixty-five