In the news…

Two brief items that deserve to be noted:

Mountain top removal is finally being reviewed by the EPA, with a strong hope and prayer by many that this horrendous practice of blowing up entire mountains for the sake of the coal that lies within them will be stopped.  New York times coverage is here; one of the heroes of the anti-MTR campaign is my friend Al Johnson whose organization, Christians for the Mountains, can be found here.

And this weekend is “Earth Hour” – Saturday at 8:30 pm (your local time whereever you are), turn off the lights for an hour.  It’s small, it’s symbolic – it not make a lot of difference by itself, but I think it’s probably worth participating in.  Its one more small way to say that we’re in this together…

When you see my farm, you see my soul…

Drive about forty-five minutes northeast from Madison Wisconsin to the town of Columbus. Then go northwest out of town on State Highway 16 and you’ll come to Fountain Prairie farm. Pull into the driveway and park between the house and the barn, step out of your car, and take a look around.

You will quickly realize that this place is different from other farms. You have been driving through farmland for an hour – mile after mile of rows of corn and acres of soybeans. Here you are standing on grass. Grass pasture and prairie stretches from border to border. And you’re looking at some of the most interesting – and beautiful – cows in the state of Wisconsin. Continue reading

Three cheers for Luddism

In my hometown lives a baker.  The very ordinary name of his business (“Madison Sourdough”) hides the fact that he’s a European trained master pastry chef.  Croissants, danish, brioche – the stuff is, if not worth dying for, certainly worth driving several extra miles across town early in the day to grab the last items before someone else gets them.

Still-life with Brioche by Chardin (Wikipedia Commons)
Still-life with Brioche by Chardin (Wikipedia Commons)

Now, I’ve been a fan of most of what he makes for quite a while, but his brioche are some of the best pastry I’ve ever eaten.  Which has led to a couple of very interesting conversations:

About a month ago my faithful readers may recall I was in Washington DC during the time of the Inauguration.  One of the mornings there I found myself, with Daughter #1, in a very authentic french patisserie in Bethesda Maryland.  Guess what was in the pastry case?  Brioche!  But these looked a bit different from those I’ve become accustomed to  in Madison.  A long conversation with the woman who ran the shop followed.  She had baked everything in the shop herself.  She had serious doubts as to whether the so-called brioche from Madison was the real thing, and in what would have to be described as a passionate defense of her craft, grabbed a brioche, sliced it in half, and stood there while we sampled it, with the following (please imagine a strong French accent):  “If this is not the best brioche you’ve ever had, I want to know it…”

Continue reading

Neem Hakeem: Headphones and Twinkies are hazardous to your Health?

[Almost anyone who has spent time in Pakistan or parts of India recognizes the term ‘neem hakeem’ – means a doctor who isn’t quite up to par.  Thus one of the most popular folk proverbs in the area:  A ‘neem hakeem’ is a danger to your life…]

Today’s ‘Neem Hakeem’ lesson is via a story on NPR over the weekend.  People are dying – literally – because of their headphones.

Strangled by the cords as they doze in class, maybe?  Victims of brain cancer because of electromagnetic radiation?  No – run over by buses, trains and other large and noisy vehicles:

Lisa Carolyn Moran, 20, a University of North Carolina exchange student from Scotland, was listening to an iPod while jogging when she stepped into the path of a bus in Chapel Hill last May. Joshua Phillips White, 16, was wearing earphones and walking on a train track in Cramerton, N.C., last November when a freight train hit him from behind, killing him; police said he apparently didn’t hear the locomotive approaching. Alan Eaton-Chandler, 17, was killed under the same circumstances just last Tuesday when he was hit by an Amtrak train in Comstock Township, Mich. And Vicky Baker, 39, was talking on her cell phone when she was struck and killed by a train in Albertville, Ala., in December.

There’s more than one lesson here:

Continue reading

Report from the Front Lines (II): Much Will Be Demanded

Rachel is a missionary in Tanzania who after reading Our Father’s World sent the following plea to her friends and supporting church back ‘home’ in the US.  She’s given me permission to share this with you:

The time I’ve spent living in Tanzania has helped me to appreciate many things that I used to take for granted.  58% of the population of Tanzania lives on less than $1 per day. Although I often don’t feel rich, I am very rich by comparison. Many things (running water, washing machines and dryers, cars, electricity, refrigerators, ovens, microwaves and computers for example) that Americans expect and accept as the norm simply aren’t an option for the majority of Tanzanians, or the rest of the world. Continue reading