My blog

I write in spurts, mostly at random.

Earthworms & vermiculture grow in Union Grove, Wisconsin

Perhaps you have heard that worm castings (a.k.a. worm manure or worm humus, the digestive waste produced by earthworms) might be the finest organic fertilizer on earth. Possibly, you read somewhere that earthworms can be raised for this purpose -- and also to supply...

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Shaving cream switch: Goodbye shaving gel, hello Cremo

After years of annoyance, I have ditched my blue shaving gel for a new type of shaving cream, and I am a happier man. The new stuff is Cremo Astonishingly Superior Shave Cream. It helps my razor glide smoothly across my face, resulting in a nice, close shave. It has a...

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Frances Ha (2013 movie, Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig)

If you'd like to spend an hour and a half sometime watching a thoroughly enjoyable portrait of an adorable young woman coming to grips with adult life in New York City, Frances Ha is the movie you should see. Directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Greta Gerwig as...

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Jesus of Nazareth, the ‘Marginal Jew’ behind Jesus Christ

Who was Jesus of Nazareth, according to historical evidence? An ample crop of recent books on the "historical Jesus" has offered yet more answers to this perennial puzzle. Reza Aslan's Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth sounds very intriguing. Misquoting...

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Mitchell School fire in Racine, Wisconsin: Video, photos

My wife Amy was already up at 2 a.m. when the fire truck horns started blasting down our street. Mitchell School was on fire. Mitchell Middle School and Mitchell Elementary School are co-located. The entrance to Mitchell Middle School is on Drexel Ave. at Webster St....

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Barney’s Version (Paul Giamatti movie, 2010)

Barney's Version is a 2010 movie based on a 1997 novel by Mordecai Richler. It stars Paul Giamatti as Barney, a Jewish TV producer from Montreal who goes through a series of marriages. We didn't read the book nor hear much about the movie,...

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Joseph Conrad Complete Works for Kindle: $3

Heart of Darkness was the basis for Francis Ford Coppola's legendary movie Apocalypse Now, and a major influence on Anthony Bourdain. Victory resounded through Bob Dylan's song "Black Diamond Bay." Two separate film adaptations of Almayer's Folly have been released in...

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My earliest Beatles memories were counterfeit

With all the nostalgia this past week over the 50th anniversary of the Beatles landing in America and appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, I tried to reminisce about my own reaction to those first Beatles songs, only to recall that it was all a fraud. At age 3 and a...

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‘The Emperor of All Maladies’: Cancer history bestseller

I haven't blogged in months. I've been mostly absent from Twitter and Facebook as well. Initially, I wanted to spend less time in these scattered and distracted modes of thought, and more time on focused and linear avenues like reading books. But then my wife Amy was...

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‘Hot Coffee’ movie: How tort reform smothers your rights

Hot Coffee is a 2011 documentary film directed by Susan Saladoff which reveals that corporate interests have systematically muscled the American people out of their own legal system, and that the ability of ordinary citizens to seek fair compensation for harm done to...

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‘The Power of Habit’: Break bad habits, form good ones

The Power of Habit in paperback Update: A paperback edition of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg, was published on January 7, 2014. Although we may not be aware of it, we spend most of our lives doing routine things that...

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Chris Rock: ‘Good Hair’ (documentary movie, 2009)

Often, a documentary movie can reveal a whole world you never knew existed. Sometimes, that unknown world may even be occurring right alongside your own. Good Hair, comedian Chris Rock's documentary about African-American hairstyles, was like this for me. Growing up,...

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‘Silver Linings Playbook’ (Jennifer Lawrence movie, 2012)

Silver Linings Playbook (trailer above) is a thoroughly wonderful movie that holds you captive for an up-close and personal two hours with wounded, middle-class Philadelphians struggling to navigate each other's emotional glitches. Unappetizing as that may sound, what...

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TeraBrite: Music videos, daily YouTube vlog, Conan O’Brien

The YouTube video above is something I stumbled upon while researching the Canon PowerShot S100. It's a great little camera -- but who are the kids in the video testing it? Their YouTube channel is called VleraBrite, and it is said to contain "TeraBrite daily vlogs!"...

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How to sleep: Candy Cane Lane tea by Celestial Seasonings

Looking for tips on how to sleep? You may want to try a peppermint green tea from Celestial Seasonings. No, I'm not talking about their Sleepytime Herbal Tea, or any of their expanding line of Sleepytime teas. The original blend -- with chamomile, spearmint and...

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FIPEL lighting to replace LED lights, CFL light bulbs?

Imagine high-quality light that's flicker-free, produced by light bulbs that don't shatter, contain no mercury, and are cheap to produce. According to a variety of news reports today, these new FIPEL lighting units (an acronym for "field-induced polymer...

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Greer Garson: ‘Mrs. Miniver’ (1942 movie)

I've been reading about World War 2 lately, so, as a step toward immersion, I thought it might be edifying to watch a related movie or two. My first selection was Mrs. Miniver, the 1942 hit starring Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, and Teresa Wright, an Academy Award...

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‘Catfish’ (2010 movie, Nev Schulmann documentary)

Thanks to incredibly clever electronic gadgets and the miracle of the Internet, we live in an age when anyone, anywhere, can potentially produce words, audio, and images, and share them with the world at large. Further, we can use inexpensive tools to assemble and...

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Racine’s Main Street bridge closing for 4 months

The Main Street bridge at the north end of downtown Racine will be closed for four months -- December, January, February, and March -- beginning this Friday, November 30, according to a Journal Times story. The bridge needs a protective coat of paint, which it last...

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‘Bill Cunningham New York’ (2010 documentary movie)

People often talk about living life on your own terms, but in Bill Cunningham New York we are shown an example of someone who has actually done it. Photographer Cunningham spends his days on the street in New York City, bicycling from place to place to take fashion...

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‘Brain on Fire’: Autoimmune disease, not demon possession

Were the countless cases of "demonic possession" that have frightened people through history actually manifestations of a rare autoimmune disease with symptoms ranging from numbness, paranoia, and erratic behavior to hallucinations and catatonia? This was one of the...

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What is a catheter and why is it stalking me?

I'm a political/news junkie who works from home, so the TV on my desk is often tuned to MSNBC. While Morning Joe, The Daily Rundown, Jansing & Co., Andrea Mitchell Reports, The Cycle and the rest are sweeping through the hours like the sun across the sky, the TV...

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‘Argo’ (Ben Affleck movie, Best Picture of 2012)

Many people know something about the Iran hostage crisis, which began when the U.S Embassy in Tehran was stormed by angry Islamists on November 4, 1979. Fifty-two Americans inside it were then held hostage for 444 days, released only as Ronald Reagan was being sworn...

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‘Road to Nowhere’ (Monte Hellman movie, 2010)

If you're acquainted with any wannabe filmmakers, you may know the agony of listening to people spout movie jargon and watching them direct scenes for films that can never amount to more than an indulgent mess of amateur acting, clumsy technique, and flawed...

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Mitt Romney lying about balanced budget, taxes

Mitt Romney is lying. He and Paul Ryan teamed up for a joint town hall meeting on Monday at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Here is what Mitt Romney said to the more than 3,000 people who came to hear him: " ... raising taxes slows down growth, and...

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Honey Boo Boo on CNN with Brooke Baldwin, John Berman

Here's a little TV moment that I'll be reliving in nightmares for a while. Apparently, "Honey Boo Boo" is the nickname of Alana Thompson, the breakout star of TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras beauty pageant show who will now be featured in her own TLC spinoff, Here Comes...

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‘Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson

My sister recently gifted me with a copy of the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, published last year by Simon & Schuster. At 571 pages plus notes and index, it's a hefty volume, and Isaacson's plain and linear telling makes the book seem daunting at first...

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