(Image credit: unknown)

Posted by Ellen

I would be thankful if we could get all these Thanksgiving myths sorted out. In the meantime, I am thankful for Thanksgiving, and for family and friends and our furnace.

Posted by Ellen

Somewhere near this scene, just out of camera range, there's probably an old inscription scratched by a pocketknife into a barn rafter: "Norman Rockwell was here."

It's Minnesota in the springtime. You can tell it's Minnesota because the little boy with his back to the camera is still wearing his winter hat, with the earflaps folded up.

The photographer is not known, but there's a caption written on the Kodachrome slide: "Dam at Blue Earth, just below the cemetery, May 4, 1952."

Posted by Ellen

 

Some days, seems like nothing in the world will make life worth living other than a picture of cute babies or puppies. This one popped up when I asked the Flickr photo site to show a dozen photos chosen at random.

Posted by Ellen

A single picture doesn't tell the whole story, but it looks like it was a pretty good party. And although Ted has cut his hair since then, I'm guessing he can still dance.

Posted by Ellen

There will come a day when nobody cares about Alabama football any more. True, we're not there yet. We'll probably have single-payer health care in the United States long before the Crimson Tide roll over and play dead.
As I write this, Alabama is losing its first game of the season 16-17, to Virginia Tech. They're playing in Atlanta tonight, in the Georgia Dome, but some sunny Saturday very soon, Bryant-Denny stadium in Tuscaloosa will once again look exactly like this.

 

Posted by Ellen

The supply closet at the back of Tommy Flowers's math classroom at University Place Middle School in Tuscaloosa has won official recognition as the world's smallest museum.

Mr. Flowers, who has been teaching for 25 years, has assembled a collection of Edgar Allan Poe artifacts, including plastic hearts, dozens of photos, a skull, and of course, a skeleton. He says he became fascinated with Poe when he was himself in junior high school, and he tries to weave Poe's stories and poems into his students' daily lessons.

The fact that he teaches math, not literature, has not been an obstacle: he wants his students to take inspiration from Poe as they cultivate their imaginations to get the most out of life. Also, he wants them to calculate the square footage of his museum--the answer to that is 22, which is the magic number that got Edgar's Closet desgnated as smallest museum in the world.

"I d like a few visitors," said Mr. Flowers. "But more than anything, I'd like to see a few teachers have museums in their closets."

All five Stein boys went to University Place when it was an elementary school. It has recently added middle school grades as part of the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education's scheme to re-segregate the public schools. So far, there have been numerous complaints and petitions, but no lawsuits, so it's working.

Posted by Ellen

This 1954 photo was part of a magazine advertisement. Makes me want to buy a Buick, sort of--must be the pearls and the black glove, and that little tiny trunk key.

Posted by Ellen

Family life among the animals can get up close and personal with a webcam aimed 24/7 at a mud wallow in the forest claimed by a pack of wild boars, or a nest of sticks atop a telephone pole where a couple of storks have laid their eggs. But that was last summer and the summer before--this year, in Estonia, the webcams are mounted at an ostrich farm. One clutch of baby ostriches has hatched now, and you can watch the fluffy little bird-brained things squirming and snuggling under a heat lamp. Mom and Dad are outside in a paddock, incubating another nestful of eggs--looks like the male and female take turns sitting on the nest.

Go here to get your fill of ostrich video eye candy. The website is in Estonian, but even we Amurricans can figure out how to click on the pictures.

Hey, it's free--watch those ostriches all you want. The heatlamp is left on round the clock, so time zones won't keep you and those babies apart. Outside in the paddock, it gets light in Estonia around 10 or 11 p.m. Eastern daylight time. If you're up late, you can turn on the ostriches and watch them sitting on the nest and bobbing their heads a little, strolling along the fence line, grazing in the grass. Will you get bored? Yes--you're not an ostrich. But technology can hold your interest: instead of watching the ostriches in real time, you can click on another date and hour, and see what they were up to back then. By dragging your mouse across the bottom of the video frame, you can watch everything the ostriches did that hour in just a few seconds, and you can even watch them in reverse. Clouds will race across the sky, the sun will leap up from the horizon, and the ostriches will hop about right smartly.

If you could speed up the entire first year of video of a baby ostrich's life, you'd see it gain 100 pounds and grow as tall as an adult human. By age 3 or 4, mature ostriches can be 9 feet tall and weigh 350 pounds. They have three stomachs but no gall bladder, in case you were wondering.

There would be little point in speeding up video of an ostrich running; they can go from 0 to 27 miles per hour in a couple of seconds. Sometimes people race ostriches, with jockeys on their backs using saddles and bridles. They are said to be much more difficult to control than horses, but also much faster.