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Various donuts from the Dunkin' Donuts store i...
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Today is National Doughnut Day. Seriously, there is and it’s evidently not some box store gimmick either. It is celebrated on the First Friday of June and was created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to celebrate the women who served donuts to the soldiers during World War I. The women went to the front lines and served home cooked baked goods to the soldiers there.  It was started as a fundraising event but is celebrated throughout the United States.

Donut chains, such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme donuts serve free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day in celebration of the event.

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Last night and tonight there are freeze alerts posted by the Weather Service. Who exactly would believe that you needed to be concerned about a “freeze” in almost the middle of May? We are not talking frost here, we are talking freeze. The difference? A frost advisory is issued when the predicted temperature is expected to fall to 36 degrees or lower in the following 3 to 30 hours during a growing season. A freeze warning is issued when there is an 80% or greater chance that the temperatures are expected to fall to 32 degrees or lower in the ensuing 3 to 30 hours during a growing season. If the temperature is expected to fall below 28 degrees this is referred to as a hard freeze. The concern right now, is mostly for the fruit trees and bushes that are blooming. Fruit blossoms are very vulnerable to freeze damage. As a result, Temperatures below 32 just before the flower opens can injure the ovules and prevent fruit set. Pollen grains will generally not germinate at temperatures below 41, and if temperatures fall below 51, the pollen tube may not grow, and fertilization may not occur even if pollination occurred. This can be devastating for the fruit farmers because damage to blossoms now means no fruit later.  Cutting through buds let farmers know if the buds have suffered freeze damage. Buds with black or brown all the way through will not produce fruit. Farmers and the Department of Agriculture are assessing to determine what, if any freeze damage will have on this year’s apple and fruit crops.

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As I sat in the doctor’s waiting room this afternoon, it was tuned to CNN and all the talk was the terrorist suspect that was taken off the plane headed to Dubai. The whole conversation and discussion centered around the fact that a few months ago this person became a citizen. There was outrage and concern that we aren’t screening our citizen-hopefuls carefully enough, yada-yada-yada.

Is it only me or is the more pressing and concerning question the fact that this person was listed on the “no fly” list and yet he somehow managed to get on the plane anyway. Remember, the news stories were very clear that the plane was leaving the gate when it was recalled and he was removed from the plane.

Hello? Doesn’t the “no-fly” list mean exactly that? How in the world did he manage to get through security and on the plane? Seriously, I am sure that there were at least two other passengers on that plane that were probably close to stripped down naked and tormented by TSA security protocols in order to get onto that plane and this guy- who intended to blow a sizeable chunk of Manhattan and its residents, visitors and tourists to kingdom-come, was allowed to get on the plane.

As you can probably tell, I am disturbed by this. I am disturbed by the news coverage – the smoke screen that the media is pulling to cover the “naturalization process” angle. Shouldn’t we be more concerned about making sure that potential terrorist suspects are not permitted to board aircraft?

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Spring break is behind us – Memorial Day is in front of us – May is just around the corner as I write this. For those of you who don’t live in the Great White North, seedlings and flowers, vegetables, the beach and barbeques come to mind while you dream. For those of us that do, there is a widespread frost alert for tonight, which means that anything that is already growing, might not be tomorrow morning. It also means that when you look around at the mountains (and trust me we have plenty of them) there is snow in them there hills. I am not referring to the mountains that house the ski resorts, the trails on those in many areas still carry strips of white among the green that is rapidly blossoming to life. Rather, the entire higher elevations are coated in white, frosted if you will and they look delicious.

We returned from our trip to New Jersey on Friday evening and awoke to snowflakes the size of softballs falling from the sky Saturday morning. Most of Saturday there was more snow than rain falling from the sky.

For those of you who are skeptical, I post bearing photos. I wish that I would have taken them this morning, but as of late afternoon, they are still quite white. For those of you who doubt and think I photoshopped (FYI I don’t even own it) or swapped out a real winter picture – note the budding trees in the foreground.

No one in these parts really considers Memorial Day the beginning of summer, by then it still really won’t seem like summer as it will in places south of here. No one will be running to the beach unless of course they are part of the Polar Bear Club. The water will still be quite chilly. Pools and the lakes around here don’t really open for business until late June. Our last frost date is early June. Summer is short, but it is sweet.

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“Do a good turn daily” that is the motto of the Boy Scouts. Basically do something each day that is good – good for someone or something in your life. Not bad advice. As I was reading today I came across an article in the New York Times about a couple different organizations that show older citizens that you’re never too old to dream. The article relates how one organization granted a wish to an older, lower income senior who wanted to go back and finish college but didn’t have the money for the required computer and printer.

During the course of reading the article, there was a reference to another site, twilightwishfoundation.org which offers a pretty neat program, Dining Unexpected Thank You. The founder related that when she was eating out in a diner she came across three elderly women counting their combined monies to pay their dining bill. She tendered the $20 for the bill to the waitress and the women were very happy to have been treated to lunch by a total stranger, making their meal that much more special. The Dining Unexpected Thank You is a program where you can download a card that you can give to a server at a restaurant or diner with monies to cover a bill for a senior citizen diner. The card permits the recipient to know who you are if you wish to disclose that information and comes along with a thank you to the recipient.

While none of us need a piece of paper and a website to do a good turn for someone, it’s a nice reminder that maybe our generosity (be it monetary or otherwise) may make a difference in someone’s day.

Enjoy your Friday!

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DISH Network's SuperDISH 121 mounted on a rooftop.
Image via Wikipedia

Two days ago, we canceled our subscription to Dish Network. Shutting off your satellite service is evidently, according to the satellite people at least, akin to cutting off your arm. Even more upsetting to them is evidently the fact that we didn’t use the dish or at least we didn’t for such a long time that it seemed silly to keep forking over the hundreds of dollars a month in order to keep our full service package coming (and not being used).

I have just gotten off the phone with Dish Network for the second time. It appears that they are even more perplexed when you tell them that you don’t watch television that way anymore than if you told them that you switched to their competitor. They even offered us a $14.99 a month local channel only package. Seriously, is it that hard to believe that we just don’t need it?

Don’t get me wrong, we are not the only ones around here that don’t have television (cable or satellite) We have friends and neighbors that have been without that form of mental stimulation for years. All we did was finally decide that since whatever we do watch we watch on the computer, that it just didn’t make sense to have to pay for a satellite service to just sit there … in case.

We haven’t gotten rid of television, we still watch television shows, we just now watch them on our television via the internet.

We’re not sports hounds so the fact that we don’t have the ability to watch live sports doesn’t matter at all to us. The woman that I spoke to also couldn’t understand that we didn’t watch our local channels – have these people seriously not heard of the internet and that good old fashioned form of entertainment, the printed newspaper? We have both of them and we seem to be doing all right in the world. I am aware of what’s going on and I really don’t live under a rock because I don’t have satellite television. Besides, I can’t think of the last time we actually watched local news on the television set.

It will be interesting to see exactly how many more times we get solicited to find out why we turned off our service. I am betting that this most recent phone call wasn’t our last.

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Last night we spent a very nice evening enjoying a Passover seder with our friends. There were about 35 people (about half of whom were under 17) present. It was a nice mix of friends and neighbors, all gathered together to help our friends celebrate this holiday. The food was delicious and the company was great. Everyone read Haggadah and the adults commended the children for conquering some of the words that they don’t see (probably ever in writing) like “smite”.

It was, however, a late night which makes this morning, even more difficult to manage, but it was a fun evening shared with many friends.

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Tim is headed off to Hinesburg Saturday for the Vermont Odyssey State competition. Fingers crossed, he and his team who have worked super hard on their project will do well.

In the spirit of Odyssey which is proud to call upon dumpster diving for its props and limits the teams to how much they can spend, here is a video released by Ok Go which uses a lot of stuff the band acquired through flea markets and garage sales to put together an awesome Rube Goldberg type machine that goes along with their song. The video, most amazingly was shot with one continuous camera and no editing. The band said that it took about 60 tries to get it right, but wow is it worth the effort. Below the video is a link to an article on Wired’s website which explains how it was done and shows some behind the scenes video clips.

How Ok Go’s Amazing Rube Goldberg Machine was Built

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Square root of x formula. Symbol of mathematics.
Image via Wikipedia

Math is one of those things – it seems like you get it or you don’t. For some people, math problems might as well be Greek or gibberish – it doesn’t make any sense to them. For others, it comes as easy as second nature. In my own family, I have one son to whom math is the easiest thing ever- answers roll off his tongue with little or no effort and two others for whom the word “math” is considered a four-letter word and strikes their hearts with fear.

Apparently, this dichotomy is not just affecting my family, it is like a huge crater separating the math wizards from the math fearful.  Steven Strogatz, a Cornell applied mathematics professor, is putting together a series of articles about math for the everyday person, from pre-school to grad school. HIs goal is to make math more understandable to people so they can understand why the people who get math – get it and many of us just don’t, try as hard as we might.

His first installment and the article explaining the concept, entitled From Fish to Infinity can be found here.

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Since last Wednesday (mind you this is less than one week), I have baked 12 loaves of bread, and 48 cinnamon rolls plus unmentioned amounts of cookies. Last night I baked one loaf of bread for dinner and it was gone in a flash. Tonight, I baked two loaves and there is barely any left.  I figure that should be up to at least four or five loaves of bread a day by New Year’s the way this crowd is eating and the adults haven’t even shown up yet. Plus I haven’t even had a chance to christen my new pizza stone or loaf baker. Maybe a bakery is in my future?

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Today is Opening Day. No, not baseball opening day and no, not hunting opening day. Today is Snowmobiling Opening Day. Today is the first day that the VAST trails are open since hunting season ended yesterday.

Founded almost 40 years ago, VAST is responsible for the organization of the sport, maintaining and grooming trails. One of the oldest snowmobiling organizations in the U.S., VAST is a non-profit, private group that includes 138 clubs statewide, with over 35,000 members combined. (Taken from VAST’s site)

Beginning today, snowmobile trails throughout the state of Vermont are open for riding. Most of the riding takes place on private lands that landowners generously allow to be used by snowmobilers. Wouldn’t find that in New Jersey now would you? No one here thinks twice if a band of snowmobilers comes riding through their yard. After all, it’s winter. No more so than the rouge cross-country skier or snowshoer that wanders through.  Did you know that you can travel from one end of the state to the other solely by snowmobile? How cool is that? We are lucky that we have trails right outside of our door and Tom and Tyler will be off on the snowmobobies (as Tyler used to call them). The side benefit to me, is that I get my cross-country ski trails groomed in the mix. It’s all good.

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We received a call at 5:30 this morning from the automated alert system in the school district advising us that the entire district was closed down this morning for a snow day. The first snow day of the season is always pretty exciting and by the looks of it, this is going to be a good day to be inside, prepping for Christmas and maybe doing some baking.

I remember when we were in NJ and as class mother it was one of my job duties to call all the other parents in the class to advise them when there was a snow day. The variety of responses told a lot about the people, whether they realized it or not. There were those that I could tell I had woken up and they digested the information with that sleepy glaze in their voice. There were those, who you could tell were too serious for their own good, who sounded annoyed and disgusted. And then there were my favorites, the ones who sounded so excited, so happy, still retaining the childlike amazement of a snow day. Of course, there were those that, even at 5:30 or 6 a.m. didn’t even answer their phone. I often wondered if they didn’t care enough to find out who was calling or they weren’t home. In any event, those were usually the ones that were upset when they trotted their children all the way to school in less than ideal conditions to find it closed and decided that it was their right to complain.

When we moved here, we had to prep the boys and explain to them that this wasn’t going to be like New Jersey. People in Vermont were used to snow and it was expected and normal in the winter here, so snow days wouldn’t be like in NJ where even the forecast of some snow was enough to scare them into closing the schools. Today for example, they are predicting 60 mile per hour winds and 9 inches of snow with the possibility of ice thrown in there for good measure. We will probably lose power at some point, I will be surprised if we don’t.

This is what is it looking like out our window this morning.

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