Burt’s American dream

Burt Shavitz, a co-founder of Burt’s Bees cosmetics and personal care products, passed away on Sunday at the age of 80. I have seen (probably you have, too) those yellow Burt’s Bees tubes and bottles at the grocery story, pharmacy, convenience store, … everywhere, practically, with that bearded face on them. I always wondered just who that character was. Well, it was Burt. He was a man with an incredibly interesting life story. While doing a little searching and reading I ran into an interview with him from a year ago. Here it is.

Reading through the interview a couple of lines got my attention. Talking about his very simple home and lifestyle in Maine, Mr Shavitz put it this way, “Everybody has their own idea of what a good place to be is, and this is mine.” To me, this emphasizes the idea that we are individuals with our own ideas of what makes us happy. In a decent society there is respect for each individual’s pursuit of happiness.

48 degrees and green!

That was this morning’s low temperature, 48 Fahrenheit. If you look at the graph from yesterday where I griped about the cold summer we’ve had so far you’ll see that the record low for July 2 is 44 F. Nonetheless, it was brisk this morning. I shouldn’t complain, though, because everything is so green.

Here’s a shot of the backyard here at Ladybird Lane. That big ol’ weeping willow tree has gone through a lot. It lost a branch in the wind a couple days ago. And the far side is totally missing since the electric company comes by ever few years and trims off the branches so they don’t interfere with the electric lines. That hole in the middle, there used to be a second huge branch, about 18 inches thick, that shot up and to the right. But, it was down on the ground when we bought the house. We’re hoping it will last for a while more. Without that willow our backyard would be naked. The little orchard there on the left of the photo, those apples, plums and cherry trees wouldn’t mind the extra sun and neither would the veggie garden on the right. But, we’d sure miss that willow.


The second best reason to visit Hawaii

The 100% Kona coffee! At Foodland it was affordable. At Whole Check Foods it was outrageously priced, I think, $14 for a 7 ounce bag. I think I paid $10.50 at Foodland and it is just as delicious! I just didn’t get to carry around the Whole Check Foods bag. Here in Madison you can’t even find the 100% Kona. Such is the sad state of the People’s Paradise on the Shores of Mendota. ;-)


A cool summer so far

It’s July 1st and so far it’s been a pretty cool summer here at Ladybird Lane. It was 56 F this morning when I woke up and tomorrow morning the forecast is for a low of 51 F. So far we’ve had one day of 89 F, about three weeks ago. The peppers are looking a little peeked. They need some nice hot, sunny weather.


Madison temperatures through June 2015

Not too far away, about 90 minutes east, is Lake Michigan where water temperatures are pretty cold for this time of year. We visited Sheboygan the end of May and the wind coming off the lake was frigid! According to Michigan State’s CoastWatch water temps between Port Washington and Kenosha are in the mid to low 50s. Farther north water temps near shore at Washington Island are around 40 degrees. Ya, hey, no swimmin’ in da watah dis 4th dohncha know! The folks across the lake in Holland, Mich. have noticed and are wondering too when summer’s going to warm up.

This causes me a bit of concern. A cold Lake Michigan on the east and a cold Lake Superior on the north, that likely means a cold winter for Sconnieland in 2015. Please wire Algore and tell him to send a little warming our way!


Lake Michigan water temperatures



A good one from Dan. I got my gardening interest from mom and dad. We always had a huge garden and about a half acre of potatoes and a half acre of sweet corn. There was a lot of work for us boys in the Summer. But, we were never short of food in the freezer and the cellar.

Originally posted on vegetablurb:

I started thinking about this in a roundabout way the other day. My four-year-old granddaughter is honestly and truly interested in my garden. She helped me plant and pick beans, she knows where the corn, carrots and raspberries grow. And she always asks me to pick her up and quietly walk to the middle compost pile, where she knows we’ll see the ‘guard snake’ resting on top of the leaves.

The little things that go unmentioned, unnoticed, are sometimes the most lasting and consequential. I believe that. They can affect generations.

My Dad was a quiet man, reserved, soft-spoken (like father, like son). And I think of all the gifts he gave me, his passion for his vegetable garden is what I prize the most.

He had a giant garden. He never bragged about it, but it was the wonder of all who saw it. He never told me that…

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The Emergence of Orwellian Newspeak and the Death of Free Speech


Given the increasing use of Newspeak especially in the highest offices of government, this article is well worth your time.

Originally posted on Battlefield America - A Government of Wolves:

“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it…. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.” ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use.

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Is Google cheating on search? New study says yes


Should Google Search should be regulated as a utility and separated from Google’s other businesses?

Originally posted on Fortune:

New research claims that Google[fortune-stock symbol=”GOOG”] is gaming its search results in its own favor to the detriment of competitors.

Google has “increasingly developed and promoted its own content as an alternative to results from other websites,” according to the report co-authored by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, Tim Wu and the Yelp Data Science team.

And yes, Yelp[fortune-stock symbol=”YELP”], which lists reviews of businesses, is a competitor that has cried foul over Google search results in the past. Perhaps more to the point, Tim Wu is a former advisor to the Federal Trade Commission, which settled a suit with Google in 2013. In January 2013, Wu defended the FTC’s decision to settle, writing that Google won search results because it was a better search engine, not because of its wealth and influence in Silicon Valley and Washington D.C. power corridors, according to Re/Code.

Wu, has changed his…

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Always! Help mom when she calls

Even Sam Dekker, newly drafted in the first round by the Houston Rockets, comes running when his mom calls for a little help.

A SpaceX rocket exploded on a mission to the International Space Station


Does Musk still get paid even when his rockets fail?

Originally posted on Quartz:

SpaceX's rocket explodes mid-flight in this video feed capture. SpaceX’s rocket explodes mid-flight in this video feed capture.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket bringing supplies and scientific cargo the International Space Station appeared to explode just minutes after launch today.

This was the 19th launch of the Falcon 9 and the first to fail, a major setback for the well-regarded aerospace company, which has a contract to carry humans to the ISS for NASA and was recently certified to carry national security satellites by the US Air Force.

NASA reported that it was a “non-nominal” flight, and that the rocket had broke up over the range at 2 minutes and 19 seconds into the flight, at an altitude of about 34 kilometers.

This is the third resupply mission to the ISS to…

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Sunny green eyed Susan

Getting out of the car this morning about 10 this flower popped me right in the eye. I ran into the house, grabbed the camera and had a little fun recording this rather sunny green eyed Susan. I like this flower, a variety of rudbeckia, but they often lack symmetry. I like symmetry! :-) So, this particular one really grabbed my attention.

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