Category Archives: WILT, or What I Learned Today

Be kind to your knees. And don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Be kind to your knees. And don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

It has been a wild and wooly week in the world of research here at the Manic. Since I’m researching for my WWII book as well as my podcasts, I go careening from nitrous oxide emissions from manure to a history of blood transfusions. (Did you know that the first successful transfusions to humans occurred in 1667 and involved blood from sheep? Neither did I.)

Of course, since my only source for that fact is a single internet document, I shouldn’t call it a fact at all. Yet. I used to give freshmen students an assignment in which they had to find the real source of a quotation or document that’s commonly misattributed. My favorite was what’s known as “The Sunscreen Song,” (Remember that? It had some great lines: “Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.” and “Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.”) *

So there I was, blithely researching studies about whether our fresh foods contain fewer nutrients than they used to, and this quotation kept popping up: Continue reading

Compost Challenge: What's wrong with this article?

Talk about going out on a limb. On Tuesday, I rashly announced that prizes would be presented to those who could suggest things missing from my extremely long article on compost. I haven't even put up the official rules yet, and already I've been presented with a composting question I didn't cover. (Thanks, Heather.) The question, a quite reasonable one about manure, can be viewed, by those of you who are eager to witness my come-uppance, in the comment section of Tuesday's post.

But of course, you don't have to merely witness my humiliation; you can participate! You can contribute! And all under the guise of helping me improve the article!

(You know that expression "Rue the day?" I suspect that my own passing acquaintance with it will shortly deepen to intimacy.)

The owner of PN, Eric Vinge, who commissioned this article and who put it up on his Composter Connection site in record time, has agreed to sponsor the contest referred to a couple of days ago. So here's what you do: Think of something that should have been included in  “Compost: in the Bin, in the Garden, and in the Environment” but isn't, or locate what seems to you the most trivial fact in the wole article, or devise an argument for including a highly un-compost-like item, and win a $25 gift-certificate at Planet Natural.

To those of you who have been breathlessly awaiting the official contest rules, I can now say, Breathe!

Tuesday's post mentioned only one category (“What's Missing”), but three days on bread and water while being allowed to listen only to Herman's Hermits convinced the judges to add several others. Here, then, are the official rules, as agreed upon by the board of international judges:

What's Missing?

Point out a compost issue not covered by this article, or ask a question about composting that's not answered or at least addressed anywhere in the Composter Connection site, and win a $25 gift certificate from Planet Natural.

(The “or at least addressed” is meant to cover stuff that's unanswerable or information for which I refer people to other sources or sites.)

Oh—just to take all the fun out of it—Compost Tea doesn't count. We're doing a separate article on that. Sorry.

Entries in this category can range from standard-issue to glaring.

–standard-issue omission: The “duh,” category. This is the one that will make me smack my forehead and cry, “I can't believe I left that out!” while everyone around says, “Well, duh.”

–most glaring omission: This one—oh, when I realize I left this one out, my numbed lips will shape no words save these: “The horror—the horror,” as everyone else at the cocktail party moves away from me, muttering to each other, “She wrote an article on composting and didn't mention that?” —the mutters growing gradually to a dull roar until the crowd as one moves to toss their drinks in my direction, but just as they draw back their arms,

  “Wait!” a voice cries, and,

  “Saved!” I think; “a voice of kindness and reason at last—”

  “—why waste good liquor?”

  And to cries of “Right!” and “Right on!” they all turn their backs on me and drain their glasses, giving rise to the “anti-toast” and simultaneously proving once again that there actually is something worse than having an entire roomful of people toss their drinks in your face.

For the creatively inclined, we offer the following whimsical category:

The Kitchen Sink

–most tangential omission: What is the least relevant item that I “should” have included? Can you somehow make a case that the Empire State Building should have been in the article? Or pencil erasers? Why? Where?

This category presents contestants with the task of establishing a connection, however tenuous, between compost and—something.  Let us know where you think this item belongs.

ON THE OTHER HAND, some might think that the last thing this site needs is more—well, of anything. For those, we offer the following category:

Enough already!

Name what you consider to be either the least likely or the most trivial fact, story, graph, or photograph in the whole site.

–most trivial: Name what you consider the most trivial fact in the article, the one that made you clutch your hair and cry, “Why this? With wars raging, seas rising, the Dow in the negative numbers and Small Beetle still missing, she bothers with this?”

–least likely: This is the Kitchen Sink turned on its head—the item in the article that out of context, you'd be never think came out of an article on compost.

I'm hoping to get enough of these so that readers can vote for the winner.

Finally, there's this:

Up for Grabs

This lets the judges grant an award to an entry that may not fit into any of the above categories but that clearly deserves recognition, if only because its author has taken the judges hostage and is once again threatening them with a diet of nothing but Barry Manilow.

JUST TO CLARIFY:

•    The contest refers to the composting article only, not to the items for sale. The article appears in the left side-bar in green type.

•    Multiple entries are encouraged. (The more the better.)

•    A prize will be awarded in each category.

•    We're not sure what we'll do for international winners, but we'll work something out. (Some items can't be shipped overseas, at least legally, and Eric prefers to remain on the right side of the law at present. His daughter is only seven.)

•    Entries will be accepted through May 17th. That's this year, 2009.

Post entries in the pages on the right sidebar; they're labeled by category, which should make things easier.

Have at it, people.

Compost Challenge: What’s wrong with this article?

Talk about going out on a limb. On Tuesday, I rashly announced that prizes would be presented to those who could suggest things missing from my extremely long article on compost. I haven't even put up the official rules yet, and already I've been presented with a composting question I didn't cover. (Thanks, Heather.) The question, a quite reasonable one about manure, can be viewed, by those of you who are eager to witness my come-uppance, in the comment section of Tuesday’s post.

But of course, you don't have to merely witness my humiliation; you can participate! You can contribute! And all under the guise of helping me improve the article!

(You know that expression "Rue the day?" I suspect that my own passing acquaintance with it will shortly deepen to intimacy.)

The owner of PN, Eric Vinge, who commissioned this article and who put it up on his Composter Connection site in record time, has agreed to sponsor the contest referred to a couple of days ago. So here's what you do: Think of something that should have been included in  “Compost: in the Bin, in the Garden, and in the Environment” but isn’t, or locate what seems to you the most trivial fact in the wole article, or devise an argument for including a highly un-compost-like item, and win a $25 gift-certificate at Planet Natural.

To those of you who have been breathlessly awaiting the official contest rules, I can now say, Breathe!

Tuesday's post mentioned only one category (“What’s Missing”), but three days on bread and water while being allowed to listen only to Herman’s Hermits convinced the judges to add several others. Here, then, are the official rules, as agreed upon by the board of international judges:

What’s Missing?

Point out a compost issue not covered by this article, or ask a question about composting that’s not answered or at least addressed anywhere in the Composter Connection site, and win a $25 gift certificate from Planet Natural.

(The “or at least addressed” is meant to cover stuff that’s unanswerable or information for which I refer people to other sources or sites.)

Oh—just to take all the fun out of it—Compost Tea doesn’t count. We’re doing a separate article on that. Sorry.

Entries in this category can range from standard-issue to glaring.

–standard-issue omission: The “duh,” category. This is the one that will make me smack my forehead and cry, “I can’t believe I left that out!” while everyone around says, “Well, duh.”

–most glaring omission: This one—oh, when I realize I left this one out, my numbed lips will shape no words save these: “The horror—the horror,” as everyone else at the cocktail party moves away from me, muttering to each other, “She wrote an article on composting and didn’t mention that?” —the mutters growing gradually to a dull roar until the crowd as one moves to toss their drinks in my direction, but just as they draw back their arms,

  “Wait!” a voice cries, and,

  “Saved!” I think; “a voice of kindness and reason at last—”

  “—why waste good liquor?”

  And to cries of “Right!” and “Right on!” they all turn their backs on me and drain their glasses, giving rise to the “anti-toast” and simultaneously proving once again that there actually is something worse than having an entire roomful of people toss their drinks in your face.

For the creatively inclined, we offer the following whimsical category:

The Kitchen Sink

–most tangential omission: What is the least relevant item that I “should” have included? Can you somehow make a case that the Empire State Building should have been in the article? Or pencil erasers? Why? Where?

This category presents contestants with the task of establishing a connection, however tenuous, between compost and—something.  Let us know where you think this item belongs.

ON THE OTHER HAND, some might think that the last thing this site needs is more—well, of anything. For those, we offer the following category:

Enough already!

Name what you consider to be either the least likely or the most trivial fact, story, graph, or photograph in the whole site.

–most trivial: Name what you consider the most trivial fact in the article, the one that made you clutch your hair and cry, “Why this? With wars raging, seas rising, the Dow in the negative numbers and Small Beetle still missing, she bothers with this?”

–least likely: This is the Kitchen Sink turned on its head—the item in the article that out of context, you’d be never think came out of an article on compost.

I’m hoping to get enough of these so that readers can vote for the winner.

Finally, there’s this:

Up for Grabs

This lets the judges grant an award to an entry that may not fit into any of the above categories but that clearly deserves recognition, if only because its author has taken the judges hostage and is once again threatening them with a diet of nothing but Barry Manilow.

JUST TO CLARIFY:

•    The contest refers to the composting article only, not to the items for sale. The article appears in the left side-bar in green type.

•    Multiple entries are encouraged. (The more the better.)

•    A prize will be awarded in each category.

•    We’re not sure what we’ll do for international winners, but we’ll work something out. (Some items can’t be shipped overseas, at least legally, and Eric prefers to remain on the right side of the law at present. His daughter is only seven.)

•    Entries will be accepted through May 17th. That's this year, 2009.

Post entries in the pages on the right sidebar; they're labeled by category, which should make things easier.

Have at it, people.

Contest on the way–try it if you dare

   Snowdrops

Having spent the morning in a mind-numbing fury while trying to print two pages of an IRS document necessary to report the income (ha-ha) from my business (hee-hee) over the past year, I have probably burnt out my two remaining brain cells, as well as ensuring that I will return to earth as a nematode, and probably not the beneficial sort. A quiet acceptance of the world's vagaries was not demonstrated by moi.

On the other hand, THE COMPOSTING ARTICLE IS UP, all hundred and fifty pages of it, looking quite well-behaved and tidy for something so sprawling, even voracious. Amazing, how Eric has reduced the monster that dominated my life for months to a meek little sidebar. (The mysteries of translating a Word document into a website are beyond me; I use “translate” here in its old theological meaning of “to transport to heaven without natural death.”)

Eric by the way is Eric Vinge, of Planet Natural who asked me to write an article on compost. So I did. (If I'd had any idea…. Then again, if he'd had any idea….)  Anyway, now it's got a name ("Compost: In the Bin, the Barden, and the Environment") and a home site (The Composter Connection) and one of those nifty pictures done by Eric's artist, whose name I cannot find, but I promise that when I do, I'll put it up.

This article has got everything, and if you think it doesn't, I dare you to prove it. Come on, put 'em up; let's see your footwork. All that talk don't mean nothin'. Meet me in the alley, and we'll see what you're really made of. Just be sure to bring whatever it is you think you know about composting.

Continue reading

You’re feeding them WHAT? Well, antibiotics, hormones, and — HEAVY METALS?

Manure fr

Source: Bloody Brilliant!

It’s spring, time to dig in the composts and pile on the mulches, so the blogging world is full of advice and debates about manure. Stuart of Gardening Tips and Ideas has just weighed in on the side of sheep manure, while Elizabeth and Michelle of Garden Rant defend manure against all comers.

Me, I can hardly bear to think about the stuff. The minute I hear the word “manure” I start to twitch and moan; observers report having heard mutterings of  “No, no,”  and “Tell me it isn’t true.” I wanted to post on this topic (the manure, not the moans) weeks ago, but after the incident with the broken blood-pressure cuff, my doctors warned me not to write about it for at least a month.

It’s all about the stuff they add to animal feed. I stumbled over it when researching the compost article (how else?) and haven’t entirely recovered. Here’s what happened.

Continue reading