This is getting monotonous-

Jul. 21st, 2017 09:51 am
[syndicated profile] bigwoods_feed

Posted by Greenpa

Sitting here in the Little House waiting for yet another "1.000 year flood" - as prepared as we CAN be; but- that's never really enough-  At the moment it looks like the heaviest core in THIS storm is going to miss us; but there are already flash flood warnings both straight west and south-

And the thing is, we're forecast, very reliably; to have flooding storms pass over repeatedly - until tomorrow morning.  This is just #1.

If it does turn out to be a "1000 year" event, it will make the 4th one for us in the past 6 or 7 years; 2 so far had us in officially designated "Federal Disaster Areas".  {FEMA, I can tell you from personal experience- is, um, how shall I put this; Not as useful as they might be.)

The huge industrial agriculture farms will not suffer financially- they will get Federal aid somehow.  Smaller farmers, and ones with non-standard crops - are almost never insured.  Back in Flood Disaster #1; we got financial help from  the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, which happens to have a main office in Minneapolis.  Is flood relief on their list of aims?  Nope.  They just saw an urgent need; many small farmers about to get wiped out, organic ones in particular; so they organized a fundraising effort, very successfully, and got money to people who needed it.

We bought a machine.  FEMA's response? "Well, we know all your harvest machinery was destroyed, but you don't actually live in the flood plain."  Um, no, but our machines were there, at the mechanic shop, being readied for harvest.  About $10,000 worth of specialized mowers.  "Sorry!  You just don't fit our guidelines.  Good luck."

They actually said "Good luck".

Well.  So far; this rain is hitting us gently, falling slow and steady.  That would help.  We dodged the bullet 2 days ago- when folks 50 mile away got 8".  They're going to get this storm, and the next ones today, too.

Good luck, to us all.

I'll end with a more cheerful story, from my childhood.  This would have been in the 1950's.  My family was moving; across the country; and my parents loved to "see the country".  Understand- most of the West had only acquired 2-lane paved US highways in the previous 15 years- it was a new thing to be able to drive in many places.

They decided to see the SW desert.  Arizona, I think; heading to California.  Back then - no one knew about "highway hypnosis" yet; so the 2 lanes could go absolutely straight in front, and behind, as far as you could see (they put kinks in roads now to prevent it).  And out in the middle of this desert- there really was nothing to see- besides the telephone lines next to the road.  Fences sometimes.  No billboards.  Not even any Burma Shaves, which we loved, of course.  Not enough traffic on this road to warrant anything.

Speed- about 50 mph; very fast for the time.  A long, long, long road; absolutely flat, in every way.

Then- in the distance- a speck.  Is it a speck?  Took a while for my siblings to agree; it's a speck.  It's getting bigger; not very fast.   Eventually we can see- it's actually going to be a big billboard; commercial size.

It's white.  Can't see anything ON it, and here we were hoping for scantily clad cowgirls advertising casinos...   Nope.  Wait- there's a speck - in the middle of the billboard...

We had to get to within about 50 feet of the sign in order to be able to read the very small black print.

"Monotonous, ain't it?"

We laughed for miles and miles.  Whoever put that sign up - I still love you.

And it says something nice about humans, too.

[syndicated profile] freakonomicsagain_feed

Posted by Freakonomics

(Photo: August Bernhard Makela /

Season 6, Episode 46

This week on Freakonomics Radio: a series of academic studies suggest that the wealthy are, to put it bluntly, selfish jerks. It’s an easy narrative to swallow. But, Stephen J. Dubner asks, is it true?

Plus: a lot of ideas about how to successfully raise money — using good old-fashioned guilt, for instance.

To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “Are the Rich Really Less Generous Than the Poor?” and “How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten.”

You can subscribe to the Freakonomics Radio podcast at Apple Podcasts or elsewhere, or get the RSS feed.

The post Are the Rich Really Less Generous Than the Poor? appeared first on Freakonomics.

Bedstead panels

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:46 pm
[syndicated profile] pfollensbee_feed

Posted by pfollansbee

The bedstead’s headboard is moving along. Once I had the first free-hand panel carved, it was easy to carve the 2nd one. After marking out the margins and a vertical centerline, I used a compass to take a few markers – here noting where the S-scrolls at the bottom corner hit the vertical margins.

Then I chalked in a rough outline for that shape. This panel, like many from this grouping (and all 4 in this headboard) have a stylized urn at the bottom center of the panel. That shape I marked out with a square & awl to locate its top & bottom, and marked its width from the vertical centerline. The S-scrolls then fit between the urn and the bottom corner/margin.

My camera-boy (Daniel, 11 yrs old) came by & used the Ipad to shoot some Instragram stuff…here’s some leftovers. Carving this bottom corner S-scroll, in two snippets. (home-video caliber – no edits, shaky, etc – but worth a look.)




there are related S-scrolls across the top section of the panel. These reach from the corners to the vertical centerline. These top and bottom sections are the first things I block in with the V-tool.


then comes the stuff between. I sketch the vein in the larger leaf, it reaches from the centerline to the margin.



Then I carry on, doing first one side, then the other.

The whole thing is about filling in the spaces, and in this case, blending one shape to lay against another.

Here’s the V-tool outline almost all done.

Next I take a #5 gouge, in this case about 1″ wide or slightly less, and chop out between the V-tool lines, to begin removing the background.


Some beveling, some shaping. With a narrow #5.

People ask about the background punch. Mild steel, filed to leave these pyramidal points.

accents with a few #7 gouges.

And a narrow chisel. Bevel towards the waste when chopping like this.

Then pare down to the chopped mark.

Trim to length. 

Bevel the back, first with a hatchet.

Then 2 planes. Feather down to nothing.

Here’s the headboard thus far. There will be plain panels below this, and a carved crest rail above. And of course, two vertical posts.




Love note for a second baby

Jul. 20th, 2017 01:30 pm
[syndicated profile] drmomma_feed

Posted by Peaceful Parenting

By Danelle Frisbie © 2014

Love note for a second baby

To my second little one on the way...

If I am to admit my fear, it is that I need to love you deeply, intensely -- with a love as BIG as I love your sibling -- but I am scared that I could not possibly love this greatly again.

I am told that this will undoubtedly happen. That a mother's love doubles the instant her second baby is in
[syndicated profile] novel2screen_feed

Posted by Rebecca

(AKA: The one in which Rebecca watches the trailer on repeat like a crack addict and then, after a glass or two of vino, woefully realizes that the months of work she did on “Mock Season Three” might have been totally and completely off the mark, but hey, maybe not.)

Okay, let’s get down to it.

STARZ has released the season three trailer, a fact which I’m guessing you already knew. And I would link to it here, but who are we kidding? You’ve already seen it.


Fine, here’s the LINK.

Now, my loyal readers will remember me saying HERE that the Print Shop Scene, capitalized as it refers to a holy spiritual place, could not possibly happen any later than episode three. I said this for a number of reasons, mainly having to do with how lopsided the first 200 pages of “Voyager” are towards Jamie’s story.

To recap: Jamie has a whole other novel’s worth of drama in the first 200 pages of the book (hermit life, imprisonment, treasure hunting, indentured servitude, deftly avoiding homosexual advances, inadvertent impregnation of virgins, tossing old men out of windows—you know, stuff)…



…while Claire, well, um—what does Claire do again? She goes to medical school and raises a kid. At one point, I seem to recall her waiting at home for the repairman to show up. Oh, look, more wine.


So, in my MOCK SEASON THREE breakdowns, which you can review HERE, I had a rather clever (if I do say so myself) solution to this problem. Namely, move some of Jamie’s story to later in the season, viewed in flashbacks. I loved this solution, as it allowed me to do two geeky writerly things that I like to do: stick thematically relevant material together, and put more sex in.

And that is why, in my version of events, Jamie’s impregnation of Geneva Dunsany (spoiler alert, BTW) happens HERE, intermingled with the Masquerade Ball episode.

But now I get whacked with this trailer, which, admittedly, looks pretty damn good. That compounded with other recent revelations, such as Diana Gabaldon apparently stating at some point (does anyone know where?) that the print shop scene would not happen until episode five or so, and also THIS ARTICLE on TVLine, which explicitly states the following: “All told, the final five episodes of the third season will be shot in South Africa [standing in for Jamaica],” and I am left with only one conclusion to draw:

Boy, was I wrong, huh?

Or was I?

Because, yes, it does seem that our fearless leader Ron “It’s in the frackin’ ship” Moore may have done what any good showrunner would do, and that’s give us a helluva lot more Tobias Menzies than the book called for.

But…and it’s a big but…I still contend that they’re going to have a bitch of a time trying to fill Claire’s half of all those Jamie-heavy episodes with anything that won’t pale in comparison. I mean, I love Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies as much as anyone, but how many times can we watch a married couple bicker endlessly over parenting styles, blow out birthday candles, wait for repairmen to show up, and drink away their regrets, furiously clacking away on some keyboard when they should be folding laundry, blogging endlessly about some TV show that isn’t even on the air right now…

Wait, what was I talking about?

Right, Outlander.



The point is, I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if season three ends up splitting the difference between my take, which we’ll call the “Get us to the Print Shop, for the Love of All That is Holy” take, and the more literal and chronological take that the trailer would indicate they’re taking, which we’ll call the “Whose Turn is it to do the Dishes, and Remember that Time When You Got to Sleep with Sam Heughan Every Night” version.


We all did, Sam. I mean Jamie. Damn it, I swore I wasn’t going to conflate the actors with their roles this year. Bad Rebecca, bad.

I mean, let’s just break this down for a second, shall we? There’s 13 episodes in this season. If the last five are Jamaica, and we need at least, what? Two boat episodes to get there, and that’s bare minimum, then we’re looking at episode six when we get on the boat to Hispaniola.

And wouldn’t you know it, in my MOCK SIX, that’s exactly what we’re doing!

The only difference is, in my version of events, the Print Shop Scene happened in EPISODE TWO. And why did I do that, other than the obvious reasons of wanting to get to it?

Well, because even if we do postpone the whole Geneva Dunsany storyline until later, as I do, we still have A HEAPING CRAZY SPOONFUL of plot to get through before we can get on the boat. I mean, for Pete’s sake, we haven’t even met Ian Jr. yet. And if you’ll recall, he’s the whole reason we go on this wacky journey in the first place.

So, if you’re telling me Print Shop isn’t until episode five, and we get on the boat in episode six… well, puzzle me that, Outlander fans. ‘Cause I’m stumped.

I will say this, though, how hot will that Print Shop scene be when we’ve been waiting five flippin’ weeks for it? Or, you know, twenty years.


Okay, that’s all. I gotta go fold the laundry. More to come… eventually.

Read more of Rebecca’s stuff, like what happens when an adult woman rewatches Flashdance, here. Follow me on Twitter @DownWorldNovel, “like” us on Facebook at Novel2Screen, or just follow this blog for more on your favorite novel-to-screen adaptations.

And if you’re looking for Outlander-themed jewelry, here’s the link:  Sassenach Jewelry


These Shoes Are Killing Me!

Jul. 20th, 2017 03:00 am
[syndicated profile] freakonomicsagain_feed

Posted by Stephen J. Dubner

Anthropologists estimate that humans began to wear rudimentary shoes somewhere between 26,000 and 40,000 years ago. The highly engineered shoes of today are a very recent phenomenon.  (Photo: Esther Max / Flickr)

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “These Shoes Are Killing Me!” (You can subscribe to the podcast at Apple Podcasts or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.)

The human foot is an evolutionary masterpiece, far more functional than we give it credit for. So why do we encase it in “a coffin” (as one foot scholar calls it) that stymies so much of its ability — and may create more problems than it solves?

Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post. And you’ll find credits for the music in the episode noted within the transcript.

*      *      *

Stephen J. DUBNER: What are you wearing right now, shoe-wise?

Elizabeth SEMMELHACK: I’m wearing a pair of Vivier flats.

DUBNER: How many N.B.A. players regularly get pedicures?

Howard OSTERMAN: Ninety percent of them.

DUBNER: What kind of animals have you put in shoes?

Daniel LIEBERMAN: We put sheep in shoes, actually.

DUBNER: Have you ever had people come to you who want their foot surgically altered so that they will fit the fashionable shoes they want to wear better?

OSTERMAN: Once a week.

There’s a theory I’ve been kicking around. Not really a theory — more like an idea. Eh — barely even an idea. Let’s call it an observation. The observation is this: very often, when we see something that needs improvement, that needs correction, we respond with an overcorrection. You see this all the time with nutritional trends. You see it in politics and government; in a lot of the rules and regulations we draw up. You see it in human behaviors large and small. Our sages have warned us against this; as one old saying goes: “Do not use a cannon to kill a mosquito.” And yet many of us are guilty of this all the time. So rather than simply correct, in measured increments, we overcorrect. That’s my observation, at least. You don’t have to agree. But I’m telling you this because I believe one overcorrection we’ve made has become so normalized that we’ve lost sight of just how extreme it is.

LIEBERMAN: We have that attitude because it’s natural to think the world around us is normal. Right? We think it’s normal to sit in chairs. We think it’s normal to eat breakfast cereal that comes out of a box. We think it’s normal to drive around in these metal contraptions, take elevators, and get on the Internet. All of these things we think are completely, absolutely normal. From an evolutionary perspective, they’re not. One of those categories is shoes.

That’s right, shoes! Today on Freakonomics Radio: the social and economic history of footwear; the history of walking and running; and what our modern shoe fetish may be costing us:

SEMMELHACK: If you just added a few foot exercises to your daily routine, you might be playing cards before you know it.

*      *      *

Not long ago, I was buying a case for my new smartphone. It was a rubbery protective case that also extends the phone’s battery life. And I thought: what does it say about my smartphone that, right out of the box, it needs this fairly substantial piece of add-on gear? And then, for some reason, walking out of the store, I had the same thought about shoes, and feet. Do shoes represent some kind of evolutionary failure? Why does nature’s most advanced biped need to supplement its own feet with such substantial add-on gear?

LIEBERMAN: People have been wearing shoes probably for thousands and thousands of years. But the kind of fancy, modern shoes that we wear today are really quite unusual and haven’t been around for very long.

That’s Dan Liebermam.

LIEBERMAN: I’m a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard. It’s my job to look around the world, think about it and how we use our bodies, think about what’s normal and what’s abnormal. That’s not to say that everything that’s abnormal from an evolutionary perspective is bad. A lot of abnormal things that we do are terrific, like antibiotics, refrigerators and sterile surgery.

So where do shoes fit in? It probably helps to start at the beginning — or at least a really long time ago.

LIEBERMAN: When you walk around and see people, most of the day, you see people just walking. Right?

Right. Human ancestors are thought to have begun walking upright, at least some of the time, about six million years ago.

LIEBERMAN: But it turns out that running played a really important role in our evolutionary history.

Running was important because why?

LIEBERMAN: Because you can’t really be a hunter without being a runner.

This was long before any sophisticated weapons.

LIEBERMAN: For millions of years, the most lethal technology available to our ancestors was a sharpened wooden stick or a club.

So how did this hunting happen?

LIEBERMAN: We have abundant evidence that what people did was run animals in the heat to a state of hypothermia.

At which point the animal would lie down and could be clubbed to death.

LIEBERMAN: It’s called persistence hunting. The hypothesis really is that all these features — which range from having a spring in our feet, short toes, to having a big butt, Achilles tendon, for example — all these are novel features that humans have that that enabled our ancestors to become long-distance runners who could then chase animals down into a state of heatstroke.

And all that running was not done in Nikes, or Onitsuka Tigers.

Irene DAVIS: Remember that this new technology and footwear has only been around for about five or six decades, and yet we’ve been running for two million years in either bare feet or shoes that are extremely minimal.

That’s Irene Davis.

DAVIS: I am a professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. I’m also the director of the Spaulding National Running Center.

Her view of feet, and modern footwear?

DAVIS: We have lulled ourselves into thinking that our feet need cushioning and support to survive and to withstand the loads of walking and running. It’s very hard for people to make this paradigm shift back to really the way that we were running for the majority of our evolutionary history.

Anthropologists estimate that humans began to wear rudimentary shoes somewhere between 26,000 and 40,000 years ago. So let’s ask two questions — one small, one large. Why did we first embrace shoes? And: what have they come to represent?

SEMMELHACK: See, you’re getting ahead of yourself. You’re rushing to [define],or maybe you haven’t yet defined, “shoe.”

That’s Elizabeth Semmelhack.

SEMMELHACK: I’m the senior curator at the Bata Shoe Museum.

Which is in Toronto. All right then, how do we define shoe?

The first shoes with toes were invented by Robert Fliri in 1999. (Photo: Guttorm Flatabo / Flickr)

SEMMELHACK: “Shoe” is a term that we bandy about to mean all kinds of things. But more technically it is something that has a sole and then it has an upper or parts that cover the entire foot. And so a boot would be a shoe then that had a shaft. The uppers continued, you know, up to the knee perhaps. A sandal might just have an upper and a thong to secure it to the foot.

DUBNER: What about the barefoot running shoes that are a rubber-ish sock for the shoe, with toes?

SEMMELHACK: Yeah. What about them?

DUBNER: You do not sound very excited by them. Are they a shoe? Do you have some of them at Bata Museum?

SEMMELHACK: We actually don’t have a pair and we should have a pair. They are an interesting invention. I still find them very disconcerting when I see them out on the street.

DUBNER: Really?


DUBNER: Because why?

SEMMELHACK: With the exception of maybe summer sandals, the foot is usually encased. Right? We don’t really see it that often. To see each toe enveloped in its own little toe casing … I don’t know.

DUBNER: It’s not your thing.

SEMMELHACK: Not yet, no.

DUBNER: It offends your sensibilities somehow.

SEMMELHACK: It doesn’t offend them. I just am still struck by it every time.

DUBNER: I see. That’s interesting. I’ll be honest with you. I’m challenging, in my mind at least, the central premise of the shoe and that encasing. I’m not a total idiot. I understand that when it’s cold or wet or the ground is rough or sharp or whatever that obviously you want to protect the bottom of your feet. But I also wonder at what cost we’ve encased our feet for lo these many millennia. We’ve now created many, many, many, many different forms that have all different political, economic, social signals and that’s fascinating. But I am curious if you ever step back and wonder about the necessity of this encasing strategy.

Foot-binding is said to have been inspired by a tenth-century court dancer Yao Niang, who bound her feet into the shape of a new moon and entranced Emperor Li Yu. (Photo: Copyright © 2017 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto)

SEMMELHACK: I do, actually. When I think about Chinese foot binding — which resulted in women’s feet being around three inches in size — it seems like such a profound body modification. But the fact of the matter is that all of us who have grown up wearing footwear have bound our feet to some extent. If we were able to meet our non-shod selves in a different dimension and look at what our feet would be like naturally, they would be much larger, much more splayed, rougher. In some ways the foot would become the shoe needed to make it through daily life because the body has the ability to build up calluses at the bottom of the foot.

That said, Elizabeth Semmelhack appreciates what the shoe has helped us accomplish.

SEMMELHACK: Shoes have been central to things like being an astronaut, living in the Arctic, and venturing across hot desert. There are many places where the human spirit for adventure was probably helped by a pair of boots. It’s probably hard to summit Mount Everest not wearing footwear. Its protective quality has helped humans expand their territory. But it has been central to [human’s] expansion of class division. The true function of footwear is more about establishing who you are, what your gender is, what your status is. It functions as a communicative social tool, while at the same time, some shoes make it comfortable to walk around in. But not all.

DUBNER: When and why did women start wearing shoes that to me at least look to be painfully small and constraining?

SEMMELHACK: If you look at paintings from the early 17th century, like a painting of a bunch of Dutch people drinking, it’ll be women and men and their feet are all very clearly visible and there’s really no size difference between men’s and women’s shoes. But if you fast-forward through that century, all of a sudden the women’s feet are tiny in representation and men’s are much much larger. Some of it has to do with shifts in ideas about gender. Enlightenment thinking was attempting to establish that men and women were different. Some of that finds expression in fashion. By the end of the 17th century there’s this much larger thing happening within culture that’s suggesting that men are rational and that their clothing should sort of not betray any excess interest in the fancy things in life. Women are seen as naturally irrational and frivolous. The high heel fits into that perfectly.

The shoe — like just about everything we humans wear, and use, and do — is a hybrid of function and form. It’s plainly useful … but part of its use lies in its ability to signal something about the person wearing it. Consider the humble sneaker — or, I should say, the sneaker that I had presumed was humble.

SEMMELHACK: A lot of people think of sneakers as being really casual. Some of them, the majority of them, being inexpensive.

In 2013, Semmelhack put together a museum exhibit on sneakers.

These are Goodyear sneakers from the 1890s, back when tennis shoes were expensive and reserved for the wealthy. (Photo: Copyright © 2017 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto)

SEMMELHACK: But what my research showed was that sneakers actually started out as objects of luxury. The early sneakers, tennis shoes, were expensive. They reflected privilege, because in the middle of the 19th century, before the 40-hour work week, only the wealthy had the time to play. Only the wealthy could afford multiple pairs of shoes to have specific shoes to play in. Then, rubber itself was expensive, and the cost of sneakers was quite high.

So how did the sneaker cross over into an everyday thing?

SEMMELHACK: In the 1930s, one of the things that becomes a pan-cultural obsession is the physical fitness of each country’s citizenry. World War I had proven to the world that there were not enough fit men to fight a war . So as World War II was brewing eugenics and ideas about racial superiority obviously led to fascist concepts and countries around the world began to insist that their citizens exercise to prove physical superiority or ethnic, racial superiority. But also to get ready for the next war. In many ways, it was this moment of fascism that democratized the sneaker.

Speaking with a shoe historian like Elizabeth Semmelhack, you get the sense that every kind of shoe imaginable has a similarly winding history, like the sneaker’s; a similar blend of form and function, and — this is what I’m most interested in — a similar tally of benefits and costs.


The evolutionary biologist Dan Lieberman.

LIEBERMAN: Just so you know — despite what people sometimes say about me — I view shoes probably much like an economist. There are costs and benefits to that. I don’t see them as being all good or all bad. I’m wearing them right now, for example.

Why is Lieberman so insistent that he’s not anti-shoe? Because he kind of has that reputation. Because in addition to studying the evolutionary history of distance running, he is a distance runner. Who often doesn’t wear shoes.

LIEBERMAN: Sometimes I wear sandals. Sometimes I’ll wear minimal shoes. Sometimes I wear trail shoes and sometimes I’ll go barefoot.  Often, at the end of my run, I’ll take my shoes off and run the last mile or so barefoot.

DUBNER: Describe what it’s like to run barefoot even just a mile.

LIEBERMAN: It’s funny. Most people are afraid of the concept of barefoot running and haven’t tried it. But actually, it’s a delightful experience. You have, by some estimates, the fourth-most innervated part of the body is the sole of the foot. You get lots of information about the world from the sole of your foot. Taking your shoes off can be, as we all know, an intensely pleasurable experience. The reason people are afraid of barefoot running is they think it will hurt. But what almost everybody discovers when they take their shoes off and start running is that you stop running in the same way. Most people, when they’re wearing shoes, land on their heel. You have all this cushioning in the heel that makes it comfortable. Almost everybody, when they take their shoes off and start running on a hard surface, gets off their heel and starts to land on the ball of the foot. That’s called a forefoot strike. And when you run that way, there’s no collision and actually it doesn’t hurt. Barefoot runners don’t mind how hard the surface is. What they care about is how smooth the surface is. Running on a smooth concrete asphalt road is like running on butter. The things that really hurt are gravel, knobbly things, things with a lot of texture, until you have calluses.

There have, of course, been some world-class barefoot runners, even in recent history. There used to be a handful of barefoot placekickers in the N.F.L. Some of the best soccer players in the world grew up playing barefoot. And then of course there was baseball’s Shoeless Joe Jackson, who reportedly played in his socks one day because a new pair of spikes had given him blisters. Dan Lieberman, meanwhile, might best be called a fan of barefootedness rather than an outright advocate. He’s also spent a lot of time thinking about the benefits, and costs, of shoes:

LIEBERMAN: Well, look, I wear shoes most of the time. I’m not so sure that shoes cause that many problems. It’s a little bit more complicated than that. Just putting on a shoe is not like smoking a cigarette. It doesn’t cause you to become unhealthy. Instead, it masks other problems that can lead to poor health.

He knows this how?

LIEBERMAN: Believe me, I’ve looked at thousands of barefoot people’s feet and thousands of shod of people’s feet. I’ve seen a lot of horrific feet. I buy a lot of those disinfectant wipes [for] my lab. And I will tell you that I’ll take a barefoot person’s foot over a shod person’s foot any day.

So what has the shoe done to our feet? Coming up on Freakonomics Radio, we get into the details:  

OSTERMAN: In the short term, the problem is the overuse on your knees and your hips.

DAVIS: Our feet get sweaty. They get stinky. But that’s because we keep them in shoes.

OSTERMAN: The long-term effect is it shortens the Achilles tendon, and shortens the muscles in the back of the calf.

DAVIS: I wonder what our hands would smell like if we kept them in some device that didn’t let them breathe.

OSTERMAN: There isn’t anybody who wears a six-inch heel into my office who doesn’t know that it is detrimental to their health.

DAVIS: The foot is an amazing structure that is highly underappreciated.

That’s coming up, right after this break.

*      *      *

Our ancestors went barefoot for many, many years — and happened to be great distance runners. The earliest shoes, made of animal skins or plant matter, were necessarily minimalist. But many modern shoes — whether formal or casual, whether made of natural materials or entirely man-made — are far more constructed. They’ve often got hard soles and substantial heels; heavy padding and cushioning from fore to aft; they’ve got what’s called a “toe box” — which, strangely enough, is often not shaped like our toes, which are wider than the rest of the foot; but the toe box is narrower. All this has led critics to conclude that many shoes are, at the very least, a most unnatural appendage and, worse, are perhaps quite bad for our health. Peter Griffin, from Family Guy, isn’t a fan of the shoe:

Glenn QUAGMIRE in a clip from Family Guy: Peter, would you mind putting on some shoes?

Peter GRIFFIN in a clip from Family Guy: Oh, you mean foot prisons? Yes, I would.

Or, as the late podiatrist William Rossi once wrote: “Natural gait is biomechanically impossible for any shoe-wearing person.”

DAVIS: The foot is an amazing structure that is highly underappreciated.

Irene Davis again, from Harvard Medical School. Her Ph.D., by the way, is in biomechanics.

The foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and 4 layers of arch muscle. (Photo: Henry Gray / Wikimedia)

DAVIS: The foot has 26 bones. It has 33 articulations or joints, each with six degrees of freedom of movement. We have four layers of arch muscles and that complexity is purposeful because the foot has to function as our base of support, a mobile adapter to uneven terrain. It has to be spring-like at times. It has to be rigid at times. When you take that foot and encase it in these very rigid shoes, which I’ll call coffins, the foot then loses its ability to function in the way that it was adapted. I see this in the clinic all the time.

Davis’s Harvard clinic is not to be confused with the Harvard lab run by Dan Lieberman.

LIEBERMAN: We try to understand how, for example, the foot works and then test hypotheses about how feet function, and how variations and foot anatomy affect function, hence performance.

But it is interesting — even heartening, you might say — that Harvard has at least two entirely separate research facilities devoted to exploring — as Davis called it — the “highly underappreciated” foot.

LIEBERMAN: So we will bring into the lab people who have never worn a shoe in their lives and people who wear shoes all the time …

DAVIS: There was a recent study by a group in Brazil and I spent some time with them …

LIEBERMAN: And we’ve looked at how they run and how they walk, how strong their feet are…

DAVIS: … and they actually randomized these women who had knee osteoarthritis into one of two groups.

LIEBERMAN: And we tried to collect some data on injury from them. For example, their knees. We’ve been x-raying people’s knees.

DAVIS: One group stayed in a pair of cushioned shoes and the other group were given this five-dollar — in U.S. dollars — pair of shoes that were highly flexible.  And what they found is, number one, their mechanics were more normal in the minimal shoe.

LIEBERMAN: In those barefoot populations, we find almost no incidents, for example, of people having flat feet. They just don’t exist.

DAVIS: But more importantly to these patients, they had significant reduction in their pain medication, and significant improvement in their functional outcomes. That’s just with a pair of minimal shoes.

LIEBERMAN: We look at incidence of musculoskeletal diseases. The evidence appears to be that they have really considerably lower rates of diseases like arthritis. It doesn’t mean that these people don’t have problems, of course they do. But they have fewer problems, it seems, in their feet, their knees, and possibly their hips.

DAVIS: It’s interesting. In the beginning, I really didn’t think footwear mattered. As time went on and my thinking evolved, I started to understand how much footwear impacts our mechanics.

LIEBERMAN: Foot health can affect what’s often called the kinetic chain.

DAVIS: If you take someone who has run barefoot all their life, and you put them in a pair of shoes, they’re very likely, when they’re running without shoes, to land on the ball of their foot because it hurts to land on your heel. But if you put them in a pair of cushioned shoes, they will very likely transition to landing on their heel. That actually creates a cascade of events that happen up the lower extremity and up to the hip.

LIEBERMAN: When you have foot problems, that often causes knee problems, which cause hip problems. We have, for example, an epidemic of osteoarthritis today. One contributing factor to arthritis might be the shoes that we wear. That’s a hypothesis. I don’t have any data on that.

DAVIS: I’m going to suggest that when we put a pair of shoes on that has cushioning like that it actually creates a mismatch between the way we were adapted to run, which is on the ball of our foot, and the way that we run today. That mismatch results in mechanics that we have shown to be related to injury.

LIEBERMAN: There are a variety of diseases we call mismatch diseases caused by our bodies being poorly or inadequately adapted to novel environments. They lead to problems that range from flat feet all the way up to really serious problems like certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. When we treat the symptoms of those problems, those mismatch diseases, rather than the causes, we allow the diseases to remain prevalent [and] sometimes become even more severe. It’s a vicious cycle that we create by using cultural methods to not treat the symptoms of mismatch diseases.

DAVIS: Then we’ve got shoe companies who are very much invested in the cushioning, the support, and all of the technology that they put into shoes.

LIEBERMAN: What’s happened is the shoes create a problem. Then they create other aspects of the shoe that can solve the problem and tell you that that shoe is better. Mother Nature was a pretty good engineer.

So do all these shortcomings of the shoe mean that we should consider it, to some degree, a … stupid invention?

The world’s oldest known shoes are sagebrush sandals. They are around 10,000 years old and were found in Fort Rock, Oregon. (Photo: Jack Liu / University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History)

DAVIS: As shoes in general, the earliest shoes were not stupid inventions at all. They were they were there to protect the bottom of our foot, perhaps when it was cold out or we had to go over rough terrain. just to protect our foot, very much like most of the other clothing we wear. What is stupid is that we have then started to add all of this technology to the shoe. We’re adding cushioning when our muscles can do that cushioning. We’re adding motion control when we can control our feet with the muscles that we have in all of the movements that we have. By doing that we’re actually setting our feet back.

LIEBERMAN: The basic foot we all inherited is probably a pretty good foot. To me the null hypothesis is that that natural barefoot or minimal shoe is probably healthier than a more conventional shoe unless you can prove otherwise.

OSTERMAN: People do things that aren’t necessarily the best thing for them, [but] what looks good with what they’re wearing at the time. Getting over the fashion aspect of it is a very difficult thing for a lot of people.

That is Howard Osterman.

OSTERMAN: And I’m a podiatrist in the Washington D.C. area.

DUBNER: And you happen to treat a couple of sports teams, I understand.

OSTERMAN: Correct. I do the Washington Wizards and the Washington Mystics.

When Osterman says that “getting over the fashion aspect” of shoes is hard for people, you may have thought he was referring to women’s high heels or men’s dress shoes, with their narrow toe boxes. He wasn’t. He was talking about his basketball patients.

OSTERMAN: You would think that they would wear, for their period of time that they’re in the N.B.A. or the W.N.B.A., the most appropriate shoe that they can wear. Bottom line is they want something that is from a company that they want to wear it from, in a style that they want to wear.

DUBNER: I would think that in the N.B.A., foot health is hugely important and that there’s a lot of things that can go wrong.

OSTERMAN: Sure. The players are interesting in that they really have one piece of equipment that they have to buy: that’s their shoes. They really don’t care what their foot structure and shoe company go with. They really will just for the most part take what is going to pay them the most.

DUBNER: You’re kidding.

OSTERMAN: For what they can get for free.

DUBNER: Really. I always thought that if you sign a deal then you basically have whoever it is, Nike, Adidas, Puma, custom-make you for your foot at that level? That’s not happening?

OSTERMAN: You know what? The stars have that. But most of the time, I would say we have probably two or three players that that’s for us. There [are] 15 players on the team. You want to know what is my main job working with these basketball teams or with these sports? I basically strip the insides of their shoes and rebuild them with a custom insert.

DUBNER: How many N.B.A. players regularly get pedicures?

OSTERMAN: 90 percent of them.

DUBNER: I’m curious, from your perspective, from the foot’s-eye view whether the shoe on balance, whether there are more benefits or more costs?

OSTERMAN: There [are] more benefits. Look, we’ve paved our environment. We work in areas that have hard floors and we do extensive walking. Most of us carry a little extra weight than we theoretically should. Our core strength is not what it was 50 years ag when manual labor was more of an issue. What happens is the shoes can be used for structural stability. They can be used for cushion and shock absorption. They can be used for protection against the elements.

DUBNER: What share, would you say, of the problems that a podiatrist addresses are actually caused by shoes?

OSTERMAN: I wouldn’t necessarily say caused by shoes, I’d say exacerbated by shoes.

DUBNER: What does it say I guess about evolution that we need this fairly complicated piece of add-on gear to walk properly when in fact we evolved as a walking animal?

OSTERMAN: Shoes tend to be a fashion statement. There isn’t anybody who wears a six-inch heel into my office who doesn’t know that it isn’t detrimental to their health. When you’re in that higher heel, and anything really over an inch and a half, [it] throws your body forward enough that it puts a lot of stress on the front of the knees. The four muscles, the quadriceps  that come in the front of the knee that attach just beyond the knee, in the front of the shin they have to fire constantly to give you some stability. Also, you will arch your back to try to keep you from not leaning forward. That combination puts stress on the knees and the low back. The short-term effect is overuse where the muscles are just not capable of handling it. The long-term is it affects the entire mechanics of how a foot works.

DUBNER: Have you ever had people come to you who want their foot surgically altered so that they will fit the fashionable shoes they want to wear better?

OSTERMAN: Once a week.

DUBNER: You’re kidding.

OSTERMAN: Most of them are just asking because when you tell them what’s really involved they really don’t want to have it done. You know, because once you start changing joints and re-aligning toes, then you really are throwing the foot into a whole different functional capacity.

DUBNER: It sounds like the shoe causes more changes to our physiology than any other piece of clothing certainly, right?

OSTERMAN: Oh, absolutely. One of the things about these things about these thick-soled, rubber based shoes with good stability is, we were born both the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet are born with nerve sensors that do what we call proprioception. When your foot hits the ground, it has to register to your brain a certain position, a certain sensation. The problem is when you get these big thick clodhopper shoes what ends up happening is you lose that. There’s a lot of sensitivity that’s lost by going to these more supportive shoes, which is really why the minimalist shoe industry came about.

DUBNER: And you’re generally in favor of them I gather, yes?

OSTERMAN: Yes, absolutely. The problem is, again, we tend to carry too much weight and we don’t have the mechanics that allow those less-supportive shoes to not create things like heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.

DUBNER: But is part of the problem when you say we don’t have the mechanics is that we don’t have the mechanics because we’ve trained ourselves out of having the mechanics by wearing shoes that we wear?

OSTERMAN: That’s a portion of it. Our population is living longer so there’s more wear and tear on the joints. There’s exercises you can do also to build the musculature. When we send people to physical therapy, they’ll have them either picking up a towel, trying to grip a towel, or picking up marbles, trying to do that.

DUBNER: Should everybody do those exercises on a regular maybe even prophylactic basis?

OSTERMAN: Absolutely.

DUBNER: But are you doing marble exercises?

OSTERMAN: On occasion.

DUBNER: What’s that mean, on occasion? Come on! How many times in the last month have you picked up marbles with your toes?

OSTERMAN: That would be a zero.

DUBNER: All right, so here’s the question: on the scale of stupid stuff with 10 being a really bad idea or stupidly executed and 1 being absolutely awesome and perfectly done — where do you rank the median shoe?

OSTERMAN: I would tell you most of the shoes now are a 3 or a 2. They’ve gotten much much better.

DUBNER: Really? So we should be grateful.

OSTERMAN: Well, most of the shoe companies do like to sell their shoes . They have really caught the idea that people are wearing different styles. Many of these companies really have taken to better materials and make better shoes.

DUBNER: What would you say that people should look for generally in a shoe, keeping in mind we wear shoes for many different uses and many different occasions?

OSTERMAN: You want something that has a rubber sole, that actually provides some cushion and shock absorption. It needs to have some level of flexibility in the forefoot so that it allows the toes to bend at the level where they bend. A lot of the issues that we see are shoes that either bend midfoot or don’t bend at all, which force the foot to work outside of the general mechanics of way a foot should work. Those are things we’re looking for.

DUBNER: Have you ever looked at videos or maybe seen live people who play music, let’s say, with their feet? People who are missing hands or arms they learn to play piano or guitar with their feet?

OSTERMAN: Absolutely.

DUBNER: Is that something that you think any of us could be able to do if we habitually used our feet more and obviously had them out of shoes more?

OSTERMAN: The musculature in the feet are very similar to the musculature in the hands. Look at any child who is born without arms and you see what they can do with their feet — as you said, play music, things like that. The dexterity, the neurotransmitters that your brain puts out should just as easily be able to do the toes as they can the hands.

DUBNER: Doesn’t it just seem like there’s this huge wasted resource, that we’re all born with these appendages that have capabilities that we’re not using? Doesn’t that seem like a shame to you?

OSTERMAN: Of course. But it’s a societal issue as much as anything. We went from quadrupeds to bipeds and it changed the whole mechanics of what we needed.

DUBNER: But that said, even though you have that position you’re not even picking up marbles with your feet. Do you use your feet for anything beyond what I might use my feet for?

OSTERMAN: No, but we have a tendency. I’ll take my shoes off when I’m home. Things like that. You know we’ll wear sandals in the summer or whatever it ends up being.

DUBNER: But you’re not like playing cards with your feet or playing piano with your feet.

OSTERMAN: No, not at all.

DUBNER: All right, let me ask you a flip question: let’s say that we had evolved through physiology and culture and so on to, for some reason, always be wearing heavy gloves on our hands, kind of the equivalent of shoes. But let’s say no shoes on our feet. How atrophied do you believe our hands would be as a result of that?

OSTERMAN: It would be remarkably similar.

Irene Davis agrees we could be doing more with our feet.

DAVIS: The feet actually are very similar in a lot of ways to the anatomy of the hand, in terms of muscles, in terms of nerve supply, in terms of blood supply. Obviously the toes aren’t as long as the fingers so you don’t have the same kind of dexterity. But I do think that you have the ability to make them more hand-like.

She also thinks we should all spend more time barefoot:

DAVIS: As much as possible. If you’re in an office where people don’t have to see you because there’s this cultural thing about being barefoot or taking your shoes off. The minute I get into work, I take my shoes off. I treat patients with my shoes off. Take your shoes off at home when you’re walking around the house. Spend some time outside walking barefoot. Yes, as much as possible.

That “cultural thing” about being barefoot — it runs deep, at least in many cultures. Why else would it be illegal to go into a store or a restaurant barefoot, or drive a car? Actually it’s not: there are no federal or state laws against driving barefoot — although if you crash while driving barefoot, you may be blamed more harshly than if you were wearing shoes. As for restaurants and stores — they can legally make their own rules about their customers as long as they’re applied equally to everybody. Davis believes this kind of restriction is less about hygiene than pure social stigma.

DAVIS: I have thought about that a lot and I don’t understand it. Hands go many more places than feet do. Actually, feet are likely cleaner from a bacterial standpoint than hands are. I just think it goes back to culture. It’s something that has evolved in our culture that we should cover our feet. Our feet get sweaty. They get stinky. But that’s because we keep them in shoes. I wonder what our hands would smell like and would our hands get sweaty if we kept them in some device that didn’t let them breathe.

Irene Davis has a dream. She wants this to be what she calls “the decade of the foot.” I’ve decided to do my small part. I’ve been spending a lot more time barefoot; I’ve even been walking around Manhattan barefoot — well, in my socks, actually, because I’m a bit of a coward. I’ve walked about 10 miles by now; it’s amazing how much more you notice uphills and downhills, and how many different sidewalk surfaces there are. And your leg muscles definitely feel different. I’ve also played some golf barefoot — super fun! And, as Dr. Howard Osterman prescribed, I’ve been picking up marbles with my toes. Nearly every day. And you know what? He’s right — my foot dexterity has increased so much, and so fast! Here, check this out …

[MUSIC: Beata Moon, “Inter-Mez-Zo: Inter,” (from Moon: Piano Works)]

Not bad, huh? All right, that’s not really me. It’s my friend Beata Moon, a composer and pianist. Playing with her hands. But I have learned to turn up the volume with my toes … Next time on Freakonomics Radio:

Barry RITHOLTZ: It’s a tax on smart people who don’t realize their propensity for doing stupid things.

What’s a tax on smart people?

Eugene FAMA: It’s easy to explain. It’s a simple proposition.

What’s a simple proposition?

John BOGLE: It’s Wall Street’s nightmare!

What’s Wall Street’s nightmare?

Barry RITHOLTZ: For how long was the working assumption that the Earth was the center of the universe? We had telescopes, we could see the motions of the planets. It was pretty absurd. We are now in the middle of the Copernican Revolution about the proper way to invest or at least the rational way to invest.

The passive-investing revolution. We’ll hear from Jack Bogle, Gene Fama, Barry Ritholtz, and more — that’s next time, on Freakonomics Radio. 

Freakonomics Radio is produced by WNYC Studios and Dubner Productions. This episode was produced by Shelley Lewis. Our staff also includes Stephanie Tam, Merritt Jacob, Greg Rosalsky, Eliza Lambert, Alison Hockenberry, Emma Morgenstern, Harry Huggins and Brian Gutierrez; and we had help this week from Sam Bair. The music you hear throughout the episode was composed by Luis Guerra. You can subscribe to Freakonomics Radio on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, or via e-mail at

Here’s where you can learn more about the people and ideas in this episode:




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Posted by bethwesson

Some you may have noticed I’ve been a bit scarce. My life has been taking me in directions away from Outlander, but tonight I got right back on the path leading to the season 3 premiere!  We have a 2 minute trailer to watch and re-watch and speculate over!  Oh, happy day! I’ve only watched it three times and I’m sure it will spark some reflection and writing soon, but what I was left with tonight was the poignancy of that last scene. I continue to be grateful for the attention to detail and care this team gives my favorite story.  When I saw Claire fixing her hair, I have to admit I got choked up.  I’ve always been moved by Claire’s womanly insecurity and the courage it took her to open that door.  In fact, I wrote a poem about it several years ago.  Here is my little poem.


The Hardest Step


Nervously she tucks a curl

Her thoughts, her feelings all a whirl

Her plans, her hopes may all unfurl

Nervously she tucks a curl

Her fears may lay behind that door

Her heart may lie behind that door

Nervously she tucks a curl

And takes a step

By Beth Wesson

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Posted by TN, MD

18 Day Old Baby Mariana Dies From Complications of Cold Sore Virus.

We again urge reading parents to not let people kiss your babies on the mouth (or on the eyes or nose) as oral herpes is highly contagious, and catastrophic for young babies who contract the virus.

See this previous article detailing more about sweet Mariana's story, and why kissing babies on the lips is so risky,
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Posted by Chris

Outside San Diego on a sunny October day, Martha’s SUV crashed into boulders lining the side of the road and spun out of control.  Her body was thrown from the car – despite wearing a seat belt – and crushed when her SUV rolled over her.

She was pronounced legally dead three times: on the road, in flight to the hospital, and on the operating table. The Fragrance of Angels is her memoir about where her spirit went upon death and how her choice in Heaven to return and fight for survival changed her life.

When I was presented with the opportunity to interview Martha, I couldn’t turn it down. I’ve always been fascinated with Near Death Experiences (NDEs), having known a few people who have been beyond and back.  For the curious, Martha’s memoir will tell you in detail what her experience was like, down to – well – the fragrance of angels!  But her memoir is more than an NDE disclosure.  It’s an inspirational book about love and perseverance.

The Fragrance of Angels documents her recovery and struggle to talk and walk again, her love for her sons, her unwavering determination to rise above life’s challenges, and a greater understanding of what our purpose on this earth is.

Martha is Christian, but this isn’t a book for one religion, one denomination.  Her message is inclusive and speaks to a universal freedom of worship that I found refreshing and inspirational.  Even if you don’t believe in organized religion or God, you will enjoy her amazing story and message.  It is a book that is desperately needed in our difficult times.

Halda-The Fragrance of Angels-2
Martha Brookhart Halda

Chris: Your story is inspirational on a number of levels. What do you hope is the one thing readers take away from The Fragrance of Angels?           

Martha: Be kind – we are to share love with all of God’s people and creatures!  I was shown that “love” is the most important commodity we have to offer.  Love is the only Eternal possession.  When we die, the only things we take with us are the love we’ve shared, memories, and our integrity of course. Everything else stays here.   We might as well be kind, because during our life review we must “feel” how we made others feel.  When you hurt someone, wow.  I mean you completely “feel” how the other person felt in their soul, and this hurt can be unbearable.  However the good thing is, if you made someone feel loved, what a glorious thing that is to experience!

Simply put, to follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.  Also, studies of people who have had NDEs report a lessening or disappearance of any fear of death. I whole-heartedly have a sense of a consciousness after the death of “the body.”   I have no fear of death; because I know where I’ll be is thousands or a million times more spectacular than here.


Chris: This next question is for my dad, an environmental engineer who fancies himself a physicist. You mention a few times in your memoir that our world is energy.  You say, “I saw, while in Heaven, that everything is energy.  I had watched as particles throughout a meadow came together and re-formed into a waterfall,” and “Every living being on earth is made up of essentially the same energy, particles, and spirit matter.”   Were you aware that the recent findings in physics are that matter does not exist, that everything is made up of energy?  What are your thoughts on that?  

Martha: No, prior to my Taste of Eternity I had very little concept of matter, energy, or science for that matter.  During my initial review on “the cliff” and then as I saw the particles/energy all came alive in “the valley of death,” I realized that all things are intertwined and living in unity.  Before this, to me, the earth was plants, animals, and humans.  Don’t get me wrong, I did see that matter moved – such as viewing cells under a microscope, when each individual particle moves and wiggles around, but I would never have thought it would extend to life on the larger scale.  But hey… at one point in history the earth was flat, right? (LOL) It’s really only in recent years that people have begun to believe that thoughts can affect our lives in a real sense.  Athletes have visualized their peek performance for years with great results.


Chris: Your NDE feels rooted in Christian beliefs, even though you didn’t believe in angels previously. Do you think your religion influenced how Heaven presented itself to you?

Martha: Yes, Perhaps.  I can only assume that Heaven would be different for people of other faiths or generations. I must imagine that what I was taught was part of my being, who I am, so why wouldn’t it affect what I saw or at least affect my descriptions of what I saw? My words are so inadequate in description of Heaven.  However, Near-Death Experiences have been reported for much of human history. There are writings on experiences, as well as descriptions of God, and stories of Angels in completely different cultures, countries, times, spiritualities, and religions. They are described in early Greek and Roman literature, ancient Buddhism, medieval religious literature, ancient Celtic traditions, oral folklore and Native American tribal beliefs. People who have had NDEs, like me, often attain a new degree of consciousness, and they seem to have a greater appreciation of the interconnectedness of all living things. I am looking to be one with myself, and one with God.  Prior to this, I did not believe in Angels because I couldn’t fathom them. Now no one will ever get me to believe they don’t exist. To me they are real and watching over us.    


Chris: You wrote that the music you heard during your experience was specific for you and that another soul, like one of your sons, may have different music. Along those lines, do you think someone of another religion might have a slightly different experience based on their beliefs? 

Martha: Yes, but studies show that many Experients (people who were pronounced dead before/during their NDEs) report incidences such as tunnel sensations, life-reviews, beautiful landscapes, blissful rural and angelic scenes, bright lights of energy, a feeling that the light/energy is God, or a power source of total knowledge. That is exactly what I saw and felt. There are recorded stories from different societies, religious beliefs, etc. that are similar in some areas. I imagine that, just like in life here on earth, we are accustomed to specific things that comfort us, the sounds and smells that make me feel comforted differ from everyone else.  The God I know is  great and a master of creation, so why couldn’t he present a customized welcome to Heaven specific for each soul entering?


Chris: My mom died when I was in college. For some reason whenever I smell sage in the wild, I know she’s there.  Do you still smell your guardian angel occasionally?

Martha: First, let me say I am sorry you lost your mom so early in life. I would suggest that she is still a very active part of it, both in your memory and in her watching/guiding over you while showing up in the scent of wild sage.  What a yummy delight that must be.  Unfortunately, I do not get the pleasure of scent of my Angel.  I wish I could and will always remember the night she filled my bedroom with her magnificent floral aroma.  Now I simply spray my perfume and know she is there.  My family and I have a funny way of knowing when our mom comes around.  She loved hummingbirds, and sometimes hummers will show up and sort of hover when one of us needs it.  We half-jokingly say “Oh, there’s mom showing up to help.”  It’s always comforting.


Fragrance-of-Angels-CoverChris: Your memoir is about strength and perseverance, but most importantly it’s about love. You write, “The overwhelming purity of Love that surrounded me. I only wish I could find one fraction of this here on Earth.”  I believe this message is so important for our country at the moment.  Do you have any thoughts on how your message from your NDE can help our divided land? 

Martha: I could only wish so.  I wish our world was more open to finding our commonality — which is to say, we’re all part of the human family.  In death, the only thing we can take with us is the love we’ve given and received.  What if we shared a kindness with which we work together to overcome differences, than worldwide peace would be more simply found. It seems like a really hard time, with people split apart at opposite extremes at times, but these things pass… then what?  I can’t help but think, what if we listen more to each other? Agree to disagree in a more peaceful way? Share some of that love that, as I’ve said, ALL we take with us.  I think it’s really important to prep ourselves in this way for healing our society, souls, and friendships, because the day will come when we have to feel how we hurt other?


Chris: Where did your power to overcome your situation and make a full recovery originate? Was it your faith and NDE? Or was it your personality and past experiences that made the difference? 

Martha: Wow, what a great question! This may be the best one I’ve ever been asked. Without faith I wouldn’t have been able to do any of what I’ve accomplished.  I do believe my life experience prepared me in many ways.  I feel that everything in life prepares us for the next step.  I believe, even more now, that there are no accidents.  I think of life as a trickle-down effect.  For example a waterfall: each droplet cascades downward into a pond of shimmering water that provides a fuller life – a bigger pond or pool of water.  I see my life in the same way; each step or action prepares me for the next step.

The fact that I was an athlete helped me put in the hard work to be able to walk and talk again.  If you don’t put in the hard work in practice, then you don’t get to play in the game.  I feel that NDEs are God’s way of sharing an insight, provided those that have experienced one are willing to share it.  Sharing my story has not always been the easiest, unfortunately some people judge harshly.  I learned that we (people) are not the judge. That the ultimate judge is God, in whatever shape or form we give him.  No matter how much of a stud I was, I would not have been able to accomplish what I have without God’s loving guidance.



Chris: What inspired you the most on your trip to India? The Golden Temple, the Bodhi tree, Sarnath where Buddha gave his first lecture?

Martha: Another great question.  I would have to say the Bodhi tree.  I found, with almost every spiritual place I visited in India, that the city, village, and area surrounding it was encircled by evil.  It was surreal, uncomfortable… a type of mass confusion of energies.  This was the most significant in the energy of the marketplace and streets outside the garden entrance to the Bodhi tree.  Inside and outside was, by far, the most extreme difference.  What I’m saying is that the peaceful clam of serenity within the property was so overwhelmingly wonderful.  This would take a chapter of a book to fully give you the essence of it.  While the negativity of the streets was enough to make me stay up all night praying for safety and peace.


Chris: I have a number of moms who read Novel2Screen. Your role as a mom was paramount to your decision to return and fight through the challenges on Earth. What is your best parenting advice?

Martha: Always tell your children you love them!   Be their parent first, not their friend, but let them know they will forever be embraced by you regardless of their choices.  Parents are here to guide and help build the character of their children.  Build the character first and there will always be time enough to be their friend as well, throughout their adult lives.  Live, Laugh, and Love them.


Chris: What is next for you? 

Martha: Presently I’m excited about the birth of my first grandchild, a little girl, my first princess, she fills my heart already and she won’t even arrive for another five months.   


Chris: Congratulations!  She’ll be a whole other type of angel in your life!  Any future books we can look forward to? 

Martha: I have been considering a follow-up book on the specific time frame, challenges, and growth that people who have had an NDE seem to follow, based on statistical research.  The time frames can actually be mapped out in years.  Or perhaps your last question has given me a new idea for a book.  Year by year, step by step, that’s the only way I can live my life right now.

Get your copy of The Fragrance of Angels here and discover the positivity and hope Martha returned from beyond to share with everyone.

Read more interviews with authors, screenwriters, and actors on Novel2Screen here and follow Chris on Twitter @ACCooksonWriter and Rebecca @DownWorldNovel


[syndicated profile] thomasguild_feed

Posted by Marijn

A previous blog discussed some French chests ornamented with iron bands, which included some medieval chests from the Musee du Noyonnais. I happened to be in Noyon a few days ago and took the opportunity to visit the museum and study the chest in more detail. Actually the chest originated from the treasury of the Cathedral de Notre Dame in Noyon, next to the museum. (The museum used to be the bishops palace long ago.) Besides the chest there were more interesting medieval furniture items which are also shown in this post.

The cathedral of Noyon.

The Musee du Noyonnais or the former Bishops palace.

One of the original door of the bishops palace has remained. It is an unequal double door with a decoration of early gothic arches. Remnants of a red colour remain.

 The decoration of the door is nailed to it. One of the decorations is the head of a devil.

Chest number MN 1664. It dates after 1139-1175; and according to dendrochronological dating after 1216. It is made form oak and decorated with forged iron bands. The construction is partly that of a simple six-boarded chest, but with addition of mortise and tenons to connect the legs with the front and back boards. The thickness of the oak boards is around 4.5 cm; the boards for the lid are slightly thinner, around 3.5 cm. The chest is constructed from single boards. Also here, the lid is different, as it was made from three smaller boards.

The lid consists of three boards held together by iron bands: a simple hinge, three decorative hinges with floral designs and another simple hinge. On the front there are two lock hinges. The central lock closes from within.

Details of the decorative ironwork on the lid. There are two curious round plates nailed to the lid (one shown on the right photo).

The central front lock. Also the rim of the lid is reinforced by metal strips.

Left:  The hinge for one of the side locks. The hinge folds around the corner of the lid. Right: The right (and also the left) lock is fixed on the outside of the chest.

The bottom of the chest is also made of three boards. Only the two outer iron bands go completely under the chest. The bottom boards are chamfered and enter a groove in the sides of the chest.

Left: The floral pattern of the front of the chest. The single oak board has been cracked and split in several places. You can see the dowels for the mortise and tenons in the legs. Right: One of the legs is reinforced with some iron bands.

The side of the chest. Iron bands also fold over the backside. 

 Chest number MN 1665. It dendrochonologically dates from 1191-1192. The construction is that of a simple six-boarded chest, reinforced with iron bands. All sides consist of one single boards. The lid is split in two, but the grain of the two parts connect to each other. 

 Left: The side of the chest. Right: The grains of the lid continues. A small rail is nailed to the underside of the lid.

There are five hinges on the chest; two of them also function as lock hinges on the front. 
Likely the middle hinge did this as well.

Left: The central lock is replaced. You can still see the holes for a larger lock-plate. Right: The left lock.

The right lock (plate) also seems to be remade, but the original lock-hinge was retained.

Chest number MN 1666. It dates after 1227, and dendrochronologically after 1254. It is a hutch type chest with two decorated forged iron bands. The thickness of the oak boards of the legs are around 3.5 cm; the boards for the lid are  thinner, around 2.5 cm. The sides of the chest are constructed from two boards; the front from 3 boards. The chest has two lids, each made from two boards. 
Left: Like the chests from the Luneburger convents, the lid pivots on a wooden pin. A wooden rail also reinforces the lid. Right: The boards of the lid are nailed to a hidden rail on the inside.

 One of the dowels of has caused a split in the leg. An iron nail above replaced it.

 The two lock-plates are different. The left lock plate has some decoration on it.

The underside of the chest consist of three boards with a supportive rail in the middle. The decorative iron band folds over the edge and is nailed to a bottom board.

 The legs have some chip-carved decoration as well. On the left you can see an oak restoration of the leg.

The floral decoration on the left and right side of the chest. 

The side of the chest. 

Chest MN 1667 is of later age and dates from the second half of the 15th century, early 16th century. The single oak boards of the chest are connected with dovetails, and reinforced with iron edges. The chest stands on a separate foot. Curiously the chest has two iron handles on each side. Three sturdy iron hinges and large locks keep the chest safe.

The Noyon cathedral once had a large 13th century armoire with similar iron floral decorations as the iron decorated chests, or the armoire in the Musee des Arts Decoratif in Paris. The armoire has three large doors with three smaller door underneath. It was likely used to store relics or sacristorial goods. Photo taken from a descriptive leaflet in the Musee du Noyonais.

A bit of unusual piece of furniture is this charcoal burner or brassero made of iron and copper alloys. For religious purposes this charcoal burner was used to create the ashes for ash Wednesday and to  light the paschal candles during the Liturgy of Holy Saturday. In secular live it was used as a movable heating device.The brassero dates from the early 14th century.

carving some oak

Jul. 18th, 2017 02:21 pm
[syndicated profile] pfollensbee_feed

Posted by pfollansbee

I have several days, even weeks maybe, to work on oak furniture now. Some carving yesterday & this morning. here’s a quick photo tour of cutting one lozenge/diamond shape, with tulips in it.

After laying out a diamond shape on horizontal & vertical centerlines, I strike an inner diamond with a small gouge, approximately a #7 sweep. Maybe it’s a 1/4″ wide. Just connect the dots, hitting the vertical & horizontal centerlines with the corners of the gouge.

Then I use the same gouge to “echo” this making an outline around it, these do not connect.

A more deeply curved gouge now comes off these outlines, beginning to form the undersides of the flowers.

Then the same gouge reverses, making an “S”-curve going out to the border. Or just about out to the border…

When you repeat this step on all four quadrants, your negative shape becomes quite prominent – it reminds me of those Goldfish snacks small children eat –


Now a larger gouge, approximately a #8 – reverses again, forming the tops of the lower flower petals.


Then a #7 about 3/4″ wide does more connect-the-dots – reaching from where I left off to the borders. that’s the whole outline. This one is quite small, the piece of wood is 6″ wide, and there’s a 3/4″ margin on both edges. You can use the same pattern on a panel, then some of this outline is cut with a v-tool instead of struck with the gouges.


Then I cut out the background. In this case, it was tight quarters in there, so I used a couple different tools, depending on where I had to get..

The end result. about 15 minutes of carving for the lozenge/diamond. This is going to be one of three muntins for the footboard of a bedstead I’m making.

Here’s the top rail I started back at the Lie-Nielsen Open House…they always show up better once they’re oiled.

another view.

Yesterday I started painting a desk box I have underway; but found out I was out of red pigment (iron oxide) – ordered some, and did the black for starters.

Medical Matters

Jul. 18th, 2017 09:38 pm
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[personal profile] tcpip
It's been a curious past few days; I spent most of Saturday working on the course for the researchers at Orygen Youth Mental Health which I presented on Monday. It went extremely well; I provided an overview of high performance compute clusters, environment modules and job submission using their preferred applications (MRtrix, Matlab, Octave, R, and especially FSL and Freesurfer. They were a large and very switched on group, and it brought me great pleasure when I received some rather positive responses in person and in email.

On Sunday visited the Unitarians to hear a presentation by the president of Dying With Dignity to speak on the upcoming legistlation such matters. Last year to the state government committee I contributed two submissions from different organisations on the matter, and legislation is expected soon. In a less positive manner, an old friend of mine has just found his way into hospital and I suspect he's in the position that he might not be getting better. Three years ago he appointed me enduring power of medical attorney. To top it all off, [ profile] caseopaya's mother has found herself in hospital as a complication arising from her continuing illness.

It surprises me that there are those who begrudge public revenue raising and expenditure on health, as if the wealthy have more of a right to live than the poor. Even using the criteria of the 'dismal science', economics, it is obvious that having people alive and well is not just a private benefit to the person in question, it is also a public benefit. The is equivalent matter here with education as well, and likewise the private-public benefit is a continuum which includes current and future productivity of the person in question. All of this, of course, on top of matter of being in a society that cares for its less fortunate.
[syndicated profile] novel2screen_feed

Posted by Chris

Please note: the following article contains spoilers for those who have not read The Mortal Instruments series or seen the Shadowhunters show.

Am I the only one thinking Simon and Maia have way more chemistry than Simon and Clary could dream of having?

Remember a few episodes back when Maia and Simon were driving in his van.  The pair in a small, locked space generated more electricity than the entire stock footage shot of NYC at night.  Tonight Maia tagged along to Simon’s house under the pretense she was making sure his Underworld depression didn’t lead to an unexpected slaying of Grandma Lewis.  However, she showed up at his boat house dolled up like Phoebe from Friends and introduced herself as Simon’s girlfriend.  Either Maia is totally jonesin’ for the Daylighter or she is the horniest character on this show.  She’s definitely out passed Izzy. This leaves me wondering: Was her smoochfest in the alley with Jace some complicated way to get back at Simon for checking out at their date and hooking up with Clary?


I don’t know.  I’m probably reading way too much into the Jace kiss – or lack of follow up afterwards – but you can’t tell me that you didn’t love the Yom Kippur scene.  The show is at its best when it strips away the glitz of the Institute and reveals the characters at the heart of the book.

Unlike stripping away Sebastian’s/Jonathan’s skin.  Wow.  Fan sites went crazy with hatred last week with that reveal.  I’m not a fan either, but I get it that it was easier for TV to handle it this way than try to explain why relatives don’t recognize the impostor. Fortunately, we had Will Tudor most of the night.  Oh yes, Sebastian, the accent does make you oh so charming!

Alan van Sprang is a good actor.  I don’t fault him one bit for doing the best he can with the material he has been handed (cough, Chernobyl zombies, cough).  But Will stole that scene with a combination of alarming glares and creepy smiles.


I never doubted you, Will!!

I loved Clary’s revelation that Jonathan (aka Sebastian) didn’t die in a fire, but is the show intending to come full circle next week already??  The preview hinted at outing Sebastian next week as Jonathan.  Can’t we just enjoy a few episodes of characters not knowing and being duped?  Kinda like how this map of Middle-earth totally fooled them.


Also, I’m ready for the Lightwoods to do more.  I need Alec out of the Institute and fighting.  The show tried forcing Izzy into the boring, be-like-mom role last season.  We don’t need Alec following in those footsteps.  Bow in hand, please.


Watch Shadowhunters Monday nights at 8pm/7pm on Freeform, and join me each week for Shadowhunters recaps.  Special thanks to TMI fan groups for their support, like The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, Mortal Instruments Fangirl!, and Thank You Cassandra Clare on Facebook.On Twitter follow Chris @ACCooksonWriter and Rebecca @DownWorldNovel.

Like our Facebook page Novel2Screen for more updates on your favorite novel-to-screen adaptations, including weekly recaps of  Shadowhunters and interviews!  

Or just follow this blog.

Photos courtesy of Freeform


[personal profile] alexbayleaf

Originally published at Spinster's Bayley. You can comment here or there.

I recently took part in a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) – 15 days of classes and hands-on activities covering everything from ecology to passata-making, spread over the first half of this year. I’d been told that doing a PDC makes you see the world differently. I must admit that I didn’t find this to be […]

[syndicated profile] drmomma_feed

Posted by JK

The number one way that babies contact oral herpes is by people kissing them on the mouth. The majority of adults living in North America have oral herpes ('cold sores'), and live with only occasional discomfort. What most people don't realize is that this same virus can be devastating, and even deadly, to babies, and it is transferred from well meaning adults to babies with a kiss.

[syndicated profile] freakonomicsagain_feed

Posted by Stephen J. Dubner

Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam, Minneapolis, MN. (Photo: US Army Corps of Engineers)

The only major waterfall on the Mississippi is in Minneapolis: St. Anthony Falls. The power of the falls brought life to General Mills, Pillsbury, Gold Medal Flour and Betty Crocker in Minneapolis. But it was originally in St. Paul. The falls moved 15 miles upstream in the last 12 thousand years (fast in geological time). The river has a fragile bed — the falls once flowed over a bed of limestone, and then shale, and then really soft sandstone that you could scratch away with your fingers.

In the mid 1800s, millers began harnessing the power of St. Anthony Falls. One miller had the idea to tunnel under the falls to an island he bought upstream to harness more power. As he tunneled out the river bed, the falls started collapsing into the river. To stop the rapidly-speeding geologic clock, the Army Corps of Engineers built a 36-feet-deep wall in 1937 underneath the Mississippi river at St. Anthony Falls.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know is in Minneapolis with a show on the environment, morning drinking, skyways, hidden figures and more. Our special guest co-host is John Moe, host of the podcast The Hilarious World of Depression, who knows how to get around a lack of talent, and our real-time fact-checker is Maggie Ryan Sandford, a self-proclaimed dolphin expert.

The post Three Sheets to the Wind: TMSIDK Episode 23 appeared first on Freakonomics.

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