The Cactus Who Wanted to Be a Christmas Tree

Katie loves Christmastime. Getting presents is nice, and playing in the snow with her friends is fun, but what she likes best are all the pretty decorations...

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Sunny and Victor: Best Friends Forever

Bears and rabbits are not supposed to be friends, but the story of how Sunny Bunny and Victor Bear became “best friends forever” is a tale of friendship...

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Some Poems About Life

(30 Actually) Gems of Wit & Wisdom

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What If You Need a New Kidney?

Al Roth is a professor of economics at Stanford, and he was co-winner (with Lloyd Shapley) of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2012.  An engineer by training, he became an expert on designing markets because in certain situations, money alone can’t solve some problems.  For example, Stanford University doesn’t use supply and demand to

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How Much Do You Know About Money?

I was out shopping Saturday night and I heard a cashier marvel about receiving a $100 bill.  Is that the largest bill in circulation? That piqued my curiosity, and I got on my smart phone.  According to the official website of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Currency/Pages/denominations.aspx),  the denominations of currency now in production are

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A Milestone for the Steam Engine

Mention the steam engine, and most people think of James Watt.  Actually, the steam engine goes back to the 1st century AD —  the earliest known design, the aeolipile, was described by the Greek mathematician and engineer Hero of Alexandria, as recorded in his manuscript Spiritalia seu Pneumatica.  On July 2, 1698, British engineer Thomas Savery was

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Handwriting on the Wall

Today I’ve been going through my mother’s papers (you may recall she died in April) and I found an interesting poem, the kind she liked to tape to the refrigerator door:   Handwriting on the Wall A weary mother returned from the store, Lugging groceries through the kitchen door. Awaiting her arrival was her 8-year-old

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Maybe It’s a Geisha Girl

I have some of my best ideas while running.  (Something to do with more oxygen to the brain, I suppose.)  This weekend I remembered a story from one of my first marathons, although this time it was in the aftermath of a race. I was in the 1984 Honolulu Marathon.  Two nights before, there was

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Happy 4th of July

If you really want to learn about the 4th of July, I would recommend “Fun Facts for July 4” at the Washington Post website. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/07/03/fun-facts-for-july-4/ For example, three of the first five U.S. presidents died on July 4.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died in 1826, the 50th anniversary of the country’s birth.  (Adams’ last words were

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An Essay on Failure

This is an essay I wrote several years ago, and now is as good a time as any to drag it out.   Have you ever heard of me? No? Actually, that shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’m not very famous and few people do know who I am. So far in my life I just haven’t

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What is Asteroid Day?

Yesterday I received an email from The Planetary Society about Asteroid Day. Beginning at the beginning, The Planetary Society is an organization for people interested in anything involving space — “We create. We educate. We advocate.”   One of their latest activities has been to support the LightSail experiment — using the solar wind for

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