A Doll Comes To Visit

You are a fifth-grade girl who comes home from school to find a doll on your front porch. The doll looks like you, is dressed like you, and there is something about the eyes. Who left it? Why is it here? And what makes this doll so special?

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Stories Short and Strange

19 short stories for general audiences ranging from the unusual to the unbelievable to the just plain strange.

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The Boy Who Could Wiggle His Ears

Learning how to wiggle your ears is really hard. But you can do it if you keep trying. And if you learn to keep trying, no problem is too big. So if you can wiggle your ears, you can do anything!

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What We Can Learn From Lobsters

One of our more ubiquitous building materials is concrete. It is strong and durable, and has been used since ancient times. Yet it does have limits. Concrete is strong against pushing (compression) forces, but weaker against pulling (tension) forces. To increase strength, it can be reinforced, usually with steel bars or fibers. Now, researchers in

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Cleaning as a Spectator Sport?

I’ll freely admit I’m not a good housekeeper, and I don’t think I’m alone in that regard. That’s why I was surprised to read a New York Times article entitled “The Joy of Watching Other People Clean” by Ronda Kaysen (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/29/realestate/cleaning-videos-youtube.html?). It seems there is a YouTube channel, “Jessica Tull: Cleaning Organization and Motherhood,” where

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The Power of the Human Brain

What are the limits of the human brain? Although at times, mine seems pretty limited, some amazing feats of memory and cognition have been recorded over the years. For example,  Daniel Paul Tammet, who was born on this day in London in 1979, holds the European record for reciting pi from memory. Recall that pi

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What is the 2020 Word of the Year?

In keeping with the tradition of commemorating the past year in every way possible, what language milestone has been honored as the Word of the Year for 2020? Like everything else about this last trip around the sun, it gets messy. Dictionary.com honored (surprise!) pandemic (https://www.dictionary.com/e/word-of-the-year/) — “…our choice was overwhelmingly clear. From our perspective

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The Latest in Robotic Technology

I’ve been reading about this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), January 11-14. As with everything else these days, this edition was virtual, on-line only, but some interesting products were still showcased. It seems the trend toward robotics is continuing. I suppose it’s our lazy side that stimulates our fascination with robots. It’s nice to dream

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Are You Looking For A Book?

From the “I Wish I Could Write Like That Department” — If all the social restrictions have gotten you down, one remedy is to read an entertaining book. Helpfully, the February 1/8 2021 issue of Time magazine includes a “Winter Survival Guide” with 11 books suggestions under the heading “Voices to Lighten the Mood” (page

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Vaccine Diplomacy

COVID-19 has clearly become a world-wide challenge. To vanquish it will require a long-term commitment to a coordinated international effort. But so far, it seems many countries are prioritizing protecting their own populations before sharing vaccine doses and resources. This does not bode well for hundreds of millions of people living in the Third World.

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Memories of an Inauguration

Today is another Presidential inauguration. These are always nostalgic for me because, as I posted four years ago, they remind me of the time I was in an inaugural parade. It was in January 1969, and at another turbulent time for our nation, although for an entirely different reason. Richard Nixon was the President-elect taking

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Happy Birthday, Peter Mark Roget

As a writer with limited talent, I’ve come to depend upon my thesaurus for finding imaginative words. So I was interested to learn that today is the birthday of the man who started it all, Peter Mark Roget, who was born in London in 1779. According to The Writer’s Almanac (https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-writers-almanac?), Roget was a very

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You Won’t Believe Your Eyes

As if today’s world hasn’t messed with your mind enough already, in late December 2020,  the Neural Correlate Society announced the top designs in its annual Best Illusions contest. This year’s winner  is a 3-D interpretation of a classic optical illusion, the Shröder Staircase. In the original, two-dimensional illusion, a series of zig-zagging parallelograms span a

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