From nowhere we came, into nowhere we go. What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night.

~ Attributed to Crowfoot

Help the Captain get his spaceship!

Mithril Angel Wings

Barriers and Perfectionism

When I first set this blog up, I changed my mind about what I wanted it to be called. Struggled through switching it from one domain name to the next. Even managed to lock myself out of my own site admin page by incorrectly changing its domain name setting too soon. Had to go back through PHP code in one of the files, fix it, and upload back into its main database. At least I think that is close to what I did, I may have blocked all that out, though I do distinctly remember bawling in frustration and fear that I had broken it irreparably.

After I finally got it set up right, everything was working great again — everything except for the link to the home page, which still directed back to the old domain name. I poked and searched and read through all the domain name mapping / switching / settings guidance I could find and nothing addressed that.  I nervously continued posting but deep down, it bothered the crap out of me that something on my site was wrong, and I didn’t know if I’d ever figure out how to fix it. It gave me an excuse to just let the whole thing go.

Fast forward to 8 months later, and now I kind of want to use the original domain name for a project. I’m nervous that they’re still somehow linked and I still really do want to fix this site. So I google the name of my theme and the home page link, and within 5 minutes have found the setting to fix my home page on this site. I can’t believe it was so simple.

We talk a lot in public health about barriers to action or behavior, and about small, concrete steps people can take to get moving.  I would do well to remember that everything doesn’t need to be perfect, and there are enough obstacles in life without me chucking my own into the mix.



Poor blog… the holidays hit and then everything fell by the wayside, but it would be nice to pick up again.

I’ve been thinking a lot about babies lately. Not so much about having any myself right now, but about how they come into the world. I watched the documentary Babies last year, which was fascinating in how it chronicled the first year of life of babies in Namibia, Mongolia, Japan, and the U.S. I couldn’t help but feel a bit dismayed though about two rather disparate issues: 1) the, errr, ‘rustic’ setting for the African baby and how it was portrayed, and 2) the over-technologized state of maternity care in America.

Continue reading Babies

Teasing out History

Spent some time earlier looking for good firefly quotes. As much of a cult hit as Firefly is, it’s rather hard to find quotes about the lightning bugs as opposed to the Whedon show. One quote did keep cropping up that I liked though, from an Indian chief:

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”

– Chief Crowfoot, Blackfoot Indian Chief

It showed up in any number of quote compilation pages across the net (Google the first two sentences and you get over 13,000 results).

One page, however, had a suprisingly different attribution:

A little while and I will be gone from among you, whither I cannot tell. From nowhere we came, into nowhere we go.What is Life? It is a flash of a firefly in the night. It is a breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is as the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

-Haggard, Sir (Henry) Rider
Dying words of the  African chief Umbopa in King Solomon’s Mines.  John Peter Turner in The North-West Mounted Police (1950) credited them to Crowfoot (c.1830^1890), chief of the Blackfoot Indians, who died in his teepee overlooking the Bow River,  Alberta, 25  Apr1890, and this attribution gained popular acceptance.

African chief Umbopa? What the heck? Continue reading Teasing out History

Who Kicked the Hornets Nest

Finally reading the last of the Stieg Larsson trilogy and was struck by this description of one of the main characters.

“She was afraid that it was a moral issue, because that was one of his weaknesses. He was Salander’s friend. She knew her brother. She knew that he was loyal to the point of foolhardiness once he had made someone a friend, even if the friend was impossible and obviously flawed. She also knew that he could accept any number of idiocies from his friends, but that there was a boundary and it could not be overstepped. Where exactly this boundary was seemed to vary from one person to another, but she knew he had broken completely with people who had previously been close friends because they had done something that he regarded as beyond the pale. And he was inflexible. The break was forever.”

Wonder how many other people would relate to that description.

I know where at least one of my boundaries is.

It’s here! My Kindle is here!

Pull to open tab on the Kindle box

Gadget geek bliss ^.^ Photos of the unboxing follow…

Continue reading It’s here! My Kindle is here!


“Death was not like a light going forever dark, he said. The dead can reach the living, their voices inserted in dreams or riding in the wind.”

~ From Ambohimirary Journal:
Dead Join the Living in a Family Celebration

Was neat to see coverage in the Times on the Malagasy custom of Famadihana.

Kids (Twentysomething or otherwise)

“Martin Seligman, the positive-psychology pioneer who is, famously, not a natural optimist, has always taken the view that happiness is best defined in the ancient Greek sense: leading a productive, purposeful life. And the way we take stock of that life, in the end, isn’t by how much fun we had, but what we did with it.”  ~ Jennifer Senior

Kind of funny follow-up discussion on Slate on Robin Marantz Henig’s article about Twentysomethings. My favorites were the comments from Samantha Henig:

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot, having been privy to the whole editorial process: Robin Marantz Henig is my mother. (So watch how you talk about her!) I actually had the somewhat bizarre experience of giving her a “background” interview for the piece, during which she, in full reporter mode but still very much my mother, asked me such things as when I planned to get married and have kids. (I’m 26 now.) I, in turn, have given the same treatment to many of my friends, grilling them about whether they think they’re adults (an almost universal “no”) and when they think that will change (to which my favorite response was “when someone kills my parents and I have to avenge their death, like Batman”)

On the whole having kids question, another very interesting article in the NYT magazine that I read a while back, All Joy and No Fun, got into the intersections of children, choices, stress, happiness… The part that struck me was the idea that choice, about “whether to have kids, when, how many,” may actually leave us unhappier than if we just had kids by default early on. The article cites a 2003 meta-analysis of 97 children-and-marital-satisfaction studies that found that “parents’ dissatisfaction only grew the more money they had, even though they had the purchasing power to buy more child care.” The psychologist’s hypothesis: because “They become parents later in life. There’s a loss of freedom, a loss of autonomy. It’s totally different from going from your parents’ house to immediately having a baby. Now you know what you’re giving up.” Someone I know once said better to have them young when you haven’t a clue what you’re doing, because if you really understood what you were getting into you’d never want to.

The Cliff notes/take home version I got from the article was basically:

  1. There’s been a lot of research showing that parents are not happier than their peers without children
  2. Parents in these times are expected to work for their children (ensure they are “sculpted, stimulated, instructed, groomed”) rather than the other way around (e.g. when kids helped grow crops or run the store or whatnot)
  3. Children are stressful. Living up to the expectations that you have to raise them perfectly the “right” way is stressful.
  4. But there’s a difference between stress and despair, between “moment-to-moment happiness” and feeling connected, motivated, like you have a purpose in life, which children may bring.

It almost seemed to suggest that parents just don’t have time to be lonely or think too hard about what they’re contributing to the world, describing how they “live in a clamorous, perpetual-forward-motion machine almost all of the time.” Or maybe it’s already obvious in one respect what they’ve contributed to the world. I would love to ask parents I know what they would say looking back, especially the older generation (though I’m afraid if I started that conversation with mine they’d get the wrong idea and start hoping for grandbabies soon…!)