Life in the Box: Tidbits


Most of my essays are one topic, but this week I’ve collected some snippets that are more than “tweets” but less than essays. Feel free to share!

Earth Wobble
Did you know that the earth wobbles as it spins? It’s been doing that for a long time, but now the wobble has changed direction. NASA scientists say the massive melting of the ice sheets up north has shifted the planet’s surface weight, causing a different balance. They say not to worry. About the wobble, I mean. Global warming—that’s still a worry.

Robins Take Over the World
Did you know that robin eggs are prime targets for other animals’ meals? Robins over-produce so much that if their predators suddenly stopped eating them, in just 30 years the entire world would be covered in robins 4.5 MILES THICK. The robins’ story illustrates the need for predation in a fascinating Great Courses DVD series on the “Mysteries of the Microscopic World.” Professor Bruce E. Fleury is a great storyteller—I highly  recommend this set.

Mormon Missionaries
I ran into a few tidy young missionary Mormon men this week. Sticky situation for me, wanting to be polite but also to tell them I’d never-ever-ever join their church and they should run away from it now! So, instead, I said, “I’ve been to your temple in Nauvoo. It’s nice.” They wanted to talk more, but I said, “Your religion isn’t liberal enough for me.” Understatement. I’ve toured two Mormon temples, and have talked with high church leaders. All men. ‘Nuff said?! If not, I recommend reading Leaving the Saints by Martha Beck. Put it high on your reading list if you want a compassionate look at the wonky church and her gentle interviews with her sick, abusive father. She sees the good with the bad and is a great writer.

America is Great Now
If you think Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is grating, then do what Ann McFeatters did, write a list of what makes America great right now. 

America’s Journalism Professionals
The public is contributing more to world news stories than ever before with their on-the-scene video phones, but there is still something to be said for the long hours it takes to cover news in-depth. I found a good column by Gene Policinski of the Newseum Institute about the need for professional journalists.

Daily Pantagraph Salute
Several of my snippets, above, are from my recent visit to Bloomington, Illinois where my hotel served up free  local newspapers. I really love that the Pantagraph, previously the Daily Pantagraph, has continued to be a vibrant newspaper. Articles are written well, local interests are covered, and they publish a good selection of non-USA Today columnists. (My Des Moines Register has been bought by that conservative national company. Not good.) I’ve seen lots of local newspapers go downhill, but the Pantagraph is still top notch!



Nancy Heather Brown is a retired, Emmy Award-winning television producer whose career has included interviewing, writing, and editing for a span of four decades. Today, she enjoys learning new things and reflecting upon the creative process both inside and outside the box. 

Seth Borenstein “Big Story” page includes more on global warming, the wobble, and the environment

Great Courses: Mysteries of the Microscopic World. Especially stunning is the trilogy of chapters on the 1918 Flu.

Martha Beck “Leaving the Saints” on Amazon
Ann McFeatters, Tribune News Service Opinion

Newseum Institute Gene Policinski  

The Pantagraph Online

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