Palo Alto has installed eight new temporary murals designed to give residents struggling with the pandemic a bit of an emotional boost this spring. Last week, I visited the murals along California Avenue, and found myself spending a great deal of time with Carrie Lederer’s mural, Lost in My Abstract Garden.
“Is it really unlucky to have peacock feathers in the house?”
In her book, Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose casually states that it's bad luck to have peacock feathers in the house. I'd never heard that before. So of course, I wanted to…
The 5 best books of The Nine-Year-Old’s year (so far)
This weekend, I found The Nine-Year-Old in her reading nook puzzling over a stack of books. Every once in a while she’d put one in her mini steamer trunk. The rest she…
“Why is tennis scoring so weird?”
The other day while driving past a neighborhood tennis court, the subject of scoring naturally came up. Everyone in the car agreed that the standard Love-15-30-40 scoring system…
“Can crickets die of fright?”
For her third grade science project, The Nine-Year-Old has been keeping a series of crickets at home. I say series, because all the male crickets keep dying off. We can't figure…
“Why does it rain fish in Honduras every year?”
It's May, which means any day now a massive thunderstorm will form in Yoro, Honduras, pelting the region with heavy rain for hours. By the time the rain's over, the ground will be…
With Santa Clara County slowly resuming economic and social activities, looking at some freshly installed public art is a great opportunity to get my entire family used to roaming freely around the world again.
Detecting and neutralizing misinformation, a couple of book reviews, and other tidbits that crossed my desk this week: A Caterpickles miscellany*
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading about how to detect and neutralize misinformation this week –and how to teach my daughter to do the same. Here are a few of the articles, blog posts, and books I’ve found most helpful.
Apparently, this is the week we get spring flowers in Northern California.
I grew up watching the Muppets. For years I wandered through life, filled with the happy conviction that I knew everything I needed to know about Sam the Eagle. This happy state continued until I saw a video of the African shoebill stork on Twitter. It bore a disconcerting resemblance to old Sam. To make matters worse, while researching shoebills, I discovered that some think that the harpy eagle is actually the model for Sam the Eagle. There’s only one thing to do when your world has been rocked by this sort of question: compare and contrast.
The last novel in verse I read was Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin. After finishing it, I decided that novels in verse are fine, but poems are a kind of contrived way to tell a story. Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam’s Punching the Air is forcing me to reconsider.
Longtime readers will remember that in the early days of this blog I used to devote Saturday mornings to funny things my daughter said. As she got older, she asked me to stop doing that. However, given the heaviness of our current news environment, the 13-Year-Old has given me permission to post a special illustrated edition of “Funny Things My Mom Says as Recorded by The 13-Year-Old.”
Before I resume business as usual here on Caterpickles, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge what an utterly disorienting moment we are living through…
Happy New Year! Someone on Twitter commented that living through 2020 had given them a new appreciation for the relentless partying that broke out during the Roaring Twenties after WWI and the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Living through 2020 also made me think about the Roaring 20s differently. I finally understand why so many women in vintage flapper photos are giving such achingly sad side-eye.
It’s the quiet time between Christmas and New Year’s, when we are supposed to reflect on the year past and make plans for the year to come. I’ll do my best.