This may shock some of you (especially those who know me as the most “liberal” sister): I’m not feeling the whole “panda conservation” thing.  

Since discovering the joys of the San Diego Zoo webcam, I have spent a lot of time observing the pandas (I’ve been keeping a browser open with it on my other monitor as I work- it amuses me to look at when my gorgeous view of the mountains becomes boring).  They really aren’t that different than cows- just fuzzier.  They just sit with a ton of food on their fat bellies and eat, and eat, and eat.  Sometimes, to shake things up a bit, they walk over to a new pile of food, and eat some more.

I read an interesting article a while ago that made a case AGAINST panda conservation.  Evolutionarily speaking, they are kind of duds. They only eat one kind of nutrient-poor food that only grows at a single elevation. They have all kinds of difficulties mating and produce less-than-robust offspring.

I’m beginning to agree with Chris Packham, a prominent conservationist, that while the panda’s cute, cuddliness makes it a good poster child for raising conservation funds, those funds may be more useful dedicated to frog conservation (huge problem, frog species are dying out all over south/central America) or other species that are vital to ecosystems.

On a more amusing note I just read this in this Discovery magazine article :

 The panda has been called “possibly one of the grossest wastes of conservation money in the last half century” by conservationist Chris Packham, president of Britain’s Bat Conservation Trust. In fact, he insists that he “would eat the last panda” if the resources devoted to them could be transferred to “more sensible things.”

Food for thought.

February 26, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

EJ’s New (Huge) Bed

EJ has a new bed. It didn’t look that big in the pics, but it is HUGE in real life. She absolutely adores it, though, so it is a keeper.  So far it has been a castle, a boat and who knows what else. She and Birdie have had SO much fun with it!



February 26, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Shamu Cam! Panda Cam! And More!

This weekend we discovered streaming live webcams from fantastic places like the San Diego Zoo, Sea World and Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

The girls LOVE watching the animals and it gave us a good educational opportunity to talk about each animal, what they eat, and etc. 

Bonus is that unlike YouTube videos of theme park rides (their other favorite thing to watch on the computer), these webcams are streaming and you don’t have to find a new ride every 3-5 min. or so. They sat and watched the orcas swim around their tank for about 15 min. last night while we were cooking dinner.

Check them out- here are our favorites:

San Diego Zoo- They have the Panda Cam, Polar Cam, Elephant Cam and Ape Cam

Sea World- Shamu Cam, what else do I need to say?

Monterey Bay Aquarium– Already one of our favorite places to visit. They have a ton of cams- Kelp forest, otters, penguins, outer bay, etc.

So gather the kiddos around the ‘ole computer and partake in some animal cam fun!

February 24, 2009. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Great Quote

My Photo-a-day Planet Earth calendar offered up this quote today. I thought I’d share:

Every Individual has a place to fill in the world and is important. – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Just think of how many problems could be solved if we remembered that?

On a different note, I think it is ironic that my Planet Earth calendar frequently offers up environmentally-friendly tips like “turn your furnace down to conserve energy” but it is a paper “tear-off-each-day-and-throw-away calendar. Good thing I’m OCD about recycling!

February 22, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.


I find myself buying small presents for the girls a lot. Is it guilt because I work and I want to buy their affection? Is it a product of growing up in a large family (not that I blame my parents, but happy meals and/or small toys x 7 is a lot of dough)?

I need to stop. Or at least stop feeling guilty. Or just stop.

February 21, 2009. Uncategorized. 4 comments.

So, anyone wanna book a comedy show?

So  go ahead and file this under my growing collection of “Oh Crap” parenting moments…

Lately EJ is into telling jokes. They all start with “Why did the (insert random noun) cross the road”.  The punchline usually involves a banana.   We all laugh appropriately at all jokes, and Birdy laughs hilariously- usually before the punchline is delivered.

Sunday night, I was telling some simple knock-knock jokes in return and we were laughing.  I told EJ that we should go on a comedy tour together since we were so funny. She wanted me to explain what that was so I told her we’d ride in bus, get up on stage and make people laugh.  She loved the idea and I thought that was the end of it.

Since then, she keeps talking about when she and Mommy get on stage to tell jokes, and keeps asking when it is going to happen, if Birdy can join us, and what will Daddy do while we are on the road?  I forget that she remembers things now 🙂

So, um… Anyone wanna book a mother-daughter act?

February 20, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 4 comments.

George Washington wasn’t a very great man…


EJ came home from school yesterday singing this song:

“George Washington wasn’t a very great man. Wasn’t a very great man…”.

DMP and I smiled and asked her if maybe she wasn’t singing it right and maybe the song should say “George Washington was a very great man…”  She assured us that no, he wasn’t a great man because all the people wanted him to be king, and he said no.

Then she sang the second verse:

“George Wasnington wasn’t a very brave man….”

We asked why he wasn’t brave and she explained that he didn’t stay home when he could have.

I guess it makes sense in four-year-old world- if someone wants you to be king, and you turn it down, you must not be that cool and you should stay home – that is the right thing to do.  The best part is that she is so sure that that is the way to go. History lesson learned, I guess 🙂

February 18, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Slave Manifest indexing


Over the past couple of days, I’ve been indexing slave manifest records with the Ancestry World Archives Project.  These are records that were kept when slaves were transported by ship from place to place.  These are really valuable records for people who have slave ancestry since it usually contains the owner or shipper’s name (if they were perhaps being shipped by a company from one place to another to be sold). That is key info for researching ancestors who are difficult to find.

I wasn’t prepared for how poignant an experience this would be for me.  Seeing these names of men and women – most of whom don’t have last names- written out makes me think of who they were and what their life was like. I just got an image that lists a young woman and then 4 children, boys 8, 6, and 4 and a little girl, 2. I  hope that these were her children being transported with her- but the reality is that they could not be and, since slaves were property, they could have been taken from their parents to be sold elsewhere (surely they wouldn’t sell little kids 2 or 4, right? they couldn’t do much…).

It is also interesting to see how many are listed as “mulatto”. It is sad that people who had a white parent were still considered slaves.

I’m so grateful that this work is being done. I have a nephew who is black will one day likely want to seek out his family tree (he is adopted) and I hope that with the help of putting projects and indexes like this online, that process will be easier.

Check it out- indexing is fun, easy and you can tell me what you think of the tool and process 🙂

February 17, 2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

No need to wonder why I am the way I am

I love food. It is a VERY important part of my life (perhaps that is why I’m sucking at Weight Watchers??? Damn you cheese fries and ranch!).

I was amused by the comments left by my family about my fried chicken and wafffles comments. Several members de-lurked to also ponder this strange-yet-strangely-compelling dish. I come from a family of foodies, I tell ya!

Here is some more proof:

Here is a comment by sis Bek on another blog we both follow, Light Refreshments Served:

“Am I the only one in the world that enjoys both?? We love both events in our house and each event has annual “must have” foods… (Back in the day we used to host parties for these events, but now we have too many kids and are too lazy)… for Superbowl we always have those Bisquick sausage cheese balls.. um, yes please. We also do Cowboy Caviar….. for the Oscars we have baked brie w/ ham and garlic and blue cheese fondue (for the brie…saute up some large chunks of ham –think costco spiral sliced–place in bottom of small ish baking dish. Throw in 20 whole cloves of garlic (I usually buy mine pre peeled and sometimes roast them the day before), cut up chunks of brie…bake till the cheese is bubbly, serve with bread… you dip the bread in the brie, smear on some roasted garlic and then top with ham…. sigh.. I love food…”

I read this and was literally drooling. I didn’t know blue cheese fondue existed, but hook me up, Bek!

A couple of weeks ago, another sis, Jenn, sent an announcement to the fam that her COOKBOOK is thisclose to being published!

Even the “boring” eaters of the family (I’m looking at you Kate and Brad) appreciate good food- just so long as there is no condiment or vegetable touching it.

It all started with my Dad, I think. We used to think he was joking when he said he wanted to be buried with his pepper grinder, but know we know he is serious. When he kicks the bucket, we will ceremoniously grind pepper on his grave every memorial day.  Nice mustard was always a must-have in our house, too. None of that nasty yellow stuff for the Kinsels!

It is nice to finally know why I am the way I am 🙂 It is all genetics.

February 3, 2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.