WRITE 31 DAYS – TIL / Day 1

1 October – Today I learned:

  • That Lois Dickson Rice (1933-2017) — daughter of Jamaican immigrants, 1954 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Radcliffe College, and the mother of Susan Rice, who is the U.S. Domestic Policy Council director now and the former National Security Advisor — was instrumental in creating the Pell Grant, which gives low- and middle-income college students money (not loans) for college and other expenses. You can hear about it at NPR’s CodeSwitch, starting about 12 minutes into this episode, In 50 years, the Pell Grant has helped over 80 million people go to college. According to Clay Pell IV, grandson of R.I. Senator Pell, for whom the grant is named, ‘This program was not inevitable, and it would not have come into existence without [Rice], nor survived in the decades since without her passionate advocacy.'”
  • About the “Yes, Damn” Effect. I heard about this on NPR’s Hidden Brain episode Taking Control of Your Time. In short, over-busy people think that they will have more time available in the future, say a week or a month from now, than they do today; and this bias actually leads people to agree to more commitments in that spacious-looking future, which guarantees that their future will continue to be over-busy and that they will keep feeling like there’s never enough time. When people say YES, I accept that future commitment, and then when the time comes to do it, say “DAMN. I’m too busy to do that,” they’re unconsciously perpetuating a behaviour that leaves them feeling always overwhelmed and probably spending a lot of time doing things that aren’t truly important to them.
  • That the origin of the phrase ‘Indian Summer’ is a bit murky. Someone brought this phrase up at a dinner party last night, and I wondered where it came from. It seems agreed that though it’s used in the UK (and could have possibly referred to the country of India), it was actually first used in U.S., appearing in a letter dated 17 Jan. 1778 written by J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, a Frenchman, describing Mohawk country (in northern New York), in which he says “Sometimes the rain is followed by an interval of calm and warm which is called the Indian summer; its characteristics are a tranquil atmosphere and general smokiness.” There are some, including John James Audubon, who seemed to use the phrase to refer only to a “constant Smoky atmosphere” that irritated the eyes and which Audubon attributed to “Indians, firing the Prairies of the West.” Wikipedia notes that many languages has similar phrases for warm periods occurring in autumn, most translating to “old women’s summer,” though the Gaelic version is charmingly translated as “little autumn of the geese.” More interesting info at The Novice Farmer (Oct. 2015).
  • That bumblebees would probably like to be brushed, if not with a Barbie brush then with a flea comb.

  • That it takes me about 5 minutes to peel and chop up 3 heads of garlic (12-15 cloves) and this is what it looks like.

featured image is from Wallace Stegner’s novel Remembering Laughter (1937)

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