Well, if you don’t have the password to read my protected posts, you’re probably thinking this is about the most boring blog you’ve ever seen, huh.

Usually I get bored and write (or do other online time-wasting) a lot during the summer, but this summer the opportunity for boredom never really hit me. I was really busy with a lot of different stuff, and thought several times of things I ought to be writing, but never did. In fact, I even slacked off on my weekly reading updates. Oops. 

If you are not a scary creeper person — if I know you in real life, or you’re a mom who likes reading about other peoples’ families, etc. — you can leave a comment (making sure to include your email, which won’t be published or shared) and I’ll happily send you the password to the other posts. They’re mostly just pictures of my little boy and recaps of things we’ve done, and I would love to share them with everyone, but you know how things are these days. I’m trying to save him some privacy. 

And if you have any ideas of something you’d like me to write about, comment with that, too. I tend to do well with assignments… 

Primates on the Brain

Because of a book I read (The One and Only Ivan) and a recent visit to the zoo, I have primates on the brain and thought I’d share a few pictures from the Patas monkey exhibit at the zoo.

If you live in Idaho, you probably heard about the drunken idiot (there are stronger words I could use) who broke into Zoo Boise and beat one of our Patas monkeys to death. Our zoo is a small one, although a very nice one, and this random act of violence halved our population of Patas monkeys — an especially grievous situation, because they’re a very social species. Responding to concerns that the surviving monkey might not fare well in solitude, a zoo in New York donated two Patas monkeys to be companions.

The city donated $100,000 to create a new, more secure enclosure for the trio of monkeys.

And then, in the first week of October, the three monkeys suddenly became four.

And later that same week: five! Those monkeys got right down to business!

I was at the zoo on October 26 and went by the Patas enclosure, which had been reopened but wasn’t being cleaned as often in an effort to minimize disruptions and tension for the young family. I was so glad that I remembered to go by, because after a few minutes the two mama monkeys turned around and displayed their babies!

2 mother Patas monkeys with babies

I’m not going to lie; my heart melted. It’s pretty much impossible not to see the relationship between monkey-primates and people-primates when you see the way that these mothers cradled and nursed their babies, how the babies clung to their mothers and looked up at them wonderingly.

Of course, people-primates generally don’t trust that their babies will keep clinging to them as they gallop up rocks on all fours, but then again we have a lot less body hair.

After a little while, one of the babies stopped eating and looked around. It (they don’t know the babies’ genders yet) had such a dear little face, that sort of stereotypical Curious George monkey face.

A clearer picture (if you click on the links above about the baby monkeys, you can see some much better photographs than these I tried to take through thick glass):

Patas monkey mothers and infants

The protective father, Incus, stands between the audience and his family:

Father Patas monkey father Patas monkey

It was really a pretty magical moment. Not a particularly unique one, I’m sure; they didn’t seem concerned about hiding the babies from the public, and there were a LOT of people at the zoo that day. But as I stood there, holding my own little (hungry) baby, it definitely gave me a case of the feels. I’m not sure how much longer my body is going to let me keep up with nursing (I’m having a big drop in supply) but it is such a precious, good thing for H and myself. And look how we are connected to the world!

Then I read The One and Only Ivan, which is a beautiful addition to the genre of “using anthropomorphism to gain sympathy for animal rights,” and yeah. Primates.

What’s on your mind lately?

Stargazing: A Meander

orionA couple of years ago, we moved out of the city, pretty close to the neighborhood I lived in through high school and college. I suppose, when I was a teenager/young adult, I didn’t spend a lot of time looking around outside at 5 in the morning. Now that I’m a growed-up, with growed-up responsibilities like a career and a dog with active bodily functions (but an unfenced yard) I find myself standing outside in the darkest part of the night fairly often — and I marvel at the brightness and clarity of the stars out there. On a clear night, you can fairly easily discern the color of stars, or whether they are pulsars, or whether they’re actually a sneaky planet or satellite instead of a true star.

When I walk out my front door in the early morning, I step right into Orion. It’s my favorite constellation, for no better reason than it’s very visible in this part of the world, and I find it very easy to pick out. I always had trouble finding the Big Dipper, but I could always lock on to Orion.

I used to think that Orion only appeared in our night sky during the winter, but lately I’ve discovered that isn’t really true. I’m not sure where I got that idea. Is it a geographical thing? I grew up in Colorado and then moved to Idaho; maybe that was true of the former? Around here, you can find Orion somewhere in the sky pretty much year-round, although he is definitely at his most glorious in the winter… especially at 5 AM.

I love the name of it. Orion. It bridges that gap between exotic and approachable just perfectly: Not an English word, but not uncomfortably foreign. For some period of time, I imagined naming a child Orion. Instead, I married a man named Ryan — can you imagine the confusion of a household with those two names in it? (Not as bad, I guess, as houses with a Senior and a Junior in it.) It makes me think about the names I loved, before I got too close to the reality of actually having to apply one to a real child. Orion. Anjuli, after the character in The Far Pavilions. Opal. Piers. My imagined adulthood was more adventuresome, I think, than strictly necessary. That’s the danger of reading too many books, I suppose; one grows up expecting camel caravans.

This morning, the moon was right in the middle of the constellation just above and to the side of Orion’s right arm. I looked it up. Gemini, with the moon right between the twins’ bodies. If they were lovers instead of twins, the moon might have been their baby. How’s that for a Friday thought? Celestial incest!

I taught myself about Orion when I was a high schooler. I remember my amusement when I learned that his right shoulder was Betelgeuse, more popularly known among the kid set as Beetlejuice. The star in the center of his belt is Alnilam, a name that enchanted me and filled my head with romantic science fiction daydreams. Alnilam — doesn’t it just sound like something out of a story populated with elves and laser guns? I plotted stories about a lieutenant (another word that always charmed me) in a space corps from a planet orbiting Alnilam, having death-defying adventures in the time-honored tradition of Star Wars fanfic. Gorgeous space opera cheese. Never wrote any of it down, though. Not sure why. Probably so I wouldn’t have to be embarrassed by it in my older, “wiser” days.

Orion’s left ankle is named Rigel, another name that made it on to my “I might name a child that some day!” list only to be stricken down by hypothetical child’s actual father’s name. Instead, I gave that name to a stuffed moose. It was a good compromise, I think. Although someone probably ought to name their child Rigel. [Checking online… Rigel doesn’t hit the charts as a first name but is the 29,761st most common surname in the US. Orion, on the other hand, is practically Jennifer in comparison; 171 babies, out of every million, were named Orion in 2010.]

Orion is pictured with a sword — made of Iota Orionis, the Orion Nebula, and a third star whose name I can’t recall — hanging from his belt. Years of teaching Shakespeare with a naughty twinkle in my eye makes me question whether it was originally intended to be a sword at all. After all, if in Shakespeare a sword is rarely just a sword (“I woo’d thee with my sword!”) would the ancient astronomers have shied away from delineating The Hunter’s figurative sword? Heck, the central star in the “sword” is the Orion Nebula — a cloud of stardust from which life exudes!

I bet when you started reading this post, you didn’t think you’d be reading about incest and… swords. That’s the thing about DYHJ.  I like to keep you guessing.

If Your Personality Test Comes Back Negative…

Today my church’s former youth pastor, a pretty hoopy frood, went on Facebook and posted two images. One depicted his personality traits, and the other his stressors, based on his Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I thought they were pretty interesting, so I went and found my own.

I’m an INFP. Every time I take the MBTI, whether it’s the full version or a quick online profile [you can take a pretty good version here], I come up pretty solidly INFP. I think I came up INFJ once, but I guess I was just in a particularly judgmental mood that day or something. Anyway, as an INFP, I am introverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving. I agree with my little character trait graphic, although I’m not sure I’m really all that great with the “long-range vision” thing, and I’m not sure what it means by “selective.”

traits of an INFP

I really liked the “things that stress you out” graphic. The “time management required of me” one made me laugh out loud, at myself. And I love how “decisions” is in big bold print; it’s probably just a coincidence of design, but goodness knows making decisions seems to give me ulcers. If I were customizing this graphic just for me, I’d have to add confrontation, other peoples’ problems, and frustrated dreams (although probably that last one is true for everyone).

things that stress an INFP out

You can find and download your own character trait graphic and stressor graphic. It occurs to me that this could make a great literature lesson; print out all of the heads and have students determine the MBTI types for various characters and defend their findings with evidence from the book.

People are often surprised to learn that I am introverted (strongly so, actually). I think this is because most people misunderstand the concepts of introversion and extroversion. The best way to describe them — and I wish I knew where I first encountered this metaphor, because it’s perfect — is to think of people as being battery-operated, and then consider what charges and drains their batteries. An introvert is not necessarily shy, reserved, scared of crowds, etc.; it’s just that interacting with people drains her batteries, and she needs quiet alone time in order to charge them. An extrovert, on the other hand, gets “charged up” by socializing. Put an introvert and an extrovert in a bustling cocktail party, and at the end of the evening, the extrovert will feel energized and the introvert will be exhausted.

I love teaching. I like public speaking and am good at it. I grew up performing as a musician and have very little discomfort getting on a stage under the spotlight, as long as no one expects me to sing. I seem outgoing, friendly, etc. — but I am a hardcore introvert. Some days, after several hours of interacting with colleagues and students and parents, I’ll get home so badly drained that I’m unable to talk to my dog.

Via my book club buddy Molly, I’ve recently become acquainted with the term “ambivert,” which describes someone who falls in the middle of the introversion/extroversion spectrum. I suppose there’s some decent argument that I’d be an ambivert, since I can live the life of an extrovert despite my introverted tendencies, but that just doesn’t ring true to me. I really feel that I’m an introvert who, like so many others, has learned how to thrive in an extrovert’s world — and who has the personality quirk of being comfortable on stage. After all, no one fits 100% into a mold, right?

And for those who feel like the performance thing automatically discounts my identification as an introvert, I’d argue that while I’m perfectly content to speak to an enormous gymnasium full of people, or teach a full-to-bursting class of teenagers, I’m insanely uncomfortable working with a half dozen students or having coffee with only 1-2 other people. The difference is that when addressing a large group, they become an it rather than people. Does that make sense? Eh. Whatever. I know what I mean.

The thing that likely confuses most people is that I’ve learned how to put on the appearance of being very comfortable even in situations that make me uncomfortable. I can slip into an extrovert’s shoes (an introvert in extrovert’s clothing?) for a job interview or an intimate social gathering and fool anyone, myself included, for a while. I’m a sprinter, not a marathoner, both in terms of running and socializing. I can run really fast as long as you only need me to get a short distance, and I can be awesomely extroverted as long as it’s only going to last a little while. After that burst of outgoing energy is depleted, though, I need myself some crocheted blankets and a book and for the world to leave me alone for a while before I start to feel human again.

Okay, I think it’s entirely possible that I’m boring myself. This was supposed to be a post about MBTI and the nifty graphics and somehow turned into a somewhat defensive diatribe about “waaaah I am too an introvert, waaaaah,” etc. I’ve always been irrationally fascinated with this stuff (see my massive middle school research project on right brain/left brain) and periodically feel the need to navel-gaze about it. Thanks for humoring me, Blog! I’m so glad you let me write whatever boring nonsense I want. 🙂

Seriously, though, if you’re still reading: What’s your MBTI type? Do you agree with the stressors/traits in your graphic? Is anyone reading this my polar opposite (an ESTJ)?

Wacky Dream


We go to Lowell Scott Middle School to meet with the rest of Blue Thunder and go on a band trip. It is about 1 AM and someone had left the milk out in the middle of the kitchen floor on a hot pad. Only one bus, and precious few people, are there when we arrive, so we park the Cruiser over at LSMS and get on the bus to claim a seat. There is no bathroom on board; I am concerned. Ryan gives me my omnipresent cup of ice water but the lid is missing. This also concerns me. We wonder if we have the time wrong, since so few people are there, but then we see several people inside the school practicing. Then the bus starts moving and next thing you know, we’re driving through the mountains with a half-full bus. We realize we didn’t lock the car doors so Ryan emails his LSMS colleagues to take care of it when they arrive at work. I am getting texts from students — real students from CHS, incidentally, and the texts are showing up on my phone in their handwriting — but every time I try to read one, my phone tells me I have the wrong phone number. Someone hands me a stack of Blue Thunder recruitment packets and I recognize the names of some of my seniors, none of whom are actually band kids — but they’ve all included gift cards with their applications. The bus driver apologizes for leaving early and says he just so excited to hit the road that he decided to get moving as soon as he had some passengers.

Driving along this road, I look out my window and see a beautiful farm or ranch with huge buildings and fields that back up to the highway. In the field are several albino animals: pure white moose, bison, and giraffes, including the biggest giraffe I’ve ever seen of any color. The buildings are white, too, and have decorative moose antlers attached. I say that I wish we could visit that farm. As we drive past, I see that the buildings are actually a massive farmers market with huge signs and a big parking lot. Much to my excitement, the bus driver obligingly pulls into the parking lot (since we’re ahead of schedule anyway) and I try to figure out what kind of strange place this is. We end up going into a building, but all that’s there is an abandoned roller skating rink, several shopping carts, and some bored employees in gray uniforms. I ask them what this place is so that I could come back and visit sometime, and they tell me it is the Universal Hotel. They laugh at me when I ask if the albino animals can be seen up close and tell me they’re just there to draw in the tourists…

I wake up, completely parched, with Kermie knocking on my belly button and my dog noisily bathing herself about three inches from my face. It is seven o’clock on a Sunday morning. I will not be able to fall back asleep.

Regardless of Politics

I don’t care what your personal politics are — it doesn’t get much sexier/cuter/geekier than this:

Barack Obama on The Daily Show

Okay, so maybe if you’re really not a fan of the President, you don’t think he’s cute. But even if I didn’t like his politics, I am a sucker for intelligent men with senses of humor. And putting Barack Obama on the same screen as John Stewart? Too much fun. Almost as sexy as Tim Gunn on the same screen as John Stewart.

Coming in at second place for the week in the “sexy/cute/geeky” category:

Wil Wheaton on Big Bang Theory

Okay — I take that back. Sheldon is not sexy. But if he were real and I knew him, we’d totally be friends. Ditto Wheaton. So this is still a fun picture.


No, I don’t have any good reason to be writing about this.

I like names. I have always liked names; just ask my fourth grade TAG teacher. I’ve owned a baby name book since I was six. Names are easily one of my favorite things.

Today at church, two sisters were baptized: Sydney and Ally. Sydney is one of Ryan’s favorite names-for-future-offspring; it used to be one of mine, but has slipped in the ranks somewhat. I can’t get past the “Sid” thing. Ally’s middle name is Madeleine, which is my current top (or maybe second-choice; I’m also big into “Penelope” right now) name-for-future-offspring. But I’m stuck on the “Ally” thing; I mean, in print, that looks like “person on your side in a fight,” but as a name, it’s like Ally McBeal. Am I wrong about that? What happened linguistically between the noun ally and the name Ally? And shouldn’t Ally be short for something?

Saw a movie lately, and read an unrelated book, in which a dog was named Pilot. That’s kind of a cute name for a kid, if you’re into that “naming children after objects” thing.

I  bring up Pilot because Hank Green has a few thoughts about naming babies, and Pilot is one of the names he picks on (along with Quathyryn and Jaucshuwa). Overall, he makes some excellent points:

I for one think he should DEFINITELY name a daughter Olive. Don’t you? I don’t see a problem with that… it’s nowhere near as bad as Drew Peacock.

My biggest naming pet peeve? People with large families who give all of their children the same initial. I’m looking at you, Duggars. Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie? Seriously? And Jinger? It’s not as if there weren’t (obviously!) plenty of perfectly acceptable J-names out there without resorting to jayification of G-names.

When Ryan and I do have a need to pick baby names, we do have a few names that we find that we can easily agree on. We’re pretty solid on the idea of giving a child the middle name “Peril”; anyone can have “Danger” for a middle name, so we’re celebrating our superior vocabulary there. We figure that with our last name, “Butcher” is a good choice – especially if we can convince said child to go into the candle-making industry. I particularly like the idea of a girl named Butcher Baker.

Remember to Vote

Tomorrow is Election Day. Go vote! If you’re interested in my opinion, then I have only one highly opinionated thing to say: you’re an idiot if you think you can elect someone hoping for change, and think that they can erase all the damage done and completely change a country’s course in only two years. This nation is a slow-turning son of a gun, and switching directions before you’ve given it time to correct course in the first place is moronic.

The cranky part of me thinks that people should have to pass a test of basic intelligence, civics comprehension, and logic before being permitted into the voting booth…

Anyway. I took a political spectrum quiz that Mrs. Chili also took, and it turns out – according to this particular tool – that I’m a left moderate social libertarian.

My Political Views
I am a left moderate social libertarian
Left: 5.37, Libertarian: 1.03

Political Spectrum Quiz

Sounds about right. I had trouble with some of the questions; how do I honestly rank the statement, Some people shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce? I mean, I absolutely agree – in a snarky sort of way. Some people really SHOULD NOT reproduce. 🙂 But I certainly don’t think it ought to be a law. And I often wasn’t sure how to rank an issue’s importance. My grasp of economics is too poor to have a truly informed opinion about some.

Ryan took it and ended up at about the same place as I did on the X-axis, but a few notches down on the Y-axis. He thinks it possible that this is one of the online political quizzes that deliberately skews the results libertarian, but isn’t sure.

Where do you end up on the graph?

Googly Eyes

googly eyes

In honor of the fact that I have fifteen more important things to be doing right now, I”ve decided to do a public service and try to help out all of the people who end up at this blog via our mutual friend Google. Clearly, you’re looking for something and have come to the quite understandable conclusion that you will find what you are looking for here – so let me see if I can be of some assistance!

First, to the dozens of Googlers trying to learn about bald eagles: I commend you! More people should take the time to learn about these majestic raptors, even if Benjamin Franklin wasn’t a fan. I hope that those with general inquiries (viz. “bald eagle,” “bald eagles”) found my website edifying. In response to “bald eagle wings” and “wing of a bald eagle,” I am pleased to report that yes, they do have them. And although I don’t have an exact figure in response to “how much does a bald eagle weigh,” Ithink it fair to assume that they weigh slightly less than an eagle with all its hair. 

I regularly have hits from people seeking a Civil War telegraph, which leads me to believe that there are either a lot of kids doing research projects about American inventions or a significant amount of confused, oddly computer-literate time travelers trying to figure out a way to call home. In case of the latter, please allow me to point you in the right direction. We still have telegraphs and Morse code and whatnot; it’s just that they’re called emails and bytes, and you’re gonna need one of these newfangled typewriters you’ve seen around in order to use it.

Someone found this site hoping to learn more about “katana death.” Jessica, I’m on to you. PUT THAT AWAY.

I’m not sure how best to respond to those of you visiting DYHJ in search of information about “dirty classrooms,” other than to point out that just because you can’t see the floor behind my desk doesn’t mean my classroom is dirty! On a related note, I think I need to contact Google in order to find out why searches for “tidy classroom pictures” and “keep classroom tidy” direct to my website. Clearly a programming error. In response to “single surface planing of classroom,” if you are hoping to flatten your entire classroom to the ground and begin fresh, congratulations! I do advise that you remove all students from the room first, even if you’re aggravated with them for sleeping in class.

“Ladies juice”? Really? Sir or madam, it is not considered polite – nor, I daresay, sound dietary practice – to juice ladies, even if they are not highly born. Your friendly neighborhood grocer ought to be able to provide some suitable alternatives, such as oranges or yappy terriers.

Recently, someone arrived at DYHJ via a Google search for “estne volumen in toga, an solum tibi libet me videre.” I am scandalized. Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

Interestingly, every day brings more visitors to this site who are seeking “creepy house,” “creepy old house,” “creepy photograph,” and occasionally just “creepy.” And it’s true – Did You Have Juice is a veritable house of horrors. Why, just the other day, I took this picture at the base of the stairs in my house:

And earlier this summer, I snapped this photo out my bedroom window, which overlooks my idyllic back yard:

And if you’d really like to see something creepy, you should see me first thing in the morning!

I receive a startling number of Jane Austen-related hits for someone who can only honestly admit to having read one Austen novel in her lifetime. (Yes, I know. Tar and feather me. I’ll wait until you’re done.) I’ll do my best to answer your inquiries, however. In regards to “Jane Austen’s silhouette,” I believe it was cut out of a sheet of black paper and reflected her abnormally long chin hairs, which she gave up on plucking when she realized her career suffered from the fact that she was an authoress. And regarding “Jane Austen jewelry,” I have it on good authority that she was really into hemp macrame and pony beads. Really. Just ask Wikipedia! I’m afraid I don’t  know what “jane austen stilohette” is, although I suspect it may have something to do with high heels. (And no, I don’t have “valerie poxleitners high heels,” so please stop asking.) 

Several people have come calling in hopes of tracking down “monster stuffed animals” and “animal pirates.” I hope you realize those are two distinctly different things. I once made the mistake of thinking something was an animal pirate, only to have my left hand cruelly chomped off my the serrated, venomous fangs of what turned out to be a monster stuffed animal! Ironically, I now appear to be a pirate, although I am only rarely mistaken for an animal. And Shel was right – it does make it tricky to pick your nose. Good thing I’m right-handed.

To the reader who Googled “medicine icanhazcheezburger”: do not take medical advice from cats who speak in Impact. It rarely ends well. How do you think I ended up with a hook hand instead of a decent prosthetic? O hai there, you can haz hook! Kthxbai.

I’d provide more information about “spatial synesthesia,” but looking at the screen this long smells horrible. Try me again next time.

In closing, I leave you with the words of wisdom of one of my Googly-eyed friends:

“In a world full of copycats, dalmation.”