Thursday, November 18, 2010

SAD Resources

It's getting colder. The sun takes its time in greeting us these days and it gets dark earlier in the evenings. Trees are becoming bare, the atmosphere is turning grayer and we're stuck inside a lot of the time. All of this can add up to the winter blues, called Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) by clinicians. Experts seem to think it has something to do with light levels dwindling in the winter months.

But, there's a lot one can do about it, apparently, and almost ten percent of the population has had to learn to deal with it every year, especially in places like Chippewa Falls. Below are some links that might shed some light--no pun intended--on SAD.

Mayo Clinic--"It's a Sad Time of Year"

National Alliance on Mental Illness--A fuller picture of the problem.

Mayo Clinic--Choosing a "light box," the preferred treatment. on Winter Darkness

Eastern Illinois News-Gazette--SAD: Tips to help you get up when feeling down

Monday, November 15, 2010 &

Ever since I arrived in Wisconsin, one thing I have noted is the high profile agriculture has in this state as an industry and employer, much higher than anywhere I've ever visited or lived. What's more, there is a fascinating and admirable diversity to the agricultural production. I've read about dairy, malting barley, wheat and even ginseng being grown not terribly far from Chippewa. The ginseng thing just amazes me, for some reason. Did you know Wisconsin produces 95% of the ginseng grown in the U.S.?

All this is bringing me to some information we just got in the mail from the USDA. They have a really interesting online resource called Agclassroom, which is chocked full of information for students and teachers seeking to learn (and teach) more about agriculture in the United States. Lesson plans, virtual tours, government publications, all online and all free. There's even a profile for every state.

And, if you want to just concentrate on our great State of Wisconsin (America's leading producer of snap beans), try the Wisconsin-centric page of Agclassroom.

Take a look.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Interplanetary Travel, In Name Only

Today is my Saturday to work and a little while ago a young lady called and asked about something she'd recently heard. Apparently, NASA is launching a probe to Mars next year and is offering anyone on Earth the chance to immortalize themselves by sending their name to NASA, who will encode the information on a microchip which will be part of the lander's payload.

If there's something in you, as there is in me, that thinks the thought of sending your name to Mars is kind of cool, then just click the link above and submit your name. Spread the word, too. Chippewa Falls represent!


AND, if you'd like your picture or your name to fly on one of the last Shuttles to the International Space Station, check out (Thanks: Carl Miller)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day 2010-Reflection

Years ago, my father--a veteran--handed me a photocopy of a letter from a soldier serving in Vietnam. This soldier had ostensibly left behind a farewell to his family, he being somehow mystically confident that he would be killed in battle. The letter was so eloquent and patriotic and the story so "trite" that I, in my teenage cynicism, wrote the whole thing off as a pre-Internet right-wing "meme" of some kind.

Then, just the other day, I was flipping through the book Letters From Vietnam, a collection of letters home from soldiers serving there. There, on page 193, was the exact same letter my dad showed me years ago, word for word. Apparently, the story was true and my cynicism had been unfounded. The letter was written by Pfc. Hiram D. Strickland of Graham, North Carolina. It was found in his belongings after he was killed near Bong Son, Vietnam in 1966. The text of the letter is reproduced below and perfectly sums up, in my opinion, the spirit of Veterans' Day. The notes in brackets are those made by Bill Adler, editor of the book.

Dear Folks,

I'm writing this letter as my last one. You've probably already received word that I'm dead and that the government wishes to express its deepest regret.

Believe me, I didn't want to die, but I know it was my part of the job. I want my country to live for billions and billions of years to come.

I want it to stand as a light to all people oppressed and guide them to the same freedom we know. If we can stand and fight for freedom, then I think we have done the job God set down for us. It's up to every American to fight for the freedom we hold so dear. If we don't, the smells of free air could become dark and damp as in a prison cell.

We won't be able to look at ourselves in a mirror, much less at our sons and daughters, because we know we have failed our God, country, and our future generations.

I can hold my head high because I fought, whether it be in heaven or hell. Besides, the saying goes, "One more GI from Vietnam, St. Peter; I've served my time in hell."

I fought for Sandy, Nell, Gale [his sisters], Mom, and Dad. But when the twins and Sandy's kids get old enough, they'll probably have to fight, too. Tell them to go proudly and without fear of death because it is worth keeping the land free. I remember a story from Mr. Williams' [Thomas Williams, a teacher at Strickland's high school] English classes when I was a freshman that said, "The cowards die a thousand times, the brave die but once.

Don't mourn me, Mother, for I'm happy I died fighting my country's enemies, and I will live forever in people's minds. I've done what I've always dreamed of. Don't mourn me, for I died a soldier of the United States of America. God bless you all and take care.

I'll be seeing you in heaven.

Your loving son and brother,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Press Release: Give a Kid a Book 2010

This is the press release I sent out just a little while ago. I hope my thousands of loyal readers will feel free to forward the information to whomever they feel might be willing to take part.

Chippewa Falls Public Library Announces “Give A Kid A Book” 2010

Chippewa Falls--November 9, 2010--The annual book donation drive sponsored by The Chippewa Falls Public Library in conjunction with The Spirit of Christmas of Chippewa County and the Friends of the Chippewa Falls Public Library is back for the 2010 holidays.

“Give A Kid A Book,” as the effort is called, gives the public the opportunity to give the gift of reading to the children and families served by The Spirit of Christmas of Chippewa County, a gift-giving program for low-income families in and around Chippewa County.

Sandy Harberts of the Spirit of Christmas of Chippewa County says that the organization makes it a point to include books in every bag of gifts they put together and that donations of books in the past have been very helpful to their efforts.

Until December 3rd, the Chippewa Falls Public Library will be a drop-off point for new books and donations of money meant to purchase new books. Checks should be made out to “Friends of the Chippewa Falls Public Library” with the words “Give a Kid a Book” in the memo line. Cash should be placed in an envelope with those same words on the outside.

"It might not be obvious to make sure books are included in a bundle of Christmas presents for children or teens," says Darryl Eschete, Director of the Chippewa Falls Public Library. "Toys or electronics usually come to mind first. But books serve children in important ways that other gifts simply can’t.”

“I think it’s one of the nicest things the library could do,” says Carl Miller, Treasurer of the Friends of the Chippewa Falls Public Library. “A kid can’t have too many books.”

Those wishing to mail donations should send the donations to:

Chippewa Falls Public Library
ATTN: Carl Miller
105 W. Central St.
Chippewa Falls, WI 54729


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An Email I Received Today...

Dear Chippewa Falls Public Library,

Greetings from Wisconsin People & Ideas, the magazine of Wisconsin thought and culture. As you might know, our annual poetry and short story contests are in full swing. These two contests are a great way for previously unpublished writers to get into print, participate in the Wisconsin Book Festival, and win some cash, too. I would really appreciate it if you could help spread the word about both of these contests or give them some form of coverage in any capacity you see fit. Whatever you can do is great. Thanks. Here’s a blurb with link below and I’m including a PDF of the contest flyer as well:

Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine regularly publishes some of the best poetry and fiction from around the state, and now it's your chance to become a part of Wisconsin's new literary canon. Enter your poems and short stories in our annual contests, which are open to all Wisconsin residents and students until December 15, and you could win up to $500 and other prizes along with publication in Wisconsin People & Ideas and a reading at the 2011 Wisconsin Book Festival in Madison. For more information and complete contest guidelines, visit Wisconsin People & Ideas online at

The direct link to the contest page is here if you plan on posting online:

Thanks again for helping to support Wisconsin writers and poets.


Liza Burkin
Editorial Assistant
Wisconsin People & Ideas
The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
Office: 608.263.1692 x21

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day 2010

Where Do I Vote?

Quick tip:

If you click the link above, it will tell you where your polling place is. You just enter your address. It's pretty handy, and we've been using it pretty steadily down here at the library. Check it out.