Need a Bathroom?

In our busy world of travel and errands, there’s a universal question that we all must eventually face, especially if we’re the parent of little ones: Where’s the bathroom? Pulling over for a little “hike” in the woods is fine for many of us, but what if there are no woods nearby or your stop requires a little more, ahem, pampering?

Well, if your smartphone accompanies you on your jaunts, there’s an app for that! Airpnp uses your geographic location to give you a list of places to potty, from freebies at coffee shops and stores to private homes that rent out their bathrooms. Private homes that rent out their bathrooms?!

graphic, Airpnp

Yes, that’s right, people actually rent out their bathrooms. Listings on the site include photos, hours of service, and fees, and many boast family-friendly atmospheres or luxurious soaps. The founders, natives of New Orleans, created the app when they realized they could help frustrated revelers find a bathroom during the city’s annual Mardi Gras festivities. Co-founder and “PEO” Max Gaudin says, “You can use Airpnp on your phone via the browser, on your computer, or download our iOS app.” Their playful tagline reads “Urine good hands.” For those of us who sometimes have to really, really GO, this app could turn out to be ….? What would you end the sentence with? Dashing?

You’re amazing!

I already know you’re amazing, but here are some honest-to-goodness, scientific-y facts about the human body that make us humans even more awe-inspiring.

Did you know …

* There are over 100,000 miles of blood vessels in an adult human? If all your blood vessels were laid out end-to-end, they would go around the Earth four times.


Photo, NASA/ GSFC/ NOAA/ USGS via Wikimedia Commons

* Your intestinal tract, the system responsible for eating and digesting food, is over 30 feet long. (How in the world does it all fit??)

* Nerve impulses travel back and forth to the brain at speeds up to 250 miles per hour (nearly as fast as the fastest race car on record).

* Humans have the ability to read up to 1,000 words a minute.

* Our eyes are so sensitive that, if our surroundings were completely flat, we could see the flicker of a candle at night from 30 miles away.


Photo by israel Silberberg via Wikimedia Commons

* The adult body is made up of more than 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms. (One question: Who counted?)

* Humans have about the same number of hairs on their bodies as chimpanzees. (Ours are just so fine, you can barely see them, thank goodness.)

* Adult humans have about 2.5 trillion red blood cells in our bodies, but the average red blood cell lives only for about 120 days, so our bone marrow produces about two and a half million new ones every second. That’s like reproducing the entire population of Chicago every second.

* There are more living organisms on the skin of one human being than there are human beings on the Earth.

* Each of our bodies has 230 movable joints.

* Our hearts beat about 30 million times each year and our lungs breathe about 192 million gallons of air a year—all without even thinking about it.

Yep, we’re amazing.

Le Printemps by Pierre Auguste Cot (1873) via Wikimedia Commons

the birds and the …

trinkets? We’ve all heard that some birds, especially crows, are attracted to trinkets. But to hear that a murder of crows (no, not that kind of murder … murder is the term for a group of crows) recognize that trinkets can be a gift of gratitude to us humans … well, that’s a strange bird (or birds, as the case may be)!

Kuznetsova by Repin, 1901

In Seattle, Washington, little 8-year-old Gabi Mann seems to have a flock of admirers, right in her own backyard. It all started when Gabi was just 4 years old, and the neighborhood crows, ever alert, noticed that Gabi tended to drop yummy things to eat. Gabi noticed too, and by the time she started school, she also started sharing bits of her packed lunch with the crows while waiting for the bus. Then, she and her mom started regularly feeding the crows in the backyard. That’s when they began noticing little presents left behind on the feeder … beads, rocks, buttons, and more.


Photo, Lisa Mann

So many presents that they now fill a 32-compartment bead storage box that Gabi treasures.

But the strangest present came recently when Gabi’s mom, Lisa, lost her lens cap while shooting photos of birds in their neighborhood. She found it on the rim of the backyard birdbath. When she checked their “bird cam” to see if it was, indeed, the crows who returned it, she saw that one actually spent time washing it off in the birdbath before laying it carefully on the rim for Gabi to find. Now that’s something to crow about!

Gabi and her mom, Lisa. Photo, Lisa Mann.

Read the whole story here.

folding paper

I recently discovered a trailer for an amazing-looking documentary about origami, Between the Folds. I’ve watched a few minutes of it and plan to watch the whole thing the next time I have an hour to spare. In the meantime, I thought I’d share it with you. This isn’t your normal YouTube video about folding paper cranes, and in case you’re wondering if origami can capture your attention for a whole hour, here’s your chance …

Watch the full documentary here.

“Much of the beauty that arises in art
comes from the struggle an artist wages
with his limited medium.”
– Henri Matisse


Celebrating Women

Sunday, March 8, was International Women’s Day, helping to kick off Women’s History Month in March. Women’s Day has been celebrated in America since 1909 and in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland since 1911. In 1975, the United Nations finally declared it an international holiday.

Companies and organizations around the world and the web are celebrating women, and here are a few of the sites I thought you’d enjoy.

Biographile, Random House’s nod to literary biographies, celebrates with “quotes from 9 literary ladies.”


Maya Angelou, Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, and Margaret Atwood,

Microsoft reminds us that girls like science, too, with their latest commercial:

Visit Microsoft’s Women In Tech site for more information.

The initiative, a collaboration between the Clinton Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, posted this celebrity-, fun- (and fact-) filled video:

Google featured a doodle of women astronauts, engineers, scientists, and judges, linking to #DearMe, asking women to create a GIF that answers the question: “What advice would you give your younger self?”

What will you do to celebrate Women’s History Month?

baby animal name quiz

In keeping with the proverbial madness of the March hare (which, by the way, refers to the phenomenon of bunnies acting bonkers during their spring breeding season) …

Photo by Hardyplants via Wikimedia Commons

I thought it would be fun to quiz you on a few obscure names for animal babes. Take a gander at the list of names, below:

1. Eyas
2. Shoat
3. Leveret
4. Cygnet
5. Sac Fry
6. Yowie

Now, try to match each name to the young animal it refers to:

A. Pig
B. Hawk
C. Swan
D. Salmon
E. Rabbit
F. Sheep

You’ll find answers beneath each photo that follows, so don’t peek till you’ve made your matches.

Photo by Dominicus Johannes Bergsma via Wikimedia Commons

Eyas [ahy-uhs] is a nestling hawk or falcon (eyas is a variant of the Middle French niais, meaning “nestling”).

Photo by a United States Department of Agriculture employee via Wikimedia Commons

Shoat [shoht] is a young pig that has recently been weaned from its mother’s milk.

Photo by JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons

Leveret [lev-er-it] is a young rabbit or hare, specifically one that is less than a year old.

Photo by Uwe Kils via Wikimedia Commons

Cygnet [sig-nit] is a young swan.

Photo by Fernando de Sousa via Wikimedia Commons

Sac fry [sack fry] is a newly hatched salmon that remains safely hidden in the gravel habitat of its streambed nest until its yolk sac (or “lunch box,” as scientists commonly call it) is depleted.

Photo by Keven Law via Wikimedia Commons

Yowie [yow-ee] is the diminutive version of the old Scottish term yowe, which means ewe. So, “yowie” describes a little ewe.

As a side note, you might be interested to know that “yowie” also refers to a mythical hominid reputed to live in the Australian wilderness—you know, like our Mr. Bigfoot, only he appears to have less hair …

Photo by Somersetpedia.paul via Wikimedia Commons

One last word to the wise: if you holler “yowie!” to summon a lamb, someone may rush to your aid, thinking you’ve dropped a hammer on your toe.

Just sayin’.

a tangled web

The Internet is certainly an interconnected web of wonders. Have you ever sat down at your computer to do a quick search for something, then hours later, you emerge from the fog of wandering through an endless trail of treats you didn’t even know you were seeking? If you have the patience, the rewards can be, well, rewarding.

That happened to me recently, while working on an article for the next issue of our magazine. We mentioned a local art venue, Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, in Uniontown, Washington. The Dahmen barn is a beautiful old barn in a tiny farming town about 15 miles outside Moscow, Idaho, that’s been known for decades for its whimsical wagon-wheel fence, assembled by owner and artist Steve Dahmen over a 30-year period. Today, the fence exhibits over 1,000 wheels.

In 2004, the barn was falling into disrepair, so Steve and his wife Junette, also an artist, donated the barn to their community to be made into an art center, providing studio space for artists to work in and sell their creations, a place for local artists and fine craftspeople to sell their work on consignment, a venue for local performing and exhibiting artists, and creative experiences for children and adults through classes and workshops. Read about the transformation of the barn here.


When working on the article, I poked around their website to do a little research, and saw they are planning an Annual Art Demonstration Day on Saturday, April 11. This year’s theme is books—books of all types, things made from books, or information about books. And that led to an amazing video from bookmaker Randi Parkhurst. I don’t see that Randi is slated to appear at the event, but someone else’s rabbit trail must have led to her video to provide inspiration for those interested in books, or art, or lessons in patience … you see how the tangled web is woven. Anyway, watch this lovely video to the end, and your patience will be rewarded, I promise!

carton contest

Does your child’s school need a little incentive to grow—or launch—their gardening curriculum?

Photo by Walton LaVonda, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, via Wikimedia Commons

If so, here’s a great way to get started: The Carton 2 Garden Contest, sponsored by Evergreen Packaging and Kids Gardening.


“Show us your students’ creativity by re-purposing milk and juice cartons from your school cafeteria to either build or enhance your school garden. Educators can engage students in a hands-on experience, creating teachable moments on environmental stewardship, sustainability, and living healthy,” explains the Carton 2 Garden website. “The best use of cartons in your school garden gives your school the chance to win a prize valued up to $2,500 for building or enhancing its garden.”

Photo by Michael Quinn, Grand Canyon National Park, via Wikimedia Commons


The Carton 2 Garden Contest is open to any public, private, or charter K-12 school in the United States. Entries must be submitted by April 22, 2015, so you’ll need to start gathering cartons in a jiffy.

Twenty schools with the most unique carton creations will be announced on May 22, 2015, to win award packages. Sixteen winners in eight different regions will receive award packages, each valued at over $1,000, and four national winners will be selected to receive award packages, each valued up to $2,500 to start or help sustain a school garden.

Each school’s entry must use at least 100 cartons, which will be judged according to their quality, sustainability, and creativity. Here’s a little video to kindle inspiration.

And here are links to help turn your inspiration into action:

  • Request an entry kit HERE.
  • Click HERE to read our Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Read the official Contest Rules HERE.
  • Find classroom activities to complement your project HERE.
  • Get inspiration from past winners HERE.


Just nosing around the Internet

While you may not turn into Pinocchio every time you tell a lie, savvy sleuths may be able to tell you’re not being honest by merely observing your nose.


The real Geppetto, photo by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo via Wikimedia Commons

Body-language experts say that when you tell a lie, chemicals are released in your body that cause the tissues inside your nose to both warm up and swell. This phenomenon is aptly called “The Pinocchio Effect.” While the swelling is usually too small to notice visibly, it can result in itchiness that leads to touching or even scratching the nose.

“A good liar will have you thinking that maybe the dog did eat the homework.” – Anonymous