Monday, September 21, 2009

Why parents are always tired:

I read stats blogs like Leila reads quilt blogs - looking for good graphing techniques so I can make my stuff look good.

One of them had a link to a hilarious article from the New York Times

Here is just a few of Christoph Niemann's explanations for why it is hard to get a good night's sleep:

Perception vs reality of ease of sleeping and being awake.

Why sleeping with a child in bed = not sleeping and no procreation.

Summary of nightime distractions

The summer is coming to an end

But I wish it wouldn't.

Chris complains that photos without captions are mostly meaningless. Too true, but here are a few of what we were up to the last month in a slideshow, without captions.

To appease Chris, the corn is a white sweetcorn from Seminis that is my new favorite called "Devotion." And I now am a devoted fan. The hands are Aleah's with her collection of caterpillars from the sweet corn. I think she had 10 or so at one time. The rest speak for themselves.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Remembering Norman Borlaug

I just learned that Norman Borlaug has died. He was at Texas A&M while I was there, although he didn't teach classes and was constantly travelling, speaking at conferences or to politicians. He was in his late 80s and early 90s when I met him, yet he still worked harder than most of the professors.

He had a yearly discussion with the plant breeding students where he would reflect on his past and tell us stories about starting CIMMyT, travelling through India, his efforts to establish farm to market roads in Africa, and his ideas about what we need to do to continue to feed the world.

He was one of the greatest men of our age. Most people don't know who he is, even though he won the Nobel prize, the world food prize, the congressional and presidential medal of honor.

Norman Borlaug developed semidwarf wheat, which shortened the plants while increasing yields. Simultaneously introducing disease resistance and eliminating photoperiod response helped make his varieties adaptable around the world. Using his ideas semidwarf rice and sorghum are also grown worldwide. He wasn't alone in this effort, but because of that worldwide yields have more than doubled. I read once that yields in parts of India and Central America have increased 5 times because of Norman's work. He also was an unwavering advocate for mechanization, chemical fertilizer, development of genetic pest resistance, and use of chemical pesticides and herbicides. Modern agriculture reflects his views. The modern world exists because his ideas worked.

My 2005 post after meeting him at A&M.

The Wikipedia entry on Norman Borlaug.