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  •     My mother’s admonition, and perhaps your mother’s, too, to eat everything on the plate because of the “starving children in [fill in the blank]” — in my case it was China — didn’t make much sense to me when I was a kid. (How would stuffing myself help someone else? Would my gratefulness for having wholesome food increase with each bite?) It makes even less sense now that health experts, and Michelle Obama, are making sure we know that being overweight in childhood can lead to serious medical problems.

  •     Even if Larry Penny, The Star’s resident expert on flora and fauna, hadn’t said so last week, I had already noticed that, as he put it, “In deer culture, learning to avoid cars and trucks is a trend that is gathering momentum.”
        My own observation does not come from data, of the police or wildlife-society sort, but from my interaction with the family of four-footed ungulates that hang out in my neighborhood.

  •     Voting-reform legislation, which  has been proposed in 34 states, brings me back to 2004, when John Kerry tried to unseat George W. Bush.

  •     We’ve all heard of, and possibly heaped scorn upon, stage mothers who push their children into the theater or onto the TV screen. Of course, more recently, stage fathers have been in the news, too, pushing daughters onto the pop charts and tennis courts.  

  •     At dinner with friends not long ago, we got to cataloging all the terrible things abroad in the world, from natural disasters (tsunamis, floods, and earthquakes) to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to severe malnutrition among millions in the Horn of Africa.
        I was reminded of that old saw purported to be an old Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.

  •     Who is Shear Ozeri and why would I want to follow her on Twitter? The reason I ask is that Twitter thinks I would. Never mind, I can look her up on Google if I really want to know. The question arose when I got the following e-mail: “We’ve missed you on Twitter, Helen S. Rattray.”
        I had only been to Twitter once, so I was flattered. I clicked to find out what else it had to say. After all, Twitter has helped topple repressive governments, hasn’t it? Who was I to ignore it? That’s where Ms. Ozeri came in.

  •     With the clothes dryer failing to turn on, the kitchen wall phone delivering heavy static, and then the furnace shooting a stream of water onto the cellar floor, it was one hell of a weekend.
        I wasn’t complaining, exactly. Bad things come in threes, don’t they? So the siege was over, right?

  •     The Suffolk County Legislature is getting in on the nationwide campaign to get consumers to take along reusable bags when they go shopping (which is even touted on posters in post offices). A hearing is to be held today on a proposal to impose a five-cent surcharge on every plastic or paper bag distributed by a retailer in the county.

  •     The East Hampton Library was my home away from home for six days last week while the power was out. I spent hours and hours there, writing, editing, checking e-mail.         Thanks to the library’s proximity to The Star and the generosity of its director, The Star was able to get out a paper despite the fact that our generator had only enough juice to fire up the most important equipment. We were able to run two heavy-duty extension cords from the library across the driveways that separate our buildings.

  •     At some point in the run-up to Irene we thought the hurricane might make landfall here in the small hours of the morning, and I was quite worried about what might happen — while we were sleeping — to the huge, old tulip tree in our side yard. In 2007, our favorite tree was estimated as 104 feet tall and as having a spread of about 70 feet. At the time, we also learned it was already in decline, or “overmature.”