The Purple Bishop
It's the birthday of the British author of the "Harry Potter" series: J.K. Rowling born in Yate, near Bristol, in 1965.

She was born Joanne, with no middle name; when the time came to publish her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997), her publishers wanted initials rather than her first and last name. She needed a middle initial, so she took her grandmother's name: Kathleen. She studied French in college, and after college she went to work for Amnesty International as a secretary.

She was on a train coming home to London from a weekend looking at flats in Manchester in 1990, when she suddenly got the idea for a novel.
"I was looking out of the window at some cows, I believe and I just thought: 'Boy doesn't know he's a wizard  goes off to wizard school,'" she said in an interview with Stephen Fry. "I have no idea where it came from. I think the idea was floating along the train and looking for someone, and my mind was vacant enough, so it decided to zoom in there."

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She
Invites us to lay our eyes level with her
Smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its
-- Thoreau

Tiny Post Office

The Tiny Tilden Post Office has been quietly going about its business in the hills above Berkeley since we installed it back in December. The little establishment is tucked into a knothole in an old tree on the Curran Trail in Tilden Park. For the past six months, countless hikers and dog walkers have enjoyed this unexpected world of postal tiny-ness.

A Tiny Treehouse Treasure in the Woods

International Tiger Day

Today Is International Tiger Day. Established in 2010, International Tiger Day aims to raise awareness of the fact that tigers are facing extinction. "A hundred years ago 100,000 tigers roamed in Asia, but now only 3,000 survive in the wild." The culprit? Poachers, mostly.

Official International Tiger Day Website

Our brains are hard-wired for stories.

We don't remember rules or statistics. But we do remember stories. And what effects do stories have on us? Research shows that the list is long:

1. They motivate us.
2. They give life meaning.
3. They relieve depression (and are more effective than medication.)
4. They offer guidance for decision making.
5. They increase learning in children.

Virginia is one of the 20 states that have opted out of the Affordable Care Acts Medicaid expansion, shrugging off nearly 700 million federal dollars because of Republican opposition in the states House of Delegates. That refusal has left some 400,000 Virginians, many of whom have lost their jobs in the areas ailing coal industry, without access to affordable health insurance, and dependent on free treatment optionsfew and far betweenlike the gratis clinics and medical caravans that roam the poor, Appalachian regions of the state.

Photo Essay: When the Doctor Came to Coal Country

What's up, Doc?

It was on this day in 1940 that Bugs Bunny made his official debut in an animated film short called A Wild Hare. It was the first cartoon in which Bugs Bunny acted like himself. The storyline of the cartoon involved Elmer Fudd hunting rabbits, only to have Bugs thwart him at every turn. Bugs Bunny's first line in the cartoon, when he meets Elmer Fudd, is, "What's up, doc?" It was a phrase that one of the writers remembered people saying where he grew up in Texas. It got such a big laugh in the theaters that the writers decided to make it a catchphrase.



Everything has a beginning and an end. Life is just a cycle of starts and stops.
There are ends we don't desire, but they're inevitable, we have to face them. It's what being human is all about. - Jet Black