A Historic Anniversary

Virginia Flag

The Flag of the Commonwealth of Virginia (Wikimedia Commons).

Today is a special Throwback Thursday. It marks the anniversary of two historic events tied to the state of my birth.

On June 12, 1776, the Fifth Virginia Convention unanimously adopted the Virginia Declaration of Rights. This little known document drafted by founding father George Mason—with the assistance James Madison, Patrick Henry, and others—influenced both the United States Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Bill of Rights.

On June 12th, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Mildred and Richard Loving in Loving v. Virginia, overturning bans on interracial marriage across the country.

That these two historic events occurred on the same day 191 years apart reminds of a well-known saying that Dr. Martin Luther King quoted on several occasions: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  It also teaches us what Dr. King knew from his own life and ministry, that we are the moral agents that must keep bending that arc the right way.

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All About Cheetahs

Cheetah running

Photo: Mark Dumont (CC BY 2.0)

Anna’s school had a special guest today. Khayam, one of the ambassador cheetahs from the Wildlife Safari, visited together with his keepers. All the kids got to see a cheetah up close and learn about these amazing animals. Here’s some of what they learned …

1) The cheetah is the fastest runner on the planet.

2) It runs 70 miles per hour, and achieves the speed from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds. It runs two times faster than a race horse.

3) A cheetah can cover up to 20 feet in just one stride with its powerful legs.

4) Cheetahs are built for speed with their lean bodies, long legs, and narrow heads.

5) Cheetahs have non-retractable claws with hard pads on the bottom of their paws that give them a strong grip on the ground for running.

6) When cheetahs are running, they use their tails to help them steer and turn in the direction they want to go, like the rudder of a boat.

7) A cheetah’s tail is also essential during fast running because it balances the animal and allows sudden turns which happen often when the prey is trying to escape.

8) Although the cheetah runs very fast, it cannot run for very long. After 400 to 600 yards, a cheetah becomes exhausted and needs to take a rest.

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Identifying Moths and Butterflies

Open field with trees

Photo: Anna Ozab

Yesterday, the after-school program Anna attends each Wednesday took a field trip to Mount Pisgah Arboretum, southeast of Eugene. I went along as one of the parent volunteers. It was a beautiful day for a hike and Anna brought along her camera. She took pictures of frogs, birds, squirrels, and flowers, and at one point she snapped this shot.


Photo: Anna Ozab

I have no idea when she took it. I never saw the little guy until yesterday evening when Julia found him while editing Anna’s photos. My daughter has inherited her mom’s eye for detail.

It’s good enough that we’re considering entering it in the fair this summer—depending on how the print comes out—but before we do I’d like to know what kind of moth it is. I looked online hoping I would find one that looked similar enough that my untrained eye could identify it. Instead I found something better.

Butterflies and Moths of North America has an identification page where you can submit a photograph along with the time and place of the sighting and a lepidopterist will identify your mystery moth or butterfly. All you have to do is sign up for a free account and fill out a simple form with an attached photo. (I submitted Anna’s photo this morning and once I hear back I will post the response in the comments.)


Photo: Julia Ozab

Anna loves butterflies. Last year in first grade she learned about the lifecycle of the butterfly and together with her class raised caterpillars and released them after they became butterflies. She also learned words like chrysalis and metamorphosis. Given her love of butterflies and moths, I can see her taking a lot more pictures and learning a lot more from the helpful folks at Butterflies and Moths of North America.

Most Thursdays on Fatherhood Etc. we’ll learn something new in a series called “Thursday’s Child.” See you next week.

Thursday’s Child

Martha Artega, NRCS Public Affairs Specialist, works with children on a conservation education project in Roma, TX. [Slide 97CS3024]

Photo by Ken Hammond, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

There is an old English nursery rhyme that I learned from my mother. It’s commonly known as “Monday’s Child.” It has many different versions. Here is a well-known one:

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Mom always reminded me that I was a Thursday’s child—born on Thanksgiving, no less—and that I had “far to go.” She knew it was just a silly little children’s rhyme, but she encouraged me to make it come true.

Anna is a Thursday’s child too, born at 12:10 am on a Thursday morning in mid-January. I think about this rhyme more since she was born, and more still as I see how much she loves to learn. And when she boasts that she knows “everything” in her eight-year-old way, I reminder her that no one but God knows everything, and that the real fun is in learning something new.

That’s how I think we can all be a “Thursday’s child.” We can always be learning, always be growing, and no matter how far we’ve come we always have “far to go.”

So I’m starting a new—hopefully weekly—series on Fatherhood Etc. called “Thursday’s Child.” Every Thursday (go figure?) I’ll write about something I’ve learned or something that Anna has learned, or anything that encourages learning in general.

Here’s our first lesson—something Anna taught me during our visit to the Oregon Zoo.

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