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Compost Happens is a personal blog: part family, part garden, part crunchy green eco-writer. I'm Daisy, and I'm the groundskeeper here. I take care of family, garden, and coffee, when I'm not teaching and doing laundry.

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  • Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    Carve a Favre

    Amigo's Pumpkin Design:
    Imagine it on a green jersey with golden yellow trim.

    It looks like this after dark.

    Here's the pair. The one on the right? The one that looks like it swallowed a tea light? Well, it could be a Broncos fan watching that first play in overtime last night.
    Go! Pack! Go!

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    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Bloup? Clog? Grog?

    I've accepted an invitation to be a contributor to a group blog called Mid-Century Modern Moms. We are a group of moms of teens, many of us of 'advanced maternal age' who are battling with our kids, negotiating through the maze of college applications, and sighing with loneliness once our kids have moved out. We're an under-represented group in the blogosphere, but not for long.

    We're done with the diapers and breastfeeding vs. bottles, but we still deal with parent-teacher conferences, homework, laundry, and a lot of other parental dilemmas.
    The Terrible Twos have been replaced by Teen Attitude.
    Diaper rash is now acne.
    The "kids" have moved from formula to Mountain Dew.
    Child care budgets have been shifted to college tuition.
    Forget Disney Princesses for holiday gifts: we're dealing with iPods and laptops.

    Sometimes I'll cross post a piece from Compost Happens, and sometimes you'll get fresh content from me or from the other contributors.
    But what is a group blog, anyway? A grog? A bloup? A clog? Well, whatever it is, you can find us
    That is -- you can find me there after Monday Night Football. Go! Pack! Go!
    (Update: Best. Overtime. Ever.)


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    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    The license plate game: it's not what you think.

    Ah, road trips. It's amazing how much you can glean from a few license plates. It's not the child's ABC game or List the States game, either.

    I got on the road early this morning, drove through Jo to Go (she knew my order again -- must be going there too often), and hit the highway for my training workshop in Mad City. As I moved from the main highway to the smaller, two-lane road, I noticed I was not alone. What the heck were all these cars doing on this not-so-major byway at 6:30 on a Saturday morning?
    The answer: the car ahead of me had a UW-Madison license plate. Ah-ha! Badger game kicks off at 11:00 a.m. This line of traffic is headed for Camp Randall. Parking is limited, and of course, they needed to allow time for tailgate parties.
    I arrived at my destination. On the way into the parking lot, I noticed several personalized plates. HARP 1. TUBA 1. ISING 4U. DRUM LDY. MUSCPWR. And these, a little more challenging to decipher: BZASAB* and ROA ROE*. If I hadn't known I was going to the School Music Association building, the cars around it would have clued me in.
    It was a great workshop, both informative and validating. When we were in discussions and I heard an expert make the same comment that was in my head, I felt reassured that I really, really do know what I'm doing. When I learned statistics that show how many students participated in the types of festivals that I judged last year, I knew my work was and continued to be important. For example: 250,000 students nationwide play football. 219,000 students participated in music festivals in my state: that's statewide, not national. And the best part? None of these student musicians sat on the bench. Every one was an active participant.
    So if I moaned a little when my alarm went off early, if I doubted my wisdom in spending the day on the road, now I know it was worthwhile.
    And that's OKBYME.

    The two more challenging plates? BZASAB = Busy as a bee ROA ROE = Row, row, as in Row, row, row your Boat, Gently down the stream...

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    Friday, October 26, 2007

    One -- two -- Three foods. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha=ha!

    When Amigo was young, he had a three-sectioned plate that helped him learn to eat independently, despite his blindness.
    As he got older and received his other diagnosis, Asperger's Syndrome (a high functioning disorder on the autism spectrum), he continued to insist on exactly, precisely three foods. No more, no less. Three.
    He outgrew the need for a sectioned plate long ago, but we have learned a new vocabulary to go with his obsession with three foods. "Honey, let's make jello. It's a good Third Food." "So, if we serve this with that, what's the Third Food?" "Can I finish up the zucchini bread for a Third Food?"
    Pork chops with mashed potatoes and applesauce equals three foods.
    Minestrone soup equals one.
    Chicken with a side of rice, and beans = three foods.
    Chicken rice casserole = one.
    Spaghetti with meatballs = two foods.
    Spaghetti with meatsauce = one.
    You may be getting the picture. If two foods merge, such as a casserole or soup, they are One Food. If they are served separately, count each one on its own.
    Amigo has matured emotionally as well as physically, and now that he's fifteen, he's not as picky. He can let go of the Three Foods Rule on special occasions or when we go to restaurants. He's starting to accept modifications that bend the rule, such as a pickle as Third Food or a slice of bread (Mom's homemade, of course) for a side dish with Mom's Fantastic Chicken Soup or Good Wisconsin Crock-Pot Chili.
    Thanksgiving should be fun. He's willing to go beyond his usual Three. He'll even help me cook the 1-2-3 Cranberry Sauce!

    This blog blast is sponsored by Harper Collins, publisher of Deceptively Delicious, and the Parent Bloggers Network.

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    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Busy Day in Busytown

    Didn't sleep well -- restless dreams.
    Up just before 7:00.
    Realized we'd missed garbage pickup.
    Helped husband pack up rabbit so he could drop her at the vet.
    Had breakfast (oatmeal) with Amigo
    Ran dishwasher
    Took Amigo to doctor for his teenage acne
    Complimented Amigo on his grown-up attitude toward three (yes, 3) vaccinations. Ouch!
    Came home, made coffee
    Vacuumed den and love seat, bunny's favorite places
    Welcomed plumber into the house to fix toilet
    Made lunch for me and for Amigo
    Paid plumber
    Packed up a bag to keep Amigo busy and happy during PT appt
    Went to PT (Physical Therapy), stretched, stretched, and more stretched
    Left PT to pick up rabbit
    Brought rabbit home
    Found snacks for Amigo and rabbit

    Now I only need to:
    empty dishwasher
    make supper
    serve supper
    clean up supper
    go to pharmacy to pick up Amigo's new meds (see morning appointment)
    Watch Baseball! Woo-hoo!!
    Go to bed. Sleep.

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    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Signs of autumn

    Get the rakes ready!

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    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    If you can read this, well, you can read between the lines.

    I could tell it had been a long, busy week at school. All the signs were there.

    On Friday:
    I pulled into the Jo to Go drive-thru at 6:45 a.m. and the barista knew what I wanted (16 oz. hazelnut, black, keep the change).
    I pulled into the school parking lot and realized I'd gotten my coffee, but forgotten my ID (smart card for building entry) and room key.
    I reached for my coffee and realized that my ID was sitting on the dashboard of the car from the night before.
    More teachers were in jeans and casual, comfortable clothing than I've ever seen in this building. Even the principal was in a (stylish) workout suit.

    Can you tell it was parent-teacher conference week? Busy, productive, and exhausting. I'm ready for a nap.
    And I still have one more night of conferences to go.
    Thank goodness for the long weekend coming up.

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    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    Ode to the Commode

    Husband finally gave up on the toilet in the upstairs bathroom and replaced it with a new, energy efficient, handicapped friendly model. He was inspired to create this work of art to celebrate its installation.

    Ode to Toilet:
    How I love thee,
    White and glistenin’,
    Never complaining,
    While I’m p***in’ in.
    Though sometimes you roil and bubble,
    And run-on as a kid in trouble,
    You’re always accepting, playing my game,
    (but regarding that smell, I’ll take the blame.)
    I'll shout I love you!
    From the top of my lungs!
    Let’s do it now!
    Let’s take the plunge!

    (Okay, I'll admit this: he's had a long week at work, too.)


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    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    I am not making this up.

    Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Common sense, like common courtesy, isn't always common. Some folks seem to need basic safety sense written out for them in the form of basic warnings. "Do not use this hairdryer in the bathtub or shower." "Professional driver; do not attempt." And there's the classic line, "I am a professional. Do not try this at home." The organization Sick of Lawsuits has asked Parent Blogging Network to collect some of the most ridiculous warning labels in existence.

    Last spring my daughter spent a long, cold night waiting for a good place in line at the grand opening of the local Love Sac store. She got (are you ready for this?) an 87% discount. She was kind enough to get a few things for the family with her discount, so we picked up the classic square PillowSac and its Rocker. This is the warning tag on The Rocker.

    Improper use of this product may result in injury or death.
    Do not jump on The Rocker projecting oneself through open space that is inherently dangerous and may cause injury or death.
    Do not allow your children to play unattended on The Rocker -- better yet,
    do not allow your children to play unattended at all.
    Do not put any part of your body, including your entire body, underneath
    The Rocker, especially when The Rocker is rocking. May result in injury or
    Do not eat The Rocker or anything included with The Rocker, including, but
    not limited to, nuts, b0lts, tags, cardboard, packaging, plastic bags, plastic
    pieces, styrofoam, unpopped popcorn kernels, etc. Attempting to eat these
    things may result in injury, death, or at the very least, discomfort while
    passing these items through your digestive system from entry to exit.
    Do not stand on The Rocker as this may result in injury or death.
    Keep The Rocker away from heaters, burning cigarettes, or any open flame. May result in injury, death, or destruction.

    (Hmmm. It doesn't say anything about rabbits....)

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    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    If you look closely, you can see the carrot stain under her chin.

    Pretty, isn't she? Now if she'd wash up a little better after eating....

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    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Three for me, three for you

    Melanie, a blogger and honest-to-goodness wonderful author, is stirring up interest in her Buy Three a Month mission. Her goal is to encourage readers to buy three books each month, then go to her blog and tell her about it. She wants folks to tell her which books they bought, and a month later she'll ask for short summaries and reviews of those books. This is for fun, folks, not for obligation. Buy paperback or hardcover, from the sale table or farther back in the store, but pick up three books for your very own.
    Today is the fifteenth of October, so she posted her three for October along with short reviews of the three she bought in September. You can read about them here.
    October is one of the craziest months in my teaching life, so I don't know if I'll get to the bookstore, much less have time to read three new books. I did, however, buy Nicholas Evan's The Divide. I've enjoyed his other books enough to read and reread them, so I'm hoping this one will keep me company by the fireplace on the long weekend after parent-teacher conferences.
    So, Melanie, I may get out to buy two more, but if not, I promise to reread two I already own. I'll make it up in November. Or December. Or ... next summer? But no matter what, I'll keep reading.

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    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    There's no place like Homecoming

    It had a rough start, but as the newspaper said, a "fabulous finish." Amigo wasn't even sure we could get into the game because he had lost his wallet with his school i.d. card inside. We went anyway, knowing that his homeroom teacher was doing crowd control. If worst came to worst, I knew that my district i.d. would gain admission for two, and then one other could buy a ticket. We were in luck; the ticket-takers at the gate knew Amigo and let him in. Phew!
    The student section of this homecoming crowd, as Husband put it, was a "seething mass of adolescent hormones," so we sat in the adult section near a friend and co-worker of mine who is an ex-cheerleader and is married to one of the football coaches.
    This made for some humorous moments. As the night went on and the weather grew cooler, and the concession stand ran out of hot cocoa and cider, we considered going home early. But Amigo would have none of it. "I'm fine, I'm warm enough, so I want to stay to the end! And there are fireworks afterwards, too!" Since it was his homecoming, we opted to stay. But as the end of the game approached and the two teams kept tying the score, Husband turned to Coach's Wife and asked, "Do high school games have overtime?" To her nod he responded "Darn!"
    With a fourth quarter in which the two teams combined for 44 points and 309 yards, we didn't really have a chance to relax or feel the cold. In the final 19 seconds, the home team scored their final touchdown and completed a two point conversion to win by one, yes one, golden point.
    This win puts the team in the regional playoffs.
    If Amigo wants to go to any playoff games, I think I'll bring my own hot cocoa.

    An updated version of this post can be found on Mid-Century Modern Moms.

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    Saturday, October 13, 2007

    Is it procrastination if I'm getting other work done?

    I should be correcting the chapter 1 tests and analyzing the chapter 2 pretests and planning my next Social Studies unit.

    Instead, I...
    • fed rabbit and refilled her pellet container
    • sorted laundry
    • washed four loads of laundry
    • hung one load to dry
    • put another load in the dryer
    • started a loaf of bread in the breadmaker
    • unloaded the dishwasher and put the clean dishes away
    • reloaded the dishwasher with dirty dishes
    • brought the kitchen waste (including coffee grounds and filter) to the compost
    • turned the compost (mmm, the compost is such a luscious deep brown...)
    • served lunch to myself and Amigo
    • made beds
    • got the winter outerwear from storage
    • put the winter gloves, hats, and mittens on the deck to air out (to get rid of the basement storage odor)
    And still on my list:
    • bake cookies
    • clean rabbit litter box
    • finish laundry (dry, fold, put away)
    • give Amigo a ride to the homecoming dance
    • do the grocery shopping
    • pick up Amigo from the homecoming dance
    • make supper (probably grilled cheese on homemade bread, see above)
    Maybe today is housework day, and tomorrow will be schoolwork. That's not true procrastination and avoidance, is it?

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    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Why do we have to learn this?

    • You need it to pass this grade.
    • It'll be on the test.
    • Because I said so.
    • No one, but no one, graduates without knowing this.
    • You'll have to repeat the grade if you don't.
    • Because the Powers That Be think it's essential to living.
    • Life's not fair. Get used to it.
    • You won't go out to recess until you can prove you know it.
    • Every adult needs to understand double digit divisor division thoroughly in order to make a living and pay the bills.
    • Someday you'll thank me.
    • Trust me. I know these things. I just do.

    What are your kids learning in school? And why are they learning it? If you want to avoid these ridiculous answers to the ever present question, you could sidetrack the questioner and head to Scholastic's new parent web site. They have all kinds of information for parents of children from preschool to middle and high school.

    And if you're still thinking of Scholastic as just a place to buy books, you can shop at their site by using the code BLOGBLAST - which gives you 10% off with purchase of $25 or more, valid 10/12 - 10/21. I might pick up a few things for my classroom or for Christmas.

    Blog Blast sponsored by Parent Bloggers Network and

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    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    shoulds, once again, are bogus

    Should: Appointments, especially early morning appointments, should never be cancelled.
    Reality: The phone rang at 6:25 a.m. to cancel my 7:00 physical therapy appointment
    End result: I had a morning off (half a sick day) that I didn't need.

    Should: I should have cancelled the sick day. It was early enough in the morning, and I didn't need the time off any more.
    Reality: I had brought home a bag full of work to do after the appointment.
    End result: I stayed home anyway. I waded through four piles of papers, cleaned the kitchen, and blogged.

    Should: Cancelled appointments should be rescheduled easily and conveniently.
    Reality: I'm a teacher, people. My work schedule is NOT flexible! And I have parent-teacher conferences next week in the evenings, so I'm not free after school, either!
    End result: I took an afternoon appointment on a day between conferences. I'll blow another half sick day. Bleh.

    Shoulds: I should drink less coffee.
    Reality: I like my coffee.
    End result: After the appointment was cancelled and I put Amigo on his school bus, I made a pot of Sumatran and started in to work on my school papers. Math tests, vocabulary sheets, penmanship, and more, met with my green pen while the Early Show played softly in the background.

    Ah,well, I'll be ready for conferences next week. I'll be rested and relaxed (and caffeinated) this afternoon, too. No crabby teaching in Social Studies. Nuh-uh.

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    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    One year ago --

    Here's Amigo, ready to let go and fly down the zipline on the high ropes challenge course. He loved it. He did it again this year, but the weather was much, much better.


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    Smells like -- School Spirit?

    Where will you find Pajama Day, Duct Tape Day, Prince/Princess Day, Crazy Outfit Day, and Spirit Day all in one week? Add a bonfire with an effigy of the upcoming football opponent, a big game complete with marching band show, and a Saturday night dance, and you guessed it.
    Amigo's school is in the middle of Homecoming Week. He really enjoys the festivities. He skipped dressing up for pajama day, but today he's decked out in one of his dad's t-shirts proclaiming "I can fix anything: Where's the duct tape?" He'll borrow another t-shirt for Crazy Outfit Day on Thursday. It says "Stop Animal Testing!" and has a picture of the sweetest looking rabbit sitting in a desk taking a standardized test. For Prince/Princess Day, he's getting creative. He's going to wear a Milwaukee Brewers shirt. (Prince Fielder, first baseman, home run king, okay?)
    The school plays theme music during passing time between classes. Yesterday they played "Bananas in pajamas." Tomorrow I predict Disney Princess tunes. Today? Well, I don't know, what would you play for Duct Tape Day? Something that would stick with you, no doubt. (snicker)
    Happy Homecoming to all. Amigo sure loves it.

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    Monday, October 08, 2007

    Compost is Something Good, or I'm the Honored Guest!

    Lorna from Something Good and The Freelance Parent asked me to write a guest post on compost. It's up here.

    To see more day-to-day compost adventures, you can look to these earlier posts.

    When neighbors' fences attack
    Compost can be beautiful!
    Husband's role in the process (besides eating the produce)
    Oh, the compost, it happens.

    Meanwhile, I'm going to make a cup of coffee. I know where the grounds will go.

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    Sunday, October 07, 2007

    The rivalry continues

    What's harder than driving on the expressway around Chicago during rush hour and road construction? Driving a news truck with "Green Bay" emblazoned on it in huge letters, through Chicago, in the week before the Packers play the Bears.

    Yes, husband was on a work-related trip last week that required he drive the news truck through Chicago on his way to his destination. The reactions, let's just say, were many and varied. The most creative had to be the toll booth worker who asked if he was a spy.

    Now that he's home (and safely, I might add), we can watch tonight's game in peace and -- well, you know that in our house, it won't be quiet.

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    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Walk a mile in my shoes

    How far would you go for your child? We've had some challenging, even difficult, times with our children, and I've had some tough times dealing with the special education staff working with my child...a not-so-comfortable task, since I teach in the same district. Let's look at this from another angle, though.
    I posted yesterday after a frustrating day of teaching. I deal with more in a single day than ER or Grey's Anatomy would if the shows were set in the psych wing. Really, folks, I can't (and won't try to) diagnose anyone, but there are symptoms of all kinds of serious problems just bouncing around my school building, dressed in Hello Kitty and Tony Hawk. Certain parents, IMHO, haven't gone far enough.
    I kept seeing little (thank goodness, not front page news) blurbs about Britney Spears losing custody of her children. Teachers are mandated reporters; if we suspect any neglect or abuse, we are required by law to report it. After that, it's up to the folks at protective services to assess the case and figure out if the kids are safe or not. If not, they determine what kind of action is necessary.
    Britney's kids are not near school age yet. They're not in regular day care, either, another field where the teachers are mandated reporters. Fortunately, the children had an advocate in the form of their father, and he had enough money to take this to court himself without waiting for the wheels of public service to turn. Now all involved need to hope that he will do right by his kids.
    Unfortunately, Brit doesn't seem to have a support network that will help her get her act together and learn how to be a mom. She can't do it alone. Who will step up to be her mentor? How far will her family go to help her, and ultimately help her children?

    How far would you go for your kids? I hope I never need to know the real answer.

    Sponsored by Parent Bloggers Network
    Blog Blast inspired by the new book Dangerous Admissions

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    Thursday, October 04, 2007

    What's that quote again?

    It was in the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy. This school year, I'm feeling it every week. I think it was: "I just can't quite get the hang of Thursdays."

    You might be a teacher if in addition to the check box on the report card for "shallow gene pool" you want one for "chaotic home life."

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    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Ah, the glory.

    For the full story of this t-shirt, click here.
    (Update: I fixed the link. Sorry for the confusion!)

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    Monday, October 01, 2007

    The Dark Dreamweaver by Nick Ruth: Number 1 in the Remin Chronicles

    The Dark Dreamweaver by Nick Ruth
    Book 1 of The Remin Chronicles

    The first book in a planned series, The Dark Dreamweaver takes a young boy into a fantasy world where he discovers that while magic isn’t as easy as he thought, he has a talent and ability to learn it and use it well. David, the main character, enjoys illusion and “tricks” as much as the next child, and when he discovers a wizard cursed into a never-ending life cycle of a monarch, he eagerly agrees to help him combat the evil being who has taken over the world of Remin and caused literal nightmares in David’s human world.
    In the world of Remin, David and his new friend Houdin join forces with several imaginative creatures on a journey to find and combat the evil wizard, freeing Houdin from his curse and recapturing control of Remin and the dream world in the process.
    Houdin and his friends are fascinating and friendly characters. These diverse and multi-faceted characters adapt to each other and bond as a team, using their strengths to compensate for each others’ weaknesses. Houdin reveals that Remin residents have become dependent on a finite resource, spectrum, and suffer greatly when an unnatural shortage develops. Is this shortage a veiled statement on our own world’s dependence on fossil fuels for energy? Perhaps, but it‘s not obvious or heavy handed.
    The main weakness in The Dark Dreamweaver is stylistic. Overuse of simple sentences produces an almost choppy feel. Increasingly more complex sentences will improve its flow. But on the other hand, the author also uses creative and humorous statements such as “If you have ever been in a vortex between worlds, you know what happened next.” With practice and experience, I expect author Nick Ruth to become better and better.
    I enjoyed The Dark Dreamweaver and look forward to the continuing saga of The Remin Chronicles. I can willingly recommend this book to those who enjoy fantasy, but may not be advanced enough readers to tackle some of the longer books in the genre. In fact, now that I am finished reading my publisher-provided copy, I plan to donate it to the library of the school in which I teach. I’m sure it will not sit on the shelf for long.
    As I was nearing the end of the book (during a silent reading session at school), I saw two butterflies rise from the prairie garden below my classroom window. Coincidence? Perhaps, but you’ll have to read The Dark Dreamweaver to truly appreciate the connection.

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    Search & Win

    About 1 in 5 child deaths is due to injury. CDC Vital Signs


Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

    Copyright, 2003-2008 by OkayByMe. All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval without written permission from Daisy, the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. In other words, stealing is bad, and if you take what doesn't belong to you, it's YOUR karma and my lawyers you might deal with.