Getting Dumb and Dumber?

Photo Credit: Getty Images

According to an article I found on, it looks like our IQs are starting to recede, or at least not continue upwards as they have been doing.

Intelligence tests (IQ tests) were invented a little more than a century ago and since that time, our scores have been increasing at a steady rate. According to studies “even the average person today would have been considered a genius compared to someone born in 1919”.  (Unless you’re comparing yourself to Albert Einstein (born 1879), then all bets are off.)  This steady increase in IQ is known as the Flynn Effect.

But now scientists have uncovered evidence that this trend may be slowing down and perhaps even reversing. Does this mean we’ve peaked as a species?

Of course the cause of the Flynn Effect has never been agreed upon by the scientific community; most seem to think that multiple environmental factors are involved (increased health, increased food availability, increased access to education, removing lead from gasoline), but nobody really knows for sure. It’s my guess that if there is a decline of our collective IQ on the horizon, no one will understand that either.

Who is the smartest person you know? Or what smart person would you LIKE to know?


It was this day in 1832 that the true source of the Mississippi river was “discovered” by Henry R. Schoolcraft. An explorer, ethnologist, geographer and geologist, Schoolcraft was born in New York in 1793.  At the age of 25, he left home to go exploring in the west.

In 1820, he joined Lewis Cass’ expedition to chart boundary issues between US and Canada and to try to determine the headwaters of the Mississippi. Upon arriving at Upper Red Cedar Lake, they could no longer navigate by boat, so re-named the lake to Cass Lake and proclaimed it the beginning of the Mississippi.  But the natives who were part of the expedition told Schoolcraft that earlier in the year when the water was higher, you could keep going by canoe.  Two years later, Schoolcraft did just this and was able to get to what was then known as Elk Lake, the true headwaters of the Mississippi.  As was the custom of the time, Schoolcraft promptly re-named it, making up Lake Itasca from the Latin veritas (truth) and caput (head)

Soon after, he was assigned as the first Indian agent in the area, based in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, where he met and married Jane Johnston. Jane was the oldest child of a Scottish fur trader and his Ojibwa wife.  Jane’s Ojibwa name was “Woman of the Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky” and a writer in her own right, she taught Schoolcraft her language and culture.  He went on to research and document much of Native American life and history, including a six-volume survey of Native American tribes that has since been indexed and updated.  He even spent two stints at Fort Snelling, once as the commander of the fort.

There are quite a few things named after Schoolcraft, from townships in Michigan and Minnesota as well as parks, schools, roads, lakes, islands and even the ship SS Henry R Schoolcraft (launched in 1943). He passed away in 1864 at the age of 71.  Of his many accomplishments, he is best known for his discovery to the headwaters of the Mississippi.

Tell us about the lake that is named after you!

In Memoriam – Our Little Jail Bird

This was not LJB’s last blog piece, but it is her most iconic, filled with the photos that she loved to take.  Hopefully this will be the best way to remember her this weekend.


Until last fall, I had never been to Banning State Park. I had driven by it dozens of time, because when I head up to my sister’s house, I always turn off 35W and take Highway 23 into town. I didn’t know much about Banning, but when I was looking for a day trip, it seemed to fit my needs perfectly.

First, I wanted a park where I could drive there and back in one day without getting too tired. Second, I wanted a park that didn’t involve driving several back roads, because I knew that I would be driving in the dark due to the shorter fall days and my night vision and sense of direction is bad enough that I would get lost unless I kind of knew where I was going. And third, I wanted a state park because I had a state park sticker and wanted to use it as much as possible to get my money’s worth out of it. Banning fit all of those qualifications. Plus it has a waterfall, which is a big plus in my book.

So, off I went, one sunny morning in October. When I arrived, I stopped at the visitor center to get maps and ask where the best spots were. I was so excited. It seems that often when I go north, I am early for the fall colors and often find myself driving home just a few days before “peak”  and this time I was not too early! I said something about that to the woman at the desk (while trying to not jump and down in excitement) and she shook her head woefully and told me in a discouraging tone, “You’re going to see LOTS of brown out there.” Gee thanks, way to burst my bubble.

Of course, since I drove all the way up there, I figured I better go on the hike anyway even if I would see mostly brown. I drove to the parking area and when I stepped out of the car and looked up, I knew it was going to be a good day (see header photo).

I hiked all the way to the falls and back and shot lots of photos. It was an incredibly beautiful day: that clear, deep blue sky that you only seem to see on autumn days and – surprise! – lots of colorful leaves on the trees. It can be a challenge shooting in bright sunlight, but I was so overcome by the beauty of it all that I just took that in my stride. There was that wonderful northwoods smell in the air – pine trees and dead leaves. Nothing like it! and nothing else invigorates me like that does.


It was getting pretty cool and the sun was going down quickly by the time I was heading back on the trail but the golden evening light only made things more beautiful and the colors more intense. I went home pleasantly tired and very happy and glad that the woman’s prediction of “lots of brown” wasn’t true.

When has someone’s dire predictions not come true for you? (This was Edith’s question, but any and all comments are welcome!)


New Phase of the Moon

NASA has been back in the news with the announcement that a return trip to the moon is in the works for 2024. And this means that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is back in the news with HIS announcement that he wants to bankroll 6-8 artists to go with him on a SpaceX flight affectionately named “Dear Moon”. He says that taking artists to space would allow them to “communicate their experiences to the masses in new ways”.

Of course, this project is just in the offing and we’ll have to see if it comes to fruition by 2024.

Would you want to travel to the moon? Or Mars?  Or beyond?

Push Pin Traveler

My father had a huge map of the world mounted on a bulletin board and hung in his bedroom. He had two colors of push pins… white ones for places where he and my mom had played tennis and yellow ones for places where he had jogged.  There were pins in a few countries outside the US and lots of pins inside the US.  A lot more white ones for tennis than yellow ones for jogging.

Many of my folks things went into storage when they downsized and after a few different “clean up the storage” sessions, no one is quite sure what happened to the map. I’ve always wished that I had it.  As someone who travels for their work, I’ve always thought it would be fun to have a map.

YA and I have had two bulletin boards for years and made the decision a couple of weeks ago that we could easily consolidate everything onto one board. You know where this is going, right?  I went online the next day and ordered a world map and a box of multi-colored push pins.  I now have the map mounted, but of course, tried to guess the size screws I needed for the job, so now I’ll be making another trip to the hardware store.

I will not be doing any kind of color coding but have decided that each US state will only get one pin, even if I’ve been to multiple places in that state (although I am debating about a separate pin for the Grand Canyon – my map, my rules, right?) I did decide that I would wait to put the pins in until the map is on the wall, since I don’t want to risk any of the pins falling out to become dog treats while I’m installing it.  Hopefully it will be up in the next day or so.

You have a space on the wall. What would you like to put there?



Gosling Crossing

After yesterday’s trail discussion, I spent quite a bit of time yesterday thinking about how we keep calm when it feels as if the world around us is unraveling. As I pondering this and driving along 66th Street, I noticed that the traffic was stopped a few cars up.  As I got a little closer, I noticed a huge gaggle of geese and goslings leisurely crossing the street, apparently oblivious to the traffic.  It was then that I realized that another piece of remaining hopeful is to RECOGNIZE little kindnesses when they happen.  All the cars stopped, nobody honked impatiently and even when the goslings finally got across the street, no one rushed hurriedly on.  A gentleman standing on the far side of 66th watched the whole time to make sure the little flock was safe.  It was just a small incident but it made me feel a little better.

Have you witnessed any small kindnesses recently?

Stuff Rant

It was a gorgeous day for the zoo. Lots of young families.  Lots of strollers.  Big strollers.  Double-wide strollers.  Holding lots of stuff.  I guess the world has changed but when Baby and I went out and about, I used a narrow umbrella stroller, put a couple of diapers and a ziplock w/ some wipes in my purse, filled up a sippy cup and off we went.

Apparently these days you need considerably more to venture out into the world: multiples sippy cups (and strollers have sippy cup holders built in now), bags of animal crackers, apple slices, cookies, cheerios, large containers of wipes, massive numbers of diapers, toys, towels, changes of clothing for the little ones. I’m sure there is more needed, but this is just what I saw with my own eyes.  And that’s just the stuff for the kids. Parents need bottles and cup holders and snacks as well.

On a busy day, all these strollers full of stuff take up a LOT of room at places like the zoo. I wholeheartedly encourage  families with young kids to enjoy places like the zoo, but do they really need so much STUFF?

What kind of of stuff do you need for an outing?

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