Monday, November 21, 2011

Harvest Day. Autumn Pronghorn. S. Sudan Migration. Elephants. Edison. Britannic. Yard Sale.


Britain's Harvest Day is already over, while here in the US, we are getting ready for the American version, Thanksgiving Day.

Harvest Day Around the World:

"A Harvest Festival is an annual celebration which occurs around the time of the main harvest of a given region. Given the differences in climate and crops around the world, harvest festivals can be found at various times throughout the world. Harvests festivals typically feature feasting, both family and public, with foods that are drawn from crops that come to maturity around the time of the festival. Ample food and freedom from the necessity to work in the fields are two central features of harvest festivals: eating, merriment, contests, music and romance are common features of harvest festivals around the world.

In North America, Canada and the US each have their own Thanksgiving celebrations in October and November. Certain religious holidays, such as Sukkot, have their roots in harvest festivals.

In Britain, thanks have been given for successful harvests since pagan times. The celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food in the festival known as Harvest Festival, Harvest Home or Harvest Thanksgiving.

In British churches, chapels and schools and in Canadian churches, people bring in food from the garden, the allotment or farm. The food is often distributed among the poor and senior citizens of the local community, or used to raise funds for the church, or charity."

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Biblical lessons from the harvest.

"Is there any connection or correlation between the Feast of Tabernacles and Thanksgiving Day? The seventh chapter of the Gospel of John describes Jesus Christ observing the Feast of Tabernacles.

In his New Testament Commentary, for John 7:2, David Stern writes, “The festival also celebrates the harvest, coming, as it does, at summer’s end, so that it is a time of thanksgiving. (The puritans, who took the Old Testament more seriously than most Christians, modeled the American holiday of Thanksgiving after the Sukkoth [or Feast of Tabernacles]).”'



 Much to be thankful for.

"Historians and Jewish sources point out that America's Thanksgiving holiday may not have been a totally new celebration—but that its roots may go back thousands of years to the biblical Feast of Tabernacles.

So we should not forget that Thanksgiving is a feast of giving thanks, not only for receiving God's blessings today, but also for how He founded America mostly on His biblical laws. He also poured Abraham's blessings on it, intervening time and time again from its very beginnings to turn it into a rich and powerful nation to help lift up the rest of mankind. The nation has not had a perfect record, of course, but it is still trying to defend the weak from oppressors and to provide a home for those being persecuted.

Also, we should consider that the biblical Feast of Tabernacles is an annual reminder of how we should thank God for all He has done for us. Indeed, Jesus Christ and His disciples celebrated this festival "


Feast of the Tabernacles:

A seven-day celebration of the great fall harvest, observed by living in temporary dwellings for the duration of the Feast.   (Leviticus 23:33-43)

This year it was October 13-19.



For "Mammal Monday."

Pronghorn, Interrupted

Pronghorn Antelope











"Each autumn, the pronghorn of Wyoming’s Grand Tetons take off for their wintering grounds in the Upper Green River Basin.

Despite being North America’s fastest land animal, these mammals face plenty of obstacles—fences, roads, and oil and gas development—that slow their 150-mile journey. In 2008, the U.S. Forest Service created the “Path of the Pronghorn,” our country’s first federally protected wildlife migration corridor. As the pronghorn migrate, WCS scientists monitor their journeys, collecting information that will help ensure safer travels for generations to come.


We are currently in the field observing the fall migration. While this migration spectacle will occur over several weeks in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), each individual animal will average only three days to travel the entire 150 kilometer distance as they hurry south through the difficult terrain and challenging weather conditions—much as pronghorn have done along the Path for 6,000 years.  But only more recently have the animals faced the myriad threats of fences, roads, rural sprawl, energy development infrastructure, and other impediments that fragment their habitat and the passages that link them.

Julie Larsen Maher - © WCS

Increasingly, pronghorn are encountering barriers that block their migration like the fencing shown here.

"Soon, the pronghorn will get some good news as wildlife overpasses (where animals can pass over the highway) and underpasses (where animals can pass under the highway) are being installed on US Highway 191 near Trapper’s Point in western Wyoming. The structures are being built specifically to protect motorists and provide safe passage during migration for pronghorn and other wildlife in the southern GYE. Trapper’s Point has historically been a “bottleneck” problem area for the migrating pronghorn and each year, thousands of animals cross traffic lanes on US Highway 191, creating a perilous situation for humans and wildlife alike."

Courtesy WCS and NGS

"The Wyoming Department of Transportation has committed $9.7 million in an effort to reduce collisions along Highway 191, increasing both human safety and habitat connectivity for important wildlife populations. Installation of the highway crossing structures began this summer and will continue into 2012. The location of the structures were informed by five years of WCS data from our GPS collars and data from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department that identified crossing points preferred by pronghorn as they migrate across the highway."

Pronghorn at Trappers Point, Wyoming. 

Jeff Burrell – © WCS

"By virtue of six underpasses and two overpasses placed within a 13-mile stretch of Highway 191 at Trapper’s Point, the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) is trying to keep motorists and migrating wildlife off a collision course. The structures should be finished in 2012. As Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists, we’ve taken the opportunity during this fall’s pronghorn migration to observe the animals as they encounter the highway and their reaction to the safe passages in mid- construction.

Since our last entry, we’ve observed over 1,000 migrating pronghorn coming through Trapper’s Point in groups of about 20 animals at a time. We were delighted to see several wearing radio collars.  These were animals that we had collared in previous years, had spent this summer in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP), and had traveled the Path of the Pronghorn to get here.

While WCS scientists study pronghorn throughout western Wyoming, those that follow the Path are of particular interest. They have traveled farther than the others and their continued journeys to and from GTNP ensure that the park’s ecosystem remains ecologically whole and that a 6,000 year-old migration remains a part of our national heritage.

It didn’t take long to be reminded of the challenges that pronghorn face as we watched them try to cross Highway 191. Eventually, 8-foot high fences will guide the animals to the under- and overpasses. Today, both the fencing and structures are incomplete.  The animals are struggling as they have for many years in navigating the highway. The potential for collisions with passing motorists exists and it is easy to see why the structures are important.

After frantically dodging traffic and trying to find openings in ranch fencing (which will be bypassed when the safe passages are complete), many pronghorn eventually crawled under fences despite risking injury."

WCS_JBurrell_pronghorn waiting on traffic at US191


The Wild West: A Pronghorn's Incredible Journey

Jeff Burrell

"WCS embarks on a huge study to ensure safer journeys for pronghorn through their migratory corridor in the American West.

  • The pronghorn, the fastest land animal in North America, has been dashing over the lands between Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park and the Upper Green River Basin for millennia. And thanks to previous conservation efforts by WCS and our partners, this ancient “Path of the Pronghorn” was the first federally protected wildlife migration corridor in the United States.

Still, the journey along this almost 100-mile route isn’t a walk in the park. Even at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour, these antelope can’t always outrun the predators, oil and natural gas development, and other migration obstacles that they encounter. So WCS and government biologists are embarking on a huge study to evaluate how the pronghorn are faring during their seasonal travels.

“Grand Teton National Park’s pronghorn spend half the year outside the boundaries of the national park, and the threats they encounter could influence their long-term viability,” said Steve Cain, a senior wildlife biologist for the park. “The data collected in this study will provide public and private land managers with information critical for making decisions that enhance conservation of this herd, outside of the park as well as inside.”

In the early 1800s, around 35 million pronghorn roamed the West. Today, just 700,000 remain. Wyoming is home to most of them, but many also live in Idaho."


Renee Seidler - © WCS

Completed pronghorn underpass

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EcoAlert: World's Newest Nation to Emerge as Wildlife EcoTourism Hotspot

In July 2011, South Sudan became the world's newest nation. As its' population celebrates in the new capital of Juba, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is urging the newborn nation, home to the world's second largest land migration, to protect its ecosystems and rich wildlife in order to build a sustainable and forward-looking economy. South Sudan boasts an abundance of African megafauna that is becoming increasingly rare and endangered throughout much of the continent.

Every year 1.3 million antelope, including white-eared kob, tiang antelope, Mongalla gazelle, and reedbuck, migrate across savanna and wetlands in South Sudan. The migration was only discovered in 2007 after decades of civil war had kept scientists out. Wildlife experts found that much of the wildlife survived the region's political turmoil, including buffalo, giraffe, lion, bongo, chimpanzee, and some 8,000 elephants. "

"South Sudan’s wildlife treasures provide an opportunity for a diverse economy based on eco-friendly tourism in the world’s newest nation. WCS is committed to working with the government of South Sudan and USAID to help manage natural resources in a sustainable way and establish protected areas. Wildlife conservation must play a vital role in the economic future of South Sudan," Steve Sanderson, WCS President and CEO, said in a press release.


"According to WCS, the presence of African mammals in abundance could allow the nation to become a popular ecotourist destination. In 2009, nearby Kenya made $1 billion from tourism while Tanzania brought in $1.2 billion. Tourism, as opposed to large-scale resource extraction, is also sustainable over the long-term. Currently 98 percent of South Sudan's revenue comes from one thing: oil.

The new nation, writes Jeremy Hance of, is facing an array of massive challenges, including ack of infrastructure, deep poverty, and the fear of continuing conflicts with the north.

Wildlife migrations are endangered and collapsing worldwide, especially large mammal migrations. The pronghorn migration in the US is on its last legs; the saiga antelope migration in Central Asia has collapsed over the past two decades; the caribou migration near the Arctic is plunging and even the Serengeti migration is threatened by road-building plans in Tanzania."



Wildlife Conservation Society
Tell a Friend

"Dear Friend of Wildlife,     

An elephant matriarch has a remarkable memory. When she hears the call of a family member she hasn't seen for years, she recognizes it – sometimes from great distances. As her kin approaches, she trumpets with excitement and rushes forward to greet them, with a caress of her trunk.      

But those wonderful reunions are at risk of becoming just an elephant memory.

More elephants are being lost every day, illegally killed by poachers who sell their tusks on the black market. Over the last five years alone, the rate of elephant slaughter has dramatically increased, and we have to do all we can to stop it.

A U.S. government program that supports vital anti-poaching efforts is up for reauthorization – and if it's not reauthorized, crucial programs that protect elephants from slaughter face an uncertain future. If legislators are to act, they need to know that you as their constituent care about the fate of elephants.

Tell your members of Congress that elephants matter to you and this world – and that they must be protected by reauthorizing the Multinational Species Conservation Funds.

Don't let crucial programs that protect elephants disappear.

The African and Asian Elephant Conservation Funds, part of the Multinational Species Conservation Funds and administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, support programs that:

  • Protect elephants from poaching by strengthening surveillance patrols and increasing local enforcement capacity to catch people who kill elephants in preserves and national parks.
  • Reduce human-elephant conflict that leads to slaughtered elephants by training villagers how to safely and humanely deal with invasive elephants when they raid crops.
  • Prevent habitat loss and conserve existing habitats for elephants, which simultaneously helps protect other threatened wildlife species including tigers, rhinos, and gorillas.

The Multinational Species Conservation Funds represent a miniscule part of our federal budget – but for the elephants and other threatened wildlife they support, programs like these will literally mean the difference between life and death.

Send your letter for elephants now, before one more precious elephant matriarch is killed for the ivory of her tusks.

With your help, we'll protect these incredible mammals – and make sure the U.S. continues to play a leading role in protecting our world's natural heritage.

Thank you for your support of elephants.

Sincerely,button-donate-todayLiz BennettLiz Bennett
Vice President, Species Conservation
Wildlife Conservation Society



On This Day:

Edison's first great invention. Nov 21, 1877:

"The American inventor announces his invention of the phonograph, a way to record and play back sound.

Edison stumbled on one of his great inventions--the phonograph--while working on a way to record telephone communication at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. His work led him to experiment with a stylus on a tinfoil cylinder, which, to his surprise, played back the short song he had recorded, "MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB". Public demonstrations of the phonograph made the Yankee inventor world famous, and he was dubbed the "Wizard of Menlo Park."

Edison set aside this invention in 1878 to work on the incandescent light bulb, and other inventors moved forward to improve on the phonograph. In 1887, Edison resumed work on the device, using the wax-cylinder technique developed by Charles Tainter. Although initially used as a dictating machine, the phonograph proved to be a popular tool for entertainment, and in 1906 Edison unveiled a series of musical and theatrical selections to the public through his National Phonograph Company. Continuing to improve on models and cylinders over the years, the Edison Disc Phonograph debuted in 1912 with the aim of competing in the popular record market. Edison's discs offered superior sound quality but were not compatible with other popular disc players.

During the 1920s, the early record business suffered with the growth of radio, and in 1929 recording production at Edison ceased forever. Edison, who acquired an astounding 1,093 patents in his 84 years, died in 1931.



Britannic sinks in Aegean Sea, Nov 21, 1916:

"The Britannic, sister ship to the Titanic, sinks in the Aegean Sea on this day in 1916, killing 30 people. More than 1,000 others were rescued.

In the wake of the Titanic disaster on April 14, 1912, the White Star Line made several modifications in the construction of its already-planned sister ship. First, the name was changed from Gigantic to Britannic (probably because it seemed more humble) and the design of the hull was altered to make it less vulnerable to icebergs. In addition, it was mandated that there be enough lifeboats on board to accommodate all passengers, which had not been the case with the Titanic.

The nearly 50,000-ton luxury vessel, the largest in the world, was launched in 1914, but was requisitioned soon afterward by the British government to serve as a hospital ship during World War I. In this capacity, Captain Charlie Bartlett led the Britannic on five successful voyages bringing wounded British troops back to England from various ports around the world.

On November 21, the Britannic was on its way to pick up more wounded soldiers near the Gulf of Athens, when at 8:12 a.m., a violent explosion rocked the ship. Captain Bartlett ordered the closure of the watertight doors and sent out a distress signal. However, the blast had already managed to flood six whole compartments—even more extensive damage than that which had sunk the Titanic. Still, the Britannic had been prepared for such a disaster and would have stayed afloat except for two critical matters.

First, Captain Bartlett decided to try to run the Britannic aground on the nearby island of Kea. This might have been successful, but, earlier, the ship's nursing staff had opened the portholes to air out the sick wards. Water poured in through the portholes as the Britannic headed toward Kea. Second, the disaster was compounded when some of the crew attempted to launch lifeboats without orders. Since the ship was still moving as fast as it could, the boats were sucked into the propellers, killing those on board.

Less than 30 minutes later, Bartlett realized that the ship was going to sink and ordered it abandoned. The lifeboats were launched and even though the Britannic sank at 9:07, less than an hour after the explosion, nearly 1,100 people managed to make it off the ship. In fact, most of the 30 people who died were in the prematurely launched lifeboats. In 1976, famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau found the Britannic lying on its side 400 feet below the surface of the Aegean. The cause of the explosion remains unknown, but many believe that the Britannic hit a mine."



Misty and I went to get Jay, and she had a good sniffy through the fence to Muffie, and then Jay brought Maddie over to play in Muffie's yard, too.  I don't let Misty loose in that yard, as she runs into trees, the porch and things.  I just walk her outside on a leash so that I can guide her.

Jay and I took down my bedroom door, wrestled it outside, laid it on saw horses, cut a sliver off the top, sanded it, and re-hung it, so now it will close again.  The house sure has settled because of this drought. He also helped me get my electric mattress pad down from the top linen cupboard.   You never know, and I was changing the sheets anyway.


Then I cranked up my TranStar TranStar 006 (Small)-1motor home, moved it out of it's RVport, and backed it up to the cargo trailer on the side lot.  For two reasons, or maybe three.  First, the cargo trailer needs a new end on it's vehicle umbilical cord, and the MH has a 7-pin plug as I used to tow a travel trailer with it.  With the MH there we can check it out.

Secondly, because there is so much junk stuff for sale piled up  that I can't even get to one of the clocks to change it to un-Daylight Savings Time.  Then more stuff for sale has found it's way into the RVport.  So it is time to have a yard sale in my RVport.  It takes a long time to get one ready, so I don't know when it will be yet.

Third, it is supposed to rain one day, and I need to check if the one main seam, or any of the windows in the MH leak.  All the windows have been taken out and redone with butyl putty tape, but if I ever go on a trip, I don't want any surprises.


Yard-sale-1We put door slabs on buckets and milk crates along the one side which is open, put vinyl table cloths on them, and moved the stuff that had accumulated on the closed-in side.  Then I pulled my van in there to hide the temporary mess.



Then we put plastic sheeting over everything on that open side.   Five small card tables will be brought down from the storeroom attic and set up on the closed-in side for all the electrical appliances for sale.  We haven't even got any of the long tables out yet.


The weather was muggy, with a high of 82, but it was pleasant working out there yesterday.

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