News, Some New and Some Old:
Dear Friend of the National Parks,
"Great news! Thanks to an extraordinary new matching gift, any donation you make to the National Parks Conservation Association between now and midnight December 31st, will be doubled!
Longtime NPCA supporters Bill and Judy Walter have generously offered to match all online year-end gifts up to $100,000. This means you can double your support for NPCA and our park protection mission – leaving our national parks that much safer and more secure for future generations.
We’re making headway in our plans to make our national parks places we can all be proud of as we approach the Centennial. NPCA positively influenced the recent Park Service plan, A Call to Action, which adopted many recommendations from our State of America’s National Parks report. A Call to Action presents a new agenda for America’s parks – an action plan that would educate more students, carve out new wildlife corridors, enhance cultural diversity, and respond and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
But, as you know, times are hard for our national parks. A recent NPCA study found that parks in every section of the country are struggling. And now the Congressional super committee’s failure to reach a consensus on federal debt negotiations could trigger automatic funding cuts on top of the already more than $600 million shortfall facing the parks.
What does that mean? It could mean fewer rangers, fewer school field trips, and fewer park employees able to respond effectively to emergencies like hurricanes and wildfires. And it could also mean fewer visitors spending money in the surrounding communities.
Making these plans a reality could be derailed if additional funding cuts go into effect. National parks receive only a tiny fraction of federal budget funding – a scant 1/13 of 1% - and further cuts are not the solution to our nation’s deficit problem. We must stand up to congressional leaders to ensure that the parks aren’t nickeled and dimed and left unprotected. That’s why I’m hoping you can send us on our way with a special year-end contribution that will go twice as far to protect the parks.
By taking advantage of this exciting matching-gift opportunity, you will help NPCA hit the ground running in 2012. And at the same time, you’ll help keep the parks alive and thriving for our children and grandchildren.
And thanks for all you do for America’s parks."
Sincerely, Thomas C. Kiernan, President
P.S. Your gift will be matched up to $100,000 – but only until midnight December 31. I hope you will take advantage of this great opportunity to make your gift go twice as far.
If you prefer to mail your donation, please be sure to enclose this PDF donation form to make sure your gift is matched. Thank you!
USDA Food Pyramid Out: Is The New Food Plate Better?
"There's a new food pyramid in town, and it's a plate. The USDA's new food icon is a brightly colored graphic that breaks a healthy diet into four main sections: fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins, with a small side of dairy."
"Government officials, including First Lady Michelle Obama who was on-hand for its launch, hope the new graphic will serve as a simple "how-to" for making food choices by providing a clear breakdown of what our plates should look like.
It replaces the old Food Guide Pyramid, first launched in the early 1990s, then revamped in 2005.
The plate, which is based on the nutrition advice contained in the government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is quartered into sections: fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. Half the plate is taken up by fruits and vegetables. Another smaller circle appears next to the plate representing dairy. Health officials have high hopes that the simple, clear "visual cue" will prompt consumers to make healthier eating choices — something that the decades-old food pyramid largely failed to do.
The First Lady admitted that even she did not know how much protein was in an ounce of meat. "We can't be expected to measure three ounces of chicken or look up a portion size of rice or broccoli."
The government's updated dietary guidelines suggest that Americans reduce their consumption of salt, sugar and fat; they also advise people increase fruits, veggies and fish. MyPlate reflects those guidelines, showing vegetables and fruits as a bigger proportion of the plate than grains, for example.
Further, the pyramid did not distinguish between healthy foods like brown rice or fish and less healthy foods like white rice or sausage."
However, the dietary guidelines also urge Americans to eat less overall — a message that health officials haven't yet addressed."
Holiday Safety Tips for Pet Lovers
- Nothing can destroy the happiness and memories of a holiday season like a serious health crisis involving your family pet.
- Even if you’re sure you know all the ins and outs of keeping your furry family member safe this holiday season, it never hurts to review a few important safety tips.
- The areas pet owners should focus on as potentially hazardous include: decorations (including Christmas trees) … holiday food, treats and beverages … seasonal flowers and plants … cute but pet-unfriendly dog and cat gifts and stocking stuffers.
By Dr. Becker
"The holidays are upon us, and as I do each year, I'd like to take a few moments to remind pet owners to stay alert for seasonal hazards.
Nothing can ruin a holiday and make it a painful memory for years to come like an accident that injures or takes the life of a precious pet.
A quick review of the following list can avert disaster for your dog or cat, so I encourage everyone reading here today to take this brief 'refresher course' in keeping your pet safe throughout the holiday season.
10 Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe During the Hectic Holiday Season
1. Secure your Christmas tree by screwing a hook into the wall or ceiling and running string or fishing line around the tree trunk and fastened to the hook.
This will anchor your tree and prevent it from being tipped or pulled over by a curious cat or a rambunctious dog.
It will also keep water at the base of the tree from spilling. Stagnant tree water can harbor bacteria and isn't something your pet should be drinking, so make sure it isn't easily accessible.
2. Place electrical cords, wires and batteries out of your pet’s reach to prevent a potentially deadly electrical shock or burns from a punctured battery.
3. Especially if you are owned by a cat, skip the tinsel. It’s a real temptation for kitties because it’s sparkly and fun to bat around. But ingestion of tinsel can obstruct your pet’s GI tract and bring on vomiting. Vomiting causes dehydration. And if the situation is dire, surgery could be required to remove the tangle of tinsel inside your pet and repair any damage.
Also forego breakable tree ornaments. Glass shards can injure pet paws, mouths, and can be very dangerous if swallowed.
4. Candles are very popular holiday décor, but make sure to never leave lighted candles unattended. Use appropriate holders that prevent candles from being knocked over by curious pets. Take care when using scented candles, especially the food-scented variety, that the smell doesn’t encourage your dog or cat to sample the goods. Candle wax isn’t species-appropriate nutrition for your pet!
5. Pets and sweets don’t mix, so make sure your dog or cat has zero access to holiday goodies like candy, cookies, chocolate and other sugary foods, including any food that is artificially sweetened.
And to be on the very safe side, also prevent your pet from counter surfing in the kitchen, sniffing the table at meal time, and nosing around in the garbage. Believe it or not, there's a long list of people foods that are toxic to pets, so don't even chance it.
6. Beverages should also be kept out of your pet’s reach. Beer, wine and liquor can make your dog or cat quite ill, and can even be life threatening. It’s also a good idea to keep pets separated from tipsy guests. So if the party is getting lively, it’s your cue to tuck your four-legged family member away in a safe, quiet location of the house.
7. Provide your pet with a quiet place to retreat during holiday festivities. Dogs and especially cats get overwhelmed and over-stimulated just like kids do. Make sure your companion has her own out-of-the-way spot stocked with fresh water, a few treats and toys, and comfy bedding to snuggle up in.
New Year's celebrations can be a special problem for pets, so keep yours a safe distance from confetti, streamers, noise makers and other dangers.
8. Resist the irresistible -- those cute and colorful pet toys and stocking stuffers that show up on store displays this time of year. No matter how adorable that stuffed dog toy is, chances are some part of it will wind up inside your pooch. Stick with safe, healthy dog gifts like all-natural dental bones, yummy high-protein treats, and stimulating puzzle toys.
9. If there's a cat on your Christmas gift list, go for toys that stimulate his hunting instincts or how about a new scratching surface? You can also consider a toy that allows you to interact with him and gives him some exercise at the same time, like a laser beam toy or a feather teaser like Da Bird.
10. Did you know many holiday plants and flowers are highly toxic for dogs and cats? Holly is one. So are many varieties of the lily. Mistletoe is a no-no, as are poinsettias. Take a pass on live holiday plants and opt for silk or plastic greenery instead.
In addition to these tips, it's also very important for your pet's health and stress level to maintain her normal daily routine during the holidays.
Happy holidays to you and your pet!"
PLEASE DO NOT BUY FUR!!
"A News investigation has uncovered what appears to be the appalling treatment of animals being killed for their fur in China.
The investigators filmed animals that were kicking and writhing as workers ripped their skin from their bodies. If the animals struggled too much, workers stood on the animals' neck Or they beat the animals' heads with knife handles until the creatures stopped moving.
It's also a very slow process, and they usually start from the feet(paw)-up, giving the animal plenty of time to endure the pain. After their fur was peeled, the animals' bodies were tossed into a pile like so much trash, most still alive, breathing in ragged gasps and blinking slowly.
One investigator recorded a skinned raccoon dog, tossed onto a heap of carcasses; it had enough strength to lift its bloodied head and stare into the camera. (That is when I couldn't look at it any more, that poor skinless face will haunt me.)
It raised its head, blinked with its remaining eyelashes and then lay its head down to continue dying for anything from 2-3 Hours.
YOU CAN HELP!
1.DO NOT BUY ANY FUR PRODUCTS
2.Spread the word, be voice of these animals.
Forward this video to as many people as you can so that they can contribute also:
I couldn't watch all of this video, it is too upsetting.
Old Man Winter.
"Old man winter came in with a blast.
Oh, how I wish he or she
Were a thing of the past!
Every time I go to open my door -
Snow, sleet, wind, rush in
And they are predicting more!
We crawl under the covers
And hide our heads.
Like Rip Van Winkle, I want
To hibernate and stay in bed.
We can't go to Florida,
North Carolina, or to the Coast.
Us Northerner's are suffering
And we aren't warm as toast.
All the kids in the neighborhood
Are as happy as can be.
For, there isn't any school, you see.
They won't like it when June comes along.
With make up days for them,
They'll all be singing a different song.
They may be going to school
Until the fourth of July,
When the fireworks
Are lighting up the sky.
Furnaces running, water pipes
Freezing, and big gas bills, too.
How I wish winter was gone
And all the snow was through.
In February, will be anticipating to see
If the Groundhog comes out of his hole.
If he sees his shadow,
I'll give up and become a mole.
I'm going to bed and wait for
The weather report for tomorrow.
Right now, it's snowing and my heart
Is filled with regret and sorrow.
Old Man winter has my nose.
I'm cold from the top
Of my head, down to my toes.
Another day wasted,
But, I have no regrets.
I have my God, and my Brothers
And Sisters on the net."
© 2003 by Nancy Hoback
God was taking care of America at Pearl Harbor.
"We just missed a ferry and had to wait thirty minutes. I went into a small gift shop to kill time. In the gift shop, I purchased a small book entitled, "Reflections on Pearl Harbor" by Admiral Chester Nimitz.
Sunday, December 7th, 1941--Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet.
Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat--you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war.
On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, "Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?"
Admiral Nimitz's reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, "The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?" Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, "What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?"
Nimitz explained: Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk--we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.
Mistake number two: When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.
Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is on top of the ground in storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That's why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make, or God was taking care of America.
I've never forgotten what I read in that little book. It is still an inspiration as I reflect upon it.
In jest, I might suggest that because Admiral Nimitz was a Texan, born and raised in Fredericksburg, Texas--he was a born optimist. But any way you look at it--Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism.
President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job.
We desperately needed a leader that could see silver linings in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat.
There is a reason that our national motto is, "IN GOD WE TRUST." "
On This Day:
First Nobel Prizes awarded. Dec 10, 1901:
"The first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. In his will, Nobel directed that the bulk of his vast fortune be placed in a fund in which the interest would be "annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind." Although Nobel offered no public reason for his creation of the prizes, it is widely believed that he did so out of moral regret over the increasingly lethal uses of his inventions in war.
Alfred Bernhard Nobel was born in Stockholm in 1833, and four years later his family moved to Russia. His father ran a successful St. Petersburg factory that built explosive mines and other military equipment. Educated in Russia, Paris, and the United States, Alfred Nobel proved a brilliant chemist. When his father's business faltered after the end of the Crimean War, Nobel returned to Sweden and set up a laboratory to experiment with explosives. In 1863, he invented a way to control the detonation of nitroglycerin, a highly volatile liquid that had been recently discovered but was previously regarded as too dangerous for use. Two years later, Nobel invented the blasting cap, an improved detonator that inaugurated the modern use of high explosives. Previously, the most dependable explosive was black powder, a form of gunpowder.
Nitroglycerin remained dangerous, however, and in 1864 Nobel's nitroglycerin factory blew up, killing his younger brother and several other people. Searching for a safer explosive, Nobel discovered in 1867 that the combination of nitroglycerin and a porous substance called kieselguhr produced a highly explosive mixture that was much safer to handle and use. Nobel christened his invention "dynamite," for the Greek word dynamis, meaning "power." Securing patents on dynamite, Nobel acquired a fortune as humanity put his invention to use in construction and warfare.
In 1875, Nobel created a more powerful form of dynamite, blasting gelatin, and in 1887 introduced ballistite, a smokeless nitroglycerin powder. Around that time, one of Nobel's brothers died in France, and French newspapers printed obituaries in which they mistook him for Alfred. One headline read, "The merchant of death is dead." Alfred Nobel in fact had pacifist tendencies and in his later years apparently developed strong misgivings about the impact of his inventions on the world. After he died in San Remo, Italy, on December 10, 1896, the majority of his estate went toward the creation of prizes to be given annually in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The portion of his will establishing the Nobel Peace Prize read, "[one award shall be given] to the person who has done the most or best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Exactly five years after his death, the first Nobel awards were presented.
Today, the Nobel Prizes are regarded as the most prestigious awards in the world in their various fields. Notable winners have included Marie Curie, Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Nelson Mandela. Multiple leaders and organizations sometimes receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and multiple researchers often share the scientific awards for their joint discoveries. In 1968, a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science was established by the Swedish national bank, Sveriges Riksbank, and first awarded in 1969.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences decides the prizes in physics, chemistry, and economic science; the Swedish Royal Caroline Medico-Surgical Institute determines the physiology or medicine award; the Swedish Academy chooses literature; and a committee elected by the Norwegian parliament awards the peace prize. The Nobel Prizes are still presented annually on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death. In 2006, each Nobel Prize carried a cash prize of nearly $1,400,000 and recipients also received a gold medal, as is the tradition."
Red Cross is awarded Nobel Peace Prize. Dec 10, 1917:
"After three years of war, during which there had been no Nobel Peace Prize awarded, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awards the 1917 prize to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
From the outbreak of World War I, the Nobel Committee had decided not to award its annual peace prize, stating officially that there had been no worthy candidates nominated. In January 1917, however, Professor Louis Renault, a prominent lawyer, past winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (in 1906, for his role in the extension of the Geneva Convention to include maritime warfare), and current president of the French Red Cross, nominated the ICRC for that year s prize. Renault worked closely with the secretary of the Nobel committee, Ragnvald Moe, during the pre-nomination process. In addition, the government of Switzerland had separately nominated the ICRC, whose operatives were based in Geneva.
In their nominations, both Renault and the Swiss lauded the Red Cross for its establishment of the International Prisoner-of-War Agency, which worked to provide relief to soldiers captured by enemy forces and provide communication between the prisoners and their families. They also praised its efforts to transport wounded soldiers to their home countries via neutral Switzerland. Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers worked in Geneva and in the field during the war, directing inquiries to military commandants and hospital officials alike in order to find information about prisoners and the wounded and sending more than 800,000 communiquÉs to soldiers families by June 1917.
This was not the first time, nor the last, that the Red Cross would be honored by the Nobel Committee for its humanitarian work. Its founder, Henry Dunant of Switzerland, was awarded the first-ever peace prize in 1901; the Red Cross organization would go on to claim the prize twice more by the end of the century, in 1944 and 1963."
Ford builds its 1 millionth car. Dec 10, 1915:
"On December 10, 1915, the 1 millionth Ford car rolls off the assembly line at the River Rouge plant in Detroit.
At first, Henry Ford had built his cars like every other automaker did: one at a time. But his factories' efficiency and output steadily increased, and after he introduced the moving assembly line in 1913 the company's productivity soared. Ford was determined to build what he called "a motor car for the great multitude," and that's just what he did: By mass-producing just one kind of car--from 1908 on, that car was the Model T--Ford could take advantage of economies of scale that were unavailable to smaller carmakers and pass the savings on to his customers. Between 1908 and 1927, Ford sold more than 15 million Model Ts in all; they cost $850 at first (about $20,000 in today's dollars) but by the end of their run, Ford had managed to reduce the price to just $300 (about $3700 today).
No one paid much attention to the 1 million milestone. ("With twenty-five assembly plants...and with a big factory in Detroit assembling so many Ford cars a day," said The Ford Times, "we passed the million mark without knowing it.") The 10 millionth Ford, on the other hand, traveled back and forth from New York to San Francisco and from Los Angeles to Chicago in the summer of 1924, inspiring raucous celebrations everywhere it went. The company even made a movie of this goodwill tour, called "Fording the Lincoln Highway." Along with the 15 millionth Ford in 1927 came another milestone: the company's announcement that it was discontinuing its classic but no-longer–beloved Model T. Compared to that news, the release of the 20 millionth Ford was fairly dull: emblazoned with the words "TWENTY MILLIONTH" and the Ford logo on both sides and the top, that car went on a national barnstorming tour in 1931, then directly to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Revolutionary as it was at the time, Ford's early production rate was nothing compared to its modern-day output. In 2008, even in the midst of a global financial crisis, Ford produced nearly 6 million cars."
Treaty of Paris ends Spanish-American War. Dec 10, 1898:
"In France, the Treaty of Paris is signed, formally ending the Spanish-American War and granting the United States its first overseas empire.
The Spanish-American War had its origins in the rebellion against Spanish rule that began in Cuba in 1895. The repressive measures that Spain took to suppress the guerrilla war, such as herding Cuba's rural population into disease-ridden garrison towns, were graphically portrayed in U.S. newspapers and enflamed public opinion. In January 1898, violence in Havana led U.S. authorities to order the battleship USS Maine to the city's port to protect American citizens. On February 15, a massive explosion of unknown origin sank the Maine in Havana harbor, killing 260 of the 400 American crewmembers aboard. An official U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry ruled in March, without much evidence, that the ship was blown up by a mine, but it did not directly place the blame on Spain. Much of Congress and a majority of the American public expressed little doubt that Spain was responsible, however, and called for a declaration of war.
In April, the U.S. Congress prepared for war, adopting joint congressional resolutions demanding a Spanish withdrawal from Cuba and authorizing President William McKinley to use force. On April 23, President McKinley asked for 125,000 volunteers to fight against Spain. The next day, Spain issued a declaration of war. The United States declared war on April 25. On May 1, the U.S. Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey destroyed the Spanish Pacific fleet at Manila Bay in the first battle of the Spanish-American War. Dewey's decisive victory cleared the way for the U.S. occupation of Manila in August and the eventual transfer of the Philippines from Spanish to American control.
On the other side of the world, a Spanish fleet docked in Cuba's Santiago harbor in May after racing across the Atlantic from Spain. A superior U.S. naval force arrived soon after and blockaded the harbor entrance. In June, the U.S. Army Fifth Corps landed in Cuba with the aim of marching to Santiago and launching a coordinated land and sea assault on the Spanish stronghold. Included among the U.S. ground troops were the Theodore Roosevelt-led "Rough Riders," a collection of western cowboys and eastern blue bloods officially known as the First U.S. Voluntary Cavalry. On July 1, the Americans won the Battle of San Juan Hill, and the next day they began a siege of Santiago. On July 3, the Spanish fleet was destroyed off Santiago by U.S. warships under Admiral William Sampson, and on July 17 the Spanish surrendered the city--and thus Cuba--to the Americans. In Puerto Rico, Spanish forces likewise crumbled in the face of superior U.S. forces, and on August 12 an armistice was signed between Spain and the United States, ending the brief and one-sided conflict.
On December 10, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the Spanish-American War. The once-proud Spanish empire was virtually dissolved as the United States took over much of Spain's overseas holdings. Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded to the United States, the Philippines were bought for $20 million, and Cuba became a U.S. protectorate.
Philippine insurgents who fought against Spanish rule during the war immediately turned their guns against the new occupiers, and 10 times more U.S. troops died suppressing the Philippines than in defeating Spain."
Jay and I worked on plumbing the screen porch's plant sink. We also did some more to the storm door on Ray's utility room. Murphy's Law intervened, so neither job is finished yet, even though it was a much warmer day.