News, Some Old, Some New:
Purple Heart Soldier Pawns Medal To Pay For Christmas
"Many people head to the pawn shop during the holiday season, selling their valuables for cash to afford gifts for loved ones. But one man in Holland, Mich., loaned something priceless -- his Purple Heart.
In November, a serviceman on leave went to the A-Z Outlet in Holland, a pawn shop owned by Bryan VandenBosch, and sold one of his two Purple Hearts. He earned them after he was wounded while serving in Afghanistan, the Holland Sentinel reported.
"He was falling on hard times," VandenBosch told the Sentinel. "He said the same thing everybody else who comes in here says. He was short on funds."
Michele Belczak, an employee at Max Your Gold in Southfield, Mich., has seen customers selling valuables as they struggle to afford their holiday spending, projected to reach $646 for an average American family this year.
"It's going to hurt less to buy their kids Christmas presents, or Christmas is simply going to be better because they're going to have this extra money they didn't expect to have," she said.
Despite their service to the country, veterans struggle more than most. The veteran unemployment rate in Michigan is almost 30 percent, triple the state's overall unemployment rate and higher than that of any other state.
The Purple Heart award was established in 1932 and is awarded by the president to anyone wounded or killed while serving in the armed forces. It revived the Badge of Military Merit, created by President George Washington in 1782.
The serviceman who gave up his medal of merit remains anonymous. He declined an interview with the Sentinel.
VanderBosch, the pawn shop owner, said he would not sell the valuable military award, keeping it in case the serviceman returned to get his Purple Heart out of hock.
If you would like to volunteer or make a donation to support veterans this holiday season, consider the Charity Navigator's list of organizations that best assist our troops and veterans.
Reindeer: Was Rudolph Actually Female?
Caribou, aka Reindeer
"Each Christmas season we hear the stories of the eight tiny, flying reindeer that pull Santa’s sleigh all over the world in one night, not to mention the all the hoopla about Rudolph and his red nose. But what made Santa choose reindeer to help him accomplish this feat? Wouldn’t elephants, with their huge flappable ears, make a better choice? Besides the weight factor, what else makes reindeer the right choice for the jolly North Pole toymaker on his annual voyage?
Turns out reindeer (Rudolph included) are just about the perfect creatures for Santa’s needs. Read on to learn some of the secrets of the world’s most famous deer.
Are Reindeer for Real?
While Prancer and Dancer and the gang are the stuff of legend, reindeer are not. These large deer live in northerly climes, in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Arctic. In Eurasia (and the North Pole) they are called reindeer and in North America more commonly caribou, but they are all the same species. The wild herds of Alaska and Canada are known for their mass migrations, while large numbers of those in Eurasia are domesticated, raised for fur, meat, milk, and as work animals. Whether you call them reindeer or caribou, one thing is certain: they are physically well suited to pull a sleigh full of toys and a right jolly old elf." http://wild.enature.com/blog/reindeer-was
Holiday Cruelty: WSPA investigation exposes reindeer mistreatment
"A WSPA investigation has revealed that one of the holiday's most popular symbols -- the reindeer -- is being subjected to immense suffering in large-scale round-ups and slaughter in Sweden and Finland.
Recent WSPA video footage shows massive herds of reindeer being rounded up, transported and slaughtered for their meat in Sweden and Finland. Visuals from the investigation detail the reindeers' extreme suffering at every stage of the commercial process."
You can take action against this cruelty by visiting: http://e-activist.com/ea-campaign/clientcampaign.do?ea.client.id=24&ea.ca...
World News and Trends: Koran contest kids get guns, grenades.
"For the last three years a Somali radio station run by the al-Shabab militant Islamist group has held a knowledge and Koran-reciting contest for children ages 10 to 17 during the month of Ramadan.
The prizes in this year's contest? Assault rifles and live grenades!
The station, based near the capital, Mogadishu, awarded an AK-47 assault rifle and the equivalent of $700 to the first-place group. The second-place group received an AK-47 and the equivalent of $500, while those who placed third received two live hand grenades and $400.
The al-Shabab group is linked to al-Qaeda and was recently forced out of Mogadishu, though it still controls much of central and southern Somalia.
"Youths should use one hand for education and the other for a gun to defend Islam," said al-Shabab official Mukhtar Robow at the prize awards ceremony, held not far from Mogadishu. Pictures of the awards ceremony appeared on a website affiliated with the group.
Winners also received Islamic religious books. Prizes in previous years included a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and anti-tank mines. Somalia has been in the news in recent years due to the twin plagues of drought and piracy, with Muslim pirates preying on shipping and pleasure boats in the Indian Ocean." (Sources: BBC News, The Guardian [London].)From: http://www.ucg.org/news-and-prophecy/world-news-and-trends-koran-contest-kids-get-guns-grenades
December 15, 2011 - But will any major power ever completely withdraw from the Middle East? Bible Prophecy shows the answer.
Watch this BT Daily at http://www.ucg.org/beyond-today-daily/news-and-prophecy/america-pulls-out-iraq
Riots continue in the streets of Cairo leaving many dead.
Where is this rioting leading the nation and what are the implications for prophetic fulfillment in the Middle East?
The burning of The Institute of Egypt gives insight into our priorities.
December 20, 2011 - What would you try to save if your house was on fire?
Christmas: Why Are We Doing This?
"Have you ever stopped and found yourself asking why? Why are we doing this? Why are we spending all this money, even burdening ourselves with debt carrying over into the new year? Is Christmas even worth celebrating?"
He who does anything because it is the custom, makes no choice. ~ John Stuart Mill
How Christmas Grew:
"In view of centuries of criticism of the commercialization of Christmas, it is interesting to note that the holiday’s secular, not its religious, aspect, has been most responsible for its popularity. In the United States “retailers have come to count on yuletide sales for up to 50 percent of their annual profits.
The lure of proﬁt has proven so strong that, since the 1870s, merchants have vigorously promoted Christmas. Initially they even laid out their stores with more religious trappings, such as pipe organs, choirs and statues, than some churches could muster.
Convinced of the economic impact of Christmas, President Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving from Nov. 30 to Nov. 23 to add another week of shopping before Christmas.
Instead of worshiping the sun god, converts were told to worship the Son of God. The focus of the holiday subtly changed, but the traditional pagan customs and practices remained fundamentally unchanged. Old religious customs involving holly, ivy, mistletoe and evergreen trees were merely dressed up in Christian attire. We should keep in mind that Jesus Christ warns us to beware of things that masquerade as something they are not (Matthew 7:15)."
"In the context of modern America it is not the case that the marketplace has co-opted a Christian celebration; it is far more accurate and illuminating to recognize Christmas today as the religious expression of consumer capitalism."
December 25 - Was Jesus Really Born on Christmas?
The book of Luke gives us detailed information on how we can know the season that Christ was born.
Watch this BT Daily at http://www.ucg.org/beyond-today-daily/jesus-christ/december-25-was-jesus-real...
Dispelling Myths of Christ's Birth and Childhood - http://www.ucg.org/holidays-and-holy-days/dispelling-myths-christs-birth-and-...
On This Day.
Richard Trevithick introduces his "Puffing Devil",Dec 24, 1801:
"British inventor Richard Trevithick takes seven of his friends for a test ride on his "Puffing Devil," or "Puffer," the first steam-powered passenger vehicle, on this day in 1801. Unlike the steam engine pioneered by the Scotsman James Watt, Trevithick's used "strong steam"--that is, steam at a very high pressure (145 pounds per square inch, or psi, compared to the Watt engine's 5 psi, which enabled him to build an engine small enough to fit in his "Puffer" car. Trevithick's engines were undoubtedly more dangerous than Watt's, but they were also extremely versatile: They could be put to work in mines, on farms, in factories, on ships and in locomotives of all kinds.
Trevithick was born in 1771 in a mining village in Cornwall, England. He was a terrible student--his teachers thought he was a "disobedient, slow, obstinate, [and] spoiled boy" who would never amount to anything, and in fact he was basically illiterate his entire life--but he loved to tinker with tools and machines. In 1790, Trevithick went to work as a steam-engine repairman, first at the Wheal Treasury mine and then at the Ding Dong mine. In his off hours, he worked on an invention of his own: a steam locomotive that would be powerful enough to carry people and things but compact enough to be practical.
On Christmas Eve 1801, Trevithick's Puffer (so named because it puffed steam into the atmosphere) was ready at last. The machine had a pressure-operated piston connected to a cylindrical horizontal boiler and was large enough to seat all the onlookers who were eager to accompany Trevithick on his test run. (The car chugged steadily uphill, one of those passengers reported, "like a little bird...going faster than I could walk.") A few days later, however, the amazing Puffer was destroyed when it overheated and caught fire.
In 1804, at the Penydarren Ironworks in Wales, Trevithick built the first-ever steam locomotive to run along a track. It pulled five cars loaded with ten tons of iron and 70 ironworkers about nine miles, and chugging along at about five miles per hour. Unfortunately, it was also so heavy that it broke its rails and was retired after just three trips. In 1808, a similar locomotive--dubbed the "Catch-me-who-can"--hauled daredevil passengers in a circle around Torrington Square in London. (The rails eventually broke there, too.)
Trevithick died in poverty in 1833, but his inventions lived on. Without a doubt, he was one of the most important figures of the industrial age."
War of 1812 ends, Dec 24, 1814:
"The Treaty of Peace and Amity between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America is signed by British and American representatives at Ghent, Belgium, ending the War of 1812. By terms of the treaty, all conquered territory was to be returned, and commissions were planned to settle the boundary of the United States and Canada.
In June 1812, the United States declared war against Great Britain in reaction to three issues: the British economic blockade of France, the induction of thousands of neutral American seamen into the British Royal Navy against their will, and the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier. A faction of Congress, made up mostly of western and southern congressmen, had been advocating the declaration of war for several years. These "War Hawks," as they were known, hoped that war with Britain, which was preoccupied with its struggle against Napoleonic France, would result in U.S. territorial gains in Canada and British-protected Florida.
In the months following the U.S. declaration of war, American forces launched a three-point invasion of Canada, all of which were repulsed. At sea, however, the United States was more successful, and the USS Constitution and other American frigates won a series of victories over British warships. In 1813, American forces won several key victories in the Great Lakes region, but Britain regained control of the sea and blockaded the eastern seaboard.
In 1814, with the downfall of Napoleon, the British were able to allocate more military resources to the American war, and Washington, D.C., fell to the British in August. In Washington, British troops burned the White House, the Capitol, and other buildings in retaliation for the earlier burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. soldiers. The British soon retreated, however, and Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor withstood a massive British bombardment and inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the "Star-Spangled Banner."
On September 11, 1814, the tide of the war turned when Thomas Macdonough's American naval force won a decisive victory at the Battle of Plattsburg Bay on Lake Champlain. A large British army under Sir George Prevost was thus forced to abandon its invasion of the U.S. northeast and retreat to Canada. The American victory on Lake Champlain led to the conclusion of U.S.-British peace negotiations in Belgium, and on December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, ending the war. Although the treaty said nothing about two of the key issues that started the war--the rights of neutral U.S. vessels and the impressment of U.S. sailors--it did open up the Great Lakes region to American expansion and was hailed as a diplomatic victory in the United States.
News of the treaty took almost two months to cross the Atlantic, and British forces were not informed of the end of hostilities in time to end their drive against the mouth of the Mississippi River. On January 8, 1815, a large British army attacked New Orleans and was decimated by an inferior American force under General Andrew Jackson in the most spectacular U.S. victory of the war. The American public heard of the Battle of New Orleans and the Treaty of Ghent at approximately the same time, fostering a greater sentiment of self-confidence and shared identity throughout the young republic."
When Misty and I went to get Jay, I removed one more big program that she will never use, from Claudia's computer. They said that it was already running faster last night, so this should make it even better.
The Roku thing that she bought was not what it was cracked up to be, like most things on Home Shopping. It took their phone rep 2 hours to get it working, and then it only gave her 11 more channels on her TV. Mostly reality shows, which she wouldn't watch, anyway.
Then Jay and I worked here for a short while. The burn ban is over, so we lit the pile of pine needles. But they were damp so the fire mostly just smoldered. Jay was going to mow the grass for the last time this season to run the mower dry for storage. But gas started leaking out of the air filter. It's never done that before.
So I brought out my 'toy mower'. It is a little electric 12" cut, that I bought for $5 several years ago. I thought it would come in handy just to cut any straggly wisps off in the front yard. Well, for it's 'maiden voyage' here on this property, it cut down some tall dandelions, thick grass in the ditch and also trimmed up the back yard for Misty. There is no way it could be used for the whole place, but it made the place look neater. I like electric mowers, they are easy to start, but I had bigger ones than this one. They bite the dust when someone burns them up by using a too small gauge cord.
We had to get the compressor out to air up a tire on one of my utility trailers, so we could push the trailer back a bit. While the compressor was aired up, we took this old computer outside, opened it up, and carefully blew the dust out of it. I usually just vacuum it, but this way gets it cleaner. That's how they do it at the computer repair places, I have seen them do it.
It didn't rain, or get over 50 deg. all day.