Saturday, November 30, 2013

Turkey Gumbo. FBI’s Shopping Tips. Heart Attack Symptoms. Coal Plant Retirement. "Ghost Fishing". Toys R Us Got It Wrong! Unsafe At Any Speed. Brady Bill.


For "Summary Saturday":  News, some new, some old:

How to make Turkey Gumbo

"Yield:  4 servings


2 tablespoons
Butter or coconut oil

Okra is a main ingredient in all gumbos, and with good reason, its a natural soup thickener.½ pounds
Fresh or frozen okra 1" pcs.

2 cups
Chopped celery

1 medium
Onion, chopped

1 small
Sweet green, yellow or red pepper, chopped

Garlic cloves, minced

8 ounces
Can tomato paste

Ripe tomatoes peeled OR

16 oz can peeled tomatoes

2 cups

2 cups
Chopped cooked turkey

¾ teaspoon
Gumbo file powder

Cooked rice, preferably brown.


Melt the butter or coconut oil in a large skillet. Add the okra. Sauté until the okra loses its shiny appearance, about 5 minutes. Remove the okra pieces to a bowl. Add the celery, onion, green pepper, and garlic to the skillet.
Cook over medium heat until the onion is transparent. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, water, okra mixture, and turkey. Cook over low heat 10 minutes or until turkey is hot. Add the file powder. Stir to blend. Spoon over the rice in soup bowls. Or put rice on top with an ice cream scoop."

¼ recipe = 255 calories, 3 lean meat, 1 bread, 1 vegetable 19 grams carbohydrate, 25 grams protein, 10 grams fat, 176 mg sodium, 1102 mg potassium, 54 mg cholesterol.

From Me:  As I don't eat pork, this recipe doesn't have any sausage in it.  You can add some as you see fit.

FBI’s Online Holiday Shopping Tips

"The FBI reminds holiday shoppers to beware of cyber criminals who are out to steal money and personal information. Scammers use many techniques to defraud consumers, from phishing e-mails offering too good to be true deals on brand-name merchandise to offering quick cash to victims who will re-ship packages to additional destinations. Previously reported scams are still being executed today.

Bank transactions and correspondence from financial institutions should also be closely reviewed. Bank accounts can often serve as a target for criminals to initiate account takeovers or commit identity theft by creating new accounts in the victims’ name. Consumers should never click on a link embedded in an e-mail from their bank, but rather open a new webpage and manually enter the URL (web address), because phishing scams often start with phony e-mails that feature the bank’s name and logo."  More at:


If a Heart Attack Strikes, Will You Recognize the Symptoms?

"Do you know the symptoms of a heart attack? Would you call 9-1-1 if you or someone you were with was experiencing the warning signs?

Many people who suffer a heart attack either don’t recognize the signs or dismiss them. Although “It can’t be happening to me!” is a natural reaction, it’s in your best interest to play it safe and get checked out. To improve the odds of survival and of preserving heart muscle function, it is crucial to –

Recognize the symptoms, which are most typically described as a pressure or squeezing central chest discomfort; however, heart attack patients have also described pain in the upper arm, across the back, up into the neck and jaw. Others have described it as heartburn, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.

image Women’s symptoms may be different, and could include sudden onset of weakness; shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting; indigestion; fatigue; and an overall feeling of illness; mild discomfort in the back, chest, arm, neck, or jaw; or sleep disturbance. Don’t forget - not all patients who have a heart attack experience chest pain.

Call 9-1-1 so emergency responders can run an ECG before arriving at the hospital. The ambulance can send the results to the hospital. Based on the findings, they may alert an interventional cardiologist to be standing by. Can you do that driving in your car?"  More at:


If You're Stricken, Minutes Matter, Yet Many Ignore Signs, Delay Treatment

"Ron Winslow on Lunch Break looks at how to prevent a heart attack, and Melinda Beck discusses symptoms to look out for and what to do while waiting for paramedics. Photo: Getty Images.

The advice sounds very simple. The best way to survive a heart attack is:

1. Recognize the symptoms.

2. Call 911.

3. Chew an aspirin while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.

But every year, 133,000 Americans die of heart attacks, and another 300,000 die of sudden cardiac arrest—largely because they didn't get help in time.

Of all the efforts to combat cardiovascular disease in the U.S., "this is our Achilles' heel, and it's the area where we've made the least progress," says Ralph Brindis, a past president of the American College of Cardiology.

Heart-attack sufferers fare best when they get to the hospital within one hour after symptoms start. But on average, it takes two to four hours for patients to arrive, and some wait days before seeking medical care. Reasons range from confusion to denial to fear of looking silly if they aren't having a health crisis after all."  More and stories at:


Tennessee Valley Authority Makes Major Coal Plant Retirement Announcement

image "At a board meeting in Oxford, Mississippi the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors voted to retire units at three of its coal plants. This will affect coal-burning units at the Colbert and Widows Creek plants in Alabama and the Paradise plant in Kentucky. Today’s announcement by TVA made clear that, as one of the largest utilities in the country, it is ready to back away even further from the use of dirty, outdated coal for electricity.

TVA’s commitment to retire units at three coal plants will protect customers from rising energy bills as coal prices increase, and protect families from the health threats posed by coal pollution. According to the Clean Air Task Force, pollution from the Colbert coal plant in Alabama alone contributed to 940 asthma attacks, 83 heart attacks, and 57 deaths per year."  More at:


Most People Have Never Heard About The Dangers of "Ghost Fishing"

image "“Ghost fishing” is a term that describes what happens when lost or abandoned fishing nets and other gear are left behind in the ocean. The nets trap fish, kill marine mammals, smother habitat and pose navigation hazards.

According to the NOAA’s National Ocean Service, this derelict fishing gear is one of the primary types of debris impacting our marine environment today.

image Fortunately, a global network of volunteer divers has taken on the challenge of trying to clean up the mess left behind by abandoned fishing nets and other gear. The work is extremely difficult, often frustrating, and always dangerous, and should be attempted by only the most highly skilled divers.

imageOne group of volunteers from the Los Angeles area is pushing for a state law that would require fishing boats to report lost nets immediately. The sooner abandoned nets are recovered, the less impact they have on the ocean environment and its inhabitants.

Each of us can do our part to help preserve marine ecosystems by learning about the issues facing the ocean and its inhabitants, and by being conscious consumers and responsible advocates."  More at:


Batteries Not Included: Why Toys R Us Got It Wrong

"Play is the work of childhood. It’s so vital and fulfilling an activity that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has recognized the right of every child to play—it’s that essential to the healthy development of young people everywhere.

One other thing about play: For all but the most recent sliver of human history, play was an unstructured activity that took place outdoors. Nature, in a very real sense, was the playground that informed our development—mind, body, and spirit.

To many of us, this might seem like good old-fashioned common sense. Yet, in the United States, we have been witnessing the slow, steady migration of our children to the indoors, where green time has been replaced by screen time, and where the epidemic of childhood obesity has grown for decades.

All of which is why I take issue with the recent ad campaign from retailer Toys R Us, which depicts a group of school children, ostensibly being taken on a field trip to the forest by a ranger-like figure, suddenly becoming frenzied with delight when they learn that their field trip is actually going to the store where they each will receive the toy of their choosing. It is, the ad informs us, where you can “make all their wishes come true.”

It’s tempting to suggest that one might wish for more than a wonderland of plastic and licensed characters, but I have no complaint with toys themselves. What child wouldn’t enjoy playing with them for a while? Rather, I object to the trite, ham-handed, and erroneous characterization of nature as boring to children. It might work well within that fantasy world of marketing, but it’s simply not borne out by the facts of the real world.

Children who climb trees, make mud pies, explore streams, stare at clouds, collect leaves, make swords of sticks, wish on dandelions, build forts and fairy houses—these children are exercising their bodies as they exercise their imaginations, with no batteries required, and are immeasurably the richer for it."  More at:


On This Day:

Unsafe at Any Speed hits bookstores, Nov 30, 1965:

"On this day in 1965, 32-year-old lawyer Ralph Nader publishes the muckraking book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile. The book became a best-seller right away. It also prompted the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, seat-belt laws in 49 states (all but New Hampshire) and a number of other road-safety initiatives.

Today, seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes and other innovations are standard features in almost every new car."


Brady Bill signed into law, Nov 30, 1993:

"During a White House ceremony attended by James S. Brady, President Bill Clinton signs the Brady handgun-control bill into law. The law requires a prospective handgun buyer to wait five business days while the authorities check on his or her background, during which time the sale is approved or prohibited based on an established set of criteria.

In 1981, James Brady, who served as press secretary for President Ronald Reagan, was shot in the head by John Hinckley, Jr., during an attempt on President Reagan's life outside a hotel in Washington, D.C. Reagan himself was shot in his left lung but recovered and returned to the White House within two weeks. Brady, the most seriously injured in the attack, was momentarily pronounced dead at the hospital but survived and began an impressive recovery from his debilitating brain injury.

During the 1980s, Brady became a leading proponent of gun-control legislation and in 1987 succeeded in getting a bill introduced into Congress. The Brady Bill, as it became known, was staunchly opposed by many congressmen, who, in reference to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, questioned the constitutionality of regulating the ownership of arms. In 1993, with the support of President Bill Clinton, an advocate of gun control, the Brady Bill became law."



DSCF0016 A quiet day at home, tending to some chores, and trying to figure out how to get a bird out of my screen porch.   I put out some food and water for it, and eventually it found it's own way out.  As soon as it warms up we will get the two top triangles screened in.

This new LG heat/air conditioner is so stupid, the fan doesn't go off when the desired heat temperature is reached.  It was blowing cold air on me most of the time, and I could even feel it all the way in the kitchen.  Furnaces don't work like that, so why would the manufacturer make it that way?  So I searched for alternative brands.  I know my old Whirlpool Heat/Air had an 'Energy Saver' setting for Heat and Air, and the fan would go off until it was needed again.  Alas, Whirlpool doesn't made them anymore.  

It did warm up to the sunny 60's, but the damage was done, that cold air blowing on me really affected me, and I started coughing and sniffling.  I had to shut the heat/air off and use space heaters.  I felt like I was chilled to the marrow in my bones, and couldn't get warm all day.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Guide to Weight Loss. Portion Control. Thanksgiving Dinner. Avoid the Obesity Epidemic. Sand Creek Massacre. Coffee Rationed.


For "Foodie Friday":

Carbohydrate Density: A Better Guide to Weight Loss

"On its surface, the cause of the Western world's obesity epidemic seems simple: People are eating too many calories and getting too little calorie-burning exercise; the imbalance manifests as excess fat.

But this explanation is too simple. Even low-calorie diets and vigorous exercise fail to work in the long term for at least some people.

Here's why: Exercise, while vital to good health, is a poor exclusive means of weight control. Excess exercise tends to be counterbalanced by excess hunger, exemplified by the phrase "working up an appetite." A few people with extraordinary willpower can resist such hunger day after day, but for the vast majority, weight loss through exercise is a flawed option.

Meanwhile, simply cutting back on total calories is fraught with peril as well. An excellent study by Harvard University researchers confirms that the kinds of foods one eats -- rather than total calories per se -- is the most important indicator of whether a given eating pattern leads to weight gain or loss.

So what's the best way of eating to manage weight? Fortunately, some answers are emerging.

Increasingly, chronic, inappropriate inflammation is widely recognized as a driver of obesity. Inflammation in the body is a normal and healthy response to injury or attack by germs. We can see it, feel it and measure it on the surface as local heat, redness, swelling, and pain. This is the body's way of getting more nourishment and more immune activity into an area that needs to fend off infection or heal. But whole-body, elevated inflammation -- as evidenced by increased levels of certain protein markers in the blood -- has actually been shown to predict future weight gain in a study of non-diabetic healthy men. Inflammation, in short, helps make you fat.

Obesity, in turn, promotes chronically elevated inflammation. As this Harvard review article puts it, "A chronic, subacute state of inflammation often accompanies the accumulation of excess lipid in adipose tissue and liver (hepatic steatosis), evidenced by changes in both inflammatory cells and biochemical markers of inflammation."

In other words, obesity and inflammation feed each other in a destructive cycle. This may help explain why weight, once gained, can be so difficult to lose."  More at:

"The obesity solution is straightforward. I'll discuss that, and list specific high- and low-density carbohydrate foods, in "Using the Carbohydrate Density Index." More at:


Portion Control

"Focus on eating more slowly to give yourself time to tune in to your body’s hunger and satiety. It takes 20 minutes to half an hour for your brain to receive the message that your stomach is full, so take your time.

When you are no longer feeling hungry but still want to eat, think about why. Are you bored? Find something else to keep you busy. Are you upset? Call a friend and vent. Are you stressed or anxious? Turn on some music or go for a brisk walk to relax and de-stress. Don’t try to fix your problems with food.

Keep your portions down by following these basic tips:

  • image Use a smaller plate. As simple as this sounds, it works. Studies have shown that people eat more when there’s more on their plate, regardless of how hungry they feel. So put less on your plate but trick your eyes into thinking you’re eating more by using a smaller plate. One cup of food on a small plate looks like more than the same cup of food on a large plate.
  • Never eat directly from a container, bag, or box. It’s so hard to keep track of how much you're eating when you’re just reaching in and stuffing food in your mouth. Before you know it, the bag is gone. Instead, serve yourself one portion on a plate or in a bowl, put away the rest, and only then sit down to eat.
  • Measure, measure, measure! Keep that measuring cup or spoon handy, and measure out your cereal into a bowl, your rice onto your plate, your tuna salad, your potato chips, your strawberries — everything." 

More at:


Thanksgiving Dinner

"Everyone knows Thanksgiving dinner is loaded with carbs, calories, and fat. But how much sugar is on your plate? Pumpkin pie and candied yams are obvious culprits, but you'd be surprised where else sugar shows up.

Thanksgiving Meal



Turkey Breast, 4 oz.


Sweet Potato Casserole

Dinner Roll

1/2 Tbsp Butter

Cranberry Sauce (canned)

Green Beans

Mashed Potatoes

Pumpkin Pie  w/ Whipped Cream

105g   (Calories from sugar:  420)"

More at:


The Obesity Epidemic: Fight Back Today with God's Help!

Bathroom scalles

"Obesity.  Every time I see this in the news, I think "What an ugly word!"  For anyone who is overweight or has reached the state of obesity, that state is nothing but uncomfortable. Nobody likes it. The condition often carries a social stigma. 

Why am I interested in this and writing about it? I have personally experienced the challenge of gaining weight and then struggling to lose it for much of my life. With God's help, I have dropped 50 pounds sensibly—but this time I have maintained this loss for the better part of a year. For me, it's presently a great feeling of relief and freedom!

But I know firsthand what it feels like when you're trying to lose weight and it's not working. It hurts. It's an emotional burden. It's discouraging. What can I say to readers who know someone who is overweight or are themselves facing this major challenge?

Consider this: to achieve healthy weight loss and sustain it, it's going to take a commitment. And to be truly successful, it's going to take direct help from God Himself. I know that for a fact. I've experienced it. There is hope!

If someone tells you "Just use more will power to lose weight," they don't understand the true nature of the condition."  More at:


How to Avoid the Obesity Epidemic

"An increasing number of Americans are becoming overweight, which can lead to many serious health problems, even premature death. Here's how to escape the epidemic.

As we continue to modernize our lifestyles — riding instead of walking, working in a cubicle instead of in a field, playing iPods instead of sports — more people are becoming overweight and, worse, obese. In fact, there are so many overweight and obese people that some public health officials now call it an epidemic, particularly because of the many resulting health problems.

Obesity: A Worldwide Problem

Around the world, more than one billion adults are overweight and about 300 million of them are obese. In the United States, 66 percent of all adults are overweight and, of those, 32 percent are obese.

Obesity levels in Japan and some African nations are below 5 percent, but they’re rising. Obesity rates in China overall are not high, but in some of that country’s larger cities, rates are up 20 percent.

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, too. The number of overweight children in the United States has doubled since 1980, and for teens, it's tripled. And the problem with children is now a global issue as well.

Obesity: Why It’s Happening

Although your genes play a role in your body weight, there are other factors involved. In many places around the world, particularly the United States, we have plenty of nutrient-rich food to eat and easy access to fattening fast foods and sweets. Also, because of our modern lifestyles, we are not as active as we once were. The end result: We're eating more calories than we can burn.

Obesity: How It Differs From Being Overweight

Obesity and overweight are terms used to describe a level of excess weight that's considered unhealthy for your body size. One way to determine if you are overweight or obese is to figure out your body mass index (BMI), a calculation you make by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters (kg/m2). Don’t worry — you don't have to do the math; you can find BMI calculators online."  More at:


On This Day:

Colorado militia massacre Cheyenne at Sand Creek, Nov 29, 1864:

"Colonel John Chivington and his Colorado volunteers massacre a peaceful village of Cheyenne camped near Sand Creek in Colorado Territory, setting off a long series of bloody retaliatory attacks by Indians.

Chivington, a former Methodist preacher with ambitions to become a territorial delegate to Congress, saw in the Indian wars an opportunity to gain the esteem he would need to win a government office. Disappointed that the spring of 1864 failed to produce any major battles, Chivington apparently determined to burn villages and kill Cheyenne whenever and wherever he could, making little distinction between peaceful or aggressive bands. Angered by frequent Indian attacks on settlers and the theft of their horses and cattle, many Colorado settlers supported Chivington's methods, and a number of men volunteered to join his forces on hundred-day enlistments, forming the 3rd Colorado Volunteers.

Fearing that U.S. troops might mistakenly identify his band of peaceful Cheyenne as having participated in the attacks on settlers, Chief Black Kettle traveled to Denver under escort of U.S. Army Major Edward Wynkoop to affirm his non-hostile intentions. Chivington and the territorial governor of Colorado clearly did not want peace, yet they could not openly reject the overtures of Black Kettle.

Believing that he had a promise of safety if he brought his people into Fort Lyon, Black Kettle lead the band of Cheyenne to a spot designated by Major Wynkoop near the fort along a small stream known as Sand Creek. The tribe flew an American flag and a white flag at the camp to indicate their alliance with the U.S. and alert all to their generally peaceful intentions.

Determined to have his glorious battle, Chivington refused to recognize that Black Kettle's settlement was peaceful. At daybreak, Chivington and his 700 volunteers, many of them drunk, attacked the sleeping village at Sand Creek. Most of the Cheyenne men were away hunting, so the women, children, and elders were largely defenseless. In the frenzied slaughter that followed, Chivington and his men killed more than 100 women and children and 28 men. Black Kettle escaped the attack. The soldiers scalped and mutilated the corpses, hacking off body parts that included male and female genitals, and then returned to Denver where they displayed the scalps to approving crowds during intermission at a downtown theatre.

Because of Chivington's depraved slaughter, the central plains exploded with retaliatory attacks from Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapaho Indians. Fortunately, not everyone applauded Chivington's behavior--many Americans, particularly in the east, strongly condemned Chivington's attack and the barbaric mutilations. Subsequent congressional and military investigations denounced Chivington, but claimed they could not punish him because he had resigned from the army and was no longer under military jurisdiction. Nonetheless, Chivington spent the rest of his life trying to escape the stigma of his deplorable behavior at Sand Creek."


Coffee rationing begins, Nov 29, 1942:

"On this day in 1942, coffee joins the list of items rationed in the United States. Despite record coffee production in Latin American countries, the growing demand for the bean from both military and civilian sources, and the demands placed on shipping, which was needed for other purposes, required the limiting of its availability.

Scarcity or shortages were rarely the reason for rationing during the war. Rationing was generally employed for two reasons: (1) to guarantee a fair distribution of resources and foodstuffs to all citizens; and (2) to give priority to military use for certain raw materials, given the present emergency.

At first, limiting the use of certain products was voluntary. For example, President Roosevelt launched "scrap drives" to scare up throwaway rubber-old garden hoses, tires, bathing caps, etc.--in light of the Japanese capture of the Dutch East Indies, a source of rubber for the United States. Collections were then redeemed at gas stations for a penny a pound. Patriotism and the desire to aid the war effort were enough in the early days of the war.

But as U.S. shipping, including oil tankers, became increasingly vulnerable to German U-boat attacks, gas became the first resource to be rationed. Starting in May 1942, in 17 eastern states, car owners were restricted to three gallons of gas a week. By the end of the year, gas rationing extended to the rest of the country, requiring drivers to paste ration stamps onto the windshields of their cars. Butter was another item rationed, as supplies were reserved for military breakfasts.

Along with coffee, the sugar and milk that went with it were also limited. All together, about one-third of all food commonly consumed by civilians was rationed at one time or another during the war. The black market, an underground source of rationed goods at prices higher than the ceilings set by the Office of Price Administration, was a supply source for those Americans with the disposable incomes needed to pay the inflated prices.

Some items came off the rationing list early; coffee was released as early as July 1943, but sugar was rationed until June 1947."



Claudia, Jay, their neighbor, and I, were supposed to go to Claudia's daughter's house for Thanksgiving, but so many people were sick with some kind of crud that it was cancelled.  Claudia was feeling so bad that she could hardly crawl out of bed.  She said that Jay stayed in bed all day, too. 

That gave me time to catch up on some blogs, and laundry.  There, in the dryer, was a forgotten previously dried load of clothes, and it had several tank tops in it, whereas now, I am washing t-shirts, turtlenecks, and sweaters!  It didn't take long for the weather to change.

DSCF0018 Shay and Ray invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with them.  Her sister, their son, and his friend were there, too.  A good time, and food, was had by all.  I brought a little bit of turkey home for Misty, as I usually let her have a little bit of whatever I eat.

Even though it was cold, the sun was bright.  When it was setting, I was glad we had put that mini-blind on the screen porch to cut out the glare.

It's 29° right now, but expected to be sunny, and go to 61° today.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gratitude. Biblical Roots of Thanksgiving. Decorate Naturally. RV Museum. Winter RVing. Workamping. RV Security Camera. No Spill Ice Tray. Duryea Wins First Car Race.


For "tRaVersing  Thursday", or RV Day, which today  is also Thanksgiving Day:

Peace of Mind through Gratitude

A man sitting on the ground holding an old Bible.

"In today's anxiety-soaked world, real peace of mind represents a priceless commodity for many. When we're bone-tired at night, turbulent thoughts may erupt just as we lay our head on our pillow, robbing us of much-needed sleep. During the day our productivity may suffer from too much stress. How can we achieve a state of mind that provides us with mental and emotional peace?

It is possible! Allow me to relate a personal story about how I found spiritual contentment and real peace of mind.

"Back in 1992 I visited my friends in the Ukraine shortly after that country became independent of the USSR. The country was in a bad way economically—in spite of its newly found freedom. Inflation was rampant as were shortages in basic necessities, namely food and fuel.

I was there in the Ukraine on one of my visits to work with people who held the same biblical beliefs as I did. Coming from America, I found it very intriguing that so much of what we believed was exactly the same, most notably the keeping of a Saturday Sabbath.

One insight that the Ukrainian Sabbatarians related to me was: "We hope to learn from you, but we also hope that you can learn from us."

I did! I learned a lot from them over many years of visits. On this particular visit I learned more about the critical virtue of thankfulness and gratitude.

We had to get around by car between two towns with populations of 40,000 people and 5,000.  Fuel was in short supply, and we could only get only about two liters a day (about half a gallon). It was brought to us by 10:00 a.m. each morning in bottles. This gave us a range of about 15 miles of travel a day, with the gas gauge always showing "empty."

Staple food was in short supply. Bread was rationed. The family I was staying with asked if I'd help them out by standing in line for the weekly bread delivery. If I stood in the bread line they could get a little more for their family's weekly needs.

It was a surreal experience for me. Wasn't this the late 20th century? I had only seen this in documentaries. But I did it. I stood on the street with everyone else with money in my hand. The bread truck arrived, and the back end was opened. People pushed their way up to the truck where unwrapped loaves of bread were stacked in a large pile. Everyone was allowed two loaves. When I got pushed from behind to the back end of the truck, one of the distributors shoved two loaves at me, grabbed my money and pushed me out of the way to "serve" the next customer. I'll never forget that experience.

Another family invited me for lunch. All that was served were fried potatoes. Nothing else. They were not ashamed. We were so happy to be with one another that the meager variety was hardly noticed. For dessert we stepped outside, and the lady of the house cut off a clump of grapes from the overhanging arbor. We enjoyed the Transcarpathian treat together.

As the week came to an end the family I stayed with practiced a tradition of kneeling in a circle at sunset and all praying separately, thanking God for all that they had. Compared to where I had traveled from, these people had almost nothing from a material sense. Yet it was clear that they were spiritually rich!

I was moved to tears as I realized how hard things were for these people suffering with these essential shortages. Yet with cheerfulness and sincerity they thanked God for the good things of the past week. They thanked God for freedom, faith, family, children, health and much more."

I couldn't get over how many things become important to be grateful for when the physical things that we take for granted are not available. I felt inadequate in my praise of God because I have never gone unintentionally hungry. I have always had enough gasoline in my car to drive to wherever I wanted to. I didn't give as much thought and show as much appreciation as they did for the many things that money doesn't buy.

What an example and what a lesson! I realized that wealth and plenty doesn't produce an automatic attitude of gratitude. In these impoverished people there was a built-in peace of mind by being grateful for what they already had.

In Philippians 4:6-7 we are given this lesson:  "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus"

For 2013 Canada has already celebrated its national holiday of Thanksgiving. Americans will do so today."  From:


Is Thanksgiving Rooted in a Biblical Festival?

"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.

Is Thanksgiving Rooted in a Biblical Festival?

Did you know that the first Thanksgiving in the United States has some strong similarities to the biblical Feast of Tabernacles? Although the pilgrims did not consciously observe this biblical feast, it is interesting to study the parallels between these two celebrations that share the common spirit of thanksgiving to God.

Both were celebrated in the autumn in the northern hemisphere, and both were a time for giving thanks to God for the blessings of the harvest season. Although forgotten by many, the American Pilgrims were a deeply religious people whose heritage was strictly founded on the Bible, both Old and New Testament.

Why did the Pilgrims have this strong attraction to the Hebrew Scriptures? Is it a coincidence that the Pilgrims were the first successful colony in New England and were able to set their stamp on American culture and religion? Let's explore these questions and see what history reveals.

Few realize how solemnly and literally the Pilgrims took the Bible. Jewish sources in particular continue to note, although recognizing there is not a direct link between the two, the striking resemblance of the Thanksgiving celebration to the Feast of Tabernacles, which Scripture also calls the Feast of Ingathering.

Here is one typical opinion: "Sukkot, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, celebrates the autumn harvest; a similarity to the Thanksgiving holiday observed in the United States which is not coincidental. Prior to making their way to the New World, the Pilgrims, themselves the victims of religious persecution, spent several years among Sephardic Jews in Holland. When they later celebrated the legendary first Thanksgiving, their conscious frame of reference was Sukkot" ("Sukkot ,"

English Harvest Home festival

Now it's true that the Harvest Home festival was celebrated in England at that time, but among the Pilgrims there was a general rejection of observing these English fall celebrations tainted by pagan traditions.

The Harvest Home was a holiday, but here was sufficient taint of idol worship and evidence of licentious behavior in the old English Harvest Home for Puritans to reject the custom summarily. They recoiled from these remnants of the pagan customs that predated Christianity in England, but memories of the harvest feast lingered all the same.

"The Puritans' shunning of the ancient Harvest Home left a void in the New England year that might not have been problematic had a similar attitude not been extended to other holidays. But the Puritans had disapproved of so many causes for celebration that a holiday vacuum existed in the young colonies. 'All Saint's Day' had been swept off the calendar along with Christmas and Easter, on the grounds that these mixed 'popish' ritual with pagan custom.

Biblical connection of Thanksgiving

So it seems the Pilgrims didn't base their Thanksgiving celebration on English feasts, which when linked with pagan customs were generally shunned by them. Where then did they get their inspiration for Thanksgiving? Could it have a biblical foundation?

Notice what David Stern says about the Feast of Tabernacles in The Jewish New Testament Commentary: "Families build booths of palm branches, partly open to the sky, to recall God's providence toward Israel during the forty years of wandering in the desert and living in tents.

"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 Sukkot [the Hebrew name for the Feast of Tabernacles])" (1996, comment on John 7:2).

This connection is not well known among most secular U.S. historians, but the Jews, who also arrived very early at the New England colonies, have kept track of this historical parallel.

"As Leviticus 23 teaches," explains Barney Kasdan, "Sukkot was to be a time of bringing in the latter harvest. It is, in other words, the Jewish 'Thanksgiving.' In fact, it is widely believed that the Puritan settlers, who were great students of the Hebrew Scriptures, based the first American Thanksgiving on Sukkot" (God's Appointed Times, 1993, p. 92).

Though it's a uniquely American tradition," adds a Jewish Web site, "the roots of Thanksgiving go back to ancient Israel. In a real sense, the Jews invented Thanksgiving. I count 28 references to the word thanksgiving in the King James Bible—all but six in the Old Testament. For the ancient children of Israel, thanksgiving was a time of feasting and fasting, of praising God, of singing songs. It was a rich celebration—and still is for observant Jews today."  More at:


Decorate for Thanksgiving, Naturally




"Turn a nature scavenger hunt  into something to remember. Use materials kids find in your backyard or nearby park to decorate a table or room for the season!    Bring the outdoors in this Thanksgiving."   More at:


1937 Elkhart Traveler

image "Welcome to the Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum. The Sisemore’s began restoring and collecting unusual vintage RV’s over 25 years ago. They have built a museum that houses many of the RV’s in their collection.

imageThese include the Flxible Bus from the Movie RV, the 1st Itasca motor home ever built. The oldest  Fleetwood in existence and many other RV’s from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The museum is free to the public and is open Monday – Saturday 9-5. Step back in time, reminisce and enjoy the progression of the RV industry from its inception till now."  More at:


HOW TO: RV in the Winter

"We show you all the steps we're taking to winter in our motorhome. We'll demonstrate how to keep the water hose from freezing and how to keep ourselves warm too. We'll cover water hose insulation, heat tape, the differences between all five sources of heat we have available, moisture & humidity control, and even pest control."


How Am I Compensated Or Paid As A Workamper?

"A frequently asked question - How Am I Compensated Or Paid As A Workamper? Workamper News is here to help answer all of your questions about working while RV camping (aka Workamping)."


Would I Be Comfortable Living In An RV With A Partner?

"Steve Anderson poses a question you should be asking yourself when considering Fulltiming or Workamping.  - Would I Be Happy Living In An RV with A Partner? Take some time to consider this question before jumping into the Workamping lifestyle."


Fake Out Criminals with a FAKE Security Camera

"Many of us store our RVs and other valuables in private locations. A little extra security never hurt anyone. One of the more clever and cost effective security investments these days is a fake security camera ( These are available for less than $10 and offer a lot of bang for the buck.

This bad boy looks mean in black.  (Click the pic for more info.)

This bad boy looks mean in black.

A fake security camera is exactly what you think: it’s a dummy security camera that can be mounted just about anywhere you please. It’s realistic in appearance – at first glance there’s no way to tell it is fake. Many models even include a flashing red light for extra realism.

Many models include a flashing red light for extra realism.

Many models include a flashing red light for extra realism.

Fake security cameras are kind of like scarecrows for thugs. Upon spotting one of these cameras, many people who are “up to no good” will simply move on to easier targets.

For best results, post a "WARNING" sign. Make sure you get one that's constructed of a durable material. (Click the link to browse signs.)For an even more convincing effect, combine one of these fake cameras with a video surveillance warning notice sign.

For best results, post a "WARNING" sign. Make sure you get one that's constructed of a durable material.  Posting a “warning” sign next to the camera really enhances the message. Most criminals are not going to take chances once they realize they may be captured on video." by C.S. (Sean) Michael.


A Better Way to MAKE ICE

TRIVIA QUESTION: “Ice is civilization!” What movie includes this famous quote?* (Answer at the end of the article.) Yes, since ice is civilization, we use an OXO No Spill Ice Tray (

NO SPILL: You can even stack these trays at an angle! (Click the pic for more info.)

NO SPILL: You can even stack these trays at an angle!

Alas, our RV freezer lacks an ice maker. We are reliant on ice cube trays to make ice. There’s only one problem with ordinary ice cube trays: spillage! 

It’s bad enough when we are parked. But suppose we are traveling down the road and we’ve got loose water sloshing around in our freezer? That’s not a good scenario.

The OXO No Spill Tray is brilliant. It’s a thoughtfully designed ice cube tray that comes equipped with a soft silicone lid. The easy-to-use silicone lid seals the water inside the tray. Obviously the lid prevents the water from spilling, which is great for RV travel.

But wait! There’s more…

The OXO No Spill design allows you to easily stack two or more trays in a small space. You can even stack the trays at an angle! This makes the most out of a small RV freezer such as our own."  More at:


On This Day:

Duryea Motor Wagon wins first car race in U.S., Nov 28, 1895:

image "On this Thanksgiving Day in 1895, piloting a gas-powered "horseless carriage" of his and his brother's own design, the mechanic, inventor and now racecar driver Frank Duryea wins the first motor-car race in the United States. The race, sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald, was intended to drum up publicity for the nascent American car industry. It worked, especially for the Duryeas: In the year after the Times-Herald race, the brothers sold 13 of their eponymous Motor Wagons, more than any other carmaker in America.

The race course was originally supposed to loop from Chicago to Waukegan, Illinois, and back (a harrowing 92 miles) but, thanks to the sudden arrival of a spectacular blizzard, race organizers decided to abbreviate the route. ("With eight inches of snow," one journalist wrote later, "Waukegan might as well have been Timbuktu.") The racers would be driving just 50 miles, from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois, and back again. The other rules would remain the same: Vehicles had to have at least three wheels, all wrapped in twine to give traction in the snow, and they also had to be able to carry at least two people, the driver and a race-appointed umpire who would ride along to guard against cheating.

Because of the bad weather, only six of 89 racers made it to the starting line: the Duryea; three Benz cars, one sponsored by Macy's in New York; and two electrics whose batteries died almost immediately after the race began.

About 10 hours after the race began, the Duryea chugged across the finish line. The only other finisher was one of the Benzes (not the one from Macy's: that one collided with a streetcar on the way to Evanston and with a sleigh and then a hack on the return trip), which sloshed to a finish almost two hours later. The victorious Duryeas won $2,000 and enough publicity to establish themselves as the American motor-car company. From then on, for the Duryeas and all who followed, automobile manufacturing was a business—not just a hobby."



It was windy and cold, so Ray and I wanted to do things away from the north wind first, while waiting for it to warm up a bit.  Again, we went up to my attic and looked for another mini-blind for the screen porch.  The one that was there had some broken fins, and needed to be thrown away.  We found one that was just the right size and hung it up there.  Then we unhooked the water hoses, drained all the water out of them, put them up, and shut off the water to all the outside faucets, and the sink on the screen porch.  They are on a separate shut-off from the house.

When we went to plug in the little shed, we couldn't get any power, so we had to put a new end on the cord.  There is a lot of paint and caulk stored in there, which must not freeze, and two 100 watt light bulbs seem to do the job. 

By that time, the sun was shining, which always makes it seem warmer, so we put the soffit vent covers on the north side of the house.  That stops the cold north wind from getting in the first room in my attic, where the water pipes and water heater are located.  There are other vents for the attic to 'breathe'.

Then we had trouble with the back yard gate closing properly, and tried to fix that.  But it really needs a new gate.  In a few days, Mindi's dogs are coming to stay for a few days, so it will have to be fixed before then. 

Just as we were finishing that, Jay called and wanted me to take him into town to get a flat fixed on his ATV.  He took the wheel off here, and on the way to town we stopped at the motorcycle repair place to see how they were coming with his other ATV, and they fixed the tire there.  His mother had asked us to pick up some grits, so we still had to go all the way into our town.  Jay bought another kind of momentary switch for his ATV, but we couldn't find the type of grits that she wanted. 

I was still in my 'work' clothes, but we ate at a nice Mexican restaurant, and then came back here.  Jay put the wheel back on his ATV, and went to the store around the corner for gas, but came back with beer, too.  All his talk during lunch about quitting drinking, was forgotten yesterday!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Brown-headed Nuthatch. Why Conserve Birds? Safer Windows. Wind Energy Fines. Real Life Pokemon. First Crusade. First Face Transplant.


For "Winged Wednesday":

Brown-headed Nuthatch, Tiny Tool-user of the Southeast Forests:

Brown-headed Nuthatch by Bill Hubick

"Although tool use is rare among birds, the tiny, quick-moving Brown-headed Nuthatch is an exception: It can often be observed using a piece of bark to pry up loose bark in search of insects. The bird may carry this “tool” from tree to tree as it forages and even use it to cover up caches of seeds.

This nuthatch’s call is a series of high-pitched squeaky notes, sounding somewhat like a rubber-ducky bathtub toy. A flock of them can sound like bath time gone wild!

Nests of Brown-headed Nuthatches, usually excavated in snags, are regularly attended by extra birds, often young males that may be older offspring of the breeding pair. After breeding, these social nuthatches gather in groups of a dozen or more and move through the woods in mixed flocks with woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, and Pine Warblers.

The species’ population is suffering the effects of logging and fragmentation in southeastern pine forests. Fire suppression may also negatively affect the Brown-headed Nuthatch by reducing the number of snags and enabling dense understory growth."


Why Conserve Birds?

Bald Eagle by Bill Hubick

"We are the Americas’ bird conservation specialists, founded in 1994 to protect native birds and their habitats throughout the Western Hemisphere. These truths about birds underlie our mission and underscore every aspect of our work:

Birds inspire us.

Our affection for birds dates to the dawn of our species. Eagles, doves, and ravens permeate our history, cultures, and religions. Images of cranes, falcons, geese, and parrots adorn the walls of Neolithic caves, Egyptian pyramids, Mayan temples—and most American homes today. Storks deliver us at birth and owls mourn our deaths. Each new generation marvels at the beauty of birds and their ability to fly away, leaving us simply to wonder.

Birds are indicators of environmental hazards.

Because they are sensitive to habitat change and are easy to census, birds are the ecologist's favorite tool. Changes in bird populations are often the first indication of environmental problems. Whether ecosystems are managed for agricultural production, wildlife, water, or tourism, success can be measured by the health of birds.

Protecting birds promotes good land stewardship.

Birds have been a driving force behind the American conservation movement since its early days, when unregulated hunting, use of toxic pesticides, and destruction of wetlands threatened our wildlife and wild places. The environmental problems we face today are even more complex, and we need a new generation of committed conservationists to counter them.

Birds are a tremendous economic resource.

Forty-six million Americans watch birds. Birders are the market for a burgeoning industry, spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year feeding birds, purchasing equipment, and traveling in pursuit of birds. This economic force—and the benefits birds provide in insect and rodent control, plant pollination, and seed dispersal—add value to sustaining birds and their habitats.

But most of all, we have a moral obligation.

As stewards of our planet, we have an absolute ethical obligation to maintain all other species regardless of their functional values. We should no more allow the loss of species than destroy a masterpiece of art. The very least our generation can do is to ensure our children inherit as much as we have now. It is on this ethical commitment to the future that American Bird Conservancy is founded."  From:


Scientists Struggle to Make Windows Safer for Birds

image "Many people aren’t even aware of this sad fact, but estimates are that up to a billion birds die from crashing into windows each year in the U.S. alone. They simply don’t see the glass and fly right into it.

Fortunately, there are three avian research facilities in the country testing methods to prevent window crashes. But as it turns out, creating no-crash glass is more complicated than you might think. The first U.S. researcher to tackle the problem, ornithologist Daniel Klem Jr., has been working on solutions for 40 years. And while much has been learned about what birds can and can’t see, applying that knowledge to safer window designs – and getting those windows accepted for use by public and commercial interests – has proved difficult.

One problem, oddly enough, has been the growing popularity of “green” buildings. More natural light means more windows, which means more glass for birds to fly into. According to ornithologist Christine Sheppard of the Powdermill Avian Research Center in Rector, PA, tests show that opaque stripes or dots on windows can reduce bird collisions… if people are willing to use them.

Birds Didn’t Evolve to Recognize Glass as an Obstacle."    More at:


New York Times

: Wind Energy Company to Pay $1 Million in Bird Deaths   

"Duke Energy agreed on Friday to pay $1 million in fines as part of the Justice Department’s first criminal case against a wind power company for the deaths of protected birds.

image A subsidiary of the company, Duke Energy Renewables, pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in Wyoming on Friday to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal law that protects migratory birds. The company was charged with killing 14 golden eagles and dozens of other birds at two wind projects in Wyoming since 2009.

Duke's $1 million in restitution and fines will be split as follows: $400,000 to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, $100,000 to the state of Wyoming, $160,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and $340,000 to a conservation fund for the purchase of land in Wyoming for golden eagle habitat."  More at:


Glaucus Atlanticus, real life pokemon

image "Glaucus atlanticus is a species of small-sized blue sea slug. It’s known by several other names, including the blue angel and blue dragon. Glaucus atlanticus is found throughout the world’s oceans, in temperate and tropical waters. It floats upside down on the surface tension of the water. Due to its unique means of feeding, it cannot be bred or kept in captivity without dooming it to a quick and certain death."



BirdNote: Learn More About Turkeys!


Upcoming Shows

Pine Siskin  SUNDAY Project FeederWatch by Ellen Blackstone  LISTEN NOW

Aplomado Falcon  MONDAY  Species Recovery In the Works by Bob Sundstrom  LISTEN NOW

'Akiapola'au  TUESDAY The Birds and Plants Of Hawaii by Bob Sundstrom   LISTEN NOW ►

Wild Turkey  WEDNESDAY The Wild Turkey In the Words Of John James Audubon  LISTEN NOW

THURSDAY  "Turkey in the Straw"  Happy Thanksgiving! by Chris Peterson & Nancy Rumbel  LISTEN NOW

Common Goldeneye  FRIDAY Goldeneyes and Whistling Wings by Todd Peterson   LISTEN NOW ►

Common Swift (from Europe) SATURDAY More Information Than From 100 Years of Bird Banding by Todd Peterson   LISTEN NOW


On This Day:

Pope Urban II orders first Crusade, Nov 27, 1095:

"On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II makes perhaps the most influential speech of the Middle Ages, giving rise to the Crusades by calling all Christians in Europe to war against Muslims in order to reclaim the Holy Land, with a cry of "Deus vult!" or "God wills it!"

By the end of the 11th century, the Holy Land—the area now commonly referred to as the Middle East—had become a point of conflict for European Christians. Since the 6th century, Christians frequently made pilgrimages to the birthplace of their religion, but when the Seljuk Turks took control of Jerusalem, Christians were barred from the Holy City.

When the Turks then threatened to invade the Byzantine Empire and take Constantinople, Byzantine Emperor Alexius I made a special appeal to Urban for help. This was not the first appeal of its kind, but it came at an important time for Urban. Wanting to reinforce the power of the papacy, Urban seized the opportunity to unite Christian Europe under him as he fought to take back the Holy Land from the Turks.

All told, between 60,000 and 100,000 people responded to Urban's call to march on Jerusalem. Not all who responded did so out of piety: European nobles were tempted by the prospect of increased land holdings and riches to be gained from the conquest. These nobles were responsible for the death of a great many innocents both on the way to and in the Holy Land, absorbing the riches and estates of those they conveniently deemed opponents to their cause.

Adding to the death toll was the inexperience and lack of discipline of the Christian peasants against the trained, professional armies of the Muslims. As a result, the Christians were initially beaten back, and only through sheer force of numbers were they eventually able to triumph."


Partial face transplant, Nov 27, 2005:

"The world's first partial face transplant on a living human was carried out on 27 November 2005 by Bernard Devauchelle, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Isabelle Dinoire underwent surgery to replace her original face, which had been mauled by her black Labrador Retriever. A triangle of face tissue from a brain-dead woman's nose and mouth was grafted onto the patient. On 13 December 2007, the first detailed report of the progress of this transplant after 18 months was released in the New England Journal of Medicine and documents that the patient was happy with the results but also that the journey has been very difficult, especially with respect to her immune system's response."



It was cold, windy and drizzling.  Ray came over and we stayed out of the rain on the screen porch, messing with putting up a mini-blind to keep out the glare of the setting sun.  Then we found out that this used blind had some broken fins, and so we went up to my attic to find a better one.   The phone rang, I have an extension up there, and it was Jay asking me to go with him and Claudia, his mother, to her doctor appointment.  He said she was very weak and they might put her in the hospital. Jay doesn't have a drivers license, too many DUI's!  So Ray and I stopped looking for a blind.  Claudia called back and said that she was fine, and could drive herself. 

As it had stopped raining, Ray and I brought the north side soffit vent covers down from the attic.  They help keep the north wind out of my attic.  Just as we had the ladder set up, Claudia called back, her truck wouldn't start.  The cold had weakened her battery.

So, Ray went home and I rushed around and took them to the cancer center in The Woodlands in my van.  Claudia wasn't in there very long, and we made a couple of stops on the way home.  Their little list of things could be bought at the Dollar General, faster than going to Krogers.  Next stop was at the feed store to buy farm eggs, a bale of hay for Jay's big lop-eared rabbit to sleep in, and some rabbit food. 

Last stop was at my house to pick up a small igloo dog house to make a shelter for the rabbit.  The rabbit runs loose around Jay's fenced yard, and sleeps under his house, so we made him better quarters now that we are having colder days.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

“Lunch With an Astronaut". Blast into Space Center Houston. Houston Wilderness. Arboretum & Nature Center. Comet ISON Celebration, Dec 14. King Tut's Tomb.


For "Travel Tuesday": Let's see what's going on in Houston, TX, in the Texas Gulf Coast region.

#Region.R_Description#"Home to some of the best beaches in America, the Texas Gulf Coast region draws millions of visitors to this Texas playground. Stretching some 350 miles from South Padre Island & the Rio Grande Valley, all the way to Beaumont & the Louisiana border, this region is renowned for its wildlife & natural beauty, as well as the home of America's space program. Discover the Beaches of the Texas Gulf Coast Region."

Houston, TX.

image "This sprawling city hums with the energy and independent spirit that turned it from swampland into the fourth-largest city in the U.S. 

Everything is big, from the towering skyscrapers to the city's prominence in aerospace, oil, shipping and finance. Even the architecture makes big, bold statements, like the medical center towers that resemble two giant syringes. A thriving business center, the city has become increasingly cosmopolitan, with an influx of diverse ethnic groups and a strong emphasis on the arts. Opera, ballet, symphony and theater are all top-notch, and museums abound.

The summer midday heat is easily escaped inside the numerous attractions and shopping areas, particularly in the pedestrian-friendly 6.5-mile underground city. Since you're in the place that broadcast man's first step on the moon, you may want to pay a visit to Space Center Houston, where you'll be whisked into outer space through simulations and films. Once back on earth, you can hop on the tram to the complex's NASA/Johnson Space Center to watch astronauts and engineers at work and in training."


A planetary power lunch at Space Center Houston

"For space buffs, astronauts are intensely fascinating. Only a select few dreamers make NASA’s cut to join the ranks of space travelers. Their mastery of science, aviation, and physical fitness sets them apart. Their explorations are heralded in classrooms, books, and movies.

But at the end of the day, astronauts are flesh-and-blood humans like the rest of us. And many are happy to share their stories with the interested public. Space Center Houston offers that chance with its weekly “Lunch With an Astronaut” program.

Astronaut Leroy Chiao visits with diners at Space Center Houston's Lunch With an Astronaut.

Astronaut Leroy Chiao visits with diners at Space Center Houston’s Lunch With an Astronaut.

Space Center Houston launched the program a couple of years ago. Proving to be a popular draw, the center has Friday lunches lined up through 2014. The schedule features retired astronauts such as Leroy Chiao, who participated in four space missions between 1994 and 2005, and Brian Duffy, who took part in four space missions between 1992 and 2000.

“One of the biggest things our visitors have asked us for is having an up-close-and-personal experience with an astronaut,” says Mike Wampler, marketing manager for Space Center Houston.

At the lunches, “the astronaut gives everyone a brief overview of his experience as an astronaut and then he goes from table to table spending time and answering questions. He signs a bio card, and takes photographs with the people at the table,” Wampler explains.

In addition to the Friday lunches, Space Center Houston also offers presentations by astronauts at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Fridays in the center theater.

“Those that really want to take their visit to the next level will plan for a Friday visit, plan to go to the theater engagement, follow it up with lunch with an astronaut, and spend the rest of the day in the building,” Wampler says.

Lunch tickets are sold on a first-come basis. They cost $49.95 for adults and $29.95 for children ages 4-11. The ticket includes entry to Space Center Houston for the day." From:


Blast into Space Center Houston

"It was about time that I finally explored Space Center Houston, if only for a couple of hours during a short visit to Bay Area Houston.

skylab-trainer-cropWhile I didn’t have time for the in-depth NASA Tram Tour or Level 9 Tour, I was able to focus my attention on several areas of the complex: Starship Gallery, which follows the progression of the Space Race from the 1960s through Skylab, complete with some of the actual capsules and equipment; the Astronaut Gallery, a dazzling collection of spacesuits worn by men and women in space; the massive-beyond-words Saturn V spacecraft housed at Rocket Park, and even took in a “Meet the Astronaut” talk given by Michael J. Bloomfield of Shuttle Atlantis and Endeavor missions.

The vivid timelines that accompany the Starship Gallery and the Saturn V rocket brought back memories of seeing Apollo launches on (mostly black & white) televisions in elementary school. Peering into the Mercury capsule in the space-simulated display and imagining myself in that tiny crawl space gave me a claustrophobic chill. I also touched a moon rock and saw how moon artifacts were processed and analyzed. In the Astronaut Gallery, I marveled at the contrast between the enormous “Michelin Man” bubble suit worn during the early days of the Gemini program, and the sleek blue jumpsuit worn on the Shuttle mission by Sally Ride.

Next time you find yourself in the Bay area, don’t discount a trip to NASA for lack of time. You’ll be amazed at how much “space” can be compacted into two hours." From:



Full logo_no background.png

"HOUSTON WILDERNESS is a broad-based alliance of business, environmental and government interests that act in concert to protect, preserve and promote the unique biodiversity of the region’s precious remaining ecological capital from bottomland hardwoods and prairie grasslands to pine forests and wetlands.

These ecoregion landscapes decrease repetitive flooding, improve water quality, boost outdoor recreation, ecotourism, and economic growth."

Big Thicket

Prairie Systems

Piney Woods

Post Oak Savannah

Trinity Bottomlands

Columbia Bottomlands

Gulf of Mexico

Gulf of Mexico

Bayou Wilderness

Estuaries and Bays

Coastal Marshes

Houston's Ten Ecoregions










"The city of Houston is situated in one of the most ecologically diverse major urban areas in the country. The forests, prairies, savannahs, bayous, bottomlands, coastlines and ocean around Houston comprise ten ecoregions, seven of which are land based and three of which are water based. Ecoregions are large areas of land or water that contain geographically distinct assemblages of species, natural communities, and environmental conditions. Click on the links below to learn more about our local natural world:

Land Based:

Big Thicket

Piney Woods

Trinity Bottomlands

Columbia Bottomlands

Prairie Systems

Post Oak Savannah

Bayou Wilderness

Water Based:

Coastal Marshes

Gulf of Mexico

Estuaries and Bays 

Click to download (external link)

Download Houston Wilderness' atlas of Biodiversity by clicking on the link to the right:  CLICK TO DOWNLOAD (EXTERNAL LINK)

Download Houston Wilderness' List of Ecoregion Sites


Photo by Marc Reid


Photo By Mark Reid


Photo by Marc Reid






More at:


Houston Parks and Outdoors

"Houston rates first among the nation's 10 most populous cities in total acreage of parkland, beating out Phoenix’s 45,020 acres and San Diego’s 47,383 acres, according to a 2011 report by The Trust for Public Land. Houston has 49,643 acres of total park space, with 22 acres per 1,000 residents. The national average is 12.4 acres per 1,000 residents."  More at:


The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

"Located on the western edge of Memorial Park, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and the opportunity to experience the natural world. This 155-acre non-profit urban nature sanctuary provides education about the natural environment to Houstonians of all ages. It plays a vital role in protecting native plants and animals in the heart of the city where development threatens their survival."  More at:

Kid’s Programs

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Adult Programs

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Arboretum at Night, Comet ISON Celebration

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Experience the Arboretum at night with this special series of evening events.

Comet ISON will make an appearance in Earth’s sky in 2013. Join us and view this magnificent event!
Note: As of Tuesday, October 22, astronomers believe that Comet ISON may break up during its late November journey behind the sun. As such, Comet ISON may not be as visible as predicted before sunrise on Saturday, December 14.  A decision will be made on Tuesday, December 3 to continue with or cancel this event. If we cancel this event, all registrants will receive a 100% refund.

While it’s hard to predict just how bright the comet will be when it arrives, some astronomers say it could be as bright as a full moon, perhaps even visible in daylight. It’s predicted to be brightest in late November to early December.

Join us for a stroll through the woods to the North Meadow Deck for coffee, croissants and the night sky. Members of the Houston Astronomical Society will be on hand for an opportunity to get a glimpse of this exciting Comet ISON.

Dates: December 14, 2013    Time:   5:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.

Pricing: Members: $30  Non-Members: $40; $15 per child with minimum age of 9.

Register for Event:

Just a few of the things that are going on in Houston, TX.


On This Day:

Archaeologists enter tomb of King Tut, Nov 26, 1922:

"In Egypt's Valley of the Kings, British archaeologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first souls to enter King Tutankhamen's tomb in more than 3,000 years. Tutankhamen's sealed burial chambers were miraculously intact, and inside was a collection of several thousand priceless objects, including a gold coffin containing the mummy of the teenage king.

When Carter first arrived in Egypt, in 1891, most of the ancient Egyptian tombs had been discovered, and the majority of these had been hopelessly plundered by tomb raiders over the millennia. However, Carter was a brilliant excavator, and in the first years of the 20th century he discovered the tombs of Queen Hatshepsut and King Thutmose IV. Around 1907, he became associated with the Earl of Carnarvon, a collector of antiquities who commissioned Carter to supervise excavations in the Valley of the Kings. By 1913, most experts felt there was nothing in the Valley left to be uncovered. Carter, however, persisted in his efforts, convinced that the tomb of the little-known King Tutankhamen might still be found.

King Tutankhamen was enthroned in 1333 B.C. when he was still a child. He died a decade later at the age of 18 and thus made only a faint impression on the history of ancient Egypt. In the 13th century B.C., Tutankhamen and the other "Amarna" kings were publicly condemned, and most records of them were destroyed--including the location of Tutankhamen's tomb. A century later, in the 12th century B.C., workers building a tomb for Ramses VI inadvertently covered Tutankhamen's tomb with a deep layer of chips, further protecting it from future discovery.

image After World War I, Carter began an intensive search for Tutankhamen's tomb and on November 4, 1922, discovered a step leading to its entrance.  Lord Carnarvon rushed to Egypt, and on November 23 they broke through a mud-brick door, revealing the passageway that led to Tutankhamen's tomb. There was evidence that robbers had entered the structure at some point, and the archaeologists feared they had discovered yet another pillaged tomb. However, on November 26 they broke through another door, and Carter leaned in with a candle to take a look. Behind him, Lord Carnarvon asked, "Can you see anything?" Carter replied, "Yes, wonderful things."

It was the antechamber of Tutankhamen's tomb, and it was gloriously untouched. The dusty floor still showed the footprints of the tomb builders who left the room more than 3,000 years before. Apparently, the robbers who had broken into Tutankhamen's tomb had done so soon after it was completed and were caught before moving into the interior chambers and causing serious damage.

Thus began a monumental excavation process in which Carter carefully explored the four-room tomb over several years, uncovering an incredible collection of several thousand objects. In addition to numerous image pieces of jewelry and gold, there was statuary, furniture, clothes, a chariot, weapons, and numerous other objects that shed a brilliant light on the culture and history of ancient Egypt. The most splendid find was a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nested within each other. Inside the final coffin, made out of solid gold, was the mummified body of the boy-king Tutankhamen, preserved for 3,200 years. Most of these treasures are now housed in the Cairo Museum."



Mistys-new-coat-2 When I got up it was cold and raining again, so Misty had to wear her barn coat for her first 'outs'.  She doesn't want to go out in the rain unless she is wearing it.

Ray brought a drawer with him from his kitchen in my guest house.  Shay is so pleased with what we did to the cooktop cabinet, that she asked us to fix a drawer.  (I shouldn't have bought those cheap cabinets from Furrows!)

We went up into my attic to find the right thickness of drawer stock for the bottom of the drawer, as the original one was made of cheap cardboardy stuff, and it had bowed.  While we were up there, we winterized some of the roof vents.  I have to keep my attic from freezing as my water pipes and water heater are up there. 

We took the drawer apart on one side, and using the old bottom as a template we carefully cut a new one out of good wooden drawer stock, checking each cut with a builder's square.  It has to be very precise to go in the slots, but we made it fit perfectly, and screwed it back together, better than new.

It was still rainy and chilly when we went outside to cover up all my thousands of aloe plants with strips of old sheets and mattress pads.  It will be in the 40's during the day, but now we should be ready for the 25-28° nights coming for the next three days.